Battle of Pea Ridge
or Elkhorn Tavern, Arkansas
MARCH 6 - 8, 1862

No. 44.

Report of Col. Thomas H. Rosser, commanding Second Brigade, Confederate Cavalry.

Camp Ben. McCulloch, Ark., March 21, 1862.

GENERAL: In compliance with the duty imposed upon me as the ranking officer of my brigade, occasioned by a severe wound received by General William Y. Slack on the morning of the 7th instant, I have the honor to report such of the particulars of the battle of Elkhorn as came under my immediate view and connected particularly with my command:

At an early hour on the morning of the 7th instant, simultaneously with the general moving of the army, General Slack ordered the entire infantry of the brigade, composed of the battalions of Col. J. T. Hughes, Maj. R. S. Bevier, and that under my command, to march in the direction of Trott's Hill, or Sugar Mountain, which order was promptly obeyed. The column had barely deployed into line of battle near the summit of the mountain when we encountered a sharp volley of musket and rifle balls from the enemy, producing but little effect, however, in our ranks. The shock to our new recruits was only momentary, and in a few moments our brave general so disposed the men as not only to protect them from injury, but resulted in the entire rout of the enemy from his ambuscade.

With deep regret I have to state that at the early part of this engagement General Slack received a severe and painful wound in the region of the hip, which compelled him at once to leave the field, and by his order I assumed the command of the brigade. My horse was also killed under me without injury to myself.

As soon as it was ascertained from the scouts which had been sent to different portions of the mountain that the enemy had fled, the three battalions were so distributed, en echelon, as effectually to protect us from surprise, either upon our flanks, front, or rear. This distribution of the troops enabled the commands of Colonels Hughes and Bevier, aided by a detached company of my battalion, under the command of Lieut. Jeptha Duncan to repulse a charge of a large body of cavalry and of scattering them in every direction. The bravery of these officers and their men on this occasion deserves an especial notice. There were various efforts upon the part of the enemy to regain the hill, but were in every instance repulsed by the bold and impetuous charges of our men.

The charge and capture of a bronze 6-pounder by the officers and men of the Second Battalion deserve especial notice in this report. Capt. Samuel F. Taylor called my attention to the appearance of horses and the rumbling of artillery wheels ascending the hill on our extreme left. Simultaneously with this Lieut. Eugene Erwin, of the same company, directed my attention to the fact that a 6-pounder was about to be planted within 150 yards obliquely to the left and front of our lines. The gun had not been unlimbered and was still in motion when a charge was ordered, and at once every member of the battalion rushed forward with the boldness of well-tried and disciplined troops, killing the horses and capturing the gun. This success inspired our men with great confidence in themselves, and having received an order from General Van Dorn to close the interval existing between Colonel Burbridge's regiment, of the First Brigade, and my command, I ordered a forward movement of the entire brigade, which enabled us to attack the enemy on his left flank and rear. A charge was made at the double-quick a distance of 300 yards, and to our great gratification the enemy were dispersed and shot down in every direction. The men and many of the officers favored a charge on a battery of six guns which was in the field before us; but believing that it was heavily supported by infantry in ambush immediately in the woods beyond, and being separated from the balance of the army by some 400 yards, I returned with the command to the position formerly occupied by us.

With this charge closed the day, and at night my men, having been refreshed by provisions which had been captured from the enemy, slept soundly, without tents, blankets, or fire, within sight of the Federal camp, which was immediately over the hill beyond us. Our charges having been successful in every instance, officers and men were sanguine that victory was ours, and that the following day would make successful our arms.

Early on the following morning, the 8th instant, in obedience to orders from headquarters, I caused the infantry of the brigade to be placed on the extreme right of the line of battle, which had been drawn up on the top of Sugar Mountain. Each battalion of the command received a shower of cannon ball and grape shot for at least an hour without the possibility of discharging a gun. At this time we were ordered to fall back, and in a short time afterwards I received the order to retreat, not, however, till most of the main army had left the field. I brought my command off in the best possible order, and no member of the command was aware that we were retreating till we were 5 miles from the battlefield.

The artillery of this brigade under the command of Capt. William Lucas I have learned did noble work, and officers and men displayed much valor. The battery was detached from the brigade during the entire action. The guns were all brought safely from the field and are now in camp. The gun captured by my battalion was placed by your permission in this battery, but has been subsequently turned over to Captain MacDonald's battery by order of General Van Dorn.

For the part which the cavalry portion of this brigade had in this battle I refer you to the accompanying report of Col. G. W. Riggins, of Colonel McCulloch's battalion.  

In this report, which I make in a hurried manner, I would like to refer in an especial way to the valorous and truly brave conduct of officers and men of the brigade; but suffice it to say that all did their duty well, withdrew from the field of action in common time, and not a man was whipped.

Our loss was 3 killed and 29 wounded.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


 Colonel, Comdg. Second Brig., Confed. Vol. Cav.


Commanding Missouri State Guard.

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