Major Emory S. Foster Of Johnson County, Missouri
A Brief Biography and the story of being saved by Cole Younger.
"During the Civil War, some of the bitter and brutal episodes in American history took place here between Kansas Jayhawkers and Redlegs and Missouri slaveholders. Even before the war broke out, the fury of conflicting views had resulted in armed struggles, The fight began as one of opinion; it ended as one of revenge.
|150th Anniversary Re-enactment of the Battle of Lone Jack, Phot by Phil Peterson|
The little town of Lone Jack (350 pop.), received its name from a blackjack tree near a spring which served as a prairie landmark. The town has changed little since the late afternoon of August 15, 1862, when Major Emory S. Foster, out to prevent recently arrived Confederate forces from recruiting in the neighborhood, marched his command of 985 Calvary men and two pieces of artillery into town, forced the Confederates to withdraw, and established himself at the Cave Hotel. Early the next hedge-rows near the town concealed detachments of Confederate soldiers under the command of colonels Cockrell, Thompson, and Coffee, supported by Charles Quantrill's guerrillas: Coleman and James Younger, Frank and Jesse James, George Todd, David Pool, John Jarrette, and other young men. At five o'clock a gun was fired and house to house fighting began. The hotel served as a hospital, until it became the center of the battle. After five hours the Federals were obliged to retreat.
Yankee House Home of David and Orlena Yankee, Lone Jack,
built ca. 1880-1885 Family Picnic c.a.1903
Photo courtesy of Eric and Gay Engstrom
Union and Confederate dead were buried in separate trenches in the SOLDIERS CEMETERY. The names of the dead were not obtained and there are no individual identification marks. The grave of the Confederates, on the site of the blackjack tree, is marked by a marble shaft approximately 26 feet high. An eight-foot pillar of concrete blocks marks the Union grave, from which the bodies were exhumed in 1867 and removed to Leavenworth, Kansas."
Emory S. Foster was born 5 November 1838, in St. Louis, Missouri. He died 23 December 1902 in Oakland, California.
On January 18, 1864, Major Foster was married in Sharon, Beaver county, Pennsylvania, to Miss Jessie Elizabeth Beall. One child, a daughter, Jessie, was born to this couple in Warrensburg, Missouri, on January 13, 1865. This daughter died in California after her father's decease. She is buried near him.
Emory was a son of Robert A. Foster and Jane (Headlee) Foster. Robert A. Foster was born 9 May 1812 in St. Louis and died 10 March 1881 in St. Louis. Jane L. (Headlee) Foster, daughter of Caleb and Mary (Steele) Headlee. was born 3 March 1813 in Greene County, Missouri and died 16 November 1893 in St. Louis. Children of Robert and Jane were Marshall McCord, Emory S., America A., Melville, Caleb, Mary, Margaret C., and Mattie J. Foster. Robert A. Foster was a Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was early in Johnson County.
In March, 1861, Emory Foster recruited a company of volunteers in Warrensburg, and joined with them as their captain. The 29th Missouri Infantry (mounted) was then being organized by Col. Benjamin W. Grover for the Union.
There were no uniforms to be had at that time, so the Union army boys wore red shirts and black trousers, and were known as the "Red Shirt Company." At that time Francis M. Cockerell, afterwards a Confederate general and United States Senator from Missouri, was recruiting a company for the 5th Regiment, Confederate Army, in Warrensburg. Cockrell was captain of that company.
Afterwards, in March 1861, at Captain Cockrell's request, Foster's and Cockrell's companies drilled together on alternate days in Warrensburg in perfect harmony. This is probably the only instance of that kind in the Civil War. Foster's company, the "Red Shirts," became Company C, 27th Missouri Infantry (mounted) Union, in March 1861, and then entered the Military service of the United States. Their captain, Emory S. Foster, was elected major of that regiment at that time.
In August 1861, the regiment was ordered to Jefferson City, Missouri. Major Foster marched one squadron overland from Warrensburg, and in a sharp fight near Centertown, in Cole County, Missouri, attacked and routed a large band of guerrillas, killing ten of them. Upon the arrival of the regiment at Jefferson City, Col. U. S. Grant, 21st Illinois Infantry, afterward the commander of the Union armies, who was then in command of that military post, detailed Major Foster to take command of a picked squadron of the 29th regiment, known as the Fremont Scouts.
With this detachment, Major Foster rendered distinguished service in the remaining months of 1861. On one occasion with ten men of his command, he captured a Confederate colonel, Lewis, with his bodyguard, at Holden, Johnson County, Missouri. On another occasion, his command with one company of the 1st Missouri Cavalry, Union, under Major W. J. Stricklin, of Warrensburg, Missouri, rescued a government supply train that was attacked and routed a large band of guerillas ten miles south, a train drawn by 1200 oxen. Majors Foster and Stricklin escorted this long train to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, a distance of more than 100 miles, and there delivered to the United States Quartermaster 144 work oxen, in fine condition, and the entire train.
In January, 1862, out of 1000 men who joined the 29th regiment, 2nd Infantry (mounted), in March, 1861, only 469 men were left. The rest had been killed and wounded in service. Therefore, it was decided to muster that regiment out of the military service. This was done at St. Louis, Missouri, on January 27th, 1862. Col. William T. Sherman, who afterwards "marched through Georgia," was the officer who mustered out that regiment. Major Foster immediately after his muster out of the 27th regiment commenced making arrangements to re-enter the military service of the United States. In March 1862, Major Foster recruited a squadron, three full companies, from the survivors of the 27th regiment for the 7th Cavalry, Missouri State Militia, a regiment of which John F. Phillips was the colonel, and T. T. Crittenden, afterward Governor of this State, was the lieutenant colonel.
While recruiting this squadron for the 7th Cavalry at Warrensburg, Missouri, in March 1862, Major Foster was attacked near that place by a large band of guerrillas. In the sharp fight that ensued, the guerrillas were defeated and driven off. Major Foster was wounded in the arm in this fight, but remained in it.
From March to August, 1862, Major Foster was constantly in the field with his squadron of the 7th Cavalry; engaged in almost daily fighting, sometimes at heavy odds with various bands of guerillas in Western Missouri.
In April 1862, Major Foster came under fire from the local Johnson County residents and from his Superiors for ordering his men to burn the homes of many Southern Sympathizers throughout Johnson county. They had laid waste to much of the countryside. Whole neighborhoods had gone up in smoke. (Link to Provost Marshal Report)
On August 16, 1862, at Lone Jack in Jackson county, Missouri, Major Foster, with 740 men, fought a confederate force-of 3000 one entire day. It was one of the most desperate fights at close range of the Civil War. In the afternoon Major Foster was shot through the body, and his brother, Morris Foster, carried the Major off the firing line, receiving a bullet through his right lung, a wound from which he never recovered.
Upon arrival, Foster's force had encountered an 800-1,600 man sleeping Confederate recruiting force under Colonel John T. Coffee and Lieutenant Colonel John Charles Tracy and routed them. However, the firing of Foster's artillery alerted other Confederate recruiting commands in the area of his presence and intent. Confederates under Colonels Vard Cockrell, Upton Hays, and DeWitt C. Hunter were joined by Lt. Col. Tracy and a fierce five-hour battle ensued the next morning. The Federals withdrew after Foster was wounded and Col. Coffee's command joined Cockrell.
Foster and his brother were severely wounded, unable to withdraw, and were taken to a cabin. The cabin was captured by the Confederates and Foster was about to be executed by a member of Quantrill's Raiders when an 18-year old Cole Younger physically threw the gunman out sparing Foster's and his brother's lives. They gave $1,000 and their handguns to Younger who then delivered them to the Fosters' mother in Warrensburg, despite Cole Younger being a Confederate.
Cole Younger Saved the life Of Major Emory S. Foster, Warrensburg, MO
After the Major fell, his successor in command retreated to Lexington, while the Confederates retreated to Arkansas. Major Foster lost 240 men, killed and wounded in this fight. The Confederate commanders conceded that, but for his disabling wound, Major Foster may have won the battle.
Foster never recovered from the wound he received at Lone Jack. He suffered from it continuously until he died. After the battle, the surgeon of the 7th Cavalry, Dr. T. J. Montgomery of Sedalia, advised Major Foster to prepare for death. The Major refused to do so, and announced that he intended to recover and rejoin his regiment in the coming spring.
This he did in March 1863, to the astonishment of the doctors, while the regiment was stationed at Marshfield in Wright county, Missouri. There the officers of the 7th regiment presented Major Foster with the saber, revolvers and spurs, now in possession of The State Historical Society at Columbia, Missouri. The eloquent presentation speech was made by Col. John F. Philips.
The year 1863, until October, was spent by Major Foster in the field in active service with the 7th Regiment in Southwest Missouri.
In October 1863, Confederate General Joe Shelby, invaded Missouri from Arkansas. When Shelby reached the Osage River, at Warsaw, in his northward march, Major Foster was with the 7th Regiment at Osceola, Missouri. He was started in pursuit of Shelby by Gen. Brown, the Union commander then in the field, to prevent the capture of Sedalia by Shelby. Major Foster rode all night at the head of his squadron, attacked Shelby's squadron south of Sedalia, and thereby drove the Confederates away from Sedalia, as he supposed Foster's force was the advance guard of Gen. Brown's entire brigade. For this important service the people of Sedalia gave Major Foster a saddle, bridle and all equipment for his war horse.
The plan of the battle of Marshall, and Shelby's subsequent pursuit, was devised and carried out by Major Foster, who was Chief of Staff for Gen. Brown in this campaign. Shelby was overtaken at Marshall, Missouri, on October 12, 1863, where he was defeated, his force cut in two and driven out of the State.
Major Foster then remained with the 7th Regiment on active duty until June 1864, when his wound received at Lone Jack broke out again and he was, thereby forced to resign. Major Foster then returned to Warrensburg, Missouri where he remained until September 1864.
Than came the invasion of Missouri from Arkansas by the Confederate General, Sterling Price, with a large force. Gen. Brown was then at Warrensburg, and was ordered to march with his brigade to Jefferson City to aid in the defense of the city.
Major Foster was asked him to re-enlist and hold the place and save the stores. The General then marched with his command to Jefferson City. There was at that time at Warrensburg a number of Union soldiers whose terms of service had expired. In four days Major Foster recruited and mounted four companies of cavalry. Gen. Brown caused them to be mustered into the military service and appointed Major Foster to command them with the rank of major of volunteers, cavalry. With this force Major Foster held the town, and increased by foraging the stores on hand.
On October 16, Major Foster was ordered to proceed west until he met Gen. Blunt, who was moving east with a division of Kansas volunteers. Major Foster moved promptly and met Gen. Blunt at Plesant Hill, and returned with him to Hoiden. There, Major Foster's wound again disabled him so that he was compelled to divide his battalion and return with part of it. The remainder of the battalion he left at Warrensburg, at Holden under the command of Gen. Blunt. That part of Major's Foster's battalion, under its senior Captain, served in the field with Gen. Blunt for 40 days and nights and was with battles in which Gen. Price was defeated him in the subsequent and driven from the State.
In 1865, Major Foster was elected public printer for the State for a term of four years. He removed to Jefferson City and served with distinction in that office for four years. After his term of office expired he then removed to a fruit farm in Jefferson County, Missouri, and remained there two years.
He was then appointed managing editor of the St. Louis Journal, an evening paper, Shortly and removed to St. Louis. Thereafter the good people of Rockford, Illinois, concluded to hold a County Fair, and they invited Jefferson Davis, ex-president of the Southern Confederacy, to attend it.
The editorial comment in the St. Louis Journal of Major Foster's, on this act, was so severe and was followed in such hearty spirit by the Chicago papers that the invitation was withdrawn, although Mr.Davis declined it after considering it. The ex-Confederates in St. Louis, who resented Mr. Davis' treatment of General Joe Johnston, an able Confederate general, in removing him from command at Atlanta, Georgia in 1864, rather enjoyed this incident. Not so, as to many southern sympathizers then in St. Louis, who had not served in the army in the Civil War.
At that time the St. Louis Times, then a morning paper, was ably edited by Major John N. Edwards, a gallant Confederate soldier, who had served as Chief of Staff for Gen.Joe Shelby, and was the author of "Noted Guerrillas". He (Major Edwards) was so besieged by the "noncombatants," that he demanded a retraction from Major Foster. Major Foster promptly refused it. Major Edwards then challenged Major Foster to a duel. Major Foster accepted, and named Rockford, Illinois, as the place of meeting. The two majors met there and exchanged shots, fortunately missing each other. They were always personal friends after that duel. While editing the St. Louis Journal, Major Foster attacked the "Whiskey Ring," then a powerful organization in St. Louis, with such success as to cause its prosecution and conviction.
About 1881, Major Foster was appointed secretary of the Board of Public Improvements in St. Louis. He held that office for twenty consecutive years, until 1901, when his health failed and he was compelled to resign.
With the hope of regaining his health, which was then much impaired, Major Foster went to California in 1902. He died in Oakland, California, in December of that year. He is buried in the lot owned by the Grand Army of the Republic in Oakland, California.
James R. Baker Jr. Link
Meantime, however, Major Emory L. Foster, in command at Lexington, had hurried out to find Quantrill, if possible, and avenge Independence. Foster had nearly 1,000 cavalrymen and two pieces of Rabb's Indiana battery that had already made for itself a name for hard fighting. He did not dream of the presence of Cockrell and his command until he stumbled upon them in Lone Jack. At nightfall, the Indiana battery opened on Lone Jack, and the Confederate commands were cut in two, Coffee retreating to the south, while Cockrell withdrew to the west, and when Col. Hays and 18 I arrived, had his men drawn up in line of battle, while the officers were holding a council in his quarters. “Come in, Colonel Hays,” exclaimed Col. Cockrell. “We just sent a runner out to look you up. We want to attack Foster and beat him in the morning. He will just be a nice breakfast spell.” Col. Hays sent me back to bring up his command, but on second thought said: “No, Lieutenant, I'll go, too.” On the way back he asked me what I thought about Foster being a “breakfast spell.” “I think he'll be rather tough meat for breakfast,” I replied. “He might be all right for dinner.” But Cockrell and Foster were neighbors in Johnson county, and Cockrell did not have as good an idea of Foster's fighting qualities that night as he did twenty-four hours later. The fight started at daybreak, hit or miss, an accidental gunshot giving Foster's men the alarm. For five hours it waged, most of the time across the village street, not more than sixty feet wide, and during those five hours every recruit there felt the force of Gen. Sherman's characterization—“War is hell.” Jackman, with a party of thirty seasoned men, charged the Indiana guns, and captured them, but Major Foster led a gallant charge against the invaders and recaptured the pieces. We were out of ammunition, and were helpless, had the fight been pressed. Riding to the still house where we had left the wagon munitions we had taken a few days before at Independence, I obtained a fresh supply and started for the action on the gallop. Of that mad ride into the camp, I remember little except that I had my horse going at full tilt before I came into the line of fire. Although the enemy was within 150 yards, I was not wounded. They did mark my clothes in one or two places, however. Major Foster, in a letter to Judge George M. Bennett of Minneapolis, said: “During the progress of the fight, my attention was called to a young Confederate riding in front of the Confederate line, distributing ammunition to the men from what seemed to be a ‘splint basket.’ He rode along under a most galling fire from our side the entire length of the Confederate lines, and when he had at last disappeared, our boys recognized his gallantry in ringing cheers. I was told by some of our men from the western border of the state that they recognized the daring young rider as Cole Younger. About 9:30 a.m., I was shot down. The wounded of both forces were gathered up and were placed in houses. My brother and I, both supposed to be mortally wounded, were in the same bed. About an hour after the Confederates left the field, the ranking officer who took command when I became unconscious, gathered his men together and returned to Lexington. Soon after the Confederates returned. The first man who entered my room was a guerrilla, followed by a dozen or more men who seemed to obey him. He was personally known to me and had been my enemy from before the war. He said he and his men had just shot a lieutenant of a Cass county company whom they found wounded and that he would shoot me and my brother. While he was standing over us, threatening us with his drawn pistol, the young man I had seen distributing ammunition along in front of the Confederate line rushed into the room from the west door and seizing the fellow, thrust him out of the room. Several Confederates followed the young Confederate into the room, and I heard them call him Cole Younger. He (Younger) sent for Col. Cockrell (in command of the Confederate forces) and stated the case to him. He also called the young man Cole Younger and directed him to guard the house, which he did. My brother had with him about $300, and I had about $700. This money and our revolvers were, with the knowledge and approval of Cole Younger, placed in safe hands, and were finally delivered to my mother in Warrensburg, Mo. Cole Younger was then certainly a high type of manhood, and every inch a soldier, who risked his own life 19 to protect that of wounded and disabled enemies. I believe he still retains those qualities and would prove himself as good a citizen as we have among us if set free, and would fight for the Stars and Stripes as fearlessly as he did for the Southern flag. I have never seen him since the battle of Lone Jack. I know much of the conditions and circumstances under which the Youngers were placed after the war, and knowing this, I have great sympathy for them. Many men, now prominent and useful citizens of Missouri, were, like the Youngers, unable to return to their homes until some fortunate accident threw them with men they had known before the war, who had influence enough to make easy their return to peace and usefulness. If this had occurred to the Youngers, they would have had good homes in Missouri.” It is to Major Foster's surprise of the command at Lone Jack that Kansas City owes its escape from being the scene of a hard battle August 17, 1862. Quantrill was not in the fight at Lone Jack at all, but Jarrette and Gregg did come up with some of Quantrill's men just at the end and were in the chase back toward Lexington. In proportion to the number of men engaged, Lone Jack was one of the hardest fights of the war. That night there were 136 dead and 550 wounded on the battlefield.