December 7, 1862.--Battle
of Prairie Grove, Fayetteville, or Illinois Creek, Ark.
No. 40.--Report of Col. Emmett MacDonald, Missouri Cavalry (Confederate), commanding brigade.
HEADQUARTERS MACDONALD'S CAVALRY BRIGADE,
Van Buren, Ark., December 11, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit to you the following report of the part my brigade took in the battle of Prairie Grove, Ark.:
On the morning of the 7th instant, I was ordered to march in column on the Cove Creek and Fayetteville road. After having proceeded on that road for 10 miles, I was ordered to take a right-hand road; that the enemy was right in my front. I at once directed my course northwesterly, and succeeded in getting between the enemy and Fayetteville. Discovering the enemy behind a rail fence and in the brush, I ordered up Captain West's battery, which was in the rear. In the meantime I discovered the enemy was forming to charge me. I at once divided my force in two columns, intending to attack the enemy in front and flank, and ordered charge. The charge was led gallantly by Colonels [R. P.] Crump and [M. L.] Young. While running on the enemy, they ran up two white flags. Thinking it a signal for surrender, I ordered my command to cease firing, and galloped up toward the enemy and found they were retreating. I repeated my order of charge, and my command dashed in upon them, scattering them in all directions. There were some 50 or 60 threw down their arms and surrendered at once. My command, never stopping to take prisoners, continued the pursuit within 6 miles of Fayetteville. The road was strewn with guns, pistols, sabers, wagons, and all descriptions of camp and garrison equipage that the enemy deserted in their wild panic. We charged through woods, over creeks, and through open fields, no obstacle seeming to impede the valor and impetuosity of my gallant command, only a remnant of the Yankee brigade escaping in the fastnesses of the Boston Mountains. I then ordered a recall of my troops from the pursuit.
After having fallen back for about 2 miles, I found the main body of my command formed behind a protection, in front of a large force of the enemy's infantry and artillery. I then, in company with Lieutenant-Colonel Crump, made a reconnaissance, and found the enemy strongly posted in a skirt of timber. Learning that our infantry was a long distance behind, I dismounted 75 of my men and sent them out as skirmishers, deceiving the enemy, while I withdrew my command, and, falling back across the Illinois, I was then ordered by General Marmaduke to take position on the left of the Fayetteville road. We remained in line of battle for some time, expecting the approach of the enemy for some three hours.
In the mean time Captain West's battery was ordered up to a strong position on my right. I then sent out a portion of my command, under command of Capt. William P. Saufley, of Colonel Crump's Texas regiment, to scout on the left flank.
In the mean time the enemy formed a line of battle in the open field in my front, and I opened upon them with my artillery. This artillery duel lasted for some time. I was then ordered to move my cavalry force upon the Cane Hill road, which order was immediately obeyed. Having moved but a short distance, General Marmaduke ordered me on the extreme right, to outflank and charge the enemy, and, in conjunction with Generals Shoup's and Fagan's gallant commands, succeeded in compelling the enemy to fall back rapidly. I was then ordered by General Hindman to move a portion of my command on the extreme left, which order was immediately obeyed, and that portion of the command put in charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Young, whose accompanying report you will find inclosed within.
These positions were occupied until night put an end to the battle. I was then ordered to move my command to the field near General Hind-man's headquarters. I was ordered then to picket the right flank of the army. During the night the enemy asked for an armistice of twelve hours, for the purpose of burying their dead.
At sunrise the next morning I was ordered to bring up the rear of the army, which I did, carrying off the field some 400 of the enemy's arms, and conveyed them to our camp at Oliver's.
For the list of casualties of this almost bloodless victory, I refer you to the within inclosed reports of Colonels Young and Crump. From the beginning to the end of the fight, whether in the headlong charge or quietly standing near the leaden hail, they all, without a single exception, evinced the most unflinching courage and intrepidity.
I would call your attention particularly to the daring chivalry of Colonels Young and Crump, and Major [G. W. C.] Bennett.
I also extend my thanks to my aide, Lieut. John P. Bull, for the cool and gallant manner in which he carried my orders during the whole battle.
To Captain Tholt, of Colonel Young's command, and Lieutenant Gregg, commanding Quantrill's men, I return my thanks for services and gallant deeds upon the battle-field.
I would also return my thanks to all the officers and men in my brigade for obedience to all my orders, especially my acting orderlies – Estes, Yetee, Theyer, and Tate – for their coolness and bravery during the entire day; and, captain, in conclusion, allow me to say the cavalry has proven itself one of the most effective arms of the service, and this battle is another evidence that it is the soul wins battles and not arms or numbers.
Colonel, Commanding Cavalry Brigade.
Captain [E. G.] WILLIAMS.
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