AUGUST 23, 1862.—
Skirmish at Hickory Grove, Mo.
No. 2. -- Report of Maj. Wyllis C. Ransom, Sixth Kansas Cavalry.
KANSAS CITY, MO., August 27, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have to acknowledge the receipt of the general's dispatch, under date of the 24th instant, and have the honor respectfully to report that, finding the enemy under Hays and Quantrill in considerable force were hanging along the Blue with an evident intention of making a raid upon this place, I telegraphed Colonel Burris for assistance, when he came to my relief, bringing with him Bowman's battery, three companies of infantry, and one of cavalry. After delaying for two days, vainly endeavoring to open communication with you toward the southeast, we moved upon Independence— the artillery and infantry by water, my battalion of cavalry (four squadrons) by land. On my march to independence I burned the dwelling-house and out-buildings belonging to one Rice, a notorious rebel and infamous scoundrel, living on the Blue. I occupied Independence without resistance. My first act was to place under arrest McCarty, the editor of the Border Star, a secession paper published at Independence, and a lying, dirty sheet. Having no means at hand of removing the material, I ordered the type of the office to be destroyed. My order was promptly carried out. I trust that my action in this particular will meet the approval of the department. Having learned that the enemy was near Harrisonville we left Independence on the morning of the 22d to look him up, and, if possible, engage him. At Lee's, 12 miles from Independence, we learned that he had counter-marched and was then only 3 miles distant upon our left; an hour later we drove in his pickets, making one of them prisoner. From him we learned that the enemy, 1,700 strong, were strongly posted near Cowerr's, on the Blue, 2 miles distant, he having moved his camp upon hearing of our approach. We bivouacked for the night, and at early dawn moved upon the enemy, driving in all his pickets before sunrise.
A reconnaissance in force, under Captain Derry, discovered the enemy in a deep ravine utterly impracticable for artillery, but the reconnaissance had the effect to drive him from the brush, and two hours later he was in full retreat. Having first fired the very valuable premises of Cowert, with some 30 stacks of wheat, about 800 bushels of thrashed grain, 3,000 bushels of corn, we moved toward a new position. These premises of Cowert's were the headquarters of the rebel gang, and their destruction was a severe blow to Hays and Quantrill. While moving to the new position, as above stated, our rear was attacked by the advance of the rebels, who in their line of retreat crossed our line of march at right angles. We immediately advanced our left, taking up a very strong position on a high piece of prairie and opened upon the enemy with solid shot and shell, and he was soon flying in all directions. It was impossible for us to follow him, as our horses, having been for twenty-four hours without water, were scarcely able to move. The enemy fled toward Pleasant Hill. Thirteen of them were killed and some 20 wounded and quite a number of the horses taken from Buel recaptured. We then returned to Independence, where we remained until yesterday, engaged in removing the wounded and the public stores from that place, which business being accomplished, we returned here last evening. The enemy's force numbered, as we should judge, about 1,200 men, well armed and mounted, our own force being about 350.
Colonel Burris left for Fort Leavenworth on the Majors this morning. My command, now consisting of Company B, Sixth Kansas, and Companies A and L, Third Wisconsin Cavalry, having been in the saddle almost constantly day and night for two weeks, is much worn and the animals badly jaded. Colonel Burris ordered me to return to Camp Moonlight, near the Methodist Mission, in Kansas, for the purpose of resting my command. I march there this morning.
Your suggestions contained in dispatch of 24th instant will be carefully acted upon.
With great esteem, I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. C. RANSOM,
About 200 contrabands followed us out of the Mission.
Capt. THOMAS MOONLIGHT,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.