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[469] well, and as at every few miles loyal citizens were met, informing us that the enemy was but a few miles ahead, every prospect for a grand fight was the common opinion.

At about eleven o'clock on Friday morning, as the advance guard was rising the crest of a hill, sixteen miles from here, the skirmishers discovered several mounted men in the road. Word was passed back, when Capt. Totten ordered a six-pounder to the front, and just as the men were in the act of leaving the house of one of their secession friends he sent a shell by the gunpowder line, which burst over the house. When this unexpected messenger dropped in among them they scampered away down the hill, so that when we arrived at the top, nothing was to be seen but a moving cloud of dust. A light wagon, loaded with cooked provisions, was discovered on the road, which was shared by our famished men and eaten with infinite gusto. Bedding and other accoutrements were found around the buildings, indicating a lengthened sojourn.

Our painful march was then continued with more caution, the woods and thickets being examined on either side of the road for ambuscades and surprises. Arrived at Dug Springs, some three miles further, we could perceive, as we entered the valley by one hill, dense columns of dust moving in various directions along the base and sides of the hills at the opposite end. The advance continued, the column drawn up ready for action. By the aid of glasses, bodies of men, both mounted and on foot, could be seen, and presently we could hear the sharp crack of the rifles of our advance guard. The flags were displayed, and all the indications seemed to point to a great battle, the position of the enemy being a strong one, and his force evidently numerous.

As there was no advance from the valorous rebels spite of our coaxing, the day far spent, and the prospect for camping ground ahead not very brilliant, a retrograde movement was ordered, with a view of coaxing the enemy from his position.

In order to understand the position of the parties, imagine an oblong basin of five miles in length, surrounded by hills from which spurs projected into the main hollow, covered with occasional thickets and oak openings. The winding of the road round the spurs had the effect of concealing the strength of each party from the other, so that from the top of each successive ridge could be seen the rear of the enemy's forces. At about five o'clock a brisk interchange of shots was commenced by our skirmishers, Captain Steele's regular infantry taking the lead on the left, supported by a company of cavalry, the rest of the column being back some distance. Presently we could see a column of infantry approaching from the woods with the design of cutting off our infantry. Capt. Stanley immediately drew up his men, and, as soon as within range, they opened fire from their Sharp's carbines, when several volleys were exchanged. The number of the enemy's infantry was seemingly about five hundred; our cavalry not quite a hundred and fifty. The infantry kept up the firing for some minutes, when some enthusiastic lieutenant giving the order to “charge,” some twenty-five of the gallant regulars rushed forward upon the enemy's lines, and, dashing aside the threatening bayonets of the sturdy rebels, hewed down the ranks with fearful slaughter. Capt. Stanley, who was amazed at the temerity of the little band, was obliged to sustain the order, but before he could reach his little company they had broken the ranks of the cowards, who outnumbered them as twenty to one. Some of the rebels who were wounded asked, in utter astonishment, “whether these were men or devils — they fight so?”

The ground was left in our possession, being strewn with muskets, shot-guns, pistols, etc. Our men seized some fifteen muskets and the same number of horses and mules and rode off, when a large. force of the enemy's cavalry was seen approaching from the woods, numbering some three hundred or more. At the instant when they had formed in an angle, Capt. Totten, who had mounted a six and twelve-pounder upon the overlooking hill, sent a shell right over them; in another minute the second--a twelve-pound shell, a very marvel of gunnery practice — which landed right at their feet, exploding, and scattering the whole body in the most admired disorder. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth were sent into their midst. The horsemen could not control their horses, and in a minute not an enemy was to be seen anywhere. Capt. Granger, of the artillery, was so pleased with the execution that he rode out to the spot, where he discovered several pools of blood on the ground, as if the shell had done great damage, one double-barrelled shot-gun being bent by the fragments of the shell.

The praise of all tongues was upon the magnificent charge of our cavalry. The men, actuated by a supreme disdain for the novices who had but recently left the plough for the musket, determined to give them a real taste of war at the onset, and they must have given the poor deluded fools a bitter foretaste, with their navy revolvers and carbines. Two of the lieutenants returned with their swords stained with the blood of men they had run through and through, up to the hilt. One horse which was led home was pierced by nine balls; another with sides so covered with gore as to conceal the wounds. Four of their wounded men were afterward picked up on the ground, some of them fatally. Unfortunately our loss, as might be expected, was severe. Four of our gallant regulars were brought in dead, and five wounded, one of which has since died. The loss of the enemy cannot be far from forty, and their wounded fully a hundred. Secession accounts admit their loss was heavy.

Although the entire action cannot be raised to the dignity of a great battle, for the whole

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Dug Springs (New Mexico, United States) (1)

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I. Totten (2)
Stanley (2)
Frederick K. Steele (1)
William Sharp (1)
Gordon Granger (1)
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