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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City

Battlefield Dispatches #71

Hounds on the Hunt

The Civil War was slightly more than a year old & the “Union Hounds” in Missouri where constantly hunting the Confederate Foxes & the chase was on! The hit & run tactics of the Confederate guerrillas (Bushwhackers, if you are from Kansas or are of the “Northern Persuasion”) were more often than not successful early in the war & they were a very elusive force that ld constantly plagued the Union forces in Kansas & Missouri throughout the entire war. The following are two brief after action reports of “Union Hounds on the Hunt”!  both reports are located on pages 130 & 134 in Volume 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

Independence, Mo., June 23, 1862.

Sir: In compliance with your orders, I left this post with 30 men at 9:30 a.m. & proceeded to the farm of J. R. Lowe. Before arriving there I saw suspicious-looking persons, whom I supposed to be pickets. At Lowe’s farm I dismounted my men, leaving a sufficient guard with my horses. I proceeded to the bushes with the residue of my men; found a camp, two bridles, two blankets & a lariat rope. From appearances I thought the guerrillas had scattered in various directions through the woods. I deployed my men as skirmishers [a line or squad of men as on patrol]. Taking 4 men with me I proceeded along by-paths, [by splitting his command into small groups he was asking for trouble & he would find it!]

Discovering a picket [guard], we fired on him, causing him to drop his overcoat. Almost INSTANTLY WE WERE FIRED UPON BY LARGE NUMBERS IN THE BUSHES JUST AHEAD OF US, [Sounds like an excellent ambush by the “Foxes”]! After [the enemy] fired a few rounds [shots] they advanced on us! We retreated to where our horses were hitched & when our men assembled I found there was one missing. After searching for him for some time without finding him I concluded that he was killed & having received a wound in one of my legs, we returned to camp were we arrived at 7 p.m. I think we killed two of the VILLIANS – one certain.

James Breckinridge
Capt., Comdg. Co. B, 7th Cav., Mo. Vol.

Hdqrs. 1st Battalion 1st Missouri Cavalry,
Warrensburg, Mo., June 30, 1862.

Major: I have the honor to report to you that I have sent 100 men, on the 28th, at 4 o’clock a.m. under the command of Capt. Kehoe, of company C & 2nd Lieut. A. Gourney, of co. d, west & north –west from these headquarters , with  instructions to divide the command into three parties , to go toward Black Water & surrounding country to HUNT these BUSHWHACKERS (the country is full of them) & to SHOOT EVERY ONE OF THEM HE SHOULD MEET UNDER ARMS ON THE SPOT.

About 6 o’clock the same morning Captain Kehoe left, 2 men came to me & reported that 3 BUSHWHACKERS were seen on the evening of the 27th near their places, armed & this morning, the 28th about 5 o’clock, the brother of one of the Union men was shot by a certain Thomas Colburn, a NOTORIOUS HORSE-THEIF & JAYHAWKER. I at once dispatched 3 privates to inform Capt. Kehoe of this though before they could reach the captain this same HORSE-THEIF had fired upon a party of Captain Kehoe’s command without success. The party [of Union Hounds] dismounted & chased them through the brush & [caught the Foxes] & killed them all 3. Their names are Thomas Colburn, Haux & the other one’s name I could not learn.

On the morning of the 29th, Capt. Kehoe encountered another party of BUSHWHACKERS  and killed 2 more, took 2 men prisoners, captured 3 horses, 2 SHOT-GUNS & 1 pistol. The captain returned on the evening of the 29th.

Major, 1st Mo. Cav., Commanding Post.

P.S. I have since learned the names of the last two killed – Olford & Greenwood.  C.B.

One Hunt was successful & one was not. However, the hunts of the “Foxes & Hounds” were deadly for both sides throughout the war & the chase from both perspectives will be addressed in future columns as the accounts of the hunts are discovered and of course the War Went on!

Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
436 West 88th Terrace
Kansas City, MO 64114

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