The Lone Jack Fight


The REPUBLICAN'S efforts to bring out the hidden history of the battle of
Lone Jack seem in a fair way to be crowned with success. Several
communications have been received adding materially to the information
already published, and after pursuing those given below the discriminating
reader will probably be able to form a pretty correct idea of what really
happened on that hard-fought field. The widely varying accounts that have
been current for so many years have been largely due to the fact that the
troops engaged were made up of independent commands not thoroughly
united into a regular military organization and the officers not acting in entire
harmony.

The Right Wing Heard From

NEVADA, Mo., Sept. 8.-- [Editor Republican.]-- Some time since my
attention was called to an article in the REPUBLICAN written by Maj. Foster,
in which the major drew a great many things from his own imagination. I was
requested to answer it at the time, but declined to answer it at the time, but
declined to do so, as I thought some other would improve the opportunity.

Next came "No. 2," from one Sidney D. Jackman, with a wood cut of his
"phiz" and "general" prefixed his name. This is a particular piece of writing.
For brag and bombast it has not its equal in ancient or in modern history. I do
not think that since Adam was driven from his Eden ever pretended to write
the history of any event and used as many "I's" as did our distinguished
"general" in the very remarkable article. When I was a boy there was a family
fight among the Missouri Democrats, in which the Benton and anti-Benton
factions opposed each other bitterly. In speaking of the arrogance of
Thomas H. Benton, it was the custom of the anti-Benton partisans to
denominate that distinguished worthy "Old I Did" and this
would seem a fitting name for the heroic Jackman. Therefore, I will be
pardoned for referring to him as "I Did."

The magnifying glasses worn by "I Did" makes the "I" very large, while the
"Yous" are correspondingly dimunitive. Yet many things that he relates are as
near to the truth as a mind like "I Did's" can write. It is hardly necessary, then,
to add that very many of his statements are highly
tinctured with "concentrated." Like the novel writer, he must have his hero,
and in this case his hero must be Jackman! In order to accomplish this,
however, there were several other names to get out of the way, and the first
of those was Col. Cockrell. This man was wanting in nerve- showed the white
feather- started to run back, but "I Did" and "I Said," and, finally, we went on;
and had it not been for "I Did," Col. Cockrell would have turned tail and run
back to Troy Bayou! But "I Did" saved him, and we went ahead with flying
colors.

After boasting Col. Cockrell in this style as long as necessary, "I Did" pets
him up again, just as some men fondle a dog after having kicked him out of
the path. As to how Col. Cockrell will appreciate the treatment is not for me to
say.

At Lone Jack the first strike "I Did" makes is at Col. Up. Hays, who, I believe,
is dead. Hays must not have even one feather in his hat, so "I Did" boots him
clear out. Hays, out of the way, branded a coward, we will now proceed with
the battle. The lines were formed much as stated by "I Did"
Hunter on the right, Jackman in the center, and Tracy on the left. Thus
formed, we marched up near the sleeping enemy and then waited for an
attack by Hays on the east. When we heard the federals getting up I went to
Jackman
and proposed to attack at once, but he would not concent, saying that the
order would not permit [it.] I told him that the circumstances were different
from what Col. Cockrell expected, and in my judgement we should move at
once. This he refused to do. Had he and Tracy concented to a charge at that
time, the federal line would have left the field dressed in white; but we must
not take any advantage; consequently we waited until they had donned the
blue, seized their guns, provided themselves with plenty of
ammunition, formed into line and counted off, as if on parade, and were thus
ready and waiting for a foe to fight. Then it was that "I Did" gave the order to
charge, when the entire line had been waiting all this time for the idea to get
through his head that the proper time to charge had already come.

When the charge was made, my command, being on the right, struck the
south part of the town, my left near the hotel and my right out along the fence,
while the federals were formed in the street. My line and their left being south
of the houses, neither side had any protection. The federals
opposing my line soon gave way and retired down the line further north,
forming behind the houses in front of Jackman and Tracy. It was not long
after the fight began until both parties took advantage of the houses on each
side of the street, and the fight was reduced to sharp-shooting- shooting from
behind the houses, from windows and from behind any objects that would
shield a man's carcass from the bullets of the enemy. After the fight had
continued for some length of time and the federals had been driven behind
the houses, it was reported to me that there was a body of cavalry
threatening my right flank and moving, as if it would attack the boys keeping
our horses and our ammunition wagon. When I heard this, I sent my adjutant,
Lieut. Frost of Henry county, to see. He came back and reported to me that
there was quite a body of federal cavalry out there, and unless immediate
steps for protection were taken they would capture our horses and
ammunition, and also be enable to charge me in the right rear. At this time
Jackman, Tracy, and the federals were all behind the houses, each on his
own side, keeping up a regular sharp-shooting match, neither trying to
dislodge
the other and neither doing much damage. I had, by this time, lost seven men
killed dead and many wounded; and when I left Jackman everything was safe,
so far as an advance was concerned, and the enemy could not have turned
his right flank without first coming out from behind the houses. This I knew
they would not do; besides, if they had, I was close enough at hand to meet
them and drive them back.

I marched my command a little west of south, about 150 yards. When we
started in that direction the cavalry retired east, in behind the federal lines.
During this movement we were exposed to a raking fire from the federals in
front of Jackman, and my adjutant, Lieut. Frost, was killed and several others
wounded.

When the federals, against whom we were moving, retired from the south, I
ordered my line into column facing the east, intending to march across the
road, south of the two lines, and charged the left wing of the federals and
drive them from behind the houses. When the adjutant started east, some of
my officers told me that the men had no ammunition. We had but a few
cartridge boxes and the men carried their ammunition in their pockets.
(Jackman stated that we had only six rounds to start with.) I halted the
column and passed down the line. I found that some had two cartridges,
some one and some had none, except the one in their guns. In this condition
and still under the fire of of the federals from behind the houses, I thought it
best to retire to the wagon and get ammunition, and I think that I got there
about one minute before the irate "I Did." He came up blustering, but I was
busy, and paid but little attention to him. Probably the electricity vibrating on
the bristly red hair of his head so shocked my shattered nerves
that I was dumb. However, be that as it may, it made no impression on my
mind, or I had forgotten it.

On our return to the town to renew the fight I may have fallen down (for I have
a big foot), but that has also slipped my memory.   At all events I went ahead
and got up behind the houses. I got up behind one, and Jackman behind
another. I fired several shots and supposed he was equally busy, But I
noticed he was as careful to shield his carcass as I was to save mine.(By the
way, neither of us died for our country at Lone Jack.)

Finally the federals decamped. It might appear that the said Jackman showed
his fiery red head from behind the house, and the federals, thinking it a
heretofore undiscovered comet threatening them with sure destruction,
fled.  But the facts are these: That man, Col. John T. Coffee, that Jackman
said had run off, happened to return just in the nick of time, when victory was
poised over the field, uncertain where to perch. Col. Coffee came up, formed
his line across the road north of town, and moved down on the field in grand
style (and that was one time I was glad to see the gallent colonel), and the
federals, not liking the looks of Col. Coffee's sharp-shooters, fled
precipitously down the road to Lexington.

This is a plain, fair and candid statement of facts. I was one of the boys that
fought at Lone Jack, and only ask my part of the honors.

As to my being a coward, the men that were with me at Lone Jack did not so
believe. When we reached Arkansas my recruits numbered 1,700. By order
of Gen. Hindman these recruits were reduced to ten companies of 125 each,
making 1,250 men, two or three hundred of them having been in the battle of
Lone Jack; and every one of them, by popular vote, voted for D.C. Hunter to
be colonel of the Eleventh Missouri Infantry. These men did not believe me
to be a coward; the men who were with me at Prairie Grove in front of Gen.
Blunt do not believe it; the confederates from Missouri do not believe it, and
now Sidney, "honest injun," laying all jealousy and pride aside, you don't
believe it yourself? Now own up and admit you just wanted to brag a little.

That boy that helped fire the hotel belonged to Capt. Lowe's company. His
name was Lafayette Logan. He was killed before the fight was over and now
sleeps under the Lone Jack tree.

Col. Jackman makes a thrust at Col. Tracy. As to the facts I cannot say, but
as Col. Tracy long ago sleeps under the sod, and cannot reply, I think it was
a very small piece of business to use his vulgar slang to dishonor the dead,
that he might boast of himself. As to Capt. Brewster and Lieut.
Herrill, both of whom he boasts out, I can say nothing as I do not know them.

It is curious, with the reputation the confederates have always heretofore
maintained, that the immortalized Jackman should have been thrown among
so many cowards. I am sory that any body of confederate troops should
have been commanded by a set of cowardly officers. And I might ask the
"general" some questions about why he left the army in Arkansas, depriving it
of his valuable services at a most inappropriate moment. The army west of
the Mississippi thus suffered about the same loss that the army of Virginia
did in the death of Stonewall Jackson; the difference was that one went to the
grave, the other back into the brush. Had Jackman remained with the army
and helped Gens. Smith and Holmes, the results of the war would have been
far different.

Col. Jackman said nothing about the cannon. I am surprised that he did not
claim that he captured them. After the fight was over there was a boy
belonging to my command, who lived two miles east of Molcombe's springs
in Arkansas (I have forgotten his name), who came and told me the cannon
were down in a field. I, with others, went back with him. We found that there
were two pieces, and they were bravely defended, but we made a gallant
charge and the enemy surrendered. An old dun horse defended one piece and
a boy and a sorrel the other. They made a gallant defence, but could not
resist our charge and so surrendered to Hunter and the Arkansas boy.

Others may claim the honor of capturing the artillery but it rightfully belongs to
the boy from Arkansas. He wore yellow jeans pants, a checked shirt of
homemade cotton cloth and a white wool hat.

As to the number killed, after the dead had been carried up and laid in rows
for burial, I went along the row and looked at the dead men. I asked the
officer in charge how many there were. He said that he had counted them and
there were 119 federals and 47 confederates. I did not count them, but from
appearances, I thought he was correct. Nine of these belonged to Hunter's
command. I never cound ascertain as to my number of wounded. Several of
my men were left in hospital, and several, who were slightly wounded, went
out with me. Some also returned to their homes and there was no report
made of the battle to my knowledge.

I do not know that it is necessary, at this late day, to answer the charges
more fully than I have, that was never made, to my knowledge, until nearly a
quarter of a century after the battle, when a majority of the participants on
both sides are sleeping in the dust. And with all the social intercourse I have
had with Col. Jackman, and with all the kind regards and personal friendship
expressed through letters from him and from others, I had no idea
that there was any venom secreted in his heart against me, and I cannot now
believe it was anything else than his inordinate love of praise that prompted
him to write as he did. It is unlikely that the appointment of United States
marshal from President Cleveland may have puffed him a
little- but I am done for the present.

Respectfully,
D.C. Hunter


Missouri Republican, September 12, 1885