House of Representatives.
Friday, April 18, 1862.
met at 12 o'clock, and was opened with prayer by Rev. Dr. Jeter
. Journal of yesterday read.
, of La.
, from the Committee of Ways and Means, reported a bill entitled ‘"an act making further appropriations for the expenses of the Government
."’ Upon this bill he moved that the House
go into secret session, but withdrew his motion for the reception of a report from the Military Committee.
, of Miss.
, offered a resolution to rescind the resolution adjourning the House
on Monday next; but, as objection was made, no action was had upon the subject.
, of S. C.
, from the Military Committee, reported an original bill in lieu of one referred to the committee, entitled ‘"an act to authorize the organization of bands of partisan rangers."’ The bill was taken up, engrossed, read a third time, and passed.
then moved that the House
resolved itself into secret session; and the motion being seconded, the Speaker
ordered the floor to be cleared.
After spending several hours in secret session, the House
again opened its doors, when
, from the Military Committee, reported back the bill entitled an act for the enlistment of cooks in the army; which, after much discussion, was passed to its engrossment, read a third time, and agreed to.
The Speaker laid before the House
a message from the President
, transmitting the report of Maj. Gen. Van Dorn
, of the engagement on Sugar Creek, Ark.
, on the 7th and 8th of March, which was read, laid upon the table and ordered to be printed.
The main portions of the report we herewith append:
Headq'rs Trans-Miss. District,
Jacksonport, Ark., March 27, 1862.
I have the honor to report that, while at Pocahontas
, I received dispatches on the 22d of February, informing me that Gen. Price
had rapidly fallen back from Springfield
before a superior force of the enemy, and was endeavoring to form a junction with the division of Gen. McCulloch
on Boston Mountain
For reasons which seemed to me imperative, I resolved to go in person and take command of the combined forces of Price
I reached their headquarters on the 3d of March, and being satisfied that the enemy, who had halted on Sugar Creek
, 55 miles distant, was only awaiting large reinforcements before he would advance, I resolved to attack him at once.
Accordingly, I sent for Gen. Pike
to join me near Elm Springs
with the forces under his command, and, on the morning of the 4th of March, moved with the divisions of Price
, by way of Fayetteville
, to attack the enemy's main camp on Sugar Creek
The whole force under my command was about 16,000 men.
On the 6th we left Elm Springs
, and from prisoners captured by our scouting parties on the 5th I became convinced that up to that time no suspicion was entertained of our advance, and that there were strong hopes of our effecting a complete surprise, and attacking the enemy before the large detachments encamped at various points in the surrounding country could rejoin the main body.
I therefore endeavored to reach Bentonville
, 11 miles distant, by a rapid march; but the troops moved so very slowly that it was 11 A. M. before the head of the leading division (Price
's) reached the village, and we had the mortification to see Siegel
's division, 7,000 strong, leaving it as we entered.
Had we been an hour sooner, we should have cut him off with his whole force, and certainly have beaten the enemy the next day.
We followed him, our advance skirmishing with his rear guard, which was admirably handled, until we had gained a point on Sugar Creek
, about seven miles beyond Bentonville
, and within one or two miles of the strongly entrenched camp of the enemy.
In conference with Generals McCulloch
, who had an accurate knowledge of this locality, I had ascertained that, by making a detour of eight miles, I could reach the telegraph road leading from Springfield
, and be immediately in the rear of the enemy and his entrenchments.
I had resolved to adopt this route, and therefore halted the head of my column near the point where the road by which I proposed to move diverged, threw out my pickets, and bivouacked as if for the night.
But, soon after dark, I marched again, moving with Price
's division in advance, and taking the road by which I had hoped before daylight to reach the rear of the enemy.
Some obstructions which he had hastily thrown in the way so impeded our march that we did not gain the telegraph road until near 10 o'clock A. M. of the 7th.
From prisoners with forage wagons, whom our cavalry pickets brought in, we were assured that we were not expected in that quarter, and that the promise was fair for a complete surprise.
I at once made dispositions for attack, and directing General Price
to move forward cautiously, soon drew the fire of a few skirmishers, who were rapidly reinforced, so that before 11 o'clock we were fairly engaged, the enemy holding very strong positions, and maintaining a heavy fire of artillery and small arms upon the constantly advancing columns which were being pressed upon him.
I had directed Gen. McCulloch
to attack with his forces the enemy's left, and be ere two o'clock it was evident that if his division could advance, or even maintain its ground, I could at once throw forward Price
's left, advance his whole line, and end the battle.
I sent him a dispatch to this effect, but it was never received by him;--before it was penned, his brave spirit had winged its flight, and one of the most gallant leaders of the Confederacy
had fought his last battle.
About three P. M., I received by aid-decamp, the information that Generals McCullock
, and Col. Hebert
, were killed, and that the division was without any head.
I nevertheless pressed forward with the attack, and at sunset the enemy was flying before our victorious troops at every point in our front, and when night fell we had driven him entirely from the field of battle.
Our troops slept upon their arms nearly a mile beyond the point at which he made his last stand, and my headquarters for the night were at the Elkhorn Tavern
We had taken during the day seven cannon and about 200 prisoners.
In the course of the night I ascertained that the ammunition was almost exhausted, and the officer in charge of the ordnance supplies could not find his wagons, which, with the subsistence train, had been sent to Bentonville
Most of the troops had been without food since the morning of the 6th, and the artillery horses were beaten out. It was, therefore, with no little anxiety that I awaited the dawn of day. When it came, it revealed to me the enemy in a new and strong position, offering battle.
I made my disposition at once to accept the gage, and by 7 o'clock the cannonading was as heavy as that of the previous day. On the side of the enemy the fire was much better sustained, for being forced from the attack of my right wing, he could now concentrate his whole artillery force.
Finding that my right wing was much disorganized and that the batteries were one after another retiring from the field with every shot expended, I resolved to withdraw the army, and at once placed the ambulances with all of the wounded they would bear upon the Huntsville
road, and a portion of McCulloch
's division, which had joined me during the night, in position to follow, while I so disposed of my remaining forces as best
to deceive the enemy as to my intentions, and to hold him in check while executing it. --About 10 o'clock, I gave the order for the column to march, and soon afterwards for the troops engaged to fall back and cover the rear of the army.
This was done very steadily. --No attempt was made by the enemy to follow us, and we encamped about two P. M., about six miles from the field of battle — Soon demonstrations were made by his cavalry upon my baggage train and the batteries of artillery which returned by different routes from that taken by the army; but they were instantly checked, and, thanks to the courage and skill of Col. Stone
and Maj. Wade
, all the baggage and artillery joined the army in safety.
So far as I can ascertain, our losses amount to about 600 killed and wounded and two hundred prisoners, and one cannon, which having become disabled, I ordered to be thrown into a ravine.
The best information I can procure places his killed at more than 700, with at least an equal number of wounded.
We brought away about 300 prisoners, (so that his total loss is near about 2,000,) four cannon, and ten baggage wagons, and we burnt upon the field three cannon taken by McIntosh
in his brilliant charge, the horses having been killed;--these guns could not be brought away.
The force with which I went into action was less than 14,000 men; that of the enemy is variously estimated at from 17,000 to 24,000.
During the whole of this engagement, I was with the Missouri division under Price
, and I have never seen better fighters than these Missouri
troops, or more gallant leaders than Gen. Price
and his officers.
From the first to the last shot they continually pushed on, and never yielded an inch they had won; and when at last they received the order to fall back, they retired steadily and with cheers.--General Price
received a severe wound early in the action, but would neither retire from the field nor cease to expose himself to danger.
No successes can repair the loss of the gallant dead who fell in the well-fought field.
was the first to fall.
I had found him in the frequent conferences I had with him a sagacious, prudent counsellor, and a bolder soldier never died for his country.
had been very much distinguished all through the operations which had taken place in this region, and during my advance from Boston Mountain
I placed him in command of the cavalry brigade and in charge of the pickets.
He was alert, daring, and devoted to his duty.
His kindness of disposition, with his reckless bravery, had attached the troops strongly to him, so that after McCulloch
fell, had he remained to lead them, all would have been well with my right wing.
But after leading a brilliant charge of cavalry, and carrying the enemy's batteries, he rushed into the thickest of the fight again, at the head of his old regiment, and was shot through the heart.
The value of these two officers was best proven by the effect of their fall upon their troops.
So long as brave deeds are admired by our people, the names of McCulloch
will be remembered and loved.
, after gallantly maintaining a long continued and successful attack, was shot through the body; but I hope his distinguished services will be restored to his country.
A noble boy, Churchill Clarke
, commanded a battery of artillery, and during the fierce artillery actions of the 7th and 8th, was conspicuous for the daring and skill which he exhibited.
He fell at the very close of the action.
[The remainder of the report refers to the distinguished services of the different officers under his command, upon all of whom he bestows the highest meed of praise.]