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Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, volume 3

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[Page 2]


Samuel J. Reader’s Autobiography


Translation of above, by Geo A Root. Nov. 13. 1930


The idea came to me that our and at the same time be a benefit to the judge.  I would give him my horse to hold and ride him to the race and keep him for me till we could win the victory.


I called to him and he came over to where I was with great difficulty.  He was shot through the knee.  There was a triangular tear through his trousers where the bullet had entered it.


“Come over here and get on my horse!”  I said.


He could ride my horse to the race, I thought and keep him for me till we could win the victory.



Dates under pictures – explained


January  [X]  , Feby  [XX]  ,  Marh  [X}  , Apr  [X]  , May  [X]  ,  June  [X]  ,  July  [X]  , Aug  [X]  , Sept  [X]  ,  Oct  [X]  , Nov  [X]  ,  Dec  [X]


[Page 3]


The Price Raid.

(Extracts from Greeley’s American Conflict.)


“Price with at least 10,000 men invaded Missouri, and took Pilot Knob Sept. 28, 1864.  Oct. 1st he was 40 miles from St. Louis, Gen. Rosecrans’ Head Quarters.  Price then went to Jefferson City Oct. 7, but made no assault.  He reached Lexington Oct. 18, driving Blunt towards Independence and the Little Blue, from whence he was again driven westward Oct. 20, and joining Curtis, fell back to the Big Blue.  In the meantime, Pleasanton’s cavalry and A.J. Smith’s infantry were in pursuit of Price, whose force of 25,000 men, being all mounted, and with few guns, could easily keep out of reach.  Rosecrans, on hearing of the capture of Lexington, telegraphed Smith to follow Pleasanton to that place, instead of marching more to the south on the rebel line of retreat.  This order turned out to be a mistake.  When Pleasanton reached Lexington Oct. 20, the rebels were gone.  He then pushed on the pursuit to the Little Blue, which he reached at 10. a.m. Oct. 22 and forced a passage, and at night fall captured 2 guns at Independence.


Rosecrans had ordered A.J. Smith to move


[Page 4]

southward, after in false move to Lexington, and he was hastening to Lone Jack, when Pleasanton requested Smith to be sent on after himself to Independence, where he (Smith) arrived at 5 p.m. with 9,000 infantry, and 5 batteries.  His weary men started for Hickman’s Mills, to cut off the rebel retreat, but it was too late.  Price and his trains had gone by a few hours before his arrival, on a rapid retreat south.”


But for these mistakes, the rebel train could have been captured, and perhaps the Union prisoners released on the morning of Oct. 23rd.


[Page 5]


Official Report.


Extracts from Adjutant General’s Report for Kansas, 1864.  Pages 56 and 58.

“A few words as to the service of the State Militia, are due in this portion of our Report.  Is not infrequently happened that the brunt of battle, for the time being, was sustained by portions of our Militia, and contributed to the final victory achieved.  Among these may be mentioned the Second Reg’t K.S.M.  When the 2nd went to the front, it was a mixed command – cavalry, infantry and artillery.  On the 22nd of Oct. the cavalry Battalion was guarding the passage of the Big Blue, at Russell’s Ford.  On the afternoon of that day, the enemy succeeded in forcing a passage at Byron’s Ford.  The 2nd Regt. with a Section of the battery, marched to support our forces at Byron’s Ford.  About 4 o’clock P.M. the 2nd was joined in line of battle, supporting the Battery, which opened fire at short range upon the enemy.  For the time being, the whole fury of the terrific conflict secured concentrated at this spot.


[Page 6]


Extracts from an old

Diary, 1864:


Personal recollections of

The Battle of Big Blue.


October 22nd 1864.

By an eye witness.


[Page 7]



Samuel J. Reader.

From Diary of


Topeka, Kansas.


[Page 8]


Map of the country, near the Battle field of Big Blue, fought Oct 22d. 1864.


[Page 9]


Battle of The Blue.




To the front – Page 1

Arrived and equipped – Page 2

Reluctant invaders – Page 3

Onward march – Page 4

Across the line – Page 5

The Mockbee Farm – Page 6

Bloody Lane – Page 7

Our last camp ground – Page 8

A growl of artillery – Page 9

Precaution – Page 10

Premonition – Page 11

A fateful day – Page 12

The Mockbee family – Page 13

Waiting for the enemy – Page 14

Field notes – Page 15

The post of danger – Page 16

A dream of death – Page 17

To dodge a cannon-ball – Page 18

Stripped for the battle – Page 19

Going with the boys – Page 20

[XXXXXXX]  – Page 21

Secret applies – Page 22

Seeking the Johnnies – Page 23

A counter march – Page 24

An intrepid leader – Page 25

Mixed Emotions – Page 26

Rushing to the rescue – Page 27

A trial of the nerves – Page 28

Just Before the Battle – Page 29

In line – Page 30

The enemy in view – Page 31

The Battle field – Page 32

Rebel flag – Page 33

“Give’em grape!” – Page 34

Burris’s Battery – Page 35

Opening the hall – Page 36

An exploding shrapnel – Page 37

A demoralized steed – Page 38

First Blood – Page 39

Wounded Knee – Page 40

Army Chaff – Page 41

Hostile array – Page 42

“Don’t shoot!” – Page 43

Whistling lead – Page 44

Handicapped – Page 45

A hot fire – Page 46

How it feels – Page 47

Gaining ground – Page 48

Company D – Page 49

A loyal Border – ruffian – Page 50


[Page 10]


Report, Adjutant General.


At length with a heavy force advancing on either flank, further resistance was vain, and the remnant of the command was withdrawn.  The object had been accomplished; that of with delaying the enemy a sufficient time to prevent him swinging his left wing around to the Kansas River, and of enveloping our forces before night should interfere with his progress.  How stubborn that resistance was may be ascertained from the list of casualties of the Battalion; it having suffered a loss of [nearly] one half in Killed, wounded and prisoners.   x x x x


The enemy failed to extend his lines as contemplated, and it left him in a position vulnerable to the Sunday morning attacks of Blunt and Moonlight, and the impetuous charges of Pleasanton upon his rear.


An hour lost at that crisis might have wrought disaster.  An hour gained gave victory to the Union.  To the devoted 2nd Calvary the glories of that hour; to its dead heroes the imperishable gratitude of the State.  x  x  x  x  x 


[XXXXX]  Sir:  I have the honor herewith to transmit my report for the year 1864.

Respectfully, C.K. Holliday,

Adjutant General State of Kansas.”


[Page 11]


Battle of The Blue.




Our glorious victory (s) – Page 51

The Springfield rifle – Page 52

A refusal of cartridges – Page 53

Hostile bugle call – Page 54

The enemy in force – Page 55

A head long charge – Page 56

Tall walking – Page 57

The battle lost – Page 58

Sauve qui peut! – Page 59

A little sprint – Page 60

Glimpse of the caisson – Page 61

A Yankee ‘possum – Page 62

Picked up – Page 63

Life versus Death – Page 64

A prisoner of War – Page 65


(Map of Battle Drawn Sept. 17, 1908.)


[Page 12]




(Drawing of a rifle and a saber)


Our Original Arms




[Page 13]


Battle of the Blue


S.J. Reader.


The Second regiment Kansas State Militia left Topeka on the 12th day of October 1864, to assist in repelling Gen. Price, who was menacing our State with a large force of rebel soldiers.  I went with the regiment as one of the non-combatants and carried with me no weapons of any kind, besides a large pocket knife.  We reached the border in two days, and remained in camp near Shawneetown Kansas, nearly one week.


On the 14th the greater part of our regiment received new Enfield rifles in place of the old and nearly worthless carbines that had been issued to us the year before.  When these old guns were turned over to the Ordinance Department, Lieut. William Morgan, of Company D. and myself, by some kind of procedure managed to secure


[Page 14]


Hand drawn picture of FOX, THE OLD WAR HORSE.

The man that’s fond of glorious war,

Can hardly fail but wish he

Had joined with us, in Sixty-four

The Second State Militia.


[Page 15]


Armed and equipped.


For ourselves, two of the best carbines in the lot.  Our action in the matter was no doubt irregular, but it was done at a time when red tape was at a discount, and we found nobody to say us nay.  My Brother in law soon after loaned me his revolver, and I felt myself no longer in a defenseless condition.  My steed, however, Was not at all satisfactory as a war horse.  He was hard in the mouth, fractious and unreliable.  Fire arms were his especial terror, and his courage in general was of very low grade.  His little quirks and peculiarities had something to do with my subsequent introduction to the rebel Provost Guard.


I will not further dwell on events that transpired prior to Friday the 21st.  My  duties as quartermaster were new to me, and I had my full share of work and tribulation.  In fact I looked upon my labors as a species of slavery, and longed for relief.  It came soon enough and in such a sudden unpleasant manner, that I felt myself well


[Page 16]


A Drawing named:  “FOLLOW THE COMMISSARY.”


[Page 17]


Reluctant invaders.


Punished for my repining.


Camp Grant, Kansas

Friday Oct. 21st 1864.


The morning was chilly and unpleasant.  There had been a light fall of snow the evening before, but was now gone.  I was very busy receiving and distributing shelter tents and camp equipage and took little note of what was going on around me, until one of my neighbors came to me and stated that we were likely to be marched across the line into Missouri.  He was opposed to any such movement, believing it would give the radical Government the power to regain us in the field indefinitely.  He asked my opinion, I replied that we had better follow wherever the commissary wagon went and gave the subject no further thought.



After dinner, we were ordered to break camp.  We were to invade Missouri after all.  I saw no signs


[Page 18]


Drawing named:  Looking to the West.




With grub and Baggage, flag and gun—

The State line no obstruction—

The forward movement has begun,

To compass “Pap’s” destruction.


[Page 19]


Onward March.


of insubordination, among the men on account of the proposed movement.


Our command, which consisted of the seven companies of mounted men of our own regiment; five companies of the 3rd reg’t; one company of the 19th reg’t; and Burns’s Battery, consisting of one 24 pounder Brass howitzer, formed in marching column, under Col. G.W. Veale, and started for the State line.  The whole force probably numbered 500 men.


I remained in camp writing and arranging my papers until after our men had been gone some little time.  I there stopped the tormenting invoices, receipts, and vouchers, into my haversack, mounted and pushed on after the command.  Within a few miles I came to a small group of horsemen halted by the roadside.  I stopped and found I was at the State line.  Quite a heated discussion was


[Page 20]


Across the line.


going on.  Some of the men declared they would not go over, and others were urging them to do so.  There was no one in the group that I knew, and no feeling inclined to interfere one way or the other, I started on my way.  A short distance beyond the line I met Freeman Foster, our Sergeant-major, coming back at full speed on his grey pony.  He told me afterwards, that he found the men angry and excited, but he used persuasion to such good purpose, that they all finally crossed over, and came on.  Only three of these men Belonged to the 2nd.  One of them was killed the next day.  I hurried on and overtook our men not far from Brush Creek.  I am not sure, but think the command did not march through Westport.  At one place the road ran between two stone walls; and I was told that some Union Soldiers were killed here by Bushwhackers, only the year before.

Along towards evening we approached a stream, bordered


[Page 21]


Drawing named:  View looking North-west.




“Once this soft turf, this road-ways sands

Were trampled by a hurrying crowd.

And fiery hearts, and armed hands

Encountered in the Battle cloud.

Now all is calm and fresh and still,

Alone the chirp of flitting bird,

And talk of children on the hill

And bell of wandering Kind, are heard.

No solemn host goes trailing by:

The Black-mouthed gun, and staggering wain;

Men start not at the Battle cry,

O be it never heard again!”


Wm. G. Bryant


[Page 22]


The Mockbee farm.


with quite a heavy growth of timber.  The direction we had traveled was more south than east, and was mostly over high rolling prairie land, partly in cultivation.


As we approached the stream and began to descend from the higher grounds, we turned into a lane leading due South.  The road-way was narrow, not exceeding 25 or 30 feet in width.  It was enclosed on either side by what we farmers call a “worm fence”.  It was eight or ten rails high, staked and rendered and in good repair.  Part way down this lane we came to a stone Barn, or stable, standing on our right, the gable end flush with the road.  I was on the look-out for forage, and particularly noticed some sheaf oats through an opening in the loft.


Just south-west of the Barn, and some 30 or 40 paces from it stood a one story farm-house, part frame and part stone.


After passing these Buildings, most


[Page 23]


Drawing of Map of:  BATTLE FIELD.

[Page 24]


Bloody Lane.


of the fencing along the road was stone wall; especially on the west side.  The slope of the ground was moderate, and had a general inclination to the south-east, in the direction of the stream.  Some 200 yards, or more, below the Barn, the rail fence on the east side of the road turned due east and enclosed a field; while the road itself turned obliquely to the south-east and passed through a common, partly covered by bushes and a few small trees.  I give this description at length, because we were to visit the locality again.


We continued on this road for a mile or more, when we came to a thick growth on both sides of the road, and a quarter of a mile or more from the stream, which I now learned was the Big Blue.  There was a crossing on our road, called Russell’s Ford, and we were sent here to guard it.


We halted and went into camp among the jack-oak trees.


[Page 25]




[Page 26]


Our last Camp ground.


I messed with my neighbors of Co. D John Bell called it “Pumpkin Mess,” from the fact of his having decorated his coat with pumpkin rind shoulder straps, a few days before, and was the best cook of our particular mess.  It consisted of Capt. Miles, John Kemp, Rose, Vaughan, Bell and Angel.  We had a jolly time.


There was plenty of quell, and we had generous fires started.  The oak leaves on the trees were dry, and in some instances the fire caught among them with a flash and crackle that was extremely pleasant.  It was by far the nicest camp-ground during our trip.


The night was dark and still.  It was dark and still.  It was clear, and there was starlight, but the moon did not rise until about midnight.  The weather was very cold for October, and water was frequently frozen in our canteens, over night, making it difficult to loosen the stoppers in the morning.  The season was two weeks early.


[Page 27]




Then out went we militia boys

To aid in Price’s capture;

We feared no guns, we feared no noise,

Such was our martial rapture.


[Page 28]


A growl of artillery.


Everyone so far as I could see, was thoroughly enjoying himself around our roaring fires, when we were startled by the dull boom of distant cannon shots.  They came from the north east, in the direction of Independence.  There were half a dozen shots or more, and then the firing ceased.  It was an ominous sound.  It evidently meant a forward movement of the rebel forces in our direction.  It stirred us up considerably.  Some looked a little anxious; others were vociferous in commenting on the situation.  Tho’s Wallace laughingly remarked:  “Boys, I’d rather hear the baby cry!”


The Rev. A.R. Button stood up in front of our be fire, and delivered his opinion with great force and humor:


“My stars!  If old Pap Price runs against our Indianola company, he’ll regret it the longest day he lives!”


But the merriment insensibly died


[Page 29]




Away, and a gravity took its place more in keeping with the stern reality of our situation.  Some looked anxious.  Several were discussing the matter, apart.  The word was passed for every man to have his arms and horse where he could put his hands on them in the dark.  Some of the men left their horses saddled all night.  I did not, but I tied “Old Fox” as close to my sleeping place as possible, with the saddle and my old carbine within reach of my hand.


I think the guard was strengthened, and a strong picket sent out along the stream.


The camp quieted down and we prepared to turn in for the night.  It was quite cold, and in order to secure greater warmth, David Vaughan and myself slept together.  After we had adjusted our blankets, Vaughan – who appeared considerably depressed – said to me in an undertone:


“Sam, we are going to have a


[Page 30]


Drawing named:  A PRESENTIMENT.

[Page 31]




Battle, and I shall be killed.”


In spite of the cannon firing, and the probable approach of the enemy, I still believe – as I had believed all along – that we would not get into an actual engagement.  In fact I doubted our seeing an armed rebel at all.  I told Vaughan so, but could not convince him that I was right.  He earnestly repeated his conviction, that he would be killed.  Hardly knowing what else to say, I ventured to tell him, that even if the worst should happen, death was probably but a change of existence, and that we might be gainers rather than losers through it.  Speculative theories in regard to the future life seldom afford comfort to one who feels assured that death is near at hand.  It seemed so in my friend Vaughan’s case.


“I don’t know about that,” he finally remarked, “I don’t know.”  Neither did I nor any other living man absolutely know.  I had waded a little beyond my depth. I was Silent, and he said no more.


[Page 32]


Drawing named:  A LITTLE TALK.


Captain Miles was dangerously wounded, but his life was saved by private Buck Miller of Tecumseh, the night after the battle.


[Page 33]


A fateful day.


In camp, Big Blue River, Mo.

Saturday October 22, 1864.


The memorable 22nd dawned clear, still and frosty.  A day big with events.  To many of us the next twelve hours were to bring more startling experiences, and varied emotions that fall to the lot of an individual in the ordinary walks of life, in as many years.  But we did not know.


The camp was astir at an early hour.  Captain Miles went with me to the creek for water.  On the way, he remarked that some of the men were considerably excited on account of the cannonade of the previous evening.  That one of them had expressed his belief that there would be a fight, and that he would never see his home again.


“I told him,” said the captain, “If he felt in that way, he had better not go into Battle at all.”  But the man had refused to think of doing such a disgraceful act.  His name I have now forgotten.


[Page 34]


Drawing named:  A FOWL CHARGE.


[Page 35]


The Mockbee family.


Q.M. Serg’t Dan Thompson reported having taken a lot of shock corn from the farm we had passed the evening before.  After breakfast I mounted my horse and rode there, alone.  I found the inmates of the house to be a middle aged lady; a boy of 15 and several smaller children.


After some haggling in regard to the price of the fodder and 132 bu’s of corn, I made out a voucher in favor of the son, who gave his name as “Cuthbert Mockbee.”  By this time Serg’t Thompson came to the house; and Mrs. Mockbee demanded payment from him for sundry chickens which she claimed had been taken by our men.  Chickens are never issued to soldiers as rations, and we had to refuse demand.  I was sorry for her, as I felt quite certain her complaint was just.  In fact I had heard one of our men admit that he came very near capturing a turkey for “Pumpkin Mess,” the night before.


[Page 36]


Drawing named:  TOSSED IN A BLANKET.


[Page 37]


Waiting for the enemy.


When we left the house we saw our regiment had passed by, going north.  We followed after, and found the command halted on the prairie, about a quarter of a mile from the Mockbee house.  The ground was high, and we could see for a considerable distance in every direction.  I lariatted my horse, and left him to nibble the dry prairie grass, while I went around among the men.  There was a good deal of talking and laughing, going on.  J.J. Kopp, especially, seemed to enjoy his surroundings.  A little way off I saw your men tossing a comrade in one of the newly issued U.S. blankets.  It seemed to afford great sport for the lookers-on, and the merriment was uproarious.


The day was very fine.  There was a scarcely perceptible breeze from the west; the sky was cloudless, and the air just cold enough to make overcoats comfortable.  My official duties were completed for the day, and I seated myself


[Page 38]


Drawing named:  THE LAST ENTRY.


[Page 39]


Field notes.


On the ground and wrote up my pocket diary from the day before.  I can always remember these few hours spent on the hill-top, as by far the pleasantest of the whole trip.  All seemed quiet and peaceful, and there was no sign of an enemy to be seen anywhere.


Col. Veale and a small escort left us for a time, to visit Byroms Ford two or three miles north-east of where we were halted.


I learned afterwards that our command was the extreme right of Gen. Curtis’s army.  We were expected to guard Russell’s Ford against the rebels in case they attempted to cross at that point.  Other fords to our left were guarded by Gen. Curtis, who had fallen back from the Little Blue, and Independence the day before.  He was now holding the west banks of the Big Blue, while Gen. Alfred Pleasanton, hanging on the rebel rear, was trying to form a junction with him.


Our selected position at Russell’s


[Page 40]


Drawing named:  GEN. CURTIS.


[Page 41]


The post of danger.


Ford, was no doubt extremely dangerous.  If the enemy should break through our lines on our left, we might be cut off from Westport and Kansas City; or they might effect a crossing to our right, and come down upon our rear, and pen us up in the woods like rats in a trap.  But as I said before, I knew nothing in regard to the strength or position of the Federal army; and of course still less of the Confederate forces under Gen. Price.  I trusted and believed that our leaders were in every way competent, and would not fail to give the rebels a rough handling, in case they were foolish enough to attack.  But even then, with the enemy almost in sight, I firmly believed there would be no fighting to amount to anything.  I supposed the rebels would shift and move about for a few days, and then give us the slip, and we militia would have to march ingloriously home again.  I had heard the cry of “Wolf!” too often, and was incredulous.


[Page 42]

Drawing named:  A DEAD SHOT.


[Page 43]


A dream of death.


While I was writing up my diary, James Buggins (or Budgins as I called him,) came and sat down by me.  He was a Missouri refugee; tall, lean and sinewy, and about fifty years of age.  At our target practice a few days before, he showed himself by all odds the best rifle shot in Co. D.  The old man appeared grave and anxious, and immediately opened the conversation:  “We are going to get in a fight today, sure!”  I expressed my doubts very strongly.  For one thing I told him; the rebels would hardly venture any nearer; and if they should come to attack us, we militia would very likely be kept in the background, while our trained volunteer soldiers did most of the fighting.  Huggins shook head.


“No, you’re wrong.  I’ve dreamed it all out, three different times.  We’re going to have a battle, and I’ll be killed!;” and he added impressively:  My dreams never fail me.


[Page 44]


Drawing named:  MODUS OPERENDI.


[Page 45]


To dodge a cannon-ball.


He seemed so earnest and positive in his belief, that I refrained from saying anything further.  He was in quite a talkative humor and among other things that I remember, advised me how to act, in case I found myself confronted by a piece of rebel artillery.  “You keep watch.” He explained, and where the cannon is fired off, if you see a blue streak, keep your place, for you are in no danger from that shot.  But if you see no blue streak, then you get out of that mighty quick, for the cannon – ball is coming straight at you.”


After a while Mr. Huggins left me.  It seemed a little singular, that two of our men should have confided to me their presentiments of death in battle.  ( Both were captured.)


The day had in the meantime advanced, and about 11 o’clock I rode to a spring some half a mile south east of the Mockbee house, and filled by canteen.


[Page 46]


Drawing named:  HARD – TACK.




[Page 47]


Stripped for the fight.


I rode back to the command and put my blanket and rubber coat in one of the train wagons.  Unknowingly I was “clearing for action”.


The driver of the wagon gave me two of the army crackers, which I put in my pocket and nibbled at my leisure.  They were sound, - I believe we militia had eaten the last of the wormy hard tack a few days before, and no more could be issued to us –


While waiting near the train, a man in citizens dress rode past us going south.  He spoke very pleasantly to such of us as were near at hand, and seemed to look at everything pretty closely.  After he was out of sight, some of our men declared their conviction that the man was a rebel spy.  It was possible.


Col. Veale had in the mean while returned to us; and Brig. Gen. U.S. had joined us from Westport.  Pretty soon after, our own Battalion of the Second, with the Battery started south.


[Page 48]


View looking South-East.


Drawing named:  RUSSEL’S FORD, JACKSON CO. MO.


[Page 49]


Going with the boys.


My proper place was with the wagon train, but not wishing to have my neighbors leave me behind, I went along with them.


We moved on through the lane, past our camping ground, and across the Big Blue at Russel’s Ford.  The ford had a good rock bottom, and the season being dry, the water was quite shallow.  After crossing, we had a rough steep hill to climb.  When we reached the top of the bluff, we passed several companies of the 15th Kans. Volunteer cavalry, halted by the roadside.  Co. E. under Capt. O.A. Curtis was with them, and I saw him and a number of my neighbors who belonged to his company.


We turned off toward a farm-house that stood to the left hand side of the road.  I never learned the name of the proprietor; but somebody said he was “Secesh.”  That was considered sufficient license.  I saw a lot of our men tying their horses to the fence, and feeding them from the corn-field.


[Page 50]



[Page 51]




By force of example, I did likewise, and “Old Fox” had one good feed of Confederate corn.  I was never called upon to settle for this forage, and no doubt it remains unpaid to this day.  It was one of the little irregularities known to warfare the world over, but it was the first time our regiment ever indulged in such highhanded proceedings.


Many of our dismounted men were collected in the garden and dooryard.  I went to the house but did not go in.  Some few, entered, but I think nothing worse was done, than the breaking open of a cupboard by a scout in quest of provisions.  I saw John Bell with three cabbage heads, that he had found in the garden.  As he passed me on his way out, he exclaimed:  “Pumpkin Mess is going to have a nice supper.”


In rear of the dwelling house I found quite a crowd collected around a small building or smoke house.  The door appeared to be locked, but a man ran against it several times, and


[Page 52]




[Page 53]


“Secesh” apples.


The door was finally burst from its hinges.  The men rushed in and soon re-appeared with their pockets and haversacks filled with apples.  A line was formed, and I doubt if a single apple was left for “Old Pap Price” on the morrow.  One of the boys handed me a very nice one as he passed, which I put in my pocket, and then walked out to the road.  I joined Mr. Coville near the front gate.  He had a few of the apples, and kindly gave me one, which I ate while we were talking together.  I wish I could remember what we talked about, but it has slipped my memory.  Of one thing I am sure, he did not predict his own death that day in battle.  On the contrary he did not seem at all depressed, so far as I could see.  I can recall his appearance distinctly.  His tall, angular figure, shaven face, blue cavalry overcoat, gun and equipments.


After a short-rest we were ordered to get our horses and mount.  I think we rode out some distance


[Page 54]


Drawing named:  North.




[Page 55]


Seeking the Johnnies.


on the road to the south-east.  I was with Co.D. and paid but little attention to our whereabouts.  When we returned to the bluff above the ford we met some more Kansas militia.  I heard Col. Veale say to an officer probably Gen. U.S. Grant - “We have been looking for the rebels but have not been able to find any.”  He also added:  “It has been reported that several hundred of the enemy were here last night, overlooking our camp.”


I am not sure how long we remained here, but it was probably about three o’clock when we started back across the Blue.  This time I rode with the head of the column as I wanted to talk with Captain E.H. Marsh – Brigade Q.M. – in regard to having some of our horses shod.  As I was explaining the matter to him, my own horse stepped on a sharp stone, and began to limp.  But Capt. Marsh assured me it would be impossible to have any horses shod at that time, or at all.

[Page 56]


Drawing named:  “FIRING ON THE HILL!”


[Page 57]


A counter march.


We crossed at the ford and continued our way on the road toward Westport.  Our howitzer had been left at the ford when went over, but it was gone at our return.  Captain Burns had started on a little ahead of us, as I afterwards learned.


We were marching in the usual column by fours.  At its head, there were besides the colonel, Lt. Col. Greene, Adj:  Kellam, Dr. Martin, Serg’t maj:  Foster, Capt Marsh and myself.  We traveled along leisurely at a walk.  Soon after we had crossed the stream, and when not far from our campground of the night before, I saw what I supposed to be a volunteer soldier coming down the road at full speed.  As he came near, up went his hand to his cap in true military style, and with the salute he cried out:  “There is firing on the hill above!”  I glanced at Col. Veale.  There was a slightly perceptible tightening of the rein, as if he were minded to halt.  But he did not.  He


[Page 58]


Drawing named:  “FOREWARD”


[Page 59]


An intrepid leader.


answered the messenger:  “You will find Gen. Grant just back, a little way.”


He then urged his horse forward at a trot, and we all of course followed.  His soldierly instinct had no doubt told him that there was fighting near at hand, and he was evidently eager to mix in the fray.  His magnetic ardor was contagious, and all seemed infused with it.  My own sensations were of the strangest kind.  Up to that moment I had scarcely believed in the possibility of our engaging in battle.  It was one of those unreasoning convictions that sometimes takes possession of the mind without rhyme or reason.  But all was now reversed.  The words of the messenger sent a thrill through my frame, from head to foot.  We were to fight after all.  My mind was for the time being, a curious mixture of dread, curiosity, and a species of wild enthusiasm.  Properly, my thoughts should have dwelt upon


[Page 60]


Drawing named:  “OUT OF HAND”


[Page 61]


Mixed emotions.


the flag, and our national cause.  But they certainly did not.  Perhaps there was no time for patriotic sentiments to assert themselves.


We were now out of the woods, speeding along through the common not far from the spring where I had filled my canteen.  I remembered that my carbine was loaded, but not capped.  I succeeded in getting off my gloves, and putting them in my haversack.  I found it a delicate and troublesome performance to cap my gun, but I succeeded in doing it safely.  My horse, however, took the advantage of me, and surged ahead of the column, half a length.


“Steady there, steady,” cautioned the colonel.  He probably feared I was losing my head, as well as the control of my horse.  I jerked the animal back in his place and made him keep it.


We neared the lower end of the lane.  As we turned into it – or immediately before doing so – we came in sight of Capt.


[Page 62]


Drawing named: 




[Page 63]


Burns and his men, about 200 yards north of us, halted near the stone barn.  As we caught sight of them, Col. Veale exclaimed in a tone of dismay:


“They have corralled our Battery!”  My first thought was, that Capt. Burns and his men were prisoners or about to become so; but I soon saw I was mistaken.  The colonel immediately gave rein to his horse, and we dashed up the slope at a rapid trot that sometimes merged into a gallop.


Without a doubt, it was a noble sight as our Battalion crowed swiftly through the narrow lane, with the dust and clatter, and thunder of horses hoofs on the hard road.  It was exhilarating.  It was one of the inspiring pictures of “glorious” warfare.  A little less than one minute after turning into the lane, the head of the column reached a point a little in rear of the Battery, and came to a halt.  All together at last.  Every man of the Battalion now stood within


[Page 64]


Drawing named:  “A TRYING ORDEAL”


[Page 65]


A trial on the nerves.


the narrow limits of the Mockbee lane.  Some took advantage of the brief halt to prepare their arms and accouterments for the coming strife.  It was a trying ordeal, as many have since confessed.  The uncertainty was worse than the actual conflict that ensued.  The hopes and fears, and varied emotions of this devoted band of citizen soldier, must be left to the imagination alone.  Fortunately, they could not fore-see what the hour was to bring forth.  The lease of mortal life of more than a score, could now be counted by minutes, only.  They had seen the rising sun that morning for the last time on earth,  The day was far spent, but its declining rays were to shine upon their stiffening corpses scattered along the highway, through the corn-field, grove and farm-yard.  Out of our little force of scant three hundred men, one hundred and fourteen were to swell the frightful list of killed, wounded and prisoners.


[Page 66]


Drawing named:  “AMMUNITION WAGON”


[Page 67]


Just before the battle.


We remained in the road for about one minute.   I do not know the cause of the brief delay, but I think Col. Veale was conferring with Gen. Grant – who had arrived on the field.  I kept my place beside Capt. Marsh, who sat in the saddle, revolver in hand.


Just after our arrival, John Bell, of company D. dashed past at a gallop, and stopped at a covered wagon that stood in the road right in front of us – It contained our spare artillery ammunition, as I remember – Bell detached the three jayhawked cabbage heads from his saddle bow and gave them in charge of the driver.  As he passed me on his way back, he gave a sly wink as a reminder of his fore-sight.  His device, however, was a failure.  Bell himself escaped, but his cabbages were “cabbaged” by the foe, and “Pumpkin Mess” was swept out of existence.


Something was at last decided upon.  The high rail fence on our right was thrown down, and


[Page 68]


Drawing named:  “IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD”


[Page 69]


Col. Veale led us through the gap into an old abandoned cornfield.  Company B. under Capt. A.J. Huntoon was in the lead.  We turned, and rode near the fence on the inside of the field, until we came opposite the howitzer – which I then saw was unlimbered, and placed in position in the middle of the road.  The battalion was deployed in line of battle from west to east, across the field.  Huntoon’s company was posted at the fence near the battery, and the other companies fell in on his right as they rode up, bringing the battalion when faced to the north, “Left in front.”


I remain by the fence close to the Battery, and was trying to discover the whereabouts of our foe.  Some six hundred yards north of us, was the highest point of ground in sight, where the road passed over the crest of the hill.  In the road, and to the west of it on the prairie, I could see mounted men.


[Page 70]


Drawing named:  “THE ENEMY IN VIEW.”


We found some rebs, to our delight – (?)

On Big Blue, near our border.

We formed a line, to give them fight;

And rout them in disorder.


[Page 71]


The enemy in view.


Others were joining them from over the crest of the ridge beyond, and appeared to be placing themselves in some kind of formation.  They were not very numerous, so far as I could judge, and appeared contented to remain where they were.  They were occupying the very ground that we had rested upon during the forenoon.  I supposed them to be rebels and I was right in my conjecture.


The worm fence that was on the east side of the road, passed over the ridge out of sight, leaving the field in front of us clear of fences or other obstructions.  The field itself had evidently lain fallow for a year at least.  There were plenty of old corn stalks, weeds and dead grass, and the ground was full of furrows and ridges where the last crop had been cultivated.  The field sloped gently to the south and to the east, and there was a ravine, or low piece of ground


[Page 72]


The Battle-field.


a little to the right and rear of our line.  Just three hundred yards in front of us was a depression in the slope of the field, sufficient to hide any one remaining in it, from our view below.  (This I did not know at the time, as the depression was not noticeable from our position.)


The line of Battle being now formed, I naturally supposed we were to advance upon the enemy above us.  They seemed inferior in numbers, and I believed we could drive them back with ease.  So far, not a shot had been fired since our arrival on the field.  Somebody in the line called out:


“They may be some of our own men.”  But Col. Veale rather impatiently answered:


“They are not.  They are rebels.  Don’t you see the rebel flag?”


Our own flag was about six feet square and I looked to see one equally as large on the other side.  But I failed to see it at all.  I learned


[Page 73]


Drawing named:  “VEALE AND HUNTOON.”


[Page 74]


Rebel flag.


Afterwards, it was a rebel guidon – a kind of triangular, swallow-tailed affair, that served as their battle-flag.


Col. Veale and Capt. Huntoon now rode out in front of our line a hundred yards or more, evidently to discover the strength and position of the enemy.  It was in a similar undertaking that Stonewall Jackson lost his life the year before, and our own gallant officers came near sharing the same fate.  It came sudden as a flash.  Two or three jets of blue smoke came in quick succession from the fence along the road, followed by the sharp report of rifles.  They were fired by rebel sharp shooters at Veale and Huntoon, who were there about fifty yards from the fence.  Why they were not hit, has always been a wonder to me.  One of the horses reared and plunged, but I think was not struck.  The two venturesome riders instantly turned and came back to us.  There was no danger of making a mistake now.  Col. Veale


[Page 75]


Drawing named:  “OUR CANNON.”

A brass 24 pounder howitzer.



Length of the piece, nearly six feet.  Weight, 1318 lbs.  Diameter of the bore; 5. 82/100 inches.  Charge 2 ½ lbs. of powder.  Weight of shrapnel 24 lbs.  Weight of ordinary shell, 18 ¾ lbs.  Range at 300 yards, point blank.  At 500 yards, one degree elevation.  At 800 yards, two degrees.


We thought Pop Price was quite a goose

To come so far for plunder;

We let our big brass cannon loose

To break his line asunder.


[Page 76]


“Give ‘em grape!”


rode directly up to the fence just opposite the battery, and called out:  “Give them grape, Capt. Burns!”


It put me in mind of the famous order of old “Rough and Ready” at the Battle of Buena Vista:  “A little more grape, Capt. Bragg!”


But as the extreme range for grape and canister is 350 yards and the rebels were now some 500 yards from us, it would hardly have been effective.  Our howitzer used canister and shells, only.  The canister consisted of about fifty cast iron balls, in a tin case.  The shells were spherical case shot, and had a range of over 1000 yd’s.  Each shell contained, besides the bursting charge of powder, 175 leader bullets within its mischievous cavity.


As soon as I heard the order given to open the battle with the cannon, I dismounted, and held my horse as securely as I could.  He was in a fever of excitement.  A few shots had


[Page 77]


Drawing named:  “REBEL SHARPSHOOTER.”




Burns’s Battery.


just been fired at us by other concealed marksmen, and one of the bullets had whistled uncomfortably close to the old fellow’s head.  I was alongside the fence, and a little in rear of the howitzer.  I was not personally acquainted with many of the artillerists.  I knew Capt. Burns, Levi Williams, Dan Handley, G.G. Gage, and a few others.  I noticed Burns as he looked toward Veale where the order to fire was given.  He seemed very quiet and self-contained.  Handley had stripped off his coat, and his red flannel shirt made him very conspicuous.  It is impossible for me to tell whether the piece was loaded or not.  There was a slight delay, but it may have been consumed in pointing and getting the proper elevation.  Someone – Capt. Burns, no doubt – cried:




I tightened my grip on the halter, but the piece missed fire.  There


[Page 79]


Drawing named:  “GLIMPSE OF A SHELL.”


A flash.  A jar.  Out from the smoke

A screaming shell went flying.

One glimpse.  It then in fragments broke,

The Johnny rebs defying.


[Page 80]


Opening the ball.


was a loud snap, as the primer exploded, and a slight stir among the men in replacing it with a fresh one.  In half a minute the order to fire was repeated and the cannon went off with a tremendous roar.  The concussion was terrific.  The old horse squatted, and for a few moments seemed perfectly paralyzed with fear.


When the piece was discharged, I noticed a curious thing.  Out of the heavy mass of smoke that issued from the muzzle, I saw for the space of half a second what looked like a marble rising rapidly at an angle, and disappearing as a speck in the air.


I now watched the rebel line.  I could see them plainly, and expected to see a swath cut through their ranks by our “grape shot”.  Nothing of the kind happened; but I saw instead, a white circular cloud suddenly make its appearance about 100 feet above their heads.  It expanded, and in a moment


[Page 81]


Drawing named:  “WAR CLOUD”


[Page 82]


An exploding shrapnel.


there came back to us a heavy bang!  It was a shell.  I turned to Freeman Foster, who was beside me, and asked him what the object was, that I had seen flying through the air.


“Some part of the wadding,” he replied.  It was probably the shell itself, and I had caught a momentary glimpse of it, during its flight.


Col. Veale rode back to the fence and cried out:


“Too high, Capt. Burns.”  Someone – perhaps Burns himself – stepped between the trail and the wheel, and adjusted the elevation.  The piece was reloaded, and again came the order to fire.  The explosion seemed even louder than the first one.  I saw no “marble” this time, but there was a repetition of the cloud formation; apparently only a few feet above the rebel’s heads.  But still the hostile line stood fast.  The shell had undoubtedly exploded beyond them on the open prairie.  Had it burst fifty yards in front


[Page 83]


Drawing named:  “THE PREDICAMENT”.


[Page 84]


A demoralized steed.


of their line, the fragments, and the leader bullets would have played havoc in their ranks.


Col. Veale seemed ubiquitous.  He was back again at the fence, and called again to the artillerists: 


“Don’t over-charge.  You might burst the gun!”


My horse had now become perfectly frantic.  I had managed to hold him so far, with the greatest difficulty.  He began pulling backward, while I tugged at the halter.  In a short time he had me sever rods to the rear, and almost at the gap where we had entered the field.  The crackle of musketry had now become continuous, and it still further excited him.  I was in a dilemma.  If I continued the struggle, the unruly brute would soon have me entirely off the field; and it might be a little embarrassing to explain the matter to my friends.  If on the other hand, I should turn the frightened animal loose, my chances for walking home afoot


[Page 85]


Drawing named:  “HIT.”


[Page 86]


would be good.  Where he had worked me along as far as the gap, I led him through, intending to tie him to a tree or gate past opposite the farm-house, and trust to luck and a half inch rope halter.  As I was crossing the road, I saw a man with a very bad limp coming through the gap, behind me.  I knew the man well.  It was Judge John P. Greer.


“Are you hurt, Judge?” I called out to him.


The question seemed to irritate him, and no wonder, for it was certainly a foolish one to ask.


“Why of course I’m hurt” he replied.


The idea came to me, that here was a chance to relieve me of my trouble.  I would give my horse in Judge Greer’s charge, and he could ride him to the rear, and keep him for me until we had whipped the rebels.  I called to him to come over and get on my horse.  He came to me with great difficulty,


[Page 87]


Drawing named:  “BULLET HOLE.”


[Page 88]


Wounded Knee.


And I then found that he was shot through the knee, and was unable to mount by himself.  I saw the triangular tear in his trousers where the ball had entered, and he seemed to suffer much pain.  It took some time to get him mounted.  I finally had to back my horse against the fence, and the judge seized the saddle with both hands.  I held the bridle reins with my left hand and with my right caught the wounded leg below the knee, and got him in the saddle, all right.  I may have been a little rough, for he frequently cried out:


“Be careful there, be careful!”


I started to go, but remembered my canteen was tied to the saddle-bow.  I ran back and secured it.  The lack of water is often a terrible thing on the battle-field.  Greer then rode down the lane, and it was a very long time before I saw him again.  While he was with me, two young men came riding through the gap and into the road.


[Page 89]


Drawing named:  “STRAGGLERS.”


[Page 90]


“Army Chaff.”


They were casting furtive glances backward, and after a momentary halt, one said to the other:


“Come, we had better be going.”


They were stragglers.  What Gen. Howard calls “Army Chaff” that scatters from the field at the first fire.  Judge Greer heard what was said, and called out to them:


“No, don’t go!”


Probably he knew them, and wished to bring them to a sense of their duty.  But it was of no avail.  They paid no attention to what he said, and rode off in the wrong direction.  They were the only men I saw actually leaving the field, before the final catastrophe.


I made my way back to the place I had occupied before the battle opened.  What had happened during my absence, I am not able to tell.  But I believe a charge by the rebels had been repulsed by double shotted discharges of canister.


I found our line of battle in some confusion.  Evidently, there


[Page 91]




[Page 92]


Hostile array.


were other horses as wild as my own.  Some of the men were mounted, and others were on foot.  There were rebels on the prairie.  How many, I can hardly say, as I merely glanced in that direction.  There was something right in front of us, that now occupied all my attention.


A line was being formed on the little swell of ground in the field, just 300 yards from us.  It was done with considerable rapidity.  The head of the line was stationed near the fence, and the horsemen passed in rear of it at a trot, and fell in on the left.  The absurd idea struck me that they resembled school-boys playing at “crack the whip!”  I could hardly realize that they were hostile men, intent on taking our lives.  For some cause there was not much firing at the moment, and their formation was completed without hindrance.


These new-comers were now so close to us, that we could distinguish their clothing.  They were not in uniform, or anything approaching


[Page 93]


Drawing named:  “THE FLAG FIRED ON.”


[Page 94]


“Don’t shoot!”


it.  In fact there was a generous sprinkling of the blue army overcoats among them.  Except for their greater celerity and precision of movement, they looked startlingly like our own men.  Again the cry was raised:


“They may be friends!  They are some of the Kansas militia!”


“Show our colors!”  some one else shouted.


I was standing with a member of other dismounted men a little to the east of the road, and somewhat in rear of the cannon.  Color Sergeant Jas. Greer was at my left, and had leaned the flag against the fence while he was preparing to shoot.  At the command, or suggestion to show our colors, he brought “Old Glory” out a little in our front, and waved it defiantly several times.  We did not long remain in doubt.  The line on the ridge, in a few moments became mottled by white puffs of smoke, and a shower of bullets came


[Page 95]


Drawing named:  (Exodus XX. 13.)  “HOMICIDAL.”


[Page 96]


Whistling lead.


whizzing about our ears like a swarm of angry hornets.  They were sure enough rebels, that would send us such tokens of deadly hostility.  How many of our men – if any – were hit by this volley, I am unable to say; but I think Mr. Coville was mortally wounded at this time. 


I made ready.  I felt that my old carbine could not be relied on, Either in regard to accuracy or range.  I was a tolerably good rifle-shot within a range of 100 yards; but here I over-estimated the distance, and very likely over-shot within a range of 100 yards; but here I over-estimated the distance, and very likely over-shot.  I reloaded, and refrained from firing until the opposing lines should come closer together.  I was short of ammunition.  Only thirteen cartridges were now left in my box.  I had wasted a number in target practice a few days before.  I believed that we were in for a battle for the remainder of the day, and I had no ammunition to throw away in long-range firing.  A soldier is badly handicapped


[Page 97]


Drawing named:  “2nd K.S.M.”


The second stood in battle ranks,

A scant these hundred strong,

Alone – with unprotected flanks,

In front, a rebel throng.


[Page 98]


Handi – capped.


when he has a poor gun; and still more so when he suffers from a lack of ammunition.


Perhaps a better day could not have been chosen for the work in hand.  The ground was firm, the air was cool; with just enough breeze to carry away the smoke, but not enough to interfere with aiming or to swerve the bullets.  The rebels had vastly the advantage in position, but they obliged, to some extent, to face the sun, while we were turned from it.  But their firing was no doubt more effective than our own, and very naturally so.  Fortunately they used no artillery against us; and I had no occasion to watch for Mr. Huggin’s “Blue streak”.


For a time the exchange of shots was lively on both sides.  At one time our line became disordered, and it threatened to break.  I saw Col. Veale ride up and strive by voice and gesture, to restore steadiness to the wavering mass.  I heard him cry out in a tone of


[Page 99]


Drawing named:  “FOR GOD’S SAKE, MEN, KEEP IN LINE.”


Loud rose the stern commands of Veale –

To guide this storm of battle –

Amid the cannon’s thunderous peal,

And the “Enfield’s” spiteful rattle.


[Page 100]


A hot fire.


Stern entreaty:  “For God’s sake, men, keep our places in line!”  Lieut. Col. Greene was doing all that was possible to encourage the men also.  But the trouble was mostly with the horses, not the men.


To make matters worse, a number of rebel sharp-shooters had secreted themselves to the west, and the north of the grove, and their fire was very annoying to the battery and our left flank.  For a time the air seemed alive with the wicked whiz of rifle balls.  Some of them came altogether too close for comfort, with a spiteful “whiz-zip” that made the flesh fairly creep.  Some of them sounded like a drop of water falling on a red-hot stove, and others with a ragged disagreeable buzz that was extremely disquieting to ones nerves.  I had heard the whistle of hostile bullets once before, but nothing at all to compare to this.  It was truly no child’s play.  The sensations of men in their first battle, are doubtless very much


[Page 101]


Drawing named:  “ENFIELD BULLET.”


A game was played, of swapping lead –

Old soldiers call it junny,

And dying for the flag, ‘tis said,

Is sweeter far than honey –


[Page 102]


How it feels.


the same.  All probably experience the nervousness, and involuntary shrinking from the sound of the first few bullets, soon to be followed by comparative indifference, if not of utter disregard.  Confidence increases as the battle goes on, until little more fear is felt than during a very violent thunderstorm.  A battle is one of those things that seems more terrible in the contemplation, than in the actual participation.


All this time our howitzer was busy in its work of death.  The proper range had been secured, and shell and canister were hurled unceasingly upon the foe.  Once or twice per minute its heavy explosions timed the minor racket of small arms like the tapping of a monster bass drum.  I was not watching the artillery practice after the first two rounds, but I learned afterwards that our canister was especially destructive in the rebel ranks.  Their color – bearer was cut down by


[Page 103]


Drawing named:  “Southern Battle-flag.  CUT DOWN.”


“Thou knowest the storm

Of balls that swarm

In dense and hurtling flight,

When thy crossed bars

A blaze of stars,

Plunge headlong thro’ the fight.”

(By a dyed-in-the-wool Secesh poet.)


[Page 104]


Gaining ground.


one of the discharges, and the flag left for a time on the field in front of us.


In a short time the rebels in the field fell back until they were hidden by the swell.  Our fire had evidently been too hot for them, although they retired in fairly good order.  Their horses were trained to stand fire, and I saw but little confusion among them, as compared with our own.


The firing from the grove still continued, and I think this was about the time that the general order was given, to dismount and fight on foot.  (It was the popular belief among the members of company D. that Gen Grant gave the order himself, profanely and emphatically:


“Turn your horses loose, and let them go __ ____!”  But the line officers selected men to hold the loose horses, in most instances.  I feel sure that many of our men had previously dismounted, like myself, of their own free will.  There were men on foot; very early in the engagement.)


[Page 105]




[Page 106]


Company D.


I now wished to join Co. D. and be with my own immediate neighbors.  I walked in rear of our line toward the right, but when I reached their station, but few of the men of the company were there.


I saw Lieut. Wm Morgan and asked him if he had used his carbine.  He replied:  “I wish I had a better gun.”  Capt. Miles was not there.  He had been ordered to assist in driving the rebels from the grove, and had taken the greater part of his men with him.  I started back to find them.  On the way I saw T.J. Wallace on his grey horse; and Perry Fleshman on foot with his gun at trial arms, and evidently trying to get a good opportunity to shoot.  I was much pleased to see him so earnest in his endeavor; from the fact of his having been an active pro-slavery man in 1856.  Some people had gone so far as to call Fleshman a “Border-ruffian”, and afterwards, “A rebel sympathizer”, but from this 22nd day of October 1864 his loyalty


[Page 107]


Drawing named:  “AN AMUSING DODGE.”


[Page 108]


A loyal Border-ruffian.


was unquestioned.  Near the fence I passed Adj’t Kellam.  He was in the saddle, pistol in hand, watching the movements of the enemy on the prairie.  As I passed I called out:  “Did you get shot?  He either did not hear, or took no heed.


The rebel bullets were flying through the air at a lively rate.  Two of them passed my head in quick succession.  As I was raising my head from an involuntary bow, I detected a young man – who was walking close beside me – just recovering from a similar performance.  As our eyes met, we both smiled at each other’s folly in dodging after this danger was past.


I crossed the road and entered the grove a little to the north of the barn.  The battery had been pushed up nearer the mouth of the lane, which was some fifty yards or more above the buildings.  Our men had already swarmed over the fences into the grove and farm – yard, and the


[Page 109]


Drawing named:  “WON.”


The Johnnies scampered out of sight –

Our grape proved such a starter;

It searched the grove, it swept the height –

But soon we caught a Tarter.


[Page 110]


Our glorious victory (?)


rebel sharp – shooters were taking flight from their hiding – places beyond the grove.  From glimpses through the trees, I saw that the enemy had fallen back out of sight, from the prairie.  My instant thought was that we had whipped them, and that they were seeking safety by a hasty retreat.  I naturally supposed they ought to be followed up without delay, that we might reap the benefit of our victory.  We had chased them from the filled with such seeming ease, that I almost feared there would not be glory enough left to go around.


A small party of our men – some twenty or thirty, or more – were going toward the north fence that enclosed the Mockbee premises from the prairie.  All were on foot.  No member of company D. was with them so far as I could see, but I fell in with them, all the same.  A stout looking young man was walking close to me.


[Page 111]


Drawing unnamed.


[Page 112]


The Springfield rifle.


I noticed that he was carrying an extra gun.  The barrels of our Enfield rifles were stained a dark blue.  The barrel of this one was bright as polished silver.  It was a “Springfield”.  I naturally supposed he had captured it from the enemy, and enquired.  But he replied:


“No, I picked it up here.”


Very likely it had belonged to a member of the Wyandotte Battalion, who were armed with Springfield rifles, as I was afterwards informed.  The young man glanced at my old carbine, and then very generously put the Springfield in my hand, saying as he did so:


“Here take it and use it.”


It was half – cock, and I saw was loaded.


“What shall I do with it when the fight is over.” I inquired.  He gave a short laugh.


“Keep it,” he replied.


As we neared the north fence, the thought struck me that my prize would be nearly useless, as I had


[Page 113]


Drawing named:  “MIS – FIT CARTRIDGES.”


[Page 114]


A refusal of cartridges.


No ammunition for it.  I disliked to beg it of the man who had given me the gun, so I turned to one a little in front of me.  I touched his arm.


“Give me some cartridges.”  He gave a glance at my rifle, and refused.


“They wouldn’t fit your gun.”  I made no further attempt to secure a supply.


We had now reached the fence, and strung ourselves out behind it.  There were gaps here and there, where the rebels had evidently piled up the rails for temporary breast – works.  Whether we had an officer in command, or were all of us acting under the impulse of the moment I am not able to say; but I am certain I heard no orders given by any one.


The prairie, and the upper part of the road were now in plain view.  They were completely deserted.  I looked to the right, and to the left.  Not a rebel was to be seen.


[Page 115]


Drawing named:  “CONFEDERATE BUGLER.”


[Page 116]


Hostile Bugle-call.


It was evident that they had escaped, and there seemed to be no help for it.  Present pursuit was out of the question, so far as our own party was concerned.


But while we were looking, and hesitating what next to do, there came the quavering notes of a bugle call from over the prairie, directly in our front.  But we could see nothing.  About 250 yards from us was a swell on the prairie, and a corresponding depression behind it, very much like the one already described, in the old corn field.


We were not kept waiting.  A long line of horsemen seemed to rise up in front of us on the prairie.  First the rebel’s heads appeared; then their shoulders, and the horses, until all were fully revealed on the cresting of the swell.  No one of our party cried:  “Friends,” this time.


At their first appearance, our party commenced firing.


[Page 117]


Drawing named:  “LAST SHOT.”


[Page 118]


The enemy in force.


A man in front of me was lying flat on the ground, with the barrel of his gun resting between the lower fence rails.  He was taking careful and deliberate aim.  Others knelt, some fired off – hand.  As there was but the one shot for my “Springfield,” I hesitated.  The rebel line came to a momentary halt.  A great – work of blue smoke – the whiz, and zip, and ping of rifle bullets about our ears, and then the hostile line again moved forward.  The crisis was coming.  I fired.  The line broke into a trot; then a gallop, and a wild yell arose that resembled a scream, rather than a cheer.  It was the Southern war – cry – the redoubtable “Rebel Yell”, and our foe was coming down upon us like an approaching tornado.


A squadron of cavalry can gallop 200 yards in about one half a minute.  The advancing charge was less than that distance from


[Page 119]


Drawing named:  “A NAME OF BASE”


Unseen, their force had swelled so large

On both our flanks they turned us:

The rebel yell!  a headlong charge –

Our safety then, concerned us.


[Page 120]


us now.  (Captain Bush told me long years afterward, that this rebel charge was one of the grandest sights he had ever seen.  No doubt it was a magnificent spectacle, but I suffered the disadvantage of being on the wrong side, to thoroughly enjoy it.  A single hasty glance, and I had seen all I wanted of it.


It was very evident, that our party was too far to the front.  I called out to the men who were nearest me:


“Better fall back to the barn.”  It was merely a suggestion on my part.  I had no business to exercise any command on the field.  Following my own advice, I instantly turned and ran toward the barn, that stood some fifty or sixty yards below us.  Some of our men followed; some scattered in other directions; and I think a few remained at the fence, and were killed or captured there.  It is hardly possible that a man of our party effected his escape.


[Page 121]


Drawing named:  “CHAOS.”


Our horses ran in spite of fate

And all was dire confusion.

The rebels dealt with mortal hate,

Shot, puncture, and contusion.


[Page 122]


Tall walking.


So far, I felt that I was in no sense a fugitive.  It was merely a common sense movement in falling back to a better position.  I fully believed that a stand would be made near the buildings, and that we would eventually win, and for this reason I retained possession of the Springfield rifle.  But I was sadly in error.  When I reached the barn I saw instantly that the battle was lost.  Everything seemed a chaotic mass of confusion and uproar.  A team rattled down the road at a mad gallop, and disappeared below the barn.  Horsemen dashed by through the dust, while shouts and outcries arose on all sides.  It was Pandemonium turned loose.  A look backward showed the advance of the rebels, pouring through the gaps in the north fence.  The fence itself had broken their formation, and they were now coming among the trees in disorganized squads, firing and yelling as they came.  No where could I see any effort being made to


[Page 123]


Drawing named:  “A MENTAL PICTURE.”


[Page 124]


The battle lost.


meet their onset.  I had thrown my empty Springfield in a fence corner by the road; and had brought my carbine to a “ready”.  But I did not fire.  I glanced across the road to where our line had been posted.  Not a man was there, but a little farther north was a mass of horsemen, coming at full speed through the corn - field.  They were rebels!  For the first time I was made aware of the appalling fact that I was lost.  It struck me like a blow, and I stood for a moment stunned and bewildered.  I could then fully realize that feeling of utter desolation and despair, so often described by men left to their fate on the sea, or in the desert.  But the agony of it all, was the thought of Andersonville.  It rose before me like a picture of the infernal pit.  We had heard all about its horrors.  It was a fate worse than death.  Captivity and starvation seemed inevitable.


[Page 125]


Drawing named:  “HYPNOTIC INFLUENCE.”


[Page 126]


“Sanve qui peut!”


Among the fugitives I saw a footman wearing a grey coat, running at full speed across the field in the direction of the “Blue”.  His image is indelibly impressed on my memory like a photograph.  I never can understand why, but the sight of this fleeing comrade aroused in me an irresistible desire to follow.  He was more than 100 yards away, and the rebels were now close upon me.  It was madness to attempt such a thing, but I was no longer a free agent.  A panic had seized me.


I could wish to be spared the humiliation of recording what followed.  A ten year old boy should have seen that escape was now utterly hopeless.  But I could neither see nor reason.


In the old cornfield, some fifty yards or more from the road was a clump or cluster of weeds, and tall grass.  My eye fell upon it.  If I could only get there I might creep under its shelter, and escape observation until night – fall, and slip away


[Page 127]


Drawing named:  “BELATED FLIGHT.”


“He who fights, and runs away,

May live to fight some other day.”


[Page 128]


A little sprint for liberty.


in the darkness.  It was only the shadow of a straw, but I clutched at it, as my only hope.  Not a moment should be lost, and I dashed forward and across the road.  As I reached the opposite side, a loud voice called out from near the barn:


“Why, where are you going now?”  The words and voice expressed anger and contempt.  Whether they were addressed to myself, or for the benefit of some other run away, I did not know, nor did I care to investigate.  I felt a thrill of shame, but all the words in the vocabulary would not have stopped me then.  In an instant I was over the fence.  I think I ran through a gap; possibly I climbed, leaped or tumbled over.  It remains a blank in my memory.  I now ran toward the cluster of weeds as I probably never ran before in my life.  A race for liberty; and I strained every nerve.  I still held the carbine in my hand.  It was snapped fast to the


[Page 129]




[Page 130]


Glimpse of the caisson.

sling, which I wore suspended from my shoulder.  Otherwise I might have cast it aside.  To the right, and ahead of me was a team bumping diagonally across the field furrows, in its headlong race for the Blue.  It was without question, John Armstrong, and the limber of our howitzer.  Other fugitives on foot, were still beyond, seeking cover in the woods and bushes just outside the field.  The horsemen were gone.  I neared the cluster of grass and weeds.  My race had been in vain.  It would hardly afford concealment for a rabbit.  I glanced over my shoulder.  To my dismay I saw a pursuing party, almost at my heels.  Some had revolvers in hand, and were either firing at me, or at others of my fleeing comrades.  All hope of escape by flight was now at an end.  In a few more jumps they would ride me down, even if I escaped their bullets.


[Page 131]


Drawing named:  “TO EARTH.”


[Page 132]


A Yankee ‘possum.


Instinctively I threw myself on my face among the old cornstalks and dried up weeds.  A horse will not willingly tread on a prostrate man.  They divided and dashed past on either side, so close that their hoofs nearly struck my elbows.  But I was unhurt, by hoof or bullet.  My head being so near the ground, the noise of their galloping, was prodigious.  I could not estimate their numbers.  Neither did I care.


The dash and enthusiasm of the charge was over.  The rebels were yelling little, if at all, as they passed me where I lay.  No doubt they believed me killed, and left me for others to strip and plunder.  Hope rose within me at the thought.  If I could successfully simulate death, night was near at hand, and I might creep away in the darkness, and escape.  It was my very last chance, and I resolved to try it, to the utmost limit of endurance.


[Page 133]




[Page 134]


Picked up.


But my plan was frustrated.  In less than half a minute, two more horsemen galloped past, but instead of going on after the main party, pulled, and rode back to where I lay.  I was still breathing heavily from my little sprint, and knew well enough I should never be able to counterfeit death in such a condition.  I would surrender and take my chances.  I had said, and believed, that instant death on the battlefield would be far preferable to the torture and starvation of a Southern prison; but I somewhat modified my resolution when the test was applied.  A soldier’s glorious death could now be mine.  The slightest resistance – motion of a hand toward my weapons, would bring it about, swift and sure.  But I was in no mood for martyrdom.  Sudden Death has an ugly look, when he sternly and unexpectedly stares one in the face.


[Page 135]




[Page 136]


Life, versus Death.


One naturally clings to life under almost any circumstances, and I decided to not throw it away in this particular case.  Gen. Price bore the reputation of a humane man, and I supposed his followers resembled him in this particular.  As a prisoner in his hands, I believed my life would be perfectly secure, whatever might happen me afterward.  I was not then aware that “bushwhackers” were tolerated in his army, and consequently felt no apprehension of personal harm, in the thought of surrendering.


As the two confederates halted beside me, I arose deliberately from the ground.  One of them had slipped from his horse, and was confronting me with a double – barreled shotgun, held at a “ready”.  He was a small middle aged man; in butternut homespun, and an old cloth cap.  He looked a little startled at me as I was rising.  He asked:


[Page 137]


Drawing named:  “YES, I SURRENDER.”


[Page 138]


“Are you much hurt?”


“I’m not hurt at all.”  I replied, as I gained my feet.  The other man spurred his horse close beside me, and clapped his revolver to my temple.


“What are you going to do with me?”  I cried in sudden alarm.


“You’re not going to be hurt, if you surrender,” called out the man with the shotgun, “We don’t shoot prisoners, like you fellows do.  Drop that gun!” he added in a menacing voice, “Surrender!”


“Yes, I surrender,” I cried out, as my carbine fell from my hand, and hung suspended by the sling.  It was enough.  I was a prisoner of war.


[Page 139]


Three days in the Rebel army.


A Prisoner of War.

October 22nd – 25th 1864.


By  S.J. Reader.

Second Regiment Kans. S.M.


A continuation of the

“Battle of the Blue.”


[Page 140]


Official Report

Of Col. George W. Veale, to

Major Gen. G.W. Deitzler, K.S.M.

(Extracts from pages 63 and 64 of the

Adjutant Gen.’s Report for Kansas 1864.)


“Sir” x x x  On the morning of the 21st Oct. I received orders from Gen. U.S. Grant to move my command to the crossing of the Big Blue on the Hickman’s Mill road: which order I complied with – camping on the Blue that night.  The next morning – the 22nd -  at sunrise I received an order from Gen. Grant, directing me to fall back and join the forces at Byrom’s Ford.  I accordingly withdrew to the prairie.  Gen Grant with his other forces, came up. x x  I was asked to take the battalion of the 2nd and make a reconnaissance to take the battalion of the 2nd and make a reconnaissance to Hickman’s Mill.  I moved off immediately.  One mile south of the Blue, I ordered a halt.  Here we were joined by Col. Lowe, and others by Maj. Laing with your companies of the 15th Vol. Cavalry.  Gen. Grant directed me to move


[Page 141]


A Prisoner of War.


Contents.  Page.


Inconsiderate.  Page 1

Disarmed.  Page 2

A chivalric foe-man.  Page 3

Danger Ahead.  Page 4

A one-sided argument.  Page 5

Gleams of hope.  Page 6

Kind words.  Page 7

The hurly burly.  Page 8

Might makes right.  Page 9

Near the brink.  Page 10

Red Legs.  Page 11

Thirsting for blood.  Page 12

Baffled.  Page 13

Thirsting for water.  Page 14

A ghastly spectacle.  Page 15

Uncertainty.  Page 16

A round trip.  Page 17

Jubilant rebs.  Page 18

The spoils of war.  Page 19

Hats off.  Page 20

Inquisition.  Page 21

A Know – Nothing.  Page 22

Rev. Ebenezer Brown.  Page 23

Taken to the rear.  Page 24

Rebel greetings.  Page 25

Insult and robbery.  Page 26

The phantom blanket.  Page 27

Price’s Head – Quarters.  Page 28

Lieutenant Sentelle.  Page 29

Disappointed Dreamer.  Page 30

The brave sailor.  Page 31

Dead man’s boots.  Page 32

Fasting.  Page 33

Simon Legree.  Page 34

Shot Gun tactics.  Page 35

Reminiscences.  Page 36

Nigger equality.  Page 37

Weary of Life.  Page 38

Barter and trade.  Page 39

Unsatisfactory.  Page 40

Enforced honesty.  Page 41

Dawn.  Page 42

The roar of battle.  Page 43

Riding to the front.  Page 44

The wounded.  Page 45

A friendly butternut.  Page 46

Seeking information.  Page 47

The three apples.  Page 48

Superlative meanness.  Page 49

Departure.  Page 50


[Page 142]


Col. G.W. Veale’s Official Report.


back to the north side of the Blue, which I did.  Soon after crossing the stream we met a messenger who told us that fighting was going on up in the prairie.  The Gen. pushed forward to where he found my artillery in a lane, unsupported, with the enemy in front.  Battalions of the 3rd, 13th, and of Wyandotte County, had been driven from the field.  Gen. Grant ordered me to form a line of battle, which I did, and commenced the fight.


Capt. Burns opened on the enemy with the battery, and after obtaining the range, did fearful execution.  My first line of cavalry broke when fired on, but it was soon restored, and maintained its ground with unfaltering courage.  We fought Jackman’s Brigade of Shelby’s Division for three quarters of an hour; driving at one time his center from our front.  But he was soon doubly strengthened, and charged us, flanking us at the same time both on the right and left, and forcing us back in disorder to the south side


[Page 143]


A Prisoner of War.


Contents.  Page.


A gloomy prospect.  Page 51

The Priceless quilt.  Page 52

Grime of battle.  Page 53

Corn-fed.  Page 54

The sounds of conflict.  Page 55

Bleeding for the country.  Page 56

A bootless attempt.  Page 57

“Close up.”  Page 58

The rebel bullet.  Page 59

Transitory rest.  Page 60

Clinging to life.  Page 61

The polluted well.  Page 62

An anxious guardian.  Page 63

A will without a way.  Page 64

Last extremity.  Page 65

First rations.  Page 66

On again.  Page 67

An alibi.  Page 68

Our cannon.  Page 69

“An honest man.”  Page 70

“Reeking of vermin.” Page 71

Fuel to the flame.  Page 72

So close and yet so far.  Page 73

An important trade.  Page 74

“Trading post.”  Page 75

In camp.  Page 76

Trembling in the balance.  Page 77

Confederate beef.  Page 78

Searched.  Page 79

Rain versus sleep.  Page 80

Away we go.  Page 81

Halt for day-light.  Page 82

Jake Klein.  Page 83

Second wind.  Page 84

A suspected spy.  Page 85

“Kingdom coming.”  Page 86

Garbage gleanings.  Page 87

A line of battle.  Page 88

Almost a rescue.  Page 89

Color line.  Page 90

Badly off.  Page 91

Unloading.  Page 92

A prohibitory device.  Page 93

Idle talk.  Page 94

A bare backed mount.  Page 95

Pandemonium.  Page 96

Dense darkness.  Page 97

Hope aglow.  Page 98

Talking “rebel.”  Page 99

Casting the die.  Page 100


[Page 144]


Col. G.W. Veale’s Official Report.


of the Blue.  Here we found Col. Lowe and Maj. Laing, who should have supported us.  As it was, my command was sacrificed, fighting six times my numbers of Price’s veterans and bushwhackers, and losing 24 killed, about the same number wounded, 68 prisoners, one 24 pounder brass howitzer, and 100 horses.


The enemy’s loss in killed and wounded in this engagement was very heavy.  While my own loss is very severe, my men gave the enemy an afternoon job which detained them from marching into Kansas; and the next morning they were confronted by an army that put them on a hasty retreat southward.


On the 24th we gathered our dead, and on the morning of the 25th buried them on Kansas soil.  x x x x x


All which is respectfully submitted.


G.W. Veale Col. 2nd Reg’t K.S.M/


Ed Kellam.  Adjutant.

[Page 145]


A Prisoner of War.


Contents.  Page.


A dash for liberty.  Page 101

False colors.  Page 102

Fear and tribulation.  Page 103

A dangerous question.  Page 104

Perilous surroundings.  Page 105

Outer darkness.  Page 106

The dreaded picket.  Page 107

 The American pig.  Page 108

A horrible thirst.  Page 109

Free lunch.  Page 110

Clear; cold water.  Page 111

By the stars.  Page 112

Seventh Heaven.  Page 113

A drowsy promenade.  Page 114

Writing up.  Page 115

A primitive breakfast.  Page 116

Back in Free Kansas.  Page 117

Second captivity.  Page 118

Yankee guards.  Page 119

Examination.  Page 120

Kindly captors.  Page 121

Two sided.  Page 122

Federal clutches.  Page 123

Free at last.  Page 124


[Page 146]


A Prisoner of War.





The writer had just surrendered to two Confederate soldiers.


The elder one had dismounted – the other remained on his horse.


The place was in the old cornfield, some fifty yards south-east of the Mockbee barn, Jackson Co. Mo.


The time was about four o’clock p.m. Oct 22nd 1864.  Our regiment – the 2nd K.S.M. had just been swept from the field of “The Blue”, and was falling back beyond the Big Blue, with the rebels in hot pursuit.


S.J. Reader

Aug. 18, 1898.


Note.  This article, or paper, is a continuation of my account of the “Battle of the Blue.”


[Page 147]


Drawing named:  “BOWING TO FATE.”


[Page 148]


A Prisoner of War.

“Rough and Ready.”




A captive can hardly expect very considerate treatment, but I was not prepared for the rough usage I was immediately subjected to.  The dismounted Confederate seized my carbine sling in both hands, and jerked it in a hasty, violent manner over my head and shoulder.  The indignity was the more apparent from his being so much shorter in stature, and my having to bend over to allow the heavy leather strap to slip over my head.


He seemed to think the old carbine quite a prize as he carefully hung it to his saddle.


In a moment he was back for the rest of my arms and accouterments.  His movements were quick and energetic, but his haste somewhat interfered with his speed.  My revolver and box were secured around my waist by an ordinary belt with a buckle.  In attempting to unfasten it


[Page 149]


Drawing named:  “DRY.”


[Page 150]




His hands shook, and he utterly failed to unbuckle it.  Whether this was due to excitement or a natural infirmity I did not know; but to rid myself of his fumbling I put down my hands to assist.  The younger man – who had lowered his pistol – on seeing motion again thrust it in my face, with the stern command:  “None of that – Hands up!”  I needed no second request.  At last the elder Confederate unloosed the belt and secured it around his own person.  Then with a few rapid motions he had possession of my canteen.  At sight of it I was made aware of the fact, that my thirst was extreme.


“Let me have a drink.”  I called out.  Somewhat to my surprise he gave it me.  I must have swallowed half its contents before I returned it.  I was in a profuse perspiration.  This I now noticed for the first time.


[Page 151]


Drawing named:  “GO BACK TO THOSE MEN.”


[Page 152]


A chivalric foe man.


The old man next lifted the flap of my haversack.  My official papers seemed to excite no interest, but he seized my gloves, remarking as he did so:


“I’ll take these.”  He pocketed them, and then asked:


“Have you any money?”


“Five dollars, “ I replied.


“Keep it,” he said briefly.  He was evidently too magnanimous to rob a man of five dollars, only.


In a moment more he was in the saddle.


“Go back to those men,” he ordered, with a motion of the hand.  I immediately turned and looked toward the road and stable.  I saw a crowd of horsemen who were riding about, or mingling together, seemingly in utter confusion.  There was much shouting and swearing, and there may have been occasional pistol shots, but I am not certain as to that.


[Page 153]


Drawing named:  “RISKY.”


These erring brothers ranged the field

With expletives improper,

The lives of Yankees loth to yield

Were scarcely worth a copper.


[Page 154]


Danger ahead.

I felt a presentiment of danger, however, and called out to the two men as they were turning their horses to continue the pursuit.


“Better take me back yourselves.”  The elder man gave a glance at the noisy crowd of rebels, hesitated, and finally remained.  No doubt he detected some act of atrocity being then and there committed, that would give the lie to his statement, that the “Confederates never shot prisoners.”  He seemed in no hurry to take me back to them, at all events.


After a moments survey, he turned to me and sternly demanded:


“What are you fighting for?”  If there was any one thing that I supposed I knew, it was that.  The Pulpit, Press and Platform had scattered the knowledge, far and wide.


“For the Union,” I replied.


“You are not!” he cried out, with an impatient gesture.


[Page 155]


Drawing named:  “DON’T YOU KNOW YOU ARE?”


[Page 156]


A one-sided argument.


“You’re fighting for Nigger Equality.”


I was silent.


“Don’t you know you are?”  he enquired fiercely.


I never was good discussing political questions, and when this fiery advocate of secession, bristling as he was with arms and arguments, challenged me to a controversy.  I wisely declined.  I told him again, however, that we were fighting for the Union – as I understood it – and for that alone.


“It’s no such thing.  You intend to force nigger equality on the South.”


I was an attentive, silent listener.


“But you’ll never do it,” he added emphatically.  “We’ll die to the last man before we’ll submit to such a thing.” 


He continued in the same strain until he saw I made no reply to his tirade.  He was a fluent speaker, and was probably a preacher or a lawyer in times of peace.


[Page 157]


A gleam of hope.


A kindly man too, he seemed to be.  I had now given up everything as lost – home, friends and liberty; with the additional prospect of starving in a Southern prison.  My dejection was complete, and my face must have revealed to him my distress of mind.  He looked at me, and remarked in a milder tone of voice:


“It’s a good thing for you that you’re a prisoner.”  His words were evidently well meant, but I failed to see the point.


I’ll tell you why,” he went on.  “There’s going to be some heavy fighting within the next few days, and if you were free you might be killed.”


I wanted to tell him that I would gladly take that risk for the sake of getting away; but he gave me no chance to say anything.


“You will be paroled in the course of four or five days,” he


[Page 158]


Drawing named:  “TOM WATSON IS KILLED!”


[Page 159]


Kind words.


continued.  “We don’t try to keep prisoners – we parole them all.” 


These encouraging words raised my spirits to a higher pitch than the case probably justified.  (We found to our sorrow that the rebels had abandoned the paroling system, after our capture.)  But I was, and am thankful to the old man for his kind words.  They were like an oasis in the desert.  He was an Arkansas man – as he incidentally mentioned – That is all I know.


The two men started with me toward the gap through which our battalion had entered the field.  There were quite a number of mounted men riding about, filling the air with their shouts and curses – loud, as well as deep.


A rebel came galloping down the lane.  He called out, as I remember:  “Top Watson is killed!”


Of our own dead I saw none at first, although several of our men were killed very near where we passed.


[Page 160]


The hurly-burly.


In a few moments we were in the midst of this seething mass of humanity.  Some of the horsemen were driving squads of dismantled prisoners toward the road.  Others seemed to be aimlessly riding about, indulging in yells and loudmouthed profanity.  I felt no alarm for my personal safety.  The old saying, that a barking dog seldom bites, came to my mind in all this hubub.  And I believed the old Confederate’s statement, that they never shot prisoners.


A few rods beyond us I saw a small party of prisoners on their way to the gap.  Among them I recognized several of my neighbors. My captor ordered me to join them, and then turned off some other way.  I hurried on, and as I reached my comrades, a rebel called out in a peremptory tone: 


“Hand over that haversack.”


I looked around.  A light haired, slender built youth had spurred his horse alongside.  I began


[Page 161]


Drawing named:  “HAND IT OVER!”


[Page 162]


Might makes right.


to tell him that the haversack contained nothing but papers that would be of no value to him, when he cut me short with a volley of oaths, and a second demand to “Hand it over.”  As he emphasized his order by flourishing his revolver unpleasantly near my face, I reluctantly took off the haversack, and gave it him.  I then started on thinking he was through with me.  But again he cried out:


“Stop!  Pull off that overcoat.”  This was something I had not bargained for.  I had heard that the rebels were in the habit of stripping the dead, but I supposed they respected the clothing of their captives.  The weather was severely cold for October.  I dreaded the keen frosty nights.  Unwisely I began to expostulate with the fellow, in an effort to save my raiment.  He became highly exasperated, and was fairly beside himself with rage.


[Page 163]




[Page 164]

Near the brink.


Probably in the whole course of my life I never stood in more deadly peril, than I did at that moment.  The only thing that saved my life, was, no doubt, that the revolver continued no more charges.  With fierce imprecations, he yelled:


“Off with it, you - - - - or I’ll put a hole through you quicker than lightning!”


There was no mistaking him, as he thrust his six-shooter in my face.  His eyes had a murderous glitter, and his face was working with passion.  I instinctively felt that it would not do to trifle with such a blood thirsty miscreant, and I made haste to give up the coat.  It was a grey citizens overcoat, and under it I wore military clothing .


“A Red – leg!”  he exclaimed at sight of the hated uniform.  I now hurried on after my comrades, while the possessor of my overcoat, and two or three other rebels followed closely behind.


[Page 165]




I heard one of them say:


“How I’d like to shoot that fellow.  He’s a d _ d Red-leg.”  (“Red-legs” were Jennison’s scouts, and seldom received quarter.)


In a few moments more I joined the other prisoners, and with them was driven in the lane just south of the stone barn.  There were about thirty of us.  The rebels hurriedly formed us in four ranks, and one shouted:




We started down the lane toward the south.


“Double-quick you _ _ _ _!”  shouted the mounted men on either side of us.


We obeyed promptly, and it seemed to delight the Johnnies to see us run.  The prisoner directly in front of me was G.G. Gage.  It must have been a ludicrous sight as we two six-footers ran at break-neck speed down the hill.


The rebels in the meantime kept up a constant fire of the vilest


[Page 166]


Drawing named:  “DOUBLE-QUICK, YOU YANKEE - - -!!”


[Page 167]


abuse and profanity.  It did us prisoners no harm, and very likely served as an escape valve to the boiling passions of our captors.  Some of the rebels – the young fellows especially – seemed perfectly frantic with rage.  They had probably just witnessed comrades mangled or killed by our fire, and wished to revenge their loss upon us.


We soon reached the end of the lane; and as soon as we had cleared it, were halted and faced to the east.  Behind us was a stone fence, in front of us, the common.  About fifty rebel soldiers were guarding us.  Others were now and then coming toward us, down the lane.  Among them was one whom I took to be an officer.  He came tearing along at full speed – his black eyes flashing with anger.


He shouted as he rode up:  “Shoot them!  Kill them!  They shoot our boys down in cold blood every time.  Serve them as they serve us!”


[Page 168]


Drawing named:  “KILL THE YANKS – SHOOT THEM!”


[Page 169]




Our shrift would have been short had this man’s will been law.  But the officer in command of our guards – to his honor be it said – interposed:


“No, these men shall not be harmed as long as I have charge of them”  From a certain deference in his tone and manner to the new comer.  I judged the latter to be his superior in rank.  (But there was little among these rebels distinguished officers from men, let alone the particular rank.)


There appeared to be some little discussion among our captors.  Our bloodthirsty enemy no doubt took part in it, and very likely still insisted on our massacre.


But I gave little heed to what they said or did, as I felt no alarm; although we were actually in a very critical situation.


One of our men complained of thirst, and asked a rebel if there was any chance to get water.  The man gruffly told him there


[Page 170]


Thirsting for water.


was none.  I immediately spoke up, and said there was a good spring a short distance in front of us.


“O yes!” cried the guard, “and very likely there’s a lot of you d_d Yankees near by to bushwhack us.”  It was evident that our personal comfort would not be considered, and that my suffering comrade would have to endure his thirst as best he could.


Again came the order to march.  This time they started us in an easterly direction along the road toward Russell’s ford.


A little way from our starting point was a ghastly spectacle.  Instant death from gun – shot wounds generally leaves a peaceful expression of countenance.  But there are exceptions.  As the guards rushed us along, my foot almost struck the body of a man lying with rigid, upturned face by the roadside.


I had but a hasty glance in


[Page 171]




Our loss in killed was twenty-four,

Three score & ten were taken,

The wounded – just another score –

Dejected – sad – forsaken.


[Page 172]


A ghastly spectacle.


In passing, but that dead man’s face is one of the vivid impressions that will remain with me always as an indelible imprint on the memory.


The head was thrown back, leaving the mouth wide agape, with streaks and stains of dust and blood, here and there, upon the distorted face.  The wound was evidently in the head, from the fact that blood was trickling from the mouth and nostrils.  But the eyes presented the most startling appearance.  They were wide open, and turned upward in their sockets until nothing but a narrow portion of the iris was visible.  One could almost imagine they were searching within, to discover the leaden messenger that had cut short the thread of life.  The man had no doubt resisted capture, and fought to the last; or had been shot down in cold blood after surrender.  It was probably Harvey Young, as his


[Page 173]


Drawing named:  “GOING TO BE SHOT.”


[Page 174]




body was found near this spot by our burial party, a few days afterwards.  I knew him well but did not recognize the blood stained distorted face as his.


We were crowded on at a rapid pace.  Mat. Clark was hobbling by my side suffering from a slight sprain.  He took a very dismal view of our situation, and expressed his belief that we were all going to be shot.  I told him there was no danger.  Just then I heard a rebel – presumably an officer – say to another:


“We were ordered to take charge of these prisoners, but were not told what to do with them.”  These words coupled with the fact that we were marching straight toward the woods, awakened a feeling of apprehension in my mind, and I began to fear that Clark was right in his conjecture after all.  But in a few moments more our captors turned us to the north, and we entered the


[Page 175]


Drawing named:  “SHELL.”


Diameter 5.82/100 inches.


[Page 176]


A round trip.


lower end of the old corn field.  We were then marched to a point not far from where our first line of battle had been formed.  Here we halted.  On the way through the field I came across a shell.  It was one that had been shaken from the limber chest, while John Armstrong was trying to save the caisson from the enemy.


This little tramp that we were compelled to take, has always been a puzzle to me.  Either our captors were at first uncertain which way to take us; or they intended to put us to death in some out-of-the-way place in the woods.


As soon as we stopped, I had a chance to look around a little.  One of the first men I noticed was David Vaughan.  His presentiment of being killed in battle had not come true.


Some of the wounded were now with us.  Brock Crawford was leaning on a stick.  He appeared to be suffering considerable pain from his


[Page 177]


Drawing named:  “SHOT IN THE ARM.”


[Page 178]


Jubilant rebs.


wound.  Mr. Branner was supporting his left arm, but looked as grim and determined as ever.  The other wounded men I did not personally know at that time.


The rebels were quieting down.  A soldier rode up to us.  He was jubilant.


“Say Yanks!  Don’t you see we can fight?”


After a momentary silence, one of our men replied:


“We have never denied that.  It’s your cause we object to.”


Another prisoner said:


“You fought us well enough, when you had a whole division to back you.”  There was the matter in a nutshell.


Some of the rebels were engaged in plundering the prisoners.  One of them called out to me:


“How much money have you got?”  I had a five dollar greenback in my pocket book and a ten dollar bill secreted in my trowser’s watch fob.  I told the


[Page 179]


Drawing named:  “A RELIC STILL.”

APR. 1. 1906.



[Page 180]


truth, but not the whole truth when I answered:


“Five dollars.”


“Hand it over.”


I took out my porte-monnaie and opened it to give the man the bill, when he yelled:


“Stop that!  Don’t you take anything out.  Hand it all over, and be quick about it.”


I was sorry to lose the pocket book for it contained a small supply of pins, needle and thread.  He was a ragged, dirty looking fellow, and I can now by a little stretch of the imagination look upon this transaction in the light of an involuntary charity.


“Have you a pocket-knife?”  another rebel asked me.


“Yes, but you’ll hardly covet it,” I replied, as I produced an old knife covered with sole-leather handles.


The man shook his head with a grin.  “No, I don’t want that thing.”


[Page 181]


Drawing named:  “WITHOUT YOUR LEAVE.”


[Page 182]


Hats off.


He turned to another prisoner, and his want was supplied.


Some of our men had their hats snatched from their heads without words or ceremony.  If the prisoner was willing or lucky enough to pick up the cast off head covering of the Confederate, well and good; if not he could go bare headed.


Pretty soon a pleasant looking man of middle age, came to me and inquired:


“Are you and officer?”


It was the rule to separate officers from men among prisoners.  I naturally dreaded the idea of being taken from my friends and neighbors, and I so far prevaricated as to tell him I had been taken prisoner in the ranks.  My attempt at deception was probably taken for what it was worth, for the man continued:


“If you are an officer you had better tell me so, and you will be treated as such.”


[Page 183]


Drawing named:  “LITTLE CONFEDERATE.”


[Page 184]




He had dismounted and was standing in front of me.  By his side was a burly, ruffianly looking man, who seemed considerably out of patience with me.  With a savage scowl he said significantly:


“If you don’t tell we’ll very soon make you!”


A boy of perhaps fourteen was sitting on his horse, his arms resting on the horn of the saddle.  He leaned forward to listen to our conversation, and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying his surroundings.  He now piped up:  “Why of course he’s an officer.  He wears three buttons on his coat sleeve.”


No more was said and the men left me.


In a short time my interlocutor came back and said:


“Gage says you’re quartermaster?”


“Yes.” I replied.


He motioned me to come out a little from the others.


[Page 185]


Drawing named:  “WHERE IS PLEASONTON?”


“Rosecraus presuming that Curtis could

hold his ground on the Big Blue, ordered

McNeil.  Pleasonton to send McNeil with

one brigade only, on the track of the enemy,

and with his remaining cavalry move south-

ward to Love Jack.

These orders were not obeyed.  Pleasonton

with all his cavalry pressed on in pursuit,

and reached Little Blue at 10 A.M. Oct 22nd.”


Greeley’s “American Conflict.”  p. 561.


[Page 186]


A Know-Nothing.


He began a series of questioning.


“How many men did you have here?”


“About five hundred.”  (I then supposed that the five companies of the 3rd regiment were with us in the fight.)


“Where is Pleasonton?”


“I don’t know.”


“How large a force has Blunt?”


I told him truly that I knew nothing whatever in regard to the Federal army; its numbers position, or intentions.  I then explained to him – and this he seemed to already know – that we were only a Kansas militia regiment, ten days from home, and consequently could not know very much in regard to the operations in the field.


He seemed satisfied that I knew nothing more, and began to talk of other matters.  I am pretty sure he also spoke of our fighting to force Negro equality on the South.  It seemed


[Page 187]


Rev. Ebenezer Brown.


a bitter pill to them all.


While he was talking I had the curiosity to ask if he knew Mr. Gage.


“Yes” he replied, “and I know his father in the South.”  Virginia I think he said –


(It was J. Thos. Gage – now of Ouy Oka., and the rebel officer was the Rev. Ebenezer Brown of Marble Ark.)


I returned to my comrades and we waited.  As things quieted down a little, we could hear quite a spirited fire of small-arms, off to the northwest.  It must have been about a mile from where we were; and at that distance the sound exactly resembled the rapid popping of corn in a hot skillet.  It was very likely a skirmish between Col. Moonlight and the rebel advance.


Before sunset the guards started with us diagonally across the field, toward the northeast.  Pretty soon we struck a road, and found it thronged with


[Page 188]


Drawing named:  “HOW ARE YOU, YANKS?”


[Page 189]


Taken to the rear.

horsemen, riding to the west.  They looked more like a motley assemblage of farmers on a big wolf hunt, than soldiers.  As we passed them our ears were continually greeted with the questions: 


“What have you got there?”


“Prisoners,” would be the laconic reply of our guards.


Sometimes the rebels would curse us; but more frequently would laugh at our plight, and several saluted us with:


“How are you Yanks?  Glad to see you.”


There was a negro among the prisoners.  His appearance excited more comment than all the rest of us put together.


“What’s that nigger doing there?” was the usual question, followed by:


“Kill him, shoot him!” accompanied with a chorus of fierce yells.  I feared some of them would try to put their threats in execution, but our guard kept us well closed up, and seemed to pay no attention


[Page 190]


Drawing named:  “PERILOUS COLOR.”


[Page 191]


Rebel greetings.


to the noisy outsiders.


We could still jointly hear the firing to our rear.  As a party of soldiers were passing us and indulging in their usual remarks and maledictions, one of our custodians called out:


“Hurry up boys!  They’re fighting back there, and maybe you’ll have a chance to catch some Yankees yourselves.”


There was good fighting material among them no doubt, for they broke into a trot.  They were evidently “sniffing the battle afar off.”


The sun set.  It was growing dark, and we had the road more to ourselves.  Mat. Clark’s sprain troubled him about keeping up, and I was trying to help him along.  We finally fell some paces in the rear.  Two of the guards ordered us in no gentle tones, to close up.  I told them my comrade was lame, but I think it only roused their suspicions that


[Page 192]




[Page 193]


Insult and robbery.


We were shamming, in order to effect our escape.  With many fierce expletives, one of them addressing me as a:  “Gander – legged Yankee _ _ _ _ _” yelled out:  “Close up, or I’ll use my rammer on you.”


Overlooking the personal criticism with a prudently silent contempt, we promptly closed the gap in our line of march.


Just then another fellow who was riding alongside, suddenly ordered:


“Off with that coat, and hand it up here.”


I hesitated.  He repeated his demand fiercely and emphatically.


He drew no weapon, and I undertook to explain that my overcoat had already been taken, and that it would be inhuman to turn me out in my shirt sleeves on so cold a night.  He was obdurate.


“They’ll give you a blanket as soon as you get to Head-quarters.  Hand up that coat and no more words about it.”


[Page 194]


Drawing named:  “OLD PAP.”


[Page 195]


After I had satisfied this summary form of requisition, my despoiler was good enough to reiterate his former statement that as soon as I was reported at Price’s Headquarters I would receive a blanket.  He may have believed this, himself, or he may not.  Nothing angers a Southerner more than to doubt his word; and if I suspected the blanket story to be a myth, I was wise enough to not bring my doubts to the surface.


Soon after this the twilight faded out and was gone.  The night was clear, but quite dark.  After considerable marching we were filed through a gate way and halted in front of a one-story frame house.  It was painted white, and a porch extended along the east side.  (It was called the “Boston Adams Place.”)


Half a dozen fires, or more, were burning brightly in the yard between the house and a stone wall or fence that enclosed the yard from the road.


[Page 196]


Drawing named:  Lieut. Sentille C.S.A.

Of the Provost Guard.

Gen. Price’s Army.


[Page 197]


Price’s Head Quarters.


By these fires a number of men were sitting, with others standing or walking about amidst much noise and bustle.  We were ordered to go to the fires and sit down.


Not then knowing how many of my neighbors were arrived before me, I called out as we went along:  “Company D. Second Kansas Militia.”  But none of the seated men responded.


We found places near the southern end of the group, and sat down by the fires that were fed by dry fence rails.  Above and around us stood the soldiers of the Confederate Provost Guard.  Busily walking about among them was a rather thick-set man of thirty-five, perhaps.  This was Lieutenant Sentelle, (or “Senner,” as I at first understood the name to be.) with whom we prisoners became very well acquainted, indeed.  He was a stout, healthy looking man with a full, redish brown beard, and not at all badly featured.  But there was a certain brutal expression in his


[Page 198]


Drawing named:  “STRIP YOU PRETTY CLOSE.”


[Page 199]


Lieutenant Sentelle.


face, that made me mentally compare him to Mrs. Stowe’s “Legree” in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  And the illusion was not dispelled when I heard him swear.  A coarse, loudmouthed ruffian he certainly was.  He found some of the guards sitting down by the fires; and they got a full share of his bad language as well as some of us prisoners who were standing up.  Our positions were reversed in a twinkling, and soon after this, he left us awhile to our own devices.  New guards came, and some of them squatted down by our fires.  Emboldened by this several of us prisoners stood up to look around a little.


I heard somebody call out:


“Why, Mr. Reader, they have stripped you pretty close.”


I looked around and saw it was Capt. A.J. Huntoon.  He was smiling and seemed to have cheerfully accepted the situation.  We shook hands – which by the way nearly all of us did on meeting in this place –


[Page 200]


Disappointed dreamer.


Then I saw old Mr. Huggins – the man who had dreamed that he was going to be killed in battle.  He came over to where I was standing, and as our hands clasped I exclaimed:


“Huggins, your dream has failed you this time.”


The old man glanced furtively at the nearest guard, and lowered his voice.


“Wait, this thing isn’t over with yet.”


As he had been driven from Missouri by the rebel bushwhackers, I was not sure but he might be right in his dismal conjecture.


(One dream at least, was verified.  Two days before our fight Rob’t McNown of Co. D related to some of his neighbors that he had dreamed the night before of sleeping between two bloody sheets.  He insisted that this gruesome dream was a warning of his own speedy death.  McNown had been for many years a sailor, and was a native of the


[Page 201]


The brave sailor.


Isle of Man.  Like many of his compatriots, especially of the seafaring class, he was a believer in dreams and presentiments.


Brave to rashness, his body was found, well to the front.  From what I knew of the man, I do not believe he would have turned on his heel to save his life.  Possibly his was the voice that attempted to arrest me in my senseless flight, at the stone barn.


Our fires were replenished with fence rails from time to time, and burned brightly while they lasted.  The one next my own had just received a fresh supply of fuel, and I stepped over to it.


Seated in front was the man who had given me the Springfield rifle.


“Hello!  You’re the man I gave the gun to,” he exclaimed on sight of me.


I was very glad to see him safe and sound.  He seemed glad too, for he was extremely jolly.


[Page 202]


Drawing named:  “TASK MASTER.”


[Page 203]


Dead man’s boots.


He then went on, giving his personal experience of the battle, to some of his listening comrades.  All I remember was an episode after his surrender.  He said:


“I was standing near the dead body of one of our men, when a rebel ordered me to pull the boots from the corpse’s feet, and hand them up to him.  The dead man had been an acquaintance of mine, and it was a very disagreeable job to do; but I knew there was no help for it.  I tugged away till I got the boots off, and turned them over to the fellow.”


I am sorry to say I have never learned the name of this comrade.  Many others of the prisoners were talking and laughing.  I felt somewhat exhilarated myself.  Being a prisoner didn’t seem so bad after all.  While there is life there is hope, the world over.


But I was uncomfortably cold, and the blanket that had been promised me, did not materialized.


[Page 204]


Drawing named:  “FREE LODGINGS.”


[Page 205]




My hopes for supper had also reached zero.  At first, I had supposed that the proper officers would issue rations to us.  Nothing very nice of course, but something that would take away the gnawings of hunger.  But when I saw no move being made in that direction, I concluded their idea was to let us fast till morning, and then give us a good soldier’s breakfast, to make amends.


I was pretty hungry, in spite of the crackers and apples I had eaten during the day.  But I could wait.


Some of our men were now lying down by the fires.  I followed their example, but found it well nigh impossible to sleep.  I could keep one side warm enough, but the other side would be freezing.  I dozed a little at times, which afforded some refreshment.

I was at last completely aroused by the rebel officer whom I had mentally compared to “Legree”.


[Page 206]


Simon Legree.


He had evidently stolen a march upon us, and was now scolding his men for allowing some of the prisoners to stand up.  His rage and profanity hardly knew bounds when he discovered several of the guards sitting down as well.  After making the round of the fires, and stirring things up generally, he again left us for a season.  He was not a favorite with his men.  I heard one of them muttering his objections to this kind of treatment.  He swore too, but it was under his breath.


I now sat up and tried to secure a little warmth from the fire.  He was now about midnight.  There was plenty of noise and commotion at the house.  It was being used as a hospital, as well as for General head quarters.  Men were coming and going all the time, as I could see by the fire – light.  After awhile one of the guards ventured to sit down near me.  He was a man of fifty or more


[Page 207]


Drawing named:  “AT FORTY YARDS.”


[Page 208]


Shot – gun tactics.


with a hoarse voice and a puffy look under his eyes.  He had a blanket over his shoulders, and was armed with a very thick barreled shot gun – At one time during the night he requested me to take it in my hand and see how heavy it was.  As I returned the weapon, the old man remarked:


“I’d rather have this, than the best Yankee gun you can find.  At forty yards I could hardly miss a man, and that’s better than you can do with your musket.”


I agreed with him, if he got that close he might have the advantage.


Supposing he had been in many bloody engagements; and might even have the number he had slain with this wonderful gun, notched on its stock.  I ventured to ask how many battles he had participated in.


[Page 209]


Drawing named:  “THE DREAD FIELD OF BATTLE.”


[Page 210]




He shook his head.


“I’ve been in the service a long time, but I’ve never been in a fight.”


“But I’ve passed over many a battlefield after the fighting was over.” He continued.  “I tell you it was an awful sight to see, at first, to see the dead lying here and there scattered over the ground; some of them nearly torn to pieces by the cannon – now and then a leg or an arm lying apart – It was awful.  But it wasn’t long before I got used to it; and cared no more to see a dead man than if he had been a dead horse.  God knows I’m sorry its so, but I can’t help myself, now I’ve seen so much of it.  I tell you, war’s an awful thing.”  The old man talked on at great length in his cracked, wheezy voice.  He grew reminiscent, and told us how he had voted against secession “down in Arkansas,” and how his Union sentiments were finally crushed


[Page 211]


Drawing named:  “UNCONQUERABLE.”


[Page 212]


Nigger equality.


out of him by the “deviltry” of certain Yankee soldiers who had finally penetrated to his neighborhood.  “But,” he added, “we killed off a big lot of them before they got away from there.


I think he said they were the Sixth Kansas Cavalry.


He also enlarged on the brilliant prospects of the Southern Confederacy. 


“Grant will never take Richmond in God’s world.” He exultingly predicted.  “And the South will never be whipped, as long as we have a man left alive.” etc etc.


At one time he moralized on the horrors of “Nigger equality”, and appealed to his Yankee auditors to imagine their own feelings, when a sooty son-in-law should invade the family circle.


His own personal experience of the war was sad.


“My property has been destroyed, and here I am, an old man, broken down in health, and I know I shall not live much longer.  And I don’t care,” he added.  I’d


[Page 213]


Drawing named:  “PLEASONTON.”


*Note – “Gen. Steele never struck one hearty blow

at the Rebellion where he could avoid it.  Identified

in principle and sympathy with the enemy, on every

point but disunion, he was hail fellow with

the Secession aristocracy, a sorrow and a scourge

to the upholders of the Union.”


Greeley’s American Conflict.  Page 555.


[Page 214]


as soon die as live, when it comes to that.”


I thought of my own experience of that afternoon, and wondered if the old man would not weaken if the choice of life or death were offered him, as it had been to me.


Other men were talking near me, and I listened to some of their conversation.  An intelligent looking rebel was asked by one of our men, whom he considered our best military leader.


“Steele is the best general you have west of the Mississippi,” *replied the confederate.  He then went on at considerable length to tell us why he thought so.  His opinion of Gen. Pleasonton was not flattering.


“Besides,” he added, “Its reported that Pleasonton has issued an order to shoot our men when captured in Federal Uniform.  Now that’s pretty rough on some of our boys who have no other kind of clothes to wear.”


It made me think of the fellow


[Page 215]


Drawing named:  “TIME IS MONEY.”


[Page 216]


Barter and trade.


Who took my coat, and that he might sometime come to grief with his plunder.  But the rule seemed a hard one nevertheless.


Seated at a fire to my right was J.H. Holman, of the Battery.  By some wonderful chance his watch had not been taken from him on the field; and some of the guards now had possession of it by threats or persuasion.  Holman was demanding its return; but the rebel who held it, insisted that he was willing to give far more than its value.


“I’ll give you a pony when you’re paroled, and you’ll have something to ride home on.”


Holman shook his head.


“Look here,” said the fellow, holding up a Confederate bill of large denomination.”  This will buy a good pony at any time you want it.”  He leaned over and put the note in Holman’s hand.


I ventured to say:  “Better buy the pony yourself, and trade when we’re paroled.”


[Page 217]


Drawing named:  “REBEL IN BLUE.”


[Page 218]




The rebel trader scowled his disapproval at my interference.


Holman sat silent.  I thought he had relinquished all hope of recovering his property.  With my own experience before me, I would not have given a copper for his title, and supposed this was the end of the transaction.


“I shall try and see Gen. Price in the morning, and report this matter to him,” said Holman in a quiet even tone of voice.


There were three or four fellows managing this forced trade – one of them a handsome chap, dressed in a brand new Federal uniform.  They spoke a few words apart, then one of them – greatly to my surprise – gave Holman his watch and took back the scrip.


A moment afterward, a burly pig-eyed sergeant walked up and asked to see the watch.  Holman pushed it deeper in his pocket.


“I won’t keep it.  Don’t you be afraid,” said the sergeant.


[Page 219]


Drawing named:  “LET ME HAVE IT.”


[Page 220]

Enforced honestly.


“Come, let me have it.”  He stood a few moments, holding out his hand.


“I would rather not,” replied Holman.


I fully expected to see the watch forcibly taken by these men; but after this final refusal, they made no further attempt.  Was it Southern honor, or the fear of Gen. Price?


The young rebel in blue was talkative, and quite intelligent.  According to his story, he had enlisted at the beginning of the war from Texas, and had seen considerable service.  He was as sure of the independence of the Southern Confederacy, as he was to see the next morning’s sun.  The confident talk of these rebels began to depress me, in spite of myself.


Again I tried to sleep, but the night was too cold.  I would sometimes lose consciousness, only to start up again with a shiver.  As the night advanced, the camp became more quiet.  Even the old “Arkansas” soldier


[Page 221]


Drawing named:  “CONFEDERATE CAMP.”


[Page 222]




had subsided into an occasional drone.


The moon was near the last quarter, and her diminishing disc suggested a comparison to our own waning fortress.


Dawn at last appeared, and as its light slowly increased our surroundings began to take shape.  Off to the east were many camp-fires, with their slender columns of blue smoke rising in the still, frosty air.  They naturally suggested breakfast, and I began to imagine what kind of rations would be issued to us Yankee prisoners.  I felt pretty sure that corn bread and bacon would be the principal part of the bill of fare.  For myself, I was not disposed to be fastidious.  Just then one of our guards called out to a passing comrade:


“Say, Bill, parch some corn for me, won’t you?”


[Page 223]


The roar of battle.


From this I judged that parched corn would be a substitute for our bread ration.  I was content.


About sunrise I heard a sound off to the west, like the violent slamming of a heavy door.  In two or three seconds came a similar sound, almost equally loud – A cannon shot, and the explosion of a shell – It was the opening of the


Battle of Westport.


Sunday October 23rd 1864.


The rebels were evidently feeling for the Federal position.  The reports now followed each other with more and more rapidity, which showed plainly enough that the Union Batteries had taken a hand, and the Battle was on.


The road in front of the house was now crowded with mounted men, all hurrying forward to the sound of the cannonade.  Some passed at a trot.


[Page 224]




*Note – “Next morning Pleasonton pressed on to the

crossing of the Big Blue, where he found the enemy’s

main body, (which the day before had fought Curtis,

but had not moved him,) prepared for resistance.

The fight opened at 7 A.M. and was maintained

with spirit on both sides till 1 P.M. when the rebels

fled southward, eagerly pursued by Pleasonton and

Curtis, beyond Little Santa Fe.”


Greeley’s American Conflict.  Page 561.


[Page 225]


Riding to the front.


And all seemed eager to get to the front.  It was a brave sight but no doubt there were plenty of men in that motley throng whose hearts chilled at the sound of those murderous engines of war.*


For some little time I watched this constant stream of humanity with feelings of the deepest dejection.  To my unaccustomed eyes the hostile host seemed almost innumerable.  That our own forces could successfully cope with them, I considered extremely doubtful.  There was to be a second day defeat and disaster to our arms.  So I dismally inferred.

The bustle and hurry at the house and about the out buildings, increased.  Gen. Price came out on the porch several times but if I saw him I did not know.


A young man in a neat grey uniform wore a large white plume.  He was very conspicuous.


Another man in Confederate grey came out to us.  He was a


[Page 226]


Drawing named:  “CAPT. ROSS BURNS.”


[Page 227]


The wounded.


surgeon, and came to see if any of our wounded had been overlooked.  He made the round of our fires, and left us.  A kindly mannered, quiet gentleman.  One of our men sat near me with a pouting bullet wound just below the eye.  I spoke to him but he did not seem inclined to talk.  A little way off I saw Capt. Huntoon talking to Capt. Burns.  The latter had a bandage tied over his head.  Huntoon was luckier than I, for he had been supplied with an old grey blanket, which he wore shawl fashion.  He had been employed in the hospital during the night, and I suppose the rebel surgeon gave him the blanket as a doctor’s fee.


I saw the rebels removing their wounded to vehicles that stood near the house.  One was a stage coach, and several were fine carriages.  Some of the wounded could walk, others had to be carried.  One of the latter had a blood stain over half the surface of his white shirt.


[Page 228]


Drawing named:  “TALKATIVE GUARD.”


[Page 229]


A friendly Butternut.


Shot in the back.  It was very likely the handi-work of our own regiment.


Another set of guards came.  One, who was posted near our fire, was a lank, sallow faced man of uncertain age.  He wore a long skirted butternut coat, with large smooth brass buttons.  The color of the coat was a dingy yellowish brown.  As quite a number of the rebels wore similar coats to this I concluded it was a sort of uniform among them.


The man seemed somewhat interested in me, and asked me a number of questions.  One of the first was:


“Ever been in a fight before?”


I came near telling him, I had been at Hickory Point, in 1856, but fortunately did not.  There was odium enough in being a Union Yankee; but a Kansas Free-state Yankee was looked upon as something dreadful by the average Southern.


I asked him a few questions myself:


[Page 230]




[Page 231]


Seeking information.


“How many men has Gen. Price?”


“About thirty five thousand.”


“Do you think he will remain here during the winter?”


“Don’t know.  Think he will.”


My heart sank at the bare possibility.  After a moment he inquired in his drawling tone of voice:


“Do you always have such cold weather in the Fall?”


“Often,” I replied.


“It’s a H___ of a climate,” remarked another of our guards.”  “I don’t want any more of it.”


I was more than willing they should dislike it.


I hinted about breakfast to my butternut custodian, but he could give me no satisfaction.  I learned that most of the rebels in Price’s army lived on parched corn, and fresh beef.  That few had tents of sufficient clothing.  I could see for myself that many were poorly armed.  But they all seemed to worship “Grand-Pap” as they affectionately called the old


[Page 232]


Drawing named:  “YANKEE TRICK.”


[Page 233]


The three apples.




Just outside the guard – line was an apple tree.  It was scant of leaves, and on an upper branch were three apples.  I soon decided how to secure them.  Our fire was burning low, and I turned to the guard in butternut, and asked the privilege of bringing more fuel.  Without a word he shouldered his gun, and escorted me to the rail fence – which was a few rods south of our fires.  I selected a very slender rail with two others and we started back.  When we reached the apple tree, I stopped and requested the man to allow me the chance of knocking off the tempting fruit.  He made no objection.  With the slender rail I soon punched off the largest apple.  As it fell, it rolled toward our fires, and Levi Williams apparently astonished at its appearance was about to pick it up, when he looked around, and seeing me with the rail, took in the situation.


[Page 234]


Superlative meanness.


As I was about to pocket my prize, a mounted man pulled up alongside me, and curtly ordered me to give it to him.  I could hardly believe he was in earnest.  To be robbed of clothing was bad enough, but to have a morsel of food snatched from one’s mouth, almost passed belief.


The fellow became impatient and angry at my refusal and demanded the apple in a threatening voice.


“It’s for a wounded man,” he added.


I glanced at the man guarding me, hoping he would interfere in my behalf; but his stolid face gave no encouragement.  My persecutor was probably a petty officer, and the other did not dare oppose him.  I gave up the apple, and the man rode away.  A mean contemptible fellow, whoever he was.


I then knocked down the other two apples, and safely pocketed them.


[Page 235]


Drawing named:  “ONLY TWENTY DOLLARS.”


[Page 236]




There was a bustle of preparation – not for breakfast, but for our own departure.


I saw a soldier adjusting his spur – He had but the one.


“I got this spur for twenty dollars.” He remarked to a comrade.  His tone indicated that he considered himself lucky in getting it so cheap.  It was really worth about fifty cents, our money.  Poor rebels.


It was probably one hour after sunrise when Lieut. Sentelle led us through the gateway, and formed us in four ranks outside the stone wall.


We marched south a little way; and then turned west, toward the sound of the cannonade which was now quite heavy.


Isaac Bickell was on my right, and Robert Kemp and David Vaughan to my left.  Bickell proposed that we four join hands, but it interfered with our walking, and was given up after a few minutes trial.  I then cut my two apples in


[Page 237]


Drawing named:  “BRUSH CREEK, Jackson Co. Mo.

BATTLE OF WESTPORT, Oct. 23, 1864.”

From a photograph, May 15, 1893.


[Page 238]


A gloomy prospect.


half and divided with my three comrades.


Wagon trains and soldiers filled the crowded highway, or traversed the adjoining fields; all pushing toward the front.


To my mind there could be but one explanation.  The rebels were driving our forces from the field – Kansas would be over – run, and the National cause itself imperiled.  I gave up all for lost, and was sunk in the lowest depths of despondency.  I said to Bickell:


“Kansas will be invaded, and our homes destroyed.  They’re beating us.”


Pretty soon we came in the neighborhood of our battlefield of the day before.  Here I noticed the wagons ahead of us were turning south, and going at a lively rate.  In a few minutes we also were led southward through the eastern portion of the old cornfield where our battle had been fought.  My relief was immense.  I said to those about me:


[Page 239]


Drawing named:  “A LUCKY FIND.”


[Page 240]


The Priceless quilt.


“They must be getting whipped.”


Presently we entered the road that led through the woods to Russell’s Ford.  Near our old campground I picked up a fragment of an old bed quilt, which had been used as a saddle blanket.  Under the circumstances I considered it quite a prize; and not likely to be wrested from me by the needy Confederates.


At the ford we were allowed to drink of the muddy water as best we could.  I asked a rebel to let me get some water outside the guard line, where it was not so badly stirred up.  He said “yes” and I went out.  Another one of the guards immediately followed me, and with language foully abusive, ordered me back.  I told him I had “permission to come”.


“You’re a d—d liar!” he shouted.  “Back with you!”


I made a hasty dip in the water with my hat, and ran back inside the sheltering (?) guard line.


[Page 241]




[Page 242]


Grime of battle.


I had the satisfaction of knowing that my own statement was the truth, while the rebel’s was not.


One of my neighbors whispered:  “Sam, you had better wash your face.”  I followed his suggestion as we stood in the water; and as I glanced at Sam Kosier – who stood near by – I could easily imagine how much I needed the ablution.  I had seen him during the fight, his blackened face streaming with perspiration that was cutting channels through this “Battle grime,” from forehead to beard.  It had now dried on, and his appearance at any other time or place would have been almost comical.


We left the ford, and when about half way up the steep stony hill on the east side, we were halted, and sat down to rest.


I had picked up an ear of corn as we came along through the fields.  My hunger was extreme, and I shelled off some of the kernels


[Page 243]


Drawing named:  “WAITING ON THE HILL-SIDE.”


[Page 244]




and began to eat them.  Several prisoners near me asked for some and were supplied.  Capt. Huntoon – who was seated a little above me on the hillside – seemed very much amused.


“We’re all right,” he laughed.  “Our quartermaster is issuing rations.”


He then told us about his own capture, and the death (?) of Lieut. Col. Greene.  He pointed to some bushes by the road – side.


“His body is lying over there.”  That I had seen the last of our gallant colonel, I now felt assured.  About this time one of the guards told me there was a dead man wearing a soldier’s jacket, lying near us in the road.  I naturally supposed it was Col. Greene, and so told the man.  A statement of mine that fortunately proved altogether false.


“What are you?” queried an outsider, as he was riding past.




He gave an incredulous laugh,


[Page 245]


Drawing named:  “UNION BADGE.”


[Page 246]


The sounds of conflict.


“And what the h- - were you doing in a fight?”


All this time we could hear the roar of battle over toward Westport.  Our halt made me fear that the rebels were gaining some advantage.  But the wagons kept on and that looked encouraging, for us.


I saw some of our men taking the badges from their hats.  Mine was a piece of red flannel, one inch square, pinned to the band of my hat.  I removed it and put it in my pocket for possible future use.  (I noticed that some of the rebels had badges of pale blue ribbon fastened to their hats, also.)


About the middle of the forenoon we were started on again, marching almost due south.


And now began that terrible, weary march, never to be forgotten by the surviving participants.


Fatal to some – injurious to the health of many – all were subjected to such tortures of hunger and thirst, fatigue and exposure, as few


[Page 247]


Drawing named:  “WOUNDED. (?)  Not Reported.”


The way I bled for my Country.


[Page 248]


Bleeding for the country.


mortals are called upon to suffer.


The country we traversed was mostly rolling prairie land, with here and there a cultivated field.


Our pace was rapid.  At first I suffered little distress, being well seasoned to walking, but toward noon my feet and ankles were chafed.  To relieve them, I took off my boots.  Shortly after, we were led off the road, and took a short cut through a field where some bushes or large weeds had been cut.  As I passed through my foot was cut on one of the stubs.  Of course I had no time to tie up or even to examine my hurt.  Fortunately it was between my toes, and did not very much cripple me.


A rebel seeing me with my boots off, inquired if they hurt my feet.  I told them him they did.


“Why of course,” he exclaimed, “you can’t walk in boots.  Look Here! I can trade you a nice pair of shoes for them.  They’re just the thing for you to walk in.  I’ll get them for you.”


[Page 249]


Drawing named:  “EXEMPT.”


[Page 250]


A bootless attempt.


I supposed the shoes were about as real as the blanket had been; but more for the sake of saying something, than anything else, I asked the fellow what size they were.


“Number eights.” He replied.


“Too small, I wear elevens.”


“Oh!  But these are very large eights.  You’ll have no trouble about wearing them”


Believing that he would now compel me to consummate my half of the trade in advance of his, I watched my opportunity and slipped over to the other side of the road.  But I noticed he kept his eye on me, which seemed to say:  “Never mind, you can’t escape me.”  A little while after this we came to a halt for a short rest.  I had already decided what to do.  With my jack knife I cut half a dozen slits in the upper leather and ankles of each boot, and then pulled them on.  Of course I got plenty of bad language from the would-be-trader, but I saved my boots.


[Page 251]


Drawing named:  “YANKEE ATROCITY.”


[Page 252]


“Close up!”


We were now being forced onward at a fearful rate.  Many of the prisoners were utterly unable to walk as fast as we were being driven; and as a consequence intervals were forming here and there in our column, all the time.


“Close up!  Close up!” could be heard almost continually; and then we would have to double-quick to overtake those in our front, and close up the gaps.  The prisoners walking at the front, naturally suffered the least – those at the rear, the most.  I spoke to one of the guards, and told him we could not keep on much longer at such a pace.


“Yes you can,” said the fellow.  “I was a prisoner myself, once, and a Yankee tied a rope to me, and trotted his horse ten miles and I had to keep up.  This is nothing.  You can stand it well enough if you only think so.”


There were few settlers on our line of march, and a great scarcity of woodland and water.


[Page 253]


Drawing named:  “ONLY A MEMORY.”


[Page 254]


The rebel bullet.


The season had been dry and most of the small streams were dried up, causing us great suffering from thirst.  This was aggravated by the day being rather warm and the roads dusty.  Some of our guards were chewing bullets as a relief, and I begged one from a rebel riding by my side.  He dropped the bullet he was chewing into his hand, and gave it to me.  It was in my own mouth in an instant.  Squeamishness was thrown to the winds.


The tremendous physical exertion necessary to keep up, began to tell upon me.  My back and limbs ached as if severely beaten.


Occasionally we were halted for a few minutes rest.  At the word we fell prone to the earth, with such a wonderful feeling of relief.  All too soon would come the dreaded:  “Forward march,” and our toil and torture would recommence.


At one time I noticed some of our men almost completely exhausted.  I think E.B. Williams was one –


[Page 255]


Drawing named:  “TIRED.”


[Page 256]


Transitory rest.


I ran forward and called out:  ”Lieutenant, can’t you give us a rest?”  “Some of the men back here are about tuckered out.”


Capt. Huntoon – who was walking at the front, also spoke up:  “Yes, yes, give us a rest.”


Sentelle looked around, and without comment, ordered a halt.


An hour or two afterwards, I again begged the Lieutenant to give us another rest.  This was carrying the matter too far.  He was very angry, but he halted us long enough to make a declaration of his intentions.  He turned upon us, and with fierce emphasis and voluble profanity, shouted:


“Men, this won’t do!  If you try this thing again, I’ll camp you out on the prairie where you won’t have a drop of water all night.  You’ve got to keep up, and I’ll shoot the first man that falls out!  Forward!”


At this distance of time I am of the opinion that he would not


[Page 257]


Drawing named:  “AN IRIDESCENT DREAM.”


[Page 258]


Clinging to life.


have carried his threats in execution; but just then I had unbounded faith in his word, and in spite of my misery and exhaustion determined to keep going as long as I could drag one foot after the other.


Mid-day had passed without a hint of dinner, or a desire for it on my part.  My mouth was parched, and a feeling of nausea invaded my stomach.  A sip of clear cold water, would have seemed worth its weight in gold.  Now and then a cluster of trees would awaken hopes of relief, always to be disappointed.


My wounded foot was sore, and both were badly blistered.  One of our men had given out and was mounted on a large raw-boned mule.  I received permission to get on behind.  In my exhausted condition I had great difficulty in doing so, which excited the jeers and laughter of some of our unfeeling custodians.


[Page 259]


Drawing named:  “TAINTED.  NOT FOR JOHNNY.”


[Page 260]


The polluted well.


The relief I experienced was immense; and I could well say:  “Let those laugh who win.” – although I must admit, I found their mirth more disagreeable than their curses –


Soon after this we came to an old well.  I do not think there were any buildings near it.  Very likely they had been burned, as the whole country looked desolate.  I slipped from the mule and crowded up to the well.  Someone had drawn up a bucket full, and I heard a man say that the water was not good, as there was a half-rotten skunk in it.


I was told long afterwards, that there were also the bodies of two men at the bottom of this well – When my turn came, I drained the pint cup to its last drop, in spite of the terrible stench and flavor.  In a minute I was almost as thirsty as ever.  A rebel tried to drink of the water but could not.  I begged it, and


[Page 261]

Drawing named:  “MEPHITIS.”


[Page 262]


An anxious guardian.


he willingly gave it me.  In fact I would have swallowed a third pint had it been procurable.  Lieut. Sentelle was near the well, and all the time cautioning us against drinking too much – I rather wondered at his solicitude –


“Damn you men!” I heard him at one time shout, “you’ll kill yourselves.  A pint will do you as much good as a quart.”  But most of the prisoners were deaf to such expostulations.


Then on again we went.  Quite a number of rebel soldiers overtook, and passed us, probably to guard against a possible flank attack on their train.  Some of these soldiers gave us greeting as they passed.  Most of their remarks were directed at the Negro prisoner.  His life would not have been worth a straw out-side the guard-line, judging from their expressions of deadly hatred.  But the rest of us were not overlooked.


[Page 263]




[Page 264]


A will without a way.


A rebel officer galloped up.  The very sight of us seemed to enrage him beyond all bounds.  Interlarded with the most savage profanity, he fairly yelled:


“Kill them!  Shoot every last one of them – They don’t take us prisoners – What are we keeping these men for?”  “I know what I’m talking about – I’ve been at the front all day – I’ve seen the Yanks ride up to our wounded as they lay on the ground, and shoot them in cold blood!”  During this bloodthirsty ebullition I watched Lieut. Sentelle.  He partly turned in his saddle, and after glancing at the officer, paid no further attention to him.


After a few more noisy threats and imprecations the officer left us.  A happy riddance.  He must have been a cowardly scoundrel, and had probably just made a disgraceful exit from the field.  Truly brave men seldom insult prisoners.


[Page 265]


Drawing named:  “TAIL HOLD.”


[Page 266]

Last extremity.


Just before sundown I saw John M. Brown of Auburn, on a horse.  One of our men told me that Brown was shamming rheumatism, and intended to make an attempt to escape.


Other prisoners were clinging to the tails of the rebel’s horses.  I followed their example, and found the scheme excellent.


About dark we reached a stream, and went into camp among a lot of young trees.  The ground was rough and broken.  A number of the guards and prisoners, brought us plenty of clear spring water.


For the first time, the rebels issued rations to us.  We ten Indianola men were in a mess together, and received a few handfuls of course flour for our share and nothing more –


I was at a loss what to do with our provision, when Sergeant John Kemp spread a large pocket handkerchief on the ground, and upon it mixed our flour into a stiff


[Page 267]


Drawing named:  “PRIMITIVE.”


[Page 268]


First rations.


dough, and gave each man as near an equal share as possible.  Mine was about the size of an ordinary biscuit.  I took a forked twig, wrapped my dough about it, and held it in the fire until it was partly cooked, and partly burnt.  I ate it with a relish, and wished I could have it duplicated many times.


We had very good fires, and the night was quite pleasant.


The guards were stationed about us, on all sides, and were very strict and watchful.  None of them talked with us as they did the night before.  In fact we prisoners were too utterly worn out to talk among ourselves.


I draped myself in the old quilt and lay down to enjoy the oblivion of sleep.  My supper was not calculated to give me bad dreams, and for several hours I experienced a perfect release from physical pain and mental misery.


[Page 269]


On again.


Monday Oct. 24 1864.

The guards started us on our way at a very early hour.


There was not even a pretense of giving us breakfast.


My wounded foot was very sore at first, but other and more serious discomforts during the day, made me finally quite forget it.


The day was bright and sufficiently pleasant.  For greater ease in walking the rebels divided us into three separate squads.


Water was scarce, and few houses were to be seen.


As we were tramping along, I noticed one of the guards looking at me curiously.  After awhile he called out to me:


“Look here!  You’re the feller we had prisoner in Arkansas last year?”


I hastened to assure him that he was entirely mistaken.


“No I’m not,” he cried, “you’re the same d—d Yankee.”


[Page 270]




[Page 271]


An alibi.


Not thinking it very safe to be looked upon as a re-captured prisoner, I tried to explain.  But he was not willing to listen.


“O, I know you well enough!  You got away ten days after we took you.”


“You’ve never been that far south in your life, have you, Sam?”


“Never,” I replied.  “This is as far south, or farther, than I have ever been before.”


But we failed to convince the man that we were not lying to him.


We were marching a little west of south, and after awhile crossed the line, and entered Kansas.  The exact time and place I cannot state with any degree of accuracy.  We now saw more houses and improvements, and the rebels began to burn everything in the shape of forage.  No houses were fired, so far as I could see.  All kinds of stock were collected


[Page 272]

Drawing named: 


[Page 273]


Our cannon.


and driven along.


Sometime during the day a number of soldiers passed, going on ahead of us.  I saw a battery of artillery go by at a brisk trot.


I heard a guard call attention to a pet bear, that he said was riding on one of the gun carriages.  I looked, but failed to see it.  But I saw something else, of more interest to me.  As a cannon swept past a few rods to our right, my eye caught the inscription on the limber chest:


“Capt. W.W.H. Lawrence Topeka Kansas.”


It was our old brass howitzer, and I then and there probably saw the last of it.


As usual, many of the rebels reviled us, in passing.  Some of the officers rode close along side to look at us.  Some of these were gentlemen; some were not.


[Page 274]


“An honest man.”


One foul-mouthed fellow swore himself nearly hoarse, at the bare sight of us.  A small man, wearing a cloth cap, especially excited his animosity.


“Why, you can’t look an honest man in the face!” yelled the rebel.  Then followed a torrent of threats and profanity.


But he was not partial.  As he worked his way up along our column, men were singled out, here and there for special abuse. 


I heard some of the prisoners trying to mollify him by saying that we militia had no choice in the matter; but had to turn out and fight, whether or no.  But this seemed to enrage him still more.


“If you didn’t want to come what did you do it for?  You could have fought and died at your own fire-sides!”


When the ruffian got opposite to where I was walking, a prisoner near me – probably in sport – gravely informed the officer


[Page 275]


Drawing named: 


[Page 276]


Reeking with venom.


that he was sorry he had not remained behind in the brush during our fight.


“But you didn’t do it!” roared the rebel in reply.


One of the guards – no doubt thinking my comrade in earnest, - ejaculated.


“Be a man or a mouse – one!”


My turn came next:


“Here! You fellow with the blue jacket!  How come your here?”


As I saw it was utterly useless to try to placate him, I paid no attention.  But he became so noisy and violent that I could not help looking this self-styled “honest man” in the face.  He was leaning forward in his saddle regarding me with a malignant scowl that was very ugly to look at.


“Say!  Did they make you come too?”


I knew he would not be allowed to harm me, and concluded to give him something


[Page 277]


Drawing named:


[Page 278]


Fuel to the flame.


worth swearing about.


“No, I came voluntarily.”


“A volunteer, are you?  A volunteer you d- -d hound?”


“Not a volunteer soldier, but willing to come.”


“Good,” cried a rebel guard.  He was evidently disgusted at the officer’s froth and bluster.  The latter, after liberally showering curses on my devoted head, gave a few touches here and there along the rest of our line, and finally left us.


We marched over a long stretch of prairie, with higher ground some two miles off to our right.  I noticed our guards were watching something in that direction.  One of them asked:


“What is it?”


“Yankees,” was the reply.  I looked, and saw something that resembled the shadow of a cloud resting on the slope of the hill.  By close watching


[Page 279]


So close, and yet so far.


I could see that it was moving south.


In all the time I was a prisoner, I never longed for liberty as I did at that particular moment.  It was indescribably tantalizing to know that only a little strip of open prairie was between me and my freedom.  It was Dives regarding Lazarus, across the gulf.


At one place we passed a shanty that stood by the roadside.  The people were gone, and the door stood wide open.  How inviting it looked, and how I longed to enter and drop my weary frame upon the floor.  But the hateful:  “Close up: - Double quick!” soon hurried us by.


One of the guards took a fancy to my vest.  It was sky blue, with gilt buttons – the handiwork of C. Bowman of Topeka – The man had an extra coat on his saddle and I offered him a trade.  He demurred:


[Page 280]


An important trade.


“The coat is old and has been torn a little in the “bresh,” but its worth a heap more ‘n the vest.”


He seemed an honest, kind – hearted man, and seeing how exhausted I was, dismounted and let me ride his horse a mile or two.  Perhaps this was intended as a bait; and if so, it succeeded.  As I returned the horse I offered a handkerchief to boot, and the trade was consummated.  As I received the old butternut coat, I remarked:


“It will last me till I get home.”


Jacob Klein was walking just behind me, and heard another of the guards exclaim:


“Like hell you’ll get home.”  (Klein told me afterwards, that this rebel’s remark, made him resolve then and there, to attempt an escape at whatever risk.)


Another rebel laughingly said:  “You won’t need many clothes where we’re taking you.”


[Page 281]


Drawing named:  “OUTSIDE THE LINES.”


[Page 282]


“Trading Post.”


During the afternoon, time dragged fearfully.  The sun seemed almost at a stand still, and minutes seemed hours.  Would the night ever come?


At sun-set we came to a heavy body of timber land near a place called “Trading Post.”  Under the trees, lying side by side I saw a number of men – whether corpses or wounded men, it was impossible to tell.


A man was riding a grey horse just outside the line of guards.  One of them asked:  “Are you one of the prisoners?”  The man nodded.  It was G.G. Gage.  Prevarication might have secured his liberty at this time, or it might not.  No doubt the risk was too great, in spite of the gathering obscurity.


We soon reached a large stream of water, and camped on the north bank.  As we halted I was startled by a series of heart rending groans.


[Page 283]


In camp.


One of our men being maltreated or murdered, was my instant thought.  In a few moments all was quiet.


The second Lieutenant – whose name I have forgotten – called out to the guards:


“Treat these prisoners kindly but let no man escape.”


“Your head’s level,” one of our men responded.


Sentelle drew his revolver, and told some of us to follow him to the water.  Half the prisoners sprang to their feet.


“Sit down!  Sit down!” yelled the Lieutenant.


We all dropped to the earth as if we had been shot.


He, then selected about a dozen of us and led us down to the creek; a strong guard enclosing us on all sides.  I drank and drank, and then filled my hat.  As we climbed the bank on our return, Sentelle and I were a little in advance of the party.


[Page 284]


Trembling in the balance.


The night was very dark.  A bold leap, and I might escape.  But the thrill of half formed resolve, was but momentary.  The rebel Lieutenant turned, and my opportunity was lost.


It was here that our first man – Jake Klein – escaped.


Some of the prisoners were overlooked, and got no water at all.  I passed my hat around to my nearest comrades; then drank all my stomach would hold, and emptied out the muddy settlings – as I needed my hat.


“Rations for the prisoners” was announced.


They consisted of fresh beef and corn meal.  Captain Huntoon took charge and issued.  I felt too miserable to even offer to help.  My old knife was borrowed to cut up the beef, and when the Capt. returned it, he remarked that I kept “a very dull knife.”  But there again, the beef was exceedingly tough, and hard to cut.


[Page 285]


Drawing named:  “HOSPITALITY.”


We took a tramp with “Pap,” the chief,

(So great was his attraction.)

We shared his field corn, and his beef,

And loved it to distraction.


[Page 286]


Confederate beef.


My share of the meat was about half a pound.  I soon had it scorched and devoured.  The corn meal could not be cooked – there being no water to mix it.  I had an ear of corn which I half parched, half burnt on the cob and ate as best I could.  The outside was black as a coal, the inside, raw.


We were in a heavy wood.  Many old logs and stumps were about us, but for some reason our fires were poor.


There was a chilly east wind, and the western sky was over cast.  Altogether, a most gloomy prospect above and below.


The only possible solace was sleep.  I wrapped the old quilt over my butternut coat, pulled my muddy, water soaked hat well on my head, and dropped down under the shelter of a big log.


About midnight I suddenly roused up from a heavy slumber.  I was bewildered.


[Page 287]


Drawing named:  “SPOILS.”


[Page 288]




A man was kneeling at my side, searching my pockets.  By the dim light of a fire, I saw it was the dashing young officer who sported the white plume.  I now sized him up as a detestable robber.


My anxiety was intense, as he pressed his hand over the fob where my ten dollar bill was secreted.  Had he felt inside – but he did not, as he saw I had no watch.


I had a memorandum book which contained a general statement of all I had received and issued, as quartermaster.  The officer took it from my pocket, held it to the fire-light, and ran the leaves over, as if searching for greenbacks.


I explained what the book was, and begged him not to take it from me.  He answered not a word, but carefully searched every pocket.  He examined my knife.  I told him the men


[Page 289]


Drawing named:  “BEFORE DAWN.”


*Note – “Gen. Curtis with the Kansas men took the lead in the pursuit, but soon gave place to Pleasonton’s horsemen; who after a march of 60 miles, struck them about midnight at the Marais-des-cygnes, [Trading Post.] opening upon their bivouac at 4 A.M. with artillery; setting them at once in motion, and chasing them to the Little Osage.”


Greeley’s American Conflict.  Page 561.


[Page 290]

Rainwater versus sleep.


on the field refused it, but it was very useful to me, situated as I was, and I hoped he would let me keep it.


Silently he put book and knife into my hand, and departed.  Not so bad a rebel as I had feared.


I fell back on the ground, and was asleep again in less than a minute, in spite of a light, drizzly rain, that was beginning to fall.


Tuesday October 25th 1864.


Long before daylight we were aroused and started on our way.*  It was exceedingly dark, and a misty rain added to the obscurity as well as our general discomfort.


We waded the stream - which seemed to me rather wide and shallow – and reached the up-land beyond.


I saw a number of fires on ahead and at first supposed them to be the smoldering fires of a burned village; but they were only campfires.


[Page 291]


Away we go.


After tramping several miles we were halted, and waited for daylight.  The rain had now increased to quite a shower.  But my rebel coat and the old quilt kept me tolerably dry.


One of the prisoners was complaining bitterly that he had been robbed of four dollars – all the money he had – Lieut. Sentelle was – or pretended to be – very angry; and as usual in such cases swore like a trooper:


“I never believed I had a man mean enough to rob a prisoner,” he shouted.  “Let him come to me, and I’ll give him a dollar myself before I’ll see him do such a dirty trick again!”


Then he turned to the prisoner with what I considered, rather cold words of comfort.


“Never mind!  Try and have some stamina about you.  Now don’t let us hear any more about the matter!”


That settled it, of course.


[Page 292]


Drawing named:  “FRESH FISH,” IN THE REBEL NET.


[Page 293]


Halt for day-light.


Day light slowly appeared.


Holman was standing near.  I whispered to him, that I had been searched.  I learned that he had not been himself, and that his watch was still safe.


A man – who seemed to be a German – had just been brought in a prisoner.  He was in his shirt sleeves; and either from the cold or terror, was shaking from head to foot.  He stood near me in his wet clothes.  I could spare my old quilt, and I put it over his shoulders.


The rain had now ceased.  Lieut. Sentelle formed us in line and looked us over.


His inspection was seemingly unsatisfactory, for presently he cried out with a savage malediction:


“Men, you’ve let half a dozen or more gat away last night!”  He then made another count, and looked us all over carefully – as I have frequently seen stockmen do in rounding up a herd of cattle.


[Page 294]


Drawing named:  “INSPECTION.”


[Page 295]


Jake Clein.


“One hundred and ten.” Was announced as our number, all told.


Again the rebel lieutenant rode up and down our line carefully scanning each face as he passed.  It was not so bad as he had feared.  Only one man was missing.  He merely remarked in a surly tone:


“That damned little Dutchman is gone!”


Someone said to me:


“It’s Jake Klein.”


John Kemp was quite sick.  He showed his tongue, and it was very badly coated.  He was of course quite despondent, and remarked:


“Sam, We’ll never see home again.”


His words depressed me extremely, but I tried to cheer him up with the old story of one being paroled.  But hope was about dead with both of us.


Then on again we went.  The rain ceased, and after awhile the clouds cleared away.


I felt much better than I had


[Page 296]


Second wind.


the day before.  The air was fresh, and the rain had softened the road so I could walk with less pain from my lame feet.  I began to hope that I was getting my “second wind”, and would stand the trip all right.  I even tried to whistle at one time, but it was a lamentable failure.


For awhile I walked near the head of the column, J.S. Stanfield was at my side.


“Mr. Reader!” he suddenly called out.  “This is a little harder than running for office, isn’t it?”


The man was actually laughing aloud, and looked as merry as if there were not a rebel within a thousand miles.  Amid our dismal surroundings, it was encouraging to see and hear him giving vent to his irrepressible gaiety.


Another man who seemed to stand tramping remarkably


[Page 297]


Drawing named:  “THE SPY.  (?)”


[Page 298]


A suspected spy.


well, was a tall young Missourian.  He told me he had been a prisoner about two weeks, and that after a few days of distress he had seemingly became seasoned to hard marching and now suffered little pain or fatigue.  He also told me that he had neglected several good chances to escape – preferring to be paroled.


Some of our men declared he was put among us by the rebels in order to more closely watch us.  Possible, but not probable.


Nothing seemed to escape the notice of Lieut. Sentelle.  He saw my coat, and demanded how I came by it.  I told him.  He nodded and at last, rather gruffly said:


“All right.”


One of the guards called out:  “Say, have any of you fellows ever been across the plains?”


“Yes, I have,” answered a prisoner.  They talked for some –


[Page 299]


“Kingdom Coming.”


time.  I heard the rebel say:


“When this war is over I’m going to make the trip myself.”  It was pleasant to hear him say that.  But the end of the war seemed a long way off, not with standing.


Another guard was a good vocalist.  At one time he sang Kingdom Coming – a rank abolition song of the incendiary type –


“That song can hardly be popular, down South.” I enquired.


He laughed good humoredly:  “Well no, it isn’t.”


They were not all so peaceable.  Two of the guards had a fierce quarrel, and threatened to shoot.  One – fellow with fiery red hair – leaped from his horse, close by me, and called to the other to come on with his gun.  But his challenge was declined, much to my relief if they were going to shoot among us prisoners.


Bentelle did not actively interfere.  He looked back at the men,


[Page 300]


Drawing named:  “NATURE’S CANTEEN.”


[Page 301]


Garbage gleanings.


and merely said:


“Boys, you have no cause to fight.  It’s nothing but a misunderstanding between you.”

He seemed to understand the merits of the case, if I did not.


We suffered for want of water but not so terribly as on Sunday and Monday.  The rain had left some water on the ground, and at one place I drank from horse tracks.  We passed more streams and found water more frequently than before.


I also secured a few eatables.  Turnip parings and cabbage leaves were scattered along the road and I gathered up a handful or so.  A piece of a turnip I also picked up, which was quite a prize.


A rebel Samaritan brought us an armful of sugar cane.  I very thankfully received one, although some of our men refused, fearing the cane would make them sick.  I ate mine without bad effects.  About noon we crossed a creek and took a short cut through


[Page 302]


Drawing named:  “READY FOR THE YANKEES.”


*Note – “At Little Osage they turned to fight, displaying 5 guns in their line of battle.  Pleasonton at once ordered a charge by Benteen’s and Phillip’s brigades, which was superbly made, and resulted in the capture of their 8 guns, and 1,000 prisoners.”


Greeley’s American Conflict.  Page 561.


[Page 303]


A line of battle.


the woods.  Here I picked up two large hickory-nuts.


We scrambled up a very steep bank at the edge of the woods, and found a number of cannons placed in position at the top, and a line of battle forming.*  We were hurried on over the open prairie to the south.


We met numerous parties of rebels returning at a trot.  Half a mile from the creek, a long thin line stretched far across the open ground, to stop and turn back the stragglers.  They halted us too, but immediately opened and let us go on.  We marched rapidly.  After a while we heard the thunder of artillery, and knew that the battle was begun.


We heard firing off and on, for several hours afterwards.  It was a running fight, as we could easily guess; and the rebels were seemingly hard pressed by our forces.  Many soldiers passed us, as if to guard against a flank attack on


[Page 304]


Almost a rescue.

the right.  Some of the Federals were quite close to us at one time.  John P. Mayors expressed the wish that they would charge right over us all.


“I would be willing to die right here, to see it done.” He said to me in an undertone.


My own feelings just then were less self-sacrificing, perhaps.


The excitement of battle seemed to infuse fresh ferocity in some of the rebels, and we received an additional share of abusive language.  Some of them yelled like wild Indians at sight of the Negro prisoner, and various were the modes proposed of killing him.


“Don’t shoot him!  Kill him with a white oak club!”  shouted one ruffian.


The Negro happened to be walking by my side, and I took an opportunity to advise him to escape at the first opportunity.


“Yes sir.” Was his stolid response.


[Page 305]


Drawing named:  “THAT’S A NIGGER!”


*Note – “Sanborn’s Brigade now came up, and took the lead, and when the enemy again made a stand, routed them and drove them till night stopped the pursuit.  The burning wrecks of wagons marked their course for miles farther, but most of our cavalry here halted, Pleasonton, turning to Fort Scott for food and rest.”


Greeley’s American Conflict.  Page 561.


[Page 306]


Color line.


He exhibited no alarm, and probably felt none.


The afternoon was bright and warm, and I began to get very tired.  Several of us asked the guards for a ride, but were told they had no extra horses.


A Negro was riding along, leading a horse.  One of our men pointed him out to a guard:


“There, that fellow has an extra horse.”


The rebel looked, and then turned savagely on the prisoner.


“So you call that a fellow?  Hell!  That’s a nigger!”


My corrected comrade was abashed and silent.


When a few miles north of Ft. Scott, the rebels turned us to the left in a south-easterly direction, at a double quick.  I could see nothing myself, but knew that Price was headed off from his prey.*


Many of our men were nearly exhausted; especially


[Page 307]


Drawing named:  “GOOD BACKING.”


[Page 308]


Badly off.


E.B. Williams.  He told me that he was suffering with a severe head-ache, as well as from fatigue.  He had also been thrown from his horse during our Battle, and several of his ribs were injured.  On the other hand, John Kemp seemed better.  He proposed that we lean our backs together, instead of lying flat on the ground during our rests. It was a decided improvement.


We stopped at a large pond of water on the prairie.  I was in such a state of exhaustion that everything seemed misty and dream-like while we remained there.  I have an uncertain remembrance of seeing a wounded rebel sitting near us by the water; and of thinking that his plight was perhaps worse than my own.


We drank our fill of the water, then up and on again.


The road was now littered with cast away plunder.


[Page 309]




Like a ship in a storm, the cargo was being thrown overboard.


I first picked up a book.  To my surprise it was Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Next was a ledger.  It was too heavy to carry, and I cut out what paper I wanted for a diary, and left the two books on the ground.


More than a dozen new axes were scattered along the roadside, in one place.


I came across a long tin can.  It would make a better water bucket than my hat, and had a stout cord for a handle.  But when I seized it, the can seemed stuck to the ground.  I then saw it was a canister for artillery service – and would weigh a dozen pounds or more.  There were also tools, and various kinds of hardware.  A guard made me pick up a musket and give to him; but it was broken and useless.


[Page 310]


Drawing named:  “SMASHING.”


[Page 311]


A prohibitory device.


Near the road I saw two barrels that had been emptied of their contents on the ground.  By the smell, it was whisky.


Farther on, near a broken down wagon was an old wagon cover.  It was lying outside the line of guards, but I darted out between two of them, snatched the cover and was back in the line again before I could be interfered with in this seizure of Confederate property.  I folded it up, and found it a rather troublesome thing to carry.  Perry Fleshman proposed that I cut it in two, and give him half.  But just then I saw Ike Bickell riding a pony, and got him to take it for me.


Then on and on we went, often at double quick, until at times I felt ready to drop from sheer exhaustion.  To do so meant death, and I told one of the guards he had


[Page 312]


better shoot me then and there, as I could hold out but little longer.  He looked at me without reply.  Had he shown the least disposition to take me at my word, no doubt it would have infused me with fresh life and energy.  The ordinary individual will endure an incredible amount of misery before he will part with life, and I would not have been an exception.


Again I clung to the tail of a rebel’s horse, and stumbled on as best I could.


About sunset, Bickell seeing how badly off I was, told me to take the pony.  It had a rope halter, but no saddle or bridle. – The wagon cover was lost – I had walked all day long, and the relief experienced from riding was to my tired frame, “like beds of downy ease.”  My boots were tied together and I hung them


[Page 313]


Drawing named:  “RELIEF.”


[Page 314]


A bare – backed mount.

over the pony’s neck.  Bickell held the end of the rope and led the animal along side our column, and just inside the line of guards.


We were approaching a heavy body of timber.  Just before we reached it, we entered a lane, with a fenced field on the left hand side.  In the field were many horsemen.  Some were shouting:


“Shelby’s men, fall in here!”  A little farther on, others were calling out:


“Marmaduke’s men, fall in.”  It was a perfect bedlam of orders and confused outcries.


The road was thronged with mounted men, evidently very badly demoralized.  Some no doubt fell in with their commands, but the greater part seemed anxious to go on.


At this time I did not know that these were fugitives from a lost battle – field.


[Page 315]




It was quite dark when we entered the woods.  (The stream was the Marmiton, and we were now back in Missouri.)


Near the creek the jam and uproar increased four-fold.  Our guards halted us every few rods to allow those in front to make way.  Ahead of us I heard a terrible yelling and cracking of whips, and supposed the train was crossing at a ford.  At our first halt in the woods the prisoners as usual, dropped flat upon the ground.


Bickell gave me the rope for fear the pony might tread on some of the prisoners.


When we started up again the animal found an opening in the rebel guard line, and crowed in.  I was well enough pleased, seeing I could do little in guiding him with the rope.  We kept on – starting up and halting again, for the space


[Page 316]


Drawing named:  “WHERE CAN I FIND COL. ELLIS’S MEN?”


[Page 317]


Dense darkness.


of several minutes.  I heard the guards now and then warning outsiders to keep off and not break their line.


I was riding on the left hand side of the column.

We had come to another halt.  The shadows of the over hanging trees made the night additionally dark at that particular place.


A man rode up to me and inquired:


“Where can I find Col. Ellis’s men?”


I told the man I didn’t know.  He was turning to go away when he happened to see our men lying on the ground – a dark mass indistinguishable in the obscurity –


“What have you got there?”  he asked in some surprise.


Up to this moment I had believed that escape would be next to an impossibility.  I had even advised Mat. Clark that afternoon to not attempt it.  That


[Page 318]


Hope aglow.


he would be recaptured and shot, almost to a certainty.


Our custodians had impressed it upon our minds, that the man who attempted an escape would be shown no mercy at their hands when recaptured.  But here was a chance that might never occur again.  My questioner evidently took me for a rebel.  I could encourage that belief and perhaps gain my liberty.  For one moment the gates of Paradise stood ajar – I would take the risk at all hazards, for escape.  The contending emotions of hope and fear rushed over me with such tumultuous force, that I could scarcely control my voice as I answered:


“Yankee prisoners.”


To keep him from going, I added that we had one hundred and ten in all; the greater part captured near Westport.  He seemed interested for the moment.  I then asked:


 [Page 319]


Drawing named:  “IT WENT AGAINST US.”



(Or “Little Osage.)


[Page 320]


Talking “Rebel!”


“How did the battle go today?”  The rebel lowered his voice:

“It went against us.”  Remembering the battery that I had seen in position during some part of the day, I questioned further:


“Did we lose any guns?”


“Yes,” he replied “a good many.”  My confidence had increased amazingly.  The soldier was reining up to go on, when I kicked up the pony and left the guard line, with the excuse that I wanted a drink of water from his canteen – which I saw the man was carrying, as it had no cover –


“You can have a little sip,” he responded, as he gave it me.  I was terribly thirsty, but the nervous tension was so great I could scarcely drink a drop.  In the meantime, the prisoners were still at rest – the guard who rode behind me, only a few feet distant from us..


[Page 321]




[Page 322]


The die is cast.


Was he deceived, or willfully blind?  I may never know.  The suspense was more than I could endure.


Returning the canteen with a mumbled statement that I would get water from the creek – which I saw was just alongside the road – I seized my boots, and slipped from the pony’s back.  As I did so, the soldier exclaimed:


“I see you’ve lost your saddle.”  My heart was in my mouth.  For an instant I feared all was discovered.  But he drew no weapon; he did not appear to suspect.


“Yes, I have,” I replied, “then I used a wagon cover, and lost that too.”


A lame story – lamely told – but it sufficed.  He too, was blind as a bat.


“Yes sir,” he remarked; turned, and rode away.  My involuntary deliverer, in truth.


[Page 323]


Drawing named:  “DESPERATION.”


“And let’s not be dainty of leavetaking,

But shift away.  There’s warrant in that theft

Which steals itself, when there’s no mercy left.”

(Macbeth.   Act 2.  Scene 3.)


[Page 324]


A dash for liberty.


Hastily I tied the pony to a branch – to help prove that I intended to get a drink, and return, if re-captured – and plunged down the steep bank to the water’s edge.


My first frantic intention was to wade across the stream, but when I stepped in I found the water too deep.  I took a hasty drink, returned, and pulled on my boots.


Exhaustion was gone.  I felt I could travel to the ends of the earth.


I ran north, under the creek bank, for about fifty yards, where I saw several foot-men coming down a cow-path, from the road above.  I had to meet them, unless I turned back.  I foolishly feared they would detect me, even in the dark.  Had they been as many grizzly bears, they would hardly have inspired me with a greater terror.  In sheer desperation


[Page 325]


Drawing named:  “TRIBULATION.”


[Page 326]


Under false colors.


I rushed up to them and called out:


“O say! Have you seen a loose horse run by?”


They stopped, and with real concern in their voices, said they had not.


“I’ve lost mine.”  I cried as I ran past them up the bank.


Here I found myself in the road again, surrounded by men mounted and dismounted.


“A bay horse,” I cried breathlessly to the first man I met, “Have you seen him pass this way?”


“No I haven’t,” he replied.  Safe so far.  In the darkness and confusion I saw there would be little trouble in personating a rebel soldier, as long no searching questions were asked.


I had learned that the Provost Guard belonged in part, to a regiment commanded by Col. Crawford; but its number,


[Page 327]


Fear and tribulation.


brigade and division I was entirely ignorant of.


To claim membership with this organization, however, would be my best course if brought to bay.  A broken reed, no doubt, but still one poor little chance for life and liberty.


I pushed on up the road against the tide of fugitives that crowded the roadway.  I met footmen, and to several of them related my fabricated story of loss.  Some responded, some did not.  One of these men seemed to recognize in me, one of his comrades.


“Jim is back there a little way, and wants to see you.”  I replied that I would look for him, and hurried away.  (“Jim” was certainly one of the last persons in the world that I wanted to see just then.)  The next man I spoke to showed considerable sympathy,


[Page 328]


A dangerous question.


And I almost feared he would volunteer to help me in my hunt.  Embroidered by his friendliness, I asked him if the pickets were out.


“No,” he replied, “not likely.”  His tone expressed surprise at my question, and fearing I had aroused his suspicions, I hurried away.


After following the road north for about one hundred yards, the creek made a bend to the eastward.  At this point a country road left the highway and turned to the right; and here a party of soldiers had started a number of bright fires.


I halted.  It would be impossible to take the right hand road without passing close to several of the fires, and their light would betray me.  Sentinels were no doubt posted near by, and I would certainly be chal-


[Page 329]


lenged, and made to give an account of myself.


The simple question:


“What command do you belong to?” would probably be my death sentence.  But hesitation only increasing my peril, and with many misgivings I walked rapidly toward the fires determined to put the matter to the test.


A dozen men were warming themselves or walking about.  In spite of myself I could not get rid of the feeling that they would see by my very countenance, that I was a Yankee.


But when I was fully within the circle of firelight, my fears proved groundless.


Not a man paid the slightest attention to me.  I had to pass very close to one of them.  He turned and looked me full in the face,


[Page 330]


Drawing named:  “THE LAST ARMED FOE.”


Of exercise we’d had enough –

Pap’s merits were deceiving,

His corn was raw, his beef was tough –

We felt excused in leaving.


[Page 331]


Outer darkness.


As I almost jostled against him.  (Perhaps it was “Jim?”)


“Did you see a loose horse going this way?”




“Mine got away.”


With rapid strides I passed on, nor slackened my pace until I was again within the friendly shelter of the darkness.  My spirits rose.  No sentinel had challenged me so far; but fearing to meet a patrol or foraging party on the road, I left it as soon as possible, and turned off to the left.


Presently I came to a flat common overgrown with tall weeds and bushes.  There was a movement and rustling of some kind, directly in front of me.  A rebel picket, without a doubt.


I immediately fell on my face and listened with bated breath for what seemed to me half an


[Page 332]


Drawing named:  “SUSPENSE.”


[Page 333]

The dreaded picket.


hour.  I could now hear movements in several different directions, but could see nothing.  I was very much alarmed, but resolved to resist re-capture to the last extremity.  My life was forfeit, but even if it were spared I could not endure the thought of returning to the miseries of captivity.  The blade of my knife was pointed, and more than three inches long.  In a nocturnal encounter it would possess some advantages over firearms.  I held it open in my hand.  No one man should take me, without a desperate struggle, at all events.  The night was quite still, and I could hear every movement of the hidden enemy.  Some of them were almost upon me, when I heard a grunt, that unmistakably betrayed the nature of my foe.


Ashamed, but immensely relieved, I sprang to my feet


[Page 334]


Drawing named:  “PORCINE PICKET.”


[Page 335]


The American Pig.


While a number of hogs scampered away with their familiar “wouf – a – wouf!”


But the time had not been lost.  It had given me a breathing spell, and time to think.  I was now quite certain of being outside the rebel outposts even if there were any.


I stopped a moment to listen.  The noise from the direction of the rebel army was peculiar.  At that distance the shouting of soldiers and teamsters resembled a continuous roar.  Now and then it would rise, and swell into a more formidable volume of sound; then it would sink again as the light breeze wafted it away.


A vivid imagination could easily compare it to a wait of distress, and I failed not to remember that my unfortunate comrades were still in the midst of all that din and misery.


[Page 336]


Drawing named:  “RESERVE RATIONS.”


[Page 337]


A horrible thirst.


It was a saddening thought, as I turned to go.


I walked rapidly in a northerly direction, across field and prairie.  My thirst became intolerable.  All the moisture of my system seemed to be drying up.  I chewed the rebel bullet without relief.  My mouth remained dry as ashes.  In all my three days of torture, I had never suffered from thirst like this.  It is something that I have never been able to understand, for the night was sufficiently cool.  But relief was nearer than I expected.  I stumbled across a ravine and found a puddle of stagnant water.  How much of it I drank, I should probably hesitate to tell, even if I could remember.  I bathed my blistered and inflamed feet, and took a good rest.  Remembering the two hickory – nuts in my pocket, I cut them open with my knife


[Page 338]


Free lunch.


and ate them as best I could.  From another pocket I fished up the stem of a cabbage leaf, and devoured it to the last fiber.  I do not think I was ever happier in my life.  My spirits were buoyant as a feather, in spite of the knowledge that I was far from absolute safety.  There was danger from rebel bushwhackers; and the Federal soldiers would undoubtedly take me for a rebel at first sight.  I concluded it would be safer to have a flag of truce ready for an emergency.  My outer shirt was white, and would answer the purpose admirably.  I cut a stout stick that would serve as a cane and a flag staff, as occasion required.


For the purpose of identification, in case I should be killed, I wrote on a scrap of paper:  “S.J. Reader, Indianola Kansas.  Second reg’t. K.S.M.”  This I pinned to my waistband.


[Page 339]


Drawing named:  “LEAD THOU ME ON.”


[Page 340]


Clear, cold water.


Soon after leaving the ravine, I came to a house.  There was a light inside, but I did not dare venture too near.


I passed to the east of it through a stable yard and remember to my credit, pulling up the bars after me.


I then came to a small stream of running water.  I drank my fill, and started on again, with a quart or so in my hat.


I reached open ground and attempted to lay my course by the stars.  Ursa Major was low in the northwest; the Pleiades just above the eastern horizon.  I had some trouble in locating the “pointers of the dipper,” so as to find the North star.  Brightly it shone in the clear northern sky, the fugitives friend in all ages, past and present.


The familiar hymn:  “Lead Kindly Light,” might with little change apply to my condition at that moment:


[Page 341]




[Page 342]


By the stars.


“Lead, Kindly Star, amid the encircling gloom,

Lead thou me on.

The night is dark, and I am far from home.

Direct my steps

Past mortal foes, until the light of dawn

To home, and loyal friends may lead me on.”


I went on at a brisk pace until I came to an elevated spot on the prairie.  It must have been four or five miles from where my escape was effected; and a little east of north.  A small creek was to my right.  A few clouds were now gathering, with some lightening.  There were sounds like cannon shots, from the direction of the Marmiton Crossing.  Off to the west the prairie grass had been fired, and the light was reflected on the clouds.


I stood for a few moments and viewed my surroundings.  I could hardly realize that all was not a dream.


[Page 343]


Drawing named:  “VESPERS.”


[Page 344]


Seventh Heaven.


I was supremely happy.  But the tremendous mental and physical strain of the last two hours could not be longer sustained.


I pulled up some dead grass for a pillow, and was soon luxuriously couched.  Before I closed my eyes, the shrill bark of a wolf broke the silence of the night.  My first thought was, that he was on his way to the battlefield, to feast on the slain – but the field was probably too far away for that.  All the same, it was not a pleasant sound to hear under the circumstances, and I was glad when his vocal efforts ceased.

I must have slept five or six hours, when I was awakened by a feeling of chilliness, and found that a very light


[Page 345]


Drawing named:  “REST FOR THE WEARY.”


[Page 346]


A drowsy promenade.


rain was falling.


I started up, and guiding myself by a slight breeze, set out on my way again.  After an hours walk, I was warm, but very tired and sleepy.  I threw myself down in the grass, and slept, in spite of the showers of rain that still continued at intervals.  I soon waked up again feeling cold and wet.


Then on again I went, to repeat the alternate tramping and sleeping, until the grey light of morning struggled through the overcast sky.


The Wilds of Missouri,

October 26th 1864

Wednesday, a.m.


The drizzly rain had ceased and the clouds broke away.  I was now getting fearfully weak.  The sun presently came out, bright and warm.  I sat down for a long time.


[Page 347]


Drawing named:  “Joyous the notes

From their noisy threats

That reached the fugitive’s ear;

And his spirits rose

With the song of the crows,

In this solitude, lonely and drear.”


[Page 348]


Writing up.


There were no signs of habitations to be seen in any direction.  Nothing but the undulating swells of the prairie, and a line of woodland to the east.


I was on the crest of a ridge and had an extensive view.


I took out my memorandum book, and jotted down in a rough way, the exciting incidents of the last four days.  As I sat writing, a flock of merry crows serenaded me from a neighboring knoll.


I will here give verbatim the closing lines as I wrote them, sitting in that vast solitude:


“I slept a little, and walked a lot in the night – I am very weak – I hear crows cawing – Some clouds, now and then – I must go –.”


I put up my book, and started on again.


[Page 349]




[Page 350]


A primitive breakfast.


The prairie grass had dried off, and the walking became exceedingly difficult and slippery.


I generally kept in sight of woodland, that I might have a better chance of escape if pursued by horsemen.


In a wooded ravine I found grapes and elm bark, together with clear running water:  My breakfast lacked in variety, but not in quantity.


After leaving this place I came to a number of fields lying west of a creek.


But all the fences were gone, and weeds covered the ground.  The remains of chimneys showed where the buildings had formerly stood.  This was the handiwork of Gen. Lane, when he laid the country waste, the year before.


I was now so completely worn out, that I was unable to walk more than


[Page 351]


Drawing named:  “FORAGE.”


[Page 352]


Back in Free Kansas.


a few minutes at a time.  I would then have to lie on the ground awhile to rest.


I began to bear off more to the west and toward mid-day came to an enclosed field in which were a number of cabbages.  I lost no time in securing a head, and after eating all I dared, filled my pockets.  I then struck a road which I followed to the northwest, and soon after came in sight of a farm house.  As I approached it, an old man rode out from an adjoining field, and came toward me.  A short distance behind were other armed and mounted men.  I never thought about my flag of truce, and it was not displayed, very fortunately.


When the old man had approached near enough, I called out to him:


[Page 353]


Drawing named:  “YOU MUST BE A REBEL.”


[Page 354]


Second captivity.


“Are you a Union man?”  He nodded and said:  “Yes.”


“Then I’m all right!”  I cried, immensely relieved.


“Well, I don’t know about that,” he rejoined, “You must be a rebel!”


His words were harsh, but there was something about the man that pleasantly reminded me of old Osawatomie Brown.


I hastened to explain to him, that I was a Union soldier, and had escaped from the rebels during the night.


He looked at my butternut coat and my dilapidated appearance generally, and shook his head.


“Several of you fellows have already been picked up, straggling about the neighborhood.”  Then he added:


“There’s just one thing in your favor.  You were


[Page 355]


Drawing named:  “REBEL IN THE WOOD-PILE.”


[Page 356]


Yankee guards.


going the wrong way for a rebel.”


The other men now joined him and they took me to the house.  From their glum and sullen aspect it was easy to guess their opinion of me.


I sat on a log at the wood-pile, while the men talked together, a little apart.  For myself I was perfectly at my ease; and was rather amused than otherwise.


The women in the house looked out, and viewed me with considerable curiosity.  Perhaps I was the first real live rebel they had every seen.  Dead rebels, some of them had just seen on the battlefield – which was not far away – as I heard them speaking about it.


I took out my book and began writing up my diary for that morning.  One of the men held out his hand:


“Give me that book.”


[Page 357]




My diary was written in shorthand.  He looked puzzled and suspicious.  But I had him turn to the business part of the book – which was in longhand – and explained to them all who and what I was, and all about my capture and escape.  My statement of facts appeared to be convincing.  The old man said:


“Well I suppose you are all right, but we must be sure about it.  After dinner I will take you to Fort Scott and turn you over to the soldiers there.”


I was now taken indoors.  On the margin of a newspaper was “Juo. McNeal.”  This I suppose was the old man’s name; and so I call him.


The dinner hour arrived – to me, and epicurean feast – biscuit, fresh pork and sweet potatoes, were, I remember a part of the bill of fare.  I was treated as an honored guest by my kind entertainer, and


[Page 358]


all offers of payment on my part were politely declined.


“If you’re a Union man – as I think you are – I am very glad to serve you.  And if you’re not – well, that will be all right, too.”


Mr. McNeal furnished me with a horse, and in company with him and another militia man, we started for Fort Scott – some ten miles to the southwest.


I was told that we would pass over one of the battlefields of the day before.  But pretty soon we met a party of men who advised Mr. McNeal to take me to Barnsville – which was only six miles to the northwest – We accordingly changed our course, and by so doing, missed seeing the battlefield – no doubt a gruesome sight enough, and better avoided.  One of the members of the new party joined us.


[Page 359]


Two Sides.


He was a self-confidant chatter – boy of sixteen, and claimed that he had participated in the fight – or at any rate the pursuit – of the day before.  He showed us a Sharp’s carbine, the he had picked up on the field.


“The rebels don’t look like our men.”  He remarked.  “And I saw so many of the dead rebels who had red hair.  I helped guard prisoner’s for awhile,” he continued.  “I asked one of them:  We’ve whipped you good, haven’t we?”  and he says:  “Yes”.  Then says I:  “you’ve been righting on the wrong side!  Don’t you feel sorry?”  And says he:  “I believe I do.”  When he said that, it made me mad, and I says to him, “Now I’m going to shoot you!”  I began to put a cap on my gun, and the rebel began to beg.  When I got my


[Page 360]


Drawing named:  “VAIN REGRET.”


“He who will not, when he may,

When he would, is answered, nay.”


[Page 361]


Federal clutches.


gun ready I thought I wouldn’t shoot him – he begged so – But I wish now I’d shot him.”  I felt a great desire to read this young ruffian a lecture on the proper treatment of prisoners, but as I was to all appearances a Confederate prisoner myself, and the disappointed youth possessed a breach loader, I wisely concluded to waste no words on him.


When we reached Barnsville Mr. McNeal turned me over to Sergeant Pickerell of the 15th Kansas Cavalry.  I was not personally acquainted with the Sergeant, although he was a resident of Topeka.


He was very thorough in his examination of me, and among other things, asked me to name a number of prominent citizens of Topeka.


I remember giving the names of Jake Smith, and Dan Horne; and a personal description


[Page 362]


Drawing named:  “FREE.”


In grimy, footsore, woful plight,

But free, and filled with glory.

Distant home has loom’d in sight,

And here I’ll end my story.


[Page 363]


Free at last.


of these gentlemen was required and given, as well.


But my memorandum book served me better than anything else.  Sergeant Pickerall carefully examined it, and after a few more searching questions, which I could readily answer, he declared himself satisfied, and pronounced the welcome words:


“You are free.”


My account properly ends here.  I will add however that I started the next morning, on foot, and reached Topeka at noon, Sunday Oct. 30th.


I reported to Col. Veale in person; crossed the Kansas river and reached home at about three o’clock p.m.


Samuel J. Reader.  [XXX]  16 07


February 4 1907  [XXX]  {XXX]


[XXXXXXXX]  Topeka Kans.


About 200 pages and 33000 words.



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