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Official Records

Lieutenant Colonel William Baumer
First Nebraska Infantry


Reports of Lieutenant Colonel William Baumer, First Nebraska Infantry, of action at Cape Girardeau and pursuit of Marmaduke.

Page 267 Chapter XXXIV

April 28, 1863.

SIR: The undersigned respectfully submits to you the special description of the [part the] party under his command performed when attacked by the enemy on Cape Girardeau.
On the morning of the 24th of April, news came in from the scouts that the enemy was approaching this place with a force of about 8,000 men. The garrison of this place consisted then of about 350 men of the First Nebraska Infantry, two field pieces of Welfley's battery, one company of First Wisconsin Cavalry, Captain [George O.] Clinton, and Captain Meisner's artillery, Battery D, Second Missouri Artillery.

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My idea was then to meet the enemy outside of the fortifications, and by being overpowered, to fall back to Fort B, and from thence to Fort A, which place could be held against any force of the enemy.
The position selected by me (Captain [Thomas J.] Majors, First Nebraska, and Lieutenant [Adolphus] Stauber, Welfley's battery) was west of Cape Girardeau, about three-quarters of a mile from Fort B. The small number of the defending force allowed only to protect the northwestern part of the town, which commands all other places in and around town. The troops had made up their mind to defend the place to the last man, and never to surrender to the rebels.
On the evening of the 24th, General McNeil arrived and took command of the place. The general approved of my plan of defense, and ordered, on the 25th, Welfley's battery, consisting of six pieces, and part of the Thirty-second Iowa for the protection of the north and west side of the town. The position north, on the Perryville road, was very important, and the force of defense was two companies (F and G), First Nebraska, two field [pieces] of Welfley's battery, and three companies of the Thirty-second Iowa, all under the charge of Captain [Thomas J.] Weatherwax, First Nebraska. The central position was between the Bloomfield and Jackson roads, on a hill, which commands all approaches from the west, on which was placed four pieces of Welfey's battery, under Lieutenant [Lawrence] Jacoby, and five companies of the First Nebraska, commanded by Captain Majors. The first division of the First Nebraska, commanded by Captain Majors. The first division of the First Nebraska Infantry (Companies B and D) were placed as skirmishers in advance, and, after twenty-four hours on duty, they were relieved by Companies I and C, of First Nebraska. Captain [H. H.] Ribble, Company I, was on the right of the skirmish line, on the Jackson road, where the attack of the enemy was first made on the morning of the 26th, at 10 a. m. The rebels were stopped by the fire of the pickets, who had orders to fall back on the battalion. Companies B and D were sent as a detachment on a hill, near the Jackson road, to act as skirmishers, and could do good service. The main attack was made northwest of the Jackson road. The guns of our position on the Perryville road fired first. Then, from the central position, and in the rear of the two outside positions, the guns of Fort B opened fire. The cross-fire of the artillery was so well directed, and the artillerists so much skilled and intrepid, that the enemy could not advance from the ambush. The five companies (C, I, K, E, and A) of First Nebraska did not give up one inch of ground in the face of the enemy, who were about ten to their one, and fired all their ammunition away. Never can soldiers perform their duty on the battle-field better or braver than did this small band of heroes. The enemy tried then to attack our right flank, on the Perryville road, when I moved two pieces of artillery on the hill, on the Jackson road, protected by Companies B and D, and their position was very destructive to the enemy. The left flank, on the Bloomfield road, was protected by the First Wisconsin Cavalry, Colonel [O. H.] La Grange, Lieutenant-Colonel [Henry] Pomeroy. Three of their companies dismounted and fought the enemy on foot with their carbines. Two mountain howitzers did also excellent service in dislodging a battery of the enemy. The position on Perryville road was strengthened by taking two more field pieces to the place; also the five companies of the First Nebraska, which were supplied with new ammunition. The firing against the enemy was still kept up from the position on the Jackson road and Fort B, until about 3 p. m., when the enemy fell back. Only small detachments were sent out to ascertain where the enemy had gone. Some of them went our as far as 3 miles. The artillery and infantry were under arms all

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night, ready to engage the enemy at any time. Meantime re-enforcements came up, and the rebels fell back faster than they came up. Every officer and man under my command behaved as soldiers, and displayed great courage and bravery. Every order was executed promptly, each officer and soldier discharging his duty; otherwise it would have been impossible for so small number of men to repulse an enemy with such great odds. In the first place, we had possession of a ground with the facility to assist one party through the other, and then the men had the determination not to give up the place, and would have died in fulling their duties before surrendering. Specially I would mention the name of Captain Majors, whose horse was shot from under him, whilst in command of the five companies in the central position; then Captain Ribble, who was first engaged with his company as skirmishers, and showed great bravery; also Captain Weatherwax, who had position on the Perryville road, from where the first shot was fired; also Lieutenant [Francis A.] McDonald, acting adjutant; quartermaster, Lieutenant [Charles] Thompson, Lieutenant Moore, and Sergeant Gillespie, who assisted me greatly in carrying orders and reports to the most dangerous places of the field. The battery (Welfley's), command by Lieutenant Jacoby, assisted by Lieutenant Stauber, deserve praise for their skill and coolness in firing and rapidity in their movements.

List of killed and wounded: Killed, 3; wounded, 7.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding First Nebraska Infantry.

Chief of Staff, Cape Girardeau, Mo.


Cape Girardeau, Mo.,
May 9, 1863.

SIR: The undersigned respectfully submits to you the following report of the march of the First Regiment Nebraska Infantry, ordered by General Vandever;
Marching orders received at regimental headquarters in the evening of the 28th of April, with information that the enemy were surrounded near Castor River, and to take three days' provisions and full supplies of ammunition, and to move on in forced marches. According to orders received, I started on the morning of 29th of April, at 5 o'clock, with all men of the regiment except those on extra and detached duty, the whole force amounting to 270 active soldiers. All regimental wagons and teams were ordered to accompany the regiment, and by this arrangement one-third of the men could ride at a time. The regiment encamped at Lakeville; marched at 2 o'clock in the morning; arrived at Castor River, crossed over, and marched as advance guard of column to Bloomfield, and arrived there at 10 o'clock in the morning on the 30th of April. In the afternoon, the regiment received orders to prepare for a night's march. The regiment started at 7 p. m.; marched until 3 a. m.; rested for one hour; continued the march and engaged the enemy's rear guard at 5 a. m.; supporting Welfleys' battery. The enemy retreating, were followed up by the regiment, and several took place during the day of the 1st of May. In the evening, 3 miles from Saint Francis River, the regiment was ordered to the front to ascertain the enemy's position. Their position was soon discovered by the scouts of the First Nebraska Infantry, mounted on cavalry horses furnished from the cav-

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alry on the field. The next day, May 2, the regiment marched as advance guard to the Saint Francis River. No artillery being up, we had to await their arrival before engaging the enemy. Four companies as advance were placed as line of skirmishers on the right of the main river road. Five companies, commanded by Captain Majors, were placed on the extreme left flank, a portion deployed as skirmishers. After the artillery firing and some sharpshooting, the order was received to march back to Bloomfield, which place the regiment reached on the evening of the 3rd of May. From there orders were received to march to Cape Girardeau, Mo. Marched at 1 o'clock, May 4; arrived at Cape Girardeau at 4 p. m., May 5.
The soldiers of the First Nebraska Infantry, within seven days, marched 190 miles; were engaged with the enemy for fourteen hours; had only three days' rations for seven days; lost 2 men wounded, and had only 1 man on the sick report upon its arrival in camp.
They deserve the greatest praise for the willingness with which all the hardships were endured.

I am, respectfully, yours, truly,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding First Nebraska Infantry.

Chief of Staff, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Assistant Adjutant-General.

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