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[353] 1st December, Gen. Hindman put his whole force in motion to meet the enemy, and, if possible, drive him back, as a large supply of quartermaster and commissary stores had been collected at Van Buren.

Owing to delays occasioned by crossing the river and the bad condition of our transportation, the command did not reach the camp on Cove Creek until the evening of the 5th. The position was six miles from Cane Hill, the same where Gen. Price halted on his retreat from Springfield in the winter of 1861. When Gen. Hindman reached this place, he learned that Blunt was camped at Cane Hill, and that Gen. Herron, with five thousand men, was pushing on rapidly from Springfield to reinforce him. It was immediately determined by Hindman to meet this latter force, and, defeating it, to turn upon Blunt, and force him to surrender. He issued an extravagant address to his soldiers, and designated the enemy opposed to them as a combination of “Pin Indians, free negroes, Southern tories, Kansas Jayhawkers, and hired Dutch cut-throats.” He declared that unless this ruthless force was defeated, the country would be ruined.

In order that Gen. Hindman's plan of operations might be effectual, it was necessary to engage Blunt's attention so as to prevent his falling back to Fayetteville, and forming a junction with Herron. For this purpose, early in the morning of the 6th December, a regiment of cavalry was sent to drive in the enemy's outposts nearest us. At sunrise, the 11th Missouri infantry were pushed forward as far as the cavalry had advanced, to deploy as if to invite attack. It only succeeded in developing a party of Indians, who declined attacking. In the evening, Hindman's whole force was moved up to the ground occupied by the 11th Missouri infantry, and a regiment of cavalry was ordered to drive in the skirmishers, and feel the main body. Some desultory fighting ensued, and continued until nightfall.

Hindman's whole command, resting on their arms, were ordered to move at two o'clock in the morning on the roads towards Fayetteville, to attack Herron's force approaching the field of battle. A regiment of cavalry was ordered to remain with one battery of light field pieces, and to commence shelling the enemy in front at daylight. The next morning, the command struck the Fayetteville and Cane Hill road, and surprised the advance-guard of Herron's force, capturing two hundred prisoners.

This success appears to have confused Gen. Hindman, and, instead of attacking Herron immediately and with vigour, he divided his force, sending Parsons' brigade in the direction of Cane Hill, as if expecting an attack from Blunt. Meanwhile, Blunt, anticipating a flank movement, had fallen back, and Hindman made a new disposition of his forces. But valuable time had been lost, and the attack was not made on Herron's force until half-past 3 o'clock in the afternoon. In our line of battle, the Arkansas troops were on the right flank, the First Missouri brigade forming the

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