tenant-General Smith, having reached Little Rock, whither I had ordered it to move by rapid marches, I directed Brigadier-General Frost to move his brigade to the northern side of the river, and to assume command of my division, which comprised all the infantry near Little Rock, except Tappan's brigade, which I held in reserve on the south side of the river. Seeing that the position on Bayou Meto could be easily turned, and that it was otherwise untenable, I ordered General Frost at the same time to withdraw his entire command within the line of defenses to which I have before referred, and upon which I continued to labor both day and night. The enemy continued to advance meanwhile, my cavalry, under Generals [L.] Marsh Walker and Marmaduke, falling back before him, but contesting stubbornly every mile, until I ordered General Walker, on August 25, to take position on Bayou Meto with the whole of his and Marmaduke's cavalry, and to hold it as long as possible.
About midday on August 27, he was attacked in this position by the enemy in greatly superior force and with considerable spirit. The engagement lasted until dark. My troops, which were under the immediate command of Brigadier-General Marmaduke, behaved admirably, and the enemy was repulsed with heavy loss. General Walker, fearing from the indications given that the enemy was about to flank his position, withdrew his troops after dark. The enemy also retired from the field, leaving his dead unburied.
Knowing that if I delayed the removal of the public stores from Little Rock until the eve of its evacuation, the greater part of them would be lost, in consequence of the insufficiency of transportation, I had, very soon after assuming command of the district, ordered the chiefs of the several staff departments to send their stores to Arkadelphia as speedily as possible, removing first such as were least likely to be required by the army. These officers were zealously executing this order when intelligence reached me, on August 29, that the enemy was occupying Monroe, La., in force, and thereby not only endangering the valuable stores at Camden, but menacing my line of retreat. A few days later I received a communication from Brigadier-General Cabell informing me that Brigadier -General Steele, commanding the Confederate forces in the Indian Territory, was falling back toward Texas before a superior force, and that he had, himself, been driven by the enemy from Fort Smith, and was then retreating in the direction of Caddo Gap. These facts necessitated still greater activity in the removal of the public stores from both Camden and Little Rock, and orders to that effect were consequently given. I continued meanwhile to strengthen the defenses on the north side of the river and to perfect the means of communication between the two banks of the Arkansas, so as to be able to throw my forces readily from the one side to the other, and particularly to secure the safe withdrawal of my army from the northern side of the river in the event of defeat. My troops were at this time in excellent condition, full of enthusiasm, and eager to meet the enemy; but I had barely 8,000 men of all arms, while the enemy had brought against me nearly or quite 20,000. My only chance of meeting him successfully lay in the possibility that he would attack me in my intrenchments. I would have given him battle confidently had he done this. But I had little hope that he would do it, as it was comparatively easy for him to turn my position by crossing the Arkansas below Little Rock. That river was at that time fordable in a great many places, and I could not guard it effectually without weakening my force within the trenches to a dangerous extent. I communicated these facts at the time to the lieutenant-general commanding.