1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 67 Part 1

CHAPTER LXVII

MILITARY HISTORY

No state ever made a better military record than has the State of Kansas. The disorders of the Territorial days developed the military spirit of the Kansas pioneers. The Territorial period was, in fact, part of the Civil War, - the preliminary struggle. The Free-State men were nearly all under arms during the conflict with the Border-Ruffians. That training counted much for the Kansas regiments in the field in the Rebellion. There is no record of any Kansas regiment in the Civil War, Indian wars, or Spanish American War, Border wars, or any other conflict, where the Kansas troops in any way failed to meet the highest requirements of military service. There are innumerable instances of extraordinary achievement by Kansas troops in these wars. The records show that Kansas always furnished more men than the requisition of the Government called for. The Kansas people are peace-loving and prefer to till the soil and engage in other pursuits required to develop the industries of the State. But if they have to fight, they know how. No more patriotic people ever lived than those of Kansas. When called on to render military duty, they have promptly responded, and, as above said, in larger numbers than requisitioned. In the Civil War Kansas furnished more enlisted men than she had voters, a record which is not approached by any other State. If any proof were needed of the intense loyalty of Kansas people, this might be presented as the strongest evidence.

It is much regretted by this author that the limits of this work prevents an exhaustive review of the splendid service of every military organization ever produced by Kansas.

Following is presented a brief account of the service of each regiment.

The military tables quoted herein are from the Andreas History of Kansas.

FIRST REGIMENT KANSAS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

The First Regiment of Kansas Volunteer Infantry was raised under the call for troops made by President Lincoln May 8, 1861. The regiment had its rendezvous at Camp Lincoln, near Fort Leavenworth, and was recruited between the 20th of May and June 3rd, on which day it was mustered into the United States service.

The following officers, commissioned by Governor Charles Robinson, constituted the Field and Staff:

George W. Deitzler, Lawrence, Colonel; Oscar E. Learnard, Burlington, Lieutenant-Colonel; John A. Halderman, Leavenworth, Major; Edwin S. Nash, Olathe, Adjutant; George H. Chapin, Quindaro, Quartermaster; George Buddington, Quindaro, Surgeon; Ephraim Nute, Lawrence, Chaplain.

This regiment was recruited, organized, drilled and mustered into service in practically two weeks' time. And within but little more than a week from the day its soldiers first responded to their names on the muster roll they were ordered into active service. On June 13th seven companies of the First Kansas left Leavenworth for Kansas City, and on the 20th the remainder of the regiment followed. Their objective was Springfield, Mo., where they were to join the army of General Nathaniel Lyon. At Kansas City the regiment was reinforced by a battalion of United States Infantry and two companies of United States Cavalry commanded by Major Sturgis, U. S. A., and together they moved south east, joining General Lyon at Grand River on the 7th of July. On July 10th the entire command reached Springfield, already occupied by the forces of General Sigel. Here the First Kansas tasted some of the privations of real war, for supplies were practically exhausted and fresh beef, without salt, was the only luxury the commissary afforded.

The regiment received its "baptism of fire" at Dug Springs, whither Lyon had gone to intercept a confederate force advancing from Cassville. This encounter was successful, the detachment from McCulloch's division being speedily dispersed by Lyon's command. The Dug Springs skirmish was but a preliminary to the battle of Wilson's Creek, which occurred some days later, and in which the First and Second Kansas, raw regiments, were to have their first experience of desperate conflict.

Lyon had moved his army as far as Dug Springs to test the strength of the enemy, and having forced them to retreat, he returned to Springfield. He was fully aware that the rebels were concentrating their forces on Wilson's Creek, twelve miles southwest of Springfield, and that his own position was becoming daily more dangerous. The strategy of this movement was plain to him and he made repeated attempts to "draw" the Confederates. In these he failed, and realizing the impossibility of any retrograde movement, pressed upon as he would be, by such superior numbers, Lyon determined to force a battle by attacking the enemy in their camp.

He called a council of his Field Officers on the evening of August 8th and-made the following statement to them:

Gentlemen, there is no prospect of our being reinforced at this point; our supply of provisions is running short; there is a superior force of the enemy in front, and it is reported that Hardee is marching with nine thousand men to cut our line of communication. It is evident that we must retreat. The question arises, what is the best method of doing it? Shall we endeavor to retreat without giving the enemy battle beforehand and run the risk of having to fight every inch along our line of retreat? Or shall we attack him in his position and endeavor to hurt him so that he cannot follow? I am decidedly in favor of the latter plan. I propose to march this evening with all our available force, leaving only a small guard to protect the property which will be left behind, and, marching up the Fayetteville road, throw our whole force upon him at once and endeavor to rout him before he recovers from his surprise.

For some reason Lyon's plan, which was both bold and skillful, was not carried into effect on the evening of the 8th, as first proposed, but was postponed for a day. To carry out his plans he divided his army into two divisions, the main body of about 3,000 men he commanded himself, the other of some 1,500 was under General Sigel.

Early in the morning of August 10th, moving as pre-arranged, Lyon's command reached the left rear of the enemy. Here he placed his batteries in position and opened fire almost simultaneously with Sigel, who had moved by the Fayetteville road to a position also in the rear of the enemy, but on their right. Lyon's hope through this maneuver was to demoralize the Confederate force quickly by throwing it upon its own center.

The First Kansas came onto the battlefield following the First Missouri and the First Iowa, and with the First Missouri, occupied the center of the field. The Second Kansas was held in reserve during the early part of the engagement and did not go into action until shortly before General Lyon was killed. Owing to the advanced position held by the First Kansas it contended, from the moment of entering the fight, with most fearful odds. Andreas' History of Kansas says:

The rebels led battalion after battalion against the determined little band (the First Kansas and the First Missouri) only to be repeatedly driven back in confusion, and from the beginning to the close of the struggle, in the language of the official report "all the officers and men of this command fought with a courage and heroism rarely, if ever equaled."

Sigel's assault on the enemy's right had been disastrous to his command; the rebels had returned his attack, dispersed his men, captured his guns and sent him flying back to Springfield, thus leaving Lyon's division to bear the brunt of the battle. Counting on reinforcements from Sigel, the Second Kansas was brought into action as the enemy, moving under the protection of the stars and stripes captured from Sigel's division, had attained a desired position, and as the battery aiding in the deception, poured charge after charge of shrapnel and canister into the Union ranks. This devastating fire raked the Second as it moved to its position, severely wounding its Colonel, Robert B. Mitchell. General Lyon, taking Mitchell's place received his death wound, as he led the Second in its charge. Major Sturgis in his official report of the battle says of this crisis:

After the death of Gen. Lyon, when the enemy fled, and left the field clear so far as we could see, an almost total silence reigned for a space of twenty minutes. . . .

Our brave little army was scattered and broken; over 20,000 foes were still in our front, and our men had had no water since five o'clock the evening before, and could hope for none short of Springfield, twelve miles distant. If we should go forward, our success would prove our certain ruin in the end; if we retreated, disaster stared us in the face; our ammunition was well-nigh exhausted, and should the enemy make this discovery, through a slackening of our fire, total annihilation was all we could expect.

So sanguinary was this battle that the Confederate reports refer to the ridge where it was fought as "Bloody Hill." Of the close of the engagement Andreas has this to say:

When the struggle was fiercest, and the combatants were literally fighting muzzle to muzzle, three companies of the First Kansas, with a remnant of the First Missouri and First Iowa, took possession of an eminence on the right flank of the enemy, which commanded the position they were endeavoring to gain, and as the rebels charged up the bluff, they encountered such a fearful storm of lead, both from the front and right, that they fell back appalled, nor even attempted to rally their flying disorganized forces. This rout practically ended the battle. For six hours it had raged almost without respite. The troops, many of them hardly long enough in the service to have grown familiar with their own names on the muster-roll, passed the ordeal of their first battle in a manner that no veteran need have scorned. The first gun broke the stillness of the early morning at about 5 o'clock. The last was fired at half past eleven. Then the order was given by General Sturgis to retire, and the exhausted and broken column preceded by the ambulances containing their wounded, left the field, and fell back to Springfield.

Official reports give the numbers engaged in the battle of Wilson's Creek as 20,000 Confederates and 5,000 Union soldiers.

From Springfield a forced march was made by the Union troops to Rolla, and from that point the First Kansas was ordered to St. Louis and thence to Hannibal. They were employed until January, 1862, in guarding different posts on the Hannibal & St. Joseph, and Missouri Pacific railways. In January the regiment was ordered to Lexington, Mo., and from there was sent to Fort Leavenworth and granted a furlough of ten days.

At the expiration of this time it joined the army of General Curtis, which was destined for New Mexico. The rendezvous was Fort Riley and there the regiment remained during the winter. In the meantime the "New Mexico expedition" was abandoned and in May the First Kansas was ordered south. Its destination was changed from Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., to Columbus, Ky., which place it reached in June. And from then until late in September it was again used in guard duty, guarding the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, with headquarters at Trenton, Tenn.

In October the First Kansas became a part of McPherson's Brigade, and was ordered to reinforce Gen. Rosecrans at Corinth. Under his command it took part in the pursuit of Van Dorn, going as far as Ripley, Miss. The regiment was then transferred to Col. Deitzler's Brigade and with Gen. Grant's forces was to be sent to Jackson and Vicksburg. But further pursuit of Van Dorn's army being engaged in, the brigade returned from Oxford, Miss., and occupied Holly Springs, and from this point was ordered to Salem, Miss., to intercept Van Dorn's retreat. During the month of December the regiment was quartered in Memphis, and from January, 1863, to July, participated in the operations before Vicksburg, being employed chiefly in scout and picket duty. During the winter of 1863 and 1864 it was stationed at Black River Bridge, taking part in General McArthur's Yazoo River expedition. In the spring it was once more on scout and picket duty about Vicksburg, but its term of enlistment was drawing to a close. On June 1st, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Spicer, the regiment embarked on the "Arthur" bound for Fort Leavenworth and home. On the 17th of June the men were mustered out. Two companies of veterans, New Company B and New Company D, remained in the United States service until the close of the war, when they were honorably discharged at Little Rock, Ark., August 3Oth, 1865. During its service the regiment took part in thirty battles and skirmishes, a detailed account of which would occupy more space than can he allotted here.

In closing this brief account of the First Regiment of Kansas Volunteers the tribute paid them by Prentis in his Battle Corners should have a place.

The field will always be of interest to Kansans, for of the four full volunteer infantry regiments who fought here, two were from Kansas, and they were the First and Second; here, too, Iowa had her First, and loyal Missouri her First. These were the "first-fruits" offered by Kansas on the altar of our common country. These were the "boys" who went into the war before the days of calculation; before drafts or bounties had been heard of. The Kansas "boys" went into the battle raw volunteers, they came out of it veterans. They fought beside regular soldiers of the United States army, and they fought as long and as well. The battle was a field of honor to all concerned. From it came seven Major Generals and thirteen Brigadier Generals of the Union army, and of these the two Kansas regiments furnished their quota, when it is remembered that with Lyon's column there were three battalions of regular infantry and two light batteries, the officers of which were more naturally in the line of promotion.

The great figure of the battle was Gen. Lyon; his death sanctified the field. If every other event that occurred there were forgotten, it would still be remembered that Lyon died there. Kansas in her proud sorrow remembers that it was as he led the Second Kansas to one more desperate charge that he fell.

SECOND REGIMENT KANSAS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

The Second Regiment of Kansas Volunteer Infantry was raised in response to the first call for troops made by President Lincoln, April 15, 1861. This call was for 75,000 men to serve for three months. During May and early June the regiment was recruited and rendezvoused a Lawrence, where it was organized June 11th. It was mustered into the United States service June 20th, at Kansas City, Mo.

Gov. Charles Robinson commissioned the following officers for Field and Staff:

Robert B. Mitchell, Mansfield, Colonel; Charles W. Blair, Fort Scott, Lieutenant-Colonel; William F. Cloud, Emporia, Major; Edward Thompson, Lawrence, Adjutant; Shaler W. Eldridge, Lawrence, Quartermaster; Aquila B. Massey, Lawrence, Surgeon; Randolph C. Brant, Lawrence, Chaplain.

Like the First Kansas, the Second was destined to become a part of Lyon's army. The regiment left Kansas City on the 26th of June to join the brigade of Major Sturgis at Clinton, Mo., and from there proceeded to Lyon's Division, which it joined near the Osage river, in St. Clair county. From there the entire Division marched to a point near Springfield where camp was established and the work of drilling troops was commenced. The First and Second Kansas Volunteers formed a brigade commanded by Col. Deitzler of the First Kansas regiment.

On July 22nd a portion of the Second was in the engagement at Forsythe, that being their first experience under fire. The regiment was also in the skirmish at Dug Springs and a few days later distinguished itself at the battle of Wilson's Creek. This battle was perhaps one of the bloodiest of the Civil War, and was fought against such terrific odds that utter annihilation was the only thing expected. The Colonel of the Second, Mitchell, was seriously wounded and the gallant Lyon, bleeding from wounds already received, was killed as he was preparing to lead the Second in a bayonet charge.

After Wilson's Creek the Second, or what was left of it, with the remainder of Lyon's little army, fell back to Rolla and from there went on to Hannibal, en route for Kansas. At Hannibal, Col. Williams of the Third Iowa took a portion of the Second on an expedition to Paris, Mo., to aid in driving rebel troops from that town, and to remove to a place of safety money that was there in the bank. On their return, at Shelbina, they encountered a considerable force of Confederates but managed to escape them and reach Macon City. From this point the Second was sent to Bloomfield and from there came on to St. Joseph, by rail, arriving in the night and surprising the Confederates who held that post. They succeeded in routing the rebels and held the post until the arrival of troops to permanently garrison it. At St. Joseph the Second took boat for Leavenworth, and stopping at Iatan, attacked and dispersed a small rebel force. Soon after its arrival at Leavenworth the regiment was ordered to Wyandotte to defend the town against threatened invasion by Price. Price retreated and the Second returned to Leavenworth where, having finished its term of service, it was mustered out October 31, 1861.

SECOND REGIMENT KANSAS VOLUNTEER CAVALRY

The Second Kansas Cavalry was evolved through various regimental changes. It had its beginning in the authority granted Alson C. Davis by Maj. Gen. Fremont to raise a regiment in Kansas. This authority was given in October, 1861. The regiment was designated the Twelfth Kansas Volunteers and the rendezvous was appointed at Fort Leavenworth.

The organization, commenced November 8th, consisted in mustering into the United States Service the following officers: Cyrus L. Gorton of Leavenworth, Adjutant; Julius G. Fisk of Wyandotte, Quartermaster; Dr. J. B. Welborne, Wyandotte, Surgeon. Five companies were organized between November 22nd and December 15th, 1861. On December 26th, by order of Governor Robinson, four companies of Nugent's Regiment of Missouri Home Guards were attached to the newly organized regiment and its designation changed from the Twelfth to the Ninth Kansas Volunteers. These last four companies raised for home service, had been organized that fall in Douglas, Johnson and Miami counties, and were under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Mewhinney of Douglas county. They had temporarily attached themselves to Nugent's regiment, and their term of enlistment would expire February 4th, 1862.

The organization of the Ninth Kansas, with ten squadrons, was completed on the 9th of January, when the Field and Staff consisted of the following officers:

Colonel Alson C. Davis, Wyandotte; Lieutenant-Colonel Owen A. Bassett, Lawrence; Major Julius G. Fisk, Quindaro; Adjutant Cyrus L. Gorton, Leavenworth; Quartermaster, Luther H. Wood, Kansas City, Mo.; Surgeon Joseph P. Root, Wyandotte; Chaplain Charles Reynolds, Fort Riley.

The regiment on January 20th, 1862, moved to Quindaro to go into winter camp and begin steady drilling. On the 4th of February the four companies of Home Guards were mustered out, reducing the regiment to six squadrons. On February 28th, Maj. Gen. Hunter, commanding the Department of Kansas, assigned to the Ninth three companies formerly belonging to the Second Kansas Volunteer Infantry and now reorganized for three years' service, also two companies formerly belonging to the Eighth Kansas Volunteers and one company which had been part of the Third Kansas. The last three companies were a part of the Ninth for a few weeks only, in March they were transferred to another regiment.

All these changes brought about a change in the Field and Staff, which now was made up of the following: Robert B. Mitchell, Colonel, Mansfield; Owen, A. Bassett, Lieutenant-Colonel, Lawrence; Charles W. Blair, Major, Fort Scott; John Pratt, Adjutant, Lawrence; David R. Coleman, Battalion Adjutant, Paris; Cyrus L. Gorton, Quartermaster, Leavenworth; Joseph P. Root, Surgeon, Wyandotte; Charles Reynolds, Chaplain, Fort Riley.

The regiment was ordered from Quindaro to Shawneetown March 12th, and on the 15th its name was changed to the Second Kansas Volunteers, and changed again, March 27th, to the Second Kansas Cavalry, this designation was retained throughout its service.

The Second left Shawneetown April 20th, having been ordered to report at Fort Riley where it was to join the New Mexico expedition. The regiment remained at this post until June 9th, when it was ordered to join the Indian Expedition then concentrating at Humboldt. In the meantime detachments from the Second had been ordered to various points, so that as a regiment the Second was to see little service together. Two squadrons were left in Kansas for garrison duty, two were sent into Colorado, and several officers and men had been detached and ordered on battery service with a brigade in Tennessee. Therefore it is possible to outline only the service of this cavalry regiment.

At the close of the Indian Expedition, which took the Second to Park Hill, Cherokee Nation, the regiment returned to Fort Scott. From there they went into Missouri in pursuit of raiders, and from that time were used to guard supplies, to hold posts and as a scouting force, serving most in Missouri and Arkansas. They participated in innumerable skirmishes and many battles, seeing much hard fighting. The principal engagements in which they took part were Newtonia, Old Fort Wayne, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove and Cabin Creek.

The companies of the Second regiment were mustered out in 1865 at irregular intervals, following their terms of enlistment, the last being four companies at Fort Gibson, on June 22nd.

THIRD AND FOURTH KANSAS VOLUNTEER REGIMENTS

The following history of the Third and Fourth Kansas Volunteer regiments is taken from the Thirteenth Biennial report of the Adjutant-General of Kansas. It explains the apparent irregularity in the numbering of the Kansas regiments, and gives an excellent account of the authority, and the conditions under which these regiments were raised.

When the Civil war began, in 1861, Kansas had just been admitted to the Union as a State, and the newly organized State government was scarcely in running order when it became necessary to raise troops to defend the border and respond to the requisition of the President for Volunteers. However, two regiments were quickly placed in the field - the First and Second Kansas Infantry Regiments, whose bravery and heroism at the battle of Wilson Creek have given unfading luster to the name of Kansas. Both of these regiments were ordered out of the State as soon as organized. Had the State government been permitted to control the organization of the two succeeding regiments much confusion would have been avoided, and more systematic records would have been left of the organizations originally designated the Third and Fourth Kansas Volunteers. Senator James H. Lane, however, was commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers, and came to Kansas from Washington with a roving commission to raise regiments of volunteers. He proceeded in accordance with his own will, in a great measure independent of the State government, to raise troops; the Third and Fourth Kansas Volunteers were raised under his authority. These two regiments, together with the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, organized about the same time, constituted what was then known as "Lane's Brigade."

Elementary ideas of military organization seemed to prevail at the time the Third and Fourth Kansas regiments were organized, as they were regiments of mixed arms, mainly infantry, but each regiment possessing cavalry and artillery companies. The Fifth regiment was purely cavalry.

When the battle of Wilson Creek was fought (August 10, 1861) scarcely a battalion of these organizations had been recruited, but, expecting that Price and McCulloch would immediately follow their dearly bought victory by an invasion of Kansas, enlistments became rapid, and in a short time about 2,500 men had been enrolled. By the presence of these newly organized troops along the Missouri border Kansas was saved from rebel invasion when Price moved north to the capture of Lexington. While not constituting a very imposing army, Price had recently had a specimen of Kansas fighting at Wilson Creek, and the presence of these Kansas regiments along the state line suggested a delay that he could ill afford to risk in his desire to reach the Missouri river before General Fremont could throw an opposing army in his way.

The Third and Fourth Kansas volunteer regiments were neither at any time complete organizations, and after the danger of an invasion by Price had passed recruiting for these organizations became very slow; the regiments being organized under state authority were securing most of the new enlistments. The new organizations presented more promising possibilities for position or promotion, and, beside, were cavalry regiments, and the experienced horsemen of the West preferred to ride when an opportunity to do so was at hand.

In the spring of 1862 the War Department ordered the reorganization and consolidation of the Third and Fourth Kansas regiments. This was done, the infantry companies forming a new regiment, thereafter known as the Tenth Kansas Volunteer Infantry. It would have been very proper to have designated the new consolidation as either the Third or Fourth Kansas Volunteers, instead of the Tenth, but both regiments thought their regimental designation the one to adopt, and to settle the contention the next vacant number was assigned to the reorganization. The cavalry companies were transferred to the Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Kansas Cavalry regiments, and the artillery companies were consolidated into the First Kansas Battery. . . .

As the Third and Fourth Kansas were original and distinct organizations, and performed brave and faithful service for eight months or more as such, it seems proper that a record should be made of them as distinctive regiments, and the individual records of the men recorded. Their service was rendered forty years ago; it is a tardy justice, and but few of the men recorded live to know that a place has been given them in the records of the civil-war regiments of Kansas. . . .

The records as relates to the date of consolidation of the reorganized companies of the Third and Fourth Kansas are not absolutely certain. The consolidation was made in accordance with a letter of instruction, Department of Kansas, dated February 20, 1862. The consolidation was effected April 3, 1862. The cavalry companies were transferred about the same time. . . .

The artillery companies were consolidated by authority of Special Orders No. 42, District of Kansas, dated April 24, 1862. The organization of the consolidated battery (First Kansas Battery) was effected about June 1. 1862.

The Third Regiment had for its Field and Staff, James Montgomery, Mound City, Colonel; James G. Blunt, Mount Gilead, LieutenantColonel; Henry H. Williams, Osawatomie, Major; Casimio B. Zularsky, Boston, Mass., Adjutant; John G. Haskell, Lawrence, Quartermaster; Albert Newman, Surgeon; H. H. Moore, Chaplain.

The Field and Staff of the Fourth Regiment consisted of the following: William Weer, Wyandotte, Colonel; John T. Burris, Olathe, Lieutenant-Colonel; Otis B. Gunn, Atchison, Major; James A. Phillips, Adjutant; A. Larzalere, Quartermaster; John W. Scott, Iola, Surgeon; Reeder M. Fish, Chaplain.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 2000.

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