Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Skirmish: Company B Sixth Kansas Cavalry

May 15, 1863
Skirmish at Big Creek, near Pleasant Hill, Missouri
Report of Maj. Wyllis C. Ransom, Sixth Kansas Cavalry
Hdqrs. First Battalion Sixth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry
Westport, Missouri, May 24, 1863 

Capt. H. G. Loring, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General:
  Captain:  I have the honor respectfully to report that on the 14th instant, learning that a considerable band of guerrillas were prowling near this place, with the evident intention of committing depredations along the Kansas line, I immediately started in pursuit with 60 men of Company B, Sixth Kansas Cavalry.  I came in contact with the so-styled Colonel Parker and his gang the same evening; routed him, killing 2 of his men and capturing 3 of his horses.  As I feared would be the case, a larger party of guerrillas passed to my rear during the night, notwithstanding that I used every precaution that the force at my command would allow to prevent such a movement.  The enemy in my rear burned three houses, and the same night recrossed the Little Blue and retreated east as fast as his horses would carry him.
  Upon learning of his movements during the night, I gave hot pursuit, and came up with a party of his force at Big Creek, near Pleasant Hi, Cass County, Missouri.  We surprised his camp, killing 6 of his men, capturing 7 of his horses with equipments complete, his camp equipage, arms, provisions, &c.
  The next day we routed him again, killing 2 of his men, wounding others, that escaped in the brush, and captured 3 more of his horses.  Having driven them from that locality, I pursued them toward the Sni, where I again came up to them, they having joined the main body of guerrillas, at least 150 strong, under command of Quantrill and Parker, encamped among the thickly wooded hills of the Sni, in a very strong position.  While feeling for the enemy, we encountered one of his forage parties taking flour to camp.  We dispersed it, killing 1 and capturing and destroying the flour, their arms, and 2 more horses.
  Judging that, with my men as poorly armed as they were, I could not attack the enemy successfully, I determined to await re-enforcements.  I accordingly retired about 2 miles to a point where I could open communication with Major [William] Drumhiller, at Blue Springs.  Major Drumhiller joined me that evening with 100 men, Fifth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, and we immediately moved upon the enemy in the midst of a terrible storm, which continued most of the night and the next day.  We found that the enemy had moved their camp, but a reconnoitering party soon started a picket of 10 men, 1 of whom was killed and 3 of their horses captured.  A close pursuit of several miles followed, but failed to discern the enemy's camp.  The storm continuing with unabated violence, the streams rapidly rising, and our stock being nearly given out, and fearing that the enemy would again pass to the rear, together with the fact that our rations were exhausted, induced me to return to this place.
  During the scout we have marched an aggregate of several hundred miles, and nearly the whole distance through the densest of brush, lying in ambuscade in detached parties night after night.  I am confirmed in the opinion that the guerrillas in this and the adjacent counties can be concentrated within a few hours on any one point.  They number several hundred, and great watchfulness will be required to prevent serious disaster.  The enemy invariably fought us with desperation.  My casualties are 1 man killed.
  I feel it my duty to mention the name of Sergt. George W. Farnsworth, of Company B, Sixth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, for the eminent valor he displayed and the untiring zeal with which he executed my orders in the field.
  Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
  W. C. Ransom, Major Sixth Kansas Cavalry, Commanding Detachment

[Note:  Sergt. George W. Farnsworth was one of the volunteers from Appanoose County, Iowa]

From:  The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.  Additions and Corrections to Series I - Volume XXII.  [Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902], pages 332-333. 

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