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Blue Mills, MO

September 17, 1861

Blue Mills Landing, Missouri

Report of Lieutenant Colonel John Scott, Third Iowa Infantry.

Liberty, September 18, 1861.

SIR: In relation to an affair of yesterday which occurred near Blue Mills landing, about 5 miles from this place, I have the honor to report:


Agreeable to your orders I left Cameron at 3 p. m. of the 15th inst., and through a heavy rain and bad roads made but 7 miles during that afternoon. By a very active march on the 16th I reached Centreville, 10 miles north of Liberty, by sunset, where the firing of cannon was distinctly heard in the direction of Platte City, which was surmised to be from Colonel Smith's Sixteenth Illinois command. Had sent a messenger to Colonel Smith from Hainesville, and sent another from Centreville, apposing him of my movements, but got no response. On the 17th, at 2 a. m., started from Centreville for Liberty, and at daylight the advanced guards fell in with the enemy's pickets, which they drove in and closely followed. At 7 a. m. my command arrived at Liberty, and bivouacked on the hill north of and overlooking the town. I dispatched several scouts to examine the position of the enemy, but could gain no definite information. They had passed through Liberty during the afternoon of the 16th to the number of about 4,000, and taken the road to Blue Mills Landing, and were reported as having four pieces of artillery. At 11 o'clock a. m. heard firing in the direction of the landing, which was reported as a conflict between the rebels and forces disputing their passage over the river. At 12 m. moved the command, consisting of 500 of the Third Iowa, a squad of German artillerists, and about 70 Home Guards, in the direction of Blue Mills Landing. On the route learned that a body of our scouts had fallen in with the enemy's pickets, and lost 4 killed and 1 wounded. Before starting dispatched courier to Colonel Smith to hasten his command. About 2 miles from Liberty the and guard drove in the enemy's pickets. Skirmishers closely examined the dense growth through which our route lay, and at 3 p. m. discovered the enemy in force, concealed on both sides of the road, and occupying the dry bed of a slough his left resting on the river and the right extending beyond our observation. He opened a heavy fire, which drove back our skirmishers, and made simultaneous attacks upon our front and right. These were well sustained, and he retired with loss to his position. In the attack on our front the artillery suffered so severely that the only piece, a brass 6-pounder, was left without sufficient force to man it, and I was only able to have it discharged twice during the action. Some of the gunners abandoned the piece, carrying off the matches and primer, and could not be rallied.


The enemy kept up a heavy fire from his position. Our artillery useless, and many of the officers and men already disabled, it was deemed advisable to fall back, which was done slowly, returning the enemy's fire, and completely checking pursuit. The 6-pounder was brought off by hand, though the gallantry of Captain Trumbull, Lieutenants Crosley and Knight, and various officers and men of the Third Iowa, after it had been entirely abandoned by the artillerists. The ammunition wagon, becoming entirely abandoned by the artillerists. The ammunition wagon, becoming fastened between a tree and log at the road-side in such a manner that it could not be released without serious loss, was abandoned.


The engagement lasted one hour and was sustained by my command with an intrepidity that merits my warmest approbation.


I have to regret the loss of a number of brave officers and men, who fell gallantly fighting at their posts. I revere to the inclosed list of killed and wounded as a part of his report.* the heavies fire was sustained by Company I, Third Iowa Volunteers, which lost 4 killed and 20 wounded, begin one-fourth of our total loss.

Major Stone, Captains Warren, Willett, and O'Neill wee severely wounded, and also Lieutenants Hobbs, Anderson, Tullis, and Knight. The latter refused to retire from the field after being three times wounded, and remained with his men till the close of the engagement.


Among the great number who deserve my thanks for their gallantry, I might mention Segt. James F. Lakin, of Company F, Third Iowa, who bore the colors, and carried them into the thickest of the fight with all the coolness of a veteran.


The loss of the enemy cannot be certainly ascertained, but from accounts deemed reliable is not less than 160, many of whom were killed. His total force was about 4,400.

Your most obedient servant,


Lieutenant-Colonel Third Iowa Volunteers.

S. D. STURGIS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.


Report of "General" D. R. Atchison,* Confederate service.

LEXINGTON, MO., September 21, 1861.

SIR: In pursuance of your order I left his place on the evening of the 15th instant, and proceeded forthwith to Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, where I met the State Guard, on the march from the northwest-five regiments of infantry, under the command of Colonel Saunders, and one regiment of cavalry, under the command of Colonel Wilfleym, from the fifth district; five regiments of infantry, under command of Colonel Jeff. Patton, and one battalion of cavalry, under Colonel Childs, from the fourth district. I delivered your orders to the above commands to hasten to this point (Lexington) with as much dispatch as possible. They marched forthwith, and arrived at the Missouri River about 4 o'clock in the evening,, when Colonel Boyd's artillery and battalion and baggage were crossed over to the south side, where the colonel took his position, Captain Kelly patting his artillery so at to completely command the river. The crossing continued all night without interruption, every officer and man using his best exertions. We received nea during the night that the enemy would be in the town of Liberty, about 6 miles distant from Blue Mills Ferry, at an early hour the ensuing morning. We were crossing in three small flats, and much time was necessary to move the large train, of some hundred wagons. Colonel Childs, with his command, had taken post for the night about 2 miles from Liberty, on the road to the ferry. He engaged the enemy's advance or picket sin the morning, killing 4 and wounding 1, with no loss on our side. The enemy fled, and we heard no more of them till 4 or 4 o'clock, when their approach was announced, in large force, supposed to be about 900 men, with one piece of artillery (a 6-pounder). The men of our command immediately formed, Colonel Jeff. Patton leading the advance, to meet the enemy. After proceeding about 3 miles from the river they met the advance guard of the enemy, and the fifth commenced. But the Federal troops almost immediately fled, our men pursuing rapidly, shooting them down, until they annihilated the rear of their army, taking one caisson, killing about 60, and wounding, it is said, about 70. The Federal troops attempted two or three times to make a stand, but ran after delivering one fir. Our men followed them like hounds on a wolf chase, strewing the road with the dead and wounded, until they were compelled to give over the chase form exhaustion, the evening being very warm. Colonel Saunders, Colonel Patton, Colonel Childs, Colonel Cundiff, Colonel Wilfley, Major Gause Adjutant Schackleford, and all the other officers and men, as far as I know or could learn, behaved gallantly.+



General PRICE.

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