|Gen. Alexander Asboth, USA|
A former Hungarian freedom fighter and the Chief of Staff who had helped General John C. Fremont organize the Union army to defend Missouri the previous year, Asboth was at his best when operating with cavalry in advance of an army. He moved quickly and efficiently at 9:30 a.m.:
...Following Sugar Creek 4 1/2 miles, I struck the Cassville and Springfield Road (which leaves the Wire road at a point 6 miles behind Sugar Creek Crossing, where the First and Second Divisions were last encamped), and after surprising a dismounted rebel cavalry picket 4 miles this side of Bentonville and taking some of their horses and all their saddles and bridles, I occupied Bentonville at 20 minutes past 12 o'clock. - Gen. Alexander Asboth, USA, February 19, 1862.
|Fremont Hussars (Civil War Drawing)|
|General Asboth (foreground) and his dog|
...After a short engagement the rebels were driven to flight, leaving behind a large amount of provisions, arms, wagons and horses. Besides that, our forces captured a number of prisoners, and took possession of their regimental flag, which they found hoisted at the courthouse. - Major C. Schaeffer Bornstein, USA, March 4, 1862.
General Asboth reported, however, that there was no resistance in the town:
|Civil War map showing Bentonville, Arkansas|
Asboth reported that the Confederate troops from Bentonville had evacuated their camp there to reinforce the main Southern position at Cross Hollows. After doing some scouting of the area, he returned to the primary Union camps at 7:30 p.m. and presented the captured flag to General Curtis.
The taking of Bentonville with such relative ease convinced General Curtis that he could move a flanking force around to the west from his position at Sugar Creek to force Confederate General Ben McCulloch's main body from its camps at Cross Hollows. McCulloch realized this as well and immediately prepared to evacuate that position and its comfortable winter quarters.
I will continue to post on the 150th anniversary of the Pea Ridge Campaign over coming days and weeks, so be sure to check back regularly. You can always read more about the Battle of Pea Ridge at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pearidgeindex.