We had now driven the last of the enemy's scattered forces across the mountains, where it was impracticable to follow them with any valuable result until correspondence movements, not yet begun in Eastern Arkansas, should enable us to open communication with Little Rock, and draw our supplies from that direction. Nothing could be done but await future events.
Information recently obtained had left no room for doubt that the enemy was receiving considerable re-enforcements and making preparation to contest with us the possession of Northwestern Arkansas and Southwestern Missouri. I therefore determined, while keeping my division within supporting distance, to occupy positions north of the mountains, where corn and wheat could be obtained, retiring slowly as these supplies should be exhausted until a farther advance should become practicable or the enemy should get ready to give us battle.
The enemy's effective force was at this time, including those en route to join him and of which I had information about 20,000 men, and would be increased to 25,000 or 28,000 should he get arms for his conscripts.
My effective force was about 16,000, but much superior to that of the enemy in artillery and efficiency of troops, by this time well disciplined and inured to fatigue by constant active service. Hence there was no reason to doubt the result of a battle whenever and wherever the enemy should be pleased to give it. Accordingly on the 30th, I took up positions at Cross Hollow, Osage Springs, and Prairie Creek, a short distance west of Bentonville.
In compliance with orders from the major-general commanding the department, on November 3 I directed Generals Totten's and Herron's divisions, via Ozark, toward Houston, in Texas County. The command had only reached Ozark when a report from General Blunt that the enemy was advancing upon him caused the order to be countermanded and the two divisions to march to the support of General Blunt. The report of General Blunt proved premature, and the two divisions were halted at Crane Creek, where they were on November 20, when sickness compelled me to relinquish, at least temporarily, my command of the Army of the Frontier and the District of Southwestern Missouri.
I should do injustice to my own feelings, as well as to a gallant army, were I to close this report without acknowledging my indebtedness to the able generals and to the gallant officers and men composing the Army of the Frontier. To my division commanders, Generals Blunt, Herron, and Totten, I am, and the country, under special obligations for their prompt and cordial co-operation with me in the discharge of every duty.
While regretting my (to me) unfortunate absence, it affords me great satisfaction to know that my noble little army has, under the gallant Blunt and Herron, added another and greater proof of its high qualities in the hard-fought battle and brilliant victory, over greatly superior numbers, on the memorable field of Fayetteville.
J. M. SCHOFIELD,