Once in retreat, the Rebels did not halt until out of harm’s reach. Their camp lay in the line of retreat, but they made no stop in passing it. Following in the rear of our column, I entered the camp, and found many signs of a hasty departure. I found the fires burning, and dozens of coffee-pots and frying-pans filled with the materials for breakfast. Here was a pan full of meat fried to a crisp, from the neglect of the cook to remove it before his sudden exodus. A few feet distant lay a ham, with a knife sticking in a half-severed slice. A rude camp-table was spread with plates and their accessories, and a portion of the articles of food were carefully arranged. The seats for the breakfast party were in position, two of them being overturned. I could not help fancying the haste with which that table had been abandoned, only a few moments before. The tents were standing, and in some the blankets were lying on the ground, as if they had been very suddenly vacated. In one tent was a side-saddle, a neat pair of gaiters, and a hoop-skirt. The proper connection of those articles with the battle-field I was unable to ascertain.
In that camp was a fine lot of provisions, arms, equipments, and ammunition. Saddles were numerous, but there were no horses. It was evident that, the hasty evacuation left no time for the simple process of saddling.
Early in the day I had come into possession of a horse with a very poor outfit. Once in camp, I was not slow to avail myself of the privilege of supply. I went into battle on foot, carrying only a knapsack containing a note-book and two pieces of bread. When the fight was over, I was the possessor of a horse and all the equipments for a campaign. I had an overcoat, a roll of fine blankets, and a pair of saddle-bags. The latter were well filled from the trunk of some one I had not the pleasure of knowing, but who was evidently “just my size.” Mr. Barnes, of the Missouri Democrat, was my companion on that occasion. He was equally careful to provide himself from the enemy’s stores, but wasted, time in becoming sentimental over two love-letters and a photograph of a young woman.
The flags captured in this affair were excellent illustrations of the policy of the leading Secessionists. There was one Rebel flag with the arms of the State of Missouri filling the field. There was a State flag, with only fifteen stars surrounding the coat of arms. There was a. Rebel flag, with the State arms in the center, and there was one Rebel flag of the regular pattern. The rallying-cry at that time was in behalf of the State, and the people were told they must act for Missouri, without regard to any thing else. In no part of the country was the “State Rights” theory more freely used. All the changes were rung upon the sovereignty of States, the right of Missouri to exclude United States soldiers from her soil, the illegality of the formation of Union regiments, and the tyranny of the General Government.