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


[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]


This regiment was raised under the call of President Lincoln, May 8, 1861, rendezvoused at Camp Lincoln, near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, an on the 3d of June, 1861, was mustered into the service of the United States under thee following officers, commissioned by His Excellency, Gov. Charles Robinson:

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

Line Officers. - Company A, Captain, B. P. Chenoweth, Elwood; First Lieutenant, Peter A. Josephs, Elwood; Second Lieutenant, Charles O. Smith, Elwood. Company B, Captain, William Y. Roberts, Wyandotte; First Lieutenant, John: P. Aldin, Wyandotte; Second Lieutenant, John W. Dyer, Wyandotte. Company C, Captain, Peter McFarland, Leavenworth; First Lieutenant, James Phillips, Leavenworth; Second Lieutenant, Mathew Malone, Leavenworth. Company D, Captain, Frank B. Swift, Lawrence; First Lieutenant, Newell W. Spicer, Lawrence; Second Lieutenant, Caleb S. Pratt, Lawrence. Company E, Captain, Powell Clayton, Leavenworth; First Lieutenant, Lewis Stafford, Grasshopper Falls; Second Lieutenant, Azel W. Spaulding, Grasshopper Falls. Company F, Captain, Samuel Walker, Lawrence; First Lieutenant, Levant L. Jones, Olathe; Second Lieutenant, Edwin S. Nash, Olathe. Company G, Captain, Job. B. Stockton, Leavenworth; First Lieutenant, James Ketner, Leavenworth; Second Lieutenant, Hugh D. McCarty, Leavenworth. Company H, Captain, Daniel McCook, Leavenworth; First Lieutenant, James A. McGonigle, Leavenworth; Second Lieutenant, Michael Bransfield, Leavenworth. Company I, Captain, Gustavus Zesch, Leavenworth; First Lieutenant, Henry Sarstedt, Leavenworth; Second Lieutenant, Emil Umfried, Leavenworth. Company K, Captain, George H. Fairchild, Atchison; First Lieutenant, Camille Aguiel, Atchison; Second Lieutenant, Rinaldo A. Barker, Atchison.

The veteran companies were organized under the following officers: New Company B, Captain, Michael H. Mack, Kansas City; First Lieutenant, John A. Henry, Leavenworth; Second Lieutenant, Joseph W. Martin, Atchison. New Company D, Captain, Milton Kennedy, Ohio; First Lieutenant, William H. Earl, Lawrence; Second Lieutenant, John A. Henry, Leavenworth.

The companies composing this regiment were recruited, organized, drilled, and mustered into service within the short space of two months and in little more than a week from the time the untried soldiers first responded to their names on the muster roll, they were ordered into active service.

Their martial spirit could not quite find vent in the ordinary regimental and company military routine of camp life, even while at Camp Lincoln, and a rebel flag exasperatingly floating in thee breeze at Iatan, Mo., only a few miles from Leavenworth, and the knowledge that a force of rebel cavalry was organized and armed in the same town, ready to defend the obnoxious emblem, did not tend to abate the fervor of their glowing but indignant patriotism. A little band of twelve of the Elwood Guards (Company A). and the Leavenworth Steuben Guards (Company I), "true," and eager to be "tried," resolved that flag should be their own, by right of conquest, and execution, quickly followed resolve.

Tuesday morning, June 4, the enthusiastic young soldiers, led by Sergeant Frank H. Drenning demanded the lowering of the stars and bars, "in the name of Abraham Lincoln, the Congress of the United States, and the American Union," and without waiting to have the demand questioned, lowered the flag themselves by the aid of a butcher knife, and with their prize to the Kansas shore of the Missouri. Three of the party were wounded, for the rebels did not yield their treasure without resistance. Sergeant Drenning received two wounds, but was not disabled from duty. Lieut. Emil Umfried, Steuben Guards, and Private Voeth of the same company, were more seriously injured. The adventure created intense local excitement, and although the legality of the exploit was questioned or denied by many prominent men, the act was very generally indorsed by public sentiment.

On the 13th of June, seven companies of the First Kansas left Leavenworth for Kansas City. On the 20th, the remainder of the regiment followed, and on the 24th were joined by a battalion of United States Infantry and two companies of cavalry, under command of Maj. Samuel D. Sturgis, U. S. A. The united forces left Kansas City on the 24th of June, for Springfield, Mo., to join the army of Gen. Lyon, then in command of the Military Department of the West. Reaching Clinton, Mo., on the 3d of July, the regiment remained long enough to allow their patriotic fervor to find vent on the 4th in the old loyal, enthusiastic way, seasoned with the novel proceeding of issuing from a deserted rebel printing office in the city, a Union paper called the "First Kansas," and filled with earnest expressions of devotion to the old flag.

At this time the confederate forces, under Gen. Jackson, after their defeat at Booneville, had fallen back toward the southwest of Missouri, pursued by the little army of Gen. Lyon. At various points in his retreat Jackson received re-enforcements, Price joining him in Vernon County, and McCulloch and Pearce; with several thousand Arkansas and Texas troops, near Carthage. The First Kansas joined the army of Gen. Lyon at Grand River, and on the 10th of July the united command arrived at Springfield, which place was already occupied by the forces of Gen. Sigel. Aware of the great superiority of the enemy in numbers, and in intimate knowledge of the country, Gen. Lyon waited several weeks for re-enforcements, but received none, and his supplies becoming early exhausted, the First Kansas and a company under command of Col. Deitzler, were detached to take possession of some mills, situated about forty miles north of Springfield. A large quantity of wheat was obtained, the owners suitably remunerated, and the flour, together with a quantity of supplies, forwarded from St. Louis, served for the temporary necessities of the army. While at Springfield, Maj. Halderman, of the First Kansas, was appointed one of Gen. Lyon's staff officers, and Provost Marshal General of the army.

Learning that the enemy were advancing in two columns, from Cassville, on the south, and Sarcoxie on the west, Gen. Lyon determined to avoid the united attack, by leaving Springfield and meeting the former column before it could effect a junction with time latter. This plan being carried into effect, a detachment of McCulloch's column was encountered at Dug Springs, and was speedily dispersed. Gen. Lyon's forces, after destroying a depot of forage, returned to Springfield. As a safe retreat was now impossible, and the strength of the opposing force was being constantly increased by re-enforcements, while the sympathizing States of Arkansas and Texas, in the rear, stood ready to furnish any needed supplies, Gen. Lyon resolved to end the uncertainty, and extricate himself from his perilous position, daily growing more critical.

The united force of rebels, under McCulloch and Price, was concentrated at Wilson's Creek, twelve miles southwest of Springfield. The position was a good one, and the army was strongly intrenched. On the 7th of August, Gen. Lyon moved his army six miles southwest from Springfield, but the enemy would risk an engagement only on their own chosen ground, and the Union army returned again to Springfield. Finding that the decisive blow must be struck, and that it must inevitably be struck at a disadvantage, sooner or later, it was determined to attack the rebels in their camp. The little army was divided into two columns: the main body, 3,000 strong, led by Gen. Lyon, to attack the enemy by their left, and Gen. Sigel's force of about 1,500, to move by the Fayetteville road and gain a position in their rear by their right. Early on the morning of August 10, the column of Gen. Lyon, rounding the sharp curve of Wilson's Creek, gained its destination, drove in the outposts of the enemy, placed batteries in position, and opened fire almost simultaneously with Sigel, who also had gained the position he desired. The First Kansas arrived on the battle-field in rear of the First Missouri and First Iowa. Dubois' battery and the First Iowa took position on the extreme left ; the Second Missouri formed on the right, and the First Kansas and First Missouri occupied the center, with Capt. Totten's battery in their rear. The Second Kansas was held in reserve during the early part of the battle, and the cavalry were posted on the high ground to the north. The First Kansas and First Missouri, from their central and advanced position, contended from the moment of entering the fight with the most fearful odds. The rebels led battalion after battalion against the determined little band, 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."

The disastrous result of Sigel's assault on the enemy's right was only counterbalanced by the almost superhuman efforts of the column led by Gen. Lyon. Long after Sigel's demoralized troops had fled in all directions, the hard pressed, bleeding, but undaunted regiments in front were anxiously listening to hear the sound of his victorious guns, and too ready to believe that the old flag which they saw waving in the distance was upborne by the stout arms of friends, who were hurrying to their relief.

During the hard stress of the conflict, Companies A, C and E, of the First, under command of Capts. Chenoweth, Clayton, and Lieut. Malone, respectively, were ordered to charge. Led by Col. Deitzler, the command rushed down the hill before them, drove the enemy inside their encampment lines, and regained their position, but leaving fallen comrades behind them, and returning with their brave leader severely wounded. After Col. Deitzler was disabled, Maj. Halderman took command of the regiment, and where the bullets fell the thickest, never failed to be "at the head of the column, or galloping up and down the lines, waving his hat and calling to his men to remember Kansas and stand by the old flag."

After the Second Kansas was ordered to the front, and Gen. Lyon fell, there was a respite of about twenty minutes in the firing, when the struggle recommenced. A heavy column of infantry with the stars and stripes floating at its head, advanced from the hill, where Sigel's guns had been heard in the morning. A line was formed ready to advance and effect a junction, with the longed-hoped-for re-enforcement. The column moved down the hill, in range of Dubois' guns, which were silent, while the disguised enemy in safety gained his desired position. Then, from the battery on the hill in front was poured into the Union ranks, charge after charge of shrapnel and canister, and along the whole line the conflict grew more desperate, until it ended in the most bloody engagement of the day. When the struggle was the 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 consecutive hours it had raged almost without respite. The troops, many of them hardly long enough in 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 Gen. Sturgis to retire, and the exhausted and broken column preceded by the ambulances containing their wounded, left the field, and fell back to Springfield.

The First Kansas went into the engagement with six hundred and forty-four men and officers, and left it with seventy-seven of the number killed, and three hundred and thirty-three wounded - more than one-half, and this regiment had seen only two months' service. Maj. Sturgis might justly say of them, during the battle: "These Kansas boys are doing the best fighting I ever witnessed."

The forces engaged in this battle are variously estimated. McCulloch allows his effective force to have been 5,300 infantry. 15 pieces of artillery and 6,000 horsemen. and admits a loss of 265 killed. 721 wounded, and 292 missing. In his official report he claims, in view of the Union forces falling back to Springfield, that "they have met with a signal repulse." The commanders of the Union forces in their official reports place the Confederate forces at about 20,000, with loss of 3,000, and the Union force at about 5,000, in the early part of the engagement, and after the repulse of Gen. Sigel, less than 4,000. Maj. Sturgis, in his official report says:

That 3,700 men, after a fatiguing night march attacked the enemy, numbering 23,000 on their own ground, and, after a bloody conflict of six hours, withdrew at their pleasure, is the best eulogium I can pass on their conduct that day.

As Springfield was in no condition for defense, and the rebel cavalry were able to cut off supplies in every direction, it was determined to fall back to Rolla. The little army, with its baggage-train five miles long, and having in its possession the funds of the Springfield Bank, accomplished its laborious march of ten miles entirely unmolested; a very sure evidence that the rebel Generals had no belief in the victory which they claimed in their official reports. From the time of its departure from Rolla, until January, 1862, the First Kansas was employed in guarding different posts on the Hannibal & St. Joseph, and Missouri Pacific Railroads. It was stationed during the month of January at Lexington, Mo., and was then ordered to Fort Leavenworth and granted ten days' furlough.

At the expiration of the furlough, the regiment joined the forces of Gen. Curtis, then concentrating for the contemplated "New Mexico expedition," and was ordered to Fort Riley, where it remained during the winter. Gen. Sibley having evacuated New Mexico, the expedition was abandoned, and in May the regiment was ordered to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn. Its destination was again changed to Columbus, Ky., which place it reached in June, and until the last of September was employed in guarding the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, with headquarters at Trenton, Tenn. The regiment, forming a part of McPherson's brigade, was ordered, October 3, by Gen. Grant, to re-enforce Gen. Rosecrans at Corinth, and arrived there October 4, just before sunset. Gen. Rosecrans had then ordered his utterly exhausted soldiers to lie down, and start in pursuit of the enemy in the morning. The fresh troops were given the advance, and followed the flying forces of Van Dorn as far as Ripley. Miss., rebuilding the bridge over the Hatchie River, which the enemy burned behind them. The pursuit not being continued farther, the forces returned to Corinth. The regiment was transferred to Col. Deitzler's brigade, and with the forces of Gen. Grant, destined for Jackson and Vicksburg, had advanced as far south as Oxford. Miss., when the order was received for the brigade to return and occupy Holly Springs, which place Van Dorn had attacked, destroyed an immense amount of stores and munitions, and cut off Grant's communication with his base of supplies at Columbus. From Holly Springs the regiment was ordered to Salem, Miss., if possible, to intercept the retreat of Van Dorn and after returning to Holly Springs, to Collierville, on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. During December, the regiment was in Memphis, and from January, 1863, until the following July, was an active participant in the operations before Vicksburg; serving as mounted infantry, and employed chiefly in scout and picket duty, until the fall of Vicksburg, July 4, 1863. The regiment formed part of an expedition sent to Natches, which, while stationed at that place, crossed the Mississippi and routed a rebel force of about 2,000. During the winter of 1863-64, the First Kansas was stationed at Black River Bridge, twelve miles south of Vicksburg, taking part in Gen. McArthur's expedition up the Yazoo River. In the spring, it was still engaged in picket and scout duty near Vicksburg, and on the 1st of June, under command of Lieut. Col. Spicer, it embarked on the "Arthur," to be mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, its term of service having expired. The following day the boat was fired upon by an Arkansas battery, and one man of the regiment was killed and another mortally wounded.

On the 17th of June, the First Kansas (except two companies of veterans) was mustered out of service. The veteran companies continued in service until the close of the war, and were honorably discharged at Little Rock, Ark., August 30, 1865.


Company A: Killed at the battle of Wilson's Creek, Mo., August 10, 1861, Privates, James Burke, George N. Devine, Thomas Fox, John Longworth, Eli Reed, all of Elwood.


* No attempt has been made in this instance, or in the regimental sketches following, to give a complete list of the casualties of the regiment. Only those killed in action, or who died form wounds received in the battle, are included. The list has been taken from the Adjutant General's report.


Company B: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Second Lieut. John W. Dyer; Private Martin Lawler, both of Wyandotte. Died at Vicksburg, Miss., of wounds, John Fairall, Quindaro.

Company C: Killed at Wilson's Creek. Sergeant James Rogers, Leavenworth; Privates, Philip Ahern, Patrick Culline, Max Dickens, James Hamilton. Edward E. Livingston. Elargannen L. Marshall, Henry Swartz, George Soule and Terence Tiernan, all of Leavenworth. Died of wounds received in same battle, Privates William Canovan. William Ellis, Patrick Kearns, Robert McKeeon and Hugh O'Neill, all of Leavenworth.

Company D: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Second Lieut. Caleb S. Pratt, Lawrence; First Sergt. Lewis T. Litchfield, Lawrence; Privates Robert Harper, Minneola; Silas Pratt, Lawrence; Doctor W. Winters, Minneola; Isaac Baldwin, Leavenworth. Killed in action May 10, 1863, at Caledonia La., Manley Knowlton, Lawrence.

Company E: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Sergt. Theophilus Jolley; Privates, Ernst Benedict, Joseph Cott and Henry Griffin, of Grasshopper Falls; Edward Donohoe, Cornelius Murphy, David Nagles, and Herman Hawk, of Leavenworth. Died of wounds received in same battle, Privates William Boggs, Nicholas Boiloin, William Donovan, Frank Gunther, all of Leavenworth. Killed at Cross Bayou, La., September 14, 1863, James Sullivan, Leavenworth.

Company F: Killed at Wilson's Creek, First Lieut. Levant L. Jones, Olathe; Corp. Sidney Dudley, Topeka; Corp. Gilmer Young, Lawrence; Privates, Joel Armes, Wyandotte; George W. Cardnell, Jesse Dollarhide, Newton P. Fairbanks, Marshall B. Lucas, James Mahoney, T. C. F. Papilousky and William Winston, of Lawrence; Frederick Daub, Westport, Mo. Died of wounds received in same battle, Louis B. Rinehart. Lawrence; Adam Reinochl, Wyandotte. Killed at Old River, La., Daniel H. Dow, Lawrence.

Company G: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Corp. Charles T. Harrison, Leavenworth. Died of wounds received in same battle, Benson Boyles and Charles Wilson, both of Leavenworth.

Company H: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Sergt. Michael Flood and Corps. Peter Redmond, Dewitt C. Johnson, James B. Young and Morris Murphy, all of Leavenworth; Privates Thomas Dunn, Edward Hogan, Cornelius McGuire, Michael McGowan, William Mullery, Patrick Norton, Andrew Ramsey, Daniel G. Sullivan and Michael Tonay, also of Leavenworth. Died of wounds received in same battle, Corp. Lawrence McCarty, and Privates James Kelly, John Mills and Lewis G. Sherman, all of Leavenworth. Killed at Pinhook, La., May 10, 1868, First Lieut. George M. Dillworth, of Leavenworth.

Company I: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Corp. Alexander Forstner, and Privates Thomas Behne, Caesar Brandt, Charles Fillweber, Peter Killian, Herman Labann, Edward Weigert, Charles Walter and Conrad Schnechler, all of Leavenworth. Died of wounds received in same battle, Joseph Natale and Frederick Boehme, Leavenworth. Killed in action June 9, 1863, at Lake Providence, La., Second Lieut. Francis Becker, Leavenworth.

Company K: Killed at Wilson's Creek, First Lieut. Camille Aguiel, Atchison; Private William Hunt, Weston, Mo. Died of wounds received in same battle, Privates Henry W. Totten and Casper Broggs, Atchison. Killed in action near Corinth. Miss., October 5, 1862, First Lieut. Jerome G. Miner, Atchison. Died of wounds received in action June 9, 1863, at Baxter's Bayou, La., Corp. William F. Parker, Atchison.

Killed in action at Atchafalaya Bayou, La., October 4, 1864, Veteran James Perry, New Company D, Leavenworth.

[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]