Numbers 4. Report of Colonel Peter J. Osterhaus, Twelfth Missouri Infantry, commanding First Division.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION,
Camp Welfley, Ark., March 14, 1862.
CAPTAIN: In compliance with special orders from headquarters of Southwest District I have the honor to report the part taken by the First Division in the three days' battle of the 6th, 7th, and 8th of this month.
At 9 o'clock p.m. on the night of the 5th instant (I was then stationed at McKisick's farm, 3 miles southwest of Bentonville, Ark.), I was officially informed of the approach of the enemy, receiving at the same time orders to march at 2 o'clock a.m. next morning, in order to join the other divisions of the army at Pea Ridge, on Fayetteville or Telegraph road. We left camp at the hour mentioned, and on arriving at Bentonville General Sigel ordered the Twelfth Missouri Volunteers, Major Wangelin commanding to remain there and re-enforce the rear guard (composed of the Second Missouri Volunteers, Colonel Schaeferr, the flying battery, and the Fremont and Benton Hussars). This force was to stay at Bentonville under the immediate command of General Sigel, while I myself proceeded to Sugar Creek with the other regiments and batteries of the First Division. On my arrival there I learned by rumor, afterwards confirmed officially, that General Sigel had been attacked at Bentonville, and that his egress from that town was disputed by a strong rebel force. I immediately, after giving notice to General Curtis, ordered all the regiments and Captain Hoffmann's battery to return with the utmost speed to the support of our general. They, together with the Fifteenth Missouri Volunteers, of the Second Division, responded promptly to my sudden call, and though tired by a 16-mile march, hurried back in double-quick to the field of action.
I had almost arrived at the head of Sugar Creek Hollow with this force when I met General Sigel and his small force, who had broken through the enemy. The latter was still following them. On a bend in the narrow defile formed by Sugar Creek Hollow I planted two pieces of Hoffmann's battery, while the Fifteenth Missouri Volunteers (Second Division) formed in line of battle in support of the battery, while the Seventeenth Missouri Volunteers were deployed as skirmishers over the whole breadth of the valley and the crests of the bordering hills.
The enemy advanced towards us with artillery in the valley and skirmishers on the hills, when a few rounds of spherical case and canister stooped him. His artillery played without success. I then ordered the two pieces back, as well as the infantry, with the exception of the Seventeenth Missouri Volunteers, which covered our retreat in most admirable style, exchanging an occasional shot with the enemy. Major Poten, commanding the Seventeenth Missouri Volunteers, deserves the highest credit for the determination and coolness exhibited on this occasion.
We arrived in camp without any further molestation, and prepared to bivouac on the northern ridges skirting Sugar Creek Hollow, near the camp of the other divisions, fortifying our position at once in anticipation of a night attack. The enemy did not molest us, however.
March 7.-Early morning brought us in the intelligence that the