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[39] artillery, the advantage of rapid transportation for troops and supplies can hardly be overestimated. It has been seen how these advantages were utilized by the enemy at Henry and Donelson, and not less did they avail him at Shiloh.

As has been elsewhere explained, the condition of the South did not enable the Confederacy to meet the enemy on the water except at great odds.

If it be asked, ‘Why did not General Johnston wait until the enemy marched from the river instead of attacking him at Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing?’ the answer is, ‘That would have been to delay until the junction of the enemy's armies had been effected.’ To fight them in detail, it was necessary to attack the first where it lay, backed by its gunboats. That sound judgment and soldierly daring went hand in hand in this attack the sequel demonstrated.

Meantime some active operations had taken place in that part of General Johnston's command west of the Mississippi River. Detached conflicts with the enemy had been fought by the small forces under Generals Price and McCulloch, but no definite result had followed. General Earl Van Dorn had been subsequently assigned to the command, and assumed it on January 29, 1862. General Curtis was then in command of the enemy's forces, numbering about twelve thousand men. He had harassed General Price on his retreat to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and then had fallen back to Sugar Creek, where he proposed to make a stand. Van Dorn, immediately on his arrival at the Confederate camps on Boston Mountain, prepared to attack Curtis. His first movement, however, was to intercept General Sigel, then at Bentonville with sixteen thousand men. The want of cooperation in Van Dorn's forces enabled Sigel to escape. Curtis thus concentrated his forces at Sugar Creek, and instead of taking him in detail Van Dorn was obliged to meet his entire army. By a circuitous route, he led Price's army against the enemy's rear, moving McCulloch against the right flank; his progress was so slow and embarrassed, however, that the enemy heard of it in season to make his dispositions accordingly.

The battle of Elkhorn, or Pea Ridge, was fought on the morning of March 5th. Van Dorn reported his force to be fourteen thousand men, and Curtis put his force at about ten thousand. Van Dorn, with Price's division, encountered Carr's division, which had already advanced but was driven back steadily and with heavy loss. Meanwhile, McCulloch's command met a division under Osterhaus, and after a sharp, quick struggle, swept it away. Pushing forward through the shrub oak, his wide-extended line met Sigel's, Asboth's, and Davis's divisions. Here on

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Earl Van Dorn (5)
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