strongly intrenched, were prepared to give the foe the warmest kind of reception as he advanced against them up the main road, leading from Texas
northward to Keytesville
But Van Dorn
perceived neither the necessity nor the wisdom of running into such a trap.
Advancing from Fayetteville
obliquely by way of Bentonville
, and chasing Sigel
off the direct road from the latter to Keytesville
upon the cross-road that passes through the little village of Leetown
and intersects the Fayetteville
road at Elkhorn Tavern
, he diligently improved the night following Sigel
's retreat in placing his entire army along the road from Bentonville
, on the flank and in the rear of his foe; so that all Curtis
's elaborate preparations to receive him on the Fayetteville
road went for nothing.
woke late on the morning of the 7th to a realizing sense of his critical condition, with a far more numerous foe practically between him and his resources, rendering retreat ruinous, and compelling him to fight the Rebels
on the ground they had chosen, which proffered him no advantage, and with which their guides were far more familiar than his. But every moment's delay must necessarily be improved by Van Dorn
in making matters worse; so Curtis
promptly changed front to rear, making the first and second divisions, under Sigel
, his left, the third, under Jeff. C. Davis
, his center, and the fourth, Col. Carr
, his right.
The line thus formed stretched about three miles, from Sugar creek
, through Leetown
, to Elkhorn Tavern
; of the Rebel
line confronting it, Price
, with his Missourians, formed the right; McIntosh
was in the center, and McCulloch
on the left.
The dispositions being made, at 10 1/2 o'clock, Osterhaus
was directed by Curtis
to advance, supporting his cavalry and light artillery, and open the ball; while, at nearly the same moment, McCulloch
fell with overwhelming force upon Carr
's division at and near Elkhorn Tavern
A Broad, deep ravine, known as Cross-Timber Hollow, but termed in some reports Big Sugar creek, rendered almost impassable by a windfall of heavy timber, crossed the battle-field, severing the lines of either army, but especially those of the Rebels
advanced with great gallantry from Leetown
nearly to the Bentonville
road, on which he found the enemy moving rapidly in great force toward Elkhorn Tavern
, where McCulloch
's attack upon Carr
was already in progress.
Assailed in turn by greatly superior numbers, he was soon driven back in disorder, with the loss of his battery.
, who had been ordered by Curtis
to support Carr
, was now directed to advance through Leetown
to the rescue of Osterhaus
, which he did with such vigor and determination that, though largely outnumbered and repeatedly compelled to recoil, his division held the ground assigned them, losing two guns of Davidson
's battery by the sudden advance of the enemy when their horses were disabled, but regaining them by a desperate charge of the 18th Indiana, which, with the 22d, was honorably conspicuous throughout the day. Col. Hendricks
, of the 22d, was killed while leading a charge of his regiment.
Night closed on this division,