took position on the sand-bar near enough the river to give a fair view of the second point of timber, and opened a rapid fire of shells upon the woods in which the rebels were lying. The. remaining six howitzers took up a position in front of them, and participated in the cannonade. Colonel Glover's entire brigade was immediately brought under shelter of the bank, two squadrons of the First Iowa mounted and two dismounted being detailed to support the howitzers. Hadley's battery and a section of howitzers were withdrawn, and, with Merrill's brigade, sent back to the mouth of the bayou to follow up the road. In a few moments they were heard vigorously at work. Glover advanced the left of his brigade cautiously, keeping Merrill's left flank well covered, and by the time Merrill's line was abreast of Glover's right, Glover was occupying a parallel position, completing the line to the river. At this time the reserves, all the horses, and the ammunition trains were upon this open sandbar to the rear and right of the line of battle, and, with our tight flank, were exposed to an enfilading fire from the opposite side of the river, in case Price should bring down a battery and plant it upon the bank. A cloud of dust undoubtedly caused by troops in rapid motion was plainly visible upon the other side of the river, but it was impossible to determine in what direction the troops were travelling. Nothing had been heard from Steele, and it seemed scarcely credible that he could have pushed the head of his column far enough to lend us any assistance. The most intense anxiety for our position took possession of men and officers. Under these circumstances of peril, the line was ordered to advance. In a few minutes an angry roar of musketry closely mingling with the thunders of cannon arose from the woods in our front, and shell and balls came pouring upon our line in a perfect shower. The echo of the first discharge had scarcely died away in the thunders of the second, when some distance above us on the opposite side of the river a puff of blue smoke arose from the bushes; a second later the sound of a cannon came booming over the water. Price or Steele was there, and in anxious suspense the whole line paused to see where the shell would strike, in order that from the line of fire, it could be ascertained whether the other side of the river was held by friends or foes. The shell fell directly among the rebels in our front. It was quickly followed by one after another, as all of Steele's batteries wheeled into action. Steele had heard the roar of our own and the enemy's artillery, and, understanding our peril, had pushed forward to our assistance. With a wild shout our boys advanced through the roads, driving the enemy rapidly before them. A guidon was placed upon the sandbar to keep pace with our advance, in order that Steele might know the position of our line in the woods. The line was very short and the roar of battle terrific. Hadley's battery and Lovejoy's howitzers upon the left were perfectly ablaze, pouring shell into the rebel batteries, responding with three guns to their one, Stange's howitzers upon our right, Steele's batteries upon the opposite side of the Arkansas, and a grim old sixty-four near Little Rock thundering in response, shells shrieking through the air and bursting everywhere among the trees, the sharp rattle of musketry and the wild shouts of Glover's and Merrill's brigades, as they pushed the enemy from one position to another, filled the air with a din rarely equalled. The resistance of the enemy was of the most desperate character, not a single foot of tenable ground being surrendered until they were driven from it. At five o'clock we had fought closely over four hours, and were still two miles from the city. General Steele sent a message that Price had evacuated the works in his front, the rear-guard being at that time crossing the bridges. General Davidson had been opposed by a superior force during the whole afternoon, and he was now called upon, as a prudent commander, to guard against an attack from Price's whole army. There were innumerable roads, which he was too weak to guard, leading directly into Davidson's rear, by which Price could precipitate a large force where it would be most effective. The position of General Davidson now became one of imminent peril. Assuming the policy which has governed him in his whole campaign, he determined to conceal his own weakness and confuse the plans of the enemy by a bold push ahead. Keeping the road immediately upon his left, by the general course of the river, Glover's line became very much shorter than when first formed. At five o'clock it was re-formed in three lines, and, by a gallant charge across an open field, obliqueing to the left as it advanced, forced the enemy from a strong position in the woods across the road, and into a corn-field directly in Merrill's front. Coming to the river-bank at this point, Glover's brigade was called off, utterly exhausted. Time was every thing in entering the city, and General Davidson called up Colonel Ritter's brigade, which, up to this time, had been in reserve. The First Missouri, by a gallant sabre-charge, cleared the corn-field in Merrill's front, and then, dismounting, deployed as skirmishers to the relief of his brigade. The Third Iowa and Thirteenth Illinois, accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel Caldwell, General Davidson's Chief of Staff, were ordered to charge into the city with drawn sabres. The river was immediately upon the right flank of the advancing column, but the left presented a continuous shelter, from which the rebels saluted it with a galling fire of musketry as it passed. Disregarding it altogether, the column pushed forward at a sweeping gallop, driving the rebel gunners away from a sixty-four pounder which was annoying Steele very much, before they could even complete the hasty preparations they were making to blow up the magazine. The suburbs were soon reached, and disregarding the sharp-shooters in the houses, who emptied several saddles, the column pressed on into the
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.