Civil War raid near Carthage as seen through the eyes of a young participant

The reenactment of the Battle of Carthage was held the weekend of May 20 – 22 to observe the 160th anniversary of the early Civil War battle. A 1939 interview with a survivor of the battle is provided here by the Webb City Area Genealogical Society.

Lum Henry Recalls Civil War Times

Carthage Evening Press, Saturday, October 7, 1939

Not many people remain who remember the turbulent and bloody days of the American Civil War in Jasper County. One of those few survivors is Columbus (Lum) Henry, who resides near Carthage.  

Indelibly, impressed on the mind of the 89-year-old Jasper countian (sp) are the scenes and experiences of his boyhood when America was at war in America.

It is of Lum Henry, and of his father, Lieut. Brice Henry of the Missouri enrolled militia, and of Jim Henry, another son of the officer, that this article deals.

Brice Henry came to Jasper County in 1844 from Springfield, Illinois, settling in the Cave Springs neighborhood which is in the extreme eastern part of Jasper County, near the Lawrence County line.  Here he married Miss Lucinda Duncan, a daughter of William and Eliza (Potts) Duncan, who had come to this section in 1832, from Tennessee.

Mr. Duncan built the first mill on Spring River at Oregon, later selling to the Bower brothers when the name was changed to Bowers Mills.  

Mr. and Mrs. Henry were living near Cave Springs when war broke out between the states. He joined the unit of Captain Henry Fisher and was elected lieutenant of Co. “G”, 76th Enrolled Missouri Militia. He served under Captain Fisher until Fisher’s death in 1863, afterwards serving under Captain T. J. Stemmons the rest of his war service.

During the time that the enrolled militia organizations were not in active service, they being called out upon any outbreak or sudden southern activity in the county, Lieutenant Henry was engaged in buying cattle for the government, delivery being made to headquarters at Fort Scott, Kans.

He and his brother-in-law, William Sparks, had gathered together about 300 head of cattle of all sizes, buying most of them in Lawrence County, and in June, 1864, the lieutenant and his two sons, Jim, 18, and Columbus, 13 years old, whom he was taking to Kansas to put in school, accompanied by thirty soldiers of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry started to Fort Scott to deliver the cattle. The soldiers had been sent to Carthage to help guard the men and stock from bushwhackers and rustlers and were welcomed by the drovers as they had many dangers to overcome or avoid between Carthage and Fort Scott. They had a supply wagon pulled by oxen. The wagon contained bedding, food, camp utensils, ammunition, extra clothing, etc. and also, in the wagon was a sick man – his name has been forgotten – they were taking to Fort Scott for treatment and greater safety.

An Attack Near Preston

They made their first stop about 11 o’clock, after leaving Carthage at break of day, north of Preston, near the banks of North Fork branch of Spring River, to eat a cold lunch and try to separate the smaller cattle from the main herd, thinking that greater haste could be made out of Jasper County, a bushwhacker infested section that certainly bore out the reputation as a “hell spot on earth” during the war.  They felt to get out on the open prairie their chances for surprise attacks would be lessened. Some soldiers had unsaddled their horses and the men were lying about on the ground resting, while others were busy in cutting out the smaller stock. No guard was out. Nothing had been seen, since leaving Carthage, to arouse their suspicions as to enemy activity and they felt safe.

During this moment of complete body and mind relation there suddenly appeared about 100 mounted men bursting from the brush shooting, yelling and brandishing arms, hats, coats and guns above their heads to stampede the cattle, divide the soldiers and create so much confusion to the defenders that no serious attempt could be given toward a defense as a unit. The attack was so sudden and by such overwhelming numbers that the soldiers were routed.

They fled for their lives, every man for himself and being separated from the wagon, fell back rapidly to escape capture and continued towards Fort Scott, pursued by most of the enemy.  

Father’s Bullet Saves Son

During all this shooting and excitement the small boy, Lum, who had been riding a horse helping herd the cattle, heard his brother Jim call to him, imploringly, “Bring me the horse,” “Bring me the horse, “ and dashing through the middle of the yelling, shooting bushwhackers, raced to his brother’s rescue.

Jumping off the horse while still in motion – a trick often practiced by the two boys playing cowboy – the older boy mounted and dashed away after the retreating soldiers. One man, seeing the boy getting away, emptied his revolver at him, and missing, grabbed the carbine off the saddle and leveled down to shoot. Lum saw him drop the carbine before shooting, after his arm was broken by a revolver shot by Lieutenant Henry.

The lieutenant, missing his sons, had fought his way back to see what had become of them and had arrived in time to save Jim’s life. Not seeing the small boy standing near the wagon he turned and covered Jim’s retreat and both joined the soldiers headed towards Fort Scott.

After dispersing the soldiers the rebels drove the wagon down near the river. The sick man, inside, made his way out to surrender, hands above his head. He was shot down. Both oxen were killed, and torch put to the wagon burning it and contents. Lum had salvaged a small brass powder flask and a block of cartridges containing about 15 rounds, wrapped in paper. These articles he kept covered in his pockets with his hands and escaped detection. One bushwhacker, when they were leaving the scene of the murdered man and burned wagon, snatched the hat from the head of the crying boy but afterwards dropped it. Eleven head of horses were lost in this skirmish as well as most of the cattle.

After the last of the enemy disappeared, the boy started afoot, fast as he could walk, after the soldiers. He walked all day without seeing a house, only ruins of crumbling fireplace chimneys left standing after the houses had been burned. Houses were burned by both factions, but especially these wanton burnings were perpetrated by bushwhackers.

When it is recalled that army records disclose that only 635 union troops were in the three counties of Jasper, McDonald and Newton during 1862 for the protection of union citizens and their property, it is easy to see the many dangers they were forced to face. 

Jasper County settlers were mostly from the states of Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas and when it is remembered that the election of 1860 gave Abraham Lincoln just 38 votes in this county for president it removes all doubt as to the status of an unconditional union man here during the war.

Brice Henry Slain in Action

Reaching Fort Scott the day following Columbus (Lum) Henry joined his father and brother in a happy reunion. The two boys were placed in school at Listown, Kans., about 40 miles from Fort Scott. They never again saw their father alive. He returned to Jasper County and was killed in action July 21, 1864, east of Carthage while in command of a detachment of soldiers of Co. “G” 76 Enrolled Militia. This band of bushwhackers that surprised, killed Lieut. Henry and four men and captured 11 others, was supposed to have been under the command of Captain Dave Rusk.

While more or less doubt has existed as to who had command at Carthage there is no doubt who was in charge at Preston. Dave Rusk was in charge there. He was recognized by the boy as a man who seemed reluctant to release him, unharmed. His identity was established some years later when next seen, at Joplin. The total number of men injured in the skirmish has been forgotten. It would seem reasonable to assume that several many have been killed and others wounded. No knowledge was ever had by the lieutenant’s party as to the rebel causalities.

Many years later the government made payments to the widow, Mrs. Brice Henry, covering only part of the money loss suffered in horses and cattle seized by the rebels. Lieutenant Brice Henry was a brave man and soldier. This soft-spoken, mild-mannered man held the respect and loyalty of his men. His record throughout the war given byfellow officers and men attest to this. Such praise is tardy tribute to the memory of a man whose reputation for bravery has not been forgotten even after 75 years of silence. He should be honored as one of Jasper County’s brave soldiers in the war of ’61-’65.  

This account of this skirmish has never before been published. It is given by an eye witness who had an active part in its unfoldment.  fficial account is given in the book “Jasper County in the Civil War,” by Ward L. Schrants as submitted by Sergent Smith to his colonel in Fort Scott.  

Columbus (Lum) Henry is now in his 89th year, being born February 22, 1851. He is quite active, seemingly in good health and makes his home with a daughter, Mrs. Elsa Forste, Route 4, Carthage.  The small brass powder flask saved from the burned wagon at Preston is yet in the possession of Mr. Henry. This small article, then of no particular value, was in the eyes of the 13 year-old boy of immense importance to be saved at any cost. He risked his life to control its ownership.

Pride of possession has never waned.  

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