War of the Rebellion: Serial 024 Page 0781 Chapter XXIX. ARKANSAS POST

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Our loss was slight; that of the enemy much heavier. During the night I received a telegraphic dispatch from you, ordering me "to hold out till help arrived or until all dead," which order was communicated to brigade commanders, with instructions to see it carried out in spirit and letter. Next morning I made every disposition of my forces to meet the enemy in the desperate conflict which was soon to follow. Colonel Deshler with his brigade, with the regiment of Colonel Dawson attached, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hutchinson, occupied the extreme left; Colonel Garland with his brigade, with his right resting on the fort; while Colonel Dunnington commanded the river defenses. It was near 12 o'clock before the enemy got fully into position, when he commenced moving upon my lines simultaneously by land and water. Four iron-clads opened upon the fort, which responded in gallant style with its three guns.

After a continuous fire of three hours they succeeded in silencing every gun we had with the exception of one small 6-pounder Parrott gun which was on the land side. Two boats passed up and opened a cross fire upon the fort and our lines; still we maintained the struggle. Their attack by land was less successful; on the right they were repulsed twice in attempting to storm our works, and on the left were driven back with great slaughter in no less than eight different charges. To defeat this entire line of rifle-pits I had but one battery of small field pieces, under command of Captain Hart, to whom great credit is due for the successful manner in which they were handled, contending, as he did, with some fifty pieces in his front. The fort had now been silenced about an hour, most of the field pieces had been disabled, still the fire raged furiously along the entire line, and that gallant band of Texans and Arkansans having nothing to rely upon now save their muskets and bayonets, still disdained to yield to the overpowering foe of 50,000 men, who were pressing upon them from almost every direction. Just at this moment, to my great surprise, several white flags were displayed in the Twenty-fourth Regiment Texas Dismounted Cavalry, First Brigade, and before they could be suppressed the enemy took advantage of them, crowded upon my lines, and not being prevented by the brigade commander from crossing, as was his duty, I was forced to the humiliating necessity of surrendering the balance of the command. My great hope was to keep them in check until night, and then, if re-enforcements did not reach me, cut my way out. No stigma should rest upon the troops. It was no fault of theirs; they fought with a desperation and courage yet unsurpassed in this war, and I hope and trust that the traitor will yet be discovered, brought to justice, and suffer the full penalty of the law. My thanks are due to Colonels Anderson and Gillespie for the prompt measures taken to prevent the raising of the white flag in their regiments. In the Second Brigade, commanded by the gallant Deshler, it was never displayed.

I had ordered Colonel E. E. Portlock, commanding at Saint Charles, to hasten to my relief with what troops he could spare. Captain Alf. Johnson reached the post on Saturday night and took part in the action on the 11th. Colonel Portlock, at the head of 190 men of his regiment of infantry, made the unprecedented march of 40 miles in twenty-four hours, and succeeded in entering our lines amidst a heavy fire from the enemy on his flanks. He was just on the eve of bringing his men into action when the surrender took place.

In no battle of the war has the disparity of forces been so unequal. The enemy's force was full 50,000, when ours did not exceed 3,000, and yet for two days did we signally repulse and hold in check that immense body of the enemy.