aged in the presence of a superior force of the enemy, I determined to retire, and gave the necessary orders for that purpose. Cavalry was extended along both sides of the Cove Creek road, distant 2 or 3 miles from it, form near Prairie Grove to the mountains, and scouts were thrown upon all routes leading toward the enemy's position. The prisoners and captured property were removed. At 12 o'clock the rear guard of the infantry had passed out of hearing. I remained with Marmaduke's cavalry on the field, occupying the line held at dark, caring for our wounded in his frequent flights before our men.
A Federal officer, under flag, brought the following letter:
HEADQUARTERS FEDERAL FORCES, On the Field, December 7, 1862.
Commanding Officer, Confederate Forces:
GENERAL: The bearer, Dr. Parker, visits your lines with flag of truce for the purpose of caring for wounded.
JAS. G. BLUNT,
The bearer of the flag indicated twelve hours from sunrise next day as the desired period of truce. To this I acceded, detaining the Federal officer, and notifying General Blunt immediately of the fact. Receiving no written reply, and the bearer of my first note not returning, I again gave him the same information. He replied as follows:
HEADQUARTERS FEDERAL FORCES, In the Field, December 8, 1862-6 a. m.
Major General T. C. HINDMAN,
Commanding Confederate Forces:
I have the honor to acknowledge your second note, under flag of truce, and express to you my regards for the privilege granted of entering your lines to care for my wounded, which is in accordance with the usages of civilized warfare. Instead of returning a written reply, as, perhaps, I should have done, I sent an unarmed party with ambulances, accompanied by commissioned officers, to meet General Marmaduke, and to be by him conducted within your lines.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
JAS. G. BLUNT,
General Blunt's officer had submitted a proposition, as by authority, that surgeons, hospital nurses, and attendants on the sick and wounded, should not in any cases be regarded as prisoners, but released unconditionally. This was not in such shape as to be conclusive. I therefore requested that General Blunt should meet me personally next day. He assented, and we met about 10 a. m. on the 8th. The result of the conference was the adoption of the proposition before referred to, with the additional stipulation that ambulances and hospital trains, medicines, and medical and hospital stores should be exempt from capture.
About 12 m. I withdrew Marmaduke's command, and overtook the infantry that night at Morrow's. The return to our former camp was attended with no incident worthy to be reported. After a battle the mind naturally passes in review all the circumstances connected with it. I hope the expression here of such reflections as now present themselves to me will not be deemed improper. Undoubtedly there are serious defects in our military system. Chief among these is the rule of electing to the lowest commissioned office and promoting to those above in companies and regiments. It combines mobocracy and primogeniture in such proportions that it seems almost a miracle that anything of discipline or efficiency survives. As a substitute, I would propose this,