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. 3. -- Report of Capt. William A. Martin, Seventh Missouri Cavalry.
HDQRS. COMPANY G, SEVENTH CAV. MO. VOLS.,
Harrisonville, Mo., July 12, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report to you that, according to the orders of Major Gower, commanding expedition, the call "To boots and saddles" was sounded yesterday morning at 3 o'clock at camp 4: miles northwest of Kingsville. The command got ready to move as quick as practicable and started out on the zigzag trace of the still flying band. They followed up the course of Big Creek, and, passing over the most inaccessible route that could be found, at 8 o'clock in the morning the advance guard, under Captain Kehoe, came in sight of their pickets, drove them in and charged upon their forces, which were fortified in a barn 3 miles west of Pleasant Hill. He was repulsed, with the loss of 5 men killed. He then fell back and fortified himself in a log house until the main forces came up. Meantime Quantrill, with his forces, fell back half a mile and took position in a ravine, which was surrounded with dense brush, and which had precipitate banks on either side from 5 to 7 feet high, the banks being from 2 to 4 rods apart, giving him a very strong position. The head of the column advanced and opened fire on him from the prairie, which he returned with great vigor for a few moments, when I came in sight with my command, and, observing the position of the enemy, advanced at once upon their lines. But on riding up within 15 paces of the precipice from behind which they were pouring a galling fire upon us I dismounted my men, and, being under so strong a fire, did not wait to form more than 20 of my men until I charged upon their lines, not firing a shot until I reached the brink of the precipice, when I opened a volley of fire upon their lines, which were formed not more than 15 feet from my line, which produced a most dreadful effect. I at once cried to my brave men to charge the ditch, by which time some more of my men had taken position by my side. We threw ourselves in the narrow defile among them. Then ensued a hand-to-hand and bloody struggle for the mastery of the defile; but my gallant men drove them from their strong position with not more than half the number of men they had on their side. I scaled the opposite bank after them, and drove them back near 100 yards to the edge of the brush, they disputing every inch of the ground. But, as it had been discovered by the major that they were being beaten back toward the open ground, he sent a detachment around to that side, which drove them back, and for a time I and my little band even intermingled with the enemy. They broke entirely past us and formed again in the same defile that they had so stubbornly defended before. I again charged them in their stronghold and again drove them from it, when they took position in another defile, that gave as strong a position as the first; but again I charged their lines and routed them from their position, which partly broke their ranks, and by this time another detachment had been dismounted and sent into the brush, and, by a succession of charges and repulses we eventually dispersed them in every direction, every man seeking safety in flight and without regard to any one else. Thus ended the bloodiest and most sanguinary guerrilla battle that has been fought in the State of Missouri, or probably in the United States, according to numbers engaged. The battle raged one hour and a half, and at no time was my command more than 50 feet from their lines, and probably more than half the time within half of that distance, and making seven charges on their lines, and all this with the loss of only 1 man of my command killed, and 1 of the First Iowa, who had fallen in with me, wounded. The number actually engaged was about equal on either side.
The loss on our side in this engagement was 4 killed and 5 wounded, which with those killed in the skirmish in the morning made 9 killed on our side. While it is impossible to know the exact number of their killed and wounded, as all that fell in the early part of the engagement were removed by them from the field, but from those who were found on the field and those who were seen removed their loss in killed and wounded was from 23 to 25. We took about 30 horses and a vast number of saddles, blankets, coats, guns, and one mail bag and lock, and also their company roll; and with the rest of the horses the horse, equipments, overcoat, and spy-glass that were recognized by one of their wounded as belonging to Quantrill, and reports that he (Quantrill) was wounded in the leg. All the property taken, except 3 guns, 3 horses, and 2 revolvers, was turned over to Major Gower. My loss was 2 guns and 1 revolver.
As other commanders will make their reports and do justice to their commands, I will only say, in general terms, that they acted with the utmost calmness and confidence; and in regard to my company, and those of Company M who were with me, there cannot be too much said in their praise. I cannot particularize, but each and every one of them did their part bravely and heroically. I was the first that entered the brush, and every one of them was ready to stand by me in the warmest part of the most deadly conflict according to numbers engaged, that has been fought in Missouri. The brave band stood by me to a man throughout the conflict, made seven charges upon the enemy's lines, and encountered many hand-to-hand conflicts, in which they displayed the highest degree of endurance and heroism, and eventually, after a struggle of an hour and a half, spent in a series of successive charges, cut down and drove from the field the most daring and desperate band of outlaws that ever infested any part of the United States.
After the engagement I rested an hour, then my company mounted and scoured the country until dark and brought in what loose horses could be found, and ascertained that the greater part of the bushwhackers went northward and said they were going to the Blue; but, as my orders were to report to Major Gower, I did not pursue them. In the jaded condition of the men and horses Major Gower thought it inexpedient to attempt to follow them any farther. At 10 o'clock p.m. the different commands left the battle-field of Big Creek for their respective stations. I arrived at this place at 3 o'clock this morning, after an absence of sixty-nine hours, in which time the men of my company ate three meals, and were in the saddle all that time except ten hours. The first five hours were spent in a grove, the men with their arms in their hands and drenched with an incessant fall of rain. The second five hours were spent in repose, with their arms in their hands, in the open grove, but with a clear sky. All the deprivations and suffering were endured by the men without a murmur. It was enough for them to know that in three days they had as many times routed and finally cut to pieces this lawless band of marauders.
W. A. MARTIN,
Captain Company G, Seventh Cavalry, Missouri Vols.
Maj. A. H. LINDER,
Commanding Detachment Seventh Car., Missouri Vols.
visits since 02/04/2004
page revised 05/25/2006