Monroe County & the Civil War

The Death of Federal Soldier, Jack Case

The Botts Family Cemetery, located southeast of Santa Fe in Monroe County, contains a stone (rock) marker indicating the burial site of a Federal soldier killed during the Botts Skirmish on Botts Bluff (called Battle of Santa Fe in Federal records). The story relayed in the Botts Family Cemetery Listing by Mrs. Otto Roth in 1968 indicated that the soldier, whose name records showed was Jack Case, was buried by the Botts family in their cemetery plot.  

Here is “the rest of the story” extracted from “With Porter in North Missouri” by Joseph A. Mudd. This incident occurred near Santa Fe on July 24, 1862, several days after the First Northeast Missouri Cavalry, C.S.A., better known as Porter’s Regiment, fought with the Federals in the Battle of Florida.  


“Our march was in a southwesterly direction and extended some twenty miles. The guides and couriers along the route were carefully instructed as to what they were to say to the Federals in answer to their questioning concerning our movements and our strength. In certain contingencies our numbers were to be underestimated, our appearance demoralized, our horse worn out, but still pressed forward with whip and spur; in others our numbers were to be greatly overestimated, recruits pouring in, morale unimpaired and men eager to meet the enemy. As soon as darkness had well set in we turned back and, almost retracing our steps, went into camp at daylight in a secluded spot not far from Santa Fe.  

We had a good rest for thirty hours… the word to saddle was passed around… a mile or two from camp… told that the Federals were down the road a short distance and that we should meet them in a few minutes if we kept on… By some means a break in the column had occurred just behind Captain Porter’s company, leaving that company and ours to compose the advance. The colonel said there was an excellent spot for battle about a third of a mile to our left and that our little force could hold any number of Federals until the other companies came up. We lost no time in getting there. The place seemed to be made for our purpose. Our horses were completely sheltered and the contour of ground was favorable to us. When the remainder of the command had come up and taken its place - an event looked for with interest and which happened in the nick of time – a bank eighteen inches deep was a natural fortification for one-third of our men on the left, and two half-decayed logs lying in a straight line, with a gap of ten feet between, were in the proper position on our right, leaving us in the center to hug the ground. The colonel standing behind our company ordered every man, officer and private, to lie flat on the ground. This was scarcely done before the enemy began firing. They fired eight or ten volleys before they came into sight, the bullets whistling over us… After the fifth volley Colonel Porter in a low tone gave the order to load, and it was passed up and down the line. We turned on our backs, loaded our pieces and quickly and quietly resumed our position… The Federal commander now caught sight of us… ‘Ready!’ rang out the clear silvery voice of Colonel Porter, and a moment later: ‘Fire!’. When the smoke from our volley, which was as if from one gun, cleared away, not a Federal could be seen except those prone on the ground… In a little while the colonel called for a volunteer picket guard, one from each company, to go forward and ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy… The pickets returned in about a half hour and reported that the enemy had also thrown out pickets of foot, who retired before ours and soon the whole force had gone out of sight… 

While we were waiting for the return of the pickets Tom Moore said: ‘Boys, you see that man lying yonder behind that tree? He’s mine. You know the colonel’s orders have always been to fire behind trees and that’s the reason why he won’t let us stand behind tress, afraid the Feds might get onto the same practice. Well, when ‘ready’ came, I covered this man and as soon as we are allowed to break ranks we’ll go over there and you’ll find a small bullet wound in his belly. You know I have the only rifle in the crowd. If you don’t find the little bullet hole just where I say I’ll own up that somebody else got him.’ 

Concerning this affair Captain B.F. Crail, of the Third Iowa Cavalry, writes: ‘On the 24th of July Major Caldwell mustered up eighty men and pursued Porter and ran into him at Santa Fe. I had the advance and ran your pickets off the road in toward Salt River. When the major came up he ordered me to dismount with part of my men, go in and reconnoiter to find out your location. I proceeded with seventeen men. I was within a hundred feet of you before I saw you. You had piled up some old logs on a bank and fired a volley of buckshot into us the first thing. I ordered my men to lie down, but was too late. I had one many killed and ten wounded. You had one man killed that I saw later. We buried him on the widow Botts’ farm by the side of my man, Case. The Major thought we did not have enough men to meet you then. We followed Porter south, but stopped at Mexico to care for our wounded.’ 

I saw very many more than seventeen Federals before we fired and probably I did not see them all, as the undergrowth was thick in places… We did not have any pickets out. Our company was in the lead and we left the road in quick time for our position, before we saw the Federals and before they saw us… The piled up logs mentioned by Captain Crail were the two separate logs, where they had lain since they were felled. I know the captain aims to tell the truth, because that is his character, but we had a better and much longer view of the logs and the whole surrounding than he had.  

I did not go with Tom Moore to verify his contention that he shot the man behind the tree, but one or two from our company did and a few others fell in with them. I was shortly afterwards told of a circumstance that reflected little credit on one of our boys and revealed a very discreditable record of the unfortunate victim of Tom’s bullet. When the man was reached he was unconscious and his death seemed to be a question of a few minutes. Some one suggested that his pockets be searched for a possible letter to identify him and the name and address of some relative whose notification would be an act of kindness. There was a letter. It was disgustingly filth and I shall not tell the relationship of the writer to the recipient. The soldier who discovered it - I cannot believe that he was a member of our company - giggled over its contents and gleefully read it aloud. The wounded man opened his eyes, feebly asked for water and, when it was given him, feebly murmured his gratitude.  

A stately man came carelessly by without a glance at the little group; it was Lucian Durkee’s companion – he who never smiled (note: Mudd refers to this man earlier in his book as the retiring and taciturn almost melancholy companion of Lucian B. Durkee and whose name he has forgotten; both Durkee and this man were inseparable, having joined the Porter group from Captain Caldwell’s company in July just before the Battle of Vassar Hill). The giggling idiot with the letter arrested his attention. One look at the name on the envelope lighted the hottest fire of the inferno. ‘Is this your name?’ reading it to the prostrate man. ‘Yes.’ ‘You are the damned scoundrel that murdered my brother because in the over-crowded foul-smelling prison at Palmyra he came to the window for a breath of fresh air. If you have a prayer to say before you die, say it now. Your black soul has only one minute more to pollute this earth.’ The watch; one minute, then the revolver. They said the handsome face mirrored the demon, and the writhing form of the victim was horrible to see. 

The names connected with this incident dropped out of my memory, but the other details are as vivid as they were when first told to me. Not one of Porter’s men with whom I have communicated - and I have corresponded with every known survivor - remembers the incident. Probably not one now living, except myself, ever heard of it. Frank McAtee, of Portland, Oregon, in writing his recollections, mentions that Tom Moore mortally wounded a Federal soldier named Jack Case. When Captain Crail told of burying ‘his man Case,’… I asked Frank how he learned the name of Tom Moore’s victim. In reply he writes, ‘I do not remember which one of the boys it was that told me the name of the man wounded by Tom Moore at Botts Bluff was Jack Case. It might have been some one in the military prison in St. Louis.’ So it is established that our men knew that name of the Federal soldier who was killed. This slight corroboration is all the verification of this story I have been able to get after very considerable effort. I have failed to learn if Case had a wound in the temple as well as in the stomach, and failed to learn if he ever did guard duty at a military prison. I have no criticism for the man who did the horrible deed. Had his position been mine I believe that the admonition ‘Vengeance is mine, and I will repay,’ would have guided my action, but I do not know.” 

Source: Extracted by Lisa Perry from “With Porter in North Missouri” by Joseph A. Mudd, pp. 84, 148-156.