October 6, 1863
Major General J.G. Blunt left Ft. Scott on October 4, 1863 en route to Ft. Smith. With him was his military escort consisting of about 125 men from Company I, Third Wisconsin Cavalry, and Company A, Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry. They proceeded by way of the Military Road, intending to visit Ft. Blair on the way. Gen. Blunt seemed to care a great deal about military display. He was proud of his elegantly uniformed band which played in the plaza at Ft. Scott before they departed.
Advancing south toward Baxter Springs and Ft. Blair, they crossed the ford at Willow Creek on the afternoon of October 6, where they stopped to prepare to proceed to the fort. The members of the band were ordered to the front. Gen. Blunt and his staff rode in the new ambulance, and were followed by the cavalry soldiers. The supply wagons brought up the rear. The approaching army stood out in striking contrast to the dull brown background of the autumn afternoon. They were easily seen by Quantrill's men who were regrouping northeast of Ft. Blair intending to attack the fort a second time.
Noticing the mounted soldiers dressed in federal unifroms [sic] advancing from Spring River, Blunt at first thought them to be an escort sent by Lt. Pond to welcome him. By the time he realized they were rebels, Blunt had little time to order his men into position for an attack. Quantrill's men charged them at once. Seeing that they were greatly outnumbered by possibly five to one, the Union soldiers turned and fled over the prairie.
Nearly all of Blunt's men were killed, perhaps as many as 95, although some reports differ about the number. Blunt was one of the few to survive. Quantrill's men, ignoring the rules of war, shot every man they encountered, even those trying to surrender. Many others were shot in the back of the head as they lay wounded on the prairie. The battle, known as the Baxter Springs Massacre, marked the end of Blunt's distinguished military careeer. After raiding the wagons for supplies and liquor, Quantrill and his men continued on south, hoping to spend the winter in Texas.
The next day was spent recovering and burying the bodies of the dead in the area directly north of the fort. There they remained until 1870 when they were disinterred and buried one mile west of town in the soldier's plot within Baxter Springs Cemetery. In 1886, a monument built by the government was dedicated to the memory of the officers and soldiers who were killed in Baxter Springs, October 6, 1863.