For two weeks previous, he was known to be going northwestward through Missouri on his way to Kansas. on the 15th of the month, the Fifteenth Cavalry, Col. Jennison commanding, stationed at the time at Mound City, was ordered out, and in company with some militia went to Hickman's Mills, Mo. After marching to Pleasant Hill on the 17th, and Warrensburg on the 18th, they reached Lexington, Mo., on the 19th. Here they heard of Price, whose army, under command of Gens. Shelby, Marmaduke and Cabell, was in the vicinity. Here a fight took place, lasting three hours, in which the Federal forces fell back to Independence, where they were met by Gens. Curtis and Blunt with their commands.
On the 21st, was fought the battle of the Little Blue, in which the Union forces fell back, but stubbornly contested the ground all day, arriving at Independence about dark. Marching on to the Big Blue, they met the Kansas militia and went into camp for the night. On the 232d, the Union forces, still largely outnumbered, continued to fall back, and on the 23d were driven nearly to Westport. Gen. Pleasanton at this time attacked the rear of Price's army, and the tide of battle turned. Price's turn had come to retreat, and a running fight was kept up from Westport to Hickman's Mills.
On Monday, the rebel forces reached the State line in the southeast part of Miami County, and entered Linn County in the afternoon of that day, the 24th, camping for the night near the Marais des Cygnes. The Union Generals held a council of war at West Point, Mo., and their men gained a short rest. Col. Moonlight was dispatched with his regiment to the right, for the purpose of flanking the rebels, and of keeping them from going too far to the westward, and reached Mound City early on the morning of the 25th. He kept his troops close to their right flank until they were finally driven from the State, thus saving the commissary stores at Fort Scott; the commissary stores at Mound City having been moved twenty miles west on the night of the 24th, were all saved.
In the meantime, the main army under Pleasanton came upon Price's rearguard about 3 o'clock Tuesday morning. At daylight the firing commenced, at the Marais des Cygnes, and was continued all day, to Fort Scott, a distance of forty miles. At the first attack in the morning, the rebels abandoned a large amount of stock. A second battle occurred at "Round Mound," six miles from the river, about 9 A. M. Here Price's Generals, Marmaduke and Cabell, were captured (the former by James Dunlavy, sixteen years old), together with some other prisoners and two pieces of artillery.
Upon reaching Mine Creek, four miles south of the Round Mound, the rebels made a stand, and here was fought the hardest battle of the day. During its continuance, Pleasanton's battery of seven howitzers was stationed on "Round Mound," on which now stands the Pleasanton High School, and dropped shells into the ranks of the rebels to the southward. The main battlefield was two miles south of the Mound and nearly a mile west of the Antioch Schoolhouse. About 500 prisoners were taken here, and about 100 of the rebels were killed; three pieces of artillery were also captured.
After this battle, which occurred at 11 A. M., the pursuit was continued to the Little Osage, where the rebels abandoned a large number of wagons and considerable ammunition to facilitate the crossing of the river. They passed into Missouri just east of Fort Scott, and upon arriving at Newtonia, again halted and gave battle, but were again routed and continued the retreat southward, followed by the Federal troops to the Arkansas River. The total loss of Price in this day's work was 9 pieces of artillery, 150 killed and 1,500 prisoners, besides a large amount of stock, stores and ammunition.
After the fighting was over, the dead were buried and the wounded cared for. Mound City was converted into a hospital. Fifty-six Union wounded and about sixty rebels filled all the available buildings, including the schoolhouse. T. Ellwood Smith, Robert Kincaid and J. P. Way were appointed a committee to receive contributions, and everything possible was done to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded. Many incidents both of a serious and amusing nature might be given were not space wanting.
Nearly every house passed by the rebels was pillaged of most that it contained. In many cases even women were stripped of their clothing, and the flannel taken from infants in their mothers' arms. Enforced cooking was an occasional occupation of the women on that day to feed the rebel soldiers. A Mrs. Lathrop, about seventy years old, living just south of Mine Creek, had thus fed rebel soldiers until she had nothing left but a little corn meal, when three rebel officers came up and ordered her to get dinner for them. She replied that she had only a small quantity of corn meal left; whereupon they told her to cook them a few cakes and she should not be disturbed any more that day.
While they were eating she told them that if they wanted to escape they had best hurry for "our boys are coming." When going away, they attempted to make her give up a blouse she had put on to keep it from being taken away from her, it having been left at home by one of her five boys, all of whom were in the Union army. On account of her struggles to retain it, these officers were detained until "our boys" came up, and were shot by them, so that instead of gaining the Union blouse they lost their lives.
Capt. Belding's fine horse was hitched in front of his house, when a rebel in passing mounted it and rode off, leaving his own, a much poorer one, in its place. Soon another rebel came along and made a similar exchange, and then a third, who left a horse which remained the rest of the day, being too poor for any one to take away. Quite a number of citizens were fired upon and wounded and some wantonly killed. Among those wounded were Harlan Jackson, Elijah Miller and Lieut. D. F. Park. Among the killed, Richard B. Vernon, who was murdered in Missouri; Samuel A. Long, fifty-six years old, who was killed six miles north of Trading Post; John Miller, sixty-five years old, who was killed near the Post, and Levi Ward, forty-five years old.
John R. Williams, "Uncle Jacky," as he was familiarly called, was for a time believed to have been killed, but it transpired that when he came to a creek in Southwest Missouri, a prisoner with Price, in the night, he slipped down into the creek, and by concealing himself and remaining quiet until the rebel army passed on, he effected his escape. Most of the citizens of the county manifested commendable courage during those exciting and trying times, but there are a few instances of persons who were entirely unmanned by fear.
One excellent citizen who was the only man with a party of women and children, was entirely unable to harness a span of horses and hitch them to a wagon in order that they might ride to a place of safety. A young man at Mound City crawled into a hollow log and there remained until hunger compelled him to come out and reconnoiter, when to his joy he found that the last rebel had long since disappeared. An old gentleman in the vicinity of Pleasanton, after loading up his household goods and family in his wagon, drove into a convenient cove and leaving them there went into the timber and dug a hole in the ground under a log, about four feet in diameter, into which hole he crawled on Tuesday and remained until 'Thursday, when he found his way through his corn-field toward his house. Here he saw a neighbor's wife feeding his hogs, and when assured by her that the rebels had gone, ventured to expose himself to the open air. His fright and exposure caused him a long fit of sickness which nearly cost him his live, but he recovered and still lives.