BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The Memoirs and Writings of Brigadier General Sidney Drake Jackman, CSA
Compiled and edited by Richard L. Norton
OAK HILLS PUBLISHING
Jackman's account of the Battle of Lone Jack begins with Chapter 12.
The first day of August had now arrived, and marching orders given. Col. Cockrell was assigned to command of the whole. I assumed the command of four hundred and fifty of our men, leaving the remainder under Capt. B. N. Cocke,1 of St. Clair County, Missouri. Col. Hunter took seven hundred and fifty of his men and, leaving the balance under Col. Burns, for camp and picket duty. Capt. Shelby was in command of his own men, and assigned the advance. Before moving, I called on the General to bid him farewell and inquired how far we were permitted to penetrate Missouri.
He replied, by saying, "You have been anxious for some time, to rescue your men, in the hands of Col. Warren, who commands the post at Butler, Bates County, Missouri. Go that far, if you think it safe when you enter the state. But don't sink this command."
We now moved out, but many of the men were badly mounted and badly equipped. Many bridles were simply ropes and strings and the naked backs of horses constituted
1 B. N. Cocke was a 25-year-old native Missourian who resided in Osceola, St. Clair County. He had previously served as a Second Lieutenant in Company C, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG. Record Book of the 8th Division, pp. 42-43. He subsequently served as Captain of Company B, 16th Missouri Infantry Regiment. Confederate Organizations, Officers, and Posts, p. 37. He was killed-in-action at Helena, Arkansas, on 4 July 1863. 0. R., Series I, Vol. XXII, Part 1, p. 41
the saddles of many men. In appearance, it was really the most amusing and laughable body of cavalry imaginable, to start out on a recruiting and killing expedition, when those who were to be killed were the best mounted and armed men in the world and backed by the strongest government in the world. But, every man felt that he was a hero, within himself and many of us had long since learned what a little dash and daring would accomplish.
My company commanders, who accompanied me, were Capt. L. M. Lewis, of Clay County, Missouri, afterwards General Lewis, and now a prominent Minister of the Methodist Church to Waxahachie, Texas; John M. Stemmons 2, Newton County, Missouri, later Lieut. Col. and now an able jurist at Dallas, Texas; P. W. H. Cummings, 3
2 John Martin Stemmons was born in Kentucky and was 29-years-old when he left his Greenfield, Dade County, home to raise a company of Dade County cavalry. He then served as Regimental Commissary of Subsistence for the 5th Infantry Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG, from 13 July to 9 December 1861, then as Lieutenant-Colonel and commanding officer of the 13th Cavalry Regiment, Eighth Division, until late March 1862. He ended the war as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 16th Missouri Infantry Regiment. Record Book of the 8th Division, pp. 68-69 & 300; Carolyn M. Bartels, Missouri Confederate Surrender: Shreveport & New Orleans, May 1865 (Shawnee Mission, KS: Two Trails Publishing Co., 1991) (Note: This book does not have page numbering). 3 Pleasant W. H. Cummings resided in Pineville, McDonald County, at the start of the war. He was elected 28 September 1861 as Captain of Company D, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG, resigning on 10 December 1861. Record Book of the 8th Division, pp. 30-31, 264, & 299. He subsequently served as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 16th Missouri Infantry Regiment. Estes, List of Field OffIcers, Regiments, and Battalions in the Confederate
McDonald County, Missouri, afterwards Col. and now merchant in the state of Louisiana, and one of the bravest men on the earth; A. Bryant 4 of Bates County Missouri; Eph. Allison 5 of Henry County, Missouri, and a prominent merchant of Clinton, Missouri [Missouri Republican account says now county judge]; Moses, Perry 6 and Bullard 7 of southwest Missouri, their initials and counties not remembered - eight, in all. Our march was rapid and nothing worthy of note transpiring until we reached Cane Hill, Washington County, Arkansas, a beautiftil and rich country and filled with a most excellent people. It being Saturday evening, it was decided to remain at this camp until Monday morning to prepare a few days' rations.
Our camp was near the village church, and on Sunday
morning, when the people gathered for worship, it was
4 Abner Bryant had commanded Company F, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG, resigning on 3 January 1862. Record Book of the 8th Division, p. 298; & Sterling Price Orderly Book, Archives and Manuscripts Division, Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, IL.
5 Ephraim Allison's biography can be found in History of Henry and St. Clair Counties, Missouri (St. Joseph, Mo.: National Historical Publishing Co., 1883), p. 285.
6 G W. Perry was killed at the Battle of Helena, Arkansas, July 4, 1863. McNarnara, "Missouri Confederates in Arkansas in the Year 1863," The Missouri Republican (St. Louis, Mo.), September 12, 1885.
7 J.W. Bullard, who had served as First Lieutenant in Company E, 5th Cavalry Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG, subsequently served as Captain, Company E, 16th Missouri Infantry Regiment. He was from Newton County. Bartels, The Forgotten Men, p. 40; & Confederate Organizations, Officers, and Posts, p. 37.
learned that we had several preachers among us, and we were requested to furnish one for the occasion. It was agreed upon, and as Lewis was always ready, he was selected.
He took the stand with all the dignity of a Presiding Elder and began a ready and fluent talk. I tried to give him my attention, but it was soon so fixed upon his garb, that I found it impossible. His coat was a brown jeans or butter nutts roundabout, and his pants were of blue jeans, with an immense, great white leather patch covering the entire seat. In fact, it was almost as large as the full moon, and looked something like it. When he talked to the ladies, my side of the house had the benefit of the moon, and when he would turn to us, the moon would rise on the ladies. Here, it became so amusing that I lost all interest in his discourse. But the people seemed pleased and came out in the evening to hear another discourse, when we put up Cockrell, who gave them one of his sledge hammer talks. And he was able to do it, for he weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds.
On the next morning, the march was resumed and continued to Newtonia Missouri, 8 without anything of interest occurring beyond the ordinary marching, campaign, etc.. At this place, we found a force of the enemy, under Major Hubbard, several hundred strong, as reputed, and quartered in a stone barn, with considerable stone fencing about it, and having artillery. A demonstration was made
8 This skirmish, at Newtoma, in Newton County, occuffed on 8 August 1862. The Federal column, composed of a detachment of the 1st Missouri Cavalry Regiment, commanded by Major J. M. Hubbard, contained two pieces of artillery. O.R., Series I, Vol. XIII, p. 224. A description of Captain Shelby's part of this action
can be found in Edwards, Shelby and His Men, pp. 70-71.
upon him, just before sundown, with Captain Shelby's force thrown forward as skirmishers. The enemy shelled us, without effect. And no small arms were brought into use. We retained our position until after dark, when we withdrew.
I had supposed that this demonstration was made to harass the enemy and give us the benefit of a night's march into the state without interruption. But, to my surprise, the colonel commanding headed due south and continued the march to Elm Springs, eight miles, filling me with apprehension of retreat. Pickets were sent out and the command went into camp, and it being late, all were soon asleep.
At a late hour next morning, the order to saddle up was given, when Capt. Shelby came hurriedly to me and remarked, "Jackman, Cockrell is going back to Frog Bayou."
Said I, "How do you know?"
"He has just told me," said Shelby.
"Where is he?" I inquired
"Just over here," pointing, he answered.
"Let us see him," I replied.
We walked rapidly to where he was, when I said to him, "Col. Cockrell, Capt. Shelby informs me that you are going back to Frog Bayou. Is it so?"
He answered, "Yes," and remarked that the responsibility was so great, that he was afraid to risk the command in Missouri.
Then I said, "If you are afraid, turn the command over to me and go back yourself."
After a moment's reflecting, said he, "No, I'll go on with the command, myself. But, you must all stick close to me."
That, of course, I assured. Shelby was an eager listener to this conversation and rejoiced at its result.
Right here, I have always felt that the expedition was at an end. And for the timely notice by Shelby, and this earnest talk of mine, there would never have been any Lone Jack expedition and consequently no Lone Jack Battle. I as fully appreciated the responsibility and the danger as Col. Cockrell. But, I also fully realized the impossibility of obtaining recruits, without going into Missouri. And here was my great anxiety.
The command, now mounted and formed, moved north in fine spirits and in blissful ignorance, as it is today, that it had been mounted to go south. Capt. Bullard, however, was left in this section to gather up recruits, while we were gone north.
On Sept 9th, 1883, I wrote Gen. Shelby, reciting the circumstances in conversation above, word for word, and inquired whether he remembered the facts, as given. Below is an exact copy of his answer, punctuation, underscoring, and all.
My Dear General,
I have just read the enclosed carefully. The conversation occurred just as you have stated in this sheet. I was satisfied at the time that Col. Cockrell, from reports coming in, was apprehensive, that he would be assuming too much responsibility and too great a risk of losing his men; Not that he had any consideration for himself; personally, but he did not, at that time, desire to hazard the lives of his devoted followers. Col. Cockrell is a brave and good man and was as loyal to the South as any man who ever fought for her. In conclusion, however, I must say, had it not been for your determination in the morning, the battle of Lone Jack would never have occurred.
J. 0. Shelby
S. D. Jackman,
San Marcos, Texas.
P.S. All join in love to you and family. Let me hear from you on receipt of this.
Col. Cockrell also remembers the whole matter and as there were only three witnesses to that communication, Cockrell, Shelby, and myself, and all agreeing as to the
matter, that point is definitely settled.
I have always regarded that as an important matter, in a truthful relation of the events on that campaign, and one never known by anyone, except the three whose names are above. I wish it distinctly understood, that I fully indorse every word uttered by Gen. Shelby about Col. Cockrell. Yes, and more. I know that he was not only a brave and good man and true friend of the South, but he was an honest man, and a Christian gentleman. This is about as much as we could say for any man and makes him about as good as any man could wish to be in this life. And hence as my friend, I could not desire to rob him of one single honor to which he is entitled. and as the brave and good man I know him to be, he should not, and does not, want any honors to which he is not entitled. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, regardless of the honors, must and shall be told.
This line of march was by way of near Carthage, and on up the main thoroughfare to the great north west, until we reached the Osage River. Here we learned that Col. Warren had hurriedly evacuated Butler, making a march to that place unnecessary.
The command now turned north, near Pleasant Gap or "Red Dirt," Bates County, and when a few miles north of that place, a message from Col. John T. Coffee and John C. Tracy, 9 requesting our return to this location, that they were
John C. Tracy 9 was a 36-year-old native of Kentucky who resided at Columbus, Johnson County. He originally served as Lieutenant-
Colonel of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG, and
was wounded-in-action at Wilson's Creek on 10 August 1861.
Record Book of the 8th Division, pp. 18-19. He subsequently served
sorely pressed by a body of Federals, under Genl. Montgomery (I suppose Bacon Montgomery).
A counter march was made at once, to Pleasant Gap, where the command of Coffee and Tracy were met, they having escaped without loss to the eager Federals.
Coffee and Tracy had preceded our command into the state [by] a few days and bearing further east than the line of our march, had encountered trouble. Coffee was in command of 250 or 300 Missouri State Guards and Tracy about the same number of Confederate troops. I regret that I cannot give the exact number of soldiers commanded by those officers. They had for some time, encamped in southwest Missouri, and northwest Arkansas, recruiting. And, like us, finding it slow work, had penetrated the state for a like purpose. Coffee, having command of State Guards, the Confederate officers had no authority over him. And while Tracy was in command of Confederate troops, he claimed to have some sort of authority from Richmond, giving him exclusive jurisdiction over his command and hence, had not reported to Genl. Rains. This was sure grounds for confusion. Never the less, after an hour or two in consultation, it was agreed to remain together when the command moved out, in a northerly direction with Shelby in advance as he had been all the way.
This day's march brought us to Deep Water, Bates County, where the night was spent. the next day's march brought us to Dayton, Cass County, where we went into
as Lieutenant-Colonel in Colonel Edward 1. Fristoe's Missouri Cavalry Regiment. Estes, List of Field Officers, Regiments, and Battalions in the Confederate Army, p. 40.
camp for the night. This place, like most all others in western Missouri, had been reduced to ashes by those in the uniform of the Federal Government and fighting for a restored union.10 Of course, it had its effect.
Recruiting had been very rapid indeed for 24 hours, in fact they pranced from every direction. The woods seemed alive with men, and all fleeing the wrath of what was known as the Gamble Order. H. R. Gamble, 11 the Governor at that time, had recently issued an order, requiring all men subject to military duty in the State, to enter the military service which caused a general stampede to the woods of the Southern men, who refused to join the ranks of the enemy. 12
10 Dayton was burned to the ground on 3 January 1862 by looters of the 7th Kansas Cavalry Regiment under the "command' of Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel R. Anthony. 0. R., Series I, Vol. VIII, p. 46. Anthony's sister, Susan B. Anthony, was a reknowned suffragette.
11 Hamilton Rowan Gamble was appointed Governor of the State of Missouri by the Missouri State Convention in July of 1861. The elected governor of Missouri, Claibome Fox Jackson, and the Missouri State Legislature, bad been chased from the capital at Jefferson City and had joined the Confederacy. John F. Phillips, "Hamilton Rowan Gamble and the Provisional Government of Missouri," Missouri Historical Review, Vol. V, No. 1 (October 1910), pp. 1-14.
12 This was General Order No. 19, issued on 22 July 1862. It stated "Every able-bodied man capable of bearing arms and subject to militaiy duty is hereby ordered to repair without delay to the nearest military post and will report for duty to the commanding officer." 0. R., Series I, Vol. XIII, p. 506. This was a general drafting of Missouri manpower and the men collected were used to organize the Enrolled Missouri Militia. James A. Hamilton, "The Enrolled Missouri Militia: Its Creation and Controversial History," Missouri
This made recruiting easy and was a convincing proof that we had penetrated the state at the right time.
There being no enemy in this section of the country to mar our peace, we had a refreshing rest.
This brought us to the morning of the 14th of August. As usual, the command moved out early, but I was directed by the Col. commanding to remain and organize three companies of men and then bring up the rear to the next camp, which 1 did. One company was organized with Capt. F. B. Bernaugh 13 of Henry County, and one with John H. McComb 14 of Butler, Bates County, as Captain. The other was one of the old squads now having filled up was organized.
The command was overtaken at Rose Hill, Johnson County, Missouri, where the night was spent. There,
HistoricaiReview, Vol. XLIX, No. 4 (July 1975), pp. 276-284.
13 This is probably Frank B. Bronaugh, who previously served as a Second Lieutenant in Company G, 1st Infantry Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG, thence served as Second Lieutenant, Company C,
l4th CavaIiy Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG. Record Book of the 8th Division, pp. 204 & 280; and Peterson, et at., Sterling Price's Lieutenants, pp. 218 & 284. Bartels, The Forgotten Men, p. 35, noted that F. B. Bronaugh subsequently served as a Captain of C. S. Infantry. Confederate Organizations, Officers, and Posts, p. 37, listed this officer as "E. F. Bronaugh," commanding Company K, 16th Missouri Infantry Regiment.
14 John McComb had previously served as Third Lieutenant in
Company A, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Eighth Division, MSG.
Peterson, et al., Sterling Price's Lieutenants, p. 253.
Professor J. J. Searcy 15 of the Missouri University reported to me and rendered me valuable assistance during the balance of the expedition.
During this night, Capt. Shelby, with his command, left us for Lafayette County. Col. Cockrell, wishing to see his family, placed Col. Hunter in command and proceeded north with Capt. Shelby for that purpose, stating that he would be with us on the next day at Lone Jack or vicinity.
15 James J. Searcy had been been a professor at the University of Missouri. He served briefly as First Lieutenant of the Columbia (Missouri) Home Guards Company, then as a Captain in Colonel Caleb Dorsey's Provisional Regiment of the Second Division, MSG. Peterson, et al., Sterling Price's Lieutenants, p. 134. He subsequently served as Colonel of Searcy's Missouri Cavalry Regiment during the Missouri Campaign of 1864, but his command was downgraded and dismounted in 1865 to become Searcy's Missouri Sharpshooter Battalion, and he ultimately surrendered as a Lieutenant-Colonel. Confederate Organizations, Officers, and Posts, pp. 52 & 86.
The next morning [August 15, 1862] Col. Hunter proceeded to Lone Jack, a distance of about 15 mile and finding supplies scarce, moved west four miles and went into camp. Col. Coffee and Tracy, not recognizing Hunterís authority, encamped in Lone Jack. The Battle at Independence, have occurred a few days before, had now filled the country with Federals determined on capturing or driving from the country, the Confederates engaged in that battle.
Col. Cockrell, on reaching the vicinity of Warrensburg, learned of a large body of Federals moving in the direction
1 The Engagement at Independence took place on 11 August 1862. Union Lieutenant-Colonel James T. Buel commanded the garrison at Independence, in Jackson County, which consisted of three companies of the 7th Missouri Cavalry Regiment, one company of the 2nd Missouri Cavalry Regiment, and one company of the 6th Missouri Infantry Regiment, in all about 300 men. His force was attacked at dawn by Confederate and Guard units under the command of Brigadier General John Taylor Hughes, whose command consisted of Colonels Upton Hays' and Gideon W. Thompson's Missouri regiments and Captain William Clarke Quantrill's partisan company. The Union column was decisively defeated, with over half of it captured, but General Hughes was killed in the attack. Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy, pp.
of Lone Jack, and, fearing danger to his command, came hurriedly back, reaching it at 9 oíclock at night, the 15th. When very soon the "boom" of artillery was heard back at the town. And of course, all knew that Coffee and Tracy had been fired upon.
During the evening Col. Hays 2 had joined us with a few hundred men, including Col. Gid Thompson and Col. Bohannan, 3 two brave and experienced officers. Also twenty five men of Quantrellís 4 command under Lieut. Haller, 5 who was killed in September following. Col.
2 Upton Hays (born 1832), a gandson of famed frontiersman Daniel Boone, was a resident of Jackson County, residing near Independence, and well-known in the overland shipping business on the Santa Fe and California Trails. He initially served as Captain of Company E, 1st Cavalry Regiment of the Eighth Division. He rose to become Lieutenant-Colonel of that unit, then commenced raising the "Jackson County Cavalry Regiment," which ultimately was redesignated as the 12th Missouri Cavalry Regiment. Hays was killed-in-action in a skirmish near Newtonia, Missouri, on or about 15 September 1862. Peterson, et al., Sterling Price 's Lieutenants, p. 244.
3 Lewis C. Bohannan (born 1812) resided in Ray County. He raised and commanded Company E, 1st Cavalry Regiment, Fourth Division, MSG, then was elected Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel. His biography states that he subsequently served as a Colonel in the Confederate army, although no documentation has been found to support this claim. History of Ray County, Missouri (St. Louis,
MO: National Historical Co., 1881), p. 285; & Peterson, et al., Sterling Price 's Lieutenants, p. 137.
4 William Clarke Quantrill was appointed as a Captain of Missouri Partisan Rangers.
5 William Haller was the First Lieutenant in Quantrill's company. Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy, pp. 99-100, stated Haller commanded the 60 partisans at Lone Jack.
Cockrell formed his command and prepared for battle, expecting Coffee and Tracy would fall back upon him, pursued by the enemy, who was to receive a warm welcome. In this, we were disappointed. When Capt. Eph. Allison of Clinton, Henry County, Missouri, and Capt. Osborne of Jackson County were sent to reconnoiter the enemy and learn what had become of Coffee and Tracy. In the meantime, our command was resting on their arms and in line of battle. Allison and Osborne were prompt in a discharge of this duty, and soon returned, reporting that Coffee and Tracy had retreated upon a road south of us and that the enemy, believing they had fired on Hays and Quantrell, who had ran, had now they retired for the night and was ignorant as to our presence in the country.
Col. Cockrell asked my opinion, as to whether we had better fight or retreat. I urged strongly, the importance of giving battle and making the attack at daybreak, the next morning, and gave as reasons, the fatigued condition of our men and horses, as compared to the enemy, who was fresh and vigorous. With such a force in our rear and a strong probability of meeting fresh troops pursuing us from the south, retreat was impossible. Let us fight the enemy in detail. Whip those at hand now, and others as occasion might require.
He fully concurred in my suggestions and went to consult Hays and others and to make known his determination. The danger and responsibility, talked about a ways south, seemed no longer thought of, by him, although painfully visible on every hand. He seemed every inch a soldier, and I admired him greatly.
I now made a little mid-night speech, to my men and informed them of the decision and showed them the
necessity. I insisted that they remember that, that was our country, the home of our mothers and sisters and wives and children and everything dear to us, on this earth. We must whip the enemy and hold it, or be whipped and driven from it. Let us meet them as men. Keep cool. Shoot low. Give these shots, boys, and the work will be done.
FROM: The Younger Brothers A. C. Appler, pp. 102-104.
"Soldier's, there are about one thousand Federal cavalry in Lone Jack, having with them, two pieces of artillery. This fact I learned from a citizen of the town who left there after the enemy came in. They are all well armed and mounted upon good horses. If they don't spy our whereabouts to-night, we will attack them at early dawn on the coming of the morrow.
"Men, I feel that we are going to have a hard fight of it, as the enemy is commanded by a very resolute officer, one who knows no fear upon the field of battle, and I suppose his men are picked cavalry-men, selected from different regiments. What leads me to think so is this --- they have come out from Lexington in search of Quantrell and his band of braves, and they know full well it will take men of extraordinary nerve to cope with Capt. Quantrell anywhere in Jackson county, and especially in the Sny hills."
Some one said, "Colonel, can't we get out of it without a fight?"
"No," said the Colonel, "those Federals are now close, in striking distance, and mounted on much better animals than we have; and moreover, they are fat and in excellent plight. The most of ours are jaded down. Therefore, if we were to endeavor to flee from the country, we would be overtaken and most of us cut down by the enemy. Thus you will see that we are compelled to offer battle in the morning, and we, my brave soldiers, must gain a decided victory over the enemy or leave our bodies upon the field of battle. And I know full well you possess the nerve. Never has nerve yet forsaken you while upon the field of battle, in the face of the invaders of our most happy and prosperous country, where our loved ones dwelt in peace, plenty and happiness. Therefore, if we engage the enemy in battle in the morning, let each and every one of us resolve to conquer or die upon the field, and we will gain a decided victory over the foe, who has caused so many mothers, wives, and sisters to weep and wail over the loss of their dear ones, who have been shot down in cold blood by the thieving, cut-throat militia of Missouri, aided by the Kansas Red Legs and Jayhawkers. The most brutal murders ever recorded in the pages of history are no comparison to some of those committed in Missouri."
Tracy was now seen approaching from the west. He knew nothing of Coffee. They had separated in the darkness and Coffee was lost. Cockrell now returned and informed me of the plan of attack, as agreed upon by him and Hays. It was this: The command of Hunter, Tracy and myself were to be used as infantry, with Hunter on the right, I in the center, and Tracy on the left. Those of Hays and Haller were to be retained as cavalry. The infantry was to receive six rounds of ammunition and to move up as near the enemy as possible, without attracting attention and there, quietly remain until Hays should fire on the flank of the enemy and when his attentions was drawn to Hays, we were to charge home.
I protested strongly against the plan and gave the following reasons for it. "Let Hays be used as infantry also and let us make a combined assault on the enemy, while in bed and in his confusion, we can exterminate every man and that too, without loss of a man. But lest a few should escape, retain Hallerís men mounted, who can then complete the work.
But he said Hays would not be dismounted.
"Then let him remain mounted, but let the infantry make the attack as I have suggested."
"No," he replied, "Hays must bring on the engagement."
"Then, six rounds will not do."
"Yes," he thought the enemy would run after a shot or two.
Said I, "Col. Cockrell, the enemy, having artillery, and knowing nothing of our presence here, is evidence to me that they are a picked body of men, sent out after Hays and Quantrell, who are regarded as desperate men. Let them get into line, and we will need all your ammunition and will lose many valuable lives, with the very doubtful chances in our favor."
He thought now, the enemy would run after a fire or two.
I looked at him in amazement. But, he was so cool and evidently so brave, that I could not but admire him. Yet, I felt it in my very bones, that his skill in this matter, was greatly at fault. The result would prove who was right. Being a subordinate, it was my duty to obey.
The command was now mounted and moved up to within half mile of the town, where it was dismounted and formed as above, Capt. Osborne, who was familiar with that section, led the infantry to where it was to remain until Hays should bring on the engagement. The line of march was up a ravine or branch, west of town, into a wheat or oat field, that had grown up in iron weeds, sufficiently tall to entirely conceal or hide us from the enemy. We now moved up quietly in line of battle to within seventy five or a hundred yards of the enemy, where a halt was made, as per orders.
It was now near day break and here we waited, seemingly an eternity for Hays to begin the work. When to my great surprise, here came Hays riding slowly and quietly up the front of my line. I hurriedly approached him and exclaimed, "Colonel Hays, in the name of God, What are you doing here? Here, we have been waiting for a long half hour for you to bring on the attack, as agreed upon, and instead of doing it, you come riding up this line, as though you were the Inspector General of the Confederate Army."
He replied in a very easy and quiet way that he would soon. He then made a short detour up Hunterís line and without suggesting anything or making known any business, turned about and made as slowly and quietly back down the line. He was a very cool and no doubt brave man, but was evidently distrustful of our command, as I can conceive of no other motive.
A camp guard of the enemy, some little time before this, had discovered the movements of Hays' command and gave the alarm. The enemy was now rallying with all possible speed. We could hear every command distinctly. During all the waste of precious time, my men were eager and crazy for the attack. "Why halt here? Why not make an attack now? This is wrong. It wonít do to remain here. Now is the time," and all such questions and remarks were continually within my hearing, from the time the halt was made. The worst that could have possibly been one, was now done.
To wait longer for the attack by Hays was nonsense. I gave the order to charge. And with a yell, the men dashed in fine style. But an unexpected obstacle, in the way of a stake and rider rail fence, and running parallel with our line,
lay before us; not more than forty or fifty yards from the enemy. At this fence, we met a terrible fire of grape and musketry, which brought us to a halt. But here, protected somewhat by the fence, we fought the thing out. The enemy was formed in the street and rear of their horses and houses, and of course, greatly protected by both. Word soon ran up the line that Col. Tracy had been killed. This, I regarded, a heavy loss and filled me with sorrow.
The first man I saw shot was a handsome young fellow on the extreme left of Hunterís force, whose name I did not know. Poor fellow was shot through and Oh, how he begged for water. He asked me to raise his head. I did so, then looked for something, even a stone, on which to rest his head. But, finding none, folded his hat, and used it. He was soon done.
The next man I saw shot, was Captain Lewis. He was hit with a spent ball, square in the forehead, but high up and with sufficient force for the ball to stick. He picked it out and called my attention to it. I told him if the wound was painful, he had better retire.
But, he replied, "No, not for that."
Very soon he received a shot in the hand. The two was enough for him, and he retired. I afterwards told him that in our association, I had hoped to convert him to Campbellism, but since Yankee bullets could not penetrate his head, there was no use in trying Campbellite argument, and I should have to give up. He is a Methodist to this day. Captain Watson, who was acting Ordinance Officer for the command, and who had some experience in battle and knowing him to be a brave man, I had placed on the left of my force to aid me in its management. He was shot dead, I learned, while in charge upon the enemyís artillery. He
died with his face to the enemy, a brave and Christian gentleman. Oh, may his spirit rest in peace. He, Lewis, and Cockrell constituted my mess.
Very soon after the battle, opened and when only a volley or two had been fired, Col. Hunter came hurriedly to me and told me that he could hear the enemy crawling in the open corn, upon our right and asked if I did not think he had better take his command and throw it along a fence, at right angles with our line and that separated the field we were in from the corn, and protect my right flank.
"No," said I, "Remain where you are and help to fight this battle, for itís impossible for the enemyís cavalry to be there. They have not had time to get there."
He left me, but only to come rushing back in a moment exclaiming, "I assure you they are there, for I can hear their sabers in the corn and hear them talking."
"Then," said I, "if you know them to be there, which I donít believe, take your force and guard my flank."
He then withdrew, when the enemy felt encouragement, and with a yell, came rushing upon us. But one well-directed volley settle that business. They turned and fled, but only for protection by the houses, their horses having been mostly killed, by this time.
The command of Col. Tracy, under Lt. Col. Dick Hancock, of Bates County, Missouri, a cool and brave man, was behaving nobly.
Early in the engagement, and realizing that we would
need more ammunition, I directed H. B. Brewster, of Carrollton Missouri, acting Adjutant for my Regiment, to furnish me a man to go for it. He requested to go himself, stating that he would do it quicker than anyone else. I told him to go and lose no time. But he never returned. The artillery had now been silenced by the left of my force and that of Lt. Col. Hancock and our six rounds of ammunition almost expended, and being still under a galling fire, there was nothing left, but to retire for more, only a round or two left. I took a man from the line and sent him to notify Hunter that I was forced to retire for ammunition. The man returned in a moment and reported Hunter gone. He had deserted my flank. I then gave the order to fall back and it was done ingood order.
The enemy, now being greatly encouraged by this move, again raised a yell and came charging after us. Anticipating this, I had reserved one round for the occasion. I ordered an about face and poured my last round into a yelling and advancing foe. It did its work well and the enemy now showed his back the second time.
On reaching the low ground, where the line had been formed in the morning, there I found Hunter, with his command. I asked him why he had deserted my flank.
He replied that he had no ammunition.
Said I, "What did you do with it? You reported cavalry in the corn field, when there was not a man there. Did you throw it away?"
He was dumb now.
"If ammunition is what you want, let us get it and return to the battlefield."
We proceeded down the valley to the ordinance wagon, which had been brought up near the mill at the north or northwest of the town and here I found hundreds of men congregated about the wagon, with Col. Cockrell urging them, with all the power that was in him, to return to the battle, but with little or no effect. I here found Capt. Brewster, who approached me, when I inquired, why he had not returned with the ammunition.
He frankly replied, that it was too hot a place for him. He could not go back.
Ammunition was issued to mine and Hunterís commands. I ordered my men to fall into line, and to great surprise, very few obeyed the orders. Many asking the question, "Why a few of us go back to be killed, when the whole command is here and refuses to go back."
Really, it did look just that way. But a few gallant spirits followed, among them Capt. Cummings, Capt. Bryant, Lt. Martin, Jamestown, Bates County, Missouri, and Lieutenant Jess Herrell of Butler County, Missouri. If there were any other officers who returned with me, I do not recollect them, doubtful there were. But they were chiefly strangers to me, many brave and daring acts by both officers and men must be passed without notice,
which I exceedingly regret. Capt. Lewis had been twice wounded, as stated above. Capt. Stemmons dangerously, Capt. Eph Allison, seriously. Capt. Watson, McComb and Moses killed, all, first class men anywhere in the world. Moses was shot in the throat and fell in the arms of Bernaugh, who was near by.
Hunter was less successful because he had less men, and was less anxious, having, as I thought, treated me badly, by leaving the field and my flank exposed. I determined that he should go back with me. He pulled back wonderfully, but I dragged him after me, and a few splendid soldiers followed him. I returned upon a direct line to the battle field, and on the way, I saw Col. Tracy approaching me, supported by a man under each arm. I rejoiced at this, for I had supposed him dead. When near enough to speak to him, said, "Colonel Tracy, I am sorry you are wounded. Are you much hurt?"
"Yes," he answered, "I am shot all to pieces."
This remark rather opened my eyes, for I could see no blood. We were now face to face and I asked him, "How are you hurt?"
"Oh," said he as if in great pain, "When the first bomb was fired, it struck me in the breast and exploded, completely enveloping me in fragments, some of which cut on top of the head and some cut my legs terribly in front and one piece struck me in the fundament, and now the blood is running down my legs."
I made him take off his hat and examined his head. There was not a mark or even a speck of blood to be seen and no rents in his clothing. I left him with a feeling of supreme contempt and was thoroughly convinced that he was mistaken, as to what it was running down his legs.
I moved on with Hunter after me, and when passing through a corn field, of a few acres, then in roasting ears, Col. Hunter suddenly exclaimed, as if in great pain, "Oh, I have sprained my ankle." And down he fell, and then I left him in disgust. Two of his captains, Capt. Lowe, of Schell City, Vernon County, Missouri, and Old Capt. Frazier, of Greene County, Missouri, went on with me to renew the fight and requested me to take command of them, as they had no leader. I did so and now take the pleasure, in testifying that they were among the bravest of the brave on the ever memorable occasion.
As I now approached the field, I saw Confederates in beyond the Bois díArc hedge and some what protected by it, and which I learned was the command of Col. Hays. The enemy was directly between us and as we were in easy range, it is very probable that their command and ours, on the west had suffered from each otherís fire. It is however impossible to know the facts.
The enemy had now almost entirely gone into the houses and were firing from the windows and holes made for that purpose, which gave them great advantage over us. Our little force, now engaging them, were forced to break into squads and seek protection, as best we could. I, with four others. Took position near the corner of an old log cabin. When very soon a shot from an upper room of the hotel, brought down one of our squad, shot directly through the
temples. His name I did not know. In a moment more, a shot from the same place, brought down First Sergeant Montgomery, of Bryantís Company, and shot through the temple. Montgomery fell directly by the other man. Another shot, from the same place, hit Capt. Bryant in the temple and killed him. He fell on top of the other two. Good and brave men. How I hated to give them up. Here lay three men out of five, all dead, and shot in the same place and evidently by the same man and the same gun. I remarked to Lieut. Herrell, that those men had all been killed by [at] our sides and that the next shot would get one of us. Let us move. Before the suggestion had scarcely escaped my lips, Herrell was shot in the arm.
He left the field and I moved up with all my men engaged, to the rear of the hotel, a two story frame structure, in which most of the enemy now sought refuge. It being an old fashioned weather boarded house, with thin walls, I felt that I might drive them out by shooting through the walls. But, failing in that, and occasionally losing a man, Lieut. Martin, referred to above and afterwards Capt. Martin, came to me and suggested that the house ought to be burned.
Said I, "Lieutenant, I know it, but I am afraid to risk a few men there for that purpose."
He then replied, if I would protect him, he would do it.
I told him to go, that I would do it, or sacrifice the command.
He called a man, whose name I never knew (which I
regret), to go with him to burn the house. They jumped the fence and ran up to the chimney corner, snatching up a little trash as they went. I now brought my men solidly up to the fence, with instructions for every man to be ready, in case an attempt was made to capture Martin. We had not long to wait. Very soon a strong squad came boldly each way around the house for Martinís capture. But after receiving one well directed volley, they wheeled and ran. Martin soon had the fire well under way and very soon the house completely enveloped in fire. The house now burned. Thank God, the battle was over and the victory won, but dreadfully so. And thus, it will be observed, my prediction to the Col. Commanding, before the battle, had proven entirely true. I desire here to remark that a great many persons have claimed the honor of that brave and daring act of burning the hotel. In the future, let the tongue of any man doing it (but Martin and the man who went with him) cleave to his mouth.
A fellow by the name of Buel has written a book in which he says that Cole Younger burned that house with turpentine balls. Also, that I was there but a little slow about coming up with my command. I don't know who Buel is, whether a Federal or a Confedwerate soldier. or a slick and a playout from 1861 to 1865. But, I presume the latter, as no brave man would rob a soldier, friend or enemy, of the honor to which he is entitled. He, however, has manifested a considerable desire to be an author and I am inclined to think, from his tact, displayed in lying, that is had he been educated, would have made him an author. But, I am giving him too much notoriety.