On the 13th of April 1861, the news of the fall of Fort Sumter, immediately
followed by the President's call for seventy-five thousand three months'
volunteers,- aroused the entire North to a sense of the real objects and
purposes of the Southern revolutionists. Where but a week before
existed a divided public sentiment, indecision, despondency for our country, doubts of our ability to subdue an impending rebellion, or half avowed sympathy for secession, now could be found but one feeling, one universal expression. The rebellion must be crushed. The insult to our flag
must be summarily and completely punished. From Maine to Minnesota, the roll of the drum, and sounds of active martial preparation, betokened a people aroused at last to a full sense of the awful precipice over which our national destiny hovered. Avowed sympathizers with rebellion
became suddenly mute, effectually silenced by the awful majesty of all aroused and imperious sentiment. For once we were one party. The people, usually slow to act, with unwonted unamanity promptly allied to the support of the Administration A nation of peaceful agriculturists, mechanics, merchants and professional men, unused to war, almost entirely ignorant of all military affairs, became suddenly a nation of soldiers, ready to battle in the noblest struggle that has ever yet caused the shedding of blood, he war for the preservation of American liberty and the American Union.
In connection with the history of an important campaign of that war, a brief biographical sketch of the General by whom it was conducted, is not inappropriate.
Samuel Ryan Curtis, of Iowa, was, at the commencement of the rebellion, a member of the flower house of Congress, representing the then first of the two Congressional districts of the State. He was born in Ohio, February 3rd, 1897, while his parents were emigrating from New York to the former State. He was appointed from Ohio to a cadetship at West Point in 1827. After graduating at the military academy, he was, on July 1st, 1831, appointed Brevet Second Lieutenant in the 7th infantry, and served for a time in Arkansas, but resigned June 30th, 1832, and engaged in civil engineering in his native State. He raised and commanded a volunteer company, the "Mansfield Blues," in 1833. He served as a civil engineer on the national road, and as chief engineer of the Muskingum River improvement in Ohio, from April 1837, to May 1839.
He was admitted to the Bar in 1841, and resided at Wooster, Ohio, where he
was engaged in the practice of the law until the commencement of the Mexican
war. At Wooster he was Lieutenant Colonel of a battalion of volunteers, and was
also Colonel of a battalion of volunteers in
Zanesville, Ohio. He was appointed Adjutant General of the State of Ohio, from May 20th, 1846, to June 24th, 1846, for the special purpose of mustering into service Ohio volunteers for the Mexican war. On June 25th, 1846, he was made Colonel of the 3d Ohio regiment of infantry
volunteers for the Mexican war, which position he held until his regiment was mustered out of service in 1847. Much to their chagrin, he and his regiment arrived in Mexico too late to take part in any battles. Colonel Curtis, however, served honorably and capably a6 civil and military
Governor of Matamoras, and subsequently of Camargo, Monterey and Saltillo. When General Taylor was surrounded and fought the battle of Buena Vista, Colonel Curtis organized and commanded a column of 1,200 men, and went from Camargo in pursuit of General Urrea,
driving him and five or six thousand irregular Mexican troops before him for several days, thereby opening a line of communication with General Taylor, whom he met at Remas, near Monterey. Mistaking General Taylor's force for Urrea's, he ordered a charge before perceiving
After his regiment was mustered out of service, he remained by order of
General Taylor on the staff of General Wool. After the war he returned to Ohio
and resumed his legal pursuits. He was induced to accept the office of Chief
Engineer on the Des Moines River improvement
in Iowa, and in 1847, he removed to Keokuk, where he established his present home. He alsoformed a law partnership with Judge Rankin, and subsequently with Judge Mason and others. From 1850 to 1853, he was engineer in charge of the harbor improvement, and other public
works at St. Louis, Mo., during which time he connected Bloody Island with the Illinois shore, and inaugurated under Mayor Kennett, the great sewer and other works of that city. From 1853 to 1855, he was Chief Engineer of several railroads leading through Indiana, Illinois and Iowa,
under the name of the " American Central Railroad," and for these companies in 1853, he selected the probable crossing of a Central Pacific Railroad, the place subsequently adopted by the President. In 1855, he was elected Mayor of Keokuk. In 1856, taking a leading part in the
organization of the republican party, he was elected to represent the first Congressional District of Iowa, in the 35th Congress, and was re-elected for the same district to the 36th and 37th Congress. In Congress he was a prominent member of the lower house, serving as one of the
standing committee on military affairs, and as chairman of the committee on the Pacific 'Railroad. He introduced a bill for the construction of this road by the central or Platte River Valley route, with branches at each end, entirely similar to the bill finally passed by Congress.
During the recesses of Congress it was his custom to visit the several
portions of his district, (then comprising nearly the southern half of the
State,) and address his constituents on the political issues of the day. While
at Council Bluffs in the summer of 1858, occurred the Indian
war in Nebraska. Colonel Curtis leaving his district served as volunteer aid on the staff of General Thayer, during the campaign. At the beginning of the secession troubles in Congress, he was a member of the compromise committee of which the Hon. Thomas Corwin was chairman. He also represented Iowa in the " Peace Convention " of which ax-President Tyler was President. In the house and in the convention, he advocated honorable terms of adjustment, but foreseeing the certainty of the civil war in which our country has since been plunged, he early and constantly urged the most extensive and efficient military preparations for the impending conflict.
When the news of the fall of' Fort Sumter was received, Colonel Curtis, then at Keokuk, started immediately for Washington. On arriving at Philadelphia, he heard of the troubles inBaltimore, and the destruction of railroad bridges, cutting off communication with the national Capital. The famed '` New York 7th Regiment " was about taking passage by sea for Washington. Carpet-sack in hand he pressed through the crowd and reached the boat. The presence of a man in the costume of a civilian excited considerable suspicion, but satisfactory explanations were made, and Colonel Curtis was appointed a volunteer aid to Colonel Lefferts.
During a three days sea voyage in a crowded vessel, there was much suffering
alike among, officers and men, from lack of sleep and wholesome food. At the
mouth of the Potomac was held a council of war. Contrary to expectations, no
vessel of war was found in waiting to escort the
troops up the Potomac, and rebel batteries on the river bank were to be apprehended. It was debated whether it was advisable to advance or to fall back and await a convoy. An advance being determined, the next question was which of two routes should be followed: the one the Potomac River, the other via Annapolis, and thence overland by railroad. Colonel Curtis alone advocated the route by the Potomac. The Annapolis route was selected.
Arriving off Annapolis, the vessel containing General Butler and the 8th
Massachusetts regiment was overtaken Butler had arrived by a different route,
and having been engaged in towing the historical United States frigate "
Constitution" out of danger, had run his vessel aground. This difficulty
was however soon overcome, and the troops were landed and encamped in the
grounds of the United States Naval School.
A reconnoitering party proceeded to examine the railroad. It was found that the rebels had torn up the track and attempted to destroy the engines. But the volunteers with great energy, immediately commenced repairs. After a night's sleep and the cooking of rations, the advance commenced. Two howitzers were mounted on platform cars and drawn by the men. Skirmishers were thrown out in front. The repairing detachments were protected and the troops proceeded, the locomotive moving in the rear. The rebels had torn up much of the track, but this was quickly replaced. Day and night during the advance, Colonel Curtis marched on foot and in the front, his counsel and advice as an old soldier and an engineer being of great value, and materially contributing to the success of the expedition.
The 8th Massachusetts remained at the junction. The New York 7th, on reaching
Washington weary and dusty but proudly and gloriously marched up Pennsylvania
Avenue to the President's house, and the advent of this regiment, an epoch in
the history of our national capital, relieved the public mind from all immediate
apprehensions of its capture. Colonel Curtis was unanimously elected an honorary
member of the New York '7th regiment,
Colonel Lefferts affixing the badge of honor, with generous acknowledgments for the services he had rendered.
On arriving in Washington, Colonel Curtis called on General Scott and the
Secretaries of War and of the Navy, and informed them of the great excitement in
the loyal States, and the troubles in Maryland, which had been detailed to him
by Gov. Hicks in Annapolis. He visited the
Quartermaster and Commissary Generals, and advised them of the great rush of troops towards Washington, and the great preparations that would be needed for their comfort and sustenance. When the Assistant Commissary General was informed that he would soon have to feed fifty thousand volunteers in Washington, the idea was received with exclamations of surprise and consternation. " Great God, Curtis ! what are you going to do with such an army here ?" The idea of an army of fifty thousand men, was, to the people of Washington at the time something marvelous in the extreme. But one who had traveled from the west bank of the Mississippi and witnessed the display of arming multitudes, and vast military preparations, could
easily estimate the magnitude of coming events. While at Washington Colonel Curtis received authority to assist in the raising and organization of Iowa troops. The 1st, 2d and 3d Iowa infantry volunteer regiments had been ordered to rendezvous at Keokuk. Upon reaching his home, Colonel Curtis found the first (three months) regiment already organized and the officers elected. He had succeeded in procuring arms for the first and second regiment, old-fashioned bronzed muskets, recently rescued, by a skillful deception practiced on the watchful rebels, from the St. Louis Arsenal, and now received from Gov. Yates at Springfield, Illinois. With these guns the first regiment was armed, and went into the first military camp of the war in Iowa, " Camp Ellsworth," near Keokuk. The second regiment was armed but not hilly equipped, and was quartered in the town.
On the first day of June 1861, the second regiment (the first regiment of three years' volunteers,) unanimously elected Samuel R. Curtis its Colonel. J. H. Tuttle and Marcellus M.
Crocker were respectively elected to the offices of Lieutenant Colonel and Major, and Lieutenant Norton P. Chipman of Company "H," was appointed regimental Adjutant. Colonel Curtis immediately commenced drilling and perfecting the organization of his regiment. To his energy and military knowledge was it indebted for the honor of having the first dress parade, and of being the first of all Iowa regiments to leave the State for the seat of war. On the night of June 13th, at about the hour of 11 o'clock A. M., the following telegram was received from Gen. Lyon by express, from Col. Smith at Quincy, Illinois, (there being then no telegraph line extended to Keokuk):
HEADQUARTERS, DEPARTMENT OF THE WEST,
ST. LOUIS ARSENAL, June 12th, 1861.
"To Col. F. R. Smith, commanding at Quincy, Illinois:
" Send by express the following: '` TO COL. S. R. CURTIS, Keokuk, Iowa.
" A terrible secession movement headed by Gov. Jackson has commenced. I
want you to come at once with all the force you can command, to Hannibal, Ho.,
and move over the road to St. Joseph, and put down traitors everywhere on both
sides the road, and if possible strike down
upon Lexington. "N. LYON, Brig. Gen'l U. S. Vols. Comd'g." When this despatch was received, the first regiment was at Camp Ellsworth. The second regiment was quartered in various scattered buildings in the town. Company "A"(raised in Keokuk') was especially scattered, all the men being at their homes. But by daybreak the whole regiment was embarked on the steamer "Hannibal City," and moving down the river, the first
Iowa regiment ever to bear the national ensign beyond the State boundary. Muskets had previously been furnished the regiment. On the boat the men received their accouterments. On arriving at Hannibal, the regiment, in company with a part of the 16th Illinois Infantry, was rapidly distributed over the railroad as far west as Brookfield. On the afternoon of the 13th, the first Iowa regiment arrived and encamped at Macon City, and at night the second
regiment moved west for St. Joseph. As the first United States troops on the road, they extinguished the signs of incipient rebellion everywhere conspicuous. Rebel flags were captured, and avowed rebels fled in terror at the approach of the troops. Arriving at St. Joseph on the
morning of the 14th, they found the town in possession of some companies of United States regulars - infantry and dragoons. Receiving tents the regiment encamped on the bank of the Missouri River, south of the town.
Col. Curtis assumed command of the whole line of the railroad, with
headquarters at St. Joseph. Scouting expeditions were thrown out along the road,
and for many miles on either side. Bands of rebels were scattered and disbanded.
Arms, ammunition, rebel flags, etc. were seized, and large numbers of rebels
were captured. many fled or concealed themselves in the brush. Among those who
escaped may be named Gen. Clark, (of "Helper's Impending Crisis"
notoriety,) Gen. Slack, (subsequently killed at Pea Ridge,) Gens. Harris, M.
Jeff. Thompson, Martin Green and Atchison.
The seizure of the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad had been none too rapid. Orders were sent by Price to Slack, to burn the railroad bridges, and the messenger arrived by the North Missouri Railroad, but a few hours after the bridges were placed under the protection of guard parties.
A large number of prisoners were collected at St. Joseph. These were generally paroled. A system of oaths and bonds was adopted, with a design to break down and overcome the general enrollment which Gov. Jackson had inaugurated, with the object of throwing the State into open rebellion.
The railroad was now completely in the hands of the federal troops. Col. Curtis had gone to Keokuk and made arrangements for the third Iowa regiment to occupy a portion of the track; and with their assistance, and that of Illinois troops, and the gallant "home guards" raised by the
lamented Col. Peabody, the second regiment could easily hold North Missouri, while scouting parties allowed the rebels no rest, and prevented them from making any considerable rally.
The first Iowa regiment left Macon City and marched to Boonville, arriving a
few days after the battle, and subsequently joining Lyon in his southwestern
campaign, nobly distinguished itself at Wilson's Creek, or, as the rebels more
musically named the battle, " Oak Hills." In two weeks time North
Missouri had thus been effectually seized and occupied by federal troops. A
railroad which, but a short time before, had, under the orders of Gov. Claiborne
F. Jackson, refused permission for United States regular troops to cross the
State, forcing them to march through Iowa, was now a federal military route. The
sentiment and signs of open rebellion, but a few weeks before everywhere
prevalent, were completely subdued. The towns
were strongly garrisoned, bridges and strategic points protected, and the hitherto suppressed loyal sentiment of the people allowed an open expression.
Having thus accomplished the military occupation of North Missouri, on June 30th Col. Curtis bade what proved to be a final adieu to the second regiment. During the time he was Colonel of the regiment, he had completely gained the respect and esteem alike of officers and soldiers, and all deeply regretted his departure, truly surmising that he would soon be promoted to a higher position, thus depriving them of his services as Colonel.
He was still a member of the 37th Congress, and hastened to attend the extra
session called on July 4th, 1861. Having long served in the house as a member of
the committee on military affairs, he was anxious to urge some important
modifications of military law. He advocated the adoption of a plan for a
volunteer army both in time of peace and of war, securing harmony among our
forces by a system that would exclude all distinctions and consequent jealousies
between regulars and volunteers. His views were in part adopted by equalizing
the term of service, pay, and emoluments in both classes of our army, and by
extending the opportunities of regular officers to secure promotion in the
volunteer service. While in Washington upon this
occasion, occurred the terrible battle of Bull Run. Col. Curtis upon hearing of the disastrous retreat of the federal forces, went at once to the field and did all in his power to turn our panic stricken soldiers back towards the scene of conflict. At this session of Congress Col. Curtis was, at the instance of Gen. Scott, appointed and confirmed Brigadier General, his commission dating from May 17th, 1861. Resigning his seat in Congress, he was ordered to report for duty to Major Gen. Fremont, who had assumed command of the Western Department, with headquarters at St. Louis. Gen. Curtis arrived in St. Louis in August 1861, and was ordered to organize a camp of instruction. The camp was first organized at Jefferson Barracks, but, for greater convenience and better accommodation, it was, on September 12th, removed to Benton Barracks, in the outskirts of St. Louis, where Gen. Curtis assumed command.
Troops were at this time pouring into St. Louis. Public enthusiasm was at its
height, and thousands were rushing to serve under Fremont. The work of
organization, drilling and disciplining the raw mass of volunteers, was an
arduous task, but an undertaking well and faithfully performed.
While Gen. Curtis wee in command at Benton Barracks, Fremont left St. Louis for Jefferson City and assumed command of the " Army of the West."
During the absence of Fremont, Curtis was placed in command of St. Louis. At
this time arose the cry which finally resulted in the removal of Fremont, and
the substitution of Halleck in the command of the then Western Department. The
determination of the authorities at Washington to change commanders in the west,
imposed upon the General some very delicate and intricate duties. He met the
responsibility as became a subordinate officer, although compelled to perform
some very unpleasant work in the execution of orders from superiors upon those
for whom he had always
entertained the most cordial and friendly personal feelings.
When Halleck assumed command of the new " Department of the
Missouri," Curtis was retained in the District of St. Louis. His command
extended over the troops for fifty miles around St. Louis, except the troops at
Benton Barracks, with headquarters at St. Louis. His knowledge of
the topography, people, and condition of the Department was of great use to Halleck, and the regulation of the steamboat commerce on the Mississippi occupied considerable of his attention.
Such was the position of the General when, Fremont having been relieved from the command of the " Army of the West," and the federal troops having fallen back to Rolla, and Price having taken position at Springfield, Halleck determined to again press the army forward to Springfield
and drive Price from the State of Missouri. Gen. Curtis was selected to command the new movement, and the troops to be under his command were what were subsequently known as the " Army of the South- West."
ARMY OF THE SOUTH-WEST—MILITARY SITUATION—MARCH OF TROOPS
FROM ROLLA AND OTTERVILLE TO LEBANON, HO.— ORGANIZATION OF THE
It was the fortune of the writer to occupy an inconspicuous position at the headquarters of the Army of the SouthWest " during its entire campaign; a position, however, near the person of the commanding General, which afforded abundant opportunities for obtaining and recording a knowledge of the movements and history of the army. The writer has availed himself of that knowledge, and of subsequent access to official documents, to record in a narrative form, a history of the first Arkansas campaign, by the Army of the South-West." For the sake of greater accuracy, and where appropriate, official documents have been quoted verbatim. Extracts from letters, private and official, showing the precise language of the various writers, newspaper correspondence, and other sources of information, have been used as they have seemed appropriate. It is hoped that this sketch will furnish as many facts and as much official information as may serve the future historian for a correct basis in writing an accurate history of an important campaign of the great American Civil war.
To record successfully and completely, free from partisan bias and the dictates of passion an accurate history of any of the several campaigns of: the recent war, is an undertaking to which at present few could aspire. The future historian of the rebellion, surveying as past the events so recently occurring around us and forming a part of our lives; uninfluenced by personal feeling in favor of, or against this or that General or leader, or the resentment which every Union soldier is likely in some degree to feel toward a rebel enemy; contrasting facts and campaigns, and the lives and actions of Generals and leaders, may hope for an impartiality and accuracy impossible of attainment in the excitement of' the present. That historian, it is believed, will tell of few more difficult undertakings, few greater examples of untiring energy, unfailing endurance, constant activity and devoted patriotism, than were displayed by the Army of the South-West during its campaign in Missouri and Arkansas.
The brilliant victories of Fort Henry, Roanoke Island, Fort Donaldson, Island Ten, Memphis and New Orleans, occurring about the same time, and forming the opening victories of the campaign of 1862, may shine with a greater lustre, as their effects were more immediate and apparent. But not the less should we esteem the victory at Pea Ridge, which avenged the memory of Lyon and Wilson's Creek, struck the rebellion on the west bank of the Mississippi a blow from which it never fully recovered, and drove the rebel army of' Price and Van Dorn, defeated and flying, to seek shelter in the more inaccessible regions of the rebellious south. The Union refugees who, during the previous autumn, shivering and destitute, had been compelled to flee their homes and follow the retreating army lately commanded by Fremont, were enabled once more to seek their own firesides and the society of their families. Missouri, (with the exception of transient raids and guerrilla outrages,) no longer the seat of active war, was restored to comparative safety and quiet, and the rebel fray ceased to wave over her conquered soil and unwilling cities. " The virgin soil of Arkansas " was, for the first time since the successful inauguration of the rebellion, pressed by the feet of armed federal soldiers.
They have ever since maintained a foothold. From Missouri, a State which (not regarding the farce at Neosho,) had never seceded from the Union, the rebellion was driven back into the bosom of the so-styled Confederacy, and the first great federal victory in the South-West, gained upon "Confederate" soil. The federal flag, welcomed by hundreds of oppressed citizens, in a three days fight, in blood and the smoke of battle, was triumphantly re-established in a State from whence it had been ignominiously expelled, not by the voice of the people, but by A reign of terror and the treason of a convention elected to sustain the Union. The solitary member of that Convention, (Judge Isaac Murphy, since elected the first Governor of free Arkansas,) who deserves undying fame, and who amid the terrible excitement of the times, when every other Union member cowardly abandoned his cause and went over to the enemy, amid the threats and execrations of his associates and of the rabble, at the imminent risk, not merely of his life, but of the safety of his family, alone and unsupported by even a friendly look, voted to the last against the final passage of the ordinance of secession, was now greeted and protected in his own home by the soldiers of that nationality which he held dearer and more sacred than Life. Upon ground where loyal Arkansas soldiers in battle afterwards defeated their foes to the rallying hymn of " Old John Brown," the Army of the South-West first established a position and spread terror to the hearthstones and council-chambers of the rebels throughout the entire State. Previous to the campaign of Curtis, federal operations in south-western Missouri, although brilliant, had not been attended with marked success. The rebellion had found the north almost wholly unprepared. An army had to be created from a nation which knew little or nothing of war.
Troops were raised with great rapidity, but the organization of the army in
the field was for a long time necessarily incomplete. Lyon and Sigel's campaign
failed principally from the lack of reinforcements and the want of the materials
of war. Imperfect organization, together with other
and similar causes, delayed and defeated the movements of Fremont. The " Army of the South-West " was the first organization to take the field in south-western Missouri with adequate force, preparations for the campaign and conflict, and efficiently supported by the several auxiliary departments in the rear.
Sterling Price, one of the most able and active of the rebel generals,
defeated at Boonville, had fled south, and in a remarkably brief period, raised
an army principally composed of the unlettered and ignorant but sincerely
rebellious backwoodsmen of Missouri and Arkansas, virtually defeated the federal
forces at Wilson's Creek, passing to the west of Rolla the nearest federal post,
advanced to the Missouri River and captured Lexington, then, at his leisure,
falling back before the slow advances of Fremont, retired to the remote regions
of south-western Missouri, until after Fremont had been relieved and his
army had fallen back to Rolla, when, again advancing north to a position on Sac
River in St. Clair county, during the month of
December 1861, he finally fell back and entered the town of Springfield, making it his winter quarters and the extreme left of the rebel line of defense in the southern and western States The troops under command of Price were the peculiar organization known as the "Missouri State Guards." They had been raised in accordance with an act of the Missouri Legislature, which the wily schemes of secessionists had procured to be passed long before the war broke out, and which the engineering of a. F. Jackson, t-he traitor Governor of Missouri, had transformed, contrary to the wishes and understanding of many of the deluded soldiers, into a rebel army.
South of Price, at a long distance, was the command of Ben McCullough and
McIntosh, composed of Confederate troops and encamped at Cross Hollows and
Fayetteville, Arkansas. Between McCullough and Price existed a serious jealousy
and misunderstanding, such as to
interfere to some extent with their co-operation. McCulloch objected to advancing into Missouri to the support of Price, and the latter experienced considerable difficulty in transforming his Missouri State Guards into regular Confederate troops. About the first of February 1862, the
term of enlistment of many of these men expired. Some of them left the army and remained quietly at home.
At Rolla was a portion of the late army of Fremont. Other portions were at
Sedalia, Otterville, and other points on the Pacific Railroad, together with
other troops, garrisoning the posts on the two branches of the road. With the
exception of a few cavalry scouting parties at Salem in Dent
County and elsewhere, no federal troops were south of Rolla; Halleck, the successor of Fremont, had planned a vast campaign in the west. The results of that plan, as executed by the armies of "the Ohio," "the Tennessee" and "the Mississippi," east of the Mississippi River, and at New Madrid and Island number Ten, are well known. The rebel line of occupation was driven back throughout the entire west, and the greater portions of the States
of Kentucky and Tennessee were redeemed from rebel possession.
To Gen. Curtis and the army of the South-West was intrusted the execution of an important part of this great plan, in which four armies, each operating under its own generals, but all under the guidance of Halleck, constituting the effective force of the Department of the Missouri " in the field, and co-operating with the gunboat flotilla, simultaneously advanced into the enemy's country, and by a series of brilliant and hard won victories, defeated the rebel arms, opened to commerce a large extent of the navigable waters of the Mississippi and its tributaries, and restored to the Union an expanse of territory fully equal to the whole of Great Britain. On Christmas day 1861, Sterling Price, in command of the Missouri State Guard, entered the town of Springfield, Mo., and occupied as his headquarters the residence of Mr. Graves, a fugitive Union merchant, and, on the succeeding day, Brigadier General Curtis left the city of St. Louis and arriving at Rolla, assumed command of the " South-Western District of Missouri." His command included all troops south of the Osage River, and west of Kinsey's Station, on the southwest branch of the Pacific Railroad; and his headquarters, while in Rolla, were in the miserable old two-story log building near the railroad depot which had long been used as Post Headquarters. In one cold and badly furnished room on the second floor, Curtis transacted all his business; the remainder of the building being used as Post Headquarters, Provost Marshal's Office, Telegraph Office, &c. Rolla, the county seat of Phelps County, and the terminus of the South-West Branch of the Pacific Railroad, was an exceedingly primitive western railroad town, scattered over a bushy and uneven expanse of ground. a few frame houses constituted the town, and around it in the brush and wherever were convenient spots, were the hastily constructed, dark and uncomfortable cabins of the miserable refugees from the south-west. In every quarter were found oyster shops., eating houses, and other traps for the hard-earned wages of the soldier.
With remarkably poor hotel facilities, no pretensions to side-walls, and the whole place an ocean of mud, RolIa did a thriving business. The concentration of the army and the presence of a large number of south-western refugees gave life to the town and increased its commerce. A large brick Court House was used as a hospital for the sick of the army. At the Post had long been encamped on garrison duty, the 36th Illinois and 4th Iowa infantry regiments. The 36th, a fine large regiment, with two cavalry companies attached, was encamped in tents on a ridge near the depot and enjoyed excellent health. The 4th Iowa had constructed several long log cabins, near the camp of the 36th, which were used as barracks. These cabins were dark and not well ventilated. They had been constructed of green timber and daubed with mud, and had never been thoroughly dried before being occupied. In consequence, there was a great deal of sickness and mortality in the regiment. So much was this the case, that Col. Dodge requested of Halleck, special authority to give his men sick furloughs, otherwise, he said they would all die.
They were western men from the " Missouri Slope," used to an
out-door border life, and had never been accustomed to such confinement. The
authority to grant sick furloughs was given to Curtis, and the regiment
subsequently became healthy when in the field.
The troops at and near Rolla, and in the district, numbered at this time, about 15,000 men, but the whole of this force never took the field under Curtis. The 1st and 2d regiments " United States Reserve Corps," Missouri Volunteers, were soon sent into the St. Louis District, on
account of alleged swindling practiced upon the men in their enlistment and retention in the service, and also because the terms of their enlistment prevented them from leaving the State. The 9th Iowa Infantry was ordered to Rolla in their stead, and there were other changes among
The greater part of the troops near Rolla were encamped some miles from town.
They were called the 8d and 4th Divisions, commanded respectively by Generals
Sigel and Asboth. These were the fragmentary division organizations of Fremont's
" Army of the West," the 2d division of the same army under Davis,
subsequently joining the army at Lebanon, where the whole, together with other
troops, were included in the reorganization of the command under the name of the
" Army of the South-West." The troops at Rolla were under command of
Col. John B. Wyman of the 13th Illinois Infantry, commanding the post. Upon the
arrival of Curtis a serious misunderstanding and difficulty was imminent with
Sigel. The latter demanded of Curtis the date of his commission as Brigadier
General. Their commissions were of the same date, but Curtis' name occurring
upon the list before that of Sigel, the former ranked the latter and would, by
the then positive and still customary rule of the service, be his superior in
command. This was distasteful to the quick military spirit and jealousy of
Sigel, and he tendered his resignation in consequence, stating that having
during the several campaigns in the south-west, and having always well and faithfully performed his duty, he now claimed as his appropriate right, the command of the expedition about to be undertaken against an enemy he had so often fought, through a country where he had so long served and with which he was so familiar. Nor did he recognize the propriety of his sudden supersedure in command by one whose Commission was of the same date, although his own name did not find place first on the list. Curtis expressed his regret at the prospect of losing the services of so valuable an officer, and exerted himself to preserve quiet and good order. Many of the officers of Sigel's Division talked of resigning. But Sigel's resignation was not accepted, and matters finally became quiet. Upon the prospect of an active campaign, Sigel remained with the army until after the battle of Pea Ridge, being
given the position of second in command, commanding two of the four divisions of the army.
During all this difficulty, cordial personal relations existed between the
two Generals. The first move made by Curtis after assuming command at Rolla, was
to send out in the direction of Springfield a cavalry reconnaissance under
command of Colonel Eugene A. Carr of the 3d Illinois Cavalry. This expedition
consisted of the entire immediately available cavalry force at his disposal. It
was composed of nine companies 3d Illinois Cavalry, six companies Fremont
Hussars, four companies 1st Missouri Cavalry, one company of cavalry attached to
the 36th Illinois Infantry, and one company of pioneers, numbering in the
aggregate about 1,600 men, and left Rolla December 29th. Carr received written
and verbal instructions to approach
and feel the enemy, ascertain his position, but if attacked in force to fall back; to ascertain the amount and locality of supplies and forage in the country, the best roads for an advance, and anything else of importance. Carr proceeded via Waynesville, as far as Lebanon, at which latter place a small band of rebel cavalry was driven out after a slight skirmish in which the rebel Captain Tom Craig was killed. The battalion of Missouri Cavalry under Clark Wright, was ordered from Salem towards Lebanon, and for a time, took a position in advance of Carr, subsequently becoming merged in the command of the latter. Bowen's cavalry was also sent to, Carr.
It was ascertained by this reconnaissance that a sufficient amount of forage could be obtained in the country to supply the stock of an army. Fresh meat was plentiful, and by appropriating the mills to military use, flour and corn meal could be produced in abundance. But Carr advised against the recapture of Springfield unless we meant to retain it. He could not see the use of retaking that much contested point if it was again to be abandoned to the enemy.
A force of rebel cavalry, reported at 5,000, was thrown out from Springfield
towards Marshfield, about January 15th, probably 'wish the object of maneuvering
against Carr, and obtaining supplies !and forage. Carr fell back with his
command to Waynesville to obtain a position of greater safety.
Meanwhile everything at Rolla was being rapidly prepared for a vigorous winter campaign. The army was encumbered with a vast amount of useless clothing, baggage, and trumpery of all sorts. This was ordered to be stored, and the troops allowed but a change of clothes, and none but
the most necessary cooking utensils. Officers and men were prepared for close quarters. Eighteen men to a Fremont tent, fifteen to a Sibley tent, ten to a wall tent and six to a wedge tent, was the prescribed arrangement for the field; and even this was thought by Halleck not to be a sufficient
condensation. Our soldiers had not then become accustomed to shelter tents, or to no tents 'at all. Brass bands, sutlers, extra servants and horses were left at Rolla. Nearly every regiment then had a brass band, but most of these were about this time mustered out of service. Ammunition and
arms were inspected and all deficiencies made good.
By a general order, pilfering and plundering ware expressly forbidden, and severe punishment was awarded to all offenders. This order was subsequently, while in the field,frequently renewed and republished, to prevent, as far as possible, the marauding so common to an invading army. But of course it could not be very strictly enforced in the field. Although this campaign was before the era of "Bummers," yet our soldiers could not well be entirely restrained from pillaging. The following is the order:
Taking property by our Troops.
Plundering and pilfering by the troops, in garrison or in the field, is
strictly prohibited, and will be punished with the full measure of military law.
On marches, and returning from expeditions, frequent and careful inspections will be made of wagons, tents, knapsacks, bundles and boxes. This must be done when the men are standing under arms, so as to detect stolen property A soldier's proper equipment is all that he needs, and plunder is an encumbrance. Where plunder is found in the possession of a soldier, he will be severely punished; if found in a mess, the squad must be made accountable. Property taken in battle, or from prisoners, must be turned over to the proper Quartermaster, accompanied by a complete description of the property, showing by whom and when taken, especially if it be arms, flags and other trophies, for which proper credit should be given, or distribution hereafter made.
This does not relinquish the military right of taking property for our own
use, or for retaliation, or to strengthen ourselves and weaken our foes, in a
legal and proper way, as designated in Gen. Halleck's Order No. 8; but that
right cannot and must not be assumed by subordinates, and commanders taking
property will be required to show the necessity and propriety of exercising such
extraordinary power. Peaceable citizens must be secure in their
persons and property, and every American soldier should take pride in guarding the feeble, the innocent, and especially the Union people of the District. Our flag should be a shield to the innocent, and our eagles a terror to our foes. This order must be communicated to all the troops
of this command, and officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, will see to its careful observance.
Halleck expressed the opinion that Price would evacuate Springfield on the approach of the Federal army. The authorities at Washington, he wrote, were pressing him to send troops elsewhere, and but few, if any, could be spared. The Division of Davis was ordered to march from Otterville to the Usage, there to remain as a reserve, unless absolutely needed in the field. It was then intended to seal this Division elsewhere, but subsequently, upon urgent solicitations, and representations of the importance of additional troops, and the uselessness of a reserve so remote from an impending battle, joined with the inertness of Price before the advance of the Federal forces, indicating a disposition to maintain his position, the consent of Halleck was given to its march to Springfield.
Rolla was established as a base of operations, and Captain M. P. Small,
Commissary of Subsistence, was placed in the management and charge of all
supplies for the army at that point, Captain P. H. Sheridan being Chief
Quartermaster of the army in the field. Major William H. English, of the 4th
Iowa Infantry, was stationed at Rolla as Chief of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores,
and rendered very effective service in that capacity.
Major Norton P. Chipman, of the 2d Iowa Infantry, had first acted as Chief of Staff to General Curtis at Rolla, but, by order of Halleck, he was returned to his regiment, as being of too high rank to serve on the staff of a Brigadier General, and his place was then supplied in the field, first by Adjutant Thomas Irvin McKenny, of the same regiment. After the arrival of the army at Lebanon, and subsequently in the field, the staff of Curtis was augmented by the addition of Captains Henry Z. Curtis, Assistant Adjutant General, William H. Stark and John Ahlefeldt, of the Missouri Volunteers, aids-de-camp, Lieutenant John W. Noble, of the 3d Iowa Cavalry, Judge Advocate, and other worthy and competent officers.
On January 14th commenced the advance of the infantry. Two battalions of
cavalry and three infantry regiments under Colonel P. J. Osterhaus, were ordered
to proceed to Waynesville. On January 17th, " Phelps' Missouri
Regiment," under Colonel John S. Phelps, and on January 22d, the 4th Iowa,
24th Missouri and 35th Illinois infantry regiments, and the 1st Iowa Battery,
under Col. G. M. Dodge, of the 4th Iowa, were also ordered forward. The 9th Iowa
Infantry, Dubuque Battery, and Major William D. Bowen's Missouri Cavalry (which
had returned from Carr), were directed to move on the 26th. Captain John W.
Stephens, Company " A," of Bowen's Battalion, was placed in charge of
a battery of mountain howitzers before again taking the field. The infantry
experienced great difficulty in moving forward. The coldest part of the season
was the time selected for the advance. No great depth of snow fell at any time
during the campaign, but the frosts were severe, and the roads, traversing an
extremely broken and hilly
country, were alternately deep mud and rough frozen ground. The crossings of the Gasconade River, Big and Little Piney, and other streams, were difficult. A pontoon train had been asked from St. Louis, but it could not be obtained.
At Waynesville, Carr assumed command of the troops. After a brief rest, the
whole force of infantry, cavalry and artillery at Waynesville was ordered
forward and reoccupied Lebanon. Curtis was averse to taking the field in person
until it became necessary. " The movement of Generals to the front,"
he said, "always attracted the enemy's attention and gave him alarm. It was
inexpedient to do this so long as it could be avoided." At length, on
January 26th, 1862, Curtis, with one staff officer, Lieutenant McKenny, set
forward in person. After four days' cold, comfortless travel, crossing Gasconade
River twelve miles from Rolla, and going by the northern or " Union "
road, avoiding Waynesville, he arrived in Lebanon on the 29th, and established
his headquarters in an old two-story frame house in the edge of the town, with
one room in a habitable condition, his staff and military family camping
in the yard.
The troops at Otterville, constituting the old 2d Division of Fremont's Army
of the West, principally composed of Indiana troops, and under command of
Colonel Jefferson Davis, of the same State, had been ordered by Halleck to move
to the Osage, to be used, if possible, only as a
reserve supporting the army advancing upon Springfield. But the necessity of a further advance of this division became apparent, and it was ordered to move to Lebanon, now the rallying point for the army. Crossing the Osage River at Lynn Creek, the command of Davis arrived at and
encamped three miles west of Lebanon, and Davis reported himself ready to move at once on Springfield. Sigel was absent in St. Louis when Curtis left Rolla. Upon his return, the troops remaining, under his command and under Asboth, were ordered to Lebanon. The 13th Illinois Infantry and
Major S. N Wood's Battalion of Cavalry were left as a garrison at Rolla, Colonel Wyman still commanding that post.
The roads had already been rendered almost impassable from the movements of
troops and trains. The mud between Rolla and the crossing of the Gasconade, for
a distance of twelve miles, was very deep, and many teams were "
stuck," vainly struggling to extricate themselves. Asboth
moved slowly, taking the Waynesville road, and was followed next day by Sigel, who crossed the Gasconade, moving by the northern road, and bringing up the rear with the last troops from Rolla. The troops were urged forward to avoid the danger of swollen streams. Reports of their
progress through mud, frost and snow were daily received, and at length all the army was concentrated at Lebanon.
The advance from Rolla had been delayed to the last moment by Halleck, in
order to ascertain the disposition of the War Department. A rapid advance was
now urged. The campaign in Tennessee had actively commenced. Fort Henry was
captured. "I leave Price to you," wrote
Halleck to Curtis, "I have Johnson, Polk, Beauregard and Hardee to deal with." The troops had advanced to Lebanon by three routes: one, south of the Gasconade, crossing the streams of Little and Big Piney, to Waynesville, and these crossing the Gasconade; another, the northerly or, as it was called, the " Union " road, crossing the Gasconade twelve miles Mom Rolla, and moving on the north bank; another, from Otterville, on the northern branch of the Pacific Railroad, far north and west of the routes from Rolla, via Lynn Creel;, crossing the Osage. By moving Upon different roads, the troops were enabled to advance with greater rapidity, over roads not previously worn and rendered so difficult of passage by travel; greater
supplies of forage were obtained, and the enemy was the less able to estimate the force and count the troops moving against him. A similar arrangement was subsequently adopted for the advance on Springfield.
The advance pickets on the Springfield road were under command of Lieutenant Colonel Clark Wright, about fourteen miles from Lebanon. Wright was an old resident of southwestern Missouri, and very familiar with the country and people. He established a system of scouts and spies to ascertain the movements and condition of the enemy. He reported to Curtis that he had six different lines of communication direct with Springfield. His spies were known only to himself; and were unknown even to each other. This was necessary to their safety and the perfection of his system. There were additional means of receiving information Tom Springfield, through Colonel Phelps, through spies who reported directly to the commanding General, and through other sources.
The news received through these various sources was somewhat contradictory. In substance it was nearly as follows:
A rebel cavalry force occupied Marshfield, and worked the mill for the rebel
army. The enemy's pickets were frequently seen by ours, fourteen miles from
Lebanon. Wright made a dash on Marshfield, with cavalry, capturing a large
amount of flour. The rebels returned in search of this flour.
Price, with his whole force, was in Springfield, and manifested no signs of retreating. The particular locality of his camps and pickets was accurately described. He had received a reinforcement of artillery and a valuable supply train. The term of enlistment of many of his men was expiring, and he had issued a call for volunteers for fourteen days. This brought him no great reinforcement, but he remained quiet, and appeared fully determined to contest his position. He had selected various battle grounds: one, on the level prairie north of Springfield; one, on the old ground at Wilson's Creek, where he had already sent his artillery, &c His Generals were Frost, McBride, Rains, Slack, Parsons and Stein. On the contrary, it w as asserted that he had caused supplies of corn to be hauled and deposited at the distances of each day's march on the entire route to Arkansas. He had erected no
field defenses or fortifications at Springfield, and secession families throughout the country were making hasty preparations to depart. From these, and various other facts, it was inferred that he intended to evacuate. It was even reported that he had practiced the vase of moving his troops around Springfield, and (causing them to enter from another direction,) marching them through the town as reinforcements, to create an appearance of greater strength.
But it was satisfactorily ascertained that his force numbered horn eight to
ten thousand men, with some seventy pieces of artillery. It was reported that
Van Dorn would soon join him with large reinforcements, and assume command. The
prevention of this junction was an additional reason for an immediate advance,
without waiting for additional troops which had been promised. "Beware of
Van Dorn," wrote Halleck, " he is a wary and energetic officer."
In the quartermaster's department, the scarcity of thuds had been a serious
embarrassment. Pay for supplies, forage, Ac., had not been prompt, but Capt.
Sheridan here received forty thousand dollars, which greatly aided the forward
movement. The difficult state of the roads and
the inclement weather had rendered the hauling of supplies from Rolla a great trouble. Mills at all available points were put in military use, and furnished a supply of flour and meal from grain procured Tom the adjoining country. Fresh meat was very abundant, and in consequence of the
last fact, and the scarcity of bread-stuffs and salt meat, a change in the ration was ordered, reducing the allowance of flour and doubling the allowance of fresh meat, with an ample allowance of corn meal.
At Lebanon the " Army of the South-West " received its
organization. The troops were arranged in four divisions. The 1st division was
placed under the direct command of Gen. Sigel, who subsequently assigned the
command to Col. P. J. Osterhaus. The 2d division was under Gen. Asboth, and the
1st and 2d divisions were under the command of Sigel, who was thus made second
in command. The 3d division vas under Col. Jefferson C. Davis, and the 4th
division was under Col. Eugene A. Carr.
Maj. William D. Bowen's battalion of Missouri cavalry was assigned to duty as body guard to the commanding general, one company being in charge of a battery of mountain howitzers. Maj. Eli W. Weston was made chief officer of pickets and subsequently Provost Marshal General of the army, with six companies of his regiment, the 24th Missouri Infantry, under his command as a police force. The whole army was commanded by Gen. Curtis.
The following statement will serve to show the disposal of troops about this period. Occasionally the various corps constituting the army, were shifted about or rearranged. New troops came into the command. Phelps' Missouri regiment of six months men was mustered out of service soon after the fight at Pea Ridge, and S. N. Wood's and Clark Wright's battalions were consolidated under the name of the 6th cavalry Missouri Volunteers. The 5th Kansas Cavalry came into the command from Fort Scott, via Carthage and Springfield, in March 1862. The 3d Infantry Missouri Volunteers, joined the army in April.
25th Inf'y Ills. Vols., Colonel W. N. Coler. 36th " " " "
Nicholas Greuisel. 44th " " " " Knobelsdorff 12th " Mo.
" Major Hugo Wallgelin.
17th " " " Colonel Franz Hassendeubel.Welfley's Battery, Mo. Vols, Captain Martin Welfley.Hoffman's " " " " Hoffman.Second Division; Brigadier General ALEXANDER ASBOTH, U. S. Vols.2d Inf'y Mo. Vols.-, Colonel Ferdinand Schaffer.15th " " " " Francis J. Joliat.4th Cav. " " " George E. Waring (Fremont Hussars).5th " " " " Joseph Nemett (Benton Hussars).2d Battery Ohio " Captain Carlin.Elbert s Flying Battery Mo. Vols., Captain Elbert.Third Division, Colonel JEFFERSON C. DAVIS, 22d Indiana Inf'y8th Inf'y Indiana Vols., Colonel W. P. Benton.
18th " " " " Thomas Pattison.22d " " " Lieut. Colonel Hendricks.37th " Illinois " Colonel Myron S. Barnes.59th " " " " White (formerly 9th Mo. Inf'y).
1st Cav. Mo. " " Calvin A. Ellis and Frederick Wm. Lewis.1st Battery Indiana " Captain Klaus Peoria Battery, Ills. " " DavidsonFourth Division, Colonel EUGENE A. CARR, 3d Ills. Cav.4th Inf'y Iowa Vols., Colonel Grenville M. Dodge.9th " " " Lieut. Col. Frank J. Herron and Col. Wm. Vandever. 35th " Ills. "Colonel George A. Smith. 24th " Mo. " " Sempronious H. Boyd and Major Eli W. Weston (LyonLegion).
Phelps' Inf'y Mo. Vols., Colonel John S. Phelps. 3d Cav. Ills. " Lieut. Colonel L. F. McCrillis 1st Battery Iowa " Lieutenant Virgil J. David.
Dubuque Battery Iowa Vols., Captain M. M. Hayden (3d Iowa Battery) Unattached Corps.Bowen's Battalion Cav. Mo. Vols. (4 Cos.), Major Wm. D. Bowen. 6th Cav. Mo. Vols., Colonel Clark Wright and Lieut. Colonel Sam. N. Wood. 3d " Iowa " " Cyrus Bussey.4th " " " " A. B. Porter.
5th " Kansas Vols., " Powell Clayton.13th Inf'y Ills. " " John B. Wyman.
The several divisions were each divided into two brigades The command of the brigades was assigned by division commanders, as follows:
1st Brigade, 1st Division, Colonel Hassendeubel. 2d " " "
" Greuisel. 1st " 2d " " Joliat. 2d " " "
" Schaffer. 1st " 3d " " Pattison. 2d " ' " "
1st " 4th " " Dodge.2d " " " " Vandever
Gen. Franz Sigel was an officer of European distinction, and had early and
consistently taken an active and distinguished part in the war in Missouri. He
was in command at Rolla when superseded by Curtis, and his position was now that
of second in command.In speaking of the relative merits of Curtis and Sigel, the
writer hopes to avoid any display of undue partiality to either. While he
regards Curtis as being throughout the leader and director of
this south-western campaign, he has ever felt a sincere admiration for, and high appreciation of the peculiar talents and distinguished services of Sigel. In the conduct of either general, he never saw any of the smallness of envy and personal jealousy sometimes manifested by partisans, or attributed to them by shallow newspaper writers and correspondents. During the continuance of Sigel with the army, their personal intercourse was cordial and that of gentlemen, and their relations such as were appropriate between the chief and second in command.
Sigel was a thorough soldier, quick of perception, ready of movement, although not perhaps so much a director and great general, fitted to maneuver a large army in the field, as an active and daring leader, suited to sudden movements, forays, or the maneuvering of a division in the
immediate presence of the enemy. His skill in conducting a retreat is proverbial.
The general of an army in the field, occupying a hostile or rebellious
territory, is required to possess qualifications beyond those of the soldier.
The power to understand and quell factions among the people; to dispel rebellion
and conciliate a conquered country, to discriminate between those who wowed be
friends, and those whose concealed sentiments are in opposition to the
conqueror, to continue in force appropriate local laws, and in civil office men
suitable to the emergency, to make conquest itself as light a burden as
possible, at the same time enforcing the rule of the conqueror, and obtaining
all the real objects of subjugation, require statesmanship, political knowledge,
and a deep insight into human nature. To provide for the sustenance and safety
of a large army, remote from its base of operations, to master the details of
army business and see that they are in the hands of appropriate men, to guard
against danger with a cool deliberation and forethought, to know the force,
condition and position of an enemy, to be ready
to strike him at the right moment, and to prevent him from surprising, defeating or capturing detachments, or the whole army, are some of the qualities which mark the general. Curtis possessed these qualifications in a high degree. He had been long in public life, and in addition to his military education at West Point, in Mexico, and in the great rebellion, he was eminent as a business man, a lawyer, a politician, and a statesman. The management of the army of the South-west as an army in the field, during the entire campaign, was done by him through his division commanders and other agents.
We are not required, from any of the events of this campaign, to presume that
Gen. Sigel was lacking in any of these or other necessary qualifications. But no
opportunity offered, during his connection with the Army of the South-West,
which called for the exercise, on his part, of any degree of talent, beyond his
position as second in command. There can be no presumption against his ability
to have conducted the campaign with the most perfect success; but he had no
occasion to display such ability. Commanding two of the four divisions of the
army, under the orders of his superior officer, until after the battle of Pea
Ridge, he was compelled by sickness to go to St. Louis, from whence he never
returned to the south west, being ordered for duty elsewhere. The ungenerous and
unjust attempts, made by mistaken partisans, to give to Sigel the honors of the
campaign, were, with the true spirit of a gentleman and a soldier, as will be
hereafter seen, by him expressly denied and disclaimed. Curtis, guided and
controlled by Halleck alone, conducted the campaign, maneuvered the several
divisions and various detachments of the army, commanded in the country, and is
entitled to whatever of credit may be due to the General who won the victory of
Pea Ridge, and first successfully planted the federal flag on the soil of
Col. P. J. Osterhaus was an old German soldier and an excellent officer. At
the commencement of the rebellion, he was a clerk in the commercial house of
Pomeroy and Benton in St. Louis. To enable him to support his family, his salary
as clerk was continued after he had
entered the military service as a non-commissioned officer. He soon rose to the rank of Colonel, and when Curtis arrived at Rolla, he had long had command of a brigade. He had led the first infantry on this expedition to Lebanon. Being a great favorite with Sigel, the latter assigned him
to the command of the fist division, and when Sigel subsequently left the army, Osterhaus was continued in command, and was, on the recommendation of Curtis, promoted to the rank of Brigadier-general while in Arkansas. General A. Asboth was an exiled Hungarian patriot and soldier, having originally come to the United States with Kossuth, and remained as a citizen. He was a brave and chivalrous gentleman, of a kind and noble disposition. The commonest soldier with whom he had intercourse, met with the most considerate politeness. He was known throughout the army by his huge iron-grey mustache and side whiskers, and by the blanket of camel's hair, with large and slightly faded black and white stripes, which he wore on all occasions in lieu of an overcoat. He was generally accompanied by a large and noble dog of the St. Bernard species. Personally brave and an excellent officer, he yet seemed to lack self-confidence. He was disposed to magnify coming dangers, and entertain doubts of his own ability to overcome them.
Col. Jefferson a. Davis, of the 22d Indiana Infantry, was an officer of the regular army. He had seen service in Mexico, and at the commencement of the rebellion was a Lieutenant, and one of the immortal band that surrendered with Anderson at the fall of Fort Sumter. He brought a division from Otterville to the Army of the South West. This was afterwards the 3d division of the army. He was a brave officer, and a thorough and efficient soldier, not given to boasting be prompt in execution.
Cot. Eugene A. Carr belonged to the regular cavalry service before the war. He was made Colonel of the 3d Illinois Cavalry, and was the ranking officer of cavalry at Rolla, when Curtis assumed command. He was therefore placed in command of the cavalry expedition towards Springfield. The importance of this undertaking, and the efficient manner in which he had performed his duties, entitled him to the command of a division. The bloody record of his command at Pea Ridge, and his courage elsewhere shown, attest the gallantry of this officer. At Pea Ridge, repeatedly wounded, he held the field for hours against the rebel's strongest force, in a manner which furnishes sufficient evidence of his ability and personal courage.
But, like Asboth, he was extremely cautious. He advised against the advance
on Springfield, saying it was useless to thrice recapture a point we might not
hold; and after its capture, he feared that his troops were not in a condition
to pursue Price. At Pea Ridge, while performing his duties in the most gallant
manner, and against the strongest odds, his appeals to the commanding (general
for reinforcements were most frequent, and his doubts of his ability to hold the
field, great. At Little Red River, in Arkansas, he was the strongest opponent of
a farther advance on Little Rock, constantly urging many reasons why the attempt
must fail, and for the impracticability of maintaining our then present
In this quality of cautiousness, both he and Asboth were the reverse of Sigel. No words of doubt ever came from the latter in advance of the trial. His boldness was extreme, and ever prompted him to hazardous and separate undertakings. This adventurous disposition was viewed with uneasiness by the Department commander. "Beware of detached movements," wrote Halleck to Curtis; "remember that Sigel's detour lost the battle of Wilson's Creek." Besides division commanders, may be cited the names of a few of the more prominent and particularly distinguished, or who have since become known to fame.
Frank J. Herron, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 9th Iowa Infantry, a captain at
Wilson's Creek, in the 1st Iowa Infantry, three months' volunteers; taken
prisoner at Pea Ridge, and exchanged, with others, for Col. Hebert and Maj.
Tunnard, of Louisiana; since a Major-General; one of the heroes
of Prairie Grove, commanding General of the " Army of the Frontier," and distinguished in the south-west; a fine-looking, talented and gallant officer, and, when promoted, one of the youngest of our Generals.
John B. Wyman, Colonel of the 13th Illinois Infantry, commanding the post of
Rolla; a good-hearted, brave and efficient officer, much given to profanity, and
very popular with his regiment. He had early entered the service, and felt
extremely sore on account of never having been made a
Brigadier General. His regiment was one of the best disciplined in the service, and although not present at Pea Ridge, fought nobly at Vicksburg, in Sherman's first assault, where Wyman fell.
Colonel John S. Phelps, of "Phelps' regiment," Missouri Infantry,
six months' volunteers; an old politician, a resident of Springfield, and, at
the time, Congressman from the Springfield District; since Military Governor of
Arkansas. He was the friend of Lyon, and the corpse of the latter had been
interred in his yard subsequent to the battle of Wilson's Creek. In common with
the men of his regiment, he was an exile from home and family, in south-west
Missouri. Colonel Sempronius H. Boyd, of the 24th Missouri Infantry, or "
Lyon Legion," commonly called "Pony Boyd" a slight,
boyish-looking man, also a resident of Springfield; since Congressman from the
Springfield District, and one of the most radical of Missouri anti-slavery
politicians. He was especially useful from his knowledge of the topography of the country, and the character of the south-western people. Like Phelps, he and his regiment were exiles from the south-west.
Captain Philip H. Sheridan, of the 13th U. S. Infantry, was ordered by
Halleck to report to General Curtis as Chief Quartermaster Upon arriving at
Rolla, he found his department in a very disorganized state; but with great
energy he went to work and soon produced a change infinitely
for the better. To his efforts was in a great measure due the ability of the army to make its rapid march into the enemy's country.
When the army had advanced into Arkansas, a great scarcity of mules and horses began to prevail. Transportation over the long line of communication became difficult, and the troops were suffering from want of supplies. Curtis directed Sheridan, then at Springfield, to use every effort to obtain animals; if necessary, they were to be seized, wherever found, and pressed into the service. Sheridan then held very conservative views of the war and its causes. He objected to this mode of procuring stock. He would not, he wrote, engage in " jayhawking," and requested to be relieved from his duties. The language of his letter was disrespectful and insubordinate, and he was accordingly ordered to report, under arrest, to the Chief Quartermaster at St. Louis, and the duties of Chief Quartermaster of the army were devolved upon Captain F. S. Winslow, an officer who filled the position with great ability. But " Phil. Sheridan " was not destined to remain in obscurity. He was almost immediately made Chief Quartermaster on Halleck's staff, at Corinth; next, Colonel of the 1st Michigan Cavalry; and next promoted Brigadier General, and serving with distinction under Rosecrans, in Tennessee. It is not necessary here to say more of one who has since become one of the nation's best and favorite Generals.
There were also Colonel Grenville M. Dodge, of the 4th Iowa Infantry, and brigade commander in the 4th division— since a Major-General, distinguished in northern Mississippi, Alabama and the West, and an energetic and very useful officer; Col. William Vandever, of the 9th Iowa Infantry, brigade commander in the 4th division, and at the time a Congressman from Iowa, and a prominent Iowa politician—since a General; Col. Nicholas Greuisel, of the 36th Illinois Infantry, an old and able soldier; and also the subsequently promoted Generals, Cyrus Bussey and T. I. McKenny, of Iowa; W. P. Benton, of Indiana; George E. Waring, of Missouri; and Powell Clayton, of Kansas.
March of the Army of the South-West from Lebanon, Missouri to Cross Hollows,
Arkansas. preparations for the Battle of Pea Ridge The work of organization
being completed, an :immediate and rapid advance was determined, to prevent, if
possible, a retreat by the enemy. It was hoped that the .bad roads and weather
which had hitherto been' encountered might serve to cripple any retrograde
'movement on' the part of Price. In the latter part of January, Halleck had
ordered a diversion from Pilot Knob to cover the movements of Curtis. The latter
now published the following order, which
was enforced throughout the command. The' order was cordially approved by Halleck. "It looks like work," he wrote, "and has the ring of the true metal."
"HEADQUARTERS SOUTH-WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI,
Lebanon, Mo., Feb. 7, 1862
"Special Orders, No. 75.
"The commanding General tenders to the troops in this command his hearty
commendation for the energy and endurance manifested on the march to this place.
You have moved during the coldest and most stormy period of a cold winter and so
far, brought your trains and equipments
through snow, mud, floods and frosts, without his hearing of a murmur, and without the loss of property or men.
"But the success of this winter campaign now requires a further draft on the patience and fortitude of this army. We must strip for a forced march and final conflict.
"Six days light rations and necessary covering, must be condensed in a
special train to be ready for the occasion. This ration must be hard bread,
flour, hominy, rice, desiccated potatoes, mixed vegetables, sugar, coffee and
salt. Pinoli (ground parched corn and sugar,) ought to be
procured. "The commissary will provide on the way whatever extra rations of fresh beef and pork the soldiers may need, so as to save these transported rations "The rations can only be cooked of nights, and some beef should be jerked (dried over a slow
fire,) to carry in the haversack, to be eaten with pinoli. "If officers and men will carry out this order in good faith, they will avoid danger of
suffering, and greatly enhance the efficiency of our force. The camp equipments, most of the cooking utensils, changes of clothing, and most of the tents, trunks and boxes, must all be left with the remainder of the regimental wagons, which, with full supplies of provisions, will be
pressed forward by the quartermaster as fast as circumstances will allow. "On the forced march the commanding general will limit himself to these restrictions of food and clothing.
The teams for this train for the forced march should be selected, and each wagon not loaded over two thousand pounds. Thus arranged the trains will be separated and inspected by regimental officers, and the number for each, properly reported through commanders of divisions to these headquarters as soon as completed.
The third division, Col. Davis commanding, will proceed from his present
camp, intersecting Springfield road at Benton and Hughart's, thence following
the Springfield road to St. Luke, diverging from that vicinity so as to arrive
at Pleasant Prairie north of Marshfield." "The fourth division, Col.
Carr commanding, will proceed to the left by way of Jerico, leaving Woodbury to
the left, and taking position on the left of Marshfield. "
"All the commands will try to arrange their marches as to arrive in the vicinity of Marshfield Tuesday at four o'clock. The men should have one day's rations in their haversacks, and six days rations as prescribed in my order number seventy-five. ' "The quartermaster and commissaries will exert their utmost to procure supplies of forage for their animals at each encampment, especial attention being given to the teams of the batteries. The double ration of fresh beef and pork is also specially directed to be procured by the proper commissary of divisions or regiments, if the arrangements of contractors do not seem certain and adequate."
"Each division will provide proper advance guards and flankers, but being in three parallel lines, instruct their scouts so as to avoid attacks of their own friends."
"Commanders of divisions will report to these headquarters as often as convenient, headquarters being moveable on the central line."
The army thus advanced over a rough bushy country to Marshfield. On the 10th, after a march of about sixteen miles, the troops encamped for the night, starting long before sunrise on the 11th, and marching about ten miles to Marshfield, a beautiful little country village then almost deserted, the evil effects of rebellion. Davis was late in reaching the position assigned him in the "order of march." The headquarters of the commanding General were, for the night, at an octagon two-story frame house on the Springfield road. The news of the capture of Fort Henry was published in orders to the troops, and served to invigorate their ardor for the anticipated conflict. Scouts and spies announced Price still quiet in Springfield.
The order of march as announced for the 12th, was as follows:
"The first, second and fourth divisions of this command will move forward at seven o'clock to-morrow morning by the direct road, and camping near the head of Pierson's Creek, nine miles this side of Springfield." "The third division, commanded by Gen. Davis, will move forward at six A. M., following the road by Leslie's store and camping near Piper's farm about eight miles following this side of Springfield." The day, like its predecessors since leaving Lebanon. was bright and sunny. Twenty miles of rough brushy country still lay between the hostile forces. leaving a small garrison in Marshfield, the federal army advanced prepared for battle, with proper scouts and flankers. Curtis and Sigel rode together and in the front. It was not long before a rebel foraging party was driven from some hay-stacks near the road, and fled towards Springfield. The rebel pickets were repeatedly
sees hovering in the front. They were shelled by the mountain howitzers with the advance, and one of Bowen's cavalry (Curtis's body-guard,) was shot by the enemy near Pierson's Creek. Within eight miles of Springfield, the army halted at the "Danforth farm" on Pierson's Creek, the valley of the creek affording a fine camping ground. Curtis's headquarters for the night were at the Danforth mansion, an old-fashioned two-story brick farm house, with a fine spring of clear pure water close at hand. The tents of the staff train were scarcely out of the wagons before a rapid firing in front announced that the advance guard, distant about two miles, was attacked. A battery was ordered forward at once, and the cavalry scattered as skirmishers through the woods. Curtis and Sigel both rode to the scene of the skirmish. The attacking party, a regiment of confederate soldiers, after a brief skirmish fell back across an open space of about a quarter of a