proceeded on the road 4 miles beyond Kingston. It being 4 p.m., and learning that the road before me was a winding one, though wild mountains, utterly devoid of habitations, I bivouacked for the night, and threw out on all the roads in the vicinity strong guards.
Early in the evening the picket guard on the eastern road captured 3 men and 14 head of horses and mules, owned by an individual called Parson Rodgers, who confessed to me that he was engaged in buying horses and mules and selling them the third lot he had purchased.
During the night Captain J. D. Jenks and Corporal Ramsey, of Company D, First Iowa Cavalry, having in charge 3 prisoners, captured while on picket, and being on their way to camp with them, were halted on the road by some unknown person or persons, who demanded that they surrender, which was promptly refused; whereupon the party was fired upon, without injury, however, to any one, and the fire instantly returned by Captain Jenks, killing 1 man, whose named was ascertained to be Allen Basham. Captain Jenks and Corporal Ramsey succeeded in reaching camp safety with 2 of the 3 prisoners, 1 of the prisoners escaping during the encounter.
At 4 o'clock on the following morning I had the column in motion,and by daylight reached the saltpeter works on Buffalo River, 14 miles from Kingston, where I completely surprised the small force there employed, and captured 17 out of 20; the lieutenant in charge and 2 men being engaged at work in the timber a short distance from the buildings, succeeded in making good their escape.
The buildings, fourteen in number, very extensive, entirely new and of good workmanship, together with two steam-engines, three boilers, seven large iron kettles, weighing, according to the bill for the same found on the premises, 800 pounds each, besides half a ton of saltpeter, a large fire-proof iron safe (Hall's patent), three Concord wagons, two carts, and all the appurtenances of a first-class establishment of this character, were completely destroyed by fire and otherwise.
After remaining at this place about six hours, I moved my command to a point 4 miles below, on Buffalo River and sent a detachment of 100 men, under the command of Captains [Alexander G.] McQueen and [David C.] Dinsmore, of the First Iowa Cavalry, to destroy an establishment of similar character. The working party, having a lookout posted on an elevated point on the mountains, escaped, but the detachment took possession of the works, which consisted of several frame buildings, entirely new, with four large iron kettles, in full operation, all of which were destroyed.
In the mean time I captured, in the valley and mountains skirting the Buffalo River, some 20 prisoners, all notorious outlaws, and a like number of horses.
Having been entirely successful in accomplishing all that was assigned to me, without casualty to any of my command, I started on my return, and recrossed the mountains in the night time, arriving in camp, at Carrollton, Ark., on the evening of January 12, delivering my prisoners, to the number of 39, and 39 horses and mules, to Lieutenant-Colonel [Elias B.] Baldwin, of the Eighth Missouri Cavalry, provost-marshal of the Third Division, Army of the Frontier.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. CALDWELL,
Major First Iowa Cavalry.
Brigadier General F. J. HERRON,
Commanding Third Division, Army of the Frontier.