to this camp. Captain Gillett's squadron, arriving promptly, was formed on the road, and for a short time held the advance of the enemy in check. The Choctaws, under Colonel Walker, opportunely arrived at this time, and under my personal direction charged the enemy, who had now planted a battery upon the timbered ridge about 1,000 yards north of Honey Springs. With their usual intrepidity the Choctaws went at them, giving the war-whoop, and succeeded in checking the advance of the enemy until their force could be concentrated and all brought up. The Choctaws, discouraged on account of the worthless ammunition, then gave way, and were ordered to fall back with the others in rear of the train, which had moved off in an easterly direction, covered by our troops, who remained formed for hours in full view of the enemy, thus giving the train time to gain some 6 or 8 miles on the road to Briartown, which had been indicated by yourself as the route by which re- enforcements would be sent.
Too much praise cannot be awarded the troops for the accomplishment of the most difficult of all military movements-an orderly and successful retreat, with little loss of life or property, in the face superior numbers, flushed with victory. The retreat of the forces under my command eastward instead of south completely deceived the enemy, and created, as I anticipated, the impression that re-enforcements from Ford Smith were close at hand, and that by a detour in rear of the mountain east of Honey Springs our forces might march upon Gibson and destroy it while General Blunt was away with almost the whole Federal force. Under the influence of this reasonable fear, General Blunt withdrew his forces and commenced a hurried march for Gibson. North Fork, where we had a large amount of commissary stores, was then saved, as well as the whole of the train, except one ambulance purposely thrown in the way of the enemy by the driver. A quantity of flour, some salt, and sugar were necessarily burned at Honey Springs, there being no transportation for it.
Our loss was 134 killed and wounded and wounded and 47 taken prisoners, while that of the enemy exceeded 200, as I learned from one of our surgeons who was at Gibson when General Blunt's forces returned.
I feel confident we could have made good the defence of the position at Elk Creek but for the worthlessness of our ammunition. The Choctaws, who had skirmished with the enemy on the morning of the 17th, returned wet and disheartened by finding their guns almost useless, and there was a general felling among the troops that with such ammunition it was useless to contend with a foe doubly superior in numbers, arms, and munitions, with artillery ten times superior to ours, weight of metal considered. Notwithstanding all these untoward circumstances, the men of Colonel Bass' regiment stood calmly and fearlessly to their posts in support of Lee's battery until the conflict became a hand-to hand one, even clubbing their muskets and never giving way until the battery had been withdrawn; and, even defeated and in full retreated, the officers and men of different commands readily obeyed orders, formed, falling back and reforming at several different position, as ordered, deliberately and coolly. Their steady conduct under these circumstances evidently intimidated the for, and alone enabled us to save the train and many valuable lives. The Creek, under Colonel D. N. McIntosh, at this juncture behaved admirably, moving off in good order slowly and steadily across the North Fork road in full view of the enemy. They contributed greatly to the safe retreat of the train and brigade.
Among the officers who were distinguished for gallantry and good conduct, Colonel T. C. Bass and Captain Lee were particularly conspicuous.