KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

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


STATE HISTORY, PART 3

[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]

SECOND REGIMENT KANSAS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY.

The Second Kansas was raised in conformity to the first call of President Lincoln, April 15, 1861, for 75,000 men to serve for a period of three months. The regiment was recruited during May and the early part of June, rendezvoused at Lawrence, Kan., was organized at that place June 11, and was mustered into the service of the United States June 20, 1861, under the following officers:

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

Line Officers. Company A , Captain, Leonard W. Horne; First Lieutenant, Thomas Fulton; Second Lieutenant, Luther H. Wentworth; all of Topeka. Company B. Captain, James R. McClure, Junction City; First Lieutenant, Anson R. Spenner, Manhattan; Second Lieutenant, James P, Downer, Junction City. Company C, Captain, Simeon F. Hill; First Lieutenant, James W. Parmeter, both of Olathe; Second Lieutenant, Warren Kimball, Lawrence. Company D, Captain, Joseph Cracklin; First Lieutenant, Thomas J. Sternbergh; Second Lieutenant; Lucius J. Shaw, all of Lawrence. Company E, Captain, Samuel J. Crawford; First Lieutenant, John G. Lindsay, both of Garnett; Second Lieutenant, A. R. Morton, Ohio City. Company F, Captain, Byron P. Ayres; First Lieutenant, Ezekiel Bunn; Second Lieutenant, Barnett B. Mitchell, all of Paris. Company G, Captain, Avra P. Russell; First Lieutenant, Charles P. Wiggins; Second Lieutenant, Jacob A. Graham. Company H, Captain, William F. Cloud; First Lieutenant, Charles S. Hills; Second Lieutenant, Joseph A. Fuller, all of Emporia. Company I, Captain, Samuel N. Wood, Cottonwood Falls; First Lieutenant, Charles Dimon, Fort Scott; Second Lieutenant, Edward G. Pierce, Grasshopper Falls. Company K, Captain, William Tholen, Leavenworth; First Lieutenant, Gustavus Schroyer; Second Lieutenant, Ferdinand Jaedicke.

The regiment, after being mustered into service at Kansas City, left on the 26th of June to join the brigade of Maj. Sturgis at Clinton, Mo. Remaining in that city over the 4th of July, the command joined Gen. Lyon's Division near the Osage River, and thence marched to Springfield, and went into camp. The First and Second Kansas were formed into one brigade under command of Col. George W. Deitzler, of the First Kansas. The circumstances which determined Gen. Lyon to bring about the engagement at Wilson's Creek, as related in the sketch of the First Kansas regiment, were substantially these: The forces of Price, McCulloch and Jackson were concentrated ready to annihilate the little army of Gen. Lyon, remote as it was, from any base of supplies, and in the midst of a hostile country. The cavalry of the enemy were scouring the country, and the ranks of the confederate Generals were daily growing stronger. Gen. Lyon believed his only chance was to strike a blow that would put the enemy on the defensive long enough to allow him to retreat with safety. It appeared to be the only alternative, and on the night of the 9th of August the march to Wilson's Creek was accomplished and the hotly contested struggle commenced.

During the early part of the battle, the Second Kansas served as support to a section of Totten's Battery, which, with Col. Plummer's battalion of infantry (Eleventh Missouri) was stationed on the extreme left of the line, in the bend of the creek. This point was early attacked by the rebels; a field of corn, with its solitary log house, was the battleground; every inch was hotly contested, and when at length the battalion was forced back with its Colonel badly wounded, the Second covered its retreat, and with the help of the battery forced the rebels to seek refuge in the woods beyond the field. When the fighting ceased at this point, Lieut. Col. Blair was dispatched by Col. Mitchell for orders in regard to disposition of the regiment. Before he reached either of the commanding officers, he found that no time was to be lost in bringing the Second to the aid of the hard-pressed regiments in front. He accordingly turned back, and requested Col. Mitchell for orders to move the regiment to a point where it could serve as a support both to the center and right wing. This movement was quickly accomplished, and directly afterward the regiment was ordered to the right front, to occupy a position on the crest of the hill, at which point it seemed probable the rebels would make a desperate attack. As the regiment was moving to its position, Gen. Lyon, already bleeding from two wounds, joined Col. Mitchell at the head of the column, and swinging his hat in the air, called upon the soldiers to prepare for a bayonet charge on the enemy. The Second had scarcely time to rally around him, when their own brave leader, Col. Mitchell, fell, severely wounded, exclaiming as he was borne from the field; "For God's sake, support my regiment." His soldiers, deprived of their commander, cried out: "We are ready to follow; who will lead us?" "I will lead you," answered Gen. Lyon; "come on, brave men." The words were hardly uttered, before he fell, mortally wounded by a bullet which struck him in the breast.

The command of the Second now devolved upon Lieut. Col. Blair. The men sprang forward, the charge was made, the enemy driven quite over the hill, and the command brought back to the brow of the hill and re-formed. All along the front the assaults of the enemy had been repelled. Maj. Sturgis in his official report of the battle, says of it, at 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 5 o'clock the evening before, and could hope for none short of Springfield, twelve miles distant. If we should go forward, our own 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.

For a time, Lieut. Col. Blair held his position, with but eight companies of his regiment, and with no field or staff officer to assist him. Afterward, a section of a battery, and four companies of the First Kansas, were sent to his aid. Three of these companies were soon ordered to another position, and the battery withdrawn, but Col. Blair having been rejoined by his own Company, B, and the other regimental officers, held his ground, although totally unsupported, and his ammunition nearly spent. Before the rebels had been fairly repulsed, after their last and deadliest assault on the whole line, Maj. Sturgis, believing the ammunition of the Second exhausted, ordered its withdrawal, but it remained in its old position for an hour and a half, with unbroken line, and only withdrew when the rebels had fled from the field, and their guns were utterly silenced. It was the last regiment to leave the field and from the beginning of the battle to the close, its line and organization remained unbroken.

The Second returned to Springfield on the afternoon of the 10th of August, and the next day with the army, fell back to Rolla, Mo. Arriving at Hannibal, en route for Kansas, a part of the regiment accompanied Col. Williams, with a portion of the Third Iowa, to Paris, Mo., and assisted in driving from that place the rebel troops that occupied it, and in removing to a place of safety money that was in the bank. The command returned to Shelbina, meeting at that place Col. Green with 3,500 men, and a battery. The rebels made an attempt to destroy the railroad connection west, but were prevented from accomplishing their object. The Union force was so small (only about six hundred) that it was determined the most prudent course was to escape from the neighborhood by means of the locomotive and some freight cars, The undertaking proved successful, and the regiment, after remaining at Bloomfield a few days to guard some supplies, arrived at St. Joseph, Mo., in the night. surprised and routed the rebels who held the post, and occupied it until sufficient United States troops arrived to permanently garrison the place. At Iatan, on the way to Leavenworth, a small rebel force was routed. After being sent to Wyandotte to defend the town against a threatened invasion by Price, the regiment returned to Leavenworth, and was honorably discharged, with instructions to re-organize. Col. R. B. Mitchell, Lieut. Col. Clair, Maj. W. F. Cloud and Capt. S. J. Crawford being retained in the service.

FATAL CASUALTIES.

Cornpany A: Killed at the battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861, Privates Erie B. Morley and James Roberts, Topeka.

Company D: Died of wounds received at Wilson's Creek, Corp. Horace Dyke and Private Mennassee Glathart, both of Lawrence.

Company E: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Private Theodore Harrald, Prairie City.

Company F: Died of wounds received at Wilson's Creek, Sergt. Wilson Betts, Paris.

Company G: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Third Lieut. Robert Newell.

Company H: Killed at Wilson's Creek, Private Hiram Burt, Emporia. Died of wounds received in same battle, Corp. Thomas Miller and-Private Samuel Hammel, both of Emporia.

Company K: Died of wounds received at Wilson's Creek, Henry Newkampf.

[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]