Gen. John McNeil's report.
headquarters Frontier District, Fort Smith, November 1, 1863.General: I have the honor to report the following facts as the result of the expedition, to the command of which I was verbally ordered at St. Louis on the ninth of October: I arrived at Lebanon on the twelfth, and finding that Lieutenant-Colonel Quin Morton had marched to Linn Creek with a detachment of the Twenty-third Missouri infantry volunteers, and another of the Second Wisconsin cavalry, and that he expected to be joined by a detachment of the Sixth and Eighth cavalry, Missouri State militia, I ordered Major Eno, in command, to fall back on Lebanon, and proceeded to Buffalo, where I found Colonel John Edwards, Eighteenth Iowa volunteers, in command, with a few cavalry and some enrolled militia. I at once addressed myself to the work of concentrating force enough for pursuit when the enemy should cross the Osage on his retreat south. With about two hundred and sixty men and a section of Rabb's battery, I marched to Bolivar, where General Holland was in camp with part of two regiments enrolled militia, and a demi-battery under Lieutenant Stover. Leaving the General directions to observe and pursue Coffee and Hunter, if they should cross the Osage at Warsaw, I marched in the direction of Lamar, via Humansville and Stockton, to cut off Shelby, who was reported in full flight south of Snybar, with General Ewing in pursuit. At Stockton I was joined by Major King, Sixth cavalry, Missouri State militia, with three hundred and seventy-five men of the Sixth and Eighth Missouri State militia. The force had entered Humansville from the north, in pursuit of Hunter and Coffee, four hours after I had passed through it toward the west. Major King attacked and drove this force through Humansville, capturing their last cannon. Finding that Shelby had passed through Stockton in advance of me, I marched to Greenfield and Sarcoxie, via Bower's Mill, and on the night of the nineteenth camped at Keitsville, when I learned of scouts of Colonel Phelps, commanding at Cassville, that the enemy had crossed the telegraph road at Cross-Timbers that day about noon. I kept up a rapid pursuit, following the trail of our flying foe via Sugar Creek and Early's Ferry, to Huntsville; our advance party, entering Huntsville with a dash, took quite a number of soldiers of Brooks's rebel command, with their horses and arms. I was there joined by Colonel Edwards, Eighteenth Iowa infantry, with three hundred men of his regiment, and Major Hunt, First Arkansas cavalry volunteers, one hundred and seventy-five men and two mountain howitzers. This gave me an effective force of six hundred cavalry and three hundred infantry, with four guns, two of these being twelvepounder mountain howitzers; these last would have been a much greater acquisition to me than they proved had they been properly supplied with ammunition. They were sent from Fayetteville with only sixty-seven rounds for the two howitzers, and of course could not be relied upon for any length of time. We had here information that Shelby and Brooks had united their forces on War Eagle Creek, and that Hunter and Coffee were also there; the combined force amounting to two thousand five hundred men. We marched toward this camp to attack, but found that the enemy had gone. On the twenty-fourth, we marched across a tremendous mountain, called Buffalo Mountain, and found the enemy in camp in a snug little valley on the other side, attacked and drove him, at sundown dropping into his camp. The mountain on the other side was too steep and the passes too narrow for a night pursuit, and we had to content ourselves by waiting for the light of morning. At early dawn we struck again into the mountains; our advance under Major Hunt, First Arkansas cavalry, was skirmishing with the enemy all day, driving them before us. On the twenty-sixth, while engaged in an attack on the enemy's rear-guard, who were posted in a narrow pass, Lieutenant Robinson, of the First Arkansas cavalry, was mortally wounded; he was brought into camp, and died that night at ten o'clock. On the twenty-seventh, we marched into Clarksville, and learned that Shelby had made good his escape, and crossed the river, and that Brooks had gone down into the valley of Big Piney, with about four hundred men, with instructions to pick up stragglers from the rebel  army, and to cut off any train that might be coming to me from Fayetteville. My cavalry and artillery horses were too badly used up to admit of pursuit across the river, so I turned my course toward Fort Smith. At a point four miles north of Ozark, I sent Colonel Catherwood, with the men of the Sixth and Eighth regiments Missouri State militia, and Major Hunt, with the men and howitzers of the First cavalry Arkansas volunteers, to Springfield and Fayetteville. I arrived in Fort Smith on the evening of the thirtieth. Although I have been disappointed in my earnest hope to attack and destroy the force under Shelby, I feel confident of having done all man could do under the circumstances. We have driven the enemy so that he had to stick to the road, and thus prevented a widely extended pillage, both in Arkansas and Missouri. We have taken forty-four prisoners, besides discharging as many more, who were conscripts. We have killed and wounded many of his men, and driven numbers to the mountains, where he will not easily get them again. The captures in horses were also large. My officers and men bore the fatigue and exposure of this campaign without tents and on small rations, in a manner to excite my admiration. Colonels Edwards and Catherwood were earnest in their cooperation in duty. Majors King, Eno, and Hunt, were always ready for any duty assigned them. Major King deserves special mention for his gallant attack on the enemy at Humansville, on the fifteenth, in which he captured the last cannon the enemy brought into Missouri with him — a six-pounder brass gun. Major Hunt, with his battalion of Arkansans, were, on account of their knowledge of the country, pushed forward in the advance from Huntsville to Clarksville; this duty was promptly and cheerfully performed by the Major and his gallant command, who drove the enemy from every position, killing and wounding many, and taking prisoners at every charge. To Captain Rabb, Chief of Artillery, and Lieutenant Whicker, Rabb's battery, and Johnson's section of howitzers, I am under obligations for services which mark them as true soldiers. Lieutenant Baubie, Quartermaster of the Eighth Missouri State militia, acted as Chief Quartermaster of the expedition, and gave unqualified satisfaction. Lieutenant Sell, Commissary of the same regiment, acted as Chief Commissary, acquitting himself with great credit. Captain Hopkins, First Arkansas cavalry, joined me at Clarksville with thirty-four men. I had sent him from Buffalo on the thirteenth toward Duroc, to observe the enemy and report his motions. While on this duty, he ran on to the enemy in force, killing six, and losing but two of his own men. The day after he joined me, he attacked a party belonging to Brooks, of one hundred and fifty strong, and drove them back upon a detachment of the Third Wisconsin cavalry, that had been sent from Van Buren in pursuit of this party, taking several horses, and killing and wounding six of the enemy. The Captain is a most active and efficient scout, and a brave soldier. The health of the command has been uniformly good. We had but three sick men in all the troops. I have the honor to be. General, your obedient servant,
John McNeil, Brigadier-General Volunteers.