JANUARY 29-FEBRUARY 3,
1862.--Expedition to Blue Springs, Mo.
Report of Capt. William S. Oliver, Seventh Missouri Infantry.
GENERAL: I have just returned from an expedition which I was compelled to undertake in search of the notorious Quantrill and his gang of robbers in the vicinity of Blue Springs. Without mounted men at my disposal, despite numerous applications to various points, I have seen this infamous scoundrel rob mails, steal the coaches and horses, and commit other similar outrages upon society even within sight of this city. Mounted on the best horses of the country, he has defied pursuit, making his camp in the bottoms of the ----- and Blue, and roving over a circuit of 30 miles. I mounted a company of my command and went to Blue Springs. The first night there myself, with 5 men, were ambushed by him and fired upon. We killed 2 of his men (of which he had 18 or 20) and wounded a third. The next day we killed 4 more of the worst of the gang, and before we left succeeded in dispersing them. I obtained 6 or 7 wagon loads of pork and a quantity of tobacco, hidden and preserved for the use of the Southern Army, and recovered also the valuable stage-coach, with 2 of their horses. I was absent a week, and can say that no men were ever more earnest or subject to greater privations and hardships than both the mounted men and the infantry I employed on this expedition.
Quantrill will not leave this section unless he is chastised and driven from it. I hear of him to-night 15 miles from here, with new recruits, committing outrages on Union men, a large body of whom have come in to-night, driven out by him. Families of Union men are coming into the city to-night asking of me escorts to bring in their goods and chattels, which I duly furnished.
The duplicate orders from you to move I received the same day, while absent on this expedition. I returned to this place at once, but find it utterly impossible in the present condition of the command to start at once. My men are without boots and shoes, and the long march in the snow and cold from Morristown and this last severe expedition has filled the hospital, as you are aware from the report of the post surgeon, heretofore transmitted. Three are confined to their beds with broken limbs and two with small-pox. They cannot be removed in my wagons. Others may come down in a few days.
I applied to General Hunter for shoes, &c. He replied that all my supplies of that sort must be obtained through you. Saying nothing, general, about the deplorable condition which the withdrawal of my force will leave this people in, is it not pertinent for me to ask how I can move my command in its present condition on this frozen ground and snow? I assure you, sir, nothing do I more desire than to rejoin my regiment, but if I go now my men must travel with frozen feet, and my sick I must leave behind for aught I see. I am not insensible, and cannot be, to the appeals which pour in upon me from the many Union men of this vicinity to remain, but I have no duties to discharge transcending your command, and do not ask for delay on that account.
The duties of the officers of the battalion are rendered onerous and burdensome on account of the absence of three lieutenants and a captain belonging to the Seventh Missouri, now at Sedalia; besides which one lieutenant is confined to his bed sick.
For the last two weeks I have been without any sugar, there being none to be had. I send to-morrow to Kansas City to endeavor to obtain supplies; still I have a plenty of pork, confiscated flour, and secesh forage and wood.
Hoping this presentation of facts will excuse me from moving until at least I obtain further commands from you, and awaiting your further orders, I remain, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. S. OLIVER,
Captain, Comdg. Detached Battalion Seventh Mo. Vols.
P. S.--I omitted to say I find that I had 1 man killed and 2 wounded during the expedition referred to.
Commanding, Otterville, Mo.
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