Sunday, August 2, 2009

Battle at Old Fairgrounds in Jackson

On 3 June 2009 the Cash-Book Journal published an article on the account of the Battle at the Old Fairgrounds in Jackson. This running skirmish was a great example of many of the battles that occurred in Missouri. Jackson is a town near to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, my hometown. This is also the home area of many of the men of the 8th MO CAV Regiment. The account below is from that article on 3 June and is taken from the perspective Luther Jenkins from Co. F of the 8th MO CAV Regiment. If you want to read a very in depth description of the activities that day so long ago, follow this link written by Kirby Ross. Also, there is a Federal perspective of the accounts of that day in the news article, but due to length of post and time chose not list it here.

Jenkins Brothers - Co. F 8th MO CAV Regiment

Luther, Edward Jr., James R. and John H
(John is a past Cape Girardeau County Sheriff)

"Two of us followed soon after and, and Lt. McGuire was being chased out Fulenwider's Lane, and Tom Wheeler had jumped in bed at Turnbaugh's Hotel and feigned sickness and actually escaped capture. I was told he did some tall groaning when the soldiers went to look at him. Two of our numbers left without horses just below father's house, which made 22, the number of the scouts.
"Now that pretty spring morning we marched afoot into Jackson to see our friends and we had a jolly day. A number of us went to Mr. Welling's for dinner and let me tell you, it was a dinner to make a soldier smile all over his face. I remember when we came out my haversack had a big pound cake put in it by some of the young ladies, and my hat had been ornamented with a splendid black plume put there Mrs. LaPierre. Wonder if she remembers it?
"When we got to the public square, everything was so still and no one in sight we knew in a minute there was something wrong. When we got to Mr. Schumke's corner we stopped to get a fine bridle-bit he had given me. They told me the command was gone, and Capt. Jeffers left word for us to come on to the Fair Grounds and the Yanks were coming. Well, we lit out, and were doing some lively walking (we were too proud to run) and saw no one till passing Mrs. Brown's when Mollie (God bless her memory) called, 'Lute, run! Look yonder!' and looking up we saw the lane full of blue coats coming down the big hill from toward fathers.
"But I turned and said, 'We don't run, Mollie.' But let me tell you confidently, after we got out of her sight, well we struck just the high places to the Fair Grounds, and we were there none too soon.
"Just as we passed where the old stand was we heard horses' feet coming down the creek, and looking up we saw a citizen on a sack of meal, and we supposed just from the mill, and he was making the best time I ever saw a mill boy make.
"And right after him were three Federal cavalrymen. As they came in range Dick Medley and I opened on them and wheeled and rejoined their command. Then Capt. Jeffers called us and for the first time we knew where our boys were....behind a poplar log about a hundred yards further up the hill.
"So going there we took our position. In a few minutes here they came. Their advance guards were allowed to pass. Lt. Hummel was leading the command that followed closely. When they reached the right place we opened on them and down went Lt. Hummel and his horse on him and nearby another soldier badly wounded. (note...CPT Jeffers ordered the men to hold their fire until his first shot. Lt. Hummel was not seriously wounded, but the other soldier William Brawner, died from his wounds.)
"The Federals immediately wheeled and formed along the old Russel fence and commenced playing marble with us pretty lively. Things looked squally. They were too far back for our buckshot, so the captain ordered a charge, which we did in true Rebel style, yelling every jump and firing as we advanced.
"Capt. Flentge's (US) boys said, 'If this is the kind of friendly reception you are going to give us, we will leave,' and leave they did full tilt. And we were real glad to see their horses' tails sailing up the creek.
"We then returned and pulled the horse from off Hummel and let him up. 'Becky' Moore said, 'ess kill him.' But it was jut to frighten Hummel. (note: and it reportedly did!) But 'Becky' was mad that day, and when he was mad enough to grin, better give him plenty of room.
"We then pulled the other soldier out of the road and I put a chunk under his head for a pillow, for which he thanked me kindly. Having no horses to follow the fleeing and disorganized enemy, we started to camp.
"When about half way father overtook us and ask Capt. Jeffers for Lt. Hummel. Said he would be responsible for him. So taking the lieutenant up behind him, he took him to brother Maple's at the academy where he remained till the next morning, when father hitched up to his buggy and took Hummel to the Cape, and (carrying out Jeffers instructions) exchanged him for Capt. (Sam) Lewis of our command who had been a prisoner for sometime. And the joke was on us. Lewis did not come back to us. This is the only instance that I know of where a civilian acted as an exchange officer during the war.
"Now while this was part of the show was going on at the fair grounds, two side shows were having their attractions. Right over the hill from us the advance guard (which we let pass us) butted up again John Craig, who had been to see his best girl and was on his way to the command and they had it hot and fast, and that is where the Federal was found that was carried to the Turnbaugh Hotel.
"Then away out on the gravel road there went one of the most gallant soldiers who espoused the lost cause, fleeing on horseback and two blue coats right after. But let me tell you, they had no idea who they were following, for no man, without want for a finish would dare follow 'Butt' McGuire. (note, actually 3 riders followed each Confederate soldier. Craig took out 2 with his first rounds of the double barrel shotgun (casualties, not mortalities). The third rider missed with his rifle, and Craig hit him fleeing through the leg with his pistol. He also captured all their small arms and saddles! McGuire hit one soldier square through the head, killing him instantly. The other two riders saw enough and promptly wheeled about and ran for it!)
"Now, Mr. Editor, print this just as I write it and will stand the blame. And I think that crowd wanted anything very sensational. One of them never came back, but stark and still he was found. The man who died at the McGuire House was a local Methodist preacher. Of the Confederates not a man received a scratch." 'Yours truly, L.E. Jenkins'

This battle was a Federal rout, even though the Federal forces had a 69 to 22 man advantage. CPT Flentge never employed his whole group in force, nor were the attacks coordinated. Surely if he had take more time to organize a plan, instead of losing command and control, the outcome may have been completely different. Heck, he might have taken the future COL William Jeffers out of the fight...who knows? Instead CPT Jeffers went on to organize the 8th MO CAV Regiment later that year in December 1862.

Colonel William Jeffers
8th Missouri Cavalry Regiment


Carol Buckley Harty said...

Brent, thanks for posting the article. This small engagement of Confederate and Union soldiers is truly an example of many of the brief skirmishes that dotted the landscape of the beleaguered Missouri. Always interesting to read of the account though. The humor of the author of the account illustrates how soldiers, on both sides,used levity to hide their uneasiness about situations that they found themselves in from time to time. I look forward to seeing this site again as we are going down to Cape for the Lewis Family Reunion on Sunday. Captain Samuel Lewis is not connected to our group. Don't know where he came from. Thanks again for the great post.


semoharty said...

Dad...thanks for the comments. I wish I could go look at where the battle went on. Please take some pics for me and I will add them to the post. Yea, not sure about the CPT Lewis guy. I knew he wasn't directly related to us. He must have had more pressing matters at home to take care of...I hope!

ARF551 said...

My great-grandfather was James Henry Flannery who served in Company A of the 8th Missouri Cavalry, CSA. I am interested in finding a list of the battles his unit was engaged in, but I have no idea about how to start. If you have some suggestions or have a list, I would appreciate it if you would contact me at my email address. As an aside, my great-grandfather saved all of his civil war papers and they show he was inducted at New Madrid, MO. the roster you have a link to shows him being inducted at Zalma, MO. His parole papers show he was released at Baton Rouge, LA and they are signed by General E. r. S. Canby. Thanks for doing such a great job with your website. Jackson, Missouri is my hometown and I learned so much about the battle there from your website.

CSA Brent said...

ARF551...thanks for the post and glad you learned something from the site and enjoyed it. Sounds like you have some great personal history pieces. BTW, sorry it took so long to respond...apparently the blog is not sending me responses like it used to. Pretty much the engagements were all the same (give or take here and there) for the entire 8th MO CAV REG. The best resource is James McGhee's book, Campaigning With Marmaduke - Narratives and Roster of the 8th Missouri Cavalry Regiment, CSA. I bought it and use it all the time. It has all the engagements in it. But there are also listed on the blog. Jim gave me permission to use the info on the blog. It is a good book, and I'd highly recommend adding it to your collection. BTW, I was born in Cape and I have still have family in the area (Holdiness, Brinkopf, Harty). You may know them. I'll try to contact you via email. Just in case, mine is Look forward to talking with you about all this!

CSA Brent said...

ARF551...are you sure he paroled in Baton Rogue, LA? The 8th MO is historically paroled in Shreveport, LA. Here is a note on your grandpa from McGhee's book...

Flannery, James H. (MO State Guard, Private, 4th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division) Age:26. Enlisted as Private in Co A 24 AUG 1862 in Bollinger County. Paroled at Shreveport, LA 7 JUN 1865. Residence: Cape Girardeau County.

BTW, this is the same day as my grandpa, Joseph G. Lewis of Co. B. 2LT Lewis was actually listed as commanding Co. A at the time of parole though, so I'm sure the two men were well acquainted over the 4 year span of time.

CSA Brent said...


Here are some of the entries from the site that will answer some of your questions.

*Battle History of 8th MO
*'Grandpap' is Paroled - 7 JUN 1865

Just look down the blog. I highlight some of the battles of the 8th MO. Be aware, not all battles listed the 8th MO participated in, but most of them are. Please email me at to communicate. I can't find your email in your post.

Brian Sullivan said...

Hey..great read from local seems most of it is swept under the rug in this area..why Im not sure..Ive been researching local battles and skirmishes..trying to lacate old maps ect..not having much luck at all..any tips or maps ect would be helpful..I cant even find where the old fairgrounds was located..its like everyone just wiped the slate clean..thanks! Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan said...

Hey..great read from local seems most of it is swept under the rug in this area..why Im not sure..Ive been researching local battles and skirmishes..trying to lacate old maps ect..not having much luck at all..any tips or maps ect would be helpful..I cant even find where the old fairgrounds was located..its like everyone just wiped the slate clean..thanks! Brian Sullivan