Battle of Pea
Report of Col. E. Greer, Third Texas Cavalry, commanding division.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST CAVALRY BRIGADE,
I have the honor of submitting to you the following report of the action of the forces under my command in the battle of the 7th and 8th instant:
Early in the engagement my command had been assigned a position by General McCulloch on the field to be held at all hazards. Repeatedly during the day I sent messengers for orders to Generals McCulloch and McIntosh. Not being able to find them, and growing impatient from long delay, I ordered my regiment to horse and moved them in the center of the field, and then went in search of the generals myself. Meeting with the staff of the two generals, I was then for the first time informed that they were dead, and that I was senior officer on the field.
My first inquiry was for Brigadier-General Pike. I was informed that he had left the field, and, as I afterward learned, with a great portion of the division. I at once assumed command of all the forces remaining on the field, sending Captain Dotson to the rear to halt and bring back the different commands that were moving, with the determination, as I understood, of going around and joining General Price's division. About this time I received a note from the commanding general, addressed to General McCulloch, containing information that the enemy had been driven back on the left.
Later some one came from the commanding general and stated that he desired we should hold our position. Being unexpectedly placed in command and having had no intimation of the general plan of attack, seeing but few troops on the field, and not knowing the whereabouts of the remainder, I took a view of the field and its surroundings.
I discovered Captain Hart's battery of four pieces on a hill in close proximity to the enemy, unsupported by any of our troops. Soon after the discovery Captain Hart opened a heavy fire on the advancing forces from the other side of the hill. I moved my regiment rapidly up to that point, and ordered Captain Hart to move his battery some 400 or 500 yards, while my cavalry would cover his rear.
About this time I was informed that Colonel Stone's regiment had left for the train, and feeling apprehensive that the enemy would send a considerable force and destroy it, I ordered Major Brooks, with his battalion, to form a junction with Colonel Stone's forces for its protection. After remaining here for some time I carefully examined our position and available forces present, who had free access to all the commanding points south of us.
I ordered the troops under my command to bivouac for the night. Soon after this order was given Captain Bradfute suggested, as we were not prepared to remove the battery which had been captured from the enemy in the early part of the engagement, that a detail be at once sent back to disable or destroy it. I dispatched two companies for this purpose. Large heaps of rails were piled around and upon the guns, fire set to them, and in this manner these cannon were effectually disabled.
My force at this time, as reported to me, consisted of the Third Louisiana Regiment of Infantry, Colonels McNair's, McRae's, and Mitchell's regiments of Arkansas infantry, Colonel Young's regiment of cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Dimond; Colonel Sims' regiment, commanded at that time by Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle, Colonel Sims having been wounded in the morning; Colonel Embry's regiment, and my own, the Third Texas Cavalry, with Captain Hart's battery of four pieces. These constituted my entire command remaining on the field. The most of these regiments went into the engagement with greatly reduced numbers and came out mere skeletons. My effective force could not have exceeded 3,000 men, and they were exhausted with fatigue and the want of good food and water.
At 10 o'clock, after consultation with all the leading officers around me, I determined to issue the order to take up the line of march at 1 a.m. and join General Price's division. Dispatching a messenger with a statement of our condition, the number of my forces, accompanied with a copy of the order of march to the general commanding, giving time to return before the hour of 1 a.m. in case it did not meet with his approbation. The messenger returned before the above-stated hour with an order to move as soon and as rapidly as possible, and take a position on the Telegraph road.
At 1.30 we took up the line of march and before day reached the Telegraph road, and there awaited further orders.
About sunrise an order reached me from the commander-in-chief, stating that the enemy was advancing. A guide was sent me to conduct me to a position on the left of our army.
When I reached a point not exceeding a mile from the right wing of our army the fight was renewed by heavy cannonading on both sides. Very soon I reached my position on the left, forming the infantry regiments in two parallel lines and the cavalry in the same way, with the head of these columns resting on the right of the infantry. I was instructed then to hold this position and await further orders.
After remaining in this position about two hours an order was received by me from the commanding general to fall back on the Huntsville road some mile or mile and a half, leaving one regiment of cavalry on the ground to take position to relieve Colonel Little, who was covering our rear. When at the distance of about a mile an order reached me from the commanding general, directing me to close up my infantry and move down the road, keeping the cavalry on the right and left of the road, out of the way of the troops in the rear.
It is with great pleasure I would bring to your favorable notice the names of Captains Bradfute, Dotson, Frank Armstrong, and Hardeman, Major Montgomery, Lieutenants Heimes and Edwards. These officers aided and assisted me on the evening of the 7th and on the 8th. Captain Dotson, aide-de-camp, and Captain Bradfute, as adjutant-general, were prompt and efficient in assisting me in forming the division in line of battle, and they both deserve great credit for their coolness and energy.
Yours, very respectfully,
Col. D. H. MAURY,
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