On the morning of the 13th we entered Springfield the second time with bands playing and flags flying. Price had left in great haste during the night and the way the road along his retreat was littered with broken down meal wagons, mules, horses and every thing else, showed plainly that he and his rebels were doing their utmost to get away from us, but nevertheless, our pursuit was so close that every afternoon our advance caught up with his rear and generally had a skirmish till dark, till on the 18th when shortly after noon our advance cavalry, the 1st Missouri, and 1dst Iowa made an attack on them near Sugar Creek Hill and had quite an engagement, whereby we lost 9 men and 15 horses. Their losses were heavier, so after a pursuit of over 100 miles they finally slipped away from us.
They opened with shot and shell on us, Sigel's forces being to the left of Carr's Division were also involved and so by 10 A.M. the Battle of Pea Bridge (or Elkhorn Tavern) started and soon developed all along the whole line. After 12 o'clock, there being somewhat of a lull our Brigade was ordered from where we had fortified near Leetown, where McCullough with McIntosh and forces were crowding our troops pretty heavy. After passing though Leetown, while the 37th Illinois unslung knapsacks, the rest of the Brigade deployed behind a rail fence on either side of a lane or road leading toward the rebel forces.
The 37th filed into the lane, a fence and open field on the left, when the Peoria Battery, belonging to our Brigade, was stationed shelling the woods in front or to the north of us -- on the west on our right ut was tall timber with a very heavy undergrowth of young oaks which had best all the dry leaves hanging on yet. When about two-thirds the distance down the lane, we filed by the right flank into those woods, Company A in the lead having entered the underbrush, somewhat more than the length from the regiment we left flanked, and some of Company A noticed some troops before us and wanted to fire, but they wore blue overcoats (stolen the day before form some of Sigel's train) an officer of Company B cried to us "Don't shoot, they are our own men" -- scarcely had these words been uttered when we ere staggered by a heavy volley fired almost in our faces which extended the whole front and even in the rear of the first three companies. Underbrush being very thick we couldn't see much but smoke and fire, but we dropped to the ground and let them have it as fast as we could pull trigger with our five shooters -- Company A and Company K of our Regiment had Colt's revolving rifles and our rapid firing disconcerted them some, but being a whole brigade of Texan and Louisiana troops, they crowded us back with heavy loss to some of the more advanced companies -- back we fell to the lane, then over the fence and into the field and finally behind our battery and the fence, hard pressed by overwhelming numbers of rebs, but when once composed, the Indiana Brigade rose with a yell and poured it into them which not only stopped the rebs but soon sent them flying pell mell before us, more so, as about that time another of their leaders, McCullough, having been killed and now McIntosh had fallen, we drove them till near dark when some of us returned to our knapsacks and to take care of our wounded.
We found we had lost of Company A, 5 killed, 4 mortally wounded and 24 others more or less wounded, out of a total of 54 which entered battle. The loss of the Regiment was, I believe 31 killed and 119 wounded. During the night we slept on our arms, not knowing what another day might bring forth, although outnumbered in almost every place we didn't feel whipped, and during the night rumors of all sorts spread through the camp (likely to cheer up our shaky men) such as, that Hunter with 20,000 men by way of Kansas was in rear of Rebs etc.
At any rate dawn of March 8th found us all ready to renew the fight and do our duty whatever else night happen. A little before sunrise the 37th and 59th Illinois were ordered forward on the Texas road, but filed to the left in a large meadow, cut in two parts by a high rail fence. We were ordered to level the fence and make an opening to let our Battery through --by the time we had leveled the fence they galloped up, wheeled, unlimbered and we were ordered as support behind the railpiles and just as the orb of day rose in the east, our battery sounded the breakfast call for the Rebs by dropping shells in quick succession among them, and from where we lay, we could see the flutter it created among them on the hill back of Elkhorn, and we had a good range, they were quite awhile ere they answered and the first few shots dropped way behind us, but nearer and nearer they were getting our range, as they were up on quite an elevation, till finally, they hit the rail piles ahead of us scattering them and us at a pretty lively rate, but we rallied behind the 4th Iowa.
After our falling back, Battery also was ordered to move back because we had ascertained the position of their artillery and other forces. Before long Sigel had all the batteries of his own and Carr's and our division in line and opened up on them constant and terrific fire, with shot and shell, until about eleven o'clock when they showed signs of weaking in their fire, after which a general charge of the infantry was ordered and when we got near Elkhorn Tavern we found the Rebels in wild flight toward the southeast -- our cavalry went in pursuit, taking many prisoners and so ended the 3 days battle of Pea Ridge fought by the Union troops under fearful odds as our numbers told 14,000 effective men under Curtis, Sigel, Davis and Carr, while the Rebs under Price, Van Dorn according to their own statement over 35,000 men, as was after corroborated by many of them that we met in Texas and other places.
And here may I add the history of this struggle has never been the prominence it deserved nor have the officers who participated in it ever been rewarded according to their merit, here like everywhere else jealousies and bickerings have tarnished the fame of worthy ones and it will be long before all concerned in our struggle will have received their just desserts. This hard contested battle, having been fought on the far western frontier, and the pressure on the eve of other great Union victories, was therefore overshadowed by those later Union victories -- but in its bearings it had as far reaching effect, as Gettysburg or any other claimed decisive battle, -- as it not only settled the Rebels in the Southwest for some time to come, but released most of our Southwest Army for use in other more needed places and also helped to greatly revive the drooping spirits of the North.
From the 9th to the 19th of March we camped 5 miles north of the battlefield recruiting and tending to our wounded. On the 19th rumors of another Rebel advance were afloat, and we moved still further back, making camp near state line (between Missouri and Arkansas.) There we remain until April 7th, when the rest of the army moved off towards Southeast, while the37th with the Peoria Battery and 1 batallion of 1st Missouri Cavalry under Major Hubbard were left as Post Guard at Cassville, Missouri, where most of our wounded lay. From here the command sent out daily scouting parties against remnants of Rebels under Colonel Price, Coffee and Queentral and had skirmishes with them Barryville, Newtonia, Marshfield and other places in all of which we proved victors. Sometimes taking more prisoners than our own numbers.
October 27th on march again at 6 P.M. -- marching all night, arrived at Fayetteville at daylight of 28th continued march to West Branch of White River and return again October 30th to Cross Springs (25 miles). November 2nd march 12 miles to Fords Springs -- then 15 miles to Keetsville, Missouri which we found mostly in ruins. November 4th march thru Cassville (20 miles) and camp near Cane Creek. November 5th march 22 miles to Marionville -- cold windy days. November 10 resume march by way of Little York and Wilson's Creek 35 miles to Ozark and on the 14th march 10 miles out on the Huntsville road -- move 2 miles further on the 15th to Pelican Creek, November 20th come to a right-about -- march 20 miles through Linden and Ozark to Finley Creek and move on to Crane Creek -- raining during the last two days most of the time, men being without tents and many even without blankets and rations.
December 27th left Prairie Grove with an expedition for Arkansas River in light marching order -- cross the Boston Mountain range on into Van Buren on the Arkansas River -- in 2 days march 50 miles and capture 3 boats and burn them and other stores, after a days work like that return to grove December 31, 1862. January 2, 1863 move from Prairie Grove to Fayetteville, Arkansas, 12 miles. January 6th march east from Fayetteville 14 miles to Camp Rosencranz, lay there till the 10th--then on to Huntsville, remain there till the 18th when we move out onto Bentonville road again, weather cold and wintry, roads almost impassible obliged to lay along roadside in knee deep mud till the 22nd when we move 6 miles farther northwest.
January 24th cross White River again and camp in Cross Hollows (17 miles)
the 25th march to Elkhorn Tavern again and on the 26th arrive in Camp Siegel.
January 29th pass through Keithsville and Cassville and camp on Flat Creek--on
30th move to Camp Schofield, where we remain recruiting up till February
14th, then move to Camp Bliss where we have some rest, but strict discipline
and lots of guard and other duties under Brig, General James Totten (Uncle