Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From The Arkansas Rebels --- They Extend Their Retreat --- Pike’s Indians Absquatulated --- The Rebel Force And Prospect

ROLLA, MO., March 29. Reliable persons just from our army in the southwest, say that the rebels numbering some 35,000 under Van Dorn and Price, have retreated entirely across the Boston Mountains, and are now at Van Buren and Fort Smith receiving supplies from Memphis and little Rock, via the Arkansas river, which is high.

The Texas troops are much disheartened at the death of McCulloch, and the Arkansas troops feel the loss of McIntosh very severely.  The rebels are badly off for clothing and shoes.

Pike’s Indians have mostly returned to the Indian nation.  They were not formidable in battle, being panic stricken at the effect of our artillery.

Price receved his Major General’s commission in the confederate service on the 16th.

One regiment of Texas troops reached Van Buren on the 15th to reinforce Van Dorn, and more were expected from Louisiana.  The whole rebel reinforcements will not exceed 5,000 in the next six weeks.

They were badly frightened and retreated very rapidly, and for the first three days of their flight had nothing to eat.  Their cannon and baggage train might have been easily captured.

Gen. Curtis’ army fell back to Keitsville to secure forage, Arkansas north of Fayetteville being entirely out.

Our forces are now camped at the head of Cross Timber Hollow, were water and forage are plenty.  Our pickets extend into Arkansas and the rebel pickets come north to the top of Boston Mountains.

Fayetteville is unoccupied.  Very little union sentiment has been developed in Arkansas.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 4


Sean McLachlan said...

Yeah, I had to look this up.

Absquatulated : [Mock-Latinate formation, purporting to mean "to go off and squat elsewhere".]
Regional Note: In the 19th century, the vibrant energy of American English appeared in the use of Latin affixes to create jocular pseudo-Latin "learned" words. There is a precedent for this in the language of Shakespeare, whose plays contain scores of made-up Latinate words. Midwestern and Western U.S. absquatulate has a prefix ab-, "away from," and a suffix -ate, "to act upon in a specified manner," affixed to a nonexistent base form -squatul-, probably suggested by squat. Hence the whimsical absquatulate, "to squat away from." Another such coinage is Northern busticate, which joins bust with -icate by analogy with verbs like medicate. Southern argufy joins argue to a redundant -fy, "to make; cause to become." Today, these creations have an old-fashioned and rustic flavor curiously at odds with their elegance. They are kept alive in regions of the United States where change is slow. For example, Appalachian speech is characterized by the frequent use of words such as recollect, aggravate, and oblige.

Sean McLachlan said...

Interesting to note the lack of forage in northern Arkansas/southern Missouri. This was a common problem throughout the war and created a buffer zone between the two forces, and a No-Man's Land for bushwhackers, Jayhawkers, and bandits.

Jim Miller said...

Sean, great comments! I love them. When I ran across "absquatulate" I had to post it as the word of the day on my facebook page. And about a minute or two later, I got the email notifying me of your comments.

As for the lack of forage on the Arkansas Missouri border, the armies weren't all together THAT big. I would imagine subsistence was hard to find, but not impossible and certainly not nonexistant. That area surely wasn't as ravaged by the war as say, Northern Virginia.

Sean McLachlan said...

Well, lack of forage was cited as one reason for the failure of the first attempt to take Little Rock, and it was one of the reason Price took along a huge wagon train in 1864.
A few thousand men and horses need a huge amount of food. Horses can survive on grass for only so long. They need oats and hay as well, and in a region of few farms with most of them abandoned, that could get serious.