umn of the enemy, and exercise my own discretion both as to the character and extent of the pursuit.
The fatigue of the troops from the previous day's fighting, and the darkness of the night, together with the scattered camps of the different troops, prevented my getting off at daylight, as the general desired. By 6 o'clock, however, the division was on the march, the First Brigade (with the Eighth Missouri leading) having the advance, and a part of Stange's battery, under his own supervision, following the leading regiment.
The enemy had retreated by the Arkadelphia road, and we had scarcely left the suburbs of the town before we began to find the debris of a retreating and demoralized army-broken wagons, arms and equipments, partly destroyed, ammunition upset into small streams and mud-holes, and deserters and fagged-out soldiers in number continually brought m by our advance and flankers.
The road itself, as far as we followed the enemy, was, at this season of the year, good; being wide road, through a broken and hilly country, but evidently a bad road during wet weather, as the numerous corduroys indicated.
The country, however, through which the road ran was of such a character as to render successful pursuit exceedingly difficult, affording numerous strong defensive positions, compelling a cautious pursuit, and, from the entire absence of side roads, affording no opportunities for attempts at annoying the enemy's flanks, or cutting off his rear guard. On both sides of the road the country was thickly covered with a heavy growth of pine and oak, generally with thick undergrowth, and at rare intervals a small clearing, with a settler's cabin in it. Small streams and ravines putting into the Fourche Bayou, afforded, at short distances, places where a few men could make a stand, which would for some time delay a pursuing column.
Some 4 miles out the advance stirred up the enemy's outer pickets, and for several miles they were rapidly driven by mounted skirmishers. At about 6 miles from Little Rock a small stream crosses the road, and here it became evident, from the obstinacy of the at and made by the pickets, that their support was close behind them. Colonel Geiger, having charge of the advance, now dismounted the Eighth Missouri and deployed them as skirmishers. A brisk engagement with their extreme rear guard soon drove them upon their main guard, posted upon the crest of a steep hill, about a half a mile from the stream. They were gallantly and promptly followed by the Eighth, whose rapid and accurate fire soon drove the main guard to take to their horses and seek a new position in their rear. The Eighth followed them up as fast as the ground would permit them, occasionally exchanging shots with their skirmishers, posted to retard us, and compel a cautious advance. Their main guard had by this time retired to another position, where we soon found they had posted two pieces of artillery, commanding the road. Merrill's was now dismounted and ordered to the support of the Eighth (and shortly after relieved the latter as skirmishers), together with a section of Stange's howitzers. A sharp engagement followed. The enemy opened with their battery, well and rapidly replied to by Stange, soon resulting in driving them from their position and compelling them to retreat.
I had learned, from a refugee, who had been warned from his house near the crossing of the Fourche Bayou, that the enemy had told him that their determined stand would be made at that point. This confirmed the impression I previously had, as it was a strong position for
32 R R_VOL XXII, PT I