Reminiscences of The Battle of Lone Jack
The Battle of Lone Jack took place August 16th 1862, and has the
reputation of being one of the most talked of battles which was fought in
the state of Missouri, It being a fair example of the majority of other
battles, and a never to be forgotten [ ] in the minds of those who engaged
It may truthfully be said of them that a stranger or more heroic body of men
never entered the battlefield. And considering their lack of equipment all the
more praise as well as credit is due The Confederate Side. Many of them
had on halters to guide their horses with, and many of them rode bareback.
They went into the fight with determination to win and the fact that they
were unable to present a Military appearance did not deter them in the least.
Their strength and courage of Conviction was shown when they entered the
Battle Field with no less enthusiasm on this account. The Confederates
realized to the fullest how superior the enemy was in regard to arms and
equipment, Their being upheld by the United States Government, but where
it came to courage they felt they were more than on equal grounds.
Like the Battle of Independence it was begun early in the morning. Colonel
Hays was now in command of the soldiers who had heretofore been under
When the fight began The Confederates were lined up on the west side of
Lone Jack, while the Federals had taken the opposite side, with only the
main street a space of about two hundred feet between them, in this
position for half a day.
Out in the street and around their battery, rushed the Federals. Hays with
his men moved nearer and nearer, both sides keeping up the fusilade of
bullets. Each side giving forth all its strength in and effort to over power the
other. Had either side been joined by reinforcements which they expected
momentarily the victory would have been proclaimed long before, but the
fighting forces were too well equalized for either side to gain headway.
Finally the Federals conceived the idea of bringing their horses to the front,
thus forming a barricade for themselves. Hays, however, was not daunted
by this. He promptly gave command to "Shoot the Horses"! This being
carried out the next was to, "Take The Battery"! which was also done in a
short time. Twice was their battle captured by the Confederates and twice
was it regained by the Federals.
The Confederates were beaten back the second time amid shouts and
much confusion. On the battle raged men fell to the ground, disabeled,
wounded or killed. Over half of Grooms Company of which I was a
member fell during the battle.
The courage of Colonel Hays demanded the admiration of everyone.
During the time we were fighting on the east side of the hedge he came
over to us and amid so few men asked where the company was. To which I
replied, "We are all here except those who have fallen." Saying that "he
would show them something" he then ordered us to, "Charge Double
Quick", at the same time dashing forth himself with a gun in each hand. He
began shooting with both at the same time. Those who were without arms
sometimes going at the enemy in a hand to hand skirmish. The entire town
was in a continuous uproar for several hours, they fough in houses, they
fought in barns, they fought in stores. Everywhere they fought madly, wildly
& Capt. Winfrey with his !st Lieut [ ] were participants in this mad melee,
once he led their company with the flag floating over them, against the
Federals who had invaded the former’s house, as well as his drug store. It
seems once the Confederates were out of ammunition there were Bullets!
Bullets! Everywhere, but not a Bullet to be shot!!! A horseman came
bravely to the resecue however by dashing boldly up and down distributing
ammunition. For which act he received a rousing cheer from The Federals.
When the battle ended the Federal battery fell into the hands of the
Confederates, all the Federal Artillery horses having been killed they were
compelled to abandon it upon leaving the battle field.
At one time when Captain Groom had given us orders to retreat from the
Federal Cavalry which was crowding closely upon us, I with three other
comrades was captured. Wash Thompson who was a brother of Colonel
Thompson, Joe Gaddy, all Clay County boys, and another whose name I
don’t remember. The Infantry rushed down and began fire. There upon
soon killing my comrades. Their Lieuntenant then ordered them to take me
to headquarters. Thereby making me their prisoner. I was ordered to
double quick but refused to do so. They started to march me through
Federal ranks at which time and fortunately for me there came a fusilade of
bullets from our side. My three guards fell to the ground promptly, and in
their anxiety to save themselves, forgot all about me. In less time than
required to tell it, I bolted, and had gained the hedge fence not far distant
when a bullet pierced my arm. Time was too precious to delay and through
the hedge I scrambled. Upon landing on the other side I was some what of
a tattered malion, the majority of my clothes had hung in the hedge.
Through the cornfield I dashed, dodging from row to row, suddenly there
appeared a riderless horse before me, as if he had dropped out of heaven.
I am mounted upon his back when the Federal Cavalry discovers me.
"Halt"! and "Who goes there"! and "Who are you anyway"! were some of
the questions shouted at me. But I was deaf for the time being. "Boys take
him prisoner", shouted their Colonel.
Onward I dashed with the three guards in close pursuit, firing with every
jump. I could hear the bullets piercing the air-I urged my horse onward and
he proved himself worthy he could out go a comet! But would he take this
rapidly approaching rail fence. Quickly I threw off the rail and he jumped it
unhesitatingly and in a little while brought me into my own company. "We
thought you were killed" shouted Colonel Bohanon when I told him of my
three comrades fatal episode-he remarked that Providence had surely
been on my side. And so much for the Battle of Lone Jack.
Original letter held in the Jackson County (Missouri) Historical Society