Civil War Love Letters: July 25, 1861
James reports that he and his company took Colonel Alf Jones, and Captains Mountjoy and Slayback prisoners. At the same time, troops from other companies in James’s regiment traveled aboard the steamer White Cloud toward Liberty, Missouri, near Kansas City. The Rebels attacked these troops at Blue Mills, Missouri. No additional information about the circumstances of either of these incidents was found.
July 25th 1861
My Dear Molly
I write at once fearing you may have some more exaggerated reports, as one of our boats has at last been in action, but I will commence from where I left off last, merely premising that I am all safe. -- though there is one killed. Two dying - & 10 or 12 more or less wounded - It is too bad! but it might be worse
Well when I wrote last we were on guard - but even so when we learned that there were expeditions on foot, we were in such a state of excited expectancy that scarce any one lay down at the usual hour 9 o.c. - But before this in the evening the "White Cloud" with 200 men had started up the river for "Liberty or Kansas City" for information & provisions, Thus leaving us with only 500 men here but relying on the terror of our name, & knowing that there was gathered at least 800 secesh about 8 miles off! whose Colonel (Alf. Jones) & one of whose Captains (Mountjoy) had come home lately at night to their wives. We determined at dead of night to go & catch them, just before night fall -
A nigger brought news that one of "Claibs" aid de camp's had come in town in disguise & we sent 20 men of our company D surrounded the house & brought him along, before his friends in the city knew of his presence, this caused some commotion, but nothing like the consternation visible yesterday, after these later arrests. So as we wouldn't go to sleep - our Capt. called us in line at Ten O'clock, & we started on our night march 4 miles in deep silence, & at places sneaking along the fences, trailing arms, in order to prevent their glancing in the moonlight. When we arrived near we divided the company in 4 Sections, I took the first & passed or crawled down the road past the house it stood back 20 or 30 yards & entered a large field or Kitchen Garden planted all my men along under cover of some scrubby fruit trees on the north side, & then waited. Two other sections passed through some tall corn, one to the rear or East side while one spread along the south behind the corn field fence - While this was done the Capt. waited & then advanced down the main road & entered at the front gate, & immediately surrounded the house guarding every door or window - Then we all closed in expecting to find 50 or 100 men on guard, while their Colonel slept - but we found none, & all remained quiet but the Niggers - who expected us -
We searched all their huts, also the stables & out houses without noise - & then we thundered at the front door. We did not burst it in, & so it was over half an hour ere the crying & screaming inmates admitted us - & near an hour more - ere our searches found the Colonel, all alone, with his fat sides squeezed flat in a clothes press, locked inside, among some Ladies dresses. We finally brought him along, it being now 3 o.c. We also brought his son in Law, an officer of some kind a stupid fellow, Jones himself being a courageous & really dangerous fighting man - we then made a rapid detour of two miles, & captured in the same way Capt. Mountjoy, only he came like a man to the window & dressed in five minutes & delivered himself up. We remained over half an hour after trying to comfort his screaming wife; & then got to the boat at daybreak - safely - All day (the 24th) the city & country were in commotion, our companies patrolling around occasionally - we sleeping all the forenoon - in the evening dress parade in town - when at six oclock we heard something resembling Cannonading - we scampered for the boat fearing a rescue of our prisoners, but could there hear nothing - so we went on extra guard all night - hearing distant rumbling occasionally - pronounced by the cannoniers, with practiced ears, a howitzer until 3 o.c. a.m. when a sudden call to arms revealed a boat rounding the bend - We thought an enemy sure & at full speed - but she proved our consort the White Cloud - come for more assistance - she had been attacked near "Liberty at Blue Mills" south side river by about 150 men who laydown on the top of a high bluff & fired into her several volleys & then before she could land ran like deer - in the meantime her howitzer fired 8 or 10 shots into or near where they were - they found some blood afterwards - They landed charged up the bluff - took 4 prisoners & fired the houses (only 4 or 5) after carrying all the groceries in a store aboard the boat, & then proceeded on their way two miles more - when they were fired on from the North side, out of the woods & again with deadly effect to our men, & the boat Carpenter - so they sent some shell on that side Jordan too & landing could find nobody - They continued on up - smashing & sinking all the flats - skiffs - ferry boats they could see from the time they left us until they returned, arriving at a Union wood yard on an Island they wooded up - & were informed that at Liberty there was 800 men & 3 cannon waiting for them - part of these 800 however were among those who first attacked them & they had immediately run back to Liberty -
So it being 12 oclock by this time Col Stiefel concluded to turn back & as I stated at first arrived at Lexington at 3 oclock returning 50 miles in 3 hours - without accident -
Yesterday they stopped at Sibley & captured a Secession Flag & 10 kegs & some barrels of Powder - rifles &c - & it was from here that they sent an express to Liberty - apprising the Secessionists of our coming - & so the result I’ve stated. Well this fighting took place between 6 & 11 oclock at night the boat being a good mark for them while our men could only fire by guess - towards where they saw a flash, & so ended our first battle – Col. Stiefel allowed himself to be surprised - or we might have a better report to make - & this after all our vigilance so far - We do not know whether any of the Rebels were killed - but we suppose there was - Mr. Stotman - a quiet young German was killed - Comp A - The Carpenter & another American Comp A are supposed to be dying –
I am in haste my Dear Molly - in good health & spirits & hope to give a good account of myself for some time yet
James E. Love
When shall I hear from you. I got Alex's letter within 3 days by mail! Love to all - Kindest Love to yourself
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