Missouri Republican account.
the rebel forces under Boyd
, numbering some four thousand five hundred, evacuated St. Joseph
on the 12th Sept., and retreated in the direction of Lexington
On the succeeding Monday
an expedition, under Lieut.-Col. Scott
, left Cameron
, on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, with orders to cooperate with Colonel Smith
in the pursuit of the secession soldiers.
The column of Lieut.-Col. Scott
was composed of five hundred men of the Iowa Third regiment, a small detachment of Home Guards, and artillerists to work one gun — making five hundred and seventy men in the aggregate.
Simultaneously with the movement of these troops from Cameron
, Col. Smith
, of the Illinois Sixteenth, with two companies of Colonel Groesbeck
's Thirty-ninth Ohio and four pieces, left St. Joseph
Both columns were ordered to Liberty, there to effect a junction and combine their forces.
, it appears, reached Liberty on the 17th inst., at seven o'clock in the morning, and waited for the arrival of Col. Smith
until one o'clock in the afternoon.
The latter not having got up, Lieut.-Col. Scott
sent back a messenger, stating that he would push forward after the enemy, whose camp was about five miles distant, which was accordingly done.
with, as we stated, about four thousand five hundred men, were occupying a strong position in a thicket, near Blue Mills Landing.
The following statement is furnished us of what transpired :--
Our skirmishers received a galling fire, and slowly retreated to our main body, when the action soon became general.
Our six-pounder was brought to bear on the enemy, and two shots fired, which proved destructive.
At this time a heavy fire was opened on our single gun, killing one gunner, and wounding two others.
On this, several of the remaining gunners (Germans) abandoned the gun, carrying off the primer and fusees, rendering the piece useless.
The action continued for an hour, when our column was slowly withdrawn to more open ground, bringing off the wounded, and dragging away the gun by hand — all the horses having been killed or badly wounded.
In addition to the loss of the Third Iowa, there were six Home Guards and one artilleryman killed.
Four of these Home Guards were killed in a skirmish about two hours before the battle.
Three of the missing are supposed to be in the hands of the enemy, and the balance killed.
It seems that Colonel Smith
, owing to heavy rains, and consequent bad roads, had been greatly delayed on the route, and his failure
to join Lieut.-Col. Scott
is attributable to these causes.
On the receipt, however, of Lieut.-Col. Scott
's message, he immediately ordered his cavalry and mounted men to the front, and took them forward at a rapid pace.
On his arrival at Liberty
, after dark, he found Scott
there, after having been repulsed by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy.
The men were exhausted, and as the enemy was reported strongly intrenched, it was resolved to postpone an attack until morning.
reached Liberty with the infantry two hours after Col. Smith
Early on the following morning, the 18th, the combined forces moved forward, but on reaching Blue Mills Landing found that the rebels had crossed the river and eluded them, the last detachment having gone over at three o'clock in the morning.
They had been two days in taking the baggage and stores across, and, with a ferry boat and three flats, found it comparatively easy to take their men over, especially as the Missouri
is quite narrow at that point.
and their army escaped.
The loss of the rebels in the engagement of the 17th is not known, but owing to the desperation with which the Iowa
boys fought, it is supposed to have been considerable.
It seems that these soldiers had been somewhat chagrined at what was termed their “flight” at Shelbina
, although their retreat was reluctant and under orders.
They were determined on the first opportunity to show that they were not cowards, and this feeling it was, doubtless, that actuated Lieut.-Colonel Scott
to push forward without waiting for Colonel Smith
It was not, of course, intended that either command was to attack the vastly superior force of the enemy unsupported; and, in this respect, the conduct of Lieut.-Colonel Scott
was unauthorized, though we do not hear of any disposition to attach any blame to him. His object, seeing that the enemy was making preparations to cross the river, was, probably, to draw him out, and retreat before him, in the expectation of meeting a timely reinforcement from Colonel Smith
It appears that Colonel Smith
left St. Joseph
previous to the receipt of full orders, which were for him, after the contemplated cutting off of Patton
, to move on himself to the latter place.
These directions reaching St. Joseph
subsequent to Col. Smith
's departure, they were sent after him by a mounted officer, who, for some reason, returned without having overtaken Col. Smith
, and consequently without having delivered the orders.
The reader, therefore, who has supposed that Colonel Smith
had marched to join Colonel Mulligan
, will feel some disappointment in learning that, in his report to General Pope
he speaks of being about to return to St. Joseph