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The Woodruff Gun

Annotations to the Margreiter article.

CURTIS SEEKS WOODRUFF GUNS TO GUARD MISSOURI BRIDGES

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume I, S. 1, Chapter VIII:

Correspondence and Orders Relating to Events in Arkansas, the Indian Territory, and Missouri from November 19, 1861, to April 10, 1862.

Union Correspondence, Etc.

HEADQUARTERS SOUTHWESTERN DISTRICT,

Rolla, December 29, 1861.

Capt. J. C. KELTON,

Assistant Adjutant General, Saint Louis, Mo.:

CAPTAIN, I arrived here 8 p.m. Thursday night and immediately rode to the camp of Brigadier-General Sigel, about 3 miles from town. I communicated to him the wishes of the major-general in regard to moving the cavalry forthwith, and requested him to order immediate preparation for the movements.

The general not having received the order placing me in command of the district and I not having assumed command (wishing to treat the general with all possible courtesy by conferring with him beforehand), it was with some expressions of doubt as to my rank and authority that he finally issued the order to the cavalry to report when they could move.

Yesterday morning your telegraphic copy of Order 92 was received by General Sigel, and at his request I gave him the date of my commission and showed him our relative position in the Army Registers.

I then assumed command (see Orders, No. 1), and immediately issued Special Orders, No. 1, to move the cavalry at 8 this morning, which was, according to my judgment, the earliest moment they could be got ready for start.

Those best acquainted with the road say the route to Springfield has been stripped of everything near the road, and the country being very rough, and side roads, it became necessary to carry some supplies, which were accordingly provided and ready at the proper hour this morning. As a further precaution against the scarcity of supplies, the command will go on a road south of the road so often traversed, passing by Cassage's, crossing the Big Piney at McCourtney's, and the Gasconade at Wisdom's Ford, aiming to strike the old military road 7 miles this side of Springfield. I send copy of instructions given to Colonel Carr.

The movement of the troops displayed the usual lack of discipline. I had urged exact time and was early in the saddle myself, but it was after 9 before the bright warm sun was reflected from the long line of sabers which were displayed in passing off in form of review.

I left the command 4 miles out, about 1,500 strong, in good spirits, and well equipped for the service.

I will take another occasion to report further details in regard to this command. General Asboth has been very cordial, and so I can say of the officers generally, especially the Iowa and Illinois troops. General Sigel complains of ill health, but seems able for duty. Moving the troops would do them good. They have made very little defense against the cold, and some of them on bleak hills will be ordered to timber valleys for the purpose of providind against the cold. They are generally in tents, most of them very good.

I expressed my desire to occupy Lebanon with forces of infantry and artillery. Some point farther south, where our regular trains could easily transport supplies from the end of the railroad, would not increase the expense of the command, but gives us a better stand-point to operate against the enemy. Scattering bands in the counties of Howard and Douglas deserve attention, but the general impression here is Price will make a stand at or near Neosho or retreat beyond the Ozark Mountains. In either event our cavalry movement cannot do much more than embarrass the enemy in his foraging excursions and increase desertions from his ranks, which are not very great.

I am organizing the defense of the railroad between this point and Pacific City. I design to locate a U.S. rifle cavalry regiment on the line, and have log block-houses, such as I had made on the Iron Mountain Road, erected on this by the troops themselves. Small cannon, like mountain howitzers, such as they make in Quincy, Ill., and costing about $130 each, would, in my judgment, be an economical addition to these block-houses, and diminish the numbers now required to prevent the mounted bands from burning bridges.

Hoping the general will approve my exertions to organize this district and aid him in expelling the enemy from Missouri, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

SAML. R. CURTIS,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

 

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