The Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas - Confederate Reports
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas
(The following are from the Official Records, Series 1, Volume XXII.)
Headquarters Arkansas Cavalry Brigade
Camp near Dripping Springs, Ark.
November 29, 1862
Report of Col. Charles A. Carroll, C.S. Army, commanding Arkansas Cavalry Brigade
Captain: In compliance with General Orders, No. -, of even date, I have the honor to make the following report of the
conduct of the forces of my command in the engagement of the 28th instant; but in justice to my command beg leave to
state that, having inspected the brigade on the 27th instant, I had only 200 effective men for duty and 317 non-effective
men. The non-effective men were composed of the sick and men whose horses were in bad condition. Of the non-
effective force, 60 men were on duty as pickets, picketing the roads from our encampment to the Line road west of us,
and 100 men were detailed as escort for the trains of the division, which were ordered to the rear on the 27th instant,
leaving me 389 men to represent my brigade, while the muster-rolls call for 1,700. With but few sick, the brigade is thus
diminished by the condition of the horses, which are worn down, having been constantly on the move for six weeks, and
for the want of forage and shoeing. Of the mountain howitzer battery attached to my brigade, and commanded by First
Lieutenant Hughey, only one section was serviceable.
After being notified of the approach of the enemy, at 8 p.m. on the 27th instant, the men were kept under arms and the
horses saddled until the opening of the enemy’s artillery north of us, in the direction of Colonel Shelby’s camp, on the
morning of the 28th instant, at about 9 o’clock, when orders were received to move my command rapidly to the front.
After moving about 1 mile, I received orders to place the battery on an eminence to the right, commanding the road
leading north, with the two regiments in line of battle perpendicular to the road, supporting the battery, my own regiment
on the right, under Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, and Colonel [J.C.] Monroe’s regiment on the left of the road. The
eminence occupied by my battery was commanded by the heights north and northwest of us, from which points the
artillery of the enemy were firing; and although they had the range of my battery, they were at too great a distance to be
affected by our light metal. I was then ordered to the rear. After moving 1 mile, I was directed to move rapidly to the rear
and select some good position. In a few minutes, however, further orders were received to continue moving to the rear
until otherwise ordered. Having moved half a mile beyond the summit of the mountain on the Cane Hill and Cove Creek
road, I received orders to halt and occupy a position. I countermarched the command beyond the summit of the
mountain, and took position commanding the Cane Hill road, with the regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson
supporting the battery, and Colonel Monroe’s regiment 200 yard to the right of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson’s regiment.
The fire of the enemy’s artillery at this time was continuous and incessant on the rear of Colonel Shelby’s command. I
was ordered to throw out Colonel Monroe’s regiment as skirmishers, but before the order could be obeyed I was
ordered to move my command to the rear, and soon thereafter ordered to take command of all the forces in my
advance, which separated me to some extent from my own brigade. Soon after passing the pinnacle of the mountain,
Colonel Monroe, who was marching in rear of my regiment, received the enemy at short range, and retired, as
Such was the nature of the ground from the top of the mountain to Cove Creek, a distance of 1½ miles, that but few
advantageous positions could be found. Just before reaching Cove Creek, Captain Stanley’s company, of my regiment,
was ordered to an eminence commanding the road on which the enemy were to travel, with orders to fire upon them
with deliberation, and to retire immediately thereafter. After reaching Cove Creek, Captains Gordon and Carroll, with
their respective companies, of my regiment, were directed to occupy an eminence on the right of the road. The captains
fired down upon the enemy and retired, as directed. From this point on down Cove Creek, I selected suitable positions
and placed detachments of my regiment and Colonel Shelby’s brigade. At a point 2 miles below the junction of the
Cane Hill and Cove Creek roads, I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, with five companies of my regiment and about
200 men of Colonel Thompson’s regiment, Colonel Shelby’s brigade, to an eminence immediately over the road, with
instructions to let the enemy’s advance pass them before firing. Immediately in rear of this point, Colonel Monroe
formed with 86 men in the valley below. At this time the enemy was pushing the rear with great energy, and made it
necessary for the companies left ambushed to receive them to retire very rapidly after firing. The captains of my own
command, who have reported to me, state that they obeyed orders, receiving the enemy at close distance, the men
behaving, almost without exception, with great bravery. When the rear retired past the position occupied by Lieutenant-
Colonel Johnson and Colonel Thompson, they were followed very closely by a detachment of the enemy’s cavalry, a
much larger number halting just before reaching the position above referred to. A lieutenant-colonel of the enemy’s
force was severely wounded by one of the volleys fired by the men of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson. At this time the
confusion below the position above referred to of our retiring men was disgraceful, and every effort made by officers to
halt them futile, the cry extending down the line that our friends had gorged the road and were being sobered
mercilessly by the enemy. Just then the roar of shot-guns from the eminence occupied by Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson
and Colonel [G.W.] Thompson threw the enemy’s advance into confusion, when they were immediately charged by
Colonel Monroe, and after the third effort driven for the first time during the day, which gave time for collecting and
forming the scattered men, hitherto rapidly moving to the rear. The enemy here concluded, notwithstanding the superior
weight and quantity of their artillery and their superior force, outnumbering ours more than ten to one, to risk nothing
against the positions of which we were availing ourselves, and at once retired about sunset.
The conduct of the officers and men of my command throughout the entire day, and almost without an exception,
evidenced entire coolness and determined bravery, as did the officers and men of Colonel Shelby’s brigade, of whom I
assumed command and placed in position. I would be glad to speak of them more particularly if my personal
acquaintance with these officers was such as to do so without a report from them.
I will take occasion to remark that the retiring fight, lasting from 9 o’clock in the morning until sunset, over a rugged and
narrow road, with but a scanty supply of ammunition, pursued by a greatly superior force, moving from position to
position with an astonishing rapidity, was well calculated to have confused, and, indeed, demoralized men well drilled
and disciplined, and it is, indeed, astonishing that troops without drill should have evinced a nerve so steady, a courage
so cool. In moving the battery from the first position taken in the morning, the carriage of one of the pieces was so badly
broken as to render impossible to moving of it by horses. Notwithstanding the gun thus dismantled was under a galling
fire of the enemy’s artillery, shells bursting by the minute around it, the cannoneers dismounted, and, under the
direction of their officers, bore the piece, crippled but triumphant, to the rear. Just before reaching the second position
taken by my brigade, as alluded to in the above report, Captain Shoup, the commander, and Lieutenant Halliburton, of
the battery, met me. The captain at once took command of his company. There was now but one serviceable gun of the
four-gun battery, which was placed in position frequently during the day with a skill and energy deserving a more
substantial battery. After passing some little distance beyond the top of the mountain, this gun was placed in position
and opened on the enemy. Notwithstanding the energy with which it was handled, it was dismantled by the enemy’s
artillery, the carriage being broken to pieces by their heavy shot. This casualty was followed by a cavalry charge made
with great energy. The officers, unwilling to leave any trophy in the hands of their country’s enemy, took the gun from the
shattered carriage and bore this, too, to the rear. I cannot but commend the pride and bravery of the men here
The loss the brigade sustained is as follows: Colonel Monroe’s regiment, 3 men slightly wounded, 4 horses killed and
1 wounded; Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston’s regiment, 5 men were wounded and 2 men are missing; Captain Shoup’s
battery, 3 men were wounded and 4 horses killed.
I am captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Chas. A. Carroll,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade
(Col. Charles A. Carroll to Capt. E.G. Williams, Asst. Adjt. Gen., 4th Div., 1st Corps, Trans-Mississippi Army)
Camp Dripping Springs, Ark.
December 1, 1862
Report of Col. Joseph O. Shelby, commanding Fourth Missouri Cavalry Brigade
Captain: Being called upon for a report of the action of this brigade in the Cane Hill fight, I inclose the same, as follows:
My brigade consisted of the following regiments: First, commanded by [B.F.] Gordon; Second, by [B.G.] Jeans; Third, by
[G.W.] Thompson; also Elliott’s scouts and Quantrill’s famous company, in command of First Lieutenant Gregg. Having
had due notice (eighteen hours previous) by the general commanding that the enemy were advancing, we endeavored
to be on the alert, but I must confess (thought it may reflect somewhat upon myself) that the enemy, by his skillful
management, fell upon me sooner than I would have desired, considering that a portion of our division was encamped
some distance in my rear and I had but little time to give them the notice required; yet I had sufficient time to place my
men in their proper positions and await the coming of the hated foe.
Between the hours of 9 and 10 a.m., Friday, November 28, he rapidly advanced and unlimbered his guns, and sent his
iron missiles in search of the “rebels.” We had expected him (the enemy) to advance either on the Cincinnati or
Fayetteville road, our position covering both. Bledsoe, in command of the artillery, consisting of two iron 6-pounders,
had his guns so arranged as to cover each road; that is, one piece bearing on the Cincinnati road and the other
covering the Fayetteville road. Having notice of the approach of the enemy on the Fayetteville road, I ordered all the
regiments to mount and form, knowing that their advance on that route gave them an advantage over my position which
could not be overlooked. If they forced a passage down the main road, we would be cut off from assistance in the rear
and be deprived of the Cane Hill and Cove Creek road, thereby preventing our passage over the mountain, the route our
train had taken. The gun covering the Fayetteville road occupied an elevated position, the hill descending to its foot
about 300 yards. Here, waiting for the enemy to advance, I took my position at the gun, which was so masked as not to
be seen by him. Thus waiting, and in no little suspense, he (the enemy) soon showed himself with a four-gun battery,
supported by infantry close up. He opened rapidly, but the smoke of his guns had not cleared away before Bledsoe’s
gun responded, and continued to respond, showing to the naked eye that it was sending death in every shot to our
heartless invaders. I soon discovered that they were not disposed to flank us on our right, and for the protection of our
batteries I ordered all the regiments to dismount, placing Gordon on our right, Jeans in the center, and Thompson on
our extreme left. By this time I had received satisfactory information from the Cincinnati road, which convinced me that
there was no move by the enemy on that route, and I immediately ordered Captain Bledsoe to move the gun that
covered the Cincinnati road to a point which secured a cross-fire on the batteries playing upon us. I should mention
here that by this time they had at least twelve guns bearing upon our positions, and then the artillery fight commenced
in earnest, lasting at this point about one hour and a half.
During this time Gordon, Jeans, and Thompson, lay close up to the guns, anxiously awaiting the charge of the invader,
while [Maj. B.] Elliott’s scouts and Quantrill’s company sat quietly on their steeds awaiting his further coming; but as
long as the enemy could confine himself to the artillery fight at long range he was content, but in the mean time General
Marmaduke, after surveying the position, and I having notified him that a heavy body of infantry was endeavoring to flank
me on the left, I received orders to fall back, which I did, by ordering Colonel Jeans to mount his men and directing
Bledsoe to withdraw his piece, at the same time ordering Lieutenant [R.A.] Collins, who was in charge of the piece that
commanded the Fayetteville road, to keep a steady fire on the enemy until I could mount and form all my regiments,
which he did, pouring a murderous fire upon them, driving them at one time back from their guns. I will here mention
that no man ever evinced more courage or executed his orders more cheerfully or promptly than Lieutenant Collins on
that occasion. Captain Bledsoe, Sergeant Bledsoe, Lieutenants Connor and Anson, and, in fact, all of this battery, have
the thanks of the entire brigade for their gallant conduct upon this trying occasion. I then ordered Colonel Thompson to
mount his regiment, which was done in the best order, moving the piece under Bledsoe by the right to the rear;
Thompson’s regiment followed, after which came Jeans, the Collins gun following, covered by Gordon’s regiment. I
could not, if disposed, speak too highly of the conduct of the officers and men of this brigade in making the above move,
it being executed under a terrible fire; but others witnessed it, and say men never gave way in better order. After falling
back about half a mile, we found the remainder of this division formed and ready to protect us. By order of the general
we took position on the hill, bringing our guns in battery back of the village of Newburg, there awaiting and expecting to
witness brilliant charges of the foe; but, as before, he depended on dislodging us with his long-range guns. Here the
naked eye could see General Blunt’s columns of cavalry and infantry pouring over the hills in our front, and advancing
slowly and cautiously to the attack. It was a splendid sight – flaunting banners, serried ranks, as the long lines came
Ere yet the life-blood warm and wet,
Had dimmed a glistening bayonet!
Being satisfied that with our small force and short-range guns we could not cope with him, we withdrew to the Boston
Mountains, where we placed one of Bledsoe’s guns in position, and there awaited his advance. We were not allowed to
tarry long, for they soon reached the foot of the mountain, commenced placing their batteries in position, and opened
fire. Our gunners were eager and ready. The work again commenced, and at short range. We then exhausted all of our
artillery ammunition, and from that cause had to push our guns ahead, which we did, and did safely. I had ordered
Lieutenant Gregg at that point over to the right, but finding the enemy were making a move still to his right, I withdrew
him, and had him to form back on the main road to await further orders. Immediately on top of the mountain I had a part
of Colonel Thompson’s command, under Major [M.W.] Smith, formed to receive the enemy, and a little to the rear of
Smith, on the right, I had one company of Elliott’s scouts, commanded by Captain martin. Smith and Martin calmly
awaited the coming of the enemy, and as they came charging up the hill in solid columns, they poured a deadly fire on
them, which sent them staggering down the mountain. By this time I had other detachments formed bu a short distance
in the rear (Smith and Martin falling back and loading), who fired on them with much effect, being in easy gun-shot.
Martin, having his men ready and formed, delivered once more a terrible fire, but in doing so this brigade suffered a
terrible loss in the death of the gallant and heroic Martin. He fell, as he lived, fighting for his home and fireside, “with his
back to the field and his feet to the foe.”
Ah! Soldier, to your honored rest;
Your truth and valor bearing;
The bravest are the tenderest,
The loving are the daring!
The enemy pushing us about this time with all the force he could urge on, and the ground being of such a nature as not
to allow us to form by regiments or squadrons, I was compelled to detach companies and form them on both sides of
the road, receive and fire on the enemy, load, form, and reform, using in this manner every company in the regiments of
this brigade. We fought them in this manner about three hours, never once allowing them to reach our rear in sufficient
numbers to capture any of the men.
I will likewise mention that [Col. Emmett] MacDonald’s men were at the same time equally as active in their efforts to
retard the movements of the enemy. I noticed also with much pleasure the gallant conduct of Captain Shoup, who
commanded his little howitzer well and delivered his fire with great coolness, effect, and precision. With this battery was
a brave and fighting driver, who was conspicuous for his daring and the readiness with which he obeyed all orders.
Captains Webb and Snook, of Colonel Jeans’ regiment, were both wounded while gallantly leading their men on the
I cannot close this report without speaking in high terms of the coolness and daring of Lieutenant McCoy, of your escort,
and Lieutenant Conkling, of Thompson’s regiment. They, with the prestige and glory of Shiloh still having on their
garments, were in the thickest of the fight.
Our men fought them well, and while the enemy evinced great desperation, our command showed a determination and
coolness that their officers have reason to be proud of, contending, as they were, with vastly superior numbers, the
sight of which did not in the least discourage them.
About sunset the enemy made the last and desperate charge, led by Colonel [L.R.] Jewell, in person. Colonels
Thompson’s and Jeans’ men received him with a fire the effect of which will ever be remembered by Jewell’s regiment.
In that charge Jewell fell, mortally wounded. Upon the fall of Jewell, Colonel Gordon, with a portion of his regiment and
a portion of Colonel Jeans’, under Captain Jarrett, charged the Federals hotly and fiercely, sending them back in perfect
confusion, and thus ending a hard day’s fight.
It is not necessary for me to state the casualties of this brigade, as they have already been reported to you; but I will
here mention that the officers and men of this brigade executed promptly, cheerfully, and willingly every order that was
given; were easily rallied; held all positions assigned them, and fell back when ordered, only to form and reform and
Elliott and his scouts were to be seen performing their duty on all occasions.
Lieutenant Gregg, of Quantrill’s command, and his company had been held in reserve by me during the greater part of
the fight, so that when suitable ground was obtained a grand charge might be made. The position was taken, this
stone wall company formed, Gregg at its head, the light of the battle on his face, but, fortunately or unfortunately, the
enemy checked pursuit just before coming to where they crouched like lions in their lairs.
I will also here speak favorably of Captains Brewster (my adjutant), Nichols, Edwards, St. Clair, and Page, for the
service they performed relative to their various duties.
Many others I could call your attention to for their gallant conduct, among whom are Philip Wilder, of your own escort;
Lieutenants Moorman and Buffington, of Gordon’s; but as the general commanding was everywhere upon the field, he
saw as much, perhaps more than myself.
I close this report with the proud satisfaction of knowing that we did our duty, and are anxious once more to meet the
enemy in a fair field and open fight.
Jo. O. Shelby
Colonel, Commanding Missouri Cavalry Brigade
(Col. Jo. O. Shelby to Capt. E.G. Williams, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Fourth Division, First Army Corps).
Camp Dripping Springs, Ark.
November 30, 1862
Report of Col. Emmett MacDonald, Missouri Cavalry.
Captain: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part my command took in the late battle in the Boston
On November 28, I received orders about 9 o’clock in the morning to prepare for action, as the enemy was engaging
Colonel Shelby’s command about 1 mile in my advance. I t once moved at a rapid pace with my command, and took
position northwest of Kidd’s Mill, near Cane Hill. My position being much exposed, the enemy poured a heavy volley of
grape upon my ranks, while another battery threw shell in my rear and front continually, but without killing or wounding a
man. In the mean time Colonel Shelby had fallen back with his brigade. At this time I received orders to fall back and
form south of Boonsborough, where Colonel’s Shelby and [C.A.] Carroll were posted. The enemy appeared at this point
in great force. A large body of infantry moved rapidly upon our left and front. Here a general engagement seemed
imminent; but the enemy appeared in such large force I was again ordered to fall back, which I did, fighting the enemy
at every point, whether the position suited or not, until, reaching the mountain, a halt was ordered for one more
desperate resistance. I took position upon the right; Colonel Shelby the center. I immediately advanced upon the
enemy, when a sharp engagement ensued. Our firing was so constant and well directed that he seemed completely
checked; but long lines of infantry and cavalry again appeared, re-enforcing him, until it seemed that all Yankeedom
had turned out. Feeling confident that my men would not flinch, I determined to meet them, while Colonel Shelby was
preparing to receive them in the center. Here they charged us again and again, but they were driven back until our rear
moved farther up the mountains. In this way we fought them over the mountains and 3 miles down Cove Creek, fighting
at one point, falling back, forming, and fighting again. Their number being five or six times greater than ours, and they
knowing the fact, they pressed us hard, and finally charged us with drawn sabers, when a hand to hand conflict
ensued. So very few of them were left that charged, they finally drew off their forces and retreated back toward the
During the entire engagement Companies A and B fought nobly. No company of officers and men ever fought better.
Captain Harrison, commanding Company A, and First Lieutenant Younts, Company B, and the lieutenants in both
companies, deserve much praise.
Privates and officers acted well throughout the entire engagement.
I lost in the engagement the following:
Officers 1 wounded
Privates 4 killed 6 wounded
Officers 2 wounded
Non-commissioned 1 wounded 1 missing
Privates 1 killed 2 wounded 3 missing
Privates 2 wounded
Non-commissioned 2 wounded
Privates 1 wounded
Total 5 killed 17 wounded 4 missing.
Colonel, Commanding Missouri Cavalry
(Col. Emmett MacDonald to F.B. Davidson, Adjutant)
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