when Quantrill's rear guard formed line of battle 3 miles north of Paola and 20 miles from where they entered the State. A skirmish ensued, the guerrillas breaking and scattering, so that our forces, in the darkness, lost the trail, and went into Paola for food and rest, while search was being made for it. Lieutenant-Colonel [C. S.] C;ark, Ninth Kansas Volunteers, with headquarters at Coldwater Grove, was in command of the troops on the border of Little Santa Fe, including the stations at Aubrey, Coldwater Grove (13 miles south at Aubrey), Rockville (13 miles south of Coldwater Grove), Choteau's Trading Post (15 miles south of Rockville), and Harrisonville. There were two companies at each station, but the force out patrolling rarely left 50 men in camp at each post. He received Captain Pike's message as to the gathering of Quantrill's forces on Grand River on the night of the 20th, and at once sent for the spare troops at Rockville and Trading Post to march up to Coldwater Grove. At 3 o'clock on the morning of the 21st, he received a dispatch from Captain Coleman, at Aubrey, saying that Quantrill had crossed into Kansas, and he set out with 30 men, following Quantrill's trail nearly to Gardner, and thence going south to Paola, reaching there at 5 p. m. With this command, and a force of perhaps 50 citizens, and a part of Captain [N. L.] Benter's company of the Twelfth Kansas Infantry, which had been garrisoning Paola, he prepared to attack Quantrill at the ford of Bull Creek, 3 miles south of Paola, toward which he was then retreating. But Quantrill, on coming within 4 or 5 miles of that crossing, soon after dark, formed line of battle, as I stated above, broke trail, turned sharp to the north, and dodged and bewildered the force in waiting for him as well as that in pursuit.
These troops at the ford returned to Paola about the time the command which had followed Quantrill reached there. One of the parties in search of the trail found it 5 miles north of Paola, and reported the fact to Lieutenant-Colonel Clark, who was the ranking officer there, at between 1 and 2 o'clock. He was slow in ordering pursuit, which was not renewed until daybreak. He, at that time, sent Captain Coleman forward, with 30 men of the Ninth Kansas, which he himself had brought to Paola, and 40 of the same regiment, which had got there from the Trading Post at about 2 o'clock that morning, and about 70 militia, chiefly of Linn County. He marched soon after himself with the troops which had followed Quantrill the day before.
Half an hour before Major Plumb started from Kansas City on the night of the 21st, Captain Palmer, Eleventh Kansas, was sent by him from Westport with 50 men of his company down the line to near Aubrey, where he met a messenger from Captain Coleman, directing re-enforcements to Spring Hill, at which point he struck Quantrill's trail, and followed it to within 7 miles of Lawrence. Thence, learning that Quantrill had gone south, he turned southeast; and at Lanesfield (Union-town) was joined by a force about 80 strong, under Major Phillips, composed of detachments of Captain Smith's company, Enrolled Missouri Militia, Captain [T. P.] Killen's Ninth Kansas, and a squad of the Fifth Kansas. This latter force had been collected by Major [L. K.] Thacher, at Westport, and dispatched from there at noon on Friday, the 21st, via Lexington, Kans. The command of Major Phillips, thus increased to 130, pushed southeast from Lanesfield, and struck Quantrill's trail about sunrise, 5 miles north of Paola, and but a little behind the commands of Coleman and Clark.
Major Thacher, commanding at Westport when news arrived that Quantrill was returning by way of the Osage Valley, took the rest of the mounted troops on the upper border (Company A, Ninth, and Com-