Cavalry, Captain [J. D.] Jenks commanding, 250; one battalion of Merrill's House, Captain [William H.] Higdon commanding, 125; and to be joined at Benton by detachment of First Missouri Cavalry, Major [A. P.] Peabody commanding, 200 ; detachment of Third Iowa Cavalry, Captain [B. S.] Jones commanding, 200; and four guns of Hadley's battery, Lieutenant [E. B.] Hubbard commanding, making an aggregate of little more than 1,000 men. Upon reporting to the major-general commanding for further instructions, he informed me that Parsons' brigade of rebel cavalry was camped near Princeton, with some artillery, and that he wished me to drive them away, and find out what I could of the strength, position, and intentions of the enemy; to exercise my own discretion as to when and how to advance, and also to what was necessary to be done.
On the following morning I left this place with part of my command, and reached Benton that evening, being there joined by the artillery and the rest of my command. The next day I reached Rockport, on the Washita, and found that about 150 rebel cavalry, belonging to Cabell's brigade, had left there about two hours before my arrival. Here, as elsewhere throughout the entire march, I heard all sorts of reports of the enemy, from which reports I judged that Cabell's brigade was camped that night on Caddo Creek, 4 miles north of Arkadelphia, on the west side of the Washita; that some command was camped below Princeton, and that Price's whole army was advancing from Camden, probably toward Little Rock or Pine Bluff. The Washita is subject to very sudden rise, and the sky was threatening rain. This, with the importance of finding out the truth of Price's reported advance, determined me to make a feint toward Arkadelphia, while I moved upon the force near Princeton, and drove them far enough to determine Price's movements.
For several miles below Rockport the roads to Tulip and Arkadelphia are the same, and I accordingly moved my whole command toward Arkadelphia, as far as the dividing point, from which I sent the Third Iowa and First Missouri, under Major Peabody, to make a demonstration of movement toward Arkadelphia, while I marched the main body on the road to Tulip.
About 10 o'clock I received reliable information that the command near Princeton was an outpost from Camden, about 700 strong, under the command of Colonel Crawford, and that Parsons' brigade was not there. I pushed forward now with all possible haste, hoping to be able, by throwing a part of my troops in their rear, to cut them off and capture the whole body. About noon, however, a heavy rain began falling, and continued until daylight next morning. This made the roads so heavy that I could not keep the artillery up without entirely wearing it out, and entirely frustrating the plan proposed, as it would make the night too dark to move troops across the country with success. I accordingly went into camp at Tulip, which I reached just at dark.
At sunrise next morning I moved out, Major Peabody's command having joined me during the early night. I feared that the delay, caused by the rain, would have given the enemy time to hear of my movements and get out of my way.
About 4 miles from Princeton my advanced guard found a small picket of the enemy, which immediately retreated too rapidly to be caught. I now gave the immediate command of the advance guard, comprised of the First Iowa, to Major Brawner, Seventh Missouri, and added to his command the Seventh Missouri, with instructions to push on as rapidly as possible, and develop the force and position of the