Marmaduke’s Expedition into Missouri
Page 296 Chapter XXXIV
Numbers 16. Report of Colonel John Q. Burbridge, Fourth Missouri Cavalry (Confederate) commanding brigade.
Camp at Burden's Mill, 16 miles from Jacksonport, May 12, 1863.
MAJOR: Inclosed I send you a detailed statement of the part my brigade bore in the expedition into Missouri. It is a plain statement of facts, and can be hardly considered as an official report. I send a list of killed, wounded, and missing.*
I have sent Captain Reves' company west of Black River, with instructions to camp in the vicinity of Powhatan. He will scout in the direction of Pitman's Ferry and Thomasville, Mo. He is also instructed to thoroughly picket the country, to guard against any surprise of the enemy. My pickets are placed between Black River and Cache Swamp. I will send scouts east of the river. As yet I have received no information from Colonel [S. G.] Kitchen, concerning the movements of the enemy in that direction. I will write him, in accordance with your instructions, and get all the information he possesses. But Colonel Kitchen informed me that he was ordered to report directly to Brigadier-General Marmaduke, and, of course, any information he will give me will be voluntarily given.
If Colonel Kitchen was ordered to report to me, I could then keep Colonel Shelby perfectly advised of the movements of the enemy. I have established my headquarters at Burden's Mill, 16 miles from Jacksonport. I suppose I can get forage to keep us between two and three weeks, by hauling 6 or 7 miles.
I have no paroled prisoners; all the prisoners captured by my command were turned over to Colonel Shelby's brigade.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. Q. BURBRIDGE,
Major HENRY EWING,
Asst. Adjt. General, Marmaduke's Division,
Camp at Burden's Mill, May 11, 1863.
MAJOR: In obedience to General Orders, Numbers -, division headquarters, I herewith submit the following report of the part my brigade bore in the late expedition into Missouri:
On April 14, orders were received to immediately prepare my command for active service. I obeyed this order by sending train, baggage, &c., to the rear, and providing each of my companies, in addition to the regimental train allowed, with one pack mule, for the purpose of conveying such cooking utensils as could be conveniently transported.
On Friday morning, the 17th, I moved, marching 25 miles in a northerly direction, and camping on a small creek in Oregon County, Missouri. The next morning I resumed the march, expecting to form a junction with Colonel [Joseph O.] Shelby, to whom I had been ordered to report, at Williams' Creek. Owing, however, to the scarcity of forage, Colonel Shelby had already started, leaving me to march in his rear through a country known as the Wilderness. After marching 28 miles, I was compelled to halt and encamp without obtaining a particle of forage for my horses.
* See revised statement, p. 288.
The next day I crossed Current River at Van Buren, camping 22 miles south of Patterson, which place I reached the next evening, learning, however, that the garrison occupying the place had retreated, burning their quartermaster's and commissary stores. Lieutenant-Colonel [William J.] Preston, with three companies of my regiment, was here ordered to report to Colonel [George W.] Carter, commanding Texas brigade of cavalry, he having been sent to attack Brigadier-General [John] McNeil's forces at Bloomfield, Mo. This part of my command did no report to me again until our forces fell back from Cape Girardeau.
I again resumed the march from Patterson, moving in the direction of Fredericktown, and encamped, within 12 miles of that place, and entered the town next day at 12 o'clock, but found no enemy.
On the evening of the 25th, I received orders to move on the Cape Girardeau road, which I obeyed, passing through Jackson about day light. At 10 o'clock we reached the city and made preparations to attack it. By Colonel Shelby's order I formed my brigade in line of battle upon his right, occupying a position that completely protected my men from the artillery of the enemy, and at the same time placing me in supporting distance from his battery. An artillery duel of an hour and a half duration was here kept ut on either side, the enemy showering shot and shell upon us, but doing little execution on account of our protected position. My loss here was only 7 wounded, 2 dangerously. Lieutenant G. R. Gilmore, of Company D, and acting adjutant of Lieutenant-Colonel Preston's regiment, was slightly wounded in the ankle.
About 12 o'clock I received an order from Colonel Shelby to withdraw my force, it being Brigadier-General Marmaduke's intention to make only a demonstration, and not to assault the place. I then moved my command upon the Jackson road, and encamped about dark 4 miles beyond that place, upon the road leading to Dallas. Before I could post my pickets, and, in fact, before, I had fairly encamped, a company belonging to Colonel [R. S.] Newton's regiment, which had unaccountably encamped some 300 yards from the regiment, was attacked by the enemy and scattered. This company lost 6 men killed, wounded, and missing, and almost the whole of their horses. I immediately formed the brigade on foot, and awaited the approach of the enemy, whom I rightly conjectured to be in force, sending the train to Jackson. Colonel Preston was here ordered to dislodge a small force of the enemy posted on the road between my camp and Jackson, which was done without loss. Not being sufficiently acquainted with the country to attempt an advance upon the enemy his line 1 mile west of town, and Colonel Preston was ordered to form his line of battle near the junction of the Dallas and Fredericktown roads, and to resist any movement of the enemy from that quarter.
At 3 o'clock the next morning an order was received from Brigadier-General Marmaduke to withdraw my command to Jackson. I immediately did so, leaving, however, a picket force to cover my rear, which an hour after I had left was attacked and driven into town.
The march southward from Jackson for several days, as far as my command is concerned, presents nothing worthy of consideration. The enemy, however, were pressing our rear, and frequent skirmishes were engaged in, which, owing to the position the brigade occupied, were more frequently heard than engaged in. Once, however, the rear guard gave way and was forced back upon the command without giving sufficient warning of the approach of the enemy. This for a time
threw my brigade into disorder, but the men were promptly rallied by their officers, and formed in line ready to resist the approach of the enemy. The enemy was, however, gallantly repulsed by the Texans, under command of Colonel Carter. After my brigade had passed Bloomfield, I received orders to march back to the town and form upon the right of Colonel Shelby, and to resist the farther advance of the enemy. A heavy skirmishing was soon begun in front, and kept up till dark. No firing was heard during the night, though my scouts reported to me continually that the enemy was making a flank movement upon my right, which would have given him possession of a hill that commanded our whole position.
I was ordered next morning to move in the direction of Chalk Bluff. When within 2 miles of that point, I received orders to dismount my men, and to send horses and train across the river, and to march the infantry thus dismounted back a short distance to a position that had been selected for fighting. The position assigned me was on the left of Colonel Shelby's brigade, my left resting on an open field. Not willing to expose the men any more than necessary, I ordered temporary breastworks to be made, which would have effectually protected them from the musketry of the enemy. The enemy soon commenced a vigorous shelling, remarkable for its accuracy, the shells passing directly over my lines, within 2 feet of the ground.
At 2 o'clock at night I received orders to withdraw my forces with the utmost secrecy and dispatch, and to leave my skirmishers in front to resist any night advance of the enemy. The brigade was safely crossed to the south side of the Saint Francis River, and occupied a position above the bluff on the bank of the river, which completely commanded the road leading to the bridge. I here received orders to march the brigade upon the Gainesville road and encamp until further orders, leaving, however, my sharpshooters upon the river, subject to Brigadier-General Marmaduke's order.
Subsequent events would be but a detailed list of short rations, hard marches through swamps, &c., in no way worthy of mention, save for the cheerfulness with which the men under me endured those hardships. In conclusion, major, I would return my sincere thanks to both officers and men of this command for the bravery, which, with but few exceptions, they have displayed upon the battle-field, and for the unflinching fortitude with which they endured every hardship.
I would take this occasion to acknowledge my obligation to Colonels Newton and Preston for the co-operation and assistance they gave me in carrying out all orders received.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. Q. BURBRIDGE,
Colonel, Commanding, &c.
Major HENRY EWING,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Jacksonport, Ark.