Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/199

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189
Recollections of the Elkhorn Campaign.

the battery of the gallant young Churchill Clarke, already the Pelham of that army. A cannon shot carried off his head that morning while he was working his guns.

This line was held most gallantly till 10 o'clock, when, the trains and the artillery and most of the army being on the road, we withdrew it and ordered it to cover our march. The gallant fellows faced about with cheers, believing they were only changing front to fight in some other position. The enemy was too much crippled to follow, and we marched back to Van Buren.

The battle of Elkhorn was then ended, and many a noble soldier had fallen, but of all who fell that day, I remember none who was more regretted than Colonel Rives. His very presence and manner bespoke a man of lofty nature, worthy of all the love and admiration in which he was held throughout that army. Only a few minutes before he fell he rode out of the line to give some explanation in person to Van Dorn of the condition of affairs, and as he concluded his brief interview, and turned his horse to gallop back to his place, we exclaimed, "What a noble looking fellow he is." Ten minutes after an aid-de-camp reported, "Colonel Rives is down, sir."

The battle of Elkhorn illustrates the danger of co-operative attack. Had Van Dorn adhered to his original plan and fallen on the enemy's rear with all the forces of Price and McCulloch, the disasters of the day would have been averted. We may fairly conclude that it was lost through want of discipline and cohesion in our army. Had we marched at the hour appointed in the order on the morning of the 4th, we would have cut off Siegel at Bentonville; even had we moved as rapidly as infantry should march, we must have met him there.

The remarkable fatality which befell McCulloch and McIntosh was fairly attributable to the same indiscipline. McCulloch was killed by a sharpshooter while riding alone to reconnoitre the ground in front of his army—where he ought not to have been.

McIntosh, being thus left in command of that wing, yielded to a gallant impulse and placed himself at the head of a regiment of Texas horse, which was moving to charge a Federal battery. He was one of the few killed in the charge, and was entirely out of his proper place when he fell.

The battle might yet have gone in our favor had it been pressed half an hour longer on the evening of the 5th. The cessation of our attack then was a fatal error.