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[149] late to retire, he was confronted also by the Second and Third divisions of the army of the Frontier, under Herron, the largest of the formidable armies which had been created in Missouri, the theater of war from the beginning of strife. They were hurled against him simultaneously, bold in the confidence of their superiority in armaments and numbers. It was a situation for the Confederate commander that must have appalled any one not endowed with a nerve that grew steadier when threatened by such imminent danger. His men were untried, were involuntary levies for the most part, and under leaders whom they had not known or chosen; ill fed, badly armed, without tents or sufficient clothing in the severe weather, and suffering from unaccustomed hardships and privations. When he formed his small army of 10,000 to face the approach of two armies each of that strength, if not in numbers, yet in all physical respects in evident superiority, he realized the task before him and quailed not; met them squarely, fought them fairly, and whipped them with a courage that was sublime and a success almost miraculous. Is it at all singular that he retired from his position, when it is a wonder that he held it at all? So he concludes the report of the action with the satisfying explanation following:
Considering the strength of my command, as compared with the enemy; considering that my men were destitute of food, their wagons 39 miles in the rear, and not to be brought forward without imminent danger of being lost; that my small supply of ammunition was reduced far below what would be necessary for another day's fighting, and that my battery animals were literally dying of starvation and could not be foraged in the presence of a superior force of the enemy, I determined to retire, and gave the necessary orders for that purpose. Cavalry was extended along both sides of the Cove creek road, distant 2 or 3 miles from it, from near Prairie Grove to the mountains, and scouts were thrown upon all routes leading toward the enemy's position. The prisoners and captured property were removed. At 12 o'clock the rear guard of

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