Battle of Pea
Report of Col. Grenville M. Dodge, Fourth Iowa Infantry, commanding First Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, FOURTH
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the First Brigade of the Fourth Division in the battle on the 7th and 8th instant; also of the killed, wounded, and missing:
On the morning of the 7th I was ordered to take position with my brigade near Elkhorn Tavern, on the Springfield road. On my arrival I discovered the enemy in the timber about half a mile to the right, and brought up one section of the First Iowa Battery, which opened the battle, doing considerable execution. The enemy fled to the hollow, when I deployed my line, covering as much ground as possible, placing Major McConnell, commanding one battalion of the Third Illinois Cavalry, on the right, the Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry on the left, and the Fourth Iowa Infantry and one section of the First Iowa Battery in the center, on the center sending forward a company of skirmishers from the Fourth Iowa, who soon became sharply engaged, causing the enemy to open on us with shell, solid and grape shot. Four pieces of the First Iowa Battery were planted on the Springfield road near the tavern, which opened on the enemy's batteries to the right. Capt. J. A. Jones and Lieutenant Gambell were wounded here. Soon after this the Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry became engaged in the attack made in the morning on the left, and fought with great bravery. Colonel Smith fell wounded and the regiment lost severely.
As soon as the engagement had fairly begun I closed up my line to the left and awaited the attack, keeping the section of the battery at work with my skirmishers until near 2 o'clock, when the enemy ceased firing and drew back. I soon discovered that the enemy were preparing for a general attack, and changed front to the right, covering my men with a rail fence, forcing the enemy to cross an open field to reach me. I formed my line and opened fire with one section of my battery, the other four pieces having left the field for want of ammunition. The enemy answered with eight pieces of artillery, and advanced on my right, left, and front. I brought up the skirmishers and placed them on the left, and held the position for more than two hours with at least 6,000 infantry and eight pieces of artillery against me, the artillery playing upon us at short range with canister. My section of the battery left the field early, having exhausted all their ammunition.
Near the last of the engagement three rifled pieces of a German battery were sent to me and took position on my left, which, after firing three or four rounds, was compelled to retire from the field, being flanked by a regiment of the enemy. I then ceased firing, to discover the position of the enemy's forces on my right, when they immediately advanced to within 100 feet of my lines, when I ordered my men to fire, which they did so effectually that the enemy fled along the whole line in confusion. Fresh regiments immediately filled their places. Finding that the enemy were outflanking me on the right and that my forces were insufficient to extend my lines, I sent for re-enforcements, and obtained five companies of the Eighth Indiana Infantry, which I placed on my right. The firing becoming more terrific, the enemy having placed a battery on my left that enfiladed my line, the ammunition of the Fourth Iowa beginning to fail, the Thirty-fifth Illinois being forced to give way, I ordered Colonel Chandler to rally his men, which he did with great gallantry, driving the enemy back a short distance on the left, but he was soon surrounded and taken prisoner, with 40 men.
1 noticed at this time that the Second Brigade, which was on my left, ceased firing. I sent my adjutant to ascertain the cause. He informed me that they had retired. At this time the ammunition of the Fourth Iowa had almost entirely given out, and I ordered them to fall back, which they did in splendid order in line of battle, the enemy running forward with their batteries and whole force. I halted and turned on them, and with my last ammunition poured so hot a fire into their ranks that they fled in confusion. I then fell back and took a position on the open field in my rear, the division at this time having been strongly re-enforced. General Curtis ordered the Fourth Iowa to fix bayonets and advance, though they were out of ammunition. They did so, and moved briskly over the field, but found no enemy. General Curtis then ordered us to halt, it being dark. I then took the brigade back to camp to replenish their ammunition and clean their guns, which they did, and at 12 o'clock took another position on the left of the road.
At sunrise the First Iowa Battery was put in position and opened fire on the enemy's batteries, which were planted on the point near the hotel. The fire was effective and very hot. The battery had to retire in about an hour, having spent all the ammunition. I was then ordered to the right, and took that position, advancing with the entire line steadily until the enemy fled in all directions in confusion. We took many prisoners, also one gun (spiked) and one caisson.
The list of the killed and wounded in the brigade shows that it fought against fearful odds and disputed the field with great stubbornness. Every field officer in the brigade was disabled and had to leave the field, and only two lieutenants were left in the battery. When so many fought so gallantly it is hard to distinguish, but I noticed the daring bravery of Major McConnell, of the Third Illinois Cavalry, who supported me on the right, and of Colonel Smith, of the Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry, who in the early part, of the day fought gallantly until he was wounded. I make mention especially of Lieutenant-Colonel Chandler, who displayed coolness and bravery in rallying his men. Lieutenant-Colonel Galligan rendered efficient service in holding the Fourth Iowa firm, no part of which gave an inch until the whole was compelled to fall back. I wish to mention especially the bravery and valor of Capt. H. H. Griffiths, acting major, and of Lieut. J. A. Williamson, brigade adjutant; also of Lieut. V. J. David, commanding the section of the battery on the right; also of Private J. W. Bell, adjutant's clerk, who fell mortally wounded while nobly doing his duty, and Color Sergt. T. Teil, who, after being severely wounded, staid upon the field. The conduct of the above-named officers came under my personal observation. All did well and fought nobly, and did their parts in winning a great battle.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
Col. Fourth Iowa, Comdg. First Brigade, Fourth Division.
Lieut. T. W. SULLIVAN,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Brig., Fourth Division.
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