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BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE

OR
ELKHORN TAVERN
MARCH 2T 1862.

UNION

CONFEDERATE
Troops

Cavalry
SCALE OF ONE MILE

As already remarked, Price had kept his situa- CH. XVII. tion and numbers well concealed. He was known to be at Springfield; but rumor exaggerated his force to thirty thousand, and it was uncertain whether he intended to retreat or advance. Reports also came that Van Dorn was marching to his support with ten thousand men. Curtis kept the offensive, however, pushing forward his outposts. By the 13th of February Price found his position untenable and ordered a retreat from Springfield. Since McCulloch would not come to Missouri to furnish Price assistance, Price was perforce compelled to go to Arkansas, where McCulloch might furnish him protection. Curtis pursued with vigor. “We continually take cattle, prisoners, wagons, and arms, which they leave in their flight," he wrote. Near the Arkansas line Price endeavored to make a stand with his rear-guard, but without success. On February 18, in a special order announcing the recent Union victories elsewhere, Curtis was able to congratulate his own troops as follows: " You have moved in the most inclement weather, over the worst of roads, making extraordinary long marches, subsisting mainly on meat without salt, and for the past six days you have been under the fire of the fleeing McKeeney, enemy. You have driven him out of Missouri, 1862. W. R. restored the Union flag to the virgin soil of Arkan- You: 660., sas, and triumphed in two contests."

The rebels were in no condition to withstand him, and he moved forward to Cross Hollow, where the enemy had hastily abandoned a large cantonment with extensive buildings, only a portion of which they stopped to burn. It was time for Curtis

VOL. V.-19

CH. XVII. to pause. He was 240 miles from his railroad base

at Rolla, where he had begun his laborious march. Orders soon came from Halleck not to penetrate farther into Arkansas, but to hold his position and keep the enemy south of the Boston Mountains. “Hold your position," wrote Halleck, March 7,“ till I can turn the enemy.” At that date Halleck expected to make a land march along what he deemed to be the central strategic line southward from Fort Donelson, turn the enemy at Memphis, and compel the Confederate forces to evacuate the whole Mississippi Valley down to that point.

There was, however, serious work yet in store for Curtis. To obviate the jealousies and bickerings among Trans-Mississippi Confederate commanders, the Richmond authorities had combined the Indian Territory with portions of Louisiana,

Arkansas, and Missouri in the Trans-Mississippi Jan. 10,1862. District of Department No. II., and had sent MajorVol. VIII., General Earl Van Dorn to command the whole.

His letters show that he went full of enthusiasm and brilliant anticipations. He did not dream of being kept on the defensive. He called for troops from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, and ordered the armies of McCulloch and Colonel James McIntosh, and General Albert Pike with his Indian regiments, to join him. From these various sources he hoped to collect a force of 40,000 men at Pocahontas, Arkansas. Unaware that Price was then retreating from Springfield, he wrote to that commander, under date of February 14, proposing a quick and secret march against St. Louis, which he hoped to capture by assault. Holding that city would soon secure Missouri and relieve John

p. 734.

to Price, Feb. 14,

1862, and

Feb. 7, 1862.

W. R.

pp. 749, 751.

ston, seriously pressed in Tennessee. He would CH. XVII. not wait to prepare, but would adopt the style of frontier equipment and supply: "Flour, salt, and a little bacon in our wagons, and beef cattle Van Dorn driven with us, should be our commissariat. Grainbags, to contain two days' rations of corn, to be Yan Dorn carried on our troopers' saddles, and money our paymaster's department, and sufficient ammunition vol. VIII., our ordnance department."

But he did not have time enough to extemporize even his haversack campaign. He found his base of supplies menaced from the northeast, and information soon followed that Price was flying in confusion from the northwest. Ten days later we find him writing to Johnston: “Price and McCulloch are concentrated at Cross Hollow... Whole force of enemy (Union) from 35,000 to 40,000; ours about 20,000. Should Pike be able to join, our forces will be about 26,000. I leave this evening to go to the army, and will give battle, of course, if it does an Dorm not take place before I arrive. I have no doubt of 1982. W.R. the result. If I succeed, I shall push on." Van Dorn found the Confederate forces united in the Boston Mountains, fifty-five miles south of Sugar Creek, to which point Curtis had retired for better security. He immediately advanced with his whole force, attacking the Union position on the 6th of March. On the 7th was fought the principal contest, known as the battle of Pea Ridge, or Elkhorn Tavern. As usual, rumor exaggerated the forces on both sides. By the official reports it appears that Van Dorn's available command numbered 16,202. The Union troops under Curtis numbered only about 10,500, but they had the advantage of a de

Vol. VIII.,

p. 755.

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