Battle of Pea
Report of Col. Jefferson C. Davis, Twenty.second Indiana Infantry, commanding Third Division.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION,
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Third Division, under my command, in the recent engagement with the rebel forces at this place.
On the morning of the 1st instant, in obedience to instructions from the general, I broke up my camp near Cross Hollow and took position on the heights of Pea Ridge, on the north side of Sugar Creek, commanding the main road. On the night of the 5th I received intelligence of the approach of the enemy from the general and of intention to concentrate his forces on my right and left and give battle at this point. On the morning of the 6th I deployed the First Brigade of my division, consisting of the Eighth, Eighteenth, and Twenty-second Indiana., with Klauss' Indiana battery, commanded by Col. Thomas Pattison, on the right of the Fayetteville road, so as to command the approach completely. The Second Brigade, consisting of the Thirty-seventh and Fifty-ninth Illinois (formerly the Ninth Missouri), with Davidson's Illinois battery, commanded by Col. Julius White, I ordered to take position on the left of this road. This battery commanded the valley of Sugar Creek east and west and strongly supporting Klauss' battery on the right. This battery was well posted, and protected by a small earthwork, which I had ordered to be thrown up during the night. The Eighth and Eighteenth Indiana, under Colonels Benton and Washburn, strengthened their position by felling timber and throwing up some small intrenchments. During the night the general himself arrived, followed by a part of Colonel Carl's division from Cross Hollow, which took position on the left. On the afternoon of the 6th General Sigel's column arrived from Bentonville and took position on the right. During the night my troops bivouacked on the ground, anxiously awaiting the enemy's approach.
On the morning of the 7th it was ascertained that the enemy was making an effort to turn our right flank and to attack us in rear. In order to prevent this, Colonel Osterhaus was ordered with some cavalry and artillery to make a demonstration in the direction of Leetown. The First Missouri Cavalry, under Colonel Ellis, and the Twenty-second Indiana, under Colonel Hendricks, were ordered to support this movement. Colonel Osterhaus advanced about a mile beyond Leetown and found the enemy in force, moving rapidly along the road leading from Bentonville to Elkhorn Tavern, where Colonel Carr's division had already sharply engaged him. At this time the unexpected appearance of the Third Iowa Cavalry from the field gave proof of the necessity of re-enforcements being sent at once in the direction of Leetown, and an order to that effect was timely received. Passing through Leetown a few hundred yards, I found Colonel Osterhaus, with the Forty-fourth Illinois, Twenty-second Indiana, and some artillery, had taken position on the left of the road and was contesting the approach of the enemy over a large open field in his front.
In the mean time the enemy was rapidly approaching and advancing his forces on the right of the road, and had already lodged himself in large numbers in a thick oak scrub extending to our camp. I immediately ordered the Second Brigade to deploy to the right and engage him. This was done in a vigorous manner by the Thirty-seventh and Fifty-ninth Illinois, assisted by Davidson's battery, which I had put into position for that purpose. I soon became satisfied, from the increasing and excessive fire of the enemy, that he was being rapidly re-enforced, and ordered the Eighteenth and Twenty-second Indians to make a flank movement to turn right and perpendicular to the enemy's lines, and then move forward and attack him. This was accomplished with alacrity, but not, however, until the Second Brigade had begun to recede before the excessive fire of the enemy, who had now concentrated his forces to the number of several thousand, under McCulloch and McIntosh, with a large body of Indians, under Pike and Ross. The Second Brigade being thus overwhelmed, I ordered it to fall back in changed front to rear on its right, and the First Brigade to change front forward on its left, so as to attack the enemy in his rear, who was now exultingly following up his temporary success The Eighteenth Indiana soon executed the movement as directed, and opened a well-directed fire upon the enemy rear, which had the effect of drawing his fire and disconcerting his pursuit, so as to enable the Second Brigade to reform their lines as directed, but not until the enemy had succeeded in capturing two guns of Davidson's battery: which, owing to the precipitate advance of the enemy and disabled horses, could not be withdrawn.
The Eighteenth Indiana pushed rapidly forward and drove the enemy from this part of the field, and, advancing to the open ground, found three pieces in the hands of the enemy; charged and routed him with a heavy loss from them. The Twenty-second Indiana during this time engaged a large portion of the Arkansas troops and Indians, and after a sharp engagement put them to flight. In the mean time the Second Brigade renewed the engagement, when the enemy fled from the field, leaving behind him many of his killed and wounded. Among the former were Generals McCulloch and McIntosh. At this moment I ordered the cavalry to charge the flying foe, but for some unexplained reason it was not done.
The enemy made an attempt to reform on his former position near the Bentonville road, but was easily driven from it by the action of our batteries. Two regiments of re-enforcements, with two pieces of heavy artillery (12-pounders), arrived at this time from General Sigel's command. These I ordered to take position on the right, so as to be able to move the more readily to the support of Colonel Carr's division; which had been hotly engaged in the vicinity of Elkhorn Tavern for several hours. General Sigel soon arrived himself, and, accompanied by Osterhaus' command, moved in the direction of Carr's left. I at the same time threw forward the Second Brigade to the Bentonville and Elkhorn Tavern road. Finding the enemy gone and night upon us, I ordered the troops to bivouac on the field they had so gloriously won.
After reporting to the general the entire rout of the enemy at Leetown, he directed me to move my division during the night to the support of our position of the previous day at Elkhorn Tavern. The forepart of the night was occupied by the troops in collecting the wounded and dead. Daylight, however, found us in position in front of the enemy at Elkhorn Tavern, where the troops under Colonel Carr had so nobly fought the day before. That gallant officer, though suffering much from a wound, was still upon the ground to assist in disposing of my troops.
The First Brigade was deployed a few hundred yards to the right of the Fayetteville road to support Klauss' battery, which was placed at the edge of an open field intervening between the range of hills at Elkhorn Tavern and the timber protecting oar camp. Here the five companies of the Eighth Indiana, under Lieutenant-Colonel Shunk, joined their brigade. These companies had the previous day participated in the engagement with Colonel Carr's forces and had bivouacked on the field during the night. Davidson's battery was placed in a similar position on the left of the road, supported by the Second Brigade. At sunrise the enemy's position was discovered by a few shots being thrown by Davidson's battery, which was at once answered by the rebel batteries. Klauss' battery soon responded, but after a sharp contest of a few rounds was forced to retire by a sudden attack from one of the enemy's heretofore-undiscovered batteries, which opened closely upon his flank with grape and canister. This battery, however, soon withdrew upon discovering dispositions being made by the First Brigade to charge it.
The Second Brigade at this time was much exposed to an enfilading fire from the enemy's guns, and I ordered it to fall back and take position under shelter of the timber. By this time the position of the enemy's batteries was well developed, and Davidson's now took a more commanding position in the open field. He was soon joined by Klauss, whom I had ordered to support him, and in a few moments the contest was opened and maintained with great spirit on both sides until the arrival of General Sigel's forces, about 7.30 o'clock. Sigel's artillery soon took position on the enemy's right and engaged with great spirit in the contest. The approach of Sigel's infantry on the left of my division rendered the position of my battery secure, and enabled me to withdraw the Second Brigade from their support and prepare my whole division for a general attack upon the enemy's left. The gradual decrease of the enemy's fire and the withdrawal of some of his guns offered a favorable opportunity, and I immediately ordered an advance across the field. Previous to this movement Colonel Dodge had taken position with his brigade on my right, so as to prevent any attempt the enemy might make to attack me on this flank.
The Second Brigade, together with the Twenty-second Indiana and five companies of the Eighth Indiana, soon warmly engaged the enemy's infantry, occupying a strong position in the thick scrub-oak skirting the base of the hill upon which his artillery was posted. The enemy soon began to yield to the steady fire and determined advance of our troops, and finally broke and fled in much confusion, leaving behind his dead and wounded. The heights were soon carried, and on reaching the summit of the hill I ordered a halt, in order to bring my artillery in position on the road leading to Huntsville, my left resting on Elkhorn Tavern. Here Colonel Benton, with five companies of the Eighth Indiana and a section of artillery, who had been kept back guarding the road leading from Cross Hollow, joined their command. Much to their chagrin and that of their gallant commander, the enemy did not give them an opportunity to add new laurels to those already won at Rich Mountain.
The division lost during the engagement 60 killed, 270 wounded, and 8 missing. Total killed, wounded, and missing, 338. It affords me pleasure to be able to bear testimony to the prompt and efficient manner in which the brigade commanders, Colonels Pattison and White, conducted their brigades throughout the entire engagement. The regimental commanders, Colonels Benton, Eighth Indiana, Hendricks Twenty-second Indiana, and Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn, Eighteenth Indiana, of the First Brigade, and Lieutenant-Colonels Barnes, Thirty-seventh, and Frederick, Fifty-ninth Illinois, of the Second Brigade, acquitted themselves with distinction. Colonel Hendricks fell early in the engagement, after which Major Daily commanded the regiment, with great credit to himself, during the remainder of the battle. The part taken by the Peoria Light Artillery (Illinois), under Captain Davidson, and the First Indiana Battery, under Captain Klauss, has been so conspicuously described in the above report, that it would be useless to call further attention to their efficiency and gallant conduct. The First Missouri Cavalry, under Colonel Ellis, reported during the night of the 6th from a four days' scout on White River, during which they captured 50 rebels, with their arms and horses. The bearing and efficiency of my staff officers, Lieutenant Holstein, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenants Pease and Morrison, aides-de-camp, were conspicuous everywhere, fearlessly executing every order; every part of the field witnessed their gallantry. My division surgeon, Benjamin J. Newland, deserves the highest commendation for his promptness and skill in establishing his hospitals and taking care of the wounded. My division quartermaster and commissary, Captains Branson and Bradley, performed their duties equally promptly and efficiently.
The superior numbers of the enemy's forces, engaged as he was in his favorite "scrub" his utter rout, when led on to desperation at the sacrifice of two of his famous generals on the field, is sufficient proof of the valor and patriotism of the troops displayed in every conflict with the enemy. Both officers and men fought with a courage and determination seldom excelled, and will ever entitle them to the gratitude of a grateful country.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JEFF. C. DAVIS,
Capt. T. I. MCKENNY,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. Army of the Southwest.
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