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[435] superior to that of the Confederates. Consequently, Hindman did not for some time venture to dispute with it the possession of the Ozark Mountains. Having control of these heights, Schofield was able to cover Southern Missouri and menace the whole Arkansas valley. Scarcity of provisions in the midst of a country already exhausted compelled him, during the month of November, to bring back a portion of his forces toward the Missouri frontier, but he left Blunt on the western slope of the Ozark Mountains to guard the outlets of the roads leading into the valleys of White River and the Arkansas through Fayetteville and Cane Hill. On the 26th of November he learned that the enemy had at last decided to resume the offensive. General Marmaduke had arrived at Cane Hill with seven or eight thousand men; Hindman was no doubt preparing to follow him. It was important to prevent their junction, and not allow them to obtain supplies in the neighborhood of Cane Hill, one of the richest wheat districts in all Arkansas.

Blunt started for Cane Hill with five thousand men, half of whom were mounted, and thirty field-pieces. On the morning of the 28th he found himself in presence of the enemy, whom he attacked from the north side, where he was not expected, by making a circuit around the woods. But he had withdrawn only a portion of his cavalry and one field-battery, and he was obliged to sustain an unequal struggle. The remainder of his force arrived at last. The Confederates were closely pressed, retired slowly by the Van Buren road, defending themselves wherever the ground offered the opportunity. In this way they reached the ridge of the Boston Mountains, on the summit of which they made a vigorous resistance. But the Second regiment of Kansas cavalry, having dismounted, rushed up to the assault of this position, carried it, and drove the enemy upon the other slope of the mountain. The combat was continued on that side. The Confederates, having quickly rallied, stopped the advance of the Federal column, which in this long march had left a large number of men behind, and the horses of which were beginning to give out. Night overtook both parties on the borders of a stream called Cove Creek, where the roads from Cane Hill and Fayetteville to Van Buren unite to enter a narrow defile; and in this

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