HEADQUARTERS ARKANSAS EXPEDITION,
Devall's Bluff, Ark., August 26, 1863.
GENERAL: Our advance, under Davidson, has driven Marmaduke's cavalry, about 3,000, out of Brownsville, capturing Colonel Burbridge and some privates. At date of dispatch from Davidson, [J. M.] Glover's brigade was pushing the enemy toward Bayou Meto. Marmaduke has not been dismissed; he was in command.
There is no running water between here and Bayou Meto; there are wells at Brownsville, which will be headquarters of the cavalry division, until the enemy's position can be thoroughly reconnoitered, and an approximate estimate made of his strength.
I was informed by a respectable citizen of Brownsville that their principal fortifications were between Bayou Meto and Little Rock. He (Dr. Wright) also informed me that there was a road which crossed the bayou,west of the one occupied by the enemy, which might, perhaps, be rendered passable for us by some repairs. Until I get a report from the front, giving me the result of the reconnaissance, I shall continued to strengthen this camp, build shelters, and cut the timber, so that the gunboats can have a clear sweep along the ravines on our flanks.
This is a healthy locality; high plateaus, no swamps in the vicinity, and the current in the river rapid. The health of the command has improved perceptibly since our arrival here.
There is a grist-mill and a saw-mill, about 2 miles distant by a good road and 4 by water, which can be put in order by supplying a few deficiencies. This can be done sending to Des Arc, and breaking up an establishment which has been patronized by the rebel army.
Our lumber has been obtained thus far principally by taking down vacant buildings, including one large church, where secession doctrines have been extensively promulgated.
There are some large crops of corn within a few miles of this, owned by rebels, and we hear of considerable old corn not very far off. There is also considerable beef.
I recommend that some rolling stock be sent for the railroad, which we know to be in good order as far as, and beyond, Brownsville. The telegraph is also nearly complete.
I hope the re-enforcements will come up soon. If the reports which we get continually in regard to the enemy's strength and animus should be confirmed by the reconnaissance, I shall wait for them. I should like very much to have the famous Memphis Brigade, if it should be necessary to sent more than a brigade you have already ordered. As I wrote you before, there will be no difficulty in getting supplies up this river. I have been told that there is only one locomotive and but few cars on the railroad, but the wagon road is said to be good. Fort Smith was formerly supplied by this route. I regard the plan of building the road from here to Memphis as impracticable, on account of the difficulty of raising it above the overflow. My opinion is based entirely upon information derived from people who have seen the route at all seasons. If ever the rebels should be routed by us, our cavalry would annihilate them.
I sent back all the steamers that brought up supplies except the Hamilton Belle, which is required for getting forage, lumber, &c., and the Sallie List, which is at present needed for the storage of commissary stores.
Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,