Battle of Randolph, Missouri, 1861: The following was researched and written by the late Vera Haworth Eldridge, a well known local historian. It was published in the August 2, 1981 edition of the Liberty SUN newspaper. It isn't mentioned but I suspect the consumption of alcoholic beverages may have played a role in this battle. It has been said that the only major battle of the Civil War in Clay County was the Battle of the Blue Mills Ferry when the Confederate soldiers were crossing the Missouri River at that ferry and were followed by Union troops. The Southern men hid in the thickets on the side of the road and ambushed the Union men. This skirmish lasted nearly an hour. The action allowed the Secessionists to escape safely to the south of the river so they could join the State Guards in Lexington. According to Gatewood's 1885 history, the Federal loss was 14 killed and about 80 wounded. The State Guards lost 3 in the field and 2 more died of wounds the next day with 17 or 18 wounded. The Federal dead were buried on William Jewell College grounds. This, of course, was not of much consequence as a battle, but the incidence of brutal skirmishes on both sides caused general unrest all over this part of the country. When Peggy Smith, librarian in the Missouri Valley Room called with the clipping from the Kansas City Journal published on 14 November 1904 concerning the battle of Randolph, Missouri in July 1861 the writer had to admit the story was a new one and worthy to be published. So here it is slightly edited: At the time Ft. Sumpter was fired upon, Kansas City, Missouri. Had a population variously estimated from 4,000 to 8,000. There was then a small settlement of a dozen houses immediately across the Missouri River on lower grounds called Harlem and another village of a half dozen log cabins about three and a half miles farther down on the same side called Randolph. This little town was the scene of a serio-comic battle of the beginning of the rebellion. The account given by H. E. Robinson in the Maryville Republican is very interesting. One day in July 1861 while Kansas City's enrolled militia was on drill on the hill near where the Coats House now stands, a Scout named Bill Booker rode up to the commanding officers and reported that the seceshes the Confederates were then called, had taken possession of Randolph and had fortified themselves in the log cabins in that town. Booker also reported that several desperate bushwhackers were among the enemies. The commanders ordered the boys to prepare for an assault upon the Johnny Reb's stronghold which stood upon the bluff on the Clay County side of the Missouri River, three miles down river. While preparations for the assault were being completed, it was suggested by a member of a German company which was under commission of Captain Van Daun and Lt. Edward Massuch, that it would be a good thing to have a piece of artillery with which to dislodge the rebels from the house in Randolph. Some other officers expressed agreement, so they decided to go into action to bombard the enemy stronghold. In the meantime, they would pressure the front and at the decisive moment, charge the fortifications. To help carry out these plans an old brass six-pounder cannon was hauled out of a shed and placed on a wagon, hauled by two mules, with the muzzle of the formidable looking weapon pointed to the rear. It was turned over to a German named Schmidt. As there was no ammunition for the cannon in the Kansas City ordinance then, Gunner Schmidt had the old brass piece hauled down to Henry Kaufman's blacksmith shop which was on the present site of Arnold's Drug Store, 5th and Main. It was there loaded nearly to the muzzle with bolts, taps, horseshoe nails, pieces of scrap iron etc. When finally charged for action, gallant Gunner Schmidt was certain that the first shot would dislodge the Confederates, and the brave column went down Main Street with colors flying and the cannon drawn by two mules in advance. At the foot of Main Street they acquired a large pine box on which to place the cannon to elevate it. This with the mules, brass Napoleon and Militia marched upon the ferry boat to cross the river. Upon arriving at Harlem, the cannon was placed to command a good range and the militia was formed into a line of battle and the order given to 'Forward march.' They halted about one half mile from Randolph in plain view of the rebel stronghold. The mules stood hitched to the wagon with their heads toward Harlem and the rear end of the wagon on which was the great gun, mounted on a box, was toward Randolph. While Gunner Schmidt was taking aim, he drew himself up to his full height, stroked his head and exclaimed, 'Now I make mit dot guns a clean sweep. Come now my noble warriors and put a vedge under de end of der gun and den I vil haf der elevation.' Satisfied with the gun elevation, he said, 'Now poys, ven dis gun goes off I pet you ein keg off beer dere iss more as twenty deat rebels in dat haus. Now, we are all retty to fire. Iss dere militia retty to charge ven dere gun goes off?' Upon being informed that the militia was anxiously awaiting the signal of battle, Gunner Schmidt lighted a piece of blasting fuse, and mounting a wheel of the wagon, touched off the gun. “Boom!it went and away went the mules and the front wheels of the wagon toward Harlem. The militia got excited and went with the mules. The cannon had kicked and the portion of the wagon which the mules had left, was in a sadly demoralized condition. Schmidt picked himself up from where had landed, and, seeing the militia in glorious retreat, yelled, ?ally, poys, rally! Yeasus Krist! Don't leaf the artillery! But as no attention was paid to his appeal, he cast one fond glance at the old gun and the rear end of the wagon and then speedily followed in the rear or the retreating militia. The charge fired from the cannon never reached halfway to the cabins, but it cut a wide swath through the sycamore brush. The militia reached the ferry in double quick time, and crossed over to the Kansas City side, where they told of the wonderful battle of Randolph. The old gun used in the fight was surreptitiously taken from Quindaro, Kansas in the fall of 1860, just previous to the November election. It belonged to the pro-slavery contingent in Quindaro. It was brought to Wyandotte by a party of Abolitionists under the command of Phillip Hesscher, then a corpulent German saloon keeper in Wyandotte. It was there used in firing a national salute upon the reception of the news of the election of Abraham Lincoln. In June 1861, shortly after the breaking out of the rebellion it was transferred from Wyandotte to Kansas City by Captain Miller, who is at present (1904) a resident of that city, and who subsequently to the battle of Randolph commanded a company in a Kansas City regiment. About this time, the gun was brought to Kansas City. , Three companies of Homeguards were organized, an American Company under Captain Bingham (George Caleb Bingham the military painter), an Irish company under Captain Miller and Lieutenant Jerry Lloyd, and a German company under Captain Van Daun and Lieutenant Massuch. It was these three companies that participated in the siege of Randolph. Fortunately no one was hurt, except one militia man who, in his haste to get away from the field, ran against a tree and received a black eye and a slight contusion on the forehead from which a few drops of blood flowed. A squad of cavalry went over to the scene of the bloodless affray the next day and brought away the gun and set fire to the cabins which the rebels had abandoned. Owing to the absence of the enemy they went and returned unmolested. The gun was later mounted by Chris Schaeffer, a wagon maker at the corner of 12th and Main. An artillery squad was then formed of 15 picked men from the militia, under Lieutenant Cahill. Then two companies of the Kansas City Homeguard, commanded by Colonel Robert T. Van Horn, were accompanied by the artillery squad and took part in the battle of Lexington, which was fought by General Mulligan's command. The old brass field piece did some good execution during the fight. It was among the ordinance surrendered by Mulligan when he capitulated at Lexington. While in possession of the enemy, it formed a part of Bledsoe's artillery battery. It was used by the Confederates against the Federals at the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas and other engagements of lesser importance. One of these was the action at Brush Creek near Westport in October, 1864. The cannon was finally recaptured during General Price's retreat, together with Bledsoe's whole battery, at the Battle of Mine Creek, near Pleasanton, Kansas, by the 5th Iowa Cavalry and the Second Colorado Cavalry after a desperate struggle. Thus ends the Kansas City Journal's story of the ?attle of Randolph, Missouri.”
Story submitted by Steve Olson Clay County Archives and Historical Library
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