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For over two hours four guns of the 1st Iowa Battery slugged it out with 21 guns of the Missouri State Guard on opposing ridges north of the Elkhorn Tavern on March 7. Although greatly outnumbered, this action slowed down Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorns attack up the steep-sided ravines north of the Elkhorn Tavern and allowed time for Union reinforcements to make it to the tavern. The Missouri State Guard guns slowly got the upper hand and the 1st Iowa position became untenable. Confederate firepower became more accurate striking a limber chest and one of the Iowa caissons. With one gun disabled, men and horses dropping with every round, Union Colonel Eugene Carr ordered the Iowa guns to withdraw back towards the Elkhorn Tavern.
Late in the afternoon of March 7, the outnumbered Federals were outflanked and forced to retreat from the Elkhorn Tavern area. As a last defiant measure, the 3rd Iowa battery managed to fire rounds of canister point blank into the charging 1st Missouri Confederate before they swept the guns capturing 2 and 1 gun getting away. The jubilant Missourians found one of the outbuildings at the tavern full of foodstuffs and these starved warriors helped themselves to crackers, oysters, cheese and other eatables. It took some time for the officers to get their men formed back up to press their attack. This was the high point of the battle for the Confederate Army of the West.
For about two hours, we stood in a tempest three of our ammunition chests were blown up, and several men burned. I believe every man at the guns had made up his mind to die there, for it did not seem possible any of us could get out alive.
Lieutenant Samuel Black, 1st Iowa Artillery
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