There was, during the last days of August and the first days of September, constant skirmishing between the cavalry advance of the two armies, without any marked change, however, in their relative positions, except that the enemy began to develop more plainly his intention to cross the Arkansas below Little Rock. I therefore ordered General [L.] Marsh Walker, on August 31, to move his headquarters to some point on the south side of the river, within 12 or 15 miles of the city, and to assume command of and concentrate in that vicinity (in addition to his own brigade) all the cavalry which was south of the Arkansas and east of Little Rock. I also gave orders, on September 9, for the construction of line of defense on that side of the river, and the work was immediately begun.
Early on the morning of the 10th, the enemy appeared in heavy force on the north bank of the river, about 8 miles below Little Rock. Colonel A. S. Dobbin, upon whom the command of Walker's division had been devolved by the unfortunate death of that lamented officer, immediately concentrated his whole disposable force (about 1,200 men) to dispute his passage. He was, however, embarrassed, not only by the fact that the river was fordable in twelve different places within 12 miles of Little Rock (at one of which the enemy actually made a strong feint of crossing), but by the additional fact that the place at which the enemy did finally force the passage was selected with excellent judgment, it being the upper point of a horseshoe-like bend, upon the three sides of which he planted five batteries. These, after two hours' heavy cannonading, silenced the guns which Colonel Dobbin had opposed to the enemy's passage, and drove them and the supporting cavalry from the peninsula. I ordered Tappan's brigade to the relief of Dobbin as soon as I learned that the enemy was seriously threatening to cross the river, and immediately thereafter ordered General Marmaduke to move his division to the south side, to assume command of all the cavalry, to hold the enemy in check until I could withdraw my infantry and artillery from the north side of the river, and, when this had been accomplished, to cover the retreat, the orders for which were at once given. The infantry began to leave the intrenchments at 11 o'clock in the morning. The city was finally evacuated about 5 o'clock in the afternoon. The trains had been sent to the rear early in the forenoon. The cavalry, under Brigadier-General Marmaduke, constituted the rear guard. It was skillfully handled, and behaved admirably.
My infantry, and most of my artillery, reached Arkadelphia on September 14, without any unusual loss of either men or material, and were encamped in that vicinity. I disposed my cavalry so as to completely cover my front, General Marmaduke occupying the center, having his headquarters at Rockport; Colonel Dobbin, in command of the right, having his at Tulip, and Colonel [J. C.] Monroe, in command of the left, having his at Caddo Gap.
I respectfully refer to the reports of Brigadier-General Marmaduke and Colonel A. S. Dobbin for a detailed statement of the operations of their respective commands. They will be forwarded as soon as they shall have been received.
Lieutenant-General Holmes resumed command of the District of Arkansas, at Arkadelphia, on September 25.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant Colonel J. F. BELTON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, District of Arkansas.