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Doc. 176. Jeff. Thompson's exploit at Price's landing, Mo., November 18, 1861.

A correspondent at St. Louis, Mo., gives the following account of this affair:--

B. F. Livingston, the agent deputed by the U. S. Government to travel on the steamer Platte Valley, was put in charge of that steamer at Cape Girardeau, and brought her to this port. We learn from him some interesting particulars of the trip of the bost since she left Cairo, Ill. When opposite Price's landing, the boat was hailed from shore by two men, attired in military overcoats, who were supposed to be Federal scouts. It turned out, however, that they were the redoubtable Jeff. Thompson and his adjutant. As soon as the boat was made fast to the bank, Jeff. raised his hand, and instantly two hundred men sprung in view from their places of concealment in the immediate vicinity, and quickly one hundred rushed on board, preceded by Jeff. himself. The leader inquired for the captain of the boat, and asked if the Platte Valley was a Government steamer. Discovering that she was not, he said he would not injure her, but if she was a Government boat, he would have sacked and burned her, but he would not interfere with private property. [403] He then requested all the Government officers to appear before him, and questioned them as to their names, regiments, &c., and made prisoners of them. There were on board Captain Larrison, Lieutenant Denny, and a number of non-commissioned officers, passengers on their way to St. Louis. Jeff. talked with them a while, and concluded to let them go on giving their parole, which they did.

Mr. Livingston, not being connected with the military, gave no parole. The names, regiments, and other particulars were written down, and they were molested no further. Jeff. and his band were exceedingly elated at the success of the exploit. He said he intended to take every thing he could lay his hands on belonging to the Government. At Jeff.‘s request, the captain of the boat had a barrel of common whiskey rolled out for the benefit of the band, who were soon enjoying themselves filling and emptying cups and glasses. Fearing that Jeff. would attempt to secure Government documents, Mr. Livingston, having important ones from Gen. Grant, &c., at once had them hidden. No sooner had he done this, than a search of rooms began for documents, which proved fruitless, as far as those in the possession of Mr. Livingston were concerned.

Jeff. saw a gentleman on board, an old acquaintance, and asked him if he remembered how they both got drunk at the railroad celebration at Atchison over a year ago? On being answered, he said that he had not been taking any thing strong since that time, but immediately afterward asked his old friend to the bar, and swallowed about three inches of whiskey. Jeff. was quite communicative, saying, among other things, that he and his men had ridden fifty-three miles in less than ten hours, starting the previous day at four o'clock. He was at Price's Landing when the gunboat came up to escort the Maria Denning, and was so close, his marksmen could have killed every man on board. He had four more cannon in the brush than those visible, and had a full regiment of Indians back of the place, and almost within hail.

The seizure of the Platte Valley took place on Tuesday between four and five o'clock. He intimated his intention of leaving, and as the boat was about leaving also, he told the captain that he would show him how easy it would have been for him to sink the boat. He fired two shots, one from a twelve and the other from a six pounder, which fell near the opposite shore.

Every man of his party was well mounted, and armed to the teeth with a pair of pistols, a knife and gun, and some had sabres; most of them were well clothed. Another thing Jeff. said was, that he was after the Maria Denning. He knew she would be guarded, and that he could not take her, but he wanted to sink her, and “by G — d” she would not get down to Cairo, as he and a squad of his men would be found behind every paw-paw bush between Price's Landing and Cairo. This is a specimen of Jeff.‘s gasconading. The Maria Denning did get safe to Cairo in spite of him.

When leaving, his men gave three cheers for Jeff. Davis, and three more for Jeff. Thompson.

During all this, a large number of women on horseback were in the vicinity, but merely looked on. It is supposed they travel with the brigands.

The boat crossed the river, where a man was put out by the Government agent, with orders to ride to Cairo with all speed, and inform the authorities of the state of affairs. The messenger rode the distance, twenty-five miles, in two hours.

Soon after reaching Cape Girardeau, five hundred men went down the river on the Illinois. The boat had not been long at Cape Girardeau, when Capt. Wm. C. Postal and Messrs. White and Lyle were arrested by order of the provost marshal, Capt. Warner, on a suspicion of disloyalty. They were given quarters at the Johnson House.

A lady named Mrs. Brown, accompanied by a lieutenant of the Federal army, went on board the boat at Cape Girardeau. She seemed to be on terms of intimacy with Mr. White. His arrest may have been caused by the fact we learned soon after, that this lady's husband was in a rebel camp. She was overheard to say that “she was travelling around to see what she could.” A search of the rooms and passengers was instituted, and Mrs. Brown was seen to burn several letters. When asked why she did so, she said they were “kind o‘” love letters, from St. Louis, etc. This was corroborated by the young lieutenant who accompanied her on board. The search was conducted by the provost marshal, and we understand he arrested Mrs. Brown, as well as the captain and clerk of the boat, and probably the lieutenant and others.

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Jeff (5)
B. F. Livingston (4)
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Sterling Price (2)
S. B. Warner (1)
William C. Postal (1)
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