of action. In a few days (July 22) Cooper's and Cabell's brigades were concentrated about 25 miles in rear of the battle-ground, and by the 25th were placed in position at Prairie Springs, 15 mils from Fort Gibson, where I determined to await the arrival of a brigade from Texas, under command of Colonel S. P. Bankhead, which I had been notified was ordered to report to me, and which was expected before the 10th of August. Upon the arrival of that brigade, it was my intention to take a position near enough to Fort Gibson to effectually prevent any further supplies or re-enforcements from going in. In a few days the desertions from Cabell's Arkansas brigade became alarming, without any apparent cause. The left by tens and hundreds (as many as 200 leaving in one night, several officers going with them). The weather at this time was good, and provisions (flour and beef) abundant; but another serious difficulty presented itself. The powder which had been received from Texas was found to be worthless when exposed to the slightest moisture, a night's heavy dew converting it into a paste. Under these circumstances, I determined to withdraw farther from the enemy, who might in a night's march attack us at any time, knowing, as he undoubtedly did, the condition of affairs with us, from several deserters who went to his lines. The whole force was accordingly withdrawn to the south side of the Canadian River, and Fort Smith being threatened by a force from Springfield, Mo., Cabell's brigade was posted within supporting distance of that place. My force being nearly all cavalry, and dependent entirely upon grass to subsist the animals, was necessarily much scattered; consequently, when a few days later the enemy was reported advancing in force, a move to the rear was made to a point where all could concentrate. The Creeks failed entirely to come to the point designated, and most of the Cherokees and several companies of Choctaws being absent, I found myself with not over 1,500 men, many of whom were unarmed (nearly all which indifferent arms), opposed to a force of 2,000 cavalry and about 3,000 infantry, the latter transported in 300 two-horse wagons. Instead, therefore, of risking an engagement, nothing was attempted but to keep the enemy in check until our supplies were moved to the rear. In this we were successful, nothing having been left to fall into the enemy's hands. He gratified his malice, however, by burning the little town of Perryville. From Perryville the enemy turned toward Fort Smith with a portion of his forces, where General Cabell contested his advance in an engagement of several hours' duration, most of his men behaving badly. A few hundred repulsed the attacking force, and then retired in the direction of Waldron.
Whilst retiring before the enemy, near Perryville, I again received notice that Bankhead's brigade was ordered to report to me. It was hurried forward in the direction of Fort Smith, to the support of General Cabell, who had been instructed to retire, in case of necessity, on the road this brigade advanced upon. It was expected that if General Cabell had been obliged to evacuate, this re-enforcement would have enabled him to regain his lost ground. General Cooper's brigade, composed of a few whites and several different tribes of Indians, could not be moved. General Cabell's movements, by the way of Waldron, prevented his junction with the re-enforcements at a time when the enemy, felling secure, had scattered his forces and offered an easy conquest. General Cabell reported that he had received orders from Major-General Price, which orders were never sent me, and thus his brigade was in some way disconnected with my command. Acting Brigadier-General Bankhead remained several weeks near Fort Smith, cutting off small
3 R - VOL XXII, PT I