Report of Quantrill's Raid, Lieut. Col. Charles S. Clark, 30 Aug 1863
HEADQUARTERS TROOPS ON THE BORDER, Coldwater Grove, August 30, 1863.
GENERAL: In compliance with Special Orders, No. 51, Headquarters District of the Border, I have the honor to submit the following brief report of the part my command took in the chase after Quantrill's murderers in their raid on Lawrence:
In the evening of the 20th of August, 1863, I received a dispatch from Captain [J. A.] Pike, commanding at Aubrey, that reliable information had been received that Quantrill, with a large command, was camped on Grand River, 10 miles from the Kansas line. I immediately sent orders to Captain [B. F.] Goss, commanding Trading Post, also to Rockville for the troops to march forthwith to Coldwater Grove; also that Captain Pike should watch the movement of the enemy and report. I also sent scouting parties to see if any troops had crossed the lines.
At 3 a.m. 21st, I received a dispatch from Captain [G. F.] Coleman that Quantrill had crossed into Kansas, and he was in pursuit with 180 men. I learned from other sources that the enemy was moving in direction of Paola. Having with me a part of Captain Flesher's company (30 men), I started in direction of Paola; but finding, after traveling 12 miles, that Quantrill had turned north, I changed my direction, and soon found the trail of the enemy. I followed to within 4 miles of Gardner; there I learned that Quantrill had gone through Gardner at 11 o'clock the night before. Being about twelve hours behind, and learning that a force was in pursuit, and believing that Quantrill could not pass back [by] the same route he entered into the State, I turned my detachment of 30 men in the direction of Paola; called out the people of Marysville as I passed through; instructed them to send scouts out on the road leading from Paola to Lawrence, and report to me at Paola. At 5 o'clock reached Paola, having marched 55 miles; found the citizens in arms; sent men to Osawatomie and Stanton to raise the citizens, and to communicate any and every movement of the enemy. The scout sent to Stanton met Quantrill on his retreat, 5 miles out, and returned to report. This was the first information I had of Quantrill's whereabouts after leaving Coldwater Grove. He was then on the road leading into Paola. I made arrangements to attack him at the ford on Bull Creek. It was now dark, and as the enemy did not make his appearance, as I had hoped and expected. I sent Lieutenant [J. E.] Parsons to feel the enemy and learn his destination. Lieutenant Parsons found Major [P. B.] Plumb, with the entire command which had been in pursuit, together with General Lane, in command of the militia, all eager to find the marauders, but none knew what had become of them. Various opinions as to direction were now discussed, and out of the diversity of opinions it was thought advisable to rest the command until the direction was ascertained by scouts from the less jaded troops.
At 2 o'clock the following morning, having received satisfactory information as to the direction of the enemy, I got the command together and gave chase at daylight, and followed the murderers to Grand River, where they commenced breaking up in small bands. Finding my command, both men and horses, very much exhausted, and feeling farther pursuit that day useless, I halted and spent the time picking up scattering ones that had stopped in the brush on Grand River. At this time I was out of cartridges, both pistol and carbine.
The 24th, 25th, and 26th were spent in thoroughly scouring the country about Pleasant Hill and the tributaries of Grand River. Quantrill made his escape into Johnson County on the 28th. His forces were completely scattered and disbanded. We had information of Younger on the waters of Big Blue, and, having divided my forces, I sent a portion on to the headwaters of Grand River and the rest in the direction of the Blue.
The detachment sent on Grand, under command of Captain [H.] Flesher, has not been heard from. The detachment up the Blue, under Captain [C. F.] Coleman, up to last night, were doing a good work.
I am happy to say that the officers and men under my command deserve much credit for their promptness in carrying out orders, and for their fortitude in bearing up under the trials of a severe march.
The result, so far as heard from, of our scouting since entering Missouri is the capturing and killing of 21 of the devils, with presumptive evidence that 14 others have gone the way of all the world.
In conclusion, general, I am happy to be able to give my testimony in defense of all and every accusation that may be brought against the troops under your command, making them responsible for the raid upon Lawrence. Taking into consideration the position of the country, the number of troops at your disposal, and the manifest treachery and duplicity of the citizens on the immediate border of Missouri, nothing was to prevent Quantrill from doing just what he executed. Had the citizens of Missouri, those [from] whom we had reason to expect something given the information they possessed, the raid might have been arrested and the marauders routed.
While we mourn over the massacre at Lawrence, we have reason to rejoice that many of the murderers have paid the penalty of their hellish deeds, and many more will repent the day they entered a loyal State to murder and plunder an innocent people.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
C. S. CLARK, Lieut. Col. Ninth Kansas Vol. Cavalry, Comdg. Troops on Border.
Brigadier-General EWING, Commanding District of the Border, Kansas City, Mo.