Missouri Democrat account.
Account of the battle by one who was engaged in it.
On Monday, December 23d, six companies of Colonel Glover
's cavalry received marching orders for the next day, with instructions to take their camp equipage and four days rations.
On the 25th they started, accompanied by Brig.-Gen. Prentiss
and part of his staff, Col. Glover
, Major Carrick
, and Adjutant White
being in command.
They arrived at Sturgeon
, on the North Missouri Railroad, at seven o'clock of the 26th, and half frozen — having made a forced march, in the face of a bitter cold wind, of twenty-eight miles, twelve of which being unbroken prairie, in less than ten hours. On his arrival, General Prentiss
received information of the existence of a camp of rebels near a meeting house known as Mount Zion
, about sixteen miles from Sturgeon
On the morning of the 27th, he despatched Captain Howland
, of Company A, with forty-six men of his command, under the direction of the man who gave the information, to find the whereabouts of the rebel encampment.
This guide, by the way, had said that there were but sixty or eighty rebels at the place spoken of. Captain
H., after having satisfied himself of the location of the rebel camp, began his march back to Sturgeon
, when just at sunset he came upon the rear guard of the enemy, who appeared to have prepared themselves to cut him off on his return.
immediately attacked and dispersed the rebels, taking seven prisoners, six horses, and nine guns.
While he was engaged in securing his prisoners and horses, the main body of the enemy, some four hundred and fifty strong, who had heard the firing, made an attack on his handful of men, and after half an hour of desperate fighting, succeeded in dispersing them, wounding four--among them the gallant captain, and taking three privates and himself prisoners.
Immediately on the receipt of the news of the fight, brought by those who had escaped, General Prentiss
gave orders for the six companies of cavalry, and three of Colonel Birge
's sharpshooters, to be ready to march for the rebel camp at two o'clock on the morning of the 28th.
Long before the hour arrived, the men were in the saddle, and eager for the march.
We started at the hour, and arrived near the scene of the last night's fight just after daylight.
Proceeding cautiously over the ground, we saw just beyond, in a lane, the advance guard of the enemy, about one hundred strong, who were disposed to dispute our further advance.
, of Company B, who led our advance guard, dismounted his men, and gave the rebels a taste of his Sharp
He had not opened fire but a few moments, when Captain Bradway
was ordered to charge on the enemy with his company.
This he did, and the rebels, who before this had broken, fled in all directions.
, who, with two companies of infantry and three of cavalry, had gone across an adjoining field, came up in time to assist in the pursuit, and captured some twenty of the rebels.
The enemy lost in this encounter four killed and seven wounded. None of our men were killed or wounded.
As soon as we had secured the prisoners and attended to the wounded, Col. Glover
ordered Major Carrick
to take one of the prisoners, and a company of cavalry, and go and find the exact location of the enemy's camp; while the balance of the men were ordered to take position a half mile in advance of where we had met the rebel advance guard.
The major took the prisoner, and thirty men, and soon found the stronghold of the enemy.
Ordering the men to dismount, Major Carrick
, with a bravery and daring worthy of a better fate, attacked the enemy six hundred strong.
The men fought well and never flinched under the terrible fire of the enemy, until they were ordered to retreat by the Major
In this attack we lost three killed and several wounded, together with ten prisoners.
In the mean time Gen. Prentiss
had ordered the infantry,under the command of Col. Birge
, to advance under the cover of a cornfield.
deploying as skirmishers, and attack the enemy on the north or rear, while Col.
, with the entire force of cavalry, made an attack on the east and south, thus almost completely surrounding the enemy and rendering his capture certain.
But for reasons unknown to the writer, the sharp-shooters failed to attack from the cornfield and woods, instead of which they passed through the field and came out into the lane immediately in front of Col. Glover
This deranged the order of battle; and the consequence was, that the sharpshooters and cavalry became mingled in the final charge.
pressed forward with his men, until a shower of bullets warned him that it was time to dismount, as bushwhacking was the order of the day. The men dismounted, and the battle soon became general.
From the woods, where the enemy was hidden from view, came a perfect hailstorm of bullets.
From Mount Zion
, where the main body of the enemy was posted, came a continuous roar of fire-arms.
From the lane,
the open field, and the cornfield, the sharp crack of Sharp
's rifles blended with the louder report of the Enfield and Dimmick.
Our men fought like heroes, and never a man of them flinched.
There was not a moment, from the beginning of the battle to the end, when the fate of the day was undecided.
After the firing had lasted about half an hour, Col. Glover
gave the order to charge on the enemy.
“Come on, men.”
said he, “let us fight them in their own way — let us bushwhack them.”
With a wild cheer the men follower the lead of their intrepid commander.
Springing over the fence, they were soon face to face with the enemy.
Our foes largely outnumbered us, and had the advantage of position; they were brave men, and fought well.
But their bravery and numbers availed but little against the daring and impetuosity of our men. As soon as we got into the woods where we could see the rebels, our rifles began to tell with terrible effect on their ranks.
Men fell in all directions, until the ground was fairly covered with dead and wounded.
For ten minutes after we entered the woods, the enemy held their ground, and then broke and fled in every direction.
We followed them for three-quarters of a mile beyond the church and then gave up the chase.
From first to last, the battle lasted about two hours.
Thus ended one of the most severely contested and bloody battles that has been fought in Missouri
, in proportion to the numbers engaged.
Our force consisted of six companies of cavalry, numbering about three hundred, and parts of three companies of Col. Birge
's Sharpshooters — say one hundred and fifty men. Thus our whole force did not exceed four hundred and fifty, men and officers.
To this the rebels opposed seven hundred or seven hundred and fifty men, nearly all of whom were armed with double-barrelled shot guns, making their numbers equal to fifteen hundred men. If they had fired low, with this immense superiority, they would have annihilated us. But, fortunately for us, they fired too high, and most of their shots passed over our head.
Our loss was three killed, three mortally and about fifteen slightly wounded.
The loss of the enemy, as far as I could ascertain, was twenty-one killed and over one hundred wounded. Forty of the wounded were left on the field and in the church.
Eight of these have since died, and I was told by Dr. Brown
, who was called to attend the wounded, that there would but very few of the forty recover, their wounds being nearly all mortal.
Among the wounded was Major Breckinridge
and Adjutant Henderson
An hour after the battle Adjutant Henderson
came in with a flag of truce, and asked the privilege of burying their dead and attending to their wounded.
This was granted by Gen. Prentiss
The enemy were commended by Col. Dorsey
, Lieut.-Col. Kent
, and Major Breckinridge
We took twenty-seven prisoners, one hundred and five guns, and a large number of horses, blankets, powder-horns and shot-bags.
After attending to our wounded, we began to return to Sturgeon
, which we reached at nine o'clock the same night.--Hannibal (Mo.) Messenger