The Most Unheralded Civil War Battle in History

The attached photo of a Yankee gravestone in Texas tells a story long kept suppressed by Northern history. Yankee records state that not a single Federal soldier was killed any further south than the middle of present day Oklahoma which at the time was Indian Territory and their claims further state that no Federal soldiers were ever killed in Texas.                                                                                                                                                                  

 Guerrilla warfare along the Missouri-Kansas border resulted in the guerrillas and their supporters maintaining control of the rural countryside while Federal troops kept control by keeping large garrisons quartered in large towns and cities. But during the winter when their cover and concealment was lost due to the harsh Missouri winters the guerrillas went south behind Confederate lines for safety. Starting in 1862 Colonel William Clarke Quantrill took his command into Texas to winter. There they preformed valuable service to the Confederacy by guarding against Indian attacks, cattle thefts, destroying illegal stills, and rounding up draft dodgers and deserters. When Quantrill returned to his former camp near Sherman, Texas in the fall of 1863 he was welcomed with eager anticipation by the citizens of Texas.
In 1863 Quantrill's command won the only Southern victories in the Trans-Mississippi Department. He annihilated one Federal command on June 17, at the Westport, Missouri skirmish. On August 21, 1863, Quantrill and 400 guerrillas attacked the Federal garrison in Lawrence, Kansas, striking a serious blow against the Union killing 143 Federal soldiers and Kansas Jayhawkers. And again on October 6, as Quantrill was leading his men south into Texas he ran into General James G. Blunt near Baxter Springs, Kansas, with troops of the 14th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment and the 3rd Wisconsin, killing over 100 soldiers and routing them from the field.
General Blunt was able to escape and vowed revenge. In December Blunt planned an operation to lead portions of the 14th and 15th Kansas Jayhawker regiments through Kansas and the Indian Territory and make a surprise attack on Quantrill's camp in revenge for both Lawrence and Baxter Springs. Union spies reported the exact location of Quantrill's camp. At this time, General Henry McCulloch, Commander of the Sub-District of North Texas had allowed the furlough of one-half of the State troops which were now direly needed to guard against Blunt's imminent invasion. 
It was a Godsend that Quantrill chose to ride south with his company this particular winter. It was the week before Christmas that brought fear and panic into North Texas. Blunt's Jayhawker Regiments along with a mob of Kansas civilians had crossed at Bound's Ferry and had advanced as far as Gainesville. On December 22, an advance scout of Kansas Jayhawkers proceeded as far as Preston Bend and rode towards Quantrill's camp. They stopped at the Glen Eden plantation of Sophia Butts who immediately ascertained what their motive and mission was. After imbibing on the plantations refreshments Sophia managed to lure them into her cellar for more wine then locked them inside. 
Sophia sent a messenger to Quantrill's camp, a little over a mile away, and another to warn McCulloch at Bonham, and another to warn Texas militia forces in McKinney. Sophia herself rode north to warn Colonel James G. Bourland and his men at Fort Washita. For her efforts in defending her home and warning the Confederates of an eminent attack Sophia gained the sobriquet of “The Confederate Lady Paul Revere".                                                  
When warned of the Jayhawker’s approach Quantrill became deeply concerned but remained calm. Jayhawkers had invaded the security and sanctity of his winter refuge. With Blunt's forces less than a mile away Quantrill’s officers shouted out quick commands and the guerrillas immediately responded. Quantrill would have to go it alone. There were only 150 infantrymen in Bonham and it would take McCulloch three days to gather 500 men together. There was not time to try to organize a larger force. With no time to wait for the conjunction of Colonel Leonidas M. Martin’s Fifth Texas Cavalry from McKinney or for Colonel James Bourland’s force to arrive from Fort Washita the guerrillas attacked. Quantrill tried to swing to the north and get behind the enemy and force them between him and Martin’s Texans but the Jayhawkers were on him before he had time to maneuver. Accounts say that the Jayhawkers, trying to avoid Martin’s regular Confederate forces from McKinney approaching from the south blundered into the guerrillas and were cut to pieces. With the killer instinct that came from years of guerrilla warfare Quantrill’s men chased down the remaining Jayhawkers who were trying to flee. They made it as far as eight miles west of the guerrilla’s Mineral Springs camp. The Jayhawkers were caught in a deep defile of Walnut Creek called Devil’s Backbone, a high limestone ridge about 200 yards long. When the firing ended blue-coated bodies lay like bloody rag dolls all along the base of the ridge. Confederate Choctaw Indians in the area reported that only a handful of the troops escaped. Local farmers were sent out to bury the bodies of the slain Federal soldiers. Along with the hundreds of Federal gravesites lying beneath the soil at Quantrill’s Mineral Springs camp are headstones listing the fallen members of the 14th Kansas Cavalry. Because of the rocky soil and iron ore deposits most were buried in shallow graves.
 The guerrillas had acted with great bravery and determination. Their single action saved Northern Texas from destruction. What is most disturbing is that only two months later Quantrill was called on again to turn back another Federal invasion of Texas. On February 15, 1864, General McCulloch received an urgent message from General Douglas H. Cooper stating that enemy comprising 300 cavalrymen of the Fourteenth Kansas Jayhawker Regiment from Fort Smith, Arkansas and 300 Federal Indians from Fort Gibson, Indian Territory were heading south with the intent of attacking Texas. In the Official Records of the Rebellion a dispatch by General McCulloch states, “I have directed Quantrill from Preston to Fort Washita at once, and Colonel Bourland to throw his disposable force to Preston and thence on the Cornage Point as early as possible, while I assemble all the companies of Colonel Martin’s regiment that I can collect at this place in order to advance from here in case General Cooper has to fall back toward Red River.” No subsequent record of this military engagement survives but it can be assumed that Quantrill was also instrumental in repelling this second Federal invasion of Texas. 

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