We then turned and rode up the road towards Bentonville, and after riding about a mile found that the enemy's cavalry were pursing at full speed. Leaving them in the rear by rapid riding, we turned into the woods on the right, passed around the farm house on the Pea Vine Ridge, and road westward between the Pineville and Bentonville road.
We had been informed by my brigade commissary, who had come up from Camp Stephens about 10 o'clock, that our whole train had been turned back and was encamped at Pea Vine Ridge.
Three miles from the Telegraph road we saw a small body of our retreating horsemen fired upon by the enemy's infantry, and concluded, as they had evidently anticipated our retreat and made every arrangement necessary in view of it to destroy our retreating forces, that General Sigel, returning by the route up Sugar Creek, by which he had retreated, was in front of our train and it was lost.
Owing to the circuit which we were constrained to make and to the fatigued condition of our starved horses, we were unable to gain the front of our retreating forces until after they had left Elm Springs; and learning that the Indian troops had marched from that point to Cincinnati, we joined them at that place.
The enemy, I learn, had been encamped at Pea Vine Ridge for three weeks, and Sigel's advance was put a ruse to induce our forces to march northward and give them battle in positions selected by themselves.
I may add that in their pursuit of our retreating train they followed no farther than Bentonville and returned from that point. I was within 5 miles of that place on Monday morning and was misled by information that they had taken it that morning; but they did not enter it until the afternoon.
I did not know until I reached Cincinnati what had become of the main body of our forces. I there met Captain Schwarzman and Major Lanigan, who informed me of their retreat, and that Generals Van Dorn and Price were marching from Huntsville to Van Buren, and also heard of the order to burn all the wagons on the Cove Creek road that could not cross Boston Mountains.
Just before night, Saturday afternoon, I had met Colonel Rector in the hills, who told me he had about 500 men with him; that they were in such condition that they could not go more than 6 or 8 miles a day, and that he thought he would take them into the mountains, hide their arms in a secure place, and, as he could not keep them together and feed them, let them disperse. He asked my opinion as to this, and I told him that no one knew where the rest of the army was; that Generals Van Dorn and Price were supposed to be captured and the train taken; that if his men dispersed with their arms they would throw they away, and that I thought the course he proposed was the wisest one under the circumstances. The enemy were pursuing on all the roads, and as it was almost impossible for even a dozen men in a body to procure food, I still to not see what better he could have done.
General Cooper, with his regiment and battalion of Choctaws and Chickasaws, and Colonel McIntosh, with 200 men of his regiment of Creeks, came up with our retreating train at Camp Stephens, where they found Colonel Drew's regiment, and remained with General Green, protecting the train until it reached Elm Springs, where they were all ordered to march with their own train to Cincinnati.
I am, captain, very respectfully, yours,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Department of Indian Territory.
Captain D. H. MAURY,