Civil War Sharpshooter

During the Civil War and all conflicts before and after this war, almost all shots or a shot to the head were fatal. They were normally inflicted by a “sharpshooter” or, in the modern military, by a “sniper.”

This was usually accomplished at a great distance. Often when the chaos of rough and tumble “hand-to-hand” combat occurred, any type of wound inflicted on an enemy would suffice, and this could include a fatal head shot.

Such was the case and unfortunate demise of a local Vernon County, Mo., confederate guerrilla or, if you prefer “bushwhacker,” by the name of “Brice Mayfield.”

The “Mayfield” sisters of Brice and his brother were all southern partisans and were thorns in the sides of many Yankees from Missouri and Kansas early in the Civil War.

Brice Mayfield and his brother John were killed on Dec. 26, 1862, near Neosho in Newton County, Mo. Wagon

Winter Quarters of Col. J.B. Howard

Winter during the Civil War was particularly trying and monotonous for the armies. The winter months presented impassable, muddy roads and harsh weather which precluded active operations. Disease ran rampant during the winter months, killing more men than battles. But with all of its hardships winter also allowed soldiers an opportunity to bond, have a bit of fun, and enjoy their more permanent camps. Through these bleak months all soldiers, Union and Confederate, had to keep warm and busy in order to survive. However, in the winter of 1862-1863, the “Union” Army of the Southwest, commanded by Maj. Gen. Samuel Ryan Curtis, was on the march and campaigning in Northwest Arkansas. As part of that army, the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment was far away from its former headquarters in Fort Scott and 1st Sergeant, soon-to-be 2nd Lt. Charles W. Porter recorded the following entries in his journal. His original journal

Samuel Reader of the Kansas State Militia was captured near Westport on Sept. 22, 1864. He painted this picture of Union prisoners being hurried south by the fleeing Confederates

Early in the morning hours of 25 October, 1864, Confederate Major General Sterling Price was retreating as fast as he could to more friendly territory to his base in Arkansas after what many consider the final blow to his Rebel army at the Battle of Westport just two days before. In pursuit were the Union forces under the command of Major General Alfred Pleasonton. Three conflicts took place as the southerners retreated. These conflicts were all Union victories and would ultimately be the final straw in the great Missouri Raid of 1864. Price had intended on securing Missouri for the Confederacy, gaining southern sympathizing supporters, take pressure off the losses in the eastern theater and to install a southern governor at the capital in Jefferson City. None of these happened and his raid in turn had exactly the opposite effect it had intended.

The Battle of Marais des Cygnes was

Guerrilla Warfare

During the Civil War in Missouri and eastern Kansas, in addition to killing prisoners, both the Jayhawkers of Kansas and the Bushwhackers of Missouri murdered and robbed civilians as well as soldiers which was and is commonplace in any guerrilla war. The following correspondence describes a “Guerrilla” attack on Lamar, Mo., and the “Union” response from Fort Scott. Both documents are located on Pages 348 and 352-354 in Series I, Vol. 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

“Lamar, Mo., November 6, 1862.

Sir: I have the honor to report that I was attacked last night by a band of rebels, numbering 200 or 300. I fought them some two and a half hours from houses and every way. The rebels rushed in and burned about one third of the town. They killed three of my men and wounded three mortally, I think. We held the

Old Block House, Ft Scott, KS 1890

The Civil War ended in April of 1865, and during the next year or so the United States War Department demobilized the “Union” forces and materials of war throughout the country. Reducing the manpower, or number of soldiers, was relatively easy in that they were discharged and sent home. The mammoth amount of the materials of war was another matter, especially in the Quartermaster Department. There, there were thousands of wagons, wheels, tools, horses, mules, boxes, barrels, railroad boxcars, engines ships and vessels of all shapes and sizes, buildings and blockhouses, etc. to be disposed of.

In Fort Scott, Assistant Quartermaster Theodore C. Bowles sold off all the excess U.S. government and captured Confederate property in a series of public auctions which also included the four blockhouses and their surrounding palisades. Lunette or Fort Blair is the only one of these “local blockhouses” that has survived to the present day

Members of the Ohio Cavalry

In the April of 1862, a battalion of the 2nd Ohio (Buckeyes) Cavalry Regiment conducted an expedition into the enemy state of Missouri from Fort Scott. If there is an after -action report of this expedition, it has not been discovered yet. However, the following account of this mission was published in the April 26,1862 edition of the “Western Volunteer” newspaper in Fort Scott.

A trip to Carthage”

The 1st Battalion of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry under the command of Mjr. George Minor, left this place for Carthage on Thursday, the 10th inst. The command consisted of companies C, I, F 7 L A (supply) train of nine wagons, loaded with company and commissary stores, ammunition, etc. accompanied us. Nothing of note happened on our first day’s march and we camped on the bank of Drywood (Creek) having made about 12 miles.

Early on Friday morning we resumed our march,