War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0765 Chapter XXXIV. ATTACK ON BLOOMFIELD, MO., ETC.

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Upon arriving at Bloomfield, he learned of the presence of the enemy, and he wished Captain Preuitt to send me dispatches, as his men and horses were fresh, while the guard of Lieutenant Rathburn had ridden all day and then ridden 13 miles with their jaded horses. This Captain Preuitt refused to do, and Lieutenant Rathburn was compelled to return to my camp in person, leaving at Bloomfield all but three of the tired guard. Upon the arrival of Lieutenant Rathburn with the news, at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 30th, I immediately moved, by a rapid march, to Bloomfield, and reported to Major [S.] Montgomery for orders before sunrise. He told me to feed and be ready to march at a moment's notice, which I did, telling him at the same time that I did not want more than an hour. The time passed until, becoming impatient at the long and seemingly fatal delay, I again went to Major Montgomery, and told him my men and horses were good ones and fresh, and I wanted to go in pursuit of the enemy. He again told me to hold my men in readiness to march. At 10.40 o'clock I found that Captain Preuitt, with a detachment of 250 men, were marching out in pursuit, and I was ordered by Major Montgomery to remain at Bloomfield, to hold the post and act as a reserve. After five or six hours of impatient waiting in idleness, I asked the adjutant if Colonel Rogers knew of the movements which were being made. He told me that he did not; that they reported over his head, direct to General Fisk. I then said, "I shall inform him," which I did by telegraph, saying that I had been left idle with 400 men and two cannon. Within five minutes I received orders from Colonel Rogers to march in pursuit of the rebels; to assume command of the whole force under Preuitt, and pursue until pursuit became useless. I marched with 300 men immediately; marched 16 miles that evening, rested until 2 o'clock a. m., 30th, and was again in the saddle. I soon met the force under Preuitt returning. I still pressed on, and came to the camp of the enemy at Taylor's Mill. It was then 11 o'clock.

The enemy had marched at daylight, and was then across the Saint Francis River. I found that Preuitt had come up with the stragglers, in the rear of the enemy's column; had captured 2, and camped within 3 miles of the enemy and west of him, and between him and the river. Why he did not attack or pursue I cannot explain. The fact is, Preuitt marched back and the enemy marched on at nearly the same hour. If the whole force had been sent out together, nothing could have prevented the capture of the whole force of the enemy, as the river, where he crossed by swimming, was difficult to cross, and the swamps on each side of the road would have prevented him escaping in any other way. My command, both officers and men, were eager to pursue, which I told Major Montgomery early in the morning, and if we had marched when Preuitt did, or, what would have been better, at 8 o'clock, which we were ready to do, we should have come up with the enemy and had engaged him, and the issue would not have been doubtful. My force alone was ample; the men and horses were in good condition. I assure you in this it was not want of energy or zeal upon the part of my command, as the disappointment in not being allowed to join in the pursuit was extreme. I did not report to you, because I deemed it my duty to report to the ranking officer present, which I did, and only reported to you when I found you did not know how affairs were being managed, and because I knew you would not approve of such inexcusable inactivity.

The event has proven that if the full force had been sent out at the