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and some were shot down like dogs. For mutual protection they finally banded together, determined to die, rather than submit to further exactions and barbarities. A party of these men on the 3d of October encountered two hundred secessionists on Bryant's Fork, about two and a-half miles south of Vera Cruz, the county seat of Douglas County; and, after a lively fight of fifteen minutes, the enemy fled, leaving fifteen dead and ten wounded upon the field. But one of the Union men was wounded, and he but slightly. Two days after, another party of secessionists were met and put to flight, leaving one killed and three wounded, while the others fled as rapidly as possible to Arkansas. Rumors of the return of their enemies in larger force, together with want of provisions and ammunition, determined them to come to Rolla. On the way they had encountered a detachment from McBride's rebel regiment, and captured them all, including a Lieutenant and a dozen privates, who were brought to camp and sent from thence to St. Louis for confinement in the Gratiot prison. One of the refugees, Samuel Collins, was seventy-five years old. A son had been hung by the southern miscreants, and he had been forced to live for months in the woods. He had fought with Jackson at New Orleans, and was ready again to face the storm of shot and shell in defence of the same old flag. He was enrolled with the others, and as a member of Phelps' Regiment, mustered into the service of the United States.
Near to and adjoining the camp of the 36th was a battalion of Cavalry, called “ Kansas Rangers," under the command of Major Wood. Nearly the whole of his command were recruited in Missouri and from citizens of the State, and why they were called “ Kansas Rangers" was not satisfactorily explained. Detachments from this battalion were constantly scouring the country ; hunting out secessionists; collecting information of their movements; now
EXPLOITS OF THE RANGERS.
and then stinging them like wasps and stirring them up right lively. Shortly after our arrival, a squad of twenty-five proceeded thirty miles to the south-west of Rolla, and quartered themselves in a house for the night. A negro quietly informed them of the near approach of a company of Confederates, under one Freeman, who, aware of their movements and situation, with superior numbers was preparing to surprise and capture them. They at once mounted their horses and hurried away in such haste as to leave two of their number asleep, and their absence was not noticed for some time. Soon after the house was surrounded and a volley poured in at the windows. One of the sleeping troopers was severely wounded and captured ; but the other, though fired upon and having an arm broken and a finger shot away, reached his horse and made his escape.
At another time a detachment from the same battalion scoured the valley of the Big Piney, capturing several noted secessionists who were at home on furlough.
Hearing that one Pitcock, a leader among them, was at home, Sergeant Adams with four men was sent across the country to arrest him. As they approached the house in the night they were greeted with a fusilade from eighteen shot guns, that were handled by an equal number of brawny" butternuts."
So warm a reception was not expected. The Rangers, however, pitched in, kicked the door from its hinges, and revolvers in hand, charged among their dismayed antagonists, and soon that mountain cabin looked more like a slaughter pen than the abode of human beings. A few escaped, but nine were killed outright and four brought away as prisoners. It was said that some were shot after their surrender. Sergeant Adams was quite severely wounded in the breast, being the only injured man of the Rangers. The battalion, composed almost entirely of Missourians—men without a particle of cowardice or the more redeeming virtue of mercy, each having
an old grudge or private wrong to avenge and neglecting no opportunity for the speedy settlement of these personal grievances, —was the terror of the country.
Such occurrences had but slight influence upon the general result of the contest, and were of no particular moment to the 36th. Yet the recital of these adventures served to enliven the dull routine of camp duty, and furnished food for conversation and material to write about in the hundreds of letters winging their way back to the firesides left behind.
The two Cavalry Companies remained much longer at Benton Barracks than was anticipated, on account of there being no arms for them at St. Louis. Other cavalry detachments were in precisely the same situation, some of which had been waiting months for their equipments. Little did the people realize at the commencement of the war the utter poverty of the nation in the essentials for carrying it on.
The administration shrunk from proclaiming its needs, and struggled on, endeavoring to supply deficiencies in the best manner possible, and because of its inability to arm a half million men at once, without a musket in the depleted northern arsenals, and without money in the National Treasury, it was abused without stint. But while thus waiting, the cavalry was not idle. The horses as well as men were familiarized with the movements so necessary to be learned.
At length marching orders were received, and on their arrival at Rolla the troopers were greeted by the infantry with a hearty welcome. They were speedily armed with sabres, breech-loading carbines and revolvers. The battalion, with their clean uniforms and new armament, made a gallant appearance, and for a time the “ 36th Riding Company
created a sensation among
The first death and burial after the Regiment arrived at Rolla occurred October 7th, being that of a member of Company B.
DEATH OF LIEUT. CHAPPEL.
Cavalry, named Logan. The whole Regiment, except those on duty, formed in line and followed the body to the grave, where it was buried with military honors.
On the 16th, Lieut. Chappel, of Company A., died, being the second death which occurred at Rolla. His body was placed in a coffin, draped with the National flag, and forwarded to friends at Elgin, for burial. The Regiment was drawn up in two lines, in open order, extending from camp to the railroad station, between which Company A. with reversed arms followed the coffin, which was preceded by the band, playing a funeral dirge, the solemn cadences of which added a mournful solemnity to the sadness of the hour. Captain Baldwin took charge of the body and proceeded with it to Elgin.
On the 10th of October all the troops, except the 36th, the 4th Iowa and Phelps' Missourians, left Rolla and marched to the south-west, to co-operate with General Fremont in his movement from Sedalia upon Springfield. Colonel Dodge, of the 4th Iowa, being the senior officer, was placed in command of the post, and with characteristic vigor set about placing it in such a condition for defense as to render it secure against assault from the enemy. Work was resumed on Fort Wyman, which had been left for weeks in a half-finished condition. This defensive work, situated on a hill three-fourths of a mile south of town, overlooked and commanded the surrounding country. It had been planned and commenced under the direction of Captain Totten, and about half completed by the 13th Illinois. Engineers to take charge of the work were detailed from the 36th, for there was no trade or profession, but had representatives in its ranks. Large details of men were made from each regiment at the post ; picks and shovels provided, and the gravel was soon flying in a way which insured the speedy completion of the fort and the erection of block houses at opposite angles.
EXPEDITION TO HOUSTON.
N THE meantime a wail of distress came up from Texas, Dent and other counties south and west of Rolla. Each day bands of fleeing refugees repeated their stories of destitution and suffering resulting from the depredations of guerrilla bands that
patrolled the country, enforcing the relentless conscription laws of the Confederate Congress, and plundering the Union people of their sustenance, often adding murder to the long catalogue of other crimes. McBride, Freeman and Hawthorn were filling these localities with terror, and sweeping the country as with the besom of destruction. Fields were laid waste, and swept of cattle, hogs and horses, and the smoke of burning houses marked the path of these miscreants.
An expedition to Houston was resolved upon and Colonel Greusel put in command. It was made up of detachments from the two Cavalry Companies of the 36th, commanded by Lieut. Sherer, of Company A ; Companies B and E of the Infantry, and two hundred men from the 4th Iowa Infantry, consisting altogether of about five hundred men. It was believed that at Houston a considerable force of “Bushwhackers" and the odd