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Friday, Dec. 19, 2014
Battlefield Dispatches No. 354: Destitute and starving (02/01/13)
During the Civil War, or for that matter in any war, the civilian population in a combat zone suffered beyond belief. Such was the case in the Indian Territory, Missouri and Arkansas between 1861 and 1865. Whenever possible, the civilian refugees tried to escape from the war zone to a "friendly" safe location and this is what Fort Scott became "a haven for refugees."...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 353: Kansas' forgotten warriors (01/25/13)
In January of 1863, before being deployed into the northeast Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), the "Union" Indian Brigade" from Kansas comprised of the first, second and third regiments of Indian Home Guards was stationed at Camp Curtis in northeast Arkansas near the town of Maysville. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 351: 'A Day of Jubilation' (01/11/13)
One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Jan. 1, 1863, was a magic day and a day of jubilation in the camp of the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment in Fort Scott, Kan. On this day, there was a joyous celebration commemorating the issuance of the "Emancipation Proclamation."...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 350: Winter campaign (01/04/13)
Normally during the winter in the Civil War, the opposing armies went into a sort of hibernation, or "winter quarters," because the roads were normally impassable because of snow, mud or rain. However, in the winter of 1862-1863, the "Union" Army of the Southwest, commanded by Maj. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 349: Surgeon and courier (12/28/12)
The title of this column may seem a bit odd because a courier and a surgeon definitely were two different functions during the Civil War. However, during the first year of the war in the summer of 1861, things were very confusing and disorganized for both the "Blue and the Gray," especially here in Kansas and Missouri. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 348: Treasure Trove (12/21/12)
One of the most fascinating aspects in the study of the Civil War for the historians is the discovery of original letters, diaries or related documents. After the passing of 150 years, these historic documents are still being discovered and when this happens a "Treasure Trove" becomes reality for the finder. Where, you might ask, are these documents found?...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 347: 'Block by block' (12/14/12)
In the spring of 1923, the fate of "Fort Blair," the only remaining Civil War blockhouse was a perilous one because it had become dilapidated throughout the passage of time and the land upon which it was located had been sold to the Central Life Insurance Co. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 346: Lone survivor (12/07/12)
The Civil War ended in April of 1865, and during the next year or so the United States War Department demobilized the "Union" forces and materials of war throughout the country. Reducing the manpower, or number of soldiers, was relatively easy in that they were discharged and sent home. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 345: Lunettes and fortifications (11/30/12)
During the Civil War in the winter of 1862, it was decided that the southern approach to Fort Scott was the most vulnerable to attack and that it should be fortified to protect and defend the town and the vast amount of "Union" supplies located there. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 344: How they fight! (11/23/12)
The study of the Civil War can often be overwhelming even when one focuses on a specific subject or subjects. This and especially in this case, the study of the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment is often very difficult to find primary or original sources, so colleagues often share information as it is discovered. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 343: Thieves, bandits and guerrillas (11/15/12)
Throughout the Civil War, "Union" officers in Kansas and Missouri consistently referred to Confederate guerrillas as "Thieves, Bandits and Bushwhackers. This is evident in the following report which also includes a follow up to and repercussion of a "Union" loss that was featured in Battlefield Dispatches No. 341 entitled "Killing and Wounded." This report is located on Pages 792-793 in Vol. 13 Series I of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 342: Murdering and robbing (11/09/12)
During the Civil War in Missouri and eastern Kansas, in addition to killing prisoners, both the Jayhawkers of Kansas and the Bushwhackers of Missouri murdered and robbed civilians as well as soldiers which was and is commonplace in any guerrilla war. The following correspondence describes a "Guerrilla" attack on Lamar, Mo., and the "Union" response from Fort Scott. Both documents are located on Pages 348 and 352-354 in Series I, Vol. 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 339: Hot pursuit and white band deception (10/19/12)
Today when one hears the expression "hot pursuit," it is normally associated with law enforcement vehicles pursuing another vehicle at a high rate of speed. However, the first after-action report in this column describes the "hot pursuit" of a band of Missouri guerrillas on horseback during the Civil War. This and the following two reports are located in Series I, Vol. 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Pages 321-323...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 338: Blood on the ground (10/12/12)
During the Civil War in the "Land of Misery," Union soldiers' nickname for Missouri. The pursuit of Confederate Guerrillas or Bushwhackers was often very frustrating because they appeared to be "phantoms of the day" as they disappeared into the brush only to reappear and fight once more...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 337: Dealing death and destruction (10/05/12)
During the Civil War, the effective use of artillery was often one the factors that determined victory in battle. The following after action report by Col. Edward Lynde of the Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry gives credit where credit was due to the Yankee Artillery that was instrumental in the Union victory in the Battle of Newtonia, Mo., on Sept. 29, 1862. This report is found on Pages 291-293 in Series I, Vol. 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 336: 'Destroying favorite haunts' (09/28/12)
One of Mr. Webster's definitions of "Haunt" is "To visit often" and this is what the Confederate Guerrillas or Bushwhackers did in Missouri throughout the Civil War when they visited the farms and homes of their families, friends and allies. In doing so, the guerrillas received food, shelter and rest from attacking and killing "Yankees."...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 335: 'Shot to death' (09/21/12)
To suggest that the longevity or life expectancy of a Missouri guerrilla, or leader of a detachment of guerrillas, during the Civil War could be very long would be a gross overstatement. The reality was that the longevity, or life span, of a guerrilla could be and was often very short, which in essence meant that a guerrilla, or "bushwhacker," who had a run of bad luck ended up dead. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 333: The contraband exodus (09/07/12)
By the summer of 1862 Fort Scott, in addition to becoming a huge "Union" military complex, was also becoming a "Haven for Refugees" who had escaped from the violence of the war. Many of these refugees were African Americans all of ages, from babies to senior adults who had escaped from the bonds of slavery...
Battlefield Dispatches No: 332: 'Lying, Dirty Sheet' (08/31/12)
During the Civil War the operation of a bias or prejudiced newspaper was a hazardous endeavor. This was especially true if the newspaper was considered to be of the enemy when the opposition forces occupied the town in which the newspaper was located. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 331: 'I had them shot!' (08/24/12)
By the summer of 1862, the Guerrilla War in "Missouri" had reached epic destructive proportions where "No quarter was asked none was given!" It was a cruel, brutal barbaric war in which there was no neutrality with civilian homes and farms being destroyed. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 329: 'A war of extermination' (08/10/12)
In August of 1862, the Civil War was a little more than a year old and Union officers in Kansas, Missouri and the neighboring states of Iowa and the Nebraska Territory became convinced that this was "a war of extermination" when referring to the Confederate guerrillas/bushwhackers of Missouri...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 328: Lacking rations; abundant refugees (08/03/12)
It has been said for ages that "an army marches on its stomach," meaning it should be well fed and when on campaign, the troops should be provided with ample rations of food. This was and still is easier said than done. During the Civil War and in particular any campaign into the Indian Territory (present Oklahoma) from Fort Scott required a supply line of more than 125 miles or so to furnish the necessary rations and supplies to actively pursue the enemy...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 326: Victory and defeat (07/20/12)
During the summer of 1862, the guerrilla war in Missouri between the Confederate bushwhackers (guerrillas) and the loyal Union Missouri troops was vicious, brutal and barbaric. It was often a conflict of surprise, ambushes and disappearing into the shadows of the night only to attack again before or after the dawn of another day...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 325: 'Friend or foe, rescued or captured?' (07/13/12)
At the beginning of the Civil War, "Principal" Cherokee Chief John Ross was in a very difficult situation. He wanted his people of the Cherokee Nation to remain neutral and not participate in the "white man's war." In fact, he declared that the Cherokees would remain neutral, however, that did not last very long. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 324: 'Inciting insurrection, jayhawkers and desperadoes' (07/06/12)
During the Civil War in Missouri and Eastern Kansas, any individual who was captured by the Union forces could be, depending on the circumstances, charged with "inciting the insurrection," and if convicted of the same, executed by firing squad or hanging...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 323: 'Exterminating the Rebels' (06/29/12)
One might think the very title of this column would refer to a battle in Missouri because the phrase "exterminating the rebels" was often used by Union officers as one of their goals. However, this column describes the Battle of Locust Grove, Indian Territory, which occurred on July 3, 1862, in which Union and Confederate "Indians" were among the troops fighting against each other. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 322: 'Accurate information' (06/22/12)
During the Civil War accurate information was for the most part very difficult to acquire, as opposed to modern technology which facilitates the transmission of needed information with pinpoint accuracy. For the generals and soldiers of the blue and gray to obtain accurate information on the spot was almost impossible. Maps were usually inaccurate or non-existent and verbal and written reports were often hours, days and sometimes weeks old...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 321: 'A most savage war' (06/15/12)
By its very nature, a guerrilla war is a most savage war. This has been indicative of guerrilla warfare throughout the ages and was particularly true of the guerrilla war in Missouri and eastern Kansas during the Civil War. Very often it was difficult to determine who the enemy was, be they Bushwhackers from Missouri or Red Legs from Kansas or the just plain civilian outlaws from both states...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 320: 'Riding off to war' (06/08/12)
At the beginning of June in 1862, the first contingent of the Indian or Southern Expedition departed from Fort Scott on its march to the "Indian Territory" or what is now northeastern Oklahoma. This contingent was the 2nd Brigade that was commanded by Col. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 319: '90,000 rations, a horrible death and mules stampede' (06/01/12)
In May and June of 1862, Fort Scott was the initial rendezvous point for a large Union campaign into the Indian Territory, present Oklahoma, known as the "Indian or Southern Expedition." The purpose of this expedition was to drive the Confederates out of the Northeastern Indian Territory north of the Arkansas River, re-occupy Fort Gibson and allow the Indian refuges who had been driven from this area to return to their homes...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 318: 'Wild Goose Chase' (05/25/12)
Mr. Webster defines a "wild goose chase" as the "hopeless pursuit of an unattainable or imaginary object." Therefore, the frustrating Yankee pursuit of the elusive phantom like Confederate guerrillas or bushwhackers fighting in Missouri must have very often seemed like a "wild goose chase."...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 317: 'Simultaneous campaigns' conducted (05/18/12)
In the spring of 1862, the commanding officer of the Department of Kansas was planning to conduct two campaigns at the same time. One campaign was identified as the "Southern Expedition," the goal of which was to defend the southern border of Kansas by occupying the northeastern part of the Indian Territory or present-day Oklahoma. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 316: Disabled horses, missing bridge, yellow curs and loyal Indians (05/11/12)
In the spring of 1862, the town of Fort Scott was developing into a large "Union" military complex. With this endeavor, as with the creation of any large military logistics or supply center, there were a number of "growing pains." These "growing pains" were described by a correspondent for and published in the May 15, 1862, edition of the Leavenworth Conservative newspaper and are as follows:...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 314: 'Rain in torrents' (04/27/12)
During an expedition or "scout" into Missouri in April of 1862, a battalion of the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry was fighting more than just the Confederate guerrillas or "bushwhackers" (if you are of the northern persuasion.) The second and third enemies facing the "Blue Bellied Billy Yanks" were the torrential spring rains and the mud, mud and more mud they created. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 313: Mud and more mud (04/20/12)
Springtime in Kansas can be elusive, however, one thing is certain and that is sometime from the middle of March to the end of May there will be torrential flooding rains that produces "mud, mud and more mud." So it is today, and so it was during the Civil War. This of course is not unusual because this is a time when history has repeated itself...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 312: 'A wild Irishman' (04/13/12)
Today, Friday the 13th, has a reputation for being an unlucky day on which ill fortune or bad things happen and one shouldn't walk under ladders or cross the path of a black cat, especially one named "Lucifer." However, what does this have to do with the subject of this column? Absolutely nothing except that 150 years ago plus one day, April 14, 1864, was the fatal and last living day of a notorious "wild Irishman" by the of name of Daniel Henly. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 310: High water, foot sore and bad whiskey (03/30/12)
(Correspondence of the Conservative) This place being the temporary Headquarters of the Department of Kansas, assumes considerable importance on official documents. It has been recently rather difficult of access from the high water in the streams owing to the heavy rains. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 309: 'Worse than useless' (03/23/12)
During the Civil War, most of the Union Army was comprised of volunteer regiments from various states because the regular U.S. Army was very small and could not, because of its size suppress the rebellion. However, the regular army had and provided many professional officers who commanded some of the field armies and most of the higher general staff positions...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 308: 'Mutinous rabble' (03/16/12)
During the first year of the Civil War, from April of 1861 to April of 1862, there was in all of the states north and south a good bit of disorganized discontent and confusion. This was understandable, because the United States had never been in such a tumultuous internal conflict that was tearing the country apart. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 307: Artillery 'a killing machine' (03/09/12)
In keeping with the sesquicentennial or 150 year commemoration of the Civil War, this column features two "artillery" after-action reports that describe the deadly use of artillery or cannons in the Battle of Pea Ridge in northeastern Arkansas March 7-8, 1862. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 306: Military Pony Express (03/01/12)
The following newspaper article was published in the Leavenworth Conservative on Feb. 27, 1862, and was written by a correspondent of that newspaper in Mound City, Kan., on February 21, 1862. The article describes many military happenings in and around Fort Scott and concludes with a description of the new "Military Express" which delivered mail to Fort Leavenworth to Fort Scott in 22 hours functioning like to the original "Pony Express."...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 305: 'Heaps of ashes' (02/24/12)
The title of this column suggests that something has been burned to the ground, and it is correct. However, one would be mistaken in thinking that the destruction occurred in Missouri. It did not; it occurred in Kansas in September and October of 1861 when Confederate "guerrillas" or "bushwackers," if one is of the Northern "persuasion," attacked and sacked Humboldt, Kan...
Hope Chapel at Moran will be hosting a special service of encouragement with brother George Lambert Sunday Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m. All are invited to come. He was born legally blind, hearing impaired and with a severe facial and mouth deformity, the ef (02/24/12)
The title of this column suggests that something has been burned to the ground, and it is correct. However, one would be mistaken in thinking that the destruction occurred in Missouri. It did not; it occurred in Kansas in September and October of 1861 when Confederate "guerrillas" or "bushwackers," if one is of the Northern "persuasion," attacked and sacked Humboldt, Kan...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 304: 'Payday' and 'a whipping' (02/17/12)
During the Civil War, normally when the armies of the Blue and the Gray were in "winter quarters," major campaigns did not occur. There were, however, scouts and patrols which often resulted in small skirmishes or engagements; but for the most part, the enemy was the winter weather and enduring the monotony of camp life, drill, work or fatigue details and guard duty...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 303: 'An arduous winter campaign' (02/10/12)
During the Civil War, normally, "winter campaigns" did not occur. However, out here in the Trans-Mississippi Theatre of Operations one did occur in late January and February of 1862. It was during this winter campaign, in the Department of Missouri, that Brig. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 301: Civility and 'barbarous warfare' (01/27/12)
One might think that the title of this column is a contradiction of words, but it is not. During the Civil War there was a certain civility in the correspondence that described the "barbarous warfare" that was conducted by both the Union and Confederate forces. This and the command of the English language were especially evident in the letters between the Union and Confederate "generals."...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 300: 'Remembering a galling fire, heavy fog' (01/20/12)
We as a nation and people, for the most part, remember anniversaries, birthdays and other significant events in the history of our country and families, some of which are milestones. Mr. Webster, one of the author's best friends, defines a "milestone" as "a significant event in one's career or history." Therefore, as we, the United States, commemorate and remember the 150th anniversary our Civil War from 2011--2015, this was indeed a significant event and milestone in our nation's history...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 299: 'First to serve' (01/12/12)
Today, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, is the 150th Anniversary of one of many first in the Civil War, and it is an important date in the history of the United States, African American history and the history of the United States Army. It was here, in Fort Scott, Kan., on Jan. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 298: 'Burned to ashes' (01/06/12)
Dayton and Columbus, Mo. During the Civil War, the concept of waging "total war," which included the burning of homes, barns and towns, is believed by many to have originated in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. This type of warfare evolved very quickly when Kansans (seeking revenge, retribution and retaliation for the destruction done by Missourians in Kansas during the era of Bleeding Kansas from 1856 -- 1861) waged war in the "land of misery," the Union troops' nickname for the "show-me-state.". ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 297: 'Smuggling gunpowder, rascality and robbing' (12/30/11)
During the Civil War, by December of 1861, things were getting organized in Missouri and eastern Kansas from the "Union" perspective. The disorganized discontent of the summer and fall of 1861 was in the past and even though Confederate Gen. Price and his army were now in southwestern Missouri, they were still on the mind and a major concern of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck who commanded the "Union" Department of the Missouri from his headquarters in St. Louis...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 296: 'Christmas Angels' (12/23/11)
During the Civil War, a few days before "Christmas" the soldiers of the blue and the gray often thought of hearth and home and of Christmases past. For the most part, on Christmas Eve and day combat stopped. There wasn't an official truce; however, the fighting just seemed to stop...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 295: 'Butler in flames' (12/16/11)
In the middle of December 1861, 1st Sgt. Luther Thrasher's Company C and the balance of the battalion from the Kansas Brigade were still on a march of devastation and destruction in Bates County, Mo. This time they were marching toward Butler which would be burned to ashes, and then they returned to Kansas and "winter quarters" in Linn County not far from the Kansas / Missouri line...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 294: 'Papinsville burned to ashes!' (12/09/11)
On Thursday, Dec. 12, 1864, 1st Sgt. Luther Thrashers's Company, Company C of Lane's Kansas Brigade, received orders late in the afternoon to prepare for a march into Missouri. It seems that on the previous night a Union man who lived in Missouri near the Kansas line was murdered by bushwhackers or "Missouri ruffians," so according to Thrasher's diary, "we are now off to avenge" this murder. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 293: 'Dress parade, pay day and target practice' (12/02/11)
From the middle of November 1861 to the end of February 1862, the Kansas Brigade was in "winter quarters" and was stationed at various locations in eastern Kansas. Company C of the 3rd Kansas Vol. Infantry Regiment was stationed near Osawatomie and finally near Mound City for the balance of the winter...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 292: 'Winter quarters' (11/25/11)
From November 1861 to March of 1862, the "Kansas Brigade" was at home in "winter quarters." This does not mean that the brigade was inactive and in hibernation. Far from it! All of the regiments and respective companies of the brigade were stationed at different locations between Fort Scott and Fort Leavenworth protecting eastern Kansas from the Missouri "bushwhackers," partisan rangers or guerrillas, who were all one and the same...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 291: 'Troubles coming' (11/18/11)
The Kansas Brigade arrived in home on Nov. 14, 1861, after a march of five days from Springfield, Mo., and it was good to be in Kansas once more. However, trouble was on the horizon for the Kansas Brigade and its commanding officer Brig. Gen. James Henry Lane. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 290: 'Going home' (11/10/11)
In the Civil War, "Going home" were two magic words and music to the ears of any soldier, sailor or marine and, for that matter, to anyone past and present who served in any branch of the armed forces of United States. Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and today is the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, so it is most fitting and proper to say thank you to each and every veteran and their families for the sacrifices they have made to make sure that we as a nation enjoy the freedoms of today. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 289: "Weary and Worn" (11/04/11)
During the Civil War -- or for that matter, any war or conflict throughout the ages -- if you were an infantry soldier, during or at the end of a long days march you were "weary and worn" and very tired! Such was the case of the "Kansas Brigade" that was commanded by Brig. Gen. James Henry Lane as it marched south through western Missouri toward Springfield in pursuit of soldiers of the "Confederate" Missouri State Guard that was commanded by Maj. Gen. Sterling Price...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 288: 'A Reckless Fierceness' (10/28/11)
This past Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011, was the 147th anniversary, to the day, of the Battle of Mine Creek that is the largest Civil War battle fought in Kansas and the second largest Cavalry battle of the entire Civil War. Therefore, it is only fitting and appropriate that this column be devoted to an aspect of this battle, the Battle of Mine Creek. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 287: 'A return visit' (10/21/11)
During the Civil War the same "armies" normally did not return and march over or through the same battlefields they fought on. However, there were occasionally exceptions to this, and such was the case in October of 1861 when the infamous, if one is from Missouri or of the "Southern Persuasion," and I repeat, infamous Kansas Brigade commanded by the "Grim Chieftain" himself, Brig. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 285: 'Ferreting Out and Fighting the Enemy' (10/07/11)
While stationed in Kansas City in October of 1861 with his "Kansas Brigade," Brig. Gen. James Henry Lane (the "Grim Chieftain") did not hesitate to express his opinion to his commanding officer, Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont, or anyone who would listen about how the "Union" or "federals" should fight and destroy the Confederate forces...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 284: 'The Grim Chieftain' (09/30/11)
After the destruction of Osceola, Mo., on Sept. 24, 1861, the Kansas Brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. James Henry Lane was ordered to Kansas City to assist in the defense of that metropolis. Eventually, the "brigade" was to join a large combined Union force commanded by Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont to attack and destroy the Confederate forces that had recently won the "Battle of the Hemp Bales" at Lexington, Mo., and who now and occupied it. This never happened...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 283: 'Battle of the Hemp Bales' (09/23/11)
On Sept. 20, 1861, Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, commanding a large army comprised of the Missouri State Guard, accepted the surrender of the Union "Missourians" who had occupied the city and surrounding hills of Lexington, Mo. In addition to being called the Battle of Lexington, this engagement is called the Battle of the Hemp Bales because the attacking Confederates became very creative and used portable bales of hemp to form a movable breastwork, or fortification, that sheltered them from enemy fire as they advanced toward the "Union" lines.. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 282: 'Dens of Devils' (09/16/11)
During the summer of 1861, southern Kansas was in a bit of a turmoil, especially after the Confederate victory at the Battle of Wilson's Creek on Aug. 10, 1861. The citizens of Fort Scott and southeast Kansas feared an attack by a Confederate force of the Missouri State Guard commanded by Gen. Sterling Price as it moved north from the Wilson's Creek Battlefield toward Lexington and the Missouri River...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 281: 'Marauding, atrocities and plundering' (09/09/11)
Even before the infamous Kansas "Lane Brigade" invaded the "Land of Misery" ("Union" soldiers' nickname for Missouri), its reputation had already been established by small groups of marauding Jayhawkers who crossed the "line" in small groups killing Missourians and plundering their homes...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 280: 'The Battle of the Mules' (09/02/11)
On Sept. 2, 1861, a small battle occurred near the present town of Deerfield, Mo., that was the conclusion of a two-day engagement that has two names. This engagement has been called the Battle of Drywood because of its proximity to the Big Drywood Creek and the Battle of the Mules because of the capture of 200 "Union" mules and horses...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 279: 1861 -- 'Defending Southern Kansas' (08/26/11)
During the Civil War, in the first summer of discontent, that being 1861, things were pretty chaotic and confusing in Fort Scott, Kan., as they were in all the states whether they were "Union" or "Confederate." After the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Mo., on Aug. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 278: 'Shot and Shell' (08/19/11)
The Battle of Wilson's Creek on Aug. 10, 1861, near Springfield, Mo., was one of the largest and most significant battles of the Civil War that occurred west of the Mississippi River. Kansas was well represented in that battle by the participation of the 1st and 2nd Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiments that were in some of the most fiercest, horrific combat of the day...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 277: 'Cutting to pieces' (08/12/11)
This past Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, west of Springfield, Mo. This engagement was one of the largest and most significant battles of the Civil War that occurred west of the Mississippi River. Kansas was represented in this battle by the participation of the 1st and 2nd Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiments...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 275: 'Femme-fa-tale' spies, smugglers and escape artists (07/29/11)
During the Civil War, women of the north and south often used their guile, wile and wits serving as scouts, spies and smugglers for both the north and south. The women of the Mayfield family from near Montevallo, Vernon County, Mo., were some of the most famous or infamous, depending on one's point of view, and brazen Southern spies and smugglers between 1861 and 1865. The following description of some of their exploits is located on Pages 337 -- 341 in the 1887 History of Vernon County...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 274: 'Venomous she-rebels' (07/22/11)
Early in the spring of 1863, Wagon Boss and Mule Mechanic R.M. Peck hired on as a teamster in a large brigade supply train of 125 wagons going from Fort Scott, Kan., to Fort Gibson near present Muskogee, Okla., in what then was called in the Civil War the "Indian Nation" or the "Cherokee Nation."...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 273: 'Splendid mules, Fort Gibson bound' (07/15/11)
Without a doubt, the major "beast of burden" during the Civil War was the mule and not the horse, and this does not include the "pack mule" that was used prolifically by the U.S. Army after the Civil War until the 1950s. As has been mentioned in previous columns, the mule was the major draft animal that was used to pull supply wagons, ambulances and many other wheeled vehicles during the Civil War. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 272: 'Local bushwhackers killed' (07/08/11)
The Mayfield brothers, Brice and John (whose nickname was "Crack"), were two southern partisan rangers or "bushwhackers," if one is of the northern persuasion, from Vernon County during the Civil War. In fact, the entire Mayfield family, including their sisters, were famous or infamous southern sympathizers, depending on one's perspective...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 271: 'A Killing Head Shot' (07/01/11)
During the Civil War and all conflicts before and after this war, almost all shots or a shot to the head were fatal. They were normally inflicted by a "sharpshooter" or, in the modern military, by a "sniper." This was usually accomplished at a great distance. Often when the chaos of rough and tumble "hand-to-hand" combat occurred, any type of wound inflicted on an enemy would suffice, and this could include a fatal head shot...
Death of a 'Notorious Bushwhacker' (06/24/11)
By definition, Mr. Webster defines notorious as "being known widely and unfavorably." Therefore, during the Civil War and presently, if one was or is of the northern persuasion, this is a perfect word to describe the bushwhackers. Perhaps the most famous Confederate guerrilla or partisan ranger west of the Mississippi River was William Clark Quantrill. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 269: Capture of a 'Notorious Bushwhacker' (06/17/11)
During the Civil War in Kansas and Missouri, Confederate guerrillas or "bushwhackers," if one is of the northern persuasion, were normally not captured or taken prisoner. They were usually killed on the spot. There were, however, exceptions to this, and such an exception occurred in southwest Missouri in McDonald County during the winter of 1862 and 1863...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 268: 'Fisticuffs and Whiskey' Prove Fatal" (06/10/11)
During the Civil War, the excessive consumption of whiskey could and often did lead to fistfights between comrades of the Blue and comrades of the Gray. Occasionally, the result of a fistfight or quarrel could be fatal to one of the combatants, especially if he was drunk...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 267: 'Record of Events' (06/03/11)
During the Civil War each Union regiment and company was required to keep a written record or diary that documented a brief history of their respective unit. This document was entitled the "Record of Events" and provides a brief but detailed history of the movements of a specific regiment and all of its companies throughout the war. This information is very important in the study of the Civil War because it is often summarized and many of the details are omitted from the "Official Reports."...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 266: 'Funeral Honors' (05/27/11)
In keeping with the history of Memorial Day, or "Decoration Day" as it was originally called, which began as a direct result of the Civil War in 1867, this column is devoted to the "military honors" provided whenever possible to deceased Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 265: A variety of jobs (05/20/11)
Very often during the Civil War and, for that matter in any branch of any military service today, an individual could find him or herself today doing things that they did not enlist to do or were not trained to do (some things never change)! Such was the case of some of the soldiers and officers of Company E of the 12th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment when they were stationed at Fort Scott from April to August in 1863...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 264: Kansans defend President Lincoln (05/13/11)
At the beginning of the Civil War in April 1861, the nation's capital was in a state of disarray and confusion and there were several plots to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln from the White House. A newly elected Kansas senator by the name of James Henry Lane offered to protect President Lincoln with a group of armed Kansans until proper military protection could be secured, and the Kansas Frontier Guard was established...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 263: Escorting supply trains (05/06/11)
During the Civil War, Fort Scott evolved into a huge military complex that extended well beyond the current boundary of Fort Scott National Historic Site. One of the largest parts of this complex was a huge Quartermaster Depot that facilitated the transportation of supplies to Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory (present Oklahoma) and Fort Smith, Ark...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 263: 'King Cotton' (04/29/11)
Before the Civil War, cotton was the king of all the agricultural products that were produced south of the Mason-Dixon Line. In addition to cotton, the south produced tobacco, indigo and rice, but Cotton was the King. The southern gross national product of all of these agricultural crops was many millions of dollars and then came the Civil War...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 261: 'Tuff was Tough' (04/15/11)
During the study of the Civil War, one often discovers that an individual's name was often spelled in two or three different ways, and this becomes difficult and confusing for the researcher. Is the individual being researched one person with a different spelling of his or her surname, or are there two or three different individuals?...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 260: Report on post hospital conditions (04/08/11)
Some time ago, David Haimerl, who is a very good friend, fellow researcher and historian discovered the following 1862 description of the hospitals in Fort Scott at the end of the second year of the Civil War. One of the joys of studying the Civil War is that most folks who do this are happy to share the new "old" information they have discovered. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 259: 'Land of Misery' (04/01/11)
During the Civil War the Union soldiers called Missouri the "Land of Misery" because they believed that all Missourians and the entire state was the enemy. This of course was not true because there were hundreds of "Unionists" or "Missourians" who were loyal to the United States, but that made no difference to the Blue Bellied Yankees from Kansas and other northern states such as Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, etc. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 258: 'Jayhawking Buckeyes' (03/25/11)
In the April of 1862, a battalion of the 2nd Ohio (Buckeyes) Cavalry Regiment conducted an expedition into the enemy state of Missouri from Fort Scott. If there is an after -action report of this expedition, it has not been discovered yet. However, the following account of this mission was published in the April 26,1862 edition of the "Western Volunteer" newspaper in Fort Scott...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 257: 'Outlaw' (03/18/11)
According to Mr. Webster, one of the definitions of an "Outlaw, is "a habitual or notorious criminal who is a fugitive from the law." During the Civil War, there were many "outlaws" who were former soldiers of the Blue or the Gray and there were also those who never wore a uniform and were civilian outlaws. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 256: 'Express Riders' (03/11/11)
Carrying the military mail by "Express" or "Dispatch" riders or couriers during the Civil War was a very dangerous occupation that could result in a short life expectancy and on occasion a very brief longevity. However, even with death staring him in the face on his journey, a successful Dispatch was very well paid, often in the amount of $3-$5 per day plus rations. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 255: 'Destination Fort Scott' (03/04/11)
During the Civil War, Supply Trains often encountered abandoned or occupied farms as they passed through a given area and it often did not matter what the loyalty of the farmers and their families was. Anything of use was normally taken by the passing "Union" or Confederate soldiers. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 254: Wagon Boss No. 7 'On the Road to Fort Scott' (02/25/11)
At the conclusion of last week's column Wagon Boss R.M. Peck and the wagon train he was in charge of arrived at Flat Rock, Indian Territory which was about 12 miles north of Fort Gibson. Here, Peck was put in charge of another empty supply train that was returning to Fort Scott, Kan. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 253: Wagon Boss No. 6 'On the Road To Fort Gibson' (02/18/11)
After returning to Fort Scott from Humboldt, Kan., in the late spring of 1862, R.M. Peck, hired on as the Assistant Wagon Boss with a wagon train of Commissary Stores going to south to Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory (present Oklahoma). The following is Peck's memoir of this trip that was published in the July 28, 1904 edition of the National Tribune newspaper in Washington, D.C...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 252: Wagon Boss No. 5: 'Indian Soldiers' (02/11/11)
Before returning to Fort Scott in the Spring of 1862, wagon boss R.M. Peck recorded his observations of Humboldt, Kan., and the organization of the "Union" 1st and 2nd Regiments of Indian Home Guards in his journal. Early in the last century, he published his memoir of the Civil War in a series of articles that were published in the National Tribune, which was a newspaper published in Washington, D.C. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 251: Wagon Boss No. 4 Supplies for the '62' Campaign in the Indian Territory (02/04/11)
In the early spring of 1862, Wagon Boss R.M. Peck was in charge of a wagon train that was transporting supplies from Fort Scott to Humboldt, Kan., that were to be used in the "Union" Army's summer campaign in the Indian Territory (present Oklahoma). This is the conclusion of Peck's column that was published in the July 21, 1904 edition of the National Tribune newspaper that was published in Washington, D.C...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 250: 'Wagon Boss and Mule Mechanic: Part 3 Army Mules on the March' (01/28/11)
This column is the continuation of Wagon Boss Robert M. Peck's experiences in eastern Kansas and the Indian Territory (present Oklahoma) from 1862-1865. During the Civil War, the "Union" Quartermaster Department hired civilians to be in charge of mule drawn wagon trains that transported almost all of the supplies that were necessary equip a field army to wage war and to furnish various forts and installations as necessary. ...
Battlefield Dispatches 249: 'Powder, Lead and Molds' (01/21/11)
During the Civil War, most of the standard musket ammunition was the .58 Caliber Minnie Ball that was issued to the "infantry." In fact, the "Minnie Ball" was not a round ball, but rather it was a conical shaped bullet or projectile. There were, however, soldiers of the Blue and Gray who were issued standardized round "ball" ammunition in .58 or .69 calibers. "Standardization" was the key that enabled the ordnance departments to purchase and issue large amounts of identical ammunition...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 247: 'An unhappy and Happy New Year' (01/07/11)
During the Civil War, as in any war, combat operations of the Blue and Gray did not stop because it was a holiday and for the most part, unless you were part of a rear echelon, far away from a combat area, holiday celebrations did not occur. However, whenever possible, the soldiers of the Blue and Gray did remember "New Years" Eve and Day with a bit of levity whenever and wherever they could. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 246: 'On a bed of snow' (12/30/10)
During the Civil War, or for that matter in any war, thoughts of soldiers far away were often of family, home and hearth. This was especially true during the holiday seasons of Christmas and New Year's and these thoughts were often expressed in the soldier's diaries and letters to their loved ones. ...
Battlefield Dispatches No. 245: 'Wagon Boss and Mule Mechanic 2 - Smart and Stubborn Mules' (12/23/10)
By choice, the "Beast of Burden" during the Civil War in the Quartermaster and Commissary Departments was the mule and not the draft or work horse. The following description of a good mule was published in Scott's 1861 Military Dictionary in 1861 on Page 334:...
Battlefield Dispatches: 'A Guardian Angel, Respected and Loved' (12/10/10)
According to Mr. Webster, one of the definitions of "guardian" is "A person who guards, protects or takes care of another person, property, etc." Therefore, one would expect a "guardian" to be a benevolent person who does good things and is kindly and charitable and is regarded as beautiful, good and innocent as an "angel." This is not what one would expect to be or of a combat soldier or Civil War general. ...
Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches