War of the Rebellion: Serial 019 Page 0319 Chapter XXV. AFFAIR AT PORTLAND, MO.

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OCTOBER 16, 1862.- Affair at Portland, Mo.

Report of Surg. John E. Bruere, First Battalion Missouri Cavalry (Militia).


Fulton, Mo., October 17, 1862.

SIR: Although I suppose you have already received information in regard to the crossing of Porter's rebel gang at Portland by the officers on board the steamboat Emilie, I think it my duty to notify you myself of it directly, as I had been trusted with the command of that portion of our battalion (120 men) which succeeded at least in preventing him from making his second trip across.

We had started here at 5 o'clock yesterday morning in search of a camp on the Auxvasse, but after four hours' diligent traveling and brushing I was convinced that no gang of any size was on this creek any more, but that they all had gone in the direction of Portland. their tracks became so thick on every road and by road that I had no doubt in my mind that they had passed in the direction of Portland in very large numbers. I therefore followed them as fast as possible, examining as I went along every brush very carefully. People living along the road had all seen them or heard of them going down constantly for the last eighteen hours, and the closer we got to Portland the larger would they estimate their number. About 7 miles this side of Portland, near Jackson's Mill, on the fulton and Portland road, we first met their pickets, watching the road. They had seen us before we saw them, but we shot one of them from his horse, while the balance went at full speed in several directions, one part of them going toward Portland, others fleeing to the left. I divided my men, following both parties. Those on the left were chased by me for at least 2 miles, when I lost them in the thicket. Those going toward the river were pursued by 75 of our men, but got to town far ahead of us. The officer in command did not know if I was still willing to follow them up, and awaited my arrival 1 mile this side of town. I only caught up with them after the lapse of half an hour and pushed on right off. A loyal farmer, living near, had seen them all pass by, and warned me not to go on, as I had too small a force to accomplish anything, they being, as he said, 400 or 450 strong. I hurried on, however, but unfortunately arrived just soon enough to see the boat on the other side. In town I met 35 or 40, whom I attacked and drove up the river, killing 4 of them; the rest escaped.

Later reports by my men increase the dead to 7. I only saw 3 myself; the rest were reported to me. I could not follow them up very far, and would not do it, because I wanted to make sure of the boat. After she got through unloading, which was about half an hour after our arrival, I saw her go down the channel. I went after her right off, because she had been on her way up the river, and I therefore distrusted her, and hoped to stop her in the bend below. Just as I reached the lower edge of the town I met 10 bushwhackers coming leisurely toward me, and one of them told me that they wanted to give themselves up. I was intending to take them, when all at once they turned toward the brush, only 1 of them falling in our hands. I pursued them, but very soon lost their tracks in the brush, as I could not trace them, on account of the abundance of foot-prints in every direction.

On reaching the river I saw the boat on the opposite side again just