At 8:00 on the morning of March 8, a fierce artillery duel renewed the battle. General Sigel took charge of the Federal artillery and placed 21 guns on a large hill near the middle of the Cox field, now known as "Welfley's Knoll". Curtis also placed six guns in the Ruddick field across the Telegraph Road. From there, the Federal guns pounded the Confederate batteries in a deadly crossfire. This fire prevented Van Dorn from bringing his other batteries forward. As the Southern batteries ran out of ammunition and were withdrawn, Sigel moved his guns forward and began shelling the infantry hidden on Big Mountain. The shells exploded in the treetops and among the boulders showering the men with deadly splinters and rocks, causing carnage in the Southern ranks.
"Early in the morning we marched out to where they was to give them some more pills...which we did."
This composite panorama shows the Confederate positions from the Federal artillery position atop Welfley's knoll. The main Confederate line was inside the treeline.
"The bark and dirt was flying from off the trees all around and the cannon balls and grape shot and minney balls sang like humming birds and bees in the air."
Asa M. Payne
Around 10 am, Curtis ordered Asboth’s and Osterhaus’ infantry forward. Under pressure and nearly out of ammunition, Van Dorn’s right gave way. Van Dorn and Price led them off the battlefield along the Huntsville Road, leaving half of the Army without a commander. Seeing the Southerners in retreat, the entire Federal line surged forward. A rear guard was organized in front of the Elkhorn Tavern to cover the withdrawal of the remaining regiments as the rest of Army of the West fell back along the Huntsville Road. At 11:00,Carr’s battered division cut the Confederate’s escape route. The remaining regiments fled north up the Telegraph Road towards Missouri. Curtis rode the length of his line shouting, "Victory! Victory!" as his men cheered him.
"That beautiful charge I shall never forget; with banners streaming, with drums beating, and our long line of blue coats advancing upon the double quick, with their deadly bayonets gleaming in the sunlight, and every man and officer yelling at the top of his lungs."
Captain Eugene B. Payne
Last updated: April 10, 2015