Battle of Fredericksburg
Local historian Brian Smarker and Civil War reenactor Major Sam Stanton provided some insight into the Battle of Fredericksburg in Ray County during a meeting in the Excelsior Springs Museum.
Fredericksburg had a post office, a livery stable operated by the Butterfield Stage Lines, a blacksmith shop, Jerry Isley's general store, half a dozen weathered dwellings and a saloon known as the Essex House.
There were two Civil War battles at Fredericksburg, which is now the City of Excelsior Springs Golf Course.
The first battle was fought on Sunday, July 17, 1864 and the second was fought on August 12, 1864.
Brian Smarker, a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, researched both of the battles and the soldiers who were killed in them.
Over 300 Confederate guerillas led by Capt. John Thrailkill were involved in the first battle which resulted in 16 Confederate and six Federal casualties.
It was a Sunday, and church services were just ending at the nearby Pisgah and New Garden meeting houses. People leaving the churches heard the battle take place.
The 16 Confederate guerillas were buried in the Louis Seybold family cemetery. Seybold was a southern sympathizer who owned a tavern a couple of miles west of Fredericksburg.
The names of the six members of the 2nd Colorado Calvary killed in the July 17, 1864 battle were lost to history until Smarker began doing research on the battles.
They were buried in a mass grave at Pisgah Cemetery.
They are Sgt. Truman Greenslit of Co. C, Pvt. Charles Godfrey, Pvt. David Good, Pvt. John Picard, Pvt. William Robson, and Pvt. Simon Simpkins all of Co. M.
A monument was placed in Pisgah Cemetery and it was dedicated in a ceremony on July 17, 2005, the 141st anniversary of the day they lost their lives.
Nearly 200 people attended this memorial event including family members of three of the fallen soldiers.
Capt. William T. Anderson led his group of Missouri Partisan Rangers in the August 12, 1864, battle which resulted in five Federal causalities - Capt. Colley, John and Smith Hutchings, Phillip Siegel, and George O'Dell. They were buried in the Siegel Cemetery and Enon Cemetery. John and Smith Hutchings were buried in the same grave in the Enon Cemetery.
Prior to the battle, Capt. Patten Colley sent out John and Smith Hutchings to scout the area for bushwhackers. They were caught and killed by Anderson's men, who slit their throats so no gunshots would be heard.
Anderson sent out some Partisan Rangers as decoys and when they were pursued by the Union Calvary, Anderson's men ambushed them with George O'Dell being the first casualty of the battle.
Capt. Patten Colley was killed by Capt. "Bloody Bill" Anderson and was scalped. His scalp was on Anderson's horse when Anderson was killed in the Battle of Albany. Capt. Colley is buried in Riffe Cemetery, north of Orrick.
In recounting the death of Phillip Siegel, Smarker said his horse tripped over a fallen tree while he was being pursued by the bushwhackers.
Martin Siegel said family tales related how the bushwhackers cut out his heart and left it on a rock near his body. Siegel's horse returned home and was hidden by the family just in case the Partisan Rangers were following it.
Martin's great-grandparents went out the next day and found Phillip's body. He was buried in the family cemetery.
Smarker cited an article in the September 30, 1936 edition of the Excelsior Springs Daily Standard in which Richard Bates, who lived south of Fredericksburg at the time, gave an accounting of the battle.
"A bunch of us had been returning from a church meeting when we ran into a group of the Redlegs (2nd Colorado). One of them stopped us and demanded a horse one of the party was riding. It happened that this man's sister was riding a mare that had been raised with his horse, and no one could separate the two. And when the Redleg tried to lead this man's horse away, he just doubled up and wouldn't go."
The Federal soldier finally relented, and passed up the road with his comrades. Bates' party soon heard a burst of firing break out behind them. Approaching the Liberty-Richmond road west of Fredericksburg, Captain Moses observed what appeared to be a friendly force - garbed in Union blue - confronting him at the crossroads.
The Captain later reported: "I immediately rode to the front, and made the signal used by our troops, which was answered correctly ... I (then) desired Capt. (Lyman) Rouell, who was with me as a volunteer, to ... learn who they were while I formed the men in line in case of (a) mistake."
Rouell rode up to within 50 yards of the unidentified horsemen, halted and waited for someone to ride out and confer with him. Instead, they stared blankly at the Captain ... then one said, "Come on!"
"You ride out!" replied Rouell. Then came a shot, and a bullet whizzed by him. He threw up one hand and yelled, "You are mistaken!"
The Union Calvary had stumbled across the largest Rebel force in north Missouri. Leading the Confederates was Captain John Thrailkill, a 24-year-old veteran of the 1st Missouri Calvary who had, only five weeks before, escaped from the U.S. military prison at Alton, Illinois.
Captain Charles "Fletch" Taylor, one of guerrilla William Quantrill's original band, led the 70 irregulars who made up the advance guard. Frank and Jesse James were members of his company.
Taylor's men opened fire and charged, chasing Captain Rouell downhill toward Captain Moses' thin line of dismounted troopers. The guerillas were struck at 25 yards by a volley of rifle fire from the Federals' Starr carbines. Moses later reported that he saw "15 saddles emptied.
The 2nd Colorado Calvary had six men killed, four were wounded and two men were missing.
Fredericksburg merchant Jerry Isley was hired by the citizens to gather and bury the bodies of the Union dead. He hauled them in a lumber wagon to Pisgah Church, where Major Prichard found them lying on benches "preparatory to interment." They were buried in a single grave.
Martin Siegel displayed a smooth-bore musket owned by his grandfather.
Civil War reenactor Major Sam Stanton provided the "Confederate viewpoint" during the presentation, appearing in different uniforms and schooling the group on the different flags and uniforms of the Confederacy.
He displayed an array of weapons and accoutrements used during the Civil War.