Brownsville, dislodging him at that place, and driving him into his intrenchments at Bayou Meto on the 26th. The attack was renewed on the 27th, and the enemy driven from his works on the bayou, and fired the bridge as he retreated. Davidson was unable to save bridge, everything having been prepared for its destruction beforehand. The bayou was deep and the pursuit of the rebels being thus checked, Davidson withdrew to his camp at Brownsville, leaving picket at the crossing on the bayou. I received information that True's brigade from Memphis would arrive at Clarendon on the 29th, and immediately sent a party to construct a bridge across Rock Rae Bayou, and a ferry-boat to cross troops over the White River. True crossed on the 30th of August, and on the 1st of September moved up to Deadman's Lake.
The advance from Devall's Bluff also commenced on the 1st, the place having been put in such a state of defence that the convalescents and a small detail left there were deemed sufficient to hold it against any force the enemy would be likely to send against it. On the 2nd instant, all my available force was concentrated at Brownsville. It had been ascertained that the military road on the side south side of Bayou Meto passed through a section impracticable for any military operations-swamp, timber, and entanglements of vines and undergrowth-and was commanded by the enemy's works. I therefore directed Davidson to make a reconnaissance in force around to the enemy's left by way of Austin, and, if practicable, to penetrate his lines and ascertain both his strength and position. Rice's division was ordered forward, to make a diversion in Davidson's favor on Bayou Meto. Rice drove in the enemy's pickers, shelled the woods on the south side of the bayou for several hours, and encamped for the night. In the mean time Davidson pushed his reconnaissance until the numerous roads on his flanks and rear rendered it dangerous for him to proceed any farther. The great length to which it would increase our line of communication with our base rendered it impracticable for us to attack the enemy on his left flank. This reconnaissance occupied two days.
By this time I had collected information in regard to the road leading by Shallow Ford and Ashley's Mills to the Arkansas, and the right of the enemy's works, which determined me to take that route. The march to the front was resumed on the 6th. Here we found ourselves again encumbered with a large number of sick-near 700. True's brigade and Ritter's brigade of cavalry were left to guard the supply train and the sick. On the 7th, we reached the Arkansas, near Ashley's Mills. At this point Davidson's cavalry, in advance, had a sharp skirmish with the enemy. The 8th and 9th were employed in reconnaissance, repairing the road back to Bayou Meto, and in bringing up the sick and the supply train, with the two brigades left at Brownsville.
I had now definitely determined upon a plan of attack. Davidson was directed to lay the pontoon bridge at an eligible point, throw his division across the Arkansas River and move directly on Little Rock, threatening the enemy's right flank and rear, while I moved with the rest of the force on the north bank and assailed the right of his works. During the night of the 9th. Davidson made his dispositions for crossing the Arkansas, and on the morning of the 10th had the pontoon bridge laid. The Second Division was ordered to report to him at daylight, to assist in covering his crossing. The bridge was placed in a band of the river, and the ground on the south side was so completely swept by Davidson's artillery that the enemy could not plant a battery in any position from which he could interrupt the crossing.