a portion of my regiment and the Confederate forces, under the command of Marmaduke. Having information from my spies and scouts that a large rebel force was moving into Missouri from Batesville, Ark., I kept my front as well picketed as my limited force would permit keeping scouting parties on Black River, at or near all the available fords on that stream, which was some 20 miles to the front of my post. The rebel force approached in three columns from the Doniphan, Van Buren, and Pitman's Ferry roads commanded, respectively, by Shelby, Greene, and Burbridge. They thus succeeded in capturing or cutting off my scouting parties, and preventing their communicating will me. Their immediate approach was not known until within 6 miles of Patterson, where they met and commenced an engagement with a scouting party, 20 in number, under the command of Captain Hunter. This party, making a strong resistance to their approach, compelled the enemy to commence a brisk cannonade.
I immediately ordered Major [Richard G.] Woodson to move out two companies (B and G) and meet the enemy; ascertain, as near as possible, their position and strength; skirmish them into town, detaining them as much as he could, in order to give for preparations for defense, and, if necessary, to fall back. Major Woodson held his position, some 2 miles from town, until he discovered the enemy were about to outflank him, when he commenced falling back.
From his messenger I was able to learn that the enemy outnumbered my force at least seven to one, with five pieces of artillery; and knowing that it would be impossible to hold my position against such superior numbers, I determined to fall back, some 7 miles, to a point on the Pilot Knob road, known as Stony Battery, on Big Creek. All the wagons at the post were loaded with company property, quartermaster's, commissary, and hospital stores, and the remainder that could not be brought away was burned. I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Morsey to move on with the train to this point, and prevent the rebels obtaining possession of it if he endeavored to cut off my retreat. Major McConnel commanded the rear, and covered to cut off my retreat with Companies E and I, commanded, respectively, by Captain [George L.] Hewing and Lieutenant [James W.] Bradley. The major remained until the rebels came into town, when he moved off, followed by two regiments of Texas cavalry and two pieces of artillery, who soon came up, when the engagement began.
My men fought nobly, under the command of Captain Hewing, Lieutenant Bradley, [Warren C.] Shattuck, [Henry] Sladek, and [James A.] Blain, contesting their advance against overwhelming numbers. Arriving in the battery, I formed a line of battle to hold the enemy in check until the rear battalion, which had already suffered severely, could pass to the front. Soon after, hearing that Colonel Morsey was engaged in front with a force endeavoring to prevent his crossing the bridge, I pushed forward with Major Matthews' battalion to re-enforce; but the rebels, some 300 or 400 in number, made but little resistance to my force, and soon gave way and retired over the hill to my left. I then moved all my force across the creek, and formed, where I remained until near dark. The enemy did not again appear, but soon fell back to Patterson. All my command behaved well, and retired, when necessary, in good order.
Nothing fell into the hands of the enemy except the contends of three of four wagons, that broke down and were abandoned on the road.
The rebel force numbered 3,000 with five pieces of artillery. My force was about 400, with no artillery.