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Doc. 151. battle of little Blue, Mo.

A correspondent gives the following account of this action:

camp Jennison, Kansas City, Nov. 12, 1861.
The Jayhawkers have already vindicated their reputation for daring, celerity, vigor, and pluck. Night before last, two companies, B and H, and part of Company A, under Capts. Swoyer and Pardee and Lobnis, commanded by Col. Anthony, left camp for Majors' Farm, about ten miles south, where the Government wagons and oxen were coralled. Reports had come in that a force of rebel guerillas, under Col. Hays, which were reported encamped on the Little Blue, had threatened to attack the train. Yesterday morning early, Company C, Capt. Jenkins, was sent to reinforce.

Information was soon after received that a fight had taken place, and some of our boys killed. This latter was confirmed by the arrival of messengers for the surgeon.

It appears that Col. Anthony, receiving information Sunday night that there was a rebel camp at a point eight or ten miles southeast of Majors', after consultation with his officers, determined to make an attack early in the morning. By six A. M. the command, consisting of one hundred and ten men, was composed of parts of Companies A, B and H, the first under Lieut. Lobnis, the others under Capts. Swoyer and Pardee. The rebel encampment was located at some distance from any main road, and in a very dangerous and strong place. The exact force was not known, but supposed to be double our own. After a sharp ride, the pickets of the enemy were discernible. They fled at our approach, and gave notice to the camp. About three-fourths of a mile from the creek, the command dismounted; the horses were left in charge of Company H. The guide, a secesh named Gray, broke and ran back, but was stopped by Col. Anthony, who compelled him to remain by his side throughout the fight. Pushing through the brush, Company A charged down the river bank, through a narrow and rocky ravine, driving the bushwhackers from their hiding places as they advanced. Company B, under Capt. Swoyer, swung round to the top of the bluff.

To show the position of the rebels, a slight explanation may be necessary. After passing the undergrowth, some half mile from the horses, two deep ravines were discernible, running to the right and left, winding down to the stream round a high bluff, the top of which formed a plateau, upon which a large number of rebel horses were picketed. It was on this plateau, and through the upper part of the right ravine, that Swoyer's men charged. Down the left one to the stream went Colonel Anthony and Company A. On the east side of the creek they found a number of tents ensconced between the bluffs and jutting rocks. On the opposite bank of the stream, on the bluffs commanding the east camp, was another encampment, which, with the force at command, it was impossible to reach. Col. Anthony drove the secesh from their holes below, while Capt. Swoyer did so above. Every rock and stump was used for cover. The natural defensive strength of the place was very good, and the fighting was almost hand to hand, men on both sides bringing the muzzles of their rifles against each other. It was evident that the rebels were over four hundred strong, and well armed.

The individual cases of bravery were somewhat surprising. In the fight below, several were killed on both sides, as also above. At this, Col. Anthony issued orders as a feint to bring up the reserve. The bugler, mistaking the purport, rode back, sounding the advance, and Pardee's men rushed on to the ground. By this time Company B had swept up on the bluff again, and a charge was again made under a severe fire from the concealed foe. Company H suffered severely under the fire, and, though in it but a few minutes, lost more men than any other. They fought like tigers. Cheer after cheer was given by the different companies for each other, and the continuous yelling was startling. Though wild with the frenzy of battle, the boys were under perfect control, and when the order was given for a retreat, they did so in excellent order. This, however, was not done until all the firing on the east side had ceased. On the plateau spoken of, nearly one hundred horses were picketed. Col. A., finding himself too far from his horses, which were liable to be cut off, and perceiving that with the force under his command, it would be useless to attempt to cross the stream under the fire of the western camp, and endeavor to scale the precipitous bluffs, which there were at least fifty or sixty feet high, privately gave the order for the men to secure the horses fit to ride — many being wounded. At the same time the bugler sounded a charge, and under cover of the movement and of a brisk fire from the [359] other encampment, the boys left the battle ground of the Little Blue.

A number of tents were found, but in the position of affairs it was not deemed prudent to risk more lives in an attempt to carry them off. Our dead, which were mostly in exposed positions, had also to be left. The men reached their horses, and leisurely returned to camp.

Col. Anthony took one prisoner early in the battle, a fellow named Estes. When Company H had reached the bottom, he rode furiously down the other gully up to the colonel, shouting, “They are coming! They are coming!” “Who's coming?” “The Federals!” was the answer. “You are my prisoner,” shouted Col. Anthony. The fellow drove his spurs in his horse, but as it jumped he was fired at, and a ball passed through the neck of the animal — not the man, unfortunately, though he fell.

Col. Anthony was not wounded, though two balls struck his sabre, one passing through the handle, the other striking the sheath. It is certain, from a comparison of the different reports, that no less than thirty of the rebels were killed and many wounded. A large number of their horses were also killed.

The following are the dead and wounded on our side: Company A--Killed, Robert Henderson, Corporal Eye, supposed to be killed; wounded and missing, Steve Stilwell,----Anderson, both of Doniphan County. Company B--Killed, Isaac Merrick, William Popjes; wounded, Fred. Kimball, William Bowman, Robert Barry, W. T. Johns, James A. Hunter, H. P. Swan, severely, all of Illinois. Company H--Killed, Wallace Holmes, of Linn County,----Johnson, of Leavenworth,----Dillon, Leavenworth,----Reese, orderly sergeant, and since reported wounded and a prisoner.

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November 12th, 1861 AD (1)
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