OCTOBER 28, 1861.-Expedition to Fulton, Mo.
Report of Brigadier General Chester Harding, Jr., Missouri State Militia.
HERMANN, October 31, 1861.
SIR: Having ascertained that a considerable force of rebels had encamped about 8 miles north of Fulton, Callaway County, that their number was increasing, and that they designed an attack upon some one of the important bridges on the Pacific Railroad, I deemed it my duty to cross the river and disperse them. Accordingly, 650 men, taken from Morton's Independent Ohio Regiment, and the Tenth Regiment Missouri Volunteers, with a section of artillery with two field pieces, were ordered to take a train at this point and proceed to Medora, where a boat from Jefferson City was to be in readiness to transport them over the river. The expedition was to have crossed at midnight on the 27th, but delay in furnishing railroad transportation prevented us from landing at Saint Aubert's before Sunday afternoon [28th]. At Medora I found Brigadier-General Prentiss and some of his staff, who had come from Jefferson on the boat. He accompanied us, but declined to take the command. The men had been under arms since 10 o'clock p.m. of the 27th, and I allowed them to rest for a few hours at Saint Aubert's.
At 11 p.m. on the 28th we marched, and reached Fulton, 18 miles distant, at sunrise. I there learned that the rebels, anticipating an attack from the Federal forces, had made an arrangement with Brigadier-General Henderson by which they were allowed to disperse, and were exempted from arrest or punishment for their treasonable proceedings. General Prentiss and I had a consultation with the few leading Union men in Fulton, and decided to respect the agreement referred to, especially as I could not leave a garrison in the town to protect the loyal citizens from the vengeance which the secessionists would have taken had we interfered with the persons or property of their leaders. I therefore returned to this place, having first given General Prentiss an escort to accompany him to Jefferson City.
That whole region is thoroughly disloyal. There is no faith to be placed in anything but the fears of the rebels. On our return a single individual rode up within 200 yards of our advance guard and fired at it, and this is an indication of the universal feeling there. There are not 200 Union men in the county of Callaway. Although we met no enemy, our visit has done some good. The rebels are fully aware that they may expect an instant movement against them the moment they attempt to gather in force. I am happy to say that the most admirable good order and discipline were maintained by Lieutenant Colonel John A. Turley, commanding the detachment of Ohio troops; Major S. A. Holmes, commanding the Missouri Volunteers; and Captain Krech, of the Reserve Guard, in charge of the artillery. Although we passed through a country where we found few but enemies, there was no interference with private property, and no irregularities of any kind committed.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHESTER HARDING, JR.,
Brigadier-General, Commanding District.
Captain CHAUNCEY McKEEVER,
A. A. G., Western Department, Saint Louis.