[Masthead] Fair ~ 76°F  
High: 88°F ~ Low: 70°F
Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Battlefield Dispatches No. 289: "Weary and Worn"

Friday, November 4, 2011

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.

First Lt. Henry Miles Moore from Co. F, 5th Ks. Vol. Cavalry maintained an excellent diary while he was assigned to the Kansas Brigade, and his diary is currently located in the Beineke Manuscript Collection in the Yale University Library. The following entries from Lt. Moore's diary describe the march of the Kansas Brigade on the way to and it's arrival in Springfield, Mo., in the fall of 1861.

"Oct. 30, 1861, Greenfield, Mo.:

We broke camp (on the northern edge of Dade County) at daylight this a.m. Our regiment in advance except the police guard in front. We march in war style as we are in the enemies' country. I was in command of the regiment today as Col. Ritchie was the "officer of the day." We reached Greenfield, the county seat of Dade County, about 2 p.m. Marched 12 miles today and camped just above the town. Gen. Sturgis' command is camped on the other side of town, only a fair country through which we passed today. Sparsely settled. P.M. again -- detailed to appraise government stock.

I had my two horses appraised and took a certificate. If they should be killed or lost in government services, I could get paid for them. The black stallion was appraised at $80 and the claybank or cream colored horse at $60. Tonight I am much rejoiced as I received a brief note from my dear wife from Fort Scott, Kan., dated the 14th, all well. I shall sleep sounder tonight. God bless the loved one. No order to march tonight or tomorrow.

Oct. 31, 1861, Greenfield, Mo.:

Cool, but pleasant this a.m. Gen. Sturgis, whose command is encamped a short distance from us, invited Gen. Lane and the officers of his command to visit him this a.m. at 11 o'clock and witness a general review of his command. Several of us went over and Gen. Lane was sick and excused himself. Very pleasant time and fine review. Gen. Sturgis has only one full regiment of infantry and one about half full, both Ohio regiments, th e 27th and 29th.

I think part of a regiment of Cavalry, Col. Nugent's command. Mo. and Kan. Vol., 260 or 80 men and two cannon. A general review of our brigade was ordered at 4 p.m. and just as we were going out to review Gen. Lane received an order from Gen. Fremont to march on Springfield at once without a moments delay. The order to march was given in five minutes after and in less than half an hour the whole Brigade was out marching on the road to Springfield.

Gen. Sturgis, who had come to our camp to witness the review at once galloped back to his command and they started immediately in our rear. This is a specimen of what Lane's Brigade can do in an emergency.

Greenfield is a pleasant little town in Dade Co., Mo. Some fine buildings. Among them a fine Brick Academy now used by the "Secesh" (Confederates) as a hospital where about 30 of their sick are confined.

Of course, that is suspected. A cold, dark bleak night and one of the most awful rocky hilly roads I ever traveled. Over this we wound our way through the spurs of the Ozark Mountains till about 2 or past two a.m. As the adjutant of the regiment was sick and the Sgt. Maj. was not well, I was compelled to do their duties and also act as the Lt. Col. of the regiment. I went the whole length of that command several times that night and over those horrid roads and in the rear looking up (for) a portion of the train that we lost.

Nov. 1, 1861, Springfield, Mo.

We camped a little before daylight this a.m. No tents pitched. The men weary and worn lay down by their campfire to get a few moments rest. No order of camp. At daylight we started on again having made about 15 miles during the night.

We marched about three miles to water and a cornfield for breakfast and forage and here remained a few hours and then pushed on for Springfield, 15 or 18 miles, which town we reached about sunset with our whole train making the march of 35 miles in much less than 24 hours marching time.

As we entered the town, a crowd of soldiers greeted us with cheers and the bands of Gen. Fremont's and Segal on the right and left playing national airs (songs).

We were marched through the entire city to the southeast corner of the town, and there encamped for the night weary and worn, we laid down to rest.

This is a soldier's life. Springfield is a town of several thousand inhabitants scattered over a large extent of country and a very enterprising town in time of peace, situated in a rich country to all appearances, although most of the country through which we passed was very sparsely settled, rocky, sandy and not susceptible of much cultivation.

We passed the night within a few miles of a large force of the enemy marching on this point (Springfield)."

The following day, Gen. Lane issued the following order:

"Headquarters, Kansas Brigade, (Springfield, Mo.);

Nov. 2, 1861.

To: Cols. of Regiments and Commandants of Battalions and Companies and Squads:

Prepare your several commands for a fight to commence tomorrow. To this end see and talk to every man that you command and examine his gun and cartridge box yourself and know that he has 40 cartridges. Know that his canteen is full of good water and that he has something to eat in his haversack (cotton or canvas shoulder bag).

This brigade is to fight to the last! We cannot surrender. Better die upon the field than be murdered as we will be if taken prisoners. Let every man understand that his business is to kill as many of the enemy as possible, and that he is to preserve perfect silence in the ranks so that orders may be heard.

By orders of J. H. Lane

Commanding, Kansas Brigade."

The "fight" Gen. Lane predicted never happened and the Kansas Brigade's stay in Springfield, Mo., was very brief. On Nov. 9, 1861, it received orders to return to Kansas, and, of course, the war went on!

Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches