I. An Earnest Meeting:June 20, 1864
Headquarters, Confederate District of Arkansas
The dining hall of a plantations mansion in the outskirts of the city. It is late evening and the room is only dimly lit by candles. Three men are hunching over the dining table which is covered by a large topographic map. On a side table lays a discarded dispatch. The attendees are: Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi-Department; Thomas Caute Reynolds, Missouri governor-in-exile and Sterling Price, commander of the Missouri State Guard and Confederate major general.
Reynolds: I am no military man, but to me this operation seems to be... ambitious, to say the least.
Kirby Smith: It is downright ludicrous. There is no army with the means to drive all the way east to Louisville and liberate two entire states on the march. And I would not be the man to lead it. My duty is here, to administer the whole trans-mississippi region. I can not simply leave. This captain seems to have way too much leisure.
Price: Gentlemen, you are both right in most regards. We can not take this whole proposal seriously to the last letter. But this fellow certainly has a point concerning the great picture. A larger scale expedition...
Kirby Smith: Which you would be all to eager to lead, General Price?
Reynolds: You seem to focus first and foremost on pleasing the spirit of your soldiers... and definitely yourself!
Price: Gentlemen, hear me on! I know, we had our differences and certainly we had misconceptions about eachother's aims. General Kirby Smith, sir, your opinion differed from mine regarding the pursuit of Steele's, but nonetheless I have defeated him. Governor Reynolds, you believe it is my dream to conquer myself a neat military dictatorship, but my only wish is, to parade you triumphantly to the state house of Jefferson City and bring you back from exile. This cause, our freedom, our independence and our southern way of life is in a dire state. And based on this letter I can formulate a plan to decidingly even the odds.
Kirby Smith: Go on, General Price, you have attracted my attention.
Price: Instead of just opportunisticly marching into Missouri for purposes of recruitment and supplies, let us strike swiftly towards Jefferson City and St. Louis. When we have taken the capital and the second largest city of the state, volunteers will flock to our side by the thousands. Afterwards we cross the Mississippi in large strength, march south through the lush, unmolested countryside of Illinois, wade through the Ohio and head straight on Nashville. We might very well negate all the gains the federals have made in the last two years and we can give those northerners a taste of what it means to be invaded.
Reynolds: I can see the possible merits of this idea...
Kirby Smith (after pondering about the proposal for several minutes): General Price, I believe you are right. To alter the course of this war, we have to take drastic measures and to shoot for the stars, if need be. But you have to consider, that we cannot allow that a hostile army remains in the vicinity while we strip the department of troops. This means you will have to deal with Steele and Little Rock first. To accomplish this grand scheme, I will provide you with another two brigades. This means you will go into this operation with twelve brigades of infantry as well as Fagan's, Shelby's and Marmaduke's cavalry divisions.
Price: Thank you sir, I am grateful for this opportunity. But I will have to reorganize the troops in a fashion to accomplish these new goals. The large presence of cavalry might not be suitable for a proper invasion.
Kirby Smith: The composition of the troops is up to you, but we have to strike swiftly to be effective. You are going to move out as soon as you are prepared. Governor Reynolds, I would like the location of our next meeting to be your residence in Jefferson City!