On starting, they fell upon about twenty rebels in the town of Caledonia, and routed them, killing one. We there learned that our forces had fallen back from Mineral Point, and that Shelby had taken Potosi the evening before; and I therefore at once left the Potosi road and took that through Webster towards Rolla. I afterwards learned that, after his repulse Tuesday, Price ordered Shelby's division down from Potosi to Pilot Knob, to take part in a second attack, and that the squad we routed at Caledonia was Shelby's advance. He waited several hours with his division, to give us battle two miles north of Caledonia, thus giving us a good start on the Webster road before pursuing. Marmaduke's division left Pilot Knob at eight that morning to overtake us, and joining Shelby in the pursuit at Caledonia. At sundown, we reached Webster, thirty-one miles from Pilot Knob, and rested until midnight. From information received there, I determined to go to Harrison (Leesburg), on the south-west branch of the Pacific railroad, because part of Colonel Warmuth's militia regiment was there, but especially because the road to Rolla was one on which we could be easily surrounded by a superior cavalry force,while that to Harrison led nearly all the way along a sharp spur of the Ozark range, separating the waters of the Huzza and the Courtois, and through the gorge of the Huzza, walled in with untraversable cliffs. To Rolla was fifty-five miles, to Harrison thirty-five. I here sent Captain Hills with ten men in advance to Franklin, with instructions to telegraph to the Major-General commanding at St. Louis, and to General McNeil, at Rolla, of our movements, and to arrange means for securing our safe and speedy withdrawal from Harrison to Rolla or St. Louis. The night was intensely dark and stormy; and we groped our way with great effort and little progress. We had just reached the ridge at eight o'clock Thursday morning, when the enemy charged upon our rear guard and drove it upon the column. I placed the detachment of the Fourteenth Iowa infantry, company H, Forty-seventh Missouri, companies C, D and K, Third Missouri, State Militia cavalry, and Lieutenant Smiley's section of artillery, in the rear, all under command of Major Williams, Tenth Kansas, acting Aide-de-Camp, and with occasional halts to rake the woods with shell and canister, we made a good and successful march, the enemy almost constantly engaged with our rear guard, but unable to break through or flank it, until within four miles of Harrison. There the road debouches on a high sweep of gently rolling woodland, and from that we fought hard for every step we gained. The refugees, men, women and children, white and black, who clung to the command, nearly sacrificed it by their panics. I had to throw out the available fighting force, infantry and cavalry, as advance and rear guards and flankers, leaving in the body of the column the affrighted non-combatants and two sections of artillery, not often brought into action on the retreat. Repeated and stubborn efforts were made to bring us to a stand, and could they have forced a halt of an hour, they would have enveloped and taken us; but our halts, though frequent, were brief, and were only to unlimber the artillery, stagger the pursuers with a few rounds, and move on. We reached Harrison just after dark, having made the march of sixty-six miles in thirty-nine hours. We found Warmuth's militia gone. The station is thirty-five miles from Rolla, forty-five from Franklin, and eighty-two from St. Louis. The position is naturally strong, being on the crest of a ridge, with no timber to obstruct the range for two hundred yards on either side. A cut for the railroad track gave shelter for the horses; a large number of ties were there, of which the militia had made breastworks, and the adjacent buildings were well situated for purposes of defence. My command had just time to form and the artillery to unlimber; when an assault was made; but, aided by darkness and our rude defences, we repulsed it. Just then the eastern train arrived with military stores for Rolla, and cars enough to move my troops. We got the command aboard,and were about to start for St. Louis, with the cavalry moving on a parallel road, when the nearest stations north and south of us were seen in flames. The command was at once taken off the cars, and the night spent in fortifying. At daybreak, Friday, the enemy appeared in force and prepared apparently for an assault. They kept up a demonstration throughout the day, accompanied with a heavy fire of skirmishers, which was well replied to from our defenses. Having less than thirty rounds to the gun we used our artillery but little, reserving it for the moment of assault, or the emergencies of a further retreat. The day passed in instant expectation of an attack in force and in unremitting labor on the defenses, which were extended and strengthened so they grew formidable. Friday night another assault was repulsed, and the night passed in snatches of rest amid hourly and most harassing alarms. Hearing nothing of reinforcements, I at midnight dispatched a citizen messenger to Rolla, to ask help from there; and Lieutenant-Colonel Maupin to Franklin to advise the Major-General commanding of my condition, and endeavor to bring some mounted militia from Franklin county to my aid, if nothing better could be done — my now total want of serviceable cavalry, and the exhausted condition of the infantry, having made a further retreat extremely hazardous. The citizen got to Rolla, but Lieutenant-Colonel Maupin and Captain Schenck and Lieutenant Fletcher, who accompanied him, could not accomplish their errand, and barely escaped capture. Saturday morning the enemy appeared in increased force, thoroughly reconnoitred our position and made every preparation to take us. But the forenoon passed like the day before; in an incessant fire with their skirmishers, and constant expectation of an assault. I think our
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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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