Today in History:

20 Series I Volume XLVIII-I Serial 101 - Powder River Expedition Part I


State Militia, numbering forty-five men, twenty-five men of the Second Missouri Artillery, and twenty men of the Seventy-ninth Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia, was turned over to me January 4, 1865, at Bloomfield, Mo., by Major Robbins, as you directed, and I proceeded to Poplar Bluff, as ordered. Captain Cochran did not join me there as you directed in your instructions to me, the distance he had to march being too great for the short time given him to march it in. I waited for him thirty-six hours and then marched without him for Cherokee Bay. Finding the swamps impassable for teams, I left my team and ambulance at Poplar Bluff with a guard to protect then till Captain Cochran could come up, when he could move by another route into the head of Cherokee Bay and by a better road, and bring the teams, if he desired to do so, and where I could join him. The command I took with me numbered seventy men. I crossed the swamp between Cane Creek and Current River and then divided my small force into two parties. I directed one party to strike the bay near the lower end at the rebel Colonel Reves', while with the other party I struck it at the upper end, directing the party I sent in the lower end of the bay to join me at Patterson's, on the bay. By these directions I succeeded in surprising the rebels, killing 19, wounding 3 severely, and capturing 5. I had 1 man killed, and no other casualty to any of the men of my command during the expedition. Among the rebels killed were 3 officers-Lieutenant Copeland, Lieutenant Sooter, and Lieutenant Moore. The two latter belonged to the notorious Captain Bowles' company. The killed and prisoners all belonged to Reves' command. We found no considerable force together. They were scattered over the country in small bands from five to ten, not expecting a Federal force so near at hand. Captain Cochran joined me on the bay, bringing up my team and ambulance. I reported to him for orders, when he instructed me, after having done all that I could in the bay, to return with my command to the Cape by the same route in which I had entered the bay, while he would take a different route, this being necessary, as forage could not be procured for the whole command at any one place. In crossing from the bay to Poplar Bluff I lost my wagon and ambulance, drowned two mules and five horses. It was impossible to get the wagon or ambulance out of the swamp. Cane Creek was very high, overflowing its banks and covering the whole face of the country for eight miles with water from two to three feet deep, through which the command had to march and break their road through ice from one and a half to two inches thick. Our next trouble was in crossing the Saint Francis River, which we had to swim, but which was effected without loss or accident. From there to the Cape we had an uninterrupted march, where I arrived with the command on the 16th instant, having marched about 300 miles through swamps, ice, and water. The command suffered much from cold by often being compelled to swim their horses and to assist them when mired out of the mud and water. The result of the expedition was 19 rebels killed, 3 severely wounded, and 5 captured; 50 horses and mules were captured, 35 of which have been turned over to the provost-marshal at Cape Girardeau; Mo. ; 5 head drowned in the swamp, 4 head claimed by citizens and given up, and 6 head stolen from the corral at Bloomfield, Mo.

With much respect, I am, colonel, your obedient servant,


First Lieutenant, Second Missouri Artillery, Commanding Detachment.

Colonel J. B. ROGERS.