4th Mo Co E Battle of Prairie Grove, AR Dec 4 & 5, 2010

 AAR for Prairie Grove, 2010

 To: Brevet Col. Daniel Keith

Subject: AAR for Prairie Grove, 2010

Sir,

I have the pleasure of reporting on our actions during the recent campaign against the heathen Yankees at Prairie Grove, Arkansas.  During the first week of December, General Huckabee ordered our forces to drive the enemy from Arkansas to save the women and children from depredations over the coming winter.

The first Missouri Battalion, Col. Amend commanding and including Company E, 4th MO Infantry, responded to the call and fell into the line of March.  With joy, we learned that our dear Captain Keith received a brevet promotion to Colonel as General Huckabee’s Chief of Staff.  We are heartened to know that the General will receive good aid and counsel in the upcoming battle.  As a result, 1st Lt. George was a brevet Captain for the upcoming battle.

When we initially began, we had over 25 soldiers ready to report for duty.  However, the long marches, threat of severe weather and short rations resulted in only 15 soldiers on the line as we prepared for battle that Saturday morning.

It was heartwarming that several of our new recruits braved the elements. They were quickly issued rifles and accouterments for the upcoming engagement.  1St Sgt. Bryan, using his corporals effectively, drilled the entire company throughout the morning.  In fact, 1st Sgt. Bryan did such a good job that Captain George was able to pursue other duties during the entire morning drill.  Thus, the 4th MO was ready to meet the coming battle.

As the 1st MO Battalion formed for morning parade, the 4th MO Inf had the honor of being the 1st Company. We would lead the battalion into battle for the entire event. This honor is entirely due to the hard work of the noncoms and soldiers of the company.

As our men were excellent foragers, we were well provisioned.  This is a rare privilege for our company.  Our ladies, of the 4th MO Civilian Corps, visited the camp with Christmas treats and other delicious offerings.  Their presence is always welcome tempering the rough behavior of a military camp.

The battalion formed for Division parade and inspection by the Provost Guard looking for sulkers’ and scallywags. Apparently, these misfits were identifiable by failing to display required badges.  To show how we felt about this injustice, the Provost Guard was greeted with the chant “Badges? We don’t need no stinking Badges!” to the merriment of the troops and the chagrin of our commanders.  Since nothing can dismay the Provosts, their inspections proceeded with out further interruption. No sulkers’ were found in our ranks.

After being dismissed and enjoying our lunch, the drums began rolling calling us to action. We learned that the Yankees were imminent, quickly formed up, and marched to join the division.  Steep terrain awaited us on the approach march, leading to a flat valley with only a few Yankee guns in sight.  We offered to rush across the valley, take the guns, and feast on the cattle clearly in sight on the other side.

Unfortunately, when our artillery opened up, the cattle stampeded across the hills and out of sight.  Then, long lines of blue infantry poured out of the far ravines and began to make their serpentine approach towards our lines.  We had expected to face only one Yankee division. It soon became clear that their forces had grown considerably. 

Our brave men, short on ammunition, cold, and tired, bravely stood their ground.  Our artillery, cavalry, and dismounted cavalry fought to slow the enemy to no avail. Once again, the infantry must go in and finish the job.

Suddenly, enemy cavalry appeared on our right.  The 4th MO quickly refused the flank protecting the entire battalion.  The enemy cavalry was frustrated to see our rifles lowered and the company maintaining a brisk fire.  Both veterans and new recruits performed well forcing the enemy to retreat never to be seen again. 

Barely had we returned to the battalion line when other units in the division began to retreat in disarray.  Despite our cries of protest that we could stand firm, our Colonel ordered a slow retreat back behind the gun line.  After a few brisk volleys, we rushed back down the hill forcing the enemy back out into the valley.  It was here that our losses mounted including our wing commander, Major Looney.  Perhaps, he had a premonition of falling on the field of honor; for, as he had previously directed, Captain George took over the right wing with 1st. Sgt Bryan stepping up to command the company. After standing firm until our ammo was running low, the Yankee artillery opened up resulting in quick retreat up the steep hill.  Fortunately, the enemy did not follow allowing us to retire in good order from the field.

After returning to camp, we learned the joyous news that the Battalion paymaster had arrived and would be conducting a Muster and Payroll. Officers and men quickly formed to receive their pay with Privates receiving the fabulous sum of $22 for two months service.  I am pleased to note that there were very few instances of gambling, drunkenness, and other licentious behavior among the men.  All were quickly dealt with by the noncoms. 

That evening, we hosted a Christmas party, inviting the ladies to grace us with their presence.  The men quickly set up windbreaks and additional heat sources so that the ladies were most comfortable despite the conditions.   One enterprising corporal procured a Christmas tree, obviously from army supply trains, to decorate our festivities.  The entire company of men and women enjoyed hearty fare, sweet treats, and, amazingly so, a birthday cake for Cpl Bearden.  We received gifts of fruit and Mrs. Carolyn Carver’s wonderful hardtack wrapped in a kerchief.  We sang Christmas hymns from a pamphlet and ended the evening with prayers of praise and thanksgiving. 

The following night was very cold with temperatures in the low twenties and a stiff breeze.  The men did their best to stay warm and obtain needed rest for the coming trials.  Dawn came with a clear sky and cold temperatures.  The rising sun gave the men courage to face another day. 

Alas, I must report that, during Division Parade, our former Captain Keith, now a Colonel, stripped down to his trousers exposing his manly chest to the Division.  Apparently, he was suffering from delusions of grandeur, or too much hard cider at the Christmas party, challenging anyone in the Division to brave the frigid cold and wrestle him.  Even the General’s horse was taken aback and snorted in alarm at this apparition. 

Several troops, clearly bereft of female companionship for too long, raced out to stuff their hard-earned pay under his gallouses.  Just as several men stepped from the ranks to take up his challenge, the General called the Division to attention ending the exhibition.  Colonel Keith quickly regained his senses, donned his uniform, and took his position.

After a cold lunch, we once again heard the drums rolling calling us to formation.  Again, the 4th MO had the honor of leading the Battalion into battle.  While we had suffered some losses during the previous engagement, a new local recruit, Matt Paul, excited looked forward to “seeing the elephant.”  He was quickly uniformed, trained, and placed in the ranks. 

The 1st MO Battalion, with the 4th MO in the forefront, led the entire Division into battle.  After marching down the steep terrain, the battalion formed a column of companies; then, into a line of battle as if we were on the parade ground.  Once again, the artillery, cavalry, and dismounted cavalry struggled to slow the enemy advance.  Once again, the infantry was left to take the field of honor. 

As the first company of the entire Division, the 4th MO anchored our right flank on dense thickets.  The enemy strategy quickly became clear as they demonstrated across the entire front while the Yankee cavalry looked for an opening around our flank.  Bravely, the 4th MO stared them down, refusing to be drawn into the trap of firing on the enemy infantry, waiting for the right moment to empty their saddles.  The blue bellies, very disappointed that their tactics had failed, turned their horses and left the field. 

To our dismay, the other units began to fall back in disarray leaving our left flank in the open.  Again, our Colonel ordered us to retreat up the steep hills with the enemy in pursuit. We tried to reform on the gun line; but, were swept back by the hot fire.  Repeatedly, our company formed to be the bulwark for our troops. At the house behind the guns, again at the picket fence around the house.  Relentlessly, we were forced back taking the most grievous losses to our thinning ranks.

I am pleased to report that our new recruits bravely stood the severest test. Particular bravery was exhibited by Privates Anthony Eden, Levi Jarrett, Ty Shirley, and Dalton Wright. With every maneuver and every fire, Private Matt Paul performed better and better until he was fighting as ferociously as the ablest veteran. 

Finally, we reformed in the peach orchard just as the Yankees reached the picket fence. Pouring devastating fire into their ranks, we forced them to turn and run.  Our Colonel joined our company and waved us forward.  We raced around the house half-afraid to be facing a large union force with leveled guns.  Imagine our joy to see only a handful of soldiers desperately reloading. By two’s and threes, we stepped around the house delivering fire into their ranks. Quickly the company reformed and we charged around the house driving the enemy down the steep hill fleeing across the valley back towards Missouri.  After pouring a few volleys into their dispirited ranks, we reformed our company and celebrated our victory.

With our mission accomplished, we broke camps and marched off to our winter quarters and a well-deserved rest.

Merry Christmas to all and Best Wishes for a Victorious New Year.

Respectfully Submitted,

Brevet Captain Scott George

Co. E, 4th MO Inf.

Attending:

Col. Daniel Keith

Cpt. Scott George

1st. Sgt Laurence Bryan

2nd Sgt. Clayton Kelly

Cpl. Jim Bearden

Cpl. Jacob Delker

Cpl. Chris Warwick

Pvt. Diz Carver

Pvt. Steve Cottrell (Sun)

Pvt. Anthony Eden

Pvt. Levi Jarrett

Pvt. David Martineau (Sat)

Pvt. Robert Maritneau (Sat)

Pvt. Jim Moran

Pvt. David Paul (Sun)

Pvt. Kris Spencer

Pvt. Ty Shirley

Pvt. Dalton Wright


Civilians:

Mrs. Carolyn Carver

Miss Sara Gonzalez

Mr. Eric Martineau (Sat)

Mrs. Rachel Martineau (Sat)

Mrs. Katelyn Spencer

Mrs. Teri Spencer

Mrs.  Randi Martineau  (Sat)

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