FEBRUARY 2-13, 1863.-Scouts and skirmishes in and about Mingo Swamp, Mo.
Numbers 1.-Lieutenant Colonel Bazel F. Lazear, Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
Numbers 2.-Major F. W. Reeder, Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
Numbers 1. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Bazel F. Lazear, Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
JACKSON, MO., February 14, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report that Captain [Levi E.] Whybark, Company F, Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, with 50 men of the different companies of the regiment, returned yesterday from a scout to Mingo Swamp, and reports killing 3 and wounding 2 more of the band of General McGee. This has been one of the worst band of guerrillas that has infested Southeast Missouri, making their headquarters in the swamps. They have been a terror to the whole country. I inclose you a note, addressed to McGee by two Confederate captains,* showing you in what light they were looked upon by Confederate officers. There are not more than three of the notorious ones of the gang left; their names are Hetterbrand, Cowan, and Dixon. There are two of the gang now in the guard-house here, who were slightly wounded. Their names are Spain and Bradaway. The last deserves particular notice. He was a notorious outlaw in California. Since he returned, and before this, he
was a notorious counterfeiter here, and nigger thief, and for the last five months he has been connected with McGee's band of guerrillas, which they are in every sense of the word. I am sorry they are prisoners on my hands, as they should have been shot on the spot. There are other bands of this character in the county below here, and it was concerning these bands that I wished to seethe commanding general; but the breaking up of our regiment has interfered with my arrangements, and I am sorry for these poor Union people, who never have been properly protected, as they should have and might have been; and if the authorities could see the downcast and saddened countenances of Union men here, they I think, would hesitate about breaking up and sending off this regiment. For my own part, I think injustice has been done me and my men; but I am too good a soldier to disobey any order coming to me from my superior officers.
I hope you will pardon me for alluding to this matter in this report, but justice to this section demands that attention should be called to the state of affairs here, and I hope you will not allow all protection to be taken from these people.
Very respectfully, &c.,
B. F. LAZEAR,
Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
Assistant Adjutant-General, Saint Louis District, Mo.
Numbers 2. Report of Major F. W. Reeder, Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
JACKSON, MO., February 7, 1863.
COLONEL: Pursuant to your order, I proceeded, on the 2nd Feb.instant, to Dallas, Mo., for the purpose of killing, capturing, and dispersing such bands of outlaws and rebels as infest the vicinity of Dallas and Mingo Swamp.
After arriving in Dallas with my command, detachments of the different companies at this post, I was joined by detachments from the companies stationed at Fredericktown and Patton, and at once sent out four scouts to capture the notorious McGee and his outlaws, said to be harboring around that place. These scouts brought in three of the outlaws, from whom I learned that McGee had started the day previous toward Bloomfield, carrying with him a number of stolen horses and arms, as well as four Union citizens as prisoners. I waited until the evening of the 3rd instant, when the last scout came in, bringing twenty-five saddles, buried by the rebels some two months since, and which, on account of lack of transportation, as well as their total worthlessness, I ordered to be burned.
Resolving to overtake McGee, with his band, the next day, and to push on to Bloomfield through the Mingo Swamp, I allowed the men and horses to rest till next morning, and started after these outlaws. Regardless of the advice of those who had for a long time been residents within the said swamp, and who pronounced the passage through the same at this time of the year an impossibility, as the ground would be frozen, and the water below would, consequently, recede from beneath. I determined to risk it, and went on. When you add to all this the circumstance that a violent snow-storm set in as we started, which lasted
without intermission till the next day, as well as the uncertainty of finding a road through that swamp, you can form an idea of the obstacles presented to us.
Arriving within 4 miles of the swamp (at Bollinger's Mills), I left the light wagon, with the provisions we carried along, with orders to return. We here crossed the Castor River, which most of my men had to swim, and I took 40 of the best horses and men and pushed rapidly forward, having heard that McGee with 35 of his men had passed there that morning I left Captain [William T.] Hunter with the rest of the command (50 men) to follow slowly. After a sharp trot of 10 miles, we suddenly came to the house of S. Cato, a man who had been harboring these outlaws for a long time, and perceiving a considerable number of men feeding their horses, we dashed upon them before a single one had the chance to escape. They were at once recognized as McGee's band, and as our approach was as sudden as it was unexpected, they fled in confusion across the large corn-field in the center of which the house of Cato stood. My men now were in their element,and whilst others quickly tore down the fence of the corn-field, the rest surrounded it, and within fifteen minutes we had exterminated the whole band. We took no prisoners from amongst them, as I had previously given the order not to do so. We counted 9 killed, amongst them McGee; 20 mortally wounded, and 3 slightly, the latter of whom we brought in. We did not lose a man. Besides, we captured some 25 horses and equipments, many of which have already been identified as having been stolen by them from Union men, and some arms, all of which are ordered to be turned over by different commanders of companies to the quartermaster. Not having time to bury the dead and attend to the crippled and dying, I left them to the tender care of their good friends, of whom there are plenty close by; and, being meanwhile joined by Captain Hunter, I pushed on to Bloomfield, which town I entered amidst a terrible snow-storm at midnight. Although we at once surrounded the town and every house in it, we did not capture more than 8 prisoners, some of whom, being on furlough from the so-called Confederate Army, were paroled, and ordered to report to this post at end of each month. Adjutant Macklind will hand in their names. All the rumors I heard of a force of 200 or 300 being at that place, and of a still larger force 40 miles below, at Four Mile, are without the slightest foundation, and the only reliable information I obtained was that [W. L.] Jeffers, with 2,000 men, was at Epsom Bottom, 150 miles below Bloomfield, and that he was preparing to join General Holmes at Pocahontas. I quartered my men, who had been without food since morning, at the different houses in the town, and having sufficiently refreshed the horses, i returned through the swamp the next morning by a different route than the one I came, with the hope of getting a few more of them, should there be any.
On my route back I divided my command into six parties, with orders to thoroughly scour the country and meet me a Dallas the next day. We returned here on the 7th instant, having accomplished our object and restored peace to a part of the country to which McGee for the last year has been a terror. Officers and men behaved admirably throughout the scout. They bore the severe hardships of fatigue, hunger, and cold, through the most desolate part of Missouri, and a march in the midst of a most violent snow-storm, with alacrity and without a murmur, and so well did they do their duty that it would be injustice almost for me to mention any particular name. Those, however, who were the most conspicuous for their gallant conduct were First Lieutenant [Thomas H.] Macklind, acting adjutant; Captain [William C.] Bangs, commanding Company G; Lieutenant Pope [Erich Pope], Company A; Lieutenant Charveaux, and our guide, Private William Massey, a member of Company D, of this regiment, who truly guided us the different routes through the swamp as to elicit the admiration of all. I ought also to mention Sergt. Jesse Green, of the Sixty-eighth Ohio Regiment Infantry Volunteers, who volunteered to accompany the expedition, and who, whilst acting as sergeant-major, proved himself very efficient and trustworthy.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. W. REEDER,
Major Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cav., Commanding Expedition.
Lieutenant Colonel B. F. LAZEAR,
Commanding Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, Jackson, Mo.