The Battle of The Blue

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

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Night Before Battle is Always the Longest

The 2nd. Kansas Militia camped on the night of October 21st. in a grove of jack-oak trees above the Big Blue River.   The men messed together in groups of six or so and soon the camp was alive with crackling camp-fires and the sound of good humor under the clear, cold skies.  Several of the men remarked at the choice of the camp; it was the finest since they left Shawnee County.   As the groups of men sat enjoying themselves and telling stories, sometime before midnight they were startled to hear the far-off "boom" of cannon shots.  They came from the north-east, which was the direction of Independence and after about a half-dozen shots, the firing ceased. This evidently meant a forward movement of the Rebel forces in their direction.  Although the ominous blasts had left most of the men silent, Thomas Wallace was heard to say, "Boys, I'd rather hear the Baby cry".   In an attempt to lift the moral of Company D, Rev. A.R. Button stood in front of one of the camp-fires and said forcefully, "My stars! If old Pap Price runs up against our Indianola Company, he'll regret it the longest day he lives!"  Most of the men didn't feel as sure though, and a few later told their camp-mates, "We are going to have a battle, and I shall be killed." As many such conversations passed between the men, word was given for every man to keep his gun and horse close at hand so he could find them in the dark.  The guard was strengthened and a strong picket sent out along the stream.  As the moon finally made it's appearance after midnight, the chill of the night could be more keenly felt  amid the dying embers of  the camp-fires.  The men doubled up their blankets and slept close to one another to fend off the cold and the thoughts that raced through their minds as they drifted off to sleep that night can only be known to them.  The belief that the 2nd. would not become involved in actual engagement with the enemy had evaporated.    

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