F.] Josling and [W. B.] Clark. Twenty miles out I met a dispatch from General Blunt that he was safe with Lieutenant Pond, who had been fortunate enough to repulse the enemy in their attack on his camp. I pushed on, however, without relaxation, and arrived at the Springs, a distance of 70 miles, in the afternoon of the second day, although it was the first heavy marching the infantry had ever attempted. On my arrival I found that the general had sent off every mounted man he could find, either as scout or messenger, and had notified the officers in command on the line of the Arkansas River of the disaster at the Springs, the direction in which the enemy was heading, and where he would probably cross the river.
The graves were being dug and the dead being carried in for burial as I arrived. It was a fearful sight; some 85 bodies, nearly all shot through the head, most of them shot from five to seven times, each, horribly mangled, charred and blackened by fire. The wounded, who numbered 6 or 7, were all shot at least six times, and it is remarkable fact that, with the exception of Bennet, of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry, all who were alive when they were brought in are in a fair way of final recovery.
The circumstances of this double conflict, as well as I can gather them on the spot, are about these: Quantrill, with a force variously estimated at from 600 to 1,000, was passing south on the border line of counties in Missouri, and made a detour, to attack the camp at Baxter Springs, which up to that time had been defended by one company of colored men, under Lieutenant [R. E.] Cook, and a fragment of a company of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry only. Fortunately, however, the day before I had sent Lieutenant James B. Pond with part of another company of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry and a mountain howitzer. The cavalry was, however, all absent with a forage train at the time the camp was attacked; but the blacks the dismounted men of the cavalry, the howitzer, and Lieutenant Pond were still left. The first attack of the enemy, at 12 m. of the 6th instant, was so sudden and impetuous that he was inside the rude, breastworks, and firing pistol shots into the tents, before our forces recovered from the surprise into which they were thrown by the onset. Thy rallied, however, promptly and gallantly, under the direction of the lieutenant, and, after a severe struggle, repulsed the enemy, and drove him outside the fortifications. He then concentrated his force for a more careful attack formed in line of battle, but before the word could be given to charge, Lieutenant Pond opened upon them with the little howitzer, getting outside his breastworks to operate it, which again threw them into confusion, and drove them over the brow of the hill. At this point, it seems, they first perceived General Blunt's little column which had halted for the wagons and band to close up, and immediately formed in line to attack it. They formed in two lines, one on the prairie and the other under the cover of the timber, and commenced the advance. Coming in the direction they did, the general, of course, supposed it was Lieutenant Pond's cavalry, either on drill or coming out to receive them. For safety, however, he formed his little force in line of battle, and sent the wagons, with the band, clerks, orderlies, cooks, and other non-combatants, to the rear, and then rode about 50 paces to the front, accompanied by his staff, to reconnoiter and endeavor to ascertain to a certainty what the approaching force was. Whatever doubts he may have entertained were soon dispelled, for the front line, firing a volley and raising the guerrilla yell, charged forward at full speed. The general, turning in his saddle to order his body guard to advance an fire, saw, with