started in pursuit of the enemy towards Keetsville, on the road leading east, and continued to be thus engaged until night. I took 59 prisoners, with some horses and arms, on this expedition. Among the prisoners was Major Rucker, First Missouri Volunteers, who was slightly wounded.
On the morning of the 9th I proceeded, in command of the Third Iowa Cavalry companies Bowen's cavalry, with four pieces of mountain howitzers, and one battalion of First Missouri Cavalry, under command of Major Hubbard, on the road to Bentonville. After advancing on the Bentonville road about 6 miles I found where the enemy had encamped the night before in large force. We followed on until I reached Bentonville, near which place we overtook a party of the cavalry of the enemy, who fired upon us and fled. My advance guard pursued, killing 1 man. We reached Bentonville at 2 o'clock p.m., and entered the town. Seeing a small party of cavalry at some distance beyond the town in the brush, I ordered Major Bowen to fire on them with the howitzers. Two shots were fired, the enemy retreating in great haste. Here we learned the enemy in force had left the town a few hours before our arrival, taking the road leading to Elm Springs. The horses of my command having been for three days without anything to eat, it was not possible to pursue the enemy farther. Therefore, having seen to the wounded who had been left in the town, I returned to camp. There were taken on this expedition about 50 prisoners, with some horses and arms. This march, close upon the heels of a force largely superior in numbers to our own, was not unattended with great risk, and I have to express my admiration for the promptness with which my commands were obeyed by all the troops and for their general good soldierly conduct.
In conclusion I beg leave to express my satisfaction with the conduct of my own men, who, in their first action, having been the first and most directly of the cavalry forces engaged with the enemy, and suffered a severe loss from a near and unexpected fire, yet evinced great coolness and courage in their attack upon the foe; and although the loss of my command is greater in proportion to my force than perhaps any other engaged, being 24 killed, 17 wounded, and 9 missing out of 235 men and officers, yet it was retaliated upon the rebels by a loss to them of double the number. You will perceive that 8 of my men were scalped. That their brave comrades, fighting in support of our national banner, the emblem of all that is good and great in the present civilization of the world, should thus be butchered and mangled by rebel savages has excited among my men an indignation that will, I assure you, exhibit itself on every field where they main in future be allowed to engaged the enemy, in a relentless determination to put down the flag that calls to its support bands of rapacious and murdering Indian mercenaries.
I have to acknowledge valuable assistance rendered me on the 7th by Adjt. John W. Noble, who acted that day as aide, and of the officers who came under my notice I mention Captain T. I. McKenny, assistant adjutant-general, of your staff, whose conduct was that of a general, and a brave one, and whose valuable service contributed, in my opinion, much to the success of our arms at the battle of Leetown.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Third Iowa Cavalry.
Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS,
Commanding Army of the Southwest.