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Lieutenant Colonel John F. Benjamin
Second Missouri State Militia Cavalry


MARMADUKE'S EXPEDITION INTO MISSOURI.

Page 270 Chapter XXXIV

Report of Lieutenant Colonel John F. Benjamin, Second Missouri State Militia Cavalry, of action at Cape Girardeau and pursuit of Marmaduke.

CAPE GIRARDEAU,
May 9, 1863.

GENERAL: The following is my report of the parts this regiment took in the battle at this place on the 26th ultimo, and its subsequent march in pursuit of the enemy to Bloomfield, where it was assigned to the brigade of Colonel [O. H.] La Grange, First Wisconsin Cavalry:
At the time of the attack on this city, I occupied a position in front of and to the left of Fort C, the right resting on the Bloomfield road, the point where it was supposed the main force of the enemy would be concentrated; but as no demonstration was made upon this part of the town, we were at no time exposed to the enemy's fire. During the fight, however, Captain [Perry D.] McClanahan, Company C, with the two small howitzers attached to this regiment, was ordered to take position about midway between the Bloomfield and Jackson roads, supported by his company, from which he completely silenced the opposing artillery after firing a few rounds. After the retreat of the enemy, Major [H. M.]
Hiller, with three companies of the First Battalion and the howitzers was ordered to reconnoiter on the Jackson road, when, after following 5 miles, he found the enemy too strongly posted to be successfully assailed with his small force, and night coming on, he returned.
On the following day, at 1 p. m., all the available part of the regiment joined the other forces that left here in pursuit of the enemy on the Bloomfield road, traveling that day to near the White Water without coming up with them. The bridge over that stream having been destroyed, we encamped for the night.
The bridge being sufficiently repaired by 10 a. m. the next day, I was ordered to the front and to pursue vigorously. A few miles brought us

Page 271

to their last encampment, which they had left but an hour and a half before; the camp-fires still burning. About 2 p. m., and when only fifteen minutes behind their rear guard, orders came to me to halt until further orders. An hour or more elapsed before I was ordered again to march, and the enemy, evidently being apprised of our near approach, as their scouts were seen taking observations from the high points in front, was enabled to get considerably the start of us again. About 5.30 p. m. I again came up with a party left to tear up a small bridge, and captured 2, with their horses. The balance of the party, having succeeded in destroying the bridge, escaped. I set all hands to work on the bridge, and has succeeded in getting it repaired so as to cross, and, when about to move, an order came from the rear to not move, whether the bridge was repaired or not, until ordered to do so. A picket guard was, however, sent ahead to Spring Hill, distant a mile or so, near where they surprised a party of 6, killing 1 and taking a lieutenant prisoner. They were not encountered again by us until after we reached Bloomfield, at which place I was put under the orders La Grange, as before stated.
I am clearly of opinion that I could have captured many of the enemy if I had been suffered to pursue him without hinderance. The road passes through open woods, and bordered on one side by an impassable swamp most of the way. In attacking them on the march, the head of the column only could be engaged, and one regiment is as effective as a greater number. All accounts represented their rear guard as weak and the stragglers numerous.

I remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. F. BENJAMIN,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

General JOHN McNEIL,
Commanding Sub-district, Southwestern Missouri.


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