DIARY ENTRY’S FOR Private Peter C. Brooks
Company C, 6th Missouri State Militia Cavalry
The following entries come from a pocket Diary written in pencil with a small hand common to the Civil War era. Peter maintained this diary throughout the war, beginning early in 1862 with the organization of the 6th MSM, until shortly before the war ended. Peter and company C, was organized in the summer of 62 in Cameron, Clinton county Missouri, outside Kansas City. Peter walked with a limp most of his life as a result of a wagon wheel rolling over his foot in the fall of 1862. He spent the next year trying to recover from that injury staying on light duty near the regimental headquarters. Peter, his brother, a nephew and a brother-in-law served in the same company. When the 6th MSM was drawn on for men for the 13th Missouri Vol. Cavalry under their Regimental Commander, Edwin C. Catherwood, Peter remained in the regiment while the others joined the 13th. Peter’s journal entries are generally short sentences except when involved in some march or campaign. The only other campaign Peter participated in was the expedition with Catherwood into the Indian Territory during the summer of 1863 participating in the battle of Devils Backbone with 2nd Kansas Cavalry. Before the war Peter was a farmer and school teacher, teaching at Mirable, Mo. His entries are most helpful in establishing time frames and events for the guerilla war in Missouri. The Price Raid diary is one of the few that this writer has ever seen, thus giving researchers a soldiers view of events.
26 September to November 7, 1864
September 26, 1864
We have received orders for Boots in Saddle’s at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Major Plumb is taking the regiment into the field with the rest of the Brigade. General Sanborn is going with us in command. Rumors say ‘Ole Pap Price’ has crossed the Missouri-Arkansas border with 25,000 men and thirty guns and is currently heading for St. Louis. Just had my horse shod, thank heavens. We are told we will ride hard and fast to get to Rolla. The 6th will leave our sick and lame behind along with some to watch our stores. After the re-organization last summer we barely have 250 men here at Springfield. We go with the 8th and the 2nd Arkansas. What there is of the 6th and 7th PEMM will catch up with us as best they might. I think we will come together at Rolla. We cooked three days rations and were issued sixty rounds of ammunition.
September 27, 1864 – Lebanon, 45 miles
Arrived late afternoon, bivouacked outside town. On Picket duty tonight. Weather still muggy. Patrols are drifting in.
September 27, 1864 – Lebanon about 45 miles.
Arrived late afternoon – bivouacked – On Picket Duty. Weather muggy. Patrols are joining us.
September 28, 1864 – Rolla about 55 miles.
We left Lebanon well before Dawn. Aside for short breaks we rode non-stop to Rolla. We bivouacked a few miles west of Rolla and bivouacked with the rest of the brigade. Here we received wagons and men from the various regiments here. We hear that ‘Pap’ Price is being fought by Ewing. No word where yet. Lots of confusion here and the garrison. Horses needing shoeing are being shod here, through the night if need be. We are to make a hard ride to the Osage River tomorrow.
September 30, 1864 – Somewhere on the Osage – 50 miles.
We rode at a steady pace yesterday, not the pace we thought. Scouts reported contact of one kind or other but not certain with whom or what. We are bivouacked for the night. Not sure where – but certain it is east of Jeff City. Troops from 2nd Arkansas have caught up to their regiment. We now number maybe 900 or so sabers. Sanborn has us out on picket tonight.
October 4, 1864 – Vienna, maybe five miles.
Bivouacked after much scouting to the north and east. Lots of rumors and no real information. Earlier this evening a tired Henry Carter, of E Company, shot himself accidentally while on picket. He shot himself with his pistol while trying to put it away. Died on the ground. Such a tragic loss. I knew his brother before the war.
October 8, 1864 – Jeff City- near 11-00 p.m.
Cool evening – The air is changing – First chance I have had to write anything. We were engaged in a skirmish with advancing Rebs late on the afternoon of the 6th. Exchanged shots for some time until darkness, when we fell back on the Mareau (sic). Camped there for the night. I stood guard half the night. Yesterday morning we were ordered to guard the ford at the Mareau. The 8th was in the woods and the rest of the Brigade. I was the number 4. I saw Colonel Gravelly ride by after talking to Plumb. I heard a lot of shooting for over two hours with men coming back for ammunition. The firing was very intense at times, lots of balls flew over our heads. At one point I saw tom Elliott being carried back to Surgeon Weber. He looked pale and bleeding from a chest wound. I since heard he has died. We lost three or four others. I’m told the Rebs flanked us on the west. Gravelly ordered us to reform on a hill near Ft. Murphy. That is where we are now. Very tired and there is now the smell of rain in the air.
October 10, 1864 – outside California
We have been in the saddle since dawn yesterday. We are resting tonight after recapturing California. Lots of buildings burned. Word is ‘Pap’ is pressing me as they advance west. Lt. Riggs was killed yesterday when we ventured too close to their rear guard. We tried to press close to get in pistol range. Volleys from cover caused much confusion and we fell back without Lt. Riggs who had been shot off his horse. We had a few minor wounds. My horse was grazed by a bullet, we lost three horses.
October 20, 1864 – Dover
Had a hot fight here this morning with the entire brigade. We caught them unprepared it looks like. I saw Genl. Sanborn talking to our big shot Genl. From the east, this Pleasantan (sic). He is our division commander now. Looks like someone to be careful with. Don’t trust his look. Others think the same way.
We went into Dovver under Col. Phelps of the 2nd Ark. We gathered in a lot of Reb officers. Some men we captured were from different commands. Many were visiting family. I know Tom Little very well, he was captured last year at Neosho when McAffee’s battalion surrendered to Shelby, he was captured by his brother while visiting his wife I’m told. Tom regained lost equipment from his brother. He and others will escort the prisoners to St. Louie. Strange things happen in this war. The horses need rest, we need rest.
October 23, 1864 – Camped west of the Big Blue about three or four miles on the Kansas City – Harrisonville road.
I have been here before. The air is brisk and cool. My mates and I have a fire going with beef broiling and coffee. I am taking a few moments to write a few lines. We arrived before the Big Blue this morning before 6:30. We spent the day previous skirmishing west of Independence. The 2nd Arkansas was in the lead and were dismounted. Major Plumb and Company B was lost for a time having gone on a scout. Major Murphy took over – with the 8th on our right next to the men from Phillips brigade. We attacked on line. We were told to capture a stone structure, which looked like an outbuilding sitting atop a hill north of the road. When we crossed we were stopped by a valley. I saw several men go down in front of me. The firing was intense for only a few minutes. I felt the wind of a ball as it passed near me. Scared! Lordy, was I frightened! Major Murphy rallied us and we charged up the incline forcing the Bray backs to withdraw. The 2nd Arkansas came up behind us and to the left of the road. We continued to advance west skirmishing for the next two hours and about two and a half miles. Our horses were finally brought up and we then joined in on the chare into the rear of the rebel army. We halted near Santa Fe between the Kansas City – Harrisonville road. The Kansas line is near us. Our orders now is to continue to press ‘Pap’ south and bring him to battle.
October 25, `864 – Late evening – Fort Scott
I am very tired. We have been in the saddle constantly for the past two weeks. Late last night we arrived before some hills, twin’s in fact. We were told rebs were on them. Near dawn, after a little rest, we were old to attack up the hill. Murphy and Plumb were in the lead. The brush and trees were thick, the ground slick with dew, I heard and did a lot of shootn’ as we struggled up the rock hill, but saw nothing – at least I didn’t until sunrise. We saw some Arkansas boys get captured by the 8th as they tried to flee south. We were watering and resting our mounts when ‘Boots-n-saddles’ was sounded. We were led at a trot in column of fours with us in the rear of the Brigade. After several miles we came upon a field near a creek where a fight was just ending. We had heard the cannon fire and several rumbling volleys before we arrived. When we came over the rise we were still in the rear of the brigade. I saw rebs being rounded up, many in blue coats and parts of uniforms. I know what will happen to them. My mount (Danny) is a bit lame – needs rest. We pressed on south while the forward brigades continue to press the rear of ‘Pap’s’ army. When we crossed the creek it was jammed up with broken wagons, many dead and wounded. We continued on – camped outside Ft. Scott near dark. I think the pursuit is over for us. – We hear now that fighting is underway to the east with the other brigades. Went into town with others of my company to take part in some festivities. People here are relieved that they weren’t attacked. I saw Reb Generals Cabell and Marmaduke (his arm in a sling) being led into a hotel. They looked grim and tired like the rest of us. – Returned to camp, too tired to continue on.
October 30, 1864 – Newtonia
We are back to our old haunts again, in garrison for a time with the PEMM boys. While the rest of the brigade engage in scouting and patrolling the area.
On the 26th we were ordered to saddle by Gen. Pleasantan (sic) and continue pursuit of ‘Pap’s’ army. We saw junk and equipment thrown aside along the route. Continued hard on the 27th trotting-walking some fifty miles non-stop some fifty miles. Late on the afternoon of the 28th we came upon the fields of Newtonia coming down the Granby road. We heard cannon fire early on. Blunt’s men were engaged with the entire Reb army. His line was about that day. The regiment was in the lead. I saw the Old Ritchey mansion and the adjacent cornfields. There the rebs were trying to flank Blunt to the west. I was posted in the fourth line when we were ordered to advance weapons and at the trot went towards the cornfield quickly dismounted and advanced steadily through the field firing volley’s. I fired maybe three or four times at smoke – which is all I could see. The graybacks withdrew leaving a great many of their wounded and dead behind. I have been on burial and guard detail for the last two days, guarding a ragged bunch of prisoners. One, William Hayes, with a bandage on his head, is from my area. Many prisoners are from this area.
November 11, 1864 – Springfield.
We are back. Am not feeling well – my whole company in the same condition – drink coffee w/molasses. We all seem to have consumption. I was gone 46 days. The horses are worn out – we are all worn out hopefully this will be the end of this business for now.