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Fight at Clark’s Home
IN April, 1862, Quantrell, with seventeen men, was camped at the residence of Samuel Clark, situated three miles southeast of Stony Point, in Jackson County. He had spent the night there and was waiting for breakfast the next morning when Captain Peabody, at the head of one hundred Federal cavalry, surprised the Guerrillas and came on at the charge, shooting and yelling. Instantly dividing the detachment in order that the position might be effectively held, Quantrell, with nine men, took the dwelling, and Gregg, with eight, occupied the smoke house. For a while the fighting was at long range, Peabody holding tenaciously to the timber in front of Clark’s, distant about one hundred yards, and refusing to come out. Presently, however, he did an unsoldierly thing—or rather an unskillful thing—he mounted his men and forced them to charge the dwelling on horseback. Quantrell’s detachment reserved fire until the foremost horseman was within thirty feet, and Gregg permitted those operating against his position, to come even closer. Then, a quick, sure volley, and twenty-seven men and horses went down together. Badly demoralized, but in no manner defeated, Peabody rallied again in the timber, while Quantrell, breaking out from the dwelling house and gathering up Gregg as he went,52 charged the Federals fiercely in return and with something of success. The impetus of the rush carried him past a portion of the Federal line, where some of their horses were hitched, and the return of the wave brought with it nine valuable animals. It was over the horses that Andrew Blunt had a hand-to-hand fight with a splendid Federal trooper. Both were very brave.
Blunt had just joined. No one knew his history. He asked no questions and he answered none. Some said he had once belonged to the cavalry of the regular army; others, that behind the terrible record of the Guerrillas he wished to find isolation. Singling out a fine sorrel horse from among the number fastened in his front, Blunt was just about to unhitch him when a Federal trooper, superbly mounted, dashed down to the line and fired and missed. Blunt left his position by the side of the horse and strode out into the open, accepting the challenge defiantly, and closed with his antagonist. The first time he fired he missed, although many men believed him a better shot than Quantrell. The Federal sat on his horse calmly and fired the second shot deliberately and again missed. Blunt went four paces toward him, took a quick aim and fired very much as a man would at something running. Out of the Federal’s blue overcoat a little jet of dust spurted up and he reeled in his seat. The man, hit hard in the breast, did not fall, however. He gripped his saddle with his knees, cavalry fashion,53 steadied himself in his stirrups and fired three times at Blunt in quick succession. They were now but twenty paces apart, and the Guerrilla was shortening the distance. When at ten he fired his third shot. The heavy dragoon ball struck the gallant Federal fair in the forehead and knocked him dead from his horse.
While the duel was in progress, brief as it was, Blunt had not watched his rear, to gain which a dozen Federals had started from the extreme right. He saw them, but he did not hurry. Going back to the coveted steed, he mounted him deliberately and dashed back through the lines closed up behind him, getting a fierce hurrah of encouragement from his own comrades, and a wicked volley from the enemy.
It was time. A second company of Federals in the neighborhood, attracted by the firing, had made a junction with Peabody and were already closing in upon the houses from the south. Surrounded now by one hundred and sixty men, Quantrell was in almost the same straits as at the Tate house. His horses were in the hands of the Federals, it was some little distance to the timber, and the environment was complete. Captain Peabody, himself a Kansas man, knew who led the forces opposed to him and burned with a desire to make a finish of this Quantrell and his reckless band at one fell sweep. Not content with the one hundred and sixty men already in positions about the house, he sent off posthaste to Pink Hill for additional54 reinforcements. Emboldened also by their numbers, the Federals had approached so close to the positions held by the Guerrillas that it was possible for them to utilize the shelter the fences gave. Behind these they ensconced themselves while pouring a merciless fusillade upon the dwelling house and smoke house in comparative immunity. This annoyed Quantrell, distressed Gregg and made Cole Younger—one of the coolest heads in council ever consulted—look a little anxious. Finally a solution was found. Quantrell would draw the fire of this ambuscade; he would make the concealed enemy show himself. Ordering all to be ready and to fire the very moment the opportunity for execution was best, he dashed out from the dwelling house to the smoke house, and from the smoke house back again to the dwelling house. Eager to kill the daring man, and excited somewhat by their own efforts made to do it, the Federals exposed themselves recklessly. Then, owing to the short range, the revolvers of the Guerrillas began to tell with deadly effect. Twenty at least were shot down along the fences, and as many more wounded and disabled. It was thirty steps from one house to the other, yet Quantrell made the venture eight different times, not less than one hundred men firin............
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