4th, with two howitzers, on an expedition. Thursday night, the 6th inst., I returned, with one
piece, to camp Sugar Creek, leaving the other in charge of Lieut. Waizenegge.
On Friday morning, March the 7th, I received marching orders, and left with the command
under General Osterhaus, with three howitzers, leaving the two 12-pound guns in command of
Lieut. Jacoby, on the ridge looking south. Being ordered to advance, I went forward about half a
mile, where, as I was advancing on a small road surrounded by timber, the 3d Iowa Cavalry
rushed down upon me in a regular stampede, running several men down. I ordered my pieces left
about, which movement was done in good order; but just as I was leaving the timber, one of the
horses was shot, and broke the tongue, and it was impossible to take the piece along. As soon as
we had formed in line, myself and Lieut. Beneke went forward with two companies of infantry
of the 12th Missouri Volunteers, and after considerable labor were able to bring the piece from
the brush and into action. We kept up a steady fire on the enemy for about four hours, after
which the firing ceased. About dark we followed the main column, and got to camp at 2 o'clock
A. M. At 4 o'clock P. M., the two 12-pound guns came out to the field of action, and returned to
camp with General Davis' Division.
On Saturday, the 8th inst., at 6 o'clock A. M, the battery being ready, was ordered to the left
wing, where I occupied, with all five pieces, the centre of our division. Here my battery suffered
most, being exposed to a terrific fire from the enemy. After two hours continuous firing, I
ordered the three howitzers to advance, and sent the 12 pound guns to the left, where they
occupied a slight elevating ground, and opened a very successful fire on the then retreating
forces of the enemy. The three howitzers then went forward and struck the Cassville road near
the Elkhorn Tavern. After arriving here I had the honor to pursue the enemy, which I did till 4
o'clock P. M., when the advance guard camped about two miles north of Keetsville. Sunday
morning we kept up our advance about two miles north of Keetsville, when I was ordered to
return to camp, arriving about 2 o'clock P. M.
Enough praise cannot be given to my officers and men, all of whom behaved with the utmost
coolness and bravery. To the 12th Regiment Missouri Volunteers I am indebted for a fine
6-pound brass cannon, which they captured in this advance; and also for rendering me such
valuable assistance in recapturing my disabled piece the day before.
My loss during the two days' engagement is comparatively small, considering the heavy- fire
my battery was mostly exposed to; the third section, in command of Lieut. Beneke, suffered
most. I lost one man killed and six wounded.
* * * *
Most respectfully your obd't serv't.
Capt. comdg. Artillery.
HAYDEN'S DUBUQUE BATTERY.
Headquarters Hayden's Battery, attached to the 9th Iowa Infantry,
Sugar Creek, March 9, 1862.
Colonel:—Herewith please find statements of the part taken by this command in the action of
the 7th and 8th insts.:
Pursuant to your order I sent forward one section of the battery in charge of Lieut. McNight,
who took position in the road directly in front of and under a heavy fire from the enemy's battery.
Lieut. W. H. McClure and J. Bradley with their respective sections. were ordered forward to
engage the enemy on the right and left of the first section. Supported by the 9th Iowa Infantry,
we held this position until the rebel guns had disabled two pieces and killed and wounded many
of both men and horses. The engagement now became general along the whole line, with both
artillery and infantry. The enemy's fire becoming too severe we withdrew, leaving behind one
disabled limber and several killed and wounded horses. We then took position about three
hundred yards in rear of the point where our fire was first opened. Remaining there until near
evening, (having held the enemy in check during the entire day,) at which time the whole
division fell back to a large open field, where it halted during the night. Here the enemy pursued,
but being vigorously engaged by our artillery and infantry, were driven back with severe loss.
During the engagement we attempted to plant two pieces of the battery upon a commanding
eminence but failed in the endeavor, an immense force of the enemy's infantry charging upon us,
carrying away one of my guns and killing and wounding two of my own and several of the
On the morning of the 8th we took position on the enemy's left, unsupported by either
infantry or cavalry, opening fire on the slope where our guns were captured the day previous.
Shortly afterwards the enemy opened upon us from a battery in our front, to which we then
turned our fire, silenced his guns and driving him from the field.
Our loss is two men killed and seventeen wounded. We lost twenty-three killed, and three
disabled. Three of our own guns and one limber were captured by the enemy.
I desire to make mention of the coolness and bravery of the whole command during the entire
engagement, especially of Lieuts. Wright and Bradley, who fearless of all personal danger met
the enemy with a spirit worthy of commendation, and cannot overlook the efficient services
rendered by Sergts. House, Hawkins and Weaver; alike of Corp'ls Martin, Guilford, Goldthorpe
and Roules; the latter while spiking the last gun left on the field, was severely wounded in both
I am. Colonel, respectfully,
M. M. HAYDEN, Commanding
Col. Wm. VANDEVER, Com'dg 2d Brigade, 4th Division
REBEL ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE OF ELKHORN (PEA RIDGE).
REPORT OF MAJOR GEN. EARL VAN DORN, COMMANDING THE REBEL ARMY.
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DISTRICT,
JACKSONP0RT, ARK., March 27, 1862.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report, that while at Pocahontas I received dispatches on the
22d of February, informing me that Gen. Price had rapidly fallen back from Springfield before a
superior force of the enemy, and was endeavoring to form a junction with the division of Gen.
McCulloch in Boston Mountains.
For reasons which seemed to me imperative, I resolved to go in person and take command of
the combined forces of Price and McCulloch. I reached their headquarters on the 3d of March,
and being satisfied that the enemy, who had halted on Sugar Creek, fifty-five miles distant, was
only awaiting larger reinforcements before he would advance, I resolved to attack him at once.
Accordingly I sent for Gen. Pike to join me with the forces under his command, and on the
morning of the 4th of March moved, with the divisions of Price and McCulloch, and by way of
Fayetteville and Bentonville, to attack the enemy's main camp on Sugar Creek. The whole force
under my command was about 16,000.
On the 6th we left Elm Spring for Bentonville, and from prisoners captured by our scouting
parties on the 5th, I became convinced that up to that time no suspicion was entertained of our
advance, and that there was strong hopes of our effecting a complete surprise. and attacking the
enemy before the large detachments encamped at various points in the surrounding country could
rejoin the main body. I therefore endeavored to reach Bentonville, eleven miles distant, by a
rapid march; but the troops moved so very slowly that it was 11 o'clock A. M. before the head of the leading division (Price's) reached the village, and we had the mortification to see Sigel's
division, 7,000 strong, leaving it as we entered. Had we been one hour sooner, we should have
cut him off with his whole force, and certainly have beaten the enemy next day.
We followed him, our advance skirmishing with his rear guard, which was admirably
handled, until we had gained a point on Sugar Creek. about seven miles beyond Bentonville, and
within one or two miles of the strongly entrenched camp of the enemy.
In conference with Gens. McCulloch and McIntosh, who had accurate knowledge of this
locality, I had ascertained that by making a detour of eight miles, I could reach the telegraph road
leading from Springfield to Fayetteville, and be immediately in rear of the enemy and his
I had resolved to adopt this route, and therefore halted the head of the column near the point
where the road by which I proposed to move diverges, threw out my pickets, and bivouacked as
if for the night; but soon after dark I marched again, moving with Price's division in advance, and
taking the road by which I hoped before daylight to reach the rear of the enemy.
Some obstructions which he had hastily thrown in the way so impeded our march, that we did
not gain the telegraph road until near 10 o'clock A. M. of the 7th.
From prisoners with forage wagons whom our cavalry pickets brought in, we were assured
that we were not expected in that quarter, and that the promise was fair for a complete surprise.
I at once made dispositions for attack, and directing Gen. Price to move forward cautiously,
soon drew the fire of a few skirmishers, who were rapidly reinforced, so that before 11 o'clock
we were fairly engaged, the enemy holding very good positions and maintaining a heavy fire of
artillery and small arms upon the constantly advancing columns which were being pressed upon
I had directed Gen. McCulloch to attack with his forces the enemy's left, and before 10
o'clock it was evident that if his division could advance, or even maintain its ground, I could at
once throw forward Price's left, advance his whole line and end the battle. I sent him a dispatch
to this effect, but it was never received by him; before it was penned his brave spirit had winged
its flight, and one of the most gallant leaders of the Confederacy had fought his last battle.
About 3 o'clock P. M. I received, by aids-de-camp, the intelligence that Generals McCulloch
and McIntosh and Col. Herbert were killed, and that the division was without any head. I
nevertheless pressed forward with the attack, and at sunset the enemy was flying before our
victorious troops at every point in our front, and when night fell we had driven him entirely from
the field of battle. Our troops slept upon their arms nearly a mile beyond the point at which he
made his last stand and my headquarters for the night were at Elkhorn Tavern. We had taken
during the day seven cannon and about two hundred prisoners.
In the course of the night I ascertained that the ammunition was almost exhausted, and that
the officer in charge of the ordnance supplies could not find his wagons, which, with the
subsistence train, had been sent to Bentonville. Most of the troops had been without any food
since the morning of the 6th, and the artillery horses were beaten out. It was, therefore, with no
little anxiety that I awaited the dawn of day. When it came, it revealed to me the enemy, in a new
and strong position, offering battle. I made my dispositions at once to accept the gage, and by 8
o'clock the cannonading was as heavy as that of the previous day.
On the side of the enemy, the fire was much better sustained, for, being freed from the attack
of my right wing, he could now concentrate his whole artillery. Finding that my right wing was
much disorganized, and that the batteries were, one after another retiring from the field with
every shot expended, I resolved to withdraw the army, and at once placed the ambulances, with
all the wounded they would bear, upon the Huntsville road and a portion of McCulloch's
division, which had joined me during the night, in position to follow, while I so disposed of my
remaining forces as best to deceive the enemy as to my intention, and to hold him in check while
About 10 o'clock I gave the order for the column to march, and soon afterwards for the troops
engaged to fall back and cover the rear of the army. This was done very steadily. No attempt was made by the enemy to follow us, and we encamped, about 3 o'clock P. M., about ten miles from the field of battle. Some demonstrations were made by his cavalry upon my baggage train and the batteries of artillery, which returned by different routes from that taken by the army; but they were instantly checked, and, thanks to the skill and courage of Col. Stone and Major Wade, all of the baggage and artillery joined the army in safety.
So far as I can ascertain, our losses amount to about six hundred killed and wounded, and two
hundred prisoners, and one cannon, which, having become disabled, I ordered to be thrown into
The best information I can procure of the enemy's loss, places his killed at more than seven
hundred, with at least an equal number wounded. We captured about three hundred prisoners, so
that his total loss is near about two thousand. We brought away four cannon and ten baggage
wagons, and we burnt upon the field three cannon taken by McIntosh in his brilliant charge. The
horses having been killed, these guns could not be brought away.
The force with which I went into action was less than 14,000 men, that of the enemy is
variously estimated at from 17,000 to 24,000
During the whole of this engagement I was with the Missouri Division under Price, and I
have never seen better fighters than these Missouri troops, or more gallant leaders than Gen.
Price and his officers. From the first to the last shot they continually pushed on and never yielded
an inch they had won, and when at last they received the order to fall back, they retired steadily
and with cheers. Gen. Price received a severe wound early in the action, but would neither retire
from the field nor cease to expose himself to danger.
No successes can repair the loss of the gallant dead who fell on this well fought field.
McCulloch was the first to fall. I had found him in the frequent conferences I had with him, a
sagacious, prudent counselor, and a bolder soldier never died for his country.
McIntosh had been very much distinguished all through the operations which have taken
place in this region, and during my advance from Boston Mountain I placed him in command of
the cavalry brigade, and in charge of the pickets. He was alert, daring and devoted to his duty.
His kindness of disposition, with his reckless bravery, had attached the troops strongly to him, so
that after McCulloch fell, had he remained to lead them, all would have been well with my right
wing but after leading a brilliant charge of cavalry, and carrying the enemy's battery, he rushed
into the thickest of the fight again at the head of his old regiment, and was shot the heart. The
value of these two officers was proven by the effect of their fall upon the troops. So long as
brave deeds are admired by our people, the names of McCulloch and McIntosh will be
remembered and loved.
Gen. Slack, after gallantly maintaining a continued and successful attack, was shot through
the body, but I hope his distinguished services will be restored to his country. A noble boy,
Churchill Clarke, commanded a battery of artillery, and during the fierce artillery actions of the
7th and 8th, was conspicuous for the daring and skill which he exhibited. He fell at the very close
of the action. Col. Rives fell mortally wounded about the same time, and was a great loss to us.
On a field where were many gallant gentlemen, I remember him as one of the most energetic and
devoted of them all.
To Col. Henry Little, my especial thanks are due for the coolness, skill and devotion with
which for two days he and his gallant brigade bore the brunt of the battle. Col. Burbridge, Col.
Rosser, Col. Gates, Maj. Lawther, Maj. Wade, Capt. McDonald and Capt. Shamnberg, are some of those who attracted my especial attention by their distinguished conduct.
In McCulloch's division the Louisiana regiment under Col. Louis Hebert, and the Arkansas
regiment under Col. McRae, are especially mentioned for their good conduct. Maj. Montgomery,
Capt. Bradfute, Lieut. Lamax, Limmil, Dillon and Frank Armstrong, A. A. G., were ever active
and soldierly. After their services were no longer required with their own division, they joined
my staff, and I am much indebted to them for the efficient aid they gave me during the
engagement of the 8th. They are meritorious officers whose value is lost to the service by their
not receiving rank more accordant with their merit and experience than they now hold.
Being without my proper staff, I was much gratified by the offer of Col. Shands and Capt.
Barret of the Missouri army, of their services as aids. They were of very great assistance to me
by the courage and intelligence with which they bore my orders; also, Col. Lewis, of Missouri.
None of the gentlemen of my personal staff, with the exception of Col. Mauray, A. A. G. and
Lieut. C. Sullivan, my aid-de-camp, accompanied me from Jacksonport, the others having left on
special duty. Col. Mauray was of invaluable service to me, both in preparing for and during the
battle. There, as on the other battle-fields where I have served with him, he proved to be a
zealous patriot and true soldier. Cool and calm under all circumstances, he was always ready,
either with his sword or his pen. His services and Lieut. Sullivan's are distinguished. The latter
had his horse killed under him while leading a charge, the order for which he had just delivered.
You will perceive from this report, Colonel, that although I did not, as I hoped, capture or
destroy the enemy's army in Western Arkansas, I have inflicted upon it a heavy blow, and
compelled him to fall back into Missouri. This he did about the 16th inst.
For further details concerning the action, and for more particular notice of the troops
engaged, I refer you to the reports of the subordinate officers which accompany this report.
Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
EARL VAN DORN, Maj. Gen.
Col. W. W. MACKALL, A. A. G.
VAN DORN-THE BATTLEFIELD-SUMMARY-FALSE ALARM-OFFICIAL
CORRESPONDENCE-INCIDENTS-WHO WON THE BATTLE-SIGEL'S ADDRESS-PROMOTIONS.
The report of Van Dorn must be received with due allowance for its exaggerations,
misrepresentations and perversions of the truth. Earl Van Dorn, the licentious and unprincipled
traitor, the defeated General, desired, by adroit omission, misrepresentation and direct falsehood,
as much as possible, and in accordance with the common practice of the rebel leaders, to cover
his defeat and prevent the South from learning the discouraging news and full particulars of its
loss. Common report among the enemy has assigned the burden of defeat at Elkhorn to the bad
generalship of Van Dorn.
He admits his force to have been 16,000, and afterwards claims that less than 14,000 went
into action. These statements are totally unreliable; the rolls of the enemy, captured after the
battle, revealed a force of 37,000, and a note to the rolls estimated that the irregular troops and
bands of fugitives increased the number to 41,000. So confident was the enemy of success that
he had stationed a cavalry force 3,000 strong, several miles south of the Union position, for the
purpose of cutting off retreat in that direction. Van Dorn, by his own showing, attempted the
remarkable performance of surrounding on all sides and cutting off the retreat of a force nearly
double his own in numbers. He had the reputation of a skilled General. It is not likely that he
would have hazarded such an undertaking with a force so inferior to his enemy. In making the
perilous experiment of guarding an enemy's front and at the same time attacking him with a
divided force at widely different points, in the flank and in the rear, he must have relied on vast
superiority in numbers; but in this he most signally failed. His loss, in killed, wounded, and
missing, could not have been less, and was, very probably, greater than our own, although,
evasively, he acknowledges but 800. The rebel dead left on the battle-field, in numbers, far
surpassed the national loss.
His assertion of the capture of four cannon is simply false. All the Federal guns captured by
the enemy were subsequently, during the battle, retaken. His ridiculous over-estimation of the
Federal force and losses is sufficiently manifest from other and reliable official records. His
statement that on the 7th, "at sunset, the enemy was flying before our victorious troops at every
point in the front," correctly interpreted, means that the Union army fell back at but one point, in
good order, for ammunition and a better position, as his "withdrawal" on the succeeding day
signifies a defeat and a retreat. He fails to give any intelligent description of McCulloch's battle
near Leetown, and the death of McCulloch and McIntosh, and capture of Col. Hebert, the
commanders in that quarter, have prevented any reliable rebel report of that action from being
made. The following extracts from a letter from an officer in Price's army, present at the battle,
published in the rebel "Richmond Whig" of April 9th, 1862, will refute some of the statements of
* * * * * *
"When the army left Cove Creek, which is south of Boston Mountain, Generals Price,
McCulloch, Pike and McIntosh seemed to think—at least camp-talk amongst officers high in
command so represented—that our united forces would carry into action nearly thirty thousand
men, more frequently estimated at thirty-five thousand than a lower figure. I believe General Van
Dorn was confident that not a man less than twenty-five thousand were panting to follow his
victorious plume to a field where prouder honors awaited than any he had yet gathered. Besides
this, he under-estimated the number of our foes. In no case did our estimate reach seventy-five
per cent. of their actual number.(!) It was believed that Curtis left Rolla with not more than
fifteen or sixteen thousand men. A part, of course, would be left as they came along to hold
Springfield and other points. I am certain the enemy have more accurate information in regard to
us than we of them; and besides this, caution accompanies superior discipline.
"Well, out we marched, with music and banners, thinking we had thirty-five thousand men
'eager for the fray,' besides teamsters and camp-followers. The army went without tents, carrying
a blanket each, with three days' rations. Long and energetically did the poor fellows trudge on
through mud and snow, until twenty-five miles were measured the first day. The second day
discovered no abatement in their zeal, and the third morning confronted them with Sigel's forces
in the environs of Bentonville." * * * * *
The scenes after the fight were terrible. The field for miles was strewn with dead and
wounded Union and rebel soldiers. During the previous day the dry leaves scattered over the
ground, had been fired, adding to the smoke, flame and confusion of battle; the fire had spread in
various directions, through the woods, burning and blackening the dead, and horribly torturing
the wounded. Many, no doubt, perished in the flames before assistance could reach them. On the
cliffs of Elkhorn lay many wounded rebels, helpless and suffering in the bushes; here one with a
wound in the bowels, imploring every passer-by to put an end to his agony; there another, pale in
rapidly approaching death, with an entire leg torn away by a cannon ball and the ragged, bloody
stump dabbled in the dirt, yet, calmly smiling and thanking his late Union foe for the swallow of
lukewarm water from the broken canteen picked up on the field of battle; here a corpse, with the
head as neatly removed by a cannon ball as if done by the guillotine; there a shattered, ghastly
arm, grasping a bent and broken flint-lock; everywhere scattered blankets and home-made quilts
and coverlets, and in the woods below and beyond, muskets, arms, and dead and wounded rebels in the common costume of the country, home-spun "butternut," or the coarse, gray uniform of the Confederate soldiers. Many were partly clad in Federal uniform torn from our dead and wounded in battle. The latter were generally found partially stripped, especially in the matter of shoes and stockings, of which articles the rebels stood in great need.
The buildings composing "Elkhorn Tavern" had first been used as a Union commissary store
house and hospital. When Carr fell back, on the 7th, the rebels occupied them, capturing the
stores, a mail and the wounded Union soldiers. Upon regaining this ground it was found that the
enemy had made the best possible use of his brief possession; he had consumed everything
available in the subsistence department, with the exception of the desiccated vegetables, used for
making soup. These were left untouched, their use not being understood. The mail had been
opened and its contents scattered to the winds. Elkhorn Tavern building was loaded with the
dead of both armies, piled up like cord wood on the porch, and the house was full of the
wounded and dying; here were found wounded men who had been given up as dead by their
Where the fight had raged, in the centre, beyond Leetown, the dead were to be found
scattered in every direction through the thick brush and in the fields towards Bentonville. They
had lain unburied for two days; the rain had descended and washed white their exposed flesh,
and many were partially devoured by hogs. Here too, were everywhere found guns, cartridge
boxes, bayonets, &c., with solid shot, and shell exploded and unexploded, and all the general
debris of battle. In the long lane where had occurred the cavalry fight of Bussey's command
with the Texas rangers, the Union and rebel dead were thickly scattered. Here were to be found
huge homemade bowie-knives of the rangers; here, also, lay unburied, many of Pike's Indians.
For miles in every direction, every-house was converted into a hospital The red hospital flag,
often an old handkerchief or fragment of rustic female dress, waved over tenements that at any
other time would only have been used as stables or outbuildings. Leetown, a hamlet of a dozen
houses, was completely filled with the wounded; rebel surgeons, under a flag of truce, took such
care as they were able of their own wounded, who were removed as rapidly as possible to
Fayetteville, while the Union wounded were sent to Cassville.
The battle of Pea Ridge and its general and immediate effects, may be briefly stated as
follows: An army of 10,000 national soldiers, after a long and toilsome march of some 250
miles, over a rough, wild and semi-hostile country, in the coldest season of the year, in a three
days hard contested fight, had defeated a rebel army of probably four times their number, and
driven them from the field, with a Union loss, in killed, wounded and missing, not exceeding
1,400 men, being nearly 14 per cent. of the whole force engaged. The rebel loss must have been
considerably greater, although it is impossible to form any correct estimate. They lost a large
amount of arms, ammunition and other property. The hardest fighting was undoubtedly done by
the 3d and 4th divisions, and of these the 4th division, the longest of any under fire, composed
principally of Iowa and Illinois troops, behaved with the greater gallantry, and suffered the
severer loss, being about 28 per cent. of the men in action.
No serious failure occurred to the national forces during the whole engagement, the nearest
approach being the discomfiture of the cavalry, near Leetown, in a broken and bushy locality,
where cavalry could be of but little use. Some corps jealousy and personal ill-feeling was
manifested among officers in consequence, but the several detachments there exposed and cut
up, were not defeated or driven from the field, and subsequently behaved most gallantly,
especially the 3d Iowa cavalry, whose loss was over 21 per cent. of their whole force in the field.
The consequent effect of the battle of Pea Ridge, followed shortly by the evacuation of New
Madrid, and surrender of Island Ten, was the termination of the rebellion in Missouri, as a
belligerent power. Secession was forever killed. No rebel army was ever after able to maintain an
abiding foothold in the State. Raids and brief invasions were uniformly and promptly driven
back. Scattered bands of guerrillas and bushwhackers gave trouble, and a few counties bordering
on Arkansas stood as a sort of neutral ground, but with the defeat at Pea Ridge, the Confederacy
lost its real hold on the State, and Missouri, restored to the Union, threw off the incubus of
slavery, the cause of the war.
This first great national victory in the south-west, for the time paralyzed the rebellion on the
west bank of the Mississippi. The rebel armies that had fought the battle were compelled to take
refuge east of the river, and had it, at the time, been possible to advance on Little Rock,
defenseless Arkansas must then have yielded to the Union arms.
Immediately after the retreat of the enemy, Van Dorn sent a request to be permitted to bury
his dead. The request was granted, and on the morning of the 9th a party of rebel cavalry, Capt.
Schaumberg's company of Little's regiment of Missouri rebels, was seen approaching the Union
lines from the direction of Bentonville. They were without a flag of truce, and were well armed.
Stragglers who were wandering over the late battle field reported the return of the entire rebel
army, and the whole camp was aroused. McKenny, Curtis' aid-de-camp, was near, and knowing
that this must be the burial party, rode up to the them and advised them to show a white flag,
which they did. But in perhaps five minutes the alarm had spread from one end of the Union
camp to the other. Sigel's batteries fired over the trees in the direction of the supposed invasion,
and it was perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes before quiet was restored.
In replying to Van Dorn's request to be permitted to bury his dead, Curtis censured the
atrocities committed by the rebel Indians. The correspondence on the subject is here given:
HEADQUARTERS, TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DISTRICT,
March 9, 1862.
To the Commanding Officer of the U. S. forces, Sugar Creek, Arkansas:
Sir —In accordance with the usages of war, I have the honor to request that you will permit
the burial party, whom I send from this army with a flag of truce, to attend to the duty of
collecting and interring the bodies of the officers and men who fell during the engagement of the
7th and 8th inst.
Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
EARL VAN DORN,
Major-General commanding army.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE S. W.,
PEA RIDGE, March 9, 1862.
EARL VAN DORN, commanding Confederate forces:
Sir —The General commanding is in receipt of yours of the 9th, saying that in accordance
with the usages of war you send a party to collect and bury the dead. I am directed to say, all
possible facilities will be given for burying the dead, many of which have already been interred.
Quite a number of your surgeons have fallen into our hands, and are permitted to act under
parole, and under a General Order from Major General Halleck, further liberty will be allowed
them, if such accommodations be reciprocated by you.
The General regrets that we find on the battle-field, contrary to civilized war-fare, many of
the Federal dead who were tomahawked, scalped and their bodies shamefully mangled, and
expresses a hope that this important struggle may not degenerate to a savage warfare.
By order of Brigadier-General Curtis.
T. I. McKENNY,
Acting Ass't Adj't Gen'l.
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DISTRICT,
VAN BUREN, ARK., March 14, 1862.
GENERAL—I am instructed by Major-General Van Dorn, commanding this District, to
express to you his thanks and gratification on account of the courtesy extended by yourself and
the officers under your command to the burial party sent by him to your camp on the 9th inst.
He is pained to learn by your letter, brought to him by the commanding officer of the party,
that the remains of some of your soldiers have been reported to you to have been scalped,
tomahawked and otherwise mutilated.
He hopes you have been misinformed with regard to this matter; the Indians who formed part
of his forces having for many years been regarded as civilized people. He will, however, most
cordially unite with you in repressing the horrors of this unnatural war—and that you may
co-operate with him to this end more effectually, he desires me to inform you that many of our
men who surrendered themselves prisoners of war were reported to him as having been murdered in cold blood by their captors, who were alleged to be Germans. The General commanding feels sure that you will do your part, as he will, in preventing such atrocities in future, and that the perpetrators of them will be brought to justice, whether German or Choctaw.
The privileges which you extend to our medical officers will be reciprocated; and as soon as
possible means will be taken for an exchange of prisoners.
I am, sir, very respectfully yours,
DABNEY H. MAURY, A. A. G.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE SOUTH-WEST,
CAMP AT CROSS TIMBERS, March 21, 1862.
CAPTAIN—I am in receipt of yours of the 14th inst., expressing the reasonable regret of
your commanding General for the barbarities committed by Indians at the recent battle of Pea
Ridge. The fact of many bodies having been scalped and mutilated was patent, and the General
commanding this army wishes, for the sake of humanity, that the testimony was not
In reply to your information that "men who surrendered themselves prisoners of war were
reported to the General as having been murdered in cold blood by their captors, who were
alleged to be Germans," I may say the Germans charge the same against your soldiers. I enclose
copy of a letter from General Sigel, addressed to me before the receipt of yours, in which this
subject is referred to. As "dead men tell no tales," it is not easy to see how these charges may be
proven, and the General hopes they are mere "camp stories," having little or no foundation. The
Germans in the army have taken and turned over many prisoners, and the General has not before
heard of any murder charged against them. On the contrary, they have seemed peculiarly anxious
to exhibit the number of their captives as evidence of their valor.
Any act of cruelty to prisoners, or those offering to deliver themselves as such, on the part of
the soldiers of this army, coming to the knowledge of the General commanding, will be punished
with extreme penalty of military law.
Exceptions may undoubtedly occur, as we have murderers in all communities; but the
employment of Indians involves a probability of savage ferocity which is not to be regarded as
the exception, but the rule. Bloody conflicts seem to inspire their ancient barbarities, nor can we
expect civilized warfare from savage foes. If any presumption has been raised in their favor on
the score of civilization, it has certainly been demolished by the use of the tomahawk, war-club
and scalping-knife at Pea Ridge.
I may here state, that the General commanding directed a surgeon of one of the Indian
regiments, taken at the battle, to be sent to St. Louis, a close prisoner, while other surgeons are
allowed, on parole, the freedom of our camp.
Believing the General commanding the opposing army is equally anxious to suppress
atrocities which are too often evinced by our species, the General commanding this army hopes
Indians will hereafter be excluded from your force.
I am, Captain, very respectfully yours,
H. Z. CURTIS,
A. A. General.
HEADQUARTERS 1ST AND 2D DIVISIONS,
CAMP HOFFMAN, MO., March 20, 1862.
GENERAL -I beg leave to direct your attention to an information which was received
yesterday at Keetsville by some of the wounded soldiers of the Flying Battery.
While Capt. Elbert's three pieces were taken by the enemy and our men serving the guns,
surrendered, they were shot dead by the rebels, although seeking refuge behind the horses.
When such acts are committed, it is very natural that our soldiers will seek revenge, if no
satisfaction is given by the commander of the Confederate army.
Very respectfully your obd't serv't,
Brig. Gen. Comd'g 1 and 2 Div.
To Brig. Gen. CURTIS, Comd'g Army of the S. W.
HEADQUARTERS DEPT. OF INDIAN TERRITORY,
CANTONMENT DAVIS, 23d March, 1862.
The enclosed copy of orders is forwarded to Major-General Curtis, to the end that he may
know that the enormities censured and forbidden by it are not likely to be repeated, and are
regarded with horror by the Confederate commanders.
And having learned from a letter found on the field, that those who burned private dwellings
at Bentonville had been ordered to be tried by court martial, the undersigned informs Major-General
Curtis, that a general court-martial has been ordered to try a white man, who shot one of
the wounded in the action of the 7th inst., the man so shot being prostrate on the ground and
unable to offer resistance.
The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to offer Major-General Curtis, assurances of
his high consideration and esteem.
Brig. Gen. Prov. Army C. S. A. Comd'g
Department of Indian Territory.
HEADQUARTERS DEPT. IND. TERRITORY,
DWIGHT MISSION, CHER. NATION, 15th March, 1862.
Special Orders, No.__
I. The commanding General with great regret makes known to the troops of the
Department, that in the action of Friday, the 7th of March, he saw with horror a person unknown
to him, and who immediately passed beyond his sight, shoot a wounded enemy, prostrate upon
the ground and begging for mercy. No degree of bravery can atone for such an atrocious act of
barbarous and wanton cruelty. Exclaimed against by all who witnessed it, its odium ought not to
attach to the troops under his command, but only to the perpetrator. Often as such acts of
inhumanity have been done by the enemy, the Indian troops are implored in no case hereafter to
follow their cruel example, since the bravest should be always the most ready to spare a fallen
II. The commanding General has also learned with the utmost pain and regret, that one, at
least, of the enemy's dead, was found scalped upon the field. That practice excites horror, leads
to cruel retaliation, and would expose the Confederate States to the just reprehension of all
civilized nations. If the Indian allies of the Northern States continue it, let retaliation in kind be
used to them alone, and those who with them may invade the Indian country and sanction it.
Against forces that do not practice it, it is peremptorily forbidden during the present war.
III. Commanders of regiments, battalions and companies of Indian troops in the Confederate
service will cause the foregoing orders to be read and interpreted to their respective commands,
and will use all possible means to prevent the perpetration of the acts censured hereby.
By order of Brig. Gen. Albert Pike.
Capt. and A. A. General.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE SOUTH-WEST,
CROSS TIMBERS, March 29th, 1862.
GENERAL-Yours of the 23d, expressing your abhorrence at certain instances of cruelty on
the battle-field of Pea Ridge, is duly received and fully appreciated.
The matter has already been a subject of correspondence with General Van Dorn. I cannot
expect Indian regiments to practice civilized warfare, and I regret to see a resort to such
belligerent elements in this unfortunate war.
The imputation in your order of cruelty to prisoners and the use of savage "allies" on the part
of the United States, is entirely gratuitous, and looks much like an apology or excuse for what
your letter and conscience so strictly condemn.
I avail myself, General, of this occasion to assure you I reciprocate the personal regard
expressed by you. I would prefer that we were friends rather than foes, as I am
Very respectfully yours,
S. R. CURTIS,
A few of the many incidents of battle are here selected as being authentic and worthy of
Sergeant-Major Wooster, of the 3d Iowa Cavalry, was killed by a cannon shot, near Elkhorn
Tavern. He had volunteered to go ahead and untangle the horses of the Dubuque Battery, under a
plunging fire from the rebel artillery, and while so engaged the ball carried away the side of his
skull When struck he called to his son, "Johnny, oh, Johnny, I must go," and expired.
A six pound ball, in the fight near Leetown, killed two cousins named Alley, and lodged in
the breast of Lieut. Perry Watts, of Company "K," 22d Indiana Infantry, from whence it was
In the battle of the 8th, a rebel was impaled to the earth by a splinter six feet long struck from
a tree by a cannon shot. Many trees were partly broken or entirely shivered by the artillery fire.
Lieutenant Henne, of Company "F," 12th Missouri Infantry, lost his right leg by a cannon
ball. He had previously lost his left arm in the wars of Hungary. When carried from the field, in
passing General Curtis, this heroic officer, forgetful of suffering, and with a smiling face, waved
his hand to the General in that triumphant enthusiasm which won the battle.
Captain Stark, of Curtis' staff, relates that a woodcock, flying from the direction of the rebel
army, fell dead to the earth near General Curtis, killed by a stray bullet.
The rebel Indians were of little avail as soldiers, principally confining their operations to
rifling the dead and scalping the wounded. On being confronted with the Union artillery they
would exclaim, "Ugh! big gun!" and retreat to the brush. A rebel surgeon states that on the
morning of the battle he observed about three hundred of them daubing their faces black with
charcoal. A chief informed him that "the Indians, when going into a fight, painted their faces red;
but when suffering from hunger they color black." They had been without food for two days.
Ben. McCulloch was killed in the action of the 7th, in front of Leetown, on a slight elevation
on the opposite side of the field from the Union lines. He was shot by Peter Pelican, a private of
Company "B," 36th Illinois Infantry. Pelican was acting as a skirmisher, when he saw
McCulloch ride up and part the bushes before him to observe the field. Pelican fired, and
McCulloch fell. It is said that Pelican took from the person of McCulloch a gold watch, which
was afterwards given to Colonel Greuisel, the approach of the rebels preventing the capture of
the fallen General's pistols. This statement is doubtful, as is also a tale that McCulloch, when
informed that he must die, turned incredulously away, and with the remark, "Oh, hell!" expired.
McCulloch wore a dress of black velvet, patent leather high-topped boots and a light-colored,
broad-brimmed Texan hat. He rode a light bay horse.
The field glass of General Price was captured and used during the remainder of the action by
Col. Jeff. C. Davis.
A cannon shot ricocheted under the horse of Colonel White and carried away a leg of the
horse of Lieutenant Landgrove. The Lieutenant fell with his horse, but extricated himself. The
horse regained its feet and hobbled off to the rebel lines, taking with it all the Lieutenant's
available funds, which were concealed in the holsters.
A German Union soldier rode directly into the rebel lines with a caisson. To the question of a
rebel officer, "Where are you going?" he replied, "Dis for Sigel!" He was properly cared for by
Samuel M. Martin, a musician of the 18th Indiana Infantry, while assisting in carrying a
wounded comrade from the field, was himself shot by a minie ball, which striking the miniature
of his lady love, was deflected from the breast, and passing around the ribs, lodged in the back,
thus saving his life. The case of the picture was indented by the bullet, and the glass was
shattered, but the picture was uninjured.
When Colonel Dodge was forced back, he left Charles Baker, a hospital nurse, at a secluded
house filled with Union wounded. The rebels discovered Baker observing their motions from
behind a chimney. He was taken prisoner, placed in the front rank and marched towards the
Union lines, fully exposed to their fire. The enemy was compelled to retreat, when Baker made
his escape to the brush, but he was soon retaken and confronted with Price. The latter desired to
know who was that man in a black coat who commanded the Federals opposed to him. When
told that it was Colonel Dodge, of the 4th Iowa Infantry, he said, "Give my compliments to him
and say to him that he has given me the best fight I ever witnessed."
The enemy fired wagon nuts, pieces of chain, gravel and various other kinds of projectiles.
The overcoat worn by Colonel Dodge was riddled by these unusual missiles.
Two soldiers, belonging respectively to the 35th Illinois Infantry and the 4th Iowa Infantry,
were wounded and lying on the battle-field. A rebel approached them and endeavored to take the Illinois soldier's watch. Both soldiers protested against such treatment to a wounded enemy. The rebel was, however, remorseless, and striking the Union soldier dead, took the watch and went away.
Captain Davis, of the 3d Illinois Cavalry, had one of the legs of his horse shot away, after
which the animal ran away three quarters of a mile, on three legs, and with the Captain, still
A German soldier of the 35th Illinois met with two singular and narrow escapes near the
Elkhorn Tavern. He wore ear-rings, and a bullet cut one of them in two and passed into the
shoulder of his Second Lieutenant, the broken fragments of the ring still remaining in the ear.
Ten minutes later, during a lull in the fight, and while the soldier was relating his escape, a stray
musket ball carried away the other ear-ring, slightly injuring the skin of the ear.
A Texan charged bayonet on a Lieutenant of the 9th Iowa Infantry whose sword was broken.
The officer avoided the rebel's thrust, fell at his feet, caught him by the legs and threw him
heavily to the earth, then before he could rise, drew from his adversary's belt a long knife and
plunged it in Texan's bosom. The latter, with dying grasp, seized the Lieutenant's hair so firmly
that it had to be cut to effect a release.
While 0sterhaus was engaging the enemy in the centre, a Sergeant of the 12th Missouri
Infantry handed to his Captain his wife's picture, and asked him to send it to her in St. Louis,
with his dying declaration that he thought of her in his last moments. "You are not wounded, are
you?" asked the Captain. "No," was the reply; "I know I shall be killed today. I have been in
battle before, but I have never felt as I do now. A moment ago I became convinced that my time
had come, but how, I cannot tell. Will you gratify my request? Remember, I speak to you as a
dying man" The Captain complied, but told the Sergeant that he would live to a good old age.
"You will see," was the response. The Sergeant entered the fight, and the Captain saw him no
more. At night he appeared not at the camp fire. Three hours before he had been killed by a
On Saturday, while Sigel was driving the enemy from the heights of Elkhorn, one rebel
officer, a Captain of a Louisiana company, seemed crazed with desperate valor. Instead of
retreating with his comrades, he advanced towards our troops until almost alone. Waving his
sword, he called in a loud, clear voice for his men to follow him, and denounced as cowards all
who retreated. They heeded not his appeals, and finding himself deserted he ran towards our
advance, shouting something which was understood to be, "I am as brave as Caesar. If we are
whipped I do not want to live. Come on, you d—d Yankees!" The national soldiers, with a
generous admiration for useless and misguided courage, sought to take him prisoner; but a Union
battery opened fire from the left on the retreating foe, and in its relentless storm swept down the
one brave heart which so full of fierce life and unavailing determination, poured out its crimson
tide on the cold and trampled earth.
After the battle, inquiries were made of the Louisiana prisoners, but none could tell his name.
They believed he was the son of a sugar planter living on the Bayou La Fourche, who had joined
the Southern army seeking death. It was the old tale of disappointed love. If not killed, he had
determined to become a suicide.
At the commencement of the engagement on the 7th, General Curtis, his staff and body
guard, Knox and Fayel, correspondents, respectively, of the New York Herald and Missouri
Democrat, Judge Isaac Murphy, afterwards Governor of Arkansas, a scout, the writer, and a
number of others, were clustered on a little knoll near headquarters. The roar of musketry and
artillery sounded loudly from Leetown and Elkhorn Tavern. Some one asked what would be the
name of the battle. One suggested Sugar Creek, but it was said that a fight on nearly the same
ground, but a few weeks before, had already received that name. Another suggested the "battle of the Ozark Mountains," but it was objected that this described no particular locality and covered a vast territory. "Whatever you call it," said the scout, " the people here will call it the battle of Pea Ridge, for that is the name by which this ridge is known all through this country." "Better call it Pea Ridge then," said Curtis, and thus a name was made in history. The rebels have uniformly given the battle the more musical name of "Elkhorn," from the tavern where Carr struggled so gloriously on the 7th, and where the battle terminated on the 8th. It is noticeable that a locality called Pea Ridge, hundreds of miles distant, near Corinth, Mississippi, soon afterwards became a point prominent for military operations, and for a time seemed likely to duplicate the battle name.
Halleck had repeatedly promised reinforcements before the battle. Hunter, with five thousand
men, he said, was advancing on our right from Kansas. During the gloom and despondency of
the 7th, the wildest rumors prevailed among the troops. Jim Lane, with a large army, was
advancing by forced march to our assistance. The 13th Illinois Infantry, under Wyman, was
moving in double-quick march from Cassville to the field. But all these rumors were without
foundation, and the little army was left to work out its own salvation without reinforcements.
Unscrupulous partisans sought to give to Sigel the honors of the fight. The German papers of
St. Louis asserted that Curtis, disheartened by the conflict, first proposed to surrender, and finally
tendered the command to the former; that Sigel accepted, and led the troops to victory. These
tales were repeated far and wide, and gained quite a general credence. German officers in the
army aided in their circulation. Colonel Vandever heard these tales, and addressed a letter to
General Curtis on the subject. Curtis referred the letter to Sigel. The latter, with the true spirit of
a gentleman and a soldier, denied these assertions and denounced their authors. He addressed a
letter to the commanding General, of which a copy is here inserted. Halleck also attracted the
attention of Curtis to these tales and rumors. In reply, a copy of Sigel's letter of denial was
forwarded to Department headquarters, in St. Louis, and placed on file among the official records. A member of Halleck's staff at once caused the letter to be published in the St. Louis press:
HEADQUARTERS 1ST AND 2D DIVISIONS,
KEETSVILLE, MO., March 27, 1862
GENERAL- It is with great displeasure that I have read the letter of Col. Vandever to Capt.
Curtis, your Ass't Adj't General, and I will do all in my power to find out the author of an
assertion which is, as far I know, untrue. You did never give the command of the army to me,
and I regard it as a calumny, if it is said that you spoke in my presence about surrendering.
This I declare on my honor, and hope that the officers and soldiers of this army will do what
they can to preserve the mutual good feeling and the good understanding amongst us, instead of
creating animosities by forwardness and misrepresentations.
I am, General, with the greatest respect, yours truly,
F. SIGEL, Maj. Gen.
Major-General CURTIS, comd'g Army of the S. W.
There is a common engraving representing General Sigel at Pea Ridge, charging with drawn
sword through smoke, blood and flames, mowing down fierce and venomous looking rebels, and
followed by the Union army, himself the only General visible. This picture portrays a popular
idea of the battle of Pea Ridge, and one which has been followed by superficial historians of the
war. It illustrates the utter absurdity of many popular impressions. Generals seldom so conduct
themselves in action, and Sigel did nothing of the kind. His previous glorious record in the
South-West had rendered him prominent as the then principal German General of the war, and
his admirers stood ready to award him all the laurels of the campaign. An impartial reading of his
own and other official reports, will best enable an intelligent reader to determine to whom
belongs the glory of this battle. Sigel did well, but there were others whose positions enabled
them to do better. The entire loss of his command at Pea Ridge was 263, and of the troops not
under his command, 1,088. "This sad reckoning shows where the long continued fire was
bourne, and where the public sympathies should be most directed." His retreat, with only six
hundred of his command, from Bentonville to Pea Ridge, on the 6th, was his most brilliant
performance during the battle, and was conducted with a skill and gallantry seldom if ever
surpassed. It is, however, difficult to perceive any good reason for his losing two hours, and
being surprised by the enemy at Bentonville after the departure of most of his command.
Curtis was indeed the commander who won the battle. During the entire action he preserved
the utmost coolness and self-possession, and never for a moment seemed doubtful of success.
The gallant Carr, when driven back from Elkhorn, seemed almost disheartened, and implored for
reinforcements, which could not then be given, and it was when the battle appeared almost lost in
that quarter where it had raged most fiercely, that Curtis appeared fresh from victory near
Leetown, and ordered the retreating troops to an about-face and charge, which regained their lost position.
Despondency was in the hearts of many officers. At midnight before the last day's fighting,
which resulted in our complete victory, General Asboth sent the following letter, hastily written
in pencil, to General Curtis. It illustrates the dangers apprehended by one of our most gallant
officers in the darkest hour of battle:
HEADQUARTERS 2D DIVISION
CAMP NEAR SUGAR CREEK, March 8th,
GEN'L SAM'L R. CURTIS, commanding S. W. Army:
GENERAL-As General Sigel, under whose command you have placed me with my division,
has not yet returned to our camp, I beg to address you, General directly, reporting that all the
troops of the 2d division were yesterday, as well as now in the night, entirely without forage, and
as we are cut off from all supplies by the enemy outnumbering our forces several times, and as
one day more without forage will make our horses unserviceable, consequently the cavalry and
artillery, as well as the teams, of no use at all.
I would respectfully solicit a decided concentrated movement, with the view of cutting our
way through the enemy, when you may deem it most advisable, and save by this, if not the
whole, at least the larger part of our surrounded army.
I take the opportunity of mentioning the high valor of the 2d Mo. Vols. and 2d Ohio Battery,
which, supported by the 1st Iowa Battery, did save, this afternoon, at a very critical time, our
camp from the advancing enemy. Officers and men all did their duty gallantly, pressing the
enemy until evening, when the last cartridge and artillery ammunition was exhausted.
I have especially to mention the gallant conduct of Col. Schaffer, Lt. Col. Laibold and Lt.
Chapman, who was wounded in a manner which will deprive the army of his services for some
Finally, I have to communicate the gratifying news that the three pieces of the 1st Flying
Battery detailed this morning from my division to General Osterhaus, and supposed to have been
taken by the enemy, have been brought in by Col. Pattison, and that the two batteries will be able
to resume the fight at day-break.
I am, General, very respectfully your ob't serv't,
Brig. Gen. Comd'g 2d D.
Immediately after the battle, Sigel marched his two divisions north, in pursuit of the enemies,
to Keetsville, in Missouri. On the road he sent the following note to Curtis:
HEADQUARTERS, 13 MILES FROM KEETSVILLE,
March 9th, 1862.
GENERAL-We are at and beyond the fork of the road going to Bentonville. It seems that the
enemy's main force retreats towards Keetsville. Let us follow him through and get out of this
hollow. The trains may follow and take our prisoners, sick and the arms we have taken along—
also the munition wagons, etc., from the enemy. Let us do this, because Van Dorn may recover
and make a stand, whilst we now can drive him before us and take a more convenient position at
With the greatest respect, your ob't servant,
F. SIGEL, B. Gen.
But this movement had much the appearance of a retreat. It divided our forces, and it was of
importance that we should retain possession of the battle-field, the apparent evidence of our
victory, and as long as possible maintain an advanced position in the enemy's country. Sigel was
at once ordered to return with his command to the battle-field. His retrograde movement was
disapproved alike by Halleck and Curtis, and he returned and camped at Pea Ridge.
Within a few weeks after the battle, Sigel, worn down by the fatigues of the campaign, was,
at Cross Timbers, taken sick, and obtained leave of absence to go to St. Louis. He never returned to the army of the South-West. When he recovered his health the army had reached Batesville.
He had earnestly desired to be notified if there was any occasion for his services, and telegraphed
for orders to return. But there were more general officers than men for them to command. The
return of Sigel would have embarrassed the entire army organization. He was therefore
transferred to a command in Virginia, higher and of greater importance than any he had
previously held. A short time before his departure, and among his last official acts in the
South-West, he issued the following eloquent address to the soldiers of the 1st and 2d Divisions:
HEADQUARTERS 1ST AND 2D DIVISIONS,
CAMP PEA RIDGE, ARK., March 15, 1862.
To the officers and soldiers of the 1st and 2d Divisions: After so many hardships and
sufferings of this war in the West, a great and decisive victory has, for the first time, been
attained, and the army of the enemy overwhelmed and perfectly routed. The rebellious flag of the
Confederate States lies in the dust, and the same men who had organized armed rebellion at
Camp Jackson, Maysville and Fayetteville, who had fought against us at Boonville, Carthage and
Wilson's Creek, at Lexington and Milford, have paid the penalty of their seditious work with
their lives, or are seeking refuge behind the Boston Mountains and the shores of the Arkansas
The last days were hard, but triumphant. Surrounded and pressed upon all sides by an
enterprising, desperate and greedy enemy—by the Missouri and Arkansas mountaineer, the
Texan Ranger, the finest regiment of Louisiana troops, and even the savage Indian—almost
without food, sleep or camp fires, you remained firm and unabashed, awaiting the moment when
you could drive back your assailants or break through the iron circle by which the enemy thought
to crush or capture us all, and plant the rebellious flag on the rocky summit of Pea Ridge.
You have defeated all their schemes. When at McKreisiek's farm, west of Bentonville, you
extricated yourselves from their grasp by a night's march, and secured a train of two hundred
wagons before the enemy became aware of the direction you had taken, instead of being cut off,
weakened and driven to the necessity of giving battle under the most unfavorable circumstance,
you joined your friends and comrades at Sugar Creek, and thereby saved yourselves and the
whole army from being separated and beaten in detail.
On the retreat from Benton to Sugar Creek—a distance of ten miles—you cut your way
through an enemy at least five times stronger than yourselves. The activity, self-possession and
courage of the little band of six hundred, will ever be memorable in the history of this war.
When on the next day the great battle began, under the command of General Asboth, you
assisted the fourth division with all the cheerfulness and alacrity of good and faithful soldiers—
that division on that day holding the most important position—whilst Colonel 0sterhaus,
co-operating with the third division, battered down the hosts of McCulloch on our left, and
Major Poten guarded our rear.
On the 8th, you came at the right time to the right place. It was the first opportunity you had
of showing your full strength and power. In less than three hours you formed in line of battle,
advanced and co-operated with our friends on the right, and routed the enemy so completely that
he fled like dust before a hurricane. And so it will always be when traitors, seduced by selfish
leaders and persecuted by the pangs of an evil conscience, are fighting against soldiers who
defend a good cause, are well-drilled and disciplined, obey promptly the orders of their officers,
and do not shrink from dangerous assault when at the proper and decisive moment it is
You may look with pride on the few days just passed, during which you have so gloriously
defended the flag of the Union. From 2 o'clock on the morning of the 6th, when you left
McKreisick's farm, until 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 9th, when you arrived from Keetsville
in the common encampment, you marched fifty miles, fought three battles, took not only battery
and a flag from the enemy, but more than a hundred and fifty prisoners—among them acting
Brigadier-General Hobert, the commander of the Louisiana forces, and his Major; Col. Mitchell,
of the 14th Arkansas; Col. Stone, Adjutant-General of Price's forces; and Lieut. Col. John H.
Price, whose life was twice spared, and who has now, for the second time, violated his parole,
and was arrested with arms in his hands.
You have done your duty, and you can justly claim your share in the common glory of this
victory. But let us not be partial, unjust or haughty. Let us not forget that alone we were too
weak to perform the great work before us. Let us acknowledge the great services done by all the
brave soldiers of the third and fourth divisions, and always keep in mind that "united, we stand;
divided, we fall." Let us hold out and push the work through, not by mere words and great
clamor, but by good marches, by hardships and fatigues, by strict discipline and effective battles.
Columbus has fallen, Memphis will follow, and if you do in future as you have done in these
past days of trial, the time will soon come when you will pitch your tents on the beautiful shores
of the Arkansas river, and there meet our iron-clad propellers at Little Rock and Fort Smith.
Therefore keep alert, my friends, and look forward with confidence.
Brig. Gen. Comd'g 1st and 2d Divisions.
The successful movements of the army of the South-West, and the recent great victory, had
attracted public attention to the commanders. The President had nominated Curtis and Sigel to be
Major-Generals of Volunteers. On the 21st of March the nominations were confirmed by the
Senate of the United States. 0sterhaus, Davis, Carr, Benton, Dodge and Vandever were also,
about the same time, or soon after, made Brigadier-Generals of Volunteers.
After a five days' occupancy, on April 16th the army left Forsyth and continued the
retrograde movement northeast ward. Headquarters of the Commanding General moved up the
valley of Swan Creek, passing through the deserted village of Taney City, and after a ten miles'
march camped on Billoue Creek. Here Curtis remained three days, awaiting, amid almost
constant rain, the progress of his troops. Supplies had been brought direct from Springfield to
Forsyth, but notwithstanding the most energetic efforts, the amount received was very small. The
great distance of the army from Rolla, its constantly shifting position, the inadequate and worn
out condition of the trains, the great scarcity of animals, the almost impassable nature of the
rugged and primitive mountainous roads, the swollen condition of the deep and rapid streams,
aggravated by almost constant rains, the deep mud encountered in the alluvial valleys, rendered
the transportation of supplies sufficient for the use of the army almost an impossibility. But little
forage or subsistence could be obtained in the primitive and thinly settled country traversed by
the army. On the march, the country was scoured for a distance of from twenty to fifty miles in
either direction for forage and grain. All the mills within twenty miles of the line of march was
kept constantly at work in the production of flour and cornmeal. Forage was remarkably scarce.
The soldiers were suffering for shoes and clothing. Cavalry and artillery horses were much
needed; horse-shoes were also in great demand. The scarcity of subsistence often rendered the
rations of men and animals very light, but the army pressed onward.
The difficulties of the march were very great, but from April 16th, when they left Forsyth,
until May 2d, when their advance reached Batesville, Arkansas, a distance, by the route traveled,
of 165 miles, the troops moved with the utmost possible rapidity. From Forsyth the route lay up
the valley of Swan Creek, through Taney City, thence northeasterly, crossing the streams of
Little Beaver and Big Beaver, through Arno, crossing Cowskin Creek and Hunter's Fork to Vera
Cruz, county seat of Douglass County, Missouri, on Bryant's Fork, a distance of forty-nine miles.
From Vera Cruz the route continued easterly, crossing Bryant's Fork and Big North Fork to West Plains, county seat of Howell County, Missouri, a distance of forty-three miles. From West
Plains the route turned almost directly south, crossing Spring River to Salem, Arkansas, a
distance of thirty-two miles. From Salem it continued in the same direction. crossing Strawberry
River and Polk Bayou, through Polk Bayou P. O. to Batesville, Arkansas, a distance of forty-one
On April 19th Curtis left Billoue Creek, and after a four days' march arrived at Vera Cruz on
the afternoon of the 22d. Vera Cruz consisted of three or four log houses and a mill, situated in a
deep valley, on Bryant's Fork. It was entirely surrounded by the high hills of the Ozark. At night
the evergreen forests on these hill were inflamed. A magnificent spectacle presented itself to the
view. The camp appeared encircled by a vast amphitheater of burning forests. High up on the
hills-the flames and smoke swept around and above the dark forms of the trees, and lit up the
skies with a wild and luminous brilliance.
The country traversed was of the same wild, primitive, mountainous character. A few more
inhabitants than had hitherto been met were found on the line of march. The rains were almost
incessant. The roads were in a terrible condition. Some of the troops were nearly out of
provisions, but at Arno a train arrived which supplied the most pressing wants. The divisions
marched by different roads, at a considerable distance apart. The rains and swollen mountainous
streams rendered the march very slow and difficult. The troops were much delayed. They were
hurled forward with as much speed as could be obtained over the narrow, steep and stony roads
of the Ozark.
On April 25th Curtis left Vera Cruz, and, after two days' rapid march, arrived at West Plains
on the 27th. He was rapidly followed by the entire army. The country traversed was still the wild,
broken region of the Ozark—high hills covered with forests of evergreen and scrub oak—until
within about ten miles of West Plains, when it became more level and alluvial. The Ozark
Mountains were now at length crossed. The entire campaign since leaving Rolla had thus far
been conducted in the mountainous, hilly region of Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. The
soldiers were now to bid farewell to the rocks and evergreens, the deep, cold streams, rough
roads and pure air of the Ozark. They were next to traverse the swamps, cane brakes and cotton
fields, the primeval forests and alluvial bottom lands of White River and Arkansas.
On arriving at West Plains, Curtis earnestly requested that additional supplies, teams, cavalry
horses, tools, clothing and equipments of all kinds be forwarded to replace the machinery of the
army worn out in the weary and laborious march over the Ozark. The line of supplies was at
once established from Rolla, via Houston, to West Plains. All the mills for many miles, within
reach of the army, were still kept constantly at work in the production of meal and flour.
Dispatches were received at West Plains from Halleck, at Pittsburg Landing. He directed a
rapid onward movement to the Mississippi. Van Dorn was already at Corinth, and Price was
about to land at Memphis. The enemy, he said, moved five miles to one advanced by the Army
of the South-West. News was also received from other sources of the embarkation of Price's
army at Des Arc, on White River, for Memphis. The rebel army, in moving eastward from Van
Buren, after the battle of Pea Ridge, had advanced mainly by steamboats on the Arkansas River
to Little Rock, thence over the railroad to Duvall's Bluff and Des Arc, on White River, and
thence down White River and up the Mississippi by steamboats to Memphis. The Army of the
South-West had performed a wearisome and difficult march of one hundred and seventy-five
miles, from Pea Ridge to West Plains, over the rough and almost impassable roads of the Ozark.
Under such circumstances, it was not wonderful that the rebel army, traveling by steamboats and
railroads, could move five miles to one obtained by the Army of the South-West, moving on foot
over the mountains, with a worn out and insufficient wagon train, suffering for supplies and
clothing, and compelled to scour for miles an almost uninhabited country for forage and
Orders were also here received from the Secretary of War directing that Captain A. W. Ellet,
of the 59th Illinois Infantry, be permitted to select not exceeding six subaltern officers and a
squad of not more than fifty men, all to be volunteers from his regiment. With these he was to
proceed by the most direct route to St. Louis, and thence on " an important and dangerous
expedition down the Mississippi." The order was obeyed, and Captain Ellet selected his men and
started to St. Louis. This was the origin of the Mississippi Marine Brigade, commanded by
Brigadier General A. W. Ellet.
An army numbering about 6,000 men had been pushed forward from Pilot Knob, Missouri,
the terminus of the Iron Mountain railroad, from St. Louis, and was at Pocahontas, on Black
River, in Arkansas, under command of Brigadier General Frederick Steele. Halleck had
originally ordered this force to advance on Helena, Arkansas. Steele's force was now placed
under command of Curtis. It was an object to form a junction with this force as soon as
The guerrilla chief, Coleman, was reported to be at Batesville, seventy-three miles south, in
Arkansas, with a force of four hundred rebels. He was daily receiving reinforcements, and it was
determined, if possible, to capture his entire gang.
On April 29th, leaving most of the troops and his own headquarters and most of his staff at
West Plains, with instructions to follow as rapidly as possible, Curtis advanced rapidly to the
south, taking with him the 1st brigade of Osterhaus' division, consisting of infantry and Welfley's
battery, and also detachments from the 3d Iowa and 3d Illinois cavalry regiments and Bowen's
battalion, being all the cavalry force available.
On April 30th he camped at Salem. The remainder of the army followed with as much
rapidity as could be obtained. As the troops moved south and left the elevated and colder regions
of the Ozark, they found Spring far advanced. The woods were in full leaf, the air was mild and
pleasant, and sometimes uncomfortably warm. At Batesville roses were in full bloom. The
country traversed was rolling and hilly, well wooded, and well adapted to cultivation.
Curtis, with his advance guard, left Salem at noon on May 1st, and camped after a march of
about fourteen miles. On the 2d he advanced to Polk Bayou, distant about sixteen miles from
Batesville, and rested until evening. About ten o'clock P. M. the march was resumed, in the hope
of capturing Coleman. The night was dark. Seventeen times the road crossed Polk Bayou, and
the stream continually became deeper as it neared White River. The road was rough, and the
frequent crossing of the creek rendered the advance slow and difficult. At five o'clock on the
morning of the 3d, the troops reached Batesville and surrounded the town. The upper and lower
ferries, the former at the town and the latter a mile below, were seized. It was found that
Coleman was encamped in the woods on the south side of the river, out of range of our shells.
His force was increased to about 1200 men. The Union troops occupied Batesville, but were not
able to cross and attack the enemy, as there were but two or three small flatboats available. A
skirmishing fire was carried on across the river, at the lower ferry. The rebels gathered on the
opposite shore. Under cover of the trees they would crawl up to the bank and fire across at the
Union soldiers, at the same time using a great deal of profane language towards the "Yanks" and
abolitionists. A Union Lieutenant was struck by a spent ball. A few rounds of shell from
Bowen's mountain howitzers dispersed the rebels, wounding several and killing three. Among
the killed was Lieut. Col. Douglas McBride, a son of the rebel General McBride. His body was
left unburied by the rebels, who precipitately retreated from the vicinity. Several days afterward
he was buried by a detail of Union soldiers.
Batesville was a beautiful place, situated one hundred and ninety miles south of Rolla. It had
thus far escaped the ravages of war, and had much the appearance of a northern town. It had
been a prominent business point. The streets were wide, and were lined by many elegant
residences, surrounded by groves, flowers and shrubbery. After the long and wearisome march
through the mountains, the army had suddenly found a garden in the wilderness. It was the