Battle of Pea Ridge
Report of Capt. Albert Jenks, Illinois Cavalry
CAMP SHERER, ARK., March 14, 1862.
SIR: I beg leave to make the following report of the part my squadron of cavalry took in the battles of the 6th, 7th, and 8th of March, 1862:
By your order we took the extreme rear of all the forces on leaving Camp Cooper, acting as rear guard. Arrived at Bentonville, by your order we halted and reported to General Sigel, who remained with two companies of Benton Hussars, the Twelfth Missouri Infantry, and one battery of flying artillery. Remaining here an hour and a half, the enemy was discovered approaching in large numbers. They immediately surrounded the town. General Sigel then ordered my squadron to take the rear of column. We moved out of the town and drew up in line with the Benton Hussars to oppose the advancing enemy, seeing which they halted and formed in line of battle.
Remaining here a short time we were ordered to advance, covering the retreat of our column. General Sigel having planted some cannon about 1 ½ miles out of the town on the Sugar Creek road, sent back for one company of cavalry. I took Company A, of my squadron, and galloped forward. On approaching, General Sigel made this remark: "Captain Jenks, we are surrounded; the enemy is on all sides of us; but we must go through; we must cut our way through; we will go through." He then ordered me to support the battery. Some hot firing occurred here between skirmishers. We soon moved forward with the battery into an open space, when before us, at the distance of half a mile, stood the enemy, drawn up in the edge of the woods. Some shell were put in with telling effect on them, scattering them in every direction. A feint was now made with part of my company (A) as if to charge them, the men advancing some rods at a rapid gallop. This was to cover a removal of the guns, which were withdrawn and moved up the road with the whole column. Coming to an ammunition wagon standing beside the road belonging to the Thirty-sixth Regiment, I detailed 3 men to bring it forward; but 1 mule having been shot and 2 taken by the enemy, the remaining ones could not draw the load so it was abandoned. About 3 miles farther on, going through a ravine between two bluffs, the whole column was fired upon by the enemy from the bluff on our left, the bullets raining down upon us at the foot of the hill. After a sharp fight of fifteen or twenty minutes our infantry dislodged the rebels. The cavalry could not be used on account of the thick underbrush. Passing this defile, the enemy still advancing in our rear, a battery was planted in our front, and fired some shell over us into the enemy's column coming down the road. A mile farther on we came to the Thirty-sixth Regiment, drawn up in line of battle. The enemy soon left us for the night. Four of my men were taken prisoners by the enemy.
On the morning of the 7th, by your order, my squadron, with some infantry, remained at camp as guard for the train. About noon General Sigel ordered one company to advance in the direction of the left of our battle ground to reconnoiter. My company (B), under command of Captain Smith, went, and returned to camp with 30 prisoners, in-eluding a colonel and several other officers, belonging, I think, to the Third Louisiana Regiment. About 2 o'clock p.m. Company A received orders from General Sigel to report to the left wing at the battle ground. We did so, remaining there till 7 o'clock p.m. General Davis then ordered Company A to reconnoiter along the road leading from Leetown to Elkhorn Tavern, supposed to be occupied by the enemy. We did so, and finding the road clear, I reported to General Curtis that the communication was open between the right and left wing. Returned to the left wing with orders from General Curtis for General Davis to join him on the right. Remained on the field till 11 p.m., then returned to camp.
At sunrise on the morning of the 8th, by your order, reported with my company (A) at the battle-field. At 10 a.m. was ordered by General Curtis' aide to reconnoiter from Sugar Creek along the right of the Telegraph road, to see if the enemy were making any demonstration on our right flank. I deployed Company A as skirmishers to the right of the road, our line extending about 1 mile to the east. Advancing toward Elkhorn Tavern, we came up to the right wing of our forces, my men getting between the cross-fires of our forces and that of the enemy. I now ordered them to close up to the left. Having formed, we joined Company B, of my squadron, and followed our regiment, who were pursuing the flying enemy toward Keetsville. Camped, after a run of 9 miles, with Sigel's division, near Keetsville.
Yours, with respect,
Captain Co. A (Car.), Comdg. Squadron Thirty-sixth Ill. Vols.
Col. NICHOLAS GREUSEL.
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