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[512] At five P. M. it received orders from Colonel (now General) Andrews, commanding the post, to be prepared to march in one hour. At halfpast six o'clock, the regiment was marched to the railroad depot, and conveyed by the cars to Duval's Bluff. At four A. M., the expedition, consisting of six companies of the Third, numbering one hundred and sixty men, under Major E. W. Foster, and forty of the Eighth Missouri cavalry, under Captain Estes--the whole under command of General Andrews--was embarked at Duval's Bluff on the steamer Dove, and proceeded up White River, convoyed by gunboat No. Twenty-five, of the Mosquito Fleet. At Gregory's Landing, sixty-five miles from the Bluff, the expedition was landed at eight P. M., and marched into the interior, a distance of four or five miles, in the direction where the noted rebel General McRae was supposed to be encamped. His camping-ground was found, and it was learned from inhabitants of the neighborhood that McRae, with a considerable force, had left that camp on the Monday previous, and gone in the direction of Augusta, near which place they supposed him then to be. The command was immediately returned to the boat, and proceeded up the river to Augusta, reaching that place at about daylight of Friday morning. A picket-guard was at once posted around the town, and a patrol sent through it, which latter arrested and brought to the boat a number of citizens, that information might be obtained from them as to the whereabouts of McRae and his command. The citizens, however, knew, or pretended to know, little or nothing about McRae. General Andrews, acting on the previous information, resolved to leave the boats at Augusta, and march into the country; and did so march the command a distance of twelve or thirteen miles. It was remarked as a singular fact that the citizens along the line of our march, as at Augusta, all professed to know nothing of McRae or his whereabouts, though the command soon after learned positively that he was in the immediate neighborhood. Having gained no reliable information whatever, the General ordered a return to the boats, intending to proceed from Augusta further up the river, and make another landing and reconnaissance.

At half-past 12 o'clock, on the return, at about six miles from Augusta, the command was attacked by General McRae's force, from five hundred to eight hundred mounted men; at the same time on both flanks and in the rear. Retaining small reserve, General Andrews caused his men to be deployed as skirmishers toward each point of attack, while the rebels were coming on with a yell, as if to make a desperate charge. So soon as the lines of Federal skirmishers were formed, firing was commenced, at orders given, and the rebels were repulsed, retreated, and were followed by the skirmishers, till the lines becoming too extended, it was deemed best they should be withdrawn, and kept available for mutual support. At the retiring of our lines, the rebels advanced again. We had to retire a short distance, and then formed our line behind a fence, from whence we checked the rebel advance. After an hour and a half of continual firing on both sides, our lines were moved forward, and the rebels driven to the original position of their attack. After about fifteen minutes, the rebels were dismounted, and charged upon us, yelling and whooping. We were unable to check their advance until we had fallen back to the line at the fence. We held this line until about half-past 4 o'clock, the enemy ceasing their fire at about four o'clock and retiring, protected by rough ground and the trees, annoyed by prompt fire from our line at every exposure.

The fight lasted about four hours, on ground of McRae's own choosing, and three desperate attacks from superior numbers had been repulsed, our men behaving nobly. Twice the rebels charged upon our lines, in line, mounted. The third time they dismounted, and advanced under cover of trees and with the advantage of ground. The enemy, at the close, showed no stomach for further fight, and was, in the opinion of our men, badly hurt. His first intention seems to have been, under the impression that his force was large enough to capture us, to cut off our line of retreat to the river.

Finding that the rebels intended no further attack, General Andrews returned with his command to the river, without hindrance or gaining sight again of their forces. Near the battle-field, about five miles from Augusta, the column had to make its way on the road through a swamp, where the muddy water overflowed it from one to three feet deep, and where the enemy, with his knowledge of the country, might, if his fighting disposition had remained good, have attacked General Andrews in a bad position for concerted defence.

The loss of General Andrews's force in this action was seven killed, sixteen wounded, and four missing. Total casualties, twenty-seven. The loss of the enemy, as near as could be ascertained, was upward of one hundred in killed and wounded, of whom a number were known to be officers. Our force, having no ambulances or wagons, left its dead on the field.

Among the incidents of this fight at Fitzhugh's Woods are the following: General Andrews's horse was shot dead from under him. Two bullets passed through Major Foster's coat into his saddle. Three bullets passed through Captain Swan's coat. Orderly-Sergeant H. A. Durand, of company B, was taking aim at a rebel, when a bullet struck the cock of his gun on the side, knocked it off, and glancing wounded the Sergeant slightly on the side of his forehead. The men wore their blankets rolled and twisted, the ends tied together, and the coil thus made thrown over the head, and hanging on the left shoulder and right side. After the fight one of the men found a very large bullet imbedded in his blanket, having passed two thirds through the twisted folds, just above his stomach.

It was understood, at leaving Little Rock, that the object of the expedition was to relieve Batesville, an outpost on White River, threatened by

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C. C. Andrews (8)
John J. McRae (7)
William G. Swan (1)
Everett W. Foster (1)
E. W. Foster (1)
Fitzhugh (1)
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