1862.--Skirmish at Sibley, Mo.
Report of Capt. Daniel H. David, Fifth Missouri Cavalry (Militia).
Independence, Mo., October 8, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report that, in pursuance of Orders, No. 102, I porceeded to march, on the morning of the 5th instant, with my command, consisting of detachments from Company A, commanded by Lieutenant Bennett; Company B, Lieutenant Bixby; Company D, Lieutenant Fairbrother, and Company K, Lieutenant Dorey, amounting in all to 88 men, rank and file.
On our march of the first day, about 4 miles from the town, we arrested 2 men, supposed to be bushwhackers. At the same place we captured 2 horses that were concealed in a corn field; thence marched to old man Pruett's, a noted rebel. Not ascertaining anything in regard to the whereabouts of Quantrill and his band, I then scoured the country for about 15 miles in the neighborhood surrounding Blue Springs to old man Walker's, where we encamped for the night, having yet learned nothing of the guerrillas.
On the morning of the 6th instant I continued to scour the country between Fire Prairie Creek and Snibar in the direction of Sibley, constantly making inquiries in regard to Quantrill, Childs, and their bands, but all efforts failing until within about 2 miles of Sibley, where we routed their pickets, who were posted in a lane near William Hughes', on the State road leading from Independence to Lexington. We also espied pickets posted on Big Hill, near Sibley, on the same road, which is one of the most prominent heights in this county. The number and position of their pickets indicated that there was a camp not far distant.
In order to ascertain its locality I advanced on Sibley in two columns, one from the north and the other from the northeast. As we passed the residence of Mrs. Garrison, 1 mile from Sibley, we captured 2 horses with Government equipments, that belonged to the bushwhackers, they fleeing to a corn field for refuge. We concentrated at Sibley, having ascertained that the rebels were encamped at a mill about a half a mile from town (reports varying from 150 to 300 strong) and, feeling confident that their force was too strong for me to attack, I sent you a dispatch for re-enforcements, which you received. According to my intentions, as stated in said dispatch, I started to take a position on Big Hill, distant 1½ miles from town, there to await re-enforcements.
While on the march to said height we met the enemy, commanded by Colonel Childs and the guerrilla Quantrill, their force numbering (according to Colonel Childs' statement) 130 men. They fired upon us, and, as usual, then fled to the brush. I dismounted my men and took to the brush in like manner. Then almost a hand-to-hand fight ensued, which lasted about forty minutes, and not any of the time more than 40 yards apart, during which time we drove the rebels from the field, capturing Colonel Childs (supposed to be mortally wounded), 3 horses and equipments, and 1 cavalry saber.
I ordered my men to mount, which they did, on a double-quick. Being mounted, we started in pursuit, though cautiously as we passed through the brush. When we approached the prairie I thought pursuit useless, and I then returned to the battle ground to ascertain our loss.
On our arrival I found 1 killed and 1 mortally wounded, both of Company A; 1 of Company B, slightly wounded, and many others with holes shot through their clothes and hats, which shows that they were standing close up to their work.
My little band, both officers and men (with the exception of two), conducted themselves like heroes, some of them brave even to desperation. Such gallantry I have never witnessed in my life, and I must say that I never expected to. Both officers and men obeyed my commands with as much coolness and promptitude as though they were upon their daily parade ground.
I regret very much (yes, it mortifies me) to report Sergeant Sheperson, of Company D, and Private Harrison Thompson, of Company B, for deserting the field in the beginning of the fight.
The entire loss of the enemy not known; but while we were making preparations to move our dead and wounded I learned from ladies who had come up to learn the result of the fight that Quantrill was pressing buggies and carriages to convey his wounded. From Colonel Childs' own statement and the blood on the ground they must have suffered severely. They also stated that Quantrill was retreating in the direction of Lone Jack.
Our loss of property heavy. Company A lost in killed, wounded, and missing 5 horses and horse equipments and 1 contraband horse and equipments; Company D lost in killed, wounded, and missing 3 horses and horse equipments; Company K lost in killed and missing 2 horses and horse equipments; Company B lost in missing 1 horse and horse equipments, and lost 1 gun, caused by a shot from the rebels.
In order to mount the dismounted and convey the dead and wounded to this place I pressed from William Hughes 1 buggy, 1 rockaway, and harness for each; from Mrs. Willis, 1 horse; from Mrs. Garrison, 1 horse and buggy; from Mr. Mellin, 1 horse. All this completed, I took up my line of march for this place. After I had proceeded some 5 miles I met your re-enforcements, under command of Captain Vanzant. I then ordered the killed and wounded to be taken, with a sufficient force for safety, to camp. I then counter-marched with the command and scoured the country during the night in the neighborhood of Big Hill and Pin Hill, not finding the enemy.
Early the following morning we struck their trail, and followed in pursuit until about 8 a.m., when we came upon their pickets, giving them a round of musketry, and Captain Johnson, ever ready with his battery, turned his little gun upon them and gave them a few canister, which sent them off on a double-quick. We captured 3 horses and Government horse equipments, 1 Savage revolver, cartridge box and belt. We kept in hot pursuit over hills and through the worst brush thicket that I ever saw, they scattering and concentrating alternately during the day, until we came within 6 miles of this place, where they changed direction, again pointing for another thicket. I then called a halt and assembled the officers for consultation, upon which we almost unanimously agreed to return to camp for rest, as myself and men had been under a heavy march for three days and only eaten three meals, and our horses almost exhausted from fatigue and light forage. We do not believe that guerrillas can ever be taken by pursuit; we must take them by strategy.
I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,
D. H. DAVID,
Captain, Commanding Expedition.
Col. W. R. PENICK.
P. S.— I am sorry of the neglect to mention Joseph C. Allen, as he rendered me valuable service as a guide, and in the engagement 1 found him to be a true and brave man.
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