Battle of Pea Ridge
MARCH 6-8, 1862
Report of Col. Charles Knobelsdorff, Forty-fourth Illinois Infantry
HEADQUARTERS FORTY-FOURTH ILLINOIS REGIMENT,
SIR: I have the honor to report the action of this regiment from the 6th to the 9th of March, inclusive:
The regiment, stationed at Camp Cooper, near Bentonville, received marching orders at 11 o'clock p.m. of the 5th, and at 2 a.m. of the 6th commenced a retrograde movement towards Sugar Creek Hollow. When marching orders were received Company F, under command of Lieutenant Hicks, were stationed at Williams' Mill, 7 miles west, grinding flour for the use of the regiment. A messenger was immediately sent for them, and they made a very rapid march, reaching the regiment in time to march with us, bringing also a quantity of flour. The regiment, with the First Division, passed Bentonville at sunrise, and arrived at Sugar Creek Hollow at 11 a.m. We had hardly stacked our arms before (information having been received that the Twelfth Missouri was cut off by the enemy) we were ordered by you to hasten back to their assistance, which was immediately done, the regiment going double-quick some 6 miles, but as the enemy had retreated we were ordered back, and took our position on the bluff west of the hollow. Contrary to all expectations the enemy attacked our forces the next morning on the northwest side, and the battle of Leetown commenced. My regiment, together with the Twenty-fifth Illinois, Seventeenth Missouri, and part of Welfley's battery, were held in reserve until about 1 o'clock p.m., when we were all ordered by General Sigel onto the field and to the rescue. Companies C and A, under command of Captain Russell, were previously ordered to skirmish the woods in front of our position and secure the march of the reserve to the battlefield. Captain Russell succeeded by skillful management in driving back scattering parties of the enemy, who threatened our left flank, and in taking many prisoners. Eight companies proceeded double-quick to the battle ground near Leetown. Arriving on the field, they were ordered by Brigadier-General Davis to take position on the right of the road, where the hardest fighting had been. A line of skirmishers was immediately thrown out, and the regiment followed with the greatest promptness, passing over the dead and wounded, who lay in every direction. Finding the enemy were retreating, I followed them rapidly, taking a number of prisoners and keeping up a lively skirmishing fire. After pursuing them over a mile I took position on a high ridge commanding the surrounding ground.
At this moment General Sigel arrived with artillery and other forces, and ordered us forward in pursuit of the enemy. Night overtaking us, we were ordered into an open field on the left, and slept on our arms in front and near the enemy. Early the next morning, together with other regiments, we changed position, and went towards the headquarters of General Curtis, near Pea Ridge. At 7 o'clock on the morning of the 8th we took position on the left of Colonel Carr's regiment, fronting northeast. I had hardly thrown out skirmishers before the enemy commenced a heavy fire on our right flank, forcing Colonel Carr's regiment and the two batteries they were supporting to retire. Part of the infantry broke through our line, but our men behaved coolly, and did not fall back until ordered to do so. General Curtis then ordered me to take a new position, supporting the First Iowa and one other battery. The order was obeyed with promptness. As the battery advanced the regiment also advanced, exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy's batteries. General Sigel ordered us at this instant to the Support of Welfley's and Hoffman's batteries, stationed on the open field in front of the high ridge occupied by the enemy, which was done with the greatest alacrity.
Having taken this position, I ordered Companies A, C, G, and K forward to support General Sigel's troops, who were then storming the ridge, which they did in the most spirited manner, our companies joining with other regiments in driving the enemy from their strong position, whilst the balance of the regiment followed as a reserve. The enemy having been driven forward, we pursued them some 4 miles on the road towards Keetsville. On arriving at the junction of the Bentonville road I was ordered, after being joined by two companies of the Thirty-sixth Illinois and one company of the Benton Hussars, to continue the pursuit of the enemy on the Bentonville road. At 9 o'clock the next morning I marched towards Bentonville, going within 5 miles of the place. Having no orders to proceed farther, and Colonel Ellis' cavalry regiment having overtaken me, I returned to within 1 mile of the Keetsville road, and the next day joined your command, leaving two companies to guard the road. Owing to the coolness and discipline of the soldiers and the fortunate positions which were selected, the loss of the regiment is astonishingly small, amounting to 1 man killed and 2 wounded. Officers and soldiers behaved with the greatest spirit and courage. I especially have to mention the following officers, who by their activity, courage, and the abilities they displayed as soldiers deserve especial praise, viz: Capt. W. W. Barrett, acting major, Capt. J. Russell, Capt. L. M. Sabin, Capt. Max Krone, and Lieutenant Davis.
The regiment in this engagement has taken over 150 prisoners, among them the colonel of the Third Louisiana Regiment, acting brigadier-general ; also I colonel, 1 major, 3 captains, and 2 lieutenants, and have also captured 1 stand of colors, 230 stand of arms, 60 horses, and 38 saddles, all of which have been delivered over to the proper authorities.
Very respectfully, yours,
Colonel, Comdg. Forty-fourth Regiment Illinois Volunteers.
Commanding -First Division.
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