restricted access Chapter 9. Perseverance beside a Tavern

From: Pea Ridge

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9 PerseverancebesideaTavern T he first Federal reinforcements to reach Elkhorn Tavern arrived around 12:30 EM. The leading element of Vandever's 2nd Brigade was Capt. Mortimer M. Hayden's 3rd Iowa Battery. Hayden's unit was popularly known as the Dubuque Battery and consisted of four six-pounder guns and two twelve-pounder howitzers. When the little column of artillery rumbled up to the tavern, it was met by one of Carr's staff officers. He instructed Haydento proceed down into Cross Timber Hollow and plant his cannons on Narrow Ridge a little above the churning cauldron marking the 1st Iowa Battery's advanced position.1 But before Hayden could move, Franz Sigel, of all people, commandeered two of his guns. Sigel was restless with nothing to do, and around middayhe journeyed up TelegraphRoad "to see how matters stood" at Elkhorn Tkvern. He did not visit Carr but simply watched the fight for a time from the road in front of the tavern. When the 3rd Iowa Battery came up and halted practically by his side, Sigel saw his chance to make a contribution. He led two cannons around the tavern to the head of Tanyard Ravine and directed the artillerymen to open fire. He later made the pathetic claim that "after a few shots the fire of the enemy opposite our position became weaker, and I sent the two pieces forward to join their battery." Sigel then departed and traveled across Pea Ridge to join Asboth and elements of the 1st and 2nd Divisions on the bluffs above Perseverance beside o Tavern \\\ 171 Little Sugar Creek.Alongthe way he halted the unauthorized withdrawalof the 3rd Iowa Cavalry, as noted earlier.2 Hayden reported to Carr while his gunners unlimbered their weapons on Narrow Ridge.He informed Carr that the rest of Vandever's brigade was fast approaching. With relief finally at hand, Carr ordered the 1st Iowa Battery to pull out of the fight and replenish its depleted supply of ammunition.Jones's grimy cannoneers climbed out of Cross Timber Hollow, leaving their former position littered with dead horses and shattered equipment. Carr then instructed the 35th Illinois to fall back and establish a new line in support of the 3rd Iowa Battery. Next,he sent a message to Dodge to move the portion of the 1st Brigade on Broad Ridge back to its original position near Huntsville Road. Obscured by the smoke and shielded by the trees, the Federal units retired in good order and with few casualties through the barrage of enemyfire.After spending an hour with his artillerymen at the most exposed Federal position in the hollow, a gallant if foolhardy act that earned him a Medal of Honor, Carr followed his men back to the edge of the plateau and established a more suitable division command post in the tavern yard.3 The Missouri artillerymen on Broad Ridge turned their attention to the muzzle flashes marking the position of the 3rd Iowa Battery. The slightly increased range offered Captain Hayden and his men little protection, and they soon experienced the fate of the 1st Iowa Battery.This second artillery duel had barely begun when the "unearthful howl" of Confederateprojectiles was punctuated by a terrific blast as an ammunition chest on a limber blew up. Correspondents Fayel and Knox rode up to the tavern at that moment. They felt the "tremendous concussion" and dramatically informed (or misinformed) their readers that "amid the cloud of smoke we imagined we saw the bodies of horses and men dropping down from the air." In fact, no one was killed or seriously injured in the explosion, but the battery soon lost a third ofits firepower when solid shot smashed the carriages ofa twelvepounder howitzer and a six-pounder gun. As the crippled cannons were withdrawn, the lowans continued to battle against impossible odds.4 Because the Confederates fired uphill at the 3rd IowaBattery,a numberof rounds sailed out ofthe hollowand landed on the plateau in the Federal rear. Fayel and Knox remained in front of the tavern during the height of the barrage, thereby gaining the distinction of being among the very few Civil War journalists to come under sustained enemy fire. The two men stoically sat on their horses at the junction of Telegraph and Huntsville roads and tried to absorb the chaotic scene, mustering all their will power to avoid 172 H I Pea Ridge ducking and dodging the misguided rebel fire. Years later Fayel still recalled...


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