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Doc. 34.-the battle of Cane Hill, Ark.

General Blunts report.

headquarters First division, army frontier, Cane Hill, Ark., December, 3, 1862.
Major General S. R. Curtis, Commanding the Department of Missouri:
General: I have the honor to report that on the twenty-sixth of November, while encamped at Lindsay's Prairie, fifteen miles south of Maysville, I received reliable information that General Marmaduke, with a force estimated at eight thousand men, was at Cane Hill. I further learned that Marmaduke's command was the advance of Hindman's army, the remainder of which was expected to arrive at Cane Hill on the evening of the twenty-eighth. I immediately determined to attack Marmaduke, and, if possible, defeat him before the arrival of General Hindman with reenforcements. Early on the morning of the twenty-seventh I ordered all my transportation and commissary trains parked on Lindsay's Prairie, and after detailing a sufficient guard for its protection, I commenced my march with about five thousand men and thirty pieces of artillery, the men taking with them four days rations of hard bread and salt.

The distance to be travelled to reach the enemy was thirty-five miles twenty-five of which was made by seven o'clock P. M., of the twenty-seventh, when the command bivouacked for the night. From that point I sent spies into the enemy's camp, and learned that their pickets were strongly posted upon the main road, (on which I was advancing,) and that it could be easily defended. I marched at five o'clock A..M., of the twenty-eighth, leaving that road and making a detour to the left by a blind track; struck one that was obscure and unfrequented, and entered Cane Hill directly from the north. As I had anticipated, they had no pickets on this road, and I met no resistance until within half a mile of their camp. The enemy had learned, however, the night previous, that I was moving upon them, and was prepared for our reception.

About two hundred of the Kansas Second, (cavalry,) under Col. Cloud, with two mountain howitzers, under Lieutenant Stover, were in the advance, which, with Rabb's battery and my staff and body-guard, constituted the only force upon the ground, the main column having been delayed in ascending a mountain about seven miles back to the rear. Of this fact wasn't apprised until my advance was engaged. In passing down a gorge between two abrupt hills, their grand guard was encountered in considerable force; dashing on and driving them before us a few hundred yards, brought us to where the bluff, on the right, terminated, and in full view of the enemy, who were posted on the right of the road on elevated ground, with timber in the rear, their guns “in battery,” bearing upon the road which I was approaching, and from which they immediately opened a brisk fire. [183]

I at once ordered Rabb's battery into position, and also the two howitzers under Lieut. Stover, when a fierce cannonading ensued, which lasted for the space of nearly an hour. My column not being up, I could do nothing more than engage in this “artillery duel” until it arrived, and the enemy thinking, no doubt, that I had a large force in hand, did not venture from under cover of their guns. Reconnoitring upon their left, I discovered an approach by which a force could be brought on their left flank and do them great damage, and perhaps capture their artillery. I ordered Major Van Antwerp, of my staff, back to meet the Kansas Eleventh and Hopkins's battery, who were in the advance of the column, to bring them up on the double-quick, and send the battery with six companies of the Eleventh to follow me with the object above named, and to take the other four companies to the support of Rabb's battery, but they were too far in the rear, and the men too much fatigued by the march to reach me in time.

Major Van Antwerp took four companies down the road to Rabb's battery, the fire from which, as afterward appeared, although laboring under great disadvantage from the nature of the ground, had been very destructive on the enemy, compelling them to abandon their position and seek another on a high ridge three fourths of a mile further south, where their reserve had been posted. To this point access was very difficult, as rugged ravines intervened, and it could only be approached by the road. Taking a position on high ground facing them from the north, I opened upon them a destructive fire with my artillery, dismounting one of their guns and compelling them again to retire. For the third time they made a stand in the town, or rather on the south side of it, upon a commanding eminence running east and west, and a most admirable position for defence. Having now concentrated their entire force and selected this strong position, I felt assured that they had resolved on a desperate resistance and made my arrangements accordingly; but, after getting my forces across a deep and rugged ravine and deploying them into position ready to advance upon their long and well-formed lines, I discovered, much to my disappointment, that they had again retired and were in full retreat to the mountains, Tenney's battery coming upon the ground they had abandoned just in time to send a few shells in the rear of their retreating column as they escaped under cover of the wood. As the men and horses of the enemy were fresh, and mine were worn down and exhausted by hard marching, it was difficult to follow them in their flight, yet the men, eager for the fray, strained every nerve. For nearly three miles from the town, in the direction of Van Buren, the road runs through a valley, in which are a few farms, alternating with low hills and ravines, covered with thick woods and brush.

Over this road a running fight with small arms took place without much damage occurring to either party. Reaching a large mound at the base of the first mountain — the commencement of the Boston Mountains proper — the enemy placed his artillery upon it in position covering the road. From this position he sought to prevent my force from proceeding up the valley and approaching the mountains. Directing two howitzers under Lieut. Updyke to the right upon a by-road, they quickly obtained a good position on the enemy's flank, while Rabb's battery opened upon them in front. They were soon forced to abandon the high mound and seek the side and top of the mountain, where they made a determined resistance. Their artillery was posted on the crest of the mountain, while their mounted riflemen were dismounted and their whole force massed on the sides and top of the mountain, which were covered with scattered timber and but little underbrush.

The nature of the ground was such that I could not use my artillery to any advantage. and the mountain could not be taken in any other way except by storm. I accordingly ordered up the the Kansas Second and dismounted them; they charged up the steep acclivity in the advance, under the command of Capt. S. J. Crawford and Captain A. P. Russell--Major Fisk having been wounded by a piece of shell early in the day; next followed the Third Indian regiment, (Cherokees) under the command of Col. Phillips and its other field-officers, Lieutenant-Col. Downing and Major Foreman, voluntarily assisted by Major Van Antwerp, of my staff, and the Eleventh Kansas, under the command of its field-officers, Colonel Ewing, Lieut.-Col. Moonlight, and Major Plumb. The resistance of the rebels was stubborn and determined. The storm of lead and iron hail that came down the side of the mountain, both from their small arms and artillery, was terrific, yet most of it went over our heads without doing us much damage.

The regiments just named, with a wild shout, rushed up the steep acclivity, contesting every inch of ground and steadily pushing the enemy before them until the crest was reached, when the rebels again fled in disorder. Four howitzers and Rabb's battery were now brought up the mountain and the pursuit renewed ; the Third Indian and Eleventh Kansas regiments on the right and left of the road, advancing in line through the woods, while the four howitzers occupied the road in front, with the Kansas Second and Sixth and Rabb's battery in the rear. About every half-mile the enemy made a stand, when the four howitzers and the Eleventh Kansas and Third Indian would as often put them to flight, leaving more or less of their dead and wounded behind them. Thus the fight continued for some three miles, until, on descending partially from the mountain into a valley, the Cove Creek road, leading from Fayetteville to Van Buren, was reached at the point where it intersects the road from Cane Hill to the last-named place. At this point the enemy again brought his artillery into requisition. It was now near sundown and darkness must soon put an end to the pursuit.

Down the valley in front of us the ground appeared adapted to the use of cavalry to good advantage, [184] and I determined to make an effort to capture their artillery, of which they had six pieces. A large force of their best cavalry was acting as a rear-guard, with a portion of their artillery just in front of them waiting for my cavalry to come up. I called for volunteers to make a charge. Three companies of the Kansas Sixth, nearest at hand, responded promptly to the call, and under command of their three field-officers, Col. Judson, Lieut.-Col. Jewett, and Major Campbell, dashed on to the rear of the rebel column, cutting and shooting them down with sabres, carbines, and revolvers.

The charge continued for about half a mile down the valley to a point where it converged in a funnel-shape, terminating in a narrow defile. At this point a large body of rebels were in ambush in front and upon the flanks where cavalry could not approach, with their battery also masked in front. As soon as the party we were pursuing passed through the defile, they opened on us a most destructive fire, which, for a moment, caused my men to recoil and give back, in spite of my own efforts and those of other officers to rally them. Whereas, if they had, after receiving the enemy's fire, pressed on two or three hundred yards, we could have secured in a moment more what we so much coveted, the enemy's artillery. Emboldened by their success in defending the defile and checking our advance, they raised a wild yell and advanced toward us.

With the aid of Colonel Judson, Major Campbell, and Captains Green and Mefford, I succeeded in rallying the three companies of the Sixth Kansas, who had suffered severely in the charge, and formed them across the valley; and the four howitzers coming up at the same time, and opening on the enemy with shell, soon forced them to retire, yet they seemed determined to dispute the passage of the defile to which I have referred, a position admirably adapted for defence, and beyond which, as I afterward learned, there was a wide open valley; hence their obstinate resistance at this point, in order to save their guns. I resolved, however, at all hazards to force my way through this gorge, and as darkness was approaching, and I had no time to get up infantry and send them out upon the flank, I prepared to make an assault in front. Loading the four howitzers and one section of Rabb's battery with double canister, I ordered them up by hand, in battery, with the three companies of the Kansas Sixth, with Sharp's carbines, advancing in line in rear. I had directed that not a gun should be fired until I gave the word.

When within about four hundred yards of the enemy, who were defending the gorge, and as I was about to give the word to fire, an officer from Gen. Marmaduke came galloping up with a white flag. On sending an officer to receive it, they requested the privilege of taking off their dead and wounded. Consideration for the fate of Colonel Jewett and others, who had fallen upon the ground they then occupied, and whom I feared they might brutally murder, induced me to respect their flag of truce, convinced though I was that it was a cowardly trick resorted to to enable them to make good their retreat and save their guns. It being now dark, and my men entirely exhausted and without food, I considered further pursuit useless, and returned with my command to Cane Hill. The casualties in my command were four killed and thirty-six wounded, four of them mortally, since dead.

Among the latter was Lieut.-Colonel Jewett, of the Sixth Kansas. He was a brave and gallant officer, whose noble example is worthy of emulation. Lieutenant J. A. Johnson, of the same regiment, a daring and excellent young officer, received a desperate wound from a musket-ball, which passed entirely through his body; yet it is hoped he will recover. The enemy's loss is seventy-five killed; wounded not known, as they took a large portion of them away. The officers and men of my command who took part in the engagement, behaved, without exception, nobly. To the following members of my staff--Major V. P. Van Antwerp, Inspector-General; Captain Lyman Scott, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General; Lieutenant J. Fin. Hill, Aid-de-Camp, and Lieutenant 1). Whittaker, Acting Aid-de-Camp, I am indebted for efficient and valuable services during the day.

I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

James G. Blunt, Brig.-General Commanding First Division Army of Frontier.

Chicago evening Journal account.

Cane Hill, (or Booneville,) Arkansas, headquarters army of the frontier, First division, December 1, 1862.
Again we have put the enemy to flight. I will briefly give you the particulars of the battle of Cane Hill, or Boonsboro.

Gen. Blunt's division of the army, consisting of three brigades, four batteries, and six mountain howitzers, under the command of General Solomon, First brigade, Col. Ware, Second brigade, Col. Cloud, Third brigade, were in camp near Lindsey's Prairie on the evening of the twenty-sixth. Orders were issued for detachments from each regiment to move at daylight on the morning of the twenty-seventh, with three days rations of hard bread and salt in their haversacks. Most of the artillery was ordered to move, and all the ambulances accompanied the column.

Promptly at daylight the column was put in motion, General Blunt commanding in person. The country over which we passed (south-east) was extremely rugged, rendering the passage of our artillery and ambulances slow and tedious. Nine o'clock in the evening, however, found us within ten miles of our enemy, who were camped in a force of from seven to eight thousand strong at Boonsboro. From our scouts we learned that they were determined to fight at this point. The rebel forces were under the command of Major-General Marmaduke, Brig.-General Shelby, and other lesser confederate lights, such as McDonald, Quantrel, Livingston, etc. It was a concentration of all the “bushwhacking” gangs, united to Marmaduke's forces. It was evident that they [185] were driven by necessity to hold, if possible, the section of the country comprising Boonsboro, Cane Hill, Roy's Mills, and Dutch Mills, all within a radius of fifteen miles, and comprising the greatest wheat-growing and flouring section in Arkansas.

At four o'clock on the morning of the twenty-eighth the column was put in motion, the Third brigade in the advance, under Col. Cloud, in the following order: The Kansas Second cavalry, Colonel Basset, Captain Rabb's Indiana battery, the Kansas Eleventh infantry, Colonel Ewing, the rebel taken at Fort Wayne, the Third Indian regiment, commanded by Major Elithorpe; next Colonel Weer's brigade, and the rear brought up General Salomon with his brigade. The column moved as rapidly as possible over the mountain roads; indeed one of the mountains was so precipitous that the men had to lay hold of the guns and assist the jaded animals to make the ascent. These difficulties did not deter the men or officers; silently as possible we pressed forward, hoping to get in sight of the enemy's camp without alarming them. The advance scout ascertained the position of the enemy's pickets, and “took them in,” killing one and capturing the rest. This alarmed their grand guard, although but a few shots were fired.

Immediately the whole camp was aroused and quickly formed in position, planting two batteries of four guns each, intending to rake us as we filed through the narrow ravine that led to the town. General Blunt was not to be caught in this kind of a trap. The column was at once moved from the main road up the steep hillside and through the thick brush, completely out of sight of the enemy. A position was gained upon the top of a hill, overlooking the town and the enemy. Three mountain howitzers, put in position, at once commenced the battle; some twenty shells were dropped amongst them before they could reply. While they were engaged in changing position, Capt. Rabb, with his battery, gained a favorable site, and opened with four twelve-pound guns, with terrible effect, dismounting one of their guns and disabling another. By this time the enemy had located two of their guns, and paid their compliments to Captain Rabb, by way of killing and wounding five of his men, and killing six horses.

Now the battle became general, and the artillery duel continued some fifty minutes, when the enemy withdrew their batteries and commenced to fall back to a new position. The regiments comprising the First brigade rapidly advanced, covered by the artillery. Deafening shouts went up from our lines as they pressed forward. The rebels could stand it no longer, and now the skedaddle commenced. From one hill to another, through every deep ravine, up and down mountains, and through the woods they fled, occasionally making a stand in some masked place, until charged and shelled out. Thus the battle continued, the retreat and pursuit, from ten in the morning until dark.

Almost every rod of ground was fought over for a distance of ten miles. Both armies were exhausted. Cavalry regiments dismounted and fought through the brush; artillery-horses dropped in their harness, and the men would seize the ropes and drag the guns forward. The closing scene was between sunset and dark. The enemy made a stand in a deep ravine. Our howitzers had not yet come up; our men, impatient, made a charge — cavalry men on foot, with sabres and pistols, infantry with bayonets, and Indians with rifles, in the very thickest of the woods. The cheering of the white man, the shrill war-whoops of the Indians, the clashing of sabres, and the incessant roar of small arms, converted this remote mountain gorge into a perfect Pandemonium. The enemy gave way, and darkness prevented further pursuit. This ended the battle of Cane Hill.

At this writing I have no idea of the loss of either side, and it would be but guesswork to estimate it. Yet it is evidently much smaller than if the battle had been in an open country. The trees would stop the shot and shell frequently before they reached half-way to the enemy. The firing of the enemy was very wild, as is evident from the marks upon the trees, the balls lodging from four to ten feet over our heads.

The whole force of the enemy have retreated to Van Buren, and will probably cross the river near there, as they have no forage in that vicinity. We have taken their last hope of subsistence in getting possession of the five flouring mills. This is a greater loss to the rebels than a dozen batteries.

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