A Sketch of Debray's Twenty-Sixth Regiment. 157
To resume our narrative, the regiment reaching Pleasant Hill by dark, rode, band playing, to report to General Taylor, and was formed into line in front of his headquarters. The Colonel ap- proached the General, who, with stern countenance, told him that the good conduct of his men saved him from arrest and a court- martial. Upon the Colonel expressing his surprise at having unknowingly incurred the General's displeasure, he was reproached with having lost time on the road, while, with ordinary diligence, he should have reported at least ten days before. When the General understood that the regiment, stationed at eighty miles beyond Hous- ton, received the order of march on the I4th of March, and, impeded by a long train of wagons, had ridden over two hundred and fifty miles in less than fourteen days, he extended his hand to the Colonel, whose nativity was disclosed by his accent, and said to him in French, " I see that you are not a politician." Indeed, politicians were no pets at General Taylor's headquarters.
The regiment was ordered to the front on outpost duty. The enemy's approach being considered as imminent, the night was passed in line, with pickets in front, the horses remaining saddled and bridled.
On the next day (3d of April) General Taylor's infantry fell back on Mansfield, leaving Debray's and Bagby's Texas regiments, and Vincent's regiment of Louisiana cavalry, to observe the enemy, with instructions to retire as slowly as possible if hard pressed.
The 4th was a day of quiet and rest, cheered by the arrival of General Tom Green with some Texas cavalry regiments.
Early on the 5th the Federal cavalry corps made its appearance, when business began in earnest, and retreat became necessary before a largely superior force. But General Green made such happy dis- positions, taking advantage of the timbered and hilly formation of the country, that the enemy could not advance one mile without being resisted stubbornly enough to hold him three days on the march in moving over the twenty-five miles intervening between Pleasant Hill and Mansfield.
Meanwhile, General Taylor daily receiving reinforcements at Mansfield delayed the execution of superior orders to fall back on Keachi, twenty miles farther up Red River, where the General com- manding the Trans -Mississippi Department intended to offer battle. General Taylor had ascertained that the Federal army was marching in a very unmilitary order, viz : on one road, while two parallel roads were at a convenient distance for prompt concentration, and the