The National Tribune Newspaper was published in Washington, D.C. from 1877 – the 1940’s and encouraged Veterans of the Civil War to submit their memories of that war to the newspaper for publication. This column has been edited to only include the author’s description of his participation in the Battle of Mine Creek that has also been identified in various memoirs and official U.S. Army Reports as the Battle of the Osage. Brackets were not part of the original column and have been used to identify the editor’s commentary or to clarify a particular word.
A 3rd Iowa Cav. Veteran Tells of the Battle of the Osage
Editor National Tribune: Reading in your estimable paper so many accounts of incidents of war times, I felt like I wanted to say a little in reference to the 3rd Iowa Cavalry, of which I was a member, in Co. K for four years.
I read recently a communication from Comrade S. M. Reeves, 13th Mo. Cav., about the Battle of the Osage, where he says they captured Gen. Marmaduke and a thousand prisoners.
I know something about that fight, as it was there I got a rebel ball in my leg that made me a cripple for life. I say the regiments that took part in that fight were the 3d and 4th Iowa Cav., 10th and 4th Mo. Cav. and the 7th Ind. Cav. The charge was led by Lieut. Colonel Benteen, 10th Mo. Cav. When our line was formed, one single line, it did not cover the front of the line of the enemy, who had 12 guns [Artillery] in his center. We had no guns [Artillery] and his men [were] four lines deep, supporting his guns.
The Battle of the Osage was, without doubt, the most brilliant cavalry charge in the history of the [Civil] War. Not a ditch, tree, stump or fence on the open plain; a single line charging four lines with 12 cannon in its center, and the one line of the charging column not covering the front of the enemy. [Benteen’s Brigade consisting of approximately 1,250 troopers led the Union charge and was followed closely on it’s right by approximately 1,250 troopers of Colonel John Phillips Brigade of Missouri State Mounted Militia.]
The 3rd Iowa Cav. held the left center and with it’s proverbial “Yankee Cheer” dashed on the lines of the enemy. It was a scene worth going miles to see.
The result of battle was a complete rout of Gen. Marmaduke’s division; the General himself, Gen Cabell, four Colonels and about 800 others taken prisoners.
As to who captured Gen. Marmaduke there is no doubt. He surrendered to Private Jas. Dunlavy, Co. D. 3rd Iowa Cav., and Gen. Cabell gave himself up to Sergeant Calvalry Young, Co. L of the same regiment. Both the captors had medals [Congressional Medals of Honor] awarded them by Congress.
The 3rd Iowa Cav. went into that charge with less than 300 men and lost 33. [Each Union Regiment was severely under strength during the Battle of Mine Creek and each regiment contained from 200 – 250 soldiers.] To the other regiments who took part in this memorable charge too much praise cannot be accorded and with a leader who had less courage and magnetism than Lieut. Colonel F[rederick] W. Benteen, of the gallant old 10th Mo. Cav., the whole thing would have been a lamentable failure.
I do not write this with a view to bolster up the reputation of the 3rd Iowa Cav.; it does not need it; it’s history is written all over the southwest and written in the blood of as good and brave men as ever drew saber in defense of American Liberty.”
“The Ultimate Sacrifice”
[The following paragraph appears to be an afterthought by the author (Pvt. Steele), however it is a horrific example of how a graphic incident of war was seared into his memory, never to be forgotten. This type of memory is one that most, if not all COMBAT VETERANS of all the WARS & CONFLICTS carry and haunt them forever. THANK YOU (It Can Never be Said Enough) to all of the COMBAT VETERANS & THEIR FAMILIES for defending & protecting the FREEDOMS we as a nation enjoy everyday!]
One thing in connection with this fight I must say and then I will close. Co. D, 3rd Iowa Cav., came directly in front of the rebel battery [cannons] and just as our lines struck the battery private R. A. Buzzard, Co. D, had his horse shot. He got on his feet and jumped on one of the guns [cannon]. He swung his revolver over his head and at that moment received a ball [bullet] through his heart and fell dead, with his arms locked around the cannon. P.H.Steele, Co. K, 3rd Iowa Cav., Manhattan, Colorado.
Original: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., “National Tribune” Newspaper Column, Thursday, January 6, 1898.
Xeroxed Copy: Mine Creek Battlefield SHS, KS, 20485 Ks. Hwy. 52; Pleasanton, Ks. 66075
Reference: National Tribune Notebook Vol. I, Edited: Arnold W. Schofield, 12/24/05, Superintendent: Mine creek Battlefield SHS.
Note: Complete set of the National Tribune Newspaper is located in the Houston Library @ Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Republic, Missouri.