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Doc. 73. the battle of marks' Mills, Ark.

Subjoined is an account of the battle of Marks' Mills, by β€œAn eye-witness.” The battle was fought near the junction of the roads leading to Camden and Warren, and takes its name from the mill which the rebel General made his headquarters during the action.

The expedition was known to be of a hazardous nature. If Camden was to be held, supplies must be procured overland from Pine Bluff, or by steamers up the Washita. The prospect was not good for receiving them by the latter route; but it was known that only Shelby's forces was north of the Washita, and Colonel Drake's force was fully competent to manage him. If reinforcements were sent to him, General Steele relied upon being advised thereof by his cavalry in time to reinforce Colonel Drake. It subsequently transpired that General Fagen crossed the Washita on the second night after Colonel Drake left Camden, making a forced march of forty-five miles the next day, and joining Shelby in the neighborhood of Marks' Mills.

The rebel force then numbered over six thousand of the best troops in the Confederate service, while the total number under Colonel Drake was only about fifteen hundred.

The night previous to the fight was spent by the pioneer corps of the Federal force in corduroying the road through Moro Bottom. The train when well closed up was four miles long. The Seventy-seventh Ohio formed the rear guard. In the morning, in passing over this corduroyed portion of the road, after about one hundred wagons had passed, a portion of it became so defective from wear that the remainder of the train was delayed and lengthened out. This increased the distance considerably between the advance and rear guards, and was the situation when the advanced guard was attacked. The Thirty-sixth Iowa, in the centre, and the Seventy-seventh Ohio were immediately ordered up. It soon became apparent that the design of the rebels was to surround and crush the main body of our forces before the Seventy-seventh could come up. They appeared in overwhelming numbers in front and on each flank, and were gradually extending the latter so as to cut the train, and thus completely enclose the Union troops.

At this critical juncture word reached Colonel Drake that the Seventy-seventh Ohio was only a mile off. It had become evident that the train could not be saved; and he seems to have conceived the possibility of effecting a junction with the Seventy-seventh, cutting his way out; and escaping with most of his force. He proposed to take their left flank in the rear, with a charge of the small cavalry force under Major McCauleigh, and follow it up with all his available infantry, some four hundred men. Riding across the field to give the requisite order to Major McCauleigh, he was exposed to a dreadful cross-fire from the enemy. Here he was wounded severely by a Minie ball in the left thigh and hip. Scarcely able to sit upon his horse, he still determined, if possible, to superintend in person the attack he had determined upon. He rode forward to the Major and gave the order. The Major wheeled his little cavalry force of about two hundred and fifty worn-out men and jaded beasts, and rode upon the rebels. The latter wavered and became disordered. Then Colonel Drake placed himself at the head of his men, and was about to give the order to charge, when, from weakness occasioned by loss of blood, he was compelled to dismount. He then directed Captain W. L. McGill, Inspector of the brigade, who had kept constantly by his side, to hand over the command to Major Spillman, of the Seventh Missouri, the ranking officer.

There was no cessation of firing on our side at any time. Every man fought with coolness and courage, until the rebels rushed in upon all sides, and disarmed them. There was no surrender.

Captain McGill acted with distinguished bravery and gallantry throughout the action. Musket-balls lodged in his coat and in his horse's saddle, yet he escaped without a scratch.

He did not find Major Spillman. The latter had fallen back with his cavalry to Pine Bluff. He then sought Major McCauleigh. While hunting him, the rebels made their dash. Seeing the day was lost, Captain McGill struck into the timber, and subsequently reached Pine Bluff in safety.

Major McCauleigh was wounded, and is still a prisoner.

Accompanying the train were several negro recruiting officers, with about three hundred negro recruits. About one hundred and fifty of them, probably, were killed β€” the balance escaped.

On our side there were between two hundred and fifty and two hundred and sixty killed and wounded.

According to the rebel official report, as I am informed by one of our wounded officers, who read it in manuscript, they had one hundred and ten killed, two hundred and seventy-eight wounded, and forty missing.

All our wounded were paroled. While they remained in the hands of the rebels they were well treated and provided for.

The rebels lost two Colonels in the action--one of them, Colonel Pettus, of this State.

Most of our wounded have arrived here, and are well cared for in the hospital.

Colonel Drake, as soon as he can bear the trip, will start North.

Among the killed is Captain Townsend, of General Rice's staff.

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Pine Bluff (Arkansas, United States) (3)
Camden, S. C. (South Carolina, United States) (3)
Mills (Arkansas, United States) (1)

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Drake (7)
McCauleigh (4)
W. L. McGill (3)
Spillman (2)
Shelby (2)
G. K. Warren (1)
E. D. Townsend (1)
F. Steele (1)
Charles Rice (1)
Pettus (1)
Fagen (1)
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