The death of Captain Rock Champion
The following is an old newspaper article from the Missouri Republician, in St. Louis, MO, submitted by Jim McGhee from Missouri. It was authored by an unknown 2nd Missouri Cavalry trooper and is an eyewitness acount of the death of Rock Champion of St. Louis, MO.
A Square Cavalry Fight
Springfield, MO., October 11, 1886
After the evacuation of Corinth, Miss., by the Confederates in 1862, the Confederate cavalry, sometimes a regiment, sometimes a brigade, then a division, first under the command of one general, then another, in a department composed of Northern Mississippi and Alabama and Southern Tennessee, played a game of shuttlecock or advance and retreat during the next three years of the war. Therefore, giving sketches of the numerous movements and engagements must be taken at random, without regard to date. The first engagement of note after a brigade was formed under command of Gen Frank Armstrong that I remember was at Middleburg, Tenn., the first and only open field hand-to-hand fight I ever saw where both forces charged simultaneously, the Second Missouri rebel cavalry and Second Illinois cavalry leading the opposing forces. Gen. Armstrong formed his brigade on the south side of a cotton field; the federals on the north side. The fences were thrown down and the two regiments above mentioned were preparing for action when Capt. Rock Champion, with a squad of Kelly's celebrated company of St. Louis, made a brave but probably rash charge. As a matter of course, Col. McCulloch then ordered the regiment into the charge, the federals doing the same. Capt. Champion, however, and some of his devoted riders never reached the heat of the action, but were killed on the outset. If I mistake not, the body of John Brun was found lying across the body of his captain. The two regiments met in the middle of the field, and right gallant was the contest for a few minutes. Shot-guns and horse-pistols, on the one side, against Sharp's rifles and Colt's army pistols on the other side, at short range, first; then sabres made a lively affray. Col. Hogg of the Second Illinois was killed, which demoralized the enemy, and they fell back on their reserved, composed of infantry. Quite a number of the enemy, I remember, had charged through our line, and when they discovered the retreat of their friends made a dash back. Some succeeded, others were either killed or wounded and captured. The writer remembers that in this dash, having no sabre, shot-gun and horse-pistol both empty, he was charged upon by a mounted federal, but, making a rapid move to one side, escaped, and so did the federal. As our colonel was usually at the front when there was danger, this was no exception. He was beset by several of the enemy, when Tom Turner, a gallant private, dashed to his aid and rescue, thereby winning promotion, not coming off without honorable wounds, however. This was the end of the fight, as the main forces were not brought into action. We withdrew without accomplishing any good result, but with the loss of a brave captain and a number of good men, and the breaking up of his small company and distributing the members among the other companies. Capt. Tippett, now of St. Louis, if living, retained the larger portion of them. As Capt. Champion led in this double charge, the only one I ever saw, it may be well enough to mention in this sketch that the members of the company, mostly Irishmen, were the heroes of many a daring deed during the war.
Missouri Republican, St. Louis, MO. November 13, 1886
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