Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/49

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39
General Van Dorn's Report of the Elkhorn Campaign.

forward with the attack, and at sunset the enemy was flying before our victorious troops at every point in our front, and when night fell, we had driven him entirely from the field of battle. Our troops slept upon their arms nearly a mile beyond the point at which he made his last stand, and my headquarters for the night were at the Elkhorn tavern. We had taken during the day seven cannon and about two hundred prisoners.

In the course of the night I ascertained that the ammunition was almost exhausted, and that the officer in charge of the ordnance supplies could not find his wagons, which, with the subsistence train, had been sent to Bentonville. Most of the troops had been without any food since the morning of the 6th, and the artillery horses were beaten out. It was therefore with no little anxiety that I awaited the dawn of day. When it came, it revealed to me the enemy in a new and strong position offering battle. I made my dispositions at once to accept the gage, and by 7 o'clock the cannonading was as heavy as that of the previous day. On the side of the enemy the fire was much better sustained; for being freed from the attack of my right wing, he could now concentrate his whole artillery force. Finding that my right wing was much disorganized, and that the batteries were one after the other retiring from the field with every shot expended, I resolved to withdraw the army, and at once placed the ambulances with all of the wounded they would bear upon the Huntsville road, and a portion of McCulloch's division, which had joined me during the night, in position to follow, while I so disposed of my remaining forces as best to deceive the enemy as to my intention, and to hold him in check while executing it.

About 10 o'clock I gave the order for the column to march, and soon afterwards for the troops engaged to fall back and cover the rear of the army. This was done very steadily—no attempt was made by the enemy to follow us, and we encamped about 3 P. M. about ten miles from the field of battle. Some demonstrations were made by his cavalry upon my baggage train and the batteries of artillery which returned by different routes from that taken by the army, but they were instantly checked, and, thanks to the skill and courage of Colonel Stone and Major Wade, all of the baggage and artillery joined the army in safety.

So far as I can ascertain, our losses amount to about six hundred killed and wounded and two hundred prisoners, and one cannon which, having become disabled, I ordered to be thrown into a ravine.