The Battle of The Blue

The Battle of The Blue
Rebel forces charge the Topeka Battery at Mockbee farm, original painting by Benjamin Mileham

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

J.S.Griffing:"It Is Said The Topeka Boys Fought Like Tigers"

James Griffing and the rest of the 23rd. Kansas Militia returned home to Nemeha County shortly after the Battle of Westport and the retreat of General Price's Army.  He immediately began to search the newspapers for details of the fate of his friends and neighbors of the 2nd Kansas Militia from Shawnee County where he and his wife Augusta had so recently resided.  The sad results are contained in James next letter to Augusta.

Lincoln [Kansas]
October 30, 1864
My Dear Cutie [Augusta],
You will be glad to hear that your husband is at home again safe and sound. My last letter was written to you whilst we were in the trenches at Kansas City amidst the greatest confusion & excitement in sight of the smoke of a  most tremendous battle and if it reaches you, I want you to be sure & keep it, that I may know what I wrote, when I may see you again. The night before it was written, I thought it not improbable that I might never see you again and as my place in the ranks was next to Brother [John] Hodgins of Centralia, we had agreed with each other – as we lay sleeping upon our arms in the city of Wyandotte – if we should be spared to see about the other’s family. The Good Being averted the battle, which threatened to take place at Kansas City, and caused it to take place at another point. And the consequence is that instead of the citizens of Nemaha being thrown into the deepest mourning, our acquaintances and friends in Shawnee County suffered as much as any one county in the great conflict. I have not as yet received the full particulars but enough to convince me that it is dreadful. Not only as the Topeka Battery taken, but a great many were either killed, wounded, and taken prisoners, or are missing. Among the killed, I notice Lieut. Col. [H. M.] Greene* (United Brethren preacher on Wakarusa), Mac Martin (Dr. Martin’s brother), W. P. Roberts (Judge Robert’s son at Big Springs), Mr. [Samuel Allen?], James Eagle, Tavern keeper at Big Springs, Dan Handley of Topeka, John Ward* (the Ward’s son above Topeka), H. C. Coville living above Topeka, Harvey Young, N. Brown, L. Selkin, M. D. Race, R. McNown, Mr. Rake, Charles Budd, Mr. Chapman, and two others unknown reported up to Monday as killed/wounded. I have concluded to cut out the piece and send you. Please preserve it.  

 *Henry M.Greene and John Ward both survived but suffered major injuries
  As to Brother [Joshua]Hannum’s Company, I am almost afraid to hear the particulars. Those killed living at Big Springs must have been in his Company. I saw (Ishiel)Tyler a moment at Kansas City. He says they were right in the fight and had plenty to do. Says that he (Tyler) lost a horse. I am anxious to learn the fate of Bro. Hannum, [James]Taylor, [Jesse] Stevenson, Lewis Clogston, John Ward & all our old neighbors. Also to hear the fate of the many taken prisoners. It is most dreadful to think of. Had we been residing at Topeka, I might have been in the thickest of the fight and helped to do something for the salvation of my state, and the good of my country. It is said the Topeka boys fought like tigers. They held the advancing columns of Price’s advancing legions at bay for about an hour until they were surrounded and their battery taken. I have been away from home so much or I would go right down there and see and sympathize with my old neighbors. I am anxious to hear from Harry Winans. I expect he was in the midst of the fight. I learn the mail is about to start. I will write again soon as I get more particulars. I found two letters from you when I came home. One written with a pencil from Hartford, the other written after returning [to Owego]. Was glad to hear [from you]. I think Missouri will be safer now. I may come for you directly after my Quarterly Meeting, or preacher’s meeting, starting about the 20th of November if you deem best. Write and let me know. Buy just as little as you must at present prices. Everything is bound to change after [the presidential] election. – J. S. Griffing

 Owego [New York]
October 30, 1864

My dear husband [James],
I see by one of the New York papers that [General] Price has been defeated & has retreated. I hope it is true and that there will be no need of you or any others of the militia to be sent after him again. I received a letter written at Atchison and was in hopes to get another yesterday but none came. I hope to hear soon that all are safe…. I hope this will find you well and that the next letter will bring me good news from you. The boys often talk of you and want to see you very much. Write often as you can. Ever your, -- Augusta
 Augusta was hopeful that James would have good news in his next letter, but it wasn't meant to be. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Letters of James and Augusta Griffing:"Excuse the Dirt, Grease and Writing"

                                                 James and Augusta Griffing in 1855
                                                      photo courtesy of W.J.Griffing
  I recently discovered a website which features the personal letters of James Griffing, a Methodist Minister who in the fall of 1864 was living in the now defunct town of Lincoln in Nemeha County Kansas.  These letters provide an insight into the lives of the men of the 2nd KSM and their families around the time of the Battle at Mockbee Farm which so many were wounded, killed or captured.
   James had his wife Augusta had recently rented out their homestead in Shawnee County and moved to temporary quarters in Lincoln, Kansas. After a Cheyenne uprising on the central Kansas plains threatened  the family's safety it was decided that Augusta and her three children should return to the Griffing's home state of New York . This meant that they would have to venture through the volatile state of Missouri which was rife with guerrilas and outlaws.  The plan was carried out anyways and by August 1864 Augusta and the children were safely in Owego, New York.  James meanwhile was called to join the Nemeha Home Guards in response to the Cheyenne threat and when Price's Army invaded Missouri, he mobilised with his unit toward the Border area should the Confederates threaten Kansas.  James served with the 22nd Regiment of the Kansas State Militia, Co. G and was encamped with his unit at Kansas City when he took time to write to Augusta.
  In camp, Kansas City
October 23, 1864
My Dear Wife [Augusta],
We came here last evening. [General] Price is reported to have entered Westport last evening and [is] said to have a force of from 20 thousand to 40. If so, and as he is pretty well surrounded, I am looking for a pretty severe contest today. Our company may be in the midst of a most terrible slaughter. The thing has become more of a reality than I was expecting when I started. I hope everything will be for the best.
 Half past two o’clock. I commenced writing [you] this morning [when] an order came that we must drop everything and march at once. So we came over to the breastworks which Col. Jennison had thrown up for the protection of Kansas City. Col. Jennison was driven in by the rebels last evening into the entrenchments where we are at present quartered. They are at present fighting a tremendous battle five miles south of this [location]. The wounded are being brought in, in large numbers. We can see the smoke of the battle very plainly, but the wind is quite unfavorable, and the continued talking and cheering as the dispatches come in prevents our hearing much of the thunder of the artillery.
Still later. Our men have cut off his long train of commissaries, taken a large amount of his pillage, and Price is going South just as fast as he can. An order has come requiring just as many of our men as possible to get horses and pursue him. I have not yet been down to the hospital to see the wounded. Our regimental surgeon, Dr. Hidden, just told me they were generally slightly wounded; he thought but few cases would prove fatal. You can form no idea of the amount of Militia here – especially the infantry. I was just down where the Topeka boys were camped. They told me the Topeka battery was taken by the enemy yesterday and Col. Veale’s cavalry company was cut off from the main body, and they had not as yet heard from them.
 Next morning. Dreary from standing guard most of the night. News comes that the enemy are retreating [as] fast as they can go with our men in hot pursuit, fighting him with the artillery and cavalry. A great many hundred have already been killed and taken prisoners. Yesterday, whilst a portion of the men were packing up to leave on the retreat, they were surprised by a battery planted in their front which mowed down a large number of them. Our Captain, who was ordered down to assist in guarding prisoners, says he thinks we will be ordered home again today. I do hope it will be so that I can go out to the battlefield before I return. Returning cavalry militia state that the “Rebs” are scattered quite thickly over the ground. Preparations are making for a drill so I will leave this and hope to write again soon. Hoping I may be able to tell you good news about the Topeka Cavalry, as Capt. [Joshua B.] Hannum’s Company was away then. Now I would like to hear how you all are this morning. Ever your own affectionate husband, -- James   NB. excuse the dirt, grease and writing as it has been done mostly as I could catch it on my knee in camp.

 Owego [New York]
October 27, 1864
My dear husband [James],
I hope to hear soon that the militia are not engaged in fighting. I cannot bear to think that you have got to be in battles. It is dreadful to think of the poor families left desolate & alone this time of the year. I am glad we are here if there is to be trouble in Kansas. People have said ever since I came that they would not think of going back this winter & now they think it would be foolish & unwise. Ever your affectionate wife, -- Augusta
 The letters in the next post between James and Augusta discuss the fate of those they knew from the 2nd KSM.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nelson Holder Ritchie, Co. B - "A Good Clean Man"

                                                        photo courtesy of Kurt Rogers 

          Nelson Holder Ritchie arrived in the Topeka Kansas area around 1860, coming over from western Missouri.  Born Nelson Holder in what was later Lawrence County Missouri,he was a man of mixed race who was listed as "white", "black" or "colored" in various census and Civil War Draft Registration records.  It has been the subject of discussion amongst Nelson's descendants that he may have been part Cherokee.  According to one daughter, "He was a very good looking man over six feet tall, about 200 hundred pounds, black curly hair, a good clean man."    Nelson told his descendants that he was raised by an old Scotch lady, as his mother died when he was a baby and his father died before he was born.
  Nelson took on the Ritchie surname after being taken in and perhaps employed by noted early Topekan John Ritchie.  John Ritchie was a Free-stater and abolitionist with ties to the Underground Railroad and was also Commander of the 2nd Indian Home Guards - a Federal Unit from Kansas during the Civil War.  John also served in various capacities with the 5th Kansas Cavalry in 1861/62, a unit which frequently skirmished with the Confederates in the Border area.  It was perhaps on one of these forays that John encountered 20 year old Nelson - or it could be that Nelson came to Topeka seeking a better life and was taken under the wing of John Ritchie.  Whatever actually happened, by 1864 Nelson's prospects at a better life had dramatically increased with his arrival in Topeka.  The threat of Rebel invasion put these prospects at risk however and in October 1864 Nelson answered the call to arms and joined the 2nd Kansas Militia, Company B.  According to one of Nelson's daughters, "It was at the close of the Civil War, and Nelson got in on the last part of it.  He was in the Cavalry and had a good horse.  He had his hat with a few bullet holes in it, but he was never hurt.  He was in his twenties at the time of the war.
  Like so many of his peers in the 2nd Kansas Militia, Nelson narrowly escaped the Battle of Mockbee Farm and returned to Topeka, where he rejected an offer from John Ritchie to attend school.  Nelson had decided that he would build a life in Kansas, but it would be on his terms.  He worked hard, perhaps working construction on one of the numerous buildings sprouting up in the rapidly growing capitol of Kansas and by 1870 he had married and fathered a child.  After his wife and child both died in 1871 (Nelson joked with his later family that he thought an old black mammy had poisoned them) Nelson persevered and moved to Great Bend Kansas where he owned and operated a hotel, complete with livery stables and carriages for hire.  He remarried and raised quite a large family at Great Bend and in 1892 relocated to Bountiful Utah where he worked for the railroad for many years.  His family continued to grow and Nelson was a good father and husband, passing on these enduring qualities to his loved ones before passing away in Bountiful in 1913 at the age of 72.
   Nelson passed to the great beyond without giving many details of his experiences with the 2nd Kansas Militia to his friends and family.  This seemed to be a common trait among these men who had come so close to death.  He had made the most of his humble origins and endured to become the cornerstone of his family as it moved out west.  And he found that not only would he be accepted in Kansas, but he would flourish.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Missing Six of the 2nd Kansas Militia

  The final resting places of the "missing six" men of  the 2nd Kansas Militia are unaccounted for and in all likelihood lost to history.  They were perhaps quickly buried in the aftermath of bloody battle, their graves unmarked and forgotten.  Some of their bodies may have been collected by family members and brought back to the family farm where the gravesite was eventually lost to development.  Although these men and the others who sacrificed for Shawnee County at the Big Blue River have nearly faded to obscurity, I will attempt to exhume whatever bits and pieces of their lives that I can.  These scant facts are an effort to pay them the tribute they so richly deserve.
   The story of David Fultz has been brought to light recently but his gravesite remains a mystery. It is likely that his body was removed from the field by family members and buried near the family farm in southeast Shawnee County.  He left behind a wife named Elizabeth and three children.
   Elias Roberts of Co. I originally hailed from New Jersey before moving out west to Ohio and later Iowa, where he farmed and started a family.  By 1860 Elias, his wife Martha and their three children had relocated to Lone Jack in Jackson County Missouri.  This was an extremely dangerous area to raise a family - Lone Jack was in the heart of the Border War region and by 1863 Elias and his family moved over into Shawnee County Kansas and farmed in the Tecumseh Township.   Shortly thereafter Elias was killed at Mockbee Farm but his gravesite remains unknown at this time.  It is possible that his sacrifice faded into obscurity even within his own family history, as was the case with many others who died that day.
  The spirit of the obscure American wanderer was embodied by William Waln, who was also from Co. I.  After William was killed at the Battle of the Blue, he was identified as "William Wann" in every source that listed the dead of the 2nd KSM.  After I failed to track down that name, I came across a Widow's Pension File that revealed his true name.  More research revealed that he was born in Highland Co. Ohio in 1818 and migrated to Marion Co. Iowa by the late 1840's.  According to census records, William and his wife Leah had at least two children in Iowa before moving to Indiana and having two more.  By 1864, William was serving in the 2nd Kansas Militia and became a (misspelled) footnote to history. The whereabouts of his gravesite remain unknown.

   Moses Banks served in Company D from Indianola Kansas, just north of Topeka.  He is listed as "colored" in various sources and died at the Battle of Mockbee Farm.  Moses may have been a former slave but at this point his origins are not known.  It is known that Kansas was a destination of free African Americans in the early 1860's because of its admission to the Union as a free state. When Governor Carney called out the Militia in October, 1864 all men between the age of 18 and 60 were called to service including African Americans.   Nearly one thousand blacks answered the call (in addition to the roughly 2,000 that were already serving) with most of these men forming separate regiments.  The 2nd KSM did have a few "colored" men serving, probably filling roles such as Teamster and Blacksmith.  Moses Banks gravesite is unknown at this time; there was an pension application made in July of 1867 for a minor dependant in Moses name so perhaps somewhere there is a descendant.
    Ben Hughes was an African American Teamster who was believed to have been murdered at the Mockbee Farm battlefield while attempting to surrender.  Ben's origins and personal life are also unknown but the circumstances of his death were widely used to exemplify the cruelty of the Confederates under Colonel Sidney Jackman. It would be nice to believe that such a martyr were given a proper soldiers burial - his gravesite remains unknown.
   Dennis Ray was not listed as a man of color but was listed among the dead from Company D.  There doesn't appear to be any census records for him but I did come across a Dennis Ray in the "U.S. Civil War Draft Registrations" Records.  He was listed as living in Timber Hill, Bourbon County Kansas and his occupation was listed as blacksmith.  The final resting place of Dennis Ray is unknown.

   The fact that these three men of African descent died at the Battle of the Blue is interesting to me because they weren't actually supposed to be fighting.  Their roles were of a support nature and therefore it seems likely to me that they could have chosen to be among the first to retreat and thus escape when it had become apparent that the Rebel forces would overcome them.  That they didn't run when they had the chance gives an indication of their true character.
   The mystery as to the locations of the gravesites of these six men may never be solved but it doesn't really matter if they are remembered by future generations for their bravery and sacrifice. 
  There was another man of color who served in the second KSM - his name was Nelson Ritchie and not only did he survive the Battle of Mockbee Farm but thrived to become highly successful.  His story will be told another time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Burial Places of the Remaining Heroes

  Colonel George Veale had made sure that fifteen of his "fallen heroes" were laid to rest in their proper place and with a proper funeral, but what became of the remaining men from the 2nd Kansas Militia who gave their lives at the Big Blue River?
   Private James Eagle owned a hotel on the California Trail near Big Springs in Douglas County.  After he was killed at the Battle of Mockbee Farm his body was brought back to Big Springs and was laid to rest at the East View Cemetery.  Although Big Springs was in neighboring Douglas County, it supplied Shawnee County with Company F of the 2nd KSM.
   Private Robert Campbell was also from F Company and his remains were returned to Kansas by family members as well.  Private Campbell was interred near the family farm in Southeast Shawnee County at the Zion Cemetery near present day Watson, Kansas.
   Lt.William DeLong of Co. G died from his injuries long after the battle, in a Kansas City hospital.  His remains were then brought back to his hometown, the tiny berg of Auburn, Kansas, and were interred at the Auburn Cemetery in southwest Shawnee County. 
 The burial site of Merrick Race has been previously established but what became of the remains of the other six men who gave their lives for Shawnee County?  This question remains (to me) unanswered but the memory of their passing shouldn't be.  These are the names of the "missing six" of the 2nd Kansas Militia, whose burial place is lost or unknown: 
 Ben Hughes
 Dennis Ray 
 Moses Banks
 William Waln
 Elias Roberts
 David Fultz
    There is scant information about the lives of these men but what little I have found will be discussed in the next entry.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dead of the 2nd Kansas Militia Return Home

   The days following the Battles of Mockbee Farm and Westport were extremely trying ones for Colonel George Veale.  As commander of the 2nd KSM he felt personally responsible for the men of his Regiment - especially the ones who had died, been injured and taken prisoner.   His sense of duty towards his men made it imperative that he do all in his power to ensure that those who had died at Mockbee Farm have a decent burial.
    Colonel Veale's first task was to locate the exact burial location of his men.  In the aftermath of the battle of Wesport, the wounded men (Union and Confederate) were gathered from the field; the dead from both sides however became the problem of the local citizenry. After ensuring that everything possible was being done for the wounded men of his Regiment, Colonel Veale returned to the Battlefield at Mockbee Farm on the 24th of October to find the temporary burial location of his men killed on the 22nd.  He found that some had been buried on the field near the battlesite and others had been buried in a trench near Westport.  With the help of local citizens, medical personnel and some of his own men, Colonel Veale arranged the disinterment of his men and removal to the Huron Cemetery in Wyandotte, Kansas on October 25th as he felt it was proper for the men to be buried in Kansas soil.  Colonel Veale obtained coffins for his men here as well.  A few of those killed from the 2nd KSM were located and removed by their own family members; it is unknown whether any men from the 2nd remain buried near the battle site.
  In early December 1864 it had become certain that Kansas was now safe from the threat of invasion by the Confederates.  The wounded and prisoners from the 2nd KSM had returned to their homes and the process of healing had begun.  Colonel George Veale decided it would be fitting if the men from his Regiment who had been buried at the Huron Cemetery be disinterred and brought home to Shawnee County.  He contacted Franklin Crane, (a friend of his from Topeka who had established the Topeka Cemetery a few years earlier) with the thought of setting aside a special plot for those who gave their lives at the Battle of the Blue.  The two men struck a deal and arrangements were made for the fifteen coffins to be brought to Topeka on December 10th, where they would find their third and final resting place.

                                          The 100 Block of Kansas Ave. in the mid 1860s
courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society,copy and re-use restrictions apply
    The dark cold day matched the mood of the citizens of Topeka as the first of the wagons coming up Kansas Avenue rolled into view.  The scene was remembered years later by Louis Laurent, who had been a boy at the time: "At that time the butcher of the city was Dan Handley. He went to the front with the Militia and was killed at the Battle of the Blue. He left a family of several girls. His residence was about two blocks east of Kansas Avenue on First street. I remember distinctly when his body reached Topeka. I can see it yet, in a pine box and the blood stains on the bottom of the box.”
  The plots set aside for these fallen men had been arranged at the Topeka Cemetery in the shape of a square.  A large crowd gathered here to pay their respects and in their own way thank the ones who had given their lives so that Topeka and all of Kansas could remain free.
  The worn tombstones of the fifteen remain still, off to the side in the form of a square. I hope their names are never forgotten:  Harvey G.Young, James P. Alverson, McClure Martin, David Rake, Nicholas Brown, Samuel Allen, Georg Ginnold, Robert McNown, Charles H. Budd, Albert Chapman, Lear Selkin, Hiram C. Coville, Robert Boles, Daniel Handley and William C. Roberts.

                                                   photo courtesy od - copy and re-use restrictions apply

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Investigation Into the Death of David Fultz; Conclusion

The investigation by Lt.J.M. Hubbard into the death of David Fultz revealed that Fultz had identified the men that shot him had belonged to Col.Charles Jennison’s Regiment, (Jennison was in command of the 1st Brigade, Army of the Border) although Fultz never stated how he discerned this.  After interviewing several others who had witnessed different parts of the Fultz incident, Lt. Hubbard came to a different conclusion.
   During his interviews with the men who had first came across Private Fultz after he had been shot, Lt. Hubbard was able to deduce that Fultz had ridden toward the advancing column of Col. Thomas Moonlight’s Brigade as it headed south in pursuit of General Price’s retreating Army the late afternoon of 23 October.  This was during the aftermath of the Battle of Westport and the emotions of the men of Moonlight’s Brigade still flared hot as they headed south out of Shawneetown toward the fleeing rear Confederate guard.  Lt. Hubbard’s next set of interviews focused on members of the 11th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. In the words of Richard Josiah Hinton:  
   "Nathaniel D. Horton, Chief Bugler 11th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, states that he accompanied Colonel Moonlight in the pursuit of the rebels from Shawnee Mission southward, on the 23rd of October last, and that when about five miles out, a young man dressed in homespun clothing, similar to that worn by the rebels, rode out of a field on the left of the road and joined the column. Colonel Moonlight called him to the head-of the column, and demanded of him who he was, where he belonged, and what he was doing there. His answer was in substance that he belonged to the Kansas Militia, but that he had been compelled to join them against his will, and had left them the day previous with the intention of joining the rebels. This last point seemed rather to be inferred by his hearers than explicitly stated by himself; and the inference rested, at least in part, upon an assumption that he had mistaken the character of the command he had joined, and supposed it to be rebel. Horton thinks his exact words were,” I've been wanting to get with you," though he would not speak positively in regard to the language used. Proceeding apparently upon the assumption referred to above, Colonel Moonlight repeated once or twice, in form slightly varying, a question, the substance of which was, " Would you rather go with the Feds, or with us?" Each time the answer of the stranger was in substance, “I would rather go with you," upon which Colonel Moonlight declared himself satisfied, and ordered him to be shot. He(Fultz) turned to run, but was shot by Adjutant Faber and Quartermaster-Sergeant Cowan before he had gone many steps, and was left by the road side still living, but judged to be mortally wounded."
   Colonel Thomas Moonlight was apparently never interviewed by Lt. Hubbard, but Horton’s story was corroborated by other members of the 11th K VC, including one of the shooters, Quartermaster Sgt. Cowan.  
  A cruel set of ironic events conspired against David Fultz: bad-timing, being in the wrong place and wrong clothing and poor semantics – all of which, when taken together had sealed his fate.   But how had David come to be at this crossroads of events?  He may have survived the battle of Mockbee Farm, fled on his horse and was cut off from the rest of his unit as they fled.  Other possibilities also exist but seem less likely.  The first is that David was taken prisoner after the battle and then escaped.  The second is that he straggled from his unit before the battle, was cut off and then attempted to rejoin Moonlight’s column the next day. Whatever actually happened, David probably felt reluctant to make his appearance after hiding in the brush for roughly 24 hours. The thoughts which raced through his troubled mind may have also conspired against him.
 R.J. Hinton’s final paragraph on the subject of David Fultz makes an attempt to explain the situation:
 “On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that his personal appearance, dress, and the place, and manner of his joining the command, all combined to make him an object of suspicion, and that those who had stood in battle against the rebel foe for nearly a week, and then had just prevented the desolation of their homes, could hardly be expected at that time, and under such circumstances, to exercise a cool and deliberate judgment.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

David Fultz, 2nd Kansas Militia; "Killed by Jennison's Men"?

  The circumstances surrounding the death of David Fultz of the 2nd Kansas Militia provide an interesting glimpse inside the Union Army of the Border in the aftermath of the Battle of Westport.  Though it is certain that he died at the hands of Union troops, it is still a mystery exactly why he was killed and who was responsible.
   David Fultz was a farmer who lived in the rural southeast corner of Shawnee County before he volunteered for the 2nd KSM.   He was born in Kentucky and migrated to Douglas County Kansas along with his wife Elizabeth, before migrating to Shawnee County in 1863.  David and his five brothers all served the Union side during the War including one who was in the field with the 21st Kansas Militia from Douglas County. 
  The story of David Fultz may never have come to light if not for the official report of his Commander, Colonel George Veale.   Near the end of Colonel Veale's report, dated 30 October, 1864 was a list of the men from his Division who were killed, captured and wounded including this entry for David's Company I: "Killed - William Waln, Robert Bolls, David Fultz, the latter, killed by Jennison's men."    This declaration caused a stir of outrage from Colonel Jennison's quarter as could be expected.  Although Charles "Doc" Jennison had been rightly accused of many such outrages against those who opposed him, he had never stood accused of killing a Union soldier.  Jennison was a staunch abolitionist who was personally responsible for as much death and destruction on the Border as anyone, but this accusation, made by a peer in his official report without supporting details, would launch an investigation by the order of General Curtis. 
  Lt. J.M.Hubbard was General Curtis' Signal Officer and was given charge of the investigation, which elicited the following facts: 
   On Sunday, October 23rd, between 4 and 5 P.M., two gentlemen found a wounded man near Little Santa Fe, who gave his name as David Fults, Company "I," 2d Regiment Kansas State Militia. His statement was that having been separated from his regiment at the Big Blue the day before, he fell in with a body of our cavalry, which he believed to be Colonel Jennison's regiment. He told several soldiers who he was ; also told the commander, whom he believed to be Colonel Jennison, the same story, but the officer declared him a rebel bushwhacker, and ordered him to be shot. The unfortunate man was wounded in the small of the back and in the leg. The first ball passed through his body. They left him where he was found. He died shortly afterwards.  (Much of the information gathered for this blog entry was taken from the book "Rebel invasion of Missouri and Kansas, and the Campaign of the Army of the Border Against General Sterling Price in October and November, 1864" by Richard Josiah Hinton. The unedited parts will be in italics)
  One of the men who found David Fultz was named John J. Ingalls, a prominent Kansan.  The veracity of Ingalls story is not in question, but David Fultz story of being shot by "Jennison's Men" was.  How would Fultz have been able to identify the men who shot him as Jennison's?  He may not have been able to.  Although Jennison and his 15th Kansas Cavalry was a well-known and notorious outfit, Fultz may have only come to his conclusion after he was shot.  So, why was he shot?  How did he end up near Little Sante Fe?   The results of Lt. Hubbard's investigation revealed some surprising answers.    

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Shot Down in Cold-Blood After Capture"

  I came across the title phrase while researching the fate of the survivors of the 2nd Kansas Militia. Not being necessarily familiar with the Civil War in Missouri until a few months ago, I was shocked when I first read this.  Everything I had learned in school textbooks about the Confederate "guerrillas and bushwhackers" was confirmed.  As I dug deeper though I realized the complexity of the Border War didn't allow for such simplifications.  The passions and convictions of the people on both sides would create am environment where such actions were if not commonplace, understood and expected.
  In the mass-confusion of the aftermath of the Mockbee Farm Battle, the opportunity arose for some of the captors, Confederate soldiers in Jackman's Brigade, to act as Judge and executioner.  Perhaps the heat of battle was enough reason - the man targeted to die had been an especially obstinate foe in battle and now it was his turn.  If this was true however, why was the Captain of the gun that killed so many Rebels not slain?  Ross Burns was beaten with the butt of a rifle but his life was spared.  Most likely the targets were picked at random - no specific reason was needed or required.  If there was a sub-conscious thought stream, perhaps it went along the lines of, "These damn butchers have just killed the brave boy who rode beside me - one of them will pay!"  The exception may have been Ben Hughes, a black teamster of the 2nd KSM who was executed as he tried to surrender by having his throat slashed.  Although the death of Ben Hughes was the result of the passion and conviction of Jackman's Missourians, it was also representative of the reason Kansans, both black and white, were willing to give their lives.  Perhaps the state motto of Kansas should have also been, "Live Free or Die."
   Besides Ben Hughes, other members of the 2nd KSM who were shot down after surrender: 
   Lt. William H. DeLong of Co. G was severely wounded in the shoulder during the battle, which prevented him from attempting escape.  He was then shot by his captors several times including one ball which passed through his spine, paralyzing him.  Lt. DeLong was left on the field to die and was discovered late the next day after the Battle of Westport. He was brought to a hospital in Kansas City where he lingered on for nearly a month, finally passing away on November 19th, 1864.
 Captain H.E. Bush of Co. G  was captured after the battle and shot several times in the head and upper body.  Somehow he survived his injuries, perhaps owing to the fact of the poor quality weaponry that his captors were using. He was gathered from the field the next day and brought to Kansas City where he gradually recovered and returned home on Christmas day, 1864.  He resumed farming and stock trading and later became involved in politics and was elected sheriff of Auburn Kansas in 1881. He was also one of the few members of the 2nd KSM to have previous military experience; he served in the 1st N.Y.Light Artillery, Co. D, Army of the Potomac.
 Lt. Col. H.M. Greene was the ranking officer remaining on the field after the Battle and decided to surrender and spare the lives of his remaining men.  He was promptly shot three times and left for dead in the underbrush, where he remained until the next morning.  He was spotted by a group of retreating Confederates who stripped him of his clothing before moving on.  Unable to move, Lt Greene could only wait until someone came along and hear his cries for help. In the meantime he survived by eating berries that were within his reach and covering himself with fallen leaves to ward off the cold of night.  He had no water but for the dew he lapped off of the leaves each morning. Finally on Tuesday October 25th he was rescued by a burial detail gathering bodies from the Battle of Westport.  He eventually recovered from his wounds but suffered physically the rest of his life.  Lt. Greene returned to Topeka and his life of farming and also was a Sunday School missionary,travelling all over Kansas visiting and helping Sunday Schools.
  There are more such stories that have yet to be uncovered - however there is the story of David Fultz of Company I, 2nd KSM - he was also shot and left to die, but not by the Confederates.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 23 & 24th 1864; Casualties of the 2nd Kansas Militia

 He died regretted by all. Active, talented, generous, earnest, his cowardly murder, after surrender, is but another evidence of the hellish spirit engendered by slavery.
 An excerpt from: "Rebel Invasion of Missouri and Kansas, and  the Campaign of the Army of the Border, Against General Sterling Price, in October and November, 1864." by Richard Josiah Hinton 

   The fate of the dead and wounded men from the battle at the Mockbee Farm on October 22nd deserves further explanation.  As night fell on the Farm on that Saturday, the dead from both sides lay mostly where they fell in battle and the injured were brought to the field hospital at the home of Boston Adams a short distance away.   The Confederate surgeon in charge was likely Dr. William McPheters but it seems he was short on staff and supplies, and asked the prisoners waiting in the yard if there was a doctor among them.  At this point Captain A.J.Huntoon volunteered his service and worked the remainder of the night.  The men who were in such a critical condition that they were unable to travel were left at the Adams place when General Price's Army fled south and were left under the care of Major Caleb Winfrey, CSA.  Major Winfrey continued to treat the wounded from both sides for the next two days as the Battle of Westport played out.
      There were a few men from the 2nd Kansas Militia who had been shot after they surrendered and left on the field to die; these men would lay on the Battlefield until after the Battle of Westport was concluded the next day.  The head surgeon from the Union Army, Major Samuel B.Davis, had planned to send ambulances to the area around Byram's Ford, including the Mockbee Farm, on the morning of October 23rd.  His plans were delayed until after the Union Army finally drove the Rebels south in the mid-afternoon and by then there were hundreds more injured to care for.  In the meantime, at least one man would be carried from the field by an escaped comrade and taken to a nearby home.
  Private Merrick Race of Topeka Battery was taken prisoner after the final Rebel charge and promised the rights of a prisoner of war.  After he turned his gun over to Jackman's men however, he was shot twice; once through the lungs and the other ball passing through his leg.  He was then left on the field to die but as the twilight turned to darkness, death did not come. Merrick called out for someone to help him and sometime later, he heard a noise and saw a dark figure shuffle toward him.  This person identified themselves as a member of the 2nd KSM, Co. G and that was all.   Merrick felt his head tilt up and a slight trickle of water pass his lips and he tried to swallow, but the pain in his lungs was such that he could scarcely breathe. He did feel a comfort though, knowing that he wouldn't have to die alone.  This was the last thought in his mind until he was awakened by the sound of a heavy gun being fired nearby; he opened his eyes and it was daylight again, and he was laying on a bed inside of a house with a nervous looking woman at his side.  He was in a tremendous amount of pain but he tried to put on his best face so not to alarm the woman any more than she was.  Merrick thanked the woman in a halting voice but attempts to speak resulted in a fit of coughing followed by the release of more blood into his lungs; he felt as if he were drowning.  The woman sensed his suffering and put a finger to his lips and a cold compress on his sweaty brow.  Merrick remained this way until later that evening, when a Union ambulance orderly and another man loaded him on a wagon that was filled with other men who were injured at the Battle of Westport.  The wagon brought the men to a place called the Wornall House, about two miles away, where a field hospital had been set up.  Here Merrick was placed on a bedroll next to the others and a glimmer of hope returned to him.  After a short time Major Davis inspected the wound to the chest and after exchanging a quick glance with the other man in charge, Surgeon Phillip Harvey of the Kansas Volunteer Army, he ordered a large dose of morphine to be administered.  The relief that Merrick felt after he received the morphine was significant and by midnight he was in good spirits. In the back of his mind though, Merrick Race knew that his earthly presence was fleeting, and with his anonymous companion from Co. G by his side, passed away at 2:00 A.M. on Monday, October 24th, 1864.
     The bones of the story of Merrick Race are facts, the softer parts I filled in as a tribute to him.  Merrick was buried near where he died and was later disinterred by an Uncle, who brought his remains to Lorraine County, Ohio.   Merrick was given a military funeral in his hometown, with many friends and family in attendance.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Unwanted Glory, Part 2 by Dick Ginnold

  Even before they spoke, Doris knew. This was the Grim Reaper calling.  A chill rose through her body to her head. Her eyes welled with tears. She shivered and struggled for a semblance of composure. Captain Burns was their friend and neighbor. He could see her reaction and took her hand. . “Mrs. Ginnold, I have the sad duty to inform you that Georg was killed in the battle at the Big Blue River. The enemy was overrunning our gun position after an hour of fighting and we finally succumbed. Georg fought valiantly and our battery helped stop the Confederate advance. Most of the platoon was killed and I was captured for a short time.”  “I am deeply sorry, Mrs. Ginnold, and grieve with you. My companion is Major Charlot from the Kansas State Militia...”   “Mrs. Ginnold,” began the Major, “I can only add to Captain Burns statement that your husband fought heroically and that his platoon has helped save our towns and state from a barbarous invasion. The state of Kansas expresses its deepest condolences and our gratitude to your family”. .
   Before the Major’s speech could be completed, Doris felt a terrible pain in her middle and the room began whirling. Her head buzzed and dizziness overcame her. She collapsed on a chair. When she came to, she was sitting at the kitchen table and Captain Burns was wiping her brow with a cloth. She remembered. Georg was dead and gone. The children came in the back door and confusedly milled around, sensing something terrible.  “Mama, what happened to you?”  Doris and the children began crying in unison, as the men stood there. Doris could hardly talk. Georg was gone. Her life was over. “What happened, Mama”, “Did Daddy get hurt? The baby was crying in the corner. 
  Doris felt strength coming to her. She picked up the baby and held her close and gently rocked her. She held out her other arm to the older children. “Children, your father has been killed in battle. He has gone to be with the Lord. “This is a terrible day, but we are together and we will have to help each other. “ The children were not crying as much, but were dumbstruck. Doris had to summon up every bit of courage to keep going. She pulled Mary into her arms and hugged her fiercely. ”Daughter, I am so sorry. I will need your help with the other children. Can you do this for me?” “Yes, Momma”, Mary said. “Then hold Lena and give her some milk.” Doris gave Lena to Mary and reached out and gathered the other children to her. They piled on her lap and sobbing and crying.  The tall soldiers were standing there silently, ill at ease. Doris felt emotions building within her, the heat of anger, the chill and heaviness of terrible grief. She also felt Georg’s mantle falling on her. Suddenly it was clear. She was now the head of her family. She had an inspiration. Doris rose. “Please, gentlemen, children, let us join hands and pray for our strength and for our loved ones “She began the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of mine enemies. You anointeth my head with oil. My cup runneth over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. “  
 When she finished, there was total silence. After a pause, the officers slipped away and Doris and the children sat down to table to begin their ordeal.  

                                                    The End
 Doris Ginnold and the family went through major turmoil. There were no widow’s benefits or pensions in the nascent Kansas Militia and the US Army initially denied them benefits on grounds that they were not members of the Union Army. Women had virtually no job opportunities on the frontier. We can surmise that Doris must have been desperate, faced with the sole responsibility of caring for her five children without Georg. Within a few months Doris, with no means of support, married her neighbor, Mr. Wurth. In less than a year, she divorced him. Later, in l866, she married Alonzo Harris, fellow veteran of Georg.
  The possibility of a Minor’s Pension opened up. Doris applied for the support. The application was first denied and then appealed. In a strongly argued opinion, with supporting letters from two Major Generals, in December, l870, a US Army Pension Examiner ruled in favor of Doris. The pension was granted.  By l872, she and Mr.  Harris were apparently no longer together and on a Reno County land record she was described as “a single woman”. Her daughter Mary moved to Colorado with Alonzo Harris, where they married and had several children. Doris must have been increasingly distraught and became ill of undetermined causes. The family moved west to Hutchinson, Kansas, where her oldest son Richard acted as head of the family from the time he was 18. Doris died on May 25, l875.   On her deathbed, Doris Ginnold called in her daughter Lena and instructed her to burn all of her papers and Lena followed her instructions.

 With the burning of her papers, Doris' hope that the story of Georg Ginnolds' death would remain forgotten came to pass.  For over 100 years the sacrifice that Georg and Doris made was erased from the memory banks of the Ginnold family until a cousin of Dick Ginnold discovered the truth, and shared it with the rest of the family.  Unlike the shame brought on by some family secrets, this revelation was and will be rightfully remembered by the Ginnold family with bittersweet pride.
 I think it is fair to say that Doris Ginnold also gave her life that October day in 1864.
                                                           photo courtesy of Findagrave
                                            Doris Ginnold's grave is located in Partridge 
                                                Cemetery near Hutchinson, Kansas

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unwanted Glory, Part 1 by Dick Ginnold

I found this story online while researching the men from the 2nd KSM who had been killed in action. It turns out the writer is named Dick Ginnold and is the Great Grandson of Georg Ginnold of Topeka Battery.  This is a fictionalized account of the events surrounding Georg and his family in October, 1864.   

   The North Wind drove a cold rain towards Doris and her children as they picked their way back home along on the muddy path next to Topeka’s Main Street. Doris tensed with her responsibility, like a mother hen with her 5 chicks. Eleven year old Mary watched her 9, 7, and 4 year siblings and Doris carried baby Lena in a front pouch, a trick picked up from the Pawnees.   Just a few feet away from the family, a U.S. Cavalry supply train with marching  infantry was passing towards the battle lines at the Missouri border. Doris’ husband Georg and his artillery battery were already there.  Most of the soldiers tramping along the muddy street were no more than young boys, led by a few grizzled veterans. It was late October, 1864 and the weather was turning cold and ugly. Distinctions between the blue uniformed officers and the motley crew of volunteers were being erased by the rain and mud, merging everyone in a slow, grayish column marching towards the battle.  As she and the kids moved along, Doris felt the cold and rain soaking through her garments and worried for her children. She thought of Georg, awaiting the battle with the Confederates. He had volunteered in response to the Governor’s second call to muster less than 3 weeks ago. Georg was 32, three years older than her, and a respected carpenter in the growing town of Topeka. They came to America from Prussia 12 years before, Georg without a trade and she disowned because of their love. They had moved West and settled in Kansas to build their family and their life. The war had followed them and now they were all swept up in the conflagration.  Perhaps because he had an air of leadership, Georg was assigned to a gun battery and was made a corporal , though he had no military experience. The platoon received no training except to fire a few practice rounds before they were rushed to the front.  Ordinary Kansans, carpenters, haulers, bakers and tradesmen were facing  General Price’s Confederate force of 20,000 cavalrymen which was on the verge of entering Kansas at the Big Blue, just 40 miles away. There were already rumors of  a pitched battle and casualties yesterday. Doris prayed for Georg’s safety..  
  Mary and her brother Richard were carrying home a bucket of water from the town  well. Doris cautioned them: “Children, stay away from the road. Walk carefully and  don’t spill. This water has to last. “ Richard asked: “Ma, will Papa be home soon?”
She answered: “No, son. Your father can’t come home until the enemy has been  defeated. He is protecting us, just like Captain Burns, Mr. Gage and the other fathers. ”
   Doris and the kids arrived at their little square house, with pine plank siding, a single window, and a stovepipe chimney poking through the rough shingle roof. Georg had built an addition to the rear with a small bedroom for Doris and him.  The rest of the house was a single room, with a wood stove in the middle. There was an outhouse in the muddy back yard.
   “Mary, help the children off with their coats and hang them to dry, ” Doris ordered.  “I’ll heat the soup and make dumplings,” she added. She changed the baby, put some dry clothes on her and passed the baby to Tillie, her seven year old: “Tillie, watch Lena and give her a bottle and rock her”. She passed the front door and looked at herself in the small mirror on the wall.  She still had the dark hair and flashing dark eyes Georg loved, but she hated the shadows under her eyes and her drawn, worried face. Life was taking its toll.
    Doris walked to the stove and took a piece of wood to stoke the fire. She noted the dwindling stack. Doris dreaded chopping wood with the huge ax. Each time she feared that she might strike her foot or hit a curious kid. If Georg didn’t come back soon, she would take up the offer of help from Mr. Wurth, the widower who lived alone next door. 
    As Doris prepared dinner, she tried to count her blessings. Mary was like a little  mother with the smaller children and the baby. Doris couldn’t make it through this time without her help. Richard was also a comfort, a good boy. But Georg was the key to the family’s happiness. He had a bright belief in the future and made the rest of the family enthusiastic, no matter how hard times were. He passed on his skills to the boys, played games with all the kids and began each day with a cheery “Good morning” to all. He was a necessary counterpoint to Doris’ growing anxiety and depression. The kids loved Georg and missed him. They understood a little about the war and Georg’s danger. Even the smallest were being especially good and helpful, as if this might get their father back sooner.  
   As Doris set the table, her earlier pensive, dark mood returned. She felt a chill  and a tight, worry band around her head.  The rich smell of the boiling soup and the crackling of dumplings frying in lard brought her back to earth.
 “Mary”, Doris ordered, “please get the kids ready for dinner. “ Take care of Lena and then take the rest of the kids to the outhouse, before it gets too dark.” “As you say, Mother”, replied Mary. Doris looked up at a few small leaks in the roof, starting to drip through the tar covering. They would have to place pans as long as the rain continued.  She needed a man around the house! Lord help us when real winter begins, she thought. Doris was setting the table when there was a sharp knock at the front door. Doris was flustered. Who could it be at dinner time? She wiped her apron with a cloth and smoothed her hair. She walked to the door and opened it. Captain Burns, Georg’s platoon leader, was there, looking muddy and disheveled, with a bandaged head. A higher officer was standing behind him.

                                                                                                                to be continued...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Topeka Kansas, November 13th 1864; Finally Home

   On November 13th, the remainder of the 2nd Kansas Militia returned to Topeka, a little over two weeks since they had been paroled in Newtonia Missouri.  The citizens of Topeka had lived through a series of emotional highs and lows over the course of the last month: the threat of the Confederate invasion of Kansas, the enthusiastic response to Governor Carney's call to arms, the interminable wait to see if the Rebel Army would break through Federal Forces at Westport.  The joy and utter relief of finding out the Rebels had been defeated and Shawnee County was saved, only to find out that their brave boys and men had been savaged at the Big Blue River.  The slow passing of the hours waiting for word of who lived and who died, the tears of happiness and sorrow as the facts of war slowly trickled in. 
   The mood was somber as the wagons came into view, family and friends nervously awaiting the arrival of their loved ones.  Questions would be hard to ask, and the answers would be harder yet.  Most of the men had suffered injuries that could be seen, and many were to feel their effects the rest of their lives; but the events they had witnessed would be little discussed or even thought of.   The best thing would be to try and fall back into the patterns of their old lives as quickly as possible, preparing the fields for the upcoming season or getting caught up on the work that had been neglected while they were absent. 
   Shawnee County was now safe from the threat of encroaching slavery and the unsavory elements that came along with it.  As its citizens quickly got back to the business of living, it would only be slowly and painfully that the stories of the men who fought to preserve it would emerge, for in their minds there could be no glory in their sorrowful tales, only pity.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 29th, 1864; Neosho Missouri

In grimy, footsore, woeful plight,
But free, and filled with glory.
Distant home has loom’d in sight,
And here I’ll end my story.
From the diary of Samuel Reader

  The remnants of the 2nd Kansas Militia had just spent their first night of freedom huddled together against the autumn chill without food, blankets or fire.   As the faint light of dawn crept over the leafless strip of timber where they had so uneasily slept, the men roused each other and started toward Newtonia, their first steps in a long journey home.  They were without uniforms or weapons and were in grave danger until they were able to find Federal forces and convince them of their identity.  One of the men fashioned a flag of truce using the discarded remains of a white shirt tied to the end of a stick and with this as their calling card, slowly approached a log house near the previous day's battlefield.
    Captain Huntoon cautiously approached the doorway of the house and discovered the place inhabited by a lone Confederate surgeon and 40 or so wounded, dying and dead Rebel soldiers.  He later said it was "One of the loneliest and saddest scenes of suffering I have seen in the course of my life. This surgeon told us that the Federals occupied the battle-field, the Confederates having again fled south in great confusion." 
   Now cautiously hopeful, the freed prisoners continued walking to the northwest.  After a couple miles they encountered a Union scouting party that was searching the field for survivors from the day before.  This ragged group that had been so long marching away from their homes was now on the brink of deliverance.
   The Federal scouting party at first mistook the band as men from Price's Army attempting to surrender, but soon realized their true identity after listening to the stories that the men told of their capture and forced march.  They were immediately taken to General Blunts headquarters at Neosho, about eight miles to the east.  From the official report of Lt. Colonel George Hoyt, 15th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry: "The remaining prisoners of the 2nd Kansas State Militia, under Captain Huntoon, came into camp on the 29th, having been paroled by General Price at Granby.  They were in a most pitiable condition; starved, half-naked, worn-out and barefoot, having been robbed by their captors of all decent articles of clothing.  Everything possible was done for their comfort."
   The first comfort asked for by the men of the 2nd was hot coffee; this along with hard-tack was how they began their assimilation back to normalcy.  After talking to Captain Huntoon, General Blunt organized a relief party including an ambulance stocked with supplies to be sent to the Confederate field hospital that the prisoners had passed that morning. The men would spend the next two days in Neosho, regaining their strength, recovering from their wounds and cleaning off the many miles of road grime as best they could.
    The long nightmare that these men from the 2nd had endured now seemed to be ending - on November 1st they would all be placed on Federal supply wagons and transported to Fort Scott, Kansas.  When they arrived at Fort Scott, they were greeted by General Charles Blair, commander of the Militia there and treated to supper by he and his staff.  The Quartermaster at the Fort was ordered to issue 100 overcoats to the men, the remainder to be carried back to Shawnee County where they were to be given to the prisoners who had escaped previously.  General Blair provided transportation for the returning men of the Second Regiment to Topeka where they finally arrived on November 13th, 1864.  These survivors would have many stories to tell of the battle and their ordeal but as they approached home that cold November day they were not in the mind to tell anyone, ever.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

October 28 & 29th; Newtonia Missouri

   In the early morning hours of October 28th, the army of General Price began it's march toward the Federal Garrison at Newtonia, some twenty miles to the east.  The garrison would not only provide arms and ammunition, but General Price knew that there was a flouring mill at Newtonia that would provide much needed corn-meal for his troops and forage for his horses.
   The prisoners from the 2nd Kansas Militia still clung to the hope that their parole was imminent, and it was this hope that willed them to continue marching that day.  Something else that buoyed the hopes of the men was the desertions of a large number of Rebel troops: new recruits, border guerrillas and other irregulars were leaving Price's Army for their homes to the north and east, as they knew the Raid was over. Captain Huntoon and even General Shelby told them to keep their spirits up as the time of release was near.
    Just after noon Price's Army passed through the town of Granby Missouri and then turned to the southeast where it came to the brow of a bluff from which the Town of Newtonia could be seen, in the eastern end of a small valley.  The prisoners of the 2nd were marched through town and halted about four miles east of it, where the bulk of the Rebel Army prepared to make camp for the night.  The camp was situated in a border of timber near a spring which gave the prisoners relief from their thirst.  Soon after the camp was prepared an announcement was given to the prisoners that they were all to be formally paroled.  Whether this news had any outward affect on the men from the 2nd is unknown but it is unlikely.  They had all been driven like cattle for six days and over 200 miles and what emotion any of them had left was likely stifled to preserve energy.
   The parole proceedings were to be officiated by General Shelby, with his adjutant and clerks also present. The ceremony had hardly begun when a messenger arrived with the news that the Federal Army was already aligned for battle at Newtonia.   The General left immediately and was hardly gone a few minutes when the screech of shells was heard overhead. (These were the guns of The Colorado Battery, under the command of General Blunt.)   The parole proceedings were then moved to a point about two miles farther, where they would be in comparative safety from the 2nd Battle of Newtonia as it would later be called.  Captain Huntoon recalled that the prisoners were drawn up in a line and, holding out their right hands, swore not to bear arms against the Southern Confederacy or in any way contend against the government until duly exchanged.
   The Rebel guard was withdrawn and the men from the 2nd found themselves alone and unguarded.  They were too tired to rejoice.  Captain Huntoon decided that they should remain where they were and seek help in the morning.  They were weak, hungry, sore and without food or blankets. It was about nine o'clock at night and the Captain was afraid that if they wandered back toward Newtonia now, they might be fired upon. There was a thin frosting of snow upon the ground as the men lay down huddled close to one another in an attempt to stay warm.  This was the way in which the prisoners from the 2nd Kansas Militia spent their first hours of freedom as Friday,October 28th, 1864 came to a close.
   The Battle of Newtonia would prove to be the last true battle of the War fought on Missouri soil. The main result of the Battle was that the Army of Missouri under General Price was forced to leave the vicinity of Newtonia before they had restocked and rested, leaving them in a position to be destroyed or forced to surrender if pursued by a cohesive Federal force.  This was not to be its fate however as the squabbling Union hierarchy decided to halt its pursuit of the Price's Army, allowing the Rebels to leave Missouri forever.
   The morning dawned cold on the now free men of the 2nd as they prepared to take their leave and head toward civilization.  What would they find?  Which side had won the Battle? When would they be able to see their loved ones? These were the thoughts of the men as they walked to the northwest that gray morning of Saturday, October 29th 1864.

Friday, September 23, 2011

October 26th & 27th 1864; Carthage Missouri

" It must needs be that offences come ; but woe unto him by whom offences cometh."
    Luke 17:1   

   After marching nearly sixty miles that day, General Price's Army along with its prisoners finally reached the town of Carthage, Missouri and camped on the Spring River on the afternoon of Wednesday,October 26th.   The horses that had carried the Rebel Army so faithfully as it made its way through Missouri were in as poor a condition as the soldiers and this location offered good forage for the animals.  The countryside during the march was one of desolation and ruin; the prisoners noticed several examples of "Jennison's Tombstones", the charred remains of farmhouses with only the chimneys left standing.  The town of Carthage was also now a ghost town, as most of its inhabitants had left the previous month when it was burnt by pro-slavery guerrillas.   The citizens who had fled Carthage left behind a ghastly landscape; the burned shell of a town surrounded by once-fine farms reduced to rubble.
   The long march to Carthage had rendered it impossible for some of the prisoners from the 2nd Kansas Militia to go on any further.   Captain A.J.Huntoon recalled the scene many years later:  "Seven of the prisoners were so exhausted when we reached Carthage that it was manifestly impossible for them to go any farther.  So they were left at a vacant house two miles south of town at about six o'clock that afternoon. (October 26th)  I saw General Shelby and protested to him against their being left there, knowing there was a danger of them falling into the hands of Jackman's men and being killed.  However, they were so left.  I remember the names of four of them; E.B.Williams, William Flanders, a young man named Mozier, (William Moeser) and James Greer.  The house was the only one left standing in the neighborhood of Carthage, when I had seen it last it was a beautiful place.  That same night about midnight some of (Col.) Jennison's men, members of a Kansas Volunteer Regiment, came by there.  There was a Rebel soldier there also; they took him out and hung him on an apple-tree in the yard." 
    The Rebel Army had succeeded in refreshing its horses at Carthage but now realized the Federal pursuit had resumed.   New recruits and conscripts continued to desert General Price's Army and many of his sick and wounded were left by the roadside as they were unable to travel further.   By noon on October 27th the shrinking "Army of Missouri" had left Carthage and was headed to the south, towards Shoal Creek near present day Joplin, Missouri.   The Federal Army under the command of Major General James G. Blunt continued to follow the trail of the Rebel Army, and found ghastly evidence of their passage south: "After leaving Carthage, among the first objects that met the eye, was the form of a negro, with his skull half blown off, evidently by a gun placed so near as to singe the hair in the discharge. It was acts such as these, as well as charges of murdering their comrades after being wounded, that induced the hanging of a couple of wounded rebels found in a house a few miles from Carthage, where the advanced brigade (Colonel Jennison's) had halted for camp. The act was cowardly and dastardly, whoever was guilty thereof. Yet with rude men, whose passions were aroused by such sights and acts, some palliation may be offered. For the officers who encouraged it, none can be given. This act, and others, were afterwards made the subject of investigation. As we proceeded, the poverty and even destitution of the inhabitants became daily more evident." * 
   Although the Rebels were were again being pursued by the Union Army, they managed to keep their distance from them as they left Carthage.   The Union Force was weakened, disjointed and not following at a particularly brisk pace.  After a march of only 20 miles, the Confederates slowly passed over the mill-race at Redings Mill on Shoal Creek and camped for the night.  The Rebels had managed to gather in a few cattle, enough so that a quarter was brought to the prisoners and they were able to roast pieces over their campfires with their guards even giving them a little salt.        
   General Price was aware that his Army would need more supplies in order to complete their escape, supplies which could be found at the small Federal garrison near Newtonia, Missouri, about 25 miles to the east.  It was decided that this garrison would be their destination the next day, October 28th, 1864. 
* "Rebel Invasion of Missouri and Kansas, and the campaign against the Army of the Border against General Sterling Price in October and November, 1864" by Richard Josiah Hinton