War of the Rebellion: Serial 019 Page 0214 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXV.

Search Civil War Official Records

into the town. Lieutenant Cowdrey, of the Merrill Horse, with 8 men, did the business most gallantly--dashing in at the northeast corner of the town, where he drew a most terrible fire from houses and gardens and on all sides. He dashed around the square, coming out at the other corner, with small loss, considering the nature of the perilous errand. The enemy discovered, the attack commenced.

The artillery opened, throwing shot and shell into the corn fields, gardens, and houses where the enemy were ensconced. The dismounted men were thrown forward to seize the outer line of sheds and houses on the northern and eastern sides of the town. This was gallantly done by the commands of Major Benjamin and Lieutenant Piper, of Merrill's Horse; the detachment of the Ninth Missouri State Militia, under Captain Leonard; the Red Rovers, under Captain Rice, and the detachment of the Third Iowa. Major Cox with his detachment occupied and skirmished through a corn field on the northeast of the town, driving a large body of the enemy out and pursuing them with effect. The advance was steadily made, house after house being taken, the occupants killed or surrendering. In this work we lost the most of our men that were killed or wounded--including Captain

Mayne, of the Third Iowa, who fell at the head of his command, leading them up as only a brave soldier can. A simultaneous charge of both wings now carried the town and court-house; but still the western line of houses and corn fields were defended with energy, our lines receiving a galling fire; but the right wing, gallantly led by Lieutenant-Colonel Shaffer and Major Benjamin, made short work of this part of the field, while the left wing took full possession of the southern line of the town.

The pursuit was continued through woods to the west of the town, where large quantities of horses, arms, clothing, and camp equipage were found, and the entire brush skirmished. Major Clopper was ordered, with a body of the Merrill Horse, to pursue the flying foe, which he did until he became convinced that they had crossed the Chariton, when he returned to camp. Further pursuit for the day, however desirable, was most impossible in our condition. The man had for the most part had nothing to eat for two days and the horses were almost entirely used up. The enemy had been numerous, and we were still unadvised whether he had crossed the river in mass or whether part of his force had not fallen back to the northwest, from which point they might fall on our rear.

We went into camp, taking measures for the collection of forage and subsistence and putting our men and horses in condition for pursuit. I had several days previously detached Lieutenant-Colonel Morsey with 420 men of the Tenth Cavalry, Missouri State Militia, and Major Rogers, with the Second Battalion, Eleventh Regiment Cavalry, Missouri State Militia, to move north, outflank the enemy, and prevent his getting into Scotland or Schuyler Counties; and have the best reason to believe that it was the proximity of this force, of which Porter was well advised, that obliged him to make a stand at Kirksville. This command came into camp next day, swelling our force to nearly 1,700 men, without any but the precarious means of subsistence left in a country that had been desolated by the passage of an army of nearly 3,000 men.

Happily, on the morning of the 8th, Lieutenant Hiller arrived from Palmyra, by the way of Edina, with 8,000 rations and a timely supply of horseshoes. The address and boldness of Lieutenant Hiller in moving through a hostile country, infested everywhere by marauding bands, with a guard of but 40 men, and for days, is worthy of the highest com-