Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Filling the gap at Russell's Ford
On the evening of 21 October, 1864, the 2nd. Division crossed the Kansas-Missouri border and prepared to make camp at a place on the Big Blue River called Russell's Ford, Jackson Co., Missouri. Crossing the border was not uneventful though; men from different Militia divisions, including a handful from the 2nd., balked at crossing over to Missouri. Their fear was that once they left the state of Kansas, they could be used at the whim of the Union Army and sent to distant battlefields for the remainder of the war. Sergeant Major Freeman Foster of the 2nd. was able to calm their fears however and persuade all the men to continue on. With night rapidly falling, the 2nd. hurried past Brush Creek and traveled on toward the Big Blue River, heading mostly south through rolling prairie and scattered farms. As they neared the Stream, they passed through a narrow lane bordered on both sides by a high stake fence in good repair. Part-way down the lane on the right was a stone barn and just past it a farm-house; the men would later find out that this place was called Mockbee Farm. Passing this farm, the road was mostly stone wall, especially on the west side and soon turned obliquely south-east down a gentle slope and ran to the River about one mile. It was here at Russell's Ford on the Big Blue that the 2nd. spent the night. They were part of a great mass of troops (roughly 22,000) sent to the Border; a mixture of Pro-Union Militias from Kansas and Missouri and regular U.S.Army and were known as "The Army of the Border". Of all the possible places for the Rebel Army to invade Kansas, what were the chances it would be here?