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[24] and suffocating dust; twelve miles of the distance being without water and the men deprived of canteens and even of cups. On the night of the 8th they arrived at Big Spring, near Wilson's creek, ten or eleven miles south of Springfield. They had only half rations; but ‘roasting ears’ were ripe, and that they might eke out subsistence, the army was marched forward to the creek, where there were several large fields of corn. Their appearance, covered with dust, was squalid in the extreme, but this fact seemed in nowise to dampen their ardor or good spirits, for, having finished their suppers, they enjoyed themselves dancing by their camp-fires. McCulloch's armed men, carrying flintlock muskets, shotguns and rifles, numbered, as he stated, 5,300 infantry, 15 pieces of artillery, and 6,000 horsemen, inadequately armed. On the evening of August 9th they received orders to march on Springfield, starting at 9 o'clock, in order to make the attack at daylight. They prepared their guns and ammunition, but the order to march was postponed to morning, and the men resumed their dancing, which they kept up until a late hour. General McCulloch explained the change of orders that night, as follows, in his letter to Secretary Benjamin:
At the hour named for the march there fell a little rain, with strong indications of more, which caused the order to march to be countermanded, after a conference with General Price. This was thought to be prudent, as we had an average of only twenty-five rounds of ammunition to the man, and no more to be had short of Fort Smith or Baton Rouge. Not more than one man in four was furnished with anything better than cotton bags in which to carry cartridges. The slightest rain or wet would have almost disarmed us, as many of the men had nothing but shotguns or common rifles of the country, without bayonets. However, the enemy unwisely decided to attack us in our position, which was well selected for the kind of arms we had to use against their long-range rifled muskets.

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