The Battle of Lone Jack, Aug 16th, 1862

The Battle of Lone Jack, Aug 16th, 1862

Postby Fantasy Fixtures » 21 Oct 2008

The Battle of Lone Jack – August 16th 1862

Historical Back Ground:
The battle of Lone Jack, Missouri, which derived its name from a lone Blackjack oak that was visible for miles around over the open country side, had little impact on the American Civil War on a grand scale. Locally, it was of great importance, though. It was fought by and large by the men of Western Missouri. Both sides were fighting on home ground. In a literal fashion, this small battle was iconic of the Civil War, as the men facing each other were neighbors, boyhood chums and blood relatives.

During the summer of 1861, the state of Missouri had been the scene of pitched battles as Federal Troops form Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana tried to wrest control from the pro-Southern Missouri State Guard, backed by units from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and the Indian Territory. By the end of fall, as series of Confederate victories had left the South in control of much of the state. Unfortunately, their logistical support was not up to the task of supplying the forces in the field. By the beginning of winter the out of state troops had been forced to retire to the south, leaving the Missouri State Guard defending Confederate gains.

In January of 1862, Federal troops launched a campaign to retake the state. The Missouri State Guard and its newly formed counterpart the Missouri Confederate Brigade were pushed from the state. The campaign climaxed with the Union victory at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, also known as Elk Horn Tavern. Through the spring and summer, Federal authorities dealt with guerilla warfare. Pitched skirmishes between Union forces and bands of pro-Southern irregulars flared.

Already pro-Southern sympathies were stoked by the heavy handedness of the Union response. To make matters worse, the Commanding General, District of Missouri, B.G. John M. Schofield issued General Order No. 19, which effectively sought to confiscate all personal firearms and place anyone not pledging allegiance to the Union under house arrest. Many fence sitters were pushed to the Confederate side through the summer. Would be recruits simply awaited a chance to join Confederate forces.

Sensing an opportunity to reconstitute their forces, Missouri Confederates launched a raid from Arkansas into Western Missouri, ostensibly under the Command of Col. Francis Marion Cockrell; a Methodist preacher from Warrensburg, Mo (approx 30 miles East of Lone Jack). New recruits flowed in from every direction as the rebels advanced. This foray, coupled with the fall of Independence, Missouri (right outside Kansas City) to a separate Confederate force alarmed the Federal command. Spurred into action, B.Gen. Schoffield ordered B.Gen. James Totten to drive the secessionist out of western Missouri. As Totten gathered his forces, he placed Maj. Emory S. Foster in charge of what would become the northern pincer of the Union counter attack.

On the 12th of August Totten ordered Foster to move his command to Sedalia, Mo., where a sizable contingent of Union cavalry was located. On the Aug 13th, Foster’s command was joined by a section of “James” guns from the 3rd Indiana Light Artillery, in Sedalia. From Sedelia, Fosters command moved to occupy Lexington (approx 30 Miles NE of Lone Jack). After a grueling 48 hour forced march Fosters command arrived in Lexington at 11AM.

At 1AM on the 15th, Foster received Totten’s orders to sally forth from Lexington at daylight. He was to rendezvous with Union troops moving north from Clinton, under the command of Gen Warren, and attack Confederate forces at Lone Jack; a small community in southern Jackson County. Union commanders felt that the rebels, thought to number no more than 1000 men would be easy prey. At dawn, Foster’s command set out towards Lone Jack.

Unbeknown to Foster, the campaign had already suffered a serious setback. Gen Warren had disobeyed orders. Having received reports that a sizable Confederate column, numbering approx 6000 men was moving north, he had moved his command to the SW, instead of towards Lone Jack. Totten, stunned by this development sent word to recall Foster, but it was too late. At dawn, Foster had set out, and was already en-route towards Lone Jack.

Meanwhile, the Confederates had not been idle. On the 15th, they had set up their encampment in and around Lone Jack, where a majority of the civilians held pro-Southern sympathies. At midday Cockrell’s main force set up encampment in Lone Jack. Col. Hunter and Lt Col. Jackman’s units encamped about 4 miles west of the town, and a group of Quantrell’s guerillas bivouacked about a mile farther west. Cols Coffee and Tracy’s independent commands setup approx 1 mile south of the town.

Foster’s column made good time. En route, they learned from friendly civilians that there were approx 1600 rebels encamped at Lone Jack. Arriving at Lone Jack at about 9PM, Foster learned that Coffee’s command, now estimated at about 800 men, was encamped a mile South of the town. Issuing orders to tighten girths and ready weapons, Foster immediately attacked the encamped Confederates. At about 11 PM the advancing Federals were met with fire from Confederate pickets. They were quickly swept aside by a fusillade of carbine and cannon fire. Foster’s command quickly scattered the rebel line, capturing several outposts, then swept into to rebel encampment. Coffee and Tracy’s commands abandoned their encampments and disappeared into the darkness. While successful, the fight was not decisive, as most of the rebels had escaped. In a bad turn of events, four artillery men from the 3rd Indiana were killed when the unit was mistaken fired on by friendly forces. Additionally, Lt. Devlin was arrested by Foster for being drunk and dereliction of duty. Command of the Artillery battery fell to Sgt. Scott

As Coffee and Tracy’s men withdrew into the night, the booming Union cannon’s and rifle fire alerted the scattered secessionist command that an important event was taking place. Confederate commanders were unsettled by what appeared to be a sizable Union force was operating, confidently, in the area at night. As Tracy’s men straggled into his camp, Cockrell learned from locals that the Union force numbered about 1000 men, and had retired back into Lone Jack. Believing he had a numerical advantage, Cockrell decided to attack. Confederate forces would position themselves for a dawn attack on the town.

Hays would prepare a mounted diversionary from the North, while Hunter, Jackman and Tracy moved dismounted through the weed-choked field to the west of the town. Depending on surprise and lacking resources Hay’s men were issued 6 cartridges apiece. The reasoning was that the enemy would run after a shot or two. Not wanting to wait, and uncertain of Coffee’s return the Confederate units were ordered into attack positions.

Having swept aside the rebels, Foster’s exhausted command retired back into Lone Jack. Foster set up his command in the Cave Hotel; later it was moved to the Black Smith’s. Also in the two story Cave Hotel, a field hospital was setup to treat the wounded from the preceding fight. The two cannons of the Indiana battery were parked next to the Black Smith. Most to the men picketed their horse close to the main street, tying their reins to an Osage Orange hedge that ran parallel to it, about 50 yards from the east side of town. The hedge presented an impenetrable mass of thorns, which grew several inches in length. Through out the night, Foster was unaware that Cockrell’s sizable force, nearly three times his size, was in striking distance.

As daylight broke, Union pickets discovered Hay’s force. They fired several shots, and then retired. Hearing the gunfire, and still unaware of the Confederate attack, Foster was not unduly concerned. Whether alerted by the gunfire, though, or continuing with his plan to further pursue the rebels, Foster ordered his men into battle formation. Meanwhile, the Confederates in the tall weeds to the west of town waited anxiously for the order to attack.

Ruleset: Unspecified; use what you feel best suits the battle. Units should be based according to whichever rules you choose.

Forces:
Union Forces under Maj. Foster (approx 800 men)
5 Coys 7th Missouri Vol. Cav (A, C, E, F, and I) under Capt. Brawner
Quality: Average
Ammo: normal supply
3 Coys 6th Missouri State Militia Cavalry (A, B E) under Capt. Plumb
Quality: Average
Ammo: normal supply
2 Coys 8th Missouri State Militia Cavalry (F, H) under Capt. Plumb
Quality: Average
Ammo: normal supply
3 Coys 2nd Batt., Missouri State Cav. under Capt. Long
Coy H, 7th Missouri State Militia Cav. under Maj. Foster, overall commander
Quality: Average
Ammo: normal supply
Det. 3rd Indiana Light Artillery (2 “James” guns) under Lt. Devlin (Sgt Scott)
Quality: Average
Ammo: normal supply

There are 56 men in each Union Cavalry Coy, and 20 men in the artillery Det.

Confederate Forces: Col. Cockrel (approx 3100 men)
Missouri State Guard

1500 unarmed men at supply wagon (off board)
Col. Hunter 150 Men (Infantry)
Quality: Average
Ammo: low supply
Lt. Col. Jackman 500 Men (Infantry)
Quality: Average
Ammo: low supply
Lt. Col. Tracy 350 Men (Infantry)
Quality: Green
Ammo: normal supply
Col. Hays 400 Men (Cavalry) w/ Dr. (Captain) Winfrey a resident of Lone Jack
Quality: Average
Ammo: normal low
Lt. Col. Coffee 200 men (Cavalry)
Quality: Average
Ammo: normal supply

Time Scale:
The battle starts at 5AM and ends at 11AM, Aug 16th, 1862. Turns should reflect approx 30 minute increments for a total of 12 turns.


The Map and Deployment:

• Both sides deploy as shown on the map below.
• The hedge on the east side of town is extremely difficult terrain for movement, and unbroken units may not pass through it. Units may only fire through the hedge at units that are adjacent to it.
• There is no breeze, so smoke does not drift and will dissipate as normal.


Image

• Union Special Setup
o All Union troops start the game dismounted.
o Union mounts start the battle still tethered to the hedge.
o Coy I, 7th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry starts the game deployed in hasty fighting positions in the houses and out buildings on the North end of town (5 and 6)
o Union artillery starts the game limbered

• Confederate Special Setup
o All Confederate troops that start deployed on-board are dismounted.
o Lt. Col. Coffee’s command (Southern edge of the battlefield) starts the game off map. (In actuality the unit this force belonged to is in dispute)
o The Confederate forces in the tall weeds should start the game no more than one movement away from the split rail fence.
o Col. Hay’s forces start the game fixed, a roll is made to see when they are released.


Special Action/Events:


• Before the game, roll 1D4. The result is the turn number that Lt. Col. Coffee’s forces enter the map. They enter mounted and at a charge. They will charge the nearest Union Troops. Upon the first exchange of fire, they will withdrawal from the battle field, no matter what the results are.
• Before the game, roll 1D4 and subtract 2. The result is the turn that Col.Hay’s unit is released.
• Confederate forces have the initiative on Turn 1.
• Most of the Confederate troops were armed with shotguns. At a distance, they were less effective than the rifled muskets and carbines of the Union troops. At close range, though, they proved more than adequate. To reflect this, when Confederate forces fire at any range, other than close they are moved up one range band for resolution.
• Capt. Winfrey, in Col. Hay’s command is a native of Lone Jack. When he sees that Union troops have occupied his home, he becomes incensed. He launches an immediate assault on the Union troops in an attempt to drive them from his home. Once Col. Hay’s command comes within charge range of Capt Winfrey’s home, Capt Winfrey will lead the unit in an immediate charge, no check needed. For this initial charge, treat Col. Hay’s unit as a Veteran unit
• Due to the independent nature of the rebel command, when Lt. Col. Coffee’s unit entered the battle, Col. Hunter mistakenly thought that they were Union cavalry. On the turn that Lt. Col. Coffee’s troops enter the board, roll 1D4. On a result of 1-2, Col Hunter will pivot his troops to protect his flank against what he thinks is a Union threat. On a result of 3-4, Col Hunter realizes that the unit on his flank is a Confederate unit, and does not re-align his troops
• Col.s Hunter and Jackman’s units started the battle low on ammunition. Both commanders removed their units from the fight and marched to a supply wagon, some ½ mile away, then re-enterd the battle. To reflect this, the first time that their units are designated as being out of ammo they will disengage from the fight and move to the Supply wagon. They must spend one turn adjacent to the wagon in order to be back into low supply. They may not be fired upon while adjacent to the Supply Wagon. They may only resupply one time each.
• At 9AM in the morning, the Cave Hotel (Union field hospital) is set ablaze by Jackman in an attempt to flush out Union snipers. The fire quickly engulfs the building.

Victory Conditions:
The side with the largest percentage of unbroken units, in relation to the original command may claim victory.

Aftermath:

The Battle of Lone Jack was a hard fought affair. There were charges and counter charges. Hand to hand fighting in the town and point blank firing took a toll; losses were heavy on both sides. Maj. Foster was grievously wounded in a charge to retake the Union artillery which had fallen into Rebel hands. Capt. Brawner assumed overall command. By 10:30 AM Union troops were still possession of the town proper, with the Confederate forces on the western and northern outskirts.

At around 10:30AM, Confederate fire began to slacken. Capt. Brawner’s troops saw scattered groups of Southerners breaking cover and leaving the field. A spontaneous cheer arose, as the Union troops felt victory was at hand. The elation was short lived, though. The heretofore absent command of Col. Coffee emerged from the woods north of town and deployed for battle. The sight of the reinforcements, ready to fight inspired their exhausted compatriots and the retreat was halted.

Capt Brawner evaluated the situation and decided that with his combat effectiveness dwindling, his position was untenable. Reluctantly, he gave the order to retire from the field and retreat to Lexington. This was not easily accomplished, as scores of horses had been killed and wounded. All the artillery mounts were dead, still harnessed to their limbers. The guns were drug into the corn field and spiked; the barrels being hastily hidden under cornstalks. With no way to transport the wounded, they were moved into small store building near the smoldering Cave Hotel and left at the mercy of the Rebels; among them was Maj. Foster.

Mounting his command, no doubt some riding double, Capt Brawner withdrew. Nearly every officer had been killed, or wounded; including Capt. Brawner. The Union dead were left where they fell. The column arrived, unmolested, in Lexington at around 7PM. Brawner claimed victory, but at a high cost. Of the 800 men who had left Lexington the day before fewer than half returned. Men straggled into Lexington for days; forced to march on foot. Maj. Foster’s command suffered a casualty rate any where from 34-50%.

Bolstered by Coffee’s return, the Rebel command once again entered Lone Jack. They found the town bullet riddled and deserted. As the Confederate doctors began tending to the wounded, soldiers began combing the battlefield. The retreating Federals had left a bounty of much needed ordnance and supplies on the field. Hundreds of pistols, rifles and carbines littered the ground. Strewn throughout the town were sets of Union kit; blankets, leather gear, canteens and clothing. Saddles and bridles were stripped off dead horses. Hunter’s men found the artillery pieces in the corn field; guarded only by a small boy and two horses. They were claimed as war trophies.

Two long trenches were dug in the shade of the large blackjack tree (site of the present day Civil War Memorial Cemetery). The dead were segregated into friend and foe and buried. Hunter learned that 119 Federals and 47 rebels were interred. Multiple sources state that the number of dead was about equal on both sides. The difference in numbers has been attributed to family members identifying their loved ones and taking them to be buried at home. Additionally, a local famer was tasked with removing all the dead, or dying, mounts. It took all day to drag the 100, or so dead animals off the main street.

The Southern command took stock of their situation. Operationally the campaign had been a success. Enough men had been recruited, even with losses to field several regiments. Even better, Federal losses of arms and equipment benefitted the command. They knew, however that their position was precarious, so they prepared to move south. The wounded would once again be left behind.

By mid-morning of the 17th, the rebels were warned of another approaching Union force, and withdrew to the south. Later that day, Gen. Warren, arriving from his round about trip from Clinton entered Lone Jack. On the 18th, Gen. Blunt, from Ft. Scott arrived as well, with 2500 men. Assessing the situation, Gen Blunt marched south in pursuit. Even with the dogged Union pursuit, the Confederate column reached the relative safety of north-central Arkansas.

Fun Fact; Rooster Cogburn, a fictional character from the Charles Portis book “True Grit”; later made famous in the same titled movie by John Wayne, claimed that he had lost an eye as a Confederate soldier in the Battle of Lone Jack.

Acknowledgments: The historical references and map are drawn from the article “Shot All To Pieces, The Battle of Lone Jack, Missouri, Aug 16, 1862” by Matt Mathews and Kip Lindberg; as published in the Jan. 2004 issue of North and South Magazine.

I have liberally lifted from the article, and make no claims at researching the facts in depth myself.

Lone Jack Battlefield Museum and Soldier's Cemetery: http://www.historiclonejack.org/museum.html
Last edited by Fantasy Fixtures on 24 Oct 2008, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Battle of Lone jack, Aug 16th, 1862

Postby Fantasy Fixtures » 21 Oct 2008

My parents taught school at Lone Jack, until I was 10 years old. We had many picnics next to the Soldiers Cemetary, and I spent many hours inspecting the grave stones and museum. We now live about 9 miles south of Lone Jack, and the ball diamond (the HS ball fields) that my girl's softball team practices on sits squarely where the corn field at the SE corner of the map is. There is a housing development (the Blue and Grey Estates) where the eastern cornfield was, and a Sonic drive in and hiway exit right about where the buildings around Dr. Winfreys house stood. The land to west of the battlefield is overgrown with trees and is privately owned. It hasn't really been developed, aside from a house. It's a shame what is/has happened to various Civil War sites. At least a tiny bit of this one is being maintained for future generations.
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Re: The Battle of Lone Jack, Aug 16th, 1862

Postby jaeger » 22 Oct 2008

Pictures..please!! :beg: :beg:

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Re: The Battle of Lone Jack, Aug 16th, 1862

Postby elhiem » 24 Oct 2008

Most impressive :hello:
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Re: The Battle of Lone Jack, Aug 16th, 1862

Postby Michi » 25 Oct 2008

Well done that Garren! I learned a lot, so you did a good writing. Plus I like that you told a story that is related in a way to yourself. I moved home so often that I usually scratch only the surface of the place´s history where I live in. Sounds like an actual bloodshed what you told us. Sad story to see neighbours, pals and relatives fight each other on different sides...the poem says it all, I think. I wonder how the clash will turn out on the table. Did you play the game already?
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Re: The Battle of Lone Jack, Aug 16th, 1862

Postby Fantasy Fixtures » 25 Oct 2008

Michi wrote: Did you play the game already?

Nope,never played it. Actually, I was thinking about putting together the stuff to game it. I have no idea about what rules, what scale, how much it would cost, etc. If anyone has any ideas, I am listening:-)
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