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James J. Goodrich, William F. Creitz, & Jacob D. Orcutt
Company A, 5th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry
Kansas State Historical Society

Captain William F. Creitz's Civil War Diary

History of Company “A” Fifth Kansas Cavalry Volunteers

Company “A” of the 5th Kansas Cavalry Volunteers was mustered into the United States service at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas on the 16th day of July 1861. [On] July 18th [we] marched for Kansas City, Missouri where we arrived on the morning of the 19th. On the 21st, [we] marched to the relief of Major Van Horn who – in command of a small detachment of Missouri troops – was threatened by a revel force near Harrisonville. [On] July 28th [we] returned to Kansas City, having captured Harrisonville and relieved Van Horn. [On] July 30th, [we] left Kansas City in conjunction with Company “F” of the 5th Kansas, all under [the command of] Col. William Weer, escorting a large supply train to Ft. Scott. [The supply train was] destined for General Lyon’s army near Springfield, Missouri. [We] reached Ft. Scott on the 11th of August and learned the tidings of the Battle of Wilson Creek, the death of [Gen.] Lyon, and the falling back of the Federal army on Rolla, [Missouri]. From the time we reached Ft. Scott till the first of September, the company was almost constantly in the saddle, scouring the enemy’s country, occasionally having a skirmish without sustaining any loss.

On the 20th of August 1861, the 5th Kansas Regiment was permanently organized at Ft. Scott and Col. H. P. Johnson elected as commander. [On] September 1st, the rebel General Price – with an army of ten thousand men – appeared on Dry-Wood Creek, twelve miles east of Ft. Scott, and the same day we encountered the rebels 800 strong under General Stein eight miles from Ft. Scott. But after a brisk [missing piece of diary]

…the rebel artillery driving the gunners from their position, severely wounding Col. Bledsoe in command of the rebel artillery and killing nearly all the horses belonging to their guns. Notwithstanding the heavy fire of the rebel infantry and the numerous shot, shell & other outlandish missiles fired by their artillery, few men were injured on the Federal side, which can only be accounted for by the short interval between the contesting forces, causing both infantry and artillery generally to shoot too high.

After the unequal contest was maintained for about two hours, our commander perceiving the utter hopelessness of contending longer against such tremendous odds, ordered the withdrawal of our forces from the field. This movement was made not a moment too soon for during the progress of the engagement the rebel commander had sent a considerable force of cavalry & infantry around our flanks to cut off our retreat at the crossing of Dry-Wood [Creek].

Our forces retired in good order from the field, Company “A” performing the perilous duty of covering the retreat. A short distance from the Dry-Wood ford, a large rebel force – some occupying a log house and others concealed behind trees and fences, opened a terrific fire upon our Company [just] ten yards distant, but incredible as it may seem, not a man was killed. In this day’s fight, Company A had two men who were taken prisoners (but soon escaped) and had five men slightly wounded.

From [the] 2nd to the 15th of September [1861], we were stationed at Ft. Scott doing scouting and picket duty. On the _______, [we] reached Barnsville from an excursion into Missouri.

On the evening of September 16th, a considerable force – including Company “A’ – left the [Kansas] state line between Barnsville and West Point for the purpose of capturing Morristown, a notorious rendezvous for rebels of the most malignant kind. Arriving about midnight within ten miles of Morristown, the forces were divided; Col. Montgomery in command of the Third Kansas and one howitzer taking the road leading into Morristown from the southwest, while Col. Johnson in command of the Fifth Kansas and Moonlight’s Battery was to enter Morristown from the northeast. The plan adopted by the respective commanders was to attack the place simultaneously from two directions at daybreak on the morning of the 17th [of September 1861]. Col. Johnson’s division arrived at the outskirts of Morristown at the time agreed upon but Col. Montgomery did not make his appearance until the place was taken. Col. Johnson stationed the main portion of the Fifth Kansas on a commanding point north of town, while Company “A” and Col. Moonlight’s Howitzer under Col. Johnson’s immediate supervision occupied the road leading into Morristown from the east. While this disposition was being made, the rebels – two hundred and fifty strong – becoming apprehensive of our approach, hastily left their camp and took up a strong position in a ravine and behind a stone wall in the central part of town. Scarcely had Company “A” taken its position, when Col. Johnson becoming impatient at Montgomery’s delay, ordered his bugler to sound the _____ and ‘ere the shrill bugle blast had died away, _____ was charging furiously along the main street into _____.

The company accompanied by Col. Johnson had not proceeded thirty yards when a perfect sheet of fire and flame belched forth from the rebel position only a few yards distant and a most terrific storm of bullets swept through our column. The generous but impetuous Johnson fell, pierced by half a dozen bullets, causing instant death. James M. Copeland of Company “A” was shot through the head resulting in death in a few hours. [There was] one severely wounded [David Parks] and ten others of the company [who were] slightly wounded [in this engagement]. The rebels were routed, their camp equipage, two hundred mules and horses, a number of wagons, and a large amount of other property [was] captured. After destroying the principal part of the town, the command left for West Point near the Kansas line where it arrived in the evening.

On the evening of September 20th, all the infantry and cavalry of the so-called Kansas Brigade left West Point with the intention of capturing the town of Osceola – a place of considerable wealth and importance situated at the head of navigation on the Osage River, and distance from the Kansas line about seventy-five miles. At 2 o’clock on the morning of the 23rd, one hundred and fifty of the enemy concealed in ambush attacked our advance a short distance from town. A galling fire from the infantry under Col. Weer and a few well-directed shells by Col. Moonlight from his howitzer soon scattered the enemy in every direction, leaving the town entirely at our mercy. General Price, who was at the time besieging General Milligan at Lexington, had established a depot of supplies for his army [in Osceola]. Large quantities of army stores were found in the place, but everything that might aid and comfort the enemy and could not be transported by our troops was destroyed, including about two thousand barrels of liquors, thousands of bushels of salt, fifty hogsheads of sugar and molasses, large quantities of bacon, clothing, &c. After destroying the greater portion of the town, we marched again for West Point, where we arrived on the evening of the 26th of September.

On the 27th of September, all the Union forces at West Point marched for Kansas City. On the 13th of October, we left Kansas City to form a connection with General Fremont at or near Springfield [Missouri]. [We reached Osceola on the 20th, marched again on the 22nd, and by a circuitous route joined Fremont at Springfield on the 2nd of November.

Owing to the treachery of that miserable renegade Frank P. Blair and other demagogues equally detestable, General Fremont was deposed as commander of the splendid army his genius had organized and, in a few days thereafter, that large force was scattered in every direction.

On the 10th of November, the Kansas Brigade took up the line of march for Ft. Scott where it arrived by way of Greenfield and Lamar on the 15th. On the 24th, the Fifth Kansas left Ft. Scott, marched to Lamar, Carthage, and Preston, and returned to Ft. Scott on the 28th. November 31st, the Fifth Regiment left Ft. Scott for Osawatomie where it arrived December 1st.  [On] December __, the Regiment left Osawatomie [and] marched to Ft. Lincoln where it remained until the 19th, when we went into winter quarters at Camp Denver near Barnsville, Kansas. I would here state that in all engagements, marches &c. participated in by the entire regiment, I frequently use the name of the regiment instead of the company since in a majority of instances when a regiment is acting as an organization, the history of its company and regiment are identical.

From the 19th of December 1861 to the 22nd of February 1862, we remained comparatively inactive at Camp Denver. Powell Clayton having been commissioned Lieut. Col. Of the regiment assumed command on the 18th of February. [On] February 22nd, [we] left Camp Denver and marched to a point ten miles south of Ft. Scott named Camp Hunter where the companies were daily exercised in the cavalry drill until the 13th of March when we marched for Carthage, Missouri where we arrived on the 17th. Company “A”, marching by way of Lamar, entered the town of Carthage four hours before the arrival of the main column, capturing sixteen rebels including several of the most influential in that part of the state. For two weeks the company occupied an advance position two miles south of the town known as “Dale’s Farm” and upon being relieved, acted as Provost Guard in town, quartering in the court house until the regiment departed for Springfield. On the 10th of April [1862], the entire regiment took up its march for Springfield where it arrived via Bower’s Mills, Mt. Vernon, and Little York on the 15th. While here Col. Clayton [used] every opportunity to perfect the regiment in the cavalry drill.

A band of guerrillas on “Rock Prairie” twenty miles northwest of Springfield having become the terror of the Union men in that locality, Company “A” and four other companies of the Regiment were ordered there on the 20th of April with instructions to clean out all the traitors and their aiders and abettors that could be found. In obedience to instructions, twenty houses were burned and a dozen rebel cutthroats shot and hung. This summary proceeding struck terror into the hearts of the remainder and henceforth rebel outrages were few on “Buffalo Prairie.” The command returned to Springfield on the 25th without experiencing any loss. On the 27th of April, Lieut. G. J. Jennings in command of thirty men of Company “A”,  left Springfield escorting a supply train for General Curtis and which was then a considerable distance south of Springfield. Proceeding through the Ozark Mountains as far as Vera Cruz, they met a portion of the army, turned over the train, and returned on the 9th of May.

On the 10th of May, Company “A” and fifteen men of Company “D” were ordered to Greenfield where we arrived on the 11th. The inhabitants here were apprehensive of an attack from the rebel Col. Coffee and received our boys with manifestations of joy. After a few days sojourn with the good people of Greenfield, an order came from Col. Clayton requiring us to return to Springfield immediately and from there follow the regiment to Forsythe [Missouri], for which place it had already taken up the line of march.

On arriving at Forsythe, the threatening aspect of affairs had subsided and we retraced our way to Springfield, where we arrived on the 18th.

On the 19th [of May 1862], Lieut. Jennings with fifteen men left for Rolla [Missouri] – distance about a hundred miles – and on the 22nd, the remainder of the company started also for Rolla for the purpose of escorting a U.S. paymaster from there to Springfield. Arrived at Rolla on the 24th having passed Lieut. Jennings and detachment on their return to Springfield. The paymaster not being in Rolla, we remained there until the 7th of June when we were joined by the remainder of the regiment. On the following day, [we] received four months pay. On the 9th [of June 1862], Companies “A’, “D” & “F” left again for Springfield escorting two U.S. paymasters with two millions of dollars to that place, and on the 15th return to Rolla.

On the 18th of June [1864], the main portion of the regiment left Rolla to join General Curtis’ army some distance south of Salem, Arkansas, while Company “A” with a detachment of Company “E” remained until the arrival of a large quantity of ammunition and other army stores from St. Louis, which they were to bring through to the army. We left Rolla on the 28th of June encumbered by a train of thirty, six-mule teams heavily loaded with ordinance and other stores. [We] reached Houston on the 30th [of June] where we were joined by a part of Company “K” and a detachment of Company “D”, all of the 5th Kansas. Our entire affective force now numbered two hundred men.

On the first of July, we marched from Houston for Salem, Arkansas, where a dispatch from Col. Clayton was received informing us that he had left Salem a week before to join his command then supposed to be near Jacksonport [Arkansas] and urging upon us to make all possible haste to overtake the main army. About four miles south of Salem on the 6th of July, our advance suddenly came upon a rebel force two hundred strong belonging to Col. Coleman’s command, which they immediately attacked and being promptly supported, scattered them in a few minutes in every direction, killing six and taking three prisoners of the enemy without any loss on our side.

On the 7th [of July 1862], our advance came unexpectedly upon a body of sixteen rebels at a home by the road where they had met to make a division of a large quantity of goods taken from U.S. sutlers near Jacksonport [Arkansas] a few days before. We appropriated such goods as could be easily transported, destroyed the remainder, and kept the men prisoners.

Continuing our march all night of the 7th, we reached Black River ferry near Jacksonport at 4 o’clock P.M. on the 8th and without a moments delay, carried over a portion of the command on the ferryboat after which the teams were to be crossed over in the same manner. But before all the wagons were over, that part of our force which had not yet crossed was suddenly attacked by a regiment of Texas rangers under Col. Sweet. The rebel onset was furious, but in a few moments the withering fire of our boys made them reel and in less than five minutes those not killed, fled in wild confusion from the field of contest, leaving thirteen of the number on the ground. Among the rebels slain was _____ Johnson, who was shot dead only a few yards distance from our line while shouting to our boys to surrender.

The casualties on our side were two men severely and one man slightly wounded, and three men taken prisoners. After the repulse of the enemy, the ferrying was resumed and by ten o’clock in the night, the train and men were landed safely on the opposite side. [We] marched again in the morning of the 9th, were fired into on the 11th and one man slightly wounded, and reached Pikeville [Arkansas] four miles from Clarendon on the 12th. Here we learned that the army of General Curtis had taken up the line of march for Helena {Arkansas] on the Mississippi River several days before we arrived.

Continuing our march on the 13th, we formed a junction on the 14th of July with the Grand Army of the Southwest on the bank of the Mississippi River, having performed a march of nearly four hundred miles through the very heart of an hostile country. In view of an apprehended attack upon us at Bayou De-View by a force of rebel cavalry from DuValls Bluffs, messengers were send ahead in disguise, urging General Curtiss to send back reinforcements, but instead of attempting to furnish relief, he sent a dispatch advising the destruction of the entire train and by forced marching to join him at Helena, Arkansas. Notwithstanding General Curtiss’ well-meant council, the train was safely delivered to his Quartermaster at Helena.

In closing this account, I will venture the assertion that no other company of men of like numbers surrounded by similar circumstances performed so extraordinary a march west of the Mississippi River during the rebellion.

On the 19th of July [1862], we established camp at Beech Grove, two miles southwest of Helena, and on the 28th, [we] marched to Old Town, thence to Trenton, and returned to camp on the 30th. [On] August 3rd, the Fifth Kansas – forming part of an expedition under General Hovey – left Helena [and] proceeded to Clarendon and other points on White River and returned August 17th. On September 9th, the regiment – in connection with other forces under command of Col. Rombaner – left for Clarendon, thence to St. Charles and returned[ed] on the 13th.

[On] September 30 [1862, we] formed [a new] camp ten miles west of Helena on the Little Rock road and on the 6th of October [we] removed to Camp Vandever three miles west of Helena. On the 15th of November [1862], the Fifth Kansas – constituting part of a large force under General Hovey – left on transports to capture some points on White River, but encountering obstacles at the mouth of this river that could not be overcome, the expedition returned to Helena on the 22nd.

On the 25th of November [1862], a force of ten thousand infantry, eighteen hundred cavalry – including the 5th Kansas and several batteries of artillery all under the command of General Hovey, left Helena on transports for “Friar’s Point” ten miles below Helena on the Mississippi side, where the whole army disembarked on the same day. From Friar’s Point, they marched toward the interior of the State of  Mississippi, crossing the Tallahatchie River at its mouth of Coldwater on the 27th, from where the cavalry under General Washburn and one battery of artillery were sent forward to destroy the railroad bridges in the vicinity of Grenada, while the infantry marched to Yockney Creek eighteen miles northeast from the mount of Coldwater. Marching by way of Charleston [Mississippi], the cavalry reached the Tennessee & Mississippi Railroad four miles from Grenada on the 28th, burned a railroad bridge, after which we returned to the camp of the infantry on Yockney Creek.

On the 2nd of December [1862], the cavalry proceeded to Panola, situated twenty-five miles north on the Tennessee & Mississippi Railroad and about eighteen miles distant from camp. One mile from town, the advance was unexpectedly attacked by a regiment of rebel cavalry posted in the woods, and hurled back in some confusion upon General Washburn who, with his body guard and one piece of artillery, marched immediately in rear of the advance guard and a considerable distance ahead of the main column. Before the troops could be brought into the action, the enemy had captured the piece of artillery, killed and wounded six men of the advance, and escaped with the loss of only six men who were taken prisoners. After pursuing the enemy for several miles, we occupied the town until the morning of the 4th, when we returned again to camp, having accomplished the object of the expedition. We took our line of march on the 5th [of December 1862] for Helena where we arrived on the 7th of December. Company “A” lost one man on this march who died of disease at Camp Yockney on the 4th of December.

On the 24th of December [1862], another large expedition started for the State of Mississippi including, as usual, the Fifth Kansas Regiment – the whole force commanded by General Washburn. The object of this movement was to establish connection with General U. S. Grant, then occupying Holly Springs. But in consequence of the inundations of the Mississippi River bottoms caused by previous heavy rains, the troops – after floundering through mud and water frequently without discovering bottom for nearly twelve hours – were compelled to abandon the enterprise and return to Helena on the night of the 25th.

On the 11th of January 1863, a large force left Helena for Clarendon to make a demonstration against Little Rock, while General McClernand was to capture Arkansas Post – a strongly fortified position on the Arkansas River. The infantry from Helena were to ascend White River on transports, the cavalry marching overland, both divisions to form a junction at Clarendon. On the morning of the 12th, while the regiment was at camp near Trenton, three men of Company “A” – while doing picket duty – were attacked by a party of twenty-five rebels. John Rose was killed; John Bowman and John Rue [were] taken prisoners. On the 14th of January, after a wearisome march through a low, swampy country mostly overflowed by the backwater of the Mississippi River, we reached Clarendon. While the troops remained in town, Company “A” performed the duty of Provost Guards – a not very disagreeable taste as some of the boys will testify.

On the 15th [of January 1863], the fleet of transports accompanied by a number of gunboats reached Clarendon bringing the intelligence that McClernands forces had captured Arkansas Post. Some of the gunboats proceeded up White River as far as DuValls Bluffs, where they captured two large siege guns, some small arms, and some other ordinance stores. The forces from Helena, being ordered to return, left Clarendon on the 20th and arrived again at Helena on the 22nd of January.

On the evening of the 27th [of January 1863], several companies of the regiment including Company “A” were ordered to proceed to LaGrange [Arkansas], about twenty miles from Helena, to capture a party of gay rebels who intended to have a dance at the house of one of their friends in that place. Two rebel pickets stationed a few miles from town were gobbled up and the house [was] quietly surrounded when the dance was in progress. In trying to escape, one rebel was killed, several wounded, and six taken prisoners.

On the 18th of February [1863], Lieutenant McCarty and thirty men of Company “A” were ordered to Yazoo Pass in the State of Mississippi to protect large working parties of infantry engaged in removing obstructions to afford a passage for a fleet of transports. After the passage of the fleet through the pass, our men returned on the 2nd of March.

On the 6th of March, the 5th Kansas with detachments of other cavalry regiments, marched on a reconnaissance towards “Cotton Plant” – a point near White River. And on the 8th, while returning, Lieutenant McCarty and Sergeant Orcutt of Company “A” – while some distance in rear of the rear guard, suddenly found themselves surrounded by a large body of the enemy and compelled to surrender.

On the 20th [of March 1863], Colonel Clayton in command of one thousand cavalry and a battery of artillery left Helena with instructions to proceed to “Cotton Plant” and attack a body of the enemy reported to be stationed there. In the evening of the 21st, we reached Bayou De-View – a deep and sluggish stream a few miles from Cotton Plant, but in consequence of the bridge being destroyed and the wide bottom of the Bayou overflowed, a passage was found to be utterly impracticable. We began our march homeward on the morning of the 22nd and arrived in camp on the evening of the 23rd, having lost seventy-five horses killed by the venomous bite of myriads of insignificant looking flies called “buffalo gnats.”

On the 1st of May [1863], the regiment established camp on the bank of the Mississippi [River] about half a mile above the city of Helena. On the first of May, a force of eight hundred infantry, one thousand cavalry including the Fifth Kansas and several pieces of cannon under command of Colonel Clayton, left Helena with orders to make general destruction of all forage, provisions and mills found between the Mississippi and White River. The infantry marched in the direction of Cotton Plant while the cavalry first went to Clarendon, thence northward to the junction of the Memphis & Little Rock and the Cotton Plant & Helena roads, where they met the infantry. From here the cavalry proceeded to the Languille in the direction of Taylorville; the infantry marching by way of “Moro” in the direction of the town of Mariana [Arkansas].

On the morning of the 10th [of May, 1863] part of the 5th Kansas and the 1st Indiana Cavalry, numbering in the aggregate seven hundred men under command of Lieutenant Colonel Jenkins of the 5th Kansas, were directed by Colonel Clayton to proceed to Taylorsville, thence eastward through Mt. Vernon to Hugh’s Ferry, destroy all the corn mills &c. and rejoin Colonel Clayton’s command at the Languille bridge on the evening of the 11th. [While] returning on the 11th, after carrying out his instructions, [Lieutenant] Colonel Jenkins discovered within half a mile of Mt. Vernon the rebel Colonel Carter’s Brigade of three regiments of Texas Rangers occupying a strong position in the woods flanking both sides of the road. [Lieutenant] Colonel Jenkins attacked them, having first dismounted his men, and after a sharp contest drove them from their first position. He scarcely had time to put his men behind fallen trees and other points of protection when a regiment of the enemy in column of platoons came down upon them with a noise like that of thunder, and when within forty yards a wild whoop peculiar to the Texas Rangers arose completely drawing in its strength by noise of the conflict. The shock was tremendous, but no troops could withstand the steady and well-directed fire of our men. They wavered, broke and fled to the rear. Again, after a short respite, they made a desperate attempt to force the head of their column through our lines and this time the Brigade Commander Colonel Carter led them in person, but all in vain. The Fifth Kansas gave them such a succession of volleys [that they were] stopped within a few feet of our line, some of their officers shot through falling amidst our men. Once more they retired in confusion, their finest regiment – the 21st Texas – a big loser. And now they made the third effort, but taught such a severe lesson in their two first attempts, they only came about half the distance they did before and with a faint cheer retired, having lost in their desperate charges four commissioned officers and fifteen privates killed and a large number wounded. The Fifth Kansas having but one man killed and fourteen wounded – the former Wesley A. Hurd belonging to Company “A”; two of the latter were so severely wounded that they could not be removed from the field. The engagement lasted about two hours and it was now dark. The two regiments were formed and marched to Hugh’s Ferry where they arrived about midnight and crossed the river by swimming their horses on the following day, and on the 13th reached Helena.

On the 25th of May [1863] Major Walker, with one hundred and fifteen men of the Fifth Kansas and forty-five men of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry, were ordered on a reconnaissance towards Big Creek, twenty miles distant. Eight miles from Helena he encountered Colonel Dobbin’s rebel regiment six hundred strong advantageously posted in the woods near the road. Company “B” and “I” of the Fifth dismounted and went forward to develop the wing but were received with so terrible a fire that they were compelled to retire towards their horses. [These men were] armed with [only] sabers and revolvers, which were nearly useless in resisting the rapidly advancing lines of the well-mounted enemy. [As a consequence,] about twenty men [from these] companies were made prisoners. Major Walker now decided to fall back to a new position about half a mile from the point of contest and Sergeant Davis – with twelve men from Company “A” who were [acting as] the rear guard of the column when the fight began – were ordered forward to cover the retreat. Our boys formed immediately in front and only a few yards distant from the enemy and – supported by remnants of some other companies – poured into the rebels so scathing a fire as to check them sufficiently to permit the dismounted men not yet captured to reach in safety the new position. After a brief but desperate conflict, the enemy retired having lost altogether thirteen men killed and thirty wounded. The 5th Kansas had seven men killed and twenty wounded besides losing the prisoners before mentioned. The detachment of Company “A” – although in the thickest of the conflict – had but few men slightly wounded.

The battle of Helena, Arkansas, was fought on the 4th of July 1863 between Major General Prentiss commanding the Federal forces and the rebel General’s Holmes and Price commanding an army of eighteen thousand men with thirty two pieces of artillery. The engagement opened at 4 o’clock a.m. and continued with unabated fury until 2 o’clock p.m., resulting in a glorious victory to the Union arms. The Fifth Kansas Cavalry with four pieces of artillery held the right of the Union line successfully during the engagement against General Marmaduke’s & Shelby’s cavalry forces five thousand strong with two batteries of artillery. Our entire force engaged was thirty-five hundred men and thirty pieces of artillery. The Federal loss was fifty men killed and one hundred wounded. Thirteen hundred of the enemy were taken prisoners before the close of the battle, five hundred dead and one thousand of the enemy’s wounded were left on the field making their total loss (including desertions on the day of the battle) thirty-five hundred men – equal to all our forces engaged.

After the battle of Helena an army was organized by Major General Steele for the occupation of Little Rock – the capitol of Arkansas. On the 13th of August, the army left Helena and reached Clarendon on the 17th where a junction was made with a cavalry division of five thousand under General Davidson from St. Louis. [An army] numbering sixteen thousand men crossed White River at Clarendon and marched on DuVall’s Bluffs – a fortified position on the west bank of the river. But on the approach of our army, the enemy abandoned his entrenchments and fell back to Bayou Meta, thirty-five miles distant in the direction of Little Rock. Here a brisk engagement took place – the rebels were speedily dislodged and forced to retreat on Little Rock, our army following in close pursuit.

On the 10th of September [1863], after a prolonged artillery duel without bringing on a general engagement, the capitol was occupied by our troops [while] the completely demoralized rebel army retreated in confusion southward.

On the 14th of September, the Fifth Kansas Cavalry left Little Rock with instructions to occupy Pine Bluff, a town of considerable importance situated on the south bank of the Arkansas River and forty-five miles distant from Little Rock. The regiment took quiet possession of the place at 11 o’clock p.m. of the 14th without meeting with the slightest resistance, the citizens generally giving our soldiers a friendly reception – throwing open their houses and inviting them to partake of the best their ______ contain. On the 25th of October, the Post of Pine Bluff garrison [composed of] the 5th Kansas & 1st Indiana Cavalry – [an] effective force of six hundred men in command of Colonel Clayton – was attacked by General Marmaduke’s cavalry division of twenty-five hundred [rebel troopers] and twelve pieces of artillery. After a battle of six hours duration, the enemy meeting with repeated repulse at all points, retreated from the field. The Union loss was twelve killed and eighteen wounded. The enemy lost twenty-four men taken prisoners, and left twenty-four killed and seventeen wounded on the field.

Below is appended the General Order of the Major General Commanding the Department of Arkansas published upon the receipt of the intelligence of the victory.

On the 20th of December [1863], Company “A” was detailed to take charge of a battery of artillery of eight guns, which change necessitated at once the adoption of the artillery drill. The services of an excellent artillery drill master who had served many years in that branch of the service in the regular army were at once procured. For over a month the company were daily exercised in the manual of the guns and soon arrived at a marvelous degree of proficiency. On the evening of the 18th of January [1864], Colonel Clayton – in command of a force of four hundred men of the Fifth Kansas, First Indiana, & Seventh Missouri Cavalry with four pieces of cannon – marched from Pine Bluff to attack a rebel force of cavalry near Branchville commanded by Colonel Lawler of General Shelby’s brigade. At 10 o’clock a.m. of the 19th, the enemy were discovered drawn up in line of battle at a favorable point on the Monticello road, about twenty-four miles distant from Pine Bluff. A sharp contest immediately ensued resulting in the enemy being dislodged and driven back ten miles beyond his original position when Colonel Clayton deemed it prudent to abandon the pursuit. The enemy had seven men killed and five taken prisoners. Colonel Clayton’s command had two men killed and several wounded. A detachment of Company “A” – with a section of the 5th Kansas Battery – rendered excellent service.

On the morning of the 28th of March, a force of twelve hundred men under the command of Colonel Clayton consisting of cavalry and infantry – one section of the 1st Indiana & four guns of the 5th Kansas Battery – left Pine Bluff for Mt. Elba on the Saline River. Near the latter place some rebel pickets were encountered, three captured and the remainder driven in. During the night of the 28th, a pontoon bridge was thrown across the river, and early on the morning of the 29th, Colonel Clayton with the cavalry and three cannon crossed the river leaving the infantry and the remainder of the artillery to hold possession of the town and to protect the bridge until his return. After crossing the river, Colonel Clayton detached one hundred of his cavalry with instructions to proceed rapidly down the south bank of the river to Long View, forty-five miles distant and destroy the pontoon bridge the enemy had thrown across the river at that point. By a masterly movement, this expedition so deceived the enemy that it succeeded in capturing two hundred and fifty rebels, three hundred stands of small arms, three hundred heads of mules and horses, destroyed the pontoon bridge and a train of wagons without losing a single man. Whilst this movement was being carried out, the rebel General Dockerty, with fifteen hundred men posted at Monticello, made a forced march on Mt. Elba up the north bank of the Saline River with the object of gobbling up the force left at the bridge before Colonel Clayton could come to its relief. The enemy attacked fiercely early on the morning of the 30th, but our men were prepared to give them a warm reception. The conflict was maintained with stubborn pertinacity for half an hour when the enemy was repulsed, leaving sixteen killed and several wounded on the field. Immediately after the first repulse of the enemy, Colonel Clayton with his command from the opposite side of the river arrived upon the scene of action and joined in pursuit of the flying foe.

The enemy were driven back pell mell for a distance of seven miles and completely disorganized and when night came on the pursuit was discontinued. In this action, the rebel loss (including that at Mt. Elba) was twenty-four killed and nearly one hundred wounded. Colonel Clayton’s command had two men killed, six wounded, & seven taken prisoners. The artillery participating in the above engagement was admirably handled – especially two pieces of the Fifth Kansas Battery left with the infantry to guard the bridge under the command of Sergeant’s Wade and Davis.

On the morning of the 23rd of April 1864, a train of two hundred and thirty government wagons left Camden [Arkansas] – the Headquarters of General Steele’s army – for Pine Bluff escorted by twelve hundred men and four pieces of cannon. General Steele hastens a courier through to Pine Bluff informing Colonel Clayton that the enemy had crossed the Washita [Ouachita] River in force with the evident intention of capturing the train before it reached the Saline River, directing him to march all the available forces under his command to its relief without delay. The place having already been drained of troops by previous order of General Steele, Colonel Clayton could only muster one hundred & twenty men of the 5th Kansas and 7th Missouri Cavalry including a detachment of 18 men of Company “A” under Lieutenant Jennings in charge of a 12 pound Howitzer of the 5th Kansas Battery.

This small force of 120 men commanded by Major Spellman of the 7th Missouri Cavalry left Pine Bluff on the morning of the 24th and reached Mt. Elba the same day. Crossing the river early on the following morning, they reached eight miles when they met the head of the train and the army about the same time. The rebels 7000 strong made a desperate attack upon the troops at the head of the column supported by nine pieces of artillery. A fierce and bloody hand-to-hand conflict took place. The enemy, pressing forward from the front and flank, [seemed] determined to capture at all hazards the little howitzer that was rapidly hurling death and destruction into their ranks. Sixty rounds of canister and special case shot – all the ammunition the boxes contained – were fired into the solid lines of the foe at short range, but still they kept pressing on. Finally, by sheer force of numbers, [they] literally crushed the heroic little band that had for nearly two hours stood unflinchingly at its post of duty exposed to the iron hail of bullets.

Three men of Company “A’ – Thomas M. Lillard, John Furnish, & Miles W. Thompson – were mortally wounded, resulting in death a short time afterwards. [There were, in addition,] six slightly wounded, and fourteen men including Lieutenant Jennings were made prisoners. All the artillery horses were killed or disabled before the gun was captured rendering it impossible to move towards the rear of the train for a new position. The entire train was captured by the enemy. We lost eight hundred men taken prisoners – seventy killed, and two hundred and fifty wounded. The loss by the enemy in killed and wounded equaled our own.

 


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