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[176] all sorts of stolen property, and had become plague spots of immorality. They were nominally the property of the government, but were used for the personal benefit of individuals; and being beyond the reach of law or any kind of moral influence, were the rendezvous of abandoned men and women of all conditions and colors, and the scene of almost perpetual orgies of licentiousness. Gordon's regiment was sent to abate the nuisance, which its commander did by holding some of the revelers as prisoners, banishing others under pain of death, burning the stolen property where there were no owners to claim it, and destroying the settlement root and branch.

In the meantime General Shelby had received information from General Price that he was organizing an expedition into Missouri; that he would cross the Little Rock & Devall's railroad some time in the latter part of July, and that he must destroy as much of the road as possible and keep the enemy as busy as possible in order that the ammunition train might cross the road in safety. Shelby entered eagerly on the work assigned him. With his own and Jackman's, McRae's and Dobbins' brigades—the second and third of which he had organized since he went to North Arkansas—he moved down and captured, after a hard fight, the forts at the crossing of Big Cypress, a treacherous, miry stream. There were four forts so arranged as to protect each other, and they were defended by an Illinois and a Nebraska regiment, and every one of them was in Shelby's possession within half an hour.

He then began destroying the railroad, having first sent a scouting party southward to ascertain whether General Price had crossed the Arkansas river as agreed. The scouting party heard nothing of Price, and Shelby concluded he had changed his plan and would cross the river above instead of below Little Rock. But he tore up the railroad track for twenty miles, in constant expectation of an attack from Little Rock or Devall's Bluff, or

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