On the 30th, my scouts encountered the advance guard of General Blunt, 2 miles west of the San Bois, and skirmished with them until within 12 miles of Scullyville (and 20 miles of my camp), where they encamped, within 4 miles of my pickets.
About 2 a. m. on the 31st, General Blunt's advance, under Colonel Cloud, attacked my pickets, and, after a brisk engagement (in which I lost 1 man killed and several wounded), drove them back to the main body, under Colonel Thomson, near Scullyville. Colonel Thomson skirmished with them and held them in check a times until 4 p. m., until they reached the field near the Poteau Bottom within 3 mils of my command, where they stopped farther pursuit with their cavalry, and awaited the arrival of their infantry and artillery. My command had been reduced at that time, by desertion, to about 1,250 men in all. After their infantry and artillery came up, they attacked my skirmishers and penetrated nearly to the river. After a brisk fire on both sides for about an hour, the enemy fell back, with several killed and wounded (the number could not be ascertained, as it was some time after dark). Knowing positively that the enemy had at least 2,300 effective men and eight pieces of artillery, and knowing that I cold rely on but little more than one-half of the small number of men I had to fight, I determined to fall back, and to reach, if possible, a range of mountains in my rear, and to get all the trains and public property of every description across these mountains, with the hope that I might possibly save them. It was impossible forme to fall back to the road that General Steele had designated, for two reasons: First, the enemy had possession of the road; second, had I moved in that direction,m y men would have deserted, and not left men enough to protect the public property or my battery, as every regimental and battalion commander reported to me.
About 9 p. m. on the 31st, I determined to fall back, if possible, to Waldron, in Scott County. The baggage trains were all ordered to a little place called Jenny Lind, 10 miles on that road, early in the day. As soon as I commenced falling back, taking the Jenny Lind road, I sent and started the train. The ordnance train, which was an ox train, I had previously sent to Waldron.
General Blunt, finding out that I had abandoned the position I had on the Poteau, sent Colonel Cloud, with 1,500 cavalry, six pieces of artillery, and 40 wagons, loaded with infantry, in pursuit of me. They followed, and attacked the picket I left at Jenny Lind about 9 o'clock on the 1st day of September. The picket skirmished with their advance until they reached the foot of Backbone Mountain, about 16 miles from Fort Smith, where I had formed my command for battle. I placed Monroe's regiment in ambush at the foot of the mountain, and placed all the different regiments en echelon along the sides of the mountain, near the road; the battery being placed so as to command the whole field of operations. The enemy came dashing up, yelling and shouting, confident of success, their cavalry in advance. When they came within gunshot, Monroe's regiment opened fire on them, and dismounted every man except two in the front companies. The action soon became general, and, after a heavy fire of nearly three hours and a half, especially of artillery, the enemy were repulsed, with a loss of about 30 killed and from 100 to 150 wounded. My loss was 5 killed and 12 wounded. The number of missing I cannot state, as eight companies of Morgan's infantry regiment, Hill's and Thomson's regiments, and Woosley's battalion of cavalry ran in the most shameful manner. Hill's regiment, in running, ran through the provost guard, where I had 80 prisoners under sentence for treason and desertion. These men in