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, 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.

1 comment:

  1. Great post as usual. Keep them coming! Have you read Larry Wood's book on the two battle of Newtonia?