Craig Asbury, who is engaged in a comprehensive primary source study of the Battle of Kirksville, contacted me regarding any materials I might have on that engagement. Some of Craig’s research can be found at http://www.rootsweb.com/~moadair/BattleofKville/BofK-2.htm
Craig, in comparing our research on this matter, I am transcribing a couple of sources you don’t list. At the end of this post I will list three or four others, and then contact you via private communication to list a dozen more.
Note that the 10th Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment referred to below was redesignated the 3rd MSM Cavalry Regiment (New) in February 1863. Also note that shortly after the Battle of Kirksville the Louisiana Red Rovers became Company I, 10th MSM Cavalry/3rd MSM Cavalry. The Captain Rice referred to in one of the posts below was probably Capt. Hiram Rice of the Red Rovers, since the company referred to had no such officer with the name provided. Comments I enclose in brackets are added by myself into the original, in order to provide additional context. The first post is from a Federal soldier, while the second post comes from a Confederate.
From the Louisiana (Mo.) Journal 21 Aug. 1862, p. 3--
From the 10th Regiment, M.S.M.
Huntsville, Mo., Aug. 12
Dear Journal: I welcome this as the first opportunity of writing you concerning the travels and incidents of the Tenth since the commencement of our campaign in Northeast Missouri. The companies that were stationed at Warrenton and Wellsville [Co. B, Co. D], besides several companies of “Merrill’s Horse” [2nd Mo. Cav. (US)], and a portion of Maj. Caldwell’s command [3rd Ia. Cav.] joined us near Paris, making a force of upwards of 1,200 men. Here we struck the track of the noted guerrilla Chief, Porter, who had passed through the county some two nights before. We pursued him in quick time through the counties of Shelby, Knox, Scotland, Schuyler and Adair, when Col. McNeil attacked and completely routed him at Kirksville. Nothing occurred on our rout which would interest your readers, until we arrived at the little town of Newark, where we came up with Col. McNeil’s forces, which were also on the pursuit of Porter. Here we learned that Porter had surprised the place the day before, capturing a company of the 11th Regiment M.S.M., with all their horses and equipments after a most gallant and determined effort to defend themselves against more than ten times their number. We did not learn all the casualties but the best information gave us four killed and five wounded on our side, while eight of the rebels were buried on the ground after they had carried away most of their dead and most of their wounded. Our boys were released on parole soon after being captured. Great credit is given them in resisting so long such a superior force. On leaving this place we divided into two columns. The Tenth being used as the flanking column, while the other column under Col. McNeil followed closely on Porter’s Trail, often firing into his rear guard. He came upon him on the Eastern side of Kirksville where Porter had concluded to give battle. Twenty of Merrill’s horse were ordered to charge and ascertain the exact position of the rebels, which they executed with great activity. A few rounds of the artillery soon made them fall back into the town, where they sought the houses for shelter. The engagement soon became general in every part of the town. The rebels poured their volleys of shot and balls among us from windows and cupolas like hail. But they could not long stand our artillery which was making sad havoc among them with grape and shell. The broke for the timber west of town where they scattered and skedaddled in every direction. Many articles were picked up the next day by our boys which were left in their flight. Arms, clothing and everything that would impede their progress were left on the ground. Our loss was only five killed, and twenty-five wounded, while the enemy’s would exceed one hundred and fifty killed and wounded.
We have but little idea of Porter’s whereabouts at this time. When last we heard from him, he was beyond the Chariton recruiting his crippled forces.
We are now on pursuit of Poindexter, who is reported to head a band of guerrillas 1,000 strong, near Roanoke, Howard county. Should we overtake him, I think we will remind him of Silver Creek again.
[signed,] COMPANY E [Tenth MSM Cavalry]
From “Chronicles of the Civil War in Monroe County” by C.M. Farthing, pp. 90-91--
“...Outside of Wilson’s creek, Kirksville was the most desperate battle fought in Missouri during the war and the Monroe County men engaged say that but for a dispute between commanders the Rebels would have been victorious. Colonel McCulloch wanted to fall back to the woods beyond the town, where he thought new recruits with their shotguns and squirrel rifles would stand a better show against Springfield rifles with which the Federal forces were armed. Porter, with his characteristic foolhardiness, insisted on occupying the town itself, stationing his men by groups in the buildings that offered the best appearance of resistance. They were thus left at the mercy of a concentrated movement by the enemy, and the result was disastrous enough. Henry Sladek of Paris was a Union soldier with the Tenth Missouri Cavalry [10th MSM Cavalry], which at this time was brigaded with Merrill’s Horse. He says the first act of the Federals was a very daring move by a detachment of Company K of his command, which, led by its captain, whose name was Rice, galloped through the town to draw the fire off and locate the Rebels. This was done, strange to say, without the loss of a man, and a section of Indiana battery [3rd Indiana Light Artillery], was called in to finish the work. In a log house at the outskirts of town, he says, a single Rebel with a repeating rifle held a battalion at bay until a cannon ball tore away the house and killed him. He had shot down five soldiers in succession, and when found by Lieutenant Sladek [Sladek was 1st sergeant at the time, later promoted to lieutenant] in a dying condition, with his side shot out and an arm gone, he said he had no negroes but had left a wife and two children at home. Like many another, he had been forced into the Confederate army by the oppression of Union troops and the contemptible espionage of self-seeking and malicious Union citizens in North Missouri. Sladek gave him water, threw a blanket over him and left him to die. In another building were sixteen men, all of whom were captured and subsequently shot by orders of McNeil. Among them was Colonel McCulloch, Porter, the incompetent escaping. These murderous violations, by regular officers, of every rule of civilized warfare, justified the deeds of the Missouri guerrillas. The only pity is that McNeil himself could not have been lined up and his drunken carcass shot full of holes....”
For a song that was written a few months after Kirksville that refers to the battle, look up “The Merrill Horse,” aka “The Guerrillas Conquered.” It first made it into sheet music in 1863, and is as pro-Union as the Farthing post is pro-Confederate.
For additional sources on the Battle of Kirksville not covered in a transcription above, or on Craig Asbury’s webpage, see:
“Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana,” vol; III (1866), pp. 391; “A History of Northeast Missouri,” by Walter Williams, (1913), p. 176; “Abraham Lincoln: A History,” by John George Nicolay and John Hay (1890), pp. 378-379; “A History of Missouri” (1918), pp. 377-378; Missouri Historical Review, “The Battle of Kirksville,” by Prof. E.M. Violette, Jan. 1911, pp. 55, 94-112; MHR, “Civil Warfare in North Missouri: The Letters of Alexander C. Walker” ed. by Leslie Anders, April 2001, pp. 264-286; “With Merrill’s Cavalry: The Civil War experiences of Samuel Baird, 2nd Missouri Cavalry, USA,” ed. by Charles Annegan, (1981), p. 8.
Craig, I’ll contact you directly with a number of additional sources, some of which go into considerable detail.