During the Civil War, the effective use of artillery was often one the factors that determined victory in battle. The following after action report by Col. Edward Lynde of the Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry gives credit where credit was due to the Yankee Artillery that was instrumental in the Union victory in the Battle of Newtonia, Mo., on Sept. 29, 1862. This report is found on Pages 291-293 in Series I, Vol. 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

“Sarcoxie, Mo., Oct. 1, 1862.

General: In compliance with your verbal orders, I left camp at this place on the morning of the 29th of September 1862, accompanied by Majs. Bancroft and Pomeroy and four companies of this regiment, viz: Co. D, Capt. Coleman; Co. E, Capt. Flesher; Co. F commanded by Lt. Spencer; Co. H, Capt. Killen and two howitzers (small cannon) under the command of Lt. Opdyke of Co. F and proceeded in the direction of Newtonia, feeling my way. At a distance of eight miles from our camp, we commenced driving in the pickets of the enemy.

Arrived on the prairie in front of the town, our farther advance was disputed by a strong picket guard stationed in and around a deserted house and corn field on our left (distance from town about 1 1/4 miles). At this point I discovered a strong outpost still farther on our left and nearly in our rear. I ordered Capt. Coleman, with his company, to observe their movements, while I directed Lt. Opdyke to shell the house and corn field; Maj. Pomeroy, with one company covering (protecting) the howitzers. A few rounds from our howitzers soon dispersed the enemy, who sought shelter in the town. We then advanced our lines to within three-quarters of a mile of the town and opened on them with the howitzers, but the distance was too great for our shells to do any damage.

After remaining on the field for 1 1/2 hours and making what observations I could, the enemy not replying with any guns, I ordered the command to retire. At this time two prisoners were brought in from whom I learned the strength of the enemy in town to be about 2,000 with two pieces of cannon. We fell back slowly to the prairie north of Shoal Creek, rested, retired to camp and reported to you. On the morning of the 30th, I again left my camp at 3 o’clock a.m. with the same command as yesterday, according to your verbal orders and proceeded to Newtonia, arriving there about 6 o’clock a.m. and found Lt. Col. Jacobi of the 9th Wisconsin Volunteers with reinforcements, already on the ground and the action had already commenced by Capt. Medford of the 6th Kansas volunteer Cavalry, driving in the outpost of the enemy on our left in splendid style and aking some prisoners. A portion of the infantry having been ordered forward to a wooded ravine north of the town by Lt. Col. Jacobi, I now ordered the artillery forward under the command of Lt. Masterson, to the center, at the same time directing Majs. Bancroft and Pomeroy, with the 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and the two howitzers to occupy an elevated piece of ground on our extreme right and Capt. Medford was directed to occupy our left.

The artillery opened on the town in gallant style with shot and shell. The position of the enemy proved to be a strong one, they having the shelter of several brick houses, one large stone barn, as well as a long line of heavy stone wall. Near the stone barn the enemy had two pieces of cannon which opened fire on us in answer tour own. This was the position of things at about 7 o’clock a.m.

The enemy having got the range of our guns, they were changed to a new position father down to the right and nearer the town and enemy. Their shots were now thrown at random sometimes on our right, sometimes on our center and then again our left without doing any damage.

The firing from our guns not being as effective as I desired, they were directed to advance still nearer and within about 600 yards of the town.

The artillery now played on the position of the enemy with marked effect, dealing death and destruction at each discharge and for a time their guns were silenced. They soon got them into a new position, but did us no damage.

The Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, with the howitzers, were now ordered up from our right and Capt. Flesher, with Co. E, was directed to support Capt. Medford on the left — the balance to support the battery, the howitzers occupying a position by the side of the larger guns-the balance of the infantry having been ordered forward to the wooded ravine by Lt. Col. Jacobi I soon after saw the infantry close to the stone wall already described, from which soon leaped a perfect stream of fire right into the ranks of the infantry, they returning the fire nobly and slowly retired. And just here permit me to say the conduct of the infantry under those trying circumstances deserves the highest commendation, showing front against rash odds and resisting the desperate attempts of the enemy to overwhelm them.

Deeming it impossible to take the town by storm with my small force, numbering barely 500 and observing the enemy firing signal rockets from their guns into the air, I ordered the command to retire which was done in good order until we reached the high ground adjoining the timber. Before reaching that point, however, reports were brought to me that large bodies of reinforcements of the enemy were seen arriving from the southwest as well as the west. I now observed the enemy swarming from their concealed position in the town to harass our retreat. One regiment or more, said to be under the command of Col. Cooper, coming up on our rear, another body as large on our right flank through the corn field, the artillery was again brought into position and the ranks of the enemy were mowed down with great slaughter. We continued to retire, forming and reforming, for the infantry to pass the cavalry and reload. The artillery on arriving at the woods having been ordered in the advance, under cover of Company F, Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, were armed with revolvers and sabers only, while the enemy was armed with long- range guns.

Here Maj. Bancroft, assisted by Maj. Pomeroy of the Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, as well as the Ninth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, made a gallant stand, but were overpowered by numbers and were obliged to retreat.

The officers in general are entitled to praise for their heroic manner in which they conducted themselves and the soldiers are worthy of all praise for the determined manner in which they resisted repeated assaults of the enemy. Our loss I am unable to give, as no reports have been made to me. The loss of the enemy must have been far greater than ours. I estimate their loss at 300 killed and wounded.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

E. LYNDE,

Colonel Commanding.”

Throughout the ages, “artillery” has been described as the “King of Battle” and this report clearly indicates that it was a decisive factor in the Battle of Newtonia.

If, it had not been effectively used as it was, Col. Lynde and his command probably would have been destroyed and the battle would have been lost. However this was not the case, and of course, the war went on!

During the Civil War and all conflicts before and after this war, almost all shots or a shot to the head were fatal. They were normally inflicted by a “sharpshooter” or, in the modern military, by a “sniper.”

This was usually accomplished at a great distance. Often when the chaos of rough and tumble “hand-to-hand” combat occurred, any type of wound inflicted on an enemy would suffice, and this could include a fatal head shot.

Such was the case and unfortunate demise of a local Vernon County, Mo., confederate guerrilla or, if you prefer “bushwhacker,” by the name of “Brice Mayfield.”

The “Mayfield” sisters of Brice and his brother were all southern partisans and were thorns in the sides of many Yankees from Missouri and Kansas early in the Civil War.

Brice Mayfield and his brother John were killed on Dec. 26, 1862, near Neosho in Newton County, Mo. Wagon boss R.M. Peck described the killing of Brice Mayfield in his column in the Aug. 4, 1904, edition of the National Tribune Newspaper that was published in Washington, D. C., as follows:

“The killing of Brice Mayfield”

One day a company of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, on returning from a foraging trip down in Missouri, came into Fort Scott accompanied by Bill Tuft (Tough), Gen. Blunt’s chief of scouts, who was riding a fine blooded flea-bitten gray mare, that had formerly been owned and ridden by Brice Mayfield, a notorious rebel bushwhacker, who had been killed on this trip, in a desperate rough and tumble fight by a German soldier of the 3rd Wis. Cav.

Tuft had bought the mare for a trifle from the soldier, who did not realize her value and, with that immaculate gall for which he (Tough) was famous, took great pride in riding her about the streets of Fort Scott, giving out — and even having an item published in the “Fort Scott Monitor” that he acquired the fine mare by killing Brice Mayfield!

(Note: Captain Tough was recognized throughout eastern Kansas as a very successful “horse trader” before, during and after the Civil War, so it is not surprising that he acquired Mayfield’s fine blooded gray mare.)

The facts concerning the killing of Mayfield, which I heard from one of the soldiers, as near as I can remember them, are about as follows:

The Company of the 3rd Wis. Cav., while on a foraging expedition, had camped near Neosho, Mo., and a German trooper accompanied by a comrade, started out on their own account.

They had ridden up to a farmhouse, hitched their horses to the fence and gone inside to try and buy some butter.

The women of the house being rebels, detained and delayed the soldiers by pretending to send a little girl after the desired butter to a neighbor’s house near by, where they knew that Mayfield and another rebel were in hiding; but in reality the errand of the little girl was to inform the bushwhackers of the presence at the other house of the two soldiers.

While our two troopers were sitting in the house waiting for the girls return and the women by pleasant conversation were trying to make their visit agreeable, the German chanced to step to the window in front of the house and was astonished to notice two more horses hitched to the fence near his and his comrade’s and at the same moment he saw two men in butternut clothes (a sure sign of a rebel) approaching the door.

Instantly comprehending the situation, the German soldier, who was a powerful big fellow, informed his comrade and drawing their revolvers they both sprang to the door, opened it quickly and fired at the same instant receiving fire from the rebels.

At the first shots the German’s comrade fell dead and Mayfield’s companion was also killed.

As Mayfield made a rush to come in, the German quickly stepped behind the door, both firing at the same time, the soldier hitting the rebel, but not wounding him seriously, while Mayfield’s ball (shot) struck the door and glanced off.

The bushwhacker was also a strong, active man, and as he sprang into the house they grappled, each trying to wrench the other’s pistol from him.

In the struggle, they fell to the floor, where, after several moments of desperate strife, the Dutchman (another word for the “German” soldier) succeeded in disengaging his pistol, placed the muzzle to the rebel’s head and fired, killing him (with a fatal head shot)!

The women and children had fled out of the back door at the first shot, and on disengaging himself from the dead rebel and rising, the plucky “Dutchman” found he was the sole surviving tenant of the house.

Fearing that the women had gone to bring other rebels to take him in, he hastily examined his late comrade and, finding him dead and making sure that the two rebels were “safely converted” (were indeed dead), he stripped each of his belt and pistol, hung them on their respective saddles and rode off to camp, leading three riderless horses.

A detachment of soldiers was immediately sent out from our men’s camp to bring in and bury the body of the brave German’s comrade, and while they were at the house — the women and children being still absent — a spark of fire somehow got started in some combustible material, and the house and outbuildings with all their contents, were soon a heap of ashes!

(Now, of course, this is not surprising because both bushwhackers and Yankees burned their enemy’s civilian houses as it was total war here in Missouri and eastern Kansas.)

Tuft (Capt. William Tough) was in the soldiers’ camp when the German returned with his captured stock, and being a good judge of a horse, he saw that the flea-bitten gray mare was an extraordinarily fine animal and succeeded in buying her from the soldier before the man found out her good points.

And that is how Bill Tuft killed Brice Mayfield and captured his fine thoroughbred.

I (R.M. Peck) afterwards passed by the ruins of the house where Mayfield was killed, which was near the bank of Shoal Creek, a little way north of the town of Neosho, Mo.”

Now then, it is rare when one finds two descriptions of the same event from slightly different perspectives, and next week’s column will include another description of the killing of Brice Mayfield and, of course, the war went on!

One might think that the title of this column is a contradiction of words, but it is not. During the Civil War there was a certain civility in the correspondence that described the “barbarous warfare” that was conducted by both the Union and Confederate forces. This and the command of the English language were especially evident in the letters between the Union and Confederate “generals.”

The following letter from “Union” Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck to Confederate Gen. Sterling Price, although very civil in nature, clearly states exactly what Gen. Halleck will do and why he is doing it.

The letter is located in Series I, Volume 8 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion on pages 514 and 515.

“St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 22, 1862.

Gen. Sterling Price, Commanding:

General: Your letter, dated Springfield, Jan. 12, is received. The troops of which you complain on the Kansas frontier and at Fort Leavenworth are not under my command. In regard to them, I respectfully refer you to Maj. Gen. David Hunter, commanding the Department of Kansas, headquarters at Fort Leavenworth.

You also complain that “individuals and parties of men specially appointed and instructed by you to destroy railroads, culverts and bridges, by tearing them up and burning, and have been arrested and subjected to a general court-martial for alleged crimes.”

This statement is, in the main, correct. When “individuals and parties of men” violate the “laws of war,” they will be tried, and if found guilty, will certainly be punished, whether acting under your “special appointment and instructions” or not. You must be aware, general, that no orders of yours can save you from punishment spies, marauders, robbers, incendiaries, guerrilla bands and those who violate the “laws of war.”

You cannot give immunity to crime. But let us fully understand each other on this point.

If you send armed forces, wearing the garb (uniforms) of soldiers and duly organized and enrolled as legitimate belligerents to destroy railroads and bridges as a military act, we shall kill them, if possible, in open warefare, or if we capture them, we shall treat them as prisoners of war.

But it is well understood that you have sent numbers of your adherents, in the garb (clothes) of peaceful citizens and under false pretenses, through our lines into northern Missouri to rob and destroy the property of “Union” men and to burn and destroy railroad bridges, thus endangering the lives of thousands and this, too, without any military necessity or possible military advantage.

Moreover, peaceful citizens of Missouri, quietly working on their farms, have been instigated by your emissaries to take up arms as insurgents and to rob and plunder and to commit arson and murder. They do not even act under the garb of soldiers but under false pretenses and in the guise of peaceful citizens.

You certainly will not pretend that men guilty of such crimes, although “specially appointed and instructed by you,” are entitled to the rights and immunities of ordinary prisoners of war. If you do, will you refer me to a single authority on the laws of war which recognizes such a claim?

You may rest assured, general, that all prisoners of war not guilty of a crime will be treated with proper consideration and kindness. With the exception of being properly confined, they will be lodged and fed and, where necessary, clothed, the same as our own troops.

I am sorry to say that our prisoners who have come from your camps do not report such treatment on your part. They say that you gave them no rations, no clothing, no blankets, but left them to perish with want and cold. Moreover, it is believed that you subsist your troops by robbing and plundering the non-combatant “Union” inhabitants of the southwestern counties of this state. Thousands of poor families have fled to us for protection and support. They say that your troops robbed them of their provisions and clothing, carrying away their shoes and bedding and even cutting cloth from their looms, and that you have driven women and children from their homes to starve and perish in the cold.

I have not retaliated with such conduct upon your adherents here, as I have no intention of waging such a “barbarous warfare;” but I shall, whenever I can, punish such crimes, by whomsoever they may be committed.

I am daily expecting instructions respecting an exchange of prisoners of war. I will communicate with you on that subject as soon as they are received.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H.W. Halleck

Maj. Gen., Commanding the Department of the Missouri.

Now then, did Gen. Price ever respond to Gen. Halleck’s letter? If he did, it did not survive the passage of time or has not been discovered to date. Did this letter change the “barbarous warfare” that was conducted in Missouri and eastern Kansas for the duration of the war to a more civilized way of waging war? Of course, it did not; and, of course, the war went on!

 

Winter during the Civil War was particularly trying and monotonous for the armies. The winter months presented impassable, muddy roads and harsh weather which precluded active operations. Disease ran rampant during the winter months, killing more men than battles. But with all of its hardships winter also allowed soldiers an opportunity to bond, have a bit of fun, and enjoy their more permanent camps. Through these bleak months all soldiers, Union and Confederate, had to keep warm and busy in order to survive. However, in the winter of 1862-1863, the “Union” Army of the Southwest, commanded by Maj. Gen. Samuel Ryan Curtis, was on the march and campaigning in Northwest Arkansas. As part of that army, the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment was far away from its former headquarters in Fort Scott and 1st Sergeant, soon-to-be 2nd Lt. Charles W. Porter recorded the following entries in his journal. His original journal is owned by the Wisconsin State Historical Society and a transcribed copy is located in the manuscript collection of Fort Scott National Historic Site and an edited version has been published by the Bushwhacker Museum in Nevada, Mo.

Dec. 31, 1862

At daylight we were again on the road. We had a cold and uncomfortable night and but little sleep as we had no tents with us. The ground was frozen enough to bear a horse and rider. Our march today was by the Boston Mountains and across the same streams we met with on our march to Van Buren. We did not see the sun until 10 o’ clock a.m. on account of the mountain heights. These mountains are in many respects sublime in appearance. They are quite rocky, some of the rocks have a perpendicular height of 100 feet or more, while many are shelving and ragged, covered with pine and cedar besides other kinds of trees.

Fred A. Copeland of our company lost his horse and was obliged to appropriate a donkey for his use. The only way he could keep the lazy beast up with the company was to put an ear of corn on the end of a cane stalk and hold it in front of the animal, when he would hasten to overtake it. The boys gave Fred the name of “Barlarn,” a name he did not fancy and in order to get rid of the accursed name he disposed of the beast on arriving at camp. After a march of 30 miles today, we arrived at our old camp at Rheas Mills at a little before sunset.

Thursday, Jan. 1, 1863

A new year has dawned upon us and with it the war is still in progress. I set about to enjoy the day as my limited means would admit. I took a few drinks of brandy to stimulate my exertions. I procured some canned peaches and oysters at the sutlers (a portable “civilian general store” that traveled with the army in a privately owned wagon or wagons) and soon surprised the vacancies of the inner man. During the day, I received my commission as 2nd Lieutenant of Co. F, 3rd Regt. Wisconsin Cavalry and the consequence was I was elected to do some treating. Many of the boys in and about our Regiment partook freely of “Coffin Varnish” (homemade whiskey) and many rows occurred during the day. I was with my companions until a late hour and a jolly carouse we had. The day was cloudy, windy and with some sleet. At dark we had marching orders for the morrow.

Friday, Jan. 2, 1863

It rained nearly all night. Early this morning, the reveille called us forth to our morning duties and prepare for another move. Our company was detailed to take charge of a herd of government cattle and proceed to Fayetteville, the county seat of Washington County, Ark. At 10 o’clock a.m., we started and passed over some nice country and saw some good farms. After marching 18 miles, we arrived at Fayetteville at 8 o’clock p.m. The place has the appearance of once being in a flourishing and quite prosperous condition. But, war had done its work of devastation in the business portion, as Confederate Gen. McCulloch had burnt it. Orderly Sgt. E.M. Cooper and myself fortunately found a place of comfort for the night with a family. We had a good, warm supper and a nice bed on the floor before the fire. Today was pleasant.

Saturday, Jan. 3, 1863.

I was up quite early this morning, after a good sound sleep. Our hostess provided us with a good breakfast. At 10 o’clock a.m., we were ordered to take our stock (cattle) to Elm Springs and we immediately moved forward in a northerly course through some beautiful farm country and good timber. After marching 12 miles, we arrived at Elm Springs an hour before sunset and camped. This place has but few buildings and a large flour mill. Our entire force camped here tonight. Today was pleasant.

Sunday, Jan. 4, 1863

I assisted Stephen Wheeler to make out our company payrolls today as the last rolls we made out were not correct. It was therefore necessary to make out new ones. Today was clear and chilly.

Monday, Jan. 5, 1863

I did not feel well today so I did not do any duty. Brother Walworth was sick in bed today and unfit for duty. Nothing unusual in camp. Today was cloudy and chilly.

Tuesday Jan. 6, 1863

I was confined in my tent with sore eyes today. Brother Walworth is better. There is no exciting news with us today. All quiet in and about us at this time. Today was very cool.

Wednesday, Jan. 7, 1863

This forenoon, our forces here were preparing for a review in the afternoon when we passed in review by Maj. Gen. Schofield, our department commander. Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry, in order, marched in a continual line until sunset, when the last column passed the general’s notice. Tonight, the officers had a grand dance and superb supper in honor of our Gen. Schofield. During the early part of the evening, some drunken soldiers stoned the building where the dancing was. Gen. Schofield was hit on the head disqualifying him somewhat from enjoying the entertainment. I learn that the perpetrators of this foul act were of a Kansas Regiment. There were a number of others hit at the time, but no one was seriously hurt. I was ordered with my Company to guard the locality against further assault.

At supper, I was provided with plenty of green peas, hot biscuits and butter, cakes and pie. Well, I soon struck a business-like attitude and these fine rations soon vanished from the dishes that were provided for their reception to a place long since deprived of these luxuries. Today was very cool. I was on duty all night.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 1863

I took a little sleep this morning and got up for breakfast. My eyes continue to be very sore, so I did not do much duty today. Orderly (Sgt.) Cooper had cause to tie James G. Winter s of our company to a fence with his hands tied behind him, drunkenness and disorderly conduct was the cause. Today was pleasant but cool.

Friday, Jan. 9, 1863

There was nothing unusual with us today. Tonight some troops left camp. I did not learn where they were going. We had orders to be ready to march in the morning. Today was cool, but pleasant.

Saturday, Jan. 10, 1863

The order of last evening was countermanded (canceled), so we remain in camp. A large (wagon) train with refugees and a large number of Negroes left camp this morning for Fort Scott, Kan. Men, women and children, white and black, made up the freight of the train. Today was pleasant.”

Now then, 2nd Lt. Porter, his company and the balance of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry remained on campaign until they returned to Fort Scott in the spring of 1863. As these journal entries indicate “campaigning” did not always include combat. Although a variety of happenings indicate that this campaign was not dull for 1st Sgt. Porter, who received his promotion to 2nd Lieutenant and eventually reached the rank of captain as the war went on.

During the Civil War in Missouri and eastern Kansas, in addition to killing prisoners, both the Jayhawkers of Kansas and the Bushwhackers of Missouri murdered and robbed civilians as well as soldiers which was and is commonplace in any guerrilla war. The following correspondence describes a “Guerrilla” attack on Lamar, Mo., and the “Union” response from Fort Scott. Both documents are located on Pages 348 and 352-354 in Series I, Vol. 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

“Lamar, Mo., November 6, 1862.

Sir: I have the honor to report that I was attacked last night by a band of rebels, numbering 200 or 300. I fought them some two and a half hours from houses and every way. The rebels rushed in and burned about one third of the town. They killed three of my men and wounded three mortally, I think. We held the town and still hold it. We killed five or six of the rebels. I shall stay here until I hear from you. We would like to have some men in this part of the country. Three squads have passed through this country within the past week, numbering in all about 1,000. They are going south. If I had 150 more men here, I think I could capture the squads that are passing through this country. I am not strong enough to organize the militia in Jasper County.

Yours with respect,

M. BREEDEN,Captain.”


“Headquarters, Fort Scott, Kan., Nov. 11, 1862.

General: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the instant I received a dispatch from Capt. Breeden, dated Lamar, at 9 p.m. the night before stating that he had been attacked by about an hour before by 400 men under Quantrill that they were still fighting and asking for assistance. I immediately sent Capt. Conkey with 80 men and Capt. Coleman with 30 men; they leaving here at 4 o’clock a.m. Thursday morning.

At 9 o’clock I learned that Captain Morton’s (wagon) train was at Carthage the same night and being fearful that he would run right into the enemy I dispatched a messenger to Capt. Conkey, stating these facts and directing him to follow on and if necessary to fight his way through to the train.

Capt. Conkey did follow on and got after the enemy and killed one of them and learned that the train had passed west in safety. On the night following, the train arrived here, having made a forced march.

The next morning about 3 a.m., a messenger reached me stating that (Confederate guerrilla) Livingston with 100 men was on the Dry Wood about two miles above Redfield murdering and robbing and that he was working up stream. I immediately ordered Capt. Mefford to take about 75 men and make a crossing at Morris Mill, but owing to his men being very tired and his scouts worn down, he did not get started until about 6 o’clock and in the mean time messengers continued to arrive with information of Livingston’s movements, passing up stream above Morris Mill and the military crossing at Endicott’s, so that by the time Mefford was ready he made direct for Cato and there struck his trail about one hour behind him and pursued him about 25 miles to Cow Creek and overtook him, making a running fight and wounding one of Livingston’s men and recovering some prisoners. As his stock (horses) was badly used up and the enemy well mounted and scattered Captain Mefford returned to this post and I am glad to say he did as well as he could considering the condition of his horses.

In the meantime, I had dispatched a messenger to Capts. Conkey and Coleman, who had encamped at Morris’ Mill, on the direct road to Carthage to make for Sherwood (Mo.) and to intercept them there. The messenger reached them in good time and they started for Sherwood, but as it grew dark before they reached that place and having no one with them familiar with the country, they were obliged to encamp until next morning.

The command then separated, Capt. Coleman on the south side of Spring River and Capt. Conkey on the north side and worked down toward Sherwood and Capt. Coleman being in the advance came upon the enemy and charged them, killing four or five and taking four prisoners, including the notorious Capt. Baker, who was taken by Capt. Coleman himself.

Take it all in all, I think the pursuit a decided success and that the enemy will be more cautious hereafter. If I had a respectable number of well-mounted men I would punish their impudence. On the night of the 10th instant I sent Lieutenant Cavert of the third Wisconsin with 16 men to Lamar, with dispatches for Capt. Breeden and they reached there at a.m. yesterday the 11th instant and found that Quantrill had left just after burning most of the town that had been spared by him before. I am satisfied that Quantrill is waiting for a train and I shall be compelled to send all of my cavalry with it which will weaken the post so much that he may feel like making an attack upon us. There is, as I learn from proper officers about $2,000,000 worth of government property at this post and vicinity and it does seem to me as if our force is hardly sufficient. I learn also that the trains passing from Springfield have a very strong guard most of the time a full regiment and it certainly is not as dangerous as our route.

If you are inclined to send a large cavalry force it would please me to have Capts. Earle and Coleman of the Ninth Kansas with their companies if it would suit your pleasure.

The whole transportation belonging to this post is engaged in carrying commissary stores to the command, but we are expecting 100 more teams from Fort Leavenworth the coming week. After this train shall start, the enemy can approach very near and laugh at us, as I shall have no cavalry to send after them at any time since I have been here and the only way that I have been able to keep them from doing more mischief is by having small scouting parties on the move in their country all the while and that has told on our horses.

In these expeditions, my men have been very successful losing none and having only a few wounded and have killed quite a number of the enemy and frightened them awfully. I have just learned that the citizens on Dry Wood are leaving with their families after asking for a force which I could not give them and Squire Redfield has also asked for a force in his vicinity as the inhabitants are very much frightened.

I am General, very respectfully, you obedient servant,

B.S. HENNING,
Major, Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Commanding Post.”

It appears by this letter that Maj. Henning was very concerned, as he should have been, about the minimal numbers of troops stationed at Fort Scott to protect the post and provide protection for the transient wagon trains and the citizens of the area. This was a problem that plagued all of the Union commanders at Fort Scott throughout the war, but it did not stop them from sending relief columns to the towns in the surrounding area, including towns in Missouri such as Lamar when they were threatened or attacked, and of course, the war went on!

The Civil War ended in April of 1865, and during the next year or so the United States War Department demobilized the “Union” forces and materials of war throughout the country. Reducing the manpower, or number of soldiers, was relatively easy in that they were discharged and sent home. The mammoth amount of the materials of war was another matter, especially in the Quartermaster Department. There, there were thousands of wagons, wheels, tools, horses, mules, boxes, barrels, railroad boxcars, engines ships and vessels of all shapes and sizes, buildings and blockhouses, etc. to be disposed of.

In Fort Scott, Assistant Quartermaster Theodore C. Bowles sold off all the excess U.S. government and captured Confederate property in a series of public auctions which also included the four blockhouses and their surrounding palisades. Lunette or Fort Blair is the only one of these “local blockhouses” that has survived to the present day and it is the only existing military structure of many that were constructed during the Civil War. Therefore, it is the “Lone Survivor” which was in fact saved by many people and organizations from its original sale until today. However, before addressing the preservation odyssey of Fort Blair, the following is a brief summary of what happened to the other three Fort Scott Blockhouses.

* Fort Lincoln: Was sold at public auction, disassembled and removed from its location on the west side of Fort Scott overlooking “Happy Hollow.”

* Fort Henning: Was sold at public auction and for a short time was used as the first “County Jail” because of its proximity to the first “County Courthouse” that was located on the southeast corner of Second Street and National Avenue where the public library is today. After its use as a jail, the blockhouse was sold privately, disassembled and removed from its original location.

*Fort Insley: Was sold at public auction and because of its rectangular shape, was probably used as a private residence on the point of “Red Hill” overlooking the KATY Railroad and the Marmaton River immediately north of what is now Fort Scott National Historic Site. The Fort Insley “Blockhouse” existed for another 11 years until it was razed as described on Page 4 in the Nov. 25, 1875, edition of the Fort Scott Daily Monitor newspaper:

“The old blockhouse on the ‘point’ is being torn down. Some of our citizens call it ‘the old fort’ and think it is the old landmark of the town and that it ought, therefore, to be preserved sacred to the memory of the early days.

Such is not the fact. It is simply one of three blockhouses built during the war. The other two stood one on Jones Street (Fort Henning) south of Dr. Baldwin’s house and one on Scott Avenue, (Fort Blair). It is, therefore, not so much a destruction as was supposed.”

* The Odyssey of Fort Blair: The blockhouse was sold at public auction described as follows;

“Office of Depot Quartermaster, Fort Scott, Jan. 10, 1866. This is to certify that the bearer William Smith has this day purchased of me at an authorized sale of government property the following described article to wit: Fort Blair for $50.00.

Theodore C. Bowles

Capt. and Assistant Quartermaster

Per. A. Griffire, Clerk.”

* 1st Move: William Smith moved Fort Blair to the back of his property on Scott Avenue and used the blockhouse as his carpenter shop. It remained on this location for 40 years.

* 2nd Move: In 1906 the Ohio Block was constructed on Second Street and Scott Avenue and the blockhouse was purchased by Dr. W.S. McDonald and moved to his property at 102 S. National Ave., immediately north of the current Post office.

* 3rd Move: In 1924, the Molly Foster Berry Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution purchased the Blockhouse and had it moved to the south side of Carroll Plaza because Dr. McDonald had sold his property to the Western Automobile Insurance Co. for the location of its new building and at this time the insurance company adopted the blockhouse as its logo.

* 4th Move: Sometime before the 1950 the blockhouse was moved to the northeast corner of Carroll Plaza.

* 5th Move: In early 1958, the city of Fort Scott passed a municipal bond to fund the construction of “Blair Park” where the blockhouse was moved to in May of 1958. “Blair Park” was located immediately behind Officers’ Row on what is now Fort Scott National Historic Site.

At this time the blockhouse was in very poor condition and it was reconstructed by the Western Insurance Co. in August of 1959 under the direction of Clifton C. Otto and E.C. Gordon Sr.

* 6th Move: In the late 1970s, Fort Blair was moved to its present location on old Fort Boulevard under the direction of T.M. Mayhew and H.E. Duvall of the Western Insurance Co. This was done because the blockhouse was part of an 1863 Civil War fortification that was constructed after the existence of the original 1842-1853 fort to which Fort Scott National Historic Site was being reconstructed.

In 1999, once again, the blockhouse needed repairs and the Historic Preservation Association of Bourbon County requested assistance from some former Western Insurance Co. employees. A Blockhouse Committee was organized and with contributions were received from former employees, agents, business firms and friends of The Western a new roof and siding were installed and a new permanent cannon carriage was acquired.

So ends the “odyssey” of Fort Blair, which has been preserved through the efforts of William Smith, Dr. W.S. McDonald, the Molly Foster Berry Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, the citizens and the city of Fort Scott, the Western Insurance Com. and its former employees and the Historic Preservation Association of Bourbon County. Without the efforts of all these citizens and organizations, Fort Scott would not have the “Lone Structural Survivor” of the Civil War.

After the destruction of Osceola, Mo., on Sept. 24, 1861, the Kansas Brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. James Henry Lane was ordered to Kansas City to assist in the defense of that metropolis.

Eventually, the “brigade” was to join a large combined Union force commanded by Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont to attack and destroy the Confederate forces that had recently won the “Battle of the Hemp Bales” at Lexington, Mo., and who now and occupied it. This never happened.

However, the following description of Gen. Lane, whose nickname was the “Grim Chieftain,” and the Kansas Brigade was published in the Oct. 2, 1861, edition of the Leavenworth Daily Times Newspaper while the brigade was in Kansas City.

“At an early hour Col. Anthony (Note: brother of Susan B. Anthony) took his men out to meet Brig. Gen. Lane’s large force that was met about one mile out of town and as fresh and jubilant as if it had just entered the field.

They have been marching almost every day since Gen. Lane took command. They have traveled some 300 miles, often met the foe and have never been defeated. Gen. Lane has nearly recovered from his recent illness. Disease cannot wither nor ague beat his restless activity. Lane still wears a straw hat, plain coat and a grey woolen shirt and is the most marked and unmilitary man in the brigade!

The camp is on the upland west of McGee’s Addition. The tents cover several acres of ground and present a scene picturesque. Cols. Montgomery, Ritchie and Weer are here and eager for a march on Lexington.

Their account of the recent engagements in Missouri differs somewhat from the published statements and will be sent to you hereafter.

At Osceola, not less than a million dollars worth of property was taken or destroyed. The impression is general that secession is dried up in Southwest Missouri.

A force has been left at Westpoint, (Mo.), Barnesville and Fort Lincoln, (Kan.) to attend to possible emergencies. The junction of (Gens.) Lane and Sturgis disposes of many fears hitherto entertained. We hope it has not been too late.

The great object attraction here is Lane’s Brigade and the eccentric commandant of that institution is the “rage” all about here. Hundreds — and a chronicler of ordinarily brilliant imagination and less regard for strict numerical accuracy than myself would say thousands — of curious people are constantly thronging his quarters to get a glimpse of the great leader or to shove a letter from some influential individual under his nose.

However, the ubiquitous gentleman rather beat them yesterday; and he accomplished the skillful maneuver in this way:

When he arrived here on Monday, he was habilitated (dressed) in an old straw hat, cowhide boots, blue blouse which had been thrown away by a private in Montgomery’s regiment, some sort of apology for pantaloons and a butternut brown woolen shirt with beard, hair and face to correspond, and thus decorated, everyone, by instinct, could detect the hero of Black Jack and Hickory Point.

Yesterday morning, at 9 o’clock, I visited his tent and found an immense crowd wandering about the neighborhood, each inquiring of the other if he had seen or knew the whereabouts of “Ginerl Lane.”

Upon approaching his tent, I found therein a solitary gentleman seated upon an old split bottommed chair, one leg thrown across the other, intently engaged in caressing, with thumb and finger of his right hand, a beard, if not remarkably luxurious, yet splendidly variegated in color.

Upon a careful reconnaissance, I discovered this figure to be the very specimen of mortality which the adjacent crowd were so anxious to see. He had donned the new rig made especially for him in Boston — blue coat and pants, buff vest, black chapeau and feather as long as a war-leader in the “times” and such boots as would make Gen. Losee, or any other fast horseman, stick his eyes out far enough for Sam Stinson’s Thanksgiving turkey (which he is going to buy and not eat alone) to roost upon.

In this make-up, he sat as quiet and undisturbed as if he were in a wilderness, seemingly enjoying the discomfiture of the multitude about him, when a man with long whiskers, who looked as if he traveled once with a show, approached and asked if Gen. Lane were in?

“No” was the laconic reply of the hero, with the least bit of a twinkle in the northeast corner of his left eye — (I sat northeast of him) — and the victim evaporated. “Such” is war.

I see a great many Leavenworth gentlemen here, each on his own errand. For example, Col. Delahay is offering Gen. Lane a contract to lay out quarters and fractions of the city of Lexington.

R. Crozier, Esq., is trying to persuade Lane that if he will resign his seat in the senate (Lane was one of the two original U.S. senators from Kansas) and revive the old Territorial Legislature, he –Crozier — can, by a skillfully worded provision in a special act, repeal the war and revive the trade and prosperity of the country. Lane, being a little incredulous, naturally, is not quite convinced and, hence, does not resign.

Capts. Insly and Wilder are head and ears in the business of getting things ready for the contemplated march (to Lexington). Besides these gentlemen, there may be seen sitting around on stumps and old boxes and hanging on pegs and limbs of trees all that crew of familiars (people) you may see lounging about the lobby and committee rooms of the legislature aforesaid, asking for an appropriation to build a territorial road or urging the passage of an act incorporating a ferry across three mile creek where the road to the region — commonly called Pike’s Peak — crosses the same.”

The attack on Lexington, Mo., never materialized because the Confederate forces evacuated the city and marched to southwest Missouri.

In October of 1861, Gen. Lane and the Kansas Brigade eventually marched south through Missouri to Springfield and, of course, the war went on!

In the April of 1862, a battalion of the 2nd Ohio (Buckeyes) Cavalry Regiment conducted an expedition into the enemy state of Missouri from Fort Scott. If there is an after -action report of this expedition, it has not been discovered yet. However, the following account of this mission was published in the April 26,1862 edition of the “Western Volunteer” newspaper in Fort Scott.

A trip to Carthage”

The 1st Battalion of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry under the command of Mjr. George Minor, left this place for Carthage on Thursday, the 10th inst. The command consisted of companies C, I, F 7 L A (supply) train of nine wagons, loaded with company and commissary stores, ammunition, etc. accompanied us. Nothing of note happened on our first day’s march and we camped on the bank of Drywood (Creek) having made about 12 miles.

Early on Friday morning we resumed our march, intending to reach Lamar that night, but owing to the heavy rain which set in in the forenoon and to some little accidents which delayed our train, we were obliged to encamp on the bank of Cox’s Creek, having marched but 10 miles. The men were drenched with rain and after spending a cold, uncomfortable night, we resumed our march. The day was cold and a drizzling rain set in which continued until night. The road was not bad, however, and everything went on smoothly until within a few miles of Lamar, when we were met by a couple of men, who came to inform us that owing to the rise in the river, we would be unable to cross the at the ford and must go some distance to the bridge. Leaving the main road we struck off into a by road which led to the bridge. Hardly had we gone a hundred yards before we found that our new road was anything but a pleasant one. Wagon after wagon stuck fast in the thick prairie mud, which for three or four miles was nearly up to the (wagon) axles and the strength of six mules was totally inadequate to the task of pulling them out. There was no other way, it must be done by hand. Picket ropes were tied to the tongues and the men, arranging themselves on each side, guiding their horses with one hand and bracing well in the stirrups, would pull with the other hand, adding the labor of 50 or more men to that of six mules and thus the wagons were drawn out of and through the thick mud the entire distance. For a while, the companies relieved each other at this labor, but soon all got to work together and then the fun commenced in earnest, different companies vying with each other to see which should get their wagon out first. The men and officers shouting at the top of their voices, teamsters (wagon drivers) screaming and plying the whip to stubborn mules and shouts of exultation as one company would pass another, made up a scene at once animated and ludicrous. We finally got through the mud, crossed the bridge and encamped within two miles of Lamar.

After refreshing our horses with “secesh” (Confederate) hay and grain, some of the boys thinking they had worked a little too hard to make a supper of hard bread and bacon, started in pursuit of fresh provisions. Woe, then to the unlucky hog, sheep or yearling (calf) found in the woods. The fact of his being there was taken as positive evidence of bushwhacking propensities and our boys have only lead and cold steel for Buschwhackers when the officers are not in sight. After leaving this camp, nothing of interest occurred and we entered Carthage the next day about 10 a.m. We encamped just on the town and prepared for operations.

The next day Co. C, Lt. Strong commanding, was sent out for forage. They came back with nine wagons well loaded with corn, oats, hay, bacon, etc. besides five prisoners and a number of young mules, colts and cattle. On Wednesday, 40 men from Company I, under Lt. Welch were sent out with six wagons to try their luck. They were even more successful than Co. C had been. They brought back grain, apples, potatoes and bacon, all the mules could draw. They also succeeded in finding a squad of rebels, of whom they captured eight, taking at the same time, nine fine horses, three double-barreled shotguns and one revolver. Some of the prisoners were identified as old offenders and it is to be hoped that they may be set at pulling hemp (hanged) as they deserved.

All hands now began to feel as if, after lying idle for months, we were at last to be allowed to work. Certainly this part of the country presents a fine field for operations. But alas, in came a dispatch ordering us back to Fort Scott and we must leave at once. So the next morning, we set out for this place, a place we hoped we had turned our backs upon forever. The very heavens, as if to manifest the displeasure of an angry God, sent the rain in torrents, flooding the roads and raising the streams so that it was only by swimming our horses that we reached camp that night. We pushed on the next day intending to reach Fort Scott, but by the time we reached Drywood, darkness had overtaken us and we were obliged to remain on the other side of Drywood Creek. Our wagons had been left behind at Lamar on account of the roads and having neither tents nor picket ropes, we fed our horses corn and building a few fires, stood wet and shivering through the long, dark night, many of us holding our horses by the bridle until daylight. That night will long be remembered by the boys of the First Battalion, as will also the encouraging looks and words of Mjr. Minor and Lts. Welch and Leslie, the only officers who endured the night with us.

There is nothing like the presence of officers enduring the hardships with them to inspire confidence and cheer in the minds of soldiers at a time like that. Next morning, we crossed the river (Drywood Creek) and came to Fort Scott, where we remain, eagerly awaiting the order that will send us back to Carthage or some point where there is work to do.”

“Vic”

It is not known who “Vic,” the author of this article, was, but it is believed that he was a soldier in the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Shortly after completing this expedition into Missouri, the 2nd Ohio Calvary Regiment returned to its home state, was reorganized and participated in various campaigns east of the Mississippi river, and of course, the war went on!

In January of 1863, before being deployed into the northeast Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), the “Union” Indian Brigade” from Kansas comprised of the first, second and third regiments of Indian Home Guards was stationed at Camp Curtis in northeast Arkansas near the town of Maysville. As the result of a change in command, Col. William A. Phillips, the commander of the Indian Brigade, submitted the following status report of his brigade to his new commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Samuel Ryan Curtis. This report is located on Pages 56 -58 in Series I, Vol. 22, Part II Correspondence in the official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

Headquarters, 3rd Brigade, 1st Div.,
Army of the Frontier, Camp Curtis, Jan. 19, 1863.
Maj. Gen. Curtis, Commanding

Sir: I desire to report the peculiar features, character and present condition of the three Indian regiments. My close connection with them in active service during the past nine months has given me opportunities to judge and I submit a report as brief as it can be made, believing it is necessary to give the government a clear idea of the nature and wants of this branch of the service.

First: The first Indian Regiment is of Creeks, mustered at Leroy, (Kan). The only white officers at first were field officers. The regiment did some service in June and July (1862); it became badly demoralized for want of sufficient and competent officers; partially broke up in August; was collected in October and had white First Lieutenants mustered, under Gen. Blunt’s order. Some 300 or 400 of the regiment, who had gone to Leroy in August and who had refused to leave it, got down with the train just at the same time the Army of the Frontier was re-brigaded. The regiment has drilled very little; are indifferently informed as to their duties.

These Creeks are about equal in scale of intelligence to the Delawares of Kansas; they are inferior to the Cherokees. They are now in bad shape, get out their details slowly, sometimes desert a post or a party when sent on duty; yet I would be lacking in my duty to them or the government if I failed to say that, with one or two good field officers, military men, and two or even three, company officers, they could be made very effective. No party of them should be sent without a competent officer. Their own officers are, with few exceptions useless, but there are one or two men of influence amongst the captains, brave fighters in the field and of influence not to be overlooked. This Creek regiment gives me much more concern than either of the others

Second: The Second Regiment originally consisted of Osages, Quapaws, etc., and when it got into the Cherokee Nation, finally of Cherokees. The Osages, who were neither more or less than savages and thieves, who brought the whole Indian command into disgrace, were finally mustered out (discharged) during one of their periodic desertions, which fortunately happened at pay time. So, too, of Quapaws and other broken fragments of tribes that were little better. Under Gen. Blunt’s orders, I recruited for the 2nd Indian Regiment and its numbers have been brought up to its present status from Cherokee, half-breeds and whites. Last summer the regiment drilled but little; lately it has improved in that respect. It still lacks necessary officers, but is in a fair way to make a useful force.

Third: The Third Indian Regiment, which was my own, rejoined after its organization, was literally taken from the enemy and was the heaviest blow dealt in the Southwest last summer. Profiting by the experience of the first two regiments, it was organized by General Blunt’s orders, at my suggestion, with first lieutenants and orderly sergeants picked out of the white regiments in the field. I endeavored to secure active, intelligent men, conversant with their duties as soldiers or non-commissioned officers and just so far as I succeeded in this the result has been favorable. Unless when on the actual march, the regiment had dress parade every evening and drill and officers’ school every day. The result is that it is as well drilled as many white regiments that have a longer time in the service.

The regiment has done a great deal of active service, besides innumerable scouts and skirmishes. They were for two hours and 40 minutes under hot musketry and finally artillery fire at Newtonia. They participated at Fort Wayne, Cane Hill, Dutch Mills, Prairie Grove and other engagements. This is the only Indian regiment that really is a success so far, although the Second will undoubtedly will be, but there are several errors in its organization and some few of the command and also the Third absent themselves without leave, which is a chronic Indian weakness.

The error in all of the Indian regiments has been in not mustering the captains or white officers to be fully responsible for property and to see that orders are carried out. I take the liberty of suggesting that the necessary officers for an Indian company are, the Captain (first lieutenant might be an Indian) and second lieutenant white man or better yet, the captain a white man, first lieutenant a white man, second lieutenant an Indian and orderly sergeant a white man. The white men to be selected from the volunteer army or from men who thoroughly understand military duties and who will work hard. It is a blunder to put men of poor ability in an Indian regiment. It requires character so that the Indians will respect him and a thorough knowledge of military duties. In a white company, if a captain and lieutenants are ignorant, perhaps some privates in the company can run it, but an Indian company improperly officered is a frightful mess.

The officers in an Indian regiment have to work very hard to get things in shape. The besetting sin of Indians is laziness.

They are brave as death, active to fight, but lazy. They ought invariably to be mounted; they make poor infantry, but first class mounted rifleman.

The third Regiment, most of the Second and half of the First entered the service with their own horses, were paid as infantry, but foraged and shod by department order of Gen. Blunt.

Their horses have nearly all been used up in the service. At this time the stock is very poor.

The Third Indian Regiment is of 12 companies of mounted riflemen and has two howitzers attached. They are only paid as infantry, but used as mounted men.

About 100 of them are on foot, as their horses have died in service. To be efficient, they ought to be mounted on Government horses in the spring. The third is armed with Mississippi and Prussian rifles. The Second, Prussian rifles and muskets and the First with hunting rifles and they have to mold their bullets.

Nothing but active steps to supply necessary orders can save the First Indian Regiment from utter demoralization. My orders to drill are disregarded. As I compel the regiments to draw on consolidated provision returns, I have difficulty in getting reports from them. I am much embarrassed. As arresting all the officers of a regiment is not to be thought of and permitting it to run loose has a bad effect on the rest. I earnestly desire instructions and the necessary authority to myself or some others. In the meantime, I shall do the best I can.

With Great Respect,

Wm. A. Phillips

Colonel, Commanding Third Brigade.

Now then, Col. Phillips’ report was brutally honest and eventually he received the “instructions and necessary authority” to correct all of the identified deficiencies. As a result of this, all three regiments of Indian Home Guards compiled an excellent service record for the balance of the war, and of course, the war went on!