Diary Account by
by William Maner Stafford
Battle of Poison Springs
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Saturday, April 16th, 1864
At sunrise, again took up the line of march for Camden, travelling sixteen miles and Gen. Price (?) learning that the enemy had already obtained possession of Camden, we (?) on a road leading to Leeley's (?) Ferry on Red River. Met Dockrey's Brigade. Wagons came up this evening all night. Several of the company sick. We are awaiting reinforcements from Shreveport and Texas. At least it is so summoned (?). Indians encamped close to us and annoyed us very much.
Sunday, April 17th, 1864
A lovely day. Cabell's Brigade came in from the (?), this morning. News of Gen. (?) death received in camp this morning. General regret and mourning is expressed for the bravest of the brave who has no doubt brought his own death by excess of intrepidity and valor. Peace to his ashes. All are looking forward very expectantly to the day that will bring about a general engagement. The whole army is in very fine spirits and confidant that when we meet the enemy victory will be ours.
Monday, April 18, 1864
At daylight amidst a pelting shower of rain received orders to take up the line of march for a certain point on a road intersecting the Camden Washington Road where there were said to be 600 Federal encamped. At sunrise the battery moved forward and after marching some 10 or 12 miles we were informed of our close proximity to the enemy. Gen. Marmaduke was engaging their enemy's attention in front. Our brigade was ordered by Gen. Maxcy to march up in line of battle on the flank on our left was posted the Choctaw Brigade, while the battery was to follow and gain position where we could pour in an enfiltrating fire, which would be destructive, at the same time our fire was to be at short range--without an unnecessary expenditure of ammunition. At about twelve o'clock the action was commenced by a sharp exchange of shots between the artillery of the enemy and that of Gen. Marmaduke, which covered the advances of our skirmishes. In a few moments the action became general. Our brigade having advanced to a point from which they poured in a very destructive fire of musketry. The battery having passed over an almost impassable road through underbrush, over ditches and logs by dint of perseverance and indefatigable labor at length reached a position where although it was impossible for as to see the enemy we could observe from the artillery firing about their location the distance being computed at 300 yds and a skirt of timber dividing the contending warriors. After going in battery we waited some time for orders to commence firing--but they came not and Capt. Krumbhaar resolved to open fire feeling assured that the main body of the enemy would be within the range of our guns. At this time the engagement was brisk, to use the mildest possible term. The fire was extraordinarily heavy and we began to believe that the force against which we were contending was decidedly heavier than was reported. At the same time a percifitable (?) panic had struck a portion of our troops immediately in our front, and the order was given by Capt. K. to load with shell 2 percent fuses then fire by half battery. In an instant the guns were reloaded and we fired by battery. The enemy's artillery practice gradually slackened and upon our repeating the dose five times in rapid succession, the firing almost entirely ceased. A genuine Texas Yell was raised, a charge ordered and carried out, the struggle was short but decisive. And we soon found ourselves masters of the field. Our trophy consisted of 208 wagons and horses (?), 4 pieces of (?) Stand of Colors and about 5(?) P(?).
As the firing ceased in our immediate front we were ordered to take a position on a road by which the enemy had retreated in the most perfect disorder. After remaining in battery about 1/2 an hour we were ordered to limber up and cover the rear of the wagon train which had been captured. Prisoners were being continually brought in until the number swelled up to 140. A great many wagons were burnt about 180 being bought (?) off. The havoc among the negroes had been tremendous. Over a small portion of the field we saw at least 40 dead bodies lying in all conceivable attitudes. Some scalped and nearly all stripped by the blood thirsty Choctaw who fought with desperation and gallantry. To sum up--the rout and surprise of the enemy was complete. At least 400 darkies were killed. No black prisoners were taken. 140 white abolitionists were captured and we learned that we had been engaging between 2500 and 3000 white and black troops. Our loss was was about 50 killed and wounded. We reached the brigade encampment at about 11 p.m. and remained in battery all night guarding the main Camden road to prevent a surprise or recapture of the wagons. Thus ended the Battle of Poison Springs.
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