War of the Rebellion: Serial 019 Page 0217 Chapter XXV. ACTION AT KIRKSVILLE, MO.

Search Civil War Official Records

Not being able to first to discover the exact whereabouts of the enemy, Colonel McNeil ordered a cavalry charge to be made. I detailed Lieutenant Cowdrey, with part of Company A, Merrill's Horse, who charged through the town, receiving a severe fire from the enemy from the houses and behind the fences and trees. This was a most gallant charge, and reflects great credit upon Lieutenant Cowdrey and his brave men. Two of them were mortally wounded and 3 slightly and 5 horses killed. I then ordered Company C, Merrill's Horse, Lieutenant Piper commanding, to take possession of the nearest houses occupied by the enemy. This was done in gallant style. The fight soon became general throughout the entire line, the artillery opening on the houses and brush beyond the town with terrible effect upon the enemy.

In connection with the Indiana battery I wish to speak particularly of the bravery and good conduct of Sergeants Burns and Elliott and Corporal Berg.

As our lines advanced the enemy fell back to the brush, where their horses were concealed, throwing down their arms and clothing, the thick brush between the town and the river affording excellent protection for their retreat. Pursuit was made for 4 miles by Major Clopper with a detachment of Merrill's Horse, resulting in the capture of several wagons and horses and killing 8 of the enemy. But farther pursuit was entirely out of the question, as the horses were broken down by long marches, many of them having been on the march after Porter for thirty-two days, and the men had been without rations for two days.

Our loss in my command was 4 killed and 9 wounded. The loss of the enemy in the battle was 128 killed and at least 300 wounded. We captured 150 horses, 500 stand of arms, and a quantity of clothing and blankets.

Our entire force engaged in this battle did not exceed 500, large details having been made from the command for the purpose of protecting the train, ammunition, and horses, and to defend the artillery and take care of the wounded.

This was the most successful battle ever fought in Missouri; the victory most complete, resulting in the entire demoralization and scattering of Porter's entire army, which had been raised by brave and unscrupulous men for the express purpose of holding Northern Missouri and robbing and killing Union men.

Majors Clopper and Benjamin both distinguished themselves by their bravely and gallantry, but this same remark applies to the entire command, officers and men alike seeking the most dangerous places and all anxious to have the fight continue.

In conclusion I must speak of Colonel McNeil's colored man Jim. To him belongs the honor to killing the first man in the fight. Armed with a Sharps rifle, he did splendid work through the entire afternoon.

Whenever a rebel showed his head at long range Jim was almost certain to get him.

I remain, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Lieutenant-Colonel Merrill's Horse.

Lieutenant McFARLANE,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.