KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


STATE HISTORY, PART 12

[TOC] [part 13] [part 11] [Cutler's History]

ELEVENTH REGIMENT KANSAS VOLUNTEER CAVALRY.

The quota assigned to Kansas, under the call of President Lincoln of July 2, 1862, was three regiments of infantry. Hon. J. H. Lane being authorized by the War Department to recruit these troops, empowered Hon. Thomas Ewing, Jr., Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State, to raise one regiment, with authority to organize and officer the same. The Eleventh Kansas Infantry (afterward cavalry) was the result of his energetic, systematic and patriotic efforts, at a time when the State felt hardly able to spare even the men it had already sent into the field. The first recruit enlisted on the 8th of August, and on the 14th of September the last company was mustered in; the line officers were chosen by the respective companies, the field officers were chosen by the line officers, and the organization of the regiment was completed, as follows:

Field and Staff. - Colonel, Thomas Ewing, Jr., Leavenworth; Lieutenant Colonel, Thomas Moonlight, Leavenworth: Major, Preston B. Plumb, Emporia; Adjutant, John Williams, Leavenworth; Quartermaster, James R. McClure, Junction City; Surgeon, George W. Hogeboom, Leavenworth; Chaplain, James S. Cline, Tecumseh.

Line Officers - Company A, Captain, Lyman Scott. Leavenworth; First Lieutenant, John Owens, Easton; Second Lieutenant, Henry E. Palmer, Leavenworth. Company B, Captain, Martin Anderson, Circleville; First Lieutenant, Amos C. Smith, Leavenworth; Second Lieutenant, Louis F. Green, Baldwin City. Company C, Captain, Preston B. Plumb, First Lieutenant, Henry Pearce, and Second Lieutenant, William V. Phillips, all of Emporia. Company D, Captain, Jerome Kunkel, Rising Sun; First Lieutenant, Elias Gibbs, Oskaloosa; Second Lieutenant, Peleg Thomas, Leavenworth. Company E, Captain, Edmond G. Ross, Topeka; First Lieutenant, Charles Drake, Emporia; Second Lieutenant, Nathan P. Gregg, Topeka. Company F, Captain, Jacob G Rees, Mount Gilead; Lieutenant, John G Lindsay, and Second Lieutenant, George W. Simons, both of Garnett. Company G, Captain, Nathaniel A. Adams, and First Lieutenant, Greenville L. Gove, both of Manhattan; Second Lieutenant, Alfred C. Pierce, Junction City. Company H, Captain, Joel Huntoon. Topeka; First Lieutenant, Harrison Hannahs, Rome, N. Y.; Second Lieutenant, John W. Ridgeway, Tecumseh. Company I, Captain, Louis D. Joy, Burlingame; First Lieutenant, Josiah B. McAfee, Grasshopper; Second Lieutenant, William J. Drew, Burlingame. Company K, Captain, John M. Allen, Zeandale; First Lieutenant, Josiah M. Hubbard, Wabaunsee; Second Lieutenant, Henry C. Haas, Leavenworth. Company L, Captain, Henry Booth, Manhattan; First Lieutenant. Jacob Van Antwerp, Zeandale; Second Lieutenant, William Booth, Manhattan. Company M, Captain, Nathan P. Gregg, First Lieutenant, Joseph D. Geer, and Second Lieutenant, Henry C. Lindsay, all of Topeka.

While the regiment was in camp at Fort Lyon, near Fort Leavenworth, waiting for arms and the advanced pay which had been promised, and which was a necessity to the families of many of the enlisted men, orders were received from Gen. Blunt for the command to break camp and proceed immediately by forced marches to join the 'Army of the Frontier,' then in pursuit of the forces of Gens. Cooper and Rains, after the engagement at Newtonia.

Making arrangements at Leavenworth for the payment of the men and arming them with some heavy antiquated Prussian muskets, the best that could be procured at Fort Leavenworth, Col. Ewing started with his regiment 'for the front,' on the 4th of October, 1862, just twenty days after its organization. In five days, the march to Fort Scott was completed, and as soon as the supplies and ammunition designed for Gen. Blunt's army were ready, the regiment marched, in company with a section of Blair's battery, as escort to the train. On arriving at Pea Ridge, Ark., on the 19th, it was reviewed by Gen. Schofield, and assigned to the First Division, Gen. Blunt commanding; Third Brigade, Col. Cloud commanding. The following night, the First Division marched to Bentonville, and the night succeeding to the vicinity of Old Fort Wayne, from whence the command moved to Little Osage and went into camp, detailing foraging expeditions into the surrounding country in quest of provisions for the division. Supplies arriving from Fort Scott on the 27th of November, the command marched the next morning for Cane Hill, forty miles south, the Eleventh leading the infantry in the attack on Marmaduke's advanced force on the morning of the 29th. On the retreat of Marmaduke, the regiment, with Gen. Blunt's forces, returned to Cane Hill. On December 6, Company H, of the Eleventh, had a sharp skirmish with the cavalry advance of the enemy on the Fayetteville road, in which it won an enviable name and well-merited praise. The regiment was with the troops with which Blunt hurried to the support of Gen. Herron's gallant but sorely pressed little army at Prairie Grove, and was, on his arrival, thrown at once into the fight, on the right of Gen. Herron's line, and where the rebels had massed a large force with intent to flank and crush the weary but resolute force that had so long and bravely withstood their attacks The rebels found an enemy they were not looking for, and Gen. Blunt's division had to take the brunt of the battle after its arrival.

The right of the Eleventh was formed in the woods at the foot of the ridge on which the enemy were posted, and was under the direct command of Col. Ewing. The left, under Lieut. Col. Moonlight, was in the open field, and formed the chief support of Rabb's and Hopkin's batteries. Col. Weer's command, to which the right wing of the Eleventh was attached, advanced part of the distance up the ridge in their front, when the rebels pouring over its crest charged with the greatest fury, and after a fearful fight succeeded in gradually forcing the Union line back, which was, however, soon re-formed, and with the help of the batteries, which were most efficiently served, the position was held until night came on, the firing ceased and the enemy withdrew over the crest of the hill into the woods beyond. Several attempts were made by the enemy to capture the batteries which were thinning their ranks so steadily, but they were fruitless, only resulting in terrible loss to themselves.

The morning found our forces ready, but no foe to fight.

The Eleventh participated in the pursuit of the army of Gen. Hindman to Van Buren, Ark., returned with the command to Rhea's Mills, and thence, the division now under command of Gen. Schofield, proceeded to Elm Springs, and went into camp for two weeks. During the winter months of 1863, the Eleventh was engaged in marching and countermarching through Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas, over horrible roads, and in the most, terribly cold weather, the occasional seasons of rest in camp being more dangerous in those unhealthy localities than even the severe exposure and fatigue of the march.

On the 13th of March, Col. Ewing was promoted Brigadier General, and on his recommendation, Lieut. Williams was appointed Captain and A. A. G. Soon after these appointments, the Kansas troops marched to the vicinity of Fort Scott, and were granted thirty days' furlough.

On the expiration of the furlough, the Eleventh marched from Fort Scott to Rolla, Mo., and there joined the Fifth Division of the Army of the Frontier, Gen. Ewing commanding. Gen. Ewing was placed in command of the district of the border, including Southwestern Missouri and most of Kansas. The Eleventh joined him at, Kansas City (his headquarters) about the 20th of April, and soon after its arrival was mounted by order of Gen. Schofield, and in August the regiment was changed to cavalry with authority to recruit two new companies.

On the promotion of Col. Ewing, Lieut. Col. Moonlight had been promoted to Colonel, Maj. Plumb, to Lieutenant Colonel, and Capt. Anderson of Company B, to Major. but the regiment having lost over 300 men, its number was below minimum, and they could not muster at that time. On changing the regiment to cavalry, it was again below regulation size, and Maj. Anderson was the only field officer mustered in until the following spring.

During the latter part of the summer, and through the fall and winter of 1868, the Eleventh was engaged in guerrilla warfare in Southwestern Missouri, a detachment being sent to the southern border of Kansas, in December, to check a threatened raid by Stand-Waitie. This detachment remained on duty between Fort Scott and Fort Gibson until August, 1864, when it was recalled for duty on the eastern line of Kansas.

During the spring of 1861, two additional companies having been recruited and mustered in the organization of the Eleventh Kansas Cavalry was completed by the commission and muster of Lieut. Col. Moonlight, as Colonel, Maj. Plumb as Lieutenant Colonel, and Capts. E. G. Ross, of Company E, and N. A. Adams, of Company G as Majors.

Through the summer the regiment was stationed in Kansas - Company L, at Fort Riley; Company G, at Fort Leavenworth; Companies C and F, on the southern border and the remainder, under Col. Moonlight, along the eastern border with headquarters at Paola.

In the campaign against Price, October, 1861, the Eleventh, with the Second Brigade to the command of which Col. Moonlight was assigned, bore a conspicuous and honorable part, but, as the history of that celebrated raid involves the history of so many Kansas military organizations, no one of which can be consistently detached from the whole, the events of those autumn days so fraught with danger to the State, form a separate chapter.

On the return of the Eleventh from the pursuit of the demoralized remnant of Price's army, Col. Moonlight was assigned to the command of the District of Colorado; Lieut. Col. Plumb succeeding him in the command of the sub-district, of Paola. The regiment was soon ordered to concentrate at Fort Riley to prepare for a campaign against the Indians on the Smoky Hill, and in pursuance of that design Companies C and E were ordered to Fort Larned early in February, 1865. Before the last of the month, the plan was changed and the remaining companies were ordered to Fort Kearney, Neb., under orders to report to Brig. Gen. Mitchell. The march from Fort Riley to Fort Kearney - two hundred miles - was accomplished in twelve days. Heavy storms of snow and sleet rendered the roads hardly discernible; the bitter cold March winds, sweeping over the prairie, penetrated to the very marrow of the shivering, poorly clad soldiers, many of whom were on foot and unable to keep up with the command, in the face of the driving storms; the bridges over the swollen streams were swept away, and must be rebuilt, but the order was to report at Fort Kearney, and in obedience thereto, the regiment reported at that post on the 4th of March, and passed inspection the following day, receiving the encomiums of both Gen. Mitchell and the District Inspector. Fort Laramie was the next point to be reached, and on the 7th, the march was commenced, the experience of the last two weeks on the plains of Kansas being repeated in Nebraska, aggravated by the extreme scarcity of fuel. After marching 370 miles northwest, the Sioux Agency, thirty miles below Fort Laramie, was reached, and an order received to wait, for further instructions. While waiting, the men amused themselves and at the same time made themselves more comfortable, by building a sod 'city,' which was commenced and finished with the celerity and energy that distinguishes all genuine Western enterprises. Sharing the fate, too, of a host, of hardy pioneers, the builders of the city did not long enjoy the fruit of their labor, but soon pressed on to Fort Laramie and thence toward Platte Bridge, 130 miles 'further west,' where headquarters were to be established, and the Sioux prevented from destroying telegraphic communication with South Pass, or committing other depredations, and also prevented from crossing the Platte and raiding the country to the south.

This important service, which required ceaseless and tireless vigilance, quiet nerves, firm muscles, cool heads, and that peculiar bravery which as unflinchingly faces the unknown and unseen as the open and apparent danger, was to be performed by a little band of men so scantily supplied with food and ammunition, that twenty days' rations of corn, which could only be drawn at Fort Laramie, over a hundred miles away, constituted the total supply for the summer; and not a cartridge suitable for the carbines of the Eleventh could be procured nearer than Fort Leavenworth, 1,000 miles away. The mountains were covered with snow, which was still falling; vegetation had not started; the horses were dying or becoming worthless, and the great length of the line to be covered and protected, by breaking up the command into small, detached squads, stationed at distances so far apart as to be beyond the reach of help in emergency, rendered the Indian service on the plains one of the most dangerous, responsible and certainly most illy-requited branches in the military department.

Encounters with the Indians were frequent. Maj. Adams, with about thirty men from Companies D and L, was attacked at night, in his camp while on a scout, but succeeded in driving them off without loss; the telegraph stations were constantly menaced, and it being necessary to station troops along the overland stage line from Camp Collins, Colo., to Green River nearly 400 miles, to insure the safe transmission of the mails, Companies A, B, F, L and M, under Col. Plumb, were ordered to perform that service. The dangers of the route had become so appalling that passengers had abandoned it and even the drivers refused longer to jeopardize their lives in traversing it, so that it had now become a question whether overland communication should entirely cease between the important stations along this great emigrant route, or whether the pluck and muskets of the 'Kansas boys' were equal to the task of re-opening the route and protecting the mail. The event proved that the men were equal to the occasion. The coaches were driven through at the appointed time, the regiment furnishing drivers, horses and escort, until the detachment was ordered to Fort Leavenworth on the 13th of August, to be mustered out of service.

While a part of the regiment were thus keeping mail communication open along the stage line, a part of the remaining companies, under Maj. Anderson, were engaged in the same duty on the telegraph line, with headquarters at Platte Bridge. During the latter part of July, while Company I. under Capt. Greer, was encamped near the telegraph station, the Indians made their appearance in considerable numbers, and succeeded in cutting the wires both sides the Station, and in running off some of the horses. This party was pursued and whipped by Capt. Greer with a part of his men; but the party under Lieut. G. M. Walker, sent to repair the line in the direction of Fort Laramie, was attacked by a force too large to fight his way through, and he fell back to the station, with a loss of one man killed and several wounded.

The garrison at Platte River Bridge consisted in all of about one hundred and ten men, including the non-commissioned staff and band of the Eleventh. About eighty of the number were armed with carbines, but were now reduced to less than twenty rounds of cartridges per man. Of the remaining thirty, about half had revolvers, and the others no arms.

The recent demonstrations caused Maj. Anderson grave apprehensions regard to Sergt. Custard of Company H, who, with twenty-four men of Companies D and H, had been to South Pass, as escort to a train with supplies for the various stations, and was now within about twenty-five miles of the station on his return. On the morning of the 22d, the party came in view on a high hill about six miles west, apparently unconscious of the presence of Indians in their vicinity.

The howitzer was fired to warn them of their danger, and Lieut. Collins with about thirty of the best mounted and armed men of the Eleventh, sent to their assistance. The Indians remained in ambush until the party from the station had moved out about half a mile to the first range of bluffs, when suddenly from the ravines, and woods, and every conceivable hiding place, 2,000 Indians sprang into view and charged upon the little band from every direction. There was no hope of going forward, and seemingly no chance of escape; but after once discharging their carbines, which they had no time to reload, with no weapons but their revolvers, they fought their way back toward the station. The party was completely surrounded on every side, and friend and foe so intermingled in the confused mass of combatants, that Maj. Anderson was unable to use the howitzer, but all the remaining available force of his already weak garrison was sent to the relief of the sorely pressed party. The Indians now turning a portion of their force against the new enemy, Lieut. Collins' party succeeded in cutting their way through the host that still beset them, when just as escape seemed possible, and the worst was apparently over, Lieut. Collins' horse, maddened by the terrible confusion, broke from the control of his rider, carrying him straight into the surging crowd of eager, vengeful savages, to share the fate that befalls every unfortunate foe that falls into their cruel hands. Of the party, four others were killed, and one wounded. The rest, as by a miracle, escaped. Sergt. Custard had, in the meantime, nearly gained the river, and saw the Indians for the first time, when the whole host rushed upon him, after their encounter with Lieut. Collins' party. The men sheltered themselves as best they could behind their horses until they were shot, and then taking advantage of every knoll and hillock, for six hours fought with the desperate courage of men who feared the death of a soldier far less than the horrible fate of a prisoner. Every one was slain; only three men of the party who were cut off before the fight began, and who escaped by swimming the Platte, lived to carry the tale to their sorrowing comrades at the station. The next day, when the mutilated bodies were recovered, and buried, with military honors in one grave, every Indian had disappeared from the vicinity, and was beyond the reach of any punishment which the garrison might be able to inflict.

Soon after this, the companies of the Eleventh still on duty on the telegraph line, were relieved and ordered to Fort Leavenworth for muster out. A portion of Company G had been mustered out, and discharged in June; also, under the same order, Col. Moonlight and Adjt. Taber. The order was then suspended, and the vacancies in the regiment filled by the commission of Lieut. Col. Plumb, as Colonel; Maj. Anderson, as Lieutenant Colonel; Capt. Allen of Company K. as Major, and Sergt. Maj. I. H. Isbell, as Adjutant. The renewal of the order for muster out, which took effect on the 20th of September, just as the companies reached Fort Leavenworth, prevented the officers above named from being mustered into the service.

The Eleventh Kansas was composed in an especial manner, of the working men of the counties in which it was recruited, men who left the farm, the shop, the bench, and left them knowing that they were giving up the main reliance of the families dependent upon them. One who shared with the regiment its triumphs and reverses, its days of relaxation, and its toilsome marches, and weary, dragging days of hardship and danger, writes of them "as one who knows whereof he speaketh," when he says: "No history will record the heroic struggles of the men at the recruiting stations on the prairies when they resolved to leave their ill-provided families for the hazards of three years of distant service. No exposure on picket, no toil on march, no danger in battle ever tried their manhood like the first struggle of enlistment." Having once made this sacrifice, and made it simply because the call of duty and country was louder than aught beside, they were not the men to murmur or rebel, even at the extreme hardships of a soldier's life; but, as they thoughtfully and intelligently offered their services at first, so they intelligently, quietly and soberly continued them, even to the end.

FATAL CASUALTIES.

Company A - Killed at Westport, Mo., October 23, 1864, James F. Gordon. Leavenworth; at Little Blue, October 21, 1864, George W. Edwards, Easton. Killed by the Indians in Dacota Territory, George W. Gliddon and Henry G. Gale, both of Easton, and Silas Hinshaw, Leavenworth.

Company B - Killed at Little Blue, Mo., Sergt. James B. Kyle, Holton, and William P. Cole, Leavenworth.

Company C - Killed at Lexington, Mo., October 18, 1864, Sergt. Charles Y. Hyde, Emporia. Died of wounds received at Prairie Grove, Ark., Charles Stotler, Emporia. Died of wounds received near Scott's Ford, Mo., Isaac Cox, Emporia.

Company D - Killed at Platte River Bridge, D. T., July 26, 1865, Corp. William H. Miller, Mount Florence; Thomas Powell, Oskaloosa; William D. Gray, Leavenworth; Samuel Tull, Aubrey; Martin Green, Edwin Summers and Jacob Zinn, all of Rising Sun, and John B Zinn, Lawrence. Killed at Lexington, Mo., James H. Long, Rising Sun; killed by guerillas, John Poor, Rising Sun, and Jonathan N. Myers, Oskaloosa. Died of wounds received at Little Blue, Mo., William C. Todd, Oskaloosa.

Company E - Killed at Prairie Grove, Ark., Matthias S. Judge. Topeka.

Company F - Killed at Little Blue, Mo., Frederick Lochterman, Garnett. Killed by Indians at Platte Bridge, D. T., William T. Bonwell, Lyon County. Died of wounds received at Prairie Grove, John H. Smith, Garnett.

Company H - Killed at Red Buttes, D. T., July 26, 1865, Sergt. Amos J. Custard, Big Springs; Jesse E. Antram, Moses Brown, William Brown, all of Kaw; George Heil, August Hoppe, Ferdinand Shaffer, Samuel Sproul, all of Tecumseh; William B. Long, Monmouth; William West, Burlingame; Thomas W. Young, Osage County; James Ballen, Leavenworth; John Horton, Delaware.

Company I - Killed at Prairie Grove, William Eckenkamp, Burlingame; Platte Bridge, D. T., Adam Culp, Mt. Florence; George W. McDonald, Burlingame; James A. Porter, Lyon County. Died of wounds received at Prairie Grove, William Grigsby, Grasshopper; John C. Rooks and Isaac. F. Thiers, Burlingame. Killed at Westport, Mo., William Abnot, Shawnee.

Company K - Killed at Platte River Bridge, Sebastian Nehring, Alma, and George Camp, Pleasant Grove. Killed by guerrillas, George N. Sabin, Louisville.

Company L - Killed at Little Blue, Mo., William H. Lapham, Wabaunsee; Moses L. Thomas, Chelsea; Frederic Whaley, Lawrence. Died of wounds received at Little Blue, William Evans, Lawrence.

[TOC] [part 13] [part 11] [Cutler's History]