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[468]

The first hill that is encountered in ascending the Arkansas lies on the left bank of the river, eighty kilometres above the point of confluence. The river which cuts into this hill, forming it into a bluff, turns from its direct course after washing its foot, and thus commands the two branches of this elbow, both above and below. The first Europeans who visited this spot planted the French flag there, for the Mississippi then belonged to us. A small fort was erected in 1685 to serve as a refuge against the Indians, which was called Poste de l'arkansas, preserved in the English translation as Arkansas Post. Upon this spot the Confederate general Hindman had constructed a large rectangular bastioned work of one hundred metres front, with casemates, surrounded by a ditch of seven metres by three, with an armament of twelve guns, which dominated the whole course of the river. The garrison was commanded by General Churchill. This work, called Fort Hindman, was the key to the whole course of the Arkansas. Its reduction was necessary before the occupancy of Little Rock and the centre of the State could be thought of. It was the shelter of the light vessels which the Confederates sent, when the opportunity offered, as far as the Mississippi, to capture such Federal transports as were so unfortunate as to have no escort. A short time previous these ships had captured a Federal transport loaded with ammunition; there were found on board three nine-inch howitzers, or columbiads, which were immediately placed on the sheltered front commanding the lower course of the river.

The expeditionary corps under command of McClernand numbered from twenty-six to twenty-seven thousand men, comprising forty regiments of infantry, ten batteries, many of which contained twenty pounders, and about fifteen hundred horse. Instead of entering the Arkansas at Napoleon, the fleet, in order to deceive the enemy as to its destination, penetrated into White River through a branch of the latter which empties directly into the Mississippi a little below, and thence reaches the Arkansas through the principal arm, which debouches into this river at Wellington. On the 9th of January, the vessels were moored to the left bank near a plantation called Notrib's Farm, five kilometres below Arkansas Post. The process of disembarkation commenced

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