I found a line of dismounted cavalry and howitzers, and steadily drove their rear from their position, and up the mountain side, to within one-fourth of a mile their line of battle, skillfully formed upon the summit of Backbone Mountain, of the Poteau range. I here brought my whole force into action, and for three hours the battle raged with variable violence. During a suspense of my fire, the enemy suddenly withdrew, leaving his dead and wounded, together with arms, baggage, &c., in our possession. I immediately occupied the field, and extended my pickets beyond, taking prisoners and receiving deserters, who came flocking in.
Our entire loss was 14. The enemy's, in killed and wounded, was from 15 to 20.
In the morning I returned to Fort Smith and assumed command, where I remained until the 19th, receiving several hundred deserters, to whom I extended the lenient policy directed in General Schofield's letter upon that subject. I also learned of the capture of Captain Gardner, and the destruction of your dispatches to myself. A movement of the command of Colonel [E. C.] Catherwood was ordered, with a view to serve their interests and to punish guerrillas.
On the 9th, I took 200 of the Second Kansas, Captain [J. M.] Mentzer, commanding, and one section of artillery, Lieutenant Haines commanding, and started toward Little Rock, via Dardanelle, at which place I attacked a brigade of the enemy, under Colonel Stirman, about 1,000 strong, with four pieces of artillery. After from two to three hours fighting, the enemy retreated in confusion down the river and across the same. Many were killed or drowned in the passage, probably 10 to 15, and I took a captain and about 20 privates prisoners. Also captured 200 head of Confederate cattle, several hundred bushels of wheat, much flour, and other commissary stores, upon which I subsisted my command, having no rations with me, and obliged to depend upon the country.
One gratifying feature of much interest and importance to the cause, presented itself in our march, i. e., we were joined by six companies of Union men, about 300 all told, with the Stars and Stripes flying, and cheers for the Union. These men assembled at one day's notice and accompanied me in the attack upon the town, and justly share the victory. I remained at that place three days, and received assurances that hundreds of men, on both sides of the river, stand ready to take arms for the Union.
Hearing of the occupation of Little Rock by General Steele, I took an escort of 100 of the Second and started to explore the river, and open communications with our forces. On the way down I took possession of two steamboats, which I obligated to report at this place when the river rises, and, meeting with no obstacle, arrived here on the 18th, all safe and well, and am camped at the extreme southeast point of your district. I am convinced that thousands of men stand ready to take arms as soon as they can be furnished, and this is the case also with Northern Texas. The people come to me by hundreds, and beg of me to stand by them and keep them from being taken by the conscript officer or from being taken back to the rebel army, from which they have deserted, and to show their earnestness they came in with their old guns and joined us.
In the attack upon Dardanelle I was assisted by three officers and about 100 men, who had fought me at Backbone, under Cabell, and it was a novel sight to see men with the regular gray uniform and Confederate State belt-plate fighting side by side with the blue of the army,