previous next
Incidents of the battle of Pea-Ridge.--One of the Ninth Missouri was so enraged on the second day, seeing his brother, a member of the same regiment, horribly butchered and scalped, that he swore vengeance against the Indians, and for the remainder of the day devoted his attention entirely to them, concealing himself behind trees and fighting in their fashion. An excellent marksman, he would often creep along the ground to obtain a better range, and then woe to the savage who exposed any part of his body. When he had shot an Indian he would shout with delirious joy: “There goes another red-skin to h — l. Hurrah for the Stars and Stripes, and d — n all Indians!” Though ever following the wily foe, and though fired upon again and again, he received not a scratch; and on his return to camp, after night-fall, bore with him nine scalps of aboriginal warriors, slain by his own hand to avenge his brother's death.

A German soldier in the Thirty-fifth Illinois met with two very narrow escapes in fifteen minutes, while Gen. Carr's division was contending so vigorously against the enemy in Cross-Timber Hollow. He wore ear-rings for the benefit of his eyes, and a musket-ball cut one of them in two (the broken segments still remaining) and passed into the shoulder of the second lieutenant of the company. Ten minutes after, during a temporary lull in the strife, while the German was relating the story of his escape, a bullet whistled by carrying the other ring with it, and abrading the skin of his ear without doing further harm. Such are the vagaries of fate, and the mysterious shiftings on the battle-field between life and death.

One of the Texas soldiers was advancing with his bayonet upon a lieutenant of the Ninth Iowa, whose sword had been broken. The officer saw his intention, avoided the thrust, fell down at his foeman's feet, caught hold of his legs, threw him heavily to the ground, and before he could rise drew a long knife from his adversary's belt and buried it in his bosom. The Texan, with dying grasp, seized the lieutenant by the hair, and sank down lifeless, bathing the brown leaves with his blood. So firm was the hold of the nerveless hand that it was necessary to cut the hair from the head of the officer before he could be freed from the corpse of the foe.

Presentiments on the battle-field often prove prophetic. Here is an instance: While Col. Osterhaus was gallantly attacking the centre of the enemy on the second day, a sergeant of the Twelfth Missouri requested the captain of his company to send his wife's portrait, which he had taken from his bosom, to her address in St. Louis, with his dying declaration that he thought of her in his last moments. “What is that for?” asked the captain. “You are not wounded, are you?” “No,” answered the sergeant; “but I know I shall be killed to-day. I have been in battle before, but I never felt as I do now. A moment ago I became convinced my time had come, but how, I cannot tell. Will you gratify my request? Remember, I speak to you as a dying man.” “Certainly, my brave fellow, but you will live to a good old age with your wife. Do not grow melancholy over a fancy or a dream.” “You will see,” was the response. The picture changed hands. The sergeant stepped forward to the front of the column, and the captain perceived him no more. At the camp-fire that evening the officer inquired for the sergeant. He was not present. He had been killed three hours before by a grape-shot from one of the enemy's batteries.

While the fight was raging about Miser's farm-house on the ridge on Friday morning, a soldier belonging to the Twenty-fifth Missouri and a member of a Mississippi company became separated from their commands, and found each other climbing the same fence. The rebel had one of those long knives made of a file, which the South has so extensively paraded, but so rarely used, and the Missourian had one also, having picked it up on the field. The rebel challenged his enemy to a fair, open combat with the knife, intending to bully him, no doubt, and the challenge was promptly accepted. The two removed their coats, rolled up their sleeves, and began. The Mississippian had more skill, but his opponent more strength, and consequently the latter could not strike his enemy, while he received several cuts on the head and breast.

The blood began trickling down the Unionist's face, and running into his eyes almost blinded him. The Union man became desperate, for he saw the secessionist was unhurt. He made a feint; the rebel leaned forward to arrest the blow, but employing too much energy, he could not recover himself at once. The Missourian perceived his advantage, and knew he could not lose it. In five seconds more it would be too late. His enemy glared at him like a wild beast, was on the eve of striking again. Another feint; another dodge on the rebel's part, and then the blade of the Missourian hurled through the air and fell with tremendous force upon the Mississippian's neck. The blood spirted from the throat, and the head fell over, almost entirely severed from the body. Ghastly sight, too ghastly even for the doer of the deed! He fainted at the spectacle, weakened by the loss of his own blood, and was soon after butchered by a Seminole, who saw him sink to the earth.

On Saturday morning a body of three or four hundred Indians was discovered on the north side of Sugar Creek, below the curve of a hill, firing from thick clusters of post-oaks into three or four companies of Arkansas soldiers, marching in McCulloch's division toward the upper part of the ridge. The Major of the battalion seeing this, hallooed out to them that they were firing upon their own friends, and placed his white handkerchief on his sword and waved it in the air.

The Indians either did not see or did not care for the flag of truce, but poured two volleys into the Arkansans, killing among others the Major himself. The presumption then was that the Cherokees had turned traitors, and the secession soldiers were immediately ordered to charge upon them. They did so, and for an hour a terrible fight ensued among the oaks between them and their late savage allies, in [90] which it is stated some two hundred and fifty were killed and wounded on both sides. The Indians suffered severely, as they were driven from their hiding-places and shot and butchered without mercy. A person who witnessed this part of the fight says it was the most bloody and desperate that occurred on the field, being conducted with the most reckless and brutal energy by the two parties, of whom it would be difficult to say which was the most barbarous. On the dead savages were found, in some instances, two or three scalps fastened to their belts by thongs of leather.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Sugar Creek (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Arkansas (Arkansas, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Osterhaus (1)
Ben McCulloch (1)
Indians (1)
Carr (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: