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[255] messenger came in from the north, (our rear,) stating that the enemy was appearing on the hills and ridges near the junction of the Bentonville and Springfield roads, and about four miles from camp. As the reports indicated the force to the westward to be much the larger, Gen. Curtis ordered Gen. Sigel, with his command, (the First and Second divisions,) to proceed in that direction, and dislodge and disperse the enemy. His troops were all in readiness, and a few moments found him on the way. About three miles from the camp, Col. Osterhaus's division encountered what was supposed to be a small body of the rebels, posted in the edge of some timber and brush-wood, and brought three guns to bear upon them. After a few rounds of shell, grape and canister, the artillery was ordered to cease firing, and the Third Iowa cavalry, which then accompanied Col. Osterhaus, moved forward, to complete the clearance of the timber. The supposition that but few rebels were posted there, proved erroneous, for the woods swarmed with such numbers, that the charge was at once broken, and the Iowa cavalry driven back in disorder. The rebels followed up the cavalry in its retreat, and, taking advantage of the confusion, succeeded in capturing the three guns with which they had been shelled. Col. Osterhaus brought up his Indiana regiments, and by a rapid succession of volleys of musketry, followed by a bayonet-charge, covered the ground with dead Texans and Indians, and brought back the guns lost but a few moments before. Gen. Sigel then came forward with the remainder of his command, and the force of rebels in the timber being strengthened at the same time, a vigorous action commenced. The rebels brought their artillery into position, and a duel of heavy guns ensued, ending with the rebels abandoning their position. A running fight next transpired, and a vigorous pursuit was kept up for two or three miles, the rebels fleeing toward the north, in order to form a junction with the force in our rear. Gen. Sigel then abandoned the pursuit, and returned to the camp of the army.

About the time Gen. Sigel came up with the rebels, and commenced the action of the morning, a force, consisting of two or three regiments of Arkansas infantry, and a light battery, appeared in front of Col. Davis's position, evidently inviting attack. Subsequent events show that this movement on the part of the enemy, together with the one upon Gen. Sigel, were feints to prevent the concentration of our strength upon the rear, where their grand attack was made. For the time they were thus successful, and had their energy been equal to their strategy, it could hardly have failed of success. Col. Davis responded to their invitation to battle, and moved out for an encounter. A short but bloody contest, and the flight of the enemy by a circuitous route in the direction of their main force in our rear, were the results of this movement. In this affair, as well as in Gen. Sigel's, many of the enemy remained scattered in the timber. In consequence of this, small parties and individuals, attempting to visit the battle-grounds, later in the day, were repeatedly fired upon. These guerrillas have not yet been completely driven out, but some of our cavalry are engaged in scouring the brush with a view to their expulsion.

Simultaneously with the departure of General Sigel to the westward, Col. Carr's division was sent to our rear to engage the enemy in that quarter. From the position of the army on the night of the sixth to the Missouri line, is about eight miles. The country here consists of level areas, wooded with large timber, and generally with but little underbrush. At intervals are large farms, with cleared fields for grass and cereals, some of them extending along the road for a half-mile or more, and reaching away, on either side, from one to three miles. In places the general level is broken by gradual slopes, with an occasional steep ascent, covered with sharp, angular fragments of stone, and bearing a scanty growth of low oak-trees. West of the road, and converging so as to strike it near the State line, is a high ridge, accessible at numerous points, and commanding the road to Bentonville, and also, in some places, the battle-ground of the eighth.

As the Missouri line is neared, low hills appear, sloping away to the north, but presenting an abrupt and precipitous face to the south. These hills are about two hundred feet in height, and two miles below the State boundary. They unite into a continuous double ridge, forming a narrow valley, six miles in length, with steep and heavily-timbered sides. The main road passes through this valley, in a direction nearly due north. When McCulloch retreated from Missouri, in September last, after his quarrel with Price, he ordered much of this timber to be felled across the way, to impede any pursuit that might be made by the Union army. These obstructions the rebels were themselves compelled to remove, when they subsequently advanced to encounter Fremont. The valley is looked upon by all military engineers as a good position to hold against an enemy.

Col. Carr's division advanced up this road to a point about four miles from the State line. Col. Dodge's brigade filed off upon a road leading to the east from the Elkhorn hotel, and opened its battery upon the enemy, who was posted in a wood on a declivity in front. They were promptly replied to, and a brisk encounter of artillery and infantry speedily ensued. Col. Vandever's brigade passed about half a mile beyond the hotel and took position on the left of the road. In front of them the ground descended to a dry ravine, and the opposite bank, which was somewhat abrupt and covered with low oaks, was held by the enemy. The Dubuque battery opened upon the rebels, and the scattering of some of the infantry of the latter showed that the guns were well aimed. The rebel batteries replied, and at the third fire a shell from their guns blew up one of the Union limber-chests. It was about nine A. M. when the first gun was fired. Within fifteen minutes afterward the whole line of the division was fairly engaged. The explosion of

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F. Sigel (7)
Osterhaus (3)
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