the contest, when at length a courier arrived with orders from General Price to withdraw and cross the Arkansas River on the upper pontoon bridge as rapidly as possible. A few moments after, Captain [John C.] Moore, of General Marmaduke's staff, arrived with similar orders, stating we were three hours behind time, owing entirely to the couriers having taken the wrong road in transmitting his message. Moving across and down the river as rapidly as possible, at 1 p. m. we arrived at a point 3 miles below the city, and formed in line of battle across a large open field; but the enemy, running up their batteries on the opposite side of the river, opened an enfilading fire, which swept up and through our lines in a most unsatisfactory manner, compelling us to change our positions every few moments, and without being able to return the fire with any effect. At one time Captain [Joseph] Bledsoe opened fire with one of his rifled guns upon a body of cavalry moving upon the opposite side of the river, which sent them scampering out of sight. A large force coming up on either bank of the river compelled us to fall back, and, when near the city, the battalion under Major [Benjamin] Elliott formed on the extreme left, awaited their approach, and, delivering a well-directed fire into the advance of their elated masses, for a time checked up their mad career, and not until the sun went down did they take possession of the city. The nature of the ground and the distribution of their forces and numbers rendered any attempt on our part to keep them back, futile and vain.*
After night drew her sable curtain down we moved back to a point some 8 miles, where the infantry was encamped, and rested for the night without food or forage or further annoyance.
On the following morning, after the command had moved out, the enemy's cavalry pressed our rear guard till reaching a point some 3 miles from the camp of the night previous, where this brigade, after having fed their horses, formed, and awaited their coming, which was not long-in their usual precautionary manner, i. e., in line of battle, with their sharpshooters well to the front. Captain [T. H.] Lea, of my regiment, in ambush with his company, delivered them a deadly fire, which was taken up by my regiment and [B. G.] Jeans' regiment in one deafening volley, after which they filed out of the way and range of Captain [S. T.] Ruffner's splendid battery of four guns, which occupied a position immediately commanding the road. This was the signal for Captain Ruffner, who in quick succession sent shot, shell, and grape roaring and whizzing through the woods in such a demoralizing manner as to drive the enemy out of sight and hearing for the time, with (as we learned subsequently) many killed and wounded. Moving out and again forming, [B. Frank] Gordon's regiment and Elliott's battalion tendered them another reception, after which we were no further annoyed or molested by them during the march.
In these skirmishes we lost none, either killed or wounded. Since that time and up to the present we have moved at our leisure, keeping pickets far in front to warn us of any approaching danger.
In all of these skirmishes, &c., the men under my command proved themselves worthy of their positions and the name of soldier.
I am, major, very truly, your obedient servant,
G. W. THOMPSON,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Major HENRY EWING,
*Nominal list of casualties, here omitted, is embodied in statement on p. 523.
34 R R-VOL XXII, PT I