Some Stories of Bledsoe's Battery

Submitter’s Note: The following are just a few of the stories

available online that document the wartime action of the

men who served in Bledsoe’s Battery. LPP


"… The governor remained in Warsaw two days, and then resumed in a more leisurely manner his march toward Montevallo, in Vernon county, to form a junction with the column under Rains and Slack. The progress of this column had been slow, because the streams it had to cross were high, and the useless and cumbrous baggage train, as well as the men, had to be ferried over them. Rains' effective strength was less than 1,200 infantry under Col. Richard H. Weightman, about 600 mounted men under Colonel Cawthorn, and Capt. Hiram Bledsoe's three gun battery.

One of Bledsoe's guns was captured by the Missourians in the Mexican war at the Battle of Sacramento. It was presented by the general government to the State of Missouri and for years stood on the bluff overlooking the Missouri river at Lexington. Bledsoe brought it out with a yoke of oxen. There was a considerable percentage of silver in its composition, which gave it a ring when fired that could be distinguished on the field amidst the firing of a hundred ordinary guns. Bledsoe's battery was always in the thickest of the fight, and the soldiers of the State Guard, as well as the Federals, soon came to know "Old Sacramento's" voice. It became so badly grooved from use that it was finally condemned, sent to Memphis to be recast with other guns, and its identity lost.
…At daybreak next morning, July 5th, the army moved, with Rains in front and Capt. J. O. Shelby's company in advance. The governor with his staff and Gen. David R. Atchison rode at the head of the column with General Rains. About five miles from Lamar they learned that Sigel had left Carthage and was on his way to give them battle. Hardly had they halted when the glint of the Federal bayonets showed them the enemy on the other side of a creek. The governor formed his men in line of battle with Weightman's brigade on the right, then Bledsoe's battery, and then Slack's infantry. Guibor's battery was on the left of Slack, and next to him was Kelly's regiment and then Burbridge's regiment. The right flank was covered by Rains' mounted men under Brown and Rives. The Federals, about 2,000 strong, with seven pieces of artillery, advanced with the steadiness and precision of veterans. Sigel opened the fight with his artillery, firing across the creek. Bledsoe's three guns replied, and almost at the same time Guibor's battery opened. The artillery fight lasted for half an hour or more, when the mounted men on both flanks of the governor's army maneuvered as if to surround Sigel, and at the same time Weightman's and Slack's infantry advanced rapidly. The engagement was sharp and decisive. Sigel fell back in good order and took a new position well defended by his artillery.

Then Weightman reformed his line, opened fire with Bledsoe's battery, and with his own brigade and Slack's infantry pressed Sigel's line hard. The fighting at this point was stubborn for a while, but Clark and Parsons bringing their forces to bear, Sigel gave way and was soon in full retreat. Nor did he stop, except temporarily at Carthage to get his wagon train out of the way, until he had put forty miles between him and the enemies whom he expected to capture without a fight. The honors of the battle belonged to Weight-man's brigade, Slack's command, Shelby's mounted company and Bledsoe's battery. The Missourians lost 40 or 50 killed and about 120 wounded. The loss of the enemy was estimated as twice as large. The fight was known as the Battle of Carthage.

Source: Missouri in the Civil War, Vol 9, Chap 5,

Confederate Military History by Col. John C. Moore at


"…After their success at Oak Hills, the Missourians under General Price set out to liberate Lexington, Missouri. During this seven day siege, Captain (Emmett) MacDonald commanded Bledsoe's battery of artillery. (Bledsoe had been wounded at the Dry Wood skirmish Sept. 2nd). The battery, was located in the Northeast sector of the battlefield, and poured out a continuous and deadly fire of shot and shell which demoralized and paralyzed the enemy who had fortified the Masonic College just North of town. A cannonball is still lodged in the courthouse in Lexington, which may have came from one of Emmett's cannon as he competed with Churchill Clark's battery trying to shoot down the enemy's flag staff and win a gold medal offered by General Rains. (Clark won the medal). Finally at 2 a.m. on September 20th, 1861 after fifty-two hours of continuous firing, the federals under Col. Mulligan surrendered. Emmett MacDonald was commended for gallantry, zeal and untiring endurance by Generals Price, Rains and Harris."

Source: Biography of Col. Emmett MacDonald at


"This is an interesting account of the Missouri State Guard at both Cowskin Prairie and Wilson's Creek. Though written many years after the actual incidents, Lindsey provides us with some interesting information. Lindsey comments on the Guard's assortment of civilian guns as well as their lack of good food at Cowskin. He also discusses several aspects of the Battle of Wilson's Creek.

Several of Lindsey's desriptions of incidents that occurred during the battle are highly exagerated. It is doubtful that Bledsoe actually used bags of buckshot in his guns. He also displays a lack of understanding concerning Sigel's role in the battle. Lindsey states that Sigel was sent by Lyon to silence Bledsoe's guns. In fact, Sigel's men formed the southern arm of Lyon's two-pronged attack… Lindsey has added several embellishments to the incident. Despite his "old soldiering," Lindsey provides us with an interesting account of life in the Missouri State Guard in 1861.

Cowskin Prairie and Wilson's Creek
by Dr. Flavius J. Lindsey
Published in the Missouri Republican - St. Louis, MO, March 12, 1886

"…We left without tents, grub or anything, but a few old rifles and shot guns, some of them borrowed from neighbors and not yet returned. The first night's ride brought us to Stockton, in Cedar County, where the young ladies, headed by Miss Lou Hill (now Mrs. Haines of Bentonville, Ark.), volunteered to make tents, the courthouse being the place selected. While the young ladies cut and sewed we soldiers sang "Dixie" and "Home Sweet Home", which place many of us have never visited yet.

From there we travelled west in search of Gen. James S. Rains, who we heard had a great many men. We found him at last on Cowskin River, or rather the prairie. Here we went into a kind of organization. Our regiment was the Fifth Missouri State Guard. Clarkson, an old Mexican war veteran, was our colonel; Robert Crawford of Mt. Vernon, Mo. our lieutenant-colonel; Miles Buster of Greenfield, Mo. our major; Camel Lemon of Polk County, our adjutant. A braver set of officers never graced the history of any cause, but it seems that the part the regiment took has been left out.

This was the regiment that supported Bledsoe's Battery, the battery being a part of us. We were a mixed regiment, part mounted and part infantry. After living on wheat flour, bran, and all ground together, for some time on Cowskin, we began to get restless and longed for the flesh pots of Polk and Cedar, but we were in for six months. So we grinned and waited to repel the invader. As we consolidated our brigade commander was Gen. Wakeman or Waitman.

…A few days later we marched to Wilson's Creek, where, on the morning of the 10th (of August) that memorable battle was fought. At precisely 6 o'clock by Dr. Dunn's watch we sat down around a table-cloth at headquarters. That was about all we had except one pint cup of coffee and nine roasting ears. We were passing the cup, each man taking a sip, when bang! boom! boom!. The four corners of the cloth were suddenly drawn inward. A grape, not the kind you eat, but one of those indigestables, had struck the center of our festal board. We were up quicker than it takes to write it.

Our division was on the southeast hill. The battery, Bledsoe's, on the most elevated ground. It was unlimbered immediately and turned on the advancing foe. After the Yanks got our range the first shot killed three horses and tore one leg off a 15 year old boy rider. Here the enemy seemed to concentrated their aim. Our horses were soon all disabled. The guns were then run in by hand. Thus the battle went on. Our balls gave out, when Bledsoe would take a whole sack of No. 1 buckshot and cram them down that memorable old gun, Sacramento. At 200 yards such loads did such execution that we were a terror to their lines, so much so that Sigel (was) sent around to silence us…

Source: Post-war account of Cowskin Prairie and Wilson’s

Creek, edited by Chris Azevedo at


"GENERAL: In conformity with orders from Brigadier-General Rains the troops under my command marched from camp at Scott's Mill, Mo., on the morning of September 24, and moved northward by way of Pineville, for the purpose of forming a junction with Colonel Shelby (who was at that time in command of a brigade of Missouri cavalry), which was effected on the evening of the 26th at the Big Spring, head of Indian Creek.

I assumed command on the 27th. Colonel Hawpe's Texas regiment and Major Bryan's Cherokee Battalion were ordered to Newtonia, having made it an outpost, and the mill at that place was put in operation for the purpose of supplying the command with breadstuffs, which it did abundantly.

…On the morning of the 30th the enemy appeared in force in front of Newtonia and made a vigorous attack upon the troops at that place both with artillery and small-arms,
which was promptly replied to by Captain Bledsoe's battery of two guns, supported by Colonel Hawpe's and Major Bryan's commands, who were posted behind the stone fence. At the time of the attack I was en route for Granby, having with me Colonel Alexander's Texas cavalry regiment, with the intention of taking possession of and holding that place. Upon hearing the firing we hastened to the scene of action. We found our forces hotly pressed by superior numbers of the enemy. Colonel Alexander was at once ordered to take position below the mill on the right, which was obeyed with alacrity under a strong fire of grape and Minie balls. The enemy's infantry had now possession of some of the buildings in the suburbs of the village, their sharpshooters being near enough to pick off our artillerymen from their guns.

Colonel Alexander's regiment was forced to remount and fall back to the support of Bledsoe's battery, taking position behind the stone fence east of Ritchie's house to the right of the battery, Major Bryan's battalion being on the left, Colonel Hawpe's regiment occupying the stone barn and yard in front of Ritchie's house. Captain Bledsoe, with his artillerymen, stood gallantly to their guns until the last shot was expended, showering grape and canister among the advancing foe, and when forced to fall back out of range of the enemy's sharpshooters, when ordered to do so, came promptly into battery on the ridge about 150 yards to the right and rear of their former position, near the road from Newtonia to the Big Spring (Camp Coffee), by the way of Dr. Harmon's, though without a solitary shot in their caissons. The effect of this was at once apparent in checking the Federal cavalry on our left, who had commenced advancing the moment they saw the battery retiring. Captain Bledsoe continued to occupy that position under a heavy fire from the enemy's batteries until the close of the action.

Colonel Hawpe at this juncture received orders to charge the enemy's infantry, and at the head of his men at once went gallantly into the charge. Leaping the stone fence, they met the enemy, when a sharp fight took place; but being exposed to the fire of the enemy's artillery, as well as infantry, were compelled, after succeeding in checking his advance, to fall back to their original position, under cover of the stone fence. At this moment the First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, entered the town at full gallop, passed through without halting, singing their war-songs and giving the war-whoop, and under my personal direction at once engaged the enemy under a heavy fire from artillery and infantry. Colonel Shelby's Missouri regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon commanding, had in the mean time arrived on the field and taken position on the right, flanking the enemy. That, with the charge of the Choctaws, soon drove them from the town and put them to flight, followed by Lieutenant-Colonel Walker and his men.

At this moment Colonel Stevens' regiment from Granby appeared on our left, and having received orders to charge the enemy, moved forward rapidly and arrived in time to participate in the pursuit. Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon, not being aware that Colonel Stevens was in that direction, mistook his for a Federal regiment. Perceiving this, my son (Dr. Cooper) and my aide (Lieutenant Heiston) were sent by different routes to inform him that it was one of our own regiments, when he again moved forward. The delay occasioned by this mistake alone enabled the Federals to get off the field with their batteries and the remnant of their troops. The enemy now fled in confusion from the field, closely followed by our troops, the Choctaws in the center, the Missourians on the right, and Stevens' regiment on the left. We captured a number of prisoners and strewed the woods and road with dead and wounded. Large numbers of arms were also captured, thrown away by the enemy in their flight. The enemy's infantry (Ninth Wisconsin) were nearly all destroyed, being either killed or taken prisoners. The pursuit continued near 6 miles, when the enemy, meeting heavy re-enforcements, rallied his broken columns and again returned to the field.

I had in the mean time been re-enforced by Colonel Jeans' Missouri-cavalry and Captain Howell's four-gun battery, which took position at the grave-yard on the north side of the town, the enemy occupying the elevated ridge 1 mile north. His force was greatly superior to ours. His artillery consisted of three batteries, which soon opened upon us, and was ably replied to by Captain Howell, who sustained their concentrated fire during the afternoon engagement, never abandoning a position except when ordered to do so. The men handled their guns with the greatest coolness and celerity. He lost many of his horses and some of his men; among them Sergt. Felix S. Heiston, who was particularly distinguished for his bravery and soldier-like bearing; he was killed at his gun by a cannon-ball.

Stevens' and Jeans' regiments were ordered to attack the enemy's cavalry on their right, assisted by Bledsoe's battery. At this time a large body of men were seen coming in on our left and rear, which proved to be Colonel Folsom, who had been ordered up from Scott's Mill. Colonel Stevens was ordered to reconnoiter and ascertain who they were. In the mean time a few shots from Bledsoe's battery, supported by Gordon's cavalry, dispersed the enemy's cavalry, who were threatening our left on the Granby road.

    About this time the enemy had sent unperceived two regiments of Pin Indians and jayhawkers upon my right, supported by masses of infantry. They obtained possession of some bushes and stone fencing on the spring branch below the mill. Their object was to turn my right, where the Choctaws were posted. Just at this time Colonel Folsom's Choctaw regiment arrived, and by passing through a corn field succeeded unperceived in getting very close to the enemy on our right. The engagement soon became general between the two Choctaw regiments and the jayhawkers and hostile Indians. At the same time the enemy opened all his batteries, under cover of which he advanced blocks of infantry to the support of those regiments which had been previously sent to my right. The battle was now raging in all parts of the field. Their masses of infantry could be plainly seen advancing in perfect order, with guns and bayonets glittering in the sun. The booming of cannon, the bursting of shells, the air filled with missiles of every description, the rattling crash of small-arms, the cheering of our men, and the war-whoop of our Indian allies, all combined to render the scene both grand and terrific.

    Seeing the enemy's infantry advancing at double quick to re-enforce their left, I at once ordered Captain Howell to send two of his guns to take position in the corn field and shell the enemy out before their infantry could arrive. This was soon effected and the enemy fleeing from the field. At the same time the other guns under Lieutenant Routh were turned upon his advancing columns and on the jayhawkers and Pin Indians, who had been thrown in advance, but were now in full flight. Lieutenant-Colonel Buster, with his battalion, now arrived, and throwing out on the right the two Choctaw regiments and Colonel Stevens' regiment, on the left Colonels Jeans' and Gordon's Missouri regiments and Hawpe's Texas regiment, placing Colonel Alexander's regiment and Buster's battalion with the artillery in the center, the enemy was pursued over the prairie a distance of 3 miles to the timber.

...The artillery of Captains Howell and Bledsoe was admirably handled, and much credit is due those officers for the efficiency of their batteries."
Source: Report of Col. Douglas Cooper, CSA at Camp

Coffee, Mo on Oct 2, 1862 at