9-11,1862.--Skirmishes at Lotspeich Farm, on Sugar Creek, near Wadesburg; at
Sears' House, near Pleasant Hill; and at Big Creek Bluffs, near Pleasant Hill,
No. 2. -- Report of Capt. Henry J. Stierlin, First Missouri Cavalry.
HDQRS. FIRST BATTALION FIRST MISSOURI CAVALRY,
Warrensburg, Mo., July 12, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of an engagement which occurred on the 11th instant, near Pleasant Hill, between the forces of the First Missouri Cavalry, under command of Capt. M. Kehoe, Company C, against the guerrillas under Quantrill, Houx, and Up. Hays, numbering about 300 men. In connection with this, I deem it necessary to state that information of the whereabouts of this gang was first given by Major Gower, of the First Iowa Cavalry, relating the circumstances of an attack made upon a detachment of that regiment on the 9th instant. Major Gower asked for co-operation against this gang, upon which request Maj. Charles Banzhaf, commanding (now absent), dispatched immediately Capt. M. Kehoe and Lieut. William White, with the following number of men: Company A, First Missouri Cavalry, 21 men; Company D, First Missouri Cavalry, 15 men; Company C, First Missouri Cavalry, 25 men. Total, 61 men.
The command started at daybreak on Thursday, July 10, and proceeded, in compliance with orders, to the place where the First Iowa Cavalry was attacked the preceding evening, at which point it arrived at 10 a.m., finding a detachment of the First Iowa Cavalry, under command of Major Gower, encamped, feeding their horses and break-fasting. The captain reported to the major that he was sent in pursuit of Quantrill, and knowing that any delay would give Quantrill a start, he told Major Gower that he would advance at once, and that if he should meet the marauders he would dispatch a messenger to acquaint him of the fact; also informing the major, before leaving, of the direction he should take. Capt. M. Kehoe then followed along a creek in pursuit. He soon struck the bushwhacker's trail at Lincoln Ford, on Big Creek, and dispatched immediately a messenger to Major Gower, requesting him to follow up as soon as possible. Learning from the neighboring farmers, where Quantrill had fed his horses, that his force consisted of about 250 to 300 men, the captain deemed it prudent to give the First Iowa Cavalry a chance to follow up, keeping up the pursuit in a slow walk. He arrived at about 7 p.m. at a farm-house 8 miles west of Pleasant Hill, where Quantrill had again stopped to feed his horses, and at which place he also halted to rest for the night and wait for re-enforcements. The whole distance marched up to that time was about 60 miles, during which stoppages were only made for watering. Shortly after Major Gower's command came up, also encamping for the night. Here it was agreed upon to start again in pursuit of the marauders at daybreak Friday, July 11. At the appointed time Captain Kehoe's command was in the saddle, giving notice thereof to Major Gower. Receiving no answer he started slowly on the trail, giving ample time for the First Iowa Cavalry to follow up. The captain found that Quantrill had passed Pleasant Hill, leaving it to the right, all the time keeping within the brush, when suddenly, about 4 miles west of Pleasant Hill he came upon Quantrill's pickets, and immediately dispatched another messenger to the major, informing him that he was about to engage their advance, and at the same time requesting re-enforcements as last as possible.
In driving in their pickets he was led by them haft a mile farther on to a house in the brush. Here he found the marauders encamped. (This house belonging to a Union man, they were making preparations to burn it.) Supposing that this was but a part of the force, it was his intention to surprise them, and, immediately ordering a charge, he succeeded in penetrating them, when all of a sudden he found himself encircled by the whole gang, consisting of Quantrill's, Up. Hays', and Houx's men, receiving their fire from all sides, at which time his horse was shot from under him, and he himself receiving a ball in his right shoulder. He engaged them for about half an hour. Then deeming it more prudent to dismount the men, he withdrew them from the assault and secured the horses, himself mounting another horse and bringing up the men as skirmishers on foot for the purpose of renewing the attack. It was at this period that he discovered Major Gower's command in the distance. He sent a report of the engagement to the major and also of the marauders' position. He then, instead of attacking in a solid body, deployed a part of his command as skirmishers, to cut off, if possible, the retreat of the marauders, keeping the rest with him as an attacking party. Soon the engagement was renewed furiously. Again the captain's horse was shot from under him, and he was compelled to lead his men on foot. This time they drove the bushwhackers to the four winds, killing and wounding them by the dozen, the Iowa cavalry simultaneously attacking and repulsing them at another point. After an engagement of a little more than one hour the firing ceased, the marauders being driven by small squads in different directions into the thickest of the brush, carrying, at the same time, the most of their killed and wounded in advance of them. The whole engagement took place in a timber, with a dense undergrowth, and it was almost an impossibility to discover their dead bodies, and they may not, perhaps, be found until the crows and buzzards hover over them. The killed and wounded of the captain's command were all recovered. The killed were buried in Pleasant Hill, with military honors, and the wounded were conveyed in vehicles to the military hospital at Warrensburg. The report of the killed and wounded is attached below.
In conclusion, the captain also states that the officers and men, without any exception, fought and behaved during the engagement with the utmost bravery, and his chief difficulty was in keeping the men from heedlessly exposing themselves. Danger seemed to be a thing unknown to them. Each eager to share in the fight, they fought with a vigor that cannot be praised too highly.
Among those who particularly distinguished themselves were Lieut. William White, of Company C; Corp. E. White, of same company; Sergeant Halleck, of Company D, and Sergt. Christian Andre, of Company A. Private William Schmelzer, of Company A, who, having received a wound on the forehead, charged bravely at the head of the command, firing and dealing blows to the right and left.
The loss of the enemy must certainly be about 50 killed and wounded. They are scattered over an extent of at least 2 miles square. Assist. Surg. W. W. Bailey, First Missouri Cavalry, reports 6 killed and 9 wounded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY J. STIERLIN,
Captain Company A, First Missouri Cavalry, Comdg. Battalion.
Brig. Gen. JAMES TOTTEN,
Commanding Central Division, Missouri.
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