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15 MarchingthroughArkansas W hile the Army of the West reassembled along the banks ofFrog Bayou, VanDorn stayed close to his headquarters in Van Buren and immersed himself in correspondence and administrative duties. He continued to deny that Pea Ridge was a Federal victory. "I was not defeated, but only foiled in my intentions," he insisted in letters to General Johnston and Secretary of War Benjamin. "I am yet sanguine of success, and will not cease to repeat my blows whenever the opportunity is offered." He declared his determination "to recover as soon as possible and fight again."1 The Confederatecommander blamed his lack of success at Pea Ridge on a number of factors: a "badly-disciplined army," a "series of accidents entirely unforseen and not under my control," and the poor quality of his subordinates. Elaborating on this last point in remarkably blunt language, VanDorn told Adjutant General Cooper that he found "the want of military knowledge and discipline among the higher officers to be so great as to countervail their gallantry and the fine courage of their troops I cannot convey to you a correct idea of the crudeness of the material with which I have to deal in organizing an army out here. There is an absolute want of any degree of sound military information, and even an ignorance of the value of such information."He asked Cooper to send him several hundred copies of army regulations and manuals on infantry , cavalry,and artillery tactics. Van Dorris assessment of his Marching through Arkansas \ \ \ 285 officers was unduly harsh, but even if accurate, it leaves him open to censure for initiating the campaign without learning the capabilities and limitations of his subordinates.2 Van Dorn took this opportunity to reorganize the remainder of his army. McCulloch's and Price's separate commands were merged into a single, oversized division commanded by Price, who officially became a Confederate major general on April8.This unwieldly division was composed of four infantry brigades commanded by Little, Hebert, Green, and A. E. Steene; two cavalry brigades commanded by Greer and Churchill; and an artillery brigade led by Frost.3 In view of problems encountered on the way to and from Pea Ridge, the Confederate commander specified that each of the new brigades contain a pioneer force of one hundred able-bodied men, well equipped with tools, who would march at the head of the brigade and would enable it "to pass obstacles in the road with as little delay as possible." He also directed that each brigade contain a provost guard to "prevent straggling and disorder on the march" and to carry out other disciplinary tasks. VanDorn seemed to have learned that proper planning, organization, and equipment were essential for the success of a major campaign.4 Not everyone was pleased with the new arrangement. Former members of McCulloch's division—especially Texans—were incensed about the "amalgamation " of the two forces. They especially resented VanDorn's undisguised favoritism toward Price and his Missourians.John Good, the Texas battery commander, was outraged at VanDorn's sketchy official report on Pea Ridge: "I did think myself in that fight until seeing the report but am now 'officially' satisfied it is a mistake. The chivalry of Texaswas not upon the battle field of Elkhorn nor was my company. None of us like this. Texas plays second fiddle to Missouri^ Upon learning from the returning Confederate burial party that Curtis was amenable to an exchange of prisoners, Van Dorn sent another party back to the battlefield on March 15 with Lieutenant Colonels Chandler and Herron. Van Dorn proposed that the two Federal officers be exchanged immediately for Colonel Hebert and Major Tunnard. Curtis agreed and released the two Confederates along with eight lesser officers and enlisted men, all the rebels immediately at hand. Representatives of the two commanders then worked out an agreement to exchange the remaining prisoners as soon as possible.6 At the end of March the Confederates brought 239 prisoners to Cross 286 | | Pea Ridge Hollow and turned them over to the Federal army. Counting Chandler and Herron, 241 Federal prisoners (12 officers and 229 enlisted men) were exchanged; roughly one-sixth of these soldiers were captured prior to the battle, the remaining five-sixths in the battle itself, most of them near Elkhorn Tavern. Nearly all of the 450 or 500 unwounded Confederate prisoners were in St. Louis, and several weeks would pass before they could be located. By that time VanDorn...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469603063
Print ISBN
9780807820421
MARC Record
OCLC
731680394
Pages
432
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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