Charley Yates on the Rampage.
CAMP ON BLACK RIVER, Reeves Station,
Butler Co. Missouri,
March 25th, 1862.
FRIEND DANFORTH: Since my last letter to you from Pilot Knob, we have penetrated secession to this point. Our camp is on the south side of Big Black River, in a fine grove of sugar maple, ash and hackberry timber. Near us are many regiments of infantry and cavalry, mostly Illinois and Indiana troops. We are waiting here, I believe, for our brigadier general, Steel, to join us. Our time is employed mostly in ranging over the country, in scouting parties, hunting up secesh and forage, and of good luck we have plenty — filling our guard-houses with the former, and our horses and ourselves with the latter. I went out last Wednesday to Current River on a foraging, scouting expedition, with four companies under the command of our gallant Major Wallace, who took us through in fine style, and returned us to our camp safe and sound, loaded with plunder. With one single exception we were safe and sound. On our return, when within about thirty-five miles of our camp, Lieut. Blackburn when visiting the pickets as officer of the guard, about midnight, was fired upon by two murderous secesh, and his horse was shot through the neck, luckily too high to kill him (the horse) and too low to kill the lieutenant. The lieutenant, all alone, about a quarter of a mile from either picket, gallantly charged upon them through the brush, and gave them two shots with his revolver, which from some defect in the caps would not fire any more. Lieut. Blackburn scarcely ever fails with his pistol — he having since we have been here, killed one deer and one wild turkey — the latter he shot flying, and which weighed full twenty lbs. dressed, but in the dark it is supposed that he missed Mr. Secesh. At any rate they escaped death as narrowly as men ever escape. During our scout of three days we took seventeen loads of corn and three loads of bacon, which we sent back to camp under escort of Lieut. Blakemore, with co. C, of Geneseo. Then we started for Current River, stopping at various places, taking prisoners, guns and other articles contraband of war, till we had fourteen prisoners and their arms, twelve horses, three mules and one white jackass which I claimed as my own capture. The last named I captured on Ten Mile Creek, "the north fork of the Big Brushy," at Long's plantation. Mr. Long was absent, but his son Jim, of the secesh army, was home on a visit. The major and his battalion captured "Gim," and I, after a long chase, captured the jackass. You may be assured that I was prouder of my one captive than the major was of all the rest. I rode him triumphantly, about fifty miles, back to camp, with my saddle hung with a Dutch oven — the skillet on one side and the cover on the other, with divers and sundry geese, ducks and hams of bacon, which I was obliged to hang on to make Dutch oven balance, for the weights of the two were so unequal. They bruised my legs so badly that first I would capture a ham to balance the oven, and them a goose or duck to protect my legs from the thumps of the skillet legs, which I assure you bruised me severely, and, secesh-like, thumped me hardest when I was least able to protect myself — that is when the rest were on the double quick, and I had to force my donkey to a hard gallop to keep up with them, and away from danger of pursuing foes which I thought might be after me.
But now for my sorrows. My pride was humbled; after arriving at camp I was ordered to turn over my captured jackass to Col. Carlin, who is commander of the post, and to whom all captured property must be turned over. Farewell, my poor jack! I had hoped to have taken him to Rock Island as a trophy of my individual prowess, and to draw my bread and pie cart around the streets of our city, but my hopes are quashed, and I shant make any more captures of animals larger than poultry, or something that our mess can eat.
They are a set of poor cusses, these secesh. They don't know anything — always answering to questions, "I don't know," unless "coerced" by threats, and then we obtain from them valuable information. Thro' threatened coercives they told us who the men were who fired at Blackburn, and where and when secesh troops had been in the neighborhood. But I must close.
Our mess, composed of Major Humphreys, Dr. Chas. Brackett, Lieut. Morrison and myself, is benefited by my trip only to the value of the Dutch oven, which Oliver, our cook, thinks is worth more to us than all the jackasses in Missouri.
Yours truly, CHARLEY YATES.
P.S. — Your paper is more eagerly sought after by the boys than anything else. It is read and re-read till it will hold together no longer. Send them regularly.