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[104] command of it. Shelby was ordered by Marmaduke to report to him near Van Buren. But if the Confederates, acting in accordance with the letter and spirit of General Holmes' orders, were inclined to stay on the south side of the State line and keep the peace, the Federals on the north side of the line were not so kindly disposed.

General Schofield had withdrawn his army to Springfield and gone into winter quarters. But General Blunt, of Kansas, a rugged soldier and fighter, had concentrated a heavy force at Fayetteville with the view of crossing the Boston mountains and disturbing the repose of the Confederates in the Arkansas valley. Marmaduke was ordered to oppose him, and on the 17th of November moved out from his camp near Van Buren, with Shelby's brigade, reinforced with Arthur Carroll's brigade of Arkansas cavalry. Cane Hill was his objective point. Lieut. Arthur McCoy, with a force of fifty picked men, surprised and routed a body of Pin Indians the day Cane Hill was reached. The next day Shelby received information that the enemy was advancing to attack him, and made preparations accordingly. The Federals avoided his pickets and attempted to surprise him by making their way, dismounted, through a large cornfield. When within point-blank range, they were received with a heavy fire of artillery and musketry, and fled. Carroll was ordered to make pursuit, but did it so hesitatingly and feebly that the enemy escaped.

But these were merely preliminary skirmishes. Blunt's command as a whole had not been engaged. He had been reinforced until he had probably 7,000 men. On the 3d of December he advanced on Cane Hill slowly and cautiously. Marmaduke had sent everything likely to impede his movements across the Boston mountains, and was ready and waiting for the attack. All the day of the 4th the men were in line of battle, but the enemy did not appear. The next morning, however, at sunrise, he came in force. Shelby's battery, advantageously posted,

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