Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Dr. L.C. Miller - A Missouri Bushwhacker

This amazing article appeared in the Sunday Sedalia Capital dated February 1910. Dr. Lee C Miller was with Quantrell until 1864 and took part in all the major raids. His side of the story given to the newspapers in 1910 is a remarkable document of the way he saw the war, Quantrell and the Bushwhackers.


“Dr. L .C .Miller of Knob Noster has given a most interesting account of the stirring times of the late Civil War to the Johnson County Star. Uncle Billy Jackson of Higginsville, who is eminently qualified to judge, says it is one of the most authentic descriptions of those troubulous times he has ever seen.
Few people realize that Dr. L. C. Miller, alert, sprightly and active man that he is, was born more than 85 years ago. He looks not more than 65 or 70, and his gait and bearing betoken a superb physique which any man might envy .His life has been such as might be expected of one in whose eyes, even at 4 score , the light of venture still gleams .
We prevailed upon the Doctor to talk of his earlier days, much against his desire. Those days are gone, said he, and I have always steadfastly refused to discuss my life story or talk for publication. However, I am now an old man and perhaps I could tell you some facts of interest. I have lived many years and seen many changes.

I have been identified with more interesting epochs in our country's history, and I might say that by birth and training, I am distinctively American, and more than that, I am a soldier. My Grandfather belonged to Eight Horse Harry Lee's command, My father was a soldier in 1812, my oldest brother took place in the Flordia Indian War, another brother was in the Mormon War, a third in the Mexican war. One brother and myself were southern soldiers in the war between the states. My father came to Missouri in 1848 and settled in Callaway Co. on Miller"s Creek, about 10 miles west of Fulton. Millersburg yet has his name. Life was a struggle in those days. I went west, in 1852 with five others. For several years I stayed in California digging for gold, and in 1856, I started for home on shipboard from San Francisco. We came Through Central America, and even in those days there was tumult and revolution where we have recently heard so much of Zelaya. We came home by way of New Orleans and the Missouri River. The last stage of our journey was made by land, and the evening we reached St. Louis there was a terrific breaking up ice on the river and an immense damage was done to shipping. The ice carrying everything before it.

"You saw lots of fighting during the civil war, did you not, the Doctor was asked. "Yes I saw much service, Hard service, too, for I was with Quantrell." and here the veteran's eyes flashed. "I was captain of a company of 90 men and was with Price's army during the first year., taking parts in the fights at Rock Creek, Carthage, Lexington, Fort Scott, Springfield and many minor skirmishes. We enlisted for 9 months, and after that nearly all of Price's men went into the regular Confederate Service. At this time western Missouri was in a state of terror because of the depredation and ruin wrought by Kansas on our western border. Quantrell, with about 40 men was doing all he could to defend the border, but his source was too small for any except bushwhacking methods. There was a remarkable man-Quantrell. He was about my height. I am five feet ten and a half, but not quite so heavy. He was straight and well formed, light hair, blue eyes, a Roman nose, and fair skin. He was generous, kind and unassuming, yet born to command. He kept his own counsel, and when he made up his mind to do anything his determination was such, backed by courage, and by loyal followers, that nothing could prevent him from carrying out his plans. There was 83 of us, and no man in his command ever flinched or refused to follow him. He was a gentleman in his instincts and I have often heard his say he would shoot any man who would abuse or insult women or children.

Some people think Quantrell and his men fought on their own responsibility. This is not so. They were regular Confederate soldiers. Quantrell himself had a captain's commission from General Price, and later a colonel's commission from the Confederate War Department. His Commission authorized him to operate on the Missouri-Kansas border as a partisan ranger. Many people looking back over the scenes of Missouri warfare forget a certain order that was issued by the federal commander of Missouri in 1862. The order was that all federal officers and soldiers should kill every man found bearing arms. It will be remembered that Kansas men were laying waste our border and that hundred of homes were being ruined. When Quantrell read the order he called his men into line and advised all who wanted to leave the command to go south; but as to him he intended to stay in western Missouri and help the federal authorities carry out that order. Every man spurred forward to his side. There were 40 of us. That order gave rise to the killing of prisoners. They followed it up and we were forced to do the same thing. I could relate to you many stirring incidents. Quantrell's band was hard to handle. We could whip 4 or 5 times our number, because we fought at short range with six-shooting pistols and short six - shooting rifles. We could fire from 24 to 36 times without reloading. The enemy would discharge their arms at long range and we would then rush in upon them. No body of men could stand such a charge. They would run and we would pursue. Many more were killed from behind than from in front. We furnished horses and arms to no less than 300 southern men who wanted to go south and we took them all from the federals. I could tell you about the fight at Wellington, Lafayette County, in June 1862 at Magee's Lane the following month, at Lone Jack in May, one of the bloodiest battles we ever fought in Missouri, when we with 80 recruits for Price's army engaged three companies of Federals under Major Foster, a soldier and gentleman from the ground up. The loss was severe on both sides. Three days before Lone Jack we had a hot fight at Independence. We spent the following winter with Price's army. In 1863 George Todd, with 23 men returned to Jackson County. At Blue Springs our 24 men routed 84 and only 26 of the bunch sent out to capture us got back to town. We had two men slightly wounded.

The most remarkable achievement of Quantrell's forces and to my mind the most remarkable in all the history of warfare, was the Lawrence, Kansas, raid. We left the Grand River ,in Cass county, Aug.21,1863, with 297 men, for Lawrence. It was 5 in the afternoon. At 5 the next morning we reached Lawrence, 80 miles westward. At 10 o'clock the town was in ashes and many federal soldiers slain. They begged to be taken prisoners, but Quantrell reminded them of General Halleck's orders and of the hundreds of old men they had killed in Missouri. There were 350 federals stationed at Lawrence. On our return to Missouri we were pursued by more than 2000 soldiers from Kansas City but we arrived at Grand River timber in safety after a skirmish in which we killed not less than fifty. We had traveled 160 miles , 297 of us, without eating, sleeping or feeding our horses.; fought twelve hours out of forty and only lost five men, but had spread death and destruction in our track. It sounds like a fable but it is true. We had two objects in going to Lawrence, one was to seek revenge, the other was to let Kansas know that fire would burn on the west side of the state line. Of course a howl went up and they said we killed women and children, expecting the Confederal government would withdraw us; but Jeff Davis knew what was going on along the border. The fact is there was one boy killed and one woman wounded inadvertentlly. In 1864, sixty-five of us under Todd, killed all but one out of 100 federals at the noted battle of Centralia. We did not go south that fall as we knew the war would soon be over.

There were many interesting incidents in connection with my career as a trooper, some of them funny even under grim circumstances. In the late summer of 1864 I went to Salt Lake as wagon master with a mule train. I did this again next year, came home and made a winter trip to Denver. On the return trip a terrible snow storm overtook us. It snowed for four days and the lead teamster could not follow the road. I walked for 8 days, frequently striking drifts up to my shoulder. Several of our men were badly frozen and lost toes and ears. In the spring of 1866 I went to Philadelphia and took a Medical course and after graduating returned to Missouri.
I do not regret my part in the Civil War. We were fighting for a principle, a constitutional right, and right of local self government and state rights. These principals are eternal as truth itself and no man who eore the gray, as an honorable soldier, need to apologize to posterity.” ------ Feb. 1910. Knob Noster.

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