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II. Missouri--Arkansas.

Gen. Sterling Price was a good deal less indignant than any Unionist at the unaccountable desertion1 of south-western Missouri by the new Union commander, directly on the heels of Fremont's triumphant and unresisted advance, when assured that his scouts were not mistaken in reporting the evacuation of Spring-field and retreat to Rolla, by an army which he would not have dared to attack. He gradually retraced his steps from the Arkansas border, entering Springfield in triumph, and subsequently advancing to Osceola, on the Osage, thence pushing forward his forces unresisted over the greater part of southern and western Missouri, occupying in force Lexington and other points on the great river, where Slavery and Rebellion were strong, and subsisting his army on the State from which they might and should have been excluded. The village of Warsaw was burned,2 and Platte City partially so,3 by Rebel incendiaries or guerrillas; and there were insignificant combats at Salem,4 Rogers' Mill,5 near Glasgow, Potosi, Lexington, Mount Zion,6 near Sturgeon, and some other points, at which the preponderance of advantage was generally on the side of the Unionists. Even in North Missouri, nearly a hundred miles of the railroad crossing that section was disabled and in good part destroyed7 by a concerted night foray of guerrillas. Gen. Halleck thereupon issued an order, threatening to shoot any Rebel caught bridge-burning within the Union lines — a threat which the guerrillas habitually defied, and President Lincoln declined to make good.

Gen. John Pope, commanding the district of Central Missouri, having collected and equipped an adequate force, at length demonstrated8 against the Rebels occupying Lexington, under Rains and Stein, compelling them to abandon the line of the Missouri, and retreat southward. Having, by forced marches and his strength in cavalry, gained a position between them and their base at Osceola, he forced them to a hurried flight, with the loss of nearly 300 prisoners and most of their baggage, including 70 wagons laden with clothing and supplies for Price, who lay at Osceola with 8,000 men. Meantime, a detachment of Pope's forces, under Col. Jeff. C. Davis, surprised9 a Rebel camp at Milford, not far from Warrensburg, and compelled its surrender at discretion. Three colonels, 17 captains, over 1,000 prisoners, 1,000 stand of arms, 1,000 horses, and an abundance of tents, baggage, and supplies, were among the trophies of this easy triumph. Pope's losses in these operations scarcely exceeded 100 men; while his prisoners alone were said to be 2,500. Among them was Col. Magoffin, brother of the late Governor of Kentucky. [27]

Price, thus roughly handled before he had been able to concentrate his forces, did not choose to risk a general engagement. He retreated rapidly through Springfield and Cassville, closely pursued, and fighting at intervals, until he had crossed the Arkansas line, forming a junction, soon afterward, near Boston Mountains, with Gen. Ben McCulloch, commanding a division of Texas and Arkansas Confederates, thus raising his entire force to a number fully equal with that which had so keenly pursued him, which was now commanded by Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, of Iowa, and which, after continuing the pursuit down to Fayetteville, Arkansas, had retraced its steps to and halted at Sugar creek, not far over the State line. Meantime, Price was joined10 and backed by Earl Van Dorn, late a captain11 of U. S. regulars, now Confederate major-general, commanding the Trans-Mississippi department, and by Gen. Albert Pike, of Arkansas, heading a considerable brigade of Indians, swelling the numbers of the Rebels to about 20,000.

Van Dorn promptly resolved to give battle, and to fight it in such manner that the defeat of the Unionists should involve their destruction. Advancing rapidly from his camp at Cross Hollows, covering Fayetteville, he struck at12 the division of Gen. Franz Sigel, holding Bentonville, the extreme advance of the Union position, 8 or 10 miles southwest from Gen. Curtis's center, near Mottsville, on the direct road from Fayetteville to Springfield. This attempt to isolate, overwhelm, and crush Sigel was baffled by the coolness and skill of that general. Sending his train ahead under escort, he covered its retreat with his best battery and infantry, planting his guns on each favorable position, and pouring grape and shell into the pursuing masses, until their advance was arrested and disorganized, when he would limber up and fall back to the next elevation or turn in the road, where he would renew the dispensation of grape with like results, then concede another half-mile, and repeat the operation. Thus fighting and falling back, he wore out the day and the distance, repelling his foes, who at times enveloped his flanks as well as his rear, with a loss of less than 100 men, a good part of these from the 2d Missouri, Col. Schaefer, who, mistaking an order, had left Bentonville considerably in advance, and who fell into an ambuscade by the way. Before 4 P. M., Sigel was met by reenforcements sent him by Gen. Curtis, when the pursuit was arrested, and he deliberately encamped near Leetown, across Sugar creek, and in close proximity to General Curtis's center position. Pea Ridge is the designation of the elevated table-land, broken by ravines, and filling a large bend of Sugar creek, on which the ensuing battle was fought.

Gen. Curtis, knowing himself largely outnumbered by the motley host collected to overwhelm him, had chosen a very strong position on which to concentrate his retreating force, provided the Rebels would attack it in front, as he expected. The country being generally wooded, he had obstructed most of the lateral roads with fallen trees; while his artillery and infantry, well posted and [28] strongly intrenched, were prepared to give the foe the warmest kind of reception as he advanced against them up the main road, leading from Texas through Fayetteville northward to Keytesville and Springfield. But Van Dorn perceived neither the necessity nor the wisdom of running into such a trap. Advancing from Fayetteville obliquely by way of Bentonville, and chasing Sigel off the direct road from the latter to Keytesville upon the cross-road that passes through the little village of Leetown and intersects the Fayetteville road at Elkhorn Tavern, he diligently improved the night following Sigel's retreat in placing his entire army along the road from Bentonville toward Keytesville, on the flank and in the rear of his foe; so that all Curtis's elaborate preparations to receive him on the Fayetteville road went for nothing.

Curtis woke late on the morning of the 7th to a realizing sense of his critical condition, with a far more numerous foe practically between him and his resources, rendering retreat ruinous, and compelling him to fight the Rebels on the ground they had chosen, which proffered him no advantage, and with which their guides were far more familiar than his. But every moment's delay must necessarily be improved by Van Dorn in making matters worse; so Curtis promptly changed front to rear, making the first and second divisions, under Sigel and Asboth, his left, the third, under Jeff. C. Davis, his center, and the fourth, Col. Carr, his right. The line thus formed stretched about three miles, from Sugar creek, through Leetown, to Elkhorn Tavern; of the Rebel line confronting it, Price, with his Missourians, formed the right; McIntosh was in the center, and McCulloch on the left. The dispositions being made, at 10 1/2 o'clock, Osterhaus was directed by Curtis to advance, supporting his cavalry and light artillery, and open the ball; while, at nearly the same moment, McCulloch fell with overwhelming force upon Carr's division at and near Elkhorn Tavern. A Broad, deep ravine, known as Cross-Timber Hollow, but termed in some reports Big Sugar creek, rendered almost impassable by a windfall of heavy timber, crossed the battle-field, severing the lines of either army, but especially those of the Rebels.

Osterhaus advanced with great gallantry from Leetown nearly to the Bentonville road, on which he found the enemy moving rapidly in great force toward Elkhorn Tavern, where McCulloch's attack upon Carr was already in progress. Assailed in turn by greatly superior numbers, he was soon driven back in disorder, with the loss of his battery. Col. Davis, who had been ordered by Curtis to support Carr, was now directed to advance through Leetown to the rescue of Osterhaus, which he did with such vigor and determination that, though largely outnumbered and repeatedly compelled to recoil, his division held the ground assigned them, losing two guns of Davidson's battery by the sudden advance of the enemy when their horses were disabled, but regaining them by a desperate charge of the 18th Indiana, which, with the 22d, was honorably conspicuous throughout the day. Col. Hendricks, of the 22d, was killed while leading a charge of his regiment. Night closed on this division, [29]

Map of battle of Pea Ridge.

sinking weary but undaunted on the field it had so nobly won — a field reddened by the blood of many of their foes, including Gens. McCulloch and McIntosh, both mortally wounded.

Carr was so fearfully overmatched throughout the day that, though always presenting a bold front to the enemy, he was compelled to give ground, sending repeated and urgent representations to Gen. Curtis that he could hold out but little longer unless reenforced. Curtis sent him from time to time a battalion or a few light guns, with orders to persevere; and at length, at 2 P. M., finding his left wholly unassailed, ordered Gen. Asboth to move to the right by the Fayetteville road to Elkhorn Tavern, to support Carr, while Gen. Sigel should reenforce Davis at Leetown, pushing on to Elkhorn if not needed in the center.

Gen. Curtis, with Asboth's division, reached Elkhorn at 5 P. M. He found Carr still fiercely fighting, having received three or four shots, one of which inflicted a severe wound. Many of his field officers had fallen, with about one-fourth of his entire command. He had been seven hours under fire, during which he lad been forced back about half a mile. As Curtis came up, he saw the 4th Iowa falling back in perfect order, dressing on their colors as if on parade, and ordered it to face about. Col. Dodge explained that it was entirely out of ammunition, and was only retiring to refill its cartridge-boxes. Curtis ordered a bayonet-charge, and the regiment at once moved steadily back to its former position.

Meantime, Gen. Asboth had planted his artillery in the road and opened a heavy fire on the Rebel masses just at hand, while, of his infantry, the 2d Missouri plunged into the fight. The fire on both sides was close and deadly. Gen. Asboth was [30] severely wounded, Gen. Curtis's orderly was hit, and one of his bodyguard fell dead. As the shades of night fell, a messenger from Sigel gave tidings that he was coming up on the left, and would soon open fire. Asboth's batteries fell back, being out of ammunition, and the Rebels were enabled to fire the last shot. A little after dark, both armies sank down on the battle-field, and slept amid the dead and the dying.

Curtis, finding that Van Dorn had concentrated all his forces on this point, directed Davis to withdraw all his reserve from the center, and move forward to the ground on Carr's left, which was effected by midnight. Sigel, though he had reported himself just at hand at dark, was obliged to make a detour, and did not reach headquarters till 2 A. M.

Van Dorn slept that night at the Elkhorn Tavern, from which he had dislodged Davis by such desperate efforts.13 He had thus far been fighting a part of our forces with all of his own, and had only gained ground where his preponderance of numbers was overwhelming. Curtis reports his entire command in Arkansas at 10,500, cavalry and infantry — of whom 250 were absent after forage throughout the battle — and 48 pieces of artillery. He estimates the Rebel force in battle at 30,000, including 5,000 Indians.14 Pollard says, “Van Dorn's whole force was about 16,000 men.” But now our whole army was in hand, while at least a third of it had not yet fired a shot. Not a man in our ranks doubted that our victory must be speedy as well as decisive.

The sun rose; Gen. Curtis awaited the completion of his line of battle by Asboth's and Sigel's divisions getting into position; but no shot was fired by the enemy. At length, Curtis ordered Col. Davis, in our center, to begin the day's work. He was instantly replied to from new batteries and lines which the Rebels had prepared during the night, some of the batteries raking our right wing so that it was constrained to fall back a little, but without slackening its fire. Asboth's and Sigel's divisions were soon in position, completing our line of battle a little to the rear of the first, but without a break, and much of it on open ground, our left wing extended so that it could not be flanked. Gen. Curtis ordered his right to advance to the positions held the night before, and, finding himself an elevation on the extreme right, considerably in advance, which commanded the enemy's center and left, here posted the Dubuque battery, directing the right wing to advance to its support, while Capt. Hayden opened from it a most galling fire. Returning to the center, he directed the 1st Iowa battery, Capt. David, to take position in an open field and commence operations; and so battery after battery opened [31] fire, the infantry moving steadily to their support, while the left wing was pushed rapidly forward, climbing a low cliff from which the Rebels had been driven by our guns, and crowding them back into the deep ravines of Cross-Timber Hollow. The 36th Illinois was prominent in this movement : while the 12th Missouri, pushing into the enemy's lines, captured a flag and two guns.

The flight of the Rebels was so sudden and swift, and the ravines wherein they disappeared so impracticable for cavalry, that our commanders were for some time at fault in the pursuit. Gen. Sigel pushed north on the Keytesville road, where but few of them had gone; and it was not till afternoon that Gen. Curtis ascertained that, after entering the Hollow, the main Rebel force had turned to the right, following obscure ravines which led into the Huntsville road, on which they escaped. Col. Bussey, with our cavalry and howitzers, followed them beyond Bentonville.15

Gen. Curtis reports his entire loss in the battle at 1,351, of whom 701--more than half — were of Col. Carr's division. The Rebel loss can hardly have been less; since, in addition to Gens. Ben McCulloch and Mcintosh killed, Gens. Price and Slack were wounded.

The victory at Pea Ridge was unmistakably ours, but the trophies were not abundant. No cannon, nor caissons, nor prisoners of any account, save a few too severely wounded to hobble off, were taken; and, though a letter to The New York Herald, written from the battle-field on the 9th, speaks of “a considerable quantity of wagons, supplies, etc., a load of powder, and nearly a thousand stand of arms,” as captured by Sigel during his pursuit of the fugitives upon the Keytesville road, they do not figure in either of Sigel's official reports of the battle, nor yet in those of Curtis. The beaten Confederates, fleeing with celerity in different directions and by many paths, finally came together in the direction of Bentonville, some 8 miles from the Elkhorn Tavern, whence Van Dorn dispatched a flag of truce to Curtis, soliciting an arrangement for burying the dead, which was accorded.

Pollard makes a scarcity of ammunition a main reason for Van Dorn's retreat, and it is probable that neither army was well supplied with cartridges at the close of this protracted though desultory struggle. He adds that “Gen. Curtis was forced to fall back into Missouri,” and that the “total abandonment of their enterprise of subjugation in Arkansas is the most conclusive evidence in the world that the Federals were worsted by Gen. Van Dorn;” but fails to [32] mention the fact that the Confederate army was also compelled to fall back to a region less wasted and exhausted than that which for many miles surrounded the well-fought field of Pea Ridge.

As this was the only important battle in which ‘Indians’ in considerable numbers took part, and as they were all found fighting — or, more strictly, yelling — on the side of the Confederacy, a few words of explanation may be pertinent.

We have seen16 that the important aboriginal tribes known to us as Creeks and Cherokees, holding from time immemorial extensive and desirable territories, mainly within the States of North Carolina and Georgia, but extending also into Tennessee and Alabama, were constrained to surrender those lands to the lust of the neighboring Whites, and migrate across the Mississippi, at the instance of the State authorities, resisted, in obedience to treaties, by President John Quincy Adams, and succumbed to, in defiance of treaties and repeated judgments of the Supreme Court, by President Andrew Jackson. They were located, with some smaller tribes, in a region lying directly westward of Arkansas and north of the Red. river, to which the name of Indian Territory was given, and which, lying between the 34th and 37th parallels of .North latitude, and well watered by the Arkansas and several affluents of that and of Red river, was probably as genial and inviting as any new region to which they could have been transferred. Yet, though their removal had been effected nearly a quarter of a century, it is certain that the mass of the Indians there collected still regarded with just indignation the wrongs they had experienced, remembering fondly the pleasant streams and valleys of the lower Alleghanies, from which they had been forcibly and wrongfully expelled. But their Chiefs had been early corrupted in their old homes, by the example and practice among their White neighbors of slaveholding — a practice novel indeed, but eminently congenial to the natural indolence and pride of the savage character. They, consequently, adhered to it in their new location; and, since to hold slaves was a proof of wealth and importance, nearly every one who by any means obtained property, exchanged a part of it for one or more negroes; who, if they did not by labor increase his wealth, were certain, by flattery and servility, to magnify his conscious importance. Thus thoroughly saturated with the virus of slaveholding, the most civilized Indian tribes fell an easy prey to the arts of the Confederate emissaries. The agents through whom they received their annuities and transacted most of their business with the Federal Government, had nearly always been Democratic politicians — of course, pro-Slavery, and generally Southern--and for the last eight years emphatically so. These agents had little difficulty, at the outset of the Rebellion, in persuading their Chiefs that the old Union was irrecoverably destroyed; that it was scarcely probable that an, effort would be made to restore it; and that, at all events, their interests and their safety dictated an alliance with that Confederacy which was [33] their immediate neighbor, and of which the conservation and perpetuity of slaveholding was the most cherished idea. Some of those Chiefs have since insisted that they were deceived by the Confederate emissaries, and especially by Gen. Albert Pike, chief Commissioner for Indian Affairs of the Confederacy, who had led them to confound that concern with the Union. What is certain is, that, directly after tidings reached them of the battles of Bull Run and Wilson's creek — the latter reported to them from that side as a complete discomfiture of the North, which view the undoubted death of Lyon and abandonment of Springfield tended strongly to corroborate — the Chiefs of most of the tribes very generally entered into a close offensive and defensive alliance with the Confederacy; even so cautious and politic a diplomatist as John Ross throwing his weight into that scale. It is said that, after the death of Lyon, Pen McCulloch's brigade of Texans was marched back to the Indian border, and that the Creeks and Cherokees were impressively required to decide quickly between the North and the South; else, betwixt Texas on the one side and Arkansas on the other, a force of 20,000 Confederates would speedily ravage and lay waste their country. They decided accordingly. Yet a very large minority of both Creeks and Cherokees rallied around the Chief Opothleyolo, made head against the current, and stood firm for the Union. Assembling near the Creek Agency, they tore down the Rebel flag there flying and replanted the Stars and Stripes; and a letter17 from Col. McIntosh to the Trute Democrat18 called loudly for reenforcements to the Rebel array in the Indian Territory, and expressed apprehension that the Northern party might prove the stronger. A battle between the antagonistic Indian forces took place Dec. 9th, 1861, on Bushy creek, near the Verdigris river, 180 miles west of Fort Smith, the Confederates being led by Col. Cooper, the Unionists by Opothleyolo. The result was not decisive, but the advantage appears to have been with the Rebel party, the Unionists being constrained soon after to make their way northward to Kansas, where they received the supplies they so much needed, and where a treaty of close alliance was negotiated19 between Opothleyolo and his followers on one side, and Col. Dole, U. S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, on the other.

The Rebels were thus left in undisputed possession of the Indian Territory, from which they collected the four or five thousand warriors who appeared at Pea Ridge; but, though the ground was mainly broken and wooded, affording every facility for irregular warfare, they do not seem to have proved of much account, save in the consumption of rations and massacre of the Union wounded, of whom at least a score fell victims to their barbarities. Their war-whoop was overborne by the roar of our heavy guns; they were displeased with the frequent falling on their heads of great branches and tops of the trees behind which they had sought shelter; and, in fact, the whole conduct of the battle on our part was, to their apprehension disgusting. The amount of effort and of profanity expended [34] by their White officers in trying to keep them in line at the front, probably overbalanced tile total value of their services; so that, if they chose to depart for their homes soon after the close of the battle, it is not probable that any strenuous efforts were made to detain them.20

Gen. Curtis, after resting and refitting his army, finding no enemy in its vicinity, again put his column in motion, proceeding S. S. E. through north-western Arkansas to Batesville,21 on White river, near which point he had expected to meet gunboats with supplies from below. He found the river, however, at an unusually low stage for the season — barely four feet; while the gunboats required six or seven; beside which, the Mound City, which attempted the ascent, had been resisted and blown up in a fight with the Rebel battery at St. Charles some days before. Being compelled, therefore, to depend for all his supplies on wagontrains from Rolla, Mo., now several hundred miles distant, lie did not feel strong enough to advance on Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, nearly 100 miles S. S. W. from his present position. Having halted seven weeks, wholly unmolested, at Batesville, he again set forth,22 crossing the Big Black by a pontoon-bridge, and pursuing a southerly course through a generally swampy, wooded, and thinly settled country, where none but negroes made any professions of Unionism, and, being joined at Jacksonport23 by Gen. C. C. Washburne, with the 3d Wisconsin cavalry, which had come through from Springfield alone and unassailed, proceeded to Augusta, where he took leave24 of the White, and, assuming a generally S. W. direction, took his way across the cypress swamps and canebrakes of the cache, where his advance (the 33d Illinois, Col. Hovey), which had been struggling over roads heavily obstructed by fallen trees, was attacked25 by some 1,500 Rebel cavalry, mainly Texas, led by Gen. Albert Rust, who held him in check for an hour, until he was joined by the 1st Indiana cavalry, Lt.-Col. Wood, with two howitzers, when an impetuous charge was made by the Indianians, whereby the enemy were routed and put to flight. The bodies of 110 dead Rebels were buried by our soldiers, whose loss was but 8 killed and 45 wounded, including Maj. Glendennin, who led the charge, receiving a shot in the breast, which proved mortal. The Rebels were satisfied with this experiment, and gave no further trouble.

Gen. Curtis again struck26 White river at Clarendon, just below the mouth of the Cache, only to learn, with intense chagrin, that Col. Fitch, [35] with the expected gunboats and transports, had gone down the river barely 24 hours previous. Being short of provisions, in a thoroughly inhospitable country, he had no choice but to make his way to the most accessible point on the Mississippi. This was Helena, 65 miles S. E., which was made27 by Gen. Washburne, with 2,500 cavalry and 5 howitzers, in a march of 24 hours, the infantry coming through during the two following days, bringing about half a regiment of white Arkansas volunteers, with a large number of negroes, who, having been employed to block the roads in our front by felling trees across them, were entitled to liberty and protection under the regnant military policy. A single train of 40 wagons, laden with supplies, being wholly unguarded, was captured by Rebel guerrillas in Missouri, within 30 miles of Rolla, its starting-point.

Gen. John M. Schofield had at an early day28 been placed by Gen. Halleck in command of all the Missouri militia — a force then visible only to the eye of faith. By the middle of April following, he had an array of 13,800 men in the field, mainly cavalry; to which was intrusted the defense of the State, while our other troops were drawn away to Arkansas and the Tennessee. Gen. Curtis's movements eastward toward the Mississippi opened the State to incursions from the Rebels, still in force in western Arkansas; while considerble numbers of Price's men were clandestinely sent home to enlist recruits and organize guerrilla bands for activity during the summer. Schofield persisted in enrolling and organizing militia until he had 50,900 men on his lists, of whom about 30,000 were armed. Upon full consideration, he decided to enroll only loyal men, since passive were often converted into active Rebels by a requirement to serve in the Union forces. He had 20,000 men ready for service, when, late in July, 1862, the tidings of McClellan's disastrous failure before Richmond combined with other influences to fill the interior of the State with formidable bands of Rebel partisans. Of these, Col. Porter's, two or three thousand strong, was attacked29 at Kirksville, Adair County, by Col. John McNeil, with 1,000 cavalry and a battery of 6 guns, and, after a desperate fight of four hours, utterly defeated, with a loss of 180 killed and 500 wounded. Several wagon-loads of arms were among the spoils of victory, and Porter's force was by this defeat practically destroyed. McNeil's loss was reported at 28 killed and 60 wounded.

Four days thereafter, Col. Poindexter's band of about 1,200 Rebels was attacked, while crossing the Chariton river, by Col. Odin Guitar, 9th militia cavalry, 600 men, with 2 guns, and thoroughly routed; many of the Rebels being driven into the river and drowned. “Many horses and arms, and all their spare ammunition and other supplies, were captured.” 30 Poindexter, with what remained of his force, fled northward to join Porter; but was intercepted and driven back by another Union force under Gen. Ben. Loan, and again struck by Guitar; who, in a running fight of nearly 48 hours, [36] killed, captured, or dispersed his entire command. Poindexter, after wandering alone through the woods for several days, was made a prisoner; and Porter, driven back upon McNeil by the same movement of Gen. Loan, was compelled to disperse his band to save it from destruction. This was the last appearance of the Rebels in formidable force northward of the Missouri river; though small bands of guerrillas continued to plunder and murder there, as elsewhere, for more than a year.

Independence, on the western border of the State, was about this time attacked31 by a Rebel band of 500 to 800, under Col. Hughes; and its garrison, 312 men of the 7th Missouri cavalry, was surrendered by Lt.-Col. Buel, after a short resistance. Gen. Coffey, with 1,500 Rebel cavalry from Arkansas, early in August, invaded south-western Missouri, and, avoiding Springfield, moved rapidly northward. Col. Clark Wright, 6th Missouri cavalry, was sent with 1,200 men in pursuit; Gen. Totten being directed by Schofield to strike the band which had just captured Independence, before it could be joined by Coffey; while Gen. Blunt, commanding in Arkansas, was requested to send a force from Fort Scott, to cooperate in cutting off Coffey's retreat; and Col. Fitz-Henry Warren, 1st Iowa cavalry, was dispatched from Clinton with 1,500 men to effect a junction with Maj. Foster; who, with the 7th militia cavalry, 800 strong, had been pushed out from Lexington by Totten, in quest of Hughes.

These combinations upon our side failed most signally. Coffey and Hughes united their forces and fought Maj. Foster at Lone Jack, Jackson county, wounded and defeated him, with the loss of his two guns, and compelled him to fall back to Lexington, upon which place Coffey was advancing with an army now augmented to 4,500 men; when, finding that Gen. Blunt was in strong force, threatening his line of retreat, while Loan's and Wright's and other commands were concentrating upon him from every direction, he relinquished the hope of capturing Lexington and relieving the Rebels north of the river, and turned to fly. Eluding Gen. Blunt in the night, he was hotly pursued to the Arkansas line, but escaped without serious disaster.

Gen. Schofield was soon after32 superseded in the command of the department, by Gen. Curtis, but immediately placed at the head of the forces confronting the enemy in the south-west, where the Rebels, now led by Gen. T. C. Hindman,33 were threatening a fresh invasion. Setting forward from Springfield34 to Sarcoxie to reconnoiter the enemy's position, Gen. Salomon's advance had been overwhelmed at Newtonia by a large body of Rebel cavalry. Salomon had thereupon moved forward to their support, and renewed the battle at noon; fighting until sunset without serious loss, ultimately retiring in good order from the field. He estimated his strength at 4,500, and the enemy's in his front at 7,000. Gen. Schofield, being reenforced by Gen. Blunt from Arkansas, found himself at the head of 10,000 men; while the Rebels at Newtonia were estimated at 13,000 to 20,000. He resolved to advance the night and attack at daylight next morning; Gen. Blunt approaching [37] Newtonia from the north and west, and Gen. Totten from the east. He found, on coming up, that the enemy had sent their baggage to the rear, and were preparing to retreat. Immediately charging with cavalry and artillery, the Rebels fled without resistance, and were chased 30 miles into Arkansas. It appeared that, though in great numbers, they were badly armed, many of them not at all; having been sorely disappointed by the capture of a vessel laden with arms for their use on the Mississippi some time previously. Schofield pressed on35 to the old battle-ground of Pea Ridge, only to find the enemy's forces divided: a part, under Cooper, having moved westward toward Maysville, with intent to operate on our communications with Fort Scott, while the main body had retreated south-westerly toward Huntsville, leaving two or three thousand cavalry in our front to screen these movements. Gen. Blunt was thereupon sent after Cooper; and, after a hard night's march, found him in camp near Maysville, and at once attacked, capturing his 4 guns and completely routing his command. The Rebels fled in disorder across the Arkansas to Fort Gibson. Their loss in material would have been greater had they had more to lose.

Gen. Schofield, with the residue of his army, made a forced march over White River Mountains, to a point 8 miles west of Huntsville, where Rains had encamped the day before. His advance was next morning pushed forward into Huntsville, whence a few Rebel cavalry fled at his approach. He here learned that Rains was retreating across the mountains to Ozark, resolved not to fight until reenforcements should arrive, and that further pursuit would be useless; so he retraced his steps, via Bentonville, to Cross Hollows and Osage Springs, sending Gen. Herron, with the 1st Iowa and 7th militia cavalry, about 1,000 in all, to attack in the rear some 3,000 or 4,000 Rebel cavalry who were encamped on White river, 8 miles from Fayetteville; while Gen. Totten, advancing via Fayetteville, was to assail them in front. Gen. Herron reached their camp at early dawn,36 and immediately attacked with such vigor that the Rebels, though in superior numbers, fled rapidly into the mountains, with the loss of their camp equipage. Gen. Totten did not arrive till after they had vanished. Gen. Schofield found no further enemies within striking distance, until compelled by sickness to resign his command,37 leaving Missouri substantially pacified.

But Gen. Hindman, commanding the Confederate forces in Arkansas, was not disposed to rest satisfied with such a conclusion of the campaign. Having collected, by concentration and conscription, a force estimated by our officers in his front at 25,000 to 30,000 men — while he officially reports that, for want of stores, etc., he was able to take on this expedition but 9,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry, and his artillery — he crossed the Arkansas river at or near Van Buren, and advanced upon our scattered and numerically far inferior division, which was watching him from the neighborhood of the last conflict. It was now December; but the weather was clear and dry, and the days bright and warm, though the nights were [38] chilly; while the roads were in good condition. Gen. Blunt, commanding the 1st division, in good part of Kansas troops, numbering about 5,000 men, was at Cane Hill, or Boones-borough, some 10 miles north-west of Van Buren, and 18 south-west of Fayetteville, when he was apprised of this advance,38 with one of his three brigades (Gen. Salomon's), protecting his trains at Rhea's Mills, 8 miles north. Determined not to be driven out of Arkansas, he telegraphed in various directions for Gen. Herron, commanding the 2d and 3d divisions, now in Missouri, and left subject to his orders by Gen. Schofield's departure; and attempted, by showing a bold front and directing his cavalry to skirmish sharply with the Rebel vanguard, to delay Hindman's advance until Herron could reach him. Blunt's dispatch found39 that able and earnest leader at Wilson's creek, some 10 miles south of Springfield, but with most of his command from 10 to 20 miles nearer the Arkansas line. Within three hours, his divisions were in motion southerly, making marches of fully 20 miles per day, with all their guns and trains. Having reached Elkhorn,40 he dispatched Col. Wickersham, with his 3,000 cavalry, to the more immediate relief of Blunt; and pushing on to Fayetteville, marching all night, he entered that place at 4 A. M., on Sunday morning, Dec. 7th. Impressed with the peril of Blunt, he rested his men but an hour or so before putting his column again in motion, and had proceeded but 5 or 6 miles when his advance was met by the 1st Arkansas and 7th Missouri (Union) cavalry, being a part of those he had dispatched from Elkhorn to the aid of Blunt, who had just before been attacked and thrown into great disorder by Marmaduke's Rebel cavalry, forming the vanguard of Hindman's army.

Gen. Blunt had been skirmishing for the last two days with what he supposed the advance of the enemy's main body; but learned, at 8 P. M. of the 6th, that Hindman had turned his left and interposed between him and all of Herron's infantry and artillery. Col. Wickersham, with 4 cavalry regiments, reported to Blunt at Cane Hill two hours afterward, with tidings that Herron would be at Fayetteville early next morning.

Blunt now attempted to warn Herron of his danger, but it was too late; his messengers were intercepted by Marmaduke's cavalry. Hindman was probably reaching for Blunt's trains at Rhea's Mills, when, to their mutual astonishment, he locked horns with Herron on Illinois creek, near the settlement known as Prairie Grove.

Herron, divested of his cavalry, had but about 4,000 men in hand, and ought to have stood on the defensive,41 availing himself of every advantage of position and shelter. [39] Anxious, however, for Blunt's safety, and apprehending that he might be at that moment enveloped by an overwhelming Rebel force, he drove the Rebel cavalry impetuously across the creek, only to find their infantry and artillery strongly posted on a high, wooded ridge, three-quarters of a mile distant; their numbers concealed by the timber and thick underbrush. Sending across a light battery, which was instantly driven back, he, while still threatening a fresh advance on the road, cut a path to the creek, half a mile farther down, and pushed across a battery at a point which enabled it to draw the fire of the Rebel artillery. This movement, being unsuspected and unperceived by the enemy, was entirely successful; and, before the Rebels had recovered from their surprise and confusion, Herron had pushed three full batteries, backed by three good regiments of infantry, across the regular ford. These batteries were so excellent and so admirably served that they had silenced, in one hour's firing, their Rebel antagonists. Ours were thereupon advanced across an open field, firing volleys of grape and canister, until within a hundred yards of the ridge held by the Rebels, when the 20th Wisconsin and 19th Iowa infantry were ordered to charge the Rebel battery in their front. They did so most gallantly, hurling back its supports and taking the battery; but were unable to hold it, and compelled to fall back. Their charge was at once returned with interest by the Rebel infantry, intent on the capture of our three batteries, and rushing up to within a hundred yards of the guns, when they were likewise repulsed with great slaughter. A fresh brigade, consisting of the 26th Indiana and 37th Illinois infantry, being now brought up from the right to the relief of our exhausted center, Col. Houston ordered and led a charge against the same Rebel battery which had been fruitlessly charged already. Again it was taken, and again the captors were compelled to abandon it by the overwhelming fire of infantry concentrated upon them.

Thus the battle stood, still desperately contested, neither lost nor won, when, at 2 1/2 P. M., Herron heard the welcome music of a battery opening at some distance on his right, and was soon assured that Blunt's division was on hand.

Blunt had that morning sent Col. Wickersham, with his cavalry, in advance, followed by Gen. Salomon's infantry brigade, with directions to move rapidly on the Fayetteville road, and form a junction, if possible, with Herron. Three miles north of Cane Hill, however, Wickersham had taken the left-hand road to Rhea's Mills, instead of the right, leading directly to Fayetteville; and Blunt, on reaching the fork, had followed, deeming it imprudent to dislocate his command. Coming up at length with Wickersham, he ordered him to face toward Fayetteville, and endeavor to reach Herron. Wickersham had barely started, when, a little after noon, the boom of artillery was heard in the north-east, and, leaving Gen. Salomon's brigade to guard his train; at Rhea's Mills, Blunt set forward, over a blind, hilly road, with his two others, in the direction of the fire.

At 1:45 P. M., Gen. Blunt, in advance [40] of his division, came into full view of the field where the battle was fiercely raging. The Rebels were very strongly posted on high, rolling ground, covered by timber, and only approached from the north over large, open fields, which afforded no cover, save that a part of them bore a crop of ripe corn. Blunt's eccentric advance had brought him in front of the enemy's left, where they had been massing a large force for the purpose of flanking Herron's position. The flankers found an enemy much nearer than they expected, and were at once hotly engaged with Blunt's division. Its three batteries, firing shell and case-shot at short range, soon proved an overmatch for the two Rebel batteries opposed to them, driving them and their supports back into the woods; where they were charged by Col. Weer, leading the 10th, 13th, and part of the 2d and 11th Kansas and 20th Iowa, and a musketry fight of three hours was maintained with equal energy by the contending hosts. Meantime, our batteries were advanced at various points and served with rare efficiency; Lieut. Tenney, with six 10-pound Parrotts, repelling with shell and canister, while unsupported, a formidable infantry attack. Here fell the Rebel Gen. Stein, of Missouri. A battery of 10 guns, well supported, opening upon Tenney, he in ten minutes silenced its clamor, dismounting two of the guns, and driving off the residue. An attempt to capture Rabb's and Hopkins's batteries, which were supported by the 11th Kansas, Lt.-Col. Moonlight, was defeated with fearful slaughter.

As darkness came on, the firing gradually slackened and ceased; the Rebels recoiling into their woody covert, our soldiers sleeping on their arms in the open field where they had so bravely struggled, expecting to renew the combat at daylight. Meanwhile, our wounded were all cared for, the trains of the whole army sent to Fayetteville; and Gen. Salomon's brigade, relieved from the duty of guarding them, ordered to the field; ammunition brought up and distributed, and everything made ready for proceeding to business at dawn ; but, just before daylight, Gen. Blunt received a flag of truce from Hindman, asking a personal interview with reference to the burial of the dead and relief of the wounded. Blunt met Hindman accordingly, and was soon satisfied that the meeting so solicited was but a trick; that Hindman had no force present or near but his staff-escort, and a party left to gather up his wounded; that the bulk of Iris army had commenced retreating several hours before.

Our loss in this battle was 167 killed, 798 wounded, and 183 missing--total, 1,148. Most of the missing were captured in Marmaduke's initial attack on our cavalry, and were exchanged directly afterward. Of our loss, no less than 953 fell on Herron's command of hardly more than 4,000 men. Lt.-Col. McFarland, who led the 19th Iowa in its first charge, was killed; as was Maj. Burdett, of the 7th Missouri cavalry. Lt.-Col. Black, 37th Illinois, and Maj. Thompson, 20th Iowa, were among the wounded. The Rebel loss42 must have been greater, because [41] of our superiority in artillery, with which the principal execution was done. Hindman's official report makes it, 164 killed, 817 wounded, 336 missing--total, 1,317; and claims to have taken 275 prisoners, 5 flags, 23 wagons, and over 500 small arms.

1 Nov. 2-15, 1861. See Vol. I., pages 593-4.

2 Nov. 19, 1861.

3 Dec. 16.

4 Dec. 3.

5 Dec. 7.

6 Dec. 28.

7 Dec. 20.

8 Dec. 15.

9 Dec. 18.

10 March 3, 1862.

11 See page 18.

12 March 6.

13 Pollard says, “We had taken during the day 7 cannon and about 200 prisoners.”

14 The Richmond Whig of April 9th, 1862, has a Rebel letter from one present to Hon. G. G. Vest, which says:

When the enemy left Gove creek, which is south of Boston Mountain, Gens. Price, McCulloch, Pike, and McIntosh seemed to think — at least camp-talk amongst officers high in command so represented — that our united forces would carry into action nearly 30,000 men, more frequently estimated at 35.000 than a lower figure. I believe Gen. Van Dorn was confident that not a man less than 25,000 were panting to follow his victorious plume to a field where prouder honors awaited them than any he had yet gathered.

15 Pollard says:

About 9 1/2 o'clock, Van Dorn had completed his arrangements to withdraw his forces. Finding that his right wing was much disorganized, and that the batteries were, one after another, retiring from the field, with every shot expended, he had determined to withdraw his forces in the direction of their supplies. This was accomplished with almost perfect success. The ambulances, crowded with the wounded, were sent in advance; a portion of McCulloch's division was placed in position to follow; while Gen. Van Dorn so disposed of his remaining force as best to deceive the enemy as to his intention, and to hold him in check while executing it. An attempt was made by the enemy to follow the retreating column. It was effectually checked, however; and, about 2 P. M., the Confederates encamped about six miles from the field of battle, all the artillery and baggage joining the army in safety. They brought away from the field of battle 300 prisoners, 4 cannon, and 3 baggage-wagons.

16 See Vol. I., pages 102-6.

17 Oct. 17, 1861.

18 Little Rock, Arkansas.

19 At Leavenworth, Feb. 1, 1862.

20 Pollard says:

The Indian regiments, under Gen. Pike, had not come up in time to take any important part in the battle. Some of the red men behaved well, and a portion of them assisted in taking a battery; but they were difficult to manage in the deafening roar of artillery, to which they were unaccustomed, and were naturally amazed at the sight of guns that ran on wheels. They knew what to do with the rifle; they were accustomed to the sounds of battle as loud as their own war-whoop; and the amazement of these simple children of the forest may be imagined at the sight of such roaring, deafening, crashing monsters as 12-pounders running around on wheels. Gen. Van Dorn, in his official report of the battle, does not mention that any assistance was derived from the Indians--an ally that had, perhaps, cost us much more trouble, expense, and annoyance than their services in modern warfare could, under any circumstances, be worth.

21 Arriving there May 6.

22 June 24.

23 June 25.

24 July 4.

25 July 7.

26 July 9.

27 July 11.

28 Nov. 27, 1861.

29 Aug 6, 1862.

30 Gen. Schofield's official report.

31 Aug. 11.

32 Sept. 24.

33 Late M. C. from Arkansas.

34 Oct. 1.

35 Oct. 17

36 Oct. 28.

37 Nov. 20.

38 Dec. 2.

39 Dec. 3.

40 On the evening of the 5th.

41 Gen. Herron. in a private letter to a friend at Dubuque, Iowa, dated Dec. 16, says:

For four miles, we fought their cavalry, driving them back to Illinois creek, where I found their whole force strongly posted on a long ridge, with magnificent positions for batteries. For one mile in front, it was clear ground, and my road lay right in the center of their line. From a prisoner taken, I learned that Hindman was on the ridge, with his whole force, and intended to whip me out before Blunt could get up; in other words, to take us one at a time. The case looked tough, with Blunt ten miles away, and 25,000 men between us; but I saw at a glance there were just two things that could be done; namely, fight them without delay, and depend on the chance of Blunt's hearing me and coming up, or retreat and lose my whole train. It required no time to make a decision.

42 Gen. Blunt, in his official report, says:

The enemy's loss in killed and wounded can not fall short of <*>,000, and will probably much exceed that number, as many of them, not severely wounded, were taken to Van Buren. Their loss in killed upon the ground will reach 1,000; the greater number of whom have been buried by my command


Pollard, on the other hand, says of this battle:

Our whole line of infantry were in close conflict nearly the whole day with the enemy, who were attempting, with their force of 18,000 men, to drive us from our position. In every instance. they were repulsed, and finally driven back from the field; Gen. Hindman driving then to within 8 miles of Fayetteville; when our forces fell back to their supply depot, between Cane hill and Van Buren. We captured 300 prisoners, and vast quantities of stores. The enemy's loss in killed and wounded was about 1,000; the Confederate loss, in killed, wounded, and missing, about 300.

Gen. Blunt further says of this Pollard victory:

Their transportation had been left south of the mountains, and their retreat thereby made unincumbered and stealthy. I am assured by my own men who were prisoners with them, as well as by deserters from their ranks, that they tore up the blankets of their men to muffle the wheels of their artillery.

Gen. Herron, in a private letter, dated Dec. 15th, says:

The loss of the enemy is terrific. After their burial-parties had been on the ground for three days, we had to turn in and bury 300 for them. The country for 25 miles around is full of their wounded. We have, as captures, 4 caissons full of ammunition, and about 300 stand of arms. Hindman had prepared himself, and risked all on this fight. His movements were shrewdly managed; and nothing but desperately hard fighting ever carried us through.

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