I pushed forward our troops from Forts Gibson and Smith and occupied a line corresponding to the north boundary of Arkansas, posting the infantry and eight pieces of artillery at Elkhorn; 500 white cavalry 30 miles east on the road from Carrollton to Springfield; 1,500 white cavalry and two pieces of artillery 20 miles west, near Pineville, upon the road by Mount Vernon to Springfield; 1,000 white cavalry and four pieces of artillery 20 miles farther west, at Elk Mills, on the road to Fort Scott, and the Indian troops 12 miles west of that, at Carey's Ferry, covering the road from Fort Scott into the Creek country. There were good cross-roads between these positions. Elkhorn is very strong, and the same range of hills extended along the entire line. Our pickets and outposts were thrown out to Cassville, Newtonia, Neosho, and a point west of that on Grand River. Behind our line in Missouri and Arkansas there was ample subsistence and forage for double our force for perhaps ninety days and many good mills. I posted also at Talequah, in the Cherokee Nation, a battalion of white cavalry, and authorized a home-guard company of citizens in each of the nine districts or townships for maintaining order in that country. I established a camp of instruction for recruits at Elm Springs, about 25 miles below Elkhorn on the road to Fayetteville, and collected there about 4,000 unarmed Arkansas and Missouri infantry.
On September 10, under orders from department headquarters, I left Pineville for Little Rock. The command thus devolved on Brigadier-General Rains. I instructed him in writing to make no aggressive movement, but if assailed to hold the line occupied as long as practicable.
On October 15 I returned to Fort Smith, where I learned from rumor that our troops had retired to the vicinity of Fayetteville before a Federal force estimated at from 15,000 to 20,000.
Next day I started to Fayetteville. Upon arriving there I learned that General Rains, with the armed infantry, one regiment of Arkansas cavalry, and eight pieces of artillery, was in camp 2 miles west of Huntsville on the road to Elkhorn; that three regiments of Missouri cavalry and two pieces of artillery, under Colonel Shelby, were 4 miles nearer Elkhorn, on the same road; that four regiments of Texas cavalry, under Colonel Bass, were at Holcomb's, 9 miles above Fayetteville, on the road to Elkhorn; that the Indian troops and two white cavalry battalions, with four pieces of artillery, had gone west toward Maysville, on the Cherokee line, and that the unarmed infantry were at McGuire's about 10 miles south of Fayetteville, on the road to Ozark.
Putting myself as soon as possible in communication with Colonel Bass, I was informed by him that the enemy in great strength was pressing steadily upon him; that he was apprehensive of being surrounded, and was retiring upon Huntsville. He seemed alarmed and his troops almost disorganized. I had with me Colonel Bradfute, whom you had ordered to report to me as a cavalry officer, and I directed him to go forward at once, assume command of the force under Colonel Bass, get it in shape as well as practicable, and offer as stubborn resistance as he could, communicating with General Rains by courier and with me.
I then endeavored to find some means for removing our sick from the Fayetteville hospital, but found none, and had to leave them, placing there, however, subsistence for thirty days, and leaving a surgeon in charge. I at the same time ordered Captain Sparks, division provost-marshal, to call out all the independent companies of his command, embracing some ten or twelve counties, to harass the enemy if he should