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[38] chilly; while the roads were in good condition. Gen. Blunt, commanding the 1st division, in good part of Kansas troops, numbering about 5,000 men, was at Cane Hill, or Boones-borough, some 10 miles north-west of Van Buren, and 18 south-west of Fayetteville, when he was apprised of this advance,1 with one of his three brigades (Gen. Salomon's), protecting his trains at Rhea's Mills, 8 miles north. Determined not to be driven out of Arkansas, he telegraphed in various directions for Gen. Herron, commanding the 2d and 3d divisions, now in Missouri, and left subject to his orders by Gen. Schofield's departure; and attempted, by showing a bold front and directing his cavalry to skirmish sharply with the Rebel vanguard, to delay Hindman's advance until Herron could reach him. Blunt's dispatch found2 that able and earnest leader at Wilson's creek, some 10 miles south of Springfield, but with most of his command from 10 to 20 miles nearer the Arkansas line. Within three hours, his divisions were in motion southerly, making marches of fully 20 miles per day, with all their guns and trains. Having reached Elkhorn,3 he dispatched Col. Wickersham, with his 3,000 cavalry, to the more immediate relief of Blunt; and pushing on to Fayetteville, marching all night, he entered that place at 4 A. M., on Sunday morning, Dec. 7th. Impressed with the peril of Blunt, he rested his men but an hour or so before putting his column again in motion, and had proceeded but 5 or 6 miles when his advance was met by the 1st Arkansas and 7th Missouri (Union) cavalry, being a part of those he had dispatched from Elkhorn to the aid of Blunt, who had just before been attacked and thrown into great disorder by Marmaduke's Rebel cavalry, forming the vanguard of Hindman's army.

Gen. Blunt had been skirmishing for the last two days with what he supposed the advance of the enemy's main body; but learned, at 8 P. M. of the 6th, that Hindman had turned his left and interposed between him and all of Herron's infantry and artillery. Col. Wickersham, with 4 cavalry regiments, reported to Blunt at Cane Hill two hours afterward, with tidings that Herron would be at Fayetteville early next morning.

Blunt now attempted to warn Herron of his danger, but it was too late; his messengers were intercepted by Marmaduke's cavalry. Hindman was probably reaching for Blunt's trains at Rhea's Mills, when, to their mutual astonishment, he locked horns with Herron on Illinois creek, near the settlement known as Prairie Grove.

Herron, divested of his cavalry, had but about 4,000 men in hand, and ought to have stood on the defensive,4 availing himself of every advantage of position and shelter.

1 Dec. 2.

2 Dec. 3.

3 On the evening of the 5th.

4 Gen. Herron. in a private letter to a friend at Dubuque, Iowa, dated Dec. 16, says:

For four miles, we fought their cavalry, driving them back to Illinois creek, where I found their whole force strongly posted on a long ridge, with magnificent positions for batteries. For one mile in front, it was clear ground, and my road lay right in the center of their line. From a prisoner taken, I learned that Hindman was on the ridge, with his whole force, and intended to whip me out before Blunt could get up; in other words, to take us one at a time. The case looked tough, with Blunt ten miles away, and 25,000 men between us; but I saw at a glance there were just two things that could be done; namely, fight them without delay, and depend on the chance of Blunt's hearing me and coming up, or retreat and lose my whole train. It required no time to make a decision.

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