Our troops slept on their arms, and all night long active preparations were being made to bring every available man on the field the next day, and to renew the battle at early dawn.
The supply and baggage trains of our division at Rhea's Mills, had been in an unsafe position during the day, and were removed during the night to Fayetteville, so that they would be covered by our army in the event of its being compelled to retreat the next day. During the progress of the battle, Gen. Solomons, with the Ninth Wisconsin infantry and some detachments from different regiments, was left to guard our trains.
But the next morning was clear and frosty, and the sun, with its disc half obscured, peeped over the distant outlines of the mountain and seemed to smile on all below.
The distant mountain peaks, too, bathed in a soft haze, seemed to speak words of hope and confidence.
We found ourselves in complete possession of the field instead of another bloody day before us. Gen. Hindm
stance return to camp without discovering any indications of the enemy in force.
But, on the evening of December 26th, I received instructions to issue to the number of men reported present for duty in each company of our regiment, five days rations suitable for carrying in haversacks, and to be ready to march at 3 o'clock on the morning of the 27th.
At the time designated all the cavalry, infantry and artillery, except a force deemed sufficient to guard our trains and camp, under Brig.-General Solomons, were in column and in readiness to march.
Very few, if any, of the officers knew where we were going, or the exact object of the expedition.
It was thought by some that we were going to attack the rebel army in the vicinity of Van Buren — and Fort Smith.
It did not seem probable that it was the intention of General Blunt to attack the main body of the rebel army, as we had recently received information that it was encamped around Fort Smith,on the south side of the Arkansas river