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Trans-Mississippi Musings

Tour Stop, “Winslow's Brigade Assaults Bloody Hill”

[Waypoint = 39.017193, -94.527322]

Tour stop in Google MapsTour Stop DescriptionTour Stop Video


Walk back up the gravel path and turn left (south) onto Cindy Avenue. Turn right (west) when you reach E 59th Street. Walk about four blocks towards the railroad tracks. Before you reach the tracks, turn left (south), walk about one block through the parking lot, past the building, and into the open area east of the railroad tracks. Look for one of the temporary signs attached to a thin, orange pole.


Map of Federal Assault on Bloody Hill

Map of Federal Assault on Bloody Hill by theCivilWarMuse based on USGS 1935 Kansas City Quadrangle

(Click map for larger image)

You are now standing in the area Winslow’s Brigade advanced to before they assaulted the Confederate positions on Bloody Hill. The men in Winslow’s Brigade had reached this position by crossing over several hundred yards of open ground, all while exposed to heavy small arms and artillery fire. Just across the railroad tracks to the west is the rocky ledge, which the Federals used for cover before launching their assault.

When the advance by the Philips’ Brigade stalled, Winslow’s Brigade move forward to support the attack on the right. At first, they were no more successful than the First Brigade had been. After the Confederates repulsed the first advance, Colonel Edward F. Winslow regrouped his men in this location. While his brigade advanced on foot, Winslow was on horseback while directing the attack. As they went up over the rocky ledge and continued towards the tree line, Winslow was hit in the leg by a Minié ball. The wound put Winslow out of action, command of the Fourth Brigade devolved to Lieutenant Colonel Frederick W. Benteen, Tenth Missouri Cavalry. But the attack was successful as the Confederates pulled out of their defensive positions, retreating south down the Harrisonville Road.

Historical Vignettes

Colonel Edward F. Winslow described the attack of the Fourth Brigade in his official report.

"I ordered a charge upon the enemy [who] were at once driven back upon his main line, half a mile farther back … Dismounting two regiments of Missouri State Militia, and directing Captains Knispel and Dee to hold their commands in reserve, and at the same time ordering forward my whole command, I advanced upon the main position of the enemy. Their line was formed in the edge of a long piece of timber, just on the brow of the rising ground, while in front was a fine open stretch of clearing descending gradually to the river. When within 400 yards of the enemy I directed the line to advance rapidly and drive them from the timber. This was well commenced only, when the whole line gave way under the fire of the enemy and retreated in disorder to the reserve, where I succeeded in reforming the broken detachment. I again ordered an advance with the Third and Fourth Iowa Regiments closely supporting. This time we reached the woods, and after a short, spirited resistance from the enemy drove them out of position with some loss. The retiring foe was followed by our troops through the skirt of timber about two miles, when, having been struck, just as we gained the edge of the timber, in the leg with a rifle-ball, and disabled thereby, I turned over the command to Lieut. Col. F. W. Benteen, Tenth Missouri Cavalry."

Major Abial R. Pierce, Fourth Iowa Cavalry, took advantage of the Third Battalion’s success and advanced rapidly to the west.

"The third battalion and our led horses now came up, and the first battalion was ordered forward with the battery. A charge was soon ordered to be made by the cavalry, mounted. The Missouri State Militia first charged, and their lines were badly broken. Our brigade charged, the Tenth Missouri (Volunteers) having the advance. I commenced the charge as soon as the second battalion was in line, sending orders at the same time to Captain Dee, commanding third battalion, to follow the charge as fast as possible. We swept through the Rebel lines, carrying everything before us. The Fourth was first to break the Rebel lines. The enemy was soon completely routed. We followed him about three miles, when we halted, went into camp, and procured feed for our horses. We were here joined by Generals [Samuel Ryan] Curtis and [James Gillpatrick] Blunt."

Lieutenant Colonel Frederick W. Benteen, Tenth Missouri Cavalry, Fourth Brigade, Provisional Cavalry Division, Department of the Missouri.

"On the morning of the 23d of October, Colonel Winslow commanding, was unfortunately wounded in the leg and had to retire from the field, and the command devolved upon me as the next ranking officer. At that time I found the enemy well posted on the opposite side of the Big Blue with a very strong position and in considerable numbers. Captain Dee, of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry, had succeeded, with a detachment of that regiment, in gaining a position on the same side with the rebels and the brigade of General Brown had been ordered to the front. As soon as the command devolved upon me I dismounted the Third Iowa Cavalry, Maj. B. S. Jones commanding, and advanced them as skirmishers toward the enemy, through the woods that lined the immediate banks of the creek, until I arrived at an open space, some 200 yards in width, on the near side of which I found 200 or 300 men of the Missouri State Militia posted behind some houses at which the enemy was pouring a very hot fire. By dint of great urging and exertion of authority, I succeeded in getting them from behind their places of shelter, and then, with them and my dismounted men, advanced across the field at a double-quick to the woods beyond; the enemy at the same time resisting us stoutly. The woods attained, we pushed the enemy through them rapidly to the prairie beyond."

Major Benjamin S. Jones, Third Iowa Cavalry, described the Federal attack in his official report.

"Our brigade was in motion again at 4 a.m. of the 23d, the Fourth Iowa Cavalry and Tenth Missouri in the advance, and drove the enemy after light skirmishing to and across the Big Blue (a distance of two miles) to a strong position. A brigade of Missouri State Militia was thrown in to dislodge them, but failed to accomplish it. My command was dismounted and formed line on the right and in front of the enemy, who were posted across an open field behind piles of rails in the woods. We charged them, killing and wounding many of their men (Company A captured one stand of their colors) and completely routed them from their strong position, but suffered a considerable loss in wounded."

Captain Richard J. Hinton, commanding the Second Kansas Colored State Militia in the Army of the Border, described the final Federal assault against Bloody Hill.

"The Brigade of Colonel Philips advanced, supported by part of Colonel Winslow's command. General Sanborn's were moving across the ford at this time … To drive the enemy from his formidable position, became an absolute necessity. A charge was ordered and made. When within one hundred yards of the rebel line, our troops gave way in disorder, unable to stand the terrible tire … Colonel Winslow's veterans were brought up and formed. Again both brigades charged. The movement was successful, though the enemy's lines were stubbornly held until the troops met, and the contest became a hand to hand one. Across the field, for one hundred and sixty yards, our troops pushed steadily. They literally moved in face of a shower of lead. Sharpshooters occupied the tree-tops, singling out the officers with fatal effect; Col. Winslow being struck in the left leg."