Rifle-pits and redoubts were constructed on the north of the river, near Little Rock
, for occupation by the infantry, should the position at Bayou Meto
be turned by the enemy.
This was a danger to be apprehended for the bayou line of defense, and, in fact, for the rifle-pits, as the river was fordable in a great many places, and the enemy could cross east of the city.
ordered the removal of all public stores in the city to Arkadelphia
, in order to be prepared to evacuate Little Rock
; but he still strengthened his defenses in front, and perfected the means of transit so as to be able to throw forces from one side to the other, and particularly, to secure the withdrawal of the army to the south side in the event of defeat.
Then came information from General Cabell
of the retreat of Gen. William Steele
in the Indian
country, the defeat of Cabell
near Fort Smith
, and that the Arkansas river
above was exposed at all points, all pointing to the inevitable abandonment of the Arkansas valley
's army advanced slowly.
, reaching Clarendon
, August 15th, reported to Steele
that the expedition which he had sent up White river
had captured the two Confederate steamers Kaskaskia
and Tom Suggs
, in the Little Red, and had destroyed the bridge of flatboats over which the ‘ubiquitous Marmaduke
’ had crossed his cavalry to the south side; losing 2 men killed in the expedition, and 5 wounded. It was rumored among the Federals
that Kirby Smith
was in command at Little Rock
On the 23d, Steele
, occupying Devall's Bluff
, reported that he should operate from that base, with two gunboats there to defend his flanks; that his sick list was frightful, including many officers, and if reinforcements were not sent him, he should very likely meet with disaster; that his army was the poorest command, excepting the cavalry, he had ever seen; more than 1,000 reported unfit for duty, and he asked for ‘more gunboats.’
's cavalry force met with its first