The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board

6th Day of J. McFerran GCM

St. Louis, Mo.

December 3rd, 1864

10 ½ O’clock a. m.

The Court met pursuant to Adjournment.

Present the same members as at the last session. The Judge Advocate, the accused and his counsel were also present.

On Motion, the reading of the proceedings of the Last session was dispensed with.

Burtin Miller, 1st Lieut. Co. A, 1st M. S. M. Cavalry, a witness on the part of the defence was duly sworn in the presence of the accused by the Judge Advocate and examined.

By the accused.

Q: Were you in command of Col. A, on the afternoon of the 22nd of October – 64?

A: I was.


Q: What battalion did the company belong to?

A: The 3rd Battalion.

Q: Who commanded that?

A: Capt. Burris.

Q: When you first encountered the enemy on the evening of the 22nd what disposition was made of the regiment?

A: The first battalion was thrown on the extreme right, the 2nd in the center, and the 3rd on the extreme left. I belonged to the 2nd Battalion (?), and it was thrown in the center. I was held back as a reserve with my company.

Q: By whose order was this disposition of the force made?

A: This order was given by Col. McFerran.

Q: How long did Company A remain as a reserve?

A: Not over 25 minutes.

Q: Was that company under fire during that time?

A: It was.

Q: How far was it held in rear of the advance battalion in front?


A: 100 yards, about.

Q: did you occupy an elevated position?

A: We did.

Q: What was the nature of the ground immediately in your front in the direction of the enemy?

A: It crossed off gradually towards the enemy.

Q Was Col. Mcferran with Company A when it was under fire?

A: He was.

Q: What disposition was made of the reserve after 25 minutes?

A: Lt. Col. Lazear rode up and ordered me to move on Major Neill’s left, as the enemy was about to flank him – to reinforce his left. Col. McFerran stepped up at that moment and went with me to a certain place – I was in the lane then – and he ordered me where to cross the fence, and pointed out to me where I would find Major Niell, and told me to fall in as quickly as possible on his left, as he was in danger of being flanked – I did so.


Q: What position had the company occupied previous to that time – how was it formed?

A: The Colonel ordered me to form my men, that is my company across the main road, in rear of the regiment about 100 yards. He didn’t tell me to have my men lay down, but to form them in line. I formed them across the road, and ordered them to lay down, and kept them in that position until the other order came.

Q: Was that immediately after Major Mullen was fired on in front?

A: Yes, he was on the right.

Q: Did you see Maj. Kelly that afternoon?

A: I don’t recollect that I did can’t say that I did.

Q: Did you see his regiment?

A: I did.

Q: How long after you were ordered to the relief of Niell before the regiment came up?

A: I would judge it was half an hour.


Q: Did they pass you to the left?

A: No, portion of his men scattered into us, that is they all moved forward together.

Q: You didn’t see the Major yourself?

A: I did not.

Q: what was the distance across that corn field from where your company was stationed to the company was stationed to the lane on the other side?

A: There was no lane in the advance of me. There was a field, and at the edge of that I charged in the brush. To the right of me – though – there was a lane.

Q: Was Major Niell’s command to your right?

A: Yes, I was on his extreme left.

Q: A portion of Major Kelley’s force fell in with your company?

A: Yes.

Q: Where did the balance go?

A: I cannot say.

Q: How far was the line in front of Col. McFerran where you first went into action, after you were ordered to the left?


A: It was about 100 yards.

Q: Was there any timber around where this company was first stationed on the road?

A: There was.

Q: Was there any timber around where this company was first stationed on the road?

A: There was.

Q: What was the character of the country in front of that?

A: Immediately in front there was some scattering timber for about 150 yards – then there was thick brush -thick woods and underbrush.

Q: How far was this road from the corn field?

A: There was a small corn field immediately on the left of the main big road.

Q: Was there much fighting that evening?

A: There was.

Q: Were you in the fight on the next day afterwards?

A: Yes.

Q: How did this skirmish compare with the fights you were in afterwards?

A: The fighting I was in that evening, I think (241) was a battle the hottest place I was in during the raid.

Q: You were with the regiment the next morning – the 23rd?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you recollect what regiment was immediately in front of you?

A: I do not. I think it was the 7th or 4th.

Q: Do you know when Col. McFerran was arrested?

A: Yes, I knew about it. I suppose, half an hour after he was arrested.

Q: Had the regiment in front moved?

A: I think not sir.

Q: Could you form any opinion of the length of the line from the extreme right to the extreme left on the evening of the 22nd?

A: Yes, I judge it was from ¾ of a mile to a mile long.


Q: Was it in line or in detachments?

A: It was in what you might call a skirmish line.

Q: In intervals between?

A: Yes sir.

Q: Could you discern the position of the forces from where Company A was first posted in the road, and where Col. McFerran was?

A: Yes.

Q: That position overlooked the field?

A: Yes, the ground sloped gradually off to the brush, and the woods where the enemy wee posted.

Q: What was the condition of your company the next morning about sun rise? The 23rd Were they ready to move or in a disorganized condition?

A: Yes sir – they were ready to move at sun rise.

Q: What position had they occupied during the night?

A: From the time the fighting ceased – that is the (243) heaviest of the fighting, they stood in this lane and held their horses by the holders, and we got no orders to move (the men had dismounted) or to do anything else. The men held their horses, some sat on their horses until they got tired and worn out – they lay down in the lane, a portion of them, and haltered their horses all night, that is until the dawn of day.

Q: Do you know of Col. McFerran’s giving any orders about straggling to the regiment during its march?

A: Yes, we got the orders daily.

Q: What were they?

A: He gave orders to the company commanders not to permit the men to break ranks or straggle on any occasion whatever.

Q: How long was that order kept up?

A: From the starting of the march until Col. McFerran was arrested.

Cross Examination by the Judge Advocate

Q: Have you had much experience in the (244) command of a company?

A: I have commanded the company since the 7th of May last.

Q: Were you ever before in battle?

A: Yes sir.

Q: You spoke of the ground is that a mere impression or a distinct recollection?

A: That is the description of the ground sir.

Q: Was there any straggling from your company?

A: There was not until break of day of the 23rd when a few of my company with the whole command – you understand me a portion of the whole command – there might have been 10 of my company went to a corn field nearby, and got a little corn for their horses – that was at break of day.

Q: How were you off for ammunition on the 23rd?

A: Early in the morning we were not very well supplied, from the fact that we had fought pretty much all the day before until 9 o’clock that night – but I got an order to supply my men with ammunition. I kept my men together in the lane before spoken of, and even to the ammunition train myself, and carried up a supply for the (245) company, and issued it out to them.

By the court

Q: What was the character of the ground from Col. McFerran’s position through the cornfield?

A: That was about the same character, as we were on an elevated spot when I was first stationed, and the ground sloped off to the south, southwest, west, northwest and so on, and to the east to the rear of us, towards the town it raised gradually.

By the accused

Q: Who gave permission to the men to leave the line to get forage for their horses on the morning of the 23rd – did Col. McFerran give any such permission?

A: He did not – you understand me I got no orders from him to that effect.

The witness then retired.


The case was announced as closed on the part of the prosecution and the defense.

The accused not desiring to prepare a written defence the Judge Advocate submitted the case forthwith without remarks.

The court was then cleared for deliberation and having maturely considered the evidence addressed finds the accused as follows (viz)

Of the specification Charge I Not Guilty

Of Charge I Not Guilty

Of the Specification Charge II Not Guilty

Of Charge II Not Guilty

Of the Specification Charge III Not Guilty

Of Charge III Not Guilty

And the court does therefore acquit him, Colonel James McFerran, 1st Cavalry Missouri State Militia Cavalry.

Allen Blocker

Major 1st Nebraska Cavalry }

J. T. Copeland J. T. Copeland }

Judge Advocate, Brig. Genl. U. S. V. }