Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Southern Eyewitness Account of the Battle of Prairie Grove - Part One

West Overlook at Prairie Grove Battlefield
Continuing with some eyewitness accounts of the Battle of Prairie Grove, this post is the first of a two containing an account of the Battle of Prairie Grove written by a Confederate officer in General Mosby M. Parson's Missouri Brigade.

It was published in the Dallas Weekly Herald on January 7, 1863, and offers a fascinating account of the battle by an officer who took part in the fighting that erupted on the western end of the battlefield at around 3 o'clock on the afternoon of December 7, 1862. The unidentified writer was involved in the late afternoon attack down the ridge against the Union Division of General James G. Blunt.

The following is Part One of the account. I will publish Part Two in the next post:

Camp near Fort Smith.
December 19, 1862.

Something has “turned up;” we have fought a big battle with the abolitionists, near Cane Hill, 42 miles Northeast of this, and may be a few items from an “eyewitness” and participant, would interest you. Blount, of Kansas, with some 7,000 thieves, has for a few weeks, been encamped at and near Cane Hill, and you know the want and misery always inflicted upon the people by these Hessians wherever they go. For the purpose of freeing that country of their presence, and giving their 7000 carcasses to the “Potter’s Field” – of sending them where thousands of their companions in arms have gone before; to the regions of the d—d, our excellent General, Hindman, ordered a forward movement on Cane Hill. We made a forced march, without commissaries or blankets, and met the (?) some four miles this side of Cane Hill, on the 6th inst. After skirmish with, and driving him to the top of the mountain, on the Cane Hill road, night having set in, our army, with the exception of some 1500 cavalry, drew off in the darkness to the Cove Creek road, and the morning found us in his rear, on the Fayetteville and Cane Hill road, by the old Walnut Church. We made sure we had that 7,000 safe, and were counting, jubilantly, the rich haul almost in our fingers. But you know “there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” Hush! What is that? Heavy cannonading opens on our rear and right; brigades and divisions change front and are saluted with the bristling bayonets of twelve to fifteen thousand abolitionists going to the aid of Blount. The battle now opens furiously; the feast of blood and death begins! Fifteen thousand brave rebels – Missourians, Texians and Arkansians – brave alike – pitted against at least 20,000 abolitionists, and the air and earth, for five mortal hours, is filled with every conceivable missile of death. The road of artillery and musketry beat anything I ever heard, and I have been in several battles. The Feds charged us repeatedly, but the men stood there as firm as the oaks around them, and their shouts of victory drowned the cries of the dying, as they beheld the Federal legions break and fly in utter demoralization from the steady fire of their unerring rifles. The First Missouri Brigade, (to which I belong,) under command of Gen. M.M. Parsons, had been under a steady fire of musketry and artillery for some two ours. Our brave General Parsons rode along the line, making himself heard above the din of battle, encouraging the men; said he: “My brave soldiers, those cut-throats stand between you and your outraged homes – cut them down and stamp them into the earth. Give them cold steel; charge bayonet!” and oh! what a shout went up from that gallant brigade of exiles, as they swiftly charged, regardless of death, to the Federal lines.

To be continued...  To read more about the Battle of Prairie Grove, please visit

No comments: