Rock. General Hurlbut placed under my command all the troops at Helena, and the cavalry division under Brigadier-General Davidson, then operating in Arkansas. The garrison at Helena had been reenforced by two brigades of Kimball's division, which had just arrived from Snyder's Bluff, and were suffering severely from the influences of the Yazoo country. The proportion of sick and wounded Helena troops was also very large. Three regiments were designated to remain at Helena, and these, with the sick and convalescent, were to constitute the garrison of that place. The troops designated for the expedition amounted to about six thousand, of all arms. There were three six-gun batteries and one four-gun battery, including six ten-pound Parrotts. The cavalry--First Indiana and Fifth Kansas--amounted to less than five hundred for duty. The First Indiana had three small rifled guns. Davidson reported some less than six thousand present for duty in his cavalry division and eighteen pieces of artillery — showing an aggregate of about twelve thousand fit for duty. Brigadier-Generals Kimball and Salomon obtained leaves of absence, and the resignation of General Ross was accepted, which left me with but one general officer--Davidson. The resignation of my Assistant Adjutant-General was accepted just at this time, and there were no officers of the Quartermaster's and Subsistence Department at Helena, except Captain Allen, A. C. S., and Captain Noble, A. Q. M., who were in charge of the stores in the depot. I ordered the establishment of camps for the sick and convalescents, and organized the command in the best manner possible. Davidson pushed on to Clarendon, and established a ferry for crossing the troops; corduroying two miles of bottom, and laying down the pontoon-bridge across Rock Roe Bayou. On the nineteenth of August, the Helena troops organized into a division, Colonel now Brigadier-General S. A. Rice marched toward Clarendon, with orders to reconstruct the bridges which had been destroyed by the rebels, and to make all necessary repairs on the road, which was in bad condition. Kimball's division, under Colonel William E. McClean, followed next day. The whole command was at Clarendon and commenced crossing the river on the seventeenth of August. Before the crossing was effected I found my operations encumbered by over a thousand sick. To have established a hospital and depot at this point would have involved the necessity of occupying both sides of the river. Duvall's Bluff was a more healthy location, and the route to Little Rock possessed many advantages over the other as a line of operations. I therefore ordered all the stores and sick to be sent to Duvall's Bluff by water. The enemy had constructed rifle-pits in a commanding position, fronting the crossing on Rock Roe Bayou, but on the approach of Davidson's division had fallen back, leaving only a picket. This position could easily have been turned by the road leading up from Harris's Ferry. On the twenty-third, Davidson was directed to move with his division to Deadman's Lake, and reconnoitre the enemy's position at Brownsville. On the twenty-third, the rest of the command moved to Duvall's Bluff, the transports carrying the sick and stores, under convoy of the gunboats. An advantageous site was selected on the bluff for a hospital and depot, and details immediately ordered to throw up intrenchments, cut away the timber on the flanks to give the gunboats clear range, and to erect sheds, etc. On the twenty-fourth, Davidson advanced to Prairie Bayou, and, on the twenty-fifth, continued the march, skirmishing with Marmaduke's cavalry up to Brownsville, dislodging him at that place, and driving him into his intrenchments at Bayou Metou, on the twenty-sixth. The attack was renewed on the twenty-seventh, and the enemy, driven from his works on the bayou, fired the bridges as he retreated. Davidson was unable to save the bridge, every thing having been prepared for its destruction beforehand. The bayou was deep and miry, and his pursuit of the rebels being thus checked, he withdrew to his camp at Brownsville, leaving pickets at the crossing on the bayou. I received information that “True's” brigade from Memphis would arrive at Clarendon on the thirtieth, and immediately sent a party to construct a bridge across Rock Roe Bayou, and a ferry-boat to cross the troops over White River. True crossed on the thirty-first, and on the first of September moved up to Deadman's Lake. The advance from Duvall's Bluff also commenced on the first, the place having been put in such a state of defence that the convalescents, and a small detail left there, were deemed sufficient to hold it against any force the enemy would be likely to send in that direction. On the second instant all my available force was concentrated at Brownsville. It had been ascertained that the military road on the south side of Bayou Metou passed through a section impracticable for any military operations-swamp, timber, and entanglement of vines and undergrowth-and was commanded by the enemy's works. I therefore directed Davidson to make a reconnoissance in force around to the enemy's left, by way of Austin, and, if practicable, t( penetrate his lines and ascertain both his strength and position. Rice's division was ordered forward to make a diversion in Davidson's favor on the Bayou Metou. Rice drove in the enemy's pickets, shelled the woods on the south side of the bayou for several hours, and encamped for the night. In the mean time Davidson pushed his reconnoissance until the numerous roads on his flanks and rear rendered it dangerous for him to proceed any further. The great length to which it would increase our line of communication with our base, rendered it impracticable for us to attack the enemy on his left flank. This reconnoissance occupied two days. By this time I had collected information in regard to the road leading by “Shallow Ford,” and Ashley's Mills to the Arkansas, on the right of the enemy's works, which
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