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Doc. 180.-pursuit of the guerrillas.

General Ewing's report.1

headquarters District of the border, Kansas City, Missouri, Aug. 31, 1863.
Lieutenant-Colonel C. W. March, A. A. G., Department of the Missouri, St. Louis, Missouri:
sir: Some commanders of detachments engaged in the pursuit of Quantrell are still out after his scattered forces. In advance of their return, I submit a report of the raid, which in some respects may be deficient, for want of official information from them.

Three or four times this summer the guerrillas have assembled to the number of several hundred, within twenty or thirty miles of the Kansas border. They have threatened alternately [514] Lexington, Independence, Warrensburgh, and Harrisonville; and frequent reports have reached me from scouts and spies that they meant to sack and destroy Shawnee, Olathe, Paola, Mound City, and other towns in Kansas near the eastern border. I placed garrisons in all these Kansas towns, and issued arms and rations to volunteer militia companies there. From trustworthy sources I learned, toward the last of July, that they were threatening a raid on Lawrence; and soon after they commenced assembling on the Sinabar, in the western part of Lafayette county. I at once ordered a company of infantry, which was then coming down from Fort Ripley, to stop at Lawrence, which they did for more than a week, and until after the guerrilla force had been dispersed by a force I sent against them. From this time, though constantly receiving information as to their movements and plans, I could learn nothing of a purpose to make a raid into Kansas. Their forces were again scattered in small predatory bands, and I had all available forces in like manner scattered throughout the Missouri portion of this district, and especially the border counties, besetting their haunts and paths.

Quantrell's whole force was about three hundred men, composed of selected bands from this part of Missouri. About two hundred and fifty were assembled on Blackwater, near the eastern border of this district, at least fifty miles from the Kansas line, on the seventeenth and eighteenth. I am informed by Major Ross, M. S. M., who has been scouting in the south-west part of Saline county, that the rendezvous was there. Lieutenant-Colonel Lazear, commanding two companies of the First Missouri, at Warrens-burgh, heard on the morning of the twentieth that this force had passed the day before twelve miles north of him, going west, and moved promptly after them, sending orders to Major Mullins, commanding two companies of the same regiment at Pleasant Hill, to move on them from that point. On the night of the nineteenth, however, Quantrell passed through Chapel Hill to the head of the middle fork of Grand River, eight miles north-west of Harrisonville, and fifteen miles south-east of Aubrey, the nearest station in Kansas. There he was joined on the morning of the twentieth by about fifty men from Grand River and the Osage, and at noon set out for Kansas, passing five miles south of Aubrey at six P. M., going west. Aubrey is thirty-five miles south of Kansas City, and about forty-five miles south-east of Lawrence. Kansas City is somewhat further from Lawrence.

Captain Pike, commanding two companies at Aubrey, received information of the presence of Quantrell on Grand River at half-past 5 o'clock P. M., of the twentieth. He promptly forwarded the information up and down the line, and to my headquarters; and called in his scouting parties to march upon them. One hour and a half later, he received information that Quantrell had just passed into Kansas. Unhappily, however, instead of setting out at once in pursuit, he remained at the station, and merely sent information of Quantrell's movements to my headquarters and Captain Coleman, commanding two companies at Little Santa Fe, twelve miles north of the line. Captain Coleman, with near one hundred men, marched at once to Aubrey, and the available force of the two stations, numbering about two hundred men, set out at midnight in pursuit. But Quantrell's path was over the open prairie, and difficult to follow at night, so that our forces gained but little on him. By Captain Pike's error of judgment in failing to follow promptly and closely, the surest means of arresting the terrible blow was thrown away — for Quantrell never would have gone as far as Lawrence, or attacked it, with a hundred men close on his rear.

The first despatch of Captain Pike reached here; thirty-five miles north of Aubrey, at half-past 11 P. M., the second an hour later. Before one o'clock, Major Plumb, my Chief of Staff. at the head of about fifty men, (which was all that could be got here and at Westport,) started southward, and at daylight heard, at Olathe, twenty-five miles from here, that the enemy had passed at midnight through Gardner, eighteen miles from Lawrence, going toward that town. Pushing on, Major Plumb overtook Captains Coleman and Pike, six miles south-east of Lawrence, at half-past 10 o'clock, Friday, the twenty-first instant, and by the light of the blazing farm-houses saw that the enemy had got six miles south of Lawrence, on their way out of the State. The enemy were overtaken near Palmyra by Major Plumb's command, to which were there added from fifty to one hundred citizens, who had been hastily assembled, and led in pursuit by General Lane.

By this time the horses of our detachments were almost exhausted. Nearly all were young horses, just issued to the companies, and had marched more than sixty-five miles without rest and without food from the morning of the twentieth. Quantrell had his men mounted on the best horses of the border, and had collected fresh ones going to and at Lawrence, almost enough to remount his command. He skilfully kept over a hundred of his best-mounted and best-trained men in the rear, and often formed line of battle to delay pursuit, and give time and rest to the most wearied of his forces. By the time our scattered soldiers and citizens could get up and form line, the guerrillas' rear-guard would, after a volley, break into column, and move off at a speed which defied pursuit. Thus the chase dragged through the afternoon, over the prairie, generally following no roads or paths, until eight, when Quantrell's rear-guard formed line of battle three miles north of Paola, and twenty miles from where they entered the State. A skirmish ensued, the guerrillas breaking and scattering, so that our forces in the darkness lost the trail, and went into Paola for food and rest, while search was being made for it.

Lieutenant-Colonel Clark, Ninth Kansas volunteers, with headquarters at Coldwater Grove, [515] was in command of the troops on the border south of Little Santa Fe, including the stations at Aubrey, Coldwater Grove, (thirteen miles south of Aubrey,) Rockville, (thirteen miles south of Coldwater Grove,) Cboteau's Trading Post, (fifteen miles south of Rockville,) and Harrisonville. There were two companies at each station, but the force out patrolling rarely left fifty men in camp at each post. He received Captain Pike's message as to the gathering of Quantrell's forces on Grand River on the night of the twentieth, and at once sent for the spare troops at Rockville and Trading Post to march up to Coldwater Grove. At three o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first, he received a despatch from Captain Coleman, at Aubrey, saying that Quantrell had crossed into Kansas; and he set out with thirty men, following Quantrell's trail nearly to Gardner, and thence going south to Paola, reaching there at five P. M. With this command, and a force of perhaps fifty citizens, and a part of Captain Beuter's company of the Thirteenth Kansas infantry, which had been garrisoning Paola, he prepared to attack Quantrell at the ford of Bull Creek, three miles south of Paola, toward which he was then retreating. But Quantrell, on coming within four or five miles of that crossing, soon after dark, formed line of battle, as I stated above, broke trail, turned sharp to the north, and dodged and bewildered the force in waiting for him, as well as that in pursuit. These troops at the ford returned to Paola about the time the command which had followed Quantrell reached there. One of the parties in search of the trail found it five miles north of Paola, and reported the fact to Lieutenant-Colonel Clark, who was then ranking officer there, at between one and two o'clock. He was slow in ordering pursuit, which was not renewed until daybreak. He at that time sent Captain Coleman forward, with thirty men of the Ninth Kansas, which he himself had brought to Paola, and forty of the same regiment, which had got there from the Trading Post at about two o'clock that morning, and about seventy militia, chiefly of Linn county. He marched soon after himself with the troops which had followed Quantrell the day before.

Half an hour before Major Plumb started from Kansas City on the night of the twenty-first, Captain Palmer, eleventh Kansas, was sent by him from Westport, with fifty men of his company, down the line to near Aubrey, where he met a messenger from Captain Coleman, directing reenforcements to Spring Hill, at which point he struck Quantrell's trail and followed it to within seven miles of Lawrence. Thence learning that Quantrell had gone south, he turned south-east; and at Lanesfield (Uniontown) was joined by a force about eighty strong, tinder Major Phillips, composed of detachments of Captain Smith's Company, E. M. M., Captain Killen's Ninth Kansas, and a squad of the Fifth Kansas. This latter force had been collected by Major Thacher at Westport, and despatched from there at noon on Friday the twenty-first, via Lexington, Kansas. The command of Major Phillips, thus increased to one hundred and thirty, pushed south-east from Lanesfield, and struck Quantrell's trail about sunrise, five miles north of Paola, and but a little behind the commands of Coleman and Clark.

Major Thacher, commanding at Westport, when news arrived that Quantrell was returning by way of the Osage Valley, took the rest of the mounted troops on the upper border, (company A, Ninth, and E, Eleventh Kansas, numbering one hundred and twenty men,) and moved down the line. He struck Quantrell's trail below Aubrey, immediately in the rear of Lieutenant-Colonel Clark's command.

Quantrell, when after dark he had baffled his pursuers, stopped to rest five miles north-east of Paoli, and there, after midnight, a squad of Linn county militia, under Captain Pardee, alarmed the camp. He at once moved on, and between that point and the Kansas line his column came within gunshot of the advance of about one hundred and fifty of the Fourth M. S. M., under Lieutenant-Colonel King, which had been ordered from the country of the Little Blue, in Jackson county, down the line to interrupt him. The advance apprised Lieutenant-Colonel King of the approach of another force. Skirmishers were thrown out, but Quantrell, aided by the darkness and the broken character of the prairie, eluded the force and passed on. Lieutenant-Colonel King was unable to find his trail that night.

The pursuing forces thus thrown behind, Quantrell passed out of Kansas and got to the timber of the middle fork of Grand River in Missouri, near his last rendezvous, before starting, about noon of the twenty-second, an hour in advance of the head of the pursuing column. There his force scattered. Many dismounted, or, worn out through fatigue or wounds, sought concealment and safety in the fastnesses of that region. About one hundred moved down Grand River, while the chief part of the force passed north-east toward Chapel Hill. Our forces divided in like manner at that point, Major Plumb and Major Thacher following the main body.

On the twentieth of August I went to Leaven-worth on official business. The despatches of Captain Pike were not sent to Leavenworth until eight A. M. on the morning of the twentyfirst, because the telegraph offices at Leavenworth City and Fort Leavenworth close at eleven P. M. for want of relief of operators. I received those despatches and the one announcing that Quantrell had passed through Gardner going toward Lawrence, not until quarter to eleven A. M. on the twenty-first. There was no cavalry stationed at Fort Leavenworth, though five companies of the Eleventh Ohio were outfitting for Fort Laramie, but without arms.

There was one company at Leavenworth City just receiving horse equipments. Arms and horse equipments were issued at once, and at one P. M. I started from Fort Leavenworth with near three hundred men of these companies. News [516] reached me at Leavenworth City of the burning of Lawrence, and of the avowed purpose of the rebels to go thence to Topeka. I thought it best to go to De Soto, and thence, after an unavoidable delay of five hours in crossing the Kansas River, to Lanesfield. Finding there, at daybreak, that Quantrell had passed east, I left the command to follow as rapidly as possible, and pushed on, reaching, soon after dark, the point on Grand River where Quantrell's force had scattered.

Lieutenant-Colonel Lazear, with the detachments of the First Missouri, from Warrensburgh and Pleasant Hill, numbering about two hundred men, after failing to find Quantrell on Blackwater on the twenty-second, encountered him at noon on the twenty-third, on Big Creek, broke up his force, and has since had five very successful engagements with different parties of his band.

The pursuit of Quantrell, after our forces had caught up with him at Brooklyn, was so close, that he was unable to commit any further damage to property on his route, but was compelled to abandon almost all his horses, and much of the p plunder from the Lawrence stores; and since he reached Missouri a large part of his men have abandoned their horses, and taken to the brush afoot. The number of equipments so far captured exceeds one hundred, and the number of participants in the massacre already killed is fully as great. The most unremitting efforts are being made to hunt down the remainder of the band, before they recover from the pursuit.

Familiar as many of Quantrell's men were with our prairies — unobstructed as to course by any roads or fords — with a rolling country to traverse, as open as the sea — to head off his wellmounted, compact, and well-disciplined force, was extremely difficult. The troops which followed and overtook him south of Lawrence, without a cooperating force to stop him, were practically useless from exhaustion; and the forces which did not follow, but undertook to head him, failed, though they nearly all exerted themselves to the utmost to accomplish it. There were few of the troops which did not travel one hundred miles in the first twenty-four hours of the pursuit. Many horses were killed. Four men of the Eleventh Ohio were sun-stricken; among them Lieutenant Dick, who accompanied me, fell dead on dismounting to rest. The citizens engaged in pursuit, though they were able generally to keep close upon the enemy between Brooklyn and Paoli, killing and wounding many stragglers and men in the rear-guard, were without the requisite arms, organization, or numbers, to successfully encounter the enemy.

Although Quantrell was nearly eleven hours in Kansas before reaching Lawrence, no information of his approach was conveyed to the people of that town. Captain Pike, at Aubrey, sent no messenger either to Paola, Olathe, or Lawrence, one or the other of which towns, it was plain, was to be attacked. Captain Coleman, on getting the news at Little Santa Fe, at once despatched a messenger to Olathe, asking the commanding officer there to speed it westward, That officer, not knowing in what direction the guerrillas were moving, sent a messenger out on the Santa Fe road, who, when nearly at Gardner, hearing that Quantrell had just passed through there, returned to Olathe.

With one exception, citizens along the route who could well have given the alarm, did not even attempt it. One man excused himself for his neglect on the plea that his horses had been working hard the day before. A boy living ten or twelve miles from Lawrence begged his father to let him mount his pony, and going a by-road alarm the town. But he was not allowed to go. Mr. J. Reed, living in the “Hesper neighborhood,” near Eudora, started ahead of Quantrell from that place to carry the warning to Lawrence, but while riding at full speed, his horse fell and was killed, and he himself so injured that he died next day.

Thus surprised, the people of Lawrence were powerless. They had never, except on the occasion referred to above, thought an attack probable, and feeling strong in their own preparations, never, even then, asked for troops to garrison the town. They had an ambulance of arms in their city arsenal, and could have met Quantrell on half an hour's notice with five hundred men. The guerrillas, reaching the town at sunrise, caught most of the inhabitants asleep, and scattered to the various houses so promptly as to prevent the concentration of any considerable number of the men. They robbed the most of the stores and banks, and burned one hundred and eighty-five buildings, including one fourth of the private residences, and nearly all the business houses of the town, and, with circumstances of the most fiendish atrocity, murdered one hundred and forty unarmed men, among them fourteen recruits of the Fourteenth regiment, and twenty of the Second Kansas colored volunteers. About twenty-four persons were wounded.

Since the fall of Vicksburgh, and the breaking up of large parts of Price's and Marmaduke's armies, great numbers of rebel soldiers, whose families live in Western Missouri, have returned, and being unable or unwilling to live at home, have joined the bands of guerrillas infesting the border. Companies, which before this summer mustered but twenty or thirty, have now grown to fifty or one hundred. All the people of the country, through fear or favor, feed them, and rarely any give information as to their movements. Having all the inhabitants, by good will or compulsion, thus practically their friends, and being familiar with the fastnesses of a country wonderfully adapted by nature to guerrilla warfare, they have been generally able to elude the most energetic pursuit. When assembled in a body of several hundred, they scatter before an inferior force, and when our troops scatter in pursuit, they reassemble to fall on an exposed squad, or a weakened post, or a defenceless strip of the border. I have had seven stations on the line from which patrols have each night and each day traversed every foot of the border for ninety miles. The troops you have been able to spare [517] me out of the small forces withheld by you from the armies of Generals Grant, Steel, and Blunt numbering less than three thousand officers and men for duty, and having over twenty-five separate stations or fields of operations throughout the district, have worked hard, and (until this raid) successfully in hunting down the guerrillas and protecting the stations and the border. They have killed more than a hundred of them in petty skirmishes and engagements between the eighteenth of June and the twentieth instant.

On the twenty-fifth instant I issued an order requiring all residents of the counties of Jackson, Cass, Bates, and that part of Vernon included in this district, except those within a mile of the limits of the military stations and the garrisoned towns, and those north of Bush Creek and west of Big Blue, to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days from that date — those who proved their loyalty to be allowed to move out of the district or to any military station in it, or to any part of Kansas west of the border counties — all others to remove out of the district.

When the war broke out, the district to which this order applies was peopled by a community three fourths of whom were intensely disloyal. The avowed loyalists have been driven from their farms long since, and their houses and improvements generally destroyed. They are living in Kansas, and at military stations in Missouri, unable to return to their homes. None remain on their farms but rebel and neutral families, and practically the condition of their tenure is that they shall feed, clothe, and shelter the guerrillas, furnish them information, and deceive or withhold information from us. The exceptions are few — perhaps twenty families in those parts of the counties to which the order applies. Two thirds of those who left their families on the border and went to the rebel armies have returned. They dare not stay at home, and no matter what terms of amnesty may be granted, they can never live in the country except as brigands; and so long as their families and associates remain, they will stay until the last man is killed, to ravage every neighborhood of the border. With your approval, I was about adopting before this raid measures for the removal of the families of the guerrillas and of known rebels, under which two thirds of the families affected by this order would have been compelled to go. That order would have been most difficult of execution, and not half so effectual as this. Though this measure may seem too severe, I believe it will prove not inhumane, but merciful to the non-combatants affected by it. Those who prove their loyalty will find houses enough at the stations, and will not be allowed to suffer for want of food. Among them there are but few dissatisfied with the order, notwithstanding the present hardship it imposes. Among the Union refugees it is regarded as the best assurance they have ever had of a return to their homes, and permanent peace there.

To obtain the full military advantages of this removal of the people, I have ordered the destruction of all grain and hay, in shed or in the field, not near enough to military stations for removal there. I have also ordered from the towns occupied as military stations, a large number of persons either openly or secretly disloyal, to prevent the guerrillas getting information of the townspeople, which they will no longer be able to get of the farmers. The execution of these orders will possibly lead to a still fiercer and more active struggle, requiring the best use of the additional troops the General Commanding has sent me, but will soon result, though with much unmerited loss and suffering, in putting an end to this savage border war.

I am, Colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Ewing, Jr., Brigadier-General.

1 see Doc. 162, page 495, ante.

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