cut him off. If successful in capturing McNeil's forces, I anticipated that my whole command could be well armed and finely mounted for vigorous action. It was impossible, on account of forage and subsistence, to march the whole division by one route on Patterson. And I furthermore desired to make demonstration, as if a large force of infantry and cavalry were invading the State via Thomasville, Houston, and to the west of Rolla, expecting by this means to withdraw all their forces from Northern Arkansas and extreme Southwest Missouri, and at the same time throw the forces about Ironton, Patterson, and Bloomfield off their guard until I had gained a position to surprise or cut off the forces at Patterson and Bloomfield, and thence move northward between Saint Louis and Ironton, if deemed it advisable. I divided the command into two columns: One under Shelby, composed of Shelby's and Burnbridge's brigades, to march via Van Buren, Mo., and reach Patterson on the evening of April 20; the other, under Carter, composed of Carter's and Greene's brigades, to march via Doniphan and reach Patterson the same evening. Shelby had instructions to throw out scouts well to his left, to create the impression of a force moving northwesterly. I marched with Carter's column. His route was the shortest and most secret. With a part of his column I intended to surprise and capture Patterson, and from thence to strike McNeil.
About midnight April 19, when 30 miles distant from Patterson, Carter detached Lieutenant-Colonel [D. C.] Giddings-in command of his regiment (about 450 men), Reves' independent company of spies and guides, and two pieces of [J. H.] Pratt's battery-to move rapidly, cautiously, and secretly by a more direct and unfrequented route to surprise Patterson. When 12 miles from Patterson, abut daylight, Colonel Giddings surprised and handsomely captured the whole Federal picket from Patterson - 1 lieutenant and 24 men. He marched on, and could have successfully surprised the whole garrison, but that he moved too slowly; did not take sufficient risk for the nature of his expedition, and allowed his artillery to open when within 2 miles of the fort. The troops there (about 600 cavalry, under Colonel Smart) took the alarm, and precipitately fled to Pilot Knob, burning everything they could, but leaving behind a large supply of subsistence and some quartermaster's stores. Colonel Giddings pursued them vigorously for 7 miles killing, wounding, and capturing a number. All the prisoners taken except those in hospital I paroled.
On the evening of the 20th, as ordered, the two columns entered Patterson. Colonel Shelby's column encountered a Federal picket from Patterson, and killed or captured 8 or 10 of them.
On the 21st, I ordered Carters' column to march against McNeil in the direction of Bloomfield, and Shelby's column to march on Fredericktown, supposing that McNeil would attempt to make his escape to Ironton. If he remained in Bloomfield, Carter would whip him, and if he attempted to get to Ironton, Shelby would capture him. Shelby's column surprised Fredericktown on the morning of April 22, capturing dispatches ordering McNeil to Ironton. He was expected at Fredericktown on the 22nd.
McNeil left Bloomfield on the 21st, abandoning and burning a large amount of quartermaster's and commissary stores en route for Pilot Knob via Dallas.
On the 22nd, he learned of Shelby's column, and retreat hastily toward Cape Girardeau. Carter pursued him, hoping to prevent his reaching there, but was too late, owing to high water, marshes, and bad roads, besides having a longer route to march, with horses very much worn