Page images



Now that all personal animosities have subsided, and the object of these calumnies is dead and gone to his reward, we feel sure that before the impartial tribunal of history, the verdict of a grateful people will be that Gen. S. R. Curtis was not found wanting in courage and patriotism in the hour of trial.

Considerable quantities of grain yet remained in the country, which was taken to the mills and ground for the subsistence of the troops. It was necessary to guard these mills to prevent maraudering bands from interrupting our sources of supply. For this purpose Companies A and C, with detachments from other regiments, under the command of Lieut. Col. Joslyn, were sent to Gadily, where extensive mills were situated, which were kept running night and day.

A scouting party from Gadily penetrated the country to Granby, the center of lead mining operations, where had been produced vast quantities of lead for the use of the Confederate army. The people were known to be intensely hostile, but not an adult male was found at home. Of women and children there were no lack, who represented that the town was inhabited entirely by war widows and orphans, who with mournful pathos repeated the story of their bereavement. One of the soldiers, of an inquiring turn of mind, while peering around the mines for mineral specimens, or for contraband articles of war, accidently cast a stone into one of the shafts, that fell to the bottom with a dull dead thud, as if striking a softer substance than solid rock. Immediately a howl of distress and pain came up from the dark depths of the mine. In answer to a summons to come forth, a gaunt, long-haired Missourian emerged from the earth. The hillsides were honeycombed with mineral shafts, and by probing them with rocks they were made to yield up the mortal remains of the husbands of many of Granby's fair widows, who had not so much as a “thank you, sir,” for restoring their once dead, now living husbands to their arms. In this way a number of the aiders and abettors of treason were hunted from the holes and marched as prisoners to the Federal lines.

The hardships of the campaign told fearfully upon the health of many of the officers, who were granted leaves of absence and returned for a short period to their homes. Among these were Gen. Sigel and Col. Dodge, whose slight, physical frames were not proof against the excitement of mind and privation of body they had been subjected to. These officers for their gallant deeds were promoted to higher grades of rank, and subsequently assigned to more important fields of action. Indeed, Pea Ridge was a harvest field of honors to meritorious officers, and the mails came laden with promotions and commissions for those whose fame had been trumpeted to the War Department at Washington.

Gen. Curtis was raised from Brigadier to the rank of Major General of Volunteers. Likewise Gen. Sigel, who was assigned to an important command in West Virginia. Those promoted to Brigadiers were Cols. Dodge, Osterhaus, Heron, Benton, Jeff. C. Davis and Carr. Among the officers of the 36th Illinois who had had enough of war, was Capt. Camp, of Company I and Lieut. Wilson, of Company F, who resigned their commissions and left the service forever, their places being filled by 0. B. Merrill to the vacant Captaincy, and George G. Biddolph to the position of Lieutenant.




HE long, tedious march of the army of the

South-west through Southern Missouri and to Batesville in Arkansas, commenced April 5th, the 36th Illinois being among the first to break camp and push on with the advance, reaching

Cassville at 11 A. M. and proceeding nearly due east from thence, through a sparsely settled and mountainous country among the spurs of the Ozarks, reaching Flat Creek and camping on its banks near its junction with the James river on the evening of the 6th. The streams were all high and rapid, their waters cold, and clear as crystal. Flat Creek was crossed on a bridge of wagons at Cape Fair, as was the James at Galena, late on the evening of the 7th. Companies A and C marching from Gadly, overtook and joined the regiment on the 7th.

The people inhabiting this gloomy and forebidding region of chert hills and pine forests were mostly loyal and Union-loving men, who had contributed generously to the ranks of the loyal Missouri regiments. In the dark days of rebel domination, when the whole South-west was overrun with McCulloch's desperadoes and Price's maraudering hordes, the Union men of Stone and Barry Counties combined their forces and successfully resisted all attempts to coerce them into the heresy of secession. The skin clad mountaineers, who almost from the cradle had been taught the use of fire arms, hesitated not to use them when the hated minions of secession penetrated their narrow valleys for conscription, plunder or mischief. Some of our most daring scouts and trusty guides were from the poor but loyal inhabitants of this mountain region, pre-eminent among which was Charles Galloway, subsequently Major in the 1st Arkansas Cavalry.

The first sight which greeted the eyes of Gen. Curtis upon his arrival at Galena, the county seat of Stone County, was a cloud of smoke and crackling flames from a burning building belonging to a loyal Union man, that had been fired by some of the German troops in Osterhaus' Division, who were in the advance. The General was indignant at such a wanton and unprovoked outrage, and, notwithstanding it was nearly night and a cold storm setting in, he ordered the division to cross the river, where they were at liberty to indulge their house burning propensities upon the grim forest trees.

The 36th being attached to this division was included in the order, and as might have been expected there was some grumbling and many hard things said of “Old Curtis” as they crossed the ice cold stream in the darkness, exposed to the pelting of rain and sleet; and it was ten o'clock before the tents were pitched and the men sheltered from the storm.

The army reached Forsyth, the county seat of Taney County, situated on the north bank of White river, April 10th. The line of march from Cassville was through a country of the most weird and uninviting character, generally over the crests of mountains, now winding along stupendous ridges, skirting ravines of dizzy depths, then up abrupt ascents or between vast heights



and along the rocky channels of mountain torrents, the towering hills scantily clothed with a scraggy growth of oak or crowned by scattering pines, which moaned in the wind like the sad notes of a funeral anthem. From the summits of some of the higher elevations a vast panorama of mountain waves, valleys, streams, rocks and woodland was presented to the enraptured view.

The arrival of Col. Hassendible, of the 17th Missouri, was the cause of Col. Greusel being relieved from the command of the 2nd Brigade, that officer outranking the latter. The unsophisticated volunteer unacquainted with military etiquette could scarcely reconcile with his ideas of right, the sweeping changes which were sometimes made, by which officers who had led in fatiguing marches and commanded in desperate engagements, gave place to those whose distinguishing traits were absence from places of danger and the sterner duties of the campaign.

During the occupation of Forsyth the cavalry were engaged in scouting the country and ferreting out bands of desperadoes that were wont to call themselves “Price's men,” who depredated upon the surrounding country with a degree of malignity unparalleled in the annals of crime. A detachment of the 3rd Illinois Cavalry, under Lieut. Col. McCrellis, proceeded to Talbot's ferry, near the mouth of the north fork of White river in Arkansas, and destroyed the saltpetre works in that neighborhood. Every boat had been removed and secreted in such a manner that only a small dismounted detachment was able to cross the river in a “ dug out;" they dispersed the Rebel guard, broke up the steam engine, kettles and other property, and then fired the buildings, making a complete wreck of everything pertaining to the works, without a single casualty or mishap to the command.

« PreviousContinue »