Battle of Pea
Report of Brig. Gen. D. M. Frost, commanding Seventh and Ninth Divisions, Missouri State Guard.
HDQRS. SEVENTH DIV., MISSOURI STATE GUARD,
SIR: In obedience to orders from general headquarters I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my command in the battle of Elkhorn Tavern and the operations leading thereto:
The troops under my command consisted of Guibor's battery, of four guns, and MacDonald's, of three guns, and what is known as McBride's division, comprising some 500 infantry and 120 cavalry.
In obedience to General Orders, Nos. 58 and 59, from Major-General Price, my command, provided with three days' rations and without baggage and camp equipage, proceeded on the march from Cove Creek on Tuesday morning, the 4th instant, in the direction of Bentonville.
On Thursday morning, the 6th instant, when about 6 miles from that place, I received orders to advance at double-quick time, which was executed by the command until they arrived at the village, though too late to participate in the skirmish between our cavalry and General Sigel's retreating force, yet in advance of other commands which had preceded them on the march.
The pursuit continued without halt or rest during the whole day, and night found us worn down with fatigue and our three days' rations exhausted.
At 8 o'clock on the same evening the pursuit was continued and lasted all night.
At daylight on Tuesday morning an hour's rest enabled the command to push forward with some degree of vigor, although unremitted marching and fasting had reduced its effective strength at least one-third of its whole number.
At about 10 o'clock on Friday morning I was ordered to form my infantry in line of battle on a hill to the left of the State road, on Sugar Creek. Subsequently MacDonald's, Wade's, Clark's, and Guibor's batteries occupied the same position, which for some hours exchanged a heavy fire with the enemy, during which time my infantry and cavalry (then and during the remainder of the action dismounted) acted as supporting force.
The enemy's batteries being silenced or abandoned, I received orders to move my command to the support of Colonel Little's brigade; but being informed by him that Burbridge's brigade was being heavily pressed on the right of his line, I advanced my command and relieved that regiment, which formed in my rear.
Having performed this duty, I received an order to move my command to the left, to attack the enemy's position at Elkhorn Tavern, and in conjunction with Little's brigade to advance upon that position, thus necessitating a change of front in line, which was executed under fire.
Heavy firing being heard on the left, which was understood to be the signal of a general advance, my command moved promptly forward in the line, and, sweeping the enemy before it, halted only after driving them back upon the plain and under the protection of what seemed their last batteries. Night here closed upon the scene and the men slept upon their arms on the enemy's field.
During this last advance the enemy lost his position at Elkhorn Tavern, a battery of artillery, some standards (one of which, that of the Douglas Dragoons, fell into the hands of my command), and a large quantity of sutler's and subsistence stores. These latter supplies were obtained in good time, for long fasting and incessant labor had nearly exhausted the powers of human endurance.
At about 7 o'clock on Saturday morning the enemy, having concentrated all his force, attacked our lines, directing his efforts particularly on the Elkhorn Tavern. The orders from headquarters were for my command to keep its position in the general line and to fall back with the regiment next on its right, that regiment having retired before the enemy. My command did the same, halting, however, and reforming in the face of the enemy some three times and delivering their fire with coolness and effect, and finally leaving the field by a flank movement to the left in good order, and among the very last of our troops. Both of my batteries (especially MacDonald's) served under the immediate observation and direction of the commanding general, who equally with myself is familiar with the services which they rendered at and about the Elkhorn Tavern.
In concluding this report I should do injustice to the troops so lately placed under my command did I not speak of them all--artillery, infantry, and cavalry--as having behaved in the most admirable manner. The only deficiency observable among them was a want of practical knowledge; but this was more than compensated for by cool determined courage, exhibited on all occasions and to a degree seldom equaled. While their conduct on the field was thus admirable, it in no degree surpassed that which characterized their subsequent march to this place, straggling having been unknown to the column and prompt and ready obedience accorded the officers in command.
When all did their duty so well, it seems invidious to select any individuals for particular commendation; yet justice demands that the names of Col. Colton Greene, Lieut. Col. James R. Shaler, and Capt. Emmett MacDonald should be particularly mentioned. The former I found in command of the infantry when it was assigned to me a few days before the battle, and I permitted him to retain the chief command on the field. Colonel Shaler, my division inspector, volunteered and was accepted to act as Greene's lieutenant, and MacDonald's battery was heard in the thickest of the fight from the commencement to the close of the action. All these officers bore themselves in the most admirable manner throughout the engagement and are deserving of especial notice. Colonel Greene (whose report is transmitted herewith) justly speaks in terms of high commendation of Maj. William Franklin, Maj. Waldo P. Johnson, and Capt. L. C. Campbell, the two last of whom were wounded, but remained on the field, and all of whom I most heartily commend to your favorable consideration.
Captain Champion, whose name is identified with the battles of Oak Hill, Drywood, and Lexington, and who led a party of 20 cavalry attached to my person, made a dashing effort, at the head of his little band, to capture the colors from a regiment drawn up in line of battle, and although he failed in his attempt and had 2 of his men wounded, yet he inflicted a loss of some 6 or 8 upon the enemy.
My own personal staff on the field (consisting of Lieutenant-Colonel Magenis, aide; Col. T. T. Taylor and Mr. Henry Tracy, volunteering in that capacity; Dr. Joseph T. Scott, and Dr. S. R. Clark) was augmented by that of McBride's Seventh Division, consisting of Colonels McBride, Asbury, Campbell, and Drs. Wooten and Small. All of these gentlemen assisted me with ability and zeal. Colonel Taylor particularly distinguished himself by his courageous disregard of the enemy's fire. His horse was killed under him by a round shot. Lieutenant-Colonel Magenis also had his horse shot under him at my side.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
D. M. FROST,
Brig. Gen., Comdg. Seventh and Ninth Divisions, Mo. S. G.
Capt. WILLIAM H. BRAND,
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