There I received information that a re-enforcement of 3,000 or 4,000 men had arrived on Cane Hill, making Blunt's force fully equal to mine.
On the 5th, instead of getting to Morrow's, as I had expected, we went but little farther than half way, in consequence of some of those apparently unavoidable delays to which troops so ill-provided as ours are liable.
On the 6th we reached Morrow's. In the morning of that day, Marmaduke's advance (under Colonel J. O. Shelby) encountered the enemy's cavalry and drove them back beyond Morrow's to within 2 miles of Newburg. There, from the crest of the mountain to its base, about sunset a sharp engagement occurred, in which Colonel J. C. Monroe and his brigade of Arkansas cavalry (who had relieved Shelby) greatly distinguished themselves, charging a superior force of the enemy's cavalry with boldness and vigor, breaking his ranks, and only ceasing to pursue when recalled. I had previously ordered forward Hunter's regiment of Missouri infantry, of Parsons' brigade, of Frost's division, to hold the ground which the cavalry might gain. This order was promptly executed. The regiment was in possession of the heights and defiles that might be used for annoying us before the skirmish had ceased. To make sure of this advantage, the remainder of Parsons' brigade was thrown forward to the same position.
This being the situation of affairs, the several commanders of divisions were assembled on the night of the 6th, to receive final instructions, when I learned a further re-enforcement of form 4,000 to 6,000 infantry was then at Fayetteville, on the way to Cane Hill, making forced marches. It had been my intention to throw Marmaduke's cavalry by the Cove Creek road and its Maysville branch upon the enemy's left and rear, while scattered in front by the road leading from Morrow's to Newburg. It now seemed evident that than plan would simply cause the retirement of Blunt upon his re-enforcements, without accepting battle till after the junction should be effected. There was a possibility that I might, by adopting a different plan, destroy the re-enforcements and afterward fight the main body upon equal terms. To withdraw without fighting at all, would discourage my own troops and so embolden the enemy as to insure his following me up. His sudden concentration of troops justified the opinion that a movement against me was intended in any event. Influenced by these considerations, I determined to risk an engagement.
At 12 p. m., after replenishing his camp-fires, Parsons moved back to Morrow's, Monroe remaining in position on the crest of the mountain, instructed to dismount and skirmish as infantry at daylight, so as to deceive the enemy and detain him at Newburg as long as possible, and, trains were ordered by a cross route to the Telegraph road and then to Hog-eye, guarded by 100 cavalry and the disabled men of the infantry, of whom there was, unfortunately, a considerable number. These arrangements left me for the fight less than 10,000 men of all arms.
The order was given to march forward at 3 a. m. on the 7th, on the Cove Creek road and its Maysville branch to the Cane Hill and Fayetteville road. The command was not in motion till nearly 4 o'clock, and then the route proved so excessively bad, and the detentions so frequent from the breaking of artillery harness and debility of the battery animals, that the infantry failed to march above 2 miles in hour. A little before sunrise, Marmaduke discovered the cavalry of Herron's command moving on the Cane Hill and Fayetteville road toward Newburg. Mak-