Numbers 19. Report of Colonel Christopher C. Andrews, Third Minnesota Infantry, Second Brigade, of engagement at Bayou Fourche.
CAPITOL, Little Rock, Ark., September 11, 1863.
GENERAL: I embrace the first opportunity to report, for your information, the part taken by the Third Regiment in the operations of yesterday, resulting in the complete rout of the rebel army and the capture of Little Rock.
During the 8th and 9th instant, our forces were in camp 9 miles below Little Rock, and 2 1/2 miles from the Arkansas River.
At 8 o'clock on the evening of the 9th, I was notified that a general movement against the enemy would be made the next day; that the Second Division, commanded by Colonel [A.] Engelmann, of the Forty-third Illinois, would be in the advance, and that my regiment would be the advance of the division. I was ordered to be ready to march at 3 o'clock in the morning. Accordingly, at 3 o'clock yesterday morning, we moved out from camp, followed immediately by the Eleventh Ohio Battery, and proceeded to a point on the Arkansas River about 7 miles below Little Rock, which had been selected for a pontoon bridge. It was beginning to be daylight when we arrived. We found the grading of the high bank of the river nearly finished, preparatory to laying the bridge, and could just discern mounted scouts of the enemy on the opposite shore, in the edge of the woods, 800 yards distant. In obedience to orders, we moved up a short distance above the proposed crossing, taking position in the edge of a corn-field, on the right of the road and behind a low levee, which answered the purpose of a breastwork. Immediately caused some of the best sharpshooters from each company to get position in front under cover, and well secluded from the enemy. This arrangement met the cordial approval of the division commander. The Eleventh Ohio Battery of six pieces took position on our immediate left, and extended to where the pontoon was about to be laid. We did not then know the force of the enemy on the opposite bank, as he had the advantage of woods, but have since learned that he had two batteries of artillery, supported by infantry. We had orders not to fire until he commenced. Supposing it to be his purpose to obstruct the laving of the bridge, we had every reason to apprehend his opening fire almost any minute, and we remained watching his movements. The place selected for the bridge was where the river is unusually narrow. It there winds close to the bank on which we were posted, forming an extensive bend, and leaving at its present low stage a sand bar about 600 yards in width between the channel and the opposite bank, on which the enemy was concealed. The line of battle for our forces was, therefore, much in the form of a crescent. About half an hour after the Third Regiment had taken position, the rest of our forces continued to move up. Two batteries were also posted, one about half a mile on the left and the other half a mile on the right of the Eleventh Ohio, which was in the center.
I have described our line of battle with some particularity, that it may appear more plainly how effective was the cross-fire of our artillery.
Where the pontoon was being constructed the river was between 100 and 200 yards wide, and when the bridge was little more than half done the enemy opened on us with his artillery. Our batteries responded, and, soon getting good range, made it quite too uncomfortable for the enemy.