Name(s): Battle of Independence, Missouri; First Battle
Location: Jackson County
Campaign: Operations North of Boston Mountains (1862)
Date(s): August 11, 1862
Principal Commanders: Lt. Col. James T. Buel [US]; Col. J. T.
Hughes and Col. G. W. Thompson [CS]
Forces Engaged: Garrison (approx. 300 [US]; 700-800 [CS]
Estimated Casualties: Total unknown (US approx. 344; CS unknown)
Result(s): Confederate victory
|Quantrill's Raiders : Independence Missouri Raid
|Quantrill Raid Independence Missouri Map
Summary: On August 11, 1862, Col. J. T. Hughes’s Confederate
force, including William Quantrill and his raiders, attacked Independence, at dawn, in two columns on different roads. They drove through the town
to the Union Army camp, capturing, killing, and scattering the Yankees. Lt. Col. James T. Buel, commander of the garrison,
attempted to hold out in one of the buildings with some of his men. Soon the building next to them was on fire, threatening
them. Buel then, by means of a flag of truce, arranged a meeting with the Confederate commander, Col. G. W. Thompson, who
had replaced Col. J. T. Hughes, killed earlier. Buel surrendered and about 150 of his men were paroled, the others had escaped,
hidden, or been killed. Having taken Independence, the Rebel force headed for Kansas City. Confederate dominance in the Kansas
City area continued, but not for long. See also Missouri Civil War History.
Battle: Col. John
T. Hughes’s Confederate force, including the partisan leader William Quantrill, attacked Independence before dawn, in
two columns using different roads. They moved through the town to the Union Army camp, delivering a deadly volley to the sleeping
men. Captain Breckenridge suggested surrender, but Captain Jacob Axline formed the Federal troops behind a rock wall and a
nearby ditch while the Confederates rifled through their camp, looking for ammunition. The Rebels made several attacks against
Axline's wall, but never succeeded in taking it. Here Colonel Hughes was killed, while Thompson and Hays were wounded.
Lt. Col. Buel attempted to hold out with part of his force in the bank
building he used as his headquarters. He was forced to surrender after an adjacent building was set afire. Through a flag
of truce, Buel arranged a meeting with the new Confederate commander, Col. Gideon W. Thompson, who had replaced Colonel Hughes,
killed earlier. Buel surrendered, and about 150 of his men were paroled; the remainder had escaped, hidden, or been killed.
Realizing that they would be overrun, the Federal troops defending
the jail fired a volley and fled. Confederate guerilla leader George Todd freed the prisoners at the jail, among them City
Marshal James Knowles, jailed for the killing of a rowdy citizen. Todd also captured Captain Aaron Thomas of the 2nd Battalion
Missouri State Militia Cavalry. Knowles had guided Thomas' force in a successful ambush of Todd's command in an earlier engagement,
killing several of them. Todd and his men summarily executed Knowles and Thomas. Ironically, George Todd would later be killed
at the Second Battle of Independence, in 1864.
|William Quantrill Memorial
|William Quantrill Marker
(Right) While William Quantrill rode into the history books
as one of the prominent Confederate guerrillas, recruits Frank and Jesse James, with the likes of "Bloody" Bill
Anderson, cemented the raiders a place in Civil War folklore.
The First Battle of Independence resulted in approximately
344 known Union casualties while total losses for the Confederates remain unknown. Most of
the Union command in Independence was captured, with only a few groups of men escaping. The Confederate victory was costly,
however, resulting in the death of ten experienced officers, among them Colonel John T. Hughes, and the wounding of Colonels
Hays and Thompson. The victors left town late that afternoon, but remained in the area for several days. Hays led them in
a cooperative attack with other Confederate commands against a Federal force arriving at Lone Jack.
Although the Southerners had won a victory at Independence,
they were unable to capitalize on it. Confederate dominance in the Jackson County area would continue—but not for
Lt. Col. Buel's performance and his failure to heed warnings
of an impending attack by prominent citizens was widely condemned. Captain Breckenridge's inability to find any guerrillas
in the preceding eleven days, together with his eagerness to surrender, was considered "disgraceful conduct." Both men were
court-martialled and the soldiers who had been captured were mustered out of service. Since the two officers had been dismissed
with their men, nothing ultimately resulted from the court martial proceedings.
On June 3, 1864 the former Capt. Axline was murdered
by guerrillas (likely of George Todd's command) while on his way home to Hickman Mills. Independence
would later become the site of a second Civil War battle, in October 1864, as part of General Sterling Price's Missouri Campaign
that culminated in his defeat at the Battle of Westport.
Try the Search Engine for Related Studies: Quantrill's Raiders and Independence Missouri, Union Soldiers Capture, Civil
War Raiders History, Capture of Independence Missouri, William Quantrill's Raiders, Guerrilla War Kansas, Missouri Raids,
List of Quantrill's Battles.
Sources: National Archives; Official Records of the Union and Confederate
Armies; Eakin, Joanne Chiles, Battle of Independence, August 11, 1862, Two Trails Publishing, 2000; Nichols, Bruce, Guerrilla
Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume III, January - August 1864, McFarland, 2014; Library of Congress.