Report of Brig. Gen. John M. Thayer, U.S. Army,
Headquarters District of the Frontier
Sir: I have to report that on the morning of the 27th instant a force of between 1,500 and 2,000 rebels, under command of General Gano, all mounted, attacked my outpost, seven miles out, composed of about 200 men of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, under command of Captain Mefford. They moved up in two columns, one driving in the pickets, the other flanking them. Captain Mefford formed his men and fought them bravely, but was very soon overpowered, and he and 82 men were taken prisoners, and the enemy retired before re-enforcements (sic) could be got to the relief of our men. I sent a force in pursuit but could not overtake them. There were 10 of our men killed and 15 wounded; 12 of the enemy killed and 20 wounded, left on the field. I have been obliged to keep a force out that distance so that our stock could graze on the prairie.
Some eight days ago eight of my citizen scouts surprised the pickets of the enemy and took 1 lieutenant and 6 men prisoners, and brought them in. Major Galloway, of the First Arkansas Cavalry, routed Major Pickler and his command, belonging to Stand Watie and Buck Browns force, killing Major Pickler and a number of his men, and captured 35 horses and mules. Captain Worthington, of the same regiment, subsequently attacked a portion of Browns force, killing 9 rebels and capturing 15 horses and 3 mules. The enemy, under Cooper and Maxey, are camped on Buck Creek about twenty-five miles southwest of here. I still think their object is to hold this force here, and also to make raids across the river between here and Gibson when the river is fordable, as it soon will be. I have no fears as to this place or Gibson. I may have to withdraw the troops from Clarksville for the reason that I shall have to keep trains running from Fort Gibson to Fort Scott, and shall have to strengthen the escorts on that route, and also guard the fords between here and Gibson. I also have to furnish a large force to guard the parties putting up hay. My cavalry are almost useless as cavalry for the want of serviceable horses. I am anxious to hear about your situation and the movements of the enemy in your front and below you. The force in my front is from 5,000 to 7,000, nearly all mounted. I am only prevented from moving out and fighting them by the want of cavalry and artillery horses. I could not move my batteries twenty miles in this hot weather before half of the horses would give out.
I would call your attention to the fact that the term of service of the Second Indiana Battery, now here, expires on the last of next month. I should be glad to get the Third Kansas Battery up here, now at Little Rock.
Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele,
Itinerary of the District of the Frontier, commanded by Brig. Gen. John M. Thayer
July 2 The Ninth Kansas Cavalry was ordered to Little Rock.
Report of Lieut. Jacob Morehead, Sixth Kansas Cavalry
Fort Smith, Ark., July 29, 1864
Sir: I have the honor to report to you that I was in command of Company B, Sixth Kansas Cavalry, on the morning of the 27th instant, when the enemy made the attack on our camp, on Massard Prairie; and as soon as the alarm was given that the enemy was in the prairie, which was about 6 a.m., I sent immediately for the herd, which had been out grazing since daylight, and was about three-quarters of a mile southwest of camp. I formed my men on the right of camp to protect my herd as it came in and until it could be secured, but before the horses could be brought up the enemy charged on us, which stampeded the herd and left the men to fight on foot as best they could. We drove the enemy back, and as I had received no orders from the commanding officer, I ordered my men to fall back until they could form on the right of the other companies. When I had fallen back to the left of my company's parade ground I came in speaking distance of Major Mefford, when I received orders to form my company on the right to protect the camp. I immediately took the position assigned me, with Company D on my left. We held our position, repulsing three distinct charges of the enemy. At this time I saw that Major Mefford had, with Companies E and H, been driven from their position on the left of the line and had begun to fall back across the prairie. I knew that I could not hold my ground much longer with what men I had, so, without receiving orders from Major Mefford, commenced falling back toward him. As we fell back I had several men captured by the enemy that was advancing through the timber in the center of our camp. We fought and retreated in good order until we came within a half a mile of the house on the prairie, when the enemy closed in on all sides, taking many more of our men prisoners. Those that were left continued fighting and falling back to the house. There the men that were left were overpowered and captured. Before we reached the house I received a slight wound in the right thigh. Some of my men who were first captured made their escape by hiding in the thick brush, the enemy not staying to hunt for stragglers, but left immediately after the men at the house were captured, taking with them all the men that could travel. All did well under the circumstances, it being a surprise; after driving in the pickets the enemy was in our camp. I lost in the engagement 3 killed, 2 mortally wounded, 5 severely wounded, and 40 men taken prisoners.
Col. W.R. Judson,