Posted May 29, 2004


The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds:

Confederate Victory Against the Odds


©2003 Kirby Ross

with an Introduction by James E. McGhee, ©2003

The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds: Confederate Victory Against the Odds

© Kirby Ross

Author's Note & Introduction
Ch 1 - Lindsay Murdoch

Ch 6 - Playing a Squally Game of Marbles

Ch 2 - Chasing Phantoms

Ch 7 - Aftermath

Ch 3 - Closing In

Ch 8 - Mopping Up

Ch 4 - Hell Breaks Loose Epilogue

Ch 5 - To the Death


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 The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-Popping Cow Waddy

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

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Also by this author:

James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross

Chapter Eight


Hearing Flentge’s version of the fight and his report of hundreds of enemy troops, Lindsay Murdoch had his evidence of a major presence of Confederates, or so he thought.  Obsessed with proving a substantial enemy force was positioned around Jackson and not grasping that Jeffers had deceived him and Flentge had grossly exaggerated, Murdoch again requested that General Schofield send him reinforcements—reinforcements that Schofield again denied.  Finally, after staying within the friendly confines of the Cape’s forts waiting for Jeffers’ nonexistent assault, Murdoch decided to again assume the initiative against the masses that he seemed sure were all around him.  Improvising a plan, Captain Murdoch called upon the assistance of William H. McLane, commander of a local reserve unit that was operating up on the Perry County line.  Once again Murdoch called out his own Home Guard—the third time in just a few days.  Putting the Cape reserves in position in town, Murdoch then gathered his three companies of the 11th M.S.M. Battalion as well as a scattering of troops from regular U.S. units in Cape Girardeau on furlough. 

Moving his 300 or so troops out of Cape Girardeau while McLane marched another 300 Perry County Home Guards down from Old Appleton, a rendezvous was made at Jackson on the morning of April 12.  McLane’s militia were armed with old muskets and bayonets and in no way compared to the troops that General Strong had sent up from Cairo the week before.  Nonetheless Murdoch was determined to forge ahead and prove Schofield wrong for not heeding his repeated warnings.

Advancing in two columns out of Jackson, a Rebel force was located on Byrd Creek five miles to the west of town.  According to Murdoch, his soldiers ran into enemy pickets two miles from their camp, at which time the militia marched at the double quick and found the main Confederate body scattering in confusion.  Murdoch reported the secessionists “apparently outnumbered us” and consequently proceeded with caution.  After probing their defenses he followed them as far as he thought prudent and then retired back to base after taking a few prisoners and capturing a scattering of supplies.

In final analysis, these Confederates almost certainly did not match the Federal force in numbers, and likely did not consist of much more than a couple of dozen men.  It may have even been Jeffers’ unit given its location and the fact a portion of that command was from the Byrd Creek area.   In a self-serving claim, this final expedition was reported by Captain Murdoch to have been quite successful and was credited by him as causing Cape Girardeau to remain free from problems for the remainder of his tenure as commanding officer of the area.

Which was not long, given the fact Murdoch’s days in charge of the garrison were numbered.  General Schofield either did not accept Murdoch’s most recent story of military prowess, or if he did he did not care.  Conservative Unionist Schofield, having had his fill of dealing directly with Radical Unionist Lindsay Murdoch, removed Murdoch as commander of the Cape Girardeau post shortly after this final foray.1

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1 Murdoch Narrative, 152-153; Murdoch Pension File

©2004 G. E. Rule

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