Schaefer, and to bring news to Bentonville as soon as the enemy would approach that place. The advance-guard of Gen. Asboth arrived at Bentonville at four o'clock, when I directed him to halt until the train had come up more close. He then proceeded to Sugar Creek, followed by the train. Meanwhile the Second Missouri, under Col. Schaefer, and one part of the First division arrived in town. I ordered this regiment, as well as the Twelfth Missouri, under command of Major Wengelin, the flying battery, under Capt. Elbert, and the whole disposable cavalry force under Col. Nemett, comprising the Benton hussars, the Thirty-sixth Illinois cavalry, under Capt. Jenks, and a squad of thirteen men of Fremont hussars, under Lieut. Fred. Cooper, to occupy and guard the town, to let the whole train pass and remain at my disposition as a rear-guard. At eight o'clock the train had passed the town, and was moving on the road to Sugar Creek, with the intention not to be too close to the train, and awaiting report from Lieut. Sheppard's picket at Osage Springs. Two hours elapsed, when, ten minutes after ten, it was reported to me that large masses of troops, consisting of infantry and cavalry, were moving from all sides toward our front and both flanks. After some observation, I had no doubt that the enemy's advance-guard was before us. I immediately called the troops to arms and made them ready for battle. As Bentonville is situated on the edge of Osage prairie, easily accessible in front, and covered on the right and left and rear by thick woods and underbrush, I ordered the troops to evacuate the town and to form on a little hill north of it. Looking for the Second Missouri, I learned, to my astonishment, that it had already left the town, by a misunderstanding of my order. I am glad to say that this matter is satisfactorily explained by Col. Schaefer, but in the same time, I regret to report that this regiment was ambuscaded on its march, and lost in the conflict thirty-seven men in dead, wounded and prisoners. The troops now left to me consisted of about eight companies of the Twelfth Missouri, with an average of forty-five men, five companies of Benton hussars, and five pieces of the flying battery — in all about six hundred men. The troops I directed to march in the following order: Two companies of the Twelfth at the head of the column, deployed on the right and left as skirmishers, followed by the flying battery, one company of the same regiment on the right and one on the left of the pieces, marching by the flank, and prepared to fire, by ranks, to the right and left, the remainder of the regiment being behind the pieces, two companies of cavalry to support the infantry on the right and left, and the rest of the cavalry, under command of Col. Nemett, with one piece of artillery following in the rear. In this formation, modified from time to time, according to circumstances, the column moved forward to break through the lines of the enemy, who had already taken position in our front and on both flanks, while he appeared behind us in the town in line of battle, reinforced by some pieces of artillery. The troops advanced slowly, fighting and repelling the enemy in front, flank-ward, and rear, wherever he stood or attacked. From the moment we left the town, at half-past 10 in the morning, until half-past 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when we met the first reenforcements — the Second Missouri, the Twenty-fifth Illinois, and a few companies of the Forty-fourth Illinois--we sustained three regular attacks, and were uninterruptedly in sight and under the fire of the enemy. When the first reinforcements had arrived, I knew that we were safe, and left it to the Twenty-fifth and Second Missouri, and afterward to Col. Osterhaus, to take care of the rest, which he did to the best of my satisfaction. It would take too much time to go into the detail of this most extraordinary and critical affair, but, as a matter of justice, I feel it my duty to declare that, according to my humble opinion, never have troops shown themselves worthier to defend a great cause than on this day of the sixth of March. III. battle of the Seventh--near Leesville and on Pea Ridge. In the night of the sixth, the two divisions were encamped on the plateau of the hills near Sugar Creek, and in the adjoining valley, separating the two ridges extending along the creek. The Second division held the right, the First the left of the position, fronting toward the west and south-west in order to receive the enemy, should he advance from the Bentonville and Fayetteville road. Col. Davis's division forming the centre, was on our left, and Col. Carr covered the ground on the extreme left of our whole line. Early in the morning report came in that troops and trains of the enemy were moving the whole night on the Bentonville road around our rear, toward Cross Timber, thereby endangering our line of retreat and communication to Keitsville, and separating us from our reinforcements and provision-trains. This report was corroborated by two of my guides, Mr. Pope and Mr. Brown, who had gone out to reconnoitre the country. I immediately ordered Lieut. Schramm, of my staff, to ascertain the facts, and to see in what direction the troops were moving. On his return he reported that there was no doubt in regard to the movement of a large force of the enemy in the aforesaid direction. You then ordered me to detach three pieces of the flying battery to join Col. Bussey's cavalry in an attack against the enemy in the direction of Leesville. Col. Osterhaus was directed to follow him with three regiments of infantry and two batteries. At about eleven o'clock the firing began near Elkhorn Tavern and Leesville. To see how matters stood, I went out to Col. Carr's division, and found him a short distance beyond the tavern engaged in a brisk cannonade. (Several pieces partly disabled and partly without ammunition were returning, whilst another advanced from the camp. As the enemy's
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.