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Doc. 23.-expedition to Pittman's Ferry, Mo

Colonel Dewey's official report.

headquarters Twenty-Third regiment Iowa volunteers, camp Patterson, Mo., Nov. 2, 1862.
Colonel: In accordance with your order of the twenty-fourth ult., I left Camp Patterson at six o'clock on the evening of Saturday, the twenty-fifth, with three companies of my regiment, (Thirty-second Iowa volunteers,) under command of Lieut.-Colonel Kinsman, five companies of the Twenty-fifth Missouri volunteers, under Capt. O. P. Newbury, two companies of the First Missouri State militia, and a section of Strang's battery, under Major Jainsch, and eighteen men of the Twelfth Missouri volunteer cavalry, under Capt. Leper. At Morrison's, twelve miles from this place, I was joined by three companies of the Twenty-fourth Missouri volunteers, under Capt. Vaughn. My instructions were to march for Pittman's Ferry, on Current River, which place I was to reach by three o'clock P. M. on Sunday, twenty-sixth, and form a junctior with Lieut.-Col. Lazare, and attack any rebeforce at that point. You informed me that Col. Lazare had orders to meet me there at that time. and cooperate with me. The first day I marched twenty-six miles to Black River, which I reached at four o'clock P. M. I found the stream wide and deep, and the crossing difficult, but I was determined to get the infantry and baggage-train over that night. I placed the transportation of the troops in charge of Capt. O. P. Newbury, of the Twenty-fifth Missouri, with orders to cross at all hazards. After an immense amount of labor, the untiring energy of the Captain was successful, and at eleven o'clock at night he reported all safely over, except the artillery and one company of the First Missouri State militia, left to guard it. The next morning at daylight, Capt. Newbury commenced crossing the artillery. The ammunition was shifted from the caissons, and transported in wagons, and the whole train crossed safely. I commenced the march from Black River at eight o'clock A. M., Sunday, twenty-sixth, and reached Vandever's after a march of twenty miles. One mile this side of Vandever's my advanced guard of cavalry, under Captain Leper, drove in the enemy's pickets, all of whom unfortunately escaped, and thus betrayed my advance.

I now was seventeen miles from Pittman's Ferry, and it was important to make a rapid march, and gain possession of the boat. I accordingly detailed Lieut. Buzzard, of the Twenty-fifth Missouri, with forty picked men, to move rapidly forward with the cavalry and gain possession of the ferry. They started at ten o'clock in the morning of the twenty-seventh, and at two I followed with the reserve body. The men marched without breakfast. Ten miles this side the ferry the advance-guard surprised a scouting-party of the enemy, and captured a captain and thirteen men. Leaving these prisoners under [59] guard, they pushed rapidly forward, and succeeded in surprising the guard at the ferry, which they dispersed by a volley from Lieut. Buzzard's men. Private Richard Lloyd, company F, of the Twenty-fifth Missouri, swam the river, and brought the boat over to this side. When about two miles from the river, at eight o'clock in the morning, I received information that the great object of my anxiety, the ferry-boat, was safe in our possession. When a mile from the river, a messenger brought me word that the enemy was forming line of battle on the other side. I immediately ordered the artillery forward at a gallop; the infantry, regardless of their long and fatiguing march, following at a double-quick. I halted the column about one hundred yards from the river-bank, and formed line of battle on each side of the river. The right wing, consisting of the Twenty-third Iowa, under Lieut.-Col. Kinsman; the centre, consisting of the artillery and two companies of the First Missouri State militia, under Major Jainsch; and the left, consisting of the five companies of the Twenty-fifth Missouri volunteers, under Capt. Newbury. The two companies of the Twenty-fourth Missouri acted as a reserve and guard to the prisoners, under Capt. Vaughn. Riding forward to the front, Lieut. Posar, commanding the artillery, informed me that the enemy were planting a battery on the other side. I ordered him to open upon them immediately, which he promptly did, and after a few rounds the enemy scattered and disappeared.

I then ordered Lieut. Miller, of the Twenty-fifth Missouri, to cross the river with his company and deploy as skirmishers and follow the enemy as far as practicable, and to guard his retreat I ordered Captain Houston, of company A, Twenty-third Iowa, to form his company on the river bank, near the ferry, leaving the rest of the command in line of battle. At twelve o'clock Lieut. Miller returned and reported the enemy retreating. I had been for several hours anxious to learn the whereabouts of Col. Lazare and his command. Every thing depended upon his cooperating with me. I knew that with my small force of infantry, exhausted by a long and fatiguing march, and without food since the previous night, it was folly for me to attempt a pursuit. Lazare's route to join me led him directly across the road by which the enemy had retreated, and I waited in deep suspense for some intelligence from him or for some evidence of his presence. At noon I sent Leper over the river with his eighteen men to scour the country and try to gain intelligence of Lazare. After a fruitless search he returned without any tidings, and I reluctantly ordered the men to camp. They had performed a forced march of sixty-five miles, and had been twenty hours without food without murmuring. They were still ready to go forward if there was any prospect of overtaking the enemy, but without Lazare's cavalry pursuit would be useless. I had hoped that the sound of the cannonading would reach him and convey to him tidings of my presence, but it did not.

The next morning, twenty-eighth October, I sent Captain Houston, with his company, up the river, and Captain Rosenstein with his company down, both on this side, to explore the country and ascertain the position and practicability of the various fords. I also sent Capt. Leper, with such infantry as I could mount, over the river to explore the different roads leading to the ferry, with instructions to find Lazare, if possible. About eleven o'clock I received a despatch from Colonel Lazare directed to you, of which the following is a copy:

October 26, o'clock A. M.
Colonel Boyd: Yours of the seven and ten o'clock, twenty-fourth, reached me at ten last night. I cannot reach Pittman's Ferry and find out what is at Thomasville before twenty-ninth. Will be there. We scattered Boone's men in every direction yesterday, killing six or eight, eighteen prisoners, twenty-five guns and twelve horses. They are all come up but Crow's company, who has gone east of Current River.

B. Lazare, Lieut.-Colonel Commanding.

I immediately recalled the scouting-parties, and crossed my command, with the exception of the artillery and Capt. Aaughn's men, over the river. Late in the evening, I received another despatch from Lazare, by Lieut. Going, informing me verbally, that he was marching from the direction of Thomasville, on the Pocahontas road, and would be ready to cooperate with me at any time after midnight. This road leads directly across the road to Yellville, by which the enemy retreated, and they had already passed the point of intersection at least thirty-six hours before. Of course, pursuit was now useless, and I directed Lieut. Going to rejoin Col. Lazare with orders to join me, as soon as possible, on the Pocahontas road. On the morning of the twenty-ninth, I crossed the artillery over the river, and leaving Captain Vaughn to guard the ferry and the prisoners, I marched toward Pocahontas and formed a junction with Col. Lazare, at Bolingers's Mill, fifteen miles from the ferry. I immediately ordered a detachment of fifty cavalry, under Major Lippert, to march to Pocahontas and search for horses and contraband goods.

Major Jainsch accompanied the detachment. They dispersed a small scouting-party, taking eight or ten horses, and found a number of rebel sick in a hospital, whom Major Jainsch paroled, and a list of whom accompanies this report.

The next morning, October thirtieth, I commenced my march back to Patterson, which point I reached at six o'clock P. M., November second.

Too much praise cannot be awarded to the officers and men under my command in this expedition. They performed a march of sixty-five miles to Pittman's Ferry — the first day, through a severe storm — in less than two days and a half, crossing a wide and deep stream. The last twenty hours, they were on the march or in line of battle without food. On their return they performed a march of eighty miles in four days, crossing two wide and deep streams. [60]

I have no hesitation in saying that, had the forces under Lieut.-Col. Lazare been able to cooperate with me by reaching the road to Yellville, by which the enemy retreated, at the time I reached Pittman's Ferry, on the morning of the twenty-seventh, we would have routed the entire rebel force and captured the baggage-train and artillery. This force I estimate, from reliable information, at one thousand cavalry, five hundred infantry and four pieces of artillery, under command of Colonels Burbage, Green, and Mitchell. It retreated toward Yellville, at which point I understood the enemy is concentrating a large force, and where they have a powder-mill in operation.

My thanks are especially due to the following officers, detailed on special duty. To Capt. Newbury, Twenty-fifth Missouri, for his efficiency in crossing the command over Black River. To Lieut. Waterbury, Twenty-third Iowa, Acting Adjutant; to Lieut. Brown, Twenty-third Iowa, Acting Quartermaster and Lieut. Buzzard, Twenty-fifth Missouri cavalry, commanding advancedguard of infantry.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Wm. Dewey, Colonel Commanding. Col. S. H. Boyd.

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B. Lazare (13)
O. P. Newbury (5)
Leper (4)
Jainsch (4)
George W. Vaughn (3)
Buzzard (3)
Vandever (2)
John F. Miller (2)
J. B. Kinsman (2)
Houston (2)
William Dewey (2)
S. H. Boyd (2)
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Strang (1)
Rosenstein (1)
Posar (1)
William Patterson (1)
J. C. Morrison (1)
D. Mitchell (1)
Richard Lloyd (1)
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Joseph M. Brown (1)
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