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[577] has inflicted a blow upon the rebel army not soon to be forgotten.

The Major-General Commanding hereby tenders to Colonel Powell Clayton and his brave command his sincere and earnest thanks, for their gallant conduct in the defence of Pine Bluff; and they can rest well assured that their gallantry deserves, and will receive, the applause of their Government and the loyal people — the highest ambition of the true soldier.

By order of

F. Steele, Major-General. F. H. Manter, Colonel and Chief of Staff.

Chicago Tribune account.

Pine Bluff, Arkansas, October 26, 1863.
The attack that the authorities here have been expecting for some time has at last come, and the roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry have subsided, and the smoke from a hard-fought battle-field, or rather battle-town, has disappeared enough to enable us to see where we are and what we have accomplished.

This place is situated on the south bank of the Arkansas River, about fifty miles from Little Rock, ninety from the Mississippi River, and sixty from Arkadelphia, (General Price's late headquarters.) It contained, before the war, some three thousand inhabitants, and was one of the finest and most business towns in Arkansas. For six or seven weeks it has been occupied by the Federals, during which time it has been garrisoned by the Fifth Kansas cavalry, and the First Indiana cavalry, under the command of Colonel Powell Clayton, of the Fifth Kansas cavalry. There is also here one company of State militia, which has been recruited since the Federals came here.

About two weeks ago, Colonel Clayton took three hundred and fifty men and four pieces of light artillery, and by making a circuitous route, and marching ninety miles in thirty-three hours, succeeded in surprising and completely routing Colonel Dobbin's cavalry brigade at Tulip, capturing one stand of colors, all his camp and garrison equipage, quartermaster and commissary stores, medical supplies, transportation, etc.

The rebel authorities feeling ashamed and aggrieved at this, began to concentrate General Marmaduke's cavalry force at Princeton, forty-five miles from Pine Bluff, Friday, (October twenty-third), about noon, with about four thousand men and twelve pieces of artillery, mostly twelve-pound rifled guns, and started to take revenge on Colonel Clayton, who only had between five hundred and six hundred men, and nine pieces of light artillery. Sunday morning, about eight o'clock, Lieutenant Clark, of the Fifth Kansas cavalry, with one company, was sent out on the Princeton road, to see what he could discover, but did not go far before he met the enemy's advance, which fired on him at once. They did not skirmish but a few minutes before an armed party bearing a flag of truce came forward, and the officer commanding it said: “I must go to the commanding officer immediately.” Lieutenant Clark replied: “You cannot see Colonel Clayton. You have no right to be here with a flag of truce; you have already been firing on me, but I will give you half an hour to wait here for me to send in and get an answer.” He replied: “I will not wait. I have despatches from General Marmaduke, as I suppose, demanding a surrender of the post. I must go in immediately.” Lieutenant Clark said: “You cannot go in. Colonel Clayton never surrenders, but is always anxious for General marmaduke to come and take him; and now, God damn you, get back to your place immediately, or I will order my men to fire on you.” He fell back, and they commenced skirmishing again.

Meanwhile Colonel Clayton assembled his whole command and sent out skirmishers in every direction, and come the General Jackson on them by setting three hundred negroes to rolling cotton-bales out of the warehouses to barricade Court Square. In less than thirty minutes every street and opening leading into Court Square was completely and very formidably fortified, and the artillery planted so as to command every street and opening leading into the square, and sharp-shooters placed in every building adjacent thereto, so that the rebels could approach the square in no way except through the streets and openings that were commanded by our artillery. Thus did Colonel Clayton, with a few negroes and plenty of cotton-bales, almost “in the twinkling of an eye,” convert a place apparently defenceless into a strong fort. Surely Cotton with his ebony sceptre is king. About nine o'clock the enemy had succceded in driving in the skirmishers, and approached us in three columns, namely, on our right, centre, and left, the main one being in the centre, and commenced pouring in their shell and canister like hail. The first fire was greeted with loud cheers from our boys, shell and canister from the guns, and a Sharpe's rifle-ball from every man that could get his eye on a “Butternut.” From this on there was a perfect tornado of shells, canister, and bullets flying from both sides for five hours. During all this time Colonel Clayton rode round the works and gave directions with as much coolness and composure as though he was directing the movements of some celebration instead of a battle. Every man also seemed determined to fight as long as he could get a round of ammunition. Between twelve o'clock M. and one o'clock P. M., the enemy set fire to the buildings on the right, expecting to be able to rout us by fire, though not able to do so by force. Two hundred negroes were set to carrying water and throwing it on the buildings on the right, adjacent to the square, and by thus doing prevented the fire from doing us any damage.

As soon as the enemy found that he could not rout us by fire, he changed a battery from the right to the centre, kept up a sharp cannonading for a short time, then retreated, leaving his wounded and dead on the field. We followed him for about two miles, then returned and put out pickets the same as usual. The battle was fought

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Powell Clayton (9)
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