Civil War Article:
Rolla, Missouri January 31, 1862
The history of the rebellion in this State will exhibit a no more gallant instance of heroism, than the following account of a remarkable siege in which two men held out over one hour against the attack of twenty five before they were forced to withdraw.
To begin three of Wood 's Cavalry went on a visit to the house of George A. Bezoni in Texas County, near the village of Houston in Roubideaux Township. Their names were John Bezoni John Weddell , and Orderly-Sergeant Mack. The owner of the house, George A. Bezoni, had gone on a visit to a sick man, five miles distant from the house.
On Saturday last, twenty-five
mounted rebels under command of Captain Coleman advanced towards the house
occupied by the above inmates, having been informed of the presence of
the Union soldiers there by a spy in the neighborhood. The rebels came
up about 11:00 a.m. to the margin of the wood on the south side of the
house, and separating into two divisions, one of them advanced on the main
road towards the house. The other division skulked along the edge of the
wood where they captured Andrew Bezoni, a boy about sixteen, near a spring,
and seeing John Weddell passing along the path from the spring towards
the house with a pail of water, ordered him to halt, Weddell obeying the
order, was fired upon and shot in the back He fell upon the ground
disabled. The report of the firing brought John Bezoni and Sergeant
Mack out of the house, when they discovered the first division of the rebels
turning down the lane towards the house for the main road Bezoni having
a loaded carbine in his hand, fired upon the advancing column and brought
it to a halt, and one of the men was dismounted by his fire
The wounded rebel was picked up, and the rebels returned to the main road, dismounted from their horses, and commenced firing into the house from the cover of the fences. The party concealed the woods also began to pour in a fire on the house, from behind the trees Bezoni, and Sergeant Mack meantime secured their pistols from the holsters on their horses, saddles and repaired to the house for shelter, Bezoni, taking a stand for the time being in one door, and Mack undertaking to defend the other. The inmates of the house consisted of Mrs. Bezoni the wife of George and eight children. The rebels evidently supposed that several men were in possession ready to defend the house to the last extremity. The balls flew so thick about the head of Mack that he was obliged to close the door and screen himself within the house. Bezoni maintained his position at his door for some time, returning the fire of the enemy, and endeavoring to convey an impression that the house was well garrisoned. He discovered a rebel behind a tree, who had discharged his piece several times. Taking aim at this fellow, the latter discovered the intent of Bezoni, changed his position and took aim from the other side of the tree. Both fired at the some instant. Bezoni was hit by a glance shot over the left eye, while his antagonist was evidently hit, as he fell forward on his face and was observed crawling away hugging the ground, he was carried off by his companions. At this time Bezoni procured an inch an a half auger, and commenced boring holes through the planks of the house to form loop-holes to fire from. Two holes were bored in a place one above the other and the intervening wood was cut out, making one loop-hole. The women engaged in this operation, and Esther, the oldest girl was occupied in preparing cartridges and placing them on the table for the defenders. As soon as a new loop-hole was made, the muzzle of a carbine would be run out and made to blaze away on the enemy. The bullets of the latter would come tearing through the house, the walls of which, being made of upright planks an inch and a quarter in thickness, and offering but little impediment to the passage of the dreadful messengers of death. The children began to recover from their consternation.
Albert a small boy of four years old who had been ordered by his uncle to crawl into bed, had caught a spent bullet in his hand and holding it up said: "Uncle John, here is another bullet for you" about this time, a suspension of hostilities took place, and Andrew Bezoni , the boy taken prisoner by the rebels, was sent by the latter on a mission to the besieged garrison. The rebels made a proposal that if the men in the house would come out, lay down their arms, and take the confederate oath, they would not be further molested. The proposition was indignantly spurned, and the boy was sent back with an answer to that effect at the same time a proposition was sent to the Captain of the rebels, that if he wished to hold a personal interview with the commander at the garrison, the latter would order his men to cease firing, and he should not be injured. On this agreement. Captain Coleman came up and held a parley with Bezoni, the result of which was a repetition by Coleman of his demand to deliver up their arms and take the oath, which Bezoni answered by offering to give ten minutes to the rebels to leave, or he would open his fire upon them with renewed vigor from the port-holes. The parley was protracted by Bezoni in expectation that his brother would arrive. Coleman, pointing to Weddell who still lay in the path where he fell, said: That man has a sword with him." Bezoni answered, "you pass that man and don't touch him, or you are a dead man."
Coleman returned to his men, when very providentially at this time Mr. George A. Bezoni was observed by the people in the house coming up. The latter was hailed, too, and requested to hurry up and bring up his reinforcements at the same time Esther, the daughter, was sent to her father to state the circumstances of their perilous situation, and requesting him not to come up as he could not pass the rebel fire in safety. He therefore hurried back to Hull's house to get the Texas Rangers stopped there, and bring them up to the rescue of his family. Meantime the enemy, evidently concerned for their safety, picked up their wounded, raised the siege, and gradually retired, having been worsted in the object of their visit, by the gallant defenders of the house. After they left, Mr. Weddell was brought in, having laid where he was first shot over on hour. The children went to him several times during the fight and give him water to quench his thirst. On these occasions he would send word back to the house. "Tell the boys to never surrender." Weddell was wounded with one bullet and five buckshot, but he will get well. Several blankets were left on the ground by the rebels. The house on two sides, is pretty well riddled with bullet holes and in view of this fact, it is wonderful that the inmates of the besieged dwelling escaped with a scratch. Coleman, the leader is an old Rolla citizen, and left when the troops arrived in that place.
This article was written
by a famous St. Louis Newspaper writer of that time.
Submitted by Fred K. Bowen
©2007-2008 Rhonda Darnell