Fort Scott, October 29th, 1864.
I received three letters from you yesterday, the last dated the 23rd inst. I was truly thankful to hear from you and learn that you were all well. I trust I am truly thankful to inform you that I am yet in the land of the living and in as good health as could be expected, although I am the nearest worn and tired out that I ever was in my life.
Five Cos of our Regt, with all the troops that could be raised in Kansas, amounting to some five or six thousand men, left here on the 12th inst. to meet the Rebel Generals Price and Marmaduke and Cabel, whose forces were twenty six thousand strong. We marched nearly all the time night and day till we came to Lexington, Mo. Our course was not a straight march, as we did not know the exact locality of the enemy. Our forces were commanded by Gene Curtis and Blunt. On the 18th inst we got a dispatch from Maj Gens Pleasanton and Rosencrants that they were fighting the Rebels who were retreating before them. Rosencrants and Pleasanton's army was near 20,000 strong, with 32 pieces of artillery; and they wanted Curtis and Blunt to stop the Rebs till they could come up in their rear. Accordingly our line of battle was formed on the 19th inst at Lexington, at eleven A.M. The Rebels' advance came in eight in solid columns and the ball soon opened in earnest. We held their entire force in check two hours and more amidst the hottest conflict of battle. There, our First Lieut fell mortally wounded. During this time the Rebs drove us back about eight miles. Our army fell back in good order and contested every rod of ground. In the night we fell back to a stream called the Big Blue. There we fought them again and held them about five hours, while our forces under R and P gave it to them in the rear. This was the 20th inst. At night we fell back to Independence with the killed and wounded, before our killed and wounded fell into their hands. On the 21st we fell back to West Port, Mo., quite a large, handsome town. On the morning of the 22nd, before day, all were making preparation for another conflict. The Rebels had marched by night and left our army in the rear some 15 or 18 miles; and we must hold them in check till Rosy could come up with them. The first duty assigned our battalion (5 Cos) was to support the 9th Wis battery of 6 pieces of cannon. There we sat on our horses for two long hours while the Rebels were shelling us terribly. That was the only place that I was any way frightened; but not a man gave back till he was ordered to do so. We had some wounded, but none killed. We again fell back in good order on the open prairie. Rosenkrants and Pleasanton had not yet come up with their rear -- that is, they had once, but the Rebs got the start of them in the night. Blunt and Curtis said we must hold them now if possible. This was about 1 o'clock P.M. of the 22nd. Up to this time, the Rebs had driven us all the time. (But remember 25,000 against 6,000 is fighting against terrible odds). Col. Genison, who was acting as a Brig Gnl., told Blunt he could take the battalion of the 3rd Wis and an equal number of his own Regt and whip hell out of an equal number of Rebs. Our order was to charge at full speed till within 60 yards of the enemy, and if they fell back, to charge in amongst them. But they did not seem to be frightened only at realities. They never touched a man of us when we made the charge. At 60 yards distance our commander halted us in a splendid line. The Rebs had emptied their guns when we were on the charge and we had not fired a shot. The word was, "Shoot low, and give them hell." Our first volley emptied some saddles and they began to fall back, when an officer on a splendid white horse rode to their front and began to rally them anew to the deadly strife. But his career was of short duration; for he soon fell from his horse to rise no more. That officer, we have since learned, was a Col. and a noted guerilla chief by the name of Todd. (We learned by prisoners who fell into our hands.)
The Rebel line of battle was near six miles long and we fought them in front of the center till dark and got their line in the center drove back over two miles. During this time news had gone to Gens Curtis and Blunt that we were all taken prisoner -- and we would have been if the Rebs had known the exact state of affairs. But they thought we were trying to outflank them on their left. That night our Regt, with an equal number of the 15th Kansas, were assigned to the post of honor and ordered to go to West Port where a supper would be prepared for us. None others were permitted to go. Orders from Blunt next morning was we should be kept as a reserve and not brought into action unless it was absolutely necessary. Oh, if I could see you, I could tell you all about it. The fire for five hours was like a thousand boys shooting fire crackers. This ended all that we were in only skirmishing. Capt Shaw was taken prisoner and gone south. He had resigned and was not in the fight that night.
Gen. Pleasanton came up with them and, to be brief, made awful havoc amongst them. The ground was covered with dead and wounded Rebels and horses, and we lost but very few. I only saw two dead Federals and many hundred Rebels. The greatest havoc was about 30 miles from Fort Scott, where our forces captured 9 cannon, 500 prisoners, Genl Marmaduke and Brig. Gnl Cabel, one major and two Cols. In their retreat, they came within 6 miles of Fort Scott. Their first intention was to capture Scott. They have lost their entire artillery. Our forces are pursuing them yet. It is the worst whipped army that ever was since the war begun. We have captured 19 pieces of artillery.
I fear you can not read my writing as I have no chance to write, only on my knees, out door, and cold at that. I have only sent you $15and have no more to send. I think we shall get pay soon, when I will send you some. I shall write in a day or two again if I can.
Give my love to all the children and my best love to you.
From your devoted Husband
C. N. Mumford