and which they commanded with their artillery, would have been criminal, without a prompt and vigorous co-operation from Dobbin in rear. Two or more demonstrations had been made upon them, and no answer of co-operation from the rear was given. as yet their force was not known; it was supposed to be even stronger in numbers that my own.
At 3.30 p. m. I received a dispatch from Colonel Dobbin saying he was near the bridge. I immediately dispatched back to burn the bridge, if possible, and, at all hazards, to prevent the enemy from retreating, and advising him to come and see me, if he could leave his command in good hands for that time (two and a half hours). He reported to me at a little after sunset, and immediately started on his return.
After Dobbin has communicated, and the actual strength of the enemy was known, and before a prompt co-operation from Dobbin could begin, there was not sufficient time before dark to make the attack.
I therefore determined to attack at daylight. The enemy had but two ways to make his escape - across the bridge and toward Helena, in the face of Dobbin's face, or in the direction of my force. Colonel Dobbin informed me that his strength was 450 armed men. I put about one-half of my command on guard to watch the enemy to prevent his escape. The rest slept on their, ready at a moment's call.
The enemy, about dark, crossed the bridge and passed on the road which Dobbin's command was specially ordered to guard, and retreated at least 16 miles before Colonel Dubbin's command informed me of their retreat. No resistance was made to them, and, indeed, the courier who brought me the intelligence reported that nothing was known of their retreat till the enemy had passed upon the road some 8 miles, and that they were going rapidly. This sentinel had to return 8 miles to bring me this intelligence. Had proper spirit and proper vigilance been displayed by Dobbin's command, the whole force would, undoubtedly, have been captured. The enemy, having fresh and far superior horses, with at least 16 miles' advantage, rendered pursuit useless.
Carter pursued the enemy, and, about sunset, encountered them. After a few desperate charges upon them (a part of them ambuscaded), in which he killed a number and lost himself some valuable officers and men killed and wounded, drove them from their position. Night coming on, and by the advice of his senior officers, who reported both men and horses exhausted, he halted his column for a few hours to feed and rest. During this time the enemy moved rapidly to Hughs' Ferry and crossed.
A more detailed report of Colonel Carter's operations will be found in his accompanying report.
The force (cavalry) which Carter pursued was about 900; no artillery. The force (cavalry) which Carter pursued was about 350 and two pieces of artillery. Had Dobbin's command fallen upon the rear of the enemy, or even destroyed the bridge, the 350 cavalry and two pieces of artillery would certainly have been captured, and that whole force could have been turned against the other column, which also should have been destroyed or captured. The failure deserves investigation and the punishment of the incompetent party.
J. S. MARMADUKE,
Major W. B. BLAIR,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, District of Arkansas.