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[462] until the moment we encountered him in full retreat, and with the last sound of the battle died out in the distance behind him.

Van Dorn had planned the battle of Elk Horn well; he had moved so rapidly from Boston Mountain, with the forces of Price and McCulloch combined, that he caught the enemy unprepared, and with his divisions so far separated that, but for the inevitable indiscipline of troops so hastily thrown together, he would have destroyed the whole Federal army. By the loss of thirty minutes in reaching Bentonville, we lost the cutting off of Sigel with seven thousand men, who were hurrying to join the main body on Sugar creek. But we pushed him hard all that day; and after he had closed upon the main body, Van Dorn, leaving a small force to occupy the attention in front, threw his army, by a night march, quite around the Federal army, and across their only road by which retreat to Missouri could be effected. He handled his forces well-always attacking, always pressing the enemy back. When he heard of the death, in quick succession, of the three principal commanders of his right wing-McCulloch, McIntosh, and Hebert-and the consequent withdrawal from the attack of that whole wing, he only set his lips a little firmer; his blue eyes blazed brighter, and his nostrils looked wider, as he said, “Then we must press them the harder!” And he did, too; and he had everything moving finely by sundown, and all the enemy's line before us in full retreat at a run, and falling back into their wagon trains; when, by misapprehension on the part of the commander with our advanced troops, the pursuit was arrested, our forces withdrawn from the attack to go into bivouac, and the enemy was permitted to quietly reorganize his army and prepare for a combined attack upon us in the morning. During the night, we found that most of our batteries and regiments had exhausted their ammunition, and the ordnance train, with all the reserve ammunition, had been sent away, fifteen miles back, on the road along which we had come, and the enemy lay between. There was nothing left for Van Dorn but to get his train on the road to Van Buren, and his army off by the same route, and to fight enough to secure them. This he did, and marched away unmolested.

Arrived at Van Buren, Van Dorn addressed himself to the completion of the reorganization of his army, thenceforth known as the Army of the West; and it was there he gave an illustration of true magnanimity-very rarely known in ambitious men-by the offer he made to move with all his forces to reinforce General Sidney Johnston at Corinth. By this he surrendered the great independent command of the Trans-Mississippi Department, and all the plans he

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Earl Van Dorn (4)
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