No. 10. Report of Colonel James McIntosh, Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles, commanding division,of engagement at Chustenahlah, Cherokee Nation, with letters found in Hopoeithleyohola's camp.
HEADQUARTERS DIVISION, Van Buren, Ark., January 1, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of Chustenahlah, which took place in the Cherokee Nation on the 26th of December, 1861:
Before entering upon the details of the battle it is necessary for me to state that I entered the Cherokee Nation with a portion of my division upon the representation of Colonel Cooper, commanding the Indian Department, calling upon me for additional force. This call was based upon the hostile stand taken by the Creek chief Hopoeithleyohola and the dissatisfaction which has sprung up in one of the Cherokee regiments. I hastened to Fort Gibon, with 1,600 men, and had an interview with Colonel Cooper, and entered into arrangements for mutual co-operation. The plan proposed was that Colonel Cooper, with his force strengthened by Major Whitfield's battalion, should move up the Arkansas River and endeavor to get in the rear of Hopoeithleyohola's position on one of the tributaries of the Verdigris River,near the Big Bend of the Arkansas, while my force should march up the Verdigris River opposite the position held by the enemy,and then move directly upon him. On account of the scarcity of forage it was mutually determined that either force should attack the enemy on sight.
I left Fort Gibson at 12 m. on the 22nd ultimo with the following force: Five companies of the South Kansas-Texas Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Lane; the available strength of the Sixth Regiment of Texas Cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Griffith; seven companies of the Third [Eleventh] Regiment of Texas Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Young; four companies of my own regiment, Second Arkansas Mounted Riflemen, under Captain Gipson; and Captain Bennett's company of Texans attached to the headquarters of the division. This force amounted to 1,380 men.
On the evening of the 25th ultimo a part of the enemy's force appeared in sight immediately after our arrival in camp. A regiment was sent to observe them. I soon satisfied that this party was endeavoring to lead us on a fruitless chase. I therefore restrained my impatient men and ordered them back to camp. During the evening an express reached me from Colonel Cooper, with the intelligence that it would probably be two or three days before he could make the preconcerted movement, on account of the desertion of his teamsters, and generously stated that if I found it necessary to advance he would give me all the assistance in his power. From this point, knowing it was impossible to move my train farther, I ordered it to remain in charge of Captain Elstner, acting brigade quartermaster, with a guard of 100 men.
With four days' cooked rations I left camp early on the morning of the 26th, and moved cautiously toward the stronghold of the enemy among the mountains running, back into the Big Bend of the Arkansas. Lieutenant-Colonel Lane, with his regiment, moved in advance. A company of his regiment, under Captain Short, was thrown forward as an advance guard, with orders to throw out flankers well to the right and left. Toward 12 m. we approached Shoal Creek, a tributary of the Verdigris.