Recount of the Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas.
Bourbon County Monitor, Saturday, Dec. 6, 1862, Pg. 2
Vol. I, No. 18
Great Victory in Arkansas!
Troops Cover Themselves with
We have private accounts of a battle in Arkansas, below Pea Ridge, between Gen. Blunt’s command of six thousand Kansas troops and twenty thousand secesh—under whose command we have not learned—in which our troops achieved one of the greatest triumphs of the war. We have been unable to get any particulars; the following being the account of the battle, which we are informed, arrived at Fort Scott last Wednesday.
Gen. Blunt, finding himself pressed by a greatly superior force of the enemy, had fallen back to a stronger position than he had formerly occupied and commenced fortifying. In this position he found that the enemy had succeeded in flanking him, with a force of five thousand on the right, and an equal number on the left, while they approached from the front with the thousand. The flanking force was obliged to go around some distance, before they could approach our force. While they were doing this, our troops “pitched in”, --as they usually do—and made a vigorous and determined charge on the force in the front, which movement resulted in the utter defeat of the enemy, and the capture of six thousand prisoners, the most of their artillery, munitions of war, and baggage. We have no further accounts as to the movements of the troops after this—whether the flanking force made another attack, or whether they gave up the effort after they saw the disastrous result of the contest. The general impression is that the latter course was pursued or that a further contest was postponed, in which case reinforcements probably arrived before it could be renewed.
Our loss in killed and wounded we have not been able to ascertain, though we are informed that a portion of the regiments, and especially the sixth, were badly cut up. The gallant Lieut. Col. Jewell, of the latter regiment was mortally wounded. In his death the country has lost a brave and efficient officer, and his untimely fate will be mourned by many warm friends in this section of the State.
If the report, as we have received it is correct the achievement is certainly one of the most brilliant that have marked the history of the war, and not only adds immortal honors to those that have already been gained by our brave troops in battles of Missouri and Arkansas, but reflects great credit upon the commanding officer and his subordinates, for their sagacity and bravery.
LATER—The following official report from Gen. Blunt, will show that, although it is a fact that our troops gained a brilliant victory over greatly superior forces, the principal portion of the above report is entirely untrue. We gave the report as we received it from Fort Scott. Here is the official reort.
St. Louis, Dec. 1st.
The following dispatch was received at head-quarters in this city on Saturday night:
HEADQUARTERS, Battle Field, Nov. 29.
To Maj. Gen. Curtis:
GENERAL—Learning that a rebel force, under Gen. Marmaduke, 8,000 strong, was at Cane Hill, forty miles north of Van Buren, Ark., and that Gen. Hindman was to join him to day or to-morrow with a large force of infantry, for the purpose of making a desperate effort to enter Missouri, I determined to strike Marmaduke and destroy him before reinforcements arrived.
Leaving my transportation in the rear, I made a forced march of thirty miles, with about 5,000 men, and attacked him at 10 o’clock this morning.
Found him strongly posted on advantageous ground.
After an engagement of about three hours, he commenced to retreat. Every foot of the ground was fought over, and hotly contested until near sundown, when the enemy—finding that their artillery, which they had made every effort to get away was about to be captured—sent Cols. Shelby and Emmett McDonald with a flag of truce for the ostensible purpose of caring for their dead and wounded, but with the real object of making good his retreat to Van Buren. The casualties of the day, I am unable to state with accuracy at this time, as we fought over twelve miles of ground. One of the rebel officers with the flag of truce stated to me that they had lost sixty in killed, among them a Lieut. Col. My loss is comparatively small.
Among the wounded are Lieut. Col. Jewell and Lieut. Johnson, of the Kansas Sixth, both of them, I fear, mortally.
The enemy is badly whipped, and will probably not venture North of the Boston mountains again this winter, if this part of the State is held, as it is their reliance for subsistence, and having eaten all in the valley, they must retreat into Texas.
I have sent for my transportation to come up, and shall occupy a position at or near Cane Hill.
The rebels had ten days’ rations, and intended making a desperate effort to force their way North.
Very respectfully your ob’dt servent.
JAMES G. BLUNT.
Brig. Gen. Com’gd.