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[142] three bodies of scouts under trusty and experienced officers, with instructions to cut telegraph wires and in every way interrupt communication with St. Louis. They were to move in advance of him toward the Missouri river at Booneville, and communicate with him from time to time. For the rest, to mystify and mislead the enemy, he depended upon his own strategy and rapidity of movement.

At Neosho, Mo., twenty-five miles from Bentonville was a Federal garrison about 400 strong, quartered in the brick court house in the center of the town. They were well armed, well mounted and well clothed, and their equipments were more attractive than they were themselves. Maj. George Gordon approached the town from the east, Coffee from the north and Hooper from the west, while Shelby advanced on it from the south, with Shanks and the artillery. The Federals, in their strong position, were confident until the artillery opened on them, and then very promptly the white flag went up and they surrendered unconditionally. The guns and horses here obtained armed and mounted the unarmed and dismounted men, and put the column in good condition for traveling. While the prisoners were paroled and the spoils secured, a large scouting party came down from Newtonia, and those who composed it, except a few who escaped, shared the fate of the captured garrison.

Bowers' Mill, a militia rendezvous and headquarters, was taken and purified by fire of its filth and immoral surroundings. After a night march Greenfield and its garrison of 50 militia were captured and the court house burned, because it was used by the Federals as a fort. Then the 25 militia who held Stockton were captured and their fort, the court house burned; and then Humansville, which was held by a force of 150 cavalry, was captured after the garrison had lost seventeen men killed and wounded. Warsaw showed fight, but Gordon flanked it on the right and Elliott on the left,

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