War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0282 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter XXXVIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

at Trinity, and engaged all of the cavalry, some 80 in number, which I had taken away from the Tensas River lines and kept ready for the purpose of disputing their advance. They fell back slowly before the overwhelming force of the enemy advancing by the Upper Trinity, or otherwise called the Hawthorn road.

Colonel [Horace] Randal (with his brigade to re-enforce me and take command, as per order sent me by General Taylor) had been communicating with me for several days; reached the Brushy Bridge, 10 miles from the fort, on the evening of the 3rd instant; had advised me if I discovered that the Abolitionists were in heavy force to save what guns I could and form a junction with him, he being destitute of cavalry and artillery and needing them. The enemy are probably 15,000 strong, and have been following him up to last accounts, when he was encamped within 5 miles of them. I could not feel assured of the very heavy force of the enemy until the afternoon of the 3d, at dark. They had steadily but slowly succeeded in driving in my cavalry, not only to the junction of the Hawthorn road with the Alexandria and Harrisonburg road, at a point a half-way between us and our re-enforcements on the road, thus cutting off communication between Colonel Randal and myself, but pressed on nearly 2 miles nearer to the fort.

From desertion and sickness, having only about 40 men in garrison fit for duty, and they being much disheartened under the strain, I called a council of all the commissioned officers of the fort, and, in accordance with heir unanimous advice, given in secret council on the 3d, I determined to evacuate, save as many of the guns as possible, and, by rapid march, attempt a junction with Colonel Randal, as suggested by him the previous day. Having had the horses for all except four pieces of artillery sent off some 20 miles to a place of security on the Natchitoches road the previous day, where I expected and intended to stand a siege, and having too few men to lift the 30-pounder Parrott rifle out of position into a wagon which I had kept prepared for it, I was unable to save anything more than all the Government horses, mules, and wagons, and the 3-inch rifled guns and 1 howitzers (12-pounder). I was obliged to move at night, as it was necessary to pass within 2 1/2 miles of the enemy, in force, and without a moment's delay.

After determining my course, I commenced the evacuation at 1 a. m. on the 4th, passed within short distance of the enemy several times with impunity, and have ever since been trying to reach Colonel Randal, with whom I have been in daily communication.

He engaged them on the morning of the 4th with his skirmishers. I have crossed the Little River at Gillmore's Ferry, having traveled 26 miles on the 4th to Centreville, 24 miles yesterday, and 8 this morning since daylight tot his hour (9.30 a. m.), when I halted the rear guard for the purpose of writing this letter, which heretofore I have been unable to do. I now fear, from what I can hear of the road, that I will be unable to overtake Colonel Randal until he reaches Alexandria, as I will have to travel some 98 miles, while he has had the direct road of 60 miles, only 50 of which he had to make.

My last accounts of the enemy were that they were in great force some 10 or 11 miles Fort Beauregard, on the Alexandria road, and supposed to be still pursuing Colonel Randal and advancing upon Alexandria in force - 15,000 or 16,000 strong. I am continuing this route by order of Colonel Randal, and hope to be not much behind him in reaching Alexandria. I expect to encamp to-night within 20 miles of Alexandria, on the road from that place to Winfield.

I neglected to state previously that I remained with Lieutenants