The Story of Cole Younger – 5 Vengeance Indeed

Vengeance Indeed

Among the Jackson county folks who insisted on their right to shelter their friends was an old man named Blythe.

Col. Peabody at Independence had sent out a scouting party to find me or any one else of the company they could “beat up.” Blythe was not at home when they came but his son, aged twelve, was. They took him to the barn and tried to find out where we were, but the little fellow baffled them until he thought he saw a chance to break through the guard, and started for the house.

He reached it safely, seized a pistol, and made for the woods followed by a hail of bullets. They dropped him in his tracks, but, game to the last, he rolled over as he fell, shot one of his pursuers dead, mortally wounded a second, and badly hurt a third.

They put seventeen bullets in him before he could shoot a fourth time.

A negro servant who had witnessed the seizure of his young master, had fled for the timber, and came upon a party of a dozen of us, including Quantrell and myself. As he quickly told us the story, we made our plans, and ambushed at the “Blue Cut,” a deep pass on the road the soldiers must take back to Independence. The banks are about thirty feet high, and the cut about fifty yards wide.

Not a shot was to be fired until the entire command was in the cut.

Thirty-eight had started to “round up” Cole Younger that morning; seventeen of them lay dead in the cut that night and the rest of them had a lively chase into Independence.

To this day old residents know the Blue Cut as “the slaughter-pen.”

Early in May, 1862, Quantrell’s men were disbanded for a month. Horses were needed, and ammunition. There were plenty of horses in Missouri, but the ammunition presented more of a problem.

Capt. Quantrell, George Todd and myself, attired as Union officers, went to Hamilton, a small town on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, undetected by the company of the Seventh United States Cavalry in camp there, although we put up at the principal hotel. Todd passed as a major in the Sixth Missouri Cavalry, Quantrell a major in the Ninth, and I a captain in an Illinois regiment. At Hannibal there was a regiment of Federal soldiers. The commander talked very freely with us about Quantrell, Todd, Haller, Younger, Blunt, Pool and other guerrillas of whom he had heard.

While in Hannibal we bought 50,000 revolver caps and such other ammunition as we needed. From there we went to St. Joseph, which was under command of Col. Harrison B. Branch.

“Too many majors traveling together are like too many roses in a bouquet,” suggested Todd. “The other flowers have no show.”

He reduced himself to captain and I to lieutenant.

Our disguise was undiscovered. Col. Branch entertained us at his headquarters most hospitably.

“I hope you may kill a guerrilla with every bullet I have sold you,” said one merchant to me. “I think if ever there was a set of devils let loose, it is Quantrell, Todd, Cole Younger and Dave Pool.”

From St. Joseph we went to Kansas City in a hack, sending Todd into Jackson county with the ammunition. When within three miles of Kansas City the hack was halted by a picket on outpost duty, and while the driver argued with the guard, Quantrell and I slipped out on the other side of the hack and made our way to William Bledsoe’s farm, where we were in friendly hands.


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