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Monday, Apr. 27, 2015

Battlefield Dispatches No. 258: 'Jayhawking Buckeyes'

Friday, March 25, 2011

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.

"A trip to Carthage"

The 1st Battalion of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry under the command of Mjr. George Minor, left this place for Carthage on Thursday, the 10th inst. The command consisted of companies C, I, F 7 L A (supply) train of nine wagons, loaded with company and commissary stores, ammunition, etc. accompanied us. Nothing of note happened on our first day's march and we camped on the bank of Drywood (Creek) having made about 12 miles.

Early on Friday morning we resumed our march, intending to reach Lamar that night, but owing to the heavy rain which set in in the forenoon and to some little accidents which delayed our train, we were obliged to encamp on the bank of Cox's Creek, having marched but 10 miles. The men were drenched with rain and after spending a cold, uncomfortable night, we resumed our march. The day was cold and a drizzling rain set in which continued until night. The road was not bad, however, and everything went on smoothly until within a few miles of Lamar, when we were met by a couple of men, who came to inform us that owing to the rise in the river, we would be unable to cross the at the ford and must go some distance to the bridge. Leaving the main road we struck off into a by road which led to the bridge. Hardly had we gone a hundred yards before we found that our new road was anything but a pleasant one. Wagon after wagon stuck fast in the thick prairie mud, which for three or four miles was nearly up to the (wagon) axles and the strength of six mules was totally inadequate to the task of pulling them out. There was no other way, it must be done by hand. Picket ropes were tied to the tongues and the men, arranging themselves on each side, guiding their horses with one hand and bracing well in the stirrups, would pull with the other hand, adding the labor of 50 or more men to that of six mules and thus the wagons were drawn out of and through the thick mud the entire distance. For a while, the companies relieved each other at this labor, but soon all got to work together and then the fun commenced in earnest, different companies vying with each other to see which should get their wagon out first. The men and officers shouting at the top of their voices, teamsters (wagon drivers) screaming and plying the whip to stubborn mules and shouts of exultation as one company would pass another, made up a scene at once animated and ludicrous. We finally got through the mud, crossed the bridge and encamped within two miles of Lamar.

After refreshing our horses with "secesh" (Confederate) hay and grain, some of the boys thinking they had worked a little too hard to make a supper of hard bread and bacon, started in pursuit of fresh provisions. Woe, then to the unlucky hog, sheep or yearling (calf) found in the woods. The fact of his being there was taken as positive evidence of bushwhacking propensities and our boys have only lead and cold steel for Buschwhackers when the officers are not in sight. After leaving this camp, nothing of interest occurred and we entered Carthage the next day about 10 a.m. We encamped just on the town and prepared for operations.

The next day Co. C, Lt. Strong commanding, was sent out for forage. They came back with nine wagons well loaded with corn, oats, hay, bacon, etc. besides five prisoners and a number of young mules, colts and cattle. On Wednesday, 40 men from Company I, under Lt. Welch were sent out with six wagons to try their luck. They were even more successful than Co. C had been. They brought back grain, apples, potatoes and bacon, all the mules could draw. They also succeeded in finding a squad of rebels, of whom they captured eight, taking at the same time, nine fine horses, three double-barreled shotguns and one revolver. Some of the prisoners were identified as old offenders and it is to be hoped that they may be set at pulling hemp (hanged) as they deserved.

All hands now began to feel as if, after lying idle for months, we were at last to be allowed to work. Certainly this part of the country presents a fine field for operations. But alas, in came a dispatch ordering us back to Fort Scott and we must leave at once. So the next morning, we set out for this place, a place we hoped we had turned our backs upon forever. The very heavens, as if to manifest the displeasure of an angry God, sent the rain in torrents, flooding the roads and raising the streams so that it was only by swimming our horses that we reached camp that night. We pushed on the next day intending to reach Fort Scott, but by the time we reached Drywood, darkness had overtaken us and we were obliged to remain on the other side of Drywood Creek. Our wagons had been left behind at Lamar on account of the roads and having neither tents nor picket ropes, we fed our horses corn and building a few fires, stood wet and shivering through the long, dark night, many of us holding our horses by the bridle until daylight. That night will long be remembered by the boys of the First Battalion, as will also the encouraging looks and words of Mjr. Minor and Lts. Welch and Leslie, the only officers who endured the night with us.

There is nothing like the presence of officers enduring the hardships with them to inspire confidence and cheer in the minds of soldiers at a time like that. Next morning, we crossed the river (Drywood Creek) and came to Fort Scott, where we remain, eagerly awaiting the order that will send us back to Carthage or some point where there is work to do."

"Vic"

It is not known who "Vic," the author of this article, was, but it is believed that he was a soldier in the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Shortly after completing this expedition into Missouri, the 2nd Ohio Calvary Regiment returned to its home state, was reorganized and participated in various campaigns east of the Mississippi river, and of course, the war went on!

Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches