an expedition against Little Rock. General Hurlbut placed under my command all the troops at Helena, and the cavalry division under Brigadier-General Davidson, then operating in Arkansas. The garrison at Helena had been re-enforced by two brigades of Kimball's division, which had just arrived from Snyder's Bluff, and were suffering severely from the malarious influences of the Yazoo country. The proportion of sick among the Helena troops was also very large. Three regiments were designated to remain at Helena, and these, with the sick and convalescents of the whole command, were to constitute the garrison of that place. The troops at Helena designated for the expedition amounted to about 6,000 of all arms. Three six-gun and one four-gun batteries, including six 10-pounder Parrotts. The cavalry (First Indiana and Fifth Kansas), amounted to less than 500 for duty. The First Indiana had three small rifled guns. Davidson reported something less than 6,000 present for duty in his cavalry division, and eighteen pieces of artillery-showing an aggregate of about 12,000 for duty. Brigadier-General Kimball and Salomon obtained leave of absence, and the resignation of General Ross was accepted, which left me with but one general officer (Davidson).
The resignation of my assistant adjutant-general was accepted just at this time, and there were no officers of the quartermaster's or subsistence department at Helena, except Captain Allen, assistant commissary of subsistence, and Captain Noble, assistant quartermaster, who were in charge of the stores in the depot. I ordered the establishment of camps for the sick and convalescents, and organized the command in the best manner possible. Davidson pushed on to Clarendon and established a ferry for crossing the troops, corduroying 2 miles of bottom, and laying down the pontoon bridges across the Rock Rae Bayou. On the 10th of August, the Helena troops, organized into a division, under Colonel (now Brigadier General) S. A. Rice, marched toward Clarendon, with orders to reconstruct the bridge which had been destroyed by the rebels, and to make all necessary repairs on the road, which was in bad condition. Kimball's division, under Colonel McLean, followed next day. The whole command was at Clarendon, and commenced crossing the river on the 17th of August. Before the crossing was effected, I found my operations encumbered by over 1,000 sick. To have established a hospital and depot at this point would have involved the necessity of occupying both sides of the river. Devall's Bluff was a more healthy location, and the route from there to Little Rock possessed many advantages over the other as a line of operations. I therefore ordered all the stores and sick to be sent to Devall's Bluff by water. The enemy had constructed rifle-pits in a commanding position fronting the crossing on Rock Rae Bayou, but, on the approach of Davidson's division, had fallen back, leaving only a picket. This position could easily have been turned by the road leading up from Harris' Ferry.
On the 22nd, Davidson was directed to move with his division to Dead man's Lake, and reconnoiter the enemy's position at Brownsville. On the 23rd, the rest of the command moved to Devall's Bluff, the transports carrying the sick and stores under convoy of the gunboats. An advantageous site was selected on the bluff for a hospital and depot, and details immediately ordered to throw up intrenchments, cut away the timber on the flanks, to give the gunboats clear, and to erect sheds, &c.
On the 24th, Davidson advanced to Two Prairie Bayou, and on the 25th continued the march, skirmishing with Marmaduke's cavalry up to