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[113] them their arms. Upon learning this fact, I halted them upon the march until arms could be procured by purchase or impressment, Three regiments of infantry were being raised east of White river, mounted, to admit of their withdrawal upon any sudden emergency. They were concentrated at Cottonplant, about 15 miles east of Des Arc, and added to General Rust's command. His force amounted to about 5,000 effectives. His instructions were to resist the enemy to the last extremity, blockading roads, burning bridges, destroying all supplies, growing crops included, and polluting the water by killing cattle, ripping the carcasses and throwing them in. In that country at this season the streams are few and sluggish. No army could march through it so opposed. The only remaining route would be immediately along the bank of White river and crossing the Cache at Clarendon. To oppose the march along White river a gunboat was improvised by Captain Dunnington by lining the steamer Tom Sugg with cotton bales and mounting an 8-inch Columbia at her bow. I proceeded to Devall's Bluff, where the danger seemed greatest, the enemy below on the river making serious demonstrations by land and water daily, the skirmishing being almost incessant. But, after inspecting the work and observing the spirit of the men, I directed that a garrison of 500 strong could hold out against Fitch, and that I would lead the remainder—about 1,500—to General Rust as soon as shotguns and rifles could be obtained from Little Rock. Two days elapsed before the arms could be obtained. In that interval Curtis advanced across Cache river and attacked General Rust, whose command, after an engagement of about thirty minutes, retreated in great disorder across White river. Many of his men deserted, both Texans and Arkansans. No report of this affair was ever received, though often called for, consequently I am not able to give any of the details. My instructions for devastating the country were not executed.

The Federal reports of the affair with Rust show that if a McIntosh, a Cleburne or a McNair had been in command of the Confederates, the enemy would have received a disastrous blow. His advance detachments were surrounded, and ‘a charge into the cornfield,’ where

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Albert Rust (4)
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