Battle of Pea
Report of Capt. Barbour Lewis, First Missouri Cavalry.
IN CAMP IN THE FIELD,
SIR: I have the honor to report to you that having received your order at daylight on the morning of Friday, the 7th instant, to furnish 15 men immediately for scouting purposes, I caused that number to be mounted promptly and went with them myself. Five or 6 others of my men also asked leave to go, making my force about 20. We were joined by about the same number from Company M, of the Third Illinois Cavalry, but now acting as provost guard, under your orders. Captain O'Connor had charge of his own detachment, and I placed myself and mine also under his command. He discharged his duties throughout, I thought, with coolness, ability, and judgment. We marched to the west of your camp, near the Elkhorn Tavern, and in a half or three-quarters of a mile found some of the scouts of the enemy skulking with their horses in the brush. Here we also found the brave infantry boys of Company F, of the Twenty-fourth Missouri Volunteers, under the lead of their gallant captain, Burris. The infantry soon routed the enemy from the brush and we all chased the foe some distance.
At about a mile from where we first found them they rallied to the number of some 150, but one or two volleys fired by a portion of the infantry under Lieutenant Hart soon scattered them in the utmost confusion. The lieutenant gallantly flanked them amid great difficulties and fought them with rare ardor and courage. The whole force, infantry and cavalry, pursued the enemy in a northwestern direction nearly 3 miles, until becoming certain that we were near a camp where the enemy lay in heavy force, and having obtained valuable knowledge of their plans and purposes, it was deemed best to suspend the pursuit and to return to camp. I repaired immediately to General Curtis' headquarters, where I found you, and reported what I knew. I then returned to camp, and sent out some of my men as scouts north and east. They soon returned, reporting the enemy to be very near and advancing rapidly in great force in both directions, they having during the night come around the whole camp on the west side and north with many thousands of men and several batteries of artillery. Unfortunately, a forage party sent off from my camp while I was absent in the morning was cut off, and Sergeant Siggins and Teamster Abram Gallaton, with a fine wagon and team, were captured by the enemy. Had it not been for the bravery, coolness, and good conduct of Lieut. George W. Moore and Corporal Hiltabidle, they, with some 8 or 10 of our men, would also have been cut off.
Under your orders we moved our camp into the general camp, but owing to the loss of one of our teams were unable to move everything, and lost half or more of our company commissary stores and 15 or 20 extra sabers and 4 or 5 Colt's carbines in a damaged condition, as also most of the commissioned officers' private baggage; Lieutenant Moore, losing nearly everything he had. During the rest of the day, and also during the 8th, my company performed almost constant duty under your orders, scouring the timber in every direction, keeping back the scouts of the enemy, breaking up their attempts at flanking, and taking numbers of prisoners. Sergts. W. A. Kirby, W. T. Hamilton, and Samuel H. McCartney acted in a manner to deserve the highest admiration. Private Skeels alone took a first lieutenant prisoner.
During a part of the 7th I was scouting under the direct orders of General Sigel. My men did hard service, and my only regret is that it was not in our power to participate more directly and efficiently in the principal engagement. Believing that we were useful, and conscious that we were truly anxious to be more so, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Captain Co. G, -First Missouri Cavalry, Provost Guard, &c.
Maj. ELI W. WESTON.
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