First Missouri, at Warrensburg, heard, on the morning of the 20th, that this force had passe the day before 12 miles north of him, going west, and moved promptly after the, sending orders to major [A. W.] Mullins, commanding two companies of the same regiment, at Pleasant Hill, to move on them from that point.
On the night of the 19th, however, Quantrill passed through Chapel Hill to the head of the Middle Fork of Grand River, 8 miles northwest of Harrisonville, and 15 miles southeast of Aubrey, the nearest station in Kansas. There he was joined, on the morning of the 20th, by about 50 men from Grand River and the Osage, and at noon set out for Kansas, passing 5 miles south of Aubrey at 6 p. m., going west. Aubrey is 35 miles south of Kansas City, and about 45 miles southeast of Lawrence. Kansas City is somewhat farther from Lawrence.
Captain [J. A.] Pike, commanding two companies at Aubrey, received information of the presence of Quantrill on Grand River at 5.30 p. m. of the 20th. He promptly forwarded the information up and down the line and to my headquarters, and called in his scouting parties to march upon them. One hour and half later he received information that Quantrill had just passed into Kansas. Unhappily, however, instead of setting out at once in pursuit, he remained at the station, and merely sent information of Quantrill's movement to my headquarters, and to Captain Coleman, commanding two companies at Little Santa Fe, 12 miles north of the line. Captain [C. F.] Coleman, with near 100 men, marched at once to Aubrey, and the available force of the two stations, numbering about 200 men, set out at midnight in pursuit. But Quantrill's path was over the open prairie, and difficult to follow at night, so that our forces gained but little on him. By Captain Pike's error of judgment in failing to follow promptly and closely, the surest means of arresting the terrible blow was thrown away, for Quantrill would never have gone as far as Lawrence, or attacked it, with 100 men close on his rear.
The first dispatch of Captain Pike reached here at 11.30 p. m.; the second a hour later. Before 1 o'clock Major [P. B.] Plumb, my chief of staff, at the head of about 50 men (which was all that could be got here and at Westport), started southward, and at daylight heard at Olathe, 25 miles from here, that the enemy had passed at midnight through Gardner, 18 miles from Lawrence, going toward that town. Pushing on, Major Plumb overtook Captains Coleman and Pike, 6 miles southeast of Lawrence, at 10.30 o'clock Friday, the 21st instant, and by the light of the blazing farm houses saw that the enemy had got 6 miles south of Lawrence, on their way out of the State. The enemy were overtaken near Palmyra by Major Plumb's command, to which were there added from 50 to 100 citizens, who had been hastily assembled and led in pursuit by General Lane. By this time the horses of our detachments were almost exhausted. nearly all were young horses, just issued to the companies, and had marched more than 65 miles without rest, and without food from the morning of the 20th. Quantrill had his men mounted on the best horses of the border, and had collected fresh ones going to and at Lawrence, almost enough to remount his command. He skillfully kept over 100 of his best mounted and best trained men in the rear, and often formed line of battle, to delay pursuit and give time and rest to the most wearied of his forces. By the time our scattered soldiers and citizens could get up and form line, the guerrillas' rear guard would, after a volley, break into column, and move off at a speed that defied pursuit. Thus the chase dragged through the afternoon, over the prairie, generally following no roads of paths, until night,