Meanwhile the Second Missouri, Colonel Schaefer, and one part of the First Division arrived in town. I ordered this regiment, as well as the Twelfth Missouri, under command of Major Wangelin, the flying battery, under Captain Elbert and the whole disposable cavalry force, under Colonel Nemett, comprising the Benton Hussars, the Thirty-sixth Illinois Cavalry, under Captain Jenks, and a squad of 13 men of Fremont Hussars, under Lieutenant Fred. W. Cooper, to occupy and guard the town, to let the whole train pass, and remain at my disposition as a rear guard.
At 8 o'clock the train had passed the town and was moving on the road to Sugar Creek. With the intention not to be too close to the train and awaiting report from Lieutenant Schipper's picket at Osag Springs two hours elapsed, when ten minutes after 10 it was reported to me that large masses of troops, consisting of infantry and cavalry, were moving from all sides towards our front and both flanks.
After some observation I had no doubt that the enemy's advance guard was before us. I immediately called the troops to arms and made them ready for battle. As Bentonville is situated on the edge of Osage Prairie, easily accessible in front and covered on the right and left and rear by thick woods and underbrush, I ordered the troops to evacuate the town and to form on a little hill north of it. Looking for the Second Missouri, I learned to my astonishment that it had already left the town by a misunderstanding of my order. I am glad to say that this matter is satisfactorily explained by Colonel Schaefer, but at the same time I regret to report that this regiment was ambuscaded on its march and lost in the conflict 37 men in dead, wounded, and prisoners.
The troops now left to me consisted of about eight companies of the Twelfth Missouri, with an average strength of 45 men, five companies of Benton Hussars, and five pieces of the flying battery; in all about 600 men. The troops I directed to march in the following order: Two companies of the Twelfth at the head of the column, deployed on the right and left as skirmishers, followed by the flying battery; one company of the same regiment on the right and one on the left of the pieces, marching by the flank, and prepared to fire by ranks to the right and left, the remainder of the regiment behind the pieces, two companies of cavalry to support the infantry on the right and left, and the rest of the cavalry, under command of Colonel Nemett, with one piece of artillery, following in the rear. In this formation, modified from time to time according to circumstances, the column moved forward to break through the lines of the enemy, who had already taken position in our front and in both flanks, whilst he appeared behind us in the town in line of battle, re-enforced by some pieces of artillery. The troops advanced, slowly, fighting and repelling the enemy in front, flankward, and rear, wherever he stood or attacked.
From the moment we left the town, at 10.30 in the morning, until 3.30 o'clock in the afternoon, when we met the first re-enforcements-the Second Missouri, the Twenty-fifth Illinois, and a few companies of the Forty-fourth Illinois-we sustained three regular attacks, and were uninterruptedly in sight and under the fire of the enemy. When the first re-enforcement had arrived I knew that we were safe, and left it to the Twenty-fifth and Second Missouri, and afterwards to Colonel Osterhaus, to take care of the rest, which he did to my satisfaction.
It would take too much time to go into the detail of this most extraordinary and critical affair, but as a matter of justice I feel it my duty to declare that according to my humble opinion never troops have