1862.--Expeditions from Fort Scott, Kans., and skirmishes.
Report of Maj. Benjamin S. Henning, Third Wisconsin Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS FORT SCOTT, KANS.,
Nov 11, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the 6th instant I received a dispatch from Captain Breeden, dated Lamar, at 9 p.m. the night before, stating that he had been attacked about an hour before by 400 men under Quantrill, that they were still fighting, and asking for assistance. I immediately sent Captain Conkey with 80 men and Captain Coleman with 30 men, they leaving here at 4 o'clock a.m. Thursday morning. At 9 o'clock I learned that Captain Morton's train was at Carthage the same night, and being fearful that he would run right into the enemy I dispatched a messenger to Captain Conkey, stating the facts, and directing him to follow on and, if necessary, to fight his way through to the train. Captain Conkey did follow on and got after the enemy and killed 1 of them, and learned that the train had passed west in safety. On the night following the train arrived here, having made a forced march. The next morning about 3 a.m. a messenger reached me stating that Livingston with 100 men was on Dry Wood, about 2 miles above Redfield, murdering and robbing, and that he was working upstream. I immediately ordered Captain Mefford to take 75 men and make for the crossing at Morris' Mill, but owing to his men being very tired and his scouts worn down he did not get started until about 6 o'clock, and in the mean time messengers continued to arrive with information of Livingston's movements, passing up the stream above Morris' Mill, and the military crossing at Endicott's, so that by the time Mefford was ready he made direct for Cato, and there struck his trail about one hour behind him and pursued him about 25 miles to Cow Creek and overtook him, making a running fight, and wounding 1 of Livingston's men and recovering some prisoners. As his stock was badly used up and the enemy well mounted and scattered Captain Mefford returned to this post, and I am glad to say that he did as well as he could considering the condition of his horses. In the mean time I had dispatched a messenger to Captains Conkey and Coleman, who had encamped at Morris', on the direct road to Carthage, to make for Sherwood and intercept them there. The messenger reached them in good time and they started for Sherwood, but as it grew dark before they reached that place, and having no one with them familiar with the country, they were obliged to encamp until next morning. The command then separated, Captain Coleman on the south side of Spring River and Captain Conkey on the north side, and worked down toward Sherwood, and Captain Coleman being in the advance came upon the enemy and charged them, killing 4 or 5 and taking 4 prisoners, including the notorious Captain Baker, who was taken by Captain Coleman himself.
Take it all in all I think the pursuit a decided success and that the enemy will be more cautious hereafter. If I had any respectable number of well-mounted men I would punish their impudence. On the night of the 10th instant I sent Lieutenant Cavert, of the Third Wisconsin, with 16 men, to Lamar, with dispatches for Captain Breeden, and they reached there at 6 a.m. yesterday, the 11th instant, and found theft Quantrill had just left, after burning most of the town that had been spared by him before. I am satisfied that Quantrill is waiting for a train, and I shall be compelled to send all of my cavalry with it, which will weaken the post so much that he may feel like making an attack upon us. There is, as I learn from the proper officers, about $2,000,000 worth of Government property at this post and vicinity, and it does seem to me as if our force was hardly sufficient. I learn also that the trains passing from Springfield have a very strong guard, most of the time a full regiment, and it certainly is not as dangerous as our route. If you are inclined to send a large cavalry force it would please me to have Captains Earle and Coleman, of the Ninth Kansas, with their companies, if it should suit your pleasure. The whole transportation belonging to the post is engaged in carrying commissary stores to the command, but we are expecting 100 more teams from Leavenworth the coming week. After this train shall start the enemy can approach very near and laugh at us, as I shall have no cavalry to send after them, and I assure you, general, that there are many more of them than at any time since I have been here, and the only way that I have been able to keep them from doing more mischief is by having small scouting parties on the move in their country all the while, and that has told on our horses.
In these expeditions my men have been very successful, losing none and having only a few wounded and have killed quite a number of the enemy and frightened them awfully. I have just learned that the citizens on Dry Wood are leaving with their families, after asking for a force which I could not give them; and Squire Redfield has also asked for a force in his vicinity, as the inhabitants are very much frightened.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. S. HENNING,
Major Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Commanding Post.
Brig. Gen. JAMES G. BLUNT,
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