Report of Quantrill's Raid, Capt. Charles F. Coleman, 30 Aug 1863
LITTLE SANTA FÉ, MO., August 30, 1863.
SIR: On the night of the 20th, at 8 p.m., I received a dispatch from Captain [J. A.] Pike, commanding at Aubrey, stating that he had just received reliable information that Quantrill with 700 men was in camp on the head of Grand River, 8 miles east of that place. I immediately sent a messenger to Westport and Kansas City with a dispatch stating the facts as I received them. In about fifteen minutes afterward, I received the second dispatch from Captain Pike, stating that Quantrill had passed into Kansas 5 miles south of Aubrey, with 800 men. The second messenger was immediately sent to Westport and Kansas City with the above news, also one to Olathe, with the request that the word be carried on west.
At 9 o'clock I started with all my available force, consisting of a detachment of Company M, Fifth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, and a part of my own company, in all about 80 men. At Aubrey I was joined by Captain Pike, Company K, Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, and Company D, Eleventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. My force then consisted of about 180 men. From Aubrey I sent a dispatch to Lieutenant-Colonel [C. S.] Clark, commanding at Coldwater, that at 11 o'clock I would start after them. I struck their trail 5 miles south of Aubrey, followed it some 3 miles, when we lost it, they having scattered and divided their force to prevent pursuit in the night (in again finding it, I lost near two hours).
At Gardner I learned that they had passed through six hours before. From Gardner I sent runners south and west to notify the inhabitants that Quantrill had gone north with a large force. I soon could see the smoke from the burning of Lawrence, and pressed on as fast as our jaded horses would permit. When about 6 miles south of Lawrence, I was relieved from command by the arrival of Major [P. B.] Plumb, Eleventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, with about 30 men. From there we turned south for Baldwin City, and, when near there, saw them burning Brooklyn. We halted there a short time to hear from our scouts which way they were moving, who reported that they were on the Fort Scott road, moving south. From Baldwin City we struck southwest, and intercepted them on the Fort Scott road, and engaged their rear with what men we could get up, we having made a charge for the last 3 miles, and the most of our horses being totally given out, having traveled them upward of 30 miles without feed, water, or rest. After a few rounds their rear gave way and joined their main command. We then divided our command and attempted to cut them off from the crossing of Ottawa Creek, but failed on account of the jaded condition of our horses. We then got together about 40 soldiers and the same number of citizens (all the best of the horses having given out), and again attacked them in the rear, and kept up a running fight for the next 18 miles, and till we drove them into the Bull Creek timber west of Paola. Night coming on, we abandoned the chase, having been in our saddles twenty-four hours without food or water for man or horse, and having traveled over 100 niles. The enemy here took around Paola on the north. From the best information received during the day, we killed and wounded about 30 of them. We rested at Paola during the night, and in the morning Lieutenant-Colonel Clark took command and resumed the chase.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. F. COLEMAN, Captain Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry.
Brigadier-General EWING, Commanding District of the Border, Kansas City, Mo.