Robert L Foster and His Cousins

Robert L Foster and His Cousins


Battle of the Little Blue (Civil War) Oct 23, 1864

Three members of the same family fight in "The Little Blue"

  • Missouri

Robert L. Foster (1834-1904), of Indiana and Nebraska, son of Dennis Foster, and grandson of Robert Foster, fought in this battle of the Civil War along with Robert L's cousins Silas Jackson Foster and Milton Smith Foster, who were brothers.  These were Robert's cousins from his mother's side of the family.  How is it that they all have the surname 'Foster?'  Their parents were cousins, both with the last name of Foster. (Dennis Foster b.1799 KY married Mary 'Polly' Foster, daughter of Harrison and Anna Margarett (Bartlett) Foster.  Robert L and his cousins were all great-grandsons of William Peyton Foster b. 1747 VA, a hero of the Revolutionary War.


On Sept 27, 1864, Gen. Price, with his Confederate Army, invaded Missouri from the south, advancing almost to St. Lewis, where he made a westward turn. At first sign of invasions, the Kansas forces, under Gen. Blunt, were called out to help in the defense of Missouri. The union units, to which the Foster brothers belonged, set up a defense line just east of Lexington, Missouri, where the Rebel forces attacked them.

After a short, sharp engagement, the Rebel force outflanked this position, and the Union Militia retired to the west bank of the Little Blue River. They had gotten a few reinforcements, but, again, the confederates outflanked their position. The Union force retired still further westward and set up a defense position bordering Indepence Missouri. More reinforcements arrived during the night, under Gen. Curtis, who out-ranked Gen. Blunt.

All during October 22, Gen. Price's forces attacked the Union troops with infantry, cannon and cavalry. This time, the reinforced Kansas Militia was able to beat off each assault, although the Confederates did capture a portion of Independence. During the night, however, Union Army units that had been dogging Gen. Price's trail, arrived on the scene. Again the opposing forces battled long and hard, until finally a Union cavalry charge pushed the Rebels out of Independence. Soon thereafter, Gen. Price decided he had urgent business in the state of Arkansas, and took off with the Union troops in hot pursuit. It was during this pursuit that Milton S. Foster was taken prisoner and confined in the infamous prison at Tyler, Texas.

This is the way Silas J. Foster described the battle of October 23, 1864:-- "After a cool, damp night, we lay in the 'brash' along the Little Blue and traded shots with the Rebels. Early in the fight, one of my men was hit by a sharpshooter, the Minis ball lodging under the skin near his elbow. While he was removing the ball with his knife, a second ball entered just above the elbow, drove upward under the skin, and lodged near his shoulder.

The damp air 'helt' the smoke from our muskets and cannon close to the ground, so thick we often had to hold our fire till it cleared enough so we could see targets to shoot at. We would have at it again, but after a few rounds from our cannon, and musket volleys, the smoke would be as thick as before., But we were doing pretty well, for the Rebs had had enough after taking our lead for three hours. They headed south, with us on their tails. We hiked our boots off, but were unable to catch 'em, and we were very willin' to let the horse soldier take over the job at evening of the second day." (In his every day speech, like most of his age group, Silas J. (Silas Jackson Foster) used see'd for saw, Brash for brush, and fought was alwasy, fit.) from "Seedlings of William Foster" by Flavius M. Foster , Bk II pg. 39

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