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Doc. 86. capture of Linn Creek, Mo.

Official report of Major Wright.

Headquarters Fremont Bat. Cavalry, camp McClurg, Oct. 15, 1861.
General: At seven o'clock, on the morning of 14th, my command left Camp Grogus, in advance of the column, in the following order: A detachment of thirty men, well mounted, from Company A, five hundred yards on the extreme right; five mounted sentinels at the respective distances of one hundred yards from each other, reaching back to the head of the column ; twenty scouts, each on the right and left flanks, to march in line with the head of the column with instructions to allow no one to pass forward or ahead of the column. Then we moved forward, feeling our way, without any incident worthy of note until half-past 11 o'clock, on our arrival at Alex. Berry's, five miles southeast of this place. I then learned that there was no doubt but that Linn Creek was occupied by rebel forces, and rumor said that two thousand had arrived the day before. I at once resolved to strike them with all the available force I had, leaving out the skirmishers and a sufficient force to cover the front of the Thirteenth Illinois regiment, then in my rear. I immediately sent forward two scouts in citizens' dress, to go into the town, take observations, and report to me one mile out before I arrived. I then called out Company D, Capt. Crockett, myself taking the right, and ordered a descent upon the town in double-quick. Arriving at the point to meet the scouts, I called a halt. The [191] scouts not having returned, led me to suppose that they were detained. I soon learned, however, just from town, that there was a company of rebels, commanded by the notorious Bill roberts, then in town; and also that the notorious sheriff, Mr. Cummins, was at home in town. I at once made the preliminary arrangements, and ordered a double-quick march, with instructions to arrest the whole camp and all the men in town. We arrived at one o'clock P. M., and at once surrounded the whole place, and demanded an unconditional surrender. The notorious captain and a few of his followers, as well as his wife, broke from some of the buildings, fired upon our troops, and attempted to escape. I promptly ordered them fired on, which was as promptly executed. Some fifty random shots were fired, but owing to the fences, buildings, and other means of cover, none were killed, and but one slightly wounded on the rebel side — none hurt on our side. The scene was a wild one: the activity of the cavalry in guarding the avenues of the place, arresting the rebels running to and fro; the screams of the secesh wives, daughters, and children; the firing from both sides echoing from the bluffs on either side, made the whole thing look frantic. However, at the end of thirty minutes, the town was restored to its usual quiet and secesh under guard. Every member of Company D behaved well. Capt. Crockett and Lieut. Kirby executed every order with promptness and bravery; the men without exception acquitted themselves to my entire satisfaction. The result of our descent was as follows: The capture of property and prisoners — Wm. J. Roberts, Bandit Captain. D. L. Samuel, Capt. A. C., Sixth Division M. S. G.; W. Carroll, Second Lieutenant. J. M. Cyrus, Forage Master. PrivatesN. Ellison, T. Jackson, W. M. Itson, J. J. Itson, R. D. Itson, B. Itson, W. P. Gordon, M. J. Hall, H. C. Richardson, E. B. Jackson, C. Jackson, R. A. Roberts, D. Moulden, A. T. Loveall, W. M. Thurman, Geo. Carroll, J. W. Coffee, R. Greenville, Stephen English, Bazell Rose, R. Wines, W. A. Stephens, P. Rexode, N. Cooper, A. T. Bayley, B. F. Ayers, J. Allison, J. C. Snider, A. G. Miller, J. Cummins, notorious sheriff, making a total of seventy-seven now in custody; also five horses, two mules, twenty-six guns, two pistols, one keg powder, half a bushel bullets, as well as peaceful possession of the town. All of which is respectfully submitted.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your ob't serv't,

Clark Wright, Major Commanding Fremont Battalion Cavalry. To Brig.-Gen. Wyman Commanding.

St. Louis Republican account.

Rolla, Mo., Oct. 19, 1861.
A messenger from Linn Creek arrived yesterday evening, bringing interesting news from that point, having left there on Thursday night. He reports that Gen. Wyman, with his command, had arrived safely in that place. He was preceded by two or three companies of cavalry — that of Capt. Crockett, formerly Major Wright's company, being in the advance. When the cavalry entered the town, they found one company of rebels under Capt. Roberts, a merchant of Linn Creek, in possession of the place. They were, to all appearance, perfectly ignorant of any danger from any quarter. A portion of them were in a blacksmith-shop moulding bullets, and the rest were in different parts of the town, so that the surprise was complete. The whole company, officers and privates, was “bagged,” and held in safe custody. The company numbered about forty men, and were well armed.

On Thursday night Wyman's pickets were fired upon by a squad of eight secessionists. The fire was returned with effect--five of the eight rebels being killed, without loss to our pickets.

On the day of Wyman's entering Linn Creek, two of the rebels, who were straggling around the neighorhood, were killed after being pursued into the bush. They were both found together.

Col. McClurg, with his regiment of cavalry, was expected at Linn Creek on Thursday night. Some apprehensions of an attack from the secessionists were entertained by Gen. Wyman, but no fears were entertained that he would be defeated.

At about one o'clock to-day Captains Switzler and Montgomery arrived in town, having in charge the prisoners taken at Linn Creek, and also those taken in the engagement on Sunday morning, numbering in all seventy-six--three having been sent back with Capt. Stephens' company as an escort, in accordance with an order from Gen. Wyman, when only a short distance out. A list of the names of these prisoners will be found below, for which I am indebted to Capt. Switzler.

By the officers of the two companies referred to, and others, I am enabled to gain some additional particulars of the fight on Sunday, which occurred at Monday's Hollow.

The rebel force consisted of about eight hundred men, under whose direct command is not known, but most of them belonging to Col. Johnson's regiment, which, since the accident to that noted officer, has been under command of Lieut.-Col. Summers

The fight took place near what is known as the Union road, leading from here to Lebanon. Near the road is a steep hill rising abruptly from the road, and sloping to the south. On this declivity the rebels were formed in line of battle, when Capt. Switzler advanced and formed in front of their left flank, and between them and the road. At the same time, and strangely enough, without Capt. Switzler's knowledge, Capt. Montgomery came up on the enemy's right, and joined his company with that of Capt. Switzler. Between them and the enemy was a thick copse of brush, which, except at one or two intervening spaces, protected [192] them from the fire of the rebels. It was through one of these open spaces that Mr. Tucker, the only man killed on our side, was shot.

As our cavalry advanced, the rebels fired several rounds, but doing no injury except the killing of Tucker and one or two horses. When within sixty yards, Captain Switzler gave the command to fire--first with their carbines, next with their pistols, and then, with drawn sabres — a charge accompanied with a deafening yell. In an instant the gallant little band was in the midst of the enemy, dealing death and destruction on all sides. Their line was broken, the utmost confusion ensued, and soon the whole rebel force was in full retreat. Among the first to run was the principal commander — probably Lieutenant-Colonel Summers--who started his horse at full gallop to escape at the first fire of our men. The loss of the rebels, as accurately ascertained since the battle, was sixty-three killed, about forty wounded--many of them mortally — near forty prisoners, thirty head of horses, and a large number of guns, pistols, &c. Nearly all the guns were destroyed by Captain Switzler, as he had no means of bringing them away with him. Our loss was one man and two horses killed, and one or two horses slightly wounded. It is proper to state that Major Wright, with one company, at the time of the engagement, was advancing toward the centre of the enemy's front, and Major Bowen, with two companies, was forming on the extreme left, but these did not come up in time to engage in the fight — Switzler and Montgomery, with not more than ninety men, all told, gaining the victory. The engagement lasted about half an hour.

A short time after the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel Summers was taken prisoner, after being pursued some distance by a detachment of Captain Stephens' company. During the hottest of the conflict, Lieutenant Montgomery, son of the captain of that name, found himself without a sabre, having lost it, when he discharged both of his revolvers, and having nothing with which to reload, and no other weapon of defence, he “pitched in” with his fist. One of the prisoners brought in to-day shows unmistakable marks of violence from this source. At the close of the fight, Captain Switzler became separated from his company, and soon afterward found himself set upon by three of the rebels, who, with their guns, were intent on taking his life by means of clubbing him, their guns being unloaded. As each approached, the captain struck him a blow with the side of his sabre, ordering him to surrender. He succeeded in defending himself in this way until young Montgomery came to his assistance, when all three of the rebels were taken prisoners.

A negro, who is serving Captain Switzler as a cook, was in the heat of the battle, and behaved with great bravery. He is said to have killed two men and taken one prisoner. A spy from Price's army arrived here early this morning. He left the rebel camp on Thursday night, and reports that Price was encamped a few miles south of Osceola, where he intended to make a stand. A prominent, citizen of Laclede County, at the head of twenty-seven other citizens of Laclede, Webster, and Wright Counties, arrived at the fort yesterday about noon. These men live in the southwestern part of Laclede, the northeast of Webster, and northern part of Wright Counties. They left home on Monday evening, and came on directly toward this place. Their departure from their homes was rather unexpected, even to themselves — for reasons a little peculiar, though amply sufficient. Having heard, upon what they regarded as good authority, that Lebanon was in the hands of Federal troops, the Union citizens, to the number of about sixty, immediately assembled and organized a company, in order to assert their rights and reclaim some of the property that had been taken from them. The company immediately commenced operations by taking several straggling secesh prisoners, and soon recovered a goodly number of their horses from the hands of those who had taken them. They were, in fact, preparing to do things up in their own way, and in a fair way to become once more the possessors of their own soil.

But the seceshers were not to be driven out so easily, and, seeing their danger, sent in all directions for aid to put down these impudent Unionists, who dared attempt their own defence. Learning about this time that Lebanon had not been taken by the Federal troops, and knowing that they were likely to be “taken in” by the superior numbers of the secessionists, they dispersed, about half the company returning to their homes, and the other half starting for Rolla, which they reached without interruption, bringing with them several fine secesh horses. On the way they learned from secesh authority that the rebels lost about sixty men killed, and fifty horses, in the engagement at Wet Glaze on Sunday morning last. One of these gentlemen also informs me that he saw no rebel troops on the way, and was told that they had all gone to Linn Creek, where they intended to give Gen. Wyman a fight. This may be true, or it may not, but will give some ground for the apprehensions of an attack that are entertained at Linn Creek.

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