a circular order, dated Jefferson City, Mo., October 10, 1863 (a copy of which I herewith transmit), that I should assume command of the following detachments of troops: Detachment of First Provisional Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia, 44 men and 2 officers, and detachment of Ninth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, 36 men and 1 officer; embark without delay on steamboat Isabella, and proceed rapidly to Boonville; organize the citizens, and make all possible preparations for the defense of the town and Government property; remain there until the arrival of General Guitar; then report to headquarters at Jefferson City for further orders. The Isabella was unladed as rapidly as possible by the join labor of the hands and convicts from the penitentiary. I embarked with the designated command about sundown, and would have proceeded up the river forthwith had not a dark night, occasioned by wind and rain, set in, and rendered navigation impossible.
At daylight Sunday morning, October 11, the boat moved out, and progressed with unusual speed, considering the condition of the river. When within 3 miles of Boonville, about 3 o'clock that evening, the boat was hailed by a squad of soldiers from the north side of the river, of the Ninth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, sent from the ferry landing, immediately opposite Boonville, by Major Reeves Leonard, of the same regiment, and by them I was notified that the enemy, variously estimated at from 1,000 to 2,000 strong, had position to command the river. I also learned from some fugitive citizens that I took on board from the south side of the river, that Shelby, in anticipation of the approach of steamers from below, and given orders, soon after his arrival in town, to one of his captains, to take a company and guard the river against all such surprises. I ordered the captain of the boat to land her on the north side of the river, behind an island, heavily timbered, formed in the middle of the river, as a protection against the artillery of the enemy. In person I proceeded to the landing opposite Boonville; held a conference with Major Leonard; attended tot he promiscuous and irregular firing that was done by the enemy and the Federal troops at each other across the river. The enemy used his Parrott gun upon us; accomplished but little only killing 1 horse. I was informed that several of the enemy had been wounded by the small-arms of the Federal troops. I will state before I proceed further, that Major Leonard had under him at the time I assumed command about 200 soldiers of the Ninth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, which, added to the detachments above mentioned, gave me a force of 300 soldiers.
Immediately after his arrival upon the bank of the river, Major Leonard, with about 50 soldiers and horses, embarked upon the ferry to cross over to Boonville. The rebels entered the south side of the town about the same time, and, learning from some loyal man what was going on at the river, passed rapidly with a piece of artillery to the ferry landing, and opened fire furiously with his artillery and small-arms upon that brave band, then near the south shore, who returned the compliment with small-arms, with apparently no conception or fear of the three-fold danger they wee in of steam, water, and lead. The boat was truck several times by the cannon shots, one penetrating her hull and another passing immediately between her tiller ropes, the cutting of either of which would have placed the boat unavoidably at the mercy of those reckless men. Strange, indeed, no lives wee lost, no men or horses wounded. Major Leonard perceiving at that critical crisis that the pilot, fearfully alarmed, had forsaken the wheel, with unsurpassed coolness and bravery placed himself at that dangerous post, and safety landed the boat upon the north side of the river, amidst the applause of his gladden sol-