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, May 19, 2011

A Very Pleasant Morning

     The morning of October 22nd. dawned clear and frosty, with only just a perceptible breeze from the west.  Some of the men of the 2nd. were still talking about the cannonade of shots heard the night before but there was nothing to indicate that the Rebel Forces were nearby.  Quartermaster Sam Reeder and Sergeant Dan Thompson made the trip back to the farm they had passed the evening before to compensate the owner for some shock corn the troops had taken while passing.  He found there a teen-aged boy who appeared to be the head of the house and gave him a voucher for the corn.  The boy gave his name as Cuthbert Mockbee and his Mother indicated that some of their chickens had been taken as well.  Dan  replied that chickens are never issued as soldier's rations and the request had to be refused.  Sam Reader felt sorry for her as he was almost certain what she said was true but there was nothing to be done about it.
    As Sam and Dan returned to camp they saw their Regiment had passed by, going north.  They found the Command stopped on the prairie, on high ground about one quarter mile from the Mockbee house.   The mood of their comrades had lightened considerably as there was no sign of the Confederates.  Nearby a group was tossing a man in the air on a Union issued blanket while their horses grazed quietly on the dry prairie grass.  The sky was cloudless and the weather was comfortable for the use of an overcoat.  Many men would remember these few hours on the hilltop to be the pleasantest of the entire trip.
   The Commander of the 2nd. was not in the same state of mind as most of his men.  Colonel Veale knew that without support from his army or communication as to the whereabouts of the Rebels they were in an extremely vulnerable position.  He had the feeling that the 2nd. was at the extreme right of the Union forces and the Confederates would naturally find this crossing point on the River an attractive one.  Should the Enemy decide to cross at Russell's Ford, the 2nd. would be cut off and if the Rebels should cross to the right and come around their rear, they would be caught like a rat in a trap. The Colonel decided to leave with a small escort for Byram's Ford a couple miles downriver to try and make contact with the rest of the army.  Without support, the 2nd. could be caught in a vice, leaving their home state of Kansas at the mercy of  Pap Price and a few thousand  angry Rebel soldiers.

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