Numbers 3. Report of Colonel William Dewey, Twenty-third Iowa Infantry.
HDQRS. TWENTY-THIRD REGIMENT IOWA VOLS.,
Camp Patterson, Mo., November 2, 1862.
COLONEL: In accordance with your order of the 24th ultimo I left Camp Patterson at 6 o'clock in the morning of Saturday, the 25th, with three companies of my regiment (Twenty-third Iowa Volunteers), under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Kinsman; five companies of Twenty-fifth Missouri Volunteers, under Captain O. P. Newberry; two companies of First Missouri State Militia, and a section of Stange's battery, under Major Jaensch, and 18 men of the Twelfth Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, under Captain Leeper. At Morrison, 12 miles from this place, I was joined by three companies of Twenty-fourth Missouri Volunteers, under Captain Vaughan.
My instructions were to march for Pitman's Ferry, on Current River, which place I was to reach by 3 o'clock p. m. on Saturday, the 26th, form a junction with Lieutenant-Colonel Lazear, and attack any rebel force at that point. You informed me that Colonel Lazear had orders to meet me there at that time and co-operate with me. The first day I marched 26 miles, to Black River, which I reached at 4 o'clock p. m. I found the stream wide and deep and the crossing difficult, but I was determined to get the infantry and baggage train over that night. I placed the transportation of the troops in charge of Captain O. P. Newberry, of the Twenty-fifth Missouri, with orders to cross at all hazards. After an immense amount of labor the untiring energy of the captain was successful, and at 11 o'clock at night he reported all safely over, except the artillery and one company of the First Missouri State Militia, left to guard it. The next morning at daylight Captain Newberry commenced crossing the artillery. The ammunition was shifted from the caissons and transported in wagons and the whole train crossed in safety. I commenced the march from Black River at 8 o'clock a. m. Sunday, 26th, and reached Vandeer's after a march of 20 miles. A mile this side of Vandeer's my advanced guard of cavalry, under Captain Leper, drove in the enemy's pickets, all of whom unfortunately escaped and thus betrayed my advance. I now was 17 miles from Pitman's Ferry, and it was important to make a rapid march and gain possession of the boat. I accordingly detailed Lieutenant Buzard, of the Twenty-fifth Missouri, with 40 picked men to move rapidly forward with the cavalry and gain possession of the ferry. They started at 1 o'clock on the morning of the 27th, and at 2 I followed with the reserve body. The men marched without breakfast. Ten miles this side the ferry the advance guard surprised a scouting party of the enemy and captured a captain and 13 men. Leaving these prisoners under guard, they pushed rapidly forward and succeeded in surprising the guard at the ferry, which they dispersed by a volley from Lieutenant Buzard's men. Private Richard Lloyd, Company F, of the Twenty-fifth Missouri, swam the river and brought the boat over to this side. When about 2 miles from the river, at 8 o'clock in the morning, I received information that the great object of my anxiety, the ferry-boat, was safe in our possession. When a mile from the river a messenger brought me word that the enemy was forming line of battle on the other side. I immediately ordered the artillery forward at a gallop, the infantry regardless of their long and fatiguing march, following at a double-quick. I