Posted On 2020-08-09
Johnson’s blood was all on fire, and he would march and fight, no matter whether death waited for him one mile off, or one hundred miles off. He not only carried a black flag himself, and swore to give no quarter, but he declared 长沙桑拿中心 on his return that he would devastate the177 country and leave of the habitations of the southern men not one stone upon another. He was greatly enraged towards the last. He cursed the people as “damned secesh,” and swore that they were in league with the murderers and robbers. Extermination, in fact, was what they all needed, and if fortune favored him in the fight, it was extermination that all should have. Fortune did not favor him.
Johnson rode east of south, probably three miles. The scouts who went to Singleton’s barn, where Anderson camped, came back to say that the Guerrillas had been there, had fed there, had rested there, and had gone down into the timber beyond to hide themselves. It was now about four o’clock in the afternoon.
Back from the barn, a long, high ridge lifted itself up from the undulating level of the 长沙桑拿休闲场所推荐 more regular country and broke the vision southward. Beyond this ridge a wide, smooth prairie stretched itself out, and still beyond this prairie, and further to the south, was the timber in which the scouts said Bill Anderson was hiding.
As Johnson rode towards the ridge, still distant from it a mile or so, ten men anticipated him by coming up fair to view, and in skirmishing order. The leader of this little band, Captain John Thrailkill, had picked for the occasion David and John Poole, Frank and Jesse James, Tuck Hill, Peyton Long, Ben Morrow, James Younger, E. P. DeHart, Ed Greenwood and Harrison178 Trow. Next to Thrailkill rode Jesse James, and next to Jesse, Frank. Johnson had need to beware of what might be before him in the unknown when such giants as these began to show themselves.
The Guerrillas numbered, all told, 长沙桑拿洗浴中心 exactly two hundred and sixty-two. In Anderson’s company there were sixty-one men, in George Todd’s forty-eight, in Poole’s forty-nine, in Thomas Todd’s fifty-four, and in Thrailkill’s fifty—two hundred and sixty-two against three hundred.
As Thrailkill went forward to skirmish with the advancing enemy, Todd came out of the timber where he had been hiding, and formed a line of battle in an old field in front of it. Still further to the front a sloping hill, half a mile away, arose between Johnson and the Guerillas. Todd rode to the crest of this, pushing Thrailkill well forward into the prairie beyond, and took his position there. When he lifted his hat and waved it the whole force was to move rapidly on. Anderson held the right, George Todd joined to Anderson, Poole to George Todd, Thomas Todd to Poole, and Thrailkill to 长沙桑拿论坛交流 Thomas Todd—and thus were the ranks arrayed.
The ten skirmishers quickly surmounted the hill and disappeared. Todd, as a carved statue, stood his horse upon its summit. Johnson moved right onward. Some shots at long range were fired and some bullets from the muskets of the Federals reached to and beyond the179 ridge where Todd watched, Peyton Long by his side. From a column of fours Johnson’s men galloped at once into line of battle, right in front, and marched so, pressing up well and calmly.
The advanced Guerillas opened fire briskly at last, and the skirmishing grew suddenly hot. Thrailkill, however, knew his business too well to tarry long at such work, and fell back towards the ridge.
As this movement was being executed, Johnson’s men raised a shout and dashed forward together and in a compact mass order formation, ranks all gone. This looked bad. Such sudden exultation over a skirmish wherein none were killed exhibited nervousness. Such a spontaneous giving way of the body, even beyond the will of their commander, should have manifested neither surprise nor delight and looked ominous for discipline.
Thrailkill formed again when he reached Todd’s line of battle, and Johnson rearranged his ranks and went towards the slope at a brisk walk. Some upon the right broke into a trot, but he halted them, cursed them, and bade them look better to their line.
Up the hill’s crest, however, a column of men suddenly rode into view, halted, dismounted and seemed to be busy or confused about something.
Inexperienced, Johnson is declared to have said to his adjutant: “They will fight on foot—what does that mean?” It meant that the men were tightening180 their saddle girths, putting fresh caps on their revolvers, looking well to bridle reins and bridle bits, and preparing for a charge that would have about it the fury of a whirlwind. By and by the Guerrillas were mounted again. From a column they transformed themselves into a line two deep and with a double interval between all files. At a slow walk they moved over the crest towards Major Johnson, now advancing at a walk that was more brisk.
Perhaps it was now five o’clock. The September sun was low in the west, not red nor angry, but an Indian summer sun, full yet of generous warmth and grateful beaming. The crisp grass crinkled under foot. A distance of five hundred yards separated the two lines. Not a shot had been fired. Todd showed a naked front, bare of skirmishers and stripped for a fight that he knew would be murderous to the Federals. And why should they not stand? The black flag waved alike over each, and from the lips of the leaders of each there had been all that day only threats of extermination and death.
Johnson halted his men and rode along his front speaking a few calm and collected words. They could not be heard in Todd’s ranks, but they might have been divined. Most battle speeches are the same. They abound in good advice. They are generally full of such sentences as this: “Aim low, keep cool, fire when you get loaded. Let the wounded lie till the fight is over.”
181 But could it be possible that Johnson meant to receive the charge of the Guerrillas at a halt! What cavalry books had he read? Who had taught him such ruinous and suicidal tactics? And yet, monstrous as the resolution was in a military sense, it had actually been made, and Johnson called out loud enough to be heard by the opposing force: “Come on, we are ready for the fight!”
The challenge was accepted. The Guerillas gathered themselves together as if by a sudden impulse, and took the bridle reins between their teeth. In the hands of each man there was a deadly revolver. There were carbines, too, and yet they had never been unslung. The sun was not high, and there was great need to finish quickly whatever had need to be done. Riding the best and fastest horses in Missouri, George Shepherd, Oll Shepherd, Frank Shepherd, Frank Gregg, Morrow, McGuire, Allen Parmer, Hence and Lafe Privin, James Younger, Press Webb, Babe Hudspeth, Dick Burnes, Ambrose and Thomas Maxwell, Richard Kinney, Si and Ike Flannery, Jesse and Frank James, David Poole; John Poole, Ed Greenwood, Al Scott, Frank Gray, George Maddox, Dick Maddox, De Hart, Jeff Emery, Bill Anderson, Tuck Hill, James Cummings, John Rupe, Silas King, James Corum, Moses Huffaker, Ben Broomfield, Peyton Long, Jack Southerland, William Reynolds, William and Charles Stewart, Bud Pence, Nat Tigue, Gooly Robertson, Hiram Guess, Buster Parr,182 William Gaw, Chat Rennick, Henry Porter, Arch and Henry Clements, Jesse Hamlet, John Thrailkill, Si Gordon, George Todd, Thomas Todd, William and Hugh Archie, Plunk Murray, Ling Litten, Joshua Esters, Sam Wade, Creth Creek, Theodore Castle, John Chatman and three score men of other unnamed heroes struck fast the Federal ranks as if the rush was a rush of tigers. Frank James, riding a splendid race mare, led by half a length, then Arch Clements, then Ben Morrow, then Peyton Long and then Harrison Trow.
There was neither trot not gallop. The Guerrillas simply dashed from a walk into a full run. The attack was a hurricane. Johnson’s command fired one volley and not a gun thereafter. It scarcely stood until the five hundred yards were passed over. Johnson cried out to his men to fight to the death, but they did not wait even to hear him through. Some broke ranks as soon as they had fired, and fled. Others were attempting to reload their muskets when the Guerrillas, firing right and left, hurled themselves upon them. Johnson fell among the first. Mounted as described, Frank James singled out the leader of the Federals. He did not know him then. No words were spoken between
the two. When James had reached within five feet of Johnson’s position, he put out a pistol suddenly and sent a bullet through his brain. Johnson threw out his hands as if trying to reach something above his head and pitched forward heavily, a corpse. There was no183 quarter. Many begged for mercy on their knees. The Guerrillas heeded the prayer as a wolf might the bleating of a lamb. The wild route broke up near Sturgeon, the implacable pursuit, vengeful as hate, thundering in the rear. Death did its work in twos, threes, in squads—singly. Beyond the first volley not a single Guerrilla was hurt, but in this volley Frank Shepherd, Hank Williams and young Peyton were killed, and Richard Kenney mortally wounded. Thomas Maxwell and Harrison Carter were also slightly wounded by the same volley, and two horses were killed, one under Dave Poole and one under Harrison Trow. Shepherd,
a giant in size, and brave as the best in a command where all are brave, fought the good fight and died in the harness. Hank Williams, only a short time before, had deserted from the Federals and joined Poole, giving rare evidences, in his brief Guerrilla career, of great enterprise and consummate daring. Peyton was but a beardless boy from Howard County, who in his first battle after becoming a Guerrilla, was shot dead.
Probably sixty of Johnson’s command gained their horses before the fierce wave of the charge broke over them, and these were pursued by five Guerrillas—Ben Morrow, Frank James, Peyton Long, Arch Clements and Harrison Trow—for six miles at a dead run. Of the sixty, fifty-two were killed on the road from Centralia to Sturgeon. Todd drew up the command and watched the chase go on. For three miles nothing obstructed184 the vision. Side by side over the level prairie the five stretched away like the wind, gaining step by step and bound by bound, upon the rearmost rider. Then little puffs of smoke rose. No sounds could be heard, but dashing ahead from the white spurts terrified steeds ran riderless.
Knight and Sturgeon ended the killing. Five men had shot down fifty-two. Arch Clements, in apportionment made afterwards, had credited to himself fourteen. Trow ten, Peyton Long nine, Ben Morrow eight, Frank James, besides killing Major Johnson and others in the charge upon the dismounted troopers, killed in the chase an additional eleven.
Johnson’s loss was two hundred ninety one. Out of the three hundred, only nine escaped.
History has chosen to call the ferocious killing at Centralia a butchery. In civil war, encounters are not called butcheries where the combatants are man to man and where over either ranks there waves a black flag.
Johnson’s overthrow, probably, was a decree of fate. He rushed upon it as if impelled by a power stronger than himself. He did not know how to command and his men did not know how to fight. He had, by the sheer force of circumstances, been brought face to face with two hundred and sixty-two of the most terrible revolver fighters the American war or any185 other war ever produced; and he deliberately tied his hands by the very act of dismounting, and stood in the shambles until he was shot down. Abject and pitiable cowardice matched itself against recklessness and desperation, and the end could be only just what the end was. The Guerrillas did unto the militia just what the militia would have done unto them if fate had reversed the decision and given to Johnson what it permitted to Todd.
IN June, 1864, Anderson crossed the Missouri River. Four miles out from the crossing place, he encountered twenty-five Federals, routed them at the first onset, killing eight, two of whom Arch Clements scalped, hanging the ghastly trophies at the head-stall of his bridle. One of the two scalped was a captain and the commander of the squad.
Killing as he marched, Anderson moved from Carroll into Howard, entered Huntsville the last of June with twenty-five men, took from the county treasury $30,000, and disbanded for a few days for purposes of recruiting.
The first act of the next foray was an ambuscade into which Anderson fell headlong. Forty militia waylaid him as he rode through a stretch of heavy bottom land, filled his left shoulder full of turkey shot, killed two of his men and wounded three others. Hurt as he was, he charged the brush, killing eighteen of his assailants, captured every horse and followed the flying remnant as far as a single fugitive could be tracked through the tangled undergrowth.
In July Anderson took Arch Clements, John Maupin, Tuck and Woot Hill, Hiram Guess, Jesse Hamlet, William Reynolds, Polk Helms, Cave Wyatt and Ben Broomfield and moved up into Clay County to form a junction with Fletch Taylor. By ones and twos he188 killed twenty-five militiamen on the march and was taking breakfast at a house in Carroll County when thirty-eight Federals fired upon him through doors and windows, the balls knocking dishes onto the floor and playing havoc with chinaware and eatables generally. The Guerrillas, used to every phase of desperate warfare, routed their assailants after a crashing volley or two, and held the field, or rather the house. In the melee Anderson accidentally shot a lady in the shoulder, inflicting a painful wound, and John Maupin killed the captain commanding the scouts, cut off his head and stuck it upon a gate-post to shrivel and blacken in the sun.
In Ray County, one hundred and fifty Federal cavalrymen found Andersons’ trail, followed it all day, and just at nightfall struck hard and viciously at the Guerrillas. Anderson would not be driven without a fight. He charged their advance guard, killed fourteen out of sixty, and drove the guard back upon the main body. Clements, Woot Hill, Hamlet and Hiram Guess had their horses killed and were left afoot in the night to shift for themselves. Walking to the Missouri River, ten miles distant, and fashioning a rude raft from the logs and withes, Hamlet crossed to Jackson County and made his way safe into the camp of Todd.
While with Anderson John Coger was wounded again in the right leg. Suffering from this wound and with another one in the left shoulder, he had been carried189 by his comrades to a house close to Big Creek, in Cass County, and when it was night, and by no road that was generally traveled. Coger, without a wound of some kind or in some portion of his body, would have appeared as unaccountable to the Guerrillas as a revolver without a mainspring.
At the end of every battle some one reckless fighter asked of another: “Of course, John can’t be killed, but where is he hit this time?” And Coger, himself, no matter how often or how badly hurt, scarcely ever waited for a old wound to get well before he was in the front again looking for a new one. He lived for fifty years after the battle, carrying thirteen bullet wounds.
The wonderful nerve of the man saved him many times during the war in open and desperate conflicts, but never when the outlook was so unpromising as it was now, with the chances as fifty to one against him.
Despite his two hurts, Coger would dress himself every day and hobble about the house, watching all the roads for the Federals. His pistols were kept under the bolster of his bed.
One day a scout of sixty militiamen approached the house so suddenly that Coger had barely time to undress and hurry to bed, dragging in with him his clothes, his boots, his tell-tale shirt and his four revolvers. Without the help of the lady of the house he surely would have been lost. To save him she surely—well, she did not tell the truth.
190 The sick man lying there was her husband, weak from a fever. Bottles were ostentatiously displayed for the occasion. At intervals Coger groaned and ground his teeth, the brave, true woman standing close to his bedside, wiping his brow every now and then and putting some kind of smelling stuff to his lips.
A Federal soldier, perhaps a bit of a doctor, felt Coger’s left wrist, held it awhile, shook his head, and murmured seriously: “A bad case, madam, a bad case, indeed. Most likely pneumonia.”
Coger groaned again.
“Are you in pain, dear?” the ostensible wife tenderly inquired.