THREE YEARS WITH QUANTRELL
A TRUE STORY
As Told By His Scout
Written By O. S. Barton
THREE YEARS WITH QUANTRELL
A TRUE STORY
As Told By His Scout
Written By O. S. Barton
In all wars there have always been, and always will be a class of men designated as guerillas, but it can be said that the Missouri guerillas are more noted than those of any war in any country for ages.
Their deeds of daring, their miraculous escapes, and the physical sufferings that they endured are almost beyond belief. Following the close of the Civil War, a number of highly-colored and melodramatic books, concerning the acts of the guerillas were published, in the majority of which the desire to be sensational defeated any attempts at truthfulness on the part of the authors. Another class of books, written from an intensely partisan standpoint, has given to the world a very imperfect conception of the motives and of the conduct of the Missouri guerrillas.
All of these books were published at a time when men were controlled by feelings of prejudice and passion and a number of the inhabitants of Missouri have, for years, endeavored to find someone who knew the facts and would truthfully relate them as they were.
In the summer of 1865, a tall, gaunt, blue-eyed Confederate soldier landed from a steamboat at the town of Glasgow. Howard County, Missouri. He was dressed in a ragged, faded gray uniform and had all of his possessions about him. In the country above Glasgow he had some relatives, connections, both by blood and marriage, of some of the best families in Missouri, and at the home of one of these relatives this young man found employment as a farm laborer and it soon became known that he was John McCorkle, one of Quantrell's bravest and most trusted soldiers and one of his leading scouts. For some time the neighbors kept a close watch upon the newcomer and viewed him with something of suspicion, fearing that he might follow the alleged example of some of the other of Quantrell's men and become an outlaw, but they soon found him to be a steady, law-abiding citizen. In 1867, he was married to an estimable lady of Howard County, and soon became one of its leading farmers and one of its best and most trusted citizens, and today no man in the county stands higher in the estimation of his neighbors and acquaintances than does John McCorkle. For years a member of the Baptist church, he is known as a true Christian gentleman of strong character, as tender-hearted and sympathetic as a woman, but as stern and fearless as a lion and the word "fear" has no place in John McCorkle's vocabulary. And when the time comes, he will, as he has many times in the past, face Old Death with a smile on his face.
Quite a number of his friends, knowing his history and his record with Quantrell, and knowing that from his lips would come naught but the truth, have been tr3nng to persuade him to write a brief story of his life with Quantrell. He has at last consented and I have agreed to write the account for him. He has told me the facts and I have written them down; every word in the following pages is true: I have attempted to neither add to, or detract from any of "Three Years With Quantrell". these facts, as related by him; there is no fiction in this account but a true story. John McCorkle has more than lived out his alloted time of three-score years and ten, but his memory is still good and while he may have forgotten a few of the facts after a lapse of half a century, still everything related by him actually occurred. As he would relate his experiences and those of his comrades, I could see that all the sad and awful scenes of these three terrible years were crowding fast upon his memory, and I could not help but notice the changing expression of his eyes, which are of that determined blue, while he was relating these facts to me, at times, while describing some of the battles and some of the outrages committed against the helpless non-combatants of the South, during those four years of civil war in Missouri by unprincipled men who hid their misdeeds under the cloak of a Federal uniform and the Stars and Stripes, I could almost see the fire flash from those eyes and at other times, while telling of the death of some comrade, or the sufferings and hardships of defenceless old men and women of the South, those same eyes would fill with tears and the voice which had so often sent terror to the hearts of Kansas Jayhawkers and militiamen as it gave forth the rebel yell, would sink into a husky whisper. This story is not published in any spirit of malice or hatred, but in order that the truth may be known, that the world may know that Quantrell and his band were justified, in nearly all of their acts and that they were not altogether bad; that they were driven to desperation by brutal outrages committed against them and their friends, Three Years With Quantrell, and our only desire is that the world shall know the true facts in the case before it is too late, for we all are forced to realize the sad fact that ere long "taps" will sound for the last Confederate soldier on earth.
All is forgiven, if not forgotten.
O. S. Barton.
I was born December 12, 1838, two miles east of Savannah, in Andrew County, Missouri, and when I was about eight years of age, my father moved from Andrew County and located on a farm near Westport, in Jackson County, Missouri. I lived with my lather on this farm, attending country school in the
winter time, until the year 1858, when I went to the State of Texas and stayed for six months. I then returned to my mother's farm, my father having died m 1851. I remained on the farm with my mother until April, 1861, when I, with a number of other young men, enlisted in Company A of the Missouri State Guards, near Raytown, in Jackson County. Captain Thurston was the first commander of this company.
We would meet in Raytown and drill twice a week. In about a month, we were ordered to report at Independence and after remaining in Independence a short time, we were then ordered to Lock Creek and the next evening after we reached Lock Creek, we heard that Col. John P. Crittenden was coming from Kansas City with a regiment to capture us. We were then ordered to move out into the road and to form in platoons of eight. At this time, all of us, who were boys and raw recruits, became very much excited at the prospect of going into a battle and our orderly sergeant, Faulkner, became so excited that he got his saber between his knees, fell down and began to yell that the enemy were right on us. We then learned that two other companies of State Guards had come out from Independence, one called the Blues, under the command of Captain Whitehead and the other called the Grays, under the command of Captain Bob Flournoy. By this time, we had persuaded our orderly sergeant that the enemy were not on us and were ordered to join the Blues and Grays who had formed in line of battle on the hill. Col. Holloway was in command of all the State Guards. Col. Crittenden had entered the mouth of a lane about a quarter of a mile off and Col. Holloway, our commander, rode down and met him. They shook hands and after a few moments' conversation. Col. Crittenden ordered his regiment to countermarch and they turned and started back toward Kansas City.
As the Federal troops marched off. Captain Whitehead, who was in command of the Blues, lost his head and ordered his company to fire and they, being as much excited as their captain, fired into our own men, wounding Col. Holloway and killing Charles Harbaugh. Colonel Holloway died in a few days at Independence from the wound.
We then returned to Independence and the next day were ordered from there to Blue Mills, east of Independence. While we were at Blue Mills, Captain Thurston and Captain Duncan of Clay County had ridden across the Little Blue on a bridge at night and as they were returning across the bridge, someone fired on them, striking Captain Duncan in the neck. He was taken from there to Doctor Twyman's
at Blue Mills, where he died in a few days. After Captain Duncan was shot, Captain Thurston became very much excited, ordered us to strike our arms, disband and go home. The arms we had consisted of Burnsides rifles and sabers which had been shipped to Kansas City by the Federal Government and which we had borrowed one night from a warehouse when there was no one around. After we had gone about two miles from where we disbanded, it dawned on me that we might have further use for some of those arms and I suggested that we had better go back and get them and seven of us returned, got our rifles and sabers and a supply of ammunition and hid them in a bluff on the Little Blue.
We stayed around home until after the battle of Springfield and General Price had started back to Lexington. Our company was then ordered together again and securing our guns, we marched and joined General Price at Warrensburg and came with him to Lexington and went into camp at the Fair Grounds. Before the Battle of Lexington, Captain Thurston resigned and the company elected Minor Smith, a Mexican veteran, who is still living at this time. Our company was then placed in the Seventh Missouri Regiment of Cavalry, Raines' Division and known as Rassieuer's Regiment and Lieutenant-Colonel Martin was in command. This regiment was placed on the east side of the college where the Federals were fortified, and our regiment was ordered to support the famous Bledsoe battery.
For some unknown cause, Col. Rassieuer ordered our regiment to change positions and to go down a ravine and come up through the woods between the college, where the Federals were fortified and Bledsoe's Battery. General Raines who was in command took us for Federal soldiers and ordered Col. Bledsoe to open fire on us with his battery, and he fired three shots at us with his cannon, the first shot wounding seven men. When this first shot was fired, we all dropped to the ground and Col. Martin, drawing his saber in a very excited manner, ordered us to get up and stand up like men, but when Bledsoe fired the second shot, Col. Martin was the first one to fall flat on his face and John Staulcupe, a private, ran up to the Colonel and kicked him and said, ''Damn you, don't be a coward; get up and stand up like a man." We then sent a runner to notify the battery of their mistake and they ceased firing on us. Our Colonel then gave the command to move from there and we marched down the road under a hill where we were protected.
While this battle, which lasted for three days, was in progress, one night, Henry Brookins, our First Lieutenant, proposed to me that we go up the hollow and climb a tree and look into the fort. We got permission from our Captain, but he told us positively not to fire a shot into the fort. Brookins and I went over and climbed up into two trees, where we could see into the fort. Then Brookins remarked, "John, we can't lose this chance; we must have a shot apiece,'' and he said ''Fire." We fired and then we immediately proceeded to fall out of the trees, for a perfect hailstorm of bullets from the fort soon warned us that our elevated positions had not only been discovered, but were exceedingly dangerous. Of course, we never reported to our Captain what was the cause of the men in the fort firing at those the trees.
Immediately after the Battle of Lexington and General Mulligan had been paroled, Rassieur's Regiment was placed on guard around the fortifications, and strict orders were issued to permit no one to enter or go out of the fortifications without a pass.
During this time, one of Col. Bledsoe's gunners, who was drinking very heavily, was inside the fortifications, and putting on a Federal uniform, he started to pass out. He was halted by Jim Howell, a member of my company, who demanded his pass. The gunner replied to Howell in a very insulting manner that he had no pass and was going out anyway. Howell told him what the orders were and told him to go back.
The gunner kept advancing and when he started to make a rush, Howell fired and killed him. Howell regretted this fact so much that he soon resigned from the army and never entered the service again.
When General Price left Lexington, my company started South with him, but when we reached Bates County, Ike Brown and I were taken sick and left at the home of Barker Price, near Johnstown and Green Reagan was detailed to remain and take care of us. We were both suffering with what was then known as camp fever, and after remaining at Mr. Price's house for nine weeks, my younger brother, Jabez McCorkle, came down and took me back to my mother's home in Jackson County. While Brown and I were in bed at Price's, Jim Lane, the noted Kansas Redleg and murderer, came out to Mr. Price's and saw Brown and me and told us that he would be back and kill us and would give us that night to prepare to die, but for some unknown reason he did not return and I suppose the reason he did not return is that he was too busy in burning the town of Osceola and robbing and murdering its citizens. After I had been at my mother's for about a week, still being very weak from my fever, a Union man, who was a friend of our family, called on me one evening and told me that Jennison the partner and co-laborer in murdering and robbing of Jim Lane, had come within two miles of my mother's house and had murdered one of our neighbors, a very old and defenseless man, by the name of George House, and if Jennison found out that I was there he would come and urder me, although I was sick. This Union friend advised me to leave at once.
That night my sister assisted me to carry my bed to a secluded spot in the woods where I stayed that night, and early the next morning, she accompanied me about eight miles to the home of our friend, John Prewitt, who hid me under a bluff on the banks of the Little Blue, where I remained for a week. His two daughters, Jane and Ellen, bringing me food and water. Remaining there for over a week, I returned to my mother's at night and there I found my brother, Jabez, who was at that time with Captain Upton Hayes, and who told me that Hayes was going south and the next morning I mounted a mule and went with him. We did not overtake Colonel Hayes and his command until we had reached Clinton in Henry County. I went with Colonel Hayes to Osceola and there I joined my old company. We stayed in camp at Osceola for about a week, and having received the news that General Fremont was attempting to cut General Price off from his march from the South, we were ordered to Springfield on a forced march.
On the second morning after leaving Osceola when I awoke I found that I was too sick to proceed with the army, who broke camp very early in the morning and was left to follow later. I stayed in the camp alone until about noon, when I realized the danger I was in and, weak as I was, I mounted and started to follow the army. I managed to ride until about dark when I stopped at a farmer's house and asked if I might stay all night. He told me that he was perfectly willing to keep me, but was afraid that the Federals would capture me and kill me as there were a great many Federal militia in that country. I told him that I would die from weakness if I attempted to go farther that night, and he consented that I might remain.
The next morning, I left his house early in the morning and reached Springfield late the next night. It seemed that Fate was against my proceeding south with Price for after being in camp at Springfield for ten days, the measles broke out among the soldiers and I was detailed to take charge of seven of the boys, my brother, Jabez, being among the number, and take them to a house about three miles from Springfield and nurse them through their sickness. I was isolated from the rest of the army and in about a week, some of the boys having grown worse, I saddled my horse with the intention of riding to Springfield to consult with a physician and to procure medicines and provisions for the sick men.
I had ridden only a short distance when I met the physician who asked me where I was going, and informed me that there were no more Confederates m Springfield, that they had started South and General Fremont was in possession of the town. The physician advised me to take a flag of truce and go to Springfield and surrender myself and my seven sick men. This I refused to do. He then asked me to accompany him to another house where there were some sick soldiers, where we were detained for about an hour and I left the physician there and started back to see my sick boys. Imagine my consternation when upon reaching the house I found it deserted, a squad of Federals having been there during my absence and taken all the boys back to Springfield as prisoners. I then started south and riding a few miles I stopped at a house, hitched my horse to the stile-blocks and as I started through the yard to the front door, a lady came running out of the side-door and told me that there were some Federal soldiers in the house and unless I wanted to be captured I had better be moving away.
Not waiting for any further orders, I wheeled and started on the run and, placing my hands upon the top plank of the fence, I put spurs to my horse and dashed away. I soon came to a little prairie and looking back, I saw a company of Federals coming after me. I immediately increased my speed and reached the woods ahead of them and turned abruptly south until I reached Wilson Creek at a point where there was a water-mill.
The mill was running, but no one was there. I noticed a house up on the hill west of the mill and saw three or four men standing in the yard, and as I rode up to them, I noticed that one of the men had an old Mississippi rifle in his hand and I, of course, took them to be some of Price's men. I asked them to direct me to the road over which Price's army had gone; one of them directed me, but as I started to ride through the gate, another man caught my horse by the bridle and the man with the Mississippi rifle presented it at my breast, remarking that they would take care of me and take me back to Springfield.
My pistol being empty, I immediately obeyed and dismounted. They took me into the house with them, where we had a good supper and, after supper one of them brought out a basket of apples and we all sat around until a late hour discussing the war and its probable end. I was then shown to my room, which was to be occupied with me by the owner of the Mississippi rifle. I still had my pistol buckled around me, and as I went to undress, I threw it on the bed, remarking, "That pistol is empty : if it had been loaded, you might have had a little fun in taking me." The owner of the rifle broke into a hearty laugh and remarked, "Well, the rifle that I captured you with was empty too." the next morning, the owner of the place, who had been out somewhere all night, came home, accompanied by two other men, one of them had the longest and largest shot-gun I ever saw. It looked to me as if the barrels were at least ten feet long and I thought they had sent out in the night and procured it for the express purpose of shooting me with. We then started back to Springfield and after we had crossed Wilson Creek near the mill, my captors left the main road, turning up a bridle path through a ravine. I could hardly ride for thinking that they were taking me into the woods to shoot me and I kept my eyes constantly on the gentleman with the big gun; but in a short time, we reached the road that Price had taken in his march south.
About this time, we met the entire command of Federals going south, following Price, and I was taken along with them. They had with them sixteen other Confederates, including Colonel Freeman and forage master. After proceeding a short distance, we met a man in citizen's clothes, who told us that Price was about four miles south of us in camp. The regiment to which I was turned over was the Seventh Missouri Cavalry, and leaving the prisoners with a guard, moved forward after Price. In a short time, we heard four cannon shots, one of the guards remarking, ''Just listen to that: they are giving old Price Hell now; they're going to eat him up." The cannonading at first sounded like distant thunder, approaching nearer and nearer, and in less than an hour, the federal cavalry came into sight, rushing at break-neck speed through the brush and ordered guards and prisoners to mount and retreat to Springfield on the double quick. Some of our boys then remarked to the guard, "You were mistaken about who was catching hell, wasn't you?"
While we were riding back toward Springfield, a Federal private rode out of line and coming up to us Confederate prisoners, drawing his revolver, began to flourish it and curse, and said, "You damned rebels I ought to shoot every one of you.''
Along the road in that section there were a great many abandoned shafts of lead and zinc mines, and just about the time that this gallant and brave soldier had worked himself into a frenzy, he and his horse both suddenly disappeared through a brush pile, having gone into a hidden shaft, but, unfortunately, the
man was not much hurt, although his horse was killed; and the next morning he was called before his colonel, who gave him a severe reprimand, took his side-arms away from him and ordered him to report to the infantry, telling him that may be service in infantry would teach him to treat prisoners with respect.
We were then taken back to the headquarters of the commander, where a description v/as taken of us, and our horses taken from us and we were started back to Springfield afoot. The seventeen prisoners were placed under charge of a lieutenant with twenty-seven guards and we started back to walk the twenty-seven miles to Springfield. This lieutenant and his men treated us all with courtesy, the lieutenant going ahead and securing provisions for us, waiting on the roadside with a large basket well filled with provisions. Upon reaching Springfield the prisoners were placed under guard in the third story of a brick building.
The next morning, while sitting in this room with the other boys, I noticed a Union soldier who kept watching me very closely. Whenever I would turn my head, he would change his position, so as to see my face, his conduct made me nervous. I got up and went to the window and, leaning out, was looking clown upon the street. He left the room, went down to the street and looked up into my face again. I returned to my seat in the room; he came back, walked up to me, put his hand on my shoulder and remarked, "Is not your name McCorkle?"
I replied in the affirmative and he told me that his name was Frank Hoerheimer, that he had known me in Newton County, where I had been at his father's house and attended a number of dances with him.
I was very anxious to go to the hospital to see how my brother and the other sick boys were and Frank went to Colonel Mills, who was in command there, and told the Colonel that if he would let me go to the hospital to see the sick boys, he would go with me and be responsible. We went over and my brother, Jabez and I went out in town and took dinner with Frank. When I first went into the hospital, one of the boys whom I had nursed, George Shue, by name, took me by the hand and said, "John, I am awful sick ; I feel very queer. Please tell the doctor to come." I went upstairs where the physician was and, after some little time, succeeded in finding him and took him down to see Shue, but when we reached George's cot, the poor fellow had gone to that land where there is no fighting. I then went to Frank Hoerheimer and Lieutenant Baker and made arrangements for his burial and his dust today sleeps in the graveyard at Springfield.
Soon after we had reached Springfield, as prisoners. Lieutenant Baker tried to persuade my brother and me to take the oath of allegiance and return home, and one night he came to me and told me that on the next day we would be removed to St. Louis and there placed in prison, and that we would have to travel eighty miles by foot to Rolla.
After consulting with my brother and other friends, and having come to the conclusion that Fate was against my ever reaching Price's army, brother and I took the oath of allegiance, were given our paroles and started back to Jackson County, Missouri, afoot. Brother was still very weak and our progress was, of necessity, very slow. I carried all the baggage we had, which consisted of a cheap suit of clothes each, two blankets, one of them a fine Mexican overcoat blanket, which were packed in an old-fashioned carpet bag. While in prison in Springfield, brother and I both had acquired thousands of those little friends of the soldier, that sticketh closer than a brother, familiarly known as "gray-backs,'' and these friends of ours entertained us along our weary tramp and kept us from sleeping too soundly at night.
After we had reached Cedar County, we saw a man and woman coming toward us in a wagon and upon their approach we recognized a friend of ours from Jackson County, Missouri, by the name of William Fox, the lady with him being his wife. Fox was glad to see us and directed us to go on to his house and stop.
After leaving Fox we met another old gentleman, whom we had known before in Jackson County, but who had fallen from grace and become a strong Union man and, with all of our talking, we could not persuade him that he had ever seen us or heard of us before, but he gave us some very fatherly advice, to the effect that if we had any preparations to make for the future, we had better be making them, for no rebel could live in that county. After leaving our unfriendly friend, we met another marauder garbed in a Federal uniform, in the person of a young man with a large rifle. He presented the rifle and halted us, asking us where we were from and demanding our passports, which we showed him and of which I am satisfied he could not read a word. He then demanded to search our baggage, which he did and then proceeded with us to Fox's house, where he again wanted to search our baggage, telling us thatif we would give him the Mexican blanket, he would bother us no more.
We decided to give it to him and in less than an hour he came back with another man who was armed with a shotgun and walking up to me the latter placed the muzzle of the gun to my breast and said, "Damn you ! surrender." I told him
we had already surrendered and taken the oath. He lowered his gun and the two of them took all of our clothing and two dollars and a half, being all the money we had. When our friend Fox returned home, we related to him our experience with these two brave Union soldiers and he reported the fact to the Lieutenant who was in command of the home guards and he and Fox tried to recover our property for us, but only succeeded in recovering the Mexican blanket, which these two thieves dropped in their flight.
The next morning Fox accompanied us about twelve miles, letting my brother ride his horse and he walked with me. He told us to avoid the town of Humansville, in Polk County, because there was a company of militia there, who were a hard set Leaving this town about two miles to our right, we walked on till sundown, and, seeing a man in his barn-lot, feeding his stock, I asked permission to stay all night, frankly telling him who we were and the feeble condition of my brother.
He said that he had just returned from Bolivar, where he had taken an oath not to aid, abet or protect any Southern soldier, under penalty of death, and then added, "But boys, I am a Southern man and love the South, and if you are willing to risk staying with me I will risk it, and if they come and find you here, they can do no more than kill us and we'll all die together, but we will try to take some of the blue-coated devils with us, as I have some guns hidden." We went into his house, his wife prepared us a nice supper, and when he suggested it was time to retire, I told him about our traveling companions, the graybacks, and that we did not want to infect his beds. He replied, ''That makes no difference ; I am a Southern man, and nothing I have IS too good for a Southern soldier. The beds can be cleaned." This statement made us feel better, of course.
We left early the next morning, and having been fortunate enough to ride in a wagon part of the way, we reached the place where the town of Osceola had once been, but there was no town there, as General Jim Lane, of Kansas, had shortly before made it a visit and, following his universal practice, had left only ashes. Here I sold the Mexican blanket for five dollars. Just after we had crossed the Osage River, we met Tom Carter and a man by the name of Younger, a cousin of Cole's, and went to Carter's house and stayed until the next day. From there we went to Lone Jack, where we met John Little, Sam Montgomery and Dick Hopkins, who belonged to Colonel Ouantrell's command. After leaving Lone Jack, we went to my uncle, John Wigginton's, who lived fourteen miles south of Independence. We stayed with Uncle John until the next day, when my brother and I went on to our mother's home, where we received a tearful and hearty welcome.
There we changed our clothes and parted company with our traveling companions, the graybacks. In a few days, it was decided that my brother would stay with my mother and try to raise a crop and I went down to Uncle John Wigginton's and intended to farm there with him on shares. This was in the
spring of 1862.
I fully intended, when I started in to raise this crop with my uncle, to remain a quiet, law-abiding citizen. I had taken the oath of allegiance at Springfield and had been given a passport, showing to the world that I was a law-abiding American citizen and still entitled to protection under the law, but before the ink was hardly dry on that passport, I had been robbed of all I had, and that by men who claimed to be in the service of the United States government. I tried to forget these outrages and work on the farm, but before I had gotten my crop planted, a squad of Federal soldiers came by and compelled me twice a week to accompany them with a mail carrier twelve or fifteen miles and then to walk back, claiming that prior to this time, some Southern men had fired on the mail carrier and I would be a protection to him.
Not satisfied with taking me from my crop two or three days out of each week, in July, one Lieutenant Swann, who hailed from that loyal state of Kansas and who had been in command of the mail-carrier's bodyguard, notified me that I must appear at Independence before Captain Mayhew, the Provost-Marshal.
I obeyed, and when I presented myself to Captain Mayhew, he told me he knew of no charges against me, but to present myself in person to the commander, Colonen Buell. I asked Colonel Buell what charges were preferred against me, and, in a very gruff, insulting manner, he told me he had heard of my conduct and for me to return to the Provost-Marshal and give a bond of $5,000 for my good behavior. I then asked Colonel Buell what I had been doing and the only charge that he could remember against me was that I had been singing some rebel songs. This offense, if offense it was, was true for on one occasion, in going from my uncle's to my mother's I was singing that song, two lines of which
We'll hang John Brown on a sour apple tree.
And feed Jeff Davis on peaches and cream,
and, while singing this song, I had passed Alfred Lee's house, where ten or twelve Federal soldiers were quartered.
They ran out into the road, halted me and took me back to the house of my uncle, John Fristoe, where their captain was an unwelcome guest. They kept me there all night with them, having me to again sing about John Brown and other rebel songs. The next morning, hearing them cursing, firing their pistols in the yard and saying "some damned bushwhacker had stolen one of their halters,"
I started down where they were, when Dan Davidson, a stage driver, who was staying at my uncle's, told me not to go, that they would shoot me. 1 told him I reckoned not, that I had been given protection by the government, and he said that protection, passports nor anything else from the Federal government made any difference to that bunch. I stayed upstairs until after they had gone and then went back to my uncle's where I was living.
One Saturday afternoon, my cousin, George Wigginton, and I went over to Big Cedar Church, where there was a singing school. While we were in the church, a company of Federals rode up and examined every saddle, looking for gun marks. When we returned from the singing school, Mollie Wigginton told us that there had been a company of Federal soldiers there that evening, leaving an order for George and me to come to Independence the next Monday and to enlist in the State Militia, and that unless we did report, that they would come back and take Mollie and put her m prison and hold her until we did report.
Now imagine, if you can, my feelings. I honestly and conscientiously believed in the principles of the Confederacy, had started out to fight, and, if necessary, to give my life for those principles, but, on account of sickness and misfortune, had been captured, and, that I might save my brother and myself from languishing and dying in a Federal dungeon, I had taken the oath of allegiance to the Federal government with the full intention of abiding by it; I had returned to Jackson County, Missouri, where my mother and all my relatives were living, had gone to work, trying to be a peaceable, law-abiding citizen, but I had been constantly harassed, annoyed and threatened, had been forced to leave my farm and my
crops twice a week; I had been required to give a bond of Five Thousand dollars for merely singing a foolish song, and now, under the penalty of having a pure, innocent girl, my cousin, Mollie Wigginton, imprisoned in a Northern dungeon, to probably meet a fate far more terrible than death itself; after all this I was ordered to enlist in an alien army and to take up arms against the cause I loved and against my own people.
I could not and I would not longer submit, and I then resolved that if die I must, I would die fighting for my own people and for their cause, so, when George Wigginton asked me what I intended to do, I promptly told him that I was going to find Colonel Quantrell's command and join it whereupon, he replied with equal promptness, ''John, going with you."
After the execution, in Virginia, of the famous abolitionist, John Brown, a number of men who had been with him in his attempt to make Kansas a free state, organized, at the town of Lawrence, a company of free lances, who were familiarly called the Kansas Redlegs. The leaders of this band were General
Jim Lane and Colonel Jennison, names which became watchwords of terror to the inhabitants of the border counties of Missouri.
During the Pike's Peak excitement, a young man, by the name of William Clark Quantrell, left his home in Maryland, accompanied by his younger brother, a boy of eighteen years, and taking with them two negro men they started west for the Pike's Peak Country. When they reached Jackson County, Missouri, they supplied themselves with two wagons and two four-mule teams. After laying in a quantity of supplies, these two boys, with their two negroes acting as drivers, left Missouri and started for Colorado.
On the first night out, they camped ten or twelve miles south of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and, thinking that they were in a civilized country, were soon asleep. About midnight, thirty of the Kansas Redlegs rode up to the camp and, without any warning, fired a volley into the two sleeping boys, killing the younger brother and breaking the thigh of William Quantrell. These loyal citizens then appropriated to their own use the eight head of mules, the wagons and all provisions and, taking the two negroes with them, left the two boys, they supposed to be dead on the plains of Kansas. When daylight came, William Quantrell crawled to the lifeless body of his brother and, after discovering that his young life had passed out, he crawled around, pulling up the grass, and covered up the dead body. Being unable to walk a step, he started to crawl across the prairie, hoping to find aid. He crawled until nearly noon, when an Indian found him, and having more heart and sympathy than the white men of Kansas, the Indian tenderly placed the wounded boy on his saddle and, getting behind him, took him to Fort Leavenworth. He was taken to the hospital there and, in several months, partially recovered the use of his limb. His money and property all having been taken from him, he sought and secured employment in Leavenworth, Kansas, as a school teacher, where he taught during the coming winter. In the spring, he went to California and again engaged in school teaching. All the time he was teaching, he was known as the Melancholy Teacher.
Constantly brooding over the fate of his brother and the way he had been treated, when his term of school ended in California, he decided to return to Kansas, and, if possible, find the perpetrators of this outrage and to be revenged.
He returned to Fort Leavenworth, and staying there only a few weeks, he went to Lawrence, Kansas, going under the name of Charles Hart. In a short time, he learned who the leaders of the Redlegs were, and becoming well acquainted with Jim Lane and Jennison, he joined their band and would accompany them on their horse stealing raids in the border counties of Kansas. He soon learned who the men were that had murdered his brother and robbed him, and on every raid that he would make with these men, from one to three of the men he had spotted would fail to return and would afterwards be found with a bullet hole in the forehead. His greatest desire was to kill the leader of this band of thirty, and with this end in view, he accompanied six of this band in a raid that they had planned into Jackson County, Missouri, to steal some negroes from a man by the name of Walker, who was a large slave holder. The plan these gentlemen worked was to go into Missouri, forcibly take slaves into Kansas and hide them and when the Missouri owners would offer rewards for them, they would return the slaves, secure the reward, take several horses and cattle with them and return to Kansas, and, in a few weeks, return, steal the negroes again and collect another reward. When they had reached Walker's home, Quantrell went into the house and told Walker's son, Mr. Walker being absent from home, what they had intended to do, and told him that when they had entered the house to take the negroes, that he, Quantrell, would shoot the leader of the Redlegs. Just as they entered the house, Mr. Walker, who had returned, stepped in. The leader demanded his money and four negroes.
Quantrell drew his revolver, but, before he could fire, Mr. Walker, not understanding his object, struck the pistol and he missed the leader. The Kansans hurriedly left, two of them hiding on a creek back of Mr. Walker's house, where they were found the next day by Quantrell, Mr. Walker and his son.
Quantrell commanded them to surrender and received a reply from one of them, "Take that, you damned traitor," accompanied by a shot which went wild and was answered by shots from Quantrell and Walker and there were two less Kansas Redlegs.
Quantrell remained in Missouri, assisting the citizens in defending their property and in catching these horse, cattle and negro thieves, and occasionally paying a debt he owed the Redlegs who had killed his brother.
In 1861, after the war had started, Quantrell had six men with him, who were assisting in a search for these Jayhawkers, and thought he was assisting the Federal troops in preventing these outrages.
On two different occasions, while Quantrell was out with his men, he was fired upon by a company of Federal soldiers and got away from them without returning the fire. He then went into Independence and told the authorities that he was trying to assist them in putting down this lawlessness and that he was also getting tired of the Federal soldiers firing on him and his men and that he would not run from them any more. In a short time, about ten or twelve Federal soldiers fired onto him and his men and they very promptly returned the fire, killing five of the soldiers and chasing the remainder into Independence.
From that time on, the Federal soldiers and the Kansas Jayhawkers devoted a great deal of time and energy in attempting to catch Quantrell and his men.
On the night after we had received the order to to come to Independence and enlist, George Wigginton and I mounted our horses and started to find Quantrell. We first went to the home of Dave Tally, Quantrell. We went first to the home of Dave Tally, who directed us to Cole Younger's camp. In the camp we found my brother, Jabez McCorkle, Dick Tally, Tom Tally, Jim Morris and Tom Rice. When we had told Cole Younger our object, he asked us what arms we could get and I secured a rifle and eight cartridges and George a double-barreled shot-gun. We remained in camp in the woods until the next Saturday when we received word to join Quantrell Sunday night at Blue Springs. On Sunday morning the eight of us
met at Uncle John Wigginton's where they had prepared for us an elegant dinner and, immediately after dinner, we bid them good-bye and left.
When we arrived at Blue Springs, we found that Quantrell, who had been joined by Colonel Upton Hayes, Colonel Hughes and Colonel Thompson, had left word for us to meet them at the bridge crossing the Little Blue near Independence. When we reached the bridge, Quantrell selected all the men who had revolvers and Cole Younger, Tom Tally and Jim Morris were among this number. When we prepared to leave, Quantrell had sixty men, and Colonel Hughes assumed command of the remainder, amounting to about 350, raw recruits, old soldiers and boys. It was agreed between the two officers that Quantrell was to dash through Independence, direct to the camp of the Federals on the Kansas City road and Colonel Hughes was to follow him through, not stopping in the town because the Federals were fortified in the court-house and a bank building, where Colonel Buell had his headquarters.
Just at day-break on the tenth day of August, 1862, Colonel Quantrell rode out before his sixty men and, saying "Come on, boys,'' dashed through the town of Independence, followed by Colonel Hughes and his command.
When we reached the court-house square, Colonel Hughes ordered us to dismount and he sprang over the fence into the court-house yard and immediately the Federals opened fire on us from the court-house and bank building-. Colonel Hughes and Colonel Thompson were both wounded at the first volley. Colonel Hayes took command then and ordered us to go at double quick to the camp of the Federals. As we came in sight of the camp, the Federals were running, trying to get behind some rock fences, most of them, having failed to stop to put on their clothes, but many of them carrying their guns. As soon as
we reached the Federal camp, I ran into a tent and found a box of ammunition. I pitched it out and told the boys to help themselves and filled my cartridge box.
About this time, Colonel Hayes noticed some of the Federal soldiers behind the rock fence on the Kansas City road and, calling me to him, said "John, you are the only man with a long-range rifle. Make those fellows take their heads down." I fired, but the first shot fell short. I fired the second shot and they all fell off the fence and didn't stick their heads up any more. Most of the Federal troops had gotten behind the rock fence on a hill towards the town of Independence and, north of this rock fence, there was a hedge fence, an orchard and a sweet potato patch.
Colonel Hayes called for volunteers to go behind the hedge and rout them from behind the rock fence. One of our bravest men, Barney Chambers, a Presbyterian minister, volunteered to lead us and thirty of us accompanied him and got behind the hedge fence. Chambers gave the order to fire and the enemy returned our fire with a perfect hailstorm of minie balls that literally mowed the hedge fence from over our heads. Poor Chambers was killed. being the only man struck. The Federals continued their fire, when we decided to retreat. In my hast to get away, I stumbled and fell between two sweet potato rows and my brother Jabez hid behind an apple tree. There were at least twenty-five balls struck the tree he was behind and the balls threw the dust and dirt over me until I was in danger of being buried alive. When they had ceased firing at us, brother asked me if I was wounded, and, telling him no, I started for a tree, the Federals opening fire on us again. We remained behind these trees a few moments, exchanging shots with the Federals when we suddenly discovered that he and I were the only ones on our side in sight, and we immediately retreated in great haste over the brow of the hill.
While we were running away, my cousin, George Wigginton, received a wound in the thigh and Rice was wounded in the instep. Colonel Hayes told me that he was afraid that we would have to retreat and for me to make some provisions to take the two boys away with us for he was satisfied that if the Federals captured them they would be killed. I went down to an old mill and secured an old delivery wagon and a horse, but when I went to harness the horse, I found there were no lines.
The miller's wife came to the door and told me to take her clothes line and use it for lines. I then started to assist the boys into the wagon when she ran out of the house and told me that I could not put those boys into that wagon, and running back into the house, she returned with a feather bed and throwing it into the wagon, she remarked "Now, put 'em in." During this time, Quantrell, who had been pursuing the Federals toward Kansas City returned and, dashing up into the town, began to fire at the windows of the court house and bank building.
Discovering that he was unable to dislodge the Federals, called for volunteers to rush in and set fire to the bank building. Cole Younger and my brother volunteered, and, rushing to a nearby carpenter shop, they gathered an armful of shavings each, Cole going to the front door, and my brother to the rear door, and, piling the shavings against the doors, set fire to them. The men, in the meantime, kept a constant fire at the windows. As soon as the smoke began to rise, the Federals ran out a white flag and call they would surrender if they would be treated as prisoners of war, afterwards saying that they would have surrendered before, but knowing it was Quantrell and his men, they were afraid. They were assured that they would be treated as prisoners of war and were drawn up in line on the courthouse square and disarmed and were paroled and let go free.
When we first entered Independence, there were confined in the county jail two Southern men, Frank Harbaugh and Bill Bassham, who had been sentenced by the Federal officers to be shot the next day. Neither of these men had ever taken any part in the war, Harbaugh being a farmer and Bassham in the employ of the Government, carrying the overland mail. As soon as we had entered the town,
George Todd took ten men with him and went to the jail and, securing sledge hammers from a blacksmith shop, broke the doors in and released these two men. As soon as they were free, Bassham began calling for a gun and was told to go to the provost-marshal's office, which was filled with guns that had been taken from the Southern citizens. He rushed to die office, secured him a double-barreled shot gun, and immediately began to try to get even with the men that had put him in jail, but Harbaugh didn't seem to desire any gun, but started for home on a dead run and I have never seen nor heard of him since, but suppose he has stopped running ere this.
Among the men captured by us was a neighbor boy of mine, Anderson Cowgill, whom I had known for years and after he was paroled, I went up to him and offered to speak to him, but he refused, saying, "I will get even with you yet," and how well he kept his word will appear later in these pages.
We then destroyed all of the Federal camps and, taking all their guns, ammunition and supplies that we could carry, we left Independence and went into camp on Morgan Rucker's farm near Blue Springs, where we remained until the morning of the eleventh of August, where Quantrell reorganized his company consisting of 120 men and we were all sworn into the Confederate service by Colonel Thompson, who was at that time still suffering from the wound he had received at Independence. The next day word was brought that Colonel Hoyt with his Kansas Redlegs was on the east side of East Blue, burning the houses of Southern people. Colonel Thompson assumed command and we started in pursuit of Hoyt, aiming to intercept him at Hickory Grove, but he had passed before we had reached there and was so far ahead that we were unable to overtake him, and he returned to the State of Kansas. Here we separated from Thompson and Hayes, they going to Lone Jack, where, on the next day, the hardest fought battle, considering the number on each side, was fought.
After leaving Hayes and Thompson, word was brought to Quantrell that Hoyt was returning to burn the town of Independence, He immediately divided into two groups of sixty men each, he taking one group to Independence and the other groups, under the command of William Haller, went over on the Sni.
When we reached Independence, Jim Stevenson and I were detailed as pickets on the road leading from Kansas City to Independence. We stayed there all that night, the orderly sergeant having forgotten us, and the next afternoon, two pickets came out from Haller's groups and informed us that Quantrell had left Independence during the previous night. We camped there until the next day and Colonel Quantrell having returned, we left for Lone Jack, where we found the commands of Colonel Hayes, Colonel Vard Cockrell, Colonel Coffey and Colonel Thompson, they having succeeded in finally whipping the Federals after a hard fight. We learned that among the Federals captured there was a certain Lieutenant, Levi Copeland, from the state of Kansas, who had been making himself exceedingly obnoxious to the Southern people of Jackson county, who had a short time before gone to the house of a very old man, who had two sons in our company, and having demanded of the father the surrender of his two boys and being told that he knew nothing of their whereabouts, Copeland and his men took him to a tree within a few feet of his front porch and there, in the presence of his wife and daughters, hanged him, remarking as he rode off. ''This is what I do to all damned rebel sympathizers."
When Quantrell learned that Copeland was a prisoner under charge of Colonel Coffey, he wrote a note, demanding that Copeland be turned over to him. Coffey replied that he could not do it. Quantrell immediately wrote him another note, telling him fully what Copeland had done and also telling him that unless Copeland was turned over to him by a certain hour, that he would take his company and charge Coffey's command and take Copeland by force, and just before the time was up, Quantrell gave us the command to saddle and mount, and, just at that time, two men appeared and turned Copeland over to us.
Quantrell questioned him, then called for the two sons of the old man he hung, remarking, ''Boys, he's yours." The two boys led him a short distance into the woods and the reports of two pistols soon told the end of Levi Copeland.
We remained in camp at Lone Jack several days and going down near Bone Hill, just as we were getting ready to eat breakfast, our pickets informed us that there was a regiment of militia from Lexington rapidly approaching. We immediately mounted and rode about ten miles up the Sni and started to
cross the prairie to Blue Springs and when in about a mile of Blue Springs, we met a man who told us that there was another regiment of Federals coming from Blue Springs after us. We turned to the South, crossed the Sni and, as we started up the bottom, we ran almost into Jennison's Kansas regiment, engaged in their usual pastime of burning houses. Quantrell gave the command to counter-march. We then re-crossed the Sni and started across the six-mile prairie to Big Creek. As we entered the prairie, Cole Younger was detailed to fall back with twenty men and act as rear guard to Quantrell's force. When we had gotten about half way across the prairie Younger sent to Quantrell for reinforcements, as the Federals were pressing us hard. Quantrell sent word to cross over to a nearby ridge, where he would form a battle line and give battle to the Federals.
We dashed for the ridge and just as we got there Quantrell came up, with the Federals in close pursuit. They did not see us until they were less than thirty yards distant when, yelling and firing our guns, we charged them. They lost nine men, while we lost only one.
After this skirmish we marched to Big Creek, crossed it and went about three miles up the creek. The next morning we started across the prairie to the head of the Little Blue. When we had gone about five miles down the Little Blue we discovered that a large force of Federals were on our trail, and that they outnumbered us ten to one. We then crossed the prairie, riding swiftly to avoid the pursuing Federals. Suddenly we came upon another force of encamped in a pasture. We dashed by them before they could make an attack. Finally we came to a bridge across the Blue, and we destroyed the bridge and put an end to further pursuit.
After traveling for several days we came in the neighborhood of Lone Jack. There we encountered a regiment of Federals. We struck back towards the Blue and the next day decided to disband as Federal troops were scattered over the whole country.
Ike Bassham and I started out together. We came to a house where a man by the name of Cummins lived. We went into the house to see if we could get some breakfast. While we were waiting for breakfast, we heard the front gate open and close and, looking out of the window, we saw the Federal lieutenant and an orderly sergeant walking toward the house. We sprang to the door with a revolver in each hand, when the lieutenant, who was in front, threw up his hands and said, "If you won't shoot, I won't," to which Bassham replied, "Then get out of this yard, and damned quick."
They wheeled and started to the gate, the orderly sergeant going through the gate, but the lieutenant in his hurry missed it, and bolted right through the hedge fence, leaving his coat tail and a good deal of his blue uniform hanging on the thorns.
Just then a negro came around the house and told us that there was a company of Federals camped about a quarter of a mile from the house and were simply separated, hunting their breakfast. Bassham and I immediately decided that we were not hungry, and bidding Mr. Cunningham a hasty good morning and apologizing for leaving before breakfast, we rushed out, interrupted our horses in the midst of their breakfast, sprung into our saddles and rushed into the woods. After riding about five miles, we stopped at the Widow Dillingham's and our appetites having returned, we ate a hearty breakfast.
While we were waiting to go South, it was reported to Colonel Quantrell that two men who had been with him, Carlyle and Black, had been taking horses from farmers and telling that Quantrell had ordered them to take them, and that they would then take the horses to Lexington and sell them for a high price. Six other men with myself were sent out to look for them. We captured them and brought them to Quantrell, together with eight horses that they had stolen. Quantrell made them return the horses to their owners and told them that if they were guilty of this again, he would have them shot. They stayed in camp for a week or two, when the citizens again came to Colonel Quantrell and asked him what he wanted with so many horses and told him that these men were still stealing horses. He then took ten of us with him and found Carlyle at his brother-in-law's, a man by the name of Thompson. We knocked on the door and, being admitted into Thompson's bedroom, we found his bed empty, but Will Hulse finally discovered him on a trundle bed beneath the other bed. Quantrell told Hulse to throw back the top mattress and he would just shoot him through the straw tick. Carlyle immediately jumped out, turning the bed over. The colonel then compelled him to tell where the horses he had been stealing were and he took us to their hiding place in the dense woods where we discovered sixteen head of horses that he had stolen. Carlyle was placed on a horse and a rope tied around his neck, and the horse was led from under him. The next day the horses were returned to their owners.
Shortly after this, sixteen of us, under the command of Colonel Quantrell stopped at the house of a man by the name of Tate, four miles south of Westport, where we stopped, intending to stay all night. This house was two stories in front, with a one-story ell in the rear. It was built of logs, but afterwards weather boarded. A picket was placed in the road.
Being very tired we all retired early and were soon asleep, Colonel Quantrell and Cole Younger occupying the bed and the remainder of us sleeping on the floor. About midnight it began to rain very hard and it was exceedingly dark. About one o'clock, our picket dashed by the house, firing his pistol and calling to us to get out as we were surrounded by Federals and we soon found that about four hundred had surrounded the house. Not knowing that the house was built of logs, the Federals- began to fire into the walls, calling on us to surrender.
One of our boys called to them to cease firing until Mr. Tate and his family could get out of danger, which they did. When Tate and his family had gotten out of the house, an officer came to the door and tried to open it, calling on us to surrender. Quantrell, who was sitting on the bed, said, "Boys, get away from that door a minute." He then fired his pistol through the door and the Federal officer fell, mortally wounded.
Another officer ran up and we heard him say, "Boys, he's dead. I'll go to the door and make them surrender," and as soon as he rattled the door, Quantrell fired again and he fell, mortally wounded. At this time, one of our men began to beg us to surrender and said he wanted to surrender. Quantrell called to the Federals to cease firing a few minutes, that he had a "damned coward" in there that he wanted to give to them. They ceased firing and we put our coward out of the window.
All this time, we could hear the officers on the outside telling their men to shoot low, that we were lying on the floor, but their bullets had no effect on the heavy weatherboarding and logs. We then discovered that they had set fire to the house and that they had withdrawn a short distance from the house, waiting for us to emerge. Quantrell went upstairs, and stepping out of a window onto the roof of the ell part of the house, fired at the commander, with a double-barreled shot gun, killing him instantly.
While he was upstairs some of the boys found a door leading out into the back yard and told Quantrell of it. Quantrell said, "As they have set fire to the house this door will be our only means of safety; some of us are bound to be killed. Now I will go first, you boys follow me; stoop and jump as far as you can, shooting with both hands.'' The Federals were drawn on either side of the door. Quantrell opened the door, shooting the Federal who was standing near it and we all sprang after him, shooting with both hands. The Federals opened fire on us from both sides, killing their own men. We ran into the garden, through a gooseberry patch and through the garden fence, literally tearing the fence down and then out into a stalk field and then into the timber.
The only wounds any of us had were made by the thorns of the gooseberry bushes. Cole Younger suffered more from the gooseberry bushes than any of us, having run out of the house without his boots and we teased him a good deal about the Federals running him out of his boots. We learned from the
neighbors afterwards that there were over forty Federals killed, but most of them were killed by their own fire when they were attempting to cross-fire us as they escaped.
One day, shortly after this, Cole Younger and I decided to go out and see if we could locate the Federals.
We passed Sam Caldwell's house and Mrs. Caldwell and her sister came out and stood on the stile-blocks and talked to us a while. We left them and started down the road. We had gone about a quarter of a mile, we turned into a lane, and, to our utter surprise, were face to face with about eighty Federals. They commanded us to halt, which we answered with pistol shots and, wheeling our horses, we started back in the direction of Caldwell's house, followed by the Federals, shooting at us, constantly, and, to our consternation, we saw the two women standing on the stile blocks watching us. Cole Younger yelled to them to lie down, which they did behind the blocks and, as we dashed by them, with the Federals in close pursuit, still keeping up a constant fire at us, they called to us, "Run, boys, run, and lay low on your horses." By this time, we had gone over the brow of the hill and turned into the woods and the Federals gave up the chase. The only damage they did to us was to shoot part of Cole Younger's
Late in the fall of 1862, 140 of us, consisting of a few new men and Quantrell's original company, met at Lone Jack and started south. When we had reached a point on the road in Cass County, between Harrisonville and Dayton, we discovered a provision train of fourteen wagons, guarded by a company of
Federal soldiers. Colonel Quantrell commanded us to charge them and, after firing only a few shots, they scattered in different directions and here was where I captured my first Federal soldier. I pursued him for about a quarter of a mile and when he discovered that I was gaining on him, he stopped his horse, threw up his hands and asked me not to shoot him. I told him to hand me his rifle, which he did, and taking the cap off of it, I handed it back to him and demanded his revolver. When he handed me his belt, there was no revolver in the scabbard. He had dropped it in his flight. I then told him to remount his horse and, as we were returning to the command, we found his revolver lying in the grass.
I kept his horse and pistol and gave the rifle to a raw recruit .nd we afterwards paroled him. We killed eight or ten of them and after taking all the provisions that we could carry, we set fire to the wagons and proceeded on our journey south.
About nine o'clock that night, a Federal company came up in our rear and fired on our guard. We immediately formed in line and, after firing a volley or two at them, we then fell back. Then some of our raw recruits became scattered and some of them never did return. We rode all night that night at a lively pace and crossed the Osage River about day-break at the old town of Papinsville. When we had gotten out on the prairie we looked back and saw a regiment of Federal soldiers following us about five miles in our rear. We rode all day until about lo o'clock that night, when we stopped and prepared something to eat and fed our horses. We started on the march again next morning at 4 o'clock and went into camp near Lamar in Barton County.
There we learned that there was a Captain Lewis with about forty men camped near us and that he was going South the next day. Quantrell sent him word to come over and join us and we would go South together. When Lewis came he suggested that we would go to Lamar that night and capture a Federal company stationed there. Before we got to the town the Federals who had heard we were coming, had gotten into the courthouse and we, only having side-arms, could not dislodge them. We had one man, Jim Donohue, killed there. Will Halloran and myself crawled up behind an old frame building and fired into the court-house windows with our revolvers. The Federals poured a volley into the old shop and the flying splinters knocked us both down, one striking me just above the right eye and one striking Halloran in the neck.
We were not in Lamar over thirty minutes. During this fight the negro, John Noland, who had been with us since Captain Childs was wounded at Sibley, gave more commands than anyone, calling for general Shelby to come up on the south side and General Marmaduke to come on the west, and ordering the artillery to advance and blow the court-house up, but his talk failed to scare the Federals into surrendering.
As we left Lamar, we picked up the body of poor Jim Donohue and, tying it on his horse, we buried him at the mouth of a lane about two miles south of town, building a rail pen around his grave.
We then proceeded south into Newton County. There Captain Lewis separated from us, going to the left and we going to the right down into the Indian Territory. We went on into Fort Smith, Arkansas, where we stayed for about ten days, this country then being in the hands of the Confederates. While at Fort Smith, I sold the black mare that I had ridden from Jackson County for $200, Confederate money, keeping the horse that I had captured in Cass County. Leaving Fort Smith, we crossed the Arkansas River at Van Buren, and at Dipper Springs we joined General Marmaduke and General Shelby and our company was attached to Elliott's battalion of cavalry. After remaining in camp about a week the entire command went from there to Cane Hill.
While at Cane Hill, Jim Lane and Montgomery, with a large force, got past our pickets and the first intimation we had of their presence was when just at sun-up they fired a cannon right in our camp. Soon learning that they had too much force for us, we retreated across the Boston Mountain. When we had reached the foot of the mountain, Elliott's battalion was put to the right to hold the Federals in check until the baggage train could get up the mountain.
Colonel Quantrell had left us and had turned the command over to Captain Bill Gregg. Quantrell had gone to Richmond, Virginia, and secured his commission as a colonel and command of a battalion of Missourians. I was detailed on the watch. I saw the enemy coming up the creek and, at once, reported to Gregg and Colonel Elliott. Returning to my post, I saw that they were advancing very rapidly and immediately returned to Elliott and Gregg and told them if we stayed there a few minutes longer we would be cut off and would have to cut a hole through the enemy to get out. Colonel Elliott, as soon as he saw our perilous position, ordered a retreat, and, as we crossed the creek, about fifty yards ahead of them, the enemy poured a heavy volley of grape, canister and minie balls at us, and nothing but the poor shooting of the Yankees saved us all from being killed, but only two of Elliott's men were slightly wounded. We kept us a constant firing as we went up the mountains. During this running fight, one of our company, Dick Turpin, became separated from us, and, riding up to where General Shelby
was, the general asked him what command he belonged to. He replied "Quantrell's." Shelby replied, **I thought those boys always stayed in their places." To which Turpin replied, "I can go any place you can : come on."
The general started to follow, when his horse was killed under him. Turpin turned in his saddle and saw Shelby getting up and said, "General, what in the hell are you stopping there for? Why don't you come on?'' Going up the mountain, General Shelby had three horses killed under him. After getting over the mountain, we started down Cole Creek, the baggage train being ahead of us. The Federals closed up and made a saber charge on our rear guard. Captain Gregg then told me to go down the creek and find a place to form, as he wanted to check that charge. I started and took Dave Pool with me and, just past the spur of the mountain, I found a place about large enough for forty men to form on.
Leaving Poole there, I rode back and notified Gregg. The boys came on down on the double quick, about half of them forming and the remainder forming in the rear. About that time, Captain John Jarrett, who had formerly been with Quantrell, but who was then in command of a company of cavalry under Shelby, came up and asked me what we were going to do. I told him we were going to check that
charge and to get in the rear. Before we had time really to re-form the Federals came to within about thirty yards of us and Captain Gregg gave the command to charge. We rushed forward, yelling and shooting and, at the first volley, we un-horsed thirty-seven of them, among them being a Major Hubbard.
The federals immediately turned and went back up the mountain at a more rapid pace than they had come down, we following them about a quarter of a mile, wounding and killing a good many more.
When one of the men came up to where Captain Hubbard was lying wounded, he dismounted and took his belt, revolver and sword and a fine, new overcoat that Hubbard was wearing and told him he was going to kill him. Just then General Shelby came along and asked what he was going to do with that man, and being told he was going to kill him, Shelby very sternly, said, "No, you are not. Return that man his belt, sword, revolver and overcoat," which was very promptly done.
In about an hour from this time, the Federals came down with a flag of truce and took up their dead and wounded. We then went into camp near Van Buren and remained in camp about four days, when we learned that General Sterling Price was coming up from the South with his infantry, intending to give battle to the Federals.
We then went back to Dripping Springs and waited for General Price. Among the first company to arrive were a number of my former friends, whom I had not seen since 1861 and among them my friend Henry Brookins. When we first joined Price at Warrensburg in 1861, Brookins and I had agreed not to have our hair trimmed nor to shave until the war was over. I had kept my promise and when I saw Brookins, he had his hair nicely trimmed and cleanly shaved except a long mustache, and, with my long hair which v/as then below my shoulders and with my flowing beard, I walked up to him, caught him by the mustache and said, "Henry, you lied to me. Where is that hair?" He said, ''They would not let us wear long hair in the South ; if we would not have it trimmed they would throw us down and cut it off for us.
The next morning the entire command was ordered north. Tom Harris, Rice and I were detailed to remain and cook up all the provisions we had in our company. We did the cooking, loading the provisions into the wagon, and overtook the company about 2 o'clock in the morning and the boys soon devoured what v/e had cooked. We then proceeded north, the infantry on the right and the cavalry on the left. Just as the cavalry, Elliott's battalion being in the advance, turned the spur of the mountain, near Prairie Grove, we discovered the advance guard of the enemy getting breakfast. There were a thousand men in this advance guard and just at sunrise, Colonel Elliott ordered us to form in line and charge.
We captured about four hundred of them and pursued the remainder to a creek. The weather being very cold the creek banks were frozen and we captured 200 more at the creek and took possession of all their wagons and provisions. We only killed ten or fifteen of them, but wounded several. They never fired a shot at us, being too busy trying to get away.
Our battalion was then moved forward and took up a position on a high ridge to the extreme left, from which we could see the infantry of both armies gradually drawing near each other and about 9 o'clock in the morning both sides opened fire and the battle continued all day until dark when we were ordered to fall back. We retreated South to Dripping-Springs and stayed there a day or two. Then we were ordered South and so we marched down into Arkansas. While we were at Van Buren, Arkansas, one of the boys came up to me and said, "John, lets go back to Missouri." ''All right," I replied. So six of us started back, including George Wigginton and Ike Bassham. We put on Federal uniforms as the country through which we were to go was full of Federals. On the way back we learned that there was a regiment of Federals at Bowers* Mill, so we decided to pass to the left of Bowers' Mill in order to avoid embarrassing questions that the Federals there might ask us. We had to cross a creek, where we saw several militiamen stationed.
Just before we got to the creek we saw one of the militiamen get on a horse and start in a fast gallop towards Bowers' Mill and we knew that he had gone to report us. We crossed the river and just to the right of the road, we saw a company of militia coming across a little field. They called to me and I answered them when Ike Bassham put spurs to his horse and started to run. I caught his bridle and told
him to hold on. The militia did not attempt to follow us so we rode into the woods, and when we reached the edge of the prairie, we saw three different sets of Federal scouts. We stayed in the woods until dark when we rode up to a house. A man came to the door and we asked him if we could get something to eat and feed our horses. He, supposing us to be Federals invited us in and, while we were at the supper table, he told us that he belonged to the militia and that his company was in camp about a mile from the house, and that after supper he was going back and would be glad to have us go with him and spend the night with the boys. We, of course, told him we would be only too glad to do so.
After supper, we all started toward the Federal camp, the militiaman and me riding together in front. After getting out a short distance from the house, I suddenly drew my revolver and throwing it to his face, told him to give up his gun, which he handed to one of the other boys. I then said to him, "We are Confederate soldiers; we want you to show us the way to Sim's Point. If you attempt to mislead us, we'll shoot you, and if you take us into a Federal camp, I'll kill you before they can get us. Now show us the way." He said he did not know the way, but I told him he did, and he had to have us at Sims' Point by daylight, or I would shoot him. We rode all night and, just at daylight we reached Sims' Point and I was well acquainted with a man who lived there. He was in a corn-crib when we rode up and I called to him to come outside.
He said, "Well, what in the devil are you doing here?" I said, "It is none of your business what I am doing here- you can come out here, I want to find out something." When he had gotten outside, he saw the militiaman and said, "What in the hell are you doing with that damned Home Guard with you?' I told him to never mind the Home Guard; I was taking care of him, "He'll not bother you any." "But he may bother me after a while."
But I told him that this Home Guard would never bother him anymore. I then asked him if he knew where there were any Federal soldiers and he said that there were none any nearer than ten miles. We got our breakfast with him and taking feed for our horses with us and also taking the Home Guard along for good company, we went into the woods and stayed until dark and then rode all night long, covering about forty-five miles of road, we reached Calvin's Branch between Pleasant Hill and Harrisonville just about sun-up. Having secured our breakfast, we went down into the woods and stayed until night, where we paroled our prisoner, and going north across Big Creek, we went to the home of my uncle, John Wigginton, arriving there in January, 1863, this being the same place where I had attempted to raise a crop the preceding summer and where on August 11, 1862, I joined Quantrell.
When we reached the house about 12 o'clock at night, George Wigginton knocked on the door. His mother called, "Who is there?" and when he replied, "George," she sprang out of the bed, opened the door and threw her arms around his neck, kissing him and crying, and to my great delight and surprise, I found my mother there. Oh! How glad these two old mothers were to see their boys whom they did not know were living or dead. My uncle John said to us, "Boys, I am afraid you have done a bad job, coming back here before spring; I doubt very much if you get through the winter. This country is full of Federals.
There is a big force at Independence under Colonel Pennock and a regiment at Pleasant Hill and also a regiment at Harrisonville."
The next afternoon we went in search of Cole Younger and George Todd and the next day we found them in camp in the woods about seven miles south of Independence on Howard's Branch, and with him were my brother, Jabez, Tom Tally, George Tally, Joe Hardin, Doc Hale and Jim Morris and in a few days Ike Bassham and three others joined us. We then dug a pit or cave in the side of the hill and covered it with logs, old boards and brush, with a fireplace in the back with a chimney made of sticks and mud. This was a warm place to stay, but we cooked only at night for fear the Federals would locate us by the smoke from our camp. Cole Younger and his men had a similar den about twenty feet from ours.
One night while we were here, George Wigginton and I decided we would ride over and see our mothers, who were both at his father's. As we came to the edge of the prairie, noticing several fires, we stopped our horses and counted seventeen houses belonging to Southern men burning, and among them was the house of Wigginton's father. Imagine our feelings—both of our old mothers were then being thrown out of shelter in the dead of winter. We sat on our horses and watched them burn. Wigginton, who was always a very quiet man, sat with his eyes fixed on his father's home and I said to him, "George, what do you think
now?" He turned to me and said, "Well John, I think, 'Damn it.'
After we had been in camp about ten days, John McDowell came into our camp. He had gone south with us, being a member of Captain Jarrett's company and, as soon as he returned to Jackson County, had gone direct to Independence and surrendered to Colonel Pennock and been paroled.
As soon as he came into camp, I suspicioned him, for the reason that Pennock had never been known to parole a Southern man before. I told Cole Younger he was a traitor and we ought to get rid of him but Younger would not believe it. In a few days Captain George Todd came into our camp and I spoke to him about McDowell and he agreed with me, but Younger would not consent to our doing anything to him. A heavy snow had fallen and a crust had formed, making the traveling exceedingly bad. McDowell told Younger that he wanted to go over to John Garrison's to see his wife who was there. I objected and said to Younger, in the presence of McDowell; "Cole, do not let him go. He is a traitor and will get us into trouble, and if I was in command of this squad, he would not be John McDowell much longer, for I would either hang him or shoot him. You know and John McDowell knows that old Pennock never released a rebel soldier before and has made arrangements with him to betray us, so either shoot or hang the traitor." Younger replied, "John, you are too hard on him; he's all right. He went South with Jarrett." I told him that might be true but that I knew he was a traitor and a spy and was a liar about his wife and just as soon as he gets out of our sight, he will run his horse to Independence and tell Pennock where we are. But Cole let him go.
After McDowell had been gone a while, we were trying to catch some hogs that were running in the woods and had left our pistols in our den, when one of the boys yelled out, "The Federals are coming."! looked up and saw about sixty men
coming afoot and only about fifty yards from us.
Some of the boys said, "They are not Federals, but George Todd's men." I said, "What the devil is George Todd doing coming afoot; break for your weapons boys." The Federals then called to us, "Don't be alarmed, we are friends." Then Cole Younger fired at them and they fired on us. I sprang into the den, jerked my revolver from a rafter and told the boys to get out. As I rushed out of the den, I attempted to fire on them, but my pistol snapped.
We all scattered. Ike Bassham was killed just as he came out of the door. Joe Hardin fell dead within about ten feet of the door and Doc Hale and George Tally were killed about a hundred yards from the camp. I started on a run through the brush, the Federals firing at me all of the time. I ran over a log and fell down, but got up running, the bullets making snow fly all around me. I crossed a little branch and someone called to me and said "John, wait." I turned and it was George Wigginton. Just back of George was a negro militiaman, running after him; George wheeled and killed the negro, and said ''John, let's turn and fight them." I told him that we had better save our loads until the last and get away if we could. Just then another man called me and, as he had on a Federal cap, I started to shoot him, when he called again and I recognized Jim Morris. He also wanted to stop and fight them. I asked him where his pistols were and he said he had lost them. I then advised him that the best thing that he could do was to get in front of us and do some of his best running.
We came to a little clearing and, as we started across, several Federals fired at us, and I noticed blood on the snow, and Morris looked at his hand, around which we tied a handkerchief to keep the blood from leaving a trail in the snow. We kept on until we came to the creek, where there were a good many cattle paths. We got into one of these paths and followed it for a while and then we went into the brush and on through the woods to Carroll Johnson's house, and there, we secured two horses from Johnson, promising him to return them as soon as we could find some of our own, and George Wigginton and Morris rode one horse and we started to find Captain Todd's camp.
When we reached the house of John Prewitt, we were nearly frozen, and so hoarse we could hardly speak above a whisper. We stopped at his house a short while and then went on in search of George Todd's camp.
When the Federals fired on us at our den, my brother Jabez received a scalp wound and, while it was not very serious, it bled very freely. He and Cole Younger ran together, and he had on a pair of heavy cavalry boots. From the loss of blood and trying to run with heavy boots on, he became very tired and told Cole that he could not stand it much longer. He sat down on the snow and while ten or fifteen Federals were shooting at them, Cole pulled my brother's boots off. He then jumped up and ran through the snow and ice in his stocking feet. In this little skirmish, they killed four of our boys and we killed seven white men and one negro for them.
Soon afterwards learned that this man, John McEride, had made an agreement with Colonel Pennock that he was to receive $1,000 for Cole Younger, $500 each for myself and my brother and $100 each for either of the other boys, the money to be paid for our delivery to him or his men, either dead or alive, and they well knew that there was very little chance of any of us being delivered alive.
After leaving Mr. Prewitt's, Wigginton, Morris and I went across the Blue, where we found Craid Wells and John Blythes in a dugout on the side of a bank. We stayed there ten days. Wells' sisters and mother came at night to where we were and brought us food from the house. After the snow had melted, Wigginton and I started back to learn how many of the boys had been killed and wounded.
On this trip I received word from Travis Morgan that he had a fine four year old saddle stallion in a barn about a mile from Independence, and a good saddle and bridle in the loft, and I was willing to run the risk of being captured, I could have him. Accompanied by Will Hulse, I secured the horse, saddle and bridle and came back to his father's house, secured a late supper and Will's sister. Miss Sallie, presented me with a quart bottle of blackberry cordial. In a few days George Wigginton captured him a horse and we returned Johnson's horses to him.
At this time, George Todd had ten men under his command and Cole Younger sixteen in his command. We continued to sleep in the woods at night and eat with our friends, and William Hopkins invited us all to meet at his house on February 14, 1863, and to enjoy a big turkey dinner. On the morning of the thirteenth of February, Captain Wagner came out of Independence with sixty-four men from the Fifth Missouri State Militia, looking for us, and went into camp in Mr. Hines' yard, whose son Jim was with us. That night twelve of us went to Hines' with the intention of firing on the militia, but before reaching there I suggested to Cole Younger that if we did, they would probably kill Mr. Hines and burn his house.
We abandoned the trip and went back into the woods.
On that morning, Captain John Jarrett and John Roth had returned from the South and joined us. When the morning of the 14th of February came Cole Younger suggested that if we expected to enjoy our turkey dinner we had better first get rid of Captain Wagner and his militia. The house of William Hopkins was on a high bluff and his father, Dick Hopkins, lived on the opposite side of the bottom on a high bluff. We agreed that Cole Younger should go with his men on the bluff near Will Hopkins' house at a point where the roads made a sharp turn around the bluff* and John Barrett and John Roth should ride out where the militia could see them and when the militia attempted to capture them, make a rush to this place of ambush. When we reached the point near Will Hopkins' house, we met Captain Todd and his ten men and he took command and ordered us to form a line back from the road on the top of the hill. In a short time, we saw Barrett and Roth coming at full speed with the militia in full pursuit. When they had gotten into the cut, Barrett and Roth rushed around the turn and joined us. Captain Wagner ordered his company in the cut between the bluff" and the high rail fence and he and his first lieutenant rode around in sight of us. Captain Todd, who was standing in front of our lines, fired at him. Wagner raised his hand with his revolver in it and shouted, ''Don't fire, men, we are Federal soldiers and belong to the artillery; don't you see the brass on my saddle?"
Todd replied, "To hell with your artillery; kill them boys, kill them." I was standing near Captain Todd at the time with a double barreled shot-gun, with each barrel loaded with fifteen pistol balls. I fired at Captain Wagner. Several of the balls struck his horse and one cut his little finger off, causing him to drop his revolver. Todd then yelled "Charge."
They became bunched up between the fence and the bluff and we were right on them before they could get their horses to running, and emptying saddles at every jump the horses made, they soon left the road and ran into the woods and into a V-shaped place, where a drainage ditch entered the Little Blue.
Some of them forced their horses into the Little Blue and into the ditch. The water in the Blue was very deep and their horses were soon swimming. I rode up to the bank of the Blue and, emptying the other barrel of my shotgun at them, dropped the gun and emptied my revolvers.
In this company of militia, there was a man by the name of Jim Lane, who before leaving Independence had said, "Before I return I will either kill a damned bushwhacker or one of their Southern sympathizers." When he reached the Blue, he turned and forced his horse into the ditch and was trying to force him up the opposite bank. Boone Shull saw him and yelled, "Boys, there goes the fellow that was going to kill "a damned bushwhacker,' " and fired. Lane fell dead and Shull jumped off his own horse remarking, "That's too fine a horse to let get away," and ran into the ditch and captured the horse. Captain Todd then gave command to reload quick and tried to head them at Blue Springs.
While we were reloading an old hypocrite, who tinder the guise of a Northern Methodist minister had been going over that country, robbing Southern people with the Redlegs and militia, rode up on a mule. He would go to the home of Southern people and hold family prayers with them and then charge them for divine service and, if they had no money, he would by force take their bedding, silverware or anything else of value, and at the time, he had a roll of blankets and comforts and two silk dresses and some silverware that he had forced Mrs. Stanley, the wife of Judge Stanley, to give him that morning. A short time before this, this old hypocrite, with a gang of militia, had gone to the house of Judge Stanley and demanded money from him.
Upon the failure of the Judge to comply with their demands,. they had burned his feet, pulled his fingernails out and struck him over the head with their revolvers until he had lost his mind, and when this sanctimonious old hypocrite came riding up to us, Jim Little, who knew him too well, rode up to him and asked him what he wanted. The preacher, thinking we were Federal soldiers, told Jim that he had been up and stayed all night at Judge Stanley's, and, hearing the firing, had ridden down to see about it.
Jim said to him, "You are the old devil we have been looking for. You have been going around this country praying with Southern people and in every one of your pretended prayers you would offer an insult to the South, and demanding pay, and when you were refused, you would rob defenseless women and children by taking what little property they had and you now have blankets and dresses belonging to Judge Stanley's wife, and now we've got you." The preacher said, "I have a right to have pay for my divine services and ought to be paid for praying for sinners.'' Jim remarked, ''Well, you'd better be praying for yourself, and get at it damned quick." The preacher asked him if he would kill a minister of the Gospel. Jim said, "No, but I am going to kill a damned thief and old hypocrite," and shot him and his mule. We afterwards came back and got what he had and took them back and delivered them to Mrs. Stanley.
We then wheeled our horses and tried to intercept the remaining militia at Blue Springs. When we reached the road leading into Blue Springs, they had just passed and would have succeeded in slipping up on them if it had not been for Jim Little, who began to yell. The militia looked back and began to whip their horses with their rifles and, in a few minutes, we were close enough to open fire on them, following them through the town of Blue Springs. About three quarters of a mile from the town of Blue Springs, there was a very bad mud hole in the road and there had been a number of poles laid across it, and, when the militia reached this place, their horses going in a run, quite a number of their horses stumbled and fell, piling men and horses in one promiscuous heap and ten of the militia ceased to bother us from that time on. We continued to follow them until they had reached the bridge across the Little Blue when Captain Wagner rode on to the bridge ahead of them and, drawing his revolver, commanded them to halt and face us, saying that he would shoot the first man who attempted to ride by him, to which command one of his men replied, ''There's a damned sight more danger behind us than in front of us. We fired at them again and wheeled our horses, riding back. We afterwards learned that out of the sixty-four men that had left Independence with Captain Wagner, only seven ever returned, and two of that number were badly wounded. Just before we reached the mud hole, one of the militiamen fell off his horse in a fence corner. Mart Belt, who had been following him and shooting at him, rode up to him took his pistols away from him and, leading the militiaman's horse, came galloping up to the rest of us and said, "Boys, I got that fellow all right." Some of the boys, who knew that Mart was a poor pistol shot, laughed at him and told him he couldn't hit a barn. Mart said, ''Wait until we go back, and I'll show you where I shot him in the side of the head."
When we got back to the place where the man had fallen, there was no man there, and an old gentleman, who lived nearby, came out into his yard and Mart asked him what had become of that dead man. The old man replied, "Dead man, Hell ! If you'd have seen him running through that field after you boys rode off, you wouldn't have taken him for a corpse."
We rode back to Will Hopkins' and arrived there at two o'clock in the afternoon, and did ample justice to a fine turkey dinner.
This had been a good day's work; twenty-seven of us had routed a company of sixty-four, killed fifty-seven of them and none of our men were wounded, and at this time, there were seven thousand Federal soldiers in Jackson county and a large Federal force in Lexington, Harrisonville and Pleasant Hill, and our little bunch of twenty-seven men, who were the only armed Confederates in that part of the country, caused all these soldiers to stay there and kept them from following General Price,
After dinner at Will Hopkins', we separated again and remained in hiding for about ten days, when Cole Younger, John Jarrett, Captain Scott, Jim Noland and I went down into Lafayette county and stopped at the house of my uncle, William Fristoe. The next morning we started out on the road to intercept the stage, running from Lexington to Warrensburg. We had a two-fold object in wanting to intercept this stage; one was that the Federal officers made frequent trips in this stage and we were anxious to see them, and, if possible, to secure a newspaper, and, when the stage come in sight, we halted it and we found Colonel King, son of Ex-Governor King and another Federal officer, who was a provost-marshal from Lexington. We afterwards learned that when we first halted them, the provost marshal took the star from his hat on which there was a number "5", for he well knew that No. 5 meant death, because that was the number of old Pennock's regiment. When we had made them get out of the stage, Colonel King asked what we intended to with them, and Captain Scott told him, "Kill you, of course," to which King remarked. "That is a strange way to carry on civil war." Captain Scott walked up to him and, putting his hand on his shoulder, said, "Colonel, that is the fault of your side; whenever you fight us, you always carry a black flag; our Colonel, Quantrell, has made overtures to you to exchange prisoners and has always been refused, and you troops are instructed to take none of us prisoners, but to either hang or shoot us as soon as captured, and, in addition to that, you murder all of the old men, who sympathize with the South and burn and destroy all their property, and we are only retaliating."
About that time, John Jarrett walked up and. Colonel King, seeing a Masonic pin on Jarrett, let him know he was a Mason. Jarrett then said, ''Hold on, boys," and, turning to Colonel King, said "What Captain Scott has told you is true- we only kill the men who kill us and our friends; we do not burn houses and we do not rob Union citizens, for if we did, our Colonel would have us shot. Now, if you will promise me to do all in your power to have this burning stopped, we will release you." Colonel King made him the promise and they were released, and I must say to his credit that, for two or three months, the burning ceased.
We stayed with our friends until April, when Colonel Quantrell returned from the South with the remainder of our company.
On his way back from the South, Colonel Quantrell came by way of Spring River to have a little interview with that heartless old murderer, Colonel Obediah Smith, who had done so much murdering and burning in that part of the state. When Quantrell rode up to Smith's house, he found him in the garden, having a rifle with him and, as Quantrell and his men were all wearing blue overcoats, Smith
came to the fence. Quantrell shook hands with him and told him that that was a very fine rifle he had and that he would like to see it. Smith handed him the rifle, remarking, "Yes, and I've turned many a damned rebel over with it." Quantrell pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger, but the gun snapped.
Smith took the hint, ran around his house and jumped into a stable lot, and when he was about to reach the fence on the opposite side of the lot, Bill McGuire shot at him and Obadiah Smith never turned over another rebel. Colonel Quantrell told me that in his trip from the South, he had no trouble passing the Federal pickets, as he passed himself off as Colonel Clark, of a Colorado regiment. We waited around in hiding, waiting for the leaves to get thick on the trees and in the brush.
One day Cole Younger rode over to see his Grandmother Fristoe and hitched his mare in the orchard. While he was talking to his grandmother, a negro woman came and told him the Federals were coming. Cole beat a hasty retreat but had to leave his mare, which the Federals captured. Quantrell then ordered my brother, Jabez McCorkle, and me to hunt the boys up and get them together. I had a squad with me under a bluff on Cedar Creek, and one morning before I dressed, Jabez came up with a squad and, leaving his men, came to where I was and was standing on a rock, when in some way he dropped a Springfield rifle which he had in his hand, discharging it, the ball striking him in the right leg just below the knee and, passing upward, shattered the knee joint. We placed him on a blanket and carried him under a bluff and waited on him for several days, but fearing the Federals might discover him, we moved him over on the Nelson Creek and made him a bed under a bluff. His wife and sister stayed with him where he lingered thirteen days and died, and, when the end came, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Harris, his wife, and sister and I were with him.
In this sad manner ended the life of my only brother, a brave, true man and soldier. It seems strange that, having passed through so many dangerous places, he had to die at last from a wound inflicted by his own gun. Just after he died, Frank James, Captain Scott and Tom Harris came to where we were. This was the first time I had ever seen Frank James, and when he rode up to where my dead brother was lying, he remarked, "We heard he was here wounded and had come to stay with him to keep the Federals from finding and killing him." That night, we took his body to his mother-in-law's house, leaving only the women to watch with him and the men all returned to the woods, waiting for the coffin to be made.
While his corpse was lying in Harris' house, a company of Federal troops came in, looked at the corpse and left. The next day, he was buried in a country grave-yard near the house, where a few years before, he had been married. Soon after the death of brother, one of our bravest men, Jim Vaughan, was in Wyandotte, Kansas, and, while being shaved in a barber shop, the Federals rushed in on him and captured him, taking him into Kansas City, where they placed him in prison. General Buell, after learning who he was, ordered him to be hung within ten days. In a few days after his capture, we captured three Union soldiers, a lieutenant, an orderly sergeant and a private.
Quantrell told a Union citizen to go to Kansas City and to see Colonel Buell and to tell him that if he would exchange Vaughan for the three Federals we had, that he would send the three Union soldiers to Kansas City unharmed, but if he carried out his intention to hang Vaughan, then the three Federals would be either hung or shot. The next day, this citizen returned to Kansas City and, in the presence of our three prisoners, reported that the Federal commander had refused to exchange Vaughan and was going to hang him. The lieutenant left the other prisoners and, walking up to Quantrell, said, ''Colonel, I know you intend to execute me and my two companions and, after knowing you have tried to save us, I do not blame you, but I have a proposition to make to you : if you will let me, I will go to Kansas City and see the authorities and, I believe, that being a lieutenant in the regular army, I may be able to prevail upon them to accept your proposition, and I now promise you, upon my honor, that I will return, whatever may be their decision." Quantrell looked at him a moment and said, "I will trust you; go."
On the afternoon of the third day the lieutenant rode into our camp and, walking straight up to our colonel, said, "I have failed; I gave you my word, and I have returned to be executed, and am prepared to die. I do not blame you, Colonel, and I do not believe that if you had fifty of our best men, they would exchange Vaughan for all of them, so, Colonel, we await your orders." Quantrell looked at him a moment, making no reply, turning on his heel, called Cole Younger, Frank James and myself to him, and taking us to one side, said, "Boys, this man is too honorable and brave to die; he has done all in his power to save Jim Vaughan, and I believe that either one of the others would have done the same thing, and they ought not to suffer for the brutality and meanness of others, and I'll be darned if any of them shall die by my hand." He then sent for the three prisoners and said to them, *'Boy's, your lieutenant is too honorable and brave a man to die and I believe you are all that way. There is not one man m ten thousand who would have acted as your lieutenant has. Now, if you'll give me your word of honor, and I know your lieutenant is a man of honor, that you will never again take up arms against the South, I am going to let you go. My men and I may be outlaws, but we are honorable and have some heart left and have never yet murdered a brave man." The three Federal soldiers, with tears in their eyes, thanked Colonel Quantrell, mounted their horses and left, and we afterwards learned that they went into Kansas City, reported these facts to the commander and resigned from the service, going back home, but nevertheless, the next morning, Jim Vaughan was hung. As they led him out to the scaffold, with his head erect, he said, "You may kill me, but you'll never conquer me, and taking my life today will cost you a hundred lives and this debt my friends will pay in a short time." And how prophetic his last words were will soon be seen.
A short time after the execution of Vaughan, Quantrell took about half of his company and went down on the Sni, leaving the remainder of us under the command of Captain George Todd, and, on the seventeenth day of June, 1863, we discovered a company of Federals crossing the prairie in the direction of Westport. We turned into the woods and, following Brush Creek, entered the town of Westport on the south. On the southeast side of this town there was a lane, which had a high rock fence on either side. When we reached this lane, we formed in platoons of eight and waited for them. They came riding very leisurely over the hill, the captain in front, with his leg thrown over his horse's neck. He asked who we were when Captain Todd yelled, "Charge, kill 'em, boys, kill 'em,'' which we immediately proceeded to do. We charged them in the lane, yelling and shooting as we rode. They were thrown into a perfect stampede and rushed out on to the open prairie.
While we were running them, I saw two of them leave their horses and I tried to get some rocks off the fence so my horse could get over. Bill McGuire rode up to me and said, "My horse will take the fence,'' so putting spurs to his horse, he went over the fence and followed them, returning with their guns and pistols. Boone Sholl, who was riding the horse that he had taken from Jim Lane near Blue Springs, lost control of his horse, which ran away with him and through the line of Federals, who shot him in the back, the ball passing through his body and breaking the buckle on his belt. We found that we had killed thirty-three of them. Will McGuire rode up to a dead Federal officer who had assisted in the hanging of Jim Vaughan, and wrote upon a slip of paper, "Remember the dying words of Jim Vaughan," and placed it in the teeth of the dead Federal.
Sholl held up and rode his horse about nine miles that night, and was taken to the home of a widow by the name of Young, where he died the next morning, and, just before he died, he told the boys that he wanted Captain Todd to have his horse. During this fight in the lane, Al Wyatt's horse also became unmanageable and ran into the Federals. Wyatt was shot in the breast and instantly killed. He had only been with us a few days. I took his spurs and sent them to his wife. After the Federals had left the lane and we had quit following them, they began to fire at us and one of the balls struck Captain Scott in the neck. He threw up his hands, exclaiming, "I am a dead man," and fell from his horse. These three men,
Captain Scott, Al Wyatt and Boone Sholl, were the only men we lost. Not another one of our men was even wounded. We tied the bodies of Captain Scott and Al Wyatt across their saddles and, leading their horses, took them to a graveyard, and, wrapping their blankets around them, buried them.
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