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Doc. 137.-occupation of Pocahontas, Ark.

The correspondent of the St. Louis Democrat, with Gen. Steele's column, writes from camp, within six miles of Pocahontas, under date of April twenty-sixth, as follows:

On Saturday, the twelfth of April, Col. Baker, learning that some of the tents of “Bowlin's cavalry” had been left at a point distant only about five miles from the ferry, despatched company D, of the Indiana cavalry, under the command of Capt. G. P. Deweese, and Lieut. J. B. Talbot, with company F, of the Ninth Illinois, under Capt. Mumford, placing both companies under command of Capt. Deweese, with orders to capture the tents. The day being very disagreeable, there were but few persons on the road, and by rapid riding they succeeded, contrary to usual fortune, in reaching different houses before the news of their coming, and captured several prisoners. On reaching the camp where Bowlin's tents were, they captured them without molestation. At the same time, making inquiries of some of their prisoners, among whom was one direct from Pocahontas, they learned that a body of rebels, under the lead of a man named Roberts, had been there for some days, but had left the day before, and there were no forces in the town at all, and no cannon. Col. Baker had given orders to attack Reeves if they met him, although not supposing that they would proceed beyond the site of Bowlin's camp. They determined then, in hopes that some of his men might be lingering in the town, or that his troop had returned, to push on to that place. Continuing on their march, and arresting all persons of doubtful character whom they met, they soon came within about three miles of the town. Suddenly a distant report, like that of a cannon, coming from the direction they were pursuing, startled them, and at first they thought they had been deceived by the prisoners, in order to lead them into a trap. The prisoners were assured that if this was the case they would be the first to suffer the consequences. They protested they had told the truth. One of them, however, suggested that as this was the day for the semi-weekly packet, it might have brought up a cannon that very day. Upon consultation the officers determined to run the risk, declaring that at least they would get into the town, and if an enemy too strong for them should be found, at least some of them could get away to give the news. Accordingly the order was given to the men to take off their jackets, and with carbines all ready for [499] instant use, the troop was put to the gallop, and in a few minutes reached the town at an hour before sundown. No indications appeared as they entered of any hostile forces, excepting four men, mounted and armed, at a corner of one of the streets, who at the sight of our men took to a precipitate flight. The officers gave the order not to fire, but to charge. The men, however, by some mistake, left out the very essential negative, and fired a volley, doing no damage, but badly frightening the citizens, who in a moment left the streets bare and deserted.

A squad was despatched in pursuit of the four specimens of departed worth, one of whom was finally caught, being, as is affirmed, the “worst scared man ever seen in this district.” The other three took to the thicket and escaped. In the mean time the remainder of the troops had taken peaceable possession of the town. The report proved to have been the firing of an anvil in token of their rejoicing over the confederate “victory” at Pittsburgh, of which the news had just been received. The officers informed them that their men were hungry and had nothing to eat; whereupon a plentiful supply of the best the town could afford was brought out and spread before them. None of the inhabitants seemed to feel any very hostile sentiments, while many of them appeared rather glad of the change of occupants. The troops captured, among other items, thirty prisoners, one hundred and fifty bushels of corn, and one hundred and sixty barrels of flour, belonging to the confederate army, and forty barrels of whiskey, which the secesh owner had hidden on the bank of the river, ready to be carried off by two barges lying there for that purpose. The editor of the village paper was arrested while endeavoring to escape, and his press, already boxed up for removal, captured. He had just returned from the little town of Ozark, in this State, and reported that Gens. Van Dorn and Thompson had been there, but had gone to Memphis. Price was there with his troops, mustering about eight thousand, and was only waiting for the arrival of the forces belonging to the commands of Thompson and Van Dorn, who were ordered to report to him, when he and the army would follow to Memphis, whither they were ordered. If this report be true, there is no force of the enemy to oppose us in this State, and to cross swords with our antagonists, we shall have to follow them to the Mississippi River. The editor was released on his parole of honor not to leave or attempt to remove his press.

A week ago to-day, Col. Carlin's brigade moved to this place and took formal possession, and now the United States flag floats from the roof of the Court-House. When I reach the place I will write you more about it, and our probable movements. The report alluded to in my last, that Col. Carlin had been attacked and retreated, arose from the simple fact that for the sake of a more eligible position, he had changed the location of his camp to a distance of about a mile and a half from its former site. He has not retreated, and probably has no idea of doing so under present circumstances. Gen. Steele was expected at the ferry before noon to-day, with the long-wished — for baggage-train. As soon after his arrival as may be possible, Col. Hovey's brigade will move forward, and all the brigades of the division will probably rendezvous at Pocahontas before the middle of the ensuing week, except such regiments as may be ordered to press on still further, as the Fifth Illinois cavalry have already done.

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Bowlin (3)
Ambrose Thompson (2)
Steele (2)
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Nicholas Carlin (2)
David C. Baker (2)
J. B. Talbot (1)
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