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Doc. 166.-battle at Athens, Mo. Fought August 5, 1861.

A correspondent of the Chicago Tribune in a letter from Warsaw, Ill., gives the following details of this skirmish:

Warsaw, Ill., Aug. 9, 1861.
The telegraph has informed you of the battle at Athens, Mo., on the 5th inst., and I now propose to detail the events which preceded and accompanied it.

For the past three or four weeks the northeast corner of Missouri has been in a state of anarchy. There has been no security for life and property, and no effort made to enforce the laws and to restore order. This state of things originated from the attempts of secessionists to drive Union men out of the country. To effect this, they did not use actual force; but they collected in squads, visited the houses of Unionists — mostly in the absence of the men — insulted and abused the women, and threatened that unless the family left the men would be shot or hung. Union men and their families were thus kept in a state of constant dread and apprehension, which in many instances became unendurable, and the consequence has been that many Union men have abandoned every thing and left the State. The Unionists formed Home Guards, but these were powerless to protect from assassination; and besides, the members being scattered, in many instances miles apart, were useless in a sudden emergency. Finally, the rebels becoming more bold and threatening, the Unionists resolved to go into camp. This they did, to the number of about six hundred, at a town called Cahokia, eighteen miles from the Mississippi, in Clarke County. Their commander is a rough, not over bright, but withal, a well-meaning and brave old soldier, who has seen service in Mexico. Soon after going into camp, they received from St. Louis 240 stand of arms.

In the mean time, the secessionists had formed a camp, under Martin Green, a brother of the ex-Senator, at Monticello, the county seat of Lewis County, which is about thirty miles south of Cahokia. A few days after the Union camp was formed, word came that Green was marching on it with a force of 800 men. The Unionists immediately sent to Keokuk and Warsaw for assistance. Keokuk did not respond, but the Warsaw Greys, Capt. Coster, fifty in number, went over to the Union camp, intending only to act on the defensive, but when there, as no enemy appeared, Col. Moore determined to rout out the various bands of secessionists which were prowling about the country. Accordingly, for three days he kept his men on the trot, completely worrying them out; but in no instance could they compel the enemy to make a stand. The only work performed was the arresting of numerous secessionists, who were liberated on taking the oath. Moore, with his command, then retreated to Athens, a small town on the Des Moines River, about twenty-eight miles from its mouth. Here the Greys left and returned home. This was about two weeks ago. Soon after retiring to Athens, the secessionists proposed a peace conference, and many Unionists went into council with them to bring about a restoration of order; but the more wary said the object of the rebels was only to get them to disperse and then they would disarm them. The effect, however, of this proposition, was to very much weaken the Union camp, and Col. Moore soon found his force reduced to less than three hundred men.

In the mean time, Green had been making large additions to his numbers from all the adjoining counties, and ten days ago he had under his command from 1,200 to 1,500 men. He visited Scotland and Knox Counties — running out Unionists, insulting and abusing their families, and committing all sorts of depredations upon their property. On Saturday last it became evident that he was approaching the Union camp at Athens, with a view of attacking it. The Unionists sent to Keokuk for help. On Sunday about seventy of the Keokuk military went up to Croton, (a small town on the Iowa side of the Des Moines, immediately opposite to Athens,) but would not pass over the river. Moore, however, received some reinforcements on Sunday, so that at the time of the attack he had nearly 400 men. Moore's camp was in the town, which is situated at the foot of and on the side of a high bluff. The main business street is on the river, and the second street runs parallel with the river, on a beach, a short distance up the hill. Moore stationed his main force in this second street, his right and left wings extending back to the river. Here there was this little band, attacked on the entire front and both flanks, by a force of 1,200 or 1,500 men, with no mode of retreat but by fording a river 300 yards wide. They were without artillery, while the rebels had [484] three pieces--one an eight-pounder, which was placed on the brow of the hill, to rake the principal street entering the town, the other two pieces were imitation cannon, made out of the cylinders of old steam engines.

The attack commenced between five and six o'clock in the morning. In the very beginning of the action Lieut.-Col. Callahan, who commanded a company of cavalry, retired with his company across the river, and it is said that this gallant officer, who claims to be a graduate of West Point, never stopped until he reached Montrose on the Mississippi River. Through the country over which he and a few of his comrades passed, they spread the report that the Unionists were cut all to pieces, and the secessionists were advancing into Iowa. The consequence was that the wildest panic seized the people — some flew to arms and some to the bush.

A portion of Moore's infantry were also seized with the panic, and fled across the river, but seeing their companions standing firm, many of them afterward returned and took part in the fight. The portion of Moore's men which remained amounted to only about 300, yet they stood firm as regulars, and delivered their fire with the coolness of veterans.

After all sorts of a fight, regular and irregular, which lasted for an hour and a half, Col. Moore led his centre to a charge, which was executed in fine style, upon which the rebels broke and ran for life. Most of the enemy had horses, but they dismounted and fought on foot. The result of the battle was ten Unionists killed and ten wounded, two of these mortally, who have since died. The rebels left nine dead and four wounded on the field, and they have since admitted that they carried away 14 dead and 40 wounded. The “Gate City” of this morning states that it has been definitely ascertained that the rebel loss was 43 killed; but it is hardly credible that there was such havoc in such a battle. The Unionists also captured about 40 horses, five wagon loads of supplies, the mock cannon, and a quantity of arms.

Col. Moore pursued the fugitives for three miles; he then returned to his camp, but the next day, being reinforced, he started in pursuit. The Unionists flocked to his standard, while the rebels, being discouraged, were disbanding. When last heard from, Moore was in Scotland County sweeping all before him.

A portion of the Keokuk military performed good service during the fight, by forming on the Iowa side and pouring a galling fire into the flank of the enemy's right wing, across the river, with their Minie rifles.

At the time this action was fought there were two regiments of United States Iowa Volunteers in Keokuk, twenty-five miles from the scene of action. A portion of these were despatched to the aid of the Unionists, but the battle had been fought and won before their arrival. Thus have the Union Guards of Clark and Scotland Counties, almost unaided, put to flight the combined secession forces of half a dozen counties, and, for the present, at least, hold the complete ascendency.


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