McGhee's Charge Historical Marker 

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From previous marker, continue on Park Drive, right turn on Wornall Rd to intersection of 53rd St. This marker is located on the eastern edge of the park along Wornall about half way between 53rd Terrace and 54th Street.

McGhee's Charge Historical Marker

 McGhee's Charge Historical Marker

McGhee's Charge Historical Marker Inscription

"On October 23, 1864, near noon, Colonel McGhee's mounted Arkansans charged north on Wornall Lane to capture McLain's Colorado Battery. Captain Johnson of the 15th Kansas Cavalry attacked saving the guns. McGhee was killed in a hand-to-hand fight with Captain Johnson who was wounded. Troops of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry came up capturing the Confederates and driving back the rest who left 25 dead and wounded on the field. Union artillery fire destroyed the Simpson Home which stood on the southeast corner of 53rd Terrace and Wornall."

You are standing in the area where McLain’s Battery was attacked by Colonel J. H. McGehee’s Arkansas Cavalry Regiment. It was nearing 11:00 a.m. when the Federals advanced up the hill from Brush Creek. Once again, McLain’s Battery deployed astride Wornall Lane, but this time further south near present day 53rd Terrace. Brig. Gen. Jo Shelby’s position was becoming more and more tenuous. He was receiving artillery fire from the north and west. The artillery fire from McLain’s Battery was taking its toll on Shelby’s men. And he had just received a courier from Price ordering him to pull out and withdraw south. Shelby makes no mention of McGehee’s charge in his official report. But then McGehee’s regiment was assigned to Dobbin’s Brigade in Fagan’s Division. Still, Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson remembered getting orders to support the charge.

My orders were to hold steady until a column of Arkansans charged in column down the road on the federal battery, and then move to support them. It was only a few minutes when we heard the rush, and soon the Regiment of Col. McG[eh]ee of Dobbins Brigade entered the lane at full speed and dashed for the guns some four hundred yards away.

Regardless, Colonel McGehee led a charge down Wornall Lane towards the battery. The stone walls lining either side of the road severely limited his cavalry’s maneuverability. Upon reaching the battery, McGehee discovered it was not the lightly defended battery he was expecting.

Federal Colonel Charles R. Jennison, commanding the First Brigade, saw the charge and yelled to Captain Curtis Johnson, Company E, 15th Kansas Cavalry, to support the exposed battery. Johnson and Company E arrived just as McGehee’ troops began to attack. Legend has it Captain Johnson and Colonel McGehee met each other with pistols drawn. Both Johnson and McGehee were wounded and the Confederates repulsed. McLain’s Battery was safe. In his official report, Colonel Jennison wrote that Colonel McGehee was killed, but in fact the Confederate was only wounded.

The First Brigade, with a detachment of the Second Colorado and McLain's (Colorado) battery, took position on the right of the road, commencing an impetuous attack upon the rebels, who were rallying for a charge upon the battery, one section of which was posted directly in the road. Hardly had we taken position when the enemy charged in column upon the guns up the road … Seeing that a desperate effort was required to save the battery I immediately rallied Company E and led in person a charge upon the flank of the rebel column, a movement which was entirely successful, though a desperate hand-to-hand contest ensued, after maintaining which for a short time the enemy withdrew in disorder toward his main lines southward. In this action especial praise is due to officers and men engaged, and more particularly to Capt. Curtis Johnson, commanding Company E, Fifteenth, which was alone in the charge. During the actions Captain Greene, commanding the squadrons of the Second Colorado, brought his troops to our assistance, by which we succeeded in killing and wounding a large number of the rebels, and taking nearly 100 prisoners. In the charge Company E sustained a loss of 13 men wounded. To Captain Johnson I would express the highest sense of his excellence and soldierly ability in one of the most trying situations of that day. In this action Captain Johnson personally encountered Colonel McG[eh]hee, of an Arkansas regiment, both firing with revolvers, the result of which was that Colonel McG[eh]hee was killed, the captain receiving a ball in the arm, which inflicted a very severe and painful wound, from which he has not yet recovered. The enemy having fallen back upon the road, our lines were reformed and again advanced through the fields on the right of the road, driving the rebels at all points.

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