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The Centennial History of Independence, Mo. by W. L. Webb
   

Chapter 11:
The First Battle of Independence

 
     The Battle of Independence and the Battle of Lone Jack, fought respectively on August 11 and August 16, 1862, were parts of the same campaign and were provoked by leaders who the year before had served under Price in the Missouri State Guard, but who now came with commissions in the Confederate Army on recruiting expeditions. In these two battles the Confederates were victorious but the victors were promptly and precipitately chased from the state back into Arkansas, followed by the hard-marching Federal under Col. Blunt.

     After the battle of Pea Ridge in March, a part of the old State Guard went with Price beyond the Mississippi and some lingered along the borders of the State in Arkansas. Toward mid-summer there was a spontaneous movement back into Missouri. The leaders who advanced toward Lone Jack were Cockrell, Shelby, Tracy, Hunter, Jackman and Rains; and these commanders were in the battle of Lone Jack. Those who came toward Independence were Col. Upton Hayes, Col. John T. Hughes, Col. Gideon Thompson and Quantrell. These were the Confederates who captured the Federal post at Independence. Col. John T. Hughes and Col. Upton Hayes established a recruiting camp on the Charlie Cowherd farm near Lee's Summit, where about 250 men joined the Confederate ranks, including a small band of guerillas under Quantrell.

     Independence was a Federal post, commanded by Col. James T. Buel of Seventh Missouri Cavalry, a force of about 500 men, camped partly on the west side of Pleasant Street, southwest of the Mercer residence. Buel's headquarters, with a company or two, were in the old McCoy Bank Building.

     The lot on the corner to the east, now occupied by the Chrisman-Sawyer Bank Building, was vacant property.

     It was currently reported that Buel contemplated an attack on the Confederate recruiting camp. This attack was anticipated by Hughes, who at daybreak on Monday morning, Aug. 11, suddenly dashed into Independence and opened fire on Buel's headquarters, from which came a vigorous defensive reply.

     Quoting my "Battles and Biographies of Missourians":

     "The attacking army came in on the Spring Branch road. Capt. Hart of St. Joseph was at the head of the column, which was approaching the Public Square on East Maple Avenue. The Federal Guard at the jail fired and Capt. Hart fell, mortally wounded, the first of a long list of fatalities among Confederate officers that day. The little army now dashed up to the square and rode to the south side, where Quantrell formed his men hastily into platoons.

     Quantrell went past Buel's headquarters at full run, Hughes and Thomson following. Buel's guard fired into the passing troops and Kit Chiles fell dead in the street, but no halt was made until the Confederates ran into the Federal encampment. The first Confederate volley was delivered with terrible effect upon the Federals sleeping in their tents. Capt. Axline ordered: "Boys, rally behind the rock fence." The tents were abandoned and the battle assumed a form of of regular siege and defense. At almost the first Federal volley Col. Hughes was shot in the forehead and died instantly. Col. Hays assumed command against that impregnable rock fence and five times he was driven back. Finally a messenger arrived from Buel with orders to surrender.

     "The Confederates kept up a steady but ineffectual fire at the windows of Buel's headquarters. Quantrell's men started a fire against a low building near Buel's building. Buel raised the white flag and surrendered."

     The number of killed was between thirty and forty on each side. The arms, ammunition, quartermaster and commissary stores captured at Independence were much needed by the Confederates. Five days afterwards occurred the battle of Lone Jack, after which the Confederates retreated South.

     On the day after the battle, The Border Star issued an Extra, consisting of a single sheet, printed on one side, four columns wide, dated Independence, Mo., Tuesday Evening, August 11th, in which is given an account of the flight and the losses in killed and wounded on both sides. The "Border Star" was evidently a union paper; it referred to the Confederates as the "enemy," whose plans were well matured and faithfully carried out.

     Following are brief extracts from the Border Star's Extra:

     "Col. Buel gathered his little force together in the Bank Building, and to every volley poured into him from the adjacent houses and streets, he sent back back an answer of the same kind. He directed Orderly Haskell to hoist the stars and stripes upon the roof of the house to show his men at camp that "he was holding out to the last -- In doing this the gallant young man was shot and died a few hours after. He sent up another man, who succeeded in elevating the flag and concealing himself."

     "The particulars of the surrender will be furnished hereafter. The surrender was to the Southern Confederacy -- not to bushwhackers -- and the prisoners were most kindly treated as prisoners of war and paroled.

     "We have said that the Federals fought valiantly, both officers and men, and only surrendered when they could not help themselves. Justice requires us to say that the conduct of the Confederates was equally courageous. In fact such deeds of desperate daring as those performed by George Todd, Bill Haller, Gregg, Scott and others -- to say nothing of their superior officers -- are seldom witnessed, and seldom read of save in tales of romance. As for Quantrell, he might be seen, upon his black charger, bareheaded and coatless in every part of the town where fighting was progressing or expected.

     "In the hour of victory, we are gratified to say, a moderation and magnanimity were exercised that was far from what was expected. With the exception of two acts of personal vindictiveness (of which we will speak at a future time) we heard of no one insulted or injured. No private houses were entered, no private property taken, except wagons for transportation, and no Union family molested.

     "So soon as the battle was over, our citizens, without respect to party, flocked to scenes of strife and did all in their power for the suffering and dying. Even the ladies (God bless them!) were making coffee, preparing cordials and fixing up delicacies, which were carried to the wounded; and everywhere we saw delicate women, old and young, administering to the necessities of the hour, without inquiry or care as to whether the suffering victims were Federals or Confederates. We were gratified to see Federal wounded soldiers carried by secessionists (so called) to places of comfort and security, and attended by Secesh ladies as tenderly as if they were dearest friends or nearest kinfolks, and the same spirit was manifested by the Union ladies. All honor to the humanity and noble benevolence of the Christian women of Independence.

     "The above is an imperfect account of the battle and its incidents, but is the best we can give in the confusion of the hour.

     "The wounded are domiciled in the different rooms of the Court House, where they are permitted to lack nothing that can contribute to their comfort and cure.

     "The Colonel and two of the captains had their horses and some private property restored to them.

     "At present we have no promise of any new Federal forces immediately. News from other points leads us to believe there has been a simultaneous uprising of rebeldom throughout the State.

     "Firing was heard in the direction of Liberty this morning, and rumor says the town has been captured.

     "Kansas City is too well fortified to have any fears of being taken.

     "SECOND EDITION (Wed., Aug. 13th)

     "Yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon about 4 o'clock, we heard a cry of 'Soldiers Coming!" and on going to an upper window we saw troops of horsemen dashing into town, occupied every avenue of communication with the country, and preventing all going and coming by citizens and others. They were soon followed by infantry and artillery companies and our city -- desolate and dreary looking but a few minutes before -- now presented all the excitement, bustle and clangor of 'glorious war.' Drums beating, bugles sounding, horsemen speeding from point to point, and citizens scattering hither and yon. Fearing that Jennison or Jim Lane might be in command, everyone felt more or less apprehensive -- but when the comely form and Christian features of Col. J. T. Burrus -- familiar to many of our citizens -- was discerned in the crowd, people breathed more freely. With Col. Burris in command everyone felt assured that however firm he might be in the discharge of his duty, yet he would do nor permit to be done any act that would tarnish the American flag or disgrace an American soldier. Excesses may be indulged in by some of the privates if opportunity presents, but let proper representations be made to the officers and we are assured that prompt remedies will be afforded.

     "No signs of an attack from the Confederates as yet. No certain information of their present whereabout.

     "Up to the time we go to press we ascertain that the Federal loss is as follows:

Killed in battle and died since..............23
Wounded...........................................33
                                                     ____
                                                         56

     "The Confederate loss so far as we can get at it is as follows:

Killed...............................................10
Wounded.........................................11
                                                    ____
                                                        21

 

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