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Doc. 60. battle of Elkin's ford, Arkansas.

little Rock, May 5, 1864.
The battle of Elkin's Ford, on the Little Missouri river, took place on the third and fourth days of April. On the Union side all of the Second brigade, Third division (General Slocum's), except the Seventy-seventh Ohio and two companies First Iowa cavalry, were engaged. On that of the rebels, two brigades of Marmaduke's division.

On the afternoon of the second instant, General Steele ordered General Salomon to take and hold this ford. Thereupon General Salomon dispatched the forces referred to under command of Colonel William E. McLean, of the Forty-third Indiana infantry.

Colonel McLean made a forced march, arriving at the river after dark, seizing the ford, and crossed his command. A squadron of cavalry was sent forward as advance pickets, while the Thirty-sixth Iowa infantry, Colonel C. W. Kittredge [451] commanding; Forty-third Indiana infantry, Major W. W. Norris commanding; and Battery E, Second Missouri light artillery, Lieutenant Peetz commanding, encamped near the bank of the river.

In his report of the affair, Colonel McLean says:

The day after my arrival, occasional firing along our picket lines, and skirmishing in front, convinced me that the enemy were on the alert, either for the purpose of watching the movements of the army, of which my brigade constituted the advance, or, if possible, by a direct attack upon me in overpowering numbers, to cut me off before reinforcements could be obtained from across the river. Early on the morning of the third instant, I ordered Major Norris, of the Forty-third Indiana, to proceed with four companies of that regiment to the front, to reconnoitre the position of the enemy, deploy the men as skirmishers, and support the cavalry pickets. He soon succeeded in discovering the position of the advance pickets and skirmishers of the enemy, drove them back for some distance, pressing them so closely that, the retreat of a number of them being cut off, sixteen came into our line and surrendered.

On the same evening, being satisfied that the enemy were in our front in force, and designed attacking us during the night or early next morning, I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Drake, Thirty-sixth Iowa, to proceed with three companies from that regiment, and three companies from the Forty-second Indiana, to a position on the main road leading from the ford immediately in our front, to deploy his men on the right and left of the road, to watch the movements of the enemy, and to resist their approach as long as was prudent, and retire to the reserves when they approached in force. One section of artillery, under Lieutenant Peetz, was planted so as to fully command the road and the leading approach on our right and left.

At six o'clock on the morning of the fourth, the enemy approached in force, and commenced an attack on the advance companies of Lieutenant-Colonel Drake, who resisted them gallantly for nearly two hours, being well supported by the artillery of Lieutenant Peetz.

Too much praise cannot be awarded Colonel Drake for the very distinguished gallantry and determined courage he exhibited during this contest.

The capture by his forces early in the morning of a rebel lieutenant — an aid-de-camp of General Marmaduke--confirmed me in the belief that that General was near in person, with a large portion of his division. After a very lively skirmish of near two hours, the enemy having discovered the position of our battery, and replying to it vigorously with four pieces of artillery, our pickets and advanced skirmishers were driven back on the left upon their infantry reserves, while upon the right they maintained their position.

The enemy (since ascertained to be General Cabell's brigade, sixteen hundred strong), charged with a yell upon our left, for the purpose of flanking us and capturing our battery.

Their approach from the cover of the timber was met gallantly by two or three well-directed volleys from the Thirty-sixth Iowa. Immediately after the charge and repulse of the enemy, the reinforcements sent for by me arrived, consisting of the Twenty-ninth Iowa infantry and Ninth Wisconsin infantry, of Brigadier-General Rice's brigade. But before they were put in position by him the enemy withdrew; not, however, until a grape-shot from the battery had inflicted a slight wound upon the General's head, from the effect of which, I am gratified to say, he has recovered.

In looking upon the results of this engagement and the great disparity of numbers of the forces engaged, I cannot but regard this encounter as one reflecting the highest praise upon the coolness and unflinching courage of the men of my command, all of whom acquitted themselves well.

The entire list of casualties (most of which are slight wounds), will not exceed forty-one, while.the new-made graves of eighteen of the enemy are in sight of our present encampment, and they confess to a loss of more than fifty wounded.


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Little Missouri River (Wyoming, United States) (1)
Arkansas (Arkansas, United States) (1)

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Peetz (3)
William E. McLean (3)
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Salomon (2)
W. W. Norris (2)
Vincent Marmaduke (2)
F. Steele (1)
H. W. Slocum (1)
Charles Rice (1)
C. W. Kittredge (1)
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Cabell (1)
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May 5th, 1864 AD (1)
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