section, with full supply of ammunition, say 107 rounds to the gun, in pursuit of Brooks, now north of the Arkansas River. About the same sized command will move from Van Buren to-morrow, and are instructed to drive him in your direction. I do not think he can have more than 400 men, and those very inferior and much demoralized. He must be found, attacked, and destroyed.
The force from Van Buren is directed to scour the country contiguous to Mulberry Creek and toward Ozark.
I am scouring the south side of the river, and this is part of my programme to redeem the State of Arkansas. I think I can rely on your active and zealous co-operate.
We shall have the wires at Van Buren to-morrow, I am told, and the first use I make of them will be to inform Major-General Schofield that I assume command of all the troops in this district, and that I have directed you to report to me.
I have the honor to be, &c.,
NOVEMBER 10-18, 1863.- Expedition from Benton to Mount Ida, Ark., and skirmish (11th) at Caddo Gap.
Report of Lieutenant Colonel Henry C. Caldwell, Third Iowa Cavalry, commanding First Brigade, Cavalry Division.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, CAVALRY DIVISION,
Benton, Ark., November 18, 1863.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report the result of the recent cavalry expedition undertaken in pursuance of orders from Major-General Steele.
I left this post with my command on the morning of the 10th instant; halted that night near Hot Springs. The next day I marched by the way of Hot Springs, on the Murfreesborough road, through Clark County, to a point within 18 miles of Murfreesborough. At this point a prisoner was captured, who informed me that Major Witherspoon, of the rebel cavalry, with a detachment of his command, was encamped 12 miles from me, on the Fort Smith and Washington road.
Although I had already marched 40 miles, I determined to strike this force at once, lest they might get information of my presence in the country and escape me.
I accordingly selected 125 men, under command of Captain [J.] Baird, of the First Missouri Cavalry, accompanied by my adjutant, Lieutenant [W. T.] Hamilton, and sent them forward rapidly, guided by the prisoner whom we had taken, with orders to charge into the rebel camp and give them no time to form or make any resistance. My orders were obeyed; the rebel pickets were run down, and the first intimation the rebels had of the presence of my men was when they charged right into their camp, guided by the light of their camp-fires, and opened a volley on them. The rebels, wild with fright, fled into the woods, in some instances without other covering than their shirts. The underbrush and woods and the darkness of the night prevented any successful pursuit of the fugitives.