MISSOURI IN THE CIVIL WAR
Vol. 9, Chapter V
Confederate Military History
GOVERNOR JACKSON CALLS OUT THE MILITIA--JEFFERSON CITY ABANDONED--CONCENTRATION AT BOONEVILLE--RAILROAD BRIDGES DESTROYED COLONEL HOLLOWAY'S DEATH--PRICE GOES TO LEXINGTON--LYON OCCUPIES THE CAPITAL-SKIR-MISH AT BOONEVILLE--THE GOVERNOR STARTS SOUTHWEST--A FEDERAL REGIMENT ROUTED AT COLD CAMP--JUNCTION OF JACKSON AND RAINS--VICTORY AT CARTHAGE.
On the return of Governor Jackson and General Price to Jefferson City, the governor issued a proclamation in which he stated the situation succinctly, and called the militia to the number of 50,000 into active service, for the purpose of repelling invasion and protecting the property, liberty and lives of the citizens of the State. He and General Price knew Blair and Lyon well enough to know that, now they were invested with full power, they would act at once. It was, therefore, decided to move the armory and workshop, which had been established at Jefferson City, as well as the public records and official papers of the State to Booneville. The population of Jefferson City was composed largely of Germans, who were unfriendly, if not positively hostile, to the State government, while the people of Booneville were in sympathy with it; and, besides Booneville was contiguous to the counties from which the promptest response to the call for troops was expected. General Price thought he could hold it until the people of North Missouri could rally to his support. The Missouri river is a rugged, turbid stream, and usually, in the spring and early summer, is from a half to three-quarters of a mile in width. It divides the State north and south almost evenly. It was important to hold it in order to keep lines of communication between the northern and southern portions open. It was not doubted that when the Confederate authorities learned there was an army friendly to their cause struggling to hold Missouri, the Confederate forces along the southern border of the State would be massed and sent to their relief. The plan was to check the advance of the enemy at Booneville, and make a determined stand at Lexington. Gen. John B. Clark was ordered to rendezvous his men at Booneville, the other district commanders at some convenient point in their respective districts, and hold them ready for immediate service.
General Price caused the bridges over the Osage and Gasconade rivers, between St. Louis and Jefferson City, to be destroyed, and ordered General Parsons, who had a small force under his command, to retire along the Pacific railroad, west of Jefferson City, and delay the enemy if they attempted to advance on that line. General Price and the governor, with their staff officers, together with Captain Kelly's command, went to Booneville on a steamer. There General Clark had collected several hundred men, and others came in during the next two days, most of whom belonged to Marmaduke's regiment, which had been organized at Jefferson City, and had been sent to their homes when the Price-Harney agreement was made. Just at this time information of the death of Col. Edmunds B. Holloway, who had collected a considerable body of men in Jackson county, was received. A company of dragoons from Fort Leavenworth approached his camp at the crossing of the Little Blue, and a skirmish took place, in which Colonel Holloway and one of his men were killed and several others wounded. Colonel Holloway was an accomplished soldier, a graduate of West Point, and not long before had resigned his commission in the army. He was universally popular, and the State had great expectations of him and felt his loss deeply. The affair in which he was killed was exaggerated, and led General Price to believe the Federals were moving on him from the West, and he determined to go to Lexington and take command of the troops ordered to rendezvous there, leaving General Clark in command at Booneville.
Lyon's plan of campaign was to send four regiments and two four-gun batteries, under the command of Brig-adier-General Sweeny, to the southwest, Springfield being the objective point, in order to hold that part of the State in subjection, and to intercept the retreat of Governor Jackson and General Price and the troops with them, whom he proposed to drive from the Missouri river counties. His own force consisted of Blair's and Boernstein's regiments, Totten's light battery, Company F Second artillery, and Company B Second regular infantry--ag-gregating about 2,000 men. The southwest expedition left St. Louis, going to Rollo by railroad, at the same time Lyon left, going up the Missouri river by steamboat. Lyon reached Jefferson City two days after the State officers had left it, and took quiet possession of the town and of the government buildings. The next day he left three companies of Boernstein's regiment to hold the city, and proceeded with the remainder of his command--about 1,700 men, to Booneville. Eight miles below the town he disembarked his command, except one company of Blair's regiment and a detachment of artillery with a howitzer, which he ordered to continue up the river to deceive the enemy, while he moved on them by land.
Governor Jackson was promptly informed of Lyon's departure from Jefferson City, and ordered General Parsons, who was at Tipton, twenty miles south, to bring his command as rapidly as possible to Booneville. For some reason Parsons did not obey the order, though he had a day and a half in which to reach the designated point.
As Lyon approached the town the governor ordered Colonel Marmaduke, with his regiment and some independent companies, to check him, in order to give Parsons time to come up and citizens an opportunity to leave with their families if they chose. Marmaduke, satisfied of his inability with the force at his disposal to seriously impede Lyon's advance, and appreciating the fact that his failure to do so would be magnified into a defeat of the State troops and have a discouraging effect on their friends throughout the State, had already protested against making a stand at Booneville. He thought the troops at Lexington and those at Booneville, with such reinforcements as might join them, should retire behind the Osage river in the vicinity of Warsaw, where they could offer Lyon battle on more equal terms. But the governor insisted on fighting at Booneville, and Marmaduke obeyed.
The opposing forces met a few miles below the town. Marmaduke checked Lyon's advance at first, and compelled him to deploy his infantry and bring up his artillery. Marmaduke had no artillery, and Lyon, soon discovering that, shelled him at long range at his leisure. Marmaduke then withdrew to a stronger position nearer the town, where he made another stand and again compelled Lyon to form in line of battle. The infantry firing here was sharp, and, after a brisk engagement, the governor ordered Marmaduke to fall back to the city, which he did in good order, considering this was the first time his men had been under fire. The loss was about twenty-five killed and wounded on each side. The engagement, altogether, lasted about two hours. The Federal force outnumbered the State troops four to one. They were thoroughly armed and equipped, and had two batteries, while the State troops were half organized, half-armed and without artillery. The affair was nothing more than a skirmish, and under the circumstances the advantage was with the State troops. But Lyon, and all the influences favorable to him, represented it as a great victory for the Federal arms, and it had a most depressing effect on the Southern Rights element. It compelled, too, the State forces to abandon the Missouri river, giving the Federals control of it from Kansas City to its mouth, and placed a formidable barrier in the way of recruits from the north side of it reaching Price.
It was now a race for the southwestern part of the State --the rugged hills of the Ozark mountain country--be-tween the unorganized and unarmed Southern men, and Lyon and his thoroughly equipped forces, with the knowledge on the part of the Southern men that there was a considerable army under Sweeny there, the object of which was to capture or kill them. The governor, with Generals Parsons and Clark, started to Warsaw. General Price at Lexington was threatened by Lyon from Booneville, and 3,000 troops, regulars and Kansas volunteers, from Fort Leavenworth. At this time General Price was seriously sick, which added to the complexities and dangers of the situation. But, with his staff and a small escort, he set out for Arkansas to see Gen. Ben McCulloch, who commanded Confederate troops in that section, and if possible induce him to come to the assistance of the broken and scattered Missourians. He left General Rains in command of the State troops at Lexington, with orders to move them as rapidly as possible to Lamar, in Barton county. Rains had need to move quickly and rapidly, because Lyon was threatening him from the east and Major Sturgis, with 900 Federal dragoons and two regiments of Kansas volunteers, from the west. When Governor Jackson and his party, 250 or 300 in number, got to Warsaw, they halted to ascertain what had become of General Price and the main body of the army.
Good news----the first gleam of sunlight that had fallen upon the adherents of the Southern cause in the State--reached him. At Cold Camp, Some :o miles from Warsaw, was encamped a regiment of German Home Guards, commanded by Colonel Cook, a brother of the Cook who was executed in Virginia with John Brown. The object of Cook was to intercept Governor Jackson's party or any other body of Southern men making their way southward through the State. But Lieut.-Col. Walter S. O'Kane, assisted by Maj. Thomas M. Murray, raised about 350 State Guard troops in the neighborhood, made a forced march at night, struck the Home Guards, who had no pickets out except in the direction of Governor Jackson's party, just at daylight, and utterly routed them, killing 206, wounding a still larger number, and taking over 100 prisoners. Colonel Cook and a part of the command escaped. The next day the victors reported to Governor Jackson, bringing with them their prisoners, over 400 new muskets and a good supply of ammunition. The Missourians lost about 30 killed and wounded. As a result of this brilliant dash, the force from Lyon's command pursuing the governor gave up the pursuit, and returned to Booneville. It had, too, the effect of alarming the Federals in the Southwest and making them more cautious in their movements. It was a blow from an unexpected source, which indicated danger to their long lines of pursuit. It showed that the people of the State were not as thoroughly subjugated as they had supposed.
The governor remained in Warsaw two days, and then resumed in a more leisurely manner his march toward Montevallo, in Vernon county, to form a junction with the column under Rains and Slack. The progress of this column had been slow, because the streams it had to cross were high, and the useless and cumbrous baggage train, as well as the men, had to be ferried over them. Rains' effective strength was less than 1,200 infantry under Col. Richard H. Weightman, about 600 mounted men under Colonel Cawthorn, and Capt. Hiram Bledsoe's three gun battery. One of Bledsoe's guns was captured by the Missourians in the Mexican war at the battle of Sacramento. It was presented by the general government to the State of Missouri and for years stood on the bluff overlooking the Missouri river at Lexington. Bledsoe brought it out with a yoke of oxen. There was a considerable percentage of silver in its composition, which gave it a ring when fired that could be distinguished on the field amidst the firing of a hundred ordinary guns. Bledsoe's battery was always in the thickest of the fight, and the soldiers of the State Guard, as well as the Federals, soon came to know "Old Sacramento's" voice. It became so badly grooved from use that it was finally condemned, sent to Memphis to be recast with other guns, and its identity lost. Parsons had about 650 armed men. His infantry was commanded by Col. Joseph M. Kelly, his mounted men by Col. Ben Brown, and his four-gun battery by Capt. Henry Guibor. Clark had Col. John Q. Burbridge's regiment of infantry, the effective strength of which was 365 officers and men. Slack had about 700 infantry under Col. John T. Hughes and Maj. J. C. Thornton, and 500 mounted men under Col. B. A. Rives. More than a thousand of these were unarmed, and a large number were armed with shotguns and rifles. Altogether the effective force of Price's army was not more than 3,000 men.
At this time the Federal and State forces were a good deal mixed. Neither knew with any certainty where the other was. The column which Lyon had sent from St. Louis to the southwest to capture Jackson and Price had reached Springfield about 4,000 strong. Sigel had gone westward from there with his regiment and Salomon's, a battery and some cavalry, hoping to intercept General Price, but finding that Price had already gone on to General McCulloch's camp he turned and attempted to intercept Governor Jackson. With this view he moved toward Carthage in the line of Jackson's retreat. There he ran across Parsons' quartermaster, who precipitately retired and informed Parsons of the proximity of the Federals. This was the first intimation the governor had that the enemy was in his front. Soon other couriers arrived, saying the Federals were advancing in force. Governor Jackson thereupon assumed command of all the troops in person, and determined to fight the enemy.
At daybreak next morning, July 5th, the army moved, with Rains in front and Capt. J. O. Shelby's company in advance. The governor with his staff and Gen. David R. Atchison rode at the head of the column with General Rains. About five miles from Lamar they learned that Sigel had left Carthage and was on his way to give them battle. Hardly had they halted when the glint of the Federal bayonets showed them the enemy on the other side of a creek. The governor formed his men in line of battle with Weightman's brigade on the right, then Bledsoe's battery, and then Slack's infantry. Guibor's battery was on the left of Slack, and next to him was Kelly's regiment and then Burbridge's regiment. The right flank was covered by Rains' mounted men under Brown and Rives. The Federals, about 2,000 strong, with seven pieces of artillery, advanced with the steadiness and precision of veterans. Sigel opened the fight with his artillery, firing across the creek. Bledsoe's three guns replied, and almost at the same time Guibor's battery opened. The artillery fight lasted for half an hour or more, when the mounted men on both flanks of the governor's army maneuvered as if to surround Sigel, and at the same time Weightman's and Slack's infantry advanced rapidly. The engagement was sharp and decisive. Sigel fell back in good order and took a new position well defended by his artillery. Then Weightman reformed his line, opened fire with Bledsoe's battery, and with his own brigade and Slack's infantry pressed Sigel's line hard. The fighting at this point was stubborn for a while, but Clark and Parsons bringing their forces to bear, Sigel gave way and was soon in full retreat. Nor did he stop, except temporarily at Carthage to get his wagon train out of the way, until he had put forty miles between him and the enemies whom he expected to capture without a fight. The honors of the battle belonged to Weight-man's brigade, Slack's command, Shelby's mounted company and Bledsoe's battery. The Missourians lost 40 or 50 killed and about 120 wounded. The loss of the enemy was estimated as twice as large. The fight was known as the battle of Carthage.
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