War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0505 Chapter XXXIV. ADVANCE UPON LITTLE ROCK, ARK., ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

possible to save the section, but in vain, as no one at the howitzers would obey orders. I then ordered Captain Stange to put another section of his that had arrived in battery, and open upon the enemy, which, had he done, the other section of howitzers could have been saved; but, instead of obeying orders, he fell back, and even failed to fire from where he was, which was an excellent range for grape and canister. I can assure the commanding general the loss of these two guns is attributable to the officers in charge, and the unavoidable confusion in the cavalry, having to contend with a dismounted enemy, covered by a thick forest. I believe the commanding general will do me the justice to say, as he was himself on the field and saw part of my efforts, that I exhausted every means in my power, save that of life, to rescue these guns. I remained on the ground until my horse was shot three times under me, and then retired only to bring up my own regiment. These demonstrations proved that the enemy had massed his heavy forces between the Bayou Fourche and the Arkansas River. I now determined to fight him in his own way, and brought up the Tenth Illinois and Third Missouri, and dismounted them to fight on foot, in three lines. The first, a line of skirmishers; the second, the line of battle; the third, a reserve; my right resting on the beach of the Arkansas River; my left on the Bayou Fourche. It now became necessary to combine all my forces to vanquish a vaunting and defiant foe. I therefore ordered the First Iowa Cavalry to countermarch and follow, mounted, at a supporting distance, our dismounted lines. Before withdrawing the First Iowa, I explained to Colonel Merrill the nature and connections of the roads, and suggested to him to send up his brigade as a substitute, and fall on the rear of the enemy by way of the levee, and I would drive back and capture his whole force. This result seemed to me inevitable, if this movement on the left should be made. I now returned to my command, gave the order to advance, and in a few moments a terrific and deadly fire prevailed along the whole line from friend and foe. Inch by inch did the Tenth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart commanding, and Third Missouri, Captain J. [H.] Reed commanding, drive back the stubborn and sullen enemy. When, by the advance of my lines upon the lost ground of the enemy, and by the divergence of the Fourche to the left, the front became so expanded that our scanty troops could not occupy the ground, I ordered portions of the First Iowa to both flanks and center, where they did heroic service, giving a general impetus to our whole line. When our advance had reached that point at which the two roads intersect on our left, and not finding Colonel Merrill's brigade co-operating, as I expected, I immediately ordered Major Caldwell to move to the left, in a corn-field, two or three squadrons, who at once unmasked the front of Colonel Merrill's brigade by driving the enemy in disorder, and capturing a caisson filled with ammunition, and 6 mules. We failed of any co-operation from Colonel Merrill's brigade on the north side of the bayou. With small-arms alone did we contend with an enemy four times our number, supported and encouraged by a battery of artillery, which sent a steady hail of solid shot, grape, and canister among our ranks. Such was the determination and impetuosity of the officers and men of the Second Brigade, that the enemy had no time or place to rest until he had been driven 3 miles, through the woods into the open fields, where they broke and fled in the utmost disorder and confusion in the direction of Little Rock.

The Second Brigade, without any relief, having fought on foot some three hours, and traveled some 3 miles, being perfectly exhausted, and their horses being behind, ceased the pursuit in 2 miles of Little Rock, while other portions of the division rode into the city.