Sunday, May 10, 2015

Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri Part 6

Members of the 27th Enrolled Missouri Militia at a blockhouse guarding a railroad bridge in St Charles County
Before I start with another update of the interesting accounts in the guerrilla warfare in Missouri, I just really want to say that if you are really into the American Civil War history, you really need to read, Border War by Stanley Harrold.  I am still listening to the unabridged audiobook and I am absolutely amazed how many skirmishes were fought between the northern and southern citizens and police over slavery prior to the Civil War outside of Kansas.  Some of these fights were quite large in size.  Some of the northern states where even fighting Federal marshals.  It is quite clear that not having a war to end slavery was impossible and it was only a matter of time.   
27th Enrolled Missouri Militia on parade
So on to more incidents in the guerrilla war in Missouri in the first half of 1864.  I picked several accounts that I found interesting (one was indeed amazing!)  But I first would like to discuss the problems with just using one source to read.  I think the author did an excellent job writing the various incidents and openly admits to some as being questionable as there are weak sources or multiple sources can’t verify one claim.  It is good that this author states that in his books so that you can question certain accounts.  The author points out evidence, for example, in famed guerrilla Sam Hildebrand’s autobiography that there are several accounts that can’t be verified with any other source and one or two are totally incorrect, but that a lot of it can be verified.  The fact that this author goes out of his way to state when it is questionable makes me trust the author’s research more. 
Company drum for Co. F, 7th EMM out of St. Louis County.  It was commanded by Captain J. C. Dubuque.
Union “Hunter-Killer” teams

During the fall of 1863 and winter of 1864, Union officials created new tactics to combat the guerrillas.  Mostly, it was to have more aggressive patrolling, arming the northern citizens, the dislocation of guerrilla supporters in Order Number 11, plus the creation of specific Hunter-Killer teams.  A lot of the tactics don’t look too out of place even for Cold War era Counterinsurgency (COIN) operations.  You almost could change the swamplands of the ‘Bootheel’ of Missouri to be the delta in Vietnam in some of the accounts.  An example of the Hunter-Killer teams was a special Union chief of scouts, Detective Benjamin F Allen, and a handpicked force of 15 enlisted troopers in March of 1864.  This team of troopers rode around several counties in west central Missouri, including Jackson County, searching and ambushing guerrillas for about a month’s time, with quite some success. 

Artillerymen used as infantry

Speaking of getting that Vietnam vibe, this one takes place in the swamplands in northern Arkansas.  If you are not familiar with the US Army custom of this time period that artillerymen are also used as infantrymen, this is one example where artillerymen are used that way.  In the ‘Bootheel’ of Missouri, several local guerrilla bands were getting active in early spring.  So the commander of the garrison in New Madrid, MO, Major John W. Rabb, of 2nd MO Lt Arty Rgt. decided to carry out a pincer type operation to kill guerrillas in that region of Missouri.  The operation was to have three prongs, a rapid cavalry movement pushing guerrillas south into to northern Arkansas, where the other two prongs would be made up of the artillerymen on foot that were be landed by a riverboat to engage any Rebels or guerrillas there and any retreating from the cavalry column.  Unfortunately for Major Rabb, his operation already had several strikes against it.  1) The cavalry force just got back from furlough and their horses were all worn out; 2) the artillerymen were not mounted and would be operating against a force that was mostly mounted; and 3) while the artillerymen were trained in infantry tactics, they had no real experience to actual counter-guerrilla operations.

The cavalry column was under the command of Capt Valentine Preutt (mentioned in the previous blog entry) of the 1st MO Cavalry.  The column was made up of three companies from the 1st MO Cavalry.  They rode through Pemiscot & Dunklin Counties killing thirteen guerrillas, capturing five, and wounding unknown more with the loss of three slightly wounded troopers.

The combined artillery columns of 200 men boarded the steamer, SILVER MOON, and set off for northeastern Arkansas.  The first artillery column of about 100 men under the command of Capt William C. F. Montgomery departed just south of the Missouri border in Mississippi County.  This column had no problems and appears not to have been able to engage any of the guerrillas. 

The second artillery column on Major Rabb landed also in Mississippi County further south, in the heavily wooded swampland north of Osceola on April 6th.  One the first day they killed five or six mounted guerrillas in the area.  On the second day, they camped near a house in the swamp.  Major Rabb was warned by the owner of the house that his son was a guerrilla and that the guerrillas would attack his force at dawn.  About 2 a.m. on 8th, the guerrillas moved up to the Union forces that were encamped.   Several guerrillas sneaked past the sentries into the camp.  Major Rabb was awoken to a guerrilla officer with a shotgun quietly demanding him to surrender his force.  Major Rabb pulled out his pistol and the two officers fired on each other starting a melee in the darkness between the guerrillas and the artillerymen.   In the end, the guerrillas were routed.  Major Rabb’s force lost one lieutenant killed outright at the start of the melee, three mortally wounded, plus another six wounded.  Major Rabb was not able to estimate the guerrilla’s band size or casualties as they recovered their dead and wounded before fleeing.  The next day Major Rabb’s column left the area to board another steamer and sail back to New Madrid.

Creole House in Prairie du Rocher, IL, built pre-Civil War.

Missouri’s invasion of Illinois

As with all wars, not everyone will support the side that their government support or even their own government, so it should not come to any surprise that there was pro-southern areas in a Union state like Illinois or even Iowa.  Guerrillas from Missouri would cross over the border to visit known pro-southern merchants or families to buy war materials or even to camp where the Union troops in Missouri would not follow because of the political situation of operating in a follow Union state.  In the case of Iowa, it was sort of handled by the returning Union veterans of the 21st Missouri Infantry, which was recruited in the northeast part of Missouri near the Iowa border, by locals giving them list of known southern sympathizers so they could threaten them, burn their homes, or even kill them.  By the time the furloughed vets of the 21st MO Infantry left, the guerrilla support from Iowa was at a minimum after that.

As for Illinois, one guerrilla band under John Highley, based their operations in the pro-southern town of Prairie du Rocher.   By April of 1864, the Union authorities in Missouri had finally grown weary of Highley’s protection in Illinois and authorized a raid.  Company H, 3rd Cavalry MSM under Capt. Henry B Milks from their post in Farmington, MO, was select to conduct the raid.   ON April 6th, Capt Milks briefed his men on the delicacy of the raid and instruct them not to harm the persons or property of the Illinois citizens unless necessary.  Capt Milks’ command crossed over the Mississippi on a steamer and advanced on Prairie du Rocher.  Just outside of town, the Missouri militiamen charged into the town and some of the guerrillas fired on them from the buildings but then fled to the river bluffs out of town.  As the cavalry pursued the guerrillas, they sniped at them from the bluffs until they all fled from the area.  The raid caused three guerillas to be killed, including John Highley, captured one guerrilla, plus seized some firearms.  The raiders suffered one trooper badly wounded.  The citizens of Illinois were outraged and claimed that the militiamen stolen a lot of property and money.  Capt Milks was arrested and held on charges for a time until the investigators determined that the criminal charges to be false and he was reinstated.
'Bloody' Bill Anderson
'Bloody' Bill Anderson’s return to Missouri and the attack on Lamar

In mid-May, 1864, ‘Bloody’ Bill Anderson’s band of 80 or so guerrillas were riding back into southwest Missouri from their winter camp in Texas.  They were mostly wearing captured Union uniforms by this time.  Riding through the region Anderson sent a letter to the Union garrison at Carthage as a challenge to come out and fight on May 18th.   After some discussion with his fellow officers excepting Anderson’s challenge, Capt Phillip Rohrer rode out of Carthage with his 50 men company from the 26th Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM), which was detailed to the 7th Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (PEMM) at this time.  Luckily for Capt Rohrer, Anderson was only toying with them and kept moving and not waited to fight them. 

But at Dry Fork in Jasper Co, Capt T. J. Stemmons of the 76th EMM, detailed to the 7th PEMM, was unaware of Anderson’s return back to Missouri.  On the night of May 19th, Capt Stemmons and six men set up an ambush along a road to catch local guerrillas.  As Anderson’s guerrillas moved into Union’s kill zone, the seven soldiers open fired with revolvers and one shotgun wounding at least one guerrilla who dropped his weapon before they all fled up the road northward.  Luckily for the seven militiamen, neither side knew the size of the opposing force and Stemmons was unaware that it was Anderson’s guerrillas that he ambushed for a couple of days later.

On May 20th, Anderson’s band rode towards Lamar, MO, which the guerrillas partially burned earlier in the war in 1862.  The Union garrison at Lamar was under First Lieutenant George N Alder and about 40 men of the 76th EMM, also detailed to the 7th PEMM.  They also were not aware of Anderson’s band being in the area, so when the guerrillas attack the town, about half of the garrison was out on patrol somewhere else.  While Anderson’s men attacked, most of the remain militiamen fled, except for Sergeant Jeffrey Cavender and nine others who were able to reach the ruins of the Barton Country courthouse where their Springfield rifles and ammunition was stored.  Here the little band of militiamen fought under cover and repulsed two mounted charges.  A couple of women brought buckets of water to the defenders so that they could continue to man their firing positions in the heat of the day.  After several hours, Anderson finally gave up and withdrew while carrying away his dead and wounded.  The losses are not known for Anderson’s band, but the militiamen lost one man that was killed before the defense of the courthouse.

One amazing rescue

Mid-May, 1864, a band of 50 or 60 guerrillas under Henry Taylor, a former Vernon Co sheriff, rode near Pittsburg, Kansas, heading back to Vernon Co, MO.  Because they were unfamiliar with the Pittsburg area, they forced against their will the 90-year old Jacker Manly and another younger man to guide them through Kansas and into MO.  Along the way, they murdered Jacker Manly but let the younger man go, who would report back to the Manly family on where they could find the body. 

On May 15, the band raided several farms of northern sympathizers near Dry Creek in Vernon Co, taking six civilian prisoners.  They then rode and surrounded the house of a Union scout, Josiah C Ury, capturing him and his father, Lewis Ury.  They lined the eight prisoners up and announced that they would execute them soon. Then guerrillas then sat down to relax and forced the Ury’s women to make them breakfast.  (Foreshadowing…again, no sentries)

Earlier before the events at the Ury’s farm, five troopers of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry was garrisoned nearby on the West Fork of the Dry Wood Creek near Garland, KS, had heard about the guerrillas raiding the various farms and decided to go investigate.  As they found signs of guerrilla raiders, they sent two men back to summon additional help at their company’s post, while the remaining three continued to follow the guerrillas up to the Ury’s farm. 

What happen next is in the truest form of cavalry bravado! The three Wisconsin cavalrymen upon seeing so many guerrillas and the prisoners lined up to be shot, charged into the resting guerrillas with pistols blazing.  Amazing, the guerrillas were so surprised by the charging trio; they feared that more Union cavalrymen would be soon barreling down on them that they fled the farm in a panic.  The only recorded casualty was Lewis Ury suffered a mortal gunshot from a guerrilla while using the Wisconsin charge to escape. 

Shortly afterwards the events at the Ury’s farm, Taylor’s band was being pursued by about 100 cavalrymen from the nearby Wisconsin cavalry post and from Fort Scott in Kansas.  Along the Clear Creek in Dover, MO, Taylor’s men were forced into battle with two companies of the 15th Kansas Cavalry.  Taylor form up a battle line and the Kansas cavalry men charged towards them firing and hitting several guerrillas.  Taylor’s men could not hand the shock, forcing them to break and route again.  The Kansas cavalrymen chased them over ten miles before losing them.  The losses from this engagement were three or five guerrillas killed and number of them wounded and only three Kansas troopers wounded.


I am just now starting chapter 11 in the book and just finished reading the chapter on events leading up to the ‘Paw Paw’ mutiny, but I am going to hold off on covering those events until after I finish the chapter that covers the actual mutiny and do an entry on specifically covering the mutiny.
As I was reading since my last entry, I come to realize that the guerrillas in many ways acted similar to Native America warriors in battles with the Union troops.  I might have to pull out my old copy of Yellow Ribbon by Greg Novak. This is one of the best rules sets for the realistic portrayal of the Pony Wars, but very frustrating for the Native Indian players for the lack of control over their commands, much like the real world.  I think with a little modification, this rules could be adapted to cover the various Union battalion sweeps in Missouri better than any existing rules out there.  But GDW's Space 1889: Soldier's Companion might be as good as it has fieldcraft ratings too. 

Be seeing you



Phil Murphy said...

Magnificent blog Joe

Phil M

Phil Murphy said...

Excellent blog Joe

Phil M

Sapper Joe said...