Ark., as a preliminary step toward erecting a line from Little Rock to Fort Smith, Ark., in order to connect with the military line from that point to Saint Louis, Mo. Not having received any insulators, owing to the delay of boats on the Mississippi and White Rivers, I was unable to commence constructing the line, but in the meantime distributed the wire along the route.
On December 30, 1863, a spy was captured in Little Rock named David O. Dodds, who had full information of all the troops, batteries, &c., at that point, written in telegraphic characters in a memorandum book. I was called upon to decipher and translate said characters before a court-martial, which I did, and Dodds was executed by General Steele as a spy.
Captain George H. Smith's foreman arrived at Little Rock December 30, 1863, having completed a telegraph line from Fort Smith to Dardanelle, Ark. (half way between Fort Smith and Little Rock), a distance of eighty-five miles, where he ran out of material. It was intended that I should meet him at Dardanelle with a line from Little Rock, but owing to the non-arrival of my insulators-for the reasons before stated-I was unable to do so.
On January 14, 1864, I received some insulators and at once started my train to build toward Dardanelle. The balance of the insulators having arrived on February 5, 1864, I connected with Dardanelle on February 13, 1864, thus placing Little Rock in direct telegraphic communication with Saint Louis, a distance of over 600 miles by the telegraph route.
The line worked admirably, which considering its extreme length and the disturbed state of the country through which it ran,was remarkable.
General Steele's army occupied the towns on the Arkansas River from Fort Smith to Pine Bluff, including the railroad to Devall's Bluff and White River. I opened telegraph offices at Clarksville, Dardanele, and Lewisburg, on the Saint Louis line.
On March 14 General Steele started south with his army to co-operate with General Banks on Red River, leaving but a very small force on the line of the Arkansas River. The telegraph line to Fort Smith did not work after the army withdrew south. The guerrillas became so numerous that it was impossible to keep it working west of Lewisburg. Three of my men, Alex Kane, Jacob Richards, and Thomas Jones, were killed by guerrillas white repairing the lines near Clarksville. Their bodies were horribly mutilated before life was extinct. Their escort had camped, and were surprised, but they all got away, leaving my men behind, with a wagon and five horses. The escort was from the First Arkansas Cavalry.
I continued to send repairers out, but the line was cut as fast as fixed up; so I discontinued all efforts to keep the lines up west of Lewisburg in March, 1864.
On April 20, 1864, we received news of Steele's occupation of Camden, he having made a demonstration on Washington. The rebels evacuated Camden, and he by forced marches got in their rear and occupied it. Camden was thoroughly fortified, and navigation opened on the Ouachita, on which river it is located, but no boats came to General Steele's succor.
After the retreat of General Banks the rebels fell on to Steele in large numbers, capturing his supply trains and forcing him to evacuate Camden, which he did successfully, marching toward Little Rock closely pursued by the enemy, who overtook him on the south side of