Page images
PDF
EPUB

and in the neighborhoods where I expected to confront and pursue the enemy. For it is proper for me to say that my experience in a former campaign against Price, made under your immediate orders, in the winter of 1861-262, induced the theory and execution of my plans for confronting and pursuing him on this occasion; and although my force seemed irregular and inadequate, I was inspired with singular confidence in the manner and matter of my success. In further efforts. therefore, to rally an adequate force, I issued the following order declaring martial law:

GENERAL ORDERS,
No. 54.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, Kans., October 10, 1864.

The better to carry out the object of the Governor's proclamation, issued this morning, and to secure prompt and united military organization and action, martial law is proclaimed to extend throughout the State of Kansas and the country occupied by the troops moving therefrom, and all men, white or black, between the ages of eighteen and sixty will arm and attach themselves to some of the organizations of troops for temporary military service. In all the principal cities and towns business houses will close as directed by the Governor's proclamation, except where general officers may give leave to such houses and special establishments as may be consid ered necessary for the public subsistence and health. As this order is only designed to continue while danger of invasion is apprehended, the proper functions of civil officers will not be disturbed, and especially courts of justice and their processes will not be interrupted by the military authorities. All troops, volunteer and militia. are clothed with the powers and are subject to the duties and penalties prescribed in the Articles of War, and soldiers and citizens must expect very summary punishment of crime, and burning, robbing, and stealing in the field will be severely and promptly punished. Private property and peaceable citizens must be protected. Our object is Price and his followers. His forces are now reported as retreating from Jefferson City in this direction. My advance to meet him is already moving. Let troops of every organization press forward to join in his repulse and pursuit. By command of Major-General Curtis:

C. S. CHARLOT, Assistant Adjutant-General.

These efforts aroused the whole people. Business was immediately suspended and militia everywhere began to move and organize. All intelligence of the enemy's movements was published and the excitement was intense and universal. I ordered Colonel Ford to take position at Pleasant Hill, sending scouts forward in all directions to determine the position of the enemy. General Blunt was ordered to Paola to take command of the district and in the field. I also sent you the following dispatch by telegraph:

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

FORT LEAVENWORTH, October 10, 1864.

Being informed by General Rosecrans that the rebel General Price is coming from Jefferson City, Governor Carney, at my request, has called out the militia, and I have declared martial law to secure prompt organization and unity of action. Telegraph lines are interrupted east of Independence, but my pickets in advance of that report only scattering foes. Shall soon have large force on the border or be moving beyond. Will take the field to-morrow, but will try to keep within telegraphic communication.

S. R. CURTIS,
Major-General.

I also informed General Rosecrans that the militia were collecting, and my purpose to give Price a warm reception if he comes this way. In further preparation of field operations I published the following order announcing staff officers, and also gave special directions to Brig. Gen. T. A. Davies concerning the completion of certain defenses in his district, which includes this post and the country north of the Kansas

River, with directions to remain in his district and guard against dangers in my rear which some thought would be assailed by a rise in North Missouri, aided by a portion of Price's troops that had crossed to the north side of the Missouri and taken Colonel Harding's force at Glasgow:

GENERAL ORDERS,
No. 55.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, Kans., October 10, 1864.

The following temporary assignments to duty are published to the command.
They will be obeyed and respected accordingly:

1. Maj. F. E. Hunt, chief paymaster, is also appointed acting aide-de-camp, and will take charge and command of all artillery in and near the town of Leavenworth, consistent with the general arrangements of district commanders Generals Blunt and Davies.

II. Maj. Henry Almstedt, in addition to his duties as additional paymaster, will report to Maj. F. E. Hunt for artillery duty.

III. Hon. James H. Lane, having tendered his services to the major-general commanding, they are accepted and he is assigned to duty as volunteer aide-de-camp. IV. Capt. James L. Rafety, Second Kansas Colored, having reported for duty, will take charge of the general organization and command of persons of African descent. All of proper age and ability are included in the proclamation, and will be organized as other troops for immediate service.

V. Capt. J. M. Mentzer, Second Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, reports being here en route and unable to reach his command. He will report for temporary duty to Brig. Gen. T. A. Davies, commanding District of North Kansas.

VI. Rev. J. B. McAfee, chaplain Second Kansas Colored, having reported for duty, will have charge of contrabands in the field, and will also report to Captain Rafety as acting adjutant in the organization of troops of African descent. By command of Major-General Curtis:

C. S. CHARLOT, Assistant Adjutant-General.

The Governor and Major-General Deitzler called on me to ascertain my purpose as to taking the militia out of the State, expressing apprehensions of difficulty on that point if such was my purpose. They also informed me that expressions of some of my officers had led them to distrust the whole matter of the militia movement, supposing it might be a political scheme gotten up by some around me to transport the people beyond the convenient exercise of their elective franchise, which would come off early in the next month. These were shocking enunciations. I assured these officers that in all human probability we might have to go beyond the State lines, and I considered my procla mation of martial law and call sufficient to cover the legal point as to the militia going beyond the border, but the raising of the question was of itself a great element of discord and danger. As to my attempt to defraud the ballot-box such an idea had never been mooted in my presence or entered my brain, and I pledged my honor that the militia should go no farther than necessary to repel or avert the approaching danger to the State. My manner and matter appeared to assure these officers, who by their position and influence held, as I conceived, the destiny of the State and department within their own hands. I name this, not to complain or reproach these officers, but because such sentiiments were the natural offspring of the political crisis and separate State organization of all our militia. These difficulties, candidly presented by these high State authorities, were material, formidable obstacles which I and they had to encounter. They are inherent objections to the military organization of national forces, and I report them as developments incident to the events of this revolution, and important in the progress of this campaign against the rebel General Price. Being assured of my purpose, these officers promised hearty co-operation and gave immediate orders for the militia to proceed to points designated

near the border. I also ordered the immediate concentration of the Federal troops which had been previously prepared to unite in the campaign. My arrangements for collecting an army were thus completed on the 10th of October, but none of the forces were fairly in the field.

CHAPTER III.-MOVEMENTS IN THE FIELD.

I present a skeleton map of the country, extending from the Missouri to the Arkansas River, through which I moved with my command, showing also the movements of the enemy in his approach and retreat, and the position of the military posts and towns that were near the lines of operations. This map, carefully prepared by my engineer from notes taken in the field, also shows the State and department lines, and the lines followed by the main forces, red representing Federal and blue the rebel movement. Flanking operations of both bellig. erent forces extended on either side, but are not laid down. Cross sabers represent the places where battles occurred, and the whole map gives a true presentation of important places without the confusion of irrelevant details. On the 11th of October, accompanied by a portion of my staff and escort (Company G, Eleventh Kansas, commanded by the gallant Captain Gove), I started on the campaign. Passing through Leavenworth and south of the city, I saw the militia mustering and moving and other matters of business generally suspended. October 12, at 12 o'clock, I arrived at Olathe, where most of the troops were ordered to assemble, but none had yet arrived. I also found water and wood so scarce I determined to take a more advanced position nearer the State line at Shawnee, and therefore so directed forces of all kinds. Forces at Paola under General Blunt were ordered to move toward Hickman Mills, in Missouri, and to "send out due east from Paola, sixty miles or more, to know whether Price moves south." The militia from Leavenworth and Lawrence came up toward night, the former having overdone themselves, and from all directions the news of moving militia was reported. Major General Deitzler, commanding the militia, joined and accompanied me to Shawneetown, where we arranged the militia camps in that vicinity, fronting toward Missouri line and extending as circumstances required. Turkey Creek was especially convenient as a line of defense and was occupied as such. This rendezvous was very near the State line, in a thickly wooded country near the Kansas River, and in this and other respects a strong and convenient position, where the Kansas militia were on their own side of the line. I moved my own headquarters to Wyandotte.

On the 13th I received a dispatch from Colonel Eno, informing me that General Rosecrans had taken the field the day previous, en route to Jefferson City. Price's forces were between Boonville and Lexing ton, still moving westward. The same dispatch reported the enemy as having moved 2,500 men north of the Missouri River to attack the Hannibal and Saint Joseph Railroad, and another report came from the west that Stand Watie, with 5,000 men, was near Humboldt, threatening Southwest Kansas. These reports were calculated to check the movements of the militia, and greatly embarrass the organization of my army. I pronounced the first improbable, and the latter as "undoubt edly a roorback," and so telegraphed to North and South Districts of Kansas, where much excitement was induced by the rumor.

* To appear in the Atlas.

Here Sen

ators Lane and Pomeroy had both joined me as volunteer aides, and I found both of these men of great service in giving correct intelligence to the wavering public mind, and in suppressing false impressions. Pursuant to the foregoing preliminary movements the militia were collected at and near Shawneetown, the left wing under Major-General Deitzler, Kansas State Militia Volunteers, and other militia, constituting my right wing, under General Blunt, U. S. Volunteers, at Hickman Mills. The former was directed to demonstrate toward Lexington, and the latter toward Warrensburg, so as to feel the enemy's approach. My own headquarters were generally at Wyandotte, and at Camp Charlot, near Kansas City, but I made a reconnaissance of the country in person through Independence and Hickman Mills, ascertaining to my own satisfaction that the Big Blue should be a first main line of battle, Kansas City a second, and finally, if overpowered, Wyandotte, on the north side of the Kansas River, connected by a floating bridge, would be a dernier resort. I directed my chief engineer, Lieutenant Robinson, to construct field works at each of these positions in view of this plan and attend to the proper organization of guns and light garrisons which could be spared for these positions. Colored troops and citizen guards of Kansas City and Wyandotte made efficient and proper troops for this purpose, and Lieutenant Robinson, assisted by

civil engineer of Kansas City, deserves special commendation for their efforts and success in these defenses. Lawyers, doctors, divines, and merchants entered the service, and I found them working faithfully on these field-works about Kansas City and the Big Blue. I here present another map,* showing the country near Kansas City, where troops and camps were located on both sides of State line. But a few days' delay while forces were coming and Price approaching was sufficient to weary some and induce doubts in the minds of many. A report was circulated that Price had gone south from Warrensburg and escaped and some of the militia actually turned homeward. Some severe measures and much remonstrance were necessary to retain those who came first till those who came last had fairly arrived. Some of the newspapers took up the theme and denounced the call, and especially martial law, which suspended business and forced citizens to the field without equipments, at an inclement season, when there was no occasion. To meet this complaint and retain the militia I made great efforts through my volunteer aides to diffuse correct intelligence, and I also distributed blankets and camp equipments to some extent, thereby administering a little to the wants and real suffering of men exposed to the rain and cold without covering. I also published dispatches from General Rosecrans and others, showing the steady approach of the enemy toward Kansas and his declared purpose to take Kansas City and Leavenworth and devastate the country everywhere.

This is one of General Rosecrans' dispatches:

Major-General CURTIS:

JEFFERSON CITY, October 14, 1864.

Our cavalry is pursuing the enemy northwest of Georgetown, who is reported moving toward Lexington. We shall occupy Sedalia with infantry to-morrow night. If you could move by Hickman Mills and Pleasant Hill, or by Independence to Lone Jack, it would greatly increase our chances of damaging Price, whose columns are of such length when on one road as to be very vulnerable. If he does not halt he will reach Lexington to-morrow night.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Major-General.

*Not found.

.

I reported to you by telegraph as follows:

ARMY OF THE BORDER, HEADQUARTERS IN THE FIELD,
Kansas City, Mo., October 14, 1864.

Major-General HALLECK,

Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.:

My forces are being concentrated in this vicinity. The enemy has approached to Independence, burning bridges beyond, but he has not occupied in force. I ocenpy Hickman Mills, Mo., and Shawneetown, Kans., with fighting force and scouts forward. Shall move slow, to allow my rear to close up. Have not an operator with cipher, and therefore abstain from giving numbers and particulars. Price is reported near Boonville or Lexington, moving this way. I denominate my forces "The Army of the Border," and will do all I can to make it felt by the foe.

S. R. CURTIS,
Major-General.

My purpose to move farther forward, in accordance with this dispatch and General Rosecrans' suggestion, was prevented, so far as the main force of the militia was concerned, in consequence of the aversion many of them expressed as to going beyond their own State line. Hearing that boats below had aided the rebels in crossing troops I directed the following order:

GENERAL ORDERS,
No. 56.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, Kans., October 15, 1864.

Commanders and owners of steam-boats and ferry-boats on the Missouri River, in this command, will see that their boats do not fall into rebel hands in a condition for rebel service, under the sure and swift penalty of the loss of boat and the forfeit of the life of the commander and pilot.

By command of Major-General Curtis :

W. H. STARK, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

I was thus prepared and ready for the enemy's approach. General Blunt was directed to demonstrate toward Pleasant Hill and Warrensburg, General Deitzler toward Independence and Lexington, each sending out cavalry to ascertain the line of his approach and harass his advancing columns. My own movements at Kansas City and Independence gave me convenient opportunities to observe the movements in advance and also supervise the main forces arranged on the Big Blue and the border. Maj: J. N. Smith, of the Second Colorado, advanced with about 300 cavalry on the telegraph road from Independence, dashing into Lexington on the 17th a little after sunrise, but found the town unoccupied, the enemy's pickets having fallen back before and on the occasion of his approach. Sending out scouts he found the enemy's picket about six miles southeast, which was attacked, killing 1 and wounding 2. This and other important intelligence of the presence of the main force of the enemy was reported by this gallant officer on the 18th through his proper commanders. He fell fighting at Little Blue two days after, and I submit this his last report, marked C,* as a reminiscence of a gallant soldier whose character is displayed in this daring advanced movement and expressed in this his last report. On the day previous General Deitzler reported at Independence the murmurs and doubts of the militia, and their refusal to cross the line until he made them a speech assuring them that they "should not be ordered too far into this State," and Colonel Blair reported that some of the militia regiment at Hickman Mills, believing that Price had taken another

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »