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strongly intrenched, were prepared to give the foe the warmest kind of reception as he advanced against them up the main road, leading from Texas through Fayetteville northward to Reytesville and Springfield. But Van Dorn perceived neither the necessity nor the wisdom of running into such ‘a trap. Advancing from Fayetteville obliquely by way of Bentonville, and chasing Sigel off the direct road from the latter to Reytesville upon the cross-road that passes through the little village of Leetown and intersects the Fayetteville road at Elkhorn Tavern, he diligently improved the night following Sigel's retreat in placing his entire army along the road from Bentonville toward Keytesville, on the flank and in the rear of his foe; so that all Curtis's elaborate preparations to receive him on the Fayetteville road went for nothing. Curtis woke late on the morning of the 7th to a realizing sense of his critical condition, with a far more numerous foe practically between him and his resources, rendering retreat ruinous, and compelling him to
fight the Rebels on the ground they
had chosen, which proffered him no advantage, and with which their guides were far more familiar than his. But every moment's delay must necessarily be improved by Van Dorn in making matters worse; so Curtis promptly changed front to rear, making the first and second divisions, under Sigel and Asboth, his left, the third, under Jeff. C. Davis, his center, and the fourth, Col. Carr, his right. The line thus formed stretched about three miles, from Sugar Creek, through Leetown, to Elkhorn Tavern; of the Rebel line confronting it,
Price, with his Missourians, formed the right; McIntosh was in the center, and McCulloch on the left. The dispositions being made, at 10% o'clock, Osterhaus was directed by Curtis to advance, supporting his cavalry and light artillery, and open the ball; while, at nearly the same moment, McCulloch fell with overwhelming force upon Carr's division at and near Elkhorn Tavern. A broad, deep ravine, known as CrossTimber Hollow, but termed in some reports Big Sugar creek, rendered almost impassable by a windfall of heavy timber, crossed the battle-field, severing the lines of either army, but especially those of the Rebels. Osterhaus advanced with great gallantry from Leetown nearly to the Bentonville road, on which he found the enemy moving rapidly in great force toward Elkhorn Tavern, where McCulloch's attack upon Carr was already in progress. Assailed in turn by greatly superior numbers, he was soon driven back in disorder, with the loss of his battery. Col. Davis, who had been ordered by Curtis to support Carr, was now directed to advance through Leetown to the rescue of Osterhaus, which he did with such vigor and determination that, though largely outnumbered and repeatedly compelled to recoil, his division held the ground assigned them, losing two guns of Davidson's battery by the sudden advance of the enemy when their horses were disabled, but regaining them by a desperate charge of the 18th Indiana, which, with the 22d, was honorably conspicuous throughout the day. Col. Hendricks, of the 22d, was killed while leading a charge of his regiment. Night closed on this division, sinking weary but undaunted on the field it had so nobly won—a field reddened by the blood of many of their foes, including Gens. McCulloch and McIntosh, both mortally wounded. Carr was so fearfully overinatched throughout the day that, though alWS presenting a bold front to the *my, he was compelled to give ground, sending repeated and urgent *Presentations to Gen. Curtis that * could hold out but little longer unless rtenforced. Curtis sent him in time to time a battalion or a few light guns, with orders to perseYo and at length, at 2 p. M., findghis left wholly un assailed, ordered Gen. Asboth to move to the right by the Fayetteville road to Elkhorn ** to support Carr, while Gen. i. o rèenforce Davis at Lee* Pushing on to Elkhorn i needed in oCenter. orn if not si Gen. Curtis, with Asboth's divi. **ached Elkhorn at 5 P.M. He
THE BATTLE OF PEA RID G. E.
found Carr still fiercely fighting, having received three or four shots, one of which inflicted a severe wound. Many of his field officers had fallen, with about one-fourth of his entire command. He had been seven hours under fire, during which he had been
forced back about half a mile. As Curtis came up, he saw the 4th Iowa falling back in perfect order, dressing on their colors as if on parade, and ordered it to face about. Col. Dodge explained that it was entirely out of ammunition, and was only retiring to refill its cartridge-boxes. Curtis ordeled a bayonet-charge, and the regiment at once moved steadily back to its former position. Meantime, Gen. Asboth had planted his artillery in the road and opened a heavy fire on the Rebel masses just at hand, while, of his infantry, the 2d Missouri plunged into the fight. The fire on both sides was close and deadly. Gen. Asboth was
severely wounded, Gen. Curtis's orderly was hit, and one of his bodyguard fell dead. As the shades of night fell, a messenger from Sigel gave tidings that he was coming up on the left, and would soon open fire. Asboth's batteries fell back, being out of ammunition, and the Rebels were enabled to fire the last shot. A little after dark, both armies sank down on the battle-field, and slept amid the dead and the dying. Curtis, finding that Van Dorn had concentrated all his forces on this point, directed Davis to withdraw all his reserve from the center, and move forward to the ground on Carr's left, which was effected by midnight. Sigel, though he had reported himself just at hand at dark, was obliged to make a detour, and did not reach headquarters till 2 A. M. Van Dorn slept that night at the Elkhorn Tavern, from which he had dislodged Davis by such desperate efforts.” He had thus far been fighting a part of our forces with all of his own, and had only gained ground where his preponderance of numbers was overwhelming. Curtis reports his entire command in Arkansas at 10,500, cavalry and infantry—of whom 250 were absent after forage throughout the battle—and 48 pieces of artillery. He estimates the Rebel force in battle at 30,000, including 5,000 Indians.” Pollard says, “Van Dorn's whole force was about 16,000 men.” But now our whole army was
in hand, while at least a third of it had not yet fired a shot. Not a man in our ranks doubted that our victory must be speedy as well as deCISIVe. The sun rose; Gen. Curtis awaited the completion of his line of battle by Asboth's and Sigel's divisions getting into position; but no shot was fired by the enemy. At length, Curtis ordered Col. Davis, in our center, to begin the day’s work. He was instantly replied to from new batteries and lines which the Rebels had prepared during the night, some of the batteries raking our right wing so that it was constrained to fall back a little, but without slackening its fire. Asboth's and Sigel's divisions were soon in position, completing our line of battle a little to the rear of the first, but without a break, and much of it on open ground, our left wing extended so that it could not be flanked. Gen. Curtis ordered his right to advance to the positions held the night before, and, finding himself an elevation on the extreme right, considerably in advance, which commanded the enemy’s center and left, here posted the Dubuque battery, directing the right wing to advance to its support, while Capt. IIayden opened from it a most galling fire. Teturning to the center, he directed the 1st Iowa battery, Capt. David, to take position in an open field and commence operations; and so battery after battery opened
* Pollard says, “We had taken during the day 7 cannon and about 200 prisoners.”
* The Richmond Whig of April 9th, 1862, has a Rebel letter from one present to Hon. G. G. West, which says:
“When the enemy left Cove creek, which is south of Boston Mountain, Gens. 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 30,000 men, more frequently estimated at 35,000 than a lower figure. I believe Gen. Van Dorn was confident that not a man less than 25,000 were panting to follow his victorious plume to a field where prouder honors awaited them than any he had yet gathered.”
fire, the infantry moving steadily to their support, while the left wing was pushed rapidly forward, climbing a low cliff from which the Rebels had been driven by our guns, and crowding them back into the deep ravines of Cross-Timber Hollow. The 36th Illinois was prominent in this movement; while the 12th Missouri, pushing into the enemy’s lines, captured a flag and two guns. The flight of the Rebels was so sudden and swift, and the ravines wherein they disappeared so impracticable for cavalry, that our commanders were for some time at fault in the pursuit. Gen. Sigel pushed north on the Keytesville road, where but few of them had gone; and it was not till afternoon that Gen. Curtis ascertained that, after entering the IIollow, the main Rebel force had turned to the right, following obscure ravines which led into the Huntsville road, on which they escaped. Col. Bussey, with our cavalry and howitzers, followed them beyond Bentonville.” * Gen. Curtis reports his entire loss in the battle at 1,351, of whom 701 —more than half—were of Col. Carr's division. The Rebel loss can hardly have been less; since, in addition to Gens. Ben McCulloch and McIntosh killed, Gens. Price and Slack were wounded. The victory at Pea Ridge was un
* Pollard says:
“About 9 o'clock, Van Dorn had completed his arrangements to withdraw his forces. Finding that his right wing was much disorganized, and that the batteries were, one after another, retiring from the field, with every shot expended, he had determined to withdraw his forces in the direction of their supplies. This was accomplished with almost perfect success. The ambulances, crowded with the wounded, were sent in advance; a portion of McCulloch's di
mistakably ours, but the trophies were not abundant. No cannon, nor caissons, nor prisoners of any account, save a few too severely wounded to hobble off, were taken; and, though a letter to The Wew York IIerald, written from the battle-field on the 9th, speaks of “a considerable quantity of wagons, supplies, etc., a load of powder, and nearly a thousand stand of arms,” as captured by Sigel during his pursuit of the fugitives upon the Keytesville road, they do not figure in either of Sigel's official reports of the battle, nor yet in those of Curtis. The beaten Confederates, fleeing with celerity in different directions and by many paths, finally came together in the direction of Bentonville, some 8 miles from the Elkhorn Tavern, whence Van Dorn dispatched a flag of truce to Curtis, soliciting an arrangement for burying the dead, which was accorded. Pollard makes a scarcity of ammunition a main reason for Van Dorn's retreat, and it is probable that neither army was well supplied with cartridges at the close of this protracted though desultory struggle. He adds that “ Gen. Curtis was forced to fall back into Missouri,” and that the “total abandonment of their enterprise of subjugation in Arkansas is the most conclusive evidence in the world that the Federals were worsted by Gen. Van Dorn;” but fails to
vision was placed in position to follow; while Gen. Van Dorn so disposed of his remaining force as best to deceive the enemy as to his intention, and to hold him in check while executing it. An attempt was made by the enemy to follow the retreating column. It was effectually
checked, however; and, about 2 P.M., the Confederates encamped about six miles from the field of battle, all the artillery and baggage joining the army in safety. They brought away from the field of battle 300 prisoners, 4 cannon, and 3 baggage-wagons.”
mention the fact that the Confederate army was also compelled to fall back to a region less wasted and exhausted than that which for many miles surrounded the well-fought field of Pea Ridge.
As this was the only important battle in which ‘Indians' in considerable numbers took part, and as they were all found fighting—or, more strictly, yelling—on the side of the Confederacy, a few words of explanation may be pertinent.
We have seen “that the important aboriginal tribes known to us as Creeks and Cherokees, holding from time immemorial extensive and desirable territories, mainly within the States of North Carolina and Georgia, but extending also into Tennessee and Alabama, were constrained to surrender those lands to the lust of the neighboring Whites, and migrate across the Mississippi, at the instance of the State authorities, resisted, in obedience to treaties, by President John Quincy Adams, and succumbed to, in defiance of treaties and repeated judgments of the Supreme Court, by President Andrew Jackson. They were located, with some smaller tribes, in a region lying directly westward of Arkansas and north of the Red river, to which the name of Indian Territory was given, and which, lying between the 34th and 37th parallels of North latitude, and well watered by the Arkansas and several affluents of that and of Red river, was probably as genial and inviting as any new region to which they could have been transferred. Yet, though their removal had been effected nearly a quarter of a
century, it is certain that the mass of the Indians there collected still regarded with just indignation the wrongs they had experienced, remembering fondly the pleasant streams and valleys of the lower Alleghanies, from which they had been forcibly and wrongfully expelled. But their Chiefs had been early corrupted in their old homes, by the example and practice among their White neighbors of slaveholding—a practice novel indeed, but eminently congenial to the natural indolence and pride of the savage character. They, consequently, adhered to it in their new location; and, since to hold slaves was a proof of wealth and importance, nearly every one who by any means obtained property, exchanged a part of it for one or more negroes; who, if they did not by labor increase his wealth, were certain, by flattery and servility, to magnify his conscious importance. Thus thoroughly saturated with the virus of slaveholding, the most civilized Indian tribes fell an easy prey to the arts of the Confederate emissaries. The agents through whom they received their annuities and transacted most of their business with the Federal Government, had nearly always been Democratic politicians—of course, pro-Slavery, and generally Southern—and for the last eight years emphatically so. These agents had little difficulty, at the outset of the Rebellion, in persuading their Chiefs that the old Union was irrecoverably destroyed; that it was scarcely probable that an effort would be made to restore it; and that, at all events, their interests and their safety dictated an alliance with that Confederacy which was
* See Vol. I., pages 102–6.