Battle of Lone Jack
The hand-written memoirs, in pencil on yellowed notebook paper, was not signed.
There were no paragraphs and few periods. But from careful review of the contents
and language, it is believed to be written by Corporal William L Roney, 8th Missouri
State Militia Cavalry, Company F.
Transcribed verbatim. Periods, paragraphs added for easier reading.
There was 600 of us when we left Lexington of which I will have more to say concerning
the numbers later on. We marched very steady during the day and between sundown
and dark we passed through the little hamlet of Lone jack. We went a mile of more
south when the command halted, daylight has disappeared.
After sitting on our horses for probably 15 minutes there was a volley of something near
100 guns up at the head of the company and a few moments later the two artillery guns
was also fired. There being no reply from the enemy and after waiting for orders for
probably 30 minutes the first that Co. F knew, the head of the column was
countermarching back to Lone Jack, where the whole command halter. We remained in
that position for probably 10 or 15 minutes when the Adjutant came riding down the
column giving the Captains of each company the order for so many non-commissioned
officers and privates for picket guard duty.
When he reached Co. F. he said Capt. You will furnish one Sergt. One Corporal and 5
privates to report at Headquarters immediately.
The Capt made the detail by calling the names of those that had to go. Sergt Kidwell
was the fist name called, Corp Roney was the next, then came the 5 privates.
We rode out of the column until we came to where the guard was forming in front of the
The Officer began at the head of the line which was a little north of the hotel to assign
each squad to eh different directions arround the Command. When all to my right had
been assigned he asked for the next Corporal, I answered here. He said Corporal you
take the next 3 men and go directly back from this building, meaning eh Hotel, until you
think you have gone far enough there stop and keep a close wach for the enemy and if
you see or hear any of his moments report to headquarters immediately during the night
and if not come in at day light.
All right Lieut. Where can I get through this fense in front here, he said there was a
gate or bars a little ways south. So I found, took my men and started directly west from
the Hotel and was soon in a field of high weeds as there had been no crop raised on it
that year. We went some 80 rods west and halted for the night.
We saw nor heard any movements of the enemy and at day light we started in to
Headquarters. When about half way we heard 3 or 4 shots fired to o8ur left. I looked in
the direction, saw 4 blue coats on their horses running east in a lane. I paid no farther
attention to them, thinking eh boys was aiming to get some chickens for breakfast.
I rode on until I reached the street at the hotel, turned south to where I had left eh
company the night before, found the boys all up and stiring arround. I turned to the left
where there was a rail fense staked and ridered and where all the companies horses
was tied and eating green corn from the field on the east side of the fense.
I hitched my horse, got over to get a feed for my horse and had pulled off 5 ears when a
volley of about 100 small arms sang out on the early morning air and a few moments
later both the artillery guns with thunder peals announced the fact that the fight was on.
Excitement prevailed, officers was calling at the top of their voice, fall in, fall in, fall,in.
By the time I got a feed for my horse Co.F was in line in the street waiting or orders.
The whole command was dismounted or they had not time to mount.
The fight was raging north of the Hotel at the head of the Column, somewhere not far
from where the Church house now stands.
We did not have to wait long until our Company was ordered a little south of where the
road now turns west toward Russel Grove that a Cavelry force was coming arround
through the corn field on the east for the purpose of getting into the road. We had not
only got stationed when they came charging whooping and yelling com on boys.
When they got close enough Co.F let them have a volley which scattered them and sent
them back into the cornfield. The Company remained here expecting them to renew the
attack, which they did not do.
In a few minutes an order came for the Company to take position in the rear of the Hotel
which we done in double quick time As we marched in the back of a fense where the
weeds was tall, two of the enemy who had been more venturesome than the rest, had
crawled through the weeds and gained the fence. Some of the company, who I could
name, said look at them g_d d__d rebels lying there, no sooner said than done, up went
some guns and those two enemies was no more.
We remained here in line a few minutes when w were ordered back down to our
former position that the enemy was throwing a force arround to the east to cut us off
from any outlet and would have us completely surrounded.
Back we went on double quick time, this gave the enemy a chance to crall up through
the weeds to the position we had just vacated. They mad a rush for the rear of the
Hotel and gained admission. Our boys from the street me them in the house and there
was furious fighting inside. Sounded like pop corn in c covered Skillet.
Before the fighting ceased inside Smoke began to come out of the upper window of the
house followed a few moments later by flame. This was the upper South window. No
man could have lived long enough to set fire to the building on the ground at the South
end, for the street was swarming with blue coats.
About this time Maj. Foster was wounded and an order came for Co.F to mount and
make a Cavalry charge upon the enemy which was locate on the east side of the hedge
fence east of where the battery was located which was playing havoc with the
The company mounted rode up to where the battery was located turned South knocked
down a rail fence that joined onto the huge. Went on South until a gap was found n the
hedge pass through into another corn field. Went out some twenty or thirty rows turned
north then wheeled into line and made a charge up to the hedge fence just about where
the cemetery now is.
The enemy was packed in there as thick as they could lay on the ground. They rose up
and give Co F a frightful volley, wounded quite a few. My horse was wounded and
began to plunge and buck, I grabed hold of his mane, left my hat as a Souvenir for the
The Capt reformed us and we went out the way we had come in. As we passed back
by the artillery it had ceased fiering on account of the artillerymen all being killed or
wounded and the enemy was coming to them by platoons from the hedge on the east
We went back down to our old position along the rail fence, hitched horses to it,
dismounted and evry man became his own commander. It was hurrah boys, we will
take that battery from the rebels was the decission of evry man who was able to make
the run back.
By this time there was at least 150 of the enemy arround the gun. Here began some of
the most furious fighting of the day. It was almost hand to hand encounter. Co. F had
gained the rail fence just Sough of the guns which gave them some protection. The
enemy was in the open, arround the guns. Here the slaughter went on for quite a while.
I had missed the direction the company had taken when they went back to retake the
guns. Ia had stoped to find out how bad my horse was wounded. I finaly located the
wound and started up the street thinking I would overtake the company. I did not find it.
By this time the upper story of the Hotel was beginning to fall and another building
across the street had taken fire. I saw three dead soldiers laying in front of the falling
building. Fire was allready falling on them. I thought I would run in and drag them out
and started to do so, but the fire was so hot between the two buildings I had to give it up.
I looked out to the side where the battery was and it was swarming with the enemy. So
I had to fire on one sied of me and the enemy on the other. So I made a run for a house
that stood then just North of where the well is now. The House stood with end to the
street with a door and a window in the end next to the street.
I Saw there was many wounded Union men in there. I went in, joined in the shooting
match across the street at a small house just south of where the church now stands.
When we had silenced the enemy there, I steped outside. Co. F was geting the best of
the enemy arround the guns and they was trying to get to the north part of town. There
were by this time some 5 or 6 of us in front of the building and we did not let an enemy
get away on that street.
I looked again in the direction of the battery, I saw the enemy all gone and Co. F was in
possession of the guns.
Two of the artillerymen who had not been wounded came to us also and assisted us in
loading them. The last shot that was sent was directed by one of the artillerymen, he
go a sight on the house which still stands there, motioned to me to pull the lanyard,
which I did and when the ball struck the house it was in the roof. The artilleryman said
a little to high boys, load her up quick, we will get it next short for we could see plainly
that a new force was coming onto the field.
Just then someone yelled t the top of his voice, everyman to his horse. I looked in the
direction the order had come from. I saw the street full of cavalrymen coming from
about where the church house now stands. Us of Co. F who were at the funs had to
waite until they had passed before we could get to our horses which was tied to the
fence almost 10 yards south of were the hotel stood.
Three of Co. F boys, all dead now, took hold of one of the funs and run it by hand a
little south of where the road now turns west toward Russel Grove, and turned into a
corn field on the east side, the route our boys was taking. Here they had stoped with it,
it being too heavy to go any farther. I came up to them, I said Corporal Palmer, get your
horse. The enemy is coming with a fresh force. He answered with an oath that the
rebels should not have that gun, but he had to leave it.
This is my story of the Lone Jack fight, given for my Company alone. I have not
mentioned any other for I could not give a correct account of them for the reason, like
Co. F, they took many positions during the fight.
I want to say in conclusion that our whole command after nearly 4 hours fighting, of
desperate fighting, had not lost afoot of ground. We ocupied the same ground that we
were on when the fight began and when we recaptured the guns the day was ours.
So far as to the two contending forces which had been engaged, there was not a shot
coming from the enemy from any direction. But we did not propose to engage a new
and fresh army
Source: United Daughter's of the Confederacy, Independence Chapter