Battle of Pea
Report of Col. Colton Greene, commanding Third Brigade Missouri Volunteers (Confederate).
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., MISSOURI VOLUNTEERS,
C. S. A.,
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit a report of the operations of my command in the actions of the 7th and 8th instant near Elkhorn Tavern:
In compliance with your order all the cavalry, excepting Captain Campbell's company, which fought as infantry, was dismounted before leaving camp in Boston Mountains, and which consisted of about 80 men, the remains of Colonel Frazier's and Colonel Freeman's regiments, Missouri State Guard, and squads of Confederates numbering 105. These were attached to the Confederate Infantry, together with parts of two companies of Colonel Schnable's Third Infantry, Missouri State Guard. I marched with 658 men on the 4th instant, leaving a strong camp guard behind.
On the morning of the 7th we reached the enemy's rear near the junction of the Bentonville and Springfield roads, the command being somewhat reduced from the severity of the march. I was immediately ordered into position by you on the hill to the left of the road, where our batteries were first posted. Here we received the enemy's fire for two hours, sustaining a loss of 10 in wounded.
I was again ordered to the right, to support Colonel Burbridge, and advanced in line several hundred yards, when I found myself in close proximity to one of the enemy's batteries. Our guide was missing, and we had advanced a considerable distance beyond Colonel Burbridge's position. The enemy opened on us with canister and shell, but my men, being well sheltered, sustained no injury. I held the position for thirty minutes, when we were fired into from one of our own batteries and were forced to fall back.
By your order I now took position on Colonel Burbridge's left, and advanced on the enemy, to the right of Elkhorn Tavern. The timber being obstructed by heavy undergrowth at this point, I was forced to oblique to the left, which movement brought me to the rear of the tavern, and here, by order, I took position on Colonel Rives' right, and co-operated with that gallant and lamented officer during the remainder of the action.
It was now late in the afternoon, when an advance was ordered by Colonel Henry Little, of the First Missouri Brigade. An open, unsheltered field lay between my men and the enemy. He was in force, and supported by a battery immediately on our front. Our brave men at once rushed through the field, charged the enemy in the face of a murderous fire, drove him back, pursued him until night, and with Colonel Rives' regiment slept on the most advanced position, which was the one now held.
This ground we held by order of Major-General Van Dorn and stood to our arms the greater part of the night expecting an attack. The fight at this point was renewed in the morning with heavy artillery-firing and continued for over an hour, when our batteries were, ordered off. We held our position, and I was ordered to keep the enemy in check and fall back with Colonel Rives. He had now advanced within easy range, and we opened a brisk fire upon him, falling back slowly. Three times we formed and fought him, when, perceiving his intention to flank us, we fell back on the hill to the left of Elkhorn Tavern, and were ordered by Colonel Little to follow the main body of the army, which had already been withdrawn.
I cannot close this report without bearing testimony to the gallantry of Lieutenant-Colonel Shaler, of your staff, Major Franklin, Major Johnson, and Captain Campbell, who rendered me invaluable service during the action. The two last named officers were both wounded.
I wish also to record my praise for the endurance displayed by men and officers on the march and for their courage in action. They were without food for twenty-four hours before the engagement and received but one meal of flour and bacon during the two days following. Their conduct in the charge near Elkhorn Tavern is particularly deserving of your notice, as well as the good order in which they retired from the field and which was preserved on the whole march.
The killed and wounded of my command during the action, as far as known, was 65; for the particulars of which I refer you to the accompanying paper, marked A.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brig. Gen. D. M. FROST,
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