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Doc. 82. battle near Lebanon, Mo.

Report of Major Wright.

Headquarters camp----, October 13, 1861.
General: At seven o'clock A. M., on the 18th, my command struck tents at Camp Conant, on Tavern Creek, and formed into column in rear of the train. I immediately passed along the line, and requested the officers to keep the men well closed up, and allow none to leave their places, but to keep every thing ready for service at a moment's notice. The reports from my scouts during the night induced me to believe that the enemy might attack us during the day. I also went forward and suggested to the Quartermaster of the Thirteenth that the train be well closed up and kept so; after which nothing of importance occurred, until I arrived at Justice Bennington's, where I learned that Second Lieutenant Laughlin, of rebel Johnson's command, had come in home, and lived one mile north of said Bennington's, and had a lot of McClurg's goods in his house.

I at once detached Captain Crockett and his company, to bring in the Lieutenant and search his place. The Captain had not been gone more than five minutes before I saw a courier coming from the front. I at once called Capt. Crockett back. The courier arrived from Maj. Bowen, stating that he had been attacked, and needed assistance. I at once ordered Capts. Montgomery and Switzler forward at full speed to the relief of Major Bowen. I ordered the train corralled, and Captain Crockett to remain with his company to guard it until relieved by the infantry. I then despatched a courier to you for men to guard the train and support our cavalry; after which I went forward to the scene of action. I found Major Bowen some two miles forward, and one-half mile south of Mr. Lewis', on the Lebanon road. I immediately had a conference with Major Bowen, and we mutually agreed to the disposition of our forces and plan of attack. The rebels at the time occupied a high ridge immediately in our front, one-half mile south of us. The presumption was that we would have no immediate relief from the infantry in time to secure the rebels, and an immediate attack was resolved on. The disposition was as follows: Capt. Montgomery's company was already on the right, and ordered Capt. Switzler to join him, flank the enemy, and en gage them at any hazard.

Major Bowen, with two companies of his command, went to the left. I took charge of one company of Major Bowen's cavalry, (at his request,) and took position in the centre, as you found us on arrival. I observed at that time that the enemy were moving to the right. I ordered Capt. Crockett forward to support then, (knowing that they outnumbered us.) I then event to the right myself, found that Captains Switzler and Montgomery had formed a junction, and succeeded in flanking the enemy, and held them at bay. The enemy were commanded by Captains Lorrels, Wright, Thurman, Bell, Fain, and Hawthorn, and were drawn up in line of battle. My two companies threw themselves into line, and were ordered to receive their fire, return it steadily, and then charge with their sabres, and never allow the enemy time to reload their pieces, all of which order was carried [186] out to the letter, with a coolness and determination that evinced true bravery, in both officers and men, and struck terror along the whole line. They could not stand such a charge, so prompt, so uniform, and so determined, that the result was a general rout, and in a short time a running fight commenced, which extended for one mile and a half, with the following result, as near as we could ascertain, without occupying too much time to hunt through the brush. Of the rebels there were twenty-seven killed, four mortally wounded, five severely wounded, three slightly wounded, and thirty-six prisoners. We also got two horses and eighty-one guns, most of which, however, were broken around trees on the field; they were mostly old rifles and double-barrelled shot guns. Officers and men all agree that there were many more killed and wounded, but we did not hunt them up. Our loss was one man killed, and two horses slightly wounded.

I cannot call your special attention to every one of the officers or men in those two brave companies. They are each one of them as true as steel; and in this charge, with six to one against them, they exhibited a coolness and determination that those of more experience might proudly imitate. Yet I feel that I would do injustice not to speak of the tenacity with which Capt. Switzler adhered to the order of “charge,” and the promptness and the energy of Capt. Montgomery in carrying it out.

I cannot omit naming Lieutenants Montgomery, Paynter, and Stocksdale. Not a nerve quivered in those brave men; nothing left undone that coolness and energy could do in carrying out orders, encouraging the men, and dealing death-blows to rebels. One incident I must be permitted to mention. Lieutenant Montgomery, after exhausting his revolver and doubling up his sabre in a hand-to-hand fight, so that it was rendered useless, not satisfied with the half-dozen he had already despatched, he charged on yet another, and with one blow of his fist made him bite the dust.

I append a partial list of the prisoners, with their names, rank, and residence:

Henry Laughlin, Second Lieutenant, Company A, Johnson's regiment; A. H. Elbert, Second Sergeant, Company B; J. H. Bond, Fourth Sergeant, Company B; J. M. Nichols, Fifth Sergeant, Company B; W. E. Williams, Fifth Corporal, Company D; B. W. Giver, First Sergeant, Company E; J. M. Hunter, Second Sergeant, Company E; S. D. Keeny, First Corporal; Le Marze, private; J. J. Lane, private, Pulaski County; J. H. B. Clark, private; W. Winningham, private; J. R. Laughlin, private; S. Clark, private; H. M. Dickinson, private.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Clark Wright, Major Corn. Fremont Battalion. To Gen. Wyman Commanding.

Burial of the dead.--Supplemental report.

Headquarters camp McClurg, October 16, 1861.
General: Enclosed please find Supplemental Report of the action near Henrytown on the 13th. The party detailed to scout the battlefield, and see that the dead were all buried, have returned, and report the whole number of the enemy killed sixty-two, instead of twenty-seven, as per my official report; also, the four mortally wounded have since died.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Clark Wright, Major Com. Fremont Battalion Cavalry. To Brig.-Gen. J. B. Wyman, Com. Brigade.

Missouri Democrat account.

Rolla, Oct. 16, 1861.
The ambulances looked for from Springfield, came in to-day, bringing thirty-one of the men wounded in the Wilson Creek fight. Mr. Burns, of Springfield, and two ladies also came along in company with the ambulances.

These people report that a sharp engagement took place Sunday morning between two companies of cavalry, belonging to Major Wright's battalion, attached to Wyman's expedition, and about three hundred mounted rebels, in which sixty of the latter were killed and wounded, and thirty taken prisoners.

The fight occurred on the new road, near the Wet Glaze, some eighteen miles this side of Lebanon. It was one of the most brilliant little exploits of the present campaign. Curious enough, the wounded from Springfield happened to be present, and eye-witnesses of the battle. It is from their point of view that the following account of the affair is given. The ambulances started on their route early Sunday morning, but the occupants had warning of trouble ahead. They were informed that there were about one thousand of the Confederate soldiers hunting up a fight with the Federals, and that the pickets of the former extended some twenty-five miles out. The party had travelled about two miles, when they were met by a party of rebels at a point where a ravine crossed the road, and ordered to halt. “If you move a wheel,” roared one, “we'll kill the last man of you.” “We'll soon give you another load of wounded to take along,” shouted a voice. The last remark, as the result turned out, proved to be more ludicrous than brutal.

It was observed that mounted men were gathered on the side of a hill beyond the ravine, and to the right of the road, toward the east, from the locality where the Springfield people were detained. The rebel force soon amounted to about three hundred, as near as could be estimated, and they formed in line of battle parallel with and facing the road. In front of this force, and on the opposite side of the road, was a cornfield, on a low bottom. It appeared that they were expecting an attack from this quarter, and all eyes were on the look-out for [187] the approach of an enemy. An hour and a half was passed in the above condition of things, when suddenly two companies of Federal cavalry, under command of Captains Montgomery and Switzler, led by Major Wright, advanced over the brow of the hill, in the rear of the rebels, and, plunging forward to within one hundred paces, delivered a murderous volley, which scattered the rebels like chaff before the wind. They fled precipitately up the ravine toward Lebanon, tearing through the brush in a perfect rout.

A number of saddles were emptied, and horses were galloping riderless about the field. They were taken so completely by surprise that they had hardly time to return a few straggling shots. A voice was heard bellowing forth in the brush, “Why the h — ll don't you stand and fight?” The action was over in five minutes; it was a dash — a gleam of fire on the Union side, and a wild scamper for life on the other side. The latter were last seen running over a hill half a mile distant. Mr. Burns and some of the drivers then ascended an eminence, and, discovering the Union cavalry, threw up their hats and shouted for the latter to come up. The troops gave a return shout and came up. All were mutually surprised and elated by the result. Three rousing cheers were given with a will that made the welkin ring, for the glorious Stars and Stripes. Even the cripples participated in the demonstration, and tears of joy filled their eyes in view of their fortunate deliverance from further perils.

Our men had taken thirty prisoners. It was supposed that from twenty to twenty-five of the enemy were killed, but as our informants had to move forward, they could not ascertain the facts more definitely. Major Wright informed Mr. Burns that he saw sixteen dead bodies near one place, and several more were lying around. Our camp was four miles from the scene of the battle. It was learned that a skirmish had taken place between the pickets Saturday night, and at break of day an expedition, consisting of four companies of cavalry, and four of infantry to act as a support to the former, were sent out to hunt up the enemy. Two companies came upon him as above related, while the infantry and remaining cavalry, although advancing from different points, did not come in time to take part in the action, nor was it necessary. The Springfield men moved forward, accompanied some distance on the way by the cavalry. A truck broke down a mile this side of the battle ground, and while repairing, they were overtaken and passed by General Wyman and the four companies of infantry, en route for their camp.

Our loss was one killed--Henry Tucker, of Springfield, belonging to Wood's Kansas Rangers. He and one other belonging to Captain Wood's company were present.

Some of the men say there was one man wounded, but others think this is not so. Two cattle drovers, who were held as prisoners a short time, came in this afternoon, and report that they were informed by a private who was in the rebel ranks during the fight, that they lost sixty in killed, wounded, and prisoners. These informants also state that John Dell, a wealthy farmer, near the mouth of the Big Piney, but obnoxious in consequence of his Union sentiments, was arrested yesterday by Lieutenant Stewart, of the Pulaski Rangers, and sent on to Lebanon.

Cavalry officers engaged.--Major Wright, Captain Montgomery, Captain Switzler.

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