Battle of Pea
Report of Lieut. Col. Walter P. Lane, Third Texas Cavalry.
REGIMENTAL HDQRS. SOUTH KANSAS-TEXAS REGT.,
COLONEL: Amid the confusion and active operation in the reorganization of the army I have been so much occupied as to preclude an earlier report of the action of the South Kansas- Texas Regiment after you were called from its command by the much-lamented death of our gallant Generals McCulloch and McIntosh. The only object I now have in view is to furnish a necessary page to the history of the battles of the 6th, 7th, and 8th instant.
After the command had devolved upon you, on Friday evening, and when it was supposed that the enemy would attempt to force its way through our lines to the Telegraph road, which would have thrown them in the rear of General Price's division of the army, I drew my regiment up immediately north of the center of the enemy's column, and anxiously held that position until near sunset, when the order was given to move northward to a suitable point for camping.
Although my men were almost exhausted by the fatigue, loss of sleepy and hunger, consequent upon the three days' and nights' forced march and the wearing and action of the day, they retired from the field with reluctance. Having encamped upon the side of a mountain near the enemy's line---indeed, in plain view of their camp-fires--we were constantly in hearing of the rumbling of the enemy's artillery as it passed from the battle-field of the 7th--where the brave Texan ranger, McCulloch, gave himself up as a sacrifice to his country's good--to join the forces opposed to General Price, and remained in sleepless vigilance until 1 a.m., at which time, by your order, we took up the line of march for General Price's encampment.
About an hour before daylight Saturday morning we reached the right of Price's column on Sugar Creek, and there, for the first time in forty-eight hours, my soldiers were permitted to snatch a few moments of troubled sleep, only to be aroused by the deep-toned thunder of forty cannons soon after sunrise.
The soldiers of my command impatiently awaited orders to move forward, and the alacrity with which they obeyed the first summons indicated the patriotic purpose of each one to discharge fully his duty in driving back the deluded bigots who had invaded our soil. Silently and with stern resolve did they form for battle, and many a brave heart chafed with anxious zeal during the heavy firing which occurred near the Elkhorn Tavern.
When the order was given to fall back not one of those composing my command supposed for a moment that a retreat was contemplated, nor were they undeceived until the order came from General Van Dorn for the South Kansas-Texas Regiment to cover the retreat of the army. It was the impression of' the general that the enemy's cavalry would attempt an attack upon our rear, on the broad mountain-flat over which we were then passing. So soon as I received the orders I formed my command in battle line upon the right and left of the road, in hearing of the enemy's shouts, and thus held the position taken until the rear of the army passed. As regiment after regiment passed slowly by no indication of alarm or knowledge of defeat could be discerned.
It is due to the gallant soldiers composing that squadron that I should state that two companies of Colonel Cooper's regiment, commanded by Captain Welch and aided by Adjutant Lee, promptly formed with my command and remained with me during the day. I must also mention the conduct of Captain MacDonald, of the Missouri Army, and his gallant artillery corps, who remained with me during the entire day. The defeat of our army was barren of results to the enemy, as they were too badly crippled to pursue us a mile.
Upon the evening of the third day I was ordered across to Huntsville, to protect a portion of our artillery and a large train of wagons captured from the enemy. This duty, in conjunction with Colonel Gates' regiment, Missouri troops, was performed safely, although my men and horses were nearly exhausted. To the officers and men of my command I feel profoundly grateful for the gallant discharge of every duty devolved upon them, and commend them individually and collectively to the Government.
I have the honor to remain, yours, most respectfully,
W. P. LANE,
Col. E. GREER,
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