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. 

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