Van Dorn's design was to throw his force, by a rapid movement, between Sigel, who was at Fayetteville, and Curtis.
To do this he had to reach Bentonville before Sigel did. But Sigel was too fast for him. When Van Dorn's column debouched from the mountains, three miles from Bentonville, Sigel's column could be seeBentonville, Sigel's column could be seen entering the town.
McIntosh and his mounted men were ordered to get in Sigel's front and delay him, but McIntosh, instead of attempting to check him, attacked, and he and his men—wild men on wilder horses—were speedily dispersed by Sigel's infantry and artillery.
The Missourians tried the same experiment and also failed, but in was no one to give an order to bring it to the front, and it remained inactive.
Besides this bad condition of things, the ammunition train had been ordered to Bentonville, fifteen miles distant, and the enemy were between it and the command.
In view of this condition of affairs, General Van Dorn determined to withdraw.