THE BATTLE OF LONE JACK IS RECOUNTED
BY A PARTICIPANT
A.F. McCray, Whose Left Leg Was Amputated Because of Wounds
Suffered in That Encounter, Would Like to See a Monument Erected There
to His Fellow Union Soldiers.
Seventy years after the battle of Lone Jack there comes a letter from A. F.
McCray, now of Tulsa, recounting the battle, in which he was wounded. He
served with the Union forces.
The morning of August 15, 1862, under the command of Maj. Emory S.
Foster, what was said to be about 900 men in all, as I remember it, of
Missouri state cavalry, of detachments form the 6th and 9th, a detachment
from Colonel Nugent’s command, and possibly other troops, started from
Lexington, MO., with several days’ rations of hardtack and sow belly, Major
Foster had two 12 pound cannon, anticipating trouble.
A large force of rebels was concentrating in the vicinity of Lone Jack in the
southeast corner of Jackson County and we were sent to learn their strength
and await reinforcements. We ran onto rebel pickets in the village of Lone
Jack about 9 p.m. A picket fight took place, possibly fifty shots from small
arms and two shots from the 12-pounders, and in the language of Cole
Younger (whom I chanced to meet at a county fair in Northern Missouri
years after the close of the Civil War), the two shots from the cannon waked
up every rebel with ten miles of Lone Jack. We began to move and they did,
between 3,000 and 3,500 under the combined command of Gen. Upton
Hays, Col. Vard Cockrell and Col. John F. Coffee.
Back to the skirmish of the night before, we countermarched and laid down
our arms, tired and sleepy, and not realizing our danger. At daylight they ran
our pickets in and commenced a wholesale slaughter of our boys from
every point of vantage, and they had all advantage. The cornfields were full-
grown and surrounded the few houses of the town. The Confederates took
advantage of every hiding place, and from there they peppered us. They
didn’t fight us in the open when possible to find a hiding place.
In last Sunday’s Kansas City Star, showing the village, I recognized the
building where Major Foster’s headquarters were; also the old store across
the street where I was wounded, as were many others. Many wounded were
carried into the store building, where we held some prisoners until the battle
In my talk with Cole Younger, he said candidly the battle of Lone Jack was
the hottest he fought in the Civil War and he was in many engagements. It
was simply hand to hand from the beginning and continued until near 10 o’
When the Union forces retired in good order for lack of ammunition to carry
on the battle, all the federal officers except Lieut. Calvin S. Moore of
Company E, 6th M.S.M. had been wounded. Lieutenant Moore, with the
assistance of Sergt. Dan Stubblefield, gathered up our scattered forces and
retired in good order, leaving the two brass 12-pounders in the hands of the
enemy and us wounded on the battlefield with the Southerners to care for
us. They did, to the very best of their ability; they were Americans.
The battle was Saturday, The first installment of wounded was moved on to
Lexington Monday, August 18, and the second on Wednesday. My leg was
amputated Tuesday. Such is war.
My information is that fifty Federal soldiers were killed and an equal or
greater number of Confederates. The dead were laid to rest from their
labors in two trenches beside each other on the battlefield where they had
spilled their blood, to rest until the morning of the resurrection.
The friends of the Confederate dead soon after the war, by private
subscription, erected a monument to the Confederate dead. A little cement
block monument was erected by a Kansas soldier who told me when
attending one of the picnics in the later ‘70s, that he hauled the blocks there
and built the little monument in memory of his brother who was killed in the
My friend, Jewell Mayes, secretary of the state board of agriculture, was at
Lone Jack in the interest of the Missouri Historical Society in 1930, and
knowing my desire for a suitable monument to be erected to the memory of
the Federal dead, called my attention to the fact that a suitable monument
was lacking. Many letters have passed between us trying to devise ways by
which funds could be raised to build a creditable monument to the memory
of Missouri soldier dead. Mr. Mayes and I have decided that it would be a
great credit mark to the grand old state of Missouri to erect a suitable
monument to the memory of the soldier dead on that bloody field.
If the Missouri legislature will not consider it, won’t Kansas City and Jackson
County, of which we are all proud, build the monument? I left my left leg, off
six inches above the knee. Some of Missouri’s best blood was spilled on
that battlefield. A Methodist minister was killed from the company to which I
Very Respectfully, A. F. McCray
Unknown Kansas City, Missouri newspaper, August 15, 1932