As fast as their horses could bring them, Shelby
and his division returned, passed through the mob of panic-stricken men, and almost before the Federals
knew it presented a firm front to them.
During the day Shelby
rode down horse after horse, trying to bring some sort of order out of the chaos, all the time keeping his eye on the movements of the enemy, fighting and checking them whenever he could, without hazarding a general engagement.
Just before sundown he got all the men possible in line, opened with his artillery and offered the enemy battle.
In one sense it was a bluff, but Shelby
had a habit of making his bluffs good.
The enemy brought their artillery into action and seemed inclined to accept the challenge, but Shelby
had sent John T. Crisp
, with a crowd of men whom he had succeeded in getting together, around an extensive elevation in the prairie, and these appearing in a position to threaten the enemy's flank, he halted, hesitated, and then slowly and sullenly retired.
Except for an hour that night, when many wagons were burned and great quantities of ammunition were destroyed, the army did not halt until it had marched 65 miles and reached the vicinity of Newtonia
All this time Shelby
was in rear covering its retreat.
When he reached Newtonia
he informed General Price
that a column of the enemy, probably 5,000 strong, was not far behind him. General Price
discredited the information.
held his division in readiness to meet the enemy.
He was determined to fight and end the question of the pursuit then and there.
He chose his position judiciously and waited.
There was no useless delay on the enemy's part nor on Shelby
's. As soon as Blunt
came up he attacked (October 28th). Shelby
repelled his attack and charged him. For a half or three-quarters of an hour the fighting was terrific, then the Federals
began to give way, and in an hour from the time the first gun was fired Blunt
was in full and rapid retreat Shelby
made the fight alone