The Battle of The Blue

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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Stone Barn

                                   The 2nd. forms a line for battle   from the diary of S.J.Reader
                                                         courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society

 A poem from the diary of Samuel J.Reader:
     We found some rebs, to our delight – (?)
     On Big Blue, near our border.
     We formed a line, to give them fight;
     And rout them in disorder.

 At about 3:00 p.m. the main body of the 2nd. Division crossed back over Russell's Ford and found that the Topeka Battery was no longer at the place they had been waiting.  Colonel Veale lead his men, in the usual columns of four, back up the road toward Westport at a leisurely walk.  In a few moments a man dressed as a volunteer soldier came into view, speeding up the road and stopped in front of the Colonel.  He brought up his hand in salute and cried out, "There is firing on the hill above!"  After a brief second of thought Colonel Veale urged his horse forward at a trot and the rest of his Division followed. A kind of seriousness that the men of the 2nd. had never seen before came over the Colonel and spread amongst them; it was the ardor that men feel just before they go into battle.  That most of these men had never felt it before made it all the more contagious as a strange mixture of emotions surged through their frames.  Some felt disbelief that they were going into battle, others felt a sense of relief.  Most of the men probably felt a combination of curiosity, dread and enthusiasm as their minds now raced down a checklist of things they meant to do before battle.  Is my gun loaded?  Where are my gloves?  The horses sensed something from their riders and the entire 2nd. Division became tight as a loaded steel trap.
  In only a few moments the head of the column turned onto the lane and caught sight of Captain Burns and his Topeka Battery about 200 yards north of them, halted near a stone barn.  The officers around Colonel Veale heard him cry, "They have corralled our Battery!" and at that moment he dashed ahead of his men. The entire division sped up to catch him, at some points reaching a full gallop, until the entire 2nd. Division had crowded into the narrow lane behind the Battery.  There was a wild exhilaration among the men as the scene spread out before them:  The Topeka Battery had not been corralled but had been un-limbered and looked ready for battle. After a short conference between General Grant and Colonel Veale, the order was given to form battle lines.  The high rail fence on the right side of the lane was thrown down and Company B under Captain A.J.Huntoon took the lead, the remaining companies falling into line in order. The battalion was deployed in a line of battle east to west, facing north and following the path of the road. About 600 yards to the north was the highest ground in sight, where the road passed over the crest of the hill.  In the road and in the prairie to the west of it were a large group of mounted men - was this the enemy or another Militia Division?  In a few moments the 2nd. would know without a doubt.

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