MILITARY ORDER OF THE LOYAL LEGION OF THE UNITED STATES

War Papers


A PRISONER OF WAR
A SEQUEL TO THE BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK

By
Otto C. Lademann, Captain, 3rd Missouri Infantry, U.S. Volunteers
Companion of the 1st Class
Wisconsin Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States
Read December 3, 1913


Transcribed by Douglas R. Niermeyer, Commander, Missouri Commandery
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U.S.
momollus@sbcglobal.net
(September 1999)

As stated in my paper, "The Battle of Wilson's Creek," I was captured with four other commissioned officers and about forty enlisted men. After our capture we were reconducted to the battlefield, arriving there near sundown. We were permitted to drink water, lying down at the edge of the creek, and then taken to a field of wheat stubble; there were gathered about two hundred men, nearly all from Sigel's column, except one officer of the First Missouri Infantry, 2nd Lieutenant Finklenburg, and two officers of Osterhaus' rifle battalion of the Second Missouri Infantry.

The day had been very hot, and the night was very cold, owing to the altitude of the Ozark mountains, and as we possessed no blankets, we were saturated with dew, and real glad when on Sunday, August 11th, old Sol made his appearance. Till Sunday afternoon the Texas cavalry which had captured us, remained as our guard, but Sunday afternoon it was relieved by the Third Louisiana Infantry, who conducted us to a new camp about two miles from the first location and near the headquarters of Gen. Berry, who commanded the Arkansas troops of Gen. McCulloch's Army. In the evening Gen. Berry made his appearance in our camp, and seeing some officers with shoulder straps -Lieutenants Schaefer and Mann of Sigel's Artillery-he asked them if there were any more officers, and we were all pointed out to him; when he told us that if we would give our word of honor that we would make no attempt to escape, he would invite us to a supper at his headquarters. We gave our word and accepted his invitation with thanks, for we had had nothing to eat since Friday. It kept several negro servants busy to bring victuals owing to their rapid disappearance. At the table we were joined by two officers of a Kansas volunteer regiment, and while we were eating, Col. Mcintosh, the Adjutant General of General McCulloch appeared, and we were introduced to him by name. He told L's that we could have the liberty of the whole camp if we would give him our word of honor that we would make no attempt to escape, which we readily did.

On Monday morning, having spent the night at Gen. Berry's headquarters. the General's table supplied us with a breakfast, and at noon Co!. McIntosh called for us to take us to the head-quarters of Gen. McCulloch. Thanking Gen. Berry (a West Point graduate, and former 1st lieutenant of the regular army) for his great kindness, we followed Col. McIntosh.

Brigadier General McCulloch, the famous Texas ranger, commanded the regular Confederate forces, consisting of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana troops, between four and five thousand men. He had come to Missouri to aid Major General Sterling Price, who commanded the Missouri State Guard, between six or seven thousand men. The two forces separated after the battle, Gen. Price and his State Guard going to Springfield, Missouri, and Gen. McCulloch with his forces remaining on the battlefield. When we arrived at McCulloch's headquarters. Col. McIntosh introduced us to him, one after another, and he cordially shook hands with every one of us. Then he informed us that he intended to take his troops back to Arkansas, Missouri not belonging to the Confederate States, and he would have to turn us over to Gen. Price. Lieut. Col. Albert, of the Third Missouri Infantry informed Gen. McCulloch, that it would be impossible for him to walk to Springfield, (twelve miles) as he suffered from a severe contusion of his right hip from a shrapnel ball, whereupon Gen. McCulloch said, "Gentlemen, you can take my four-mule ambulance." This we gratefully accepted. Arriving at Springfield, we reported to Gen. Price, who had established his headquarters at the Chambers Hotel. Aligning us on the west wall of the hotel parlor, he counted noses and then addressed us as follows: "Gentlemen, I presume you don't wish to be confined, and if you give me your word of honor that you will not attempt to escape you can select any vacant house in town, and report here in person every morning at 9 o'clock." We gave our word and quartered ourselves in a vacant house near our old camp. Being the youngest officer, I was made commissary, and returning to Gen. Price, told him that we had nothing to eat, and asked to have some rations issued to us. The General directed his adjutant, Col. Snead, to give us an order on the Commissary Department for rations. Walking across the public square, I found the commissary general of the Missouri State Guard, established in a store, all the goods having been confiscated and designated as hospital stores. The gentleman had been a member of Congress but abandoned his seat to fight for the Confederacy. He received me very cordially and said, "Boys, I will give you the best I have got, and if you catch me, treat me the same way. He kept his word and gave us an abundance -even smoking tobacco, for I had a six months' supply when I returned to my regiment. Every morning at 9 o'clock we reported to Gen. Price, and on Sunday, the 18th of August. he addressed us as follows : "Gentlemen, would you like to go back to St. Louis?" We assured him we would. "Well, he said, if you will sign your parole. not to bear arms against either the State of Missouri or the Confederate States of America, you can go home, but you have to leave my camp inside of twenty-four hours." Next morning, August 10th, we signed a parole in duplicate, one copy we got, and one copy Col. Snead retained. I well remember the day. for it was my twentieth birthday. On our march to Carthage, in July, we had been joined by a man who had a farm two miles from Springfield. He had been a freighter, carting goods from Rolla, Mo., the terminus of the Southwest Branch of the Missouri, Pacific R. R., to Springfield, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles. He went with us from Springfield to Carthage and back, as an assistant wagon master, he being a Union man, while his two boys were in Price's Army. He offered to take us to Rolla in two wagons if we paid him sixty dollars. This we agreed to and he took us out to his farm the same day, lodging us over night and starting for Rolla bright and early Tuesday, August the twentieth. We were eight commissioned officers and one enlisted man, who was a friend from St. Louis, and later became 1st Lieutenant and Quarter-master of the 24th Illinois. Our old freighter knew everybody living along the road, and made it a point to always stop for the night at the house of a Union man, of which there were plenty in Southwest Missouri. Everything went well until the afternoon of the second day, when about four miles west of Lebanon, Missouri, we were met by a dozen fellows, who were going to Springfield, to join Price's army. They were well mounted and armed with rifles, shotguns, pistols and bowie knives. They halted our wagons and wanted to know who we were. They were not drunk, but had whiskey enough in them to make them very ugly. We explained to them that we were officers on parole going back to St. Louis, and showed them our written paroles. After some consultation, the leader, a strapping Missourian, said: "Get out of the wagons, you d--- Dutch sons of female dogs, and get in line alongside the road and then you hurrah for Jeff Davis, or you die!" They being heavily armed, and we possessing nothing but pocket knives, of course, we complied with their polite request, but refused to hurrah for Jeff Davis, and argued the case with them. Our spokesman was 2nd Lieut. Gustavus A. Finklenburg, of the First Missouri Infantry, then commanded by Colonel Francis P. Blair, Jr. Finklenburg was a young St. Louis attorney and pleaded eloquently. He died about two years ago in Colorado, having resigned as U. S. District Judge of the First District of Missouri, on account of ill health, to which important office he had been appointed by President Roosevelt. Things were rapidly approaching a tragedy; those Missouri scoundrels were getting their shooting irons ready to execute their threat, when at the nearest bend of the road, east of us, appeared a buggy drawn by two mules, a little mulatto boy driving, and a grey-coated officer sitting in it. As the buggy rapidly approached we recognized the officer as Capt. Emmet McDonald, whom we had captured at Camp Jackson, St. Louis, Mo., May 10th. He was the only officer who refused to give his parole and was released by the United States District Court on a writ of habeas corpus, while the others all gave their parole and many of them broke it, Capt. McDonald, was a young St. Louis attorney and cordially greeted Lieut. Finklenburg, as a brother lawyer. When Finklenburg had explained the situation to him, he reached under the buggy seat and pulled out two Colt navy revolvers, cocked them, and, pointing them at our valiant captors, he said: "Boys, I am Capt. Emmet McDonald of General Price's staff. The first one of you who touches a hair on the head of any of these gentlemen, I will kill him like a dog. Now go On to Springfield and get away from here!" and our captors slunk away like whipped dogs. After fervently thanking Capt. McDonald, for he had undoubtedly saved our lives, we proceeded on our journey.

Poor Capt. McDonald was a brother of the celebrated sculptor, McDonald. He wore his hair very long, and had made a vow not to have it cut until the Confederacy had been established. Alas, he fell with his uncut hair at the battle of Hartville, Mo., in November, 1862. We arrived at Rolla, Mo., on Friday, August 23rd, at about 2 p.m., and, oh, the joy we felt when we had placed a vidette of two United States cavalrymen between ourselves and the Confederate States of America.

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Source:
Lademann, O.C. 1914. A PRISONER OF WAR: SEQUEL TO THE BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK, War Papers Read before the Commandery of the State of Wisconsin, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Burdick and Allen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Volume 4, 439-443.

Copyright © 2000 Douglas Niermeyer, Missouri Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States


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