I at once ordered Rabb's battery into position, and also the two howitzers under Lieut. Stover, when a fierce cannonading ensued, which lasted for the space of nearly an hour. My column not being up, I could do nothing more than engage in this “artillery duel” until it arrived, and the enemy thinking, no doubt, that I had a large force in hand, did not venture from under cover of their guns. Reconnoitring upon their left, I discovered an approach by which a force could be brought on their left flank and do them great damage, and perhaps capture their artillery. I ordered Major Van Antwerp, of my staff, back to meet the Kansas Eleventh and Hopkins's battery, who were in the advance of the column, to bring them up on the double-quick, and send the battery with six companies of the Eleventh to follow me with the object above named, and to take the other four companies to the support of Rabb's battery, but they were too far in the rear, and the men too much fatigued by the march to reach me in time. Major Van Antwerp took four companies down the road to Rabb's battery, the fire from which, as afterward appeared, although laboring under great disadvantage from the nature of the ground, had been very destructive on the enemy, compelling them to abandon their position and seek another on a high ridge three fourths of a mile further south, where their reserve had been posted. To this point access was very difficult, as rugged ravines intervened, and it could only be approached by the road. Taking a position on high ground facing them from the north, I opened upon them a destructive fire with my artillery, dismounting one of their guns and compelling them again to retire. For the third time they made a stand in the town, or rather on the south side of it, upon a commanding eminence running east and west, and a most admirable position for defence. Having now concentrated their entire force and selected this strong position, I felt assured that they had resolved on a desperate resistance and made my arrangements accordingly; but, after getting my forces across a deep and rugged ravine and deploying them into position ready to advance upon their long and well-formed lines, I discovered, much to my disappointment, that they had again retired and were in full retreat to the mountains, Tenney's battery coming upon the ground they had abandoned just in time to send a few shells in the rear of their retreating column as they escaped under cover of the wood. As the men and horses of the enemy were fresh, and mine were worn down and exhausted by hard marching, it was difficult to follow them in their flight, yet the men, eager for the fray, strained every nerve. For nearly three miles from the town, in the direction of Van Buren, the road runs through a valley, in which are a few farms, alternating with low hills and ravines, covered with thick woods and brush. Over this road a running fight with small arms took place without much damage occurring to either party. Reaching a large mound at the base of the first mountain — the commencement of the Boston Mountains proper — the enemy placed his artillery upon it in position covering the road. From this position he sought to prevent my force from proceeding up the valley and approaching the mountains. Directing two howitzers under Lieut. Updyke to the right upon a by-road, they quickly obtained a good position on the enemy's flank, while Rabb's battery opened upon them in front. They were soon forced to abandon the high mound and seek the side and top of the mountain, where they made a determined resistance. Their artillery was posted on the crest of the mountain, while their mounted riflemen were dismounted and their whole force massed on the sides and top of the mountain, which were covered with scattered timber and but little underbrush. The nature of the ground was such that I could not use my artillery to any advantage. and the mountain could not be taken in any other way except by storm. I accordingly ordered up the the Kansas Second and dismounted them; they charged up the steep acclivity in the advance, under the command of Capt. S. J. Crawford and Captain A. P. Russell--Major Fisk having been wounded by a piece of shell early in the day; next followed the Third Indian regiment, (Cherokees) under the command of Col. Phillips and its other field-officers, Lieutenant-Col. Downing and Major Foreman, voluntarily assisted by Major Van Antwerp, of my staff, and the Eleventh Kansas, under the command of its field-officers, Colonel Ewing, Lieut.-Col. Moonlight, and Major Plumb. The resistance of the rebels was stubborn and determined. The storm of lead and iron hail that came down the side of the mountain, both from their small arms and artillery, was terrific, yet most of it went over our heads without doing us much damage. The regiments just named, with a wild shout, rushed up the steep acclivity, contesting every inch of ground and steadily pushing the enemy before them until the crest was reached, when the rebels again fled in disorder. Four howitzers and Rabb's battery were now brought up the mountain and the pursuit renewed ; the Third Indian and Eleventh Kansas regiments on the right and left of the road, advancing in line through the woods, while the four howitzers occupied the road in front, with the Kansas Second and Sixth and Rabb's battery in the rear. About every half-mile the enemy made a stand, when the four howitzers and the Eleventh Kansas and Third Indian would as often put them to flight, leaving more or less of their dead and wounded behind them. Thus the fight continued for some three miles, until, on descending partially from the mountain into a valley, the Cove Creek road, leading from Fayetteville to Van Buren, was reached at the point where it intersects the road from Cane Hill to the last-named place. At this point the enemy again brought his artillery into requisition. It was now near sundown and darkness must soon put an end to the pursuit. Down the valley in front of us the ground appeared adapted to the use of cavalry to good advantage,
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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