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[440] immediately hastened to the assistance of his lieutenant, and sent despatches, which were intercepted by Confederate troopers. The whole of his convoy had reached Rhea's Mills the previous day; he was therefore able to leave Cane Hill without being encumbered by any vehicle. Wickersham led the advanced guard of the division; he was to take the direct road from Cane Hill to Fayetteville, which connects with the post-road before reaching Prairie Grove, and which would have brought him unexpectedly upon the rear of the enemy. But instead of remaining on this road, the cavalry turned to the left, into a cross-road leading to Rhea's Mills. Afraid of dividing his forces at so critical a moment, Blunt was obliged to follow. On reaching camp, where he found his convoy, he heard the faint echoes of cannon resounding at the other extremity of the prairie; it was Herron fighting at Prairie Grove. He started immediately with the cavalry and two of his brigades, leaving Solomon's to guard the convoy, and directed his course by the noise of battle, which was becoming more and more distinct.

His arrival, as we have said, could not have been more opportune. At this moment the Confederates were massing their forces upon their left for the purpose of flanking Herron's right wing. In the midst of this manoeuvre they encountered Blunt's heads of column, which were debouching upon their flank. The struggle began at first with cannon-shot; the infantry soon took part in it. While the cavalry was covering his right, Blunt pushed Weer's brigade into a wood, where the Confederates had been forming for the attack; they were dislodged from it, and their movement arrested. Herron, disengaged, joined his line to that of Blunt, and Dye's brigade, of the second division, repulsed the enemy, who tried to penetrate between that brigade and the third. Cannonading and musketry-fire continued until night, without the Confederates resuming the attack, or making any serious effort to drive their adversaries back upon Illinois Creek.

The losses of the Federals were considerable, amounting to one thousand one hundred and forty-eight men, of whom one hundred and sixty-seven were killed, seven hundred and ninety-eight wounded and one hundred and eighty-three prisoners; out of this total, nine hundred and fifty-three belonged to Herron's

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