brisk fire. I at once ordered Rabb's battery into position, and also the two howitzers under Lieutenant [E. S.] Stover, when a fierce cannonading ensued, which lasted for the space of nearly an hour. My column not being up, I could do nothing more than engage in this artillery duel until it arrived, and the enemy, thinking, no doubt, that I had a large force on hand, did not venture from under the cover of their guns. Reconnoitering upon their left, I discovered an approach by which a force could be brought on their left flank and do them great damage, and, perhaps, capture their artillery.
I ordered Major [V. P.] Van Antwerp, of my staff, back to meet the Eleventh Kansas and Hopkins' battery, who were in the advance of the column, to bring them up on the double-quick, and send the battery, with six companies of the Eleventh, to follow me, with the object above named, and to take the other four companies to the support of Rabb's battery; but they were too far in the rear and to men too much fatigued by the march to reach me in time. Major Van Antwerp took the four companies down the road to Rabb's battery, the fire from which, as afterward appeared (although laboring under great disadvantage from the nature of the ground), had been very destructive on the enemy, compelling them to abandon their position and seek another, on a high ridge three-fourths of a mile farther south, where their reserve had been posted. To this point access was very difficult, as rugged ravines intervened, and it could only be approached by the road. Taking a position on high ground, facing them from the north, I opened upon them a destructive fire with my artillery, dismounting one of their guns and compelling them again to retire. For the third time they made a stand in the town, or, rather, on the south side of it, upon a commanding eminence running east and west, and a most admirable position for defense. Having now concentrated their entire force and selected this strong position, I felt assured that they had resolved on a desperate resistance, and made my arrangements accordingly; but, after getting my force across a deep and rugged ravine, and deploying them in position, ready to advance upon their long and well-formed line, I discovered, much to my disappointment, that they had again retired, and were in full retreat to the mountains, Tenney's battery coming upon the ground they had abandoned just in time to send a few shells into the rear of their retreating column, as they escaped under cover of the woods. As the men and horses of the enemy were fresh, and mine were worn down and exhausted by hard marching, it was difficult to follow them in their flight; yet the men, eager for the fray, strained every nerve.
For nearly 3 miles from the town, in the direction of Van Buren, the road runs through a valley, in which there are a few farms, alternating with low hills and ravines, covered with thick woods and brush. Over this road a running fight, with small-arms, took place, without much damage occurring to either party. Reaching a large mound at the base of the first mountain (the commencement of the Boston Mountains proper), the enemy placed his artillery upon it, in a position covering the road.
From this position he sought to prevent my force from proceeding up the valley and approaching the mountain. Directing two howitzers, under Lieutenant Opdyke, to the right, upon a by-road, they quickly obtained a good position on the enemy's flank, while Rabb's battery opened upon them in front. They were soon forced to abandon the high mound and seek the side and top of the mountain, where they made a determinate resistance. Their artillery was posted on the crest of the mountain, while their mounted riflemen were dismounted, and their whole force massed upon the sides and top of the mountain,