Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field by Thomas W. Knox

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A preface usually takes the form of an apology. The author of this volume has none to offer.

The book owes its appearance to its discovery of a publisher. It has been prepared from materials gathered during the Campaigns herein recorded, and from the writer’s personal recollections.

Whatever of merit or demerit it possesses remains for the reader to ascertain. His judgment will be unprejudiced if he finds no word of promise on the prefatory page.

NEW YORK, _September 15th, 1865_.






At the Rocky Mountains.–Sentiment of the People.–Firing the Southern Heart.–A Midwinter Journey across the Plains.–An Editor’s Opinion.–Election in Missouri.–The North springing to Arms.–An amusing Arrest.–Off for the Field.–Final Instructions.–Niagara.–Curiosities of Banking.–Arrival at the Seat of War.



Apathy of the Border States.–The Missouri State Convention.–Sterling Price a Union Man.–Plan to take the State out of the Union.–Capture of Camp Jackson.–Energy of General Lyon.–Union Men organized.–An Unfortunate Collision.–The Price-Harney Truce.–The Panic among the Secessionists.–Their Hegira from St. Louis.–A Visit to the State Capital.–Under the Rebel Flag.–Searching for Contraband Articles.–An Introduction to Rebel Dignitaries.–Governor Jackson.–Sterling Price.–Jeff. Thompson.–Activity at Cairo.–Kentucky Neutrality.–The Rebels occupy Columbus.



General Harney Relieved.–Price’s Proclamation.–End of the Truce.–Conference between the Union and Rebel Leaders.–The First Act of Hostility.–Destruction of Railway Bridges.–Promptness of General Lyon.–Capture of the State Capital.–Moving on the Enemy’s Works.–The Night before Battle.–A Correspondent’s Sensation.



Moving up the River.–A Landing Effected.–The Battle.–Precipitous Retreat of the Rebels.–Spoiling a Captured Camp.–Rebel Flags Emblazoned with the State Arms.–A Journalist’s Outfit.–A Chaplain of the Church Militant.–A Mistake that might have been Unfortunate.–The People of Booneville.–Visiting an Official.–Banking-House Loyalty.–Preparations for a Campaign.



Conduct of the St. Louis Secessionists.–Collisions between Soldiers and Citizens.–Indignation of the Guests of a Hotel.–From St. Louis to Rolla.–Opinions of a “Regular.”–Railway-life in Missouri.–Unprofitable Freight.–A Story of Orthography.–Mountains and Mountain Streams.–Fastidiousness Checked.–Frontier Courtesy.–Concentration of Troops at Springfield.–A Perplexing Situation.–The March to Dug Spring.–Sufferings from Heat and Thirst.



The Return from Dug Spring.–The Rebels follow in Pursuit.–Preparations to Attack them.–The Plan of Battle.–Moving to the Attack–A Bivouac–The Opening Shot.–“Is that Official?”–Sensations of a Spectator in Battle.–Extension of Distance and Time.–Characteristics of Projectiles.–Taking Notes under Fire.–Strength and Losses of the Opposing Armies.–A Noble Record.–The Wounded on the Field.–“One More Shot.”–Granger in his Element.–General Lyon’s Death.



A Council of War.–The Journalists’ Council.–Preparations for Retreat.–Preceding the Advance-Guard.–Alarm and Anxiety of the People.–Magnificent Distances.–A Novel Odometer.–The Unreliable Countryman.–Neutrality.–A Night at Lebanon.–A Disagreeable Lodging-place.–Active Secessionists.–The Man who Sought and Found his Rights.–Approaching Civilization.–Rebel Couriers on the Route.–Arrival at Rolla.



Quarrel between Price and McCulloch.–The Rebels Advance upon Lexington.–A Novel Defense for Sharp-shooters.–Attempt to Re-enforce the Garrison.–An Enterprising Journalist.–The Surrender.–Fremont’s Advance.–Causes of Delay.–How the Journalists Killed Time.–Late News.–A Contractor “Sold.”–Sigel in Front.–A Motley Collection.–A Wearied Officer.–The Woman who had never seen a Black Republican.–Love and Conversion.



Detention at Warsaw.–A Bridge over the Osage.–The Body-Guard.–Manner of its Organization.–The Advance to Springfield.–Charge of the Body-Guard.–A Corporal’s Ruse.–Occupation of Springfield.–The Situation.–Wilson Creek Revisited.–Traces of the Battle.–Rumored Movements of the Enemy.–Removal of General Fremont.–Danger of Attack.–A Night of Excitement.–The Return to St. Louis.–Curiosities of the Scouting Service.–An Arrest by Mistake.



A Promise Fulfilled.–Capture of a Rebel Camp and Train.–Rebel Sympathizers in St. Louis.–General Halleck and his Policy.–Refugees from Rebeldom.–Story of the Sufferings of a Union Family.–Chivalry in the Nineteenth Century.–The Army of the Southwest in Motion.–Gun-Boats and Transports.–Capture of Fort Henry.–The Effect in St. Louis.–Our Flag Advancing.



From St. Louis to Rolla.–A Limited Outfit.–Missouri Roads in Winter.–“Two Solitary Horsemen.”–Restricted Accommodations in a Slaveholder’s House.–An Energetic Quartermaster.–General Sheridan before he became Famous.–“Bagging Price.”–A Defect in the Bag.–Examining the Correspondence of a Rebel General.–What the Rebels left at their Departure.



From Springfield to Pea Ridge.–Mark Tapley in Missouri.–“The Arkansas Traveler.”–Encountering the Rebel Army.–A Wonderful Spring.–The Cantonment at Cross Hollows.–Game Chickens.–Magruder _vs_. Breckinridge.–Rebel Generals in a Controversy.–Its Result.–An Expedition to Huntsville.–Curiosities of Rebel Currency.–Important Information.–A Long and Weary March.–Disposition of Forces before the Battle.–Changing Front.–What the Rebels lost by Ignorance.



The Rebels make their Attack.–Albert Pike and his Indians.–Scalping Wounded Men.–Death of General McCulloch.–The Fighting at Elkhorn Tavern.–Close of a Gloomy Day.–An Unpleasant Night.–Vocal Sounds from a Mule’s Throat.–Sleeping under Disadvantages.–A Favorable Morning.–The Opposing Lines of Battle.–A Severe Cannonade.–The Forest on Fire.–Wounded Men in the Flames.–The Rebels in Retreat.–Movements of our Army.–A Journey to St. Louis.



At St. Louis.–Progress of our Arms in the Great Valley.–Cairo.–Its Peculiarities and Attractions.–Its Commercial, Geographical, and Sanitary Advantages.–Up the Tennessee.–Movements Preliminary to the Great Battle.–The Rebels and their Plans.–Postponement of the Attack.–Disadvantages of our Position.–The Beginning of the Battle.–Results of the First Day.–Re-enforcements.–Disputes between Officers of our two Armies.–Beauregard’s Watering-place.



The Error of the Rebels.–Story of a Surgeon.–Experience of a Rebel Regiment.–Injury to the Rebel Army.–The Effect in our own Lines.–Daring of a Color-Bearer.–A Brave Soldier.–A Drummer-Boy’s Experience.–Gallantry of an Artillery Surgeon.–A Regiment Commanded by a Lieutenant.–Friend Meeting Friend and Brother Meeting Brother in the Opposing Lines.–The Scene of the Battle.–Fearful Traces of Musketry-Fire.–The Wounded.–The Labor of the Sanitary Commission.–Humanity a Yankee Trick.–Besieging Corinth.–A Cold-Water Battery.–Halleck and the Journalists.–Occupation of Corinth.



The Siege of Fort Pillow.–General Pope.–His Reputation for Veracity.–Capture of the “Ten Thousand.”–Naval Battle above Fort Pillow.–The _John H. Dickey_.–Occupation of the Fort.–General Forrest.–Strength of the Fortifications.–Their Location.–Randolph, Tennessee.–Memphis and her Last Ditch.–Opening of the Naval Combat.–Gallant Action of Colonel Ellet.–Fate of the Rebel Fleet.–The People Viewing the Battle.–Their Conduct.



Jeff. Thompson and his Predictions.–A Cry of Indignation.–Memphis Humiliated.–The Journalists in the Battle.–The Surrender.–A Fine Point of Law and Honor.–Going on Shore.–An Enraged Secessionist.–A Dangerous Enterprise.–Memphis and her Antecedents.–Her Loyalty.–An Amusing Incident.–How the Natives learned of the Capture of Fort Donelson.–The Last Ditch.–A Farmer-Abolitionist.–Disloyalty among the Women.–“Blessings in Disguise.”–An American Mark Tapley.



The Press of Memphis.–Flight of _The Appeal_.–A False Prediction.–_The Argus_ becomes Loyal.–Order from General Wallace.–Installed in Office.–Lecturing the Rebels.–“Trade follows the Flag.”–Abuses of Traffic.–Supplying the Rebels.–A Perilous Adventure.–Passing the Rebel Lines.–Eluding Watchful Eyes.



From Memphis to Vicksburg.–Running the Batteries.–Our Inability to take Vicksburg by Assault.–Digging a Canal.–A Conversation with Resident Secessionists.–Their Arguments _pro_ and _con_, and the Answers they Received.–A Curiosity of Legislation.–An Expedition up the Yazoo.–Destruction of the Rebel Fleet.–The _Arkansas_ Running the Gauntlet.–A Spirited Encounter.–A Gallant Attempt.–Raising the Siege.–Fate of the _Arkansas_.



General Curtis’s Army reaching Helena.–Its Wanderings.–The Arkansas Navy.–Troops and their Supplies “miss Connection.”–Rebel Reports.–Memphis in Midsummer.–“A Journey due North.”–Chicago.–Bragg’s Advance into Kentucky.–Kirby Smith in Front of Cincinnati.–The City under Martial Law.–The Squirrel Hunters.–War Correspondents in Comfortable Quarters.–Improvising an Army.–Raising the Siege.–Bragg’s Retreat.



New Plans of the Rebels.–Their Design to Capture Corinth.–Advancing to the Attack.–Strong Defenses.–A Magnificent Charge.–Valor _vs_. Breast-Works.–The Repulse.–Retreat and Pursuit.–The National Arms Triumphant.



Changes of Commanders.–Preparations for the Aggressive.–Marching from Corinth.–Talking with the People.–“You-uns and We-uns.”–Conservatism of a “Regular.”–Loyalty and Disloyalty.–Condition of the Rebel Army.–Foraging.–German Theology for American Soldiers.–A Modest Landlord.–A Boy without a Name.–The Freedmen’s Bureau.–Employing Negroes.–Holly Springs and its People.–An Argument for Secession.



The Slavery Question.–A Generous Offer.–A Journalist’s Modesty.–Hopes of the Mississippians at the Beginning of the War.–Visiting an Editress.–Literature under Difficulties.–Jacob Thompson and his Correspondence.–Plans for the Capture of Vicksburg.–Movements of General Sherman.–The Raid upon Holly Springs.–Forewarned, but not Forearmed.–A Gallant Fight.



Leaving Memphis.–Down the Great River.–Landing in the Yazoo.–Description of the Ground.–A Night in Bivouac.–Plan of Attack.–Moving toward the Hills.–Assaulting the Bluff.–Our Repulse.–New Plans.–Withdrawal from the Yazoo.



Capture of Arkansas Post.–The Army returns to Milliken’s Bend.–General Sherman and the Journalists.–Arrest of the Author.–His Trial before a Military Court.–Letter from President Lincoln.–Capture of Three Journalists.



A Visit to Kansas.–Recollections of Border Feuds.–Peculiarities of Kansas Soldiers.–Foraging as a Fine Art.–Kansas and Missouri.–Settling Old Scores.–Depopulating the Border Counties.–Two Examples of Grand Strategy.–Capture of the “Little-More-Grape” Battery.–A Woman in Sorrow.–Frontier Justice.–Trial before a “Lynch” Court.–General Blunt’s Order.–Execution of Horse-Thieves.–Auction Sale of Confiscated Property.–Banished to Dixie.



A Hasty Departure.–At Harrisburg.–_En route_ for the Army of the Potomac.–The Battle-Field at Gettysburg.–Appearance of the Cemetery.–Importance of the Position.–The Configuration of Ground.–Traces of Battle.–Round Hill.–General Meade’s Head-Quarters.–Appearance of the Dead.–Through the Forests along the Line.–Retreat and Pursuit of Lee.



From Chicago to Minnesota.–Curiosities of Low-Water Navigation.–St. Paul and its Sufferings in Earlier Days.–The Indian War.–A Brief History of our Troubles in that Region.–General Pope’s Expeditions to Chastise the Red Man.–Honesty in the Indian Department.–The End of the Warfare.–The Pacific Railway.–A Bold Undertaking.–Penetrating British Territory.–The Hudson Bay Company.–Peculiarities of a Trapper’s Life.



Plans for Arming the Negroes along the Mississippi.–Opposition to the Movement.–Plantations Deserted by their Owners.–Gathering Abandoned Cotton.–Rules and Regulations.–Speculation.–Widows and Orphans in Demand.–Arrival of Adjutant-General Thomas.–Designs of the Government.



Leasing the Plantations.–Interference of the Rebels.–Raids.–Treatment of Prisoners.–The Attack upon Milliken’s Bend.–A Novel Breast-Work.–Murder of our Officers.–Profits of Cotton-Planting.–Dishonesty of Lessees.–Negroes Planting on their own Account.



Reasons for Trying an Experiment.–Activity among Lessees.–Opinions of the Residents.–Rebel Hopes in 1863.–Removal of Negroes to West Louisiana.–Visiting Natchez.–The City and its Business.–“The Rejected Addresses”.



Passing the Pickets.–Cold Weather in the South.–Effect of Climate upon the Constitution.–Surrounded and Captured.–Prevarication and Explanation.–Among the Natives.–The Game for the Confederacy.–Courtesy of the Planters.–Condition of the Plantations.–The Return.



Military Protection.–Promises.–Another Widow.–Securing a Plantation.–Its Locality and Appearance.–Gardening in Louisiana.–How Cotton is Picked.–“The Tell-Tale.”–A Southerner’s Opinion of the Negro Character.–Causes and Consequences.



The Plantation Record.–Its Uses.–Interesting Memoranda.–Dogs, Jail, and Stocks.–Instructions to the Overseer.–His Duties and Responsibilities.–The Order of General Banks.–Management of Plantations in the Department of the Gulf.–The two Documents. Contrasted.–One of the Effects of “an Abolition War”.



The Negroes at Work.–Difficulties in the Way.–A Public Meeting.–A Speech.–A Negro’s Idea of Freedom.–A Difficult Question to Determine.–Influence of Northern and Southern Men Contrasted.–An Increase of Numbers.–“Ginning” Cotton.–In the Lint-Room.–Mills and Machinery of a Plantation.–A Profitable Enterprise.



Official Favors.–Division of Labor.–Moral Suasion.–Corn-gathering in the South.–An Alarm.–A Frightened Irishman.–The Rebels Approaching.–An Attack on Waterproof.–Falstaff Redivivus.–His Feats of Arms.–Departure for New Orleans.



New Orleans and its Peculiarities.–Its Loss by the Rebellion.–Cotton Factors in New Orleans.–Old Things passed away.–The Northern Barbarians a Race of Shopkeepers.–Pulsations of the Cotton Market.–A Quarrel with a Lady.–Contending for a Principle.–Inharmony of the “Regulations.”–An Account of Sales.



Mysteries of Mule-trading.–“What’s in a Name?”–Process of Stocking a Plantation.–An Enterprising White Man.–Stratagem of a Yankee.–Distributing Goods to the Negroes.–The Tastes of the African.–Ethiopian Eloquence.–A Colored Overseer.–Guerrillas Approaching.–Whisky _vs_. Guerrillas.–A Hint to Military Men.



News of the Raid.–Returning to the Plantation.–Examples of Negro Cunning.–A Sudden Departure and a Fortunate Escape.–A Second Visit.–“Going Through,” in Guerrilla Parlance.–How it is Accomplished.–Courtesy to Guests.–A Holiday Costume.–Lessees Abandoning their Plantations.–Official Promises.



Resuming Operation.–Difficulties in the Way.–A New Method of Healing the Sick.–A Thief Discovered by his Ignorance of Arithmetic.–How Cotton is Planted.–The Uses of Cotton-Seed.–A Novel Sleeping-Room.–Constructing a Tunnel.–Vigilance of a Negro Sentinel.



The Soldiers at Waterproof.–The Black Man in Blue.–Mutiny and Desertion.–Their Cause and Cure.–Tendering a Resignation.–No Desire for a Barber.–Seeking Protection.–Falsehood and Truth.–Proneness to Exaggeration.–Amusing Estimates.



The Nature of our “Protection.”–Trade Following the Flag.–A Fortunate Journey.–Our Last Visit.–Inhumanity of the Guerrillas.–Driving Negroes into Captivity.–Killing an Overseer.–Our Final Departure.–Plantations Elsewhere.



Length of the Great River, and the Area it Drains.–How Itasca Lake obtained its Name.–The Bends of the Mississippi.–Curious Effect upon Titles to Real Estate.–A Story of Napoleon.–A Steamboat Thirty-five Years under Water.–The Current and its Variations.–Navigating Cotton and Corn Fields.–Reminiscences of the Islands.



Attempts to Obstruct the Great River.–Chains, Booms, and Batteries.–A Novelty in Piloting.–Travel in the Days Before the Rebellion.–Trials of Speed.–The Great Race.–Travel During the War.–Running a Rebel Battery on the Lower Mississippi.–Incidents of the Occasion.–Comments on the Situation.



The Beginning and the End.–The Lake Erie Piracy.–A Rochester Story.–The First War Correspondent.–Napoleon’s Policy.–Waterloo and the Rothschilds.–Journalistic Enterprise in the Mexican War.–The Crimea and the East Indian Rebellion.–Experiences at the Beginning of Hostilities.–The Tender Mercies of the Insurgents.–In the Field.–Adventures in Missouri and Kentucky.–Correspondents in Captivity.–How Battle-Accounts were Written.–Professional Complaints.



Scarcity of the Population.–Fertility of the Country.–Northern Men already in the South.–Kansas Emigrants Crossing Missouri.–Change of the Situation.–Present Disadvantages of Emigration.–Feeling of the People.–Property-Holders in Richmond.–The Sentiment in North Carolina.–South Carolina Chivalry.–The Effect of War.–Prospect of the Success of Free Labor.–Trade in the South.



Conciliating the People of the South.–Railway Travel and its Improvement.–Rebuilding Steamboats.–Replacing Working Stock.–The Condition of the Plantations.–Suggestions about Hasty Departures.–Obtaining Information.–The Attractions of Missouri.



How the People have Lived.–An Agricultural Community.–Mineral and other Wealth of Virginia.–Slave-Breeding in Former Times.–The Auriferous Region of North Carolina.–Agricultural Advantages.–Varieties of Soil in South Carolina.–Sea-Island Cotton.–Georgia and her Railways.–Probable Decline of the Rice Culture.–The Everglade State.–The Lower Mississippi Valley.–The Red River.–Arkansas and its Advantages.–A Hint for Tragedians.–Mining in Tennessee.–The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.–Texas and its Attractions.–Difference between Southern and Western Emigration.–The End. CAMP-FIRE AND COTTON-FIELD.



At the Rocky Mountains.–Sentiment of the People.–Firing the Southern Heart.–A Midwinter Journey across the Plains.–An Editor’s Opinion.–Election in Missouri.–The North springing to Arms.–An amusing Arrest.–Off for the Field.–Final Instructions.–Niagara.–Curiosities of Banking.–Arrival at the Seat of War.

I passed the summer and autumn of 1860 in the Rocky Mountain Gold Region. At that time the population of the young Territory was composed of emigrants from Northern and Southern States, those from the colder regions being in the majority. When the Presidential election took place, there was much angry discussion of the great questions of the day, and there were threats of violence on the part of the friends of the “institution.” The residents of the Gold Region were unable to cast their votes for the men of their choice, but their anxiety to know the result was very great.

When it was announced that the Republican candidate had triumphed, there were speedy signs of discontent. Some of the more impulsive Southerners departed at once for their native States, predicting a separation of Dixie from the North before the end of the year. Some went to New Mexico, and others to Texas, while many remained to press their favorite theories upon their neighbors. The friends of the Union were slow to believe that any serious difficulty would take place. Long after the secession of South Carolina they were confident our differences could be healed without an appeal to arms.

My visit to the Rocky Mountains was a professional one. During my stay in that region I supplied several Eastern journals with letters from Colorado and New Mexico. One after another, the editors of these journals informed me that letters from the Territories had lost their interest, owing to the troubles growing out of the election. Wishing to take part in the drama about to be enacted, I essayed a midwinter journey across the plains, and, early in February, stood in the editorial room of _The Herald_.

I announced my readiness to proceed to any point between the Poles, wherever _The Herald_ desired a correspondent. The editor-in-chief was busy over a long letter from some point in the South, but his response was promptly given. Half reading, half pausing over the letter, he briefly said:–

“A long and bloody war is upon us, in which the whole country will be engaged. We shall desire you to take the field; probably in the West. It may be several weeks before we need you, but the war cannot be long delayed.”

At that time few persons in the North looked upon the situation with any fears of trouble. There were some who thought a hostile collision was among the possibilities, but these persons were generally in the minority. Many believed the secession movement was only the hasty work of political leaders, that would be soon undone when the people of the South came to their senses.

That the South would deliberately plunge the country into civil war was difficult to comprehend, even after the first steps had been taken. The majority of the Northern people were hoping and believing, day by day, that something might transpire to quell the excitement and adjust the difficulties threatening to disturb the country.

Before leaving the Rocky Mountains I did not believe that war was certain to ensue, though I considered it quite probable. As I passed through Missouri, the only slave State that lay in my route, I found every thing comparatively quiet. In St. Joseph, on the day of my arrival, the election for delegates to the State Convention was being held. There was no disorder, more than is usual on election days in small cities. Little knots of people were engaged in discussion, but the discussions partook of no extraordinary bitterness. The vote of the city was decidedly in favor of keeping the State in the Union.

Between the 7th of December and the 12th of April, the Northern blood warmed slowly. The first gun at Sumter quickened its pulsations. When the President issued his call for seventy-five thousand men for three months, to put down insurrection, the North woke to action. Everywhere the response was prompt, earnest, patriotic. In the Northern cities the recruiting offices were densely thronged. New York and Massachusetts were first to send their favorite regiments to the front, but they were not long in the advance. Had the call been for four times seventy-five thousand, and for a service of three years, there is little doubt the people would have responded without hesitation.

For a short time after my arrival at the East, I remained in a small town in Southern New Hampshire. A few days after the first call was issued, a friend invited me to a seat in his carriage for a ride to Portsmouth, the sea-port of the State. On reaching the city we found the war spirit fully aroused. Two companies of infantry were drilling in the public square, and the citizens were in a state of great excitement. In the course of the afternoon my friend and myself were arrested, by a committee of respectable citizens, who suspected us of being Southern emissaries. It was with great difficulty we convinced them they had made a slight mistake. We referred them to the only acquaintances we had in the city. They refused to consider the truth established in the mouths of two witnesses, and were not induced to give us our liberty until all convenient proof of our identity had been adduced.

To be arrested within twenty miles of home, on suspicion of being delegated from Charleston or Montgomery, was one of my most amusing experiences of the war. The gentleman who accompanied me was a very earnest believer in coercion. His business in Portsmouth on that occasion was to offer his services in a regiment then being formed. A few months later he received a commission in the army, but did not obtain it through any of our temporary acquaintances at Portsmouth.

Our captors were the solid men of the city, any one of whom could have sat for the portrait of Mr. Turveydrop without the slightest alteration. On taking us into custody, they stated the grounds on which they arrested us. Our dark complexions and long beards had aroused suspicions concerning the places of our nativity. Suspicion was reduced to a certainty when one of them heard me mention my presence in Missouri on the day of choosing candidates for the Convention. Our purpose was divined when I asked if there was any activity at the Navy Yard. We were Rebel emissaries, who designed to lay their Navy Yard in ashes!

On our release and departure we were followed to our homes, that the correctness of our representations might be ascertained. This little occurrence, in the center of New England, where the people claim to be thoroughly quiet and law-abiding, indicated that the war spirit in that part of the North was more than momentary.

The West was not behind the Eastern States in the determination to subdue the Rebellion. Volunteers were gathering at Cairo, and threatening to occupy points further down the Mississippi. At St. Louis the struggle was active between the Unionists and the Secessionists.

A collision was a mere question of time, and of short time at the best.

As I visited _The Herald_ office for final instructions, I found that the managing editor had determined upon a vigorous campaign. Every point of interest was to be covered, so that the operations of our armies would be fully recorded from day to day. The war correspondents had gone to their posts, or were just taking their departure. One correspondent was already on the way to Cairo. I was instructed to watch the military movements in Missouri, and hastened to St. Louis as fast as steam could bear me.

Detained twelve hours at Niagara, by reason of missing a railway train, I found that the opening war gave promise of affecting that locality. The hotel-keepers were gloomy at the prospect of losing their Southern patronage, and half feared they would be obliged to close their establishments. There were but few visitors, and even these were not of the class which scatters its money profusely. The village around the Falls displayed positive signs of dullness, and the inhabitants had personal as well as patriotic interest in wishing there was no war. The Great Cataract was unchanged in its beauty and grandeur. The flood from the Lakes was not diminished, and the precipice over which the water plunged was none the less steep. The opening war had no effect upon this wonder of the New World.

In Chicago, business was prostrated on account of the outbreak of hostilities. Most of the banks in Illinois had been holding State bonds as securities for the redemption of their circulation. As these bonds were nearly all of Southern origin, the beginning of the war had materially affected their value. The banks found their securities rapidly becoming insecure, and hence there was a depreciation in the currency. This was not uniform, but varied from five to sixty per cent., according to the value of the bonds the respective banks were holding. Each morning and evening bulletins were issued stating the value of the notes of the various banking-houses. Such a currency was very inconvenient to handle, as the payment of any considerable sum required a calculation to establish the worth of each note.

Many rumors were in circulation concerning the insecurity of a Northern visitor in St. Louis, but none of the stories were very alarming. Of one thing all were certain–the star of the Union was in the ascendant. On arriving in St. Louis I found the city far from quiet, though there was nothing to lead a stranger to consider his personal safety in danger. I had ample material for entering at once upon my professional duties, in chronicling the disordered and threatening state of affairs.

On the day of my arrival, I met a gentleman I had known in the Rocky Mountains, six months before. I knew his courage was beyond question, having seen him in several disturbances incident to the Gold Regions; but I was not aware which side of the great cause he had espoused. After our first greetings, I ventured to ask how he stood.

“I am a Union man,” was his emphatic response.

“What kind of a Union man are you?”

“I am this kind of a Union man,” and he threw open his coat, and showed me a huge revolver, strapped to his waist.

There were many loyal men in St. Louis, whose sympathies were evinced in a similar manner. Revolvers were at a premium.

Some of the Secessionists ordered a quantity of revolvers from New York, to be forwarded by express. To prevent interference by the Union authorities, they caused the case to be directed to “Colonel Francis P. Blair, Jr., care of —-.” They thought Colonel Blair’s name would secure the property from seizure. The person in whose care the revolvers were sent was a noted Secessionist, who dealt extensively in fire-arms.

Colonel Blair learned of the shipment, and met the box at the station. Fifty revolvers of the finest quality, bought and paid for by the Secessionists, were distributed among the friends of Colonel Blair, and were highly prized by the recipients.



Apathy of the Border States.–The Missouri State Convention.–Sterling Price a Union Man.–Plan to take the State out of the Union.–Capture of Camp Jackson.–Energy of General Lyon.–Union Men organized.–An Unfortunate Collision.–The Price-Harney Truce.–The Panic among the Secessionists.–Their Hegira from St. Louis.–A Visit to the State Capital.–Under the Rebel Flag.–Searching for Contraband Articles.–An Introduction to Rebel Dignitaries.–Governor Jackson.–Sterling Price.–Jeff. Thompson.–Activity at Cairo.–Kentucky Neutrality.–The Rebels occupy Columbus.

The Border States were not prompt to follow the example of the States on the Gulf and South Atlantic coast. Missouri and Kentucky were loyal, if the voice of the majority is to be considered the voice of the population. Many of the wealthier inhabitants were, at the outset, as they have always been, in favor of the establishment of an independent Southern Government. Few of them desired an appeal to arms, as they well knew the Border States would form the front of the Confederacy, and thus become the battle-field of the Rebellion. The greater part of the population of those States was radically opposed to the secession movement, but became powerless under the noisy, political leaders who assumed the control. Many of these men, who were Unionists in the beginning, were drawn into the Rebel ranks on the plea that it would be treason to refuse to do what their State Government had decided upon.

The delegates to the Missouri State Convention were elected in February, 1861, and assembled at St. Louis in the following April. Sterling Price, afterward a Rebel general, was president of this Convention, and spoke in favor of keeping the State in the Union. The Convention thought it injudicious for Missouri to secede, at least at that time, and therefore she was not taken out. This discomfited the prime movers of the secession schemes, as they had counted upon the Convention doing the desired work. In the language of one of their own number, “they had called a Convention to take the State out of the Union, and she must be taken out at all hazards.” Therefore a new line of policy was adopted.

The Governor of Missouri was one of the most active and unscrupulous Secessionists. After the failure of the Convention to unite Missouri with the Confederacy, Governor Jackson overhauled the militia laws, and, under their sanction, issued a call for a muster of militia near St. Louis. This militia assembled at Lindell Grove, in the suburbs of St. Louis, and a military camp was established, under the name of “Camp Jackson.” Though ostensibly an innocent affair, this camp was intended to be the nucleus of the army to hoist the Rebel flag in the State. The officers in command were known Secessionists, and every thing about the place was indicative of its character.

The Governor of Louisiana sent, from the arsenal at Baton Rouge, a quantity of guns and munitions of war, to be used by the insurgent forces in Missouri. These reached St. Louis without hinderance, and were promptly conveyed to the embryonic Rebel camp. Captain Lyon, in command of the St. Louis Arsenal, was informed that he must confine his men to the limits of the United States property, under penalty of the arrest of all who stepped outside. Governor Jackson several times visited the grounds overlooking the arsenal, and selected spots for planting his guns. Every thing was in preparation for active hostility.

The Union people were by no means idle. Captain Lyon had foreseen the danger menacing the public property in the arsenal, and besought the Government for permission to remove it. Twenty thousand stand of arms were, in a single night, loaded upon a steamer and sent to Alton, Illinois. They were conveyed thence by rail to the Illinois State Arsenal at Springfield. Authority was obtained for the formation of volunteer regiments, and they were rapidly mustered into the service.

While Camp Jackson was being formed, the Union men of St. Louis were arming and drilling with such secrecy that the Secessionists were not generally aware of their movements. Before the close of the day Captain Lyon received permission for mustering volunteers; he placed more than six hundred men into the service. Regiments were organized under the name of “Home Guards,” and by the 9th of May there were six thousand armed Union men in St. Louis, who were sworn to uphold the national honor.

Colonel Francis P. Blair, Jr., commanded the First Regiment of Missouri Volunteers, and stood faithfully by Captain Lyon in all those early and dangerous days. The larger portion of the forces then available in St. Louis was made up of the German element, which was always thoroughly loyal. This fact caused the Missouri Secessionists to feel great indignation toward the Germans. They always declared they would have seized St. Louis and held possession of the larger portion of the State, had it not been for the earnest loyalty of “the Dutch.”

In the interior of Missouri the Secessionists were generally in the ascendant. It was the misfortune of the time that the Unionists were usually passive, while their enemies were active. In certain counties where the Unionists were four times the number of the Secessionists, it was often the case that the latter were the ruling party. The Union people were quiet and law-abiding; the Secessionists active and unscrupulous. “Peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must,” was the motto of the enemies of the Republic.

In some localities the Union men asserted themselves, but they did not generally do so until after the first blows were struck at St. Louis. When they did come out in earnest, the loyal element in Missouri became fully apparent.

To assure the friends of the Union, and save Missouri from the domination of the insurgents, it was necessary for Captain Lyon to assume the offensive. This was done on the 10th of May, resulting in the famous capture of “Camp Jackson.”

On the night of the 9th, loyal parties in St. Louis supplied a sufficient number of horses to move the light artillery necessary to accomplish the desired object. On the morning of the 10th, Captain Lyon’s command moved from various points, so as to surround the Rebel camp at three o’clock in the afternoon. At that hour General Frost, the Rebel commander, was surprised at the appearance of an overpowering force on the hills surrounding his position. A demand for surrender gave half an hour for deliberation. At the end of that time General Frost concluded to capitulate. The prisoners, less than a thousand in number, were marched to the arsenal and safely secured.

This achievement destroyed Camp Jackson, and established the United States authority in full force over St. Louis. An unfortunate collision occurred between the soldiers and the crowd outside. Provoked by insults terminating in an assault with fire-arms, a portion of the German troops fired upon the multitude. Upward of thirty persons were killed or wounded in the affair. With the exception of this unhappy collision, the capture was bloodless.

General Harney arrived at St. Louis soon after this event, and assumed command in Missouri. The agreement known as “the Price-Harney truce” was immediately made. Under an assurance from Governor Jackson that the State troops should be disbanded, General Harney promised that no hostilities should be undertaken, and attempted to cause the dispersal of the Union volunteers. The status of the latter had been so fixed that General Harney was not empowered to disarm them, and he so informed, the State authorities. His message announcing this read nearly as follows:–

“I have ascertained that I have no control over the Home Guards. “W. S. HARNEY, _Brig.-Gen_.”

This message was received at the Police Head-Quarters in St. Louis, on the morning of Sunday, May 15th. It was misunderstood by the parties who read it. They inferred, from the tenor of the dispatch, that General Harney was unable to restrain the Union volunteers.

The most frightful stories had been circulated concerning the blood-thirsty character of these soldiers, particularly the German portion. Visions of murder, pillage, house-burning, and all the accompanying outrages committed by an unrestrained army, flitted through the minds of the Secessionists. The story spread, and gained intensity with each repetition. “The Dutch are rising; we shall all be slain in cold blood!” was the cry, echoed from house to house. Not less than five thousand people fled from the city on that day, and as many more within the succeeding twenty-four hours. Carriages, wagons, drays, every thing that could transport persons or valuables, commanded exorbitant prices. Steamboats were chartered as ferries to the Illinois shore or to go to points of safety, either up or down the river. Many persons abandoned their houses, taking with them only a few articles of value or necessity, while others carried away nothing, in their haste to escape.

In a few days the excitement subsided and nearly all the refugees returned, but there are some who have never been in St. Louis since their remarkable hegira. In their determination to obtain their “rights,” they entered the Rebel army and followed its checkered fortunes. Less than half of these persons are now alive.

For a time after the appearance of General Harney’s proclamation, there were no hostile demonstrations on either side. Governor Jackson had promised to disband the small force of militia at Jefferson City, but he failed to do so. The Rebel flag was flying in Jefferson City, from a staff in front of the Governor’s mansion, and over the head-quarters of the Missouri State Guard. Missouri, through her State officers, was in favor of an armed neutrality, which really meant nothing less than armed secession.

The Secessionists were quietly but earnestly at work to effect their object. They did not heed their promise to remain inactive. The Union authorities observed theirs to the letter. The Camp Jackson prisoners were paroled and restored to liberty. A portion of them observed the parole, but many did not. General Frost remained on his farm and took no part in the Rebellion until relieved from his parole, several months later. It is proper to add, that he was of very little account to the Rebels when he finally entered the field.

While watching the progress of affairs in St. Louis, I determined upon a visit to Jefferson City. Though the Rebel flag was flying over the State Capitol, and the nucleus of the Missouri State Guard (Rebel) had its camp in the suburbs, the communication by railroad had not been interrupted. Taking the morning train from St. Louis, on the 27th of May, I found myself, at three o’clock of the afternoon, under the secession banner. The searching of the train for articles contraband of war was then a new feature.

In the early days only the outside of a package was examined. If the “marks” indicated nothing suspicious, the goods were allowed to pass. Under this regulation, a large number of boxes marked “soap” were shipped on a steamboat for Lexington. So much soap going into Missouri was decidedly suspicious, as the people of the interior do not make extensive use of the article. An examination disclosed canisters of powder instead of bars of soap. The discovery was followed by the promulgation of an order requiring a rigid examination of all packages that might be of doubtful character. This order, with various modifications, was kept in force for a long time.

In starting from St. Louis, I left a company of Union volunteers at the railway station. At Jefferson City I found the depot filled with the Rebel soldiers, or “neutrals,” as Governor Jackson persisted in calling them. The particular duty they were performing I was unable to ascertain, but they bore unmistakable signs of being something more than a “neutral” body of men. Their camp was just in rear of the city. The Rebel flag, which floated above the camp, was recognized as the emblem of their neutrality.

The proprietor of the hotel where I stopped held the reputation of an earnest friend of the Union, ready to Suffer any thing rather than sink his principles. He introduced me to several citizens, most of them, like himself, thoroughly loyal. We discussed freely the condition of affairs in Missouri.

It was evident the State authorities intended war, as soon as the necessary preparations could be made. They were not quite ready to strike their first blow, but when they should be prepared, they would not hesitate a moment. Governor Jackson was exerting himself to the utmost to accumulate arms and military stores at various points in the State, where they would be of most value. In defiance of the truce between Generals Price and Harney, companies were being formed throughout the State, and were drilling for service in the field. Time was of great importance to the Rebels, and this they had secured by means of the truce.

During my stay at Jefferson City, I met the three, men most prominent in bringing war upon Missouri. These were Governor Jackson, General Sterling Price, and Jeff. Thompson. Governor Jackson was elected in the previous December, before it was thought any serious trouble would grow out of Mr. Lincoln’s election. He was not looked upon as a man of great ability, but no one doubted his desire to promote the best interests of the State. Those who knew him said his strength lay more in a public than in a private direction. He had few, if any, personal friends, and was considered dangerous when his passions were roused. Some said he was cold and treacherous, giving all around him a feeling of aversion. Even among the Secessionists, and those who should have been his ardent supporters, he was never mentioned with enthusiasm.

Within two weeks from the day I saw him, Governor Jackson, by his own act, was a fugitive from the State capital. He never returned. After wandering in Arkansas and Louisiana, during the early part of the war, he died at Little Rock, in 1863, in a condition of extreme poverty.

Of General Price, I heard many praises, even from those who opposed his course. He was said to be a man of warm friendship, of fair abilities, and quite popular among the masses of the inhabitants. He possessed much personal pride, and his ambition for public honor was very great. At the outset he deprecated secession, and prophesied a devastating war as the result. He was inclined to be loyal, but his ambition was greater than his patriotism. The offer of a high position in the Rebel service touched his weakest point, and carried him with the insurgents.

In the Rebel service he never obtained much distinction. His principal successes were in saving his army after defeat. He displayed a capacity for annoying the Union armies without doing great damage. Though his oft-repeated promise of victory was never fulfilled, it served to keep many Missourians in the Rebel ranks. He was constantly expected to capture St. Louis. Some of the Rebel residents fully believed he would do so, and kept their wine-cellars ready for the event. Until the official announcement of the surrender of all forces west of the Mississippi, they did not abandon hope. General Price had given his promise, and, as they argued, was sure to keep it.

Of Jeff. Thompson little can be said. Previous to that time he had been known as the mayor of St. Joseph, and a politician of some little importance in Northwest Missouri. He was famous for much gasconading, and a fondness for whisky and other material things. I could never learn that he commanded much respect. During the war the Rebels never trusted him with any command of importance. He made a very fair guerrilla, and, in 1861, gave our forces at Cairo and Bird’s Point considerable annoyance. History is not likely to give him a very prominent place in the roll of distinguished military heroes.

At this time Cairo was the most southerly point on the Mississippi in possession of the National forces. We could have occupied Columbus or Hickman, Kentucky, had not the sacredness of the soil prevented. Kentucky was neutral, and declared that neither party must set foot within her limits. Her declaration of neutrality was much like that issued by the Governor of Missouri. The United States forces were under great restrictions, while the Rebels could do pretty much as they pleased. General Prentiss sent a small expedition down the Mississippi, some sixty miles below Cairo. The Kentuckians were greatly enraged because our forces landed at Hickman and tore down a Rebel flag which the citizens had hoisted. It was an invasion of their soil, for which they demanded apology. A few weeks later the Rebels occupied both Hickman and Columbus, without any objection on the part of the neutrals.

Columbus was made very strong by the Rebel engineers, and supplied with many heavy guns for its protection. At the same time, General Prentiss pushed forward the defenses of Cairo, in readiness for any attack by the Rebel gun-boats. For more than half a year Columbus was the northern limit of the Rebel domination of the Great River. On assuming command there, General Polk announced that Columbus was the throat of the Mississippi, and must be held at all hazards. The Rebels repeatedly urged the capture of Cairo, but it was never attempted.




General Harney Relieved.–Price’s Proclamation.–End of the Truce.–Conference between the Union and Rebel Leaders.–The First Act of Hostility.–Destruction of Railway Bridges.–Promptness of General Lyon.–Capture of the State Capital.–Moving on the Enemy’s Works.–The Night before Battle.–A Correspondent’s Sensation.

On the first of June an order was received from Washington, relieving General Harney from command in Missouri. Captain Lyon had been promoted to the rank of a brigadier-general of volunteers, and was assigned to duty in General Harney’s stead. On the 5th of June, General Price issued a proclamation, calling for the State Guard to be in readiness to defend Missouri against all enemies. The appearance of this proclamation was not altogether unexpected. It was far more satisfactory to the friends of the Union than to the Secessionists, as it showed the hostile position of Governor Jackson and his abettors, and gave an opportunity for proceeding actively against them. It demonstrated very clearly that the Secessionists were determined to make their actions correspond to their words.

It was ascertained that, a few days before the publication of Price’s proclamation, Governor Jackson was in consultation with an agent of the Rebel Government, who promised twenty-five thousand men, and arms and ammunition for fifty thousand more, if the State were fairly and unequivocally out of the Union. He had also conferred with an agent from the Indian Nation, with a view to putting several thousand Indians into the field on the side of the Rebels. General Lyon wanted an “overt act” on the part of the Rebels, before commencing actual hostilities. Price’s proclamation was the thing desired.

The troops in and around St. Louis were drilled as thoroughly as possible. Every day added to their effectiveness. Recruiting was pushed, trade with the interior was suspended, and boats passing down the river were made subject to stoppage and search at the arsenal. Every thing was assuming a warlike appearance. The Government was very tardy in supplying General Lyon’s wants. In many cases it did not authorize him to do what was needed. Much of the money for outfitting the troops for the field was voluntarily contributed in the Eastern cities, or by patriotic men in St. Louis. In several things, General Lyon acted upon his own responsibility, under the advice and co-operation of Colonel Blair.

On the 9th of June, Governor Jackson and General Price asked General Lyon to give them a safeguard to visit St. Louis. They wished to confer with General Lyon and Colonel Blair, upon the best means of bringing peace to the State and making an end of hostilities. The safeguard was granted, and, on the 11th of June, Jackson and Price reached St. Louis, and signified their readiness for the proposed conference. The meeting took place at the Planters’ House, Governor Jackson declining to trust himself inside the walls of the arsenal, where General Lyon had invited him to be his guest. The interview began with many professions of goodwill on the part of Governor Jackson, and the assurance of his earnest desire for peace. He promised to disband the State troops, if General Lyon would first remove all United States troops from the limits of Missouri, and agree not to bring them back under any consideration. Of course, this proposition could not be entertained. A conversation then took place between General Lyon and General Price, but all to no purpose. Price and Jackson would do nothing, unless the United States troops were first sent out of Missouri. Lyon and Blair would not consent to any thing of the kind, and so the conference ended.

Jackson and Price left St. Louis on a special train for Jefferson City, on the afternoon of the 11th. On the way up the road, they set fire to the bridges over the Gasconade and Osage Rivers, the former thirty-five miles from Jefferson City, and ninety from St. Louis, and the latter within nine miles of Jefferson City. If the conduct of these men had been neutral up to that time, this act made an end of their neutrality.

General Lyon left the conference fully satisfied there was no longer any reason for hesitation. The course he should pursue was plain before him.

Early in the forenoon of the 12th, he learned of the destruction of the bridges over the Gasconade and Osage Rivers. He immediately ordered a force to proceed up the road, and protect as much of it as possible from further damage. Within four hours of the reception of the order to move, the troops were on their way. On the next day, three steamers, with about two thousand men, left St. Louis for Jefferson City. General Lyon knew the importance of time, and was determined to give Governor Jackson very little opportunity for preparation.

My first experience of a military campaign was on the expedition up the Missouri. I had seen something of Indian troubles on the Plains, in which white men were concerned, but I had never witnessed civilized warfare where white men fought against white men. A residence of several weeks in St. Louis had somewhat familiarized me with the appearance of troops at the arsenal and at the various camps in the city, but the preparations to take the field were full of novelty.

I was on the boat which carried the First Missouri Infantry, and which General Lyon had selected for his head-quarters. The young officers were full of enthusiasm, and eagerly anticipating their first encounter with the Rebel battalions. Colonel Blair was less demonstrative than the officers of his regiment, but was evidently much elated at the prospect of doing something aggressive. General Lyon was in the cabin, quiet, reserved, and thoughtful. With Colonel Blair he conversed long and freely. Few others approached him. Outside the cabin the soldiers were ardently discussing the coming campaign, and wishing an early opportunity for winning glory in battle.

To one who travels for the first time by steamboat from St. Louis in a northerly direction, a curious picture is presented. The water in the Mississippi above the mouth of the Missouri is quite clear and transparent. That from the Missouri is of a dirty yellow color, derived from the large quantity of earthy matter which it holds in solution. For several miles below the junction of the streams, the two currents remain separated, the line between them being plainly perceptible. The pilots usually endeavor to keep on the dividing line, so that one can look from the opposite sides of a boat and imagine himself sailing upon two rivers of different character at the same moment.

Sometimes this distinctive line continues for fifteen or twenty miles, but usually less than ten. A soldier wittily remarked, that the water from the Upper Mississippi derived its transparency from the free States, from whence it came, while the Missouri, emerging from a slave State, was, consequently, of a repulsive hue. As Missouri is now a free State, the soldier’s remark is not applicable.

Steaming up the Missouri toward the State capital, we found the sentiment along the banks of the river strongly in favor of the Union. Home Guard organizations had been hastily formed, and were doing their best for the protection of the railway. Most of the villages along the Lower Missouri contained a strong German element, which needs no question of its loyalty. The railway bridges were thoroughly guarded, and each town had a small garrison to suppress any rising of the Secessionists. The conduct of the people in these villages was quite different from the course of those residing above Jefferson City. Where the inhabitants possessed no slaves, there was outspoken loyalty. In the most populous slave districts it was the reverse. Slaveholders declared that their interest lay in secession. There were a few exceptions, but they were very far in a minority.

Our triumphal entry into Jefferson City was not marked by any noteworthy event. The Capitol was deserted. The Governor and most of the State officials had departed the previous day, in the direction of Booneville. We marched through the principal streets, and found many of the people delighted at our coming. We occupied the State House, and, of course, unfurled our flag from its cupola. A steamboat, seized at the landing, was pressed into our service for use further up the stream. An encounter with the Rebels was eagerly desired.

We left a full regiment, a large force in those days, to retain possession of the place, and then pushed on in pursuit. The Rebels had disabled the railway, taking off nearly all the rolling stock and destroying a large bridge four miles west of the city. As the point where they had fled lay upon the river, we pursued them by water. At noon, on the 16th, General Lyon left Jefferson City for Booneville. Within twenty-four hours he fought his first battle in Missouri.

It is slow work to proceed with a steamboat where one’s way must be felt. Though we had only fifty miles to move, we advanced less than thirty before nightfall. Touching at a landing on the left bank of the river, fifteen miles below Booneville, a scout from the enemy’s camp came easily into our hands. From being a scout of the enemy he became our scout, as he revealed in his fright all we wished to know. The enemy, confident of an easy victory, was waiting our approach, and expressed the most lively intention of destroying us all in the twinkling of an eye.

Experience had not then demonstrated that there is little difference in the bravery of Americans, when well officered. Each side cherished the delusion that it had a monopoly of courage and endurance. One Southern man was thought equal to five Northern men in a fair contest, and if the former were given the advantage of a defensive position, any odds of numbers would be taken. There was nearly, though not quite, as much boasting on the part of our own press and people. The first severe battles made an end of the greater part of this gasconading.

It is said the most trying moment on shipboard is when the deck, previous to an engagement, is sprinkled with saw-dust to receive the blood yet unshed. No man can know whose blood will be first to moisten that dust, or whose life will be passed away before the action is over. So on the eve of that first battle in Missouri, as I reclined in the cabin of our flag-boat, and saw the surgeons busy with their preparations for the coming day; as I saw them bring to light all the dreadful implements of their trade, and arrange them in readiness for sudden use–a coldness crept over me, and I fully realized we had earnest work before us. Since that time I have witnessed many a battle, many a scene of preparation and of bloody work with knife and saw and bandage, but I have never experienced a chill like that I felt on that early day of the Rebellion.

The war has made us familiar with horrors. That which once touched us to the heart is now passed over with scarce a moment’s thought. Our nerves have been hardened, our sensibilities blunted, our hearts steeled against suffering, in the terrible school through which we have passed.




Moving up the River.–A Landing Effected.–The Battle.–Precipitous Retreat of the Rebels.–Spoiling a Captured Camp.–Rebel Flags Emblazoned with the State Arms.–A Journalist’s Outfit.–A Chaplain of the Church Militant.–A Mistake that might have been Unfortunate.–The People of Booneville.–Visiting an Official.–Banking-House Loyalty.–Preparations for a Campaign.

Daybreak on the 17th found us slowly moving up the river toward Booneville. General Lyon sat forward of the steamer’s cabin, closely scanning both banks of the stream. Four miles below the town his glass sought out two pieces of artillery, partially concealed in a clump of trees, and trained upon the channel by which we were to pass. At once our engines were reversed, and the boats moved back to a landing about eight miles below Booneville. A little before seven o’clock we were on shore, and our column of fifteen hundred men began its advance upon the Rebel camp.

It was the story that has found its repetition in many a battle since that time. The enemy’s pickets were driven in. The enemy, in line of battle, was discovered on a long ridge, and our own line was formed on a ridge parallel to it. Then we opened fire with our artillery (one battery was all we possessed), and received no response, save by a desultory discharge of small-arms. Next our infantry added its tenor notes to the bass of the field-guns; the Rebel forces melted steadily away, and the field was in our possession, twenty minutes after the opening shot had been fired.

Once in retreat, the Rebels did not halt until out of harm’s reach. Their camp lay in the line of retreat, but they made no stop in passing it. Following in the rear of our column, I entered the camp, and found many signs of a hasty departure. I found the fires burning, and dozens of coffee-pots and frying-pans filled with the materials for breakfast. Here was a pan full of meat fried to a crisp, from the neglect of the cook to remove it before his sudden exodus. A few feet distant lay a ham, with a knife sticking in a half-severed slice. A rude camp-table was spread with plates and their accessories, and a portion of the articles of food were carefully arranged. The seats for the breakfast party were in position, two of them being overturned. I could not help fancying the haste with which that table had been abandoned, only a few moments before. The tents were standing, and in some the blankets were lying on the ground, as if they had been very suddenly vacated. In one tent was a side-saddle, a neat pair of gaiters, and a hoop-skirt. The proper connection of those articles with the battle-field I was unable to ascertain.

In that camp was a fine lot of provisions, arms, equipments, and ammunition. Saddles were numerous, but there were no horses. It was evident that, the hasty evacuation left no time for the simple process of saddling.

Early in the day I had come into possession of a horse with a very poor outfit. Once in camp, I was not slow to avail myself of the privilege of supply. I went into battle on foot, carrying only a knapsack containing a note-book and two pieces of bread. When the fight was over, I was the possessor of a horse and all the equipments for a campaign. I had an overcoat, a roll of fine blankets, and a pair of saddle-bags. The latter were well filled from the trunk of some one I had not the pleasure of knowing, but who was evidently “just my size.” Mr. Barnes, of the Missouri _Democrat_, was my companion on that occasion. He was equally careful to provide himself from the enemy’s stores, but wasted, time in becoming sentimental over two love-letters and a photograph of a young woman.

The flags captured in this affair were excellent illustrations of the policy of the leading Secessionists. There was one Rebel flag with the arms of the State of Missouri filling the field. There was a State flag, with only fifteen stars surrounding the coat of arms. There was a. Rebel flag, with the State arms in the center, and there was one Rebel flag of the regular pattern. The rallying-cry at that time was in behalf of the State, and the people were told they must act for Missouri, without regard to any thing else. In no part of the country was the “State Rights” theory more freely used. All the changes were rung upon the sovereignty of States, the right of Missouri to exclude United States soldiers from her soil, the illegality of the formation of Union regiments, and the tyranny of the General Government.

The flags under which Missouri soldiers were gathered clearly blended the interests of the State with secession.

Our troops entered Booneville amid demonstrations of delight from one portion of the inhabitants, and the frowns and muttered indignation of the other. The Rebels had fled, a part of them by land, and the balance on a steamboat, toward Lexington. Quiet possession obtained, there was time to examine into the details of the fight. We had lost twelve men, the enemy probably twice as many. The action, three years later, would have been considered only a roadside skirmish, but it was then an affair of importance. Every man with General Lyon felt far more elation over the result than has since been felt over battles of much greater moment. We had won a signal victory; the enemy had suffered an equally signal defeat.

During the battle, a chaplain, provided with four men to look after the wounded, came suddenly upon a group of twenty-four Rebels. An imperative demand for their surrender was promptly complied with, and the chaplain, with his force of four, brought twenty-four prisoners into town. He was so delighted at his success that he subsequently took a commission in the line. In time he was honored with the stars of a brigadier-general.

General Lyon was my personal friend, but he very nearly did me great injustice. Seeing myself and a fellow-journalist on a distant part of the field, he mistook us for scouts of the enemy, and ordered his sharp-shooters to pick us off. His chief-of-staff looked in our direction, and fortunately recognized us in time to countermand the order. I was afterward on the point of being shot at by an infantry captain, through a similar mistake. A civilian’s dress on the battle-field (a gray coat formed a part of mine) subjects the wearer to many dangers from his friends, as most war correspondents can testify.

While approaching the town, I stopped to slake my thirst at a well. A group of our soldiers joined me while I was drinking. I had drank very freely from the bucket, and transferred it to a soldier, when the resident of a neighboring house appeared, and informed us that the well had been poisoned by the Rebels, and the water was certain to produce death. The soldiers desisted, and looked at me with much pity. For a moment, I confess, the situation did not appear cheerful, but I concluded the injury, if any, was already done, and I must make the best of it. The soldiers watched me as I mounted my horse, evidently expecting me to fall within a hundred yards. When I met one of them the following day, he opened his eyes in astonishment at seeing me alive. From that day, I entertained a great contempt for poisoned wells.

In Booneville the incidents were not of a startling character. I found the strongest secession sympathy was entertained by the wealthier inhabitants, while the poor were generally loyal. Some cases of determined loyalty I found among the wealthy; but they were the exception rather than the rule. Accompanied by a small squad of soldiers, myself and companion visited the house of a gentleman holding office under the United States Government. We obtained from that house several Rebel cockades and small flags, which had been fabricated by the ladies.

With the same squad we visited the principal bank of Booneville, and persuaded the cashier to give us a Rebel flag which had been floating for several days from a staff in front of the building. This flag was ten yards in length, and the materials of which it was made were of the finest quality. The interview between the cashier and ourselves was an amusing one. He protested he knew nothing of the flag or its origin, and at first declared it was not about the building. According to his own representation, he was too good a Union man to harbor any thing of the sort. Just as he was in the midst of a very earnest profession of loyalty the flag was discovered.

“Somebody must have put that there to ruin me,” was his exclamation. “Gentlemen, I hope you won’t harm me; and, if you want me to do so, I will take the oath of allegiance this minute.”

Soon after the occupation of Booneville, General Lyon sent a small expedition to Syracuse, twenty-five miles in the interior. This force returned in a few days, and then preparations were begun for a march to Springfield. Colonel Blair left Booneville for St. Louis and Washington, while General Lyon attended to the preliminaries for his contemplated movement. The First Iowa Infantry joined him, and formed a part of his expeditionary force. The Rebels gathered at Lexington, and thence moved southward to reach the Arkansas line, to form a junction with the then famous Ben McCulloch.

The prospect was good that Central Missouri would soon be clear of Rebels. Our general success in the State depended upon occupying and holding the Southwest. General Lyon was to move thither from Booneville. General Sweeney had already gone there by way of Rolla, while another force, under Major Sturgis, was moving from Leavenworth in a southeasterly direction. All were to unite at Springfield and form an army of occupation.

Preparations went on slowly, as the transportation was to be gathered from the surrounding country. Foreseeing that the expedition would be slow to reach Springfield, I returned to St. Louis. There I made preparations to join the army, when its march should be completed, by a more expeditious route than the one General Lyon would follow.

At Booneville, General Lyon established a temporary blockade of the Missouri River, by stopping all boats moving in either direction. In most cases a single shot across the bow of a boat sufficed to bring it to land. One day the _White Cloud_, on her way from Kansas City to St. Louis, refused to halt until three shots had been fired, the last one grazing the top of the pilot-house. When brought before General Lyon, the captain of the _White Cloud_ apologized for neglecting to obey the first signal, and said his neglect was due to his utter ignorance of military usage.

The apology was deemed sufficient. The captain was dismissed, with a gentle admonition not to make a similar mistake in future.

At that time the public was slow to understand the power and extent of military law and military rule. When martial law was declared in St. Louis, in August, 1861, a citizen waited upon the provost-marshal, in order to ascertain the precise state of affairs.

After some desultory conversation, he threw out the question:–

“What does martial law do?”

“Well,” said Major McKinstry, the provost-marshal, “I can explain the whole thing in a second. Martial law does pretty much as it d–n pleases.”

Before the year was ended the inhabitants of St. Louis learned that the major’s assertion was not far from the truth.



Conduct of the St. Louis Secessionists.–Collisions between Soldiers and Citizens.–Indignation of the Guests of a Hotel.–From St. Louis to Rolla.–Opinions of a “Regular.”–Railway-life in Missouri.–Unprofitable Freight.–A Story of Orthography.–Mountains and Mountain Streams.–Fastidiousness Checked.–Frontier Courtesy.–Concentration of Troops at Springfield.–A Perplexing Situation.–The March to Dug Spring.–Sufferings from Heat and Thirst.

The success of the Union arms at Booneville did not silence the Secessionists in St. Louis. They continued to hold meetings, and arrange plans for assisting their friends in the field. At many places, one could hear expressions of indignation at the restrictions which the proper authorities sought to put upon the secession movement. Union flags were torn from the front of private buildings–generally in the night or early morning. Twice, when Union troops were marching along the streets, they were fired upon by citizens. A collision of this kind had occurred at the corner of Fifth and Walnut streets, on the day after the capture of Camp Jackson. The soldiers returned the fire, and killed several persons; but this did not deter the Secessionists from repeating the experiment. In the affairs that took place after the battle of Booneville, the result was the same. Unfortunately, in each collision, a portion of those killed were innocent on-lookers. After a few occurrences of this kind, soldiers were allowed to march through the streets without molestation.

About the first of July, there were rumors that an insurrection would be attempted on the National holiday. Ample provision was made to give the insurgents a warm reception. Consequently, they made no trouble. The printer of the bills of fare at a prominent hotel noticed the Fourth of July by ornamenting his work with a National flag, in colors. This roused the indignation of a half-dozen guests, whose sympathies lay with the Rebellion. They threatened to leave, but were so far in arrears that they could not settle their accounts. The hotel-keeper endeavored to soothe them by promising to give his printing, for the future, to another house. Several loyal guests were roused at this offer, and threatened to secede at once if it were carried out. The affair resulted in nothing but words.

On the morning of the 11th of July I left St. Louis, to join General Lyon in the Southwest. It was a day’s ride by rail to Rolla, the terminus of the Southwest Branch of the Pacific road. I well recollect the strange and motley group that filled the cars on that journey. There were a few officers and soldiers _en route_ to join their comrades in the field. Nearly all of them were fresh from civil life. They wore their uniforms uneasily, as a farmer’s boy wears his Sunday suit. Those who carried sabers experienced much inconvenience when walking, on account of the propensity of those weapons to get between their legs. In citizen’s dress, at my side, sat an officer of the old army, who looked upon these newly-made warriors with much contempt, mingled with an admiration of their earnestness. After an outburst of mild invective, he pronounced a well-merited tribute to their patriotism.

“After all,” said he, “they are as good as the material the Rebels have for their army. In some respects, they are better. The Northern blood is cold; the Southern is full of life and passion. In the first onset, our enemies will prove more impetuous than we, and will often overpower us. In the beginning of the struggle, they will prove our superiors, and may be able to boast of the first victories. But their physical energy will soon be exhausted, while ours will steadily increase. Patience, coolness, and determination will be sure to bring us the triumph in the end. These raw recruits, that are at present worthless before trained soldiers, distrusting themselves as we distrust them, will yet become veterans, worthy to rank with the best soldiers of the Old World.”

The civilian passengers on a railway in Missouri are essentially different from the same class in the East. There are very few women, and the most of these are not as carefully dressed as their Oriental sisters. Their features lack the fineness that one observes in New York and New England. The “hog and hominy,” the general diet of the Southwest, is plainly perceptible in the physique of the women. The male travelers, who are not indigenous to the soil, are more roughly clothed and more careless in manner than the same order of passengers between New York and Boston. Of those who enter and leave at way-stations, the men are clad in that yellow, homespun material known as “butternut.” The casual observer inclines to the opinion that there are no good bathing-places where these men reside. They are inquisitive, ignorant, unkempt, but generally civil. The women are the reverse of attractive, and are usually uncivil and ignorant. The majority are addicted to smoking, and generally make use of a cob-pipe. Unless objection is made by some passenger, the conductors ordinarily allow the women to indulge in this pastime.

The region traversed by the railway is sparsely settled, the ground being generally unfavorable to agriculture. For some time after this portion of the road was opened, the natives refused to give it patronage, many of them declaring that the old mode of travel, by horseback, was the best of all. During the first week after opening the Southwest Branch, the company ran a daily freight train each way. All the freight offered in that time was a bear and a keg of honey. Both were placed in the same car. The bear ate the honey, and the company was compelled to pay for the damage.

I have heard a story concerning the origin of the name of Rolla, which is interesting, though I cannot vouch for its truth. In selecting a name for the county seat of Phelps County, a North Carolinian residing there, suggested that it should do honor to the capital of his native State. The person who reduced the request to writing, used the best orthography that occurred to him, so that what should have been “Raleigh,” became “Rolla.” The request thus written was sent to the Legislature, and the name of the town became fixed. The inhabitants generally pronounce it as if the intended spelling had been adopted.

The journey from Rolla to Springfield was accomplished by stage, and required two days of travel. For fifty miles the road led over mountains, to the banks of the Gasconade, one of the prettiest rivers I have ever seen. The mountain streams of Southwest Missouri, having their springs in the limestone rock, possess a peculiarity unknown in the Eastern States. In a depth of two feet or less, the water is apparently as clear as that of the purest mountain brook in New England. But when the depth reaches, or exceeds, three feet, the water assumes a deep-blue tinge, like that of the sky in a clear day. Viewed from an elevation, the picture is one that cannot be speedily forgotten. The blue water makes a marked contrast with surrounding objects, as the streams wind through the forests and fields on their banks. Though meandering through mountains, these rivers have few sharp falls or roaring rapids. Their current is usually gentle, broken here and there into a ripple over a slightly descending shallow, but observing uniformity in all its windings.

My first night from Rolla was passed on the banks of the Gasconade. Another day’s ride, extended far into the second night, found me at Springfield. When I reached my room at the hotel, and examined the bed, I found but one sheet where we usually look for two. Expostulations were of no avail. The porter curtly informed me, “People here use only one sheet. Down in St. Louis you folks want two sheets, but in this part of the country we ain’t so nice.”

I appreciated my fastidiousness when I afterward saw, at a Tennessee hotel, the following notice:–

“Gentlemen who wish towels in their rooms must deposit fifty cents at the office, as security for their return.”

Travel in the Border and Southern States will acquaint a Northerner with strange customs. To find an entire household occupying a single large room is not an unfrequent occurrence. The rules of politeness require that, when bedtime has arrived, the men shall go out of doors to contemplate the stars, while the ladies disrobe and retire. The men then return and proceed to bed. Sometimes the ladies amuse themselves by studying the fire while the men find their way to their couches, where they gallantly turn their faces to the wall, and permit the ladies to don their _robes de nuit_.

Notwithstanding the scarcity of accommodations, the traveler seeking a meal or resting-place will rarely meet a refusal. In New York or New England, one can journey many a mile and find a cold denial at every door. In the West and Southwest “the latch-string hangs out,” and the stranger is always welcome. Especially is this the case among the poorer classes.

Springfield is the largest town in Southwest Missouri, and has a fine situation. Before the war it was a place of considerable importance, as it controlled the trade of a large region around it. East of it the country is quite broken, but on the south and west there are stretches of rolling prairie, bounded by rough wood-land. Considered in a military light, Springfield was the key to that portion of the State. A large number of public roads center at that point. Their direction is such that the possession of the town by either army would control any near position of an adversary of equal or inferior strength. General Lyon was prompt in seeing its value, and determined to make an early movement for its occupation. When he started from St. Louis for Booneville, he ordered General Sweeney to march from Rolla to Springfield as speedily as possible.

General Sweeney moved with three regiments of infantry and a battery of artillery, and reached Springfield in five days from the time of starting; the distance being a hundred and twenty miles. He then divided his forces, sending Colonel Sigel to Carthage, nearly fifty miles further toward the west, in the hope of cutting off the Rebel retreat in that direction. Major Sturgis was moving from Leavenworth toward Springfield, and expected to arrive there in advance of General Lyon.

Major Sturgis was delayed in crossing a river, so that the Rebels arrived at Carthage before Colonel Sigel had been reinforced. The latter, with about eleven hundred men, encountered the Rebel column, twice as large as his own. The battle raged for several hours, neither side losing very heavily. It resulted in Sigel’s retreat to avoid being surrounded by the enemy. Wonderful stories were told at that time of the terrific slaughter in the Rebel ranks, but these stories could never be traced to a reliable source. It is proper to say that the Rebels made equally large estimates of our own loss.

On General Lyon’s arrival all the troops were concentrated in the vicinity of Springfield. It was known that the Rebels were encamped near the Arkansas border, awaiting the re-enforcements which had been promised from the older States of the Confederacy. General Fremont had been assigned to the command of the Western Department, and was daily expected at St. Louis to assume the direction of affairs. Our scouts were kept constantly employed in bringing us news from the Rebel camp, and it is quite probable the Rebels were equally well informed of our own condition. We were able to learn that their number was on the increase, and that they would soon be largely re-enforced. After three weeks of occupation our strength promised to be diminished. Half of General Lyon’s command consisted of “three-months men,” whose period of enlistment was drawing to a close. A portion of these men went to St. Louis, some volunteered to remain as long as the emergency required their presence, and others were kept against their will. Meantime, General Lyon made the most urgent requests for re-enforcements, and declared he would be compelled to abandon the Southwest if not speedily strengthened. General Fremont promised to send troops to his assistance. After he made the promise, Cairo was threatened by General Pillow, and the re-enforcing column turned in that direction. General Lyon was left to take care of himself.

By the latter part of July, our situation had become critical. Price’s army had been re-enforced by a column of Arkansas and Louisiana troops, under General McCulloch. This gave the Rebels upward of twelve thousand men, while we could muster less than six thousand. General Price assumed the offensive, moving slowly toward Springfield, as if sure of his ability to overpower the National forces. General Lyon determined to fall upon the enemy before he could reach Springfield, and moved on the 1st of August with that object in view.

On the second day of our march a strong scouting party of Rebels was encountered, and a sharp skirmish ensued, in which they were repulsed. This encounter is known in the Southwest as “the fight at Dug Spring.” The next day another skirmish occurred, and, on the third morning, twenty-five miles from Springfield, General Lyon called a council of war. “Councils of war do not fight” has grown into a proverb. The council on this occasion decided that we should return to Springfield without attacking the enemy. The decision was immediately carried out.

The beginning of August, in Southwest Missouri, is in the midst of the warm season. The day of the march to Dug Spring was one I shall never forget. In Kansas, before the war, I once had a walk of several miles under a burning sun, in a region where not a drop of water could be found. When I finally reached it, the only water to be found was in a small, stagnant pool, covered with a green scum nearly an inch in thickness. Warm, brackish, and fever-laden as that water was, I had never before tasted any thing half so sweet. Again, while crossing the Great Plains in 1860, I underwent a severe and prolonged thirst, only quenching it with the bitter alkali-water of the desert. On neither of these occasions were my sufferings half as great as in the advance to Dug Spring.

A long ride in that hot atmosphere gave me a thirst of the most terrible character. Making a detour to the left of the road in a vain search for water, I fell behind the column as it marched slowly along. As I moved again to the front, I passed scores of men who had fallen from utter exhaustion. Many were delirious, and begged piteously for water in ever so small a quantity. Several died from excessive heat, and others were for a long time unfit for duty. Reaching the spring which gave its name to the locality, I was fortunate in finding only the advance of the command. With considerable effort I succeeded in obtaining a pint cupful of water, and thus allayed my immediate thirst.

According to the custom in that region, the spring was covered with a frame building, about eight feet square. There are very few cellars in that part of the country, and the spring-house, as it is called, is used for preserving milk and other articles that require a low temperature. As the main portion of the column came up, the crowd around the spring-house became so dense that those once inside could not get out. The building was lifted and thrown away from the spring, but this only served to increase the confusion. Officers found it impossible to maintain discipline. When the men caught sight of the crowd at the spring, the lines were instantly broken. At the spring, officers and men were mingled without regard to rank, all struggling for the same object. A few of the former, who had been fortunate in commencing the day with full canteens, attempted to bring order out of chaos, but found the effort useless. No command was heeded. The officers of the two regiments of “regulars” had justly boasted of the superior discipline of their men. On this occasion the superiority was not apparent. Volunteers and regulars were equally subject to thirst, and made equal endeavor to quench it.

Twenty yards below the spring was a shallow pool, where cattle and hogs were allowed to run. Directly above it was a trough containing a few gallons of warm water, which had evidently been there several days. This was speedily taken by the men. Then the hot, scum-covered pool was resorted to. In a very few minutes the trampling of the soldiers’ feet had stirred this pool till its substance was more like earth than water. Even from this the men would fill their cups and canteens, and drink with the utmost eagerness. I saw a private soldier emerge from the crowd with a canteen full of this worse than ditch-water. An officer tendered a five-dollar gold piece for the contents of the canteen, and found his offer indignantly refused. To such a frenzy were men driven by thirst that they tore up handfuls of moist earth, and swallowed the few drops of water that could be pressed out.

In subsequent campaigns I witnessed many scenes of hunger and thirst, but none to equal those of that day at Dug Spring.



The Return from Dug Spring.–The Rebels follow in Pursuit.–Preparations to Attack them.–The Plan of Battle.–Moving to the Attack–A Bivouac.–The Opening Shot.–“Is that Official?”–Sensations of a Spectator in Battle.–Extension of Distance and Time.–Characteristics of Projectiles.–Taking Notes under Fire.–Strength and Losses of the Opposing Armies.–A Noble Record.–The Wounded on the Field.–“One More Shot.”–Granger in his Element.–General Lyon’s Death.

The return of General Lyon from Dug Spring emboldened the enemy to move nearer to Springfield. On the 7th of August the Rebels reached Wilson Creek, ten miles from Springfield, and formed their camp on both sides of that stream. General Ben. McCulloch was their commander-in-chief. On the night of the 8th, General Lyon proposed to move from Springfield for the purpose of attacking their position. The design was not carried out, on account of the impossibility of securing proper disposition of our forces in season to reach the enemy’s camp at daylight.

During the 8th and the forenoon of the 9th, preparations were made for resisting an attack in Springfield, in case the enemy should come upon us. In the afternoon of the 9th, General Lyon decided to assault the Rebel camp at daylight of the following morning. A council of war had determined that a defeat would be less injurious than a retreat without a battle, provided the defeat were not too serious. “To abandon the Southwest without a struggle,” said General Lyon, “would be a sad blow to our cause, and would greatly encourage the Rebels. We will fight, and hope for the best.”

In arranging a plan of battle, Colonel Sigel suggested that the forces should be divided, so that a simultaneous attack would be made upon either extremity of the enemy’s camp. The two columns were to move from Springfield at sunset, bivouac within four miles of the proposed battle-field, and begin their march early enough to fall upon the enemy’s camp a little past daylight. We left Springfield about sunset on the 9th, General Lyon taking about three thousand men, while Colonel Sigel took less than two thousand. Exceptions have frequently been made to this mode of attack. Had it been successful, I presume no one would have found it faulty. It is an easy matter to criticise the plans of others, after their result is known.

The columns moved by different roads to obtain the desired positions. The march was as silent as possible. The only sounds were the rumbling of wheels and the occasional clank of arms. No one was heavily encumbered, as we expected to return to Springfield before the following night. Midnight found us in a hay-field, four miles from the Rebel camp. There we rested till morning.

On the previous night I had been almost without sleep, and therefore took speedy advantage of the halt. Two journeys over the Plains, a little trip into New Mexico, and some excursions among the Rocky Mountains, had taught me certain rules of campaign life. I rarely moved without my blankets and rubber “poncho,” and with a haversack more or less well filled. On this occasion I was prepared for sleeping in the open air.

One bivouac is much like another. When one is weary, a blanket on the ground is just as comfortable as a bed of down under a slated roof. If accustomed to lie under lace curtains, a tree or a bush will make an excellent substitute. “Tired nature’s sweet restorer” comes quickly to an exhausted frame. Realities of the past, expectations of the future, hopes, sorrows, wishes, regrets–all are banished as we sink into sweet repose.

At dawn we were in motion. At daylight the smoke hanging over the enemy’s camp was fully before us. Sunrise was near at hand when the hostile position was brought to our view. It lay, as we had anticipated, stretched along the banks of Wilson Creek.

Until our advance drove in the pickets, a thousand yards from their camp, the Rebels had no intimation of our approach. Many of them were reluctant to believe we were advancing to attack them, and thought the firing upon the pickets was the work of a scouting party. The opening of our artillery soon undeceived them, a shell being dropped in the middle of their camp.

A Rebel officer afterward told me about our first shell. When the pickets gave the alarm of our approach, the Rebel commander ordered his forces to “turn out.” An Arkansas colonel was in bed when the order reached him, and lazily asked, “Is that official?” Before the bearer of the order could answer, our shell tore through the colonel’s tent, and exploded a few yards beyond it. The officer waited for no explanation, but ejaculated, “That’s official, anyhow,” as he sprang out of his blankets, and arrayed himself in fighting costume.

Before the Rebels could respond to our morning salutation, we heard the booming of Sigel’s cannon on the left. Colonel Sigel reached the spot assigned him some minutes before we were able to open fire from our position. It had been stipulated that he should wait for the sound of our guns before making his attack. His officers said they waited nearly fifteen minutes for our opening shot. They could look into the Rebel camp in the valley of the stream, a few hundred yards distant. The cooks were beginning their preparations for breakfast, and gave our men a fine opportunity to learn the process of making Confederate corn-bread and coffee. Some of the Rebels saw our men, and supposed they were their own forces, who had taken up a new position. Several walked into our lines, and found themselves prisoners of war.

Previous to that day I had witnessed several skirmishes, but this was my first battle of importance. Distances seemed much greater than they really were. I stood by the side of Captain Totten’s battery as it opened the conflict.

“How far are you firing?” I asked.

“About eight hundred yards; not over that,” was the captain’s