The Battle of The Blue

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

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.