bering us eight to one, looked absolutely fearful. While forming a line for a final, crushing charge, I determined to retreat, knowing it was madness to continue the unequal contest.
My rifled gun had again become useless. The trail, which was shivered by a cannon shot at Helena, broke short off and left it unmanageable. I determined to save it, if possible, and had it fixed up, under a hot fire, with poles; but in crossing a deep ravine it hopelessly gave way, in which condition it was well spiked and left.
Withdrawing my forces by regiments, and forming them as if to charge, got my entire command mounted in splendid order, with the ordnance wagons in the center, at the same time keeping up a furious fire of grape and canister with the remaining piece of artillery. The enemy's twelve pieces of artillery were playing upon my ranks, but the men stood the fire without flinching.
As soon as my command were mounted and straightened out, I saw the Federals were almost entirely around me, and only on the right was there a way open for escape, and this every minute getting narrower and narrower. The undergrowth here was thick and matted, almost impassable for cavalry; besides, directly in my way was a deep, wide ravine or ditch. This, whoever, I had bridged two hours before. Now gathering my command well in hand, I dashed furiously at the enemy's left, knowing that it was his weakest point, and, besides, if I succeeded in forcing this line before he swung his right around, I could change my front and have the entire force behind me. Hard blows were given and received. The Federals gave way in terror before the momentary shock, and Gordon Coffee, the battalion, and the wagons passed safely through, but the head of Hunter's regiment, being entangled in the thick brush, did not keep well closed up, and the Federals, rallying, dashed in between him and the rear of Gordon, thus dividing them. Hunter, seeing it impossible to join me without a great sacrifice, turned squarely to the right, and by a quick gallop placed the whole enemy's force in the rear. My object was thus far safely through, but the head of Hunter's regiment, being entangled in the thick brush, did not keep well closed up, and the Federals, rallying, dashed in between him and the rear of Gordon, thus dividing them. Hunter, seeing it impossible to join me without a great sacrifice, turned squarely to the right, and by a quick gallop placed the whole enemy's force in the rear. My object was thus far safely attained. True, the command was divided, but each division had escaped the Federals and were in a condition to retreat with safety. After waiting an hour for the separated forces to come together, and they not appearing, I continued my retreat toward Waverly. For 8 miles they pressed me sorely; but forming by a two-squadron front, and taking position [advantage] of every natural position, I invariably drove the enemy back. At Germantown they made a desperate onslaught, but, meeting them with promptness and firmness, they fell back, as usual, in confusion.
At 3 o'clock the next morning I passed through Waverly, and then turned directly southward. At Hawking's Mill, finding my wagons troublesome, and having no ammunition left expect what the men could carry, I sunk them in the Missouri River, where they were safe from all capture.
The 14th, 15th, and 16th were spent in constant travel, halting only long enough to feed and take a few hours' repose. At Warrensburg there were about 2,000 Federals waiting for us, but they were passed without alarm, and at Johnstown, Johnson County, they attacked us, but were repulsed; so thus, upon the evening of the 16th, I encamped within 8 miles of the Osage River, making through from river in two days.
On the 17th, 18th, and 19th I traveled hard, fighting once at Carthage; crossed the Springfield road 3 miles east of Keytesville, all the time followed by a large force, and on the 20th was rejoined on the banks of