Two regiments of infantry passed over the river to drive the enemy's skirmishers out of the woods, and the cavalry division passed on without serious interruption until they reached Bayou Fourche, where the enemy were drawn up in line to receive them. The rebels held their position obstinately, until our artillery on the opposite side of the river was opened upon their flank and rear, when they gave way and were steadily pushed back by Davidson, the artillery constantly playing upon them from the other side of the river. Our two columns matched nearly abreast on either side of the Arkansas. Volumes of smoke in the direction of Little Rock indicated to us that the rebels had evacuated their works on the north side of the river, and were burning their pontoon bridges. Heavy clouds of dust moving down toward Davidson, on the other side of the river, made me apprehensive that the enemy contemplated falling upon him with his entire force. He was instructed, in such event, to from on the beach, where his flanks could be protected by our artillery on the other side, and where aid might be sent him by a ford. But they were in full retreat. Marmaduke's cavalry only were disputing Davidson's entry of the city. The rebels had fired there pontoon bridges laid across the Arkansas at the city, and several railroad cars. Two locomotives were also on fire, but were saved by us; part of the pontoons were also saved. Six steamboats were entirely destroyed by fire, and we are informed that Price intended to have blown up the arsenal, but was pressed so close that he failed in this.
Our cavalry was too much exhausted to pursue the enemy's retreating columns far on the evening of the 10th. Next morning, Merrill's and Clayton's brigades renewed the chase and followed them 20 miles, taking a number of prisoners and causing the enemy to destroy a part of his train. Little Rock was formally surrendered by the municipal authorities on the evening of the 10th. Price had undoubtedly intended to give us battle in his intrenchments, but was entirely surprised by our movement across the Arkansas, and did not suspect it until after the pontoon bridge was laid. When it was reported to him that our infantry were crossing, he took it for granted that our whole force was moving to cut off his retreat to Arkadelphia. I have been assured by citizens that General Cabell, with about 4,000 troops from Fort Smith, had joined Price on his retreat, he having failed to reach here in time to assist in the defense of the place. I marched from Ashley's Mills on the morning of the 10th, with not more than 7,000 troops, having parked the trains and left a strong guard to defend them and the sick.
The operations of this army from the time that I commenced organizing it, at Helena, has occupied exactly forty days.
Our entire loss, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, will not exceed 100.* The enemy's is much greater, especially in prisoners; at least 1,000.
I shall reserve the list of casualties and my special recommendations for a future communication. However, I will say that Davidson and his cavalry division deserve the highest commendation.
I inclose Brigadier-General Davidson's report.
y respectfully, your obedient servant,
Commanding Department of the Missouri.
* But see revised statement, p 482