the deep valley of Big Sugar Creek, or “Cross timbers.” My own headquarters and those of Gens. Sigel, Asboth, and other commanders of divisions, were near “Pratt's house.” The lines A, B, and C show the different fronts assumed during the progress of the battle. The approach by Bentonville brought the enemy to my extreme right, and during the night of the fifth and sixth he began a movement round my flank by the road above mentioned, which crosses “Pea Ridge” some three miles north-west of the main telegraph road. I ascertained in the morning this flank movement of the enemy, which I perceived was to attack my right flank and rear. I therefore called my commanders of divisions together at General Asboth's tent, and directed a change of front to the rear, so as to fade the road, upon which the enemy was still moving. At the same time I directed the organization of a detachment of cavalry and light artillery, supported by infantry, to open the battle by an attack from my new centre on the probable centre of the enemy before he could fully form. I selected Col. Osterhaus to lead this central column — an officer who displayed great skill, energy, and gallantry each day of the battle. The change of front thus directed reversed the order of the troops, placing the First and Second divisions on the left, their left still resting on Sugar Creek, Osterhaus and the Third division in the centre, and the Fourth division became the extreme right. While I was explaining the proposed movement to commanders, and Col. Osterhaus was beginning to rally and move forward his attacking column, a messenger brought me intelligence that my picket commanded by Major Weston, of the Twenty-fourth Missouri, had been attacked by infantry. This was at Elkhorn Tavern, where the new right was to rest. Col. Carr being present, he was ordered to move into position and support the Major as soon as possible. This was the commencement of the second day's fight. It was about half-past 10 o'clock, and the officers separated to direct their several commands. The fire increased rapidly on the right, and very soon opened in the centre. After visiting the right, where I perceived the enemy was making a vigorous attack, and finding Col. Carr, under a brisk fire of shot and shell, coolly locating and directing the deployment, I returned to my central position near Pratt's house, and sent orders to Col. Davis to move near to Col. Carr, to support him. In the mean time Col. Osterhaus had attacked the enemy and divided his forces; but he was soon pressed with greatly superior numbers, that drove back our cavalry, and took our flying battery which had advanced with it. The Colonel, however, was well supported by his infantry, and soon checked a movement that threatened to intercept the deployment of other forces. I considered the affair so imminent, I changed my order to Col. Davis. and directed him to move to the support of the centre, which was his proper place according to my order for the change of front. My new line was thus formed under the enemy's fire; the troops generally moving in good order and gallant bearing. Thus formed, the line was not continuous, but extended entirely across Pea Ridge, the divisions in numerical order, from left to right, Col. Osterhaus remaining in command of a detachment, and operating with Col. Davis in resisting McCulloch and McIntosh, who commanded the enemy's forces in the centre. I did not err in sending Col. Davis to this point, although Col. Carr, on the right, needed reinforcements. The battle raged in the centre with terrible fury. Col. Davis held the position against fearful numbers, and our brave troops nobly stood or charged in steady lines. The fate of the battle depended on success against the flank movement of the enemy, and here, near Lee Town, was the place to break it down. The fall of Gens. McCulloch, McIntosh, and other officers of the enemy, who fell early in the day, aided us in our final success at this most critical point; and the steady courage of officers and men in our lines chilled and broke down the hordes of Indian cavalry and infantry that were arrayed against us. While the battle thus raged in the centre, the right wing was sorely pressed, and the dead and wounded were scattered over the field. Col. Carr sent for reenforcements, and I sent him a few cavalry and my body-guard with the little mountain howitzers, under Major Bowen. These did good service at a most critical period. I urged Col. Carr to stand firm, that more forces could be expected soon. Subsequently Col. Carr sent me word that he could not hold his position much longer. I could then only reply by sending him the order to “per severe.” He did “persevere,” and the sad havoc in the Ninth and Fourth Iowa, and Phelps's Missouri and Major Weston's Twenty-fourth Missouri, and all the troops in that division, will show how earnest and continuous was their perseverance. Seeing no signs of approaching forces by the telegraph road, I sent him three pieces of artillery and a battalion of infantry of Col. Benton's command, (part of the Third division,) which had been located at Sugar Creek to guard the approaches. Each small accession to the Fourth division seemed to compensate an over-powering force. As to the left, I was repeatedly informed that it stood safe and firm, although threatened by the foe. About two P. M., my aid, Capt. Adams, who had communicated with that wing, informed me he had just seen Gens. Sigel and Asboth on Sugar Creek, and there was still no attack in that quarter and no appearance of an enemy. About this time the enemy's forces melted away in the brushy centre, and the fire gradually ceased. Believing the left and centre were no longer menaced, and the enemy was concentrating on the right, I again sent word to Col. Carr that he would soon be reinforced. I had now resolved to bring up the left and centre to meet the gathering hordes at Elkhorn Tavern. To inform myself of the condition of the extreme left, I went in person to that point. On my way I ordered forward the remainder of Col. Benton's command, three pieces and a battalion, which
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 2 .-fight at Port Royal, S. C. January 1 , 1862 .
Doc . 82 .-fight in Hampton roads , Va. , March 8th and 9th , 1862 .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.