Peter J. Lane's Memoirs

Upon arriving at home and changing my wet garments for dry ones, and in
less than three hours after my arrival, I was sent for by the Militia,(we were
stationed at Clinton, about 10 miles distance) to go and take the oath of
allegiance to the "Gamble administration" and so called federal
Government, but I declined accepting the invitation & as a matter of course
had to "take to the brush" to avoid them, else they would have taken me,
and forced me to take it or go to Alton as a prisoner, neither of which did I
wish to do.
Giving out word that I had gone back to Arkansas, I had but little trouble in
avoiding them since they believed it & did not hunt for me. After having
"kept close" from May the 17th (when I arrived) until July 31st, I again was
sworn into the Confederate Service for 3 yr. or during the war. The "Gamble
administration" having issued orders for all able bodies men to enlist in the
Militia, thus caused almost all southern men who were subject to military
duty to "take the brush" and having authorized officers, scattered over the
country, they soon collected these men into companies & Regiments &
enlisted them in the Confederate Service.
Thus we became banded together into companies & scouted here & there,
sometimes to avoid the Militia & at others to try & meet them & prevent
them from doing contrary to our wishes. Thus we passed some time in
companies & squads scattered through the brush on the various streams of
the country, not daring as yet, to stay on the prairies, more than in crossing
them & grazing on their borders. After a time we occasionally banded
together in larger numbers & went where we pleased, out from the Militia
posts some 8 & 10 miles, & it might be said that the Militia held the towns
and country near there while we principally held the country out from them. T
Thus we kept scouting here & there, recruiting & preparing for military
operations, mostly avoiding the militia & when we did not they avoided us,
so we got along without any serious difficulty; until our Colonel (Warner
Lewis of Cass Co.,Mo. called us together, having now partially organized 3
or 4 parts of companies under Capt. Teague, Beddenger, Beaty , Coming
together at the farm of Abner Webster on Norris Creek, Henry County, all
except Capt. Teague & his company, we started to meet Colts. Coffee &
Tracy who were near Osceola with their forces, while Col's. Hunter,
Cockerel, Hughes, Hays & Quantrell, were scattered along the border from
Carthage to Independence .
Marching hard all night, we arrived at the southern border of Osage Timber,
some little time after daylight on or near the 10th of August (1862). Here we
divided into squads to go to the farms nearby & get our breakfast, but
before we had gone far we ascertained that the enemy were also scattered
around there & our Col. immediately ordered us together again, & we
moved on into the timber where we were presently ordered to form for
battle as our Col. supposed the enemy was pursuing us, but after waiting for
a time & finding they were not coming, we again went on & in two or three
miles came to the Monigaw or Sulphur Springs, and passing these we
crossed the Osage River at Huffman's Ferry, and entering the large prairie
on the south, we bore off eastward & toward noon or after arrived at
Osceola, where we stopped & fed our horses & got a little something to eat,
for we had had nothing since the day before Learning here that Col's.
Coffee & Tracy were camped some 10 miles southward, we presently
started for their camp, where we arrived late in the evening, after a
protracted ride of 40 or 45 miles with an hours rest or so at Osceola.
Staying here until toward noon the next day (the 11th I think) we set out with
the aforesaid forces & marched toward Bolivar in Polk County, with the
intention of rescuing Col. (Dixie's notes Jim or James) T. Coffee's daughter
from the enemy who had here there in prison & try to give them a "lesson"
for such conduct, but we had only gotten to Humansville, which is half way
between Osceola & Bolivar, when we learned that the enemy were coming
to meet us. (Here at Humansville we came very near capturing some of the
Resting here long enough to prepare supper, for it was evening when we
arrived, we again an hour or so after dark set out on a retreat as it might be
called, and steering our course toward Stockton, the county seat of Cedar
County, we traveled on till midnight or after,(capturing two or three prisoners
by the way) when we stopped & lay down to rest, but scarce had the
daylight of the morning dawned upon us, before the sharp crack of firearms
was heard in our rear, & the louder peal of the enemy's cannon soon
wakened those who were yet asleep to a consciousness of their danger,
and all hands springing from their pallets commenced saddling & bridling
their horses , and in a very little time we were again retreating, having
learned that the enemy had only fired on our Picket or Rear Guard with
small arms, & thrown a cannon ball or two into our camp One or two men
were slightly wounded, none killed I believe.
The squad of some 45 with whom I was connected, under acting Capt.
Beaty was now ordered to take the advance, which we did & after some
time we passed Caplinger's Mill & crossing Sac River & entered the prairie,
leaving Stockton southward, & marched on westward passing Montevall a
small town in the north west part of Cedar County, & camped or rather
stopped a little while northwestward, when we again moved on slowly all
night (I believe) and next day (the 14th) we after a hard circuitous march, we
arrived late in the evening at Rosehill in Johnson County, where we stopped
& prepared some supper.
Having slept here until the next morning (15th) we after getting some
breakfast started for Lone Jack, and after a considerable days march during
which several of us, getting behind, went into a corn field near bye & found
a fine Water-melon patch, & besides having obtained a fine dinner of a
wealthy farmer, & plenty of food for our horses, we now ate a fine mess of
this delicious "fruit" of the vine". Going on we overtook our commands just
south of Lone Jack, about 1/2 mile, & all our forces, consisting of some 125
under Col. Lewis, and considerably large numbers under Cockerel, Coffee
& Tracy, probably in all 15 hundred or 2,500, encamped near bye.
After getting supper, & lying down to rest, we were roused up with the
intelligence that Cols. Cockerel, Coffee & Tracy were preparing for battle,
since the enemy had entered the village only a half a mile or so from us,
though our Col. did not know this, but only knew that they (our Colonels)
were preparing to attack the enemy. So he collected his men & started as
he supposed after the others (for it was quite dark), but before he had gone
much over 1/2 of a mile his advance guard came upon & accosted a portion
of the enemy thinking them our men. Upon this the enemy opened a fire
upon them & wounded a Mr. J.T. Casey very badly.
Upon this we turned fled & it being dark & our own leader travelling too
rapidly, left his men scattered behind, some of whom kept with him & others
& even he, himself, became lost. After scampering over ditch & hollow, &
through fields & brush, he at last concluded to halt and wait for daylight, &
try to find out something of our other forces. When daylight arrived, we
thought we heard guns or cannon, & although we were not over 5 miles at
most, yet we could not be certain, but mounting Our horses we went back &
our Col. collected various parties of his men as he went, & upon arriving
near the town we learned that our other forces had marched out the night
before, & formed ready to attack the enemy from the east and northeast,
upon the break of day.
This we learned they had done & after a bloody contest, had succeeded in
driving the enemy from the place. If I am not mistaken Col. Cockerel &
Captain S.D. Jackman formed on the east & Cols. Coffee & Tracy on the
North & east & at the break of day the former made a bold assault upon the
enemy in the Town, but the latter from some misunderstanding did not
advance, & consequently Col. Cockerel had to retire before superior
numbers & them behind the fences houses.
Coffee & Tracy soon reinforced them & they again charged the enemy &
after an hour or two, succeeded in dislodging them, by burning the tavern in
which a large number of them had taken shelter, & at last drove them
precipitately from the field with a loss of 82 killed and 18O probably
wounded, while our loss was about 42 killed & probably 70 or 100 wounded.
In this engagement, which was probably as sanguine as any yet fought by
opposing parties, the enemy were about 1300 strong, and our forces at first
under Cockerel & Jackman were about 600, but being afterward reinforced
by Coffee & Tracy probably amounted to 1500 or more. Having led their
forces up through a field our officers gave the orders to charge, when a
terrific scene ensued. Rushing forward amid "showers of lead", they entered
the place dealing death in the form of "loads of buck shot" to many a poor
fellow of the opposing ranks, & received it in the form of minnie & musket
balls themselves.
The enemy taking shelter in a large building, some of our men procured fire,
and pushing forward to its walls amid the deadly fire of the foe, they
presently set it on fire & as the enemy were forced to abandon it by the fiery
flames, they often landed the poor fellows into eternity, yet many of them
were suffering the same fate. Thus the battle raged & sad to relate, a
woman was accidentally shot dead (I believe) during the engagement, but I
know not by which party. This battle was fought on the 16th of August if I
mistake not & after it was over (Interdelineated note: "Here our forces
captured 2 fine Rifle Cannon of the best quality & Medicine) I had an
opportunity of viewing the ground around in the village. Moving up through a
long lane on the south side of town we beheld at almost every step, marks
of bullets, buck, grape & canister shot, Cannon balls ; and every now and
then we would pass the mangled & gory form of the dead, or the bloody and
suffering body of the wounded.
They were lying in the fence corners on both sides of the road & although
friends were around most of them doing all they could for them, yet they
were a pitiful spectacle to feeling man. Some were lying under a blanket,
which had been hung over them on the rails, & others in the shade of the
fence only, yet it was very hot & they must have suffered terribly. Dead
horses were thickly lying around, some propped up against the fence, as
they had fallen, when struck dead by the missiles of death, & others lying in
the streets & fields. On one porch in the village lay the pale & ghastly
features of some twenty of the dead, and only a few steps off some 25
more lay in rows, as they had been gathered up.
Near by in one house were the bodies of 40 or 50 & in others probably
equal or greater numbers of the wounded and dying! Their groans though
seldom loud were yet touching, and their condition (though generally well
cared for) deplorable. These and others even worse are a few of the many
bloody & dreadful scenes of war, and when rightly contemplated afford a
striking picture of its hideous deeds & crimes, though it may generally
assume a milder appearance & more pleasing aspect. Though at times it
may appear pleasant, pompous and even gay, yet at such times as this it
breaks forth with the fury of a fiend & then puts on the face of terror,
despair & untimely death.
After the battle was over, & late in the evening we started toward
Independence in Jackson County, & after travelling slowly for 6 or 8 miles,
we took up about midnight or after & rested until daylight, when we learned
that the enemy were marching on & surrounding us in considerable force,
from Kansas & elsewhere. It now became apparent that we must escape, or
probably be captured, & consequently we turned in a different course, &
commenced a rapid retreat, back the same road we had the night before
came, and about 10 o'clock I suppose, we again arrived at Lone Jack, and
hearing that the enemy were very near there, preparing to attack us, and we
then formed for battle around the village, but after waiting for some time, we
learned that it was a false alarm, and again moved on eastward toward
Warrensburg, and after travelling some miles on this road we turned
southeastward, and kept on, leaving the Warrensburg road, we rode on, &
toward evening, about 2 hours by sun, we held the enemy's picket or
advance scout on a large prairie through which we were passing, & leaving
a force of some 250 or 300 men to check their advance, the rest of our
forces moved on.
Those of us left to keep the enemy at bay marched out on a high hill
overlooking the prairie, and the enemy also advanced to another some 5 or
6 hundred yards off, & commenced a slight skirmish or uneven fire upon us
with their sharps rifles, but done no injury. Our boys sometimes fired back at
them (those who had long range guns) & at other times remained quiet.
Thus for an hour and a half or about it, we kept them back, for we were
greatly superior in numbers to those in advance & their forces had not yet
come in eight. About one half hour by sun we left them and followed on,
having sustained no injury ourselves, & most probably not distributing any to
the enemy. We now left the read and taking across the prairie, along the trail
our forces had made, we went hurrying on, and dark setting in presently, we
had an awful time. Some in galloping over the gullies in the dark (for it was
cloudy and rainy) were thrown head long from their horses, & one man was
said to have been killed, but I know not. Certain it is that one or two whose
foot hung in their stirrup, were dragged along at a furious rate by their wild &
frightened horses.
Thus we went pell mell, helter skelter over the hills and hollows, ditches &
gulleys, & through skirts of timber, tearing our faces & loosing our hats. The
rain kept drizzling down & the night was almost "pitch dark"; and often we
got lost from our command & had to stop & listen for them & then gallop
away in the darkness to overtake them.
I was thrown from my horse as he fell in a deep gully, and my saddle girth
bursting, it was thrown also into the pathway of those behind me & upon
picking it up, I was struck by one of my comrades horses as he went
plunging along, and knocked almost a rod. My saddle flew out of my hand &
fell in the road & those behind me kept knocking it along, & the last I ever
saw or heard rather of it, it was going along the road thumping and bumping
& jumping among the horse’s feet. After they had all past, I stepped into the
road & hunted for it, but could not discover it, so I mounted my horse, which
I had held firmly by the bridle, and taking my double barrel shot Gun, which I
had also succeeded in holding, in one hand & the bridle in the other, I
spurred foreward after the retreating sound of my comrades, and after a
mile or two overtook them, having lost my saddle blankets, clothes which
were fastened on my saddle.
I rode the balance of that night without saddle or saddle blanket even & next
day obtained one from one of our drivers. Passing through Holden next
morning about day, we moved on to Big Creek & there stopped a little while
& half roasted some green corn for breakfast & wrap- ping dough around
sticks, heated it & ate a little, but soon had to go on. Moving on down the
border of the state through Bates, Vernon, Jasper, Newton & McDonald
County, we were closely pursued by the enemy 6 or 8000 strong & scarcely
ever stopped to eat, rest, or sleep.
We had captured 2 very fine rifled cannon & a lot of medicine at Lone Jack
and the enemy declared they "intended to have those cannon back or chase
us into Arkansas", which latter they actually did, but they did not get the
cannons hack. We were 5 or 6 days at least on the retreat and during this
time, I ate one meal & slept one hour if I have not for- gotten, & others
fared much the same. I say I slept one hour, but toward the last we actually
slept more or less on our horses as we rode along. Some going to sleep
dropped their Guns, which generally awakened them; others starting to fall
would catch at their saddles & horses & waken. Some lying down by the
road side went to sleep & in the night were overlooked & left behind & fell
into the enemy's hands or returned home: others going to sleep on their
horses, would be found by the road side for our horses unless urged on
would stop, as they were worn out & sleepy too.
We would punch these with our guns to awaken them & they would rouse up
cursing you & threatening to shoot you, so near crazy were they. Some
actually went crazy toward the last (they afterward recovered), and would
ride along giving orders like an officer. I myself would go to sleep on my
horse & dream of seeing nice spring of water upon going to dismount to get
a drink I would wake up in the act of dismounting. This I done often.
Others acted equally as curious & even much more so, for most of the time
I spent in waking others up. Some could hardly be waked except by the
roughest means, punching with guns. The enemy followed us closely & at
times skirmished with our rear Guard. At last we arrived at Neosho (having
stopped at Carthage but were obliged to leave immediately), where we
rested & got some breakfast, about the 21st of August, 6 days after the
battle & 7 without eating or sleeping almost. Having stayed at Neosho 1
day, (or part of it), we again that evening started & traveled all night (except
myself and a few others sent on in advance. We slept in Pineville .),
reaching Pineville next morning (Aug.22) & soon entered Arkansas. Note:
We stopped first at Garrisons on Big Creek, 2nd a moment on Gd River,
3rd on Muddy I think, 4th at Carthage, 5th this side of Neosho in the night &
slept some, 6th at Neosho.

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Peter J. Lane Memoirs