This is the conclusion of part 1 & 2 and provides reports given by Major General Samuel Curtis’ subordinates Col. W.F. Cloud, Major Weed and Major S.S. Curtis during the events at Mine Creek. It gives accounts of Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Benteen’s brigade, who would later gain fame with George A. Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Colonel W. F. Cloud’s Report

Colonel W. F. Cloud, acting on my staff, with a small detachment of his own regiment (Second Kansas), reports these battles as follows:

Accompanied by a small detachment of Kansas Cavalry (the Second), commanded by Sergeant Peck, I moved forward in the space between our extreme right and the left, giving such orders and encouragement to our forces as seemed necessary. In this order we came to a rebel battery, the men of which had ceased to fight from fear, at which a rebel colonel (Jeffers) surrendered to me, claiming protection for himself and men. Giving such directions as seemed proper for guarding the prisoners, I moved to another part of the field, assisting in arresting prisoners and securing several pieces of artillery abandoned by the rebels in their retreat through the brush and creek.

Seeing General Pleasanton upon the field near to a section of artillery, I moved forward and reported facts as directed, and then observing that he was directing the fire of our artillery upon a detachment of our own troops I so informed him, but was rebuked. Still persisting in my statements, I had them confirmed by an officer from the detachment under fire, whose assurances were united with my own and prevailed upon the general to give the order to cease firing, saying at the same time, “You should carry your colors upon the battle-field.”

At the order of General Sanborn the Second Kansas Cavalry was moved forward as skirmishers, come mounted, some dismounted, and drove the enemy out of the woods and across the river. Here the enemy had another line formed, and our troops were ordered forward, the Second Kansas remaining in its position on the right, and in this order, pressing forward, we reached from right to left in the form of a crescent, which placed us in the advance of the center. When the rebels retreated from our steadily advancing army, my command had the advance from the advantageous formation of the ground, and leading in this manner pursued the enemy for the distance of three miles in a continuous charge until compelled to halt from sheer exhaustion of the horses, many of them falling under their riders.

Colonel Cloud was very active during the campaign, and his immediate connection with the capture of Colonel Jeffers and the battery of rebel guns at Mine Creek and leading the skirmishers at the Osage, are distinguished achievements which ought to secure his promotion.

Major Weed’s Report and LTC Benteen

Major Weed, of my staff, additional aide-de-camp and commissary of musters of my department, also participated in this day’s fight, and reports his detached services as follows:

I remained with the major-general commanding until Philips’ brigade had crossed the stream at Trading Post, when I was ordered over with a message to General Pleasanton, and after delivering it proceeded to the front with Colonel Blair and Major R. H. Hunt. Three miles south of Trading Post, with Mine Creek in their rear, we found the entire fighting force of the enemy (Shelby’s division excepted) drawn up in line of battle. As only one brigade of our own troops had come up, I rode a short distance back on a road running parallel with and to the left of the one on which Philips’ brigade had marched, and very soon met Lieutenant-Colonel Benteen at the head of his brigade, and informed him of the position of the enemy. He pushed rapidly forward, and on coming in sight of the rebel line at once formed his brigade for a charge. I then started to return to the troops already on the field, to urge upon the commanding officer a charge at the same moment with that of Benteen.

Before reaching the command, however, I was accosted by an officer who pointed to the right center regiment of Philips’ brigade, and asked me to take that regiment into action, and to tell the men their colonel would soon be with them. He then rode off at a rapid pace in a northwesterly direction, probably on some urgent mission. I at once rode to the head of the regiment indicated, gave the message to all the officers, and to lessen as much as possible the depressing effect of the commanding officer’s absence upon the men, charged with and in advance of them. As they came near enough to the enemy’s line to open fire I crossed their front and took position in the line on the right, where, in conjunction with Major R. H. Hunt, I did what I could to encourage and urge it forward. After the enemy’s line had been broken and his whole force put to flight, I rode to the left of our line and assisted in gathering together and sending to the rear a large number of prisoners who had been captured with the artillery taken by Benteen’s brigade. While engaged in this duty I heard of the capture of General Marmaduke, and some twenty minutes later, meeting General Pleasanton, who was just coming to the field, I informed him of the fact, also telling him that Marmaduke had already been sent to the rear. I then, at his request, took several squads of our men who had been separated from their commands during the charge and proceeded to pick up prisoners, who were scattered over every part of the battle-ground, some under guard and many making their way to the rear without guards and no guides except their own fears.

After having performed this duty, I reported to the commanding general (who had already crossed Mine Creek) and was directed to proceed to the rear and urge forward the division of Major-General Blunt and the brigade of General McNeil with all possible speed. These troops had been delayed by the breaking down of some transportation wagons at the most difficult point of crossing, and some time elapsed before the road could be opened. I returned to the front with General McNeil and Major Charlot, and on arriving there reported to and remained with the commanding general until nearly sundown.

Major S. S. Curtis’ Report

Major S. S. Curtis, Second Colorado, and an aide-de-camp on staff, after the close of the fight at the Marais des Cygnes, went forward with General Pleasanton, and reports as follows concerning matters at the battle of Osage:

I overtook General Pleasanton and rode with him for some distance. When about three miles from Marais des Cygnes we commenced to hear firing at the front, and General Pleasanton sent orders back for McNeil and Sanborn to hurry forward with all practicable dispatch, while we pushed forward at a trot and canter. When we first heard the firing Benteen’s brigade was on a parallel road to the one we were on and to our right. He immediately put his command on the gallop and well fell to the rear of his column, as the roads soon came together.

Benteen’s brigade broke into regimental columns as they approached the battle-field, and as they came up on the left of Philips’ brigade went forward into line and right on into the charge. The enemy was cannonading Philips’ brigade when we came into sight, but the musketry firing had nearly ceased. General Pleasanton requested me to take his escort company and support a section of a battery which just then came up. General Pleasanton went forward, and I directed the lieutenant to post his guns on a small elevation and shell the enemy’s right where the artillery was posted. But two shots were fired when I heard the yells raised by Benteen’s brigade and saw the enemy’s line breaking. I immediately ordered the guns forward to a better position, and had just got them in position when General Sanborn rode up and directed the lieutenant to fire upon some troops on the south side of Mine Creek, and on our extreme left. I felt doubtful as to whether they were rebels or our own troops, but a second thought made me conclude they were rebels. Four shots were fired at them when I saw by their falling back to our lines that they must be our own men. I rode forward to the guns to stop their firing, when Generals Sanborn and Pleasanton both rode up and ordered them to cease.

At this time the enemy’s cannonading on our right had not yet ceased. The enemy by this time being in full retreat, with the exception of their extreme left, which could scarcely be reached with artillery from where we were without danger to our command, and directly in front of us, our troops were immediately on the heels of the retreating rebels. I told the lieutenant in charge of two guns to follow as fast as he could, while I, with the escort company, pushed forward to rejoin General Pleasanton. A short distance before reaching the creek I found Major Weed, who told me of the capture of General Marmaduke. I pushed on and told General Pleasanton, and just as I did so General Cabell was brought up a prisoner. At this time we could see a second rebel line forming on top of the hill ahead of us, and our troops being scattered in pursuit General Pleasanton sent orders for them to halt and reform. I assisted in reforming the line and sending prisoners to the rear until General Pleasanton again ordered an advance, when I advanced with him. I waited on the hill until General Curtis came up and rode with him to the banks of the next stream, when I rode up to the summit of the hill to the right of the road to obtain, if possible, a view of the charge being made by McNeill’s brigade, which had taken the advance through the timber on Little Osage.

General Pleasanton, as commander of the advance division, acted with great coolness and propriety throughout this battle of the Osage, and if our battery fired on a portion of Colonel Benteen’s troops after they crossed the creek my son, Major Curtis, clearly exonerates General Pleasanton from directing the matter, which was one of those incidents of battle which often occur. Colonel Benteen and his brigade evidently took the lead in the movement which captured the prisoners and guns at Mine Creek and deserves the greatest applause for personal gallantry.

Brigadier-General McNeil concluded the matter on the height beyond the Osage with great success and courage. Nearly all these troops being of General Pleasanton’s division and under his general supervision, he also deserves the gratitude of the country. General Blunt’s division, crowding forward and augmenting the power and force which overcame the enemy, is equally deserving of the honor of the day. We were everywhere successful, and the following officers of my staff, although some of them have been already named, deserve special commendation for their unceasing toil and extraordinary gallantry at this battle of the Osage: Honorable J. H. Lane, Colonel C. W. Blair, Colonel W. F. Cloud, Colonel S. J. Crawford, Major T. I. McKenny, Major C. S. Charlot, Major R. H. Hunt, and Major S. S. Curtis. Captain Hinton, and others of General Blunt’s staff, also took an active part. The reports of Major McKenny and Major Hunt are especially interesting, but the extracts here made seem to cover the entire field and facts, and I refer to theirs and others here submitted as well deserving of general perpetuity.

 

This is a continuation of part 1 and provides reports given by Major General Samuel Curtis’ subordinates during the events at Mine Creek, to include the capture of Confederate General John Marmaduke.

 

I present extracts from the reports of my comrades who mingled bravely in the great panorama, showing some of the details of this eventful struggle.

Colonel Blair’s Report

Colonel Blair, now acting on my staff, after detailing his movements at or near Marais des Cygnes, [says]:

I here fell in with Major Seed, of your staff, and Surgeon Walgamott, and we advanced in front of the left of our line. On an eminence in rear of where their last line of battle was formed we came across an abandoned wagon, the first I had seen since the burning ones south of their camp. Finking a lot of books, letters, and papers of various kinds in the wagon we stopped a few minutes to make a hasty examination of the contents, and on resuming our forward movement I observed that the brigade on our right was some distance past us although we were still in advance of the one on our end of the line. Arriving on the table-land, which forms the summit level between the Marais des Cygnes and Osage, we again saw the enemy’s line, and at this time it was evident he was in full force, although his whole line was not visible, his right being behind the brow of a hill which descended into Mine Creek.

Meanwhile the gallant brigade on our right was steadily advancing, with skirmishers well out, though brought to a check, apparently unsupported, in the face of this overwhelming force. The artillery was playing with great rapidity and considerable effect. I looked at the enemy’s line, close, serried, and vomiting fire; I looked at the dauntless little brigade which was unflinching and steadfast in its front, and then turned to the rear, and it seemed a fearful distance to the head of the supporting column. I called Major Weed’s attention to the situation, and he galloped to the rear to hurry forward re-enforcements, as it was evident here the battle was to be fought and the desperate issue joined on which the fate of the south tier of Kansas at least depended. Advancing alone to see if possible how far the right extended behind the cover of the hill, the bursting in the air and the tearing up of the earth soon satisfied me that they were firing canister at an enemy that they supposed was advancing on their right and hidden from view by the acclivity immediately in their front. This conviction on their part, I am satisfied, saved the brigade on our right, as a rapid and vigorous advance at that time would either have overwhelmed or utterly put it to rout. I moved to the right to get out of the sweep of the canister and then advanced till their extreme right was developed to view, and then rode rapidly to the rear with a tolerably full understanding of the situation.

Meeting Colonel Crawford but a short distance back I explained matters to him very hastily, told him they had commenced canister-firing, and urged him to go back and hurry up the troops, as he was acquainted with most of the brigade officers of General Pleasanton’s division and I had no acquaintance whatever with any of them. He agreed to do so and again started to the rear. I then moved off to the brigade on our right, and when I arrived there found it engaged at long range and halted for our other troops to come up in line. The enemy’s artillery was playing on this line with fearful effect and we had nothing but musketry to reply, but the men were steady and self-possessed and perfectly easy under the fire. I don’t know how long it was before the other brigade came up. to me it seemed a long time, and I had ridden from this brigade back toward the enemy’s right once or twice before it came up. When it did come on line the whole command advanced to short range, and for a time the fire was incessant and terrific. Both lines seemed like walls of adamant-one could not advance; the other would not recede. The crash of musketry, the scream of shell, the hissing sound of canister and balls, mingled with the shouts of the soldiers and the cries of the wounded, set off, too, by the walls of fire in front and girdles of steel behind, which marked both lines, formed a scene more easily remembered than described. During this terrible conflict I passed along the whole line and met your gallant staff officers everywhere, counseling, encouraging, exhorting, and commanding, and the tenor of the whole was “Charge!” It was evident that our only safety was in a successful charge by which we might capture the guns.

Capture of General Marmaduke

At length the movement commenced, slowly at first but increasing in velocity until it swept on resistless as an avalanche. A rush, a scramble, and all was over. The guns were captured, the enemy broken and flying to the rear, while our victorious squadrons were in almost breathless pursuit. So rapidly was this accomplished that when our left pushed forward into a field on the south side of the ravine the shell from our own artillery was crashing right into their midst. I was to the right of this, but so close that I could see this result, and also see Captain Hinton, of General Blunt’s staff, in the midst of our victorious line. Pushing rapidly forward I witnessed the capture of Major-General Marmaduke by Corpl. James Dunlavy, of Company D, Third Iowa Cavalry. Marmaduke was endeavoring to rally his men and Dunlavy was galloping toward him, occasionally firing at him. Marmaduke evidently mistook him for one of his own men and started toward him, reproving him for firing on his friends. At least I so judged from what I could see and hear, and so the boy afterward told me. The boy stopped and coolly waited until Marmaduke got within twenty or thirty rods of him, then covered him with his carbine and ordered him to dismount and surrender or he would fire. Marmaduke dismounted and his horse galloped off. Seeing that I was an officer the boy proposed to turn him over to me, but I declined being bothered with a prisoner. General Marmaduke then said: “Sir, you are an officer. i claim protection at your hands. I am a general officer – General Marmaduke.”

I then took charge of him and informed him that I would protect him until delivered to you as a prisoner of war, at which he seemed very much relieved. The boy then spoke up and said, “Colonel, remember If took him prisoner; I am James Dunlavy, corporal of company D, Third Iowa Cavalry.” I told the boy (who was severely wounded in the right forearm, but who still grasped his pistol with vigor and energy) to come along also, and he should have the honor of being introduced to you as the captor of Marmaduke. On the way General Marmaduke complained of being dismounted, and Dunlavy promptly apologized, saying, “If I had known you were a general officer I should have allowed you to remain on horseback.” Marmaduke then informed me that he was very faint and weak and could not walk much farther. meeting a soldier with a led horse I took charge of him and mounted my prisoner. Soon after this I met Major McKenny, of your staff, and proffered to turn the prisoner over to him, but he was too intent on getting to the front to be troubled with him. On my way back I saw one or two general officers, but preferred delivering my prisoner to the commanding general of the Army of the Border, and you will remember that I accordingly placed him in your own hands, at the same time introducing him captor, giving his full name, company, and regiment. This is the true, unvarnished story of the capture of Marmaduke, about which there has been so much misrepresentation in the newspapers.

Having rid myself of this responsibility, I again hurried to the front. When I overtook the advance I found it halted at the foot of the precipitous mounds descending into the Osage Valley. Leaving colonel Cloud, of your staff, here, Captain Hinton and myself pushed forward on to the skirmish line, away in the advance, almost as far as we could see over the smooth prairie, and on arriving there we could plainly see the rebel column moving straight in the direction of fort Scott. At the same time a smaller column was effecting a junction with it and came from a point to our right higher up the Osage, and which was most probably the force engaged by Colonel Moonlight near Fort Lincoln. The column in our front moved off and disappeared from sight, while our own line still remained stationary in our rear. I picked up an orderly from the skirmish line, who belonged to the Second Kansas Cavalry, and sent him back with a message to Colonel cloud, requesting him to get General Pleasanton to move forward, as I feared for Fort Scott, and at the same time got a citizen who had come forward with us to make a detour to the right and try to reach Fort Scott with a verbal message for the commanding officer to hold out to the last if the enemy struck him, as we were immediately upon his rear. Minutes passed and still our line did not move. I grew impatient and sent another man of the Second Kansas with a second message to Colonel Cloud, requesting him to see you and tell you that the enemy was moving in a direct line toward Fort Scott, and that to save it something must be done immediately. I feared that someone unacquainted with the topography of the country had led you to believe that the enemy was diverging to the east, as I knew at that time he was not. At length my suspense was ended, and the line began to move, and from this on there was no unnecessary delay.

Simultaneously the skirmish line also advanced. I waited until General Pleasanton came up (he being with the advance), explained to him the topography of the country, the direction the enemy had taken, my fears for Fort Scott, its situation, amount of stores, and then hurried forward again to the skirmish line.

It is proper to say here that the delay at the mound spoken of and subsequently on the summit was only sufficient for General McNeil’s brigade to come up and take the advance, which seemed absolutely necessary to relieve the weary troops that had before acted in front. Fort Scott was Colonel Blair’s home and his regular post, and a few moments seemed to him a long period, besides Colonel Cloud was then in the advance by my orders, leading the skirmishers, and could not have received Colonel Blair’s reports.

The movement was then rapid and continuous till the skirmish line was checked near the verge of the Osage timber. The woods seemed alive with rebel soldiers but in rapid motion. The skirmishers kept up occasional firing at them until the advance brigade came up and we all charged rapidly down into the timber, but the enemy disappeared before our arrival. Colonel Cloud was in the charge, with about sixty veterans of the Second Kansas Cavalry. He halted in the timber to rest his horses for a few minutes and I passed on with the advance brigade, which I think was Brigadier-General McNeil’s. At all events it was commanded by a general officer.

We followed down the stream some distance, crossed at the ford, and just as we were emerging from the timber on the south side the head of the column was fired on by the enemy’s skirmishers. We soon dislodged them, however, and pushed on toward a corn-field on the left of the road. The head of the column was here checked by a heavy fire from the field, and it was evident another battle was to be fought. Accordingly the general (McNeil) formed his brigade in close column of companies, and made them a little speech while forming to the effect that it made no difference whether there was 1,000 or 10,000 men in that field, he wanted them to ride right over them. The men responded with a yell, the dismounted skirmishers tore down the fence in the face of a galling fire, and the column swept through it like a tornado. In the rear of the corn-field another line was formed on the prairie, the right resting on a skirt of timber fringing a small stream, while the advance of the brigade, rapidly deploying into line, charged and broke them at the first onset. A third line of battle was formed still farther to the rear, in a low basin, where there had been an evident intention to encamp, which was surrounded by a semicircle of hills, where they held us at bay under a severe fire for about twenty minutes or more, and until the whole brigade formed in line and charged. Before this impetuous charge they were again broken, and as I passed through their temporary halting place there was abundant evidence of the haste they were in, in the broken wagons, dismounted forges, fragmentary mess-chests, and smashed crockery with which the ground was strewn.

The chase this time continued about a mile to the top of the hill south of the valley of the Osage, and on getting view of the enemy from the summit of the hill I was gratified to observe that he was bearing very palpably to the east, thus giving me my first reasonable hope that Fort Scott might be spared. I noticed, too, with increased satisfaction, that we were at least a mile east of the wire road and that for the first time the enemy’s direction was turned from this place. Satisfied that I could render no further service, I determined to come directly here (Fort Scott) to see to a certainty whether the post which was my special care was safe or not, and to satisfy those cravings of hunger which, though persistently ignored for three days and nights, would still, despite of resolutions, occasionally become clamorous.

I refrain from adding the glowing compliments properly bestowed on others of my staff by Colonel Blair, although he and they deserve all he has written, for undoubtedly much of the success of this day’s operations is due to their unceasing and extraordinary efforts.

Part 3 continues HERE