Fort Scott, August 23rd, 1862.
Dear Wife and family: I received three letters from you last night. I have been gone from Fort Scott ten days in pursuit of the enemy. This was the reason I did not get your letters before and you must take this as an answer to all under the circumstances as it is impossible at this time to answer them all. I am in good health for which I am truly thankful and my prayer is that this may find you all in good health. I wish you to answer my letter as soon as you receive this. Direct as usual to Fort Scott. Since I wrote you last I have been where I heard the bullets whistle. On the 10th inst. I had the honor of being chosen as one of General Blunt's body-guards. The guard numbers 44 men rank and file. Our army left here on the 13th inst. consisting on 3000 cavalry, 1000 infantry and 12 cannon. The number of men in the artillery I do not know. The rebels were in force of 6000 strong, 50 miles northeast of Fort Scott in Missouri at a place called Lone Jack. Our whole command started at 12 o'clock at night, the infantry being in covered wagons. No one knew that he was going at dark. We went on a walk till 10 next morning and stopped to get breakfast and feed our horses which detained us perhaps an hour and a half. The General then got a dispatch showing where the rebels were and that there was 400 men who did not belong to our command who were advancing on the enemy ignorant of their numbers. The bugle sounded To Horse and in five minutes the cavalry were in the saddle. There was 10 cavalry sent ahead as an advance guard. Next the artillery, next 2000 cavalry, next the infantry, the balance of the cavalry as a rear guard. Order Trot March. The General and Staff behind all except the rear guard. It is the duty of the body guards to keep within 4 rods of the General in the rear if you kill every horse. We went at a good trot till we came in 16 miles of the enemy when we heard the report of cannons. The General rides in a carriage, with some of his staff, drawn by four fast mules. When the firing began the General and staff halted the carriage and mounted their horses which were tied to the hind end of the carriage. The command was Double Quick March. Then commenced a John Gilpin race. The General, staff and body guard soon passed all of the command except the advance guard who were ordered to a Double Quick. The moon shone so that we could see and such another sight you probably will never see. The first we passed of the horses harnessed to wagons was the infantry, 6 horses to a wagon with a man on the three near side horses (18 men in each wagon with their arms). Their riders giving the poor brutes the spur and lash at every jump. We passed the artillery. They were the same. We rode 18 miles in 52 minutes. This was to save the aforesaid 400 men. But when we came up the Rebels had killed 60 men, taken 18 prisoners and 2 pieces of cannon. Our men killed 74 of the enemy and cut their way through them but the enemy were in full retreat before we came up, but I tell you every man was hot for a fight. There was a halt of 20 minutes when the General ordered the pursuit as fast as they could go saying he or we must take those prisoners back or kill all of our horses. We went onto the field of battle and dismounted. While the whole army were in pursuit, we had the fastest horses and could pass them (not only so, a small body of men can move the fastest). We saw the dead men and horses which gave a rather disagreeable smell. Stopped I suppose a half hour and then went on the run till we passed the army again, advance guard and all. Some thought this was rash of the General. We pursued in this way with the body guard ahead of all till three o'clock in the morning when a halt was ordered for two hours. The rebels halted 8 miles ahead of us. At the end of this time the army were in hot pursuit. We kept up this chase for near 20 miles when the advance guard of our force came up with the rear of the enemy in the woods. Our advance attacked them with fury. The General and staff rode right up at full speed saying "Give it to them", telling us to reserve our fire. We rode thus a short distance while the balls were whissing by us till we came to a straight place in the road when the General ordered a halt. Some were mad at this but he knew the best. He out with his glass. He had no more than got it to his eye than he ordered the whole command to part to the right and left. We had no more than done so before a charge of grape shot came whissing past us, killing two horses and wounding 5 men, one mortally, of the advance guard. There were eleven of the rebels killed. The advance and the body guard were five miles ahead of the main command when the attack began and the General thought it not advisable to advance till they came up and that took them a long time for when they heard the firing they run their horses till they dropped dead and then had to stop the whole train to get them loose. If they had not driven so fast they would have come up sooner. About this time Col. Warren came up from Springfield with a fresh command and took our place. How they made it I do not know, only we know that they had a fight. We took one night rest and came back to Fort Scott.
It would be a great comfort to me if Manly has to enlist to have him with me. He can enlist at Janesville in the 3rd Regiment. There is a man by the name of Armstrong recruiting there who will send you here free of expense. But you will understand that I do not belong to the 3rd Regiment. I am detailed as one of the General body guard during the war or good behavior, but if you come here I have no doubt I could get you into the body guard with me. We get no pay yet. We leave here for Leavenworth in a few days, that is, the General and his staff. Our duties are hard when we have any to perform.
Write as often as you can, all of you. My love to you all and God bless you all. Amos and Cordelia must not wait for me to write. Henry and Letitia receive my thanks for their letter. This is bad writing. I have to write on my knees and the wind blows continually and keeps my paper moving. Now Ma, I know you will not forget to write as often as you can. I was in hopes Manly would not have to get into the service. If he does I fear he cannot enlist when you get this. I hope to come and see you all before long. Good-bye for the present.
Your affectionate husband and father,
C. N. Mumford