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Doc. 82.-battle of the Cache, Ark., fought July 7, 1862.

Colonel Hovey's official report.

headquarters Second brigade, General Steele's division, A. S. W., July 7, 1862.
Captain: Pursuant to orders, I directed Col. Harris, with parts of four companies of his regiment, the Eleventh Wisconsin infantry, and parts of four companies of the Thirty-third Illinois infantry, and one small steel gun of the First Indiana cavalry, in all a little less than four hundred men, to make a reconnaissance in advance of our lines. He fell in with the rebel pickets at Hill's plantation, and fired on them. Passing the forks of the road at this place towards Bayou De View, he had proceeded but a short distance when I overtook and turned him back, with instructions to hasten down the Des Arc road, and, if possible, rescue a prisoner just captured. He marched rapidly for half a mile, and fell into an ambush. The woods swarmed with rebels, and the firing was terrific. I have since learned that over two thousand Texas troops were here drawn up in line of battle. Capt. Miller led our advance, and was immediately followed by First Lieut. Chesebro, both of whose companies were deployed as skirmishers. These companies began the fight. The little cannon was planted a short distance to the left of the road, and opened fire. The rebel advance fell back on the main line, which was concealed by thick underbrush from our men. Colonel Harris pushed on his advance until they came within range, when suddenly the enemy began a murderous fire. Our force, thus fiercely and. unexpectedly assailed, was ordered to fall back, and in executing this order fell into some little confusion. The Rangers charged. Here Col. Harris was severely wounded, but still kept his horse and, though fainting, fought. I had now reached the field. The rebels, a full regiment strong, were charging at a gallop on the little steel gun which was left with Lieut. Denneman and one man. All others were gone. Capt. Potter with his company here came to the rescue, aided in limbering up, and withstood the charge of cavalry till the gun had fairly gained the road, when it was taken in charge by Lieut. Partridge. Capt. Potter was seriously wounded.

I now ordered the gun up the road in haste, and the infantry into the corn-field. As the rebels, confident of victory, came charging up the toad at full speed, and in great force in pursuit, the infantry fired. The rebel column hesitated, but moved on. Another volley, and the ground was covered with their dead. Riderless horses rushed wildly in all directions. The Rangers wavered and halted. The third fire completed their demoralization and overthrow. They left as suddenly as they came, and in great disorder.

It was now certain that we had engaged a large force of well-armed men; how large it was impossible to tell, nor did I know their strategy, or have any but the most imperfect idea of the topography of the adjacent grounds. It seemed prudent, therefore, to hold the position already chosen, and which had proved to be a good one, and wait events. I soon discovered a large cavalry force filing past, in front of my position, but just beyond musket-range. When fully in front they halted, and ordered a charge. I could distinctly hear the order, “Charge, charge on the corn-field!” but for some reason no charge was made. The column was again put in motion, with the intent, as I supposed, to gain my rear and cut off communication and reenforcements. Fortunately, the force which had been ordered back from the first onset, was now in position to check this movement, and again the rebels were forced to retreat.

Hardly had this movement failed, when I was apprised of an attempt to turn my left, and immediately despatched Capt. Elliott and his company to thwart it. During these shiftings of positions I could plainly see them caring for their dead and wounded, and removing them, but to what extent I have no means of telling. They now [274] formed on their original line of battle, and I moved upon them, extending my line till it became merely a line of skirmishers, to prevent being flanked, so great was the disproportion of the forces. No men could behave more handsomely than did the Wisconsin Eleventh, on my right, and the Illinois Thirty-third, on my left, while Lieut. Denneman, with his gun, supported by as large an infantry force as I could spare, held the centre. The rebels gave way, and, while driving them from the field, I heard a shout in the rear, and before fully comprehending what it meant, Lieut.-Col. Wood, of the First Indiana cavalry, with one battalion and two more steel guns, came cantering up. It was the work of a moment for Lieutenant Baker to unlimber his pieces and get in position. The woods were soon alive with shot and shell. The retreat became a rout. Our cavalry, led by Major Clendenning, charged vigorously, and the day was ours.

Already one hundred and ten (110) of the enemy's dead have been found, while their prisoners, and the officer in charge of the flag of truce speak of the “terrible carnage,” and estimate their dead at more than two hundred, and their wounded at a still greater number. Their loss in dead was, undoubtedly, much greater than the one hundred and ten whose bodies were found I have been unable to ascertain the number of their wounded, or to make a reliable estimate, nor have I a report of the prisoners taken. A large number of horses were captured, and many left dead on the field. Sixty-six were counted within an area of half a mile square.

Our loss was seven killed, and fifty-seven wounded.

The rebel force--Texas troops — engaged in the fight could not have been far from two thousand (2000) men, and was supported by a still larger reserve force, all under the command of General Rust.

The loyal force was less than four hundred, (400,) increased just at the close by a cavalry force of about two hundred, (200.)

Where officers and men so uniformly behaved well, I can almost say heroically, it is, perhaps, invidious to particularize; and yet I may be pardoned for calling attention to the gallant conduct of Col. Harris and Capt. Miller, of the Eleventh Wisconsin Major Clendenning, of the First Indiana cavalry, and Captain L. H. Potter, of the Thirty-third Illinois. Surgeon H. P. Strong was on the field throughout the action, and his services deserve recognition.

Later in the afternoon, reenforcements came up, and Gen. Benton pursued the fleeing foe five or six miles towards Des Are, killing several and taking prisoners. All along the route, he found the house filled with the dead and wounded; curb-stones were wet with blood, and in one case, even the water of the well was crimson with gore. Gen. Benton's force consisted of the Eighth Indiana, Col. Shunk; a section of Manter's battery, First Missouri light artillery, Lieut. Schofield; part of the Eleventh Wisconsin, Major Platt; one howitzer from Bowen's battalion; the Thirteenth Illinois cavalry, Col. Bell, and a battalion of the Fifth Illinois cavalry under Major Apperson.

After the battle, and while the wounded were being collected and cared for, another body of rebels appeared on the Bayou De View road and drove in our pickets. I immediately sent Lieut.-Col. Wood, of the Eleventh Wisconsin, with a force of infantry, and the First Indiana cavalry, to pursue and capture them. He proceeded to Bayou De View, shelled the rebels from their camp, and prevented the burning of the bridge, on which fagots had already been piled. By this time it was dark, and the forces rested.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. E. Hovey, Colonel Commanding. To Captain J. W. Paddock, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Report of Lieut.-Colonel wood.

headquarters First Indiana cavalry, Helena, Ark., July 15, 1862.
Col. Conrad Baker, Commanding Fourth Brigade:
sir: In obedience to your order, on the seventh inst., I proceeded with the Second battalion First regiment Indiana cavalry, and two steel rifled guns to the bridge across Bayou de View, which we fortunately succeeded in saving from destruction, the rebels having built a fire at the north end, ready to burn it. This we prevented by cautiously approaching their pickets, who fired upon us and fled. We returned their fire and shelled their camp, killing three. The rest, supposed to be five hundred, fled in the utmost confusion.

In carrying out your order we incidentally engaged a large force of the enemy composed of the Twelfth and Fourteenth Texas cavalry, with several battalions of conscripts at Round Hill, eight miles north of Bayou de View. When within a mile of the place known as Round Hill, we met a messenger from Col. Hovey, who said that the Colonel had been attacked by a large force and had three companies killed. We afterward met a squad of infantry hurrying toward our camp on Cache River, who informed us that they had been “badly used up; Col. Hovey, Thirty-third Illinois volunteers, with about four hundred infantry and one gun under the command of Lieut. Denneman, First regiment Indiana cavalry, had been fighting with the rebels and had retreated before a very large force, having a great number of men killed and wounded.” Increasing our speed, we arrived at Round Hill, and the first squad of infantry we saw ran from us, supposing us to be the enemy. The principal part of the infantry were standing in groups in the edge of the woods adjoining the road. These received us with demonstrations of joy, cheering us enthusiastically. Here we met Colonel Hovey and the gun belonging to the First Indiana cavalry. Col. Hovey told me that the enemy was down the road, and “plenty of them,” at the same time saying to us, “pitch into them.” And we did “pitch into them,” at full speed. The three guns, closely followed by the battalion of cavalry, galloped down the lane in the woods where we first discovered the enemy approaching in the form of [275] a V. Instantly forming our line of battle, with guns in battery in the centre, and with one squadron on the left and the other on the right, we poured canister into their front and shell in their rear. As the enemy gave way before this terrific fire, we followed them closely, giving no respite for about two miles, sometimes running up our guns within one hundred yards of their lines. When the enemy began to waver, by my direction Major R. M. Clendenning, with companies E and G, made a furious charge upon their right flank, engaging them in a most gallant style for about twenty minutes, coolly receiving the enemy's fire. These two companies poured volley after volley from their carbines and pistols, cutting up the enemy's ranks in a dreadful manner. These two companies deserve special notice. They fought like veteran soldiers. At one time all the officers of company E were dismounted. Capt. Wm. W. Sloan, killed; First Lieut. Wm. V. Weathers, thrown from his horse; Second Lieut. Chas. L. Lamb (my Adjutant) having his horse shot from under him. Notwithstanding these casualties, the men fought as only brave men can fight; riding into the enemy's ranks they delivered their fire with telling effect. Unable to stand before these determined men, the enemy broke and fled in great confusion, the cavalry breaking through the infantry, panic-stricken at the intrepid daring of our men. As the enemy fled we poured canister at them and shell over them, following them until further pursuit was useless, and we remained masters of the field. During the fight Col. Hovey directed the movements of the skirmishers on our flanks. The infantry, with the exception of these skirmishers, was not engaged, but followed in the rear, ready, should any contingency arise requiring their assistance. The rebels suffered very severely. We have since ascertained their loss to be over two hundred killed and many wounded. We captured one prisoner. Capt. Wm. W. Sloan, company E, First Indiana cavalry, was killed while gallantly leading his men in the hottest of the fight. Major R. M. Clendenning was very severely wounded, a shot passing through the right lung, and one lodging in his arm. The conduct of Major Clendenning merits the highest commendation. He is a brave man. Corporal Nathan Collins and private James J. Clark were severely wounded. These deserve special notice. Eight others were slightly wounded. My thanks are due to Lieutenants William B. Baker and G. Denneman of the battery, and my Adjutant, Charles L. Lamb, for their cool and gallant conduct while exposed to the enemy's fire; also, to all the officers and men engaged.

After a short rest, we proceeded, with seven additional companies of infantry, under the command of Lieut.-Col. Wood of the Eleventh Wisconsin regiment, to the bridge across Bayou de View, as before mentioned.

I have the honor to be

Your obedient servant,

William F. Wood, Lieut-Col. First Regiment Indiana Cavalry.

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. Colonel Hovey 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 and Clarendon. 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. Colonel Harris, 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. Captain 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. Colonel Hovey 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 [276] 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.

Colonel Hovey 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. Colonel Hovey 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.” Colonel Hovey himself, caught hold of the trail of one of the guns, and exclaimed: “Let's push them forward, boys.” Colonel Wood 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. The Major, 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. Major Clendenning, 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. Colonel Hovey 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 [277] 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. General Benton 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 road. Bowen'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. Corporal Medley, 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, Brigade-Surgeon 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.

July 8.--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. Major Bowen dashed down eight miles before dark and reported the road clear.

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