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[432] Missouri and march upon Rolla, the most important of the Federal depots; a considerable number of recruits were also assembled at Little Rock.

Schofield resolved to attack the enemy before he was in a condition to take the offensive. He had been appointed, on the 26th of September, to the command of the army of the frontier, consisting of all the available forces scattered through Missouri, and of those of Blunt, stationed in Kansas; Curtis had superseded him in the territorial command of Missouri, transferring that of the forces which had remained stationary at Helena for the last two months, to Steele. On the 30th of September the army of the frontier numbered a little over fifteen thousand men, more than one-half of whom were mounted, with twenty or twentyfive guns. The larger portion of this army, comprising about four thousand eight hundred infantry, five thousand six hundred horse and sixteen guns, was at Springfield; three brigades, nearly all mounted, were at Sarcoxie, on the road to Newtonia, and General Blunt had just arrived from Kansas with some reinforcements. Schofield took up his line of march for Sarcoxie with six thousand men. He left five thousand to guard Springfield and his long line of communication with St. Louis. After effecting a junction with Blunt and the three brigades which were already at Sarcoxie, he was able to put about ten thousand men in line. This was a smaller number than that of the enemy. His undertaking, therefore, was difficult, commencing as it did under unfavorable auspices. On the morning of the 30th, Solomon's brigade pushed a reconnaissance as far as Newtonia. His vanguard had met the enemy in force and was driven back. Solomon, having hastened to its assistance, found himself in front of a large portion of Cooper's cavalry, which was waiting for him in line of battle and on foot. After a lively engagement the Federals were finally repulsed and driven back in disorder upon Sarcoxie. Bell's brigade fortunately arrived toward evening, not in time to succor them, but at least to cover their retreat. It was necessary to repair this check at once. On the 1st of October the troops which had left Springfield, forming a division under General Totten, joined those commanded by Blunt, and the whole of this small army started for Newtonia. The Confederates did not wait

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