Price’s Retreat to Arkansas

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                                  

Price Raid

Price Raid. Photo courtesy of kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

READER 5: On the 28th  [of October], we came up [on] the rebel force at Newtonia [Missouri]…a force of at least 20,000, while the total opposing army did not number eight hundred!

On the march thenceforth to the Arkansas River, and the return, it is needless to speak at length; but the result is before us all.  We have assisted in the defeat and total rout of a rebel army…and we have been among those who stood on the Arkansas, across which had so recently passed the disorganized and demoralized remnant of the most formidable army that ever attempted the invasion of Kansas.

General Joseph Mackle, Union army.

READER 1: [Price’s] last halt was made at Fayetteville, Arkansas, where an advance division of his army had joined in the siege of that town, held by a Union force.  But Curtis, coming up a day behind him, rescued the town and drove him further southward with severe punishment…with an army demoralized by an unbroken succession of flights and defeats, dwindling by capture and desertion, with the loss of his artillery, the enforced destruction of most of his transportation, and stripped of his spoils.  It was thus, after an active and most efficient career, that he passed out of observation as a factor in the Rebellion.

Shalor Winchell Eldridge, Kansas militia.

NARRATOR: Price’s 1864 Raid had begun on September 19, 1864, from Arkansas, and it ended on December 2, 1864, in Arkansas.

READER 3: I marched 1,434 miles; fought forty three battles and skirmishes; captured and paroled over 3,000 Federal officers and men; captured 18 pieces of artillery, 3,000 stand of small-arms…at least 3,000 overcoats, large quantities of blankets, shoes, and ready-made clothing for soldiers, a great many wagons and teams, large numbers of horses, great quantities of subsistence and ordnance stores.

I destroyed miles upon miles of railroad, burning the depots and bridges; and taking this into calculation, I do not think I go beyond the truth when I state that I destroyed, in the late expedition to Missouri, property to the amount of $10,000,000 in value.

General Sterling Price, Confederate Army of the Missouri.

READER 2: Old Price has left us again for Arkansas. I don’t suppose he had as happy a time as he anticipated.  He had to run and fight for…weeks, the federals right at his heels, part of the time fighting with sabers.  They run him down the Kansas line by Carthage.  That is the last we heard of him…I hope they will treat [Price] so rough that he will never try to invade Missouri again.

We saw a good many of the rebs.  They did give us but one robbing and that was a pretty severe one.  They took two or three blankets, one thick comfort, two sheets and burnt another, stripped all my pillows, Palmyra’s shoes, twelve or fourteen pounds soda, all my spice, Richard’s old yellow hat, Mag’s saddle, and a lot of other things too tedious to mention.  They burnt two straw beds on the floor.  The last one I run out with it when it was about half burnt.  We had an awful time to save the house.  The straw smoke was so thick and strong I would work a little while, then have to run to the door to [catch] my breath.  I think it was their intention to burn [the house] but they were afraid the Feds were pursuing.

I feel like we are broke up.  O this awful war.  I am so tired of it.  I want peace most any way so it will be lasting.

Elizabeth Hunter, White Oak, Missouri.

October 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of General Price’s final retreat from Missouri and Kansas into Fayetteville, Arkansas. Still, the Civil War raged on for several more months. Thanks to all who followed KHC’s tweets and blog posts of “Price’s Raid of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War script.

A Ravaged Land

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                                 

Mine Creek Battle Site, Linn County, KS

Mine Creek Battle Site, Linn County, KS. Photo courtesy of kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

NARRATOR: Mine Creek battlefield remained ravaged by destruction and death for weeks after the battle.  Lyman Gibson Bennett, a civilian cartographer, visited the site 11 weeks later, on a mission for Union General Samuel R. Curtis to map the battlegrounds of Price’s Expedition.

READER 1: At 8 a.m. our party…started for the battlefield at Mine Creek, which was five miles east of Mound City.  We passed several fine farms, the buildings, fences and improvements indicating thrift and enterprise in the owners.  We struck the broad trail of the enemy and passing down it, was soon where the strife of October 25 was most severe.  A long row of dead horses lying on the prairie indicated where their line of battle had been formed.  The surface of this prairie had been completely trampled up by horses and men, and several complete roads were formed where their artillery and trains had passed.  Soon we came to the body of a dead rebel lying beside the trail.  The body was frozen and the features were preserved as fresh as though he had but just died.  Wolves or hogs had eaten some of the flesh from the thighs and body.  In passing over the field, I came across the dead bodies of four men…though they were enemies, yet I do not approve of their dead bodies lying out on the prairies, as food for hogs and wild animals.  I shall report this to General Curtis and ask that they be buried.

We went into the house of Mrs. Ragan, which was situated where the conflict raged most severe.  There were many marks of ball in the clapboards, and fences were completely razed to the ground.  Mrs. Ragan stated that all the men in the neighborhood were in the army and there being none but women and children at home was the reason the bodies of the dead had not been buried.  The greatest number of dead horses and men in the vicinity must produce sickness when the warm spring weather causes them to decompose.

Lyman Gibson Bennett, January 5, 1865.

NARRATOR: Price’s army “rapidly disintegrated” after the Battle of Mine Creek.  In addition to the dead, “eight hundred rebel prisoners were taken…Price himself escaped capture by virtue of the speed of a good horse…Thereafter Price…was able to avoid complete annihilation only by fleeing in small separate units.”

READER 2: Seeing Curtis’s army move off on the road toward Fort Scott, Price gathered up his fragments and limped off…Like the serpent of old, with its fangs drawn and spine dislocated, [his army] dragged its weary body over the divide and down to the sluggish waters of the Marmiton River, where it writhed in agony…Price was now out of Kansas and back in his own State, which his mob of bushwhackers, recruits, deserters, and camp-followers had, with his knowledge, plundered from one end to the other.

Colonel Samuel Crawford, Union army.

READER 4: The village [of Carthage, Missouri], formerly handsome and well built, is now but a mass of charred ruins; some few remaining buildings having been fired by the enemy the previous day…As we proceeded, the poverty and even destitution of the inhabitants became daily more evident.

[D]uring the night nearly four hundred wagons were burned by Price’s own orders with a large amount of ordnance and stores of all kinds.  The noise of bursting shells, and the light of the burning train…was heard and seen…at Fort Scott…At three in the morning, the rebels broke camp and resumed their retreat.  At least forty wagons were left uninjured by the enemy, which, with their contents, were secured…A large flock of sheep were gathered up, that also had been abandoned.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

Tomorrow, October 28th, General Price and his rebel troops make their final exit from Kansas. Check back Tuesday for the final installment of the script!

Battles of Marais des Cygnes and Mine Creek, KS: October 25, 1864

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                              

Battle of Blue-Battle of Mine Creek

Battle of Blue-Battle of Mine Creek. Photo courtesy of: kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

READER 2: In his retreat [Price’s army] camped for the night on [the] Marais des Cygnes…Here they took possession of the flouring mill, and ran it all night, grinding all the grain in it for their supply.

Reverend James Shaw, Kansas militia.

READER 3: After a chase of sixty miles, [Price] was overtaken on the Marais des Cygnes and aroused from his bivouac by a salvo of artillery at four o’clock in the morning, and took to flight…A charge of brigades of Pleasonton’s forces, superbly executed, broke his lines, with the loss of all his cannon, 1,000 prisoners — among them Major General Marmaduke, Brigadier General Cabell, and five colonels — a quota of small arms, colors and transportations.  Rallying his scattered forces a few miles in advance he made another stand, only to be again routed and pursued until darkness gave him a respite, his trail lighted up by the burning wrecks of his abandoned wagons.

Shalor Winchell Eldridge, Kansas militia.

READER 4: We passed through the hastily vacated camp.  Clothing, blankets, parts of tents, camp utensils, mess chests, etc., all betokened the hasty evacuation.  The picture was hideous in its filth.  The debris of a camp is never a sightly object, but the peculiar features thereof were enhanced by the knee deep mud, the remains of slaughtered cattle, the broken equipments, and the disgusting effluvia which greeted the nostrils.  The little hamlet looked woe-begone.

A few women, ashen grey with terror, and half naked, poured blessings upon the troops as they moved by.  In every house were found sick or wounded rebels.  Some stragglers were captured during the morning, and it is believed were hung by our troops in the rear.  The passions aroused by the sight of their pillaged homes, their insulted friends, and the knowledge of the base murders committed on old and defenseless men, might afford palliation of such acts of summary retaliation.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

READER 5: General Price with an army of about nine thousand ragged, hungry soldiers, after a wild, reckless raid through Missouri, was trying to make his escape through Kansas and back to the dismal swamps of the Sunny South.  He had been fighting and running for thirty consecutive days and his deluded followers were crying for bread.  At Fort Scott, twenty miles away, was a Federal depot of army supplies; and to reach and capture that post was the ambition of his military life.  To keep him out of Fort Scott was the determination of the Federal troops.

The battle of Mine Creek was one of the most important of all the battles ever fought on the soil of Kansas…[O]fficers and men, Feds and Confeds, were all mixed in a life and death struggle.  The roar of musketry, the rattle of rifles and pistols, the clash of sabers, and the shrieks of the wounded, created a scene that was perfectly awful.

Colonel Samuel Crawford, Union army.

READER 3: I sent forward a direction to Brigadier-General Shelby to fall back to my position…for the purpose of attacking and capturing Fort Scott, where I learned there were 1,000 negroes under arms.  At the moment of his reaching me, I received a dispatch from Major-General Marmaduke, in the rear, informing me that the enemy, 3,000 strong, were in sight…with lines still extending…

I immediately mounted my horse and rode back at a gallop, and after passing the rear of the train I met the divisions of Major-Generals Fagan and Marmaduke retreating in utter and indescribable confusion, many of them having thrown away their arms.  They were deaf to all entreaties or commands, and in vain were all efforts to rally them.  From them I received the information that Major-General Marmaduke, Brigadier-General [William] Cabell, and Colonel [William] Slemons…had been captured, with 300 or 400 of their men and all their artillery (5 pieces).   Major-General Fagan and several of his officers, who had there joined me, assisted me in trying to rally the armed men, without success.

General Sterling Price, Confederate Army of the Missouri.

READER 1: Forward! was shouted along the line…and then with a fierce momentum, dashing and crashing through the rebel right and centre.  A rush — a scramble — a confused vision of flashing sabers on our left and center; the wild trample of rushing horses; the frantic shouts of charging combatants; the crash of small arms — not continuous as in line, but rapid and isolated as of individual combat…

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

Check KHC’s blog tomorrow to continue reading about the epic battles of Marais des Cygnes and Mine Creek.

 

 

Down the MO-KS Border to Trading Post, KS: October 24, 1864

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                                

Ft. Scott, KS Market Street, 1863

Ft. Scott KS Market Street, 1863. Photo courtesy of: kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

READER 2: The State line road runs about a mile from the east border of Kansas…The border of Missouri, through which both armies were passing, was entirely desolate…with the ruin of civilization and cultivation.  Desolation most absolute and appalling; for it told of the savage devastation of partisan warfare, and of the fearful retribution the passions of men had inflicted.

During the fifty miles of this march not an inhabitant was to be seen.  Where they had lived was marked by the charred remains of consumed dwellings, the only standing parts of which were brick chimneys, built according to Southern fashion, on the house’s exterior…Long lines of grey ashes told where fences had stood; while rank crops of unsightly weeds marked where cultivation had once smiled…[T]here rested over all a sense of brooding horror.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

NARRATOR: Price marched “along the Kansas-Missouri border toward Fort Scott, where he hoped to replenish his field kitchens and forage wagons from the federal supplies stored there.” Leaving a wake of broken equipment and wounded men behind them, his troops pillaged as they traveled.

READER 3: [T]he Southern army under Price…passed through, [and some of Price’s men] came upon [a] Mr. Ward as he was burning the grass around his farm.  A squad rode up and demanded his horse: he refused to give it up and they shot him.  They next came to where Mr. Vernon was also burning the grass around his field in order to save his home from the prairie fires which were devastating the country.  His wife and two children were in the wagon nearby.  The men rode up and demanded the horses.  Vernon told them he would give up his life before he would let them take his team.  His revolver was in the wagon, but before he could get it, one of the men shot him in the breast.  The men left without taking the horses or molesting the wife and children.  Mrs. Vernon managed to get the dead body of her husband into the wagon and had almost reached home when another band came up and took the team from the wagon, leaving the poor woman and crying children without aid to bury their dead.

Mrs. E. M. Clark, Bates County, Missouri.

READER 4: The Trading Post, a small hamlet on the south side of the stream, was about two miles west of the line, and was surrounded by a populous farming settlement…The malignant fury of the rebel invader was now apparent.  They had entered Kansas.  The first house across the line was the scene of a dastardly murder.  An old, gray-haired minister of the Gospel lay dead, with white locks reddened by his own blood.  The woman and children were frantic and crazed with terror and grief.  The fence and outhouse were burning.  The interior of the cabin presented a woe-begone appearance…Everything not portable had been broken.  On the floor were black and charred marks, where fire had been set.  The frightened inmates were stripped of nearly every article of clothing on their persons or in the cabin; and to crown the brutality, in very wantonness, the ruffians had shot one of their exhausted horses and tumbled it into the spring, in order to make the water useless.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

READER 5: Along the line of retreat of the rebel army every house within reach of the main body or flankers was robbed of everything it contained.  All kinds of clothing were taken; even the flannel [diapers were] in some instances taken from infants.  Every morsel of food, cooked and uncooked, was consumed, destroyed or taken along; and all the stock that could be led or driven was taken; in fact, everything valuable and not valuable was taken; so that those men and families whose hard fate it was to be in the way, are left stripped of every comfort and necessary of life.

The retreat of the rebel army is marked not only by robbery and desolation of the wildest kind, but the fiends were not content with that.  Six miles north of the Trading Post they murdered Samuel A. Long, aged fifty-six years; he was previously robbed of his money.  Three miles north of the Trading Post, John Williams, a preacher, aged sixty years, was indecently mutilated and then hung…Many other citizens, all unarmed, as these were shot at…murdered…killed.

Border Sentinel.

READER 1: [T]wo young ladies were stripped of every article of clothing except one undergarment to each.  A woman who was holding a sick baby had the shawl rudely torn from about it.

Leavenworth Times.

Follow the Confederate troops as they continue their destructive retreat from Kansas and Missouri. Log on tomorrow for the latest blog installment. 

 

 

Battle of Westport, MO: October 23, 1864

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.    

Shalor Winchell Eldridge and Family

Shalor Winchell Eldridge and Family. Photo courtesy of: kansasmemory.com, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

NARRATOR: “On the morning of the 23rd, Curtis and a force composed mostly of Kansans attacked the rebels in a timber on the south side of Brush Creek, where Curtis successfully turned Price’s left flank and forced the Confederates to withdraw”… Pleasanton’s forces joined with Curtis’s troops, and Price — “with his army whittled down to 9,000 men — was facing a combined Union force of 20,000.”                                                                                                    

READER 2: From the roof of the hotel at Westport, the rebel army could plainly be seen.  In front of our little advance was deploying a large force…of the Division of Major-General Jo Shelby…Further to the south and east could be seen an enormous train moving off under protection of Marmaduke’s Division, with a large force of conscripts, most of whom were indifferently armed.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

READER 4: The battle of Westport, which followed, was the pivotal engagement of the campaign.  Price, attempting to escape from his pursuers who were pressing on his flank and…rear…confronted…five Kansas regiments fighting under Blunt, and 10,000 militia under Deitzler, fighting on the threshold of the state with desperate valor, guarding their homes…Pleasonton’s batteries opened upon him and sent him scurrying southward with Curtis and Pleasonton in pursuit.

Shalor Winchell Eldridge, Kansas militia.

READER 3: On the morning of the 23rd, I took up my line of march, and in a short time discovered the enemy in position on the prairie…Brigadier-General Shelby immediately attacked the enemy, assisted by Major-General Fagan with two brigades of Arkansas troops, and though they resisted most stubbornly and contested every point of the approach, drove them six or seven miles into Westport. In the meantime Major-General Marmaduke, who was to my right and rear, being attacked with great fierceness by an overwhelming force of the enemy, after a most strenuous resistance, his ammunition being exhausted, had to fall back before the foe.

General Sterling Price, Confederate Army of the Missouri.

READER 5: Striking the open prairie beyond Wornall’s [house], the evidences of the fight were visible all about — dead horses, saddles, blankets, broken guns and dead rebels.  A little distance from the forks of the road, on the Harrisonville road, lay a dead rebel, the top of his head shot off by a cannon ball.  He was the very image of a bushwhacker, and had on three pairs of pantaloons…Another dead rebel we saw in this part of the field…was clothed in a fine suit of new clothes, evidently the plunder of some store or house…About three miles out was a rebel shot through the bowels, and left by his companions by the roadside to die.

Early in the day the rebels took possession of Mr. Wornall’s house for a hospital.  Here they left about a dozen, too severely wounded to be moved, and three soldiers to take care of them…With one exception, of those we conversed with, they claimed to have been forced into the service…Many of them were mere boys from sixteen to nineteen years old…These miserable, degraded, hungry wretches, on their errand of plunder and devastation to our peaceful homes, are fit representatives of the half-civilized power that is endeavoring to overthrow republican institutions on this continent.  Woe would have betided the homes of this hated city had these wretches made good their entrance here.  That they did not, we owe, under the good Providence of God, to the brave Kansas boys who helped us beat the invader back.  We should certainly have been overpowered had they not crossed the line and helped to fight their own as well as our battle on Missouri soil.

Journal of Commerce, Kansas City, Missouri.

READER 1: The invaders had been defeated — the traitors driven back — and…the homes of Northern Kansas were saved from desolation…. Too much praise cannot be accorded to the ladies…who organized relief and aid societies, worked unremittingly to relieve the distress…occasioned by the stoppage of work and the absence of the men in the field, and by the preparation of supplies for the sick and wounded.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

NARRATOR: The Battle of Westport, sometimes called the “Gettysburg of the West,” was the most decisive battle fought beyond the Mississippi during the Civil War.  Here Union forces defeated Price’s army and with it, rebel hopes of claiming the state of Missouri or the spoils of Fort Leavenworth for the Confederacy. Confederate resistance in Westport turned to retreat, as Price’s army fled south along the Missouri side of the state line.

What are the consequences of this crucial turning point in the Civil War? Check back tomorrow for the details!

 

Battle of Independence, MO: October 22, 1864

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                         

Alfred Pleasonton

Maj. General Alfred Pleasonton, officer of the Federal Army. Photo courtesy of: Library of Congress.

NARRATOR: On October 22nd, “Price crossed the Big Blue between Independence and Kansas City.”  The militia “with[drew] to their main defense breastworks”.  However, Major General [Alfred] Pleasonton’s Union troops, which had been pursuing Price’s army, caught up with the Confederates and “struck his rear guard at Independence.”                                                                                                  

READER 3: Major-General Marmaduke’s division, which formed the rear of the army, became engaged with the…enemy about half an hour before sundown. The…enemy attacked with increased fierceness, driving our troops steadily back until a late hour of the night and in almost impenetrable darkness.  I encamped that night on the battlefield near Westport in line of battle, having marched twelve miles, the troops almost constantly engaging the enemy the whole distance.

General Sterling Price, Confederate Army of the Missouri.

READER 1: I have braved a storm that is beyond description…We had 3,000 militia camped in and around our lot from Monday till Friday, when they were called out to meet the rebels.

The fighting commenced about nine o’clock in the morning, six miles from town, on the Lexington road, the Confederates fighting at great disadvantage as the Federals had picked their ground behind rock fences.  The Confederates had to charge those fences, and I can’t tell how many were killed and wounded, but more Federals than Confederates…The firing ceased for a time.  The Federals fell back as far as the Blue, the Confederates passing out as far as Rock creek and resting for awhile, but soon took up their march for battle.  By midnight we heard the firing in front of town, and the country for six miles was covered with General Price’s rear.

General Price was only making a raid, but some were hopeful enough to think he would hold the state.  This evening the report is that he is crossing Kaw River and is badly whipped, but we can tell no more about it than you can…We do know that the dead and wounded are being cared for today.  The Jones Hotel is the Confederate hospital and the bank the Federal.

Mrs. Robert Hill, Independence, Missouri, October 23, 1864.

READER 4: The Confederate wounded were taken to Kansas City and improvised hospitals were made of several of the churches.  As my only son was in the raid, being a member of Shelby’s cavalry, I was vitally interested in the sick and wounded soldiers who were left behind as General Shelby’s men formed the heroic vanguard as they entered the state and the rear guard on that memorable retreat…

I was selected from that southern community to drive to Kansas City, about fifty miles away, to take money to relieve the immediate needs of any of our “boys”…who were sick or wounded in Kansas City.  We had but few men left in our section of Missouri, and besides, men were not permitted to pass through the lines, so that women were sent on these missions of mercy and aid.  I took some money of my own, and this, with the contributions of friends, swelled the amount to $1,000, which I placed in a purse and carried in my stocking for safe-keeping.  The lady who was selected to accompany me was a quiet, unobtrusive woman who had very little to say, and when spoken to usually answered in monosyllables.

Mrs. S. E. Ustick, Missouri.

READER 5: [I] had been reared in a country home and had resided there all [my] life.  As [I] had married a farmer and he had enlisted in the southern army, [I] cherished the hope that [I] would be able to see him or at least hear from him in Kansas City, or perhaps see some straggling soldier on the retreat who would take a message or perhaps a package…

We were directed to stay our first night out with a southern man who lived on the Lexington and Independence road.  He had been robbed of all his stock and horses except one team, with which he was trying to cultivate a few acres of his once productive farm.  His house was built of logs, with a passage between, which had a dirt floor.  In this place he kept his horses for fear of them being stolen, and as it was only two days after General Price had passed, he brought our horses also into this passage and guarded them all night with a gun in hand.

Mrs. Ustick’s unnamed traveling companion.

READER 4: The family was very kind and hospitable, giving us the best service they could render, and helped us off on our journey the next morning.  After driving for a few hours we came to the stone wall where the bloody battle was fought between the opposing armies.  The Federal troops were still burying the dead.  The stench of the battlefield frightened our horses, as well as the terrible sight of dead men and horses, lying singly and in groups.

READER 5: Hats and coats were scattered everywhere, and some of the horses had great holes through them as if shot by a cannon ball.  It was a sickening sight, and we were glad to hurry through it.  As we were two harmless women, with no baggage but our lunch basket, and as we were bound for the nearest town ahead of us, we were permitted to pass on quietly through the lines.

READER 4: I…counted twenty-nine blackened chimneys which marked the spot where once stood that number of country homes.  Many of them doubtless were happy homes, now desolated by the cruel hand of war.

Mrs. S. E. Ustick, Missouri.

READER 1: Twice in the last ten days our town has been left to the women and children to care for…I did not leave my yard while the Confederates were here, but many of my old friends among them came to see me.  More than fifty ate with me yesterday.  Since last Monday I have fed over one hundred men, and ten days ago I did not feel like I had enough for my own family.  I have often thought of the loaves and fishes.

Yesterday about 10 o’clock General Pleasanton attacked General Price’s rear with 10,000 cavalry whilst his front was fighting a very large Federal force.  Heavy fighting all day, the Confederates in the rear retreating, until about three o’clock, when the fight grew desperate, and the Confederates passed through town rapidly, fighting with small arms, and the Federals pursuing not one hundred yards behind.  From the balcony of our house (which is very high) we had a view of the battle for more than a mile; saw the Federals capture a battery in Noah Miller’s yard.  From there on to the Blue the fight was terrific — mostly with small arms — until they got to the Blue, when cannonading commenced.  The fight ended at dark, and commenced this morning about 7 o’clock in the neighborhood of Westport.

The last we heard from the Confederates was yesterday at noon — they were fighting in John Wornall’s lane, and his house a hospital — they were marching and fighting.

Mrs. Robert Hill, Independence, Missouri, October 23, 1864. 

Is General Price’s army losing steam? Look for the answer in tomorrow’s blog post.

Battles on the Blue River: October 21-23, 1864

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.

Battle of the Blue

Battle of the Blue. Photo courtesy of: kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

NARRATOR: Eight miles east of Independence, Missouri, Price’s oncoming Confederates met Curtis’s untested force of Kansas State Militia on the Blue River.                                                                              

READER 1: The [Union] aim now was to concentrate force enough at some particular point sufficiently strong to effectually hold the rebel army in check…To this end Colonel [Charles] Blair was stationed at the Big Blue, and with the engineers, actively engaged in fortifying that line, by means of formidable…breast works at salient points, rifle pits to cover the line of advance, and such other means as would materially strengthen the natural advantages of the west bank of the stream.  At Kansas City martial law was rigidly enforced, and all available force set to work constructing a long line of entrenchments on the east and south, thus creating a formidable obstacle to the rebel army…The roads from fords crossing the Blue, all converged to Westport and Kansas City.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

READER 2: The Big Blue, with its deep bed and steep banks lined with a dense growth of timber, afforded a strong line of defense, and the movement of the united forces under Curtis was for the purpose of holding the crossings.  As an aide on General Deitzler’s staff who had command of the militia, I was ordered, with 100 men, to barricade the road leading to the lower crossing by felling trees across it, the dense forest and steep banks making the river impassable for an army except where the road had been cut through.  All the night preceding the battle the hundred axes were kept busy felling trees into the road, and by morning the blockade was so complete that no army could force it.  An upper crossing, however, had not been so well protected, and there fell the brunt of the battle, the rebels forcing the passage after stubborn resistance by Kansas troops.

Shalor Winchell Eldridge, Kansas militia.

READER 4: The gallant militia [of 300 men] formed under a galling fire, and maintained the unequal conflict for about forty minutes…Our first line of battle was broken in some confusion, but speedily re-formed, and the men continued the conflict with the coolness of veterans, exhibiting none of the characteristics of raw militia…The continued resistance, so deadly and effective, of this puny handful, exasperated the rebels to madness, and finally their whole line, which had been strengthened until it numbered 3,000 men, charged…almost overwhelming the little band…The rebels charged with their wild and peculiar yell.  Maddened by the gallant resistance they met, our men were shot down as they surrendered, or murdered as they lay wounded on the ground.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

READER 5: On the morning of the 24th, we gathered together our dead…twenty-four brave Kansans killed…and took them to Kansas City, where we obtained coffins for them, and on the morning of the 25th we buried them at Wyandotte, on Kansas soil.  From there we marched home to meet our mourning friends, and tell the story of the fallen.

Colonel George Veale, 2nd Kansas Militia. 

How are these battles affecting the citizens of Missouri and Kansas communities? Read about it in tomorrow’s blog post!

Battle of Boonville, MO: October 11, 1864

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                                 

William (Bloody Bill) Anderson

William (Bloody Bill) Anderson. Photo courtesy of: kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

READER 3: Pushing rapidly on to Boonville, General Shelby by a rapid charge drove in their pickets…Propositions for the surrender of the town were made to him, which were accepted, and accordingly the place with its garrison, stores, etcetera., were delivered into his hands…About 300 prisoners were captured at Boonville, with arms, ammunition, and many stores, which were distributed among the soldiers.

On the 10th I arrived at Boonville with the rest of the command. My reception was enthusiastic in the extreme. Old and young, men, women, and children, vied in their salutations and in ministering to the wants and comforts of my wearied and war-worn soldiers.

Captain [Bill] Anderson, who reported to me that day with a company of about 100 men, was immediately sent to destroy the North Missouri Railroad.  At the same time, [William] Quantrill was sent with the men under his command to destroy the Hannibal and Saint Joseph Railroad, to prevent the enemy, if possible, from throwing their forces in my front from Saint Louis.

General Sterling Price, Confederate Army of the Missouri.

READER 4: [T]he Confederate sympathizers in this county were greatly elated for a time…The country was full of bushwhackers.  The noted Confederate guerrilla leaders were raiding the counties of Boone, Audrain and Monroe, robbing, murdering and mutilating.  In Boone county Bill Anderson and his men were riding about…with human heads ghastly and grinning hanging by hickory bark from their saddles, and human scalps dangling from their bridles…It was reported that he was coming to Palmyra, and that back of him were Generals Price, Marmaduke, Shelby and Cabell, with an army of 25,000 men.

Some of the merchants of Palmyra packed their goods and moved them to Quincy and other points and closed their houses, fearing that the town would be captured by the Confederates.  The cashier of the bank left for the East, taking all the funds with him…The Confederate cause, long smoldering in this quarter of Missouri, had flashed up, as it were, and its flickering blaze brightened the faces of its friends for a brief season before it died out and was quenched forever in the blood of its adherents.

R. I. Holcombe, Marion County, Missouri.

Continue following the Confederate Army of the Missouri as they wreak havoc across Missouri. Look for the next script installment on October 15. 

Martial Law Enacted in Kansas

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.

NARRATOR: On October 10, two days after Governor Carney called out the Kansas militia, General Curtis placed Kansas under martial law, requiring remaining male citizens to come to the aid of the Union army with whatever weapons they could bring.                        

Cyrus Kurtz Holliday

Cyrus Kurtz Holliday. Photo courtesy of: kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

READER 5: All men, white or black, between the ages of eighteen and sixty, will arm and attach themselves to some of the organizations of troops, for temporary military service.

All troops, volunteers and militia, are clothed with the powers, and are subject to the duties and penalties prescribed in the Articles of War, and soldiers and citizens must expect very summary punishment of crime, and burning, robbing and stealing in the field will be severely and promptly punished.  Private property and peaceable citizens must be protected.  Our object is Price and his followers.

General Samuel R. Curtis, Fort Leavenworth.

READER 1: Never was appeal for help answered so promptly.  In most instances on the next day, or the second, after the receipt of the proclamation at regimental headquarters, the regiment itself, in full force, was on the march for the rendezvous…[T]ogether with the old and young men, and the colored troops organized under the martial law proclamation…[t]he whole number who thus responded for active service exceeded 16,000…

Colonel Cyrus K. Holliday, Kansas militia.

READER 2: General Curtis directed that the militia (being without uniform) should wear as a distinctive badge, a piece of red material of some kind.  Most of the men found badges in the scarlet leaves of the Sumac, which at this season flamed along the creeks and on the prairie’s edge.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

Which Missouri town will Price’s troops hit next? Find out tomorrow! 

 

Jefferson City, MO: October 7, 1864

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                                 

Richard Cordley

Richard Cordley. Photo courtesy of: kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

READER 1: Early on the morning of the seventh…Federal forces, with…Missouri troops…stood ready, if not eager, to welcome their wayward neighbors, with “bloody hands to hospitable graves.”  During the afternoon, General Price and his lieutenants moved about beyond the range of rifles, viewing the entrenchments, the forts, and the men behind frowning guns, until they became weary…In fact, General Price had reached the north pole of his perilous expedition, and…he saw that he was standing on slippery ground.

Colonel Samuel Crawford, Union army.

READER  3: I had received positive information that the enemy were 12,000 strong in the city, and that 3,000 more had arrived on the opposite bank of the river by the North Missouri Railroad before I withdrew my troops to the encampment selected…[A]fter consultation with my general officers, I determined not to attack the enemy’s entrenchments, as they outnumbered me nearly two to one and were strongly fortified, but to move my command in the direction of Kansas, as instructed in my original orders, hoping to be able to capture a sufficient number of arms to arm my unarmed men at Boonville, Sedalia, Lexington, and Independence, places which I intended to occupy with my troops en route.

General Sterling Price, Confederate Army of the Missouri.

READER 2: The rebels were steadily advancing westward, destroying, foraging and conscripting as they marched…

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

READER 4: The companies [of militia] which stayed in Lawrence [Kansas] were under strict military discipline, remained under arms continually, and were supplied with government rations.  We left our homes and camped in our block-houses, and did guard duty like any other soldiers.  We were ordered to sleep on our arms every night, ready for emergencies and surprises.

Meanwhile, nothing could be learned of Price or his army…He left Jefferson City…and since then he had given no sound or sign…There was no telegraph line, and we depended for information on messengers and stragglers…coming up from the battlefield…His army lay somewhere in the great bend of the Missouri River, near Booneville, but just where he was, or what he was doing, no one seemed to know.

Reverend Richard Cordley, Lawrence, Kansas militia. 

What would you do to try to predict General Price’s next move? Log on October 10th for the next script installment.