gap between it and Pilot Knob, into a larger valley of several thousand acres, encircled by a chain of hills, in the northern end of which, and about a mile from the town of Pilot Knob, is the village of Ironton. Through this gap runs the road from Pilot Knob to Frederickton, passing out of the larger valley by “the Shutin,” a gap four miles south-east of Pilot Knob. The two valleys are called “Arcadia.” Fort Davidson is a hexagonal work mounting four thirty-two pounder siege guns, and three twenty-four pounder howitzers en barbette. It lies on the plain south of the village of Pilot Knob, about three hundred yards from the base of Shepherd Mountain, six hundred from the base of Pilot Knob and one thousand from the gap. From the Fort to the remotest summit of these hills visible from it, it is not over twelve hundred yards; while all parts of the hillsides towards the Fort, except the west end of Shepherd Mountain, are in musket range. The Fort was always conceded to be indefensible against any large army having serviceable artillery. Early last summer I sent competent engineers to select another site; but such are the difficulties of the position, no practicable place could be found any more defensible. I therefore had the roads leading up the hills obstructed, cleared the nearest hill-sides of timber, and put the fort in a thorough state of defence by deepening the ditches, strengthening the parapet, and adding two rifle-pits, leading north and south, commanding the best approaches. On reaching Pilot Knob at noon of Monday, September twenty-sixth, I found scouting parties had been sent the night before on all the main roads, but that the party sent towards Fredericktown had returned after going but six or eight miles. I forthwith sent two companies to make a thorough reconnoissance towards Fredericktown, and a small scouting party, under Captain Bowers, to cross the roads leading from the south to that place, and learn of the loyal people on them as much as possible as to the force of the enemy. Both commands met Price's advance in Arcadia Valley, near Shut — in Gap, and were forced back into the town of Ironton, where, with Captain Dinger's company, Forty-seventh Missouri volunteers, then on duty there, they made a stand. I reinforced them with the detatchment of the Fourteenth Iowa, under Captain Campbell, a section of Montgomery's battery, Lieutenant Simonton commanding, and all my available cavalry, placing the whole under command of Major Wilson, with orders to drive the enemy, if possible, through Shut — in Gap. He drove them to the Gap, but was unable to hold them there, and was being forced back gradually, when night and a rain-storm suspended the engagement. By midnight it was evident the enemy were in strong force, as their column could be heard coming into the valley in steady procession, and their encampment grew extensive. We still did not know positively that Price's main army was there, though all our information was decidedly to that effect. But the advantages of delaying the enemy two or three days in his march northward, and of making a stubborn fight before retreating, were so great, even though the defense should be unsuccessful and much of the garrison be lost, that I resolved to stand fast and take the chances. I immediately forwarded up the railroad all the Quartermaster and Commissary stores not needed in the fort, and all the rolling stock, and started the Quartermaster's wagons empty. Details were set at work constructing in the fort six platformed barbettes for the field artillery, four pieces of which were taken into it. Lieutenant David Murphy, Forty-seventh Missouri Volunteers, a most gallant officer and experienced artillerist, was assigned to duty on my staff as Aide-de-Camp, and given general control of the artillery. Major-General Smith, whose immediate command was at De Soto and Mineral Point, was kept filly advised by telegraph of my information, movements, and purposes, until eleven o'clock Tuesday forenoon, when the line went down. At daylight (Tuesday) the enemy pushed Wilson back through Arcadia Valley to the gap between Shepherd Mountain and Pilot Knob. While they were trying to force the gap, I ordered the detachment of the Fourteenth Iowa to take position on the east end of Shepherd Mountain, and ordered Wilson to fall back with his cavalry along the side of Pilot Knob, thus commanding the gap from both sides, and opening a clear range from the fort. Wilson soon sent me word that the enemy were displaying a flag of truce. I knew it was a trick to effect a safe passage of the gap while partying about a surrender, and therefore ordered him to renew the fight at once. A long and obstinate struggle ensued, in which the enemy lost considerably in an unsuccessful effort to pass the defile. During an hour of comparative quiet which followed, they threw a force around Shepherd Mountain and approached from the west, but that approach was too greatly exposed, and they were driven from it by our artillery, aided by two companies of skirmishers. An hour more, and my troops were summarily ejected from the points commanding the gap, the enemy following them along the hill-sides in strong force. When they had well advanced, we opened on them with all our guns and drove them back in disorder with heavy loss. We retook the gap — were again forced from it — and again with artillery drove them from the hillsides. They got two pieces in position on the east side of Shepherd Mountain, commanding a part of the side of Pilot Knob, which, being equally commanded by the fort, became neutral ground. We still held, with skirmishers, the sides of Shepherd Mountain, except next the gap, and the side of Pilot Knob not raked by their artillery. After an hour of lull, lines of the enemy were seen at exposed points on the summits of the two hills, moving down, and almost before we could open fire on them, another white flag
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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