Sunday, October 13, 1861
General Fremont’s Army of the West (also unofficially called the Army of the Southwest), had been gathering to advance upon the Missouri State Guard army of General Sterling Price, falling back towards the southwest corder of the state. Union General Hunter’s Division had gathered around Tipton, but a few regiments, like the 13th Illinois Infantry, under Col. John B. Wyman, were still en route.
The Illinois regiment, along with two battalions of Missouri cavalry, had passed through Rolla on their way to join Hunter’s Division. Rolla was about forty miles east and Hunter’s Division was ordered to Warsaw, about sixty miles west. The previous night had probably been spent around Waynesville.
There had been rumors that the Missouri State Guard was in the area and an attack had been suspected all through the previous night. The morning broke without incident and both the 13th Illinois and the Missouri cavalry battalions broke camp and were on the road by 7am. As they marched west, the First Missouri Cavalry Battalion took the lead, with the 13th Illinois following. Bringing up the rear was the Fremont Cavalry Battalion. The First Missouri Battalion deployed skirmishers as they pushed their way forward. Col. Wyman rode near the head of the column.
Near where the road forks, a left taking the traveler to Lebanon, a right to Linn Creek, the cavalry skirmishers saw a large body of enemy troops in their front. Three cavalry companies were advanced, but the party was gone. After a mile of cautious marching, only about forty of the enemy could be seen scampering over the hills in retreat. Word was sent back to the Fremont Cavalry and they advanced to the front, passing the Illinois infantry.
Before the Fremont Cavalry could move to the front, the First Battalion rode three miles and saw the Missouri State Guard troops forming line of battle. The secessionists fired into the Union cavalry, which then charged the Rebel line, sending them into a retreat. The First Battalion pressed them, but soon found themselves nearly surrounded by 600 Rebels.
As the Rebels drew closer around the Union left, the Battalion fell back to a safer spot and fired two volleys into them. The fire must have bit as their advance stalled and they retired to a wooded hill. During this lull, the Fremont Battalion came up, falling in on the right of the First.
The enemy could be seen moving to the right, but two companies of the Fremont Battalion had managed to get around on the flank and were able to check their movement. The Missouri State Guards drew up in line and gave the impression that they were going to make a stand; that only force would drive them from the ridge.
Though the Union cavalry was greatly outnumbered, they decided to attack. Infantry support was still miles away, so they were on their own.
From their secure position, the Rebels fired a volley into the Fremont Battalion, who returned fire, drew sabers and charged. The Rebels, not expecting such a small force of cavalry to charge, scattered before they could reload their weapons. The 600 Rebels tried to put up a running fight for a mile and half as the two cavalry battalions gave chase. Before long, however, it was a rout. As the 13th Illinois Infantry made camp, the cavalry pursued the Rebels nearly twelve miles towards Lebanon, capturing over forty.
By nightfall, all Union troops, but one killed in the action, were in camp on the road to Linn Creek. The Missouri State Guards never submitted a report of the battle, so their casualty figures are unknown. According to the Union figures submitted by Col. Grenville Dodge, who took care of the wounded in Rolla, sixteen Rebels were killed and about thirty were wounded.1
Union Col. Grenville Dodge of the 4th Iowa Infantry had spent most of his adult life working in the West as a railroad surveyor. He worked for the Rock Island Line, the Mississippi & Missouri, and the Union Pacific, always with a mind to finding the perfect path for the future Transcontinental Railroad. When not surveying, he found time in 1856 to form the Council Bluff Guards, an Iowa militia unit. Before Manasass, the 4th Iowa Infantry were mustered into service and the Council Bluff Guards formed Company B. Soon, Dodge commanded the regiment.
In August, Dodge and the 4th Iowa reported to General John C. Fremont in St. Louis, who sent them to the outpost of Rolla, Missouri. There, they built log barracks and commenced incessant drilling. Dodge was soon put in command of the town.2
As the battle was a running fight, finding a single name for it was difficult. Dodge referred to it as “Dutch Hollow.” Typically, it’s called “Wet Glaze,” though others report it as “Monday Hollow.”