Battle of Pea
Report of Col. John B. Clark, jr., commanding Third Division, Missouri State Guard.
CAMP NEAR WHITE RIVER, ARK.,
I have the honor to submit the following as the report of the part taken by the Third Division of the Missouri State Guard in the battle of Elkhorn:
This division left camp on Cove Creek on the morning of March 3, with the army under your command, and arrived on the morning of the 5th near Bentonville, where the enemy were discovered in retreat northward. The command was assigned different positions during the day in pursuit of the enemy, but, not coming in actual contact with him, the march, with but short intermission, was continued through the night, when, on the morning of the 6th, we arrived in presence of the enemy, in force near Elkhorn Tavern, when this command was ordered to take position on the ridge to the left of the road. After remaining in this position a short time Captain MacDonald's battery made its appearance, when we were ordered to post the command on his left as a support, General Frost's command being assigned position on his right and Colonel Saunders on the left of this command. As soon as this disposition of forces was completed a brisk cannonade was commenced between MacDonald's battery and that of the enemy. The range being too far for the musketry, this command was allowed to rest in position until Captain MacDonald suggested that effective service might be done by a small body of skirmishers. They were accordingly thrown out immediately to our front, and engaged and drove back those thrown out by the enemy, with no casualty except a wound received by Lieut. John Callaway, of Colonel Jackson's regiment. As the enemy fell back this command advanced in position as first assigned; having no further engagement with small-arms until late in the evening, when the enemy were discovered in position about 400 yards to our front. After several shots had been fired from the enemy's guns this command was ordered to advance in double-quick time across an open field upon them, which was obeyed with great promptness. When we had advanced to within about 100 yards of the fence behind which the enemy lay concealed we were met by a most terrific and deadly volley of musketry, when I ordered my command to fire. Now the conflict became earnest and terrible, and for a moment our brave men recoiled before its deadly aim; but, rallying with a shout for victory, they returned his fire, and in thirty minutes drove him in complete confusion from his position, pursuing him through the wood beyond.
Taking into consideration the great exposure of the men in an open field and the enemy's concealed position behind the fence and brush and the large number of officers killed and wounded, it is truly a wonder that they stood this severe test of their courage and devotion to the cause of Southern independence; but nobly and gallantly did they meet the trial, leaving 14 of their number dead upon the field and 103 wounded.
The officers who were killed were gallantly leading their men to the charge and their men lay close beside them. They were gallant spirits, and deserve the patriotic remembrance of their countrymen.
Our command consisted of six skeleton regiments, making in the aggregate about 500 men. The First Regiment was commanded by Major Rucker, who was seriously wounded and behaved with great gallantry. The Second was commanded by Col. Congreve Jackson, Lieut. Col. Robert Walker, and Maj. H. Hughes. The Third was commanded by Major Hutchinson. The Fourth and Fifth were consolidated, commanded by Col. J. A. Poindexter, Lieutenant-Colonel Pindall, and Major Perkins; Colonel Poindexter being slightly wounded. The Sixth was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Peacher, whose horse was killed under him. All these officers behaved with great bravery during the hottest part of the engagement. They did their duty well, and I take this opportunity to return them my thanks. Major Perkins deserves especial notice for his activity during the engagement in encouraging and rallying the command.
That night we lay upon our arms ready to meet the enemy at the dawn of day, and in the morning were assigned position on the extreme left of the line of battle, where we remained until ordered off the field.
This command has behaved gallantly, for during one of the most fatiguing marches, a severe battle of two days duration without food, and a retreat of several days, the soldiers have shown a bravery, endurance, and patience that was never surpassed by any troops, and they only require discipline to make them equal to any in the world.
Colonel Stone, the adjutant of the division, was only present during the first morning of the engagement. Major Jones, the provost-marshal of the division, was detailed on special duty away from the command, and while absent was wounded.
I take this occasion to return my thanks to the staff officers of the division present in the engagement.
Captain Finney, as volunteer aide, rendered efficient service to the command.
Lieutenant-Colonel Musser, the judge-advocate of the division, had his horse killed under him during the heat of the engagement, while encouraging the troops to do their duty like men.
Lieut. Col. W. B. Cox sustained the reputation won upon other fields, and was prompt and efficient in his duties upon the field.
Lieut. Col. James P. Vaughn deserves especial consideration, for whose careless indifference to danger, where duty called him, was observed by every one in the command. He never ceased to urge and encourage the men as long as the enemy held their position. His bearing was that of a true soldier and worthy the cause for which he fights so gallantly.
Dr. Grinstead, division surgeon, deserves the thanks of the command for his kindness and attention to our wounded.
Your orders were conveyed to me during the day by Celsus Price, of the Third Division, one of your volunteer aides. He was always cool and collected, so that I never mistook the order, and allow me to say that in the earnest face of the son I could see the heroism of the father.
All of which I submit to your consideration.
J. B. CLARK, jr.,
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