Doc. 179.-occupation of Fort Smith, Ark.
Fort Smith, Arkansas, September 10, 1863.Once more, by the favor of heaven upon the valor of our arms, the Federal authority holds sway at Fort Smith, in Arkansas. The brigade of the Army of the Frontier under Colonel Cloud is in complete possession of this ancient Federal post. General Blunt, with his body-guard and several of his daring scouts, was the first to enter the town and barracks, on Tuesday, September first. At noon, of the same day, the First infantry regiment of Arkansian volunteers, under Colonel J. M. Johnson, filed into the streets and Government inclosure, to the lively music of the regimental band of drums and fifes. It was a glad hour for the Union citizens and our tired and dusty braves who had been on the march for twenty days, making an average during that time of nearly twenty miles per day. We had pursued the rebel hordes under Cooper and Steel for several days, and finally yielded the palm of swift running to the fleeing rebels at Perryville, in the Choctaw nation. Returning thence, we came upon the trail of the rebel chieftain Cabbal and his crew. Within fighting range of this gang, (said to number two thousand five hundred,) we encamped on the night of the thirty-first ult. The enemy's position was a natural fortress on the left bank of Poteau Creek. Here, only three miles from our camp, we expected an encounter the next morning. His camp being on our direct route to Fort Smith, now only ten miles distant, what else could we expect but fierce resistance? But on we went, General Blunt with a portion of his dauntless cavalry leading the way, and lo <*> no enemy was there. The report is that Cabbal is always braver when drunk than when sober: perhaps on this occasion he was too drunk even to be, brave. He, however, left a few sneaking bushwhackers along the road, who fired on our advancing column, and wounded one of our men. Within a few miles of our destination, Colonel Cloud, with a part of the cavalry and a few pieces of artillery, turned aside in search of the fleeing foe. An encounter ensued on the rugged hill called the Back Bone, in which Colonel Cloud's advanced guard was ambushed, four of his men killed, and seven or eight wounded, with the loss of half a dozen horses. But his men took quick revenge by slaying and wounding some thirty or more of the enemy, and putting the whole cavalcade to a hastier flight than had ever quickened their speed before. For two years and a half Fort Smith has been a general headquarters of rebellion and treason. Its garrison under Captain Sturgis had been driven away in the spring of 1861. The citizens of the town and of all the surrounding country had been dragooned into subserviency to the hateful confederacy of traitors, headed in Arkansas by such dastards as Rector, Hindman and Company. Few places, perhaps, within the scope of rebellion exhibit more vividly the desolation of the secession mania. The town of Fort Smith once flourished, and was growing rapidly in business and wealth. Its present stagnation in industry, and the dilapidations everywhere visible along its streets — the stoppage of the Overland Mail, the destruction of the telegraph, and the utter and total emptiness of its warehouses and storerooms, are the legitimate products of a senseless and fanatic rebellion that has held dominion here ever since the madcaps in convention at Little Rock wrested Arkansas from the beneficent fraternity of the Federal Union. No Federal force had ever been here since the withdrawal of Captain Sturgis, until the entrance of the Army of the Frontier on the first of the present month. No part, therefore, of the destruction of property and business, and destitution and misery of the people, can be charged to the presence of the Federal army. Therebs had it all their own way; and a sorry way it was indeed — calico per yard, five dollars; a pair of coarse shoes, forty dollars; a pair of jean pants, thirty dollars; a pair of boots, one hundred dollars; box of blacking, two dollars and fifty cents; and all other things at the same starvation rates. Such was the reign in Fort Smith of the so-called Confederate States of America. On our arrival here, Colonel Cloud was placed in command of the post. The Colonel, however, is restive under confinement. He evidently prefers to be on an adventurous dash at the head of his brave Kansians, (Second Kansas cavalry.) He is now out on an important scout. Colonel J. M. Johnson, of the First Arkansas infantry, is Commander of the post, and his Lieutenant-Colonel, E. J. Searl, is Provost-Marshal. Matters are progressing finely. Hundreds of people have already come in and sworn allegiance to the Government of the United States. Large numbers have volunteered to enter our army. Of these volunteers the First Arkansas infantry regiment is receiving large accessions, because, doubtless, Arkansians prefer to join with the citizens of their own State.