Confederates, on their side, were trying to worry
their opponents by threatening the Pilot Knob line
of the railway.
Thompson, who had never left the south-eastern part of the State, gathered all his troops for the purpose of attacking the three regiments guarding the extremity of the line, under Colonel Carlin.
On the 15th of October he captured a post of fifty men stationed at Big River bridge, and burned the bridge, which was the largest along the line.
The garrison of Pilot Knob found itself thus isolated from St. Louis. Colonel Carlin immediately sent a regiment after him, which attacked him while he was retreating south-eastward, and vigorously harassed his rear-guard.
But the Federals soon encountered the principal corps firmly established at Fredericktown, and, being unable to dislodge, it withdrew after a brisk discharge of musketry.
The position of Carlin was becoming perilous. Fremont, who had quitted the Sedalia Railway to place himself at the head of his columns, was far from any telegraphic station, and could not be consulted.
Fortunately, his assistant Adjutant-General, Captain McKeever, had remained at St. Louis in the exercise of all his powers. He immediately adopted effective measures for keeping Thompson in check.
Two regiments of infantry, with a battery of artillery, under Major Schofield, were sent to the relief of Carlin. Despite the destruction of the bridge, these reinforcements soon joined him, and he was enabled to place himself at their head and attack Thompson at once.
In the mean time, Grant was increasing the garrison at Cape Girardeau, and Colonel Plummer, with a brigade of fifteen hundred men, was sent from that point to assist Carlin in cutting off Thompson's retreat.
Two separate columns thus marched upon Fredericktown; but a despatch from Plummer having fallen into Thompson's hands, the latter, thus apprised of the danger he was incurring, had stolen away by a rapid march. When the Federals met in that city on the morning of the 21st, they found no enemy there.
In the mean while, Thompson's brigade, which had adopted the nickname of its chief, who was called the Swamp Fox, far from wishing to avoid a fight, had gone to take position at a short distance from Fredericktown, where it awaited the Federals.
That brigade was scarcely two thousand men strong; some were armed with fowling-pieces, others with muskets of very poor quality, but all were broken to the rough trade they were following, oblivious to privations, and
resolved to fight the superior forces opposed to them.
Immediately upon his arrival, Plummer, with his brigade and the largest portion of Carlin's, marched against them. The combat begins at once. Plummer deploys his infantry, and Schofield soon appears upon the field with part of his artillery, which has an immense advantage over the four small pieces of the Confederates.
The latter, crashed by the fire, fall back along the line. The Federals press them vigorously, the cavalry makes a charge, and their retreat is soon turned into a complete rout.
Eighty prisoners remain in the hands of Plummer, who continues the pursuit until evening. Having only a sufficient quantity of provisions left to return to Cape Girardeau, he retraces his steps to that post, while Carlin returns to Pilot Knob, where the brigade of the Swamp Fox could never again come to molest him.
Source: History of The Civil War in America - 1875
Battle in Fredericktown
Missouri. A battle took place at Fredericktown, Missouri, on Monday, between our men and the rebels under Thompson and Lowe.
The rebel force numbered 5,000 men. They were routed with heavy loss, and lost four heavy guns.
Our loss was 5 killed and 25 wounded--5 of them mortally.
The rebel Colonel Lowe was killed and Major Gavitt, a brave Indiana Cavalry Officer also fell.
The engagement became general, and lasted about two hours; but after the first half hour the rebels left the field in disorder, and took to the woods, closely followed by both our infantry and cavalry.
Before leaving the field the rebel Colonel Lowe was shot in the head and instantly killed.
Major Gavitt received five bullets while leading a charge thirty yards in advance of his command.
Captain Wyman was killed in the same charge.
The enemy's loss is not ascertained, but it is supposed to be considerable.
At last accounts the rebels were in full retreat with their baggage train, and our troops in pursuit.
Two rebel surgeons, who came into Fredericktown for Colonel Lowe's body, acknowledge the loss of over 200 in killed and wounded, but it is thought to have been larger.
Thursday, October 24, 1861
Salem Register (Salem, MA) Page: 2
The War in Missouri
Fredericktown Held by the Federal Troops - Pursuit of Thompson's Force
Pilot Knob, Missouri, October 26.--Colonel Plummer has returned with his command to Cape Girardeau.
Colonel Carlin has occupied Fredericktown with a regiment of infantry, a squadron of cavalry and two pieces of artillery.
Thompson and his rebel band were pursued twenty tow miles beyond Fredericktown, on the Greenville Road, when the chase was abandoned. The rebels are probably now at Greenville, and will doubtless continue their retreat.
The detachment sent out to bury the dead siter the battle reported near two hundred of the rebels killed and left on the field.
Our loss was six killed and about forty wounded--one mortally.
The Battle of Fredericktown -- Jeff Thompson Pursued Twenty Two Miles
Pilot Knob, October 26.--General Plummer has returned to Cape Girardeau and Colonel Carlin occupies Fredericktown.
Jeff Thompson's rebel army has been pursued twenty two miles beyond Fredericktown, where the chase was abandoned. The rebels were greatly demoralized, and will doubtless continue the retreat.
It is reported that the bodies of 200 rebels killed in the battle of Fredericktown were left on the field. Our loss was six killed and forty wounded-one mortally.
Springfield Recaptured--The Rebels Driven out, and the Union Flag Raised on the Court House
St. Louis, October 27.--A dispatch from General Fremont, dated on Saturday evening, announces that Major Seagoul, at the head of a small force, drove two thousand rebels from Springfield, and took possession of the town, raising the Union flag over the Court House. The advance will occupy the town tonight.
Monday, October 28, 1861
Sun (Baltimore, MD) Volume: XLIX Issue: 137 Page: 2