army, with the exception that fewer men were engaged, and our men fought here with a valor that was not shown on that serious sad, mock-heroic day in July.1Gen. Emory, advancing behind Franklin, had been early advised that matters were dubious at the front, and directed to take a position wherein to stop the mischief. Advancing four miles farther, he halted his division at Pleasant Grove, three miles behind Sabine Crossroads, and disposed it for the emergency. It held the western edge of a wood, with an open field in front, sloping toward Mansfield; and here Gen. Dwight formed his (1st) brigade across the road, with the 3d, Col. Lewis Benedict,2 on his left; the 2d, Gen. McMillen, in reserve; the 16lst N. York, Lt.-Col. Kinsey, being thrown out in advance as skirmishers; Lee's and Franklin's flying columns being allowed to pass through and form (if they would) behind the living rampart thus erected. Hardly was Emory's formation completed when the flushed Rebels came headlong on, driving in our skirmishers pell-mell, and charging up the slope as though there were only the routed fugitives from the Cross-roads before them. Their left overlapping our right, Gen. McMillen was thrown forward on that wing, and our fire reserved until
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1 A grumbling private of the 83d Ohio thus sums up his view of this affair:
The battle was shockingly managed. It was, no doubt, a surprise on the General commanding. He endeavored to charge the enemy with a baggage-train, but it did n't work. * * * Gens. Banks and Franklin did n't believe there was any force in our front but a few skirmishers, and, by their incredulity, lost tile day.A letter to The Missouri Republican has the following:
About 3 P. M., when within two miles of Mansfield, the advance, consisting of cavalry, artillery, and the 4th division, 13th army corps, while marching through a dense pine forest, there being a thick undergrowth of pines on either side of the road, were attacked by the Bebels in great force, on both flanks and in front. The engagement soon became general: the Rebels suddenly opening with artillery and musketry, charging our surprised and panic-stricken columns with terrific yells, evincing a daring and determination worthy of a better cause. Gen. Banks and Gen. Franklin hurried to the front, and were in the thickest of the fight. The artillery was speedily put in position at the extreme front, and, for a while, did excellent service. Finding the front rather too dangerous for Major-Generals, Banks and Franklin returned to the rear of the wagon-train, just in time to save themselves from capture, as the Rebels pressed upon both sides of our army with crushing effect. A ball passed through Gen. Banks's hat. Every thing was soon in the wildest confusion; the wagon train, being in the rear and in the narrow road, attempted to turn round to fall back. and completely blocked up the way, cutting off the advance both from a way of retreat and from reenforcements. The Rebels had formed in the shape of an isosceles triangle, leaving the base open, and at the apex planting their artillery. Our advance marched directly into the triangle, having the two wings of the Rebel forces on either side of them. These wings were speedily connected, compelling our forces to retreat or surrender. The batteries above mentioned, consisting of 20 pieces in all, were now captured, together with nearly all their officers and men. The Chicago Mercantile battery was captured entire, and I am informed that all her officers and men fell into the hands of the enemy. The 4th division, 13th corps, 2,800 men, under Gen. Ransom, and Gen. Lee's cavalry, about 3,000 strong, and the batteries above mentioned, were the forces in advance of the wagon-train. These forces fought desperately for a while, but gave way to the superior numbers of the Rebels, and retreated in great precipitation. The scene of this retreat beggars all description. Gen. Franklin said of it, that “Bull Run was not a circumstance in comparison.” Gen. Ransom was wounded in the knee, but rode off the field before he was compelled, by loss of blood, to dismount. Capt. Dickey, of Gen. Ransom's staff, was shot through the head and killed instantly. His body was left on the field. The position of the wagon-train in the narrow road was the great blunder of the affair. The rear was completely blocked up, rendering the retreat very difficult, and, in fact, almost impossible. Cavalry horses were dashing at full speed through the roads, endangering infantry and other pedestrians more than Rebel musketry: the retreat having become so precipitate that all attempts to make a stand, for a while, seemed impossible. The immense baggage and supply train of Gen. Lee's cavalry, consisting of 269 wagons, nearly all fell into the hands of the enemy, together with the mules attached thereto.
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