War of the Rebellion: Serial 008 Page 0253 Chapter XVIII. PEA RIDGE, OR ELKHORN TAVERN, ARK.

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No. 20. Report of Colonel Julius White, Thirty-seventh Illinois Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.


Camp on Sugar Creek, Arkansas, March 11, 1862.

GENERAL: In obedience to your order, received at about 1 p.m. of the 7th instant, this command, consisting of the Thirty-seventh Illinois Volunteers, the Fifty-ninth Illinois Volunteers (late Ninth Missouri), and the Peoria Light Artillery, in all about 950 men, took position in front of the enemy near Leetown. The force we encountered consisted of the Third Louisiana, Colonel Hebert, a regiment formerly commanded by General McIntosh, Colonel Mitchell's and Colonel McRae's two regiments of Arkansans, and a large body of Indians, under command of Colonel Albert Pike, with a reserve of several other regiments, all being under the chief command of General Benjamin McCulloch.

The enemy taking position in a dense thicket on our right, this command was moved in and formed in line of battle in perfect order within 150 yards of the enemy's front. Both lines then advanced slowly, not a gun being fired until the distance between them was reduced 60 or 70 yards, when the fire opened almost simultaneously from both sides, and was maintained for about three-quarters of an hour with very little intermission at very short range. At this time, finding that the enemy was outflanking our right, notwithstanding I had deployed this command to an extent which was of itself hazardous in the effort to prevent such a result, and desiring to execute a change of front corresponding to the requirements of the emergency, I threw back the Thirty-seventh Illinois in good order to the corner of the field on our left, where it was again formed. While in the execution of this movement a fresh regiment of the enemy made a sudden charge from the brush-wood, and after disabling a number of horses by a volley succeeded in capturing two guns of the light artillery. Their triumph was short-lived, however, for the Thirty-seventh Illinois immediately fired upon them and charged, routing their right wing at the same time that the First Brigade, under Colonel Pattison, came into action on our right, driving the left wing of the enemy in confusion from the field and retaking our guns. After following the enemy into the woods about a mile beyond the battle-field this command rested for about two hours, when we marched, by your direction, to a position on the main road in the direction of Cassville, where we bivouacked for the night.

Among the officers, who all exhibited the utmost gallantry and efficiency, it is impossible to distinguish individuals.

Of Lieutenant Colonel M. S. Barnes, of the Thirty-seventh, and Lieutenant Colonel C. H. Frederick, of the Fifty-ninth, it is but just to say that they were cool, determined, and discharged their duty as commanding officers of their respective regiments in a manner that entitles them to the thanks of their countrymen.

Both Major John Charles Black, of the Thirty-seventh, and Major P. Sidney Post, of the Fifty-ninth, were wounded early in the engagement, each severely in the sword arm. The former continued on the field until peremptorily ordered by myself to leave it for the purpose of having his wound dressed. Major Post also refused to leave the field until it was insisted on by Surgeon Maynard.

Captain C. V. Dickinson, of the Thirty-seventh, and Captain Clayton