On the 24th ultimo, I gave orders to Lieutenant Garner to proceed in the direction of and beyond Pineville and reconnoiter with 50 men, and ascertain, if possible, the movements and Stand Watie, who was said to be in that neighborhood with 500 or 600 men.
Lieutenant Garner arrived on Cowskin Creek; found that Stand Watie had ben there, but left the day before. He followed his trail to the line; but the enemy being too far ahead, the pursuit was fruitless, and abandoned. At the headwaters of Butler's Creek, where he had turned out, Lieutenant Garner found and took possession of a cave, with a blacksmith's shop, and about 100 bushels of corn in it. He destroyed all. Ten miles below, ont he same stream, in another cave, of 3 guerrillas found there, 1 was killed, 1 wounded, the other escaped. In this cave Lieutenant Garner found a small parcel of dry goods, about 2 pounds of gunpowder, 1 bushel salt, 1 shotgun, and 1 rifle. These, but the dry goods, he ordered destroyed. From a point 12 miles farther down stream, he scouted in various directions, and found himself in a section of country swarming with guerrillas. he burned four houses on Butler's Creek, and seized three yokes of oxen and as many wagons. On his return, the 29th ultimo, he turned over the captured property to the quartermaster at this post. He had marched, while scouting and reconnoitering, about 150 miles. In the mean time information was received that one of my men, under Lieutenant [J.] Brown, had been wounded by guerrillas near Cross Hollow. I dispatched Lieutenant Irwin to that vicinity with 26 men. There he joined Lieutenant Brown. With his party augmented by 4 of Lieutenant Brown's men, the balance of whom were ordered to return to Cassville to escort the wounded man, Lieutenant Irwin, hearing of the noted guerrilla Glover, of that neighborhood, proceeded to his house, and set fire to it. Glover was not there. From that place he advanced in a northeasterly direction, and, at a distance of about 1 mile from the burning house, made out 3 bushwhackers lurking in his front. He gave chase for about 2 miles, in vain; the guerrillas had taken refuge in the brush. At night (27th of December, 1863) Lieutenant Irwin camped at Black's Mill. Next morning his pickets were fired into; but the enemy fled on the approach of Irwin's party. From Black's Mill, Lieutenant Irwin descended in a southeasterly direction, on White River. At the ford saw, but failed to capture or kill, a mounted guerrilla. Crossed over to the northeast, among the hills bordering the river, and, in a ravine, at the residence of Coon Baker, the most notorious guerrilla of that region, surprised John Roller, another bandit. In attempting to escape, this Roller was shot dead, and his horse, arms, and accouterments captured. They were turned over to the quartermaster at the post. Lieutenant Irwin thence proceeded northwest toward Indian Creek. Here another guerrilla and robber (Hairbright) was shot. The hills known an Roller's Ridge were next searched. they are a well-known rendezvous for bandits, murderers, and highwaymen. Nothing was found, and Lieutenant Irwin, after four days of meandering march through a very rugged country, his horses tired, almost exhausted, returned to this post on the 30th ultimo without injury or loss. He marched about 125 miles.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN E. PHELPS,
Lieutenant Third U. S. Cavalry, Commanding Post.
Brigadier General JOHN B. SANBORN,
Commanding District of Southwestern Missouri.
50 R R - VOL XXII, PT I