January 9, 1863 (Friday)
So far, Marmaduke’s Raid into Union-held Missouri had been just that – Marmaduke’s raid. It was Marmaduke’s Rebels who had taken Fort Lawrence, captured Ozark and fought (and lost) the battle of Springfield. Originally, however, Springfield had not been an objective.
When Marmaduke set out, his eyes had been set upon Hartville, fifty some miles east of Springfield. When he heard that Springfield was full of arms and supplies, yet was barely defended, he changed course.
The problem with that was that Marmaduke’s raid was a two-pronged affair. His column, which was to approach Hartville from the south and west, was under his direct command. The other column, which was to come from the east, however, was another story.
Commanded by Col. Joseph Porter, a column of 700 men rode out of Pocahontas, and had little to no contact with Marmaduke’s wing over the past several days. Marmaduke made an attempt to send a courier to inform Porter that plans had been changed, but the message wouldn’t reach him until the 10th – two days late for, and fifty some miles east of, the battle.
On this date, however, Porter and his men were nearing Hartville. Their march had been fairly typical, save for a few Unionist Jayhawkers they were able to round up.
As dawn broke, Porter learned that a company of Missouri militia (US) held the town. They would be little match for his own force, but still, Porter wasn’t taking chances. He sent an advance guard to reconnoiter the ground and find out just where this company was stationed.
His advance apparently took too long to report back, or maybe it was that Joseph Porter grew quickly impatient. Soon, he was riding after them, sending another company to support a battery of unlimbering artillery.
But when he got into town, he saw that the small militia unit, only forty members-strong, had fully surrendered to his advance guard. Not a shot had been fired.
What Porter received for his effort was disappointing. Thirty-five of the militia, two soldiers in the Union army, and a handful of civilians had surrendered. Apart from 200 muskets, there was nothing of value in the town. There were no stores, no caches of ammunition, no trains full of food. Nothing.
Still, Porter hung around the little burg until 8pm. He had been hoping to hear something, anything, from Marmaduke, but no word came. Without orders to do anything beyond “take Hartville,” which was supposed to happen with Marmaduke, Porter decided to head towards Lebanon, thirty-five miles to the north, though he would detour a bit and head west towards Marshfield (and Springfield). On this night, they camped six miles outside of Hartville.
Lebanon was along the Rolla Road (which would later become part of US Route 66), and in a couple day’s time, Porter figured he would reach it. Meanwhile, General Marmaduke had left Springfield, deciding it was too well defended to attack again, traveling east upon the same Rolla Road.
The morning was spent tearing down telegraph wires, rounding up a few stray Union prisoners, and capturing a wagon or two loaded with flour.
After about twenty miles of this. Marmaduke’s column split in two. The larger portion, commanded by the verbose Joseph Shelby, rode ahead to Sand Spring, a Union fortification, which he summarily burned as its former defenders scurried fast to Rolla.
The other, smaller portion, under Col. Emmett MacDonald, headed towards Marshfield, which they reached at 7pm.
“Here we found rich stores, suitable to the wants of our men, consisting of boots, shoes, hats, caps, socks, gloves, &c.” reported Col. MacDonald. “We also captured 6 prisoners, who were paroled on the succeeding morning, and a quantity of fine arms and ammunition.”
((Sources: Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 22, Part 1, p205-206, 210.))