I must speak in highest praise of both officers and men under my command, who have behaved nobly, and did their duty well. We did not lack for subsistence or forage.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. T. LEEPER,
Captain, Commanding Expedition.
Commanding Pilot Knob, Mo.
OCTOBER 4, 1863.-Skirmish near Widow Wheeler's, southwest of Neosho, Mo.
Report of Captain Milton Burch, Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
Carthage, Mo., October 6, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor of informing you of a scout I made on the 3rd instant, with 40 men from Companies L and M, Eighth Cavalry Missouri State Militia. I marched down on Turkey Creek, some 8 miles west of this place, to escort some Union families out, and try to waylay and destroy a party of guerrillas that infest that portion of country. On the night of the 3rd instant I received information that 40 armed rebels had passed 1 mile above where I was camped, traveling south. I moved up the creek. I found that they had some four hour's start of me, but I was determined to try and overtake them, if possible; so at 9 p. m. I started in pursuit with my little band, now numbering 29 men, 11 of my men going back to Carthage to escort the moving wagons.
I started on the trail and followed them within 1 mile of Shoal Creek, 15 miles from where I started. They then left the road they were traveling, and took to the woods. I still followed on. I went to Shoal Creek to feed and rest, as our horses were becoming jaded. This was 5 miles south of Baxter Springs. I did not remain long, as I was anxious to again get on the trail; so I started on their trail again. I followed them about 30 miles, when about 2 o'clock in the evening of the 4th instant I overtook them at the Widow Wheeler's 15 miles southwest of Neosho. I expected to find them there, as that was the only place where feed could be procured. I sent Joel P. Hood, my Government scout, and one other man dressed in butternut, to ascertain where their pickets were stationed. They succeeded in capturing the only man that was on picket, and returned to my command. From him I learned that they were camped at the back of the farm, in the brush, with 30 armed men.
I started immediately, but they had started, and we gave chase. They started down an open prairie hollow. We chased them about 4 miles, killing 10 of them and wounding a good many more, and took 2 prisoners, one of them by the name of Miller, a regular secesh pilot, and about 25 head of horses, mostly young stock. I started than for this place, aiming to go by Neosho. When I got within 1 1/2 miles from Neosho, I stopped my command and sent 2 men to ascertain if all was right. They went to Mr. Wade's, and found his house in flames, and there learned that the town was full of rebels. At the same time they learned that they intended to go to Carthage; so I started on quick time,