Saturday, August 6, 2011

Official Report of the Battle of Pea Ridge

ST. LOUIS, March 11.

The following is Gen. Curtis’s official report of the battle in Arkansas:

(By telegraph from Springfield, Mo., 10th, to Maj. Gen. Halleck.)

WEST PEA RIDGE, Ark., March 9.

GENERAL:  On Thursday the 6th inst. the enemy commenced an attack on my right, assailing and following the rear guard of the detachment, under Gen. Sigel, to my main lines on Sugar Creek hollow, but he ceased firing when he met my reinforcements about 4 p.m.  During the night I became convinced that he had moved on so as to attack my right or rear; therefore, early on the 7th I ordered a change of front to the right, and my right which thus became my left still rested on Sugar Creek hollow.  This brought my line across Pea Ridge, with my new right resting on the head of Cross timber hollow, which is the head of Big Sugar Creek.

I also ordered an immediate advance of cavalry and light artillery, under Col. Osterhaus, with orders to attack and break what I supposed would be a reinforced line of the enemy.  This movement was in progress when the enemy at 11 a. m. commenced an attack on my right.  The fight continued mainly at these points during the day, the enemy having gained a point hotly contested by Col. Carr at the cross timber hollow, but was entirely repulsed with the fall of their commander, Gen. McCulloch, in the center by our forces under Col. Davis.

The plan of the attack on the center was gallantly carried forward by Col. Osterhaus, who was sustained by Col. Davis’ entire division, supported by Gen. Sigel’s command, which had remained till near the close of the day on the left.  Col. Carr’s division held the right under a galling and continuous fire all day.  In the evening the firing having entirely ceased in the center, and there having been none on the left I reinforced the right, by a portion of the second division under Gen. Asboth.  Before the day closed I was convinced the enemy had concentrated their main force on my right.  I therefore commenced another change of my front forward, so as to face the enemy where he had deployed on my right flank in strong position.  The change had been only partially effected, but was fully in progress, when at sunrise on the 8th, my right center renewed the firing with renewed energy along the whole extent of the line.  My left, under Gen. Sigel, moved close to the hills occupied by the enemy, driving him from the heights and advancing steadily towards the head of the hollow.  I immediately ordered the center and right wings forward – the right turning the left of the enemy and cross firing on his center.  This final position enclosed the enemy in an area of a circle.  A charge of infantry extending throughout the whole line completely routed the whole rebel force, which retired in great confusion, but rather safely, through the deep and impassible defiles of cross timber.  Our loss is heavy.  The enemy’s loss can never be ascertained, for the dead are scattered over a large field, and their wounded too may many of them be lost and perish.  The foe is scattered in all directions, but I think his main force has returned to Boston Mountians.

Gen. Sigel follows toward Keitsville, while my cavalry is pursuing him toward the mountains, scouring the country, bringing in prisoners and trying to find the rebel Maj. Gen. Van Dorn who had command of the entire force at the battle of Pea Ridge.

I have not as yet the statements of the dead and wounded, so as to justify a dispatch, but I will refer you to a dispatch I will forward very soon.  The officers and soldiers in this command displayed such universal gallantry, I hardly dare to make a distinction.  I must however name all of my commanders of divisions.  Gen. Sigel, who gallantly carried the heights and drove back the left wing of the enemy, Brig. Gen. Asboth, who was wounded in the arm in his gallant effort to reinforce the right, Col. and acting Brig. Gen. Davis, who commanded the center on the 7th and pressed forward the center on the 8th, Col. and acting Brig. Gen. E. A. Carr, who is wounded in the arm and was under the continuous fire of the enemy during the two hardest days of the struggle, and also commanders of Brigades, Cols. Doyle, Osterhaus and Vandever, while that of Schoffer and Greusel were distinguished for their gallantry.  For that of others I must refer to reports of commanders.  I must also tender my thanks to my staff officers, Capt. J. S. McKinney, A. A. A. G., Capa., W. H. Stark and Capt. John Ablefeldt, and Lieuts. J. M. Adarus and Stitto, all acting aids, and Lieut. N. Heeper, my only engineer officer.

All the staff officers did gallant service in carrying orders and aiding in their prompt execution.  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Missouri may proudly share the honor of the victory which their gallant heroes won over the combined forces of Van Dorn, Price and McCulloch at Pea Ridge, in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.

I have the honor to be, General, Your obedient servant,

SAML. R. CURTIS, Brig. Gen.

A special to the St. Louis Democrat, from Sugar Creek says: After a contest of three days’ duration we have beaten the enemy at Sugar Creek Hollow.  Their force consisted of Van Dorn’s, Price’s, McCulloch’s and Frost’s commands, who were forced to retreat in wild confusion, with the loss of a considerable number of cannon, flour, muskets, ammunition, &c.  Their force is variously estimated from 20,000 to 30,000.

McCulloch is ascertained to be mortally wounded, as well as McIntosh and Reiter.  The latter is a son of the Governor of Arkansas.

McRae and a number of other prominent men are prisoners in our hands, besides a large number of rank and file.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Wednesday Morning, March 12, 1862, p. 1

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