Battle of Pea Ridge
Report of Col. Thomas Pattison, Eighteenth Indiana Infantry, commanding First Brigade.
HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION,
SIR: In accordance with your order, and as is customary in such cases, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the brigade under my command in achieving the complete victory over the enemy in the late battles fought on the 7th and 8th instant, at Leetown and Elkhorn Tavern, in Benton County, Arkansas.
On the morning of the 6th, in obedience to your command, I moved my brigade--consisting of the Eighteenth Indiana Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn; the Eighth Indiana, under Colonel Benton; the Twenty-second Indiana, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hendricks, and the First Indiana Battery, of six field pieces, under Captain Klauss-and took possession of the hills on the north side of Sugar Creek and immediately west of the principal Telegraph road from Springfield to Fort Smith, the Twenty-second occupying the left on the ridge next the road, the Eighth, with Klauss' battery, in the center, on another prominent point, and the Eighteenth on the next ridge to the right, each point being separated by deep ravines, extending back a considerable distance in the direction of the Cassville road. Colonel Benton and Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn, in compliance with orders, set their respective commands to work, throwing up in the course of five hours quite a respectable breastwork, which, in case of an attack from the direction of Cross Hollow, would have been an excellent defense.
On the night of the 6th the brigade bivouacked in this position. Nothing of moment transpired until about 10 o'clock of the 7th, when artillery firing was heard a mile or two to our right rear; also heavy firing in the direction of Cassville, immediately in our rear. The Twenty-second having in the mean time been ordered by you to re-enforce Colonel Vandever, near the village of Leetown, the left wing of the Eighth, under Lieutenant-Colonel Shunk, and Captain Klauss, with one section and a half of his battery, were ordered to support Colonel Carr, whose division, in conjunction with General Asboth's, was then engaged with Price's force near Elkhorn Tavern.
About 2 p.m. I received your order to proceed with the Eighteenth to the scene of action, which order was executed with dispatch by Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn. On arriving I found the Twenty-second in line of battle on the left and rear of Davidson's Peoria battery, which was in position in the southeast corner of a large open field. We immediately formed on their right. Here I took command of both regiments. Colonel White's brigade being warmly engaged with the enemy in the woods on the right of the clear land, I was ordered to his support. Moving in double-quick time by the right flank and passing through the timber to a small hill I found the Fifty-ninth Illinois retiring in disorder, having been overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers and a murderous fire from the Louisiana, Arkansas, and Cherokee troops. I closed up my lines as soon as the Fifty-ninth passed through, and, advancing through the field, changed my line of battle by wheeling to the left until I got about parallel with the right side of the large field first mentioned. Then pressing forward I found the enemy rushing upon Davidson's battery (Colonel White, with the Thirty-seventh Illinois, having retired to change his line), having taken two guns, which they turned on my command with some effect. Here they received a full volley from us, which threw them into the utmost confusion, when they abandoned the guns taken and retreated from the field, a part of them passing to our right rear, and a large force taking immediately through the line of the Twenty-second, which gave way, by order of Colonel Hendricks, and retired from the field, leaving the Eighteenth alone. About this time Colonel Hendricks fell, having received two mortal wounds.
About the time the enemy found I had them flanked Colonel White rallied the Thirty-seventh and nobly seconded my efforts to retake the battery. That portion of the enemy which passed my left flank poured in a desperate volley on the rear of the Eighteenth, which was rendered comparatively harmless by having the men fall flat down. The left wing was promptly faced by the rear rank and returned the fire with terrible effect on the enemy, while the right wing fired to the right front on those who were rapidly retreating in that direction. We then passed through to the open ground in front, having secured a complete victory over a force three times our number of the best Louisiana and Arkansas troops, assisted by a large body of Cherokee Indians, many of whom paid the penalty of their base ingratitude to the Government that has so bountifully provided for their welfare. After some little time the Twenty-second returned and took their position on the right of the Eighteenth, where we bivouacked on the same ground where we first formed. Thus ended the battle near Leetown, in which the enemy lost Generals McCulloch and McIntosh, with many other officers of distinction.
About 10 p.m. your orders were received directing me to move my command to the support of Carr's division, which had been warmly engaged all day with Price's forces. At 12 o'clock we moved, returning to the main road, thence north to the cleared land south of Elkhorn Tavern, where we took position on the right side of the road, the left of the Eighteenth resting on the road, and the right of the Twenty-second resting on the left wing of the Eighth, which had rendered gallant service during the day under Lieutenant-Colonel Shunk, in conjunction with the right wing of Klauss battery, which I found in position opposite the center of my command. Here we bivouacked on the edge of the brush-wood until morning.
At 7.30 a.m. on the morning of the 8th the fire was opened by Davidson's and Klauss' batteries, which in a short time was answered by a tremendous fire of grape and canister from a masked battery in a point of scrubby timber not over 150 yards from my line. Klauss' battery, after firing a few rounds, was forced to retire, the Twenty-second and Eighth likewise falling back in haste. The Eighteenth remained in ambush unobserved as yet by the enemy, their fire passing over, until I deemed it advisable to bring them to the rear, which order was executed without loss and in good order. I now reformed the Twenty-second and Eighth, and directed my line of battle parallel with and about 300 yards from my first position in the woods, but on receiving orders from you I changed my line by throwing the right back a little, in which position we cautiously advanced until my right rested on the clear land adjoining our first position. Here I received a message that the masked battery had retired; that I had to change position to get out of the line of fire of our batteries, which were then moving forward the enemy having given way. Here we passed to the front by file from the right until we were on the ground pointed out for us near the brush concealing the enemy's batteries, when to my surprise I found that there had been a mistake in supposing them withdrawn, as a perfect shower of canister belched forth from the thick brush in front, which, fortunately, was aimed too high. Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn, being forward, promptly gave orders to change front forward and form line along the fence, which was rapidly executed, our own batteries and that of the enemy in the mean time playing over us. An order to charge and take the battery was now given, which was received with cheers, the line advancing steadily with fixed bayonets, increasing the speed to a double-quick. Our men cheered with undaunted spirit, which caused the rebels to hastily withdraw their battery, and a general stampede ensued. We now deployed to the right, the Eighteenth being in advance, the Eighth and Twenty-second being separated by Colonel White's brigade, which, in the excitement consequent on the unexpected attack from and subsequent charge on the battery, had formed on its left. In this position the two brigades pushed on the enemy, in full retreat, frequently giving them a heavy fire from muskets and rifles, the chase being kept up through heavy fallen timber, passing which we got into open timber and moved rapidly forward. The enemy now having passed out of sight and the men being exhausted I gave up the chase, but advanced steadily up to the Huntsville road, when I halted the Eighteenth and awaited the arrival of the rest of the brigade, which came up in a short time. Colonel Benton now arrived with the right wing of the Eighth and the balance of Klauss' battery, which had been left to hold the crossing at Sugar Creek, no doubt thinking their lot a hard one at not being permitted to take a more active part in the achievement of so glorious a victory. This was the first time my command got all together since the engagement first commenced.
During the engagement of the 7th and 8th Captain Klauss rendered the most efficient service, being several times the first day unsupported by infantry, consequently in great danger of being cut off by the enemy.
I cannot close this report without noticing the promptitude with which nearly all the officers executed the commands given, but more particularly would I return thanks for the efficient aid rendered by Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn, Major Thomas, and Captain Short, acting major of the Eighteenth; to Colonel Benton and Lieutenant-Colonel Shunk, of the Eighth; also to my acting assistant adjutant-general, Lieut. George S. Marshall and Lieut. William F. Davis, aide-de-camp, who both rendered prompt and efficient service in delivering orders on the field. The officers of the line tried to emulate each other in forwarding the good cause in which we are engaged, and the men deserve the praise and congratulations of the whole country for their courage and efficiency exhibited on all occasions in the face of a desperate and unscrupulous foe.
In consideration of the galling fire to which my command was frequently exposed I am happy to say but little loss, comparatively, was sustained, every advantage being taken to save the men from exposure by lying down and otherwise, to which the accompanying list of killed, wounded, and missing will bear testimony. (Nominal list aggregated 17 killed, 80 wounded, and 7 missing)
The following officers have been favorably noticed by their respective commanders in regimental reports, namely: Capts. Jonathan H. Williams, John C. Jenks, and Dr. G. W. Gordon, of the Eighteenth, and Lieut. Col. D. Shunk, of the Eighth. Many others no doubt deserve particular mention who have escaped the observation of myself and their immediate commanders.
Col., Comdg. -First Brig, Third Div., Southwest Army.
Col. JEFFERSON C. DAVIS,
Commanding Third Division.
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