on our right; not a man moved. I allowed the enemy's heavy column to pass some 300 yards to our rear, when the order to file left was given, and my men moved off quietly and in order over the ridge, thus losing ourselves to the enemy. I here dispatched a responsible officer (Captain Degen) with instructions to the officer in command at Newtonia that the enemy were coming down on that place in heavy force, determined that if my command was sacrificed the main army should not be surprised. I adopted this plan, well knowing that unless this portion of the enemy would be checked out whole force at Newtonia would be surrounded and our train captured. I am happy to say that my plans succeeded, we detaining them fully three hours, and thus preventing them from bringing on the attack at Newtonia, which it was undoubtedly intended that this division should do. On moving from my last position by a double-quick movement I regained the road leading from Newtonia to Neosho, thus outflanking the enemy completely on the right and having the road open to rejoin the main army at Newtonia, which was done at a quick-march and in order and without further accident, my whole command having the satisfaction of seeing the enemy emerge from the timber 2 1/2 miles on our left and rear. On arriving at Newtonia no officer appeared to be in command and no movement contemplated. I immediately ordered out Captain Howell's battery, with my battalion under Captain Degen as support on the left, and directed them what position to occupy.
In the mean time I met with Colonel Shelby and requested support for the battery on the right, which he ordered Colonel Jeans' regiment to do. In this order we took position on the ground formerly occupied as encampment place respectively by myself and Howell's battery. We occupied this position some fifteen minutes, when, meeting with Colonel Shelby on the field, he informed me that communication with Camp Coffee was broken off, and we at once decided on retreating, he taking command of the right wing and myself of the left, to make a junction at the timber, which was done in order and in safety. I here forwarded the battery out of danger, throwing Colonel Jeans' regiment on the right of the road to give protection to the battery and train, halting my command as rear guard to cover the retreat; proceeded on in this manner in good order some 8 or 9 miles to an old field, when, learning that you were in our rear and coming up, marched my command and Colonel Jeans' back to meet you and report myself for orders. Receiving same, proceeded on to Colonel Stevens; notified him as directed, placed my command in the rear, throwing out flankers right and left on the line of march, holding this order until reaching our camping ground near Pineville.
Colonel Jeans being placed (by order of Colonel Shelby) under my command at Newtonia, I cannot close this report without calling your attention to the soldier-like baring of both officers and soldiers throughout the whole time from taking our first position.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. W. BUSTER,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Indian Battalion.
Colonel D. H. COOPER,
Commanding First Brigade, Trans-Mississippi Department.