War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0745 Chapter X. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

A part of the agreement between General Price and myself was that all his unarmed men and camp followers were to be left at his camp, and under no circumstances permitted to march with the army. When we formed a junction at Cassivlle, some 50 miles distant, I learned, to my great regret, that the whole crowd of camp followers had arrived also. I remonstrated with General Price on the violation of the agreement. He said they should be left where we then were, and that i might draw up the plan detailing the order of march upon Springfield, which I did, and particularly said that the unarmed men were to be left at that point. This order was submitted to Generals Price and Pearce and met their approbation, and not until my division, being the advance, had marched did I learn that General Clark, of Missouri, had refused to obey the order to leave his unarmed men. I called on him at once and urged and the danger of a panic as a reason why they should be left. Knowing the danger of a divided command when brought in contact with one well united, well drilled, and under one efficient leader, I considered it of vital importance to rid the army of these men until after the battle was fought, but failed to accomplish it, as they all came with General Price to where I halted, some 30 miles from Springfield, the enemy being a short distance in advance. It was at this point I first saw the total inefficiency of the Missouri mounted men under Brigadier-General Rains. A thousand, more or less, of them composed the advance guard, and whilst reconnoitering the enemy's position, some 8 miles distant from our camp, were put to flight by a single cannon-shot, running in the greatest confusion, without the loss of a single man except one, who died of overheat or sun-stroke, and bringing no reliable information as to the position or force of the enemy; nor were they of the slightest service as scouts or spies afterwards. As evidence of this, I will mention here the fact of the enemy being allowed to leave his position, 6 miles distant from us, 20 hours before we knew it, thus carousing us to make a night march to surprise an enemy who was at the time entirely out of our reach. A day or two previous to this march the generals of the Missouri forces, by common consent on their part and unasked on mine, tendered me the command of their troops, which I at first declined, saying to them it was done to throw the responsibility of ordering a retreat upon me if one had to be ordered for the want of supplies, which seemed likely to be the case, their breadstuffs giving out about this time; and, in truth, we would have been in a starving condition had it not been for the young corn, which was just in condition to be used. My troops and those under General Pearce were in a little better condition, though by no means burdened with commissary stores.

At this juncture Major Dorn, of Missouri, arrived, bringing a letter from General Polk, saying General Pillow was advancing into Missouri from New Madrid with 12,000 men. After further reflection upon our condition I consented to take the command and to march upon the enemy. Preparatory to doing so, however, I asked of the Missourians, owing to their knowledge of the country, some reliable information of the strength and position of the enemy. This they repeatedly promised, but totally failed to furnish, though to urge them to it I then and at subsequent periods declared I would order the whole army back to Cassville rather than bring on an engagement with an unknown enemy. It had no effect, as we remained 4 days within 10 miles of Springfield, and never learned whether the streets were barricaded or if any kind of works of defense had been erected by the enemy. There was left only the choice at this time of a disastrous retreat or a blind attack