prisoners fell into our hands, and our troops pushed the enemy's rear guard all night. At eight P. M., Pleasonton reports, “All my brigades have been engaged. The enemy have left forty killed, and many sick and wounded in my hands. Heard nothing from Curtis. If Smith can come up in case we get a fight, it will be well. Have sent McNeill's brigade to Little Santa Fe. Price is reported intrenched this side of the Big Blue. Fighting still going on with an obstinate rear-guard. Let Smith come to this place.” Reluctantly General Smith was despatched to move to Independence, as requested, the messenger reaching him at Chapel Hill as he was putting his column in motion to march there in response to a direct message from General Pleasonton, advising him of the posture of affairs. On the morning of the twenty-third Pleasonton began to move on the enemy at the crossing of the Big Blue, where the fight opened at seven A. M. and continued until one P. M., when Shelby, who had been fighting General Curtis' command, finding Marmaduke and Fagen were giving way, turned on Pleasonton, and “for a moment shook Sanborn's brigade,” but by the skilful use of Thurber's battery, throwing double-shotted grape and canister, and the gallant charging of our troops, they were routed and fled southward, pushed by Generals Pleasonton and Curtis that night beyond Little Santa Fe. General Smith's command arriving at Independence at five P. M., was ordered to move that night by a forced march to Hickman's mill, hoping it would strike the enemy in flank while passing that point. Had he been ordered and marched for that point instead of Independence the day before, General Smith would have arrived in time to strike the enemy's compact columns and train with nine thousand infantry and five batteries. But it was too late. He did not reach the mill until long after not only the enemy's, but our own columns had passed there. News from the cavalry fronts during the night showed that nothing remained but to push the enemy with our cavalry, allowing the infantry to follow as best it could, to act as support in case of possible reverse to us, or reinforcements which were currently reported on their way to meet the enemy. On the twenty-fourth, with the Kansas troops in advance, we pursued the enemy until within fifteen miles of the trading post, when, at General Curtis' request, General Pleasonton's command took the lead, and at the end of sixty miles' march overtook the rebels about midnight at the Marias des Cygnes: began skirmishing, and on the twenty-fifth, at four A. M., opened on their bivouac with artillery, creating the greatest consternation, following it up by an attack which drove them promptly from the field, leaving in our hands horses, mules, wagons, arms, and some prisoners. Our troops followed them in a running fight until two o'clock P. M., when they came up with them at the Little Osage crossing, in position, with eight pieces of artillery on their line of battle. With the instinct of a true cavalry general, Pleasonton immediately ordered an attack by Benteen's and Phillips' brigades, which by a magnificent charge completely routed them, capturing eight guns, two stands of colors, Major-General Marmaduke, Brigadier-General Cabell, five colonels, other officers, and near one thousand prisoners, besides wagons, small arms, &c. Sanborn's brigade, which was a mile and a half behind, and the Kansas troops, still further in rear, did not arrive in time to take part in the battle; but Sanborn's brigade led in the pursuit of the routed enemy, overtook them at a small stream a few miles beyond the battleground, charged them in the timber, drove them across it into the open prairie, where they formed in order of battle three lines deep. But such was the enthusiasm of the men of this brigade, when they reached the edge of the wood and saw this triple line, they charged it without orders, knocked it in pieces, and chased the fugitives until night closed the pursuit, and the enemy fled under cover of the darkness, toward the Arkansas borden. Besides the wagons captured during this day at the Marias des Cygnes, on the way to and at the Little Osage, the enemy had destroyed many, including ammunition wagons, and for twenty-five or thirty miles beyond the Osage battlefield their route was strewn with debris of burning wagons and other property. Pleasonton's cavalry had now been in motion almost day and night for six days, during which it had marched at least two hundred and four miles and fought four battles. It was pretty well exhausted and broken down, and went into Fort Scott that night for food and a little rest. He reported to me the result of his day's work — that the enemy was going at his utmost, and his own troops were so broken down it would be impossible, without fresh horses, to strike the enemy another great blow this side of the Arkansas, and recommended that Generals Sanborn and McNeill follow, to support Curtis' troops in pursuit, so long as there was any prospect of damaging the enemy, and then return to Springfield and Rolla. On the receipt of the news of the enemy's rout, General Smith, whose command was out of provisions, was directed to move to Harrisonville, and thence get supplies from Warrensburg, where one hundred wagons were waiting with provisions for our command, sending thirty thousand rations to the cavalry. Further reports of the enemy's condition satisfied me there would be no use in breaking down any more of our horses, since General Curtis, whose cavalry horses were fresher than ours, supported by Sanborn and McNeill, on their way down the State line, would be more than ample to deal with any resistance Price's command would offer this side of the Arkansas. Orders were accordingly given, and General Pleasonton returned with Phillips' brigade, the
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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