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From Franklin County: Capture of Union.


October 1864

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, October 4, 1864.



Evacuation of Washington

Col. Gale’s Command Across the Missouri


Boats Fired upon at South Point.



Judge James W. Owens, of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of the State, arrived at 5 o’clock yesterday (Monday) morning from Washington, Franklin County, via St. Charles, coming thence over the North Missouri railroad, and furnishes to us the following intelligence:

The rebels came into Union at about 1 P. M. of Saturday, some five or six hundred strong, and there captured a company of about one hundred men, commanded by Captain Fink, mustered under Order No. 107.  The company drew up to receive the rebels, who, it is said, opened on them with five pieces of artillery, bringing about a very hasty capitulation.  One of the cannon balls is reported to have knocked off Captain Fink’s hat and prostrated him, but without doing further damage.  News of the capture of Union soon reached Washington, where it was also learned that a rebel force from Franklin was approaching up the Pacific Road, via South Point, which is about two miles from Washington. They entered South Point Saturday night.

Colonel Gale, commanding at Washington, evacuated that place at eleven o’clock Saturday night, transferring his troops, six hundred, across the Missouri on the ferry boats Wide Awake and Bright Star.  The Government munitions, stores, &c., at the Post were then placed on the boats to be taken to St. Charles.  Judge Owens was put in charge of the boats.  On the Wide Awake embarked about twenty citizens of Washington, some having with them their families.

Colonel Gale’s command, having crossed the river, is reported to have taken up the line of march for St. Charles.

The boats left the shore opposite Washington at daybreak Sunday morning.  As they passed South Point rebel cavalry appeared on the south bank and opened a brisk fire of musketry on the Wide Awake, which was within thirty yards of them.  The Bright Star had fortunately steamed by, and was some three hundred yards below, protected from the fire.  Judge Owens was on the “Bright Star.”  About one hundred shots struck her, but no one was hurt except Mr. Hose Carter, railroad bridge builder, who received a flesh wound in the head.  The ball dropped from his hat as he removed it from his head.  The vessel was much perforated in the cabinet pilot-house.

Some of the ladies were on deck when the firing began, but retired to the cabin, where all crouched to the floor till the crashing shower of bullets was over.  The ladies displayed great coolness and intrepidity. They were Mrs. A. J. Carter, Mrs. W. W. Carter, Mrs. R. S. Hopkins, Mrs. Jno. W. Purcell, Mrs. H. E. Braffatt, Miss Joe Reeves, Miss Moma Reeves, Miss Mary Lay and Miss Laura Lay.  There were also seven children in the party.  Is extraordinary that no further casualty occurred.

The pilot of the “Wide Awake” was Captain Murphy, of the Missouri river steamer “Evening Star.”  With no other protection than the window-glass and thin boards of the pilothouse, Captain Murphy steered the vessel in a difficult channel amid the rebel fire, with perfect composure and deliberateness, eliciting the admiration of all on board.  The pilot-house was thoroughly riddled, but the helmsman almost miraculously escaped unharmed.

When half a mile below, the Bright Star grounded and suffered a short delay.  The rebs appeared to be about one hundred in number.  They moved rapidly up to Washington, and immediately commenced burning the depot and other railroad property.  The party in the boats saw the conflagration.

St. Charles was safely reached at half past four, P.M.

Judge Owens confirms the report of the burning of the railroad property at South Point.  The rebels came over the main Pacific road from Franklin, and burned the railroad buildings at Gray’s Summit, and thence came to South Point, arriving Saturday night, as above stated.

The evacuation of Washington was caused by the intelligence of the approach of the rebel force from Union.

Report was also brought to Washington on Friday night a body of about 1,500 rebel cavalry started from Leesburg [sic-Leasburg], in Crawford County, and moved towards Franklin, over the branch railroad, burning everything combustible on the road, including Sullivan and St. Clair station buildings, and both the bridges across the Maramec [sic-Meramec].  Probably this is the force that visited Franklin early Saturday morning, and was driven fence a few hours later.