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Arrival of Ewing.


October 1864

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, October 6, 1864.


Himself and Staff Safe at Last!

Narrative of his Unparalleled March from Pilot Knob to Rolla.



It is with heartfelt satisfaction that we announce the safe arrival of General Ewing in this city, after having passed through one of the bloodiest battles of the war, and cut his way through overwhelming numbers of the enemy. We learn from one of the party the following interesting particulars of the march from Pilot Knob to Rolla, and the trip from Rolla to St. Louis:

On the night of the 26th, Lieutenant Murphy was placed in command of the artillery of the Fort, and the rebels were seen in large numbers on all sides. A counsel [sic] of war was held, at which General Ewing stated that his orders were to evacuate the place in case he ascertained that General Price was in command of the rebels. He was satisfied of the presence of Price, but resolved to give them a taste of his quality before leaving. We have already published detailed accounts of the bloody battle and brilliant victory which ensued, and pass on to the moment when the fort was evacuated.

At three o’clock Wednesday morning the command of General Ewing marched out, and the fort was blown up. They had to pass within six hundred yards of a rebel brigade, which had been posted to cut off their retreat, but they were not seriously molested. It was General Ewing’s intention to proceed to Potosi, and thence to Mineral Point, and unite with General Smith, who was near that place. In passing through Caledonia, twelve miles south of Potosi, he met Shelby’s advance, on their way from Potosi to Pilot Knob. Ewing’s advance charged Shelby’s advance, killing one, wounding one, and capturing one, and driving them back in much confusion. This attack puzzled Shelby, who supposed Ewing to be still at the Knob, and while the rebel General was inquiring what it meant, General Ewing turned off into the Webster road, and reached that place, twenty-six miles distant, the same evening, having marched forty miles during the day.

Halting at Webster, the horses were fed, and during the night the march was resumed, in the direction of the Southwest Branch of the Pacific railroad. Owing to the intense darkness, however, but little progress was made. At daylight the march was resumed, and when within twenty-two miles of Harrison Station, (Leesburg [sic-Leasburg]) the rear was attacked by the advance of Shelby’s cavalry, causing momentary confusion, and owing to the exhaustion of the men, nearly creating a panic. The gallant 14th Iowa cavalry [sic-infantry], Captain Campbell, of Gen. Smith’s division, assisted by the 3d cavalry, M. S. M., under Captain McElroy, and the 47th infantry, under Captain Powers, stood firm, and by their coolness and bravery restored order. The artillery was brought into position, directed by General Ewing in person, and the enemy were driven back and pursued by Captain Milks, 3d cavalry, M. S. M.

General Ewing’s object was to reach the railroad, presuming it was the enemy’s intention to delay him until their reinforcements could come up. The march was resumed and the cavalry force in the rear strengthened by sending Capt. Hendricks, 3d M. S. M, from the front to rear. Constant skirmishing with the rear was kept up for twelve or fourteen miles, but every attack of the enemy was repulsed. At this point a severe fight occurred. The rebels made a desperate charge, which was only repulsed by the skill of Captain Montgomery in handling his guns.

When within three miles of Harrison Station, the rebels made another daring assault, but were driven back with loss. The command reached Harrison Station about six o’clock, P. M. Thursday, closely followed by the enemy. They found some slight breastworks which had been thrown up by the militia, and took position behind them, and planting the artillery, drove the enemy back. General Ewing now went to work to strengthen his position, and the men, although nearly worn out with fatigue, worked cheerfully, and threw up works of railroad ties and cord wood.

At this time a light was seen down the railroad track, and a train arrived from St. Louis, from which a supply of hard bread, flour, whisky, shovels and clothing was obtained. The locomotive was sent in the direction of Rolla, but soon returned with the report that the track was torn up and the station house burned at Cuba, eight miles distant.

A bright light was seen in the north, in the direction of Franklin, which was believed to be caused by the burning of bridges. The conductor, George Curry, ask permission to go down the track with the locomotive, and see what caused the light as well as to procure wood and water, and ascertain if it was practicable to run the train back to St. Louis. During his absence the artillery was placed on the cars, and preparations made to return to St. Louis. The locomotive not returning, the artillery was taken from the cars, and it was determined to remain and defend the position to the last extremity. The works were strengthened and extended, and the men obtained a little rest.

The next morning (Friday) another attack was made by the rebels, and skirmishing was kept up all that day and night. On Saturday morning there was a cessation a firing, and General Ewing believed that the enemy were concentrating for another assault.

Messengers were sent to General McNeil at Rolla, thirty-one miles distant, asking for reinforcements, and describing the situation. Another party, consisting of Lieutenant Colonel Maupin, 47th Missouri, Colonel William Lindsay, Major William Fletcher, Captain Schenk, A. C. S., and a few others, were sent to reconnoiter the position of the enemy, and, if possible open communication with General Rosecrans.

About three o’clock Saturday afternoon, a column of cavalry was seen approaching from the South. The men sprang to their arms, the artilleryman to their guns, and each one resolved to sell his life dearly. The approaching horsemen were observed to wave their hats and make other signs of friendship, and Lieutenant Murphy, was sent out to meet them and ascertain what were their intentions. He soon returned, accompanied by Colonel Beveridge, of the 17th Illinois cavalry, and followed by 600 of his men. As soon as these reinforcements came up, the little garrison made the hills re-echo with their shouts of gladness, which were as heartily responded to by the men of the gallant 17th. These men had been sent to the assistance of General Ewing, by General John McNeil, commanding at Rolla.

Scouts were now sent out in all directions, and it was ascertained that the enemy had retired from the front and occupied a position between the station and Washington. Preparations were made to remove the entire command to Rolla, one hundred picked men being left to destroy whatever remained at the station that could be of value to the rebels.

At one o’clock Sunday morning the command started for Rolla, and were not interrupted. At St. James, ten miles from Rolla, they met General Sanborn, who had arrived by forced marches from Springfield, and had with him a large cavalry force. A train of cars was at St. James to convey General Ewing’s force to Rolla. Infantry were taken on the cars, and the artillery sent under command of Lieutenant Murphy.

The command arrived at Rolla on Sunday afternoon before sundown, with 500 men, and every one of the guns with which they had started from Pilot Knob. On Tuesday morning General Ewing resolved to return to St. Louis, and was furnished by General McNeil with an escort of forty picked men of the 9th M. S. M. cavalry, under Lieutenant Gannon. They proceeded on the cars to Knob View, fifteen miles distant, and from there started at eight o’clock Tuesday morning for St. Louis. They passed through Steelville, in Crawford county, and were warmly welcomed by the inhabitants.

At daylight, Wednesday morning they arrived at Old Mines, in Washington county, and at one o’clock in the afternoon reached De Soto, having traveled fifty-nine miles and thirty-one hours, through a drenching rain, and over very rough roads. On this march General Ewing’s small force was unmolested, except occasionally during a halt, when small bands of rebels would appear in the rear and on the flank, but seldom ventured near. Big River bridge, which was reported destroyed, was found to be untouched. General Ewing and staff left De Soto at four o’clock yesterday afternoon, and arrived in this city at seven o’clock last night.

During the ride over the hills to De Soto, General Ewing’s horse fell, injuring the General’s foot. Major Williams, his chief of staff, was hurt in the shoulder and hip by his horse falling, and Lieutenant Murphy had his knee bruised by his horse jamming him against a tree. With these exceptions, the party came through sound.

General Ewing speaks in the highest terms of the energy, coolness and bravery of Colonel Fletcher, Colonel Maupin, Lieutenant Murphy, Major Williams, Captain Montgomery, and the officers and men generally.

The following are the officers who arrived last night:

General Thomas Ewing, Jr.
Lieutenant David Murphy, 47th Missouri.
Major M. W. Williams, 10th Kansas.
Captain P. F. Lonergan, 1st M. S. M.
Captain Milks, 3d cavalry, M. S. M.
Lieutenant Hoffmeier, 14th Iowa.