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[113] on it likely to be of use to Blunt or the Federal commanders south of Rolla. This was easily done, for the Federal force at Springfield remained there behind their fortifications, and made no effort to interfere with him. There were numerous depots of supply along the road, and these were destroyed, together with telegraph lines and stockades, and the militia garrisoning the latter were captured or dispersed. He remained on this line for a week and completely destroyed all communication between Rolla and points further south.

At Sand Spring Porter joined him, and he left the Rolla road and moved in the direction of Marshfield, in Webster county. On the second day's march from Marshfield, Porter in advance met a heavy force of Federal cavalry on the main road between Marshfield and Hartville, and promptly attacked it. The Federals gave way and it was a race between the two columns on different roads for Hartville. Just before reaching that point there was a considerable stream to be crossed, and the crossing was disputed by a strong body of Federals, but Porter drove them back and crossed. Marmaduke was informed by his scouts that the Federals were retreating from the town, and, without waiting for Shelby to come up, ordered Porter forward, who obeyed the order, moving in column, without advance guard or flankers. The Federal wagons were leaving the town, but the Federal soldiers were ambushed in a heavy black-jack thicket bordering the road, with a strong rail fence on the other side. When Porter got well in the trap, the concealed line rose and poured into his extended flank a terrific fire. In an instant his command was a struggling mass of men and horses. They could not charge into the scrub-oak thicket, and the fence held them firmly on the other side. As speedily as they could Porter and his officers got the men on more open ground, but the Federals followed them closely, firing volley after volley into them and preventing them rallying and reforming.

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