Doc. 207.-battle of Pine Bluff, Ark.
Official report of Colonel Clayton.
headquarters army of Arkansas, little Rock, Ark., Nov. 8, 1863.Major: I have the honor to inclose Colonel Clayton's report of his gallant defence of Pine Bluff, also Lieutenant-Colonel Caldwell's report of his pursuit of Marmaduke. Caldwell captured more property than fell into the possession of Marmaduke during his raid. Very respectfully, Major, Your obedient servant,
General Marmaduke's forces and the garrison at this post. About eight o'clock in the morning, I sent Lieutenant Clark, Fifth Kansas cavalry, with one company, out in the direction of Princetown. He did not go far before he met the enemy advancing in force. The enemy's skirmishers fired on him at once, but soon after an armed party, bearing a flag of truce, came forward, and the officer in command of this party insisted that he should be allowed to pass in immediately. Lieutenant Clark told him it was no way to first fire on him, and then insist on going in with a flag of truce. But he would give him half an hour for him (Clark) to send in to headquarters and get an answer. He rejected the proposition, and said he had despatches from General Marmaduke to the commanding officer, he supposed demanding a surrender of the place. The Lieutenant  replied: “Colonel Clayton never surrenders, but is always anxious for you to come and take him, and you must get back to your command immediately, or I will order my men to fire on you.” He fell back, and they commenced skirmishing again. Meantime the whole command was ordered out, and skirmishers sent in every direction; also three hundred negroes set to work rolling cotton-bales out of the warehouses. In less than half an hour I had all the streets leading into Court Square completely and very formidably fortified with cotton-bales, and my artillery--six mountain howitzers, and three small steel rifled guns — planted so as to command every street leading into the square; my sharp-shooters posted in all of the houses and other buildings on the square, so that the enemy could in no way approach the works only through the open spaces. I then had about two hundred negroes commence carrying water from the river up to the square, and fill all the barrels they could find, so that, if necessary, I could hold out two days, even though cut off from the river. The enemy succeeded in driving in my skirmishers about nine o'clock, and approached the works in three columns, as follows — on my right, centre, and left, the main one being in the centre — and opened on me with their artillery, twelve pieces, a part of which were twelve-pound rifle guns, throwing both the Hotchkiss and the James projectiles. The firing from both sides, from the artillery and the sharp-shooters, continued with great rapidity until two o'clock. Between twelve o'clock M. and one o'clock P. M., the enemy set fire to the buildings on my right, expecting thereby to rout me; but I put some two hundred negroes to carrying water and throwing it on the buildings immediately joining the square, and thus prevented the fire from doing me any damage. The enemy seeing that he failed in his efforts to drive me by fire as well as by force, planted another battery on my centre and kept up a heavy cannonading for a short time, then retreated, (about two o'clock P. M.,) leaving a great portion of his wounded and dead on the field. I followed him for about one mile, then returned and stationed my pickets as usual. My loss was eleven killed, twenty-seven wounded, and one missing. There were also five negroes killed, and twelve wounded. The enemy's loss in killed and wounded, so far as ascertained, is about one hundred and thirty, and will probably reach one hundred and fifty. I have also three Lieutenants and thirty men prisoners, fifteen of whom are wounded. The buildings that were burned by the enemy were occupied by the Fifth Kansas cavalry as quarters, consequently their camp and garrison equipage, and their books and papers, were all burned. The train was also corraled in sheds in rear of the buildings that were burned. When the fire was raging the mules were cut loose to keep them from burning, and sixty-two of them are missing. The enemy also burned one warehouse, containing over two hundred bales of cotton. In setting fire to these buildings, General Marmaduke committed the gross and barbarous deed of burning some of his own wounded. Several of his own men who were wounded were burned to death, and almost entirely consumed by the flames that he kindled. The court-house General James's, General Yell's, and John Bloom's houses, were all nearly destroyed by the enemy's artillery. There is scarcely a house in town that does not show the effects of the battle. The enemy plundered every house he could get to, and stole every horse and mule from the citizens that he could lay his hands on. The prisoners that I captured reported General Marmaduke's force from two to three thousand men, and twelve pieces of artillery. I think he had some two thousand five hundred men, and twelve pieces of artillery. My force consisted of the Fifth Kansas cavalry, commanded by Major Thomas W. Scudder, and the First Indiana cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas N. Pace, and one company of State militia, commanded by Captain Murphy, amounting in all to some five hundred and fifty men. Captain Murphy's company behaved like veterans. The officers and men both of the Fifth Kansas cavalry and of the First Indiana cavalry behaved most admirably. The fact that so small a force kept four times their number at bay for five hours, and finally drove them from the field, bespeaks for the whole command greater efficiency and gallantry than words can do; every officer and soldier in the whole command seemed determined to fight as long as there was a round of ammunition left. The negroes also did me excellent service, and deserve much praise therefor. I am, General, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
Congratulatory order of General Steele.
headquarters army of Arkansas, little Rock, Ark., Nov. 7, 1863.General orders, no. 41: It is fit that the conduct of troops on the battle-field, especially gallant and heroic, should be publicly approbated by the commanding officer, and officially published for the emulation of the whole command. Therefore, the Major-General commanding the army of Arkansas publishes to his command these facts: On the twenty-fifth day of October last, the cavalry brigade, consisting of the Fifth Kansas and First Indiana cavalry, commanded by Colonel Powell Clayton, and numbering less than six hundred men, was attacked at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, by an army of rebels, twenty-five hundred in number, with twelve pieces of artillery. Unawed by this overwhelming force, they fought them for five hours, and drove them, discomfited and with heavy loss, from the field. Retreat and surrender were words unknown to these brave men, and their determined heroism  has inflicted a blow upon the rebel army not soon to be forgotten. The Major-General Commanding hereby tenders to Colonel Powell Clayton and his brave command his sincere and earnest thanks, for their gallant conduct in the defence of Pine Bluff; and they can rest well assured that their gallantry deserves, and will receive, the applause of their Government and the loyal people — the highest ambition of the true soldier. By order of
Chicago Tribune account.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas, October 26, 1863.The attack that the authorities here have been expecting for some time has at last come, and the roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry have subsided, and the smoke from a hard-fought battle-field, or rather battle-town, has disappeared enough to enable us to see where we are and what we have accomplished. This place is situated on the south bank of the Arkansas River, about fifty miles from Little Rock, ninety from the Mississippi River, and sixty from Arkadelphia, (General Price's late headquarters.) It contained, before the war, some three thousand inhabitants, and was one of the finest and most business towns in Arkansas. For six or seven weeks it has been occupied by the Federals, during which time it has been garrisoned by the Fifth Kansas cavalry, and the First Indiana cavalry, under the command of Colonel Powell Clayton, of the Fifth Kansas cavalry. There is also here one company of State militia, which has been recruited since the Federals came here. About two weeks ago, Colonel Clayton took three hundred and fifty men and four pieces of light artillery, and by making a circuitous route, and marching ninety miles in thirty-three hours, succeeded in surprising and completely routing Colonel Dobbin's cavalry brigade at Tulip, capturing one stand of colors, all his camp and garrison equipage, quartermaster and commissary stores, medical supplies, transportation, etc. The rebel authorities feeling ashamed and aggrieved at this, began to concentrate General Marmaduke's cavalry force at Princeton, forty-five miles from Pine Bluff, Friday, (October twenty-third), about noon, with about four thousand men and twelve pieces of artillery, mostly twelve-pound rifled guns, and started to take revenge on Colonel Clayton, who only had between five hundred and six hundred men, and nine pieces of light artillery. Sunday morning, about eight o'clock, Lieutenant Clark, of the Fifth Kansas cavalry, with one company, was sent out on the Princeton road, to see what he could discover, but did not go far before he met the enemy's advance, which fired on him at once. They did not skirmish but a few minutes before an armed party bearing a flag of truce came forward, and the officer commanding it said: “I must go to the commanding officer immediately.” Lieutenant Clark replied: “You cannot see Colonel Clayton. You have no right to be here with a flag of truce; you have already been firing on me, but I will give you half an hour to wait here for me to send in and get an answer.” He replied: “I will not wait. I have despatches from General Marmaduke, as I suppose, demanding a surrender of the post. I must go in immediately.” Lieutenant Clark said: “You cannot go in. Colonel Clayton never surrenders, but is always anxious for General marmaduke to come and take him; and now, God damn you, get back to your place immediately, or I will order my men to fire on you.” He fell back, and they commenced skirmishing again. Meanwhile Colonel Clayton assembled his whole command and sent out skirmishers in every direction, and come the General Jackson on them by setting three hundred negroes to rolling cotton-bales out of the warehouses to barricade Court Square. In less than thirty minutes every street and opening leading into Court Square was completely and very formidably fortified, and the artillery planted so as to command every street and opening leading into the square, and sharp-shooters placed in every building adjacent thereto, so that the rebels could approach the square in no way except through the streets and openings that were commanded by our artillery. Thus did Colonel Clayton, with a few negroes and plenty of cotton-bales, almost “in the twinkling of an eye,” convert a place apparently defenceless into a strong fort. Surely Cotton with his ebony sceptre is king. About nine o'clock the enemy had succceded in driving in the skirmishers, and approached us in three columns, namely, on our right, centre, and left, the main one being in the centre, and commenced pouring in their shell and canister like hail. The first fire was greeted with loud cheers from our boys, shell and canister from the guns, and a Sharpe's rifle-ball from every man that could get his eye on a “Butternut.” From this on there was a perfect tornado of shells, canister, and bullets flying from both sides for five hours. During all this time Colonel Clayton rode round the works and gave directions with as much coolness and composure as though he was directing the movements of some celebration instead of a battle. Every man also seemed determined to fight as long as he could get a round of ammunition. Between twelve o'clock M. and one o'clock P. M., the enemy set fire to the buildings on the right, expecting to be able to rout us by fire, though not able to do so by force. Two hundred negroes were set to carrying water and throwing it on the buildings on the right, adjacent to the square, and by thus doing prevented the fire from doing us any damage. As soon as the enemy found that he could not rout us by fire, he changed a battery from the right to the centre, kept up a sharp cannonading for a short time, then retreated, leaving his wounded and dead on the field. We followed him for about two miles, then returned and put out pickets the same as usual. The battle was fought  and won. Two regiments, the Fifth Kansas cavalry, the First Indiana cavalry, and one militia company — less than six hundred men in all — fought and kept at bay for five hours four thousand men, and finally made them beat an inglorious retreat.
“Bravely they fought and well,No words or comments to show the efficiency and gallantry of these two regiments are necessary. The battle they fought and won speaks for itself. Our loss was seventeen killed and thirty-nine wounded, and one missing, of whom five of the killed and twelve of the wounded were negroes. The enemy's loss, as far as ascertained, fifty-three killed and one hundred and sixty-four wounded. We captured three officers and thirty men. General marmaduke, in trying to burn us out, burnt several of his own wounded men. Oh! what an act of barbarity to men who, by taking the front of the battle, were wounded, and unable to get away. Their screams and groans, amid the crackling of the flames, and the thundering of the cannon, struck terror to our hearts, but it was impossible to rescue them. They were burned to death and almost entirely consumed by the fire that was kindled by his own ruthless and barbarous hand. They plundered every house that they could get to, and stole from the citizens all of the mules and horses they could find. The court-house was nearly demolished by the enemy's artillery; also so were several dwelling-houses. In fact, there is scarcely a house in town that does not show the effects of the battle. The women and children, by order of Colonel Clayton, went down under the river-bank, and not one of them was hurt. The negroes, the most of whom where employed during the battle in rolling cotton-bales and carrying water, though exposed most of the time to a heavy fire, did most admirable service, and behaved with a gallantry that will ever entitle them to be classed among the brave. The enemy is in full retreat, and every thing is quiet again.
The gallant six hundred.”