Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

. (page 4 of 113)
Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 4 of 113)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


force toward Elkhom Tavern, where
McCuUoch'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 ^y Curtis to
support Carr, was now directed to
advance through Leetown to the res-
cue of Osterhaus, which he did with
such vigor and determination that,
though largely outnumbered and re-
peatedly compelled to recoil, his divi-
sion held the ground assigned them,
losing two guns of Davidson's bat-
tery by the sudden advance of the
enemy when their horses were disa-
bled, but regaining them by a des-
perate charge of the 18th Indiana,
which, with the 22d, was honorably
conspicuous throughout the day. Col.
Hendricks, of tiie 22d, was killed
while lea^ng a charge of his regi-
ment Night closed on this division,



Digitized by



Google



THB BATTLB OF PBA BIDftB.



S9







ainkiTig weary bat undaimted on the
fidd it had bo nobly won — a field red-
dened by the blood of many of their
foes, induding Gens. McCnlloch and
Mdntodi, both mortally wounded.

Carr was so fearMly overmatched
thronghont the day that, though al-
ways presenting a bold front to the
enemy, he was compelled to give
groond, sending repeated and urgent
representations to Gen. Curtis that
he could hold out but little longer
unless reenforced. Curtis sent him
from time to time a battalion or a
few light guns, with orders to perse-
vere ; and at length, at 2 p. h., find-
ing his left wholly tmassailed, ordered
(Jen. Asboth to move to the right
by the Fayetteville road to Elkhom
Tavern, to support Carr, while Gen.
Sigel should reenforce Davis at Lee-
town, pushing on to Elkhom if not
Deeded in the center.

Qen, Curtis, with Asboth's divi-
Bion^ reached Elkhom at 5 p. k. He



found Carr still fiercely fighting, hav-
ing 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. I)odge
explained that it was entirely out of
ammunition, and was only retiring to
refill its cartridge-boxes. Curtis or-
dered a bayoncfl-charge, and the regi-
ment at once moved steadily back to
its former position.

Meantime, Gen. Asboth had plant-
ed his artillery in the road and open-
ed a heavy fire on the Eebel 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



Digitized by



Google



80



THB AlCBEIOAK COKVLIOT.



severely wounded, Gen. Curtis's or-
derly was hit, and one of his body-
guard fell dead. As the shades of
night fell, a messenger from Sigel
gaye 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 £ebels
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 Dom 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 Oarr's left,
which was effected by midnight.
Sigel, though he had reported him-
self just at hand at dark, was obliged
to make a detour, and did not reach
headquarters till 2 a. m.

Van Dom slept that night at the
Elkhom Tavern, from which he had
dislodged Davis by such desperate
efforts." He had thus far been fight-
ing 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 Eebel
force in battle at 30,000, including
5,000 Indians." Pollard says, " Van
Dom'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 vic-
tory must be speedy as well as de-
cisive.

The sun rose ; Gen. Curtis awaited
the coij^pletion of his line of battle
by Asboth's and Sigel's divisions get-
ting into position ; but no shot was
fired by the enemy. At length, Cur-
tis ordered Col. Davis, in our center,
to b^n the day's work. He was
instantly replied to from new bat-
teries 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 him-
self an elevation on the extreme
right, considerably in advance, which
commanded the enemy's center and
left, here posted the Dubuque bat-
tery, directing the right wing to ad-
vance to its support, while Capt.
Hayden opened from it a most gall-
ing fire. Returning to the center,
he directed the 1st Iowa battery,
Capt. David, to take position in an
open field and commence operations ;
and BO battery after battery opened



>* Pbllard says, " We had taken during the
daj 7 cannon and about 200 prisoners."

** The Bichmand Whig of April 9th» 1862, has
a Rebel letter fh)m one present to Hon. G. G.
Vest, which says :

^When the enemy left Coveoreek, which is
south of Boston Mountain, Gens. Price, McCul-
looh, Pike, and Mcintosh seemed to think— at



least camp-talk amongst officers high in com-
mand BO represented — that our united forces
would carry into action neariy 30,000 men,
more frequently estimated at 35,000 than a lower
figure. I believe Gen. Van Dom was confident
that not a man less than 25,000 were panting to
follow his victorious plume to a field whero
prouder honors awaited them than any ho had
yet gathered.''



Digitized by



Google



YAH DOBN BETimBB 9E0H PBA BIDGB.



31



ftie, liie infioitry moving Bteadily to
their support, while the left wing
WBB pushed rapdly forward, dimb-
iiig a loweliif from which the Bebels
had been driven bj our guns, and
tfowding them back into the deep
ravines of Cross-Timber Hollow.
The 88th Illinois was prominent in
this mov^nent ; while the 12th Mis-
souri, pushing into the enemy's lines,
captured a flag and two guns.

Theilight of the Bebels was so sud-
den and swift, and the ravines where-
in they disappeared so impracticable
fbr cavalry, that our commanders
were for some time at fault in the
puTBuit Gen. Sigel pushed north on
the Eeytesville road, where but few
of them had gone ; and it was not
tin afternoon that Gen. Curtis ascer-
tsined that, aft;er entering the Hol-
low, the main Bebel force had turn-
ed to the right, following obscure
ravines which led into the Hunts-
▼iUe road, on which they escaped.
OoL Bussey, with our cavalry and
howitzers, followed them beyond
Bentonville."

Gen. Curtis reports his entire loss
in the battle at 1,851, of whom 701
—more than h«Jf— were of Col.
Oarr's division. The Bebel loss can
hardly have been less ; since, in ad-
dition to Gens. Ben McCulloch and
Mcintosh killed, G^ns. Price and
Slack were wounded.

The victory at Pea Bidge was un-



mistakably ours, but the trophies
were not abimdant 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 New York HerMj
written from the battle-field on the
9th, speaks of ^^a considerable quan-
tity of wagons, supplies, etc., a load
of powder, and nearly a thousctnd
stand of arms," as captured by Sigel
during his pursuit of the frigitives
upon the £[eytesville road, they do
not figure in either of SigePs official
reports of the battle, nor yet in those
of Curtis. The beaten Confederates,
fleeing with celerity in different di-
rections and by many paths, finally
came together in the direction of
BentonviUe, some 8 miles from the
Elkhom Tavern, whence Van Dom
dispatched a fiag of truce to Curtis,
soliciting an arrangement for bury-
ing the dead, which was accorded.

Pollard makes a scarcity of ammu-
nition a main reason for Yan Dorn's
retreat, and it is probable that neither
army was well supplied with car-
tridges at the dose of this protracted
though desultory struggle. He adds
that " Gen. Curtis was forced to Ml
back into Missouri,'' and that the
" total abandonment of their enter-
prise of subjugation in Arkansas is
the most conclusive evidence in the
world that the Federals were worsted
by Gen. Van Dom;" but fails to



"PbUard mjb:

^ About 9^ o'clock, Tan Born had completed
hit arrangements to withdraw his forces. Find-
ing that Ms right wing was mudi disorganiaed,
ai^ that the batteries were, one after another,
TQtiriiig from the field, with every shot expend-
ed, he had determined to withdraw his forces in
tbe directioa of their snppliee. This was ao-
ooopUshed with almost perfect success. The
ambolanoee, crowded with the wounded, were
■ent in advance ; a portion of McColloch's di-



vision was placed in position to follow ; while
Gen. Van Dom so disposed of his remaining
force ab best to deceive the enemj as to his in-
tention, and to hold him in check while execu-
ting it. An attempt was made by the enemy to
follow the retreating column. It was effectually
checked, however; and, about 2 p.m^ the Con-
federates 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."



Digitized by



Google



83



THB AMBBIOAN CONFLICT.



mention the &ct that the Confederate
army was also compelled to fall back
to a r^on less wasted and exhaust-
ed than that which for many miles
smronnded the well-fought field of
Pea Sidge.

As this was the only important
battle in which ^ Indians ' in consid-
erable nnmbers took part, and as
they were all found fighting — or,
more strictly, yelling — on the side of
the Confederacy, a few words of ex-
planation may be pertinent.

We have seen " that the important
aboriginal tribes known to us as
Creeks and Cherokees, holding from
time immemorial extensive and de-
sirable 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 in-,
stance of the State authorities, re-
sisted, in obedience to treaties, by
President John Quincy Adams, and
succumbed to, in defiance of treaties
and repeated judgments of the Su-
preme Court, by President Andrew
Jackson. They were located, with
some smaller tribes, in a region lying
directly westward of Arkansas and
north of the Eed 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 afSluents of that and of
Eed river, was probably as genial
and inviting as any new region to
which they could have been transfer-
red. 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 re-
garded with just indignation the
wrongs they had experienced, remem-
bering fondly the pleasant streams
and valleys of the lower Alleghanies,
from which they had been forcibly
and wrongfully expelled. But their
Chiefe had been early corrupted in
their old homes, by the example and
practice among their White neigh-
bors of slaveholding — a practiqp novel
indeed, but eminently congenial to
the natural indolence and pride of
the savage character. They, conse-
quently, adhered to it in their new
location; and, since to hold slaves
was a proof of wealth and import-
ance, 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 satu-
rated with the virus of slaveholding,
the most civilized Indian tribes fell
an easy prey to the arts of the Con-
federate emissaries. The agents
through whom they received their
annuities and transacted most of their
business with the Federal Govern-
ment, had nearly always been Dem^
cratic politicians— of course, pro-Sla-
very, and generally Southern — and
for the last eigh t years emphatically so.
These agents had little difficulty, at
the outset of the Kebellion, in per-
suading 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 Yd. L, pages 102-6.



Digitized by



Google



THE WAE AMONG THE INDIANS.



38



tiieir immediate neighbor, and of
which the conservation and perpetn-
ily of Blaveholding was the most
cherished idea. Some of those Chiefs
have since insisted that thej were
deceived by the Confcsderate emissar
riee, and especially by Gten. Albert
Pike, chief Commissioner for Indian
Affairs of the Confederacy, who had
led them to confound that concern
with the Union. What is certain is,
that, directly after tidings reached
them of the battles of Bnll Rnn and
Wilson's creek — ^the latter reported
to them from that side as a complete
dxBcomfitnre of the North, which
view the nndonbted death of Lyon
and abandonment of Springfield tend-
ed strongly to corroborate— the Chieft
of most of the tribes very generally
entered into a close offensive and de-
fensive alliance with the Confeder-
acy; even so cautions and politic a
diplomatist as John Boss tiirowing
his weight into that scale. It is said
that, after the death of Lyon, Ben
McCnlloch's brigade of Texans was
marched back to the Indian border,
and that the Creeks and Cherokees
-wexe impressively required to decide
qxdckly between the North and the
South ; else, betwixt Texas on the one
ade and Arkansas on the other, a
force of 20,000 Confederates would
speedily ravage and lay waste their
country. They decided accordingly.
Tet a very large minority of both
Creeks and Cherokees rallied around
the Chief Opothleyolo, made head
against the current, and stood firm
for the Union. Assembling near the
Oreek Agency, they tore down the
Bd>el flag there flying and replanted
the Stars and Stripes; and a letter"
from CoLMdntosh to the TrueDemr



oerat^* called loudly fpr reenforce-
ments to the Rebel array in the In-
dian Territory, and expressed appre-
hension that the Northern party
might prove the stronger. A battle
between the antagonistic Indian
forces took place Dec. 9th, 1861, on
Bushy creek, near the Verdigris
river, 180 miles west of Fort Smith,
the Confederates being led by CoL
Cooper, the Unionists by Opothleyolo.
The result was not decisive, but the
advantage appears to have been with
thfe Bebel party, the Unionists being
constrained soon after to make their
way northward to Kansas, where titey
received the supplies they so much
needed, and where a treaty of close
alliance was negotiated" between
Opothleyolo and his followers on one
side, and CoL Dole, U. S. Commis-
sioner of Indian Affairs, on the other.
The Eebels were thus left in un-
disputed possession of the Indian
Territory, from which they collected
the four or five thousand warriors
who appeared at Pea Ridge; but,
though the ground was mainly bro-
ken and wooded, affording every fa-
cility for irregular warfare, they do
not seem to have proved of much
accoimt, save in the consumption
of rations and massacre of the
Union wounded, of whom "at least
a score fell victims to their barbar-
ities. Their war-whoop was over-
borne by the roar of our heavy
guns ; . they were displeased with the
frequent falling on their heads of
great branches and tops of the trees
behind which fliey had sought shelter ;
and, in fact, the whole conduct of
the battle on our part was, to their ap-
prehension, disgusting. The amount
of effort and of profanity expended



" Oct. 17, 186L » little Book,

VOL. IL — 8



* At Leayenworth, Feb. 1, 1862.



Digitized by



Google



84



THE AMERICAN CONFLICT.



by their White officers in trying to
keep them in line at the firont, prob-
ably overbalanced the total value of
their services; so that, if they chose
to depart for their homes soon afb^
the close of the battle, it is not prob-
able that any strenuous efforts were
made to detain them.'*



Qen. Curtis, after resting. and re-
fitting his army, finding no enemy in
its vicinity, again put his column in
motion, proceeding S. S. E. through
north-western Arkansas to Bates-
ville,** on White river, near which
point he had expected to meet gun-
boats with supplies fi'om below. He
found the river, however, at an im-
usually low stage for the season —
barely four feet; while the gunboats
required six or seven ; beside which,
the Mound City, which attempted
the ascent, had been resisted and
blown up in a fight with the Eebel
battery at St. Charles some days be-
fore. Being compelled, therefore, to
depend for all his supplies on wagon-
trains from Rolla, Mo., now several
hundred miles distant, he did not feel
strong enough to advance on Little
Bock, the capital of Arkansas, nearly
100 miles S. S. W. from his present
position. Having halted seven weeks,
wholly immolested, at Batesville, he
again set forth," crossing the Big
Black by a pontoon-bri<^e, and pur-
suing a southerly course through a



"•Pollard 8878:

«* The Indian regiments, under Gen- Pike, had
not come up in time to take any important part
in the batUe. Some o( the red men behaved
well, and a portion of them assisted in^ taking a
battery; bnt they were difficult to manage in
the deafening roar of artillery, to which they
were unaccustomed, and were naturally amazed
at tbe sight of guns that ran on wheels. They
knew what to do with the rifle; they were ao-
customed to the sounds of battle as loud as their
own war-whoop; and the amazement of these



generally swampy, wooded, and thin-
ly settled country, where none but
negroes made any professions of
Unionism, and, being joined at Jack*
sonport" by Gen. C. C Washburae,
with the 3d Wisconsin cavalry, which
had come through from Springfield
aloile and unassailed, proceeded to
Augusta, where he took leave** of the
White, and, assuming a generally S.
W. direction, took his way across the
cypress swamps and canebrakes of
the Cache, where his advance (the
33d Illinois, Col. Hovey), which had
been struggling over roads heavily
obstructed by fallen trees, was at-
tacked " by some 1,500 Rebel cavahy,
mainly Texans, led by Ghen. AlbOTt
Bust, who held him in check for an
hour, until he was joined by the 1st
Indiana cavalry, Lt.-CoL Wood, with
two howitzers, when an impetuous^
charge was made by the Indianians,'
whereby th© enemy were routed and
put to flight. The bodies of 110 dead
Rebels were buried by our soldiers,
whose loss was but 8 killed and 45
wounded, including Maj. Glenden*
nin, who led the charge, receiving a
shot in the breast, which proved mor-
tal. The Rebels were satisfied with
this experiment, and gave no further
trouble.

Gen. Curtis again struck ** White
river at Clarwidon, just below the
mouth of the Cache, only to learn,
with intense chagrin, that Col. Fitch,



simple children of the forest may be imagined at
the sight of such roaring, deafening, crashing
monsters as 12-pounders running around on
wheels. Gen. Tan Dom, in his official report
of the batde, does not mention that any aasSst*
ance was deiived firom the Indians — an ally that
had, perhaps, cost us much more trouble, ex-
pense, and annoyance than their servioea ia
modern warfiffe could, under any drcumstanoeSi
be worth."

•* Arriving there May 6. " Jiine J4.

»Jun626. •*July^ "July 7. ••July 9.



Digitized by



Google



8GH0FIBLD AND MoNBIL HOLD KISSOUBI.



85



Wiih the expected ganboats and
transports, had gone down the river
barely 21 hours previous. Being
short of provisions, in a thoroughly
inhospitable country, he had no choice
but to make his way to the most ac-
cessible point on the Mississippi.
This was Helena, 65 miles 8. E.,
whidi was made*^ by Gen. Wash-
bmne, with 2,500 cavalry and 5 how-
itzers, in a march of 24 hours, the
in&ntiy coming through during the
two following days, bringing about
balf a regiment of white Arkansas
TolunteerB, with a large number of
n^;roes, who, having been employed
to block the roads in our front by
Ming trees across them, were entitled
to liberty and protection under the
r^ant military policy. A single
traiQ of 40 wagons, laden with sup-
plies, being wholly unguarded, was
captured by Rebel guerrillas in Mis-
fiouri, within 30 mdles pf Solla, its
0tarting-point.



Gen. John M. Schofield had at an
early day ** been placed by Gen. Hal-
leck in conmiand of all the Missouri
miHtia — a force then visible oidy to
fee eye of fidth. By the middle of
April following, he had an array of
13,800 m^i in the field, mainly cav-
alry ; to which was intrusted the de-
fense of the State, while our other
troops were drawn away to Arkan-
sas and the Tennessee. Gen. Curtis's
mov^nents eastward toward the Mis-
HBuppi opened the State to incur-
sions from the Bebels, still in force
in western Arkansas ; while consider-
ble numbers of Price^s men were
dandestinely-sent home to enlist re-
entits and organise guerrilla bands for
activity during the summer. Scho-



field persisted in enrolling and organ-
izing militia imtil he had 50,900 men
on his lists, of whom about 80,000
were armed. Upon fall considera*
tion, he decided to enroll only loyal
men, since passive were often con-
verted into active Bebels by a re-
quirement to serve in jthe Union
forces. He had 20,000 men ready
for service, when, late in July, 1862,
the tidings of McClellan's disastrous
failure before Richmond combined
with other influences to fill the
interior of the State with formid-
able bands of Bebel partisans. Of
these, CoL Porter's, two or three
thousand strong, was attacked** at
Kirksville, Adair County, by Col.
John McNeil, with 1,000 cavalry
and a battery of 6 guns, and, after a
desperate fight of four hours, utterly
defeated, with a loss of 180 killed
and 500 wounded. Several wagon-
loads of arms were among the spoils
of victory, and Porter's force was
by this defeat practically destroyed.
McNeil's loss was reported at 28
killed and 60 wounded.

Four days thereafter, CoL Poin-
dexter's band of about 1,200 Rebels
was attacked, while crossing* the
Chariton river, by Col. Odin Guitar,
9th militia cavalry, 600 men, with 3
guns, and thoroughly routed ; many
of the Rebels being driven into the
river and drowned. "Many horses
and arms, and all their spare ammu-
nition and other supplies, were cap-
tured." •• Poind^rter, with what re-
mained of his force, fled* northward
to join Porter ; but was intercepted
and driven back by another Union
force xmder Qten. Ben. Loan, and
again struck by Guitar; who, in a
running fight of nearly 48 hours,



'J«lylL "KOT. 2^,1861.



' Aug 6, 1862. ** Qea. Schofleld's official report



Digitized by



Google



86



THE AMBRIOAN CONFLICT.



killed, captured, or dispersed his
entire command. Poindexter, after
wandering alone throngh the woods
for several days, was made a pris-
oner ; and Porter, driven back upon
McNeil by the same movement of
Gen. Loan, was compelled to disperse
his band to^save it from destruction.
This was the last appearance of the
Rebels in formidable force northward
of the Missouri river ; though small
bands of guerrillas continued to
plunder and murder there, as else-
where, for more than a year.

Independence, on the western bor-
der of the State, was about this time
attacked" by a Rebel band of 500 to
800, under Col. Hughes ; and its gar-
rison, 312 men of the 7th Missouri



Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 4 of 113)