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Doc. 124.-battle near little Rock, Arkansas.

A National account.

little Rock, Arkansas, September 13.
This city was captured by General Steele's forces on the evening of the tenth, and I avail myself of the departure of the first courier to send you the particulars. In order to properly appreciate the movement and the value of our success, it will be necessary to consider some of the difficulties under which our forces labored. When General Steele concentrated his army at Brownsville, on the first of September, he ascertained definitely that General Price, with a force largely superior in numbers, had taken up a strong position four miles from Little Rock, and was awaiting his advance behind intrenchments of the most formidable character, protected upon one flank by the Arkansas River, and upon the other by an impassable cypress swamp. The roads leading to the rebel position from the front pursued a devious course through swamps crossed by narrow causeways, which had been obstructed by tearing up the corduroy foundation at the impassable places, and by felling the timber on both sides across it. Ample cover was afforded by the canebrakes and thickets for the enemy's sharp-shooters to annoy both flanks of an advancing column. To advance along such a road to the assault of the skilfully constructed defences of the enemy, was to subject his army to a loss and labor which was not to be thought of.

Some kind of a flank movement was accordingly determined upon, though its exact character was necessarily left for circumstances to determine. The existence of a ford across the Arkansas, eight miles above Little Rock, had become known to General Steele, and on the evening of September second he sent General Davidson, with two of the three brigades of his cavalry division, to reconnoitre the country in that direction, and gather information touching the feasibility of making a crossing at that point General Davidson ascertained that, by the detour our forces would be required to make, the Arkansas [418] River was at least fifty miles from Brownsville, and that our line of march would cross the Searcy and Batesville roads, along either of which a section of six-pounders could be galloped abreast, our column cut in two, and, in case of disaster, a superior force thrown directly in our rear, intercepting at once support and supplies. A flank movement upon the enemy's left was not deemed practicable after this reconnoissance.

Upon the enemy's right the Arkansas River inclined toward us, and could not be over eighteen miles distant, with no roads of consequence opening our rear to the enemy, in case of an advance in that direction. The most feasible plan, then, presenting itself was to avoid the road the enemy had so carefully obstructed, and was so well prepared to defend, and by a detour to the left reach the Arkansas River below Little Rock, and, moving up, assault the enemy's works upon their extreme right, where they were known to be weaker than at the point or intersection with the Brownsville road.

Accordingly General Steele placed his whole column in motion on the morning of the seventh, with the exception of one brigade of infantry and two of cavalry, which followed on the eighth. Bayou Metaire was reached and crossed the same day with much difficulty, and consequent delay, at Shallow Ford, some eight or ten miles to the left of the usual crossing at the bridge. On the following morning General Davidson, with a single brigade of his cavalry, was assigned the advance, and pushed on, through by-paths and obscure roads, through the canebrakes and jungles of bushes and vines, in the direction of Terry's Ferry, on the Arkansas, eight miles in a direct line below Little Rock. The enemy was not seen until within three miles of the river, where a brigade of cavalry was encountered in a strong position behind Ashley's Bayou. Dismounting “Merrill's horse,” and deploying them in the woods, the rebels were driven back toward their works, and in the mean time General Davidson, with the remainder of the brigade and a section of Stange's howitzers and Hadley's battery of rifled guns, dashed down a road upon the east side of the bayou, which was crossed lower down, and reached the river a short distance below the point desired. A rebel picket was surprised upon the river-bank, part of it captured, and the remainder, to General Davidson's great surprise — for he had been led to believe it quite deep — forded the river.

Had his entire division been with him, he would have crossed the river and dashed immediately upon Little Rock. But with only two regiments, and in ignorance of the force he would encounter upon the opposite bank, the crossing could not be attempted. General Steele arrived the same evening, with General Rice's and Colonel Engleman's infantry divisions. An examination of the ford led Generals Davidson and Steele to hesitate about trusting their batteries in the treacherous quicksands of the Arkansas, and demonstrated that artillery could only be crossed by a pontoon-bridge. The advance of the trains was very slow and tedious, notwithstanding General Rice's pioneers had widened the road, and in many places constructed an entirely new one. The wheels sank to the hub at every revolution for miles, and the pontoon train did not arrive until the afternoon of the day following, being the ninth. In the mean time the enemy had brought down a battery and two or three regiments to dispute our crossing.

The possibility of crossing the Arkansas, which would enable us to effectually turn Price's position, opened a new field to General Steele, of which he at once determined to take advantage. It was at first suggested to cross the entire army to the south bank of the river, and move with the whole force upon Little Rock at once. This plan was open to the very serious objections of exposing to inevitable interruption our communication with our base of supplies at Duvall's Bluffs, on White River, perhaps involving the capture of Duvall's Bluffs, with all its supplies of ammunition, quartermaster and commissary stores.

We were, besides, with short supplies, the whole army being on half-rations. And, had General Steele crossed his entire force to the south bank of the Arkansas, and left Price upon the north bank, with five or ten days supplies, he would not only have exposed his communications to interruption, but he would have subjected himself to the necessity of recrossing the river in the face of Price's army, and cutting his way back to Duvall's Bluffs, or retreat upon Napoleon! The former, under the circumstances, would be hazardous in the extreme, as it would dishearten our troops, and lend to the superior forces of Price an enthusiasm which would prove but the forerunner of victory. The retreat upon Napoleon would have given Price an open road to Missouri, where we have no adequate force to meet him. In short, the plan was not feasible, and there remained to be done but the one thing, which was done.

A reconnoissance revealed the fact that, in advancing along the river to the assault of the rebel works on the north bank, we would be subjected for eight miles, as well as in the attack itself, to an enfilading fire from rebel batteries, along the south bank of the Arkansas. This new obstacle would probably make our advance along the north bank, unsupported by a column upon the south bank, and an assault upon the enemy's works, a failure, or, in the event of success, subject us to a heavy loss.

It was then determined that General Davidson should cross the Arkansas with his whole division, and, taking with him Hadley's and Clarkson's batteries, and Stange's and Lovejoy's howitzers, follow up the south bank of the stream, while General Steele, with the infantry and the remaining batteries, advanced along the opposite bank to the assault of the rebel works on the north side. Dividing the army by placing an impassable river between its two wings, gave Price the opportunity of concentrating his whale [419] force upon either one, and fighting one part of our army under circumstances preventing all support from the other. The plan was a bold one--a desperate one--such as only the peculiar necessities of General Steele's position would have permitted. But it was the only one promising success, and General Davidson readily accepted the part assigned him, although sensible of the probability of meeting the whole of Price's army in his front, with the necessity of giving battle with cavalry in a dense forest, instead of an open plain, where alone it had heretofore been considered effective, while an impassable river destroyed the most remote possibility of receiving the support of infantry, even in the most desperate emergency.

There may be those who cannot see why Steele, instead of moving to an assault of the rebel position with an inferior force, under such marked disadvantages, did not remain in his position at Brownsville until properly reenforced. To such I would say, that when General Steele left Helena on the fifteenth of August, he did not have in his command a single sick man. When he left Duvall's Bluffs on the first of September, he left one thousand four hundred sick behind him, and a week later he left seven hundred more behind him, in advancing from Brownsville, besides a large number taken in moving by Davidson's cavalry. At this rate General Steele would soon have no army at all, and been driven ingloriously from the State by the foe he came to vanquish. Steele had loudly called for reenforcements, but some one had seen proper not to provide him with an army adequate to the accomplishment, under ordinary circumstances, of the enterprise confided to him. The instinct of self-preservation demanded that Steele should at least offer battle, and quickly, and in doing so he selected the only plan promising success in any event.

The plan was determined upon on the afternoon of the ninth, and the morning of the tenth selected as the time when it should be carried into execution. Generals Steele and Davidson reconnoitred the ground in person, and selected the point for the pontoon-bridge, and Captain Gerster, Chief-Engineer on General Davidson's staff, was instructed to construct it in time for the forces to cross at six o'clock on the following morning. Work was commenced immediately in cutting a road through the timber, but, through the imprudence of some of the working party in exposing themselves to the view of the enemy, it became necessary to select another point, in order to enable our men to dig down a bank thirty feet high during the night. This new point was some distance above the other one. The pontoon was to be thrown across in a bend of the river.

At this point there is a sand-bar varying in width from eight hundred to one thousand yards, across which the enemy's sharp-shooters could not advance to pick off the workmen,without exposing themselves to a murderous fire from our infantry. Beyond this sand-bar are the woods, with which this whole region is overgrown. Around this bend were stationed batteries, from which twenty-four guns, placed in position during the night, and concealed from the enemy, could pour a crosland enfilading fire into all parts of the timber opposite the bridge. The plan was for General Davidson, with Glover's and Merrill's brigades, Hadley's battery, and Stange's and Lovejoy's howitzers, to cross at the bridge, Colonel Ritter, with his brigade, and Clarkson's battery, to make a feint, at the same time, at the fort two miles below, and, if found practicable, to cross, and bring the forces of the enemy, known to be between the two points, between Davidson and Ritter, where their escape would be impossible. In the event of his crossing being seriously resisted, Ritter and his batteries were to hurry to the bridge, and, crossing behind the brigades of Merrill and Glover, take position n their rear as a reserve.

As soon as it was dark, on the night of the ninth, Captain Gerster, with a strong working party, commenced digging down the bank, in order to enable the artillery and cavalry to reach the level of the bridge. The enemy's pickets could approach within three hundred feet of the party, and strict silence was enjoined upon them. All commands were given in a whisper, and cigars and pipes, as well as camp-fires, tabooed.

Daylight did not see the work of digging down the bank completed, although as many men as could work to advantage had been busily engaged all night, with reliefs every half an hour. The work had progressed so far, however, as to enable Captain Gerster to get his pontoons down with considerable difficulty, and the work of constructing the bridge was soon after commenced. The rebels, in constantly increasing numbers, were soon visible in the woods opposite the bridge, and officers came boldly out upon the bank and examined our operations with their glasses. No interruption was made until about half-past 8 o'clock, when a battery of four guns, posted a short distance back in the timber, suddenly opened with solid shot upon the bridge, and the troops massed behind it; and at the same moment a large body of sharp-shooters manifested an intention of occupying a line of drift-wood running diagonally across the bar, midway between the bridge and the timber. Our twenty-four guns, masked for this very purpose, at once opened upon the timber, filling every part of it with bursting shells, the fragments of which were flying in all directions, and soon rendering the position untenable for the enemy, who wisely abandoned it. An occasional shell was thrown in the same direction by our guns, in order to satisfy the rebels that they were still in position. About nine o'clock Clarkson's battery, occupying a position with Ritter's brigade, two miles below the bridge, opened upon the woods opposite the lower ford, with a view of ascertaining what opposition our cavalry would meet with in crossing. Clarkson was replied to vigorously from a rebel battery planted inside of a fort made of cotton bales. The enemy's battery was served with great accuracy, and a half-hour's brisk firing demonstrated that it could not be silenced, although [420] Clarkson had succeeded in setting the cotton-bales on fire on two different occasions. Clarkson's battery was stationed in a corn-field where there was not a breath of air stirring, and when General Davidson sent an order for it and Ritter's brigade to move up the bridge, it found almost every one in this battery utterly exhausted from over-exertion and the heat.

About this time a slight smoke was seen rising from two steamboats — the Arkansas and Thalequah — which were lying upon the opposite shore about two miles above us. At first it was supposed that they were getting up steam to move further up the river, but the increasing density of the smoke, through which the flames were soon visible, showed that they had been fired by the rebels. It was a grand sight, even in the bright clear sunlight, though night would have rendered it more magnificent, to see the flames curling and mounting upward through a black column of smoke which towered far above the tallest trees of the forest. It was an omen of good fortune to us, showing the rebels had abandoned all hopes of preventing our crossing, and deploying upon the Little Rock road beyond the woods.

As soon as Colonel Ritter moved off with his brigade and battery from the lower ford, and taking the road toward the bridge, the rebel battery and a regiment of cavalry which had been dismounted and acting as sharp-shooters, abandoned their position and galloped up the road toward Little Rock. They were in danger of being cut off by Davidson, of whose intended crossing they had been apprised, and they lost no time in getting beyond the point at which his advance would reach the road. The precipitancy of their flight was shown by the handspikes, buckets, and other articles belonging to the guns, and the hats of the men left behind them on the road. When they came abreast of the burning steamboats, where the road approaches close to the river, the cloud of dust rising from the road revealed their locality. Our longrange guns in Engleman's batteries opened upon them with shell, and kept up a vigorous fire as long as they were in range. The firing at that time appeared to be very accurate, as many of the shells were seen to explode in the midst of the dust. Afterward, when our forces came into possession of the road along which this body of the enemy had passed, two of our shells, which did not explode, were found on the road, and the fences and trees were much torn by fragments. Blood was found in several places upon the grass at the edge of the road, and marching in close column the rebels must have suffered a severe loss in running the gauntlet of our batteries. Some of them could not endure the fire and turned back, as was shown by the tracks in the road, and went up by an almost impassable road running through a swamp.

At ten o'clock the bridge was completed and in readiness for crossing. Captain Gerster, the engineer who had worked so faithfully in its construction, had become literally exhausted by his labors, and, pronouncing his work finished, sank to the ground with a sun-stroke induced by overexertion. He was borne to the shade, and proper restoratives immediately applied. He is now almost entirely recovered. To his promptness and skill is largely due the success of General Davidson's movements.

Crossing a river under fire is a difficult undertaking, and none but men of undoubted bravery will attempt it. Ready to cross, General Davidson signaled the batteries, and every gun again opened with shell upon the woods, which were believed to contain a large number of sharp-shooters. After a few minutes' brisk firing, the Fortieth Iowa and Twenty-seventh Wisconsin, of Colonel Wood's brigade, Engleman's infantry division, rushed across the bridge, formed in line of battle upon the sand-bar, and swept forward upon the double-quick to the woods, which were reached and occupied without opposition. Stange's and Lovejoy's howitzers followed on the gallop, and took position in the rear, ready for action in case their services were found necessary. Under cover of this advance, Glover's brigade of cavalry were crossed, and then Merrill's, and then Ritter's, the batteries of each brigade keeping their proper place in column. Part of the cavalry crossed at a few hundred yards above the bridge. Steele was already upon the move, and Davidson, pushing past the infantry, which was immediately recrossed to its proper division, galloped through the woods to the main road, no enemy being found. There the column was properly formed, and skirmishers deployed to the right and left, and pushed forward to discover the positions of the enemy.

The head of the column having reached a point on the road opposite the burning steamboats, the Tenth Illinois, with Stange's and Lovejoy's howitzers, was sent forward upon the gallop to the mouth of Fourche Bayou, some two miles ahead. This bayou had been turned from its original course into a swamp by a levee, over which the road crossed a mile and a half from its mouth. This levee was supposed to be immediately at the mouth, and General Davidson was fearful that it might be cut by the rebels and the crossing rendered difficult. When near the mouth of the bayou the rebels were encountered posted in thick woods, and opened a heavy fire of artillery and musketry. Hadley's battery was brought up from the rear of Merrill's brigade to the front, and the whole column placed in rapid motion for the point at which Stange's howitzers were at work. By the time the column came in sight the rebels had been driven from their position, and the firing altogether subsided. The mouth of the bayou was found perfectly dry, though a few yards above a deep, impassable pool commenced, which continued the entire distance to the levee. The road at this point turned to the left, following near the bank of the bayou to the levee. Opposite the mouth was a sand-bar seven or eight hundred yards in width, which stretched two miles above and about half that distance below. The Sixteenth Illinois, leaving the road [421] at this point, debouched upon this bar, following it up, close under the bank, which was covered with a dense forest. Companies B and H were in the advance, fifty yards behind them followed Stange's and Lovejoy's howitzers, the other ten companies of the Fourth Illinois immediately following, and the remainder of Glover's brigade coming after. About three hundred yards from the mouth of the bayou the timber bore off to the left, and nearly half a mile beyond this made still another turn in the same direction, forming two points beyond which the bar was not visible. The Tenth Illinois had turned the first point, still keeping near the bank, entirely out of sight of the remainder of the column, and very imprudently pushed on full half a mile in advance of the skirmishers in the woods upon the left, who were advancing with proper caution. The two companies in advance were not dismounted as they should have been in their advanced position, and had almost reached the second point of timber, followed by the howitzers and the remainder of the regiment, marching in column. Not a dismounted man, keeping pace with the advance, was thrown out to feel the enemy in the woods. Suddenly, from the woods on the left a deadly fire of musketry was opened upon the whole regiment. Three or four volleys were fired in rapid succession, when, with a yell which made the whole forest ring, the rebels broke from their cover, and swarming down the steep bank, made a grand rush for the howitzers. The suddenness of the attack threw the entire regiment of cavalry into the wildest confusion. Saddles were emptied by scores. Horses, goaded to desperation by the shower of bullets sweeping among them, became unmanageable. The companies in front came tumbling back over the battery which was just getting to work, and increased the disorder into which the galling flank fire had thrown the remainder of the regiment. The angry roar of the musketry, quickly followed by the deep-toned sound of the howitzers, the savage shouts of the rebels as they rushed from their cover, fairly drowning the loud explosion of the shells with which they were greeted, were distinctly heard at the mouth of the bayou at which General Davidson, bringing up the remainder of the column, had just arrived. “An ambuscade!” “An ambuscade!” broke from hundreds of lips, and in a moment more the entire regiment, bearing off toward the river in its flight, came pouring from behind the point of woods which heretofore had concealed it from view. A single glance was sufficient to show that it was completely disordered, and it was feared that the remainder of Glover's brigade, not knowing what was ahead of them, would share in the panic. Giving a hasty order to Colonel Merrill to form a line of battle upon the bar with all possible rapidity, General Davidson dashed among the fugitives with his drawn sabre, the rebel bullets from the woods flying in a perfect shower around him, and rallied the regiment once more into line, and brought it again, into the advance just behind the first point of woods.

With the first volley of musketry, Captain Stange and Lieutenant Lovejoy quickly placed their light mountain howitzers in position, and with the whole eight pieces opened a deadly fire of shell and spherical case upon the rebels swarming from the woods. Nothing but the most desperate courage could have enabled any soldiery in the world to have faced a fire so deadly, and yet, without even stopping to form in line, the rebels rushed en masse upon the guns, and, after receiving over a dozen rounds, were literally crowding over their muzzles. Deprived of all support, and far in advance of the head of the column, it was impossible to keep the enemy at bay, and an attempt was accordingly made to bring the guns from the field. A portion of them were limbered up and galloped off after the cavalry, and others were withdrawn by hand. The section of two guns nearest the woods in Lovejoy's battery, with one of the caissons, was captured. Lieutenant Lovejoy remained with them to the last. R. A. Ficklin and George Kibbel, two as noble, brave-hearted fellows as ever wore a uniform, were pulling one of the guns off with a prolongue. Behind it, keeping the enemy at bay with his sabre, was the gallant Lovejoy. A musket-ball, fired at such close range that the powder burned his clothes, passed entirely through the body of Ficklin. Another passed through the kidneys of Kibbel, and both went down mortally wounded. At the same instant Lovejoy fell with a ball in his leg. Dropping his sabre, he drew his pistol, and was seen to shoot the man who had wounded him. The two guns, with one of the caissons, were immediately rushed into the woods. The other guns, being run off by hand, were hotly contested for by the rebels, and gallantly defended by the cannoneers. They would have been overpowered by numbers, however, but for the timely rallying of the Tenth Illinois by General Davidson, under cover of which they were withdrawn, and the rebels driven away from the other caisson left upon the field.

Every man belonging to the two captured guns were either killed or wounded. One of them — John Rath — was found shot through the heart, with a shell in his hand, which he was in the act of placing in the gun. No blame can be attached to the Tenth Illinois for its conduct. Its advance was very unfortunate, but was the result of a belief that the skirmishers in the woods were advancing parallel with it. No regiment of cavalry marching in column could receive such a murderous fire in flank without being thrown into disorder. Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart received a musket-ball through the cap, which stunned him and brought him to the ground. Had he not fallen, the disorder of his regiment would not have been so great.

Hadley's battery, fortunately placed by General Davidson at the head of Merrill's brigade, [422] took position on the sand-bar near enough the river to give a fair view of the second point of timber, and opened a rapid fire of shells upon the woods in which the rebels were lying. The. remaining six howitzers took up a position in front of them, and participated in the cannonade. Colonel Glover's entire brigade was immediately brought under shelter of the bank, two squadrons of the First Iowa mounted and two dismounted being detailed to support the howitzers. Hadley's battery and a section of howitzers were withdrawn, and, with Merrill's brigade, sent back to the mouth of the bayou to follow up the road. In a few moments they were heard vigorously at work. Glover advanced the left of his brigade cautiously, keeping Merrill's left flank well covered, and by the time Merrill's line was abreast of Glover's right, Glover was occupying a parallel position, completing the line to the river.

At this time the reserves, all the horses, and the ammunition trains were upon this open sandbar to the rear and right of the line of battle, and, with our tight flank, were exposed to an enfilading fire from the opposite side of the river, in case Price should bring down a battery and plant it upon the bank. A cloud of dust undoubtedly caused by troops in rapid motion was plainly visible upon the other side of the river, but it was impossible to determine in what direction the troops were travelling. Nothing had been heard from Steele, and it seemed scarcely credible that he could have pushed the head of his column far enough to lend us any assistance. The most intense anxiety for our position took possession of men and officers.

Under these circumstances of peril, the line was ordered to advance. In a few minutes an angry roar of musketry closely mingling with the thunders of cannon arose from the woods in our front, and shell and balls came pouring upon our line in a perfect shower. The echo of the first discharge had scarcely died away in the thunders of the second, when some distance above us on the opposite side of the river a puff of blue smoke arose from the bushes; a second later the sound of a cannon came booming over the water. Price or Steele was there, and in anxious suspense the whole line paused to see where the shell would strike, in order that from the line of fire, it could be ascertained whether the other side of the river was held by friends or foes. The shell fell directly among the rebels in our front. It was quickly followed by one after another, as all of Steele's batteries wheeled into action. Steele had heard the roar of our own and the enemy's artillery, and, understanding our peril, had pushed forward to our assistance. With a wild shout our boys advanced through the roads, driving the enemy rapidly before them. A guidon was placed upon the sandbar to keep pace with our advance, in order that Steele might know the position of our line in the woods. The line was very short and the roar of battle terrific. Hadley's battery and Lovejoy's howitzers upon the left were perfectly ablaze, pouring shell into the rebel batteries, responding with three guns to their one, Stange's howitzers upon our right, Steele's batteries upon the opposite side of the Arkansas, and a grim old sixty-four near Little Rock thundering in response, shells shrieking through the air and bursting everywhere among the trees, the sharp rattle of musketry and the wild shouts of Glover's and Merrill's brigades, as they pushed the enemy from one position to another, filled the air with a din rarely equalled.

The resistance of the enemy was of the most desperate character, not a single foot of tenable ground being surrendered until they were driven from it. At five o'clock we had fought closely over four hours, and were still two miles from the city. General Steele sent a message that Price had evacuated the works in his front, the rear-guard being at that time crossing the bridges. General Davidson had been opposed by a superior force during the whole afternoon, and he was now called upon, as a prudent commander, to guard against an attack from Price's whole army. There were innumerable roads, which he was too weak to guard, leading directly into Davidson's rear, by which Price could precipitate a large force where it would be most effective. The position of General Davidson now became one of imminent peril. Assuming the policy which has governed him in his whole campaign, he determined to conceal his own weakness and confuse the plans of the enemy by a bold push ahead.

Keeping the road immediately upon his left, by the general course of the river, Glover's line became very much shorter than when first formed. At five o'clock it was re-formed in three lines, and, by a gallant charge across an open field, obliqueing to the left as it advanced, forced the enemy from a strong position in the woods across the road, and into a corn-field directly in Merrill's front. Coming to the river-bank at this point, Glover's brigade was called off, utterly exhausted.

Time was every thing in entering the city, and General Davidson called up Colonel Ritter's brigade, which, up to this time, had been in reserve. The First Missouri, by a gallant sabre-charge, cleared the corn-field in Merrill's front, and then, dismounting, deployed as skirmishers to the relief of his brigade. The Third Iowa and Thirteenth Illinois, accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel Caldwell, General Davidson's Chief of Staff, were ordered to charge into the city with drawn sabres. The river was immediately upon the right flank of the advancing column, but the left presented a continuous shelter, from which the rebels saluted it with a galling fire of musketry as it passed. Disregarding it altogether, the column pushed forward at a sweeping gallop, driving the rebel gunners away from a sixty-four pounder which was annoying Steele very much, before they could even complete the hasty preparations they were making to blow up the magazine. The suburbs were soon reached, and disregarding the sharp-shooters in the houses, who emptied several saddles, the column pressed on into the [423] city amid the wildest shouts. A superior force of rebel cavalry was encountered, but not relishing the appearance of the drawn sabres, which gleamed everywhere from the cloud of dust in which our column was enveloped, they turned and fled in the greatest disorder from the city.

Nothing could equal the panic and confusion into which our sudden appearance precipitated Little Rock. The streets were filled with women and. children, and knots of citizens, listening to the sound of cannon constantly growing nearer and nearer, and the shell from Steele's batteries, which had now been planted almost opposite the city, shrieking over their heads and bursting in the woods beyond them, were anxiously discussing the question of their own safety. Rebel officers, thinking themselves secure, were eating their suppers in the houses. The rapid rush of flying horsemen, the clouds of dust, the glad hurrahs and gleaming sabres of others dashing through the dusty streets in hot pursuit, was the first intimation of our near approach. Women and children ran shrieking to their homes, the crowds of citizens quickly dispersed, and rebel officers, mounting their horses, were captured while endeavoring to escape. A second later, windows were thrown up and handkerchiefs waved, and the curious throngs gathered in the door-yards, closely scrutinizing each squadron as it passed.

As we entered the city upon the east side, General Cabbell, with four thousand five hundred cavalry and mounted infantry and two full batteries of artillery, hurrying down from the Fort Smith region, entered the city upon the west. Prisoners state that he had been assigned a position upon the extreme left of the rebel line, and that that portion of the line had been much weakened in anticipation of his arrival, when we made the sabre-charge which gave us possession of the city. Cabbell's Adjutant was riding with an orderly some distance in advance of the column, and, encountering our cavalry, was enabled to give notice in time to Cabbell, who immediately reversed his column upon the road it was marching. He will be compelled to make a wide detour in order to effect a junction with Price.

The entry of our troops into the city turned the rebel left, and they retreated through the woods to the Arkadelphia road, leading south.

General Steele's advance had been so rapid that he was not only enabled to lend General Davidson the most invaluable assistance from the beginning, but in a measure covered the gallant charge which terminated the labors of the day. He possessed himself of the bridges across the river, which Price had fired, before the damage sustained by them was serious, and was crossing his infantry upon them at daylight next morning. He also saved seven platform and box-cars and two locomotives on the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad from serious injury.

The forces encountered by General Davidson were Marmaduke's, Dobbins's, and Shelby's cavalry, dismounted, and Tappan's infantry. Price was made aware of our crossing the moment it commenced by means of the Pine Bluff telegraph, and immediately commenced the evacuation of his works on the north bank of the stream. He was evidently fearful that Steele had another pontoon, and would cross the river with the remainder of the forces as soon as he evacuated his works, relieve Davidson upon the river, and send him around to the Arkadelphia road to a point where Price had six, hundred wagons parked. To guard against this, McCrea's, Frost's, and Fagan's infantry were pushed out on the Arkadelphia road as soon as they crossed the river. Price with Holmes, who came to give unofficial counsel, and Governor Flanigan remained until four o'clock, when the command was turned over to Marmaduke. Price by this time had discovered that there was no movement against his trains, and Marmaduke had promised, with Cabbell's assistance, to hold us in check until night. Next morning Price was to have the remainder of the infantry countermarched. Our sudden success in entering the city of course changed Price's plans and necessitated a retreat.

A squadron of cavalry dashed up to the United States arsenal as soon as our forces entered the city, and arrived just in time to prevent its being blown up by the rebels. There was over a ton of powder in the magazine, and two or three thousand rounds of fixed ammunition in the various buildings. Every thing is uninjured, if I except alone the machine-shops, from which the machinery was removed some months ago to Arkadelphia.

The public records were all removed some months ago to Washington, and, aside from the bare State-House and the law library, we found nothing of the State Government. The penitentiary was not touched. The prisoners were marched out, leaving their suppers upon the tables, and all their clothes and bedding in their cells.

The two howitzers taken from us were spiked by the rebels before they effected the capture, and were immediately started for the trains. They were of the smallest pattern of mountain howitzers, and are worth little in comparison with the two sixty-fours, one twenty-four, and three twelve-pounders we captured from the enemy.

The rebel force, not including that of Cabbell, was about fifteen thousand, with thirty-six pieces of artillery.

Mayor's office, Little Rock, Sept. 10, 1863.
To the Officer Commanding Federal Army:
The army of General Price has retreated and abandoned the defence of this city. We are now powerless and ask your mercy. The city is now occupied alone by women and children and non-combatants, with, perhaps, a few stragglers from the confederate forces. May I ask of you protection for persons and property? I have been ill for some days and am unable to visit you in person.

Very respectfully,


General Davidson caused guards to be placed upon every street-corner of the city, and, to the everlasting credit of his division, let it be said, that although they beheld their comrades shot from their saddles from houses in the suburbs, and entered the city amid the gathering shades of night, which would have concealed all manner of crimes, not a single act of violence or injustice was done the citizens of the place, or a single article of private property disturbed. Such a record is seldom made in these days.

General Steele and staff, crossing the Arkansas in a skiff, for the bridges were not yet passable, entered Little Rock soon after General Davidson. The greeting of the two Generals and the officers surrounding them was a cordial one--such as can only be seen under similar circumstances. As a mark of his appreciation of General Davidson's gallant conduct during the day, General Steele directed the following order to be issued, making General DavidsonMilitary Commander” of the capital and vicinity:

headquarters army of Arkansas expedition, little Rock, September 10, 1863.
General Orders No. 22:
I. The rebels under command of Sterling Price having been driven from the town of Little Rock, and it having been duly surrendered by the civil authorities to the Federal forces, Brigadier-General Davidson is hereby invested with the command of the town and its vicinity, which shall be occupied by the troops.

II. Upon assuming the command, General Davidson will immediately organize such police and provost guard as may be sufficient to insure the good conduct of the troops and proper police of the city, instituting therefor such rules and regulations as shall be needful for good government of and protection to the city and its inhabitants; and for that purpose he will, on application to these headquarters, have such details of infantry as may be by him deemed necessary.

III. Captain S. S. McNaughton, Provost-Marshal, will report to Brigadier-General Davidson for duty.

By order of Major-General F. Steele. F. H. Manter, Colonel and Chief of Staff.

General Davidson, in assuming command, appointed Colonel Andrews, Third Minnesota infantry, commander of the post; detailed the Forty-third Illinois infantry, Major Stefauney, as garrison at the United States Arsenal; appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Chandler, Seventh Missouri, Provost-Marshal General, with Captain S. S. McNaughton, Seventy-seventh Ohio, as his assistant; created a Board of Health, consisting of E. P. Smith, Medical Director of the cavalry division; E. A. Clark, Surgeon of the Eighth Missouri cavalry; and Assistant Surgeon A. C. Wedge, Third Minnesota infantry.

Among the regulations adopted is one allowing the municipal authorities of the city to temporarily continue the exercise of their functions. Another invites citizens of the surrounding country to bring in their produce for sale to the inhabitants and the troops. Another prohibits all officers and soldiers, other than those on provost. guard duty, or belonging to the staffs or escorts of Generals, from being in the city without a pass; “officers and soldiers are expected to remain constantly with their commands, unless absent from duty.” Another regulation provides that no house will be occupied by any officer, or soldier without the order of the General commanding the city.

The day's work had been so arduous that it was impossible to start immediately in pursuit of Price's retreating army. A strong force was organized and sent out under command of Colonel Merrill, on the following morning, however. It has not yet returned.

General Davidson issued the following congratulatory order this morning, addressed to the soldiers of his division:

headquarters cavalry division, Department of the Missouri, Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 18, 1863.
General Orders No. 62:
Soldiers of the cavalry division! I congratulate you, that your long and weary march is at length terminated by victory. Little Rock, the capital of the State of Arkansas, the key of the Trans-Mississippi department, is in our hands. The United States Arsenal, uninjured, is “repossessed.” The feet of the rebel army — who, but a day or two ago, filed with downcast heads through the streets of the city — will tread the sands of the Arkansas no more.

But, comrades, you have gained two victories on the same day. Though flushed with success, though entering the city when the darkness of night would have covered up misdeeds, though your passions were stirred that our soldiers were shot from their saddles within the suburbs of the city, no outrage upon its defenceless inhabitants has stained your hands. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your conduct has more than repaid me for many an anxious day and sleepless night. For you may there be continued success wherever it may be our lot to go. For me, I have no higher aim, and ask no greater honor, than to lead such men.

J. W. Davidson, Brigadier-General Commanding.

Little Rock has been long considered as a Union city, and, but for the sudden manner in which our forces entered it, the confederates would have carried into execution the threats they have so often made, to burn it for its “Yankee preferences.” An army was never more astonished upon entering a city than was ours upon its entry of Little Rock. Instead of a warm, cordial welcome from the citizens, we were greeted, at best, with cold, frigid politeness. Handkerchiefs were waved from the windows when first we entered, with a view of propitiating our friendship, doubtless with the idea of preventing the destruction of property. When, however, it was seen that our troops molested nothing, this poor, false profession of sympathy was withdrawn. [425] A cold, haughty stare met your gaze on every side, and no smile of genuine welcome was visible anywhere.

The rebels endeavored to make a clean sweep of the steamboats here. The General Ashley, the Thalequah, the Pine Bluff, the Julia Roan, the St. Francis, the Leon, and the Arkansas, were all destroyed. The Alma, the Stonewall, the Ben Corson, and a ferry-boat were saved. The Ben Corson had been sent to Pine Bluff for a load of corn a few days before our arrival upon the banks of the river, and its owners ran it ashore where the rebels could not destroy it. The Stonewall, a new steamboat named after Stonewall Jackson, was run out into the centre of the stream, a few days before our arrival, and “accidentally snagged,” where she could not be easily destroyed, and could be easily raised. There are said to be a number of boats above here on the river.

The rebels destroyed their famous gunboat Ponchartrain, formerly the Lizzie Simmonds, one of the largest and strongest boats on the lower waters. This boat was out on the banks receiving a plating of railroad iron. Her boilers and machinery were already properly protected, and work was being pushed forward with great vigor. It was intended that she should be in readiness for operations in November, when the river raises with the rains upon the Plains.

The railroad track from here to Duvall's Bluffs is comparatively uninjured, and the train will be running in a few days.

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