restricted access Chapter 4. Rush to Glory

From: Pea Ridge

The University of North Carolina Press colophon
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

I RushtoGlory T he campaign to liberate Missouri and retrieve the honor of Confederate arms in the West began in the Boston Mountains on Tuesday, March 4. Shortly after dawn the soldiers of the Army of the West formed up on Telegraph Road and moved briskly to the north through a curtain of falling snow Despite the cold, gloomy weather the rebels were in good spirits. A Texan recalled that the signal to advance "was hailed with enthusiastic shouts, and other demonstrations of joy."1 At Strickler's Station VanDorn shakily mounted a horse and rode along the length of Hebert's infantry brigade until he reached the gray-clad 3rd Louisiana. "The snow was falling fast," remembered Maury "and we did not feel very bright, until we were struck by the splendid appearance of a large regiment we were passing. It halted as we came upon its flank, faced to the front and presented arms, and as General Van Dorn reached its center, three rousing cheers rang out upon the morning air, and made us feel we were with soldiers." Van Dorn was delighted by this little ceremony and responded with a brief, fiery speech, but within an hour he felt so weak he was compelled to retire to his ambulance.2 Mclntosh's cavalry brigade took the lead, followed by Price's division, Hebert's brigade, and the small ammunition and supply trains. Forage was in extremely short supply in the Boston Mountains, and most of what was available had gone to the cavalry and artillery horses. Because of the sorry condition of Rush to Glory \\\ 63 the draft animals, keeping the trains closed up proved impossible, and within a few hours the line of wagons was "stretched out seemingly with no end to it." This was the first indication that the offensive would not go as planned.3 The rigors of the march soon began to tell on the men as well. McCulloch's troops had been in winter quarters for months,and the strain ofrapid marching was too much for some of them. The men in the recently dismounted cavalry regiments had a particularly difficult time keeping up. Winded soldiers with blistered feet littered Telegraph Roadbefore noon.VanDorn made matters worse by forcing a killing pace. Jolting along at a brisk gait in his ambulance, the feverish Confederate commander failed to see what was happening to his troops. "Wewere being rushed upon the foe like a thunderbolt ," said an officer in the 3rd Louisiana. "It seemed as if General VanDorn imagined the men were made of cast-steel, with the strength and powers and endurance of a horse, whose mettle he was testing to its utmost capacity and tension. Scarcely time was given the men to prepare food and snatch a little rest." As the hours passed, enthusiasm gave way to discontent. One Missourian remarked sarcastically that Van Dorn "had forgotten he was riding and we were walking."In his rush to glory, VanDorn was his own worst enemy.4 Worsening weather aggravated the situation. As the Army of the West emerged from the shelter of the Boston Mountainsonto the SpringfieldPlateau , a blizzard struck. Men and animals trudged into the howling wind, heads down, struggling to keep their footing on the icy roads. Late in the afternoon VanDornfinallycalled a halt at Fayetteville. Havingmarched without tents, the soldiers wrapped themselves in their blankets and huddled together for warmth in the snow Van Dorn and some other high-ranking officers rested comfortably in Fayetteville that night, but for most of the thousands of shivering Confederatesbivouacked around the town "anything like sleep was out of the question."5 On Wednesday,March 5, the northward movement continued through intermittent showers of snow Mclntosh's cavalry brigade rode up Telegraph Road and halted several miles north of Fayetteville. From there Mclntosh sent Col.B.WarrenStone's 6th TexasCavalry forward to demonstrate against the Federal outpost at Mudtown. This diversion was intended to focus Curtis 's attention on Telegraph Road while the main body of the Confederate army advanced on Elm Springs Road. The Texans captured a yankee foraging party of forty men and ten wagons and exchanged a few shots with the pickets at Mudtownbefore falling back to Fayetteville as directed.6 64 H I Pea Ridge After sending Stone on his way,Mclntosh led the main body of his brigade west across the rolling landscape to Elm Springs Road. The cavalrymen reached the road a considerable distance ahead of the...


pdf