Was the 2nd Mo Cav at the Battle of Pea Ridge?
After a few decendents of 2nd Mo Cav troopers, stated in emails to me, that their ancestors service record with the 2nd Mo Cav while in Condfederate service, stated that they saw action in this battle, I broke out the governments Official Records of the War (compiled by an act of Congress). The O.R. and what the National Park Service at Pea Ridge say are not the same.
December 21, 2003
Below is the evidence I found from my research that the 2nd Missouri Cavalry CSA (McCulloch's Cavalry) was in attendance at the battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern) and saw combat in the battle of March 7th,and 8th, 1862.
O.R. Vol. 8 pages 739, 740, 741
General Order #26 Headquarters of the Missouri State Guard Springfield, Missouri Dated January 23, 1862, Commanded by Major General Sterling Price, it is plainly listed in the order that he placed Colonel McCulloch's cavalry battalion in the 2nd Brigade, command by General Slack. This was the 2nd Brigade of Missouri Volunteers for Confederate service, in other words, new Missouri enlistees in the Confederate army.
For the readers information: Major General Price had to reorganize his army because of the thousands of Missouri State Guardsmen that enlisted into Confederate service that winter (1861-1862), and which McCulloch's Cavalry was one of those units. According to the Missouri Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans their official designation was the 4th Missouri Cavalry Battalion CSA. Which was later raised to the 2nd Missouri Cavalry Regiment after crossing the Mississippi in April 1862 (Colonel Gates had the 1st Missouri Cavalry Regiment CSA).
O.R. Vol.8 pages 312, 313, 314
The after battle report #44 of Colonel Thomas H. Rosser, Commanding 2nd Brigade, dated March 21, 1862. He states towards the end of his report, "For the part which the cavalry portion of this brigade had in this battle I refer you to the accompanying report of Colonel G.W. Riggins, of Colonel McCulloch's battalion." (Col. Rosser wrote this report because General Slack had been mortally wounded, a shot through the hips and died).
I believe the key word here is of, which in this sense means belonging to Colonel McCulloch's battalion.
O.R. Vol. 8 pages 314, 315, 316
The after battle report #45 of Colonel John T. Hughes Confederate Cavalry stated in his report, "The squadron of light-horse, under Major Gause, was attached to Colonel McCulloch's regiment during the fight, where they did good service."
O.R. Vol.8 page 316
Per the reference of report #44 above, this is Colonel Riggins' accompanying report for McCulloch's Cavalry.
After battle report #46 of Colonel G. W. Riggins, Confederate Cavalry, Camp on Frog Bayou, March 15, 1862.
(This report states what service McCulloch's Cavalry rendered during the battle.)
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the battalion
with which I acted at the battle of Elkhorn, Ark.:
We were under the immediate orders of Generals Van Dorn and
Price, and kept scouting until about 3 o'clock Friday p.m., at which
time.we were ordered to take our extreme left wing and act as we
thought best. We immediately marched down, finding the infantry of
Generals Price and Steen on the left and the line of the enemy extend-
ing far below the above-named infantry, evidently attempting to flank
our left. We immediately ordered our men to dismount, and extended
our left wing as far as we could. The enemy immediately opened a
very heavy fire upon us. Our battalion, being mostly raw recruits,
wavered a little, but were soon rallied, and received the enemy's fire
like veteran troops.
We were fully in range of the enemy's guns, but our men, being
armed with shot-guns, could not reach them. After receiving a heavy
fire for some time we ordered our men to charge the enemy, which they
did very gallantly, producing great slaughter in the enemy's ranks,
completely routing their left wing, driving them from the field. We
retained the ground that night, and next morning were ordered by
General Van Dorn to picket the Van Winkle road until the retreat
I take pleasure in saying the officers and men of our battalion acted
with great valor and courage during the course of the battle and to our
brave men is due much of the credit of the rout of the enemy on Friday
G. W. RIGGINS,
Colonel, Commanding Battalion of Cavalry.
Colonel PATTON, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Missouri Brigade.
However he does sign it as Colonel Commanding Battalion of Cavalry. Maybe Colonel McCulloch was ill or wounded or not available to make his own report? I do not know.
In a search for a service record of Colonel Riggins at the National Park Service Soldiers and Sailors website all I found was a George W. Riggins listed as a Surgeon CSA (no command) and a Private George W. Riggins Company G, 2nd Mo Cav CSA.
However, upon a search at the Missouri Division Sons of Confederate Veterans website I did find a Lt. Colonel George W. Riggins listed in the Missouri State Guard (MSG) 2nd Division as commander of the 2nd Mo Cavalry Battalion Missouri State Guard.
It is to be noted that prior to enlistment into Confederate service in the winter of 1861-1862 that Colonel McCulloch's Cavalry as Missouri State Guard (MSG) were in the 6th Division under the command of General Parsons. Which is verified in O.R. Vol. 53 in General Parson's report on the siege of Lexington, MO.
O.R. Vol. 8 pages 328, 329
The after battle report #55 of Major Todd Samuel Commanding Price's Escort. Camp Ben. McCulloch, March 21, 1862. He states in his report that on "Saturday morning we were ordered to support Colonel McCulloch's regiment and guard roads parallel to the enemy, which we succeeded in doing." (This command belonged to Lt. Col. Cearnal, (Price's escort) which was wounded in the battle.)
O.R. Vol. 8 Page 788
After the battle General Price reorganized his division.
Organization of the First Division, Army of the West, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price commanding, March 17, 1862.
He reassigned McCulloch's Cavalry to Brigadier General Martin E. Green's 4th Brigade, just two days after Colonel Riggins wrote report #46.
In conclusion, nowhere in Volume 8 of the Official Records is there listed a Riggin's Missouri Cavalry Battalion and that Colonel McCulloch's Cavalry is referred to several times in the after battle reports that they were in action at that particular battle. Plus being assigned to different brigades before and after the battle by Major General Sterling Price. I mean no disrespect to Colonel Riggins, but his name only appears in Volume 8 in the after battle report #44 which says that his report will state what the cavalry of General Slacks 2nd Brigade did during the battle, which McCulloch's Cavalry was the only cavalry assigned to the 2nd Brigade and #46 that he himself wrote.
Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: Although not an official government document, written after the war in the 1880's, it is used as fairly accurate reference material about the war. It was written in 4 volumes. My reference comes from volume I, "The Opening Battles." The series of books "Battles and Leaders" have been quoted as reference material in literally thousands of books and articles on the war.
Hunt P. Wilson was a member of Guibor's Confederate battery and he gave this eyewitness account of seeing Colonel McCulloch at the battle. It was also published in the St. Louis Republic newspaper. I will only list the parts of his account that relates to Robert McCulloch as his eyewitness account of the battle is fairly long. However for those that want to read the complete article click Captain Champion's daring charge at Pea Ridge .
1. Hunt P. Wilson's account of the 1st Confederate line:
"Some State Guard Cavalry under Bob McCulloch and Congreve Jackson formed on the extreme left."
2. He then describes the Confederate advance:
"The cavalry on the extreme left, under General John B. Clark and Colonel Robert McCulloch, had turned the Federal right wing, and the latter's entire line was falling back to meet reenforcements hurrying to their assistance from Sugar Creek on their left rear."
I have been corresponding with the park historian about these facts and he said he is going to confirm my findings. But he is inclined to believe that I am correct that 2nd Mo Cav was in combat at Pea Ridge. I am also trying to convince him that the Colonel was also there, based on Hunt P. Wilson's personal sighting of Colonel McCulloch. Also that the NPS used a book titled: Pea Ridge, Civil War Campaign in the West, written in 1992 and did not use the O.R.'s for their order of battle. He also stated that the folks that wrote that book probably just assumed that Col. Riggins Cavalry was present vice the 2nd Mo Cav because he had written the after battle report vice McCulloch. I hate to be the one the that discovered the error listed in the battle of order for Pea Ridge, Pea Ridge, Civil War Campaign in the West and Battles and Leaders Vol. I in the case of Pea Ridge, it is and has been incorrect according to the governments Official Records for around 120 years!
It is very possible that Hunt P. Wilson actually saw Major Robert A. McCulloch (2nd in command of the 2nd Mo Cav, the Colonel's cousin) in his first statement, which he doesn't refer to him as Colonel. And Colonel Robert McCulloch in his 2nd statement, which he does refer to as Colonel.
It should also be noted that in an army mostly made up of men clad in civilian clothes that Mr. Wilson would have to have personally known what Colonel McCulloch looked like to make those two statements. And it would be hard to know if a large number of men in civilian clothes were actually MSG or Confederate cavalry.
If I receive any further info from the NPS about this issue I will post it on this page.
Well there you have the facts, you can believe them or not, but I am keeping the 2nd Missouri Cavalry listed as being in the battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862 per the governments Official Records of the War listed in Vol. 8. How can we folks in the here and now, rewrite the O.R.'s and first hand accounts when we were not alive during those times? They were written by the men that were in that terrible conflict. It just proves that even history books like the Battle and Leaders series are sometimes wrong. Everything in the O.R.'s was written during the war by the men that lived it daily. Isn't history a mystery?
NOTE: According to the Missouri State Archives. Civil War Confederate Service Record for Champion, J. Rock, Capt., Co. K, Second Reg’t, Mo. Vols. C. S. A. CAV. Jefferson City, Missouri. Captain J. Rock Champion was transfered to command Company K, 2nd Missouri Cavalry under Colonel Robert "Black Bob" McCulloch on January 7, 1862. This is more proof that the 2nd Missouri Cavalry (McCulloch's Cavalry was at Pea Rigde, AR on March 7th and 8th, 1862). Read Captain Champion's daring charge at Pea Ridge.
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