their camp and attack them at daybreak. The distance to march was 30 miles, and the road through a rough, wooded, and hilly country. Three miles from Bentonville I directed my train to go into camp and follow in the morning at daylight, and moved the column forward, Colonel Cloud's brigade being in the advance.
At about 2 o'clock in the morning the advance was halted by Colonel Cloud, with the view of letting the column close up. The men were weary and exhausted, and no sooner were they halted than they dropped down in the brush by the road-side and were soon fast asleep. Being in the rear of Colonel Cloud's brigade, after waiting half an hour at a halt I took a portion of my body guard, went ahead to learn the cause of the delay, and ordered the command to be moved on going myself with the advance guard. After proceeding on 5 miles farther an open prairie lay before us of some 5 miles in extent, over which we had to pass to reach the rebel camp. At this point I went ahead of the advance guard, accompanied by Captain Russell, of the Second Kansas Regiment, and 2 men, for the purpose of getting information. In this we succeeded admirably. Stopping at a large, fine house at the edge of the prairie, and disguised as a rebel just escaped from the Federals, and wishing to get with Cooper's command, I readily enlisted the sympathies of the lady, whose husband was a soldier in the rebel camp. She informed me where their pickets stood, of the location of their camp and of their strength, which was near 7,000 men, two Texas regiments having joined them the day before. I now moved the advance across the prairie and halted a quarter of a mile from their outpost, which was at the edge of the timber, on a little wooded stream, near the town of Maysville. From this point I sent Companies b and I, of the Second Kansas, under the command of Captain Hopkins, by a circuitous route, to enter the town in the rear of the enemy's pickets, for the purpose of, if possible, capturing them without alarming the camp. This, however, proved fruitless, from the fact, as I afterwards learned, that they heard us advancing across the prairie, and ran in, alarming the town as they went, from which all the male inhabitants speedily decamped, to seek rebel protection.
It was now near 5 o'clock, and my desire was to attack at daylight; but, while waiting to give Captain Hopkins time to get in the rear of their pickets, on going back to ascertain if the column was closed up I learned, much to my surprise and disappointment, that during the last tow or three hours' march the only troops with me had been three companies of the Second Kansas, two of which had already been sent ahead under Captain Hopkins. The main column was back 7 miles, where it was first halted. After sending a messenger back to order it up I proceeded with the one company remaining with me to the town, and reached there at the same time with Captain Hopkins. There I learned that intelligence of our approach had gone ahead of us, and, fearing that the enemy would retreat, I sent Colonel Cloud (who had come with me in the advance) back to move his brigade forward as rapidly as possible, while with the three companies I determined to push ahead, attack the enemy, and endeavor to hold them until re-enforcements could arrive. Finding an intelligent contraband, whose master was in the rebel camp, with the locality of which he was well acquainted, I had no difficulty, by promising him his freedom, in engaging his services as a guide. The route from Maysville to the timber, where the rebels were posted, lay across the prairie, in a southwesterly direction, about 3 1/2 miles distant. Dashing on rapidly, we drove their pickets from the open ground under cover of the timber. The remainder