October 6, 1863.--Action
at Baxter Springs,
NO. 5.--Report of Col. W. C. Quantrill, Confederate service.
IN CAMP ON CANADIAN,
October 13, 1863.
I have the honor to make the following report of my march from the Missouri River to the Canadian, a distance of 450 miles:
I started on the morning of October 2, at daybreak, and had an uninterrupted march until night, and encamped on Grand River for three hours; then marched to the Osage. We continued the march from day to day, taking a due southwest course, leaving Carthage 12 miles east, crossing Shoal Creek at the falls, then going due west into the Seneca Nation.
On October 6, about 2 p.m., the advance reported a train ahead. I ordered the advance to press on and ascertain the nature of it. Captain Brinker being in command of the advance, he soon discovered an encampment, which he supposed to be the camp of the train; in this we were mistaken. It proved to be the camp belonging to Fort Baxter, recently built and garrisoned with negroes, 45 miles south of Fort Scott, Kans. When the advance came near the camp they saw that they were not discovered, and they fell back a short distance to wait for the command to come up. I now ordered the column to close in and to form by fours and charge, and leading the head of the column myself with Captains Brinker and Pool, took about one-half of the column to the encampment which they had discovered, still being ignorant of the fort. This they charged, driving everything before them, and in two minutes were in possession of the fort. The negroes took shelter behind their quarters. Having no support, my men were compelled to fall back. Not knowing myself where the fort was, 1 moved with three companies--Captains Todd, Estes, and Garrett, in all 150 men--out on the prairie north of the camp, and discovered a train with 125 men as an escort, which proved to be Major-General.[J. G.] Blunt and staff with body guard and headquarters train, moving headquarters from Fort Scott, Kans., to Fort Smith, Ark. I immediately drew up in line of battle, and at this time I heard heavy firing on my left, and on riding out discovered, for the first time, the fort, with at least half of my men engaged there. I ordered them to join me immediately, which they did, on the double-quick. General Blunt formed his escort, still in doubt as to who we were. I now formed 250 men of all the companies and ordered a charge. Up to this time not a shot had been fired, nor until we were within 60 yards of them, when they gave us a volley too high to hurt any one, and then fled in the wildest confusion on the prairie. We soon closed up on them, making fearful havoc on every side. We continued the chase about 4 miles, when I called the men off; only leaving about 40 of them alive. On returning, we found they had left us 9 six-mule wagons; well loaded; 1 buggy (General Blunt's); 1 fine ambulance; 1 fine brass band and wagon, fully rigged.
Among the killed were General Blunt, Majors Curtis, Sinclair, and [B. S.] Henning, Captain Tufft [Tough], and 3 lieutenants of the staff, and about 80 privates of the escort. My loss here was 1 man killed (William Bledsoe) and 1 severely wounded (John Coger). In the charge on the fort, my loss was 2 men killed (Robert Ward and William Lotspeach); wounded, Lieutenant Toothman and Private Thomas Hill. Federal loss at the fort, 1 lieutenant and 15 privates killed; number wounded, not known.
We have as trophies two stand of colors, General Blunt's sword, his commission (brigadier-general and major-general), all his official papers, &c., belonging to headquarters. After taking what we wanted from the train; we destroyed it, fearing we could not carry it away in the face of so large a force. We then sent a flag of truce to the fort to see if we had any wounded there. There was none.
I did not think it prudent to attack the fort again, and, as we had wounded men already to carry, and it was so far to bring them, [I concluded] that I would leave the fort. So at 5 p.m. I took up the line of march due south on the old Texas road. We marched 15 miles, and encamped for the night. From this place to the Canadian River we caught about 150 Federal Indians and negroes in the Nation gathering ponies. We brought none of them through.
We arrived at General [D. H.] Cooper's camp on the 12th in good health and condition.
At some future day I will send you a complete report of my summer's campaign on the Missouri River.
Your obedient servant,
W. C. QUANTRILL,
Colonel, Commanding, &c.
P. S.--In this report I neglected to say that Colonels Holt and Roberson and Captain Tucker, who have been in Missouri on business for the army, were with me, and took an active part in leading the men on the enemy.
visits since 02/04/2004
page revised 05/25/2006