A piece written by Frances Fristoe Twyman recalls the Battle of Blue Mills Landing from The Kansas City Genealogist, Vol. 35 No. 3. She starts, “An incident worthy of note occurred at this battle. It was a hotly contested fight three to one, yet the Confederates acquitted themselves valiantly. They were in a running fight from Liberty to the ferry.”
After the battle, “Apparently on the 18th of September, the soldiers commenced to coming to our house at two or three o’clock in the night. I cooked and fed soldiers all night, fed at least 100 men, and still they came. At ten the next morning I was still feeding Confederates. At last the officer told them no more could come in, and I was completely worn out. Then I told all the children and the negroes to cut all the cabbage in the garden. Cut them in two and pile them up at the gate and within reach of the soldiers and to fill every bucket on the place with water and put them on the stile block. Soon the army came in sight some two or three thousand men. They had been fighting all day and night before without sleep or anything to eat. They were a pitiful sight to look at. They were so tired and footsore that they could hardly walk. Some were coatless and hatless. Our boys gave their hats to them and all the extra hats on the place. Oh, you should have seen how eagerly and gratefully they went for those cabbages. They had nothing to eat for 24 hours. I really thought they would drink the cistern dry. We all kept busy filling up the buckets. They could not halt, but grabbed for things as they went. Each one would get a cup of water, grab up a piece of cabbage, give three cheers for Jeff Davis and march on, bound for Lexington and Old Pap Price.
In the afternoon the men got busy hunting up and caring for the wounded. Mr. Sale brought one man to our house to have the doctor dress his wounds and care for him. His name was Thornton. The doctor was not home. When I went to the door, I was completely shocked. The man was stripped to the waist and the bloodiest thing I ever saw. In a moment I controlled myself. Mr Sale and myself took the man upstairs though his wound was fearful to look at, shot in the breast with an old musket. The bullet came out under the shoulder blade, and the wound looked like it was large enough to run my fist in….
Late one afternoon a man came running down the lane, came to the gate and said, “Flee for your lives, the Federals are coming, killing and burning everything before them” Now, what were we to do? Here was the wounded man and his brother, they would be sure to kill them and perhaps all of us for taking care of him. William Twyman his wife and child who had fled from Kansas City when the Federals landed there, were now in our house. All was confusion. The only thing that we could do was to take refuge in the woods. Two horses were brought out. The sick man was mounted on one. Quilts, comforts and blankets were piled up before him... I gave the sick man one piece of chicken, a butter biscuit, jelly, etc. I next filled two baskets with two chickens, ham, eggs, pickles and jelly with a lot of buttered bread, etc.
Oh, you should have seen us as we took up our line of march. First our pack horse led by one of our boys. Next the horse with the wounded man on it led by his brother who had a basket of lunch in his hand. Then the doctor with our baby in his arms. Next William Twyman with their baby in his arms. Next us two women each with a big basket of provisions in our hands, then all the little children following after. Just imagine if you can how we looked as we trudged through the brush and briars, hunting for a safe place to hide in.
A way over in the woods, a mile or two from home, we halted. There was a storm coming up, so the men went to work to fix a tent. They bent two saplings over, tied them together with a rope. Then they pinned two quilts together with pins made by sharpening sticks on switches. These they threw across the poles. Then they threw another quilt over this, fastened all to the ground by driving pegs through the quilts and fastened up one end of the tent with another quilt. All was now ready, so we crawled in and none too soon, for the rain came down in torrents. But our tent was waterproof. Doctor had the sick man taken over on the next hill, so if the Federals came, perhaps they would not find and kill us all…
Now it was bedtime, so we spread comforts and quilts all under the tent, a bolster at each end. We all prepared to slumber: two men, two women and seven children all under this one tent, content to think we were safe from the Federals. In the night, one of the children asked for a drink of water. I said, “Darling, we have no pan or bucket to catch water in.” Soon the little fella said, “Momma, I am starved for a drink of water.” I told him as soon as it was light, I would get him some water if I had to go home for it. The little fella was silent for some time. I thought he was going to sleep. Again that agonized appeal, “Momma, I shall die if I do not get water.” I could not stand this, so I crawled up, found a glass with jelly in it, emptied it, wiped it out with a towel, got to the door of the tent, got hold of one end of the quilt on our tent and rung some water out of it. I gave this to my boy who drank it eagerly and asked no more questions but was soon sound asleep. Next morning we concluded to go back home.
Doctor notified the sick man’s brother for the pack horses were again got ready, and we took up the line of the march, this time up toward home. Oh, how happy we all were when we came in sight of our home and found our house still standing. No palace ever looked better to a queen than that old house did to me. The negro woman had a fire in the stove, so we soon had a steaming hot breakfast on the table: coffee, ham and eggs with hot biscuits and butter. I told the doctor we would never leave home again. One night’s experience of camp was enough for me. The sick man went home in a few days in Platte County. We never tried camping out again until driven out by Order No. 11.
Frances Fristoe Twyman