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Doc. 91. recapture of Lexington, Mo.

Major White's official statement.

Camp look-out, Quincy, Mo., Oct., 24, 1861.
Major-General Fremont:
on the 5th instant I received your orders to organize a scouting cavalry squadron for special service, and organized one by making the following detail :--Company L, First Missouri Cavalry, Captain Charles Fairbanks, sixty-five men; Company C, First Missouri Cavalry, Captain P. Kehoe, sixty-five men; the Irish dragoons, (Independent,) fifty-one men.

We left Jefferson City on the 5th instant, and after a severe march reached Georgetown, our men in good condition, on the afternoon of the 8th. Our horses being all unshod and unfit for travel, we procured a few shoes and a quantity of old iron, called for blacksmiths from our ranks, took possession of two unoccupied blacksmith shops, and in five days shod our horses and mules, two hundred and thirty-two in number. Our scanty supply of ammunition having been destroyed by the rain, and having two small bullet-moulds in our possession, we procured lead and powder, and, turning a carpenter's shop into a manufactory, made three thousand cartridges for our revolving rifles.

On the 15th instant, Colonel Hovey, commanding at Georgetown, received a despatch from Lexington stating that a valuable baggage train had left the vicinity of Lexington, destined for Price's rebel army; also, a private despatch from Colonel White, stating that if he and his fellow-prisoners were not relieved within twenty-four hours, they would be assassinated by the rebel marauders infesting Lexington. As Colonel Hovey's command was under marching orders, and therefore could not go to their relief, my command volunteered for the service, and Colonel Eads, of Georgetown, tendered me seventy men from his regiment.

Accompanied by Col. Eads, I started at nine P. M., on the 15th instant, my whole force being two hundred and twenty strong. By a severe forced march of nearly sixty miles, we reached Lexington early the following morning, drove in the rebel pickets without loss, and took possession of the town. We made from sixty to seventy prisoners; took sixty stand of arms, twenty-five horses, two steam ferryboats, a quantity of flour and provisions, a large rebel flag, and other articles of less value. The rebels fled in every direction. The steamer Sioux City having arrived at Lexington the following morning, was seized by us. Our first care was to rescue our fellow-soldiers, captured at Lexington by Price, viz, Colonel White, Col. Grover, and some twelve or fifteen others. We placed them on board the Sioux City with a guard, and despatched them to St. Louis. After administering the oath of allegiance to our prisoners we released them.

As the rebels were recovering from their alarm, and beginning to surround us in force, we evacuated Lexington after holding it thirty-six hours. As soon as the rebels were satisfied of our departure, they attacked our deserted camp with great energy. We then proceeded to Warrensburg, making a few captures on our route. The evening of our arrival at Warrensburg we easily repulsed a slight attack, and, by threatening to burn the town if again attacked, remained two days unmolested.

We next proceeded to Warsaw, and are now en route to Stockton. Among the interesting articles taken at Lexington were Price's ambulance, Colonel Mulligan's saddle, and the flag I have the pleasure of sending you.

[The flag is the State flag of Missouri, which Claiborne F. Jackson stole from Jefferson City some months ago.]

I have no casualties to report, and my men are all in good health, anxious for further service. I cannot too highly commend the faithfulness of the officers and men detailed on this service, from Colonel Ellis' First Missouri Cavalry, and of the Irish dragoons, commanded by Captain Naughton.

Very respectfully,

Frank J. White, Major and A. D. C., Commanding First Squadron Prairie Scouts.


The following private letter was published in the St. Louis Democrat. It gives in detail the recapture of Lexington and the rescue of Cols. White and Grover from the hands of the rebels:

Lexington, October 17, 1861.
dear sir : As I suppose you will be glad to hear some of the particulars concerning the rescue of Col. White, Col. Grover, and others of our gallant wounded at Lexington, I take a spare moment to send you a line by my Adjutant, who accompanies Col. White.

A short time since Gen. Fremont placed in my hands a picked body of men, the finest in his cavalry command, and despatched me to scout over those parts of the country most infested by rebels. I arrived at Georgetown a short time since, and waited for supplies until the 15th inst. As I was on the point of leaving for the Osage, a messenger from Colonel White, lying wounded at Lexington, was met by Col. Hovey, Twenty-fourth Indiana, who commanded at Georgetown; the messenger saying that the rebels were killing our wounded and committing the most fearful depredations. Col. White wrote that, if he was not rescued from their hands within twenty-four hours, he and the other officers would be assassinated.

Col. Hovey came to me and asked whether I would join a command of four hundred men and cut our way through to Lexington. My men unanimously volunteered, but just as we were starting a despatch came from Gen. Hunter, ordering Col. Hovey, with his whole command, to march to Tipton. I was thus left alone, having but one hundred and sixty cavalry with me. But my men were determined to go through, and at this moment Col. Eads, who had a few men under his command, nobly came forward and offered the services of him self and eighty of his men. In an hour our preparations were complete, and late at night, in the midst of a terrible rain, we started. My force consisted of Company C, Capt. P. Kehoe; Company F, Capt. Charles Fairbanks; the Irish dragoons, Capt. P. Naughton, and eighty men under Lieut. Pease. Col. Eads accompanied us. Our total was not more than two hundred and twenty. We made a forced march, and passed through a country filled with guerrilla bands, successfully reaching the rebel pickets around Lexington early the following morning. Our advance guard, under Capt. Kehoe, charged gallantly on the pickets and drove them into Lexington. He captured more than twenty secessionists in his march, and so complete was our surprise, that the rebels in Lexington fled in every direction. We took possession of the town, and camped on the site of Price's headquarters, on the Fair grounds.

When Mrs. White and Mrs. Grover met us at the door of the house where their husbands lay nearly dying, the scene was most affecting. I shall remember it to my dying day. The few Union men left by persecution in Lexington trooped around us. We seized the ferry-boats, and this morning seized the steamboat “Florence.” Colonels White and Grover were placed on board, and in a few moments will start for home and safety.

Lexington, for the last few days, has been in a terrible condition. Shelby and Martin, two cut-throats, have had their troops in town till their ignominious flight at our approach. A Mr. White, a wounded prisoner, was taken by Martin from his bed, shot in cold blood, and his body left on the road until eaten by the hogs. His wife rescued his remains. A scene of terror reigned; and but for our arrival, Colonels White and Grover would have met with a like fate.

Thank God, the American flag is again floating over Lexington. We made thirty prisoners, recovered some of Marshall's horses and equipments, and captured fifteen to twenty guns. We are now nearly surrounded by the rebels, who are beginning to rally. We leave for Warrensburg this afternoon, and hope to make our way through.

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