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[420] joined General Washburne, who had arrived with a regiment of cavalry from Springfield, in Missouri, without having encountered a single enemy. But the gun-boats failed to make their appearance. As we have said in a previous chapter, they had found the Confederates entrenched inside of strong batteries near St. Charles, one hundred and thirty kilometres above the mouth of White River. These works had been carried by troops that were landed; but the flotilla had suffered so much as to be unable to proceed farther up the river, the navigation of which was, besides, becoming more and more difficult. At the news of this check, Curtis started again to join the gun-boats below, in hopes of being able to assist them in surmounting the obstacles that had impeded their progress, and to undertake with them an offensive campaign against Little Rock. But the country through which he had to pass offered the greatest difficulties to the march of an army; it was a low, swampy region, intersected by canals or bayous, surrounded by impracticable marshes, poor in resources, and inhabited by a white population extremely hostile to the Federals. After crossing Big Black River by means of pontons, he proceeded along the left bank of White River as far as Augusta; then, bearing to the east, he reached a long water-course running parallel to this stream, called the Bayou Cache (Hidden Channel), in consequence, no doubt, of the forests and swamps which defend its approaches. On the 7th of July his vanguard had a spirited skirmish on the borders of this bayou with a brigade of Texan cavalry, which sought in vain to dispute its passage with him. The flotilla he was thus endeavoring to join was accompanied by a brigade of infantry from Indiana. These troops had not remained idle; but being ignorant of his approach, they wasted their time in fruitless demonstrations in the direction of Little Rock, pushing as far as Grand Prairie, where on the 6th of July they encountered some hostile parties. Finally, unable to procure any news, in consequence of the hostility of the inhabitants, and finding the water in White River constantly falling, the expedition of which they formed a part again descended the river as far as Clarendon. It was precisely toward this point that Curtis was marching. Chance thus seemed to facilitate the junction of the two expeditions, but Curtis' march was retarded by the difficulties

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