left in the rear might have caused us much trouble and loss of property while navigating the Mississippi.
The story of the assault and defense will be understood most clearly from the Confederate
point of view by reading the unaffected, concise account contained in the official report of General Churchill
, who was in command:
On the morning of the 9th of January, I was informed by my pickets stationed at the mouth of the cut-off, that the enemy, with his gunboats, followed by his fleet of seventy or eighty transports, was passing into the Arkansas river.
It now became evident that his object was to attack the Arkansas Post.
I immediately made every arrangement to meet him, and ordered out the whole force under my command, numbering about 3,000 effective men, to take position in some lower intrenchments about a mile and a quarter below the fort.
The Second brigade, under Colonel Deshler, and the Third, under Colonel Dunnington, occupied the works, while the First brigade, under Colonel Garland, was held in reserve.
Three companies of cavalry, under command of Captains Nutt, Denson and Richardson, were sent in advance, to watch the movements of the enemy.
During the night the enemy effected a landing about two miles below, on the north side of the river.
The following day, about 9 o'clock, the gunboats commenced moving up the river, and opened fire upon our position.
Having but one battery of field pieces, of 6 and 12-pounders, I did not return the fire.
It was here that I expected the cooperation of the guns from the fort, but owing to some defect in the powder they were scarcely able to throw a shell below the trenches, much less to the fleet.
About 2 o'clock p. m., finding that I was being flanked by a large body of cavalry and artillery, I thought it advisable to fall back under cover of the guns of the fort to an inner line of intrenchments.
The enemy advanced cautiously, and as they approached our lines were most signally repulsed.
They made no further attempt that evening to charge our works, and I employed the balance of the time until next morning in strengthening my position and completing my intrenchments.
Discovering that a body of the enemy had occupied the cabins in our old encampment, I ordered