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April 9th.---We crossed the Little Missouri on a pontoon bridge. Here the rebels under Marmaduke disputed the passage of the river with Gen. Steele, but were driven away after a sharp contest (3). The bushes were cut down as if with a knife, and the tree badly scarred by bullets and shells. General Steele's army was camped about three miles from the river, and soldiers from both armies were working on the road, which was soft, and needed trees and rails to keep the wagons from going under. We camped with the rear of Gen. Steele's army about two hours after dark, after a continuous march of sixteen days---and long ones at that. We started the next morning and found scores of white soldiers on each side of the road, as eager to see the colored soldiers as children to see their first elephant.

At the prairie de Ann (about ten miles from the river), Gen. Price had made some hasty preparations for a fight; but after seeing Gen. Steele's grand review, he soon "skedaddled." Gen. Steele moved quickly on (as he always seemed to wish to do), without getting hurt or hunting anybody.

April 12.---We started for Camden and arrived on the 17th, having a fight with the rebels, who made an attack on our rear, just as we were leaving the prairie. But few were killed on either side, as the rebels did not stand long.

We camped, after leaving the prairie, about 9 o'clock, had what we called a supper, and were in bed, when orders came at ten to march. This we thought must be "strategy", and so it was, beyond a doubt. During the night, which was intensely dark and gloomy, we crossed the swamp, which, if we had been able to have seen, we would have considered an impossibility,and have resigned ourselves to the fate of a watery grave, as did many a worn-out mule. The swamp was about two miles wide, and corduroyed with logs all the way. The advance passed over during the day, and worked up the mud into a kind or porridge, which covered the logs from six to twenty inches deep.
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3. Considerable skirmishing had taken place in this area immediately preceding the arrival of Thayer's
column. Marmaduke had attacked Steele's army at the river on April 4, but he had subsequently withdrawn. See Johnson, Red River Campaign, 175.

 

 

 

 

 

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