The Rebels retreated across the Boston Mountains to Van Buren and Fort Smith, and were soon ordered thence to join Beauregard at Corinth. Our army moved to Keytsville, Missouri, several miles north of the battle-ground, where the country was better adapted to foraging, and more favorable to recuperating from the effects of the conflict.
From Keytsville it moved to Forsyth, a small town in Taney County, Missouri, fifty miles from Springfield. Extending over a considerable area, the army consumed whatever could be found in the vicinity. It gave much annoyance to the Rebels by destroying the saltpeter works on the upper portion of White River.
The saltpeter manufactories along the banks of this stream were of great importance to the Rebels in the Southwest, and their destruction seriously reduced the supplies of gunpowder in the armies of Arkansas and Louisiana. Large quantities of the crude material were shipped to Memphis and other points, in the early days of the war. At certain seasons White River is navigable to Forsyth. The Rebels made every possible use of their opportunities, as long as the stream remained in their possession.
Half sick in consequence of the hardships of the campaign, and satisfied there would be no more fighting of importance during the summer, I determined to go back to civilization. I returned to St. Louis by way of Springfield and Rolla. A wounded officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Herron (who afterward wore the stars of a major-general), was my traveling companion. Six days of weary toil over rough and muddy roads brought us to the railway, within twelve hours of St. Louis. It was my last campaign in that region. From that date the war in the Southwest had its chief interest in the country east of the Great River.
UP THE TENNESSEE AND AT PITTSBURG LANDING.
At St. Louis.—Progress of our Arms in the Great Valley.—Cairo.—Its Peculiarities and Attractions.—Its Commercial, Geographical, and Sanitary Advantages.—Up the Tennessee.—Movements Preliminary to the Great Battle.—The Rebels and their Plans.—Postponement of the Attack.—Disadvantages of our Position.—The Beginning of the Battle.—Results of the First Day.—Re-enforcements.—Disputes between Officers of our two Armies.—Beauregard’s Watering-Place.
On reaching St. Louis, three weeks after the battle of Pea Ridge, I found that public attention was centered upon the Tennessee River. Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Columbus, and Nashville had fallen, and our armies were pushing forward toward the Gulf, by the line of the Tennessee. General Pope was laying siege to Island Number Ten, having already occupied New Madrid, and placed his gun-boats in front of that point. General Grant’s army was at Pittsburg Landing, and General Buell’s army was moving from Nashville toward Savannah, Tennessee. The two armies were to be united at Pittsburg Landing, for a further advance into the Southern States. General Beauregard was at Corinth, where he had been joined by Price and Van Dorn from Arkansas, and by Albert Sidney Johnston from Kentucky. There was a promise of active hostilities in that quarter. I left St. Louis, after a few days’ rest, for the new scene of action.