General Blunt Biography


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 17, 1863

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1863 Emancipation Proclamation

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General Blunt

General Blunt

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War in the Border States

General Blunt Biography

General Blunt Biography

Emancipated Negro

Emancipated Negro




[JANUARY 17, 1863.


(Previous Page) to the command of the Department of Kansas, which then comprised Kansas, the Indian Country, Colorado, Nebraska, and Dacotah. He had been preceded in this command, and portions of it, by Generals Sturgis, Denver, and Major-General Hunter. They had all of them, to a greater or less degree, failed. Entering at once upon the discharge of his duties with his characteristic energy and resolution, he soon brought order out of chaos, and succeeded almost immediately in placing the troops of his Department upon the most admirable footing. He reorganized and started the great Southern Expedition, which had been atrociously strangled by his predecessors: and in less than a month they were in the Indian Country, two hundred and fifty miles south of Fort Leavenworth, the starting-point of the Expedition. So admirably was the campaign planned, and so quietly did execution follow upon conception, that, but for an incident which no human sagacity could have foreseen, the Southern forts in that region would have been in his possession last August, long before reinforcements could have reached them.

The commanding officer of the force in the field was forcibly arrested by his subordinate officers, and general confusion, preferring of charges, and arrests of officers was the result. The enemy, in immense and overwhelming force, was before this little army, and it was disorganized and demoralized. In this condition it fell back to Fort Scott. General Blunt, with his customary promptness, proceeded there himself, accompanied by his staff, heard every thing, listened to every thing, said nothing. After hearing all that was to he said on all sides, he dissolved the court-martial previously ordered, relieved each officer from arrest, and assumed the chief command in person.

Up to this time he had won the approval of all as to his administration of the affairs of the Department, but his capacity in the field was doubted. It was said he was a man of conduct and affairs, but not of action; his forte was the cabinet, not the field.

This idea was soon dispelled when his trumpets sounded "To horse!" His first push was after Coffee, Jackman, and Tracy, who had gone North toward the Missouri River, with about 5000 men, to co-operate with Quantrall against Lexington and Kansas City. Blunt had about 2000 men, and after a forced march of two nights and a day he came in sight of them, when they broke and fled without waiting his impetuous charge. They wheeled toward Arkansas, and he followed them almost to the line, when his jaded horses compelled him to forego further pursuit. His promptitude and efficiency thus saved Lexington and Kansas City from sack and conflagration.

After resting his exhausted stock he started his first brigade—General Salomon, of Wisconsin, commanding—forward to Sarcoxie, to co-operate with General Brown against a large rebel force fortified at Newtonia. General Salomon's Advance attacked the place, but was driven back with considerable loss. General Blunt, hearing of this, pushed forward in person, examined the ground, made his dispositions, attacked the enemy with characteristic impetuosity, and in thirty minutes had his broken columns scampering across the prairie, with our flying squadrons in eager and fearful pursuit. The flying enemy was chased to Elk-Horn Tavern, Arkansas.

From this point Generals Schofield, Totten, and Brown, who had accompanied General Blunt from Newtonia, returned to Springfield, Missouri, while General Blunt remained to try to draw the enemy from his cover of the fastnesses of the Boston Mountains.

After a few days' rest he heard of a force of the enemy of about 4000 near Maysville; and taking parts of the Second and Sixth Kansas Cavalry, and Robb's Indiana Battery, he engaged and defeated the enemy, capturing the veritable old battery which Bragg made classical at Monterey some sixteen years ago.

Immediately after, hearing that General Marmaduke was at Cane Hill with 12,000 men, and Hindman hurrying up from below to reinforce him with 15,000 more, he determined to strike and destroy Marmaduke before the junction could be effected. Accordingly he left his transportation behind, and with 5000 men marched forward to the attack. His charge was like an avalanche. The enemy recoiled, fled, rallied, and fled again. He fought them over twelve miles of ground, always in the front rank himself, exposing his life like a common soldier, until under the sacred delay of a flag of truce the enemy had time to get beyond pursuit, while the flag-party was engaged in the ostensible duty of caring for their wounded and burying their dead.

The junction of the rebel forces was effected, and the enemy was 28,000 strong. Notwithstanding the disparity of numbers, General Blunt's little army being but scant six thousand, he pushed boldly into the Boston Mountains, with the persistent obstinacy which forms so large an ingredient of his character, offering the enemy battle in his own strong-hold.

In the mean time Hindman determined to adopt Blunt's tactics, pass him in the night by a parallel road, get to his rear, and attack General Herron, who was marching to his assistance, by order of General Schofield, with reinforcements from Springfield, before he reached his destination. General Blunt, well advised of the enemy's designs, allowed him to pass undisturbed, and then deliberately took his trail, to attack him in the rear while Herron engaged him in front. Some unexpected obstacles intervened, which delayed him longer than he anticipated; but still the gallant Herron maintained his position until the charging squadrons of the First Division made the very earth to tremble beneath their shock and thunder. Then commenced one of the most sanguinary conflicts of the was. The enemy was desperate, and Blunt resolute and elastic as steel. From ten o'clock till dark the battle raged with unabated fury, the enemy growing weaker, and our own gallant troops more intent and earnest with each succeeding hour. We

publish on page 42 a plan of this battle, called the BATTLE OF PRAIRIE GROVE, sent us from General Blunt's army by Mr. J. T. Cox.

Darkness at last put an end to the struggle. General Blunt ordered his men to sleep upon their arms, in order to renew the battle with the first faint streak of dawn. Morning came, but the enemy was gone. He had taken advantage of the cover of the night to steal to his retreats in the Boston Mountains, leaving two thousand of his dead and wounded on the field.

It will be readily conceived, from this brief sketch, that the annals of the last six weeks of this gallant little division of the Army of the Frontier sound more like the vagaries of romance than the stately march of history. Men like Blunt are in demand. Our country needs them in high positions. In recognition of services like these, marches so rapid and victories so brilliant and crowded, Government should give him the added star, and make him a Major-General without delay. The little State of Kansas has between thirteen and fourteen thousand troops actually in the field, and but two brigadiers. She is certainly entitled to a Major-General, and Blunt is the COMING MAN!


[Far away, upon the banks of the Mississippi, a soldier pitched his tent by night, died at the dawn of morning, and is buried beneath the weeping willow, to await the morning reveille of the eternal day. These verses, taken from our portfolio of months past, are dedicated to his memory.—M.]

HARD by the river's winding way,

Beneath an aged weeping willow,

Pendent o'er the foaming billow,

Where the breaths of blossoms blended,

And the songs of birds ascended;

Just as rising day was dawning,

And the east winds fanned the morning, Death came rapping,

Softly tapping,

Tapping at the soldier's door—

The weary soldier's door.


Said he, "I've wandered sad and lonely,

Through the night-winds dark and dreary;

Am like yourself—a soldier weary

Of my marching—let us shelter

In this silent vale together:

Let me place my icy fingers

Where thy life-spark warmest lingers."

And then a death-dart

Touched a brave heart,

Silent now to move no more—

Never any more!

Now the willow, and the lilies,

And the eglantine are weeping, Weeping o'er the soldier sleeping,

Sleeping where no cannon's rattle,

Nor the angry storm of battle,

Can awake him any more!

Nor doth again tap at the door.

The resting stranger,

Freed from danger,

Soundly sleeps beneath the willow—

The hoary, weeping willow!


Around the grave beneath the willow

The ivy and the roses bloom;

The flowery vale is not all gloom;

For weary on their little wing,

The birds light on the boughs to sing;

And every soft and warbling strain

Tells that the dead shall rise again;

And the soldier's brow,

That slumbers now,

Shall wear rich laurels pure and bright,

In the Elysian fields of light!


FROM a treacherous, September-like mildness the dying day had changed on a sudden to December sharpness. The fierce western light broke out in scarlet flushes over the sombre sky, and just above the hills thunderous clouds parted away curtain-wise from a dome burning with such a showing of rose through golden glory as might have befitted the gates of the unknown land itself; while the wind coming across the flat meadow-lands drove with a bleak rush and howl at the window by which Hope Easton was sitting. Already it was very dim in the little room, the shadow gaining so fast on the firelight that Hope could no longer see the pine wreaths that she was tying. The air was haunted by a pleasant woodland fragrance; and not Aladdin's palace could boast of such a cornice as the branches massed over door and window. Coziness was the name of the household god enshrined in the cheerful fire-place by which sat little Nellie looking into the bright flame, her fat little hands folded in her lap, and her fresh round face as grave as some little owl reflecting for the first time on the uncertain ways of mice.


"Hope," said this reverend personage, "Mary Horton told me to-day that she was tired of Christmas-trees."


"Now I want one so much."


"Isn't it odd that God should give Christmas-trees to little girls that dorm care about them? I thought perhaps he had forgotten me, so I asked him to send me a tree to-night. You know what he says about believing when you pray, and I know he could make one grow here easily enough. Suppose I should wake up to-morrow and find one over in that corner. I don't believe I shall sleep a wink to-night thinking about it." As she spoke going over to kiss her sister good-night.

Hope held up her face to be kissed with a smile, belied, however, by the troubled look in her clear, pleasant eyes, that lingered, and deepened, and darkened as if it had been the shadow itself closing

about her as she still sat by the window. She could tie boughs together for Nellie's Christmas-tree; and that young person, less blase than Mary Horton, would think herself happy and fortunate as the possessor of the doll lying in all the state of long-clothes and crocheted cap in the lower bureau drawer. But her quick thought had drawn a parallel between the chill and herself. Mary Horton, tired and careless of her Christmas pleasures, her sister—what had the proud and handsome Julia in which Hope Easton could possibly have a common interest?

The outer gate clanged sharply, steps came up the walk; there was a bustle and some laughing in the hall; then somebody came toward the door humming La ci carem. There was no particular need for starting or blushing in the dark when no one could see how marvelously pretty she looked. It was only John Hazlemere, her mother's lodger. They were expecting him; for he had written to say that he should be back that night. (A most business-like epistle, by-the-by, not worthy of the tender keeping to which Hope had confided it.) He came in hesitating in the uncertain light till he had made out the slender figure by the window; and then—oh, the hypocrisy of girls!—such astonishment as she uplifted to him in her brown eyes! John could hardly persuade himself that he wore slippers of silence, or that the wind was in the habit of whistling scraps of Don Giovanni through the key-holes in Mrs. Easton's cottage; but how entirely she must have forgotten the letter (lying at that very moment over her heart) to be so utterly surprised by his appearance! She hardly glanced at him, her hand lay entirely passive in his. She looked interrupted—half displeased—indifferent or unconscious of the very evident pleasure with which he had met her, thought John, clouding fast.

Meanwhile somebody who had been talking with Mrs. Easton came along the narrow hall with a quick clatter of little boot heels and a rustle and swish of silken garments, diffusing a faint odor of violets as she (for the apparition was clearly feminine) entered the shadowed room.

"How dark it is! I can't find my way at all! Mr. Hazlemere, I think you were really barbarous to leave me so!" said a soft, lisping voice.

"You were talking with Mrs. Easton. How could I tell if it were discreet to remain?"

"Oh, you have— Miss Easton!" with a slight start; "you here! I didn't see you at first. I expect you to thank me for bringing Mr, Hazlemere home to you; though, as I was coming here when I found him on the road, it was not specially benevolent after all. How do you feel this evening, Miss Easton? Do you think you are very good-natured?"

"Not particularly," answered Hope, freezingly.

"That is unfortunate, for I came to ask a favor. Miss Golden has been unkind enough to fall ill at the last moment, when we depended on her for the dressing of the font, and we are in such a dilemma! I assure you we are quite desperate enough to seize and imprison you, and make your liberty dependent on your obliging us. You do those things so beautifully; and none of us have a gift that way, even if we were not so busy!"

She was standing as she talked close by the hearth, full in its light, looking even prettier than usual, with her splendid golden hair put away under her little velvet hood, and her cheeks in a glow. She was swinging her muff by its tassels, making the diamonds on her white fingers leap into sudden splendor with every move, and her cloak falling away showed the dainty collar and knot of ribbon, and the sparkling clasp at her slender waist; trifles in themselves, yet not unimportant parts of the effect that she produced—an effect of something dazzling, faultless, altogether of another and higher sphere, being most condescendingly at home in a shabby, wretched little room.

Hope felt it keenly; resented through all her nature the soft, lisping insolence, ten times harder to bear than open imperiousness; the familiarity, so offensive in contrast with Miss Morton's usual half-recognition; worst of all, the easy way in which she assumed entire possession of Mr. Hazlemere and all his faculties, the utter ignoring of all possibilities for him except that of attendance upon herself. I will not go! was Hope's first, angry thought; but her second was of Miss Horton's need, not her insolence, and of shame for her own pettiness of spirit.

"Well?" asked Miss Horton, half-indignant at the long silence.

"I will come," said Hope.

"Oh you are very kind! Mr. Hazlemere, we shall see you, of course; or will you ride hone with me?"

"Thank you; but I will wait for Hope."

The "Hope" slipped out naturally—lovingly. Miss Horton gathered her cloak about her with an air.

"Good-evening, then! Come early, Miss Easton."

An odor of violets was all that remained of this unexpected visitation, and Hope sat down to think it over. She was hard at it when John came back, having seen Miss Horton safely to her carriage; and looked such a pretty picture, sitting there in the half light, that he had much ado to sit down like a sensible man on the opposite side of the fire-place, and taking refuge in the first commonplace that came into his head, asked what else was thinking about.

"Constituting myself a Committee of Ways and Means; and at present reading the Honorable Committee is sorely puzzled to find some magic that will make a certain gray merino presentable at Mrs. Horton's; and uncertain how it will get time and strength to construct a Christmas-tree for Nellie, who has gone to sleep in full faith that God will have a tree ready grown in that opposite corner to salute her waking eyes."

"Dear little thing!" said John, looking straight at Hope. "Suppose the Committee imitates her simple faith, and leaves the tree where she left it; while as for the gray merino, in my opinion the Committee

is at present in possession of all the magic that is requisite to make the dress the prettiest in the rooms."

Here Mrs. Easton and candles came in, and John disappeared. Hope clouded again. He had been absent two weeks, and could not sit out an hour with them quietly; though why should she care? she asked, spitefully, pulling her hair as she combed it out as if it had been his. Had the Fool-catcher any thing in his collection to match her? She had been happy because John Hazlemere had called her Hope, and complimented her gray merino. The insane asylum would have been too dignified a retreat for her. A refuge for idiots was the only shelter adapted to her case. She was thoroughly wretched, for of all quarrels those we sometimes hold with ourselves are the most hopeless. She had entertained ambitious projects of an unwonted knot of ribbons, and possibly a fuschia nestled in the coils of her hair; but she now dismissed them contemptuously with her other folly. In short, she was in a mood to extract as large an amount of discomfort as possible from the very smallest given quantity of material; and, what is quite inexcusable, was exceedingly sulky with John, refusing him her hand when he helped her into the carriage, and scarcely speaking twice during the ride to Mrs. Horton's.

Julia met them in the door.

"You are late, after all; every one is here" (as Hope, to her dismay, saw was but too true). "Miss Easton, I have a nice little corner that I reserved specially for you. I have stood guard over it valiantly, and I am not going to let any one come and disturb you. You have quite enough to do without being talked to and hindered. Mr. Hazlemere, you must come with me and make yourself useful. We are pressing every one into the service to-night."

Hope's "corner" was a recessed window, almost shut off from the drawing-room by its heavy curtains. There was a table with work-box and pasteboard, a basket of greens and an easy-chair. Clearly she was there to work—nothing else; all empty formulas of politeness were to be dispensed with; but so much the better. She had neither heart nor inclination to talk with any of the people there, only she would have been glad if her corner had been differently placed, or if she had only dared to draw the curtains, so that she need not see so exactly what Mr. Hazlemere and Miss Horton were doing. Certainly his sphere of usefulness was by no means an extended one, it consisting principally in revolving about Miss Horton, walking with her up and down the rooms, or helping her tie the wreaths when she was seized with an occasional spasm of industry. Impossible not to see that their fingers met and lingered on each other; that his hair brushed her cheek when be bent, as he frequently did, to whisper to her; and that, what with heightened color and sparkling eyes, and the dazzling contrast of her snowy skin and bright hair with the deep azure of her dress, she was positively radiant. Other eyes than Hope's were upon them. Hardly conscious of her presence behind the curtains, all the gossips in the room, as Fate would have it, discussed them and their prospects; and, much against their will, Hope found herself duly qualified to have given in the general vote concerning Mr. Hazlemere and Julia—how that ''they were a handsome couple, just suited for one another, and that there could be no possible doubt that the match would take place before spring."

It was hard to listen—harder yet to feel that the hearing of such things was pain. Her cheeks burned, and tears fell on her work in spite of herself; in her heart she believed that God who loved her would have granted her heart's desire had it been well for her, but the cup was very bitter and hard to drink.

It was at this juncture that the curtains parted, and Louis Horton came in and sat down beside her.

"My sister has tabooed this corner," he said; "but I for one will not observe it. It is a shame to keep you here. Why, it is stifling! You look as if you had a fever. Come out and walk with me!"

"Oh, impossible! I haven't finished."

"Well, it it not your business more than theirs, is it? Every one else takes it easy enough. Suppose there are a few letters less in the church! Who will be the wiser? Let my sister and the Committee to which she belongs look to that. Positively you must come with me! But—how pretty that is?"

He had taken up a bunch of berries and shining leaves, and was holding them against her dark hair.

"You must wear them," he said, commencing to fasten them in her braids. "Don't be afraid! I am as cleft as any femme-de-chambre of them all! Now when you meet a mirror you will confess that in three seconds I have achieved something prettier than all your evening's work."

And pretty indeed Hope looked, shrinking, and turning away her flushed face shyly from his eager look; but not in John's eyes, who coming to look for her, saw and turned sorrowfully away, as Hope came out with Louis from what he styled her den. Louis went with her straight up to his sister.

"Your prisoner," he said, pleaded hard to be let alone, but I was inexorable, for I thought it a shame to keep this one poor little thing hard at work while all the rest of you were lazily luxuriating; and, by-the-way, Julia, you may set some of those other people at work, for I don't intend to let her go back. She is under my charge now."

And once more that mal-apropos John came up in time to hear the concluding words of Louis's speech, and see the air of ownership with which he gave his arm to Hope and carried her off to a distant quarter of the room.

"Are you hungry?" he inquired, presently. "There is the usual fight going on about the supper-table, but 'only the brave deserve the fair;' and if you say the word— No? I can not say I am very sorry. I like better to look at you. It is such a relief after the blues and reds and yellows of the other girls, and their endless giggling and attitudinizing."




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