Autobiography of A. T. Still
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.
IN September, 1861, at Fort Leavenworth, I enlisted
in the Ninth Kansas Cavalry, in Company F, T. J. Mewhinne captain.
The regiment was composed mainly of Kansas men who had been christened
in the baptism of fire during the pro-slavery contest. Soon after
enlisting we drew our clothing and equipments.
I Enlist in Company F, Ninth Cavalry Volunteers
At Kansas City
Pursuit of Price
The Army at Springfield
Summary Vengeance on Guerrillas
Captain Company D of the Eighteenth Kansas Militia
Major of the Twenty-First Kansas Militia
On the Missouri Frontier
Fighting Joe Shelby
Osteopathy in Danger
Burying Dead Under a Flag of Truce
The Regiment Treated to a Surprise
We were men who meant business and had started out
to do some very severe and successful fighting. We declared that
our canteens were to catch rebel blood instead of carry water.
From Leavenworth we were ordered to Kansas City to
complete our outfit, and were placed in the brigade of James H. Lane, then
commissioned to organize the Western army. In a short time we received
marching orders to report at Springfield, Mo. We left Kansas City
on the day that Mulligan surrendered to General Price at Lexington.
Price from some cause chose to march his army south by way of Springfield.
Each night we camped on the same ground on which
Price had camped the night previous, until Springfield was reached.
During this march the rebel army seemed aware of the fact that pursuers
were in their rear. Though we did not come in sight of the Confederates
during the march, we had the satisfaction of tearing down many flags which
Price had flung to the breeze. At Pleasant Hill, Greenfield, and
other points the stars and bars were lowered to give place to the stars
Many loyal hearts that had sought concealment during
Price's march came forth from the woods and bushes, to fall in with us
and swell our numbers, so that by the time we reached Springfield our brigade
was considerably larger than when we left Kansas City. We arrived
at Springfield just before General Fremont was removed from command of
the Western Department.
The whole army assembled at Springfield was then
given in round numbers at one hundred and twenty thousand men. The
east and west sides of a forty-acre field were protected by lines of artillery
a quarter of a mile long.
We remained at Springfield until about the first
of November, and were ordered back to Fort Scott, and then to different
points along the Missouri border, until we finally reached Harrisonville,
where we went into winter quarters. During the winter that followed
we were continually harassed by bushwhackers, who not only ambushed and
shot our soldiers, but loyal citizens as well. This guerrilla warfare
grew to be such an annoyance that a Colorado brigade under Colonel Ford,
to whom we had reported, set out to take summary vengeance on the enemy.
The Colorado troops were cavalry, and in squads of from twenty to a company
scoured the country from Kansas City to the Osage River. It was reported
that they killed seventeen hundred in that Territory in eleven days.
I counted sixty-two fresh graves in one graveyard, near Harrisonville,
which were said to be the graves of rebels killed on that occasion.
For some time after this there was no more trouble from guerrillas.
About the lst of April, 1862, the Third Battalion
of the Ninth Kansas was disbanded, which let me out of the service.
I went home and organized a company of Kansas militia
and about May 15th, 1862, was commissioned Captain of Company D, Eighteenth
Kansas militia. I received orders to drill my men once a week, and
patrol the road known as the Old Santa F6 Trail, running from Kansas City
to Old Mexico. My beat extended east and west across Douglass County,
Kansas. The drilling and training continued until 1862, when an order
was issued to organize the Eighteenth Regiment of Kansas militia, of which
I was chosen major.
A few months later there came another order to consolidate
with some other battalions, by which I was transferred to major of the
Twenty-first Kansas militia. I did service in this capacity in Kansas
until the autumn of 1864, when on the 10th of October General Curtis ordered
us to the borderline between Missouri and Kansas to fight General Price,
who was expected at Kansas City or Independence at an early day.
Militia regiments from Kansas were burried to the
border until our numbers equaled twenty-seven thousand. By the addition
of General Totten we numbered thirty-five thousand. We were stationed
south of Westport, forming a line extending for ten miles. During
Thursday and Friday of October 22d and 23d there was heavy fighting at
Lexington and Independence.
On the morning of the twenty-fourth General Price
moved west, formed his men, and opened the battle from Westport running
south to the Little Blue, a distance of six miles. He took the aggressive,
and we met and fought his forces, under command of Joe Selby, Quantrell,
and numerous other Confederate commanders.
About four o'clock on Saturday, the twenty-fourth,
the battle raged all along the line, from Westport to the Little Blue,
on which ground the Twenty-first Kansas State Militia was stationed.
Being east of the Kansas line, General Joe Shelby seemed to regard us as
intruders, and expressed his convictions in showers of bullets.
We considered this an uncivil way to treat visiting
neighbors, and resented by an equally hot fire. The Twenty-first
Kansas nobly held its ground while we were bathed in fire, smoke, and blood.
I remembered the good old Scriptural admonition, that "it is more blessed
to give than receive," and told the boys to give them the best they had;
and we gave them forty-two rounds -- not without a charge, but with a charge
each one of them.
During the hottest period of the fight a musket-ball
passed through the lapels of my vest, carrying away a pair of gloves I
had stuck in the bosom of it. Another minie-ball passed through the
back of my coat just above the buttons, making an entry and exit about
six inches apart. Had the rebels known how close they were shooting
at Osteopathy, perhaps they would not have been quite so careless.
During this engagement I was mounted on the same
mule which had walked the log with me back in Kansas. The antics
of this creature when the leaden balls came whizzing thickest about her
were amusing. She seemed under the impression they were nit-flies,
while I was thoroughly convinced they were bullets.
Many amusing incidents occurred during our conflict.
Some of our boys fell to praying for the Lord to save them. Under
the circumstances I deemed it best to suspend devotional services, and
get into line to fight the rebels who were spattering us with lead, so
I leaped from my mule, and planting my foot close behind some of them,
I broke the spell. They closed up the front and made good soldiers
throughout the remainder of the fight.
[graphic 86: "OSTEOPATHY IN DANGER."]
We held the field until Price's forces withdrew,
leaving fifty-two dead on the ground, and one hundred and twenty-seven
horses fell into our hands. Shortly after the departure of the enemy
night spread her friendly mantle over the scene, shutting out from our
sight the horrors of war. Our regiment marched west two miles,
then north six, east one, and went into camp near Shawneetown.
About six o'clock next morning the artillery under
General Totten opened fire east of Westport and south for six or eight
miles -- twenty-eight pieces joining in the chorus, with a spattering of
small arms, which made a sullen roar that rolled along the entire line.
The fighting was severe until about eight o'clock, when General Price began
his retreat south. We followed him, skirmishing all the way, until
we had pursued him a distance of ninety miles, bad captured twenty-eight
cannon, and were only a mile or two east of Fort Scott.
At this point we decided not to escort General Price
any farther, but leave him to take care of himself. Finding the Confederate
General Marmaduke in bad company, we invited him to go home with us; and
as we were prepared to enforce the invitation, he consented with some reluctance,
for the general had a "hankering after
the stars and bars."
After Price's forces began their retreat the firing
ceased for a while, and they had gone fully twenty miles before it was
The privilege was given the enemy to bury their dead,
and soon a company of one hundred and forty of our brave foes came to my
head-quarters under a flag of truce, which we always respected. I
ordered the captain and his men to dismount and stack their arms, which
they did. I then instructed the officer in command to form his men
in line before me, and stationed a guard over their arms. Addressing
the captain, I asked:
"How are you off for grub?"
"Almost out, major!" he answered.
Then in a tone and manner as serious as I could assume,
"I want you to listen to what I have to say for about
five minutes, and not move a muscle until I get through."
Then I went on to picture the horrors of war and
the extreme measures sometimes necessary. I wound up by saying the
rebels had been in the habit of shooting many of our men, and notwithstanding
they had come in under a flag of truce, I intended to shoot the captain
and every man with him. At this every cheek blanched and their breath
came quick. Some were about to interpose, when I broke in with:
"I mean I will shoot you all in the mouth with food
and coffee, as I want to convert all your sorrows into joy. Break
ranks, go to the commissary, and get enough to fill up."
The captain and officers gave me a friendly grasp,
and regretted that war made us, who should be by all laws of nature friends,
enemies, and hoped that the angel of Peace might soon spread her white
wings over our beloved land.
Those rebels certainly enjoyed that meal, and it
was no doubt the first good meal the poor fellows had had for many days.
After chasing Price for ninety miles, as stated,
we went into Kansas at De Soto, and on Tuesday morning, October 27th, 1864,
I received orders to disband the Twenty-first Regiment and go home.
I kept the order to myself, determined to try the grit of the boys and
have a little fun at their expense.
Ordering the wbole regiment to be drawn up in line,
I made them a speech in which I said we had a very long march before us
and a desperate battle at the end of it. I stated that I did not
wish any one to undertake this arduous march or to engage in the terrible
conflict who was not fully equal to the emergency. If any felt too
sick, faint, or weak to accompany us, or for any cause felt they could
not endure the hardship and danger, they would not be forced to go.
All who would volunteer to go with me through any trial or danger were
requested to step six paces to the front.
About one-third of the command stepped out six paces
and thus declared their willingness to follow anywhere. Then in a tone
loud enough to be heard by all I read the order for the disbanding of the
regiment, told those who did not feel well enough to accompany us to go
to the hospital under the doctor's care, and to the others said:
"Boys, we will go home!"
Shouts and roars of laughter drowned any further
utterance, and in ten minutes we had not a sick man in the regiment.
The regiment was disbanded, we all went home, and that ended
my experience as a soldier.