82.-battle of the Cache, Ark., fought July 7, 1862.
Report of Lieut.-Colonel wood.
St. Louis Democrat account.
The battle of the seventh of July, near “Bayou Cache
,” won against tremendous odds, resulted in the death of over one hundred and ten rebels and the utter demoralization of six Texan regiments, who have not ventured to molest us since.
The army under General Curtis
was encamped at the junction of the Bayou Cache and Cache River, where our progress was delayed by a blockade of fallen timber.
A road had been cut through this blockade on the evening of the sixth, and early next morning Colonel Hovey
, of the Thirty-third Illinois regiment, was ordered by General Steele
to open the road on the opposite side of the Cache
, make a reconnoissance in front down to the Clarendon
road, along which the army were to march, and also to scour the woods thoroughly.
detailed for this enterprise the following force: Colonel Harris
, of the Eleventh Wisconsin, with parts of four companies of his regiment, namely, company D, Captain Jesse Miller
; company F, Lieutenant Chesebro
; company H, Captain Christie
; company G, Captain Partridge
; and also parts of four companies of the Thirty-third Illinois, namely, company e, Captain Elliott
; company K, Captain Nixon
; company F, Captain Lawton
; and company A, Captain Potter
, who took charge, and one small rifled gun belonging to the First Indiana cavalry.
The whole force numbered not over three hundred and fifty men. Colonel Hovey
started about six A. M., with company D, of the Eleventh Wisconsin, ahead.
Skirmishers were thrown out, and in this way they proceeded to the Hill plantation
, at the forks of the road, four miles distant from camp.
On the way some pickets were driven in. The main road here leads to Cotton Plant
The road to the left is a neighborhood road, while that turning to the side leads across the Cache
, four miles distant, and thence to the Des Are
, on the White River
Detachments were sent forward on each of these roads to reconnoitre.
, with three companies of the Eleventh Wisconsin, and Captain Potter
, with the small rifle piece, proceeded rapidly down the Des Are road, having no cavalry.
They passed a cornfield on the left, entered an open wood, and reaching a turn in the road, at the same time rising up in elevation, they fell in with two Texan regiments of cavalry, with a regiment of conscript infantry drawn up on their right, ready to receive them.
The rebels fired a murderous volley as soon as our men got into the snare, killing five of our men and wounding Colonel Harris
and Captain Potter
Our men returned the fire and fell back, the enemy being too preponderating in numbers to withstand with our little force.
potter, though wounded, gave them a few rounds from his piece, and fell back, firing into the enemy's ranks.
The rebels then made a charge, and the retreat of our men became temporarily a panic.
hearing the firing, and judging the turn affairs were taking by the clouds of dust which rose and filled the air above the trees, took the remaining companies
of the Thirty-third Illinois, and hastened to the scene of action.
Some of the men first fired upon, did not stop till they reached Hill's house, rushing past Captain Potter
, who would unlimber his gun, fire a round, and then retire, thus checking the advance of the rebels until Colonel Hovey
came up. The latter had hardly time to place his men in ambush behind the fence, at the angle of the corn-field, when the rebels, coming furiously forward with loud yells, received a well-aimed fire from Colonel Hovey
and his men. Twenty-five rebels were killed the first pop. They were checked.
The column reeled and staggered by this murderous fire, broke and the men fled in confusion.
At the same time a heavy column of the enemy was seen moving through the woods between Colonel Hovey
's position and our camp, and thus surround our brave men. But when they reached the road, and seeing the Wisconsin
troops which had fallen back, and supposing them to be a reenforcement come to our aid, they abandoned their design and returned.
Thus what appeared to be disastrous at one time, turned to our advantage.
rallied the above companies, and advancing one fourth of a mile to a cotton-gin, held the position over an hour.
At this time, (about half-past 10 o'clock,) Lieutenant-Colonel Wood
came up with the second battalion of the First Indiana cavalry, bringing with him two steel rifled guns.
This detachment had been ordered by General Curtis
to proceed to the Bayou de View
-fifteen miles from camp — with orders to save the bridge at that point from being destroyed by the enemy.
The arrival of this reenforcement proved extremely opportune.
was posted about one hundred and fifty yards from Colonel Hill
's house on the Des Arc
road, and the army were not in view.
Coming up at full speed, having heard the firing, the First Indiana were welcomed with enthusiastic cheers from the brave little command of Colonel Hovey
The latter exclaimed, “There comes Colonel Wood
; we are all right now, boys;” and advancing to Colonel Wood
, he said: “You'll find them (the enemy) down there, Colonel
, thick enough; pitch into 'em.”
The cavalry, with shouts and yells, then plunged forward at a furious rate toward the rebels.
The horses leaped a ditch four feet in width, which crossed their path, the bridge being torn up. One of the horses had a leg broken, and some of the men were pitched to the ground, while making the perilous leap.
Fortunately, none were seriously hurt.
A few rails were piled into the ditch and the steel rifle guns were passed over.
A solitary rebel was now seen advancing to within one hundred yards of our front.
He wheeled about and fled.
The pieces, under charge of Lieutenant Baker
, were unlimbered and the cavalry brought into line of battle.
The command was given: “Pieces by hand to the front; forward, march.”
The cannoniers seized their pieces by hand, and advanced on the enemy, the latter being now discovered advancing in with extended wings in the form of a V, the concave side facing toward our men. Their attention, it appeared evident, was to surround us. The rebels were dismounted, no horse being seen.
Our pieces were loaded with canister, and getting within point-blank range — some two hundred yards--we opened upon them with a terrible fire.
The enemy halted and replied by a heavy volley from their cross-fire on our gunners.
Several of the latter were wounded, but not disabled.
The steel rifled guns now belched forth a continued round of firing, when the enemy finding it too hot, fell back into the woods out of sight.
The command was given again: “Pieces by hand to the front; forward, march.”
himself, caught hold of the trail of one of the guns, and exclaimed: “Let's push them forward, boys.”
and Lientenant Baker
also took hold of the drag-rope hooks, and assisted in moving the guns forward.
On the guns were pushed, the cavalry under Major Clendenning
following in line of battle, ready for the charge.
Our men pressed on with enthusiastic ardor.
Advancing in this way a quarter of a mile, the enemy were described formed in the same mode as before.
We got up to within one hundred yards, when they opened fire upon us. We returned the fire with canister from the little guns, with occasional carbine and pistol-shots from the cannoniers.
The fire proving too galling for the enemy, he again retreated, leaving a number of dead strewn on the ground, and the blood besmeared the bushes in the vicinity.
The order was given by Colonel Wood
, to Major Clendenning
to draw sabre and charge.
Taking companies E and G, the Major
shouted, “Come on, boys, it's our turn now;” and plunged down the road into the brush, where they were met by a tremendous volley, poured in on them by the rebels.
At the first fire the Major
was wounded severely, receiving a ball through the left lung; and Captain Sloane
of company E, who was bravely charging in front, was instantly killed by a shot in the head.
, unmindful of his wound, still led on his men, and the latter poured in several volleys on the rebels from their carbines and pistols, unhorsing one and killing a number of the enemy.
The rebels were staggered, and turning on their heels, fled in confusion.
Our artillery followed close up, when the recall was sounded, and the cavalry fell back behind the pieces.
, in returning, fainted and fell from his horse, and was picked up by one of the men, who carried him off the field on his shoulders.
The pieces were then limbered up and pushed forward in hot pursuit, the cavalry keeping close in the rear.
In this way we advanced three fourths of a mile, when small parties of the rebels were discovered, still retreating.
The guns were again unlimbered, and a dozen shells were thrown after them, killing four, who were found at a long distance ahead in the road, soon afterward, by the pursuing cavalry.
now ordered the infantry to the front, intending to deploy them as skirmishers, with an extended front, and follow up the foe. A consultation was held by the officers, and it was decided to hold the ground
already won, and wait further developments, as our force was getting too far from succor, in a country with which we were perfectly ignorant.
The woods were thick — the force of the enemy unknown.
We had driven the enemy three miles. After halting there two hours, and no enemy making his appearance, Lieutenant-Colonel Wood
returned to the Clarendon
road and went to the Bayou du View
to carry out his original intention.
came up with his brigade and took command.
In camp it was supposed that the fight took place on another road, and consequently General Benton
's orders were to make a rapid reconnoissance down the Des Arc
's howitzers were pushed forward down one road after the enemy.
A shot was fired on the rebels and three men killed.
Four kegs of powder were found concealed.
The houses along the road were filled with rebel wounded, and the porches and door-steps were besmeared with blood from those which they carried away.
They abandoned their camp and fled across the Cache River
, destroying a bridge they had constructed with boats.
The bank on the opposite side was also cut out very steep so as to prevent pursuit from our cavalry.
It has been subsequently ascertained that six thousand Texans, under Rust
, crossed at Des Arc
on Sunday, the sixth, for the purpose of fighting us near the blockade, and annoy and obstruct our advance in every possible way. But the whipping they received has entirely knocked the conceit out of them.
The tact, fertility of resource, and military qualities displayed by Colonel Hovey
has won the admiration of all. He is cool and brave in the trying hour of danger.
I was present on the evening of the fight, when General Steele
congratulated the Colonel
on the successful issue of the day. Among the heroes of the day who behaved with distinguished gallantry, the names of Colonel Harris
, of the Eleventh Wisconsin, Captain Petter
, of the Thirty-third Illinois, Major Clendenning
, of the First Indiana cavalry, stand conspicuous.
The enemy's killed has been placed at one hundred and ten, and by the Arkansas
people, in sympathy with the rebels, still higher.
They think two hundred were killed.
We buried ninety-seven of their dead, and I think this will be the number that Colonel Hovey
will adopt in his report.
The number of rebel wounded will not probably amount to the usual proportion with the killed, as our Minie balls hit to kill.
Our killed amounted to five, and wounded forty-seven. The enemy's shots flew too high to take effect.
One of our messengers, taken prisoner by the enemy, was found riddled with balls in the side.
His wrists were pricked raw, and the report was current that he was tied to a tree and dispatched, but this is doubted.
, of company F, Eleventh Wisconsin, was wounded in the arm, and brought away a wounded comrade, and then went back into the fight.
Our wounded were taken to the house, and every care was taken of the sufferers which the circumstances of the case demanded, by Doctor F. N. Burke
of the First division, assisted by Dr. Isaac Casselbury
, First Indiana cavalry, Dr. Strong
, Eleventh Wisconsin, and Dr. N. T. Abbott
, of the Thirty-third Illinois regiment.
.--The army marched to Bayou Du View.
Reconnoitring parties were thrown out on all the different roads.
Halting about four miles out, with General Curtis
to see everything on the march in good order, we heard what we supposed was the distant report of howitzers.
The deception arose from the dropping of a bucket into a well on a neighboring plantation.
We encamped for the night on the side toward Clarendon
dashed down eight miles before dark and reported the road clear.