The commanding officer seemed to be in a state of uncertainty, his force having been diminished by the necessary details for taking care of his captives, and by the killed and wounded.
He was also without forage or subsistence, and the Saline
was rising, though not absolutely impassable.
The general's home was upon it a short distance above, and he knew it afforded no insuperable obstacle if he was prepared to advance.
But having been ordered to Little Rock
and Devall's Bluff
at starting, he had since been enjoined not to cross the Arkansas
That meant, that if he should be repulsed at Little Rock
he would have to fail back over 80 miles, without forage or subsistence.
The order was in effect an arrest of his march.
Thursday night it rained; Friday it poured down rain all day. To get forage he must move, and he knew of none nearer than the vicinity of the Ouachita
, near Arkadelphia
In the meantime, Steele
had evacuated Camden
, had passed through Princeton
, and was in full and frantic flight to the fortifications at Little Rock
A lieutenant of Elliott
's battalion reported to Shelby
with prisoners captured from Steele
's army at Princeton
the night before, that Steele
was at Princeton
with the remnant of his army.
The command marched westward all day, April 29th, and camped 35 miles from Princeton
That night a dispatch was received about midnight, stating that Steele
had passed Princeton
and was then within 8 miles of Jenkins
These circumstances General Fagan
mentions at the conclusion of his report of the battle of Marks' mills, and explains the mischance by which he left the route Steele
had to travel, as follows:
At the close of the engagement (Marks' mills), which lasted about four hours, heavy details were necessarily made to take charge of the prisoners, wagons, ambulances, artillery, loose horses, mules, etc., to be taken to the rear.
A strong force was necessary for the safe passage to the south bank of the Ouachita of these prisoners and property.
This, with my loss in the fight, reduced my force near