During the Civil War, 1861-1865, Daviess County furnished over 900 men for the Union Army and something over 300 for the Confederate Army. The following account published on June 18, 1936, of the Gallatin Democrat reveals an incident of murder and courage at a home near Pattonsburg, MO.
During the Civil War, a band of marauders, called bushwhackers, pillaged and terrorized the country. In 1864, this group murdered David Lockwood at his home in the western part of Daviess County. It is believed to have been this same group of murderers who called at the home of John Meadows, three miles north of the present site of Pattonsburg. The courage displayed by John’s wife, Nancy, has become a tradition in that family’s history.
Mrs. Meadows sat in the doorway of her home holding a butcher knife in one hand and a lighted candle in the other, and held the marauders at bay long enough to allow her husband to get away from the back entrance and see help. When sufficient time had elapsed, she allowed the band to enter to keep them from setting fire to the house.
She held her lighted candle in their faces, which had been painted black, and announced, “I know every one of the black devils.” They searched the house, missing $800, which had been hidden near the fireplace. They left amid curses and threats.
Mr. Meadows and the aide he had secured traced the group to a nearby well where the pillagers had washed the black from their faces. The house in which this incident occurred was destroyed by fire in 1881; the house which was built to replace it now forms the front part of the Charley Meadows home north of Pattonsburg, MO.
— information presented by Frosty Meadows of Bethany, MO
Horses and anything of any value were frequently targeted for theft by Bushwackers. The term “bushwacker” applied to those who swore no allegiance to either side and often united into bands of outlaws preying on both sides. The term “jayhawker” once applied to predatory bands in Kansas, but through common usage came to be applied to anyone doing looting. [image from the State Historical Society of Missouri]
Illustration of guerrillas allegedly torturing members of the 5th Missouri Cavalry. The actions of a band of guerrillas who captured five men from the 5th Cavalry Regiment of the Missouri State Militia, from Jackson County: “Their captors cut off their ears, and mutilated their bodies in a manner too shocking for belief. Still these soldiers lived, and to the great delight of the rebels, were conscious of their sufferings. These prisoners were then laid down and their bodies again tortured — the fiends filled their ears with powder, and with live coals flashed it off. In vain the victims prayed for the mercy of instant death. They were only answered by curses. The torturing process was again repeated.” This sequence of events from the incident cannot be confirmed, but official Union reports stated that the victims’ bodies were found with missing ears and signs of torture. [Image courtesy of the St. Joseph Public Library]
Throughout the American Civil War, as vast armies in blue and gray clashed on conventional battlefields, a drastically different kind of conflict was raging as well: a bloody guerrilla war that erupted in the South in response to Federal invasion. Characterized by ambushes, surprise raids, and irregular styles of combat, this guerrilla war became savage, chaotic, and often disorganized. The guerrilla war, as waged by both Confederate guerrillas and Unionists in the South, gathered in intensity between 1861 and 1865 and had a profound impact on the outcome of the war. [Library of Congress]