Battle of Pea
Report of Col. William Vandever, Ninth Iowa Infantry, commanding Second Brigade
HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, FOURTH DIVISION,
COLONEL: On the morning of the 4th instant I left Camp Halleck at Cross Hollow in command of an expedition in the direction of Huntsville. The forces consisted of 350 of the Ninth Iowa Infantry, 150 from Colonel Phelps' Missouri regiment, one battalion of the Third Illinois Cavalry, one section of the Dubuque Light Artillery, and one section of Bowen's mountain howitzers. We prosecuted the march and arrived at Huntsville at noon on the 5th without incident. A portion of the enemy's stores were captured at their camp, 3 miles beyond Huntsville, and several prisoners taken. From the prisoners I obtained information that the enemy were advancing in the direction of our lines for the purpose of attack, which information I immediately transmitted to headquarters, and then prepared to retrace my steps. On the same evening I moved out of Huntsville and camped 3 miles distant. At 2 o'clock in the morning I received your order to return and rejoin the main body at Sugar Creek, and at 3.30 o'clock resumed my line of march, and at dusk the same evening arrived in camp, having accomplished a forced march of 40 miles in a single day. Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon officers and men for energy and perseverance in surmounting the difficulties of this long and painful march.
On the morning of the 7th, being aroused by the sound of firing in the direction of Elkhorn Tavern, in obedience to your order I moved up my brigade, consisting of the Ninth Regiment of Iowa Volunteers, Colonel Phelps regiment of Missouri Volunteers, and the Dubuque Light Artillery, the Third Illinois Cavalry having already been ordered to observe the enemy. Upon arriving at the Elkhorn Tavern the artillery immediately took position near the main road and opened a brisk fire, infantry forming mainly on the left, Colonel Dodge's brigade being to the right. Soon after my whole line of infantry was briskly engaged with the enemy, who fell back, we pushing forward and driving him until met by an overpowering force. The infantry then resumed the position in advance of the Elkhorn Tavern where the enemy was first encountered, and retained it during most of the day against greatly superior odds, a part of the time being supported by a battalion of the Eighth Indiana, under Lieutenant-Colonel Shunk, which, however, was soon withdrawn and sent to the support of Colonel Dodge. Towards evening, the enemy having concentrated a heavy fire of artillery and infantry upon our position, and to avoid the chance of being flanked during the night, I fell back to a line of timber and formed on the right of the main road. Here Lieutenant-Colonel Shunk again joined me, and we remained in line, resting upon our arms, until near morning, when I again moved to the left of the road and formed on the left of Colonel Dodge's brigade.
Soon after sunrise the fire of our artillery again opened upon the enemy and he replied with vigor. At this point, finding ourselves exposed to a raking fire from one of the enemy's batteries on our right, we changed direction to the east. About this time, the First Division coming into position on our left, we joined in the general advance upon the enemy, the whole cavalry force participating and the artillery co-operating. The enemy here broke into disorder, and the fortune of the day was decided in our favor.
I cannot close this account without bearing testimony to the coolness, bravery, and steadiness of all the troops under my command. Colonel Phelps was especially active in leading his command, and inspired them by his own example to deeds of bravery. Of Lieutenant-Colonel Herron, commanding the Ninth Iowa, too much cannot be said. He was foremost in leading his men, and with coolness and bravery never excelled rallied them to repeated acts of daring and bravery. Unfortunately at the close of the day on the 7th his horse was killed under him, and he, being disabled by the fall, was captured by the enemy. Major Coyl, also of the Ninth Iowa, acted with distinguished bravery until disabled by a painful wound, when he was compelled reluctantly to leave the field.
I deem it but just to add that every officer of my command was prompt and ready in the discharge of duty throughout the action, inspiring their men by example to acts of determined bravery. Lieut. Asher Riley, my acting assistant adjutant-general, deserves particular mention. Upon the fall of Captain Drips and Lieutenant Kelsey, of Company A, Ninth Regiment, both distinguished for their bravery, Lieutenant Riley gallantly took command of the company and remained with it to the end of the action. Captain Carpenter and Lieutenant Jones, of Company B, distinguished themselves by leading their company into the face of an overpowering force of the enemy and recapturing one of our guns and a caisson. Lieutenant Tisdale, of Company F, deserves especial mention for his gallantry while in command of the company after the fall of Captain Towner and Lieutenant Neff, both of whom acted with distinguished bravery until disabled by painful wounds. Captain Bull, of Company C, was particularly distinguished for his coolness and bravery ;also Lieutenant Baker, of Company E, and Captain Washburn and Lieutenant Beebe, of Company G; Lieutenants Crane and Magee, of Company D; Captain Moore and Lieutenant Mackenzie, of Company H. Captain Carskaddon and Lieutenant Claflin, of Company K, were conspicuous for bravery. Captain Drips of Company A, and Captain Bevins, of Company E, fell mortally wounded while gallantly leading and cheering their men. Company I was commanded by Lieutenant Fellows, whose conduct was deserving of great praise. Many instances of special gallantry occurred among non-commissioned officers and men. Where all did their duty so nobly and so well distinction would be invidious.
I desire also to call your especial attention to the Dubuque Light Battery, under command of Capt. M. M. Hayden, whose report is appended. Captain Hayden and every officer of this battery acquitted themselves with the highest credit. They bore the hottest fire of the enemy with coolness and intrepidity, the men under the skillful lead of Captain Hayden performing duty with cheerfulness and alacrity, and never faltering. He mentions special instances of bravery in his report hereto appended, to which I would call especial attention.
Numerous instances of individual bravery occurred during the trying events of the battle which I cannot enumerate. I can only say that I feel deeply indebted to every officer and man of my command for the heroic manner in which they have acquitted themselves. They did their duty nobly. I herewith append a list of casualties.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Ninth Iowa Vols., Comdg. Second Brig., Fourth Div.
Col. E. A. CARR,
Commanding Fourth Division.
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