Volume 1, Number 12 - Summer 1964
On March 31, 1864, Taylor Bray of Christian County, Missouri, passed his 20th birthday. At some time between that date and the following September he joined his next older brother, William, as a mounted trooper in Co. H, 16th Missouri Cavalry) stationed at Springfield under the command of Brig. Gen. John B. Sanborn.
Whether the Bray brothers enlisted or were conscripted, their descendants do not know. Their parents, Mark and Margaret Patterson Bray, were Southern slaveowners from North Carolina. Together with the Marley and McDaniel families, their children and their slaves, they had migrated to Southwest Missouri in 1840. Each family took up a considerable acreage of the rolling farm and timber lands lying east and southeast of the mill village of Ozark on Finley's Creek.
Two older sons of the Brays, Lynn and Cadmus, who had been reared in North Carolina, joined the Confederate forces early in the Civil War and would both die during its course.
Taylor, next to youngest in the family of nine children, like his brother William was born in his parents' log-cabin home in what came to be known as the Bray Community. We know a little more about Taylor because during his months of service he kept a brief diary. Through Della Bray Herston, daughter of Taylor and Mary Ann Marley Bray, this diary has come down to and was made available for this account by their grandchildren, Lyman Herston and Rama Hays of Ozark.
A modest, self-effacing man, Taylor did not commit to his diary any record of his emotional life. Neither did he anticipate the curiosity of his descendants two or three generations later by dwelling upon what he considered the routine of camp life. He was doubtless thinking only by his short notes to remind himself in later years of the most stirring event in his youth: his time in the service.
Taylor's brief education had been restricted to a few short terms taught by an itinerant pedagogue in the log-cabin schoolhouse erected near a spring on his plantation by the elder Bray for the benefit of his own and the neighbors' children. Even so, Taylor was more literate than most young men of his day and we are grateful that he had the urge to record some of the events in which he participated.
Nevertheless, his reticence forces us to speculate as to what motivated
him to join the Union rather than the Confederate forces contesting dominion over the important border State of Missouri. From the diary, as well as from his later career of exemplary citizenship until his death in 1924, we should guess that he came to his decision on the basis of community approval and family welfare.
Taylor Bray at age 76, four years before his death, with his wife, Mary Ann Marley Bray.
Photos courtesy of Rama Hays.
The Bray Community School, erected in the early 1840's. It was uncovered as part of a larger residence when the latter was recently dismantled by the new owners.
Approximately a dozen families with in the boundaries of what became Christian County in March of 1859 were slaveowners and Southern sympathizers. The remaining settlers were fiercely independent small landholders coming chiefly from the mountain regions of Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee in search of a new frontier. In the general election of 1880 voters were asked to indicate their sentiments on Missouri's status in the disrupting
Union. Christian County voted eight to one against secession. The climate was distinctly anti-slavery. Wherever they located, from the rocky gullies of the Ozarks to the red-clay hills of Northern Alabama, small free- holders were in general strongly Union.
They were likewise frequently undisciplined and violent in expressing their dislike of those who disagreed with them. In a period of relative anarchy such as border warfare ushered in, those so inclined could vent their hatred and greed with impunity if not indeed with praise. Being few and defenseless, the Brays and their slave-holding neighbors suffered heavily. Most of the Marleys gathered up their slaves and household goods and fled to Texas. An older Bray brother, Arren, removed with his family to Illinois. The elder and the younger Brays remained with their land; but a lingering tradition in the family tells of destitution bordering upon starvation.
Under these conditions it would be natural for William and Taylor Bray to help their family by enlisting in the Federal cause. Thus they might avert community hostility and their small pay provide sustenance for those remaining at home.
There is good reason for believing this is precisely what they did.
One of the major problems confronting Provisional Governor Hamilton R. Gamble throughout the war years was the control of bushwhackers who threatened the peace and prosperity of the State. As an intense Unionist, also, he desired a method of registering and keeping tabs on the adult male population and securing the adherence of as many as possible to the Union cause. The plan evolved--an early form of the modern draft which aroused much opposition--was the Enrolled Militia. Those signing the oath received no pay, uniforms, or military training, but were subject to conscription if needed to pad the rolls of the regular militia.
Local leaders in many Missouri communities organized companies of the Enrolled Militia to drill and to be ready for action when called upon. Naturally, many Confederate sympathizers enrolled, both to escape censure and to cover subversive activities.
Three companies of this nature were organized in Christian County under the command of Captains Jackson Ball, William McCullah, and Richmond Johnson. "A History of Christian County", a brief sketch prepared by James R. Vaughan, J. J. Gideon, and W. H. Pollard, and read by Mr. Vaughan at the Independence Day celebration in Ozark July 4, 1876, states that the three companies were disbanded early in 1863.
The next attempt to deal with the chaotic loyalty situation resulted in
formation of Provisional Regiments. Officers of the disbanded Christian County units of the Enrolled Militia organized two companies which were allied with the 6th Provisional Regiment. On June 1, 1864, these companies were transferred to the 16th Regiment, Missouri Volunteer Cavalry.
It seems logical that William and Taylor Bray were members of one of these companies at the time of the transfer; and nothing in Taylor Bray's diary indicates that he was other than a willing soldier, loyal to his unit and his commanders, and trusted by them with responsible missions.
The initial entry in Taylor Bray's diary is dated Sept. 27, 1864, just a century ago. That date coincides with the first major assault in the Confederacy's last concerted military action west of the Mississippi: the Battle of Pilot Knob in Iron County.
When his mission failed, Gen. Sterling Price called his foray into Missouri a successful "raid". In the early autumn of 1864, however, his purpose was hopefully designed to take over the State and add it to the Confederacy at what Price and his immediate superior, Gen. E. Kirby Smith, considered an opportune time. That appeared possible in the Summer of 1864, before Farragut entered Mobile Bay, Sheridan the Shenandoah Valley, and Sherman, Atlanta.
Since nothing in Pvt. Bray's diary explains the political and military conditions in which he was caught up as a Federal cavalryman, that back ground must be supplied for his day- by-day account to make sense.
In March of 1864, Lincoln had finally quit trying to run the numerous Union war theaters from the White House and had placed Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant in overall command of the Federal armies. As Grant whipped his troop units into a shape more to his liking, a former commander, among others, was exiled to Siberia--that is, to the Department of Missouri. Gen. W. S. Rosecrans of the Army of the Cumberland, replaced by Gen. G. H. Thomas, had been named commander of the Department in January 1864; now Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, yielding the Federal cavalry command to Gen. Phil Sheridan, took charge of what mounted units there were to command under Rosecrans.
Intelligence in the Civil War being a haphazard affair compounded of fact, rumor, and brag, Rosecrans' first knowledge of Price's invasion created alarm because he knew how vulnerable his position was. Most of the "effectives" in the Trans-Mississippi region had been withdrawn for the more important actions in the eastern theaters: Grant's push against Lee in Virginia and Sherman's thrust against Joseph E. Johnston (J. B. Hood after July 17) in what turned into the mar-
ch through Georgia to the sea. Such troop units as were left in Missouri were thinly dispersed about a guerilla infested State to protect stores and depots and the loyal population, so that only by a supreme effort could these be concentrated to head off Price. First reports had placed the Con federate force at around 20,000 men. Actually the raiders numbered only 12,000 with 14 field guns. In the current state of Federal preparedness even that number posed a formidable threat.
When Rosecrans learned of Price's plans, he got busy marshalling his forces. The plans apparently had his own command post at St. Louis, with its arsenal, as the first objective. Later Price intended to take over the seat of government at Jefferson City, where he had sat as chief executive a decade earlier, and after that the cities along the Missouri River leading to the Federal arms depots at Forts Scott and Leavenworth in Kansas.
At this point, Rosecrans had a stroke of luck. Gen. A. J. Smith with a division of 4,500 battle-tested veterans was proceeding up the Mississippi to join Sherman, and Rosecrans was able to divert this force temporarily to the more pressing need in Missouri. Further, Rosecrans set the telegraph wires leading westward crackling with orders and pleas. Tough Gen. John McNeil at Rolla and his subordinate at Springfield, Gen. Sanborn, were ordered to head toward Jefferson City with all the cavalry troopers they could muster.
Rosecrans' further preparations included orders to Generals Egbert B. Brown of the Central District and Clinton B. Fisk of the North Missouri District to mobilize their militia and help counter the threat to the capital city. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, Price's old adversary at Springfield and Pea Ridge, now commanding the Kansas Department from Ft. Leavenworth, and Gen. James G. Blunt of the Frontier District at Ft. Smith and Ft. Gibson, were warned to prepare for the impending raid.
Price began to have premonitions of the coming disaster to his venture even before his attempt to storm Ft. Davidson at Pilot Knob disillusioned him as to the weak temper of the en my. It was clear to Gen. Thomas Ewing, Jr., holed up in the fortress with 1,050 men, that they could do little more than delay Price and exact a stiff penalty from the Rebels; but this they did superbly before making good their escape northward. Before this, while waiting at nearby Fredericktown for his columns to merge for the Pi lot Knob attack, Price learned that Gen. Smith's command of about 8,000 infantrymen and cavalry was encamped athwart the Iron Mountain Railroad on his approach route to St. Louis. He therefore countermanded that portion of his original plan and hoped for
better luck in his old stamping ground farther west.
Price was not a stupid man, and it is possible that the pressure of circumstances impelled him toward disaster as much as his own egocentric desire to restore himself to Missouri and Missouri to the South where he felt she belonged. It is understandable that as Confederate commander of the District of Arkansas he should have been impatient at his small authority. Union Gen. Frederick Steele at Little Rock and Gen. Blunt at Ft. Smith interdicted his territory to a narrow, poverty-stricken strip along the State's southern boundary. There his likewise impatient sub-commanders were chafing for action. Some of his numerous generals and colonels, notably Joe Shelby, John S. Marmaduke, and M. Jeff Thompson; were flamboyant cavalry raiders by temperament and experience. Like their commander, they considered themselves members of the Missouri Establishment, whereas the Unionists who held the State were crass Yankee interlopers, too many of them with German accents.
Moreover, Price realized that the health and morale of his officers and men were disintegrating with enforced inactivity. Better to make a move even though only two-thirds of his men had arms, and both men and horses were gaunt from malnutrition and half-clothed and accoutred for lack of supplies. Even Lee's and Johnston's elite troops depended upon captured stores to make up constant shortages in materiel and rations. If the Confederates succeeded in taking the St. Louis arsenal and the supplies of stores cached at Ft. Leavenworth and Ft. Scott, all their deficiencies would be made up. Besides, forage for horses as well as provisioning for the men could not but be improved in Missouri. When in doubt, attack! ran the traditional military injunction. So Price must have reasoned as he activated diversions to occupy Union commanders, dispatched recruiters into Northern Missouri to prepare for his coming, and moved his forces across the Arkansas River and the Missouri line.
From the rail junction at Pacific City southwest of St. Louis until what was left of his command was in precipitate flight southward down the western border of Missouri, Price could not but be conscious that he was but a few leaps ahead of A. J. Smith's pursuing infantry and Alfred Pleasonton's faster cavalry. For all that he could allow time to dispatch Gen. John B. Clark of Marmaduke's division on a punitive side expedition to Hermann, center of the rural German colony which had always been so uncooperatively Unionist. He sent troop elements out to burn bridges and tear up track along the bifuresting lines of the Pacific Railroad, thus delaying the westward movement of his pursuers. Other elements were detailed to capture sto-
res and small Union troop units in nearby towns such as Cuba. All these were legitimate military objectives. The strike at the German community, however, seems to have been motivated largely by revenge for past unpleasantness.
Price had enough small triumphs to comfort himself and his generals, but the big prizes and a sense of accomplished mission eluded him. Coming up to Jefferson City he learned that 12,000 Federals were in the city's defense lines and 3,000 militia encamped on the north bank of the river. He sensibly by-passed the challenge. At Boonville, McNeil's troops from the Southwest began to catchup and there was a sharp engagement. Price was in his home territory now and in his report he described his reception by the people as heartwarming. Like many another public figure, he doted on his image as a charming leader able to recruit men for his cause. In Little Dixie this became an embarrassment. He says l,200 to 1,500 young men wanted to join his colors but lacked arms to fight with, and he already had 4,000 of those. It was in this area that he had intended to issue a ringing call for the population to rally around his standard. This now seemed inadvisable. He began to appraise his chances more realistically, for here his couriers dispatched earlier to determine Federal strength and strategies caught up bearing disturbing news. Not only his present venture began to look like a ghastly failure; his own image as well as that of the Confederate cause in Missouri would be tarnished thereby.
Items: On Oct. 15 while on Salt Creek near Marshall he heard that the enemy was gathering in strength on his left flank. Next day he learned that elements of Gen. Curtis's Kansas troops awaited him at Lexington. On Oct. 18 at Waverly a courier reported that his rear was menaced by 24,000 troops moving from St. Louis and 15,000 from Jefferson City.
Far from sparking a Confederate insurrection, Price began to worry about the necessity of quick flight from the dangers closing in. His civilian enthusiasts had to be shaken off along with unarmed recruits.
"So many were already pouring in on me so rapidly I knew I would not be able to protect and feed them, as it would require that my army be kept together for their protection on a rapid and dangerous retreat from the State," Price wrote in his report to Kirby Smith and Jefferson Davis.
Another disappointment: while at Boonville he learned of a cache of 5,000 badly-needed small arms stored in the city hall at Glasgow to the north, and a smaller store of supplies at Sedalia to the south. He detailed Generals Clark and Shelby to the Glasgow raid and M. Jeff Thompson to take Sedalia. The latter fell easily but
yielded little. At Glasgow the element of surprise was lost by a premature engagement with Shelby's cavalry; and when the Confederates reached the city hall they found it burned with all its stores.
Like a wounded animal in the chase, the Confederates henceforth fought their closing-in captors in a series of "stands", from the scattered Battle of Westport on October 23 to the hard-fought Newtonia engagement with Blunt's pursuing detachment on October 28. It is remarkable that, handicapped as they were, Price's veterans fought so well. In a delaying action below Westport Price drew up his unarmed men in line of battle on a distant hill in full view of the Federals for what pitiful moral support they could lend a desperate cause.
Gen. A. J. Smith's infantry never did catch up, although always close enough at all times to constitute a dread threat. Pleasonton's cavalry, on the other hand, made it at a critical moment on the Big Blue, coming up in true cavalry bravura in a storm of pounding hoofs and flashing sabers as the outmanned Federals were giving way at the edge of Independence. Thereafter they joined Curtis's cavalry in the pursuit and took a terrible vengeance on the Marmiton in the Marais des Cygnes region of Kansas.
In this rout the Federals captured Generals Marmaduke and William F. Cabell and Col. W. F. Slemons together with hundreds of other officers and men as well as a good portion of the Rebel artillery. Gen. Price left his headquarters tent and rode back amongst the fleeing troops in a vain attempt to stem the tide.
"I met the divisions of Maj. Gens. Fagan and Marmaduke retreating in utter and undescribable confusion, many of them having thrown away their arms," he wrote in his report. "They were deaf to all entreaties or commands and in vain were all efforts to rally them.
The route of the Confederate retreat henceforth was strewn with the debris of war, a commentator noted at the time. Following Newtonia, on Gen. Grant's orders, the remnant of the 12,000 starting force, said to number then no more than 5,000 after defection of recruits and conscriptees, was chased as far as the Arkansas River.
After this rather long-winded introduction, we are about ready for the reticent remarks of a private in the Union ranks. A little imagination from the reader will be needed to surround Private Bray's undramatic entries with the color, sounds, smells, and movements of a Civil War trooper's life. We should like for him to have set down the commonplaces as well as the big events---what the soldiers ate, talked about, how they spent any leisure time, something about the men,
their origins and their hopes. Did they discuss the war, the condition of the country, their desire for a good life after the conflict was over? We are not told. Pvt. Dray was not writing for a possible reader a century after the events. Neither did he indulge in wishful thinking or self-pity or try to make his small part larger than it was. He was modest to a fault. We are told that in the action on the Big Blue sixteen men were sent ahead as an advance to feel out enemy strength. We know that Pvt. Bray was in the party only because otherwise he would not have been able to give details.
"We countermarched" is all we have to indicate a quick, fear-ridden retreat. "Verry cold, snow and rain" is as close as he comes to relating the discomforts of the trooper's day in the saddle. "No feed" is further indication that the pause in a forced march provided no provender for man or horse. "Considable skermishing" must be seen as the advance feeling out the enemy's defenses and taking and giving pot-shots from ambush while the main formations farther back ready a large scale attack. "Hard fight" is Pvt. Bray's succinct description of close-in battle with artillery and small arms; the smoke, din, cavalry charges, personal combat with gun butt or pistol, the downing of horses and men by cannister, shot and shell.
Pvt. Bray now speaking (the editor supplies necessary interpretations in parentheses):
Sept. 27, 1864 -With General Sanborn left Springfield at 4 o'clock and got to Lebanon at 12 p.m.
Sept. 28 - Started at 6 a.m. and got to Waynesville at 10 p.m. Rain. We camped for the night.
Sept. 29 - We started at 5 a.m. and got to Rolla at 8 p.m. Camped 30 at Rolla.
Oct. 1 - We marched to St. James and our Regiment camped for the night.
Oct. 2 - Our regiment here (St. James) at 12 a.m. and the rest of the com (command) went on and came back. 100 of our regiment (a cavalry detachment which included Pvt. Bray) left camp at dark under Capt. Hedly and went to Massey's Iron Works (at Meramec Springs) and camped for the night. Pickets fired (at) somebody twice during the night.
Oct. 3 - We (the 100) marched to Nob View (Knobview). The com marched and came to Nob View on the road to Cuby (Cuba) R.R. (Cuba was a station on the southwest branch of the Pacific Railroad which terminated at Rolla). We started at night and went to the com at Cuby and camped for the night.
Oct. 4 - The com started at 4 a.m. Marched all day through the rain and cold acrost Lane's Prairie and camped on the Gasconade. (The command now proceeding northwest).
Oct. 5 - We started at 6 a.m. and marched through Vienna (Vienna in Maries County) and got with Gen. McNeal' s com. Marched to the Osage River and fed then marched to within 3 miles of Jefferson City and camped for the night. Rain.
Oct. 6 - We stayed at the same place till 10 a.m. and sent out scouts. The Rebs reported at Osage. The com under marching orders. 20 of our comp (company) sent on picket at 5 p.m. Out all night. Some scouts out. Com mar ched to Jefferson City.
Oct. 7 - Com in line of battle about 12. Our Art (artillery) fires occasinally. Our out forces had a skermish at 3. We see the enemy. Our Art fires but the enemy has not fired any yet on our gunry (gunnery). The enemy seems to be south till about 3 p.m., some to be moving west. The Art has a skermish with them about 4 p.m. The Art cease firing. All quiet during the night.
Oct. 8 - Up at day break. Considable skermish at 7 a.m. The enemy falls back then the com started at 2 p.m. west. The com went 10 miles. Camped at the Moro (Moreau River).
Oct. 9 - Com started at 5 a.m. Marched 4 or 5 miles. Considable skermish at 7. At 9 some cannonading. At 12 fed. All quiet til 4 p.m. Cannon ading the Rebs at California and the com came to and camped at California.
Oct. 10 - We started at 5 a.m. Come to Tipton and fed then marched on to within 12 miles of Boonville and camped.
Oct. 11 - We started at 6 a.m. Our Regt on the wright flank. Come on the enemy pickets and drove them in about 12 a.m., then we was thrown out as skermishers. Found the Rebs, fired on them and drove them back and avanced on them. Had a hard fight. They opened on us with artillery about 200 or 300 yards distance. We then fell back to our horses and waited awhile then formed along the fense and did not fire and fell back. Our Co was then sent out for right flank. Fed and stayed out til dark and then came to the Com and stayed all night.
Oct. 12 - Firing commenced at daylight. Hard skermish ceased. The Com countermarched, went through Phisga (Pisgah) to California and stayed all night.
Oct. 13 - We was reinforced and started back after Price. Marched at 10 p.m. and camped at Nebo church.
Oct. 14 - We started at daylight and marched to Georgetown (northwest of Sedalia). Stoped and fed. Started at 8 and marched till 10 a.m. and camped at Berry Station.
Oct. 15 - The Com marched on towards Lexington. Come through duck bury (Duxbury?). Came on about 30 miles from Sedalia in Lafayette County and camped for the night. Rebs took Sedalia.
Oct. 16 - We was up and saddled at 4 a.m. We lay in the same place all
day. Scouts out in p.m.
Oct. 17 - Up and in line at 4 a.m. Rebs clost. Unsaddled at 10 a.m. Ready for a march at 11 a.m. Countermarched back towards Sedalia. Come back to within 20 miles of Sedalia and camped.
Oct. 18 - We stayed at same place. Up and in line at 4 a.m. Unsaddled at day (light).
Oct. 19 - Up and in line at 4. At 4 1/2 tied up and fed. Drawed rashions and marched at 6 a.m. towards Lexington. Rebs camped on our old camp ground. We came to our old camp ground and camped. The Rebs gone. Our company on picket. To (two) men had to patroll the road for to (two) miles to (two) at a time. General Sanbern took command of his brigade and General Plesenton took command of the division.
Oct. 20 - On picket til 12 a.m. Marched towards Lexington. Went 5 miles and fed, then marched til night. Verry cold and snow and rain. We camped 20 miles from Lexington.
Oct. 21 - We marched to Lexington and fed, then marched 5 miles south, turned west, marched within 24 miles of Independence and camped for the night. No feed.
Oct. 22 - We marched at 6 a.m. Went 6 or 8 miles and fed. Stade one hour and marched. Heard artillery. Force marched to within 3 miles of Independence. Considable skermishing. Our Regt on the right flank. Heavy firing. Our command takes too (two) pieces of artillery and some prisners. Marched in town. Heard artillery west. Our Regiment on the right of the road to Kansas City at 8 p.m. Hard fight. At 9 all quiet. We camped 4 or 5 miles from Independence.
Oct. 23 - (The Battle of Westport on this day). We started at 6 a.m. Marched 3 or 4 miles. Firing commenced at 10a.m. Hard fight at big bloo (Big Blue River). Our brigade took the front. Mooved 2 or 3 miles to prairie, dismounted, rested an hour. Blunt drives the Rebs from Kansas City. We see the Rebs line. Our brigade formed. The 16 in the advance marched within 200 or 300 yards of the enemy and commenced firing. We advanced and so did they to within 100 yards of each other. Heavy firing. We was ordered to fall back to the brigade. We fell back in line then charged the Rebs. They run. We followed 2 miles. Came back to the battleground and fed. Got supper. Marched at dark to Little Santifee (Little Santa Fe, south of Westport on the Kansas line) and camped for the night.
Oct. 24 -We marched at 6 a.m. Marched all day through Ozark Prairie. No inhabitants. (This was in the bloody battleground of the Kansas-Missouri partisan struggle, made a neutral wasteland by Gen. Thomas Ewing's famed Order No. 11). No fiteing during the day. Came through West Port at 9 p.m. There we took the advance. Marched on within 2 miles of station where we found the Rebs pickets. Fired on them.
Halted til day. Rain.
Oct. 25 - Our artillery fired at daybreak. Ready for march. Skermish at 6 a.m. On double quick 4 or 5 miles. Stoped to feed. Firing commenced. We was then ordered on. We went 2 or 3 miles on double quick. Firing ceased. Had a hard fight. Captured General Marmaduke and Coble (Cabell), 650 prisners and 6 pieces of artillery. On double quick 5 miles. Our brigade formed, marched in line one mile. The Rebs formed on the Marubine. We charged them. They fell back in the prairie without firing a gun. We crossed the creek, found the enemy in line. We formed, marched (with)in 300 yards of them and commenced firing. Considerable fight. We then marched on slowly 150 yards then charged them. They fell back. We followed them about one mile, halted, then resumed our march slowly. 4 brigades then drove the enemy til night. Our brigade marched to Fort Scot and camped for the night.
Oct. 27- All day yesterday in camp. At 5 a.m. today marched 25 miles, stoped and fed, then marched through Lamarrh (Lamar) then to Spring River and camped. We marched 67 miles that day and night. Saw no Rebs.
Oct. 28 - We marched at 6 a.m. towards Newtony (Newtonia). Passed Bowers Mill at 1 p.m., fell in with General Blunt's rear gard, crossed Shoal Creek and through Granby. Blunt had a considerable fight at Newtony. Our Brigade ordered up. The Rebs fired 3 shots at our Regiment. 2 of the boys run. We then dismounted and marched of a mile in line of battle. The Rebs fell back. We then went back to our horses and marched round east of town. Sent Companys C, M, and H on picket. We camped for the night. All quiet during the night.
Oct. 29 - We was up at 4 a.m. Our Brigade ordered on. 140 of our Regiment with run down horses is left at Newtony under Major Murphy.
Oct. 30 - At Newtony. All quiet. Blunt came in and camped.
Oct. 31 - At same place still. Blunt moves south. Rain.
Nov. 2 - Our detachment ordered to Neotio (Neosho). We marched at 10 a.m. and got to Neotio about 5 p.m. Rainy and cold. Snowd during the night. Pvt. Bray's detachment rested up at Neosho until:
Nov. 13 - At 11a.m. orders to march and at 4 p.m. we marched. Got to Newtony about dark, distance 10 miles. Camped for night.
Nov. 14 - We marched at 6 a.m. and came to Shoal Creek and fed. Marched till 5 p.m. and camped for the night at Elkhorn.
Nov. 15 - We started at6 a.m. and came by Marnesville (Marionville) and myself and some of the other boys came on home and we got there about 6 p.m.
Pvt. Bray stayed at home until Nov.
26, when he and the other boys left by horseback to rejoin their company at Lebanon. In his incommunicative way, he mentions nothing about the home folks, conditions in the harrassed countryside, or who "the other boys" are, one of them most likely his older brother. He says only: "I am at home all day. Cold."
The Taylor Bray home in Christian County, Mo., as it appears today.
It is now occupied by a son, Ernest, and his wife.
Life back in camp apparently was routine. Pvt. Bray makes no further entries in his diary until March, then they say only: "I was in camp all day at Lebanon. Very cold", or clear, or pleasant. These are varied by entries such as:
"I was detailed on gard all day and night."
"I was detailed to hall wood."
"I was detailed to go to Rolla." (Headquarters of military district).
But aside from the stops made going and coming he mentions nothing of his mission, his companions, or the local conditions. Sometimes it rained and that got a note in the diary. You want to ask him many questions; but then you realize that the conditions of his rearing and of the time and place made him what he was: a dependable, close-mouthed soldier.
Back in camp again and the same routine, varied by days "on gard" and once: "I was detailed to grind axes. Verry cold." A personal mention does finally creep in, on March 23: "I was in camp all day. Sick. Verry pleasant." You know that he is himself ill, but that the weather is pleasant. What his illness consisted of and how he was treated for it do not come out.
Thenceforward until his discharge at Springfield July 4, 1865, Pvt. Bray's most exciting service consisted in being detailed with other mounted men to escort the stage which traveled regularly between Springfield and the railhead at Rolla. He also, as a trusted and experienced serviceman, bore his commander's dispatches to the command at Lynn Creek and escorted the paymaster to Springfield with his moneybags. One entry showed that the stage escort went as far as the Gasconade where the stage coming from the east was met and escorted on into Lebanon. He also served as escort to a supply train bound for Waynesville, where one going west was escorted back. The entry for May 17 tells why escorts were needed:
"I was in camp all day and at night we got news that the Rebs was (with) in four miles and they (the command) sent out about 200 men on duty. The rest that did not go had to stand in line til one p.m."
The war was over; but it took some time for the realization to trickle down to all commands, to the civil population, and to the irregulars who had enjoyed four years of undisciplined loot and sadistic fun.
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