War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0320 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T. Chapter X.

Search Civil War Official Records

General Pillow, in his narration of the events connected with this battle, states that, having been ordered over the river, he proceeded with the forces at his command, and-

Had barely time to get my troops in position, when I was assailed by a very large force. I immediately dispatched an officer to General Polk and requested him to re-enforce me. Subsequently I dispatched another officer to General Polk, stating that I was engaged with a force three times the strength of my own, and that my ammunition was growing short, and requested him to re-enforce me promptly and send me ammunition. The fight waxed on, but no re-enforcements or ammunition came. I ultimately sent a third officer, saying that if I was not promptly re-enforced and furnished with ammunition I would be overwhelmed by the enemy. My battery was now silenced for want of ammunition, and one regiment and a battalion had expended their ammunition; still I got neither re-enforcements nor ammunition. Being now without the means of keeping up a line of fire, and pressed hard by the enemy, I had nothing left me but the bayonet, and I ordered the charge, and drove back the enemy's line against his strong reserve; but I could not break his line, and was compelled to fall back to my original position. The enemy's line was then again advancing upon me. I repeated the charge the second and third times with like results, but still no support reached me. After four hours of hard fighting against a force of three times my own, and after a loss of quite one-fourth the force engaged, to save my command from total destruction I at last ordered the line to fall back to the river bank. There I met with Colonel Walker's regiment, the first support sent me.

How General Pillow could have risked himself in making such a statement as the above, when he knew that witnesses abounded who could disprove all that was material in it, is difficult to account for, except upon the principle that the power to believe one's own inventions like all other powers, grows upon what it feeds and is strengthened by exercise.

I have taken the trouble to obtain the written testimony of all the colonels of regiments who were under his command on that occasion, as well as that of some others, colonels of regiments and others, all of whom testify to what they personally know of the matter.

The papers containing this testimony are herewith transmitted, and are marked from A to M, inclusive.*

We have seen what General Pillow's statement is as to the time of getting into position.

"The statement of Colonel Tappan (vide Numbers 34.) on the contrary, is that instead of his having barely time to form his line before he was attacked, "he was in position above three-quarters of an hour." Lieutenant-Colonel Bell, of the Twelfth Tennessee Volunteers, says "one hour."

The object to be accomplished in making the time short was to find an excuse for taking a bad position.

General Pillow says he was "four long hours" without ammunition or re-enforcements, although he had sent three times for them.

Major Winslow (vide Numbers 38(, there acting as my aide-de-camp, states that he was sent by me over the river to General Pillow with orders before the fight began; that General Pillow requested him to ask me for a regiment of infantry and a section of artillery as a reserve; that he immediately crossed the river to return, and, while crossing, the battle opened (it is generally agreed that the battle opened from 20 to 30 minutes past 10 o'clock). He adds that a squadron of horse and two batteries of artillery were immediately sent forward.

Brigadier General Preston Smith, then colonel of the One hundred and fifty-fourth Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers, acting on the 7th as general officer of the day, says (vide Numbers 26.): "Between the hours of 9 and 10


*These inclosures appear as reports Nos. 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 34, 35 38, 39, and 40, and the references in General Polk's letter are changed accordingly.