Battle of Pea
Report of Capt. Thomas A. Reed, Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry.
MARCH 10, 1862.
SIR: I hereby transmit a report of the part taken by Company A in the memorable battle which came off on the Fayetteville road, and what is called the Elkhorn Tavern.
After the rebels were discovered to be lurking in the vicinity in scouting parties, companies having been ordered out by you previous and sent in different directions to discover, if possible, whether the rebels were approaching in any considerable number or not, I received an order from you to turn out Company A and report immediately in the road opposite the tavern, which I did, when we were ordered to stack arms, which we did; after which Lieutenant Robberson was ordered with the second platoon to the top of a high hill to the left and northwest of the tavern, with orders to report back to headquarters if the enemy was discovered in any strong force. At the same time one section of the first platoon was out on the Huntsville road in a northeast direction, under J. T. Walker, fourth sergeant, while I took the remainder of the company, went down to the right of the road some 400 yards from the tavern, and discovered the enemy moving in column in a southeast direction toward the Huntsville road. My boys were anxious for a shot, upon which I granted three of them the exquisite pleasure of taking a pop at a few scouts we saw on the side of the hill between us and the main body. The rebels instantly began to form line of battle, when I returned and reported.
By this time Lieutenant Robberson had reported a considerable force passing around the hill which he occupied. About the same time Sergeant Walker returned, reporting the head of their column crossing the Huntsville road. We had some foraging wagons out that were returning. Our boys saw them captured by the enemy. Two men of Company A were out with the wagons; one of them made his escape and got into camp in the evening. The other two I suppose, have been captured by the enemy, to wit, Daniel C. Putnam and William D. Popejay.
In the mean time Lieutenant Robberson was ordered to regain the company, and the whole company, consisting in number (able for duty) 25 men, together with the gallant Sergt. Maj. A. A. Harrison, was ordered back to the top of the hill previously occupied by Lieutenant Robberson and party, to deploy as skirmishers and report as circumstances required. We proceeded immediately to comply with the order, and while advancing around the brow of the hill on the right we discovered to our right in a ravine numbers of the enemy in ambush, when I ordered the company to deploy as skirmishers, taking trees, rocks, stumps, &c., for covering, and pour it into them. Our boys, eager for the encounter, hardly waited for orders. Each fellow betook himself to a tree, and poured several volleys into their ranks, causing considerable stir among them, and no doubt they had very good reason, for upon examination of the ground after the retreat of the rebels their dead lay in numbers along the ravine. They gave way. We then advanced to the top of the hill and again deployed as skirmishers, and soon discovered the rebels thick in ambush there also. The boys availed themselves of the advantage of the covering of trees, and woe to the white blanket and butternut pants that came in their sight. Being convinced, however, they had a heavy force and were only trying to draw us out, and satisfied nothing short of a regiment would justify us in advancing and bringing on an engagement, I reported to you accordingly, when Company F, commanded by Captain Barris; Companies H and I, commanded by Lieutenant Lyon, also one company from the Iowa Fourth, were ordered up to re-enforce us, our force now consisting of about 150 men. The Iowa Fourth formed on the right; H and I on the left. Our line extended across the hill. We held our position nearly two hours, firing only when we could see a rebel, and, taking deliberate aim, we brought several to the ground.
I left Captain Barris in command and went to report to you again, upon which we were called off by your order, and the remaining part of the engagement in which we participated needs no recapitulation by me as you were an eye-witness of what followed. I must not close, however, without awarding great applause to the boys under my command. I refrain from mentioning names, as all merit praise for their valiant conduct. Such cool courage and bravery have rarely been exhibited on the battle-field. The officers also merit great praise--the gallant Sergt. Maj. A. A. Harrison, who by his conduct in rallying and cheering the boys on and setting them all example of bravery worthy of imitation, will ever endear him to Company A. Lieutenant Robberson performed his duty coolly and deliberately; in fact, all of the officers present, as well as men.
I respectfully submit the above as the part taken by Company A in the battle which came off near Elkhorn Tavern on the 7th instant.
THOMAS A. REED,
Captain, Comdg. Co. A, Twenty-fourth Mo. Vols.
Maj. ELI W. WESTON,
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