Battle of Pea
Report of Maj. Joseph Conrad, Third Missouri Infantry.
HDQRS. FIRST BATT'N, THIRD REGT., MO.
GENERAL: Pursuant to your orders, dated Camp McKisick, March 3, 1862, I left camp on the morning of the 4th, my command consisting of two companies of the Seventeenth, one of the Twelfth, one of the Third, one of the Fifteenth Missouri Volunteers, and one company of the Thirty-sixth Illinois Volunteers, one section of Captain Welfley's howitzers, and 30 Fremont and 30 Benton Hussars. Proceeding in a southwestern direction, I marched along Flint Creek until within 3 miles of Lindsey's Prairie, where I camped the night of the 4th. Starting at 7 o'clock a.m. on the 5th I still continued in the same direction until striking the State line road, whence I turned north towards Maysville, sending my adjutant, Lademann, ahead with 8 Fremont Hussars to arrest Mr. Gunter, a notorious secessionist. He met with 7 discharged soldiers of General Price's army, and charging upon them, he captured 5 after a long chase. My guides not being well acquainted with that section of country, I marched some 10 miles out of my way, arriving at Camp Walker towards evening, where I met Captain Kielmansegge, of your staff, who had the order that my command should either proceed to Pineville or return to camp.
The infantry being very tired, we camped that night in the building of the Vegetarian Society, 1 mile east of Camp Walker. In the night, at 10 o'clock, Captain von Kielmansegge proceeded to Pineville, his command consisting of my cavalry, one piece of artillery, and 20 men of infantry hauled in a wagon. At 7 o'clock in the morning of the 6th I received the order to immediately return to camp, as the enemy were approaching. I instantly moved forward on the Maysville and Bentonville road, and at 11 o'clock a.m., about 12 miles from Bentonville, I received your orders, dated Bentonville, March 6, 10 o'clock a.m., informing me to march to Miser's farm and Waters' Mill, and from there proceed to Potson's Hill. I marched on about 6 miles and turned to the left, the guide knowing a nearer road to Miser's farm.
I had proceeded only about 4 miles when I heard the report of cannon in the direction of Bentonville, and afterwards was rejoined by the 6 Benton Hussars who had brought me your latest orders. It was then 3 o'clock p.m. They had passed Waters' Mill and got to Sugar Creek Hollow, when they met 2 of the enemy and disarmed them. They had only proceeded a short distance when suddenly they beheld 2,000 of the enemy's cavalry. They immediately turned round and reported the circumstances to me, being obliged to leave the prisoners behind. I went across the hills and struck Pineville road, endeavoring to go around the enemy and join you at Potson's Hill, if possible. I followed that road up to McCullough's Hollow, where I turned to the right and marched along the State line. I could only proceed 2 miles in that direction because there was the only water, and the men were too fatigued to go any farther, having marched some 30 miles that day.
I started again at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 7th, gaining Pea Ridge, and turning off to the left I arrived at Shell's Mill at 9 o'clock a.m. At 12 o'clock I got to a little creek 4 miles from Keetsville, on the Keetsville and Pineville road, where I had to halt, the exhaustion of the men not permitting any farther marching. From there I proceeded, in company with Lieutenant Clever, Dr. Krumsick, and some 8 cavalry, to the Fayetteville road to reconnoiter. We had proceeded as far as the tan-yard, where the road to Bentonville turns off to the right. There we suddenly came upon the enemy's pickets, taking them prisoners, when presently I beheld large numbers of the enemy coming down the Bentonville road. I at once turned round to retrace my way to the camp, being eagerly pursued by the enemy's cavalry. I now knew that I was in the rear of the enemy, and knowing also the distance between the tan-yard and Potson's Hill, I saw that it was impossible for my worn-out men to force a passage. I therefore concluded to retreat upon the nearest post, to give my men rest and re-enforce the garrison, and at 5 o'clock p.m. I again moved forward to Keetsville and from there to Cassville. In Keetsville I halted an hour, waiting to escort a train of 9 wagons that had endeavored to join Colonel Davis' command and was greatly harassed by the enemy.
I arrived in Cassville at 11 o'clock p.m. Remaining there on the 8th, I received three days' provisions, only having three days' rations along when I started.
On Sunday the 9th, I again moved forward, under command of Col. C. Wright, Sixth Missouri Cavalry, the whole force consisting of my command, 150 of Colonel Wright's cavalry, and some 300 infantry that got in from Springfield the night previous with a train. That morning I rejoined your command at Keetsville.
In four days my command marched a distance of 125 miles. The following is my loss: One private of Twelfth Missouri, 8 of Company A, Seventeenth Missouri, and 13 of Company B, Fifteenth Missouri Volunteers. These men, not being able or willing to stay with the command, were picked up by the pursuing enemy.
I remain, yours, respectfully,
Brig. Gen. FRANZ SIGEL.
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