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

 

 

The following is a multi-part and first-hand account of the Battle of Mine Creek also known as the Battle of the Osage. This account is presented from the Official Records and provides multiple accounts from various officers under the command of Union Major General Samuel R. Curtis

Mine Creek, a branch of the Osage, and the Osage at this point, are small streams several miles apart, both skirted with timber and surrounded by open prairie country. After the affair of Trading Post, considerable delay and consequent separation of troops had occurred at the crossing of the Marais des Cygnes. While General Sanborn halted to breakfast his brigade General Pleasanton led the advance, consisting mainly of colonels Benteen’s and Philips’ brigades, in rapid farther pursuit of the enemy. About three miles from Trading Post the enemy formed on the north side of Mine Creek and made stubborn resistance. The brigade of Colonel Philips, composed of Missouri troops, came into line of battle and commenced firing at long range, his men displaying good discipline and great gallantry. Colonel Benteen, whose brigade comprised Iowa, Indiana, and other troops, came up on the left of this line. Meantime the heavy roar of cannon induced me to hurry forward my own escort, with two little howitzers and other artillery, at the utmost speed.

Colonel Benteen met some of my staff officers on his arrival at the left, who suggested an immediate cavalry charge. The colonel had already resolved on this movement, and only waited for the same order to be communicated to Colonel Philips. Major Weed conveyed the order to Colonel Philips. Colonel Benteen’s brigade came into line in a moment and dashed against the enemy’s right, outflanking and surrounding it, gaining position on and beyond the creek. Colonel Philips also, with his brigade, moved quickly upon the enemy, so as to surround or overpower a large detachment of them, who immediately surrendered as prisoners of war (among them were two rebel generals, Marmaduke and Cabell), killing another (General Graham), and many colonels and other officers, and taking altogether 500 or 600 men. General Pleasanton, being in command of the advance, had directed the general movement and took an active part in the field. General Lane, Colonel Blair, Colonel Crawford, Colonel Roberts, Major Weed, Major McKenny, Major Hunt, and Major Curtis, of my volunteer and regular staff, and Captain Hinton and others of General Blunt’s staff, were also very active in the field on this occasion, which occupied perhaps thirty minutes.

I directed Colonel Blair, who presented General Marmaduke to me as a prisoner of war, to turn him over to Lieutenant-Colonel Sears, Eighteenth U. S. Colored Troops, whom I directed to act as provost-marshal and take charge of the prisoners. I also detailed a regiment of Missouri troops to take charge of them, soon after informing General Sanborn and General Pleasanton of the detail. All this transpired as we moved forward, crossing Mine Creek, and while the advance was still skirmishing with the enemy. The rear brigades were also coming up at full speed and the enemy again forming on a hill about a mile in front. This point he soon abandoned, and we halted to form and close up our extended lines.

After our rear brigades came near the whole force advanced with caution in two lines, our skirmishers pressing the enemy beyond the ridge which divides Mine Creek and Osage. He now formed on the Osage, and the rear of our troops still being far behind, although I had repeatedly sent orders to hurry them up, I mentioned the matter to General Pleasanton as somewhat remarkable. He told me General McNeil seemed insubordinate or neglectful of his orders and did not come forward as directed. His brigade being in front of General Blunt’s division any delay by General McNeil also delayed all the Kansas troops. i then sent my adjutant, Major Charlot, with a special order, which brought forward the brigade of General McNeil at the utmost speed of his horses. On reporting to me the general said his delay was no fault of his, and it was evident General Pleasanton’s orders had never reached him, which caused some misunderstanding. And he further assured me that I would find him ready to obey all orders as promptly as possible. I directed him to deploy as quick as possible and take the advance, which he did with great success. I also told him to continue to report to General Pleasanton, who commanded the division. Before this occurred, the skirmish line reporting to me as broken down from fatigue, General Sanborn, at my instance, had changed them by placing Colonel Cloud, of my staff, with some of the Second Kansas Volunteers, on this duty. Entering fields and forests Colonel Cloud continued the skirmishing to the valley of the Osage and beyond the stream.

Meantime General McNeil, with his brigade, soon broke the lines of the rebels that had extended for miles on the heights beyond the Osage, and after about an hour’s fighting in corn-fields and timber, where our troops manifested great gallantry in repeated charges, the enemy again broke in great disorder, scattering arms, utensils, wagons, and all kinds of equipments over the field. General Blunt’s division came up rapidly about the close of this battle of the Osage and began to deploy, but the flight’ of the enemy was so rapid I could not get all the troops in line before it was necessary to resume the march in column. all this conflict between Mine Creek and Osage, and including the fighting at both streams, occupied some two hours or more, and as the accompanying map* will show you, extended over several miles of onward march.

Being mostly a prairie country the troops of both armies were in full view and the rapid onward movement of the whole force presented the most extensive, beautiful, and animated view of hostile armies I have ever witnessed. Spread over vast prairies, some moving at full speed in column, some in double lines, and others as skirmishers, groups striving in utmost efforts, and shifting as occasion required, while the great clouds of living masses moved steadily southward, presented a picture of prairie scenery such as neither man nor pencil can delineate.

Part 2 continues HERE

Early in the morning hours of 25 October, 1864, Confederate Major General Sterling Price was retreating as fast as he could to more friendly territory to his base in Arkansas after what many consider the final blow to his Rebel army at the Battle of Westport just two days before. In pursuit were the Union forces under the command of Major General Alfred Pleasonton. Three conflicts took place as the southerners retreated. These conflicts were all Union victories and would ultimately be the final straw in the great Missouri Raid of 1864. Price had intended on securing Missouri for the Confederacy, gaining southern sympathizing supporters, take pressure off the losses in the eastern theater and to install a southern governor at the capital in Jefferson City. None of these happened and his raid in turn had exactly the opposite effect it had intended.

The Battle of Marais des Cygnes was the first of three battles that took place on 25 October 1864. Sterling Price’s rear guard was covering the retreat of the Confederates as they crossed the Marais des Cygnes River. It was an extremely dark night, with considerable rain. According to C.S.A. Lieutenant Colonel L. A. MacLean, Assistant Adjutant-General of Price’s Army,

Before I had gone a mile from the encampment (on the Marais des Cygnes) of the night before, I received an order from General Marmaduke to form my brigade in line of battle, as the enemy had again appeared in our rear. I remained in that position until 10 o’clock; no engagement with small-arms; retiring from that position in line of battle. The enemy, 800 or 900 yards distant in line of battle, followed us. We were now well out on a prairie that seemed almost boundless. At the distance of a mile General Marmaduke directed me to halt, which we did. The enemy coming on with a steady advance approached very near in largely superior force. We retired at a trot, the enemy in close pursuit. We continued this was, each holding about the same position, across a flat prairie some four miles, when we came suddenly upon the trains halted, the delay occasioned by a deep ravine, the enemy not more than 500 yards in our rear. There was no time to make any but the most rapid dispositions for battle.

The relentless push by the Federals finally forced the Confederate rear guard to stop and fight. Major General Samuel Curtis related later that in a communique to his commanding officer that between the hours of 0000 and 0300, they had met the enemy, but had not exchanged fire as they pursued the rebels. However, things changed at 0300 when Curtis sent Major Hunt and three companies of the Second Colorado to attack and by 0400 had a message sent to General Sanborn, who leading the advance party to open with artillery. Major R.H. Hunt rode up from the skirmish lines and begged them to cease firing from that point as the shells were falling on their own men, who had already been driven from their positions in a disorganized retreat.

Daylight began to approach and the rebels deserted their camp and began taking down trees but the Federal push was so strong that the rebels, in disarray, fled in disorder leaving “cattle, camp equipment, negroes, provisions partly cooked, and stolen goods.. scattered over miles of the forest camp.” According to General Curtis’ report, “Few were killed on either side as the night and early morn attack created a general fright in the rebel lines and only random shots on either side.”

The battle at Marais des Cygnes ended and the Union forces continued to pursue the Confederates unabated. About three miles north of Mine Creek, a branch of the Osage River, the Confederates again formed up as they were once again stopped by river to cross. Pleasonton’s advance brigade, consisting of Colonel’s Frederick Benteen (commanding the Iowa, Indiana and other troops) and John Philips (commanding the Missouri troops), moved forward, and Benteen, made dash to the rebels right flank, surrounding them and in the process captured two Confederate Generals, John Marmaduke and William Caball and killed Confederate General Graham. They also captured and killed many other officers and soldiers. The Federals continued to push and as the number of Price’s men began to dwindle they crossed Mine Creek and skirmished between the creek and the Osage, according to Curtis’ report, another two hours in a line that extended for several miles. Mass confusion reigned on the battlefield, as many of Price’s men had donned captured Union uniforms, making it harder to distinguish between them and real Union soldiers. General Curtis made it a point to explain the terrain they were fighting on as being,

…mostly a prairie country the troops of both armies were in full view, and the rapid onward movement of the whole force presented the most extensive, beautiful, and animated view of hostile armies I have ever witnessed. Spread over vast prairies, some moving at full speed in column, some in double lines, and others as skirmishers, groups striving in utmost efforts, and shifting as occasion required, while the great clouds of living masses moved steadily southward, presented a picture of prairie scenery such as neither man nor pencil can delineate.

The speed and ferocity of the Federal attack, even though they were numerically outnumbered, completely took the retreating rebels by surprise and threw them into a mass of disarray. While the southerners who fought did so with valor, many chose to flee. General Price briefly returned but was now in quick haste to attempt to get to Fort Scott.

As the afternoon wore on the Confederates once again found a river blocking their escape route. Once again, Price and the Confederates had to make a stand. Brigadier General John McNeil headed the Union attack against rebels that were rallied by Price and his officers. Many of these men were even unarmed but began their assault on the Federals. McNeil not knowing the actual size did not mount a full assault and after two hours of skirmishing could not at this point effectively pursue what was left of Price’s army. According to General Curtis’ report,

The distance traveled during the day and the frequent conflicts in which we had been engaged during the four previous days and nights had indeed exhausted men and horses; still it was my earnest desire to rest on the field, sending to Fort Scott for food and forage. But ammunition and other supplies were also necessary, and the erroneous statement of the distance to Fort Scott irresistibly carried my main forces to that place of abundant supply. The enemy burned a vast number of his wagons and destroyed much of his heavy ammunition, so as to materially accommodate his farther retreat. Thus all our troops, some on the field of battle at Charlot and the remainder at Fort Scott, rested a few hours of the night of the 25th and 26th.

With no more pursuers and really nothing left of his Army, Price limped back to Arkansas. His grand plan to claim Missouri for the Confederacy not only ended in failure but came with a great loss of life. The plan was doomed from the beginning as they marched on Fort Davidson in southeast Missouri and finally, almost exactly one month later was laid to rest in southeastern Kansas.

Missouri’s Civil War Heritage Foundation and it’s local affiliate, Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage, have announced they will conduct an archeological survey on the core area of the Battle of Moore’s Mill.

The county’s largest and most famous skirmish during the bloody national conflict, the Battle of Moore’s Mill took place July 28, 1862 near where is now known as Calwood. A survey is scheduled to occur there March 21-24.

When Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage co-chair Bryant Liddle became aware of the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service, an organization which issues grants for surveying and protecting U.S. battle sites, the ball to get the survey underway began rolling.

“It was my recommendation to our local Civil War Heritage that we have somebody apply for this grant, and it went to the Missouri Civil War Heritage,” said Liddle. “They ended up applying for the grant, (and) received it … That will pay some of the expenses of the people doing the research, some of the transportation and the lodging.”

The survey will be under the supervision of Doug Scott of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Steve Dasovich of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, both of whom have worked on excavations of Civil War and other prominent American battle sites, including the infamous Battle of Little Bighorn.