October 6, 1863.--Action
at Baxter Springs, Kans.
No. 4.--Report of Lieut. James B. Pond, Third Wisconsin Cavalry.
BAXTER SPRINGS, CHEROKEE NATION,
October 7, 1863.
COLONEL: I was attacked to-day by Quantrill with about 650 men, and, after one hour's hard fighting, I am able to report to you that I still hold the post, and the old flag floats over us as proudly as ever.
The attack was made from the woods east of the camp. It was unexpected, as I had sent my cavalry out not more than an hour previous to reconnoiter on the same road the enemy came in on. My men were at dinner when the attack was made, and most of them were obliged to break through the enemy's lines in order to get their arms, which were in camp. In doing this, 4 of my men were shot down. I was in my tent about 200 yards west of the camp when I heard the first firing. The reason for my camp being here was, that I had just arrived with re-enforcements, and the camp was not large enough to accommodate the whole of my command, and I had just had the men at work extending the defense up to my quarters. When I looked out, I saw the camp surrounded on all sides by mounted men two ranks deep. I called what men were near to me to get inside the camps if possible. At the same time I ran through the enemy's ranks myself, and got safely inside, where I found the enemy's men as numerous as my own. In a moment every man was rallied, and we soon succeeded in getting the enemy outside the camp. This done, I called for men to get the howitzer, which stood just over the intrenchment, on the north side. Whether the men heard me or not I am unable to say, as the volleys of musketry and the yells of the enemy nearly drowned every other noise; but no one came to my assistance. I got the howitzer at work myself, and, after three shots into their ranks, succeeded in repulsing the main force, which retreated in good order over the hill north of camp, where I heard firing, and supposed they had attacked my cavalry, which was then out; but upon looking round, I discovered Major Henning, of our regiment, who had gallantly cut his way through the enemy, and rescued 3 of my men, who had been taken prisoners, and brought them safely to camp. The major informed me that General Blunt was close by, and that the enemy were driving him, and called for cavalry to go to the general's relief. This I could not furnish him, as every effective man had been sent out in the morning, and all I had was about 25 of my own company (C) and 20 of Company D, Third Wisconsin Cavalry (none of which had serviceable horses), and 50 negroes. The major thought that, under the circumstances, I could do no better than hold my camp, while he went out in hopes to meet General Blunt, and inform him that my camp was still in our possession; and shortly afterward I discovered that General Blunt's escort and band had been massacred, their wagons burned, and the bodies burned and stripped of clothing, and left upon the ground, and the enemy had formed in line of battle on the prairie. At 2 o'clock a flag of truce approached. The bearer, George Todd, demanded the surrender of the camp, which, being refused, he stated that he demanded in the name of Colonel Quantrill, of the First Regiment, First Brigade, Army of the South, an exchange of prisoners. I answered that I had taken no prisoners; that I had wounded several of his men, whom I had seen fall from their horses, and would see that they were cared for, provided he would do the same by our men. He said he had 12 privates and the adjutant-general (Major Curtis) prisoners, and that I had killed about 50 of his men, and if I would promise to take care of his wounded, and see that they were paroled after they were able to leave, he would promise me that no harm should befall Major Curtis or our men. This, I think, was intended for a blind to find out what I had done, as they had already murdered Major Curtis and all the prisoners. This evening General Blunt came, accompanied by Tough, who, with 6 or 8 men, have been following Quantrill on his retreat, and report that he crossed the Neosho at the Fort Gibson road, and had gone south. Is there a braver man living than the general?
My losses are, 6 killed and 10 wounded, of Company C, Third Wisconsin Cavalry. Lieutenant [R. E.] Cook, of the Second [Kansas] Colored, and John Fry, the express rider, and 1 negro were killed. As near as I can learn, the casualties of General Blunt are about 80 killed and 6 or 7 wounded. Most of the killed are shot through the head, showing that they were taken prisoners and murdered. Lieutenant Farr, judge-advocate, is among the murdered; also Henry Pellage, and the entire brigade band.
Here allow me to make mention of some of the noble acts of some of the men of my command. Sergeant [W. L.] McKenzie, of my company, exchanged eleven shots with a rebel officer, and succeeded in killing his horse. The man then dismounted, and took to the timber, followed by McKenzie, who, with only one shot in his revolver, killed his man, while his adversary was firing at him. Sergeant [R. W.] Smith, I think, was the coolest man on the ground, and did not fail to see that every order was executed to the letter. Sergeant [R.] Chestnut, of Company D Third Wisconsin Cavalry, commanded the men of his company, and did nobly. The darkies fought like devils. Thirteen of them were wounded the first round, and not one but what fought the thing through.
The number of the enemy killed, as far as heard from, are 11, and I know that we wounded more than twice that number, which they carried off the field.
There are several other interesting items, of which I will give a full detail in future.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES B. POND,
First Lieut. Co. C, Third Wis. Cav., Comdg. Post, Fort Blair.
Lieut. Col. C. W. BLAIR,
Commanding Post, Fort Scott.
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