Doc. 177.-the Marmaduke raid into South-east Missouri.
Editors Missouri Democrat:I wish to furnish you a brief sketch of the Marmaduke raid into South-East Missouri, and the memorable retreat of his ten thousand confederates from Cape Girardeau into Arkansas, having been an eye-witness of every move made, for and against, from Saturday, April twenty-fifth, to Saturday, May second, when Marmaduke was driven into Arkansas, at Chalk Bluff, on the St. Francois River. I do this to vindicate the “truth of history,” that thus far has not received full justice by the reports that have been put in circulation. On Monday, the twentieth of April, General McNeil with one thousand two hundred men and six pieces of artillery, was at Bloomfield, Stoddard County, and found that Missouri had been invaded by Marmaduke, with four brigades, being the First army corps Trans-Mississippi department, C. S. A. At nine o'clock P. M., Monday, he received orders to move from Bloomfield on Fredericktown. Tuesday, twenty-first, at four o'clock A. M., marched, and with his little band camped four miles north of the Cape Girardeau road--thirty miles march — crossing one swamp, in which his train was stuck for the night. Part of the command, First Wisconsin, was sent on to occupy Dallas, and make reconnoissance in three different directions, under Colonel La Grange, Major Torrey, and Captain Paine. Wednesday succeeded in getting train through the swamp, and reached Dallas Wednesday night; found that Captain Paine had encountered a vidette of the enemy; rode over them and captured seven prisoners. Major Torrey had captured the Sergeant-Major of Colonel Jeffries's regiment. By separate examination of these prisoners it was clearly established that the enemy in force had taken possession of Fredericktown and were preparing for additional offensive operations. Becoming apprehensive that if he advanced on Fredericktown it would be to find the enemy gone and on their way to seize the important post of Cape Girardeau, General McNeil instantly turned his column toward the Cape, resolving to beat the rebels in reaching the town. Subsequent events demonstrated that the General's judgment was singularly correct. Thursday, marched to Jackson, twenty-three miles, and the General pushed to the Cape that night, twelve miles further. On Friday he established communications with St. Louis via Jonesboro, Illinois, and brought the whole force into town. The garrison now stood as follows: A part of First Nebraska infantry under Lieutenant-Colonel Baumer, Commandant of the post; a few men of the Second Missouri artillery, under Captain Meisner--in all five hundred men, which, with McNeil's force, brought the total up to one thousand seven hundred men. Colonel Baumer, expecting an attack, had already prepared his plan of defence, which McNeil, on examination, pronounced unimprovable, and adopted it without alteration; simply furnishing more men to aid in carrying out the plan of the gallant Baumer, and by so doing manifested an abnegation of self that is singularly at variance with the general rule and practice of generals. But McNeil appears to have a holy horror of “red tape,” and to be guided by but two rules of action--one, to help the country; the other, to damage the rebels as far as possible; and he has infused those points into every officer and soldier of his little command. Saturday morning the enemy advanced in force on the Cape. The Honorable W. R. Strachan, of Shelby, arrived and assumed position as Chief-of-Staff. Pickets five miles out of town were firing on the advance of the enemy. At eleven o'clock A. M. General McNeil, Colonel Huston--Seventh Missouri cavalry, acting as mustering officer — and Col. Strachan made a complete examination of the place. The so-called forts, A, B, C, and D, were earthworks of the most simple form, being so slight in defence that cavalry could ride over and through them without ever pulling rein — mounting in all ten guns, twenty-four and thirty-two-pounders. Colonel Huston took command of fort B, mounting four guns. Welfley's battery of twelve-pound howitzers was planted on a ridge commanding the approach via Bloomfield; this battery was supported by two companies of the First Nebraska and the First Wisconsin cavalry--a portion of whom afterward did valuable service as sharp-shooters. The section of mountain howitzers attached to the Second regiment M. S. M. was to the right of Welfley on a ridge still further out of town and commanding the approach by way of Jackson — this section under Captain McClanahan did admirable service, dismounting one of the enemy's pieces and doing fearful execution to his ranks. A section of rifled cannon, long twelves, under charge of Lieutenant Stauber, were on the right of fort B, forming the right of the line of defence, while fort D was the extreme left, commanding approach to the town from the south; this was the weak point of the line, but fortunately was never attacked by the enemy. In the afternoon it became evident that Marmaduke with his whole force of ten thousand men, divided into four brigades under Colonels Carter, Burbage, Shelby, and Green, had masked their forces for an attempt to storm the place. The continuous fire kept up by our artillery, which had been advanced to within four hundred yards of their line, and which was most admirably served by Lieutenants Jacoby, Stauber, and Captain Callahan, excellently supported as they were by the First Nebraska, First Wisconsin, and a battalion of the Thirty-second Iowa as sharp-shooters, held the enemy in check — their officers could plainly be seen urging their men to the onset, but they could not be forced to face the music. Their loss in officers was severe. Major Blackwell, of Lafayette, wounded, and a prisoner in the hospital, informed me that his regiment alone, (Colonel Colton Green's,) lost