Civil War historians often speculate that if there was one area of the state least likely to see guerrilla warfare throughout the war, that area would encompass several of the upper counties in Northwest Missouri. Comparatively speaking, perhaps yes; but there is evidence otherwise. These counties were generally north of St. Joseph and up against the Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa borders. The “Upper Counties” of Northwest Missouri arbitrarily include Andrew, Atchison, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Mercer, Nodaway, and Worth. The following is presented in contrast to idle speculation.

Rodney Green of Albany, MO, researched, compiled and wrote this comprehensive work on the Civil War using various and even primary sources, with editing by Darryl Wilkinson of Gallatin, MO. This is the last draft of what Mr. Green had intended to eventually published and distribute as a hardback book; instead, this extensive focus on the Civil War in Northwest Missouri is presented here in digital format. Images have been added at the time this is being posted online and were not a part of Mr. Green’s original drafts.

The Civil War in the Upper Counties

of Northwest Missouri

by Rod Green, Albany, MO
(This draft last revised June 11, 2018)

Table of Contents


Polarized by Politics: Missouri Quickly Enters the War
The Impact of Order No. 11 on Northwest Missouri
Defining the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri

Chapter 1 — Lurching Into War (1861)

DeKalb County Railroad Bridge Burning (1860)
Icy Incident of the “Mackerel Brigade” Home Guard (1861)
No Show for Battle at the Isaac Miller Trace (1861)
Military Camps of the Upper Counties (1861)
Earthen Fort Built by 800 Near King City
Union Camps and Camp Everly (1861)
The Rebel Camp at Havana, Gentry County (abandoned, 1864)

Chapter 2 — Sabotaging the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad (1861)

Federal Dominance after the Sabotage (1861-65)
Dealing With the Jayhawkers (1862)
The Paw-Paw Militia (1862)
Six Killed During Skirmish in Daviess County (1962)

Chapter 3 — Targeting Capt. Comstock (1862)

Letter to the Publisher: Charley Comstock, Leave or Die! (1862)
The Handguns of Charley Comstock

Chapter 4 — Provosts, Knights and Copperheads

Lincoln Shocked Over Missouri’s Marshal Law
Marshal Law Applied in the Upper Counties
Loyalty Oath (1862)
State Convention Oath (right to vote)
Confederate Oath of Allegiance
Death in Refusing the Oath (1863)
Knights of the Golden Circle (1863)
Dang Near Impossible to Keep a Secret

Chapter 5 — A Damned Sight Worse Than Quantrill (1863)

Joe Hart Guerilla Band (1863)
Jayhawk Raids in the Upper Counties (1864)
Corporal Parman’s Disastrous Patrol (1864)
Raiding George Findley’s Home in Alanthus (1864)
Holt County Man Shot in the Head at Front Door (1864)
Rare Sniper Fire in Harrison County (1864)
Holtzclaw Rebel Reprisal in Grundy County (1864)
Rebel Joseph J. Weldon Captured at Decatur, Iowa (1864)
Depredations by Local Militias (1865)

Chapter 6 — The Ambush of “Bloody Bill” Anderson (1864)

Shot Between the Eyes Trying to Surrender (1864)
Centralia Massacre Makes “Bloody Bill” the Target (1864)
Who Really Killed “Bloody Bill”?
Vowed Revenge Takes Innocent Life (1869)
From Guerilla Warfare to Peacetime Outlaws

Chapter 7 — After the War, More Death

Killing Captain Shoemaker (1866)
Shooting the Bully, William Brumfield (1868)
The Torn and Knotted Flag (1880)

Chapter 8 — Purely Speculation

Kessler and Milligan Hung by a Mob (1858)

Chapter 9 — Militia in Northwest Missouri

          1st Regiment Missouri State Militia Calvary (Union)

Overlapping Federal Militias:

Home Guard (1861)
Six-Month Militia (1861)
Missouri State Militia (MSM)
Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM)
EMM Units’ Knack for Getting Into Trouble
Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (PEMM)
Provisional Enrolled Militia (PEM)
Missouri Militia G.O. #3 (MM-G.O.#3)

Missouri Confederate State Guard (MSG)
Grades in the Union Army
Civil War Uniforms
Camden Point Flag at the Paw Paw Desertion (1864)
The Black Flag: Symbol of Death

Chapter 10 — Small Arms Common to the Upper Counties

Musket and Rifle-Musket Shoulder Arms
Carbine-Musket and Rifle-Musket Small Arms
Percussion Revolvers
Small Arms Used in the Upper Counties
The Guerillas and Their Revolvers
Arming Major Cox’s Daviess County Militia
To Skirmish Winners Go the Spoils





Once Civil War hostilities of national occurrence started in the Eastern United States, Missouri was fast to react. On April 21, 1861, nine days after Fort Sumter, South Carolina, was fired upon, the United States Arsenal at Liberty, Missouri, was seized by order of Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson (the pro-Confederacy governor of Missouri elected in 1860). A military fund was raised by the state and on May 3, 1861, Camp Jackson was organized on the outskirts of St. Louis. One week later Sterling Price was appointed Major General of the State Guard.

On April 15, 1861, three days after Fort Sumter was fired upon, President Lincoln issued a proclamation, calling for 75,000 men from the militias of several states to suppress combinations of the Southern States therein named. At the same time, the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, sent a telegram to all the governors of the states, excepting those mentioned in the proclamation, requesting them to detail a certain number of militia to serve for three months. Governor Jackson responded in the following:


            Secretary of War, Washington, D.C.:

            Sir: Your dispatch of the 15th inst., making a call on Missouri for four regiments of men for immediate service, has been received. There can be, I apprehend, no doubt but these men are intended to form a part of the President’s army to make war upon the people of the seceded states. Your requisition, in my judgment is illegal, unconstitutional, and cannot be complied with. Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on such an unholy war.

                                                                                                C.F. JACKSON,
Governor of Missouri

Missourians loudly voiced their political opinions. These voices, however, were thoroughly mixed. The citizenry “put its money wherever its mouth was” …for both sides! It is reported in Volume I of the Past and Present of Nodaway County Missouri (1910) that “More than fifty thousand entered the Confederate army from the state, while one hundred and nine thousand one hundred and eleven men are credited to the state as serving in the Union army, of which eight thousand three hundred and forty-four were colored men. Most, if not all, of who had been held as slaves on Missouri soil.”

“Missouri gave more men, in proportion to her population, than any other state in the nation,” claims The Heritage of Missouri: a History text. Agreeing with the 109,000 Union soldier volunteers from the Show-Me State, the text finds volunteers marching with the Confederates at a lower 30,000 soldiers …less than often reported. The book does add that these numbers of volunteer soldiers constitute 60 percent of the men eligible for military service in the state at that time.

The sheer number of volunteers reporting for duty kept the state’s quotas full without any type of draft or forced enlistment by the Union, creating a record “unexampled” among the other states, north or south.

Missouri was a border state that had separate governments representing the Union and the Confederacy. Although it never successfully seceded from the United States, it had a star on both flags and provided soldiers, officers, and supplies to both sides.

There were skirmishes and engagements in all areas of the state, extending from the Iowa and Illinois borders in the northeast to the southeast corner and across the length of the Arkansas border. Counting battles and skirmishes, Missouri hosted over 1,200 distinct armed conflicts. Only Virginia and Tennessee exceeded the Show-Me State in the number of armed actions.

The first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River was at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, on August 10, 1861. The largest battle west of the Mississippi River was the Battle of Westport at Kansas City, Missouri, in 1864.

The defining description of “Northwest Missouri” usually approximates that part of the state lying north of the Missouri River and west of the western boundary of Chariton County. By this definition, Northwest Missouri embraces nineteen counties. Listed alphabetically, they are: Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Caldwell, Carroll, Clay, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Livingston, Mercer, Nodaway, Platte, Ray, and Worth.

Other historians and sources, such as the definitive Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volumes I-IV, separate the Show-Me State into quadrants with 29 counties in the Northwest section, generally stretching along major rivers, for regional analysis.

There is little doubt that the majority of the violence, treachery, and murderous acts between the abolitionist and secessionist factions were most active in West-Central Missouri. The counties of Cass, Jackson, Clay, Platte, and Buchanan, and even other counties further south along the Kansas border, were the favored home grounds of those raiding into Kansas as well as for abolitionists raiding into the Missouri side. Guerrillas like William Clarke Quantrill, William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, Alexander Franklin “Frank” James, Thomas Coleman “Cole” Younger, and other bushwhackers of similar ilk were often matched in their ferocity and cruelty by paramilitary bands of Union militia and radical soldiers. Jayhawkers like James Montgomery and John Brown added their own bloody flavor to the mix.

William “Bloody Bill” Anderson, the notorious Bushwhacker guerilla

The border warfare which followed the opening of Kansas was largely abated by 1860. Both sides in Missouri were troubled with unruly units which refused to follow orders and engaged in looting, arson, and murder. James Lane’s Kansas troops pillaged and burned Osceola, Missouri. Quantrill and his marauders, perhaps chafing under Confederate Army discipline, left General Price’s troops to ravage the countryside. In fact, Quantrill appointed himself as the avenger of the border raids into Missouri.

John Brown, fiery-eyed fanatic, was now dead, hanged after his capture while leading a slave uprising in Virginia in 1859. Even so, he and Kansas were survived by a crew of bloodthirsty leaders such as James Montgomery, James Lane, and Dr. Charles Jennison, who were every bit the threat to slaveholders in Missouri. In July of 1861, as an advance group for the Union Army, a band under Jennison’s leadership, arrived in Harrisonville, Missouri. Although there was not an enemy soldier within its limits, the marauders sacked the town. Once again, the citizens of western Missouri knew the terror was upon them again.

On September 23, 1861, James Lane, having been chased back to Fort Scott, Kansas, by General Price, crossed back over the border after Price had moved the major part of his forces north to Lexington. The Kansas looters who became known as Jayhawkers, or as Red Legs for the Morocco leggings they wore, are reported to have seized $1 million in goods at Osceola, Missouri. Complete destruction of Osceola by fire was followed by the destruction of the Missouri towns of Butler and Parkville.

Most of the early settlers to establish homes, farm, and businesses in Northwest Missouri, were of Southern origin, hailing from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. In fact, some quipped at the time, it looked like the whole state of Kentucky was moving to Missouri. Only later, nearer the time of the election of 1860 had rolled around, the political landscape of the nation and, yes, that of the State of Missouri had changed profoundly. The pioneering Southern settlers had been supplanted with a more diversified non-slave holding population that included Northerners and German and Irish immigrants.

With the national election of 1860 and Abraham Lincoln as President, the State attempted to side-step the conflict that was becoming apparent. It hoped that it could stay out of the war by remaining in the Union but staying neutral. The Southern leaning Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson stated in his inaugural address that Missouri should defend her “sister southern states” in case of undue Federal “coercion.” The state convention delegates voted to remain in the Union and stay neutral. An impossible task!

Claiborne Fox Jackson, a former Missouri banking commissioner, becomes the governor of Missouri after campaigning on an anti-secessionist platform. During the secession crisis, however, Jackson switches sides and promotes the secessionist cause. Failing to convince a special state convention to vote for secession, Jackson attempts to declare “armed neutrality,” but places the Missouri State Guard militia under secessionist control and lobbies the Confederate States of America for an invasion of Missouri. Deposed by federal forces and the state legislature on July 23, 1861, Jackson remains a governor-in-exile until his death from stomach cancer on December 6, 1862. [State Historical Society of Missouri]

The election that put an Illinois lawyer, a man of limited political experience, into a national presidency, found a much different constituency. The slavery issue was much the cause. “The Civil War’s First Blood” effortlessly explains the change in political expression with splits nearly everywhere one would look. “The Democrats were divided into Northern and Southern factions. The Whig Party had also split into ‘Conscience Whigs’ versus ‘Cotton Whigs.’ Even the American, or ‘Know Nothing’ party …had parted company over slavery.”

Following Federal General Nathaniel Lyon’s capture of the Missouri capital at Jefferson City on July 22, 1861, the Constitutional Convention reconvened and declared the governor’s office to be vacant. In the governmental void, on the following July 28, it appointed former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Hamilton Rowan Gamble as governor of the state.

In early 1861 Hamilton Gamble returned to Missouri at the insistence of his brother-in-law, Edward Bates, who was appointed attorney general in President Lincoln’s administration. Bates wanted Gamble to attend the state convention being held to determine whether or not Missouri should secede. At the convention Gamble became the main proponent for Missouri to remain in the Union, and delegates elected him chairman of the Committee on Federal Relations. In June of 1861, Gamble was appointed provisional governor after Gov. Claiborne Fox Jackson, a Southern sympathizer, fled the capital with fellow supporters. As provisional governor, Gamble remained committed to keeping Missouri from seceding from the Union, as well as to maintaining law and order. He sought to restore peace and issued special orders to kill guerrillas in Missouri. Gamble’s health failed as the toll of the war wore on him. After suffering a fall on ice, he came down with pneumonia and died on January 31, 1864. [State Historical Society of Missouri]

Once established, the new provisional Missouri government agreed to comply with President Lincoln’s call for troops, a demand earlier refused by pro-Confederate Governor Jackson. Some of the troops, established by this order, like the 1st Missouri Volunteer Calvary Regiment, organized as early as September 6, 1861, fought in various theaters throughout the entire Civil War. According to the Civil War archives, some 447 Missouri regiments, with many men serving in more than one, fought for the Union by war’s end.

The vast volume of published books, magazines, and journals report that the most spectacular spillover in violence from Bleeding Kansas is largely occupied with describing guerrilla activities in West-Central Missouri. The violent political confrontations involving pro-slavery Border Ruffians and abolitionist Jayhawkers or Free-Staters between 1854 and 1861 prepared the region for the Civil War.

By 1863-64, the border warfare along the Missouri River in Western Missouri was fully engaged. The land was ablaze with horror. William H. Watson, Jackson County, Missouri, lawyer and judge, who prosecuted post-Civil War outlaws like Frank James, claimed that bands of soldiers were everywhere, shooting across the prairies. Their guns ever glistening in the sunlight. He describes the presence of solitary horsemen dashing to and fro, with little skirmishes being fought on all sides.

The book, Speeches and Writings of William H Watson (1914), paints a graphic picture, “I can see myself now sitting on a rail fence listening to the roar of the canon at Lone Jack — said to be the bloodiest battle of the war in proportion to the number of men involved in it.”

Watson’s narrative expounds, in part, as follows: “The tragic story of one scene was hardly told until another was going the rounds. Citizens were arrested and lodged in jail, and women and children left alone and defenseless. The day of vengeance came. Men were hung to trees or in their barns, or called from their homes in the night time and shot. Meantime the torch was vying with the sword. A burning house could be seen across the prairies in the night time at a distance of at least twenty-five miles.”

The written account may have been somewhat enhanced by the memory of a boy, one who had lived in Missouri near the Kansas border and watched over the farm of his father, who was owner of a couple of slaves and also was pastor of the Southern General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. The boy watched as a band of Union soldiers burned farm buildings and destroyed the crops. The family was forced to relocate out of the district, all at the hand of a band of Colonel Jennison’s Kansas Regiment of soldiers under Captain Pardee.

Following the Lawrence, Kansas, massacre by Quantrill’s Raiders on the evening of August 21, 1863, Union Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr. of the 11th Kansas Infantry Volunteers, accused farmers of rural Missouri of motivating, if not instigating, the attack. At the insistence of Kansas Territorial Governor James Lane, also a Jayhawk Red Leg leader, he issued a vicious four-point General Order No. 11. This command forced the evacuation of all residents of rural areas of the four counties — Jackson, Cass, Bates, and Vernon — and caused them to separate from and forfeit their property. After the issuance of the infamous General Order No. 11, anyone even suspected of being sensitive to the Rebel cause in the afore-mentioned counties were caused to be relocated. The contraband was then destroyed by burning or removed by Union militias.

George Caleb Bingham’s painting “Martial Law” known as “Order No. 11”

General Order No. 11, issued on August 25, 1863, applied to farmers of the four counties listed above, regardless of loyalty, except those who could prove absolute, rock solid loyalty to the Union, could stay in pre-designated towns. Those who could not pass a certainty test were separated and exiled in entirety. Authorized by Major General John C. Fremont, Union Commander of the Department of the West, and Major General John Pope, in charge of Northern Missouri, and written by Ewing, the heavy-handed approach alienated even those civilians who were pro-Union or otherwise suffering at the hands of bushwhackers. With this order, they were now intended targets for harassment from undisciplined volunteer militias and other renegade Federal troops.

KANSAS CITY, MO., August 25, 1863

“General Order No. 11.”

            First. — All persons living in Cass, Jackson, and Bates Counties, Missouri, and in that part of Vernon included in this district, except those living within one mile of the limits of Independence, Hickman’s Mills, Pleasant Hill and Harrisonville, and except those in that part of Kaw Township, Jackson County, north of Brush Creek and west of the Big Blue, embracing Kansas City and Westport, are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days from the date hereof.

            Those who, within that time, establish their loyalty to the satisfaction of the commanding officer of the military station nearest their present places of residence, will receive from him certificates stating the fact of their loyalty, and the names of the witnesses by whom it can be shown. All who receive such certificate will be permitted to remove to any military station in this district, or to any part of the State of Kansas, except the counties on the eastern borders of the state. All others shall remove out of this district. Officers commanding companies and detachments serving in the counties named, will see that this paragraph is promptly obeyed.

            Second. — All grain and hay in the field, or under shelter, in the district from which the inhabitants are required to remove, within reach of military stations, after the 9th day of September next, will be taken to such stations and turned over to the proper officer there, and report of the amount so turned over made to district headquarters, specifying the names of all loyal owners and the amount of such produce taken from them. All grain and hay found in such district after the 9th day of September next, not convenient to such stations, will be destroyed.

            Third. — The provisions of General Order No. 10, from these headquarters, will at once be vigorously executed by officers commanding in the parts of the district, and at stations not subject to the operations of paragraph First of this Order — and especially in the towns of Independence, Westport and Kansas City.

            Fourth. — Paragraph 3. General Order No. 10, is revoked as to all who have borne arms against the government in the district since August 20, 1863.

            By order of Brigadier-General Ewing.

HANNAHS, Adjutant.”


This war of neighbors that had drug on since the Bleeding Kansas days had to find a way to end. To be sure, much of Missouri’s countryside was laid to waste, ground down by long years of fighting, slaughter, and burning, Many settlers had been forced or had taken it upon themselves out of fear to flee the state for the safety of the family. Jim Denny, suggested in his article, “An Uncertain Peace,” in the May 2015 issue of Rural Missouri Magazine, some 300,000 Missourians fled to other states during the war.” and he added that “Perhaps 27,000 civilians were killed by one side or the other. Everyone was profoundly weary of the war that had ravaged their neighborhoods.”

Residents of Southern leanings of the affected area, even those from beyond the four counties addressed by Ewing, packed up what property that had been left behind from looting and vandalism by Union militias and Border Ruffians and attempted relocation. Some headed inland by shank’s mare — if their carts and horses had been stolen or destroyed — and sought out regions more stable under Union control. Others coming mostly from north of the Missouri River made their way stealthily into the more friendly confines of Southeast Nebraska and Southwest Iowa.

While the State of Iowa was strongly supportive of the abolitionist Union cause, that of the Territory of Nebraska in the southeast corner had endured guerrilla activity. In fact, newspapers and the local grapevine reported that the Nebraska City region was a haven for those refuges of southern sympathy.

The abolitionist newspaper St. Joseph Weekly Herald of February 4, 1864, reported the capture and trial in “A Notorious Guerrilla Caught.” G. Byron Jones, a former Missouri bushwhacker living in self-exile near Nebraska City, had been kept under surveillance for some time. Under this observation, he and his associates were captured as they attempted to relocate his family from Buchanan County, near St. Joseph, by sleigh. Tried as a Confederate agent and recruiter, he was imprisoned.

If it would have been up to the citizens of the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri, the Civil War would never happened. The majority of the voters were not interested in a revolution, taking one side or the other. The small farmers and merchants so typical of the more rural villages and farmlands held greater allegiance to family and home and state than to the nebulous concept of “nation.” Given their choice, the majority would have likely stayed neutral. Besides, very few had the finances to own slaves anyway.

They were given little choice! Conflict pitted Missourian against Missourian. There was no exception for neutrals, the aged, women, or children. All came to feel what Union General Sherman had called, “The hard hand of war.”

The State of Missouri was a backwash of the Civil War to both the Union and the Confederacy. While there was glory in mighty armies in handsome uniforms, buglers, and boys with drums coursing the battlefields of the East, both armies found better use of their mighty armies and attractive uniforms and armament than to send them to the rather isolated backwoods and prairies of Western Missouri and Kansas to take over the Border Wars. Even so, the circumstances of violence had been laid out between the Missouri Border Ruffians and the Kansas Free-booters. These long-held bloody events would give the Western Border a five-year head start on the Great War that would eventually envelope the Nation.

The men who shot you at the stoop of your parlor door — calling you out with strangely familiar voices in the darkness of night — were more likely neighbors that uniformed soldiers from some foreign state. The Civil War witnessed by the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri was truly a civilian war. Rather than a nationalized series of battles between two armies, the warfare was most likely to be neighbor against neighbor. The aggrieved were often acquaintances by name or in fact, using the national and regional hostilities to settle more personal grudges and scores.

The spring of 1860 was an omen of a bad period of time to come. This year, before the Great War of Rebellion, farmers throughout the inner counties of the upper reaches of Northwest Missouri planted their small clearings and anticipated the spring rains. The rains did not come until election day in August, 1860.

W.M. Harris opined in his Gentry County Reminisces that no rain fell from April until August. Sun-baked pastures had turned brown as mulch by early summer. Even grain crops that had been planted early and managed to sprout, withered and died. Drought became full-blown.

Historian Margaret Wooderson’s booklet, A Dream Remembered The Story of Old Siloam, Gentry County, Missouri, noted that as crops failed and water became scarce, many farmers were forced to take livestock and poultry to Southern Iowa where they were traded for grain. Things did not get better; the situation was aggravated by several dry or semi-dry seasons and even record snowfall in winter 1863-64. The History of Daviess and Gentry Counties, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, explains how Gentry County citizens “sometimes gathered up empty sacks and went ‘a-buying’ ,” implying acquisition without permission.

The severe drought was an unexpected circumstance, a terrible act of nature, that the farmers could understand. But the most devastating event was soon to come. War, the real bleeding and shooting kind, was but around the corner.

The Civil War in Missouri and especially Northwest Missouri is best known as a guerrilla-type warfare, fought among roving bands of mounted bushwhackers and pro-Union state militias with small numbers of Federal troops sprinkled in to strengthen the Northern presence. The State of Missouri, for all practical purposes, was left to sink or swim on its own with little support of manpower or finances from well-organized national organizations, Union or Confederate. The western outpost against the Indian territories and the Great Plains was left to stand alone by its own devices.

Civil War historians often speculate that if there was one area of the state least likely to see guerrilla warfare throughout the war, that area would encompass several of the upper counties in Northwest Missouri. These counties were generally north of St. Joseph and up against the Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa borders. The “Upper Counties” of Northwest Missouri arbitrarily include Andrew, Atchison, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Mercer, Nodaway, and Worth.

The Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri are for the most part, rural and relatively unheralded in Border War literature and lore. The region did find limited peace in certain communities and locations in the beginning, but once the guerrilla action fielded its initiation, the war came even here. Close-knit country populations and slower information dispersal and retrieval compared to the more populated regions to the south and west perhaps assuaged hostilities to a degree. But the air of war was rampant also in the rural countryside. Rogues with grudges, marauders wearing both the blue and the grey on their hearts and/or minds, used the unsettled times as an excuse to act out bloodshed, stealing, and all acts of crime.

Early in the war, both pro-Southern and pro-Northern supporters in St. Joseph displayed banners and flags. When John L. Bittinger became St. Joseph’s postmaster on May 22, 1861, he raised the U.S. flag on the roof of the post office. During the raising of the flag, former St. Joseph Mayor M. Jeff Thompson led an unruly mob that displayed their Southern sympathies by tearing down the flag and flagpole. Thompson later described the incident, “I drew my knife and pistol, ascended the very ladder that they had used to the roof of the building, and amid cheers, groans, shouts and threats, I severed the halyard with my bowie…” The mob tore the flag into pieces and threw the flagpole into the Missouri River. The men then turned their sights on other U.S. flags in town. When they went to Turner Hall they found that Robert Bradshaw and other Union supporters had locked and were guarding the doors. A member of the mob, Alonzo Slayback, asked Bradshaw to lower the flag. He agreed but insisted on firing a salute to the flag. As Bradshaw appeared on the roof, the crowd threatened to shoot him. Slayback pulled his own gun and defended him. Bradshaw cheered the flag, fired six shots in salute, and safely lowered the flag. The City Council banned flying flags of any kind in St. Joseph until after Union troops occupied the city. [Courtesy St. Joseph Museums, Inc.]

Chapter 1:

 Lurching Into War  (1861)

The official start of the American Civil War is April 12, 1861, when the Confederates bombarded Union soldiers at Fort Sumter, SC. But if hatred and bloodshed defines war, then the Civil War, which nearly consumed all 34 states in disunion, actually started years earlier. Border warfare between western Missouri and the “Bleeding Kansas” territory had simmered since the mid-1850s. Violence erupted frequently, long before war was declared.

Goodspeed’s 1888 History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties, examined the status of Andrew County in Northwest Missouri during this period: “Admitted to the Union as a slave state territory, the State of Missouri became so deeply and closely involved in the Kansas troubles of 1854-56 that the entire subject of the conflict between the North and South can be said in fact to have been developed within its limits. The people of the central and southern counties made their favorite institutions profitable, while the northern part of the State, settled as it had been by immigrants from both free and slave territory, contained a large number of people who looked upon the ‘relic of barbarism’ in their midst with anything but a kindly interest. The Kansas troubles were keenly felt, especially in Andrew and other western counties [in Missouri], where both pro- and anti-slavery factions had many warm friends, and bitter uncompromising enemies.”

In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The Act was condemned by abolitionists because it allowing for the territories to decide whether to permit or prohibit slavery. This ignited a war inside Kansas between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions for control of the territory. This internal war became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” Jayhawkers from Kansas began to invade Missouri, burn farms, take all personal property and in many cases, shoot or hang the pro-Southern farmers. The pre-civil war government turned a blind eye while the military actually condoned these incursions. Border Ruffians from Missouri began to invade Kansas for retribution.

Northwest Missouri was mostly pro-Union by the time America lurched into war. The upper counties within this region — Worth, Gentry, Harrison, Mercer and Grundy counties — largely avoided many of the divisive issues ripping apart the rest of the state. The farther Missouri’s citizens resided inland and away from the Missouri River and other navigated streams, the stronger were Union sympathies. Fixed against the Iowa border, Worth County, the smallest county in Missouri, was carved out of Gentry County in 1861 in part because stolidly pro-Union landowners bristled against the more politically mixed Gentry County citizenry.

The dominance of pro-Union sympathies was repeated in other Upper County portions of the region. The 1972 reprint of the 1888 History of Harrison and Mercer Counties, Missouri affirms, “The part which Mercer County bore in the War of the Rebellion was one of credit and honor, and no county in the State can point to a better record.” The text reports something over 1,000 volunteers rallied to the Union, with fewer than 20 thought to have joined the Confederate army. The same publication redirects its comments to the larger Harrison County, also an Iowa border county between Mercer and Worth counties: “The breaking out of the Civil War in 1861 found the citizens of Harrison County almost unanimously to the Union.” There were perhaps some 25 to 30 men who entered the Confederate Army. It is also claimed that no organized effort was ever made for recruiting troops in Harrison County for the Confederate Army.

The authors of the Past and Present of Nodaway County Missouri wrote, “…prior to the war this county had been fully two-to-one Democratic, but in 1865, after the conflict had ended, the county was in hands of the Republican party.” The writers suggest that the change in political pressure was likely due to the influx of returned soldiers from the Union ranks of other regions and, upon choosing this as their home, brought their politics with them.

However, not all counties in Northwest Missouri were as homogenous in their support for the Union.

DeKalb County Railroad Bridge Burning (1860)

Prior to the 1860s, there were tangible signs that Missouri was part of a nation at war with itself. The 25th Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) was busy during the evening of December 3, 1862, in southwest Buchanan County hunting down Confederate recruiter James R. Gibson. Rousted from a hiding place in the floor of his house with threats of burning the place down, Gibson surrendered. He was charged with setting fire to a railroad bridge near Stewartsville in southwest DeKalb County in 1860.

Icy Incident of the “Mackerel Brigade” Home Guard (1861)

 Within opening days of the Civil War, Confederate recruiter Will Jordan and a half-dozen or so recruits headed south from Gallatin. Before they had gone far, they were spotted by Captain Mounts Nichols and his company of Union militia. The troopers immediately started in pursuit. The recruits managed to stay ahead of their pursuers until they reached Grand River.

Being winter, the river was frozen over. However, there were doubts about how solid the ice was and if it could bear men on horseback. Jordan was a small man, riding a small horse, and managed to cross safely over the crackling ice flow. Next rode recruit Tom Bradshaw on a mule. The sure-footed animal and rider skated across the iced-over Grand River in good form. The remaining recruits received scattered gunfire from their pursuers.

Nearly within shooting range, the militia made an attempt to cross the Grand. A powerful horse ridden by Ed McClung broke through the ice and stopped the group’s advance.

Jordan was the only man in his crowd of recruits who was armed. Guessing it would be useless to attempt to rescue his companions, he reluctantly turned away, and with the company of Bradshaw, went on his way. The only casualty of the engagement turned out to be Bradshaw’s mule. The animal was later discovered to have a bullet hole through its ear.

The History of Daviess and Gentry Counties reports how Bradshaw, the man with the ear-shot mule, soon tired of soldiering and returned home. Sometime later, he served in the “Mackerel Brigade” as the Home Guards were called. Perhaps not so dedicated in the cause, Bradshaw served for a sufficient length of time to entitle him a pension, “which he still lives to draw with more pleasure than he did his gun in the days of ’61.”

No Show for Battle at the Isaac Miller Trace (1861)

 Isaac Miller Trace remains today a well-traveled improved rock road that meanders southwest of Albany down the East Fork into Grand River by the site of the first settlement in Gentry County, Missouri. It crosses Grand River by steel and concrete bridge at an earlier settlement and Greenwell Ford crossing and moves south to Gentryville and beyond.

Kentucky and Tennessee gave birth to the four young men who would settle in what would become

Miller Township of Gentry County in the spring of 1834: Isaac Miller, Tobias Miller, William Martin, and John Roberts. In 1835 the second settlement, Gentryville, was established and became the largest town in the county in the 1870s.

Coming originally from Kentucky via Clay County in search of game and wild honey, the four men built a cabin on the north side of the river where a large band of Fox and Sac Indians had camped the winter.

After spending the summer and winter in their cabin, Martin, Roberts, and Tobias Miller, each took a claim. Martin located three-quarters of a mile east of the ford on poor, sandy, soil that he called “Poverty Point.” He died several years later at this site.

Roberts settled where Albany sits today and then moved on to Illinois. Tobias Miller settled near the ford and relocated after two or three years to Daviess County, Missouri, where he died in 1837. Isaac Miller continued to occupy the “old cabin” site near the ford, finally locating on the northwest quarter of section 23, Township 62, range 31, on a site known as Pious Ridge in Miller Township. He lived at the site, located about two miles south of Greenwell Ford, until 1881 when he sold the farm to his son.

If it could talk, the Gentryville Isaac Miller site would share volumes of information about the Civil War in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri. Gentry County genealogist Carmeta Robertson cited information shared by Isaac Miller’s daughter, Lurana (Miller) Robertson Lock as she reminisced in an August, 1911, interview with The Albany Ledger.

According to other sources, a major battle between Col. Manlove Cranor’s Union command of 2,000 and Col. Jack Patton’s Rebel force of similar size appeared destined for confrontation on or near the Isaac Miller farm in late August, 1861. The combatants, however, turned out to be a “no show.”

“Each side was composed of determined Missourians, armed with shot guns, rifles and corn knives. The respective leaders met beneath a tree out on the prairie, negotiating what otherwise would have been a terrible battle. For many years this tree was known as the ‘Compromise Tree.'”

Lock described watching the troops prepare for the battle that did not happen. She then reported that Col. Jack Patton’s troops moved on southward to join Gen. Sterling Price’s Confederate Army in the Battle of Lexington and others. Cranor’s Union troops moved on to St. Joseph. Just what elapsed between the two armies, or their leaders, provides a certain speculation to this time. How was the “Compromise” initiated? Unless other reliable information is discovered, the logic is but somewhat shallow guesses.

Both Col. Cranor of Union Camp Cranor and Col. Patton of Southern Camp Highly hailed from Gentry County, living not too many miles apart. Their families were both old-line in the region. As affluent families, regardless of political viewpoints, they must have had business and/or social connections before the War. If the leaders had no friendly associations, or even family relation, before the war, surely many of the 2,000 or so men in each army from around Gentry and surrounding counties once had friendly contact.

Another story passed down in the Gentryville area involves the fraternal order, the Masonic Lodge 125 AF&AM of Gentryville. It is said that during the march south at an appointed time, Masonic members from both the Loyalists and the Rebels “laid down their arms” and held a Masonic meeting. According to the story handed down over the years, the members took turns leaving the meeting at its completion to safely return to their respective regiments to make ready for battle the next day.

While the story sounds a bit like a fairy tale, the strength of attachment of secret organizations should not be forgotten, especially Freemasonry, in the mid-1800s. Strange things have happened, but no solid proof has of yet been forthcoming. A major battle near the Isaac Miller house and farm did not occur.

Military Camps of the Upper Counties (1861)

Historical literature is full of reports on small military camps in Northwest Missouri. One camp, reportedly for Confederate recruiters active in Platte County along the Missouri River, was raised by G. Byron Jones of Rushville.

Thomas Jefferson Patton from Gentry County had put together a camp for Southern recruits at Rocky Bluff on the Platte River a few miles north of Platte City. By late September, 1862, the 52nd Illinois Infantry had joined the Federal troops already in St. Joseph and set up a large camp on Prospect Hill. There the soldiers built Fort Smith, named after their colonel. An oblong circle of earthworks, the fortification had both symbolic and military purposes. Located on a long bare bluff, the camp put the soldiers on high, the citizens down below.

Fort Smith, named after Colonel Robert F. Smith, was erected in September, 1861. It was a safeguard against conflicting armies battling on either side of the state line. With the strong possibility of battles reaching St. Joseph, Colonel Smith stood ready with his 2,500 troops and 12 cannon poised on the new fortification on Prospect Hill. By spring of 1862, the Union troops at Fort Smith were downsized. Today the fort site has been turned into a city park bounded by Prospect Avenue, Bellevue Street and West Michel in St. Joseph, MO. []

During the gathering of the camps of the two forces, various acts of violence were committed throughout the counties, as circumstances allowed. Yet status quo appeared to be the general rule, rather than the exception.

Action finally occurred in late August when the last Federal soldiers in St. Joseph were ordered downriver to assist in countering a northward thrust by the Confederate Army, under Gen. Sterling Price. The meeting of the two would occur later at Lexington, Missouri, a port city on the Missouri River where the Battle of Lexington (Battle of the Hemp Bales) would give the Rebels a surprising victory.

The First Battle of Lexington, also known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales or the Siege of Lexington, was an engagement of the American Civil War. It took place from Sept. 12-20, 1861 between the Union garrison of 3,500 against the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard of approximately 15,000 troops. The victory won by the Missouri Guard bolstered the considerable Southern sentiment in the area, and briefly consolidated Missouri State Guard control of the Missouri River Valley in the western part of the state. This engagement should not be confused with the Second Battle of Lexington, a minor skirmish fought during Price’s Missouri Raid on October 19, 1864, that also resulted in a Southern victory.

In the meantime, Gentry County’s Federal volunteers from Camp Cranor, as well as other places, marched north toward the Iowa border, attempting to gain reinforcements before moving on the Rebel camp in Gentry, possibly Andrew, County. After collecting a total force of some 3,500 to 4,000, including existing troops, recruits, guns and ammunition from Iowa, the command marched southward.

Samuel Jordan Kirkwood was best-known as Iowa’s American Civil War Governor. In addition he had served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and in the U.S. Senate. In Kirkwood’s first year as governor, 1860, he revealed himself a militant abolitionist: When Barclay Cappock, a young man from Springdale, who was part of John Brown’s raid, fled to Iowa, Kirkwood refused to accept extradition papers from Virginia and allowed him to escape.

As the Union folks in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri could attest, Kirkwood gave extraordinary effort to secure soldiers and supplies for the Union Army. A strong supporter of the policies of President Lincoln, he was most active in equipping regiments of infantry, cavalry, and artillery for the Union Army. When Col. Cranor and his Union forces needed assistance, armament, or supplies, they called out to the officers and companies of the Iowa Volunteer Militias in the counties of their southern borders. One response to the Union request was the formation of the Southern Iowa Border Brigade. Although never mustered into service with the United States Army, these units performed a service of inestimable value, constantly facing danger in the early days of the Civil War.

The Southern Iowa Border Brigade was organized in 1862 to provide protection from constant rumors that able-bodied forces from the slave-holding state of Missouri were being formed with the purpose of invading the State of Iowa. As a result, residents in these southern Iowa counties lived through these days in a constant state of excitement and apprehension.

The Brigade was hastily organized into camps under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Edwards, Aid-de-Camp to Governor Kirkwood. Union-sympathizing men of Northern Missouri had appealed to the governor for assistance. In response, Col. Edwards sent two pieces of artillery to Keokuk, Iowa, and Burlington, Iowa. He was also sending forces under his command to reinforce the troops under Captain W.C. Drake of Corydon, Iowa, then stationed at the border of Ringgold County, Iowa, near Allenville [now Allendale], Missouri.

The 300 Missourians and 100 Iowans at Allenville were under the command of Col. Manlove Cranor of Gentry County, Missouri. Realizing the necessity of a permanent force of Iowa State troops along the southern border, the Southern Iowa Border Brigade was organized with anticipation of hostilities breaking out, especially along the boundaries of Ringgold and Taylor Counties, according to the report of Col. Edwards, July 28, 1861, Pleasant Plains, Iowa.

The year before, 1861, soon after the firing on Fort Sumter, many of the southern Iowa border counties met at the request of Gov. Samuel J. Kirkwood to take precautions to defend their homes from marauders who might invade from the South. All border counties responded accordingly and a sizeable army was raised in short time from militias and Home Guards from Ringgold, Taylor, Page, Adams, Montgomery, and other counties for home protection.

While it was known that there was considerable interaction between the pro-Union militias of Iowa and Missouri, various records are invaluable in filling in information on the movements and activities of Loyalists and Secessionists and their camps in the Upper Counties in the Civil War.

In the final sketch of Guy E. Logan in his Roster and Record of Iowa Troops in the Rebellion, Volume 6, Logan explains that the Southern Border Brigade was, “connected with the history of the operations of the Iowa troops who were never mustered into the service of the United States, but who performed service of estimable value on the southern border of the state, composed of men whose homes were constantly in danger in the early days of the War of the Rebellion. Living as they did in the counties bordering upon the State of Missouri, they were compelled to organize for self-protection. Rumors which proved to be well founded — that armed bodies of citizens of the slave holding State of Missouri were being formed for the purpose of invading the State of Iowa, kept the inhabitants of those border counties in a constant state of excitement and apprehension. Under the directions and command of Lt. Col. John Edwards, Aide Camp to Governor Kirkwood, the various companies, which had been hastily organized, were concentrated into camps, and were held in readiness to move promptly across the border, and to resist any attempt of the rebel forces to invade the State of Iowa and plunder the homes of her citizens. The prompt and determined action thus taken undoubtedly save the people of that part of the State from the horrors of invasion.

“In the meantime, the Union men in the State of Missouri were placed in a most desperate situation. They were engaged in a fierce and relentless war with their rebel neighbors. They were being driven from their homes, and their property confiscated for the use of the rebel army. They had appealed to their neighbors across the border in Iowa to aid them in their fight for existence, and they did not appeal in vain.”

The Page County~ Iowa Home Guards or Iowa Volunteer Militia web page includes a report to Iowa Gov. S.F. Kirkwood from Col. John R. Morledge, Headquarters First Regiment, Western Division, Iowa Volunteer Militia, Clarinda, Page County, Iowa, dated Oct. 15, 1862. The following sketches of activities where the Iowa units rendered assistance to their Missouri neighbors took place in the months of July, August, and September, 1861.

Col. Morledge reported that on July 5, 1861, at the hour of midnight, Union men of Nodaway County, Missouri, requested immediate assistance that rebels ere about to overpower them and drive them from their homes and the State. He reported being able to muster some 250 men by daybreak to start the 33 mile march to Maryville, Missouri. Finding the citizens in “a perfect state of excitement,” under arms and in good shape, under the guidance of Col. Davis who made the request for help, the Iowans remained three days, keeping guard on the town.

The Iowa militia arrested some 60 prisoners in town and certain parts of Nodaway County, Missouri. All but five or six took the “Oath of Allegiance” and were discharged. On the third day, a part of the Iowa 2nd marched to Maryville and took charge of the place and prisoners; the Page County boys were marched back home. The expedition captured one secession flag.

On or about July 10, 1861, rebels collected in considerable numbers in Gentry and Worth Counties, Missouri, threatening Taylor County, Iowa, borders. While Colonel Manlove Cranor of the Missouri State Militia undertook to subdue them, they were too strong for his force and advanced on Allenville [now Allendale] some eight miles from the state line.

Col. Cranor called for help on July 18th with some 500 local volunteers plus 200 more from Fremont County, Iowa, marching to his relief. Within a few miles of Allenville, it was discovered that the rebels had moved back the camp at Gentryville, Gentry County, Missouri, some 40 miles south of the state line. Col. Cranor’s command had just been reinforced from other parts of Missouri.

The Historical Sketch Southern Border Brigade fills in some incomplete activities of the event of July 10, 1861. The web reports that the rebels, for whom Captain David Cranor had requested assistance to curtail, were camped on Grand River, some 800 to 1,200 strong, with three pieces of artillery. Iowa Colonel John R. Morledge’s report also describes Col. Cranor’s command as seriously undermanned, having about 300 Union Missouri men, poorly armed, and over 100 Iowans who had volunteered under his command.

Col. Cranor was a well-known and respected Union officer who together with Col. J.P. Saunders established, recruited, and commanded some 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers at Camp Cranor in Gentry County. His brother, David Cranor, enlisted in and was promoted to captain of the “Gentry County Militia,” where he served the Union cause throughout a wide range of counties in Northwest Missouri. In fact, he and his command sometimes accompanied his brother in operations as herein noted. The Gentry and Worth County History 1888 states that he remained in service for four years, performing his duty as a soldier with “alacrity and great fidelity.”

Edwards agreed that Col. Cranor and the commander of the rebel force (unidentified but, perhaps “Jack” Patton) had made a compromise and disbanded their forces. In the expedition, a good many prisoners, 50 or more, were reported as taken. Most signed the “Oath of Allegiance.” They were discharged in the neighborhood of Westport, Gentry County, Missouri.

Col. Morledge of Iowa concluded, though, that the treaty of peace proved to be a hollow mockery. It was simply a temporary truce, which served to prevent the armed forces from becoming engaged in battle at that time. He suggested the “compromise” did not put to an end the depredations of the property of Union citizens.

Stated from a distinctly Unionist viewpoint, the treaty defines the secessionists in the Gentry County region as more bold than before. It further recommended mustering under military laws of the state, which are obnoxious to Union men and to which they will not submit. The Union men are indignant and mortified at the terms of the treaty. The treaty insists that many have become disheartened, having abandoned their homes and their crops, and are leaving the state. The same feelings have taken hold of many families on the border in Iowa. Many have been witnessed to those who, abandoning everything to the fates, have returned to friends in other states. The loyal men of both states, separated merely by an imaginary line, have the same sympathies in a common cause.

Once again on Aug. 28, 1861, Col. Cranor was threatened by the rebels and called on Iowa for help. Two companies, one cavalry and one infantry, went to his relief and formed up in Gentry County, some 25 miles south of the state line. Col. Cranor’s united force was put at 600 or 700 men while the rebels were estimated at 200 cavalry and 1,000 infantry. Marching toward the Loyalists, the superior numbers forced a retreat of Col. Cranor’s forces.

The Union forces, too weak for the Rebels, retreated to the state line and once again contacted the Iowa Militia for assistance. Col. Morledge states that on Sept. 3, 1861, he marched some four companies to their relief at the state line. He reports that his force came within seven miles of the seceshers, but could never contact them. Numbers of troops are often inflated or deflated, depending upon the loyalty of the ones making the statements and, of course, their own version of accuracy. In this episode, Col. Morledge suggested the combined Union force numbered 3,000 men and that of the enemy totaling 6,000 to 7,000. Goodspeed’s 1888 History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties puts the force collected from the Upper Counties and Iowa to be about 3,500 to 4,000.

While the Union forces planned a full-fledged battle the next morning, they started their march with that purpose. Because no contact could be made, Col. Cranor’s forces of Missouri and Iowa Unionists followed the rebels to St. Joseph, where it was agreed that they would stand for a battle.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” or so it is said. Reflecting the secessionist viewpoint, things were looking up in the St. Joseph area. As Gentry County’s Federal volunteers marched north to seek armament and troop reinforcements in Iowa, the Rebels found the doors to the city of St. Joseph wide open. They entered without a fight, capturing two rather surprised Federal recruiting officers accidentally left behind.

St. Joseph’s secessionist newspaper, the Gazette, whose editors P.S. Pfouts and J.H.R. Cundiff had earlier sold because of Union pressure, reported that the Rebels were “well behaved.” The Gazette also described the welcome from the ladies of the city as they showered the troops with bouquets and, more importantly, Secessionist flags that they sewed with “their dainty fingers.”

In the first few days of September, several thousand troops under Patton, Saunders, and Boyd occupied the city. Pro-southern merchants had been emptying their shelves and sheds to supply Rebel camps. Now, the large number of Rebels were plundering Union merchants, the ones who had failed to move their goods across the Missouri River to the relative security of Kansas.

The Half Not Told reports to the readers that, “Journalists on the scene estimated that the Confederates gathered up some twenty-five wagonloads of clothing, groceries, hardware, boots and shoes, as well as every gun and revolver they could find and every horse that had not been hidden or ferried away.”

When Col. Cranor’s joint group arrived on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15, they found that the Rebel troops had robbed “Union men and Union stores of such articles as they wanted,” and left for Lexington. The Rebels had gained such a lead the Union militias saw little use in following them further. The Iowa troops remained in camp at St. Joseph for a few days then marched their men back north and discharged them on Sept. 23.

Iowa Colonel John R. Morledge penned in this report to Iowa Gov. Kirkwood, “St. Joseph looked desolate, as though she had been despoiled of all her goods. Whole blocks of business houses were closed up, many of which had been broken open and robbed of all, or nearly all of their contents, by the rebels in their flight through the city two days before.”

Col. Morledge was also pleased to report that during the trip a good many prisoners were taken. A court marshal was held after an examination of each case. With sufficient testimony, those charged were handed over to United States authorities in St. Louis; others were released. He also listed notable rebels Prince L. Hudgings of Andrew County and Simon Gammon of Gentry County as having been arrested. Also another orderly sergeant in one of their companies with muster rolls, books, and the like in his possession, were handed over to authorities at St. Joseph, to be shipped to St. Louis.

Back in July of 1861, the Iowa militia received a valued recognition. The citizens of Maryville, Nodaway County, Missouri, held a public meeting and passed the following resolutions:

            “Resolved, That to the brave boys of southern Iowa we return our most grateful thanks for their promptness in rallying around the standard of our country and hastening to the assistance of their brethren in arms against treason in Nodaway County.
            Resolved, That by their timely aid the backbone of secession in Nodaway County was broken, and all the horrors of civil war thereby averted.
            Resolved, That the presence of Iowa soldiers is a sure antidote for secession.
            Resolved, That if the ladies of southern Iowa are as pretty and modest as their soldiers are brave and generous, the charms of the one and the arms of the other are alike irresistible.
            Resolved, That our best wishes ever attend the soldiers of Iowa, knowing that they will ever be found wherever our country needs their services.”

At Lexington, Col. Patton’s troops joined the army of Gen. Sterling Price and were scattered among several different regiments. The departure of Col. Patton’s and Col. Saunder’s battalions ended the Confederate domination in Andrew County. From this time forward, no major efforts were made in Southern recruiting in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri.

Outdoor photos of soldiers taken in Missouri are extremely rare. This photo is thought to be the “Paw Paws” drilling on the streets of St. Joseph, using brooms instead of rifles. This photo of a company of the 9th Missouri State Militia Cavalry was probably taken between April 1863 and March 1864. During that period the companies of the 9th MSM Cavalry were dispersed to counter guerrilla attacks against the St. Joseph and Hannibal RR from St. Joseph to Hannibal and the North Missouri RR from Macon to St. Charles. Although a cavalry outfit, the company was eventually armed with short infantry muskets. It would not be unusual for each company in an MSM regiment to be armed with one or more different type of weapon right up until the end of the war. [State Historical Society of Missouri] The regiment is standing in formation in St. Joseph while pursuing guerrillas prior to issuance of General Order No. 11. Colonel Odon Guitar, Capt. Samuel A. Garth, and Capt. James A. Adams are identified (Guitar wears a shoulder sash, Garth wears a black hat and light-colored overcoat, Adams has a white mark on left breast). Description courtesy of John Oliver []

Regardless, Southern and Northern squads formed, ostensibly for home protection. In certain areas, especially the southern part of the upper counties, possession alternated between the guerrillas and the Union men. After the construction of Fort Smith at St. Joseph, Federal occupation of some order was on-going. Interestingly enough, most residents were at first more comfortable with troops from Missouri, federal or state militia, occupying their territory than with soldiers who were Iowans, Illini, or, especially, Kansans, explains The Half Not Told. After all, the Federal authorities early in the war realized that, “At that time in America, allegiance was more often directed to one’s state than one’s country…. ”

In those early times, the generals worked to enlist local military companies made up of friends and neighbors, at least among fellow Missourians. Later, the government realized that some of ”these armed neighbors also bore old grudges, old jealousies, and a new ability to act in their own best interests.”

Some suggested that Regular Union troops did not especially like or respect the Missouri soldiers. This became apparent when Col. Cranor bought his Gentry County volunteers to town in St. Joseph. Author Preston Filbert suggests, “They were a ragtag group of farmers and back woodsmen who earned jeers from both the Regular soldiers and townsfolk.”

St. Joseph secessionists may not have found great favor with Cranor’s soldiers, but the volunteers from Gentry County, while perhaps a bit “country around the collar,” helped bring stability to the area. They generally proved themselves by preventing sabotage and keeping the railroad open and the upper counties of Northwest Missouri largely free of Rebel activity.

Earthen Fort Built by 800 Near King City

The Historical Atlas, Gentry County, Missouri – 1877, shows a marking for the location of an earthen fort some five miles north of King City, Gentry County, Missouri. Appearing almost as an afterthought marking on the journal, the site is located in the northeast corner of Section 32, Township 62, and Range 32, which placed it on the William T. Cranor farm in the Yolo [Ford City] community. Word-of-mouth passed down through time reveals that the earthworks took about 800 men some two weeks to construct. The atlas does not apply a name to the fort or fort site. Consensus is that it is Camp Cranor, named after the founder, Col. Manlove Cranor.

Other smaller camps, both Loyalists and Rebels, were established across the regions. John Boyd, an attorney from St. Joseph, rallied southern men to his encampment on a site called Rock House Prairie located about 10 miles east of St. Joseph. Another called Camp Patton or perhaps Camp Miller found itself in the Grand River bottoms and hills near Gentryville in Gentry County, perhaps on the farm of Isaac Miller, uncle of Clell and Ed Miller who rode with the Jesse James Gang.

Camp Everly in Daviess County, discussed in other chapters, was disbanded with the establishment of Samuel Cox’s Union headquarters.

Confederates Organize Camp Highly (1861)

During the summer of 1861, the Southern men raised and drilled military organizations throughout Northwest Missouri. In August of 1861, Camp Highly was established in the eastern part of the Andrew County, near Rochester and Helena, north of St. Joseph.

Camp Highly recruitment was quickly successful. In a short time, Col. Thomas Jefferson “Jack” Patton of Gentry County and Col. J.P. Saunders of Andrew County with other recruiters established a training facility for some 1,200 to 2,000 men. The two battalions were commanded, one each by colonels Patton and Saunders. The camp included one battery of two pieces commanded by Capt. Fisher and several companies from Andrew County, among which were ones raised by Capt. Campbell near Fillmore, and by Samuel Gant and Lewis Furnish near the village of Rochester. Recruits to Camp Highly were from Gentry, Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton, Harrison and other counties. Southern recruits also came in from Iowa. “The entire force was under the immediate command of Col. Patton, who proved himself a brave and gallant officer.”

Camp Highly was perhaps the best-known of the Southern camps of recruitment, training, and rendezvous in the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri. The logistics of caring for and supplying even a temporary force of up to a couple thousand raw-bone farmers and country merchants, hidden in a brushy riverside camp, appears extremely difficult. Maintaining security of a large mounted group moving in, out, and through such a rural area in singles, small groups, and companies while under the nose of a Federal military contingent, appears improbable.

In such circumstances, many Confederate companies were recruited in small numbers of units and held in more secreted small camps that were much more flexible in movement and action. If, or as, soldiers received orders to join larger units for full-fledged assaults, they often rendezvoused at the larger sites like Camp Highly. In the southern counties of Northwest Missouri, Rebel flags appeared everywhere.

Several smaller camps can be identified from period books and county journals. Goodspeed’s History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties states, “The people of DeKalb County partook largely of the general excitement, and many of them being in sympathy with the Confederacy were not slow in preparing for the struggle and repaired at once to Southern camps.” Others organized into units and companies for home protection, with a view of maintaining southern supremacy in the county. Being largely composed of northern people, Union sentiment predominated. In an attempt to influence both camps, meetings with able speakers continued recruitment.

In other sources, smaller camp locations were reported at various general sites, often without formal names. Southern men raised and drilled military organizations throughout the region in the summer of 1861.

Gentry County in its guarded location did not witness large scale violence in skirmishes and battles, but it did maintain a leadership in location and a leadership of the Rebel camp of the Northwest Counties. Under continuous scrutiny, a local Federal militia discovered an abandoned Rebel camp near the village of Havanna, in the southeast corner of the county. In one instance, an unidentified Southerner was apprehended. To save his life, he gave up a list of local sympathizers who had aided and helped feed Rebels at the local camp.

Rebel Strength in Daviess County, MO

Daviess County in Northwest Missouri was considered a Southern stronghold. “At the outbreak of the Civil War, the people of Daviess County were divided in sentiment, probably the majority of them, however, being Southern sympathizers,” claims the History of Daviess and Gentry Counties. The same source suggests that although Union men in the Daviess County were plentiful, only 20 within the county seat of Gallatin favored standing by the Union in 1860: “It took the rebel portion of Gallatin some time to settle down to the conviction that they were still in the Union.”

Although a larger number of men from Daviess County joined the Southern Army — and many of the non-combatants were also Confederate sympathizers — the Daviess County was always under the control of the Federal authorities, as was all of the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri.

Federal troops Northwest Missouri participated in various engagements in assorted scouting and skirmishes throughout much of west central and northern regions of the state. It is suggested that late in the war, early in 1865, the regiments from the region helped exterminate guerrillas from central Missouri. In a seldom noted narrative, the History of Daviess and Gentry Counties reports, “The county [Daviess] must have been quite thoroughly scouted.” A listing of Union troops that served on scouting duty during the war was lengthy. The same source adds, “In 1864, the county offered a bounty to all who would volunteer in the service of the United States. The county’s quota under the call was 169. A tax was ordered to be levied in 1865 to pay a bounty of $100 to each volunteer; 82 names were reported as joining under this act. The Adjutant General reported that up to Dec. 31, 1863, the number of men reported in the services from Daviess County was distributed as follows:

18th Infantry — 2
23rd Infantry — 39
25th Infantry — 60
35th Infantry — 2
2nd Calvary — 3
11th Cavalry — 32
12th Cavalry — 1
Total: 139

Union Camps and Camp Everly (1861)

As stated, most of the upper counties of Northwest Missouri were torn and rent by conflicting opinions of their residents, despite the “pro-Union” misnomer. Both Northerners and Southerners rushed to arms. Both established camps of instruction and rendezvous in various parts of the districts.

Northwest Missouri was under the official control of the United States government throughout the entirety of the war; but Northerners in the border states, especially during opening months of the war,  were full of anticipation and fear of Confederate invasion. Thus, local men were recruited and organized as State Guards against the armies of the Confederacy.

Union men in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri were not idle. Federal troops openly occupied camps at strategic sites. But most state or federal militias were mustered into service in the larger battle fronts unfolding in the East or South. Missouri, with its rather complicated and generally disliked Provost Marshal system of military over civilian Martial Law, found itself mostly protected and policed by county or regional militias of myriad design. These initial guards of the Union depended on smaller, more primitive camps of rendezvous, training, protection, and operation.

Goodspeed’s 1888 History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties pointed out, “While the two forces (Camp Highly and Camp Cranor) were gathering, various acts of violence were committed throughout the country.” One of the most noted acts was the seizing of the office of the Northwest Democrat, a strong Southern paper, published at Savannah, by a detachment of Col. Peabody’s regiment of Federal troops stationed at St. Joseph. Editors Nash and Hail escaped but the Yankee troops removed materials and the newspaper press.

Some time later when Federal troops were no longer in Savannah, a company of Camp Highly Confederates returned for a visit and seized the office of the Plain Dealer, a Union sheet published by Charles H. Whittaker. They moved the material to Camp Highly where the lead type was melted down and cast as bullets. Whittaker was arrested, escaped, and later when the Federals returned to Savannah, he resumed publication.

Apparently, the Camp Highly Confederates found Savannah to their likings, for they returned from time to time. A visit commanded by a well-known and aged Gentry County Rebel leader, Captain Nathaniel Mothersead, is briefly recorded. The reference indicates that the visits resulting in many Union men leaving the county, some to St. Joseph, then under heavy Federal control, and others to Kansas.

One excellent resource on Civil War in the region also describes the creation of another Union Camp in the Grand River region of Daviess County. A narrative by Union Major McGee explains, “Dr. C.C. Hogan, my old family physician, had raised a company for the rebel army, had them camped on Grand River bottoms, about three miles from town. Rebel companies were now organizing and drilling all over the country.”

Major Samuel B. Cox and a few other Gallatin citizens were attempting to raise one or maybe two Union companies. Learning that Col. Cranor was disbanding his men from Gentry County’s Camp Cranor at St. Joseph, Major Cox worried that all the Civil Bend, Daviess County, boys who disbanded would likely re-enlist. So, Captain Ballinger and Major McGee took the train to St. Joseph. When they arrived, the Cranor units had already mustered out and the soldiers had started home across-country on foot. Mjor McGee and crew mounted horses, intercepted the men and headed them toward Cameron for federal enlistment the next morning. Two groups were mustered into six months’ service under the official call made by Gov. Gamble. Companies A and B were enrolled with Major Cox leading the two companies. Major McGee commanded Company B. Major Cox would later be known for his role in the killing of guerrilla “Bloody Bill” Anderson which precipitated an infamous murder involving mistaken identity after the war in a robbery in Gallatin, Missouri, by Jesse and Frank James.

The life and adventures of Gallatin favorite son Samuel P. Cox reflects many parts in the development of the early Old West in America. He was involved in the westward movement, the Mexican War, various Indian wars, the California Gold Rush, and served as a Union major during the Civil War. He was a popular elected official in Daviess County and was linked to the 1869 bank robbery and murder alleged against Frank & Jesse James. Major Cox [1828-1913] is buried in Brown Cemetery, north of Gallatin, MO.

As a note of interest, the companies were mustered in on Sept. 18, 1861. Typical of the Missouri State Militia (MSM), the men had been assigned no arms but carried their old farm shotguns and rifles.

Word was received that Confederate Gen. Sterling Price had sent troops up north to tear up the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad (H&StJ). The mustered men of the MSM would be carried by rail to Cameron. The horses remained saddled and bridled for two nights. Pickets were situated from five to 10 miles from the site on the lookout for Confederates.

In a fascinating event, Judge Birch, father of an company officer, got on the train engine with the engineer. It was not safe to run the total train on the railroad because of the bushwhackers projected to be on the route. He then transferred to a steamboat at Hannibal to access St. Louis down-river. The judge gave his individual bond for guns and did not leave the city until he witnessed them shipped.

According to Major McGee, they were “nothing” but old Springfield muskets. But being supplied with fixed ammunition, they were still a great improvement over the more primitive arms, or lack thereof, previously used.

The companies took to survey Daviess County around Gallatin. Only later, they realized that they had narrowly and quite accidentally, avoided an ambush by Dr. Hogan’s rebel company that was concealed along the road of expected travel. The group then went to Squire Everly’s farm and struck camp, which was afterwards known as Camp Everly. The Union men remained at Camp Everly until they had met with families and gathered informational intentions of the rebels.

Major McGee reported that before he left Kidder, some of his scouts had captured Dr. Hogan, a Gallatin doctor who recruited and commanded for the Confederate Army. The doctor already had led his company south to join up with Gen. Price’s Confederate Army and was out recruiting still more men. Major McGee and Captain Ballinger escorted him to Hannibal where he was confined as a Confederate prisoner of war. As was the policy at that time in the war, Dr. Hogan was paroled when he took the loyalty oath.

Major Cox established his camp and headquarters at Gallatin, his home. The rest of the winter 1861-62, was spent in scouting throughout the county, keeping out Confederate recruiting officers, arresting Confederates, and requiring them to take oaths. With the six month militia enrollment ending in 1862, a regiment of Missouri State Militia Cavalry was formed with James McFerran as colonel to take their place.

Rebel Camp Havana, Gentry County (Abandoned, 1864)

Organized militias curtailed the development of large gatherings of Confederate men in Missouri.

An article entitled, “Guerrillas in Gentry,” published in the St. Joseph Weekly Herald on Aug. 4, 1864, offers a reminder that MSMs and EMMs and even occasional units of Federal troops temporarily organized discouraged Southern recruitment and training. Still, some scattered camps of Rebels existed throughout the war.

On July 25, 1864, local militia discovered a recently abandoned Rebel camp near the village of Havana in the southeast corner of Gentry County. They arrested an unidentified Southerner “who didn’t get out of camp soon enough.” To save himself from a bullet, he gave the militia a list of local Southern sympathizers who had been feeding and aiding the Rebels in camp.

Chapter 2:

Sabotage of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad (1861)

In early June of 1861, the 2nd Iowa Infantry of the U.S. Army was ordered to march to Hannibal, Missouri, where they were to ride the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad west to St. Joseph, Missouri. These Yankee troops were to inspect the rails, trestles, bridges, and depots along the way. The Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad (H&StJ) was the first railroad to cross Missouri. It operated from 1846 to 1883, succeeded by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

The Iowa Federal troops hailed mostly from the Keokuk area on the Mississippi River. They were packed into cattle cars and curbed their hunger with hardtack. The troop train stopped at nearly every town adjacent to the rail where they arrested known Rebels and removed secessionist flags.

As the name suggests, the railroad connected the city of Hannibal in the northeastern part of Missouri to St. Joseph in the northwestern part of the State, the second and third largest cities of the day in the State, respectively. The work on laying and joining the tracks was completed at Cream Ridge, a couple miles east of Chillicothe, Livingston County, on February 13, 1859, with a “golden spike celebration.”

The H&StJ was the only railroad to cross the State of Missouri from the Mississippi to the Missouri Rivers; thus, it was crucial for economic development, postal communication, troop transport, and supply logistics for the Union Army. Because it traveled through mostly lightly settled backcountry, it was greatly susceptibility to sabotage. The line suffered periodic attacks by guerrilla bands and other Southern partisans. In spite of the harassment, the H&StJ Railroad remained active throughout the Civil War.

The Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad spanning North Missouri was significant in the development of Missouri. Stagecoach routes developed taking farm products to the nearest railhead or to deliver products back to the farms. Lumber, floated down the Mississippi for sawmills at Hannibal, was shipped across this railroad to feed an American business expansion in the West. For a short period of time the western end was the beginning of the fabled Pony Express.

Simon Cameron, President Lincoln’s Secretary of War, discussed the importance of this railroad with a powerful New York politician of the day, Erastus Corning. Writing The Half Not Told, Preston Filbert reported the men’s agreement on their similar estimates of the value of the rail line: “One of the first acts of secession by Missouri would be the seizure of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad… It furnishes the only accessible and speedy route by which the Government can communicate with Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah, or with its military posts along the Western and Northwestern frontier to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and, if allowed to fall into the hands of an enemy, it is easy to see how difficult and well-nigh impossible in such an emergency it would be for the Government to preserve its Western Territories and military posts.”

While sabotage of trestles, bridges, and tracks was on-going, the most dreaded event finally occurred. For several days prior to Sept. 3, 1861, train service had been sporadic due to violence along the statewide line. Random gunfire occasionally raked the trains. It was reported in some area newspapers that passengers were frequently wounded by gunfire.

On Aug. 29, a 15-year-old Hannibal boy had been killed by snipers east of St. Joseph. A couple of days later the train conductor claimed that so much shot and Minnie balls passed into the train that he had bullet holes in his sleeves, lapel, and hat. Railroad service was disrupted for a couple of days before resuming for transport of passengers and the mail destined for distribution by the Pony Express.

Then, the worst imaginable event occurred on September 3, 1861. Guerrilla saboteurs had fired and burned through the lower timbers of a 160-foot bridge spanning the Little Platte River, some 10 miles east of St. Joseph. The force of the weight and momentum of the locomotive and cars sent the train tearing through the trestles. As the train smashed through the splintered charred timbers, twisted steel rails, shattered glass, and mangled metal into the mud and muck of the riverbed, the carnage of human bodies appeared among the screams and anguish of the dead and dying.

The sabotage resulted in the death of up to 20 civilian passengers and injured many seriously, some 100 or so more. Occasional wrecks of trains of the mid-1800s were not uncommon. Destruction of military trains by competing armies would had been expected. But the event at the Little Platte River Bridge had no direct military function. It was an act of terrorism, directed at a peaceful citizenry.

Barclay Coppock was one of the soldiers killed at the Platte Bridge Tragedy by a bushwhacker attack on the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad. He was a member of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. The bushwhackers were also to claim that it was an attempt to assassinate former Missouri Gov. Robert Marcellus Stewart.

Federal Dominance After the Sabotage (1861-65)

The slaughter at the Platte changed the tenor of the war. The disaster sparked violence that culminated in the near-destruction of Platte City, a well-known Platte County town of pro-Southern sentiment. The 2nd Iowa Infantry sent to guard the rails was commanded by Col. Samuel R. Curtis. Trained at West Point, the lawyer, congressman, and railroad engineer dispersed some 3,000 soldiers at vulnerable spots as the troop train rolled down the tracks.

Col. Curtis set up his headquarters in the well-appointed Pâtee House Hotel in St. Joseph. He then headed off to an emergency session of Congress in Washington, D.C. He left Missouri as a Colonel and returned as a Brigadier General. The Union man who later defeated the Missouri Confederates at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March 3, 1862, accepted a post in St. Louis which eventually put him in charge of the Union Military in the state. Eventually, it would be Curtis who would effectively end the military campaign of Gen. Price and his Confederates at the Battle of Westport, Missouri, in 1864.

The presence of the Yankees from Keokuk in the St. Joseph area and east insured a Federal dominance. Rebels had generally been driven east and south, resulting in certain inactivity in the West-Central Region. But the situation was about to change. The Iowa soldiers were ordered to join their general in St. Louis, leaving only a small contingent of Union blue in St. Joseph. As a result, Secessionist camps and Rebel flags sprang up across the landscape in the blink of an eye.

Most of the Civil War activity on the Western Front of Missouri turned back to a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek, game of skirmishes between guerrilla gangs and homegrown state militias. Federal military presence continued to wane. The Army was relocated to other “more needy” portions of Southeast Missouri and other states as considered necessary by Federal Commanders.

While the Upper Counties of the Northwest had enjoyed relative peace and quiet compared to St. Joseph and points east and south, the times were changing. Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume II, makes the point that, “If there was one region of the state least likely to see guerrilla warfare throughout the war it was the several counties of Northwest Missouri up along the Iowa Border, but in the last days of May 1863 the war came even there.”

The author of the volume, Bruce Nichols, uses a St. Joseph News article of June 4, 1863, to underscore how communities as far removed as the village of Oxford in Worth County, Missouri, were targeted by recruiters. An unnamed Confederate colonel from Andrew County scoured the area on a recruiting trip with five other pro-southerners between May 24 and 30, 1863.

The paper claimed that the recruiting band quit establishing contacts with Oxford local supporters, then raided nearby homes of members of the 31st Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). The same report states that after the raiders took a militiaman’s service pistol, an alarm went out, but too late to catch the Rebels as they fled back south. The EMM arrested southern men, including a minister who had aided the raiders.

[State Historical Society of Missouri]

For some time, ambitious guerrilla operations in Missouri, especially in Northwest Missouri, led to fear and frustration on the Union side. As the Unionist population became more alarmed by the increasing guerrilla activity, it became increasingly apparent that the newly formed Missouri State Militia (MSM) could not be at all places at all times. With the formation on July 22, 1862, the EMM would serve as inactive state troops, remaining in their civilian employment and at home. As minutemen, they would be a quick response force, springing into action when needed.

In the Worth County raid, with Oxford located so far from the formal assemblages of troops, the EMM reacted as planned with apparent efficiency. A couple of years earlier, before the formation of the MSM and EMM, the citizens of the upper counties in Northwest Missouri were at the mercy of local understaffed and overworked sheriffs. With the creation of Union-backed Federal and state forces, the EMM forced all Missouri men join the militia (or another military), flee the state, or enlist in the Confederate Army. As a result, the EMM, if properly commanded, also served as a police force, protecting all county citizens.

Dealing With the Jayhawkers (1862)

Historians generally agree that that most early setters of Gentry County migrated from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, followed by more immigrants from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other northern and northeastern locations. Gentry County is most fortunate to having had a dedicated genealogist of the Civil War living locally for most her life. The late Carmeta Pierce Robertson founded Ancestor Lore — Quality Research, researching local ancestry by personal contact, newspaper archives, and other publications. Her self-published book, Fighters & Survivors, Gentry County, MoCivil War 1861-1865, offers up valuable local information perhaps otherwise not found.

Robertson observes, “The statement has often been made, and history verifies this to some extent, that the families who fought for the North and were predominantly against slavery, were primarily from the north side of Grand River which runs diagonally from the northwest comer of the county to the southeast; while those who lived south of the Grand, tended to be pro-slavery.” And yet, she suspected there were a large number of exceptions to this broad statement, adding “this didn’t always prove to be true.”

The new year, 1862, eclipsed the old year concerning war and rebellion. With winter snow and wind barreling in off the Kansas prairie, the undisciplined 7th Kansas Cavalry, the large force of Kansas Union troops called “Jayhawkers” by Missourians, swept into western Missouri, just south of Kansas City. Led by Lt. Colonel Daniel R. Anthony, brother of women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony, the marauders braved deep snowfall to burn and pillage homes and other buildings. The troops intended to settle old scores from the “Bleeding Kansas” era of the 1850s, as well as deny shelter and food to rebel recruits that were forming up in the area.

7th Kansas Cavalry Jayhawker Lt. Col. Daniel R. Anthony was the brother of Susan B. Anthony. He served under Col. Jennison as the 7th Kansas Cavalry became the epitome of Jayhawkers, infamous for their method of total warfare on the Missouri-Kansas border.

Many border Missourians of Northern sympathy were forced to flee their homes by Southern neighbors. In retaliation, they were pleased to point the way to burning more than 200 major buildings, some of which were property of Southerners burned down by mistake. Several Southern citizens, misidentified, were also killed. Thus, the Kansas regimental commander, Dr. Charles R. Jenison, was a man without unqualified full support from either side. During the previous November, Jenison had warned these Missouri counties “of their perfidy flirting with secession, saying ‘ …playing war is playing out.'” The extreme Jayhawker actions caused much criticism from Secessionists and Unionists alike.

The Seventh Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was organized at Fort Leavenworth on October 28, 1861. Despite its designation as a Kansas unit, its ranks included men from Illinois, Ohio, and elsewhere. As was the case throughout the country (North and South), men were often drawn to service by broadsides like the one seen here, sent out by Charles Jennison in August 1861. In the case of the Seventh Kansas, the regiment included “abolitionists of the intense sort” such as Samuel Ayers, Charles Lovejoy, and George Hoyt. [Kansas State Historical Society]
Jayhawking was a synonym for stealing, and Jayhawkers stole, burned, and occasionally murdered for the Union cause in the guerilla warfare that raged in the area before, during, and after the Civil War. Their Confederate counterparts were called Bushwhackers and were cut from nearly the same cloth as Jayhawkers. Both were quasi-military forces made up so-called border ruffians who used the war as an excuse to continue the violence that began with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. Occasionally one or the other factions would contribute a significant military action to the war effort, but their style of warfare was mostly an embarrassment to their governments.

The Union general in charge of Missouri operations was Major General Henry W. Halleck. He expressed disgust for the Jayhawker cruelty, barbarism and plunder but acknowledged their effect. Gen. Halleck wrote to high authorities that Jayhawker incursions had done more for the [Secessionists] in this state than could have been accomplished by a formally organized invasion of 20,000 men.

Henry Wager Halleck was a United States Army officer, scholar, and lawyer. A noted expert in military studies, he was known by a nickname that became derogatory: “Old Brains.” Early in the Civil War, Halleck was a senior Union Army commander in the Western Theater.

The Rebel partisans, likewise, were no angels. But they pulled back to plan strikes later during warmer weather. Established bushwhacker bands learned to live and operate mostly in regions where they could survive the climate, where they could be protected and succored by citizens sympathetic to their cause.

Jayhawkers, also-called Red Legs, led raids that preyed upon people of all resolve. Thus, Southern sympathizers hated the Kansans. Meanwhile, the Federal populace grew antagonistic toward their own  government for failing to stop the raids. Some of the long-lived bands of Rebel partisans — led by such men as William Quantrill, John Thrailkill, and even “Bloody Bill” Anderson — enjoyed popular support especially earlier in the war.

The colorfully embroidered and feathered cap and shirt of Bill Anderson labeled him as a famously flamboyant man. Ironically, Anderson’s small, violent band lost most of its public support by terrorizing the Southern sympathizers as well as the Northern ones. Besides torturing and violently murdering all captives, Anderson adopted in full the ”No Quarter” clause of Union Major General Henry W. Halleck’s General Order Number Two on March 13, 1862, requiring Union leaders to shoot captured guerrillas on the spot as outlaws.

Anderson and his small band were notorious for scalping the dead and wounded, and flaunting the scalp locks on display from the bridles of their war horses. At a time when Union and Confederate national armies were mustering and training their forces, Union state and federal militias in Missouri were organizing on the county level. In addition to soliciting enrollment into the county groups, Rebel recruiters were actively but carefully seeking out men of Southern leanings. The “shoot on sight” order for anyone caught in the act of enrolling or participating, providing sustenance, comforting or providing other assistance, set a deadly precedent for Missouri guerrilla warfare. Southern men were recruited into training camps, some large and some small, scattered for the most part in the hidden brush of oxbows along the major river bottomlands. Secessionist camps sprang up everywhere virtually overnight.

The Paw Paw Militia (1862)

In order to protect people and property of the citizenry from ravaging Jayhawkers, partisan guerrillas, undisciplined Yankee soldiers, and murderous misfits, the State had to raise, train, and equip an army of militiamen. The provisional government implemented at least eight different Federal and/or combination state militias, some concurrently, in the years of 1860 through 1865. While the militia were sometimes fraught with ineffectiveness and inefficiency so typical of politics and government, the efforts did provide reasonable, although not perfect, civilian protection.

In the fall of 1861, Provisional Missouri Gov. Hamilton R. Gamble compromised with President Abraham Lincoln to create a joint Federal-State force, the Missouri State Militia (MSM). The Federal government was to provide arms, equipment, clothing, subsistence, transport, and pay. The State was to provide the men. The MSM was subject to action only within Missouri, except in immediate defense.

The United States Congress soon found the plan was too expensive, legally without limitation, and it curtailed Federal recruitment numbers. The “new militia” was found effective in most situations, but the increased Rebel activity resulted in an MSM that was stretched too thin and couldn’t be at all places at all times.

Motivated by stepped-up guerrilla operations in the state, Missouri’s Provisional Gov. Gamble and the state’s Union military commander Major General John M. Schofield initiated the plan of an “emergency army” without official input from Federal authorities. Such an action is certainly not the best way to breed cooperation and success.

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]

Though active concurrently with the existing MSM, a new local force called the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) was called into service by Gov. Gamble on July 22, 1862. The Governor and the State’s military commander decreed that all able-bodied men in Missouri were to report immediately to enroll and be sworn into service. The EMM would serve as inactive state troops, remaining in civilian employment at home. The units would be quick reaction forces, activated when needed. The order forced all able-bodied Missouri men to decide whether they were Rebel or loyalist. The alternatives were few: enroll in the EMM, leave home and join the guerrillas, or move to some out-of-state residence. Men who were formerly neutral in action, regardless of viewpoint, now had to actively declare a side.

These units were composed largely of “ex-Southern” sympathizers and even those included on disloyal lists. Because of the mandate, “ex-Southerners” and neutral recruits came in plentiful numbers. These troops were officered by loyal Union men, including some of the best citizens of the country. A large number of fervent Union men from the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri were also included in many EMM units.

The EMM soon became known as the Paw Paw Militia. The slang term “Paw Paw” was intended to be derisive because many recruits “took to the brush” (i.e. the Paw Paw trees) rather than fight Confederate regulars or partisan rangers. Even worse, some Paw Paw militia became fugitive guerrillas themselves. Unionists, who placed their faith in the regular Federal forces, stereotyped EMM soldiers as the worst of the worst.

The Paw Paws were commissioned in 1863, not surprisingly with the blessing of the conservative Union General Odon Guitar, who was on friendly terms with local Southern citizens. An enrollment of the Upper Counties was made in the fall where all Southern sympathizers, ex-Confederate soldiers, and those known or suspected of being unfriendly to the Union were signed and disarmed. Recruits on this “disloyal list” and were subjected to many abuses from discharged Union soldiers.

The groups, technically part of the EMM, were subsequently organized for suppressing the prevailing state of lawlessness. The Paw Paws were organized to restore peace and order and for home protection. As one might suspect, the arming of this militia caused dissatisfaction among many citizens. But overall, peaceful security returned. While there were some difficult times, especially during the Paw Paw revolt in Platte County, it was generally agreed by friends and foes that “a feeling of security returned, such as had not been enjoyed in the country since the breaking out of the War,” claimed Goodspeed’s 1888 History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties.

Early in the War, there were many recruiting lessons to be learned. When Federal armies first began recruiting soldiers, they figured that people of the region would be more comfortable with troops from the same local area. Consequently, it was thought that local troops stationed at St. Joseph would be better accepted than soldiers from northern states like Iowa, Wisconsin, or Illinois.

The logic appeared on target at first. Most of the counties had thoroughly mixed populations of Loyalists and Rebels. It soon became clear that in a war pitting neighbor against neighbor and family member against family member, local participants had a short fuse of their own. Armed neighbors bloomed with jealousies and old grudges; the war, spreading nearly unchecked across the countryside, gave them license to act in normally unacceptable manners.

“The regular troops didn’t especially like or respect the Missouri soldiers, which was evident a few days later when Col. Manlove Cranor brought his Gentry County volunteers into [St. Joseph],” declares Preston Filbert in The Half Not Told. He then added, “They were a ragtag group of farmers and backwoodsmen who earned jeers from both the regular soldiers and the townsfolk.”

No doubt a bit unpolished, the EMM militia may well have been horse-feathered. Yet, they were a welcome addition when needed. Directed by General John Pope, the militia helped bring stability to the area by securing the rail line and keeping it open. They also were credited with keeping the northern counties largely free of concentrated Rebel activity.

“A few months earlier on June 23, a delegation of Clay County residents traveled to St. Joseph to plead with General Clinton Fisk to remove a company of militia from Gentry County,” reported the St. Joseph Weekly Herald (June 24, 1864). This most likely was Company A of the 31st EMM. Civilians complained that the militiamen were intimidating Southern sympathizers in rural neighborhoods. A committee reported that about 300 civilians were forced to flee into the brush to save their lives.

In a twisted turn of fate, the Gentry County militia became part of guerrilla warfare in Clinton County without having ever been there. On June 24 or 25, the well-known guerrilla David Coffman of Clinton County, as widely reported by most regional newspapers, was intercepted by the Clinton County militia and killed while stealing horses and money from local farmers.

[State Historical Society of Missouri]

Apparently, the guerrilla leader Charles “Fletch” Taylor of Quantrill’s band of bushwhackers was incensed by Coffman’s death. The Rebel leader revealed how he had made a treaty of nonviolence with a local citizens committee and that Coffman’s shooting violated the agreement. Filburn’s The Half Not Told suggests that likely this committee is the one that met with Gen. Fisk at St. Joseph, requesting removal of the Gentry County Militia from Clay County.

The departure of the militias was likely part of the conditions for the truce with the Clay County committee. Fletcher felt that the truce had been violated and he had been betrayed. The guerrilla chief and his band escalated their violence in Clinton and Clay counties for a week or more. It appears that Colonel John C. Thornton’s Confederate recruiting command headed west to Platte County to avenge the killing of Coffman.

Encounters between the guerrillas and the Gentry County militia were not yet done.

On the heels of the violent activity between the bushwhackers and militia, the week of August 7-13, 1864, was said to have been less hectic and deadly. Many of the chieftains of the guerrilla bands had been in council of war with the Southern army of Confederate Major Gen. Sterling Price and likely had suspended most offensive actions during the period.

On the return the evening of August 8, two of the bands’ lieutenants were ambushed. “Fletch” Taylor was critically wounded and John Thrailkill suffered a serious neck wound. Until “Bloody Bill” Anderson could be notified of his adoption of a new command, full offensive operation of the temporarily leaderless bands was at a standstill.

During the second week of August 1864, Major David Cranor [brother of Col. Manlove Cranor] and the riders of the Gentry County Militia searched Platte County for hiding Rebels. They killed two, wounded one, and captured several horses.

Union Gen. Fisk also notified the Kansas commander, now Major Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, that he had just deployed a patrol out of St. Joseph across the Missouri River into Kansas in pursuit of more “Paw Paw Militia” who were attempting to escape. With an Indian outbreak in western Kansas occupying his attention and available troops, Gen. Curtis was relieved to grant permission.

Granted Curtis’ blessing, the Gentry County Militia Company A of 31st EMM (these units commonly called by the place of origin) apprehended and returned six more Paw Paw militiamen of Company D of 82nd EMM to face Federal justice for their part in the July insurgency.

The militias from and operating in the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri during this mid-August period of 1864 were likely blessed. Unknown to Union officers at the time, but revealed later in the memoirs of Taylor’s band, the chieftain invited “Bloody Bill” Anderson to unite their bands for an aggressive raiding trip to Iowa before his critical wounding. However, their plans went awry. With “Fletch’s” critical injury, the plans were scrapped and forgotten.

Soon, Anderson would pull together a couple hundred hardened, experienced bushwhackers from the scattered camps of Thrailkill and Taylor for mounted guerilla expeditions of his own.

According to National Archives records, John Thrailkill first joined the Missouri State Guard and later enlisted in the 1st Missouri Cavalry as a private on December 25, 1861. His Civil War career is varied but he did command a number of guerrillas during the battle of Centralia, Missouri, September 27, 1864. At the end of the war, Thrailkill accompanied General Shelby to Mexico, where it appears Thrailkill remained until his death in 1898.


Six Killed During Skirmish in Daviess County (1862)

 The History of Daviess and Gentry Counties reports that only one Civil War confrontation occurred Daviess County. It was only a slight skirmish, actually more like a game of hide and seek. The engagement occurred at an ambush of a temporary encampment. The official account of the encounter is found in the records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volumes 13:

Headquarters, Breckenridge, Mo., Aug. 16, 1862.

“I have the honor to report that on the 5th instant 14 men of the First Regiment of

Cavalry, Missouri State Militia, under Lieutenant Goodbrake, and 21 militia, under Captain Vickers, making in all 35 men, near Cravensville, in Daviess County, Mo., were fired upon from the brush by 85 guerrillas, under Davis and Kirk. The engagement lasted for about an hour and a half, and resulted in the defeat of the guerrillas, with a loss of six killed and ten wounded, 15 horses, and ten guns. We had three severely and two slightly, wounded. Our wounded are all doing well and will recover.

“On the 6th a notorious guerrilla and outlaw named Wicklin was shot and the notorious guerrilla named Daniel Hale was also shot by our troops in the forks of Grand River.”

James McFerran, Colonel Commanding First Regiment Cavalry, M.S.M.
Major James Rainsfor, Assistant Adjutant General, St. Joseph, Mo.


James H.B. McFerran, a leading citizen of Gallatin, MO, active in Democrat politics and organizer of a Union militia unit which fought in the Civil War. He led the First Cavalry Missouri State Militia against Gen. Price during the Battle of Westport in October, 1864.

Col. James McFerran, a moderate Northern officer residing in Gallatin, also reported the incident a victory to his superiors. A much more detailed and widely varying account of the skirmish is given in the History of Daviess and Gentry Counties by John F. Jordan:

“Jesse Clark, whose father was a Presbyterian preacher, and one of the pioneers of Livingston County, came into this section from Mercer County where he was then living, and having many friends and acquaintances in this and Livingston Counties he organized a small company of volunteers for the rebel service. Clark represented to his friends that there were many adherents to the cause of the south in Mercer and Schuyler Counties and that if a company could be formed and invade those counties men would flock to their standard. The company was formed, that is, a few adventurous spirits were gotten together and started on this wild goose chase. They invaded Mercer, passed through Schuyler, back across Harrison, over into Worth and Gentry Counties, but the expected accession to their ranks did not materialize, so the expedition turned and headed for Daviess County and home. The original number augmented by some 30 or 40 recruits nearly all of whom were unarmed were met near Di-Ammon by a considerable force of Federal troops under the command of Captain Woodrow.

“A skirmish at once ensued. About 15 of the rebels who had guns held the Union soldiers in check until their unarmed companions got away. Among those on the firing line were the men before mentioned. It was their first baptism in the fire and smoke of battle but not a man flinched. A desultory fire was kept up by both parties until nightfall. Charles Goben was the only man hit on the Confederate side and in the darkness the little band became separated and he was not missed until the next day when it was found that Goben and Thomas Hicklin had been left behind. Hicklin was unhurt but his horse had given out and he had wandered about in the darkness and became lost. After his capture, Hicklin was questioned about the fight and whether or not he had taken part in it. He admitted at once that he had. He was then asked to give the names of those who were with him. This he politely, but firmly, refused to do. Threats and persuasion alike failed to move him and he remained steadfast in his refusal to betray his comrades. At last he was given to understand in unmistakable language that if he persisted in his refusal to answer his life would pay the forfeit. His answer to this grim ultimatum was characteristic of the super-courage and unfaltering to the man: ‘Be not afraid of them that kill the body,’ said he, and after that they have no more that they can do, but I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear; Fear him which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say to you, fear him.'” Thomas Hicklin had been a devout student of the Bible, and it was fitting that the final answer that was to decide his fate was given in the words of the Master. He was taken out on the prairie upon or near the present farm of Robert Johnson in Grand River Township and there a platoon of soldiers were drawn up and Hicklin was placed in position to receive their fire. An attempt was made to blindfold him but at this request this was not done. And so it was with a courage that never faltered and a firmness that the terrors of death could not shake this loyal soul calmly met his fate. Truly, ‘Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends. ‘”

According to an account the Missouri State Gazetteer written in 1860, Cavensville was first settled by Mormons. The post office was established in the winter of 1840. There was one stage line to Bethany, via Pattonsburg. The town contained one district school, three churches (Baptist, Cumberland Presbyterian and Methodist), four general stores, one ag warehouse, one carding machine, two distillers, two dry good stores, one fancy goods, one grocery, two hotels, one planing mill, and two nurseries.

Chapter 3:

Targeting  Capt. Comstock (1862)

Much is written about what prevailed upon such Confederacy advocates as Frank and Jesse James to commit violent crimes for decades after the Civil War ended. Less is focused on those Union men who were targets of vengeful wrath and assassination during this same time period. A study of Charles Gorham Comstock of Gentry County, Missouri, provides some insight.

Comstock, known locally as “Captain Comstock,” was a Union veteran of the Civil War in the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri. Born in Putnam County, New York, he proudly professed to be descended from a long line of Puritans. He completing law school in Poland, Ohio, before practicing law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1859 he moved by horseback onto the western frontier of Northwest Missouri. Impressed with the area, he chose Albany, as his home and set up a law practice. Albany was to be his home for some 50 years.

The Civil War so disorganized any efforts to practice law that Comstock devoted himself to buying and selling farmland within two years after arriving. Records indicate that Comstock could be ruthless in his practice of law and especially in his land transactions. Perhaps Comstock became a target because, in addition to other holdings, he became one of the largest landowners in the state.

During the Civil War, Comstock served as captain of Co. A 31st Reg. Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). He also served as captain of Co. I 3rd Prov: Reg. EMM. For much of the war, Capt. Comstock was employed to maintain order in Gentry and Worth Counties. Troops under his command made several expeditions in Northwest Missouri in pursuit of bushwhackers and guerrillas. Early in 1865 he was commissioned colonel of the 34th Reg. Missouri Militia, but this unit was never activated.

Capt. Comstock became quite a force in politics, real estate, and banking with local, state, and national acknowledgement. His accolades, as were the criticisms from his detractors, were plentiful. The Captain, like so many learned men of the time, was a master at composing correspondence and stories of life’s events, big and small. In fact, he and a partner, John A. Stewart, began the publication at Albany of the Grand River News in 1864. It was one of the first newspapers published in Northwest Missouri outside of St. Joseph.

During and after the Civil War, the prominence and stature of Capt. Comstock increased as he served as probate judge in Gentry County. He was a delegate from the St. Joseph District to the National Republican Convention held in Cincinnati, Ohio, which nominated General Rutherford Hayes for President of the United States.

Among his peers leading Northwest Missouri forward was attorney and judge Henry Clay McDougal of Gallatin, in Daviess County, Missouri. McDougal sized up the man Comstock in his book, Recollections, 1844-1909: “Never in robust health in the forty odd years I’ve known him intimately, this modest, retiring lawyer, thinker, student, banker, farmer, gentleman, has imagined himself by times the victim of every disease known to man, but still studies, works and travels [internationally] like a boy.”

Thus, Capt. Comstock was highly regarded in nearly all respects. But he was not held in such high esteem by devout secessionists, even though he was considered lenient in dealings with those still smoldering with Southern sympathies. Comstock was recognized as a strong Republican — and thus was sometimes the target of personal threats made public.

Letter to Charley Comstock: “Leave or Die!”

Pasted to the pages of the Charles G. Comstock Scrapbooks is a lengthy clipping of a letter to the publisher or editor of a yet to be determined local newspaper, perhaps the Albany Ledger. The column of three parts is headed by a letter submitted by a mysterious writer, signed “Karl.” The submitting author follows up on his narrative  by appending two threats, dated Feb. 16 and Feb. 22, 1862, which predates the cover letter dated Feb. 26. All were written at Albany in Gentry County, Missouri.

One of the Union men specifically identified in the rambling diatribe of accusations and insinuations is  Charley [Charles Gorham] Comstock. The lengthy, run-on attack generally targeted Comstock and other moderate, non-radical Republican Union supporters living in Gentry County. The overall tone of the letter opens discussion about the existence of the Copperheads and even Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) in local activities. Both were secret organizations of southern sympathizers operating in the Northern States of the Union, perhaps including the upper counties of Northwest Missouri.

The letter threatening Capt. Comstock was in response to an account previously published which was critical of the Copperhead and KGC organizations. Worth County Provost Marshal T.R. Collins reported KGC leadership near the Iowa border in Nodaway and Gentry counties on February 12, 1863. The Union military leaders generally believed the KGC and similar organizations to be “paper tigers.” If they ever existed locally, the secret groups were of “has been” influence, and, at very least, heavily infiltrated with informants and no longer, if ever, of vitality.

With this background, the following letter, reprinted in its entirety, concludes with the personal threat made public against Capt. Comstock.

“Wanted — A Business Man to Settle up the Affairs of an Exile.”

“ALBANY, Gentry Co., Mo., Feb 26, ’62.”

“SIR: I submit for publication in your columns the following proceedings of the ‘Committee Democratic’ of this county, as anonymously served up through the Post office of this town. You will perceive the consideration that makes the second epistle is giving six days longer in which to leave, in postponing until after the expiration of the month the execution of the decree upon the unfortunate object of Conservative wrath! Unhappily for him he is deserving of all that is promised him. He goes in for the Union — President — war policy — Proclamation — Emancipation without compensation to rebels — believes that the President is the head of the nation — or ought to be — that we shall succeed, or fail within the next two years, and that every effort made to save the Government must be in aid of the President, and that any diverse policy or movement so much weakens the loyal part of the nation. Seriously, this matter demands attention. — Not in the individual case, perhaps, for the party threatened has his life insured in a rebel office on the Indian trader’s terms of five per cent., that is, five for one; but it demands attention, from the fact that this kind of business is becoming too prevalent in this country with no apparent means of checking it. About two months ago a recruiting officer in this county was notified to raise his company and leave before he came to harm; another Union man here, Henry Brett Esq., has been allowed ten days in which to leave or die. I might mention many other cases of similar, though not so aggravated a character, which are allowed to go unpunished, from the fact that they are simply in pursuance of the example set by men of position, who have been hitherto considered Union men — thus, an officer high in the Gentry County( 31st) Regiment E. M. M., has publicly given it as his opinion that the storing of the arms of said Regiment at Albany, was done to place both parties on an even footing, and that he had as leave fight for Jeff Davis as Lincoln’s Proclamation. Such sentiments encourage disloyal, and dishearten loyal men. Gentry County has a large body of men as loyal as the Union holds, but certainly they are in bad hands.

“The subject is worthy of more and better attention than I can give it. I will simply say that the same party about two years ago received a communication of scurrilous import to the following — then it was signed ‘Secessionists,’ now it reads ‘Committee democratic.’ It raises a feint suspicion that the two mean one and the same thing. — May our deluded Union brothers who are staggering off from their old friends, to unite with rebel sympathizers because they have stolen the old Democratic flag, see their danger and come back to the one idea of suppressing the rebellion even at the cost of what seems so dear to them, the slaves of rebels in arms.”

“I append copies of the documents,

Yours &c.  Karl.”


(Appended Document Number 1)
“Albany, Feb. 16

________ Esq. _______Sir: Do you recollect who put you in your office? Did the d—-d Black Abolitionists? And you talk of burning good Democratic papers! You’ll see something in less than a month from now. I want to see you keep straight. We had nothing against you before. Charley Comstock and Brett, and another or two, will be killed in less than a month.

Jim, you are a friend, and I warn you in time. If you don’t mind you will be killed sure as hell. If you want to save yourself keep Charley Comstock out of that office.

Your well wisher,
A Friend”


(Appended Document Number 2)
“Albany, Feb. 22

CHARLES COMSTOCK – SIR: You are hereby notified to leave this town in one month from this date. If you stay one day over, you will be killed. Abolitionists can’t rule here. –Leave or die. For the Committee Democratic.


YOUR ENEMY _______.”

There is no record of how Capt. Comstock responded to these threats. Though usually in poor health physically, Comstock lived 80 years, six months, and 24 days. When he died May 3, 1917, he was widely praised as a well-known capitalist, landowner, and tireless Union citizen. His eulogy, published soon The Albany Ledger and The St. Joseph Gazette, addresses his passing with greatest of praise:

“Mr. Comstock was a high minded, cultural gentleman, considerate of his fellows, modest in his demeanor and charitable towards others,” opined the text. The Ledger (a Democratic paper from its beginnings in 1868) claimed, “The older citizens knew him and held him in high esteem, as he had been associated with them so closely in the affairs of the county.”

Despite personal threats made against him, descriptions of the Captain generally portray him as a man of tireless strength. Even in later life, Comstock frequently took adventurous trips with associates to gold mine holdings in the “Wild West” of New Mexico. He and his wife also made several trips to and through Europe.

The Handguns of Captain Comstock

Captain Comstock was familiar with the firearms of the war period, judged by his training in militia military service and leadership. One could conclude that as a high ranking officer in EMM, he had contact with small arms of various type and manufacture, as well as training in their use. A scrapbook of clippings posted by the Captain also includes some post-war accounts describing scrapes with Native American tribesmen on the warpath in the mountains of the Southwest. Still, very little is revealed about his choice and use of firearms.

Four known handguns — a pistol, a revolver, and two derringers — were passed upon his death to his estate. No information has been found that specifically reveals the purchase or use of each, or any. A study of each of the following reveals interesting information …if for nothing other than speculation.

  • Aston “Horse Pistol”
    A Model 1842 Contract U.S. Army .54 caliber smoothbore, single-shot, percussion pistol was found in the wall of a Comstock home at Albany in Gentry County, Missouri, in the 1970s. This pistol was likely an early issue to the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). The Henry Aston Company manufactured some 30,000 of these “horse pistols” pre-war from 1846 to 1853. Manufactured for cavalry use, these bulky wooden full-stocked pistols were carried in holster scabbards mounted on the saddle. Their size, bulk, and weight prevented them being carried on the soldier’s belt. The Model 1842 was obsolete before the Civil War began. Even so, many were issued to the regular Union army and many more to the state militias. Some saw use in the early days of the war, until they could be replaced by revolvers. In Missouri, the issue and use of the nearly antiquated pistols were maintained for some time by the poorly equipped EMM, groups of volunteers all over the state, notorious for lack of arms and equipment. In addition to Northern manufacture, about 10,000 were pistols made by Aston and other associates. Some 1,000 of the patent were made at the Palmetto Armory for use by the South Carolina militia in the early to mid-1850s. Still, their availability as leftovers from the 1850s, with correspondingly low cost, saw some use in the federal armies, especially the handgun-poor Confederacy. State militias on both sides were given the relatively inexpensive pistols. This fact perhaps explains why the “horse pistol” has been handed down as part of Captain Comstock’s estate, once it was found in the wall. His role in the command of Company A 31st Regiment, Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM), makes it likely that he and his troopers were provided access to the rather primitive smoothbore handguns. Because these pistols were not identified with serial numbers, it is impossible to connect specific guns with specific units, let alone individual soldiers. Still, the 1842 Aston “horse pistol” left a fascinating piece of history in the Upper Counties of  Northwest Northwest.
  • Manhattan .36 Caliber “Navy” Revolver
    As already discussed, the percussion revolver was highly valued by soldiers and fighters of both sides. A fraction of the total small arms weapons used by the armies were revolvers only issued to cavalry and officers. The Colt Army Model 1860, a somewhat heavier and more powerful sidearm, was the revolver carried by most Union cavalry. The preferred revolver of the Confederacy, and most certainly the guerrilla bands, was the Colt 1851 “Navy” pattern handgun. Smaller and lighter, .36 caliber percussion revolvers were commonly found on both hips of combatants wearing uniforms of either butternut or blue. Because of the popularity of the “Navy pattern,” various manufacturers designed revolvers in attempt to secure military contracts. Colt was the most prolific producer for the Union; Remington Repeating Arms was the chief competitor. Many others attempted large contracts without great success, One of the most successful manufacturers of .36 caliber Model 1861 type revolvers, also known as the “Navy Type,” was The Manhattan Firearms Company. An estimated 78,000 of the handguns were produced from 1859-1868. The Flayderman’s Guide To Antique American Firearms reports that the U.S. Ordinance is known to have purchased one small order of Manhattan .36 ”Navies” in late 1861. It appears that the Manhattan revolvers were a close comparison in value to the Colt Model 1851 Navy and even the Colt Model 1849 pocket revolvers. In fact, they had features superior to Colts, which led to litigation regarding patents between the two companies. While no large government contracts were made, the Manhattan revolvers tallied considerable sales to individuals due to its quality of design and function. It is not known for sure what service revolver and likely additional handguns Capt. Comstock carried on his person when operating as a military officer. It is possible that the Manhattan Navy .36 caliber percussion was a personally secured secondary weapon, used in addition to an official Colt revolver issue. Comstock’s Manhattan had five cylinders, even though less expensive six-cylinder models were available and said to have been as reliable as the Colt. Comstock’s Manhattan had the serial stamp #36085 on various parts.
  • Derringers
    There is no evidence of other Comstock shoulder arms and handguns in the Captain’s estate except for two small caliber Derringers. As a gentleman lawyer of considerable wealth and rank in county and regional finances and government functions besides his leadership rank in the county militia, Capt. Comstock likely carried a small hide-away pistol in daily non-military activities. Logical speculation makes the association. According to personal communication, the Captain was cautious in his activities, goings and comings, during and for a time after the war. Word-of-mouth has reported that during this tumultuous time, the Captain, as well as most community leaders of possible controversy, stayed “close to home” when the “sun went down” each evening. However, there is no evidence that he actually owned or even used the two pistols that had bee passed down through his estate. Known as a “pocket pistol,” “vest pocket pistol,” “bide-away,” “Derringer,” or a combination of these, small short-barreled cartridge or percussion guns could be of any caliber. The older models of percussion derringers, by definition, were of a larger caliber. Cartridge belt pistols included derringers of smaller calibers.
  • Remington Vest Pocket Pistol
    No external serial number marking could be located on the Remington Vest Pocket Pistol of the Comstock estate. Known as the “Saw Handle Derringer” because of the arrangement of the grip and handle, fewer than 15,000 were manufactured from 1865-1888. Made in .30, .32 and .41 rimfire caliber, the Comstock firearm is a split breech action chambered for .41 rimfire.
  • Sharps & Hankins Breech-Loading 4-Shot Pepperbox Pistol
    Many thousands of these pistols were manufactured in four major models with several variations. The Comstock pocket pistol is a standard model with blued barrels and a case-hardened finish on an iron frame. The model was made in .22, .30, and.32 short and long rifle rimfire calibers. The Comstock gun is .30 rimfire caliber with four 2-1/2 inch barrels and gutta-percha grips. It is also stamped with a 5083 serial number.

[Note:  Also see Chapter 10: “Small Arms Common to the Upper Counties”]

Chapter 4:

Provosts, Knights and Copperheads

It must have seemed like a practical approach. Union Gen. Odon Guitar was assigned to take command in St. Joseph in 1862. After all, Northern supporters held the political offices yet available in a militarily controlled government. Many loyal Southerners were leading citizens of the city. Upon Guitar’s arrival, the military general began his hobnobbing with both factions.

Brigadier Gen. Odon Guitar was given command of the District of Northern Missouri on July 6, 1863. As a slaveholder himself and attempting to respect the rights of Southerners in his district he received severe criticism by more radical Unionists. He was relieved of that command on March 25, 1864, and assigned command of the Rolla District.

While he was a good Union man, Guitar was politically conservative and inclined to give Southerners the benefit of the doubt, a fair shake. Unlike so many of the Union men in control of the military, Guitar believed that if Southerners were not in active rebellion, they were supposed to be able to live without harassment or fear of their neighbors …and certainly the government.

It appeared to this Union general that the loyalist faction in St. Joseph was so firmly in control that they could rob, abuse, and badger anyone, especially Southern sympathizers, as they pleased. With little time spent for consideration of convictions, he put the local militia on notice with Order No.1. Preston Filbert in his book, The Half Not Told, gives the gist of the new order as printed by the St. Joseph Herald:

 “‘Officers and privates … have obstructed the execution of civil process, resisted civil officers in the legitimate exercise of their functions; by force released persons charged with criminal silence from legal custody and confinement, and exercised the authority of determining who shall and who shall not reside in their respective counties. Such acts are lawless and unauthorized, and of the very character the Enrolled Militia were called to suppress and punish.”

The printing of the general’s first order sent up an ominous roar from Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) commanders, men, and radical loyalists throughout its readership. Guitar had ordered that civil authority had precedence over military law. He had brushed aside Missouri martial law, at least in word if not always in practice. In this Holt County trial, he ignored the county court and civil trial and brought the Northern men to military trial. A test of his intent reared its head almost immediately. The alignment of the trial may have been the best road to justice, but it reinforced the general’s apparent proclivity to “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”

Several men were from nearby Holt County, with its Southern majority, were arrested for theft. The accused were Union supporters and some were even militiamen. The accusers were pro-Southern. Needless to say, the scenario didn’t set up well. On Jan. 21, 1863, a mob surrounded the jail and demanded the prisoners’ release.

The entire case of accusation and inept witnesses was closely watched. Four of the six accused were convicted. While the results were apparently a victory for justice, the verdicts sealed Gen. Guitar’s fate and perception as an anti-Union man. Preston Filbert in The Half Not Told sums up Guitar’s action in perfect logic, “Unfortunately, Guitar’s own lawyerly conservatism didn’t give him room to maneuver; he tried to stick closely to the law in a land where the law was barely able to function.”

Over in St. Louis, Gen. Samuel Curtis had been appalled by accusations that General Guitar was either soft on Rebels or was a Rebel himself. After all, Curtis knew Northwest Missouri from his previous role of commander of the 2nd Iowa Infantry in the summer of 1861. At that time, Curtis’ command was sent to ride and protect the rails from Hannibal to St. Joseph. It was Curtis who defeated the Missouri Confederates at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March of 1862; he would have his final major Missouri showdown in 1864 when his command prevented Confederates under General Shelby from crossing the Missouri River at the Battle of Westport.

Gen. Curtis was appointed new military commander of the Department of Missouri in 1862. He was less adaptable than many of his Union associates in dealing with Civil War problems. In early 1863, he was giving support to the radicals’ call to give the military in Missouri more power over civil authorities. To Curtis, state and local civilian leaders seemed to be more of an impediment than help in enforcing military power.

Curtis underestimated the political power of civilian government, resulting in his replacement. President Lincoln personally intervened in December of 1862 to prevent the general from banishing a stubborn St. Louis clergyman for refusing to pray for the U.S. president in his church service.

Provisional Missouri Governor Hamilton R. Gamble had even complained that Curtis was renewing the controversial practice of confiscation and monetary assessment against Southerners. The President also ordered such actions suspended. With such behavior increasing in a changing political climate, the commander-in-chief ordered him replaced.

Major General John Schofield was appointed Missouri’s Union commander between September 1862 and May 1863, replacing General Curtis. “The Removal of Gen. Curtis,” published in the Missouri State Times points out that Schofield’s installment and Curtis’ removal caused the radicals or militants to feel a great political defeat. On the other hand, the Union troops in Missouri committed more depredations against Southerners and the Rebel faction responded in kind.

Stepped-up guerrilla operations in Northwest Missouri led to increased fear and frustration on the Union side. In return, it gave some motivation to Southern aggression. As the Union population became more alarmed by the increasing guerrilla activity, it became increasingly apparent that the newly formed Missouri State Militia (MSM) was stretched too thin and could not be in all places at all times.

As a result, Missouri’s Union Military commander, Gen. Schofield, and Missouri’s provisional Gov. Gamble, created and organized the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) without consent or permission of the top Federal authorities.

At nearly the same time that Gamble issued the order creating the EMM, Schofield issued an order directing all able bodied men in the state to report immediately to enroll and be sworn into the new militia. The order that created the EMM effectively forced all men, including most neutrals, to pick a side. Thus, thousands of fence-sitters had to make a decision whether to serve in a Federal unit or flee the state or enlist in the Confederate Army.

Lack of sufficient finances, military training, and experience limited EMM’s effectiveness. In spite of their shortcomings, some units served effectively in daring offensive actions. They served as stay-at-home quick reaction forces, often functioning more in minuteman policing roles.

Lincoln Shocked Over Missouri‘s Marshal Law

President Lincoln knew that the federal army policed itself in Civil War times with an aggressive provost marshal system that was used to discipline and govern the troops. However, he was shocked when he read in January 1863, from Gen. Curtis, that the Union military’s provost marshal arrangement in Missouri had been actively policing civilian as well as military businesses. When the state’s civil law broke down in the face of guerrilla warfare violence, the system had been enlarged.

While technically different, Missouri’s martial law of the 1860s opened the authority for provost marshal government. According to one unaccredited source, “Martial law is regulated by no known or established system or code of laws, as it is over and above all of them.” The commander is the legislator, judge, and executioner.

Martial law is neither more or less than the will of the general who commands the army. It is entirely arbitrary in its actions and decisions. What commander would not like an efficient national body to watch over thousands of secessionists, suspected of crime or not. So the military provost marshal system gradually became a form of secret police, watching every aspect of life for disloyal acts. When Missouri civil law broke down earlier in the war in the face of guerrilla violence, the grip of the provost was tightened.

Though Lincoln at first suspended the aspects of the system that oversaw civilian life, Curtis convinced him that the Missouri provost system had grown to rely on the Missouri provost marshal network as a necessity to be tolerated until civil law could be restored.

Missouri’s Union provost marshal system was certainly alive, but doubters might say “not well” in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri. While the order placing the whole state under martial law was no doubt intended to suppress civil disorder and keep the peace throughout the state whenever practical, it established unimpeachable power in the military. In an attempt to maintain protection and security to local citizens, Federal authority was finally established and civil officers of unquestioned loyalty to all levels of government had been duly installed.

Abuses of power popped up throughout the state, likely inevitable in such an organization with nearly absolute power. Northwest Missouri provost commander, Brigadier General Clinton B. Fisk, was moved into his position in April to replace Odon Guitar. The deeply religious and anti-slavery, optimistic, reformer moved into his office at the Patee House in St. Joseph to deal with the Paw Paw uprising.

An abolitionist, Fisk was appointed colonel of the 33rd Missouri Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army on September 5, 1862. He organized a brigade and was commissioned brigadier general November 24, 1862. He served most of the American Civil War in Missouri and Arkansas, commanding first the District of Southeast Missouri and later the Department of North Missouri. The primary duty of these commands was opposing raids into Missouri by Confederate States of America cavalry and guerrillas. After the Civil War, Fisk was appointed assistant commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau for Kentucky and Tennessee.

By the spring of 1865, the optimism was knocking on the door of frustration when Gen. Fisk decided to drop military toughness and become more interactive with the public. The case for dropping martial law in Missouri was beginning to be made. Gen. Fisk began to soften his attitude as he uncovered a scam in the provost system. Unscrupulous lawyers and military officers, given nearly unlimited power under martial law, utilized their power to turn the military prison into an extortion racket.

Gen. Fisk uncovered the practice of arresting wealthy Southern citizens, imprisoning them and allowing them to see only pre-selected attorneys in the system. According to his investigation, these citizens were convinced their condition was hopeless. They were easily induced to pay $1,500 for their freedom as they were told to flee the state. Their flight erased any possibility of charges being prosecuted. Surely the practice was not just limited to Northwest Missouri.

Back on Aug. 30, 1861, when Missouri was facing severe turmoil from within and without, Major Gen. John Franklin Fremont, commander of the Western Military Department of the United States, placed the entire State of Missouri under martial law without even notifying President Lincoln. Fremont made this “emancipation proclamation” largely in response to the Confederate increase of guerrilla warfare and to reduce Southern sympathies in stronger slave-holding counties. The upper counties of Northwest Missouri received the slap without delivering the cause.

The edict stipulated that civilians in arms would be arrested and tried by court martial. If found guilty, the convicted person would be subject to penalties, including possible execution. Any property, real estate or personal, would be confiscated and the slaves of Rebels would be emancipated.

Fearing that Fremont’s emancipation order would tip the “slave states in Union control” into the Confederate camp, President Lincoln requested that he revise the order. The General refused! Lincoln responded by publicly revoking the proclamation and relieving the errant general of command on Nov. 2, 1861. The President issued his own Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863. Martial law in Missouri, was now a fact, lasting until November of 1865, when President Andrew Johnson restored the supremacy of civil law.

Martial Law Applied in the Upper Counties

Just how the function of martial law affected the small upper counties of Northwest Missouri is a fascinating read. The “Missouri’s Union Provost Marshal Papers: 1861-1866” can be easily accessed by computer on the Missouri Digital Heritage website. Searching the record’s for this writer’s home, Gentry County, Missouri, revealed dozens of snippets of interesting detail.

Abbreviated in detail, the listings in combination provide events of Gentry County Union Provost Marshal case charges and in some cases penalties. A few instances are as follows.

Oaths of allegiances were recorded frequently in the early 1860s, some even recorded for citizens of Nodaway County. Others were briefly written, “Oath of Allegiance. Promises to go to Iowa and stay there to end of war. Surety Bond for $1000 (handwritten). Boggs previously in rebel army.” Yet another stated, “Oath of Allegiance, including statement that he will leave Gentry County and go to Iowa for the duration of the war.”

Apparently the oath was violated in one case: “Charged with violating Oath of Allegiance and feeding Bushwhackers; testimony included.” Besides including signatures, many entries regarding oaths also are contain physical descriptions of the taker.

“Letter from James Cunningham [provost Marshal, Gentry County] in reference to a pursuit of 4 Jayhawkers. One shot in pursuit and died later. Three were Shelton brothers. ”

The Co. A. 315t Regiment, E. M. M., statement that Hugh Stevenson is a bitter rebel and if Daniel Fore of Capt. Sutton’s Company, 43rd Regiment, Missouri Volunteers could testify to the events at the Friendship Meeting House [Union flag event at Gentryville school], Stevenson could be charged.” Following the agenda was a “Statement of Hampton Green that in 1861, while residing in Andrew County, he knew Goodman. Claims Goodman spoke of having raised 30 rounds for Paton’s [Patton’s] Company and was preaching up Rebel doctrine.

One report in 1863 reads, “Statement that he and James Hamilton saw Joshua Shull, and he claimed the South would retake the land they had lost and the Illinois conservative Democrats would join soon and had four buried cannon ready to fight with.” A few months later, a similar listing added, “Discharged from 1st Regiment Cavalry, M.S.M., statement that Joshua Shull said the south would win the war if they had to go to burning, and Illinois conservatives were ready to rebel.”

Many cases cited leave the reader wanting more. One case alone is recorded to have 18 pages of testimony regarding the controversy over the sale of a mare.

One of the more fascinating series of entries involves John R. Patton, Albany, Missouri. It should be noted that the “Patton” name belongs to an old and cherished family that has long called the Gentryville community, a few miles south of Albany, home. Their strong roots, anchored in the beliefs of the Confederacy, have been long reflected in their written histories.

A Southern man certainly reflects the heritage and a good bit of hard-headed persistence. In the Union Provost Marshal Paper of entry dated Sept. 11, 1862, John R. Patton of Albany, took the “oath; will remove to Iowa before 15 Sept and remain there for duration of war; physical description: age 35, 5′ 10″, hazel eyes, black hair, heavy build.”

The next entry on John R. Patton was dated Feb. 23, 1863 and read, “$2,000 bond; arrested for serving in rebel army and giving aid and comfort to enemies; discharged on parole and bond; surety J. A. Patton.” Provost Marshal for Gentry County made a Feb. 28 entry that read, “Monthly report; man who had been banished from Missouri was arrested.”

Apparently, John R. Patton was either a slow learner or a belligerent man. He was once again arrested and charged for, at very least, being in Gentry County. A Nov. 26, 1864, entry apparently reflects a rather severe additional fine for the time, “$5,000 bond; must appear before military commission when ordered; sureties W. M. Albin, Alexander Newman, James H. Patton, F. M. Miller, and Isabell A. Patton.”

It is said that Hugh Stevenson was one of the best known and highly respected citizens of Gentry County, but no stranger to political dispute and difference. The provost papers makes, “Statement that he joined the Missouri State Guard [Missouri Confederate] with Jeff Patton [Thomas Jefferson Patton] under Gen. Price, was discharged, took the oath in Arkansas, and returned to Missouri, has nothing to say of the events concerning a Federal flag at the Friendship Meeting house.”

When viewed in total, the entries in the provost marshal’s papers tell quite a story, however abbreviated. Even more fascinating are letters to and from participants, dissected for meaning.

A “Letter in Regard to Colonel Manlove Cranor,” recently surfaced in The Colonel Charles Gorham Comstock Scrapbook, was provided to the writer for examination. The published “letter” is addressed to F.A. Dick Provost Marshal General for Missouri and generally outlines problems of the times in the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri.

The “letter,” pasted into the scrapbook, reveals strife and discontent in the ranks of the Office of Provost Marshal at the lowest level. Wworth County Provost Marshal T.H. Collins actually proposed treasonous charges, leveled, in part, at Col. Manlove Cranor, commander of the 31st Missouri State Militia (MSM).

It is most difficult today to understand Collins’ complaints. As suggested in the preceding paragraphs, the influence of the entire provost marshal system was becoming less important and, perhaps, being phased out. That, in itself, could have been disconcerting for Collins. Yet, Col. Cranor appears to have been a highly esteemed and extremely active leader of the Union and its cause in the Upper Counties and throughout the whole of Northwest Missouri. When the Civil War was yet gasping the breath of its beginnings, Cranor was the leader who set up the Union Camp in Gentry County that actively served the entire region. His loyalist volunteers squared off against the Rebels of Colonel Patton as both groups maneuvered for the upper hand. He organized, recruited, and trained several hundred, even thousand at times, maintaining the laws of Missouri and the United States.

Collins’ accusation, ”that Colonel Manlove Cranor of the Gentry and Worth County Regiment, 31st Missouri State Militia, are open and publicly avowed enemies of the Administration; have held Secesh meetings, and declared that they would not be dragged into this Abolition war; that they would sacrifice their last blood first.” Is a most unusual remark for two men who must have had to work closely together.

Col. Cranor and his brother, Major David Cranor, were both active loyalists, Moderate to Radical Republicans, by all that is recorded. Their reputation early in the War attracted volunteers who came down from the border counties of Iowa to join the Union camp. Later, they proved themselves by keeping the railroad open and the Northern and Upper Counties largely free of Rebel activity. Things south of St. Joseph in Platte and Clinton Counties were tougher.

The Worth County Provost Marshal’s tone is quite degrading as he complains about arresting a notorious Southern sympathizer and being ordered not to arrest any more under “General Curtis Order No. 35.” He added, “They have stacked their arms under the order of General Guitar, at Albany, and refused to let me retain a few in this county in the hands of reliable militiamen to meet emergencies.”

This appeared an ominous change in direction to many of the upper counties of Northwest Missouri. The media announced that Unionists were parading with signs declaring “Gen. Guitar — The Rebels’ Favorite Instrument.” Some even joked about “stringing the Guitar up,” and called him “Odious” Guitar. It appeared that the Provost of Worth County was in agreement.

In his last plea, Collins opens up the Knights of the Golden Circle controversy. Whether this secret Confederate brotherhood with guarded passwords, hidden handshakes, and other secret signs ever really existed in the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri has been debated. But during the war, when paranoia ran high, the Knights were a declared threat. The “Letter In Regard To Manlove Cranor” appears to give credibility to its existence in Worth and Gentry Counties.


Provost Marshal General, Department of Missouri, Saint Louis, Missouri:

            DEAR SIR: Actuated by motives for the good of our common country and the lasting success of the Union cause in the Seventh Division, Northwest Missouri, and to prevent unconditional Union men who have fought this unholy rebellion from its beginning in this district from being driven from their homes by the enemies of the Government under the garb of Democracy, I assume the responsibility to inform Your Honor, on the part of many worthy friends of the Administration and of General Curtis, that Colonel Manlove Cranor and Lieutenant Colonel J. W. Curry, of the Gentry and Worth county Regiment, 31st Missouri State Militia, are open and publicly avowed enemies of the Administration; have held Democratic, alias Secesh meetings, and declared that they would not be dragged into this Abolition war; that they would sacrifice their last blood first.

            Many such charges can be substantiated, especially against Lieutenant Colonel Curry; all of which have greatly encouraged sympathizers, and disheartened Union men against the will and good pleasure of Colonel Curry.

            I arrested and put under bonds a notorious sympathizer. The Colonel now says that I shall not arrest any more under General Curtis’ Order No. 35. They have stacked their arms under order of General Guitar, at Albany, and refused to let me retain a few in this county in the hands of reliable militiamen to meet emergencies. Rebels are hurrahing for Jeff. Davis and for Indiana, under the impression that the latter had seceded. Under this ‘peculiar institution’ worship, Union men who thought that they were doing God and their country a service, have been incarcerated in the Saint Joseph jail.

            The safety of our cause and people demand a speedy removal of these leaders. The great mass would be right, if properly led. But if this opposition, in the shape of Democracy and Knights of the Golden Circle, is tolerated in the pay of the Government, they will be wrong, and our two years of devastating war will have been in vain.

            Hoping that you will aid us in placing more deserving gentlemen in power, and referring you to Lieutenant Colonel W.M. Albin, Hall’s Regiment, Missouri Volunteers, and Captain C. G. Comstock, Adjutant Castor, Captain Castor and Judge Rice, of Albany, Gentry county, Missouri, I subscribe myself

Your most obedient servant,
T.H. COLLINS, Provost Marshal.”

The letter’s overall tone reflects much of what was happening with Missouri’s Provost Marshal System, and the involvement of the military hierarchy guiding the system. More recently, Provost Marshals on the Federal and State command levels had changed; martial law was waning in popularity for many of the generals. The very religious but hard-nosed Unionist, General Fisk, who had uncovered graft in unscrupulous lawyers and soldiers at St. Joseph, was fed up with the system. The program created to eliminate guerrilla activity had turned the town’s military prison into an extortion racket. Fisk was now promoting dissolution of the system.

Major General John Pope was now commanding the entire State of Missouri. For years, he had been warned against the over reliance upon martial law and the abuse that Fisk had identified. Missouri’s newly elected governor, Thomas Fletcher, agreed with Fisk’s recommendation that martial law be lifted in North Missouri. He suggested that removal of troops and return to civil law be done discreetly and without published orders.

Thomas Clement Fletcher (1827-1899) was the 18th Governor of Missouri during the latter stages of the American Civil War and the early part of Reconstruction. He was the first Missouri governor to be born in the state.

As the Paw Paw uprising calmed and guerrilla activities began to slow in Northwest Missouri, Fisk insisted that civil law needed to take control in Missouri again. Perhaps looking through those rose-colored glasses that military leaders sometimes choose to use, he insisted on April 10, 1864, that civil courts are properly functioning in every county in his district.

Following on the heels of widespread arrests, formalized oaths of allegiance became the most obvious and ubiquitous symbols of the power of federal authority. The oath of loyalty, by any other name, stuck in the craw of many civilians, presenting a crisis of both honor and concern for many citizens, even neutralists. The oaths were a visible symbol of personal coercion. For most white Missourians, the state oaths, not considering the federal one, were superfluous. Missourians were already residents of a loyal state, still a member of the United States of America.

In the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri, oaths visibly divided local communities. Citizens who signed the oath and/or posted a bond with available information about themselves, likely published through the local provost marshal, were exposed and set apart. Lists of Democrats, Radicals, Radical Republicans, and Disloyalists were commonly released for publication.

At the very least, oath-takers were often shunned, insulted, threatened, and even attacked or murdered for Yankee capitulation. Local Union militias and their members were made immediately knowledgeable of the disloyalists.

Quite often an arrest and conviction for “simple disloyalty” resulted in bonds of from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Many in poor political standing were often forced to seek relocation in another state until the end of the war. While some were released after signing “that abominable oath,” others were provided a home outside the state, a military prison at Alton, Illinois.

After taking the oath, they were not free to do as they wanted. They were placed on a type of parole, their actions limited to the direction of the provost marshal system.

The loyalty oath or oath of allegiance varied from one source to another, state and Federal. A rather generic example of an 1862 loyalty follows:


State of Missouri,

County of _____________________________________

I, ____________________________________________

            Do hereby solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, the Provisional Government of the State of Missouri, and will maintain, support, and observe the Constitution and laws thereof,: that I will in all aspects conduct myself as a true and loyal citizen of said United States, and will not in anywise countenance, encourage, or aid the present rebellion.

            Subscribed and sworn to before this

__________________________ day of _________________________________ A. D., 1862


On Aug. 30, 1861, with Missouri facing trouble within, Gen. John Franklin Fremont, commander of the Western Military Department of the United States, placed the entire State of Missouri under martial law. His order was intended to keep the peace as far as practical, as well as to give security to loyal citizens. Various oaths of loyalty were established, and in some cases, required for Missourians in “good standing.” Some included the “wordiness of the day” and were hardly legible to a Philadelphia lawyer, let alone a somewhat illiterate settler from the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri. Others were simple statements of do’s and don’ts, easily understood.

A proper oath, complete and complex, was offered by the state convention. It provided that no person should vote in any election thereafter held in the state under its constitution and laws, who should not previously take the following oath (a similar oath was prescribed for all civil officials and for jury men and attorneys):


State Convention Oath

            “I, ________________________ do solemnly swear (or affirm as the case may be) that I will support, protect and defend the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of Missouri, against to the United States, and will not, directly or indirectly, give aid or comfort, or countenance to the enemies or opposers thereof, or of the provisional government of the State of Missouri, any ordinance, law or resolution of any State convention or Legislature, or of any order or organization, secret or otherwise, to the contrary not withstanding; and that I do this with a full and honest determination, pledge and purpose, faithfully to keep and perform the same, without any mental reservation or evasion whatever. And I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I have not since the 17th day of December, A.D. 1861, willfully taken up arms, or levied war against the United States, or against the provisional government of the State of Missouri, so help me God.”


The Confederate States of America also had oaths of allegiance. In spite of popular support of the Confederacy during the Civil War, Missouri never officially seceded. With the Union Army in control of most areas, little need for Confederate state or federal oaths were needed.

While fairly rare, a Confederate Oath of Allegiance from the State of Missouri, dated Dec. 21, 1861, Springfield and authorized by R.W. Donnell, was listed on a historical antique auction of some significance. The oath, similar content to the Union oath, reads in full:

Confederate Oath of Allegiance

             “You, A. B., do solemnly swear, [or affirm] that you will bear true allegiance to the State of Missouri and the Confederate States of America, and that you will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the Governor of Missouri and the President of the Confederate States of America, and the orders of the Officers appointed over you, according to the rules and articles for the government of the armies of the State of Mississippi [sic] and the Confederate States for _______________

So help you God.”


Death in Refusing the Oath (1863)

            Goodspeed’s 1888 History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties reported several killings and murders which occurred in Andrew County in 1863. One incident involved a young man, also with the last name of Gibson, who had been in the Confederate service or, at least, was locally an outspoken advocate of the Southern cause. Federal militia soldiers from Gentry County had been assigned the duty of finding him. When called upon to take the oath of allegiance, he refused and started to run. When he repeatedly refused the command to “halt,” a soldier was ordered to fire. The young man was killed instantly.

Knights of the Golden Circle (1863)

Worth County Provost Marshal, T.H. Collins, reported the existence of the extremist organization, the “Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) near the Iowa border in Nodaway and Gentry Counties on February 12, 1863.” There would be more reported plans of and against conspirators in the months to come.

The KGC was claimed to be a secret, militant wing of the Northern Democrats, opposed to the Lincoln government’s war policy. According to purported spies and informants, the Knights had been forming in the preceding winter, to strike out at Union military camps to give confidence to fellow Democrats in the South.

Secret organizations appealed to the nineteenth century man’s desire to belong to and participate in a fraternal organization. With no direct attachment to the Civil War, Free Masonry with its secretive passwords, degrees, and signs attracted many men of “good standing” into membership. In fact, the Masonic Lodge 125 AF&AM in Gentryville, organized in 1849 and chartered in 1851, is the oldest lodge in Grand River region and the mother lodge for most lodges started in surrounding communities and counties. Nearly everything that could be called a community had an organized Masonic order in those days.

The KGC organization in vogue in the 1860s actually had aims to recruit men for the Confederacy and oppose the Union war effort. Those sources that believed in its existence, maintained it was a natural extension of the anti-war feeling of many frustrated Democrats, particularly in the Midwest states behind Union lines. On the other hand, it is believed that Northern authorities were blessed with a number of informants throughout the War, quite disenchanted with the function of the organization and most willing to supply inside information.

Very little of this was news to J.M. Bassett, Provost Marshal General of the Northwest District of Missouri, from August 1863 to 1864. Beginning in 1863, Union informants had been warning the authorities that local Southern forces were regrouping. According to Bassett’s book, Union Men and Their Sufferings in NorthWestern Missouri, these men formed in secret lodges of KGC and OAK were just awaiting the call from Confederate Gen. Sterling Price to rise up and strike.

They never did! Either “Old Pap” never gave the call, or the clandestine organization was really a “paper tiger” as many unionists believed.

Still, Gen. Bassett and Worth County Provost Collins were believers. Bassett oft-repeated this  declaration, “This society was purely military. In it men were drilled and instructed in the manual of arms. It was ascertained by spies who entered these lodges, that the arms and powder had been received from Iowa. These guns and ammunition were brought from the State of Illinois, carried through Iowa, and delivered in the border counties of Missouri.

“The extent of their organization was clearly traced through the counties bordering the boundary line between Iowa and Missouri. They existed along this line in the first and second tier of counties in both states, from the Mississippi to the Missouri River.”

Dang Near Impossible to Keep a Secret

Gen. John Bassett, former lawyer and mayor of St. Joseph, had developed a self-described “hatred for rebels too intense.” His prose appeared irrationally harsh for a military man now in command. The general subjectively pointed out, “Towards the spring of 1863, Union men were almost daily reporting threats that had just been made by rebels: such as, ‘well, before the grass is very high our day will come.'”

He also singles out some lodges like the one on Honey Creek in Nodaway County: “The men who belonged to this lodge had all been enrolled as disloyal.” Then he smacked the subject with a sharp jab, “The Captain was the only member of the society who knew the alphabet, and even he could neither read or write. A right motley crew, it appears!”

Lest the reader from other Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri laugh at the description of the Nodaway County “Knights,” Bassett’s other descriptions might catch their ire: “…the most of these conspirators were without land, and had never owned a slave. Chill penury had made them sadly deficient in other chattels. If all their relatives had died they would not have inherited a negro. They were an idle set of vagabonds, but had periods of hardship and actual labor.”

Then Bassett pours it on, “Where the sap of the trees began to ascend, and warm days, new grass, birds and flowers told them that spring had come, it was necessary to plow and plant to produce that staff of life ‘corn-bread.’ In the fall it required labor to gather the corn.” And then the hammer falls from the lawyer’s lips, “With these exceptions, their time was passed in hunting, fishing, drinking whiskey, and discussing the constitutionality of the war measures of the Administration.”

The reporting is thought to have mitigated the threat of the Knight of the Golden Circle in the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri. In an effort to make the Knights a more trustworthy organization that better reflected the South’s ideals, it was renovated into the “Order of American Knights (OAK).” In 1864, it became the “Sons of Liberty (SOL).” In spite of the name changes, the organization (if and where it did exist) was a hollow threat. The officials already had a report of its every move.

Believing that OAK had the ability and was willing to and was preparing to mobilize thousands of Southerners, starting in the St. Louis area, Union Gen. Rosecrans more than concerned. In spite of the beliefs of the senior Yankee war leaders, including Gen. Henry W. Halleck, Gen. U.S. Grant, Secretary of War Stanton, and President Lincoln, Rosecrans acted upon his fears of an OAK uprising with endless rants and warnings. The Union military leaders realized that the Order of the American Knights was a “has been” organization, heavily infiltrated with informants and spies, and was in reality a paper tiger. Truth is, the OAK faltered for much the same reasons as its predecessor, the KGC. It is “dang” near impossible to keep a secret organization a secret, where both sides looked the same and spoke the same.

This same fixation that affected Gen. Rosecrans, and perhaps even Worth County Provost Marshal Collins, rolled across the state west and northward. By Sept. 7, Gen. Fisk reported to Rosecrans that he was “threatened with a little spark of war in the extreme northwest by guerrillas who have gathered in Nebraska and Iowa to cooperate with the Order of American Knights.”

It appeared that increased night rider activity, especially in Nodaway, Andrew, Holt, and Atchison counties of Missouri during that same September, 1864, supported OAK activity. However, no evidence of such activity has been recorded. Apparently, local militias stopped the threatening activities of the local thugs. No further reports of intimidation were forthcoming.

The recorded data appears to base this increased activity on local bushwhacker gangs harassing their own communities with no consideration of some sort of secret fraternal brotherhood conspiracy.

The Knights of the Golden Circle formed in Ohio in the 1850s were also identified as Copperheads. In the 1860s, the Copperheads were a vocal faction of Democrats primarily in the Northern States of the Union who opposed the Civil War. During the Civil War, the group nominally favored the Union, but strongly opposed the war. Interestingly, they blamed the abolitionists for the war and called for an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates.

Historians suggest that Copperheads represented the more extreme wing of the Northern Democrats and reflected the Jacksonian democracy of an earlier agricultural society. In the early period, the Copperhead movement had attracted Southerners who had settled north of the Ohio River, as well as the poor.

Chapter 5:

 A Damned Sight Worse Than Quantrill (1863)

During the summer of 1861, Southern men raised and drilled military units throughout the upper counties of Northwest Missouri. Likewise, Union men were not idle. They, too, were recruiting and training troops for militia and federal service. Guerrilla warfare in Missouri had been evolving for more than three years in what was considered to be the backwash of more grand wartime theaters. But for these  Upper Counties, the middle year of the Civil War, 1863, was by far the most terror-filled, traumatic period in history for the region, and state.

Confederate recruiting officers were active in the rural towns and countryside of the Upper Counties, sending a large number of men to the Southern army, sometimes by squads and other times by single recruits. Later, as the Rebel armies were pushed southward into Arkansas, men who once wore butternut and grey uniforms traded for the fancier embroidered hunting shirts and cocky plumed hats of the guerrillas.

The Union’s Major General Henry W. Halleck’s General Order Number Two was issued on March 13, 1862. It required Union leaders to treat guerrillas ‘as outlaws and shoot any captured on the spot. Thus, Halleck’s order became known as the “No Quarter” rule. Up to this point in time, Southern partisans had paroled and released captives; prisoners taken by the Union troops were most often sent to prison. Then, by mutual agreement, both sides exchanged and released prisoners some weeks later. Ironically, the released prisoners of both armies would be free to become combatants once again. The “no quarter taken or no quarter asked” rule put a draconian end to any chivalry in this region of the war. Halleck’s ultra-harsh order meant immediate death for any partisan caught armed; suspected parties were imprisoned and eventually tried before a military tribunal.

The policy was reciprocated, perhaps even bested in the worst way, by the guerrillas. The “no quarter” practice commonly was applied to citizens as well. Many groups, especially certain irregular Confederate units, carried black flags boldly into skirmishes to symbolize that they would neither give, nor accept quarter. The sign was the opposite of the white flag of surrender.

The following reports various incidents with some measure of accuracy and balance regardless of sentiment and without condemnation. These stories are taken from official records, Missouri period newspapers, journals, and books both written postwar up to the 1920s and those written and published in the modem area. Any word-of-mouth account without some published verification goes ignored. No doubt, however, many more examples occurred than what could possibly be presented here.

Joe Hart Guerrilla Band (1863)

Notorious guerrilla chiefs like William C. Quantrill, “Bloody Bill” Anderson, Charles “Fletch” Taylor, George Todd, John C. Thornton, and others made their names by terrorizing central and western Missouri. In Northwest Missouri, a self-assigned leader would rise to organize a small band of young thugs seeking adventure and ravaging the countryside with murder and theft.

Joe Hart, a teenager during most of his bushwhacker career, was raised in Andrew County where he had even taught school. Major J. M. Bassett in Union Men and Their Sufferings in Northwestern Missouri wrote, “Young Hart, when he was killed in July last, was only twenty-two years of age.” From boyhood, Hart rebelled against the authority of his parents, against moral law, and against the legal laws governing society. and yet, coming from the pen of a Union officer with personal hatred for anything Rebel, Bassett’s complete description of Joe Hart is surprising: “He possessed natural talent of a high order — had a brilliant imagination, and was by nature an effective orator. Few of his age could have excelled him as a writer.”

Hart made the northwest corner of Missouri his hunting ground. Eighteen-year-old Joe Hart and his guerillas band soon became known as one of the most uncompromising foes of Union men.

On July 7, 1863, Hart led a raid through Andrew County supposedly to avenge the death of southern sympathizer George Breckinridge who was killed on July 4, 1863. The well-known and respected Breckinridge was called to the door by unknown parties, said to be Union boys, and fired upon as soon as he made appearance. His wife, whom stepped out with him, was shot in the arm.

Later that same July 7th, the raiders rode up to the Andrew County farm home of Harrison Burns. They killed Burns’ son-in-law, a discharged Union soldier, and wounded Bums and a neighbor before robbing other neighbors. Hart’s raiders then escaped, dashing through the northern part of Andrew County.

Goodspeed’s 1888 History of Andrew and Dekalb Counties, relates more details: “A neighbor, George Jenkins, was staying the night. When the gang rode up, all three men went out, taking their arms with them, suspecting danger. No sooner had they got into the yard than Hart gave the order “Now let them have it!” George Henry, the son-in-law, was killed outright, neighbor Jenkins was critically wounded through the mouth, and Harrison Burns was shot in the left arm. Hart secured the guns of the three victims and left hurriedly.

The St. Joseph Morning Herald printed an undelivered letter written by Hart to his parents. It was found on his person when he was killed on July 13, 1863. The article reveals Hart’s version, shooting the men in self-defense after they had refused to surrender their arms and had opened fire on him. “They were killed in the presence of the women,” he wrote. “I could not help it. It was their fault — they should have surrendered.”

If there was apology in Hart’s prose, it would be nearly impossible to find. He had already initiated plans with Quantrill to join Regiments for a raid into Iowa. He added in the letter, “I am going to cross the whole Quantrill Regiment and kill off Andrew County — every last devil — and they know it. You bet they fly when they hear of me up here. They say I am a damned sight worse than Quantrill and that my men would sooner die then live.”

Joe Hart and his guerilla band eventually ventured west. Federal troops of the Provisional Regiments, a company stationed at Savannah, Missouri, at that time, turned out in unsuccessful pursuit of these raiders. But a few hours later over near Chillicothe, the 22-year-old Hart was dead. Several of Hart’s accomplices were also captured and lodged at the St. Joseph jail on murder charges.

Jayhawk Raids in the Upper Counties (1864)

The Missouri-Kansas Border War, setting the stage for Civil War throughout America, is most noted in the violence which unfolded in west-central Missouri. But the violence between Missouri guerrillas and Kansas Jayhawkers occasionally reared its ugly head in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri.

Guerrilla warfare steadily increased throughout spring of 1864 in parts of the northwest comer of Missouri. Union troops in Atchison and Holt Counties captured gangs of thieves and thugs which loosely organized as Jayhawker bands to scourge the region during previous months. During the first couple of weeks in March of 1864, Union cavalry arrested a large number of discharged soldiers, deserters, outlaws, and Red Legs.

A detachment of Federal cavalry, identified as part of the 7th Iowa Cavalry by local newspapers, raided hideouts in Richardson and Nemaha counties in the Nebraska Territory, as well as in Atchison County, Missouri. An estimated 40 men were arrested, including the chief of the band who was also the local county clerk. The St. Joseph Weekly Herald called the miscreants “this class of lazy, thieving, reckless, disloyal bipeds.” It is obvious these raiders were held in low esteem by the pro-northern press throughout the area.

It was also reported that over the next several days, elements of the 9th Cavalry Missouri State Militia (MSM) stationed in the region carried out raids on the notorious hangout of Jayhawkers at Rush Bottom in west-central Holt County. On March 12, a patrol of Company K, 9th Cavalry MSM led by Captain William B. Kemper, collected a motley group of renegades including a Lieutenant Cunningham, John Holley (a supposed deserter from the 4th Cavalry MSM), Corporal Michael Eastman of the 14th Kansas Cavalry MSM, and Private William Eastman of the 58th Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). Both Eastmans who lived at Oregon, Holt County; two other men were from Andrew County.

A few days later, Company M, 9th Cavalry MSM, operating out of their garrison at Oregon, Missouri, captured four more men at the Rush Bottom camp and jailed them. One of these men, Andrew Farmer, had been discharged from the Union 25th Missouri Infantry Regiment the previous June. Both were considered misguided Northern sympathizers and were jailed as a symbol to prevent more atrocities against folks of southern sympathies.

Bruce Nichols writes in his Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume IV,  that raiders (likely Jayhawkers from Kansas) worked in western Holt County during January 1864. The renegades raided rural families throughout the Rush Bottom, an area already familiar with Jayhawk activities. During March 1864, Missouri Union troops cleared out some Jayhawker hideouts in the area, resulting in several arrests.

Conflicting interests in Holt County prompted power plays that thwarted an effective cohesive route of escape for the Jayhawkers. Southern residents in the Rush Bottoms failed to notify nearby chairman of the protection committee about the thefts of money, clothing, and guns from residents. They feared that the “soldiers were from Kansas” and upon complaints made to Northern authorities, they would be punished.

Most citizens believed the guerrilla raids were orchestrated by the Union leadership to punish the Rush Bottoms residents for not fully supporting the Union cause …perhaps even aiding and abetting the Jayhawkers that had earlier lived among them. Nichols suggested that by keeping mum about the raiders and their losses, they likely thought they would avoid further retribution problems. In fact, they thwarted Blanchard’s plan to follow the raiders to determine the location of their camps in order to plan a counterstrike.

The week leading up to Christmas 1864, felt little guerrilla violence due in part to the intensity of the cold. Once again, in the far northwest comer of the upper counties of Northwest Missouri, Holt County Northern civic leader Stephen Blanchard wrote a letter on December 23 to Brigadier General Fisk. He complained that prominent Northern men were committing depredations upon citizens of Southern sympathies. The current troubles appeared to have resulted from the November 21 and 22 Jayhawk raids in Holt County.

Although not likely Jayhawkers, Northern night riders hammered Southern sympathizers of the Nodaway County area in September of 1864. Unidentified Northerners used the dark of night to leave threatening notices to at least 25 Southern families of the county. Depending on the household, they were given up to 15 days to remove their presence or “suffer death.” Similar series of anonymous relocation threats were prevalent in Andrew County in 1863.

Union Brigadier General Clinton Fisk emphasized the organization of counter-guerrilla task forces in Northwest Missouri. He traveled to Nodaway County and organized citizen guard groups and the local militia in an effort to stop the mysterious night riders in that county, as well as Atchison and Holt Counties. The threats of the local policing units apparently worked; no more reports of intimidation were forthcoming. A gang of some 30 Jayhawkers crossed the Missouri River, robbed two houses, and shot and killed one homeowner when he refused to open his door, then rode away. Locals knew about the band, made up of men formerly from the State of Missouri and Territory of Nebraska. They escaped.

Corporal Parman’s Disastrous Patrol

“Actions that took place the week of June 12 were on the whole disastrous for the Union in west-central Missouri,” reports Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri Volume III. For a foot patrol of Company M, 1st Cavalry MSM sent out from the Holden garrison to search brush along the north side of the new Pacific Railroad to just beyond Kingsville in Johnson County, Missouri, in the same time period of guerrilla activity, the events were devastating for families in the upper counties of Gentry and Worth in Northwest Missouri.

On June 11, 1864, Corporal Joseph V. Parman and 14 men of Company M were ordered to scout along Crawford Fork and “return to camp at 12 m. of the 12th of June, 1864,” by John Wyckoff, Captain, Commanding Detachment, First Missouri State Militia Cavalry. In obedience to the order, Captain Eads, Company M, detailed from his command one non-commissioned officer, Corporal Parman, and 14 privates, who marched at 9 a.m. of said day of order.

The following contains the majority of the report filed through the command chain to Captain Wyckoff (from Congressional Serial Set, United States Government Printing Office. Sept.29, 2011):

I have the honor to report to you, in pursuance of your request, movements of the men belonging to Company M, which I had on the scout under my command on the 11th and 12th instant: I moved with my command from camp on Saturday, the 11th instant, at 9 a.m., and proceeded west on the north side of the railroad, traveling some 15 miles; thence turned in a southeast direction, and marched to a point near the railroad some 3 miles west of Kingsville. Most of the distance marched on this day was in the brush, and saw but little sign of bushwhackers, finding only one trail, which I followed some distance until we lost it by the parties separating. We camped for a part of the night near a Mrs. Longacre’s, about one-half mile north of the railroad. On the morning of the 12th instant I moved with my men in a northeast direction from where I had camped, and had proceeded but a short distance when I discovered a large body of cavalry in my rear some 50 to 75 yards, and on the discovery of the enemy I formed my men in line and challenged the advancing party, who only increased their speed, and at this instant I ordered by men to fire on the enemy, which was done in a very few seconds. By this time my little detachment was entirely surrounded — only a small space toward the brush. By this time the bullets from the enemy’s lines were falling like hail among us, and several of my men were killed. I remained in front of my line until the enemy had passed me, even some of them between me and my own lines, at which time I moved with all possible speed to the left, engaged one of the enemy, firing at him twice, when he turned, and, as I was in a helpless condition, my men nearly all killed, I made for camp with all speed possible. I feel satisfied that the enemy had been informed of my position and strength, as he had me flanked on the right and left before he showed himself in my rear. The attacking party was not less than 40 strong, and from the best information I have I think the whole command of the enemy did not fall short of 80 men, and probably 100. The enemy were all dressed in full Federal uniform and had the regular badges worn by our men on their hats and caps; small part of them were wearing Federal overcoats. I learn that the party was commanded by Colonel Yeager, of the rebel army, assisted by Bill Anderson, who is a captain of a guerrilla band. Yeager informed the citizens that he asked no quarter and would give none. I lost in this unfortunate affair 12 of my command, only 2 escaping. The men, after being killed, were stripped of all their outer clothing and everything valuable was taken from their persons, and the enemy scalped one man after they had killed and stripped him. The enemy marched from the north during the night, returning toward the Sni Hills after the engagement.”

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Corporal, Company M, First Cavalry, Missouri State Militia”

Many different people and situations interacted in this event. The Company M detachment was accustomed to scouting for small guerilla bands and sabotage of the railroad, but a mere dozen or so foot soldiers would be no match for seasoned bushwhackers on horseback, each armed to the teeth with several multiple shot revolvers.

The guerrilla band had apparently been tipped off to the presence of the small detachment of militia. When they made their presence known, they rode disguised as Federal cavalrymen in attack surrounded from the rear to the flank.

The foot patrol had little chance of surviving; only the corporal and two privates made it safely to the protection of the nearest brush to hide their escape. The first charge of the experienced fighters was confirmed at close to 40 in number during the initial attack, with perhaps 100 in the total command.

The plan of attack from the Rebels reveals that they were aware of the strength, location, and movement of the troopers. Some theorize that someone in the neighborhood had seen Corporal Parman’ s patrol passing through and got word to Anderson’s fighters. Others speculate with a certain valid logic that the troopers spent the first day and night near the farm of Nancy Longacre. The Longacre family was a large one; nearly all the men were either in the Confederate Army or riding with Quantrill’s Raiders. Two of the Longacre men, a father and son, had been murdered by Kansas militia. The Federals saw the connection, arrested and questioned the senior Longacre and her 14 year old daughter, and eventually released them.

Corporal Parman noted in his official report that the attacking parties were all dressed in full Federal uniforms and even had regular badges worn by the men on their caps and hats. A small part were wearing Federal uniform overcoats. A common ploy of the guerrillas was to wear captured Federal uniforms to conceal their identities.

It should be noted that Company M troopers following up on the skirmish reported 12 bodies on the ground; nearly all were stripped of their uniforms and any equipment of use to the bushwhackers. The guerillas, after all, were a fast-moving band that took their livings from those sympathetic to the cause or otherwise unable to prevent theft. They “requisitioned” their guns, powder, bullets, and caps from the defeated enemy.

Company M cavalry also found the 12 and verified Corporal Parman’s descriptions of the fight and flight. They confirmed that at least four of the dead men had apparently been trying to surrender because they were shot “between the eyes.” Captain Wyckoff gives the name of one man, Corporal Ireland, as being scalped. Appallingly brutal, the removal and display of scalp locks was not unusual for some guerrilla bands like those captained by “Bloody Bill” Anderson. His nickname reflected his behavior. At least one raid took place where the Rebels in Anderson’s band had killed and then mutilated some dead Yanks by taking scalps and macerating faces. On one of the dead, Anderson left a note, “You came to hunt bushwhackers. Now you are skelpt [sic]. Clenyent [sic] skelpt [sic] you. Wm. Anderson (signed).”

The name of the scalper identified by Anderson is no doubt Archibald “Little Archie” Clements, who was notorious in Anderson’s band for killing captives with a scalping knife and mutilating the dead. Guerrillas like “Little Archie” or “Bloody Bill” had the predatory instincts and natures that would be used because the times, opportunities, and conditions gave it a certain acceptance. The antagonists of each side had such a hatred for one another that despicable practices were tolerated, even encouraged.

Bruce Nichols, author of Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume III, carefully notes that Corporal Parman’s report mistakenly attributes guerrilla leadership to pre-war freighter Richard Yeager but refers to him as Colonel Yeager of the rebel army. He mentions Anderson as assisting him. If Yeager was present, it would have been as a member of Anderson’s band. In a note to Chapter 12 of his book, Nichols suggests this gaffe might have motivated Anderson to write the Lexington paper to take proper credit for the fight.

On July 7, 1864, Anderson wrote his own version of the skirmish and sent it to the Lexington paper, addressed to Colonel James McFerran, commander of the 1st Cavalry MSM. Rather than provide news, the intent was to boast and intimidate.

“Colonel McFerran,

I have seen your official report… you have been wrongfully informed … I had the honor, sir, of being in command… To enlighten you on the subject and to warn you against making future exaggerations I will say to you in the future to let me know in time, and when I fight your men I will make the proper report. As to the skirmish I had with your men in Johnson [County], I started to Kingsville with fifty men to take the place, but before I arrived there I discovered a scout, fourteen or fifteen of your men on the prairie some half a mile distant to my left. I immediately gave chase. They fled. There were not over eight of my men ever got near them. They did not surrender or I would not have killed them, for I understand that Company M were Southern men; they sent me that word. I ordered them to halt and surrender. I was astonished to see them refuse after sending me such word. One of their lieutenants even planned the assassination of General Brown and the king of his headquarters but I refused to commit so foul a deed. But they refused to surrender and I had them to kill. I regret to kill such good Southern men, but they are fit for no service but yours, for they were very cowardly. Myself and two men killed nine of them when there were no other men in sight of us. They are such poor shots it is strange you don’t have them practice more. Send them out and I will train them for you …Farewell, friend.”

Anderson’s reference to men of the 1st Cavalry MSM being “Southern men” was no doubt an attempt to “twist the tails of the Yankee soldiers.” Colonel McFerran, from Gallatin, Daviess County, Missouri, was without a doubt a moderate northern advocate, opposed to the radical view of the war. Guerrillas riding the hills and hollows of west central Missouri knew his leanings from reading the more radical press. During 1862 and 1863, Quantrill’s men and others regarded prisoners from McFerran’ regiment — mostly made up of boys from Gentry and Worth Counties — with less hostility than others, sparing the lives of 1st Cavalry MSM men and killing prisoners of other regiments they regarded as more radical.

Raiding George Findley’s Home in Alanthus (1864)

There were always assorted gangs on both the loyalist and secessionist sides. Some were truly dedicated to their cause and others were merely bandits and killers just using the war as an excuse. Some Northerners were impatient with the lack of military progress of the war. Thus, bands of thugs coursed the undefended countryside, spreading mayhem and reminding Rebel recruiters and southern men that they were not welcome.

The Grand River News published in Albany, Gentry County, on February 7, 1864, described one such case (also reported in the St. Joseph Weekly Herald). In late January or early February, three such men attacked George Findley’s home near Alanthus in western Gentry County. Lacking all provocation, they shot through the windows, broke down the door, and wounded Finley’s son in the thigh. With the family now “cowed,” they took up to a couple hundred dollars cash and left. Law enforcement officials eventually did gain a confession and his  accomplices were named. All faced justice.

Holt County Man Shot in the Head at Front Door (1864)

The brutality of some raiders goes beyond compare. One report of a returned Rebel, Lewis Garnett, remains unsolved. The murderers, according to the St. Joseph Weekly Herald, met Garnett at the door of his house, shooting him in the head in front of his large family. Searching the house for proof of disloyalty, they left in glee upon finding $300 in nearly worthless Confederate script.

Lewis Garnett had in fact served in the war with the Missouri Rebel Forces during 1861 and fought at the battle of Elkhorn Tavern, also known as Pea Ridge in March 1862. However, he had been discharged by the Confederate Army in Marcy 1863 for being over-age. Upon returning to Holt County, he had signed a loyalty oath and given bond at the Union headquarters at St. Joseph, as requested by martial law, In his narrative, Bruce Nichols questions if the $300 Confederate was part of his severance “pay when he left the military service that he kept as a souvenir of that chapter of his.”

Rare Sniper Fire in Harrison County (1864)

A St. Louis newspaper quoted the Grand River News of Albany, Gentry County, as it reported in late summer 1864. The normally quiet Harrison County near the Iowa border witnessed sniper activity against a Northern sympathizer. Just at dusk on August 2, gunfire was taken from ambush along a traveled road in the west-central part of that county. While no one was injured by the sniper fire, the display was rare this far north.

Holtzclaw Rebel Reprisal in Grundy County (1864)

While the guerilla band led by Bill Anderson raided Huntsville, Missouri, on July 15, 1864, Captain D. Holtzclaw led Southerners on raids that same day to the northeast as far as Grundy County, Missouri. Lindley, along the east edge of Grundy County, was the target because this town was considered the center of the notorious “Grundy County Militia.” In reality, these Northerners were some companies of the 30th EMM that had been raiding Southern homesteads in the surrounding counties during the previous two years. The History of Grundy County suggests that the reputation of the rapacious Grundy County Militia was that no smoke house or hen house in the region was safe when they were around.

Captain Holtzclaw and 26 bushwhackers rode quietly into Lindley at six in the morning of July 15. Some of the guerrillas wore Federal uniforms, a common practice to mask their identities as Southern fighters. The disguise worked. Men of the village were rounded up and guarded as the band spent the next three hours in a methodical search of businesses and homes for loot.

Witnesses indicated that many of the raiders appeared to have good intelligence regarding where to find what they wanted at various homesteads. Good horse flesh was always in demand for invading guerrillas. Others robbed stores of cash, revolvers, choice foods, and even clothing. It was even claimed that a few of the Rebels “clothed themselves in new suits from head to foot.” Established guerrilla bands prided themselves on the quality of their dashing image, clothing, and horses.

Apparently the Rebels considered Lindley an almost totally Northern town; thus the captain did not deliver his normal lecture to the townsfolk. It was noted, however, that his men tended to spare the property of the “conservative” northern sympathizers and attached more the property of the “radical” northern sympathizers.

While the guerrillas apparently believed that the “radicals” would attempt to restore the Union at any cost, the “conservatives” were more likely to accept restoration of the Union by including and welcoming Rebel military and citizens back into the fold. While Holtzclaw and his “boys” were tough Confederate fighters, they were more willing to wreak havoc of a gentler nature. Perhaps in the middle of July of 1864, they were “beginning to see a bit of the handwriting on the wall.”

The band left Grundy County and turned east into Linn County, stopping at a farm to have lunch. Before the farmer could even cook the food, they were followed and routed by some 40 members of the citizen guards from Lindley, many former members of the 30th EMM, otherwise called the Grundy County Militia. As they were chased off south, the guerrillas were forced to fight delaying actions. Seasoned fighters, the band outgunned the posse, each carrying at least two to four revolvers, one to two shotguns (probably double-barrels), and plenty of ammunition. The posse riders were poorly armed in comparison, most with their private firearms and limited ammunition.

The Grundy County citizen guards suffered casualties but they also sent the Rebels scampering quickly on their way. The band with relative ease reached the more friendly confines of Chariton County and supper with a farm family. The farmer later reported that he believed Holtzclaw had suffered a minor wound.

The Lindley raid stirred up negative reaction in Grundy County and the region, resulting in a flurry of Northern depredation against Southerners in the area. Things got pretty hot in the region for southern-loving men, especially guerrillas. Building up the recuperative health of his band and himself, Holtzclaw limited the group’s activities mostly to the friendlier confines of Howard and Chariton Counties.

Rebel Joseph J. Weldon Captured at Decatur, Iowa (1864)

Rebel leader Joseph J. Weldon of Gallatin, Daviess County, led his command of 60 Southerners into the mostly hostile boundaries of Iowa. On November 10, 1864, at Decatur, Iowa, authorities arrested Weldon and later transferred him to St. Louis to face Federal authorities. He was likely convicted of being a bushwhacker, for he was imprisoned in the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City for the duration of the war. Had he been able to prove that he was a Confederate recruiting officer, he likely would have been sent to a military prison as a prison or war. Captured in Missouri, he may well have never lived to see a judge or court marshal.

Depredations by Local Militias (1865)

Not all dastardly deeds were committed by roving gangs of criminals in Northwest Missouri. Union depredation committed by members of local militias occurred, such as when the Gentry County Militia (31st EMM) assassinated David Lockwood in mid-October, 1865. Unidentified individuals in the band of militiamen were on their way to guard the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad line when they stopped by the farm near New Castle in east-central Gentry County. They murdered the elder Lockwood, likely because his son had fought with the Missouri Confederate troops during 1861 and early 1862, before he was killed at the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern) on March 7, 1862.

Chapter 6:

The Ambush of ‘Bloody Bill’ Anderson


Earlier in the war, Samuel Cox of Gallatin was a Major in the 1st Cavalry MSM under Colonel McFerran. He was active in the General Order #107 Citizen Guards of Daviess County. Then Brigadier General Clinton B. Fisk, Provost Marshal for the district of Northwest Missouri, assigned him a special task.

Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume III, states how Cox’s “new job was to pull together as much Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) as would respond to him and lead them as a sort of a ‘hunter-killer’ force ‘to pitch into the rebels’ anywhere in the region.” By summer 1864, Major Cox’s designated guerilla hunter unit was not sufficient in number of men or mount or morale to cope with the increasing number of guerrillas and southern riders. Amazingly, the volunteer local militias in Daviess, Caldwell, Grundy, and other upper counties of Northwest Missouri voluntarily added themselves to the patchwork quilt of Major Cox’s poorly armed and formed command.

Cox’s amalgamated unit was severely hampered by lack of arms and clothing. In the July summer skirmishes, Cox’s men employed such a confusing mix of clothing, uniforms, and firearms that guerrillas were unsure against whom they were fighting. Such was the nature of many grossly under funded militias guarding Missouri against Jayhawkers, bushwhacker guerrillas and Confederate regulars. In one reported instance, a Southerner during a skirmish called for the mixture of fighters to identify themselves, asking if they were Federals. One of the militia captains yelled back, “Yes, we are Federals, and if you will all come out of the brush we will whip the hell out of you!”

Cox and his motley group of EMM continued skirmishes with Major Thrailkill’s Rebel bands and Lieutenant Col. John C. Thornton’s Confederate troops, dislodging several hundred Paw Paws, guerrillas, and Confederate soldiers east and south in the state.

By the first part of September, 1864, Union district chief General Clinton B. Fisk repeated his successful experiment. His special expedition was composed of hundreds of seasonal guerrilla hunters: a group of veteran EMM, Provisional EMM (PEMM), and citizen guards from several different counties, all under the command of Major Samuel P. Cox. This hodgepodge of units gave guerrilla chieftains Fletch Taylor, Major Thrailkill, Colonel Thornton and their southerners all they could handle.

Hit-and-miss, fight-and-flight skirmishes occupied the countryside of Northwest Missouri. During the last week of October, 1864, Major Cox called his counter-guerrilla fighters back into service. The group of 150 riders was small compared to the mounted force gathered back in July 1864 to counter Thornton’s great Rebel (Paw Paw) uprising. But Major Cox led Yankees willing once again to defend the region from another major Rebel threat. This grass-roots, rough and tumble, group of volunteers scored the final coup.

Centralia Massacre Makes “Bloody Bill” the Target

“Bloody Bill” Anderson’s infamous reputation had been sealed on Sept. 27, 1864, at Centralia, Missouri. On that day, he and his band of Rebels, including Frank and Jesse James, robbed and massacred some 22 discharged or furloughed Union soldiers in Union uniforms but unarmed were en route to St. Joseph. Only two soldiers had revolvers; few of the civilian passengers were armed. After harassment and undressing, including underwear, the Union troops were tortured and killed in displays of bloodlust by Archie Clements and his men. Several were scalped or otherwise mutilated.

On the afternoon of that same Sept. 27th, a second bloody event occurred. While the guerrillas were still in the area, camping out in adjacent fields, Major A.V.E. Johnston and 147 men of three companies of the 39th Infantry Missouri rode into town. The soldiers were incensed with the obvious massacre. Major Johnston prepared his troops for battle. Unlike the Rebel forces, the Union troops were “green,” young and inexperienced in battle; they rode “farm horses,” unaccustomed to the gunfire and noise of war and not bred or conditioned to the vigor of battle. The men were armed with inferior Enfield muzzle-loading rifle-muskets, unwieldy in size and slow to load and fire and not particularly accurate. Perhaps most importantly, the bushwhackers were hardened fighters, with experienced, harden-crazed officers.

Written reports of the battle vary. But all agree on the carnage that occurred. Because the infantry were not trained to fight mounted, and neither were their horses, the Union men dismounted and were totally vulnerable to the experienced fast-moving Rebels, each with multiple revolvers to intensify their firepower. The men in blue did not have a chance. Personal witnesses reported that soldiers were mutilated — heads were severed, some impaled on fence posts or tied to saddles. Others were scalped; one report described a castration. The death toll, not counting the 22 soldiers off the train, figured about 123. Three guerrillas were reported killed, two mortally wounded, and several slightly wounded.

Some of these guerillas later attempted to justify the butchery and uncivilized behavior, writing their memoirs several years after the war as respected citizens. Frank James of Anderson’s band and John McCorkle of George Todd’s band, among others, swore that Major Johnston’s column carried a black flag as they rode out to battle. Frank James and others described “the black flag” as apparently a black apron tied to a stick. This may be questioned, But there is no doubt that flying the black flag was a widely recognized symbol for “giving no quarter or taking none.” Jesse James, later to become one of the most infamous outlaws in American history, was the guerrilla fighter who shot and killed Major Johnston.

Thus, on the morning of October 27, 1864, Lt. Colonel Samuel Cox led a force of 150 guerilla hunters of the 33rd and 51st EMM to Richmond, Ray County, where a larger Rebel group was rumored to be camped. The force then rode a few miles further from Richmond to Albany (a town no longer existing near the Missouri River in the southeast comer of Ray County). The troop encountered a wife of one of the 51st EMM task force. She reported having just been in Bill Anderson’s Rebel camp at Albany. No doubt shocked, the Union soldiers for the first time realized they were so close to several hundred of the fiercest band of bushwhackers, led by the most dreaded of guerrilla chiefs.

Anderson’s band was well-known to aggressively hunt down and destroy militiamen in their homes. Thus, the soldiers realized that their only choice was to attack first and deliver a deadly blow, one powerful enough to subdue the threat. Lieutenant Colonel Cox was an experienced officer and a proven leader of volunteers; some within this force were Union army veterans while others had served in the EMM on successful skirmishes under Cox’s command.

The EMM troop was improperly armed. Anderson must have realized from the uniforms that his adversaries would be using slow, single shot muzzleloader muskets while riding on farm mounts. The guerillas held the advantage with multiple shot revolvers, riding experienced war horses. This was a familiar setting which often led to success for bushwhacker bands. But this time, Union soldiers chose the site and terrain for battle and the element of surprise, for once, was on their side.

Cox knew the Indian style of fighting tactics well; he also knew his adversary. Cox anticipated how Anderson would direct his seasoned, screaming the Rebels to plunge into the Yankees. Cox knew that Anderson would not fear the ragtag EMM and take time to scout and properly develop a plan. Cox used this carelessness to advantage.

The militiamen dismounted and formed a line in concealment. He then sent some mounted troops ahead to attack, then retreat, to coax the guerrillas into their trap. As expected, “Bloody Bill” Anderson cut loose with his infamous “Rebel Indian Yell” and led a charge against the Federals and galloped through Cox’s battle line. As he did, an EMM riflemen shot the chief with two bullets to the back of the head. He fell to the ground dead. A number of his men attempted to reclaim his body; several as a result met death themselves. The Rebels realized too late  they were sitting on their horses in the open on a hillside, facing a complete enemy line secured in a tree line and brush. Their usual advantage using multiple-shot short range revolvers were no match against concealed guns with longer range, despite the slower discharge.

Samuel P. Cox accomplished “this great feat” with lowly, grassroots militia poorly armed against equal numbers of the most feared and experienced veteran bushwhackers. Federal authorities were elated with the news and subsequent proof. The contents of Anderson’s pockets included: orders from General Price and signed by Lauchlan Maclean; photos, letters, and a lock of hair from his wife in Texas; and some $600 in gold and bills. A small Confederate flag was also taken from Anderson’s body. On it was inscribed, “Presented to W.L. Anderson by his friend, F.M.R. Let it not be contaminated by Fed. hands.”

Who Really Killed ‘Bloody Bill’?

Union Major Samuel P. Cox of Daviess County gained widespread fame when he was credited with the killing of William “Bloody Bill” Anderson on Oct. 27, 1864, near Richmond, MO. The City of St. Joseph actually presented Cox with a ceremonial sword for killing the notorious guerrilla chief (“Bloody Bill” was accused of killing 54 Union men).

Decades later this account was put into question.

As the news of Anderson’s death spread, so did the vow from several members of his guerrilla band to avenge “Bloody Bill’s” death. Union men did not consider this as idle boast but took the threat seriously. As leader of the Yankees who ambushed Anderson’s guerillas, Major Cox accepted the mantle of killing Bloody Bill. Few knew Major Cox was actually protecting a young bugler under his command, Adolph Vogel, who in all probability pulled the trigger that sent Bloody Bill to his death.

Vogel was a young family man, mindful of revenge sworn by Jesse James and other guerrillas against whomever killed their leader. So, as commanding officer, Major Cox assumed that personal risk not only during the remainder of the war but also for years after the Civil War …a risk that became bloody reality in 1869.

Four years after the war ended, Jesse James was yet to be publicly branded as an outlaw despite suspicions of his involvement in the first daytime bank robbery in Missouri at Liberty. But his boast to kill Samuel Cox on first sight was widely known. Thus, Civil War revenge set the stage for murder four years after the official end of the war.

During the Dec. 7, 1869, robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, bank cashier John W. Sheets was an unfortunate victim of misidentification when Jesse James mistook him for Samuel Cox. True to his vow, James shot and killed Sheets during a robbery which netted the two James Boys little cash. A horse used during the robbery was evidence linking Jesse James to the crime, and the Governor of Missouri soon offered a bounty for the capture of the outlaw. This was the first time Jesse James was publicly wanted by the law, the start of a notorious 12-year crime spree that commanded worldwide attention.

Much less is know about Adolph Vogel, the man who actually killed Bloody Bill. He secretly guarded his story until near the end of his 85 years of life. In poor health due to heart disease, he confided to family members about papers he had taken from the body of the Civil War guerrilla leader which he kept in a safety deposit box at a bank in Coffey, MO. Vogel also gave a flashy hat, worn by Anderson when he was killed, to his sister living in Daviess County.

Not only was Vogel a member of Major Cox’s command, but he was keenly aware of the intense hatred that the Rebels had for Germans who fought in the Union army. So, the credit bestowed on Major Cox for killing Bloody Bill Anderson was never in question until late in the summer of 1924 when a man at Brownwood, Texas, proclaimed that he was Bill Anderson and still alive. His claim was proved false not only by Vogel’s discourses but also by the fact that the real Bill Anderson would have been much older than the Texas impersonator.

Although Samuel Cox was widely acclaimed for the slaying of Bushwhacker “Bloody Bill” Anderson, the bullet that actually killed the Confederate guerrilla probably came from the gun of Adolph Vogel.

Vogel’s words to refute the impersonator were published in a Bethany, MO, newspaper and consequently reprinted to many newspapers up and down the Mississippi Valley since, up until that time, the Texan impersonator was getting lots of press. Mr. Vogel would not say he was the man who actually killed Anderson in battle. But he did make this statement: ““It is likely that I was the man who killed him, but you can’t be about such things when they happen in a fight of that kind.” Adolph Vogel’s side of the story is as follows:

“It happened south of Richmond, Mo., in some heavily timbered bottom land. I was in the Missouri militia, and we were hunting a force of men who were said to be commanded by Anderson. I was under Major Cox of Gallatin. We found out that the other fel1ows were near, and we got off our horses and left them behind our lines. You know the guerrillas had always had always attacked the militia when they were on horses and because the horses were not used to gunfire they would stampede, and their riders would be routed. I suspect that is what would have happened to us if we had not known the fight was about to happen. There were not more than a few hundred men on a side.

“The fight didn’t last very long. As I was a bugler, I was the only other man in our battalion, besides Major Cox, who was horseback. We were attacked, but, kept our ground, and in a little bit the other fe1lows were running, routed. I saw the body of a man in front at me who looked like he was an officer. He was dressed well, and in his big wide brimmed hat there was a long feather. I told Major Cox about him, an he ordered me to take everything off him. We took his pistols, his hat and papers he had on him that told who he was. The hat was just what I wanted and I took it.”

The account was accompanied by this comment when published in the Gallatin Democrat upon Vogel’s death in 1927:

“That it actually was Anderson who was killed at that time is shown by the word of a man who now lives at Bethany, but whose family lived near the scene of the fight. They knew the guerrilla by sight, saw him the evening before he was killed, and knew how he was dressed. Mr. Vogel was born in Germany, but came to the United States when three years old. He is survived by his widow, and one daughter.”

Misplaced Revenge Takes Innocent Life

Insights about the notorious outlaws Frank and Jesse James is presented by Kansas City lawyer and historian James P. Muehlberger in the book , The Lost Cause: The Trials of Frank and Jesse James. This thoroughly researched account of the rise, pursuit, and prosecution of the legendary Jesse James presents newfound evidence of the involvement of the James Brothers in an attempt to avenge the death of their partisan leader, “Bloody Bill” Anderson. The James Boys sought to assassinate the retired Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Cox of Gallatin, Missouri. Jesse James mistakenly shot Capt. John Sheets instead.

Gallatin’s Capt. John Sheets was no stranger to armed conflict. As a soldier he confronted enemies during the Mormon difficulties in 1838 through the Mexican War and finally during the Civil War. Upon his return to his home, he was elected sheriff of Daviess County and then circuit clerk and county recorder. Sheets eventually took the cashier position at the Daviess County Savings Association, a bank owned by his former Union commander, Colonel James McFerran. Ironically, Lieutenant Samuel B. Cox owned and operated the other bank in Gallatin, located a couple of blocks away from the Savings Association where Sheets worked. Locations and store front appearances between the two buildings were easily confused.

Apparently Sheets and Cox in casual conversation nervously shared the warning that Cox had received from Jim Anderson, brother and southern partisan with “Bloody Bill.” As it played out, the two bankers had more reason to be unnerved than they likely realized.

It is commonly understood that Cox had not so infrequently received threats from Anderson’s surviving rangers, including his brother Jim Anderson, and likely Jesse and Frank James (a few years earlier in 1864, the 17-year-old Frank was one of Anderson’s guerrillas). In addition, Cox had told Sheets that he had received a threatening letter from Jim Anderson, demanding that he return the two revolvers taken from Bill’s body and given to Cox as commanding officer after the guerrilla chief s death in the ambush. The written threat was an “or else” he would come after them. No surprise, Cox’s response was that he, Jim Anderson, would have to come after them.

On December 7, 1869, Frank and Jesse James rode into Gallatin. The Lost Cause carefully explains that it is most likely that the two riders were not equipped with the manpower needed to carry out a bank robbery, but instead it was likely they were completing a vendetta. After all, the locations and appearance of the two banks looked alike and could be easily confused.

Even in the confusion of the killing, a couple of witnesses reported that one of the riders pulled a long-barreled revolver as Sheets stepped out of the inner office. Immediately, the shooter put a deadly .44 caliber bullet tearing into Sheet’s heart. A second follow-up round was fired close-range into the cashier’s head. Later, Jesse James was accused of the murder, having been “identified” by the horse that was ridden during the crime. The criminals forced a farmer to exchange horses during their getaway, thus bringing the horse known to be owned by Jesse James back to Gallatin.

Purely by accident, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel B. Cox was spared! Except for a “bit of legally manipulated but inadvertent bit of horse-trading,” so were the James Boys.

From Guerrilla War to Peacetime Outlaws

Relationships cemented between guerilla fighters did not end when the war officially ceased. What happened in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri during the Civil War played out in many ways for many years to come.

Isaac Miller (the uncle of brothers, Ed and Clell Miller) became involved with contact with the Jesse and Frank James Gang after the war ended. A Bridge To Memories explains that the reformed James Gang, including the Miller Brothers, Cole and Bob Younger, and others, spent some time passing through Gentry County in the mid-1870s.

They came to avenge their uncle … and had a hit list with a dozen men to kill. Welcomed by Isaac, they camped at Hickory Creek, south of Gentryville, for about a week. Although a strong Confederate sympathizer, Isaac is reported to have made attempts to talk them out of the revenge killings as he made daily trips to their camp. He is said to have convinced the band that the war was over and they had already paid the price of the war. If they continued their plans for killing those on their list, the carnage would just multiply and get worse. Apparently, the gang heeded his advice …in part.

In another aside generated by the subject matter, the role of Isaac Miller in the Gentryville, Miller Township, Gentry County region of Northwest Missouri. No doubt about it, Miller was a founding father of settlement in at least Daviess, Gentry, and Worth counties. There is also no denying that as a died-in-the-wool Confederate supporter, he was held in high esteem in his neighborhood, township, and county.

It is also a fact that Isaac Miller was the brother of Moses Miller, a tanner, blacksmith, and father of Clell Miller, who rode with the Jesse James Gang in the 1870s. Fourteen-year-old Clell was riding with Jesse and “Bloody Bill” Anderson when they were ambushed by Major Samuel P. Cox’s troop of guerrilla-hunters near Albany, Ray County, in October 1864.

In his book, The Lost Cause, The Trials of Frank and Jesse James, James P. Muehlberger describes the trial of Clell Miller for his part in the robbery of the Ocobok Brothers’ Bank in Corydon, Iowa, on June 3, 1871. He writes, “Next to testify was Isaac Miller, Clell’s 59-year-old uncle, who was a farmer. He told the jury that he saw Clell outside the store in Gentryville on June 3. He also testified that Clell went to church with him the day after the robbery, as well as the following Sunday.”

The trial, according to Muehlberger, “displayed a combination of prosecutorial lack of preparation and misjudgment, and defense savvy.” The verdict was “not guilty.” But under cross-examination, Clell admitted to carrying two Colt revolvers at all times. One might wonder about Uncle Isaac’s chat with St. Peter sometime later at the end of his life.

Chapter 7:

 After the War, More Death

The Civil War did not end with Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, on April 7, 1865. A few weeks later, soldiers fought a small battle in Texas. But most rank-and-file Confederates knew the war was lost by this time. Unpaid and poorly fed, desperate soldiers set out for home.

On May 11, 1865, Missouri’s infamous Swamp Fox, General M. Jeff Thompson of St. Joseph, surrendered his raggedly tough army of Northern Arkansas. Then General Edmund Kirby Smith agreed to surrender terms for the Western Department of the Confederate Army on May 26, 1865.

While most Rebels were ready to accept defeat, Missouri’s General Sterling “Old Pap” Price planned to relocate to large estates in Mexico which were under French control. But  the French puppet Maximilian was deposed and executed by Mexican revolutionaries. With the collapse of the resettlement plan, these expatriated rebels returned home to face the “new order.”

The end of the war had changed the atmosphere in Missouri. A major transformation in politics had occurred. The Conservative faction that governed the state during the war had been swept aside by a Radical landslide in the statewide election in autumn of 1864. In addition to the emancipation of slaves, the Radicals guided through a new constitution with “harsh and vindictive measures for Southern sympathizers.”

According to an article, “Missouri’s Postwar Politics,” published June 2015 in the Rural Missouri magazine, writer Jim Denny reported that “some 800 public officeholders were ousted from office arbitrarily. An ‘iron clad’ oath was required to vote, hold office or practice professions such as law, education or the ministry. With 86 acts that could qualify as ‘disloyal,’ there was no chance of a challenge to Radical rule by what remained of Missouri’s eligible voters.”

The composition of Missouri’s population was changing as sheer numbers ballooned. Over 90% of the immigrants flowing into Missouri were now coming from Northern states, rather than from Southern origins as before the war. Northwest Missouri was likely even a bit ahead of this flow due to its proximity to Iowa and Nebraska. The Show-Me State was beginning a transition to becoming a truly Midwestern State.

With returning southern sympathizers voting in the next election, politics in the state was also changing. The dynamics of the state doomed the control of the “Radical” factor that had been in political control. Starting in 1874, the Democratic Party seized control of the state reigns of power, holding on tightly for the rest of the century as the Union and Confederate  remnants smoothed out an informal power-sharing arrangement.

For years after the war, some of the areas in the Upper Counties in Missouri were as dangerous than ever. Militias, some of which were functionally effective, mustered out as soon as the war ended. Organized militia no longer policed rural areas. The citizenry of much of the region had been largely disarmed. Released soldiers and supporters on both sides were free to commit assassinations and reprisal killings and all kinds of stealing and criminal activities.

Killing Captain Shoemaker

The author of the History of Daviess and Gentry Counties is most generous in describing citizen behavior at the end of the war: “Federal control was maintained without serious opposition and all classes welcomed peace when it came. Most of the wounds were quickly healed. The scars received less and less notice. In few years a united people were forging ahead.”

The comment carried a certain truth to it, especially in reference to the most northern and eastern upper counties of Northwest Missouri. The wounds of this region, especially wherever the diverse population leaned to the South, were not so easily healed.

The Civil War had officially ended for a full year when an event of considerable consternation for citizens of Gentry County reared its ugly head. The Grand River News of May 8, 1866, reported, “It is our lot and sad duty as a public journalist to record this week one of the most mysterious and melancholy calamities which has ever befallen our county. The Sheriff of Gentry County, has, when alone and unguarded or unobserved by friends or relatives, met with violent death from an unknown hand.”

The murder of Sheriff William B. Shoemaker on May 2, 1866, was never solved. But many blamed it upon a criminal element left over from the war.

Shoemaker was born in Iredell County, North Carolina, on January 22, 1823. He moved to Wisconsin in 1847, and then to Missouri in 1857. Shoemaker was appointed Sheriff of Gentry County in 1862 to fill a resignation vacancy; however he was elected to the position in the upcoming November campaign and two years after that. His term was due to expire in the coming November.

The History of Gentry and Worth County, written 16 years later in 1888, could only speculate as to why the murder occurred: “From the commencement of the rebellion, Mr. S. had been identified with the Union Radical organization and to him must be accorded a true Union heart, a strong will and powers capable of exercising a positive influence, wherever he might reside. Mr. S. was the captain of a company of Union militia starting in 1861. During the six months’ service and since, he has always been a firm, unflinching Union man.”

The preceding would be reason enough for Shoemaker’s demise in certain circles of Gentry County. His wife and family related how he was repeatedly threatened. He has left home many times with his family never expecting to see him again.

A year after the murder was committed, a newspaper article very gently questioned the report released by the coroner and other officials. The newspaper clipping in a scrapbook assembled by Capt. Charles G. Comstock does not identify the newspaper (the name and date of the newspaper were omitted from the scrapbook clipping entitled “Death of Captain Shoemaker! Notice to the Citizens of Gentry”). The notice, however, published in fancy font and written in “lawyerize” was signed by C.G. Comstock, eight prominent citizens, “and others.” It was dated as being written at “Albany, Gentry Co., Mo., May 2nd, 1866.” Thus, one year after the murder, the plea for more citizen involvement was still being presented. Apparently, it did not motivate the desired response.

The following summarizes the Shoemaker killing. Sheriff Shoemaker left home about 10 a.m. going in a westerly direction from Albany in search of some cattle reported missing. He had been gone possibly six hours when his horse returned home riderless. The family was at once aroused that he had met with sudden death or a fearful accident.

Some of the Sheriff’s sons started out immediately in search of their father when they met Colonel David Cranor who was hurrying to town to report that Shoemaker had been found dead. His body had been found on the east side of East Fork of Grand River. Soon a group of townsmen reached the site of the fatality at about 5 p.m.

Sheriff Shoemaker was found lying dead, his revolver out of his scabbard and beside his body, with the hammer down. Four loads of the six-shooter had been discharged when it was located. His hat was on his head in a natural position, leading the men to believe he must have dismounted before being shot, rather than being shot and then falling from the horse. His pocketbook was found under him on the ground, opened. Only a few papers were found in it. It is assumed that some money was missing; the sheriff usually carried a small amount of cash.

The single ball that hit and killed the Sheriff had been fired from a revolver of the same size as the one he carried. The ball removed from the deceased weighed two scruples and nine grains. But it had lost some weight as it passed into the right side of the head, above the ear, passing through the temple bone, and lodging at or near the base of the brain. The single shot evidently caused instant death. No other wound was found and the body was not mutilated.

An inquest was held over the corpse at the courthouse. The verdict was “That Mr. Shoemaker came to his death by an unknown hand.”

Shooting the Bully, William Brumfield

Violence in the years after the Civil War was not always hidden in rural areas nor done during the darkness of night.

In August, 1862, Capt. William Brumfield was elected to command Company D 33rd Reg. Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). Brumfield was from Washington Township (his grave site is still marked by a headstone at the Old Scotland Church). Brumfield also served as a private in the 43rd Reg. MVI (Missouri Volunteer Infantry) from September, 1864, until war’s end. In both periods of service he was under the command of Lt. Col. William Flint (who, coincidentally, was Daviess County Sheriff at the time of Brumfield’s death in July, 1868).

Capt. Brumfield’s early period of service was at Breckenridge in neighboring Caldwell County. The Union held control in Daviess County but rebels were active to the east and south. Brumfield was relieved from duty after 180 days and his Company D disbanded in early 1863. It appears that Brumfield and some friends, upon their own initiative, murdered Confederates and men who helped the rebel cause in the eastern part of Daviess County.

In April, 1863, Jonathan Oxford was taken from his home and murdered at the Clear Creek Church. George Crews and Thomas Peery were ambushed near Breckenridge in September, 1863, by Brumfield and his friends. Robert Ford of Coffey, MO, was murdered in June, 1864. In the fall of 1864, Thomas Peery’s father, Col. William Peery C.S.A. (Gen. Slack’s paymaster), and Lt. Williams were surprised in their sleep and murdered east of Lock Springs. James Weldon C.S.A. was taken from his home and murdered “by a captain from Caldwell County with a group of his men.”

In August, 1866, William Crews was murdered at the Clear Creek Church by “Brumfield and Nichols.” Research suggests that Nichols may have been Lt. Mounce Nickols or one of his sons from Jackson Township in Daviess County. It was reported that Crews was murdered because he planned to avenge the death of his brother, George, and friend, Thomas Peery.

Such were the times throughout much of Missouri. Perhaps the most notoriously famous murder occurred in Gallatin, Missouri, when Confederate outlaws Frank and Jesse James shot Capt. John Sheets in a case of mistaken identity. The murder occurred as the James brothers robbed the Daviess County Savings Association on Dec. 7, 1869. Jesse James had vowed to avenge the ambush death of Confederate guerrilla William “Bloody Bill” Anderson whose death was attributed to Union Major Samuel P. Cox of Gallatin. Jesse tried to make good on his vow by shooting before verifying his aim. The murder and robbery soon marked the James Boys as outlaws during an unprecedented 16-year crime spree which attracted international interest.

The death of William Brumfield, like so many others following the Civil War, was of wartime vendetta — but this time between soldiers serving on the same side. On July 27, 1868, Capt. Brumfield was shot and killed south of the courthouse by Pvt. Solomon Tomlin. Tomlin had served in Brumfield’s command at Breckenridge for 68 days in 1862-63.

Unlike Capt. Sheets, Brumfield was not liked nor respected. In November, 1868, a grand jury issued a bill charging Tomlin with murder in the first degree but Tomlin was never tried in court. The particulars of the charge were written in a humorous language, and Tomlin had long since left the county with his family.

The most detailed account of the killing of Brumfield is published in the 1882 Daviess County History Book, starting on page 232. The following summarizes that account:

Brumfield had a murderous instinct and bullying manner which made people afraid. It seems that on a raid in Buchanan County, Tomlin and Brumfield appropriated several horses. In the division of the property, the two men exchanged bitter words which heatedly escalated until Brumfield declared he would kill Tomlin.

On the day of Brumfield’s murder, Brumfield went to Tomlin’s home located two miles south of Gallatin. He intended to call him out. Tomlin’s wife, Julia, told Brumfield that her husband had gone to Gallatin. Brumfield vowed that she would never see her husband alive again. He also told her that he would be back that night to hang Tomlin’s hat on the gate post.

Brumfield learned in Gallatin that Tomlin was hiding in Lt. Benton Miller’s store, located on the south side of the business square. Brumfield exited from the courthouse through the south gate, going directly toward the store. Tomlin was watching and saw Brumfield approaching with revolver in hand. The store owner ordered Tomlin to leave. Tomlin, armed with a double-barrel shotgun, stepped out of the store and shot Brumfield in the chest before Brumfield could raise his revolver. That revolver eventually came into the possession of J. Paul Croy of Gallatin, and then the Daviess County Historical Society. The Manhattan 5-shot cap and ball revolver is marked by Serial #13201.

 The Torn and Knotted Flag

Lots of water passed under the political bridge between the end of the war in 1865 and the national election of Republicans James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur in 1880. The coverage of the “From Gentry County” Grand Republican Meeting in Albany by the July 20, 1880, edition of the St. Joseph Herald ended with a paragraph reminiscent of one 15 years earlier:

“That we must emphatically condemn and denounce the Democratic Party for the war …the party that in 1876, all previous Jayhawking expedients having failed, nominated that prince of tricksters, Samuel J. Tilden …to deceive the loyal people of the North is to place a Union soldier as a ‘decoy duck’ at the head of their ticket to conceal the masked batteries of Rebel brigadiers, with which they have filled both houses of Congress for the purpose of subverting out laws and the destroying of our liberties. We call on loyal men everywhere to gird on their armor and guard the Union and preserve the results of the war.”

The above member of the Committee on Resolution — John B. Twist, H.C. Price, and George C. Holden — waxed poetic with political voice. Yet, there appeared a deeper division, a distance from finding healing.

Once again, two decades after the first division that led to the Civil War, the two major political parties of Gentry County, Democratic and Republican, found “another tear in the flag.” The precious symbol of the Union, now united in word if not commitment, the star-spangled banner was again the subject of political derision and strife.

In a case of verbal jousting, the local and regional newspapers carried on a diatribe — complete with the bantering of citizen editorials — for a couple of months from late July through August 1880. Based almost totally upon political rhetoric, accusations were followed by defenses and more accusations.

The authors of the poison pen stirred sentiment on how, when, and why the grand old flag adorning the dome of the Gentry County courthouse — where it had not flown with frequency during the war — wound up disgraced by being tom to shreds and knotted upon the courthouse lawn.

Paraphrase does not do the news reports of the period justice. Thus, the initial report, written by a correspondent on July 20, 1880, and published shortly thereafter by the St. Joseph Herald (Republican paper) is included in its entirety as printed:

The Star-Spangled Banner torn to Shreds and Knotted on the Courthouse in Albany.

Correspondence St. Joseph Herald.

ALBANY, Mo., July 20, 1880.

The star-spangled banner has the same effect upon unrepentant rebels as a red rag has upon a mad bull. It makes them bellow with anger, roar with rage, paw savagely the ground, shake furiously their horns and toes aloft in curvilinear lines of ire their expressive tails. The sight of it at any time is enough to rouse the tiger from his lair in their bosoms, and sometimes in their cage they go so far as to tear the symbol of the Union, of loyalty and human rights, into shreds. This was the case at Albany, Mo., the other day. A letter to the St. Joseph Herald gives the particulars of the outrage. On Saturday evening the Republicans of the place organized a Garfield and Arthur club and put one of the old flags which they had saved from destruction by their blood on many a well-contested field, on the dome of the court house. The Albany court house has not been often graced with the grand old emblem of unity and freedom of late years, and it felt a little awkward when its old time honors were replaced. It was also observed that it irritated a good many of the loyal followers of Hancock and hurt their feelings to see it there. The door of the dome being locked, and the sheriff having the key, it could not be got down on Saturday night, and it waved proudly all day Sunday, over Hancock rebels and Garfield union men alike. This was too much for the non-repentant to stand, and Sunday night some wretch or wretches, under the sable veil of night, by some means obtained in gress to the dome and tore the flag into shreds and tied it in knots, thus showing their love for the flag which Hancock, their ‘decoy duck,’ fought for. The correspondent, in concluding his account of the affair, advises Hancock to issue an order at once that the flag be dispensed with on all public occasions, as in the case of Gen. Beauregard at New Orleans, as it hurts the feelings of his friends and may endanger his success. This is a sample for the ‘loyal’ men who shout for Hancock, and desire to get control of the government. The same men would not allow a flag on the grounds at the Fourth of July celebration at Albany a few years ago, and their action on Sunday night shows that their hate of the stars and stripes has not abated in the least. This, be it remembered, is in Missouri, and in the northwest corner of the state. If such be the prevailing spirit on the very outer edge of rebel territory, what must it be in the heart of rebeldom!

The accusation submitted to the Republican paper by someone who is obviously a Republican, may have been fired as a pop-gun, but it discharged like a canon. And the response to that was even greater. The Albany Ledger (Democratic paper) quickly responded by calling a meeting at the courthouse on the evening of Friday, July 30, 1880, “to express their view in reference to the slanders that have been uttered against the fame of our county and state… ” Republicans John B. Twist was elected chairman and Mr. Woods of the Stanberry News, secretary, of a committee elected by the group to look into the charges.

The response to the charges was made as an “affidavit of John B. Twist” and notarized by Charles G. Comstock. Other oaths of fascinating content were recorded, notarized, and published.

Although first generated by sound beliefs, then motivated by allegiances to political parties, the comments from letters to the papers, as well as editorials, finally degenerated to sound more like personal attacks, that lay smoldering for nearly two decades, finally released into the air of freedom.

An Explanation of those Resolutions –
Still Further Light on the Subject

Albany, Mo., July 31, 1880.

“EDITOR GAZETTE: Last evening was the time appointed for a citizen’s meeting to consider the ‘flag’ question. In the afternoon, however, Capt. Comstock called on Sheriff Gillespie and stated that it was the evening for the regular meeting of the Garfield and Arthur Club — that notice of that meeting had been given a week or so ago, and that they had the right to the use of the court house. The sheriff has always given the use of the court room to political parties, in the order of their appointments, and gave Capt. Comstock the key, as he ought to have done.

The representation of Capt. Comstock, however, turned out to be a mere trick. Having obtained the room, they then had what they claimed to be a citizens’ meeting, at which some very foolish resolutions were passed, and then adjourned it to a meeting of the Garfield and Arthur club.

The trick was a shabby one, and intended to deceive not only the citizens in general but the Sheriff in particular. It is scarcely possible that an officer who has had his courtesy abused once will be imposed on again.

It is now absolutely certain that the flag was tom in strips by the wind, and that the scalawags who took it down ‘knotted and plaited’ it afterwards, simply to make political capital.


The finger-pointing and bantering finally came to an end with a letter to the editor of The Freeman (a strongly Republican newspaper of a few short years duration in Albany) from Republican C.G. Comstock. All the fine prose of the era set apart, the argument and discussion ended with hardly a bang. But the real reason for the heated debate likely was never forgotten till fine men of each persuasion found their natural ends.

The Comstock scrapbook revealed a stream of controversy in published articles and letters; clippings from more than half-dozen newspapers were pasted into pages. Each comment from Democrat or Republican covered the theme, adding their own particular political twists and turns.

That’ Cheeky Fraud.’

“Editor Freeman:–The Ledger of last week, acting upon the old rule that ‘when you have no case you should get mad and abuse the other party, ‘-goes as far in that direction as it can, failing only in the fact that abuse from such a source is not scandal.

As I can get but brief space in the Freeman this week, I will only refer your readers to the complete answer which I gave in the St. Joe Herald of the 6th, to the Ledger article, or one similar in the Gazette of the 5th, and repeat from that letter that the meeting was called by Buckingham, and was held at the time and place fixed by him; that numerous Democrats from the country were in town that night for the express purpose of attending the meeting; that the Ledger man and other prominent Democrats were present when the proceedings were bad, and that the proceedings speak for themselves.

Now I don’t blame Buckingham for getting mad; he and his coadjutors in this flag business have made a mess of it, and it leaves them standing in a very unenviable light, as leaders, even with their own party; for the curses launched at them from their own side are loud enough to reach beyond their party lines. But, gentlemen; you should vent you spleen upon those who got you into this scrape, and not upon those who are manfully seeking to vindicate the right.

C.G. Comstock”

Chapter 8:

Purely Speculation


West Virginia proudly carries the reputation of being the only state formed because of the Civil War. When the state of Virginia voted to secede from the United States during the Civil War, the folks of the rugged, mountainous western region opposed the decision and organized to form their own state. The then two regions of Old Dominion — the East and the West — made up a single state in name, but certainly not in geography, economy, climate, resources, or way of life. Thus, the western regions of Virginia detached from the eastern portion politically and the two were never reconciled into a single state again.

The Civil War was likely not the cause of the creation of West Virginia; it was the opportunity. Residents of Virginia prior to reorganization were in all practical purposes, two peoples. The eastern portion of the state was settled by a finer polish, mostly of English descent — including a landed gentry of wealthy estates, complete with slave labor. On the other hand, the rugged region of western Virginia was largely settled by poorer clans of Germans and Scotch-Irish.

The more refined eastern part of Virginia and its settlers differed sharply from the less refined mountain folks. The “hillbilly” culture that prevailed in the isolation of the mountains made the western inhabitants an independent people. West Virginians believed that the easterners always looked down their collective noses at the region west of the Mountains and treated it with political unfairness.

Little doubt exists that there is a questionable legality in West Virginia’s origins. The United States Constitution did not allow a new state to be formed without the consent of the consent of the original state. In comes the twist: with the state of Virginia having left or seceded from the Union, western Virginia delegates formed a Reorganized Government of Virginia, recognized as the official  government of Virginia by President Abraham Lincoln. That government granted itself permission to form the State of West Virginia. It is said that Lincoln reluctantly approved statehood, which became official on June 20, 1863, making it the 35th state in the Union.

Initially, the new western region formed by the split was to be admitted to the Union and called Kanawha. Ultimately, it was named West Virginia. The State’s untimely creation and admission to the Union, right in the middle of the Great War, resulted in many unusual circumstances.

Early in the Civil War, many soldiers from the western portion of Virginia with Union leanings demonstrated a strong home-state loyalty and enlisted in the Confederate Army. Mid-war, when West Virginia was accepted by Congress into Statehood, they suddenly found themselves as abolitionists in a secessionist army. On the more pleasant side of the equation, many loyalists from the region found themselves to be residents of a more pleasant abolitionist government.

The well-known and respected Gallatin, Daviess County, Missouri lawyer who prosecuted Jesse and Frank James in later Reconstruction times understood the situation first-hand. Born in 1844 in Dunkard Mill Run in Marion County, Virginia (became West Virginia in 1861), Henry Clay McDougal overcame his Virginia heritage and enlisted in the Union Army, Company A, 6th Virginia Volunteer Infantry in the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. He mustered out at Wheeling, West Virginia in 1863-64.

In his book, Recollections, 1844-1909, McDougal wrote of esteemed associates he had known over the years. He also described another lawyer, Alpheus F. Haymond, whose father represented the Fairmont, Marion County, Virginia district in Congress. The family was born, reared, lived, and died in the area, now West Virginia.

According to McDougal, “As a Union man, he was a member of the Virginia Convention of 1861, and both spoke and voted against the passage of the State Ordinance of Secession at Richmond. But when the first Federal troops marched into his native town in May, 1861, Haymond at once went southward, and there served in the Confederate Army as Chief Quartermaster, first to Gen. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.” These stories were commonplace for both the North and the South.

(As an aside, it is worth mentioning that another state, Nevada, became the 36th state on October 31, 1864, as the second of two states added to the Union during the Civil War. Nevada had already been created as a Territory on March 2,1861, by the United States Congress. Thus the Nevada Territorial mineral riches primarily silver and gold — would be used to reinforce the Union and not for the Confederate cause.)

With the declaration of secession and the separation of what was once one state, now two, came strange circumstances. John Brown, the fanatic Kansas abolitionist who considered slavery a mortal sin, and 18 armed men led a raid against the Federal Armory at Harpers Ferry (Virginia) on October 16-17, 1859, hoping to arm slaves in violent revolt. No slaves answered his call and a local loyalist militia surrounded Brown and his men. In what turns out to be a twisted turn, the President ordered a unit of United States Marines led by Robert E. Lee to put down the rebellion. Brown was taken prisoner, convicted of treason against the state of Virginia and hanged.

In less than a year, General Robert E. Lee would be commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

The Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri have their “West Virginia,” although on a much lesser order than that back East. All of Northwest Missouri, except for the counties of Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Holt, and Nodaway — that would become the Platte Purchase in 1837 — formed a portion of Howard County. Although this broad domain had no political existence until 1816, the eastern portion of Howard County was settled by folks like Daniel Boone.

Political subdivisions continued as described in detail by the Gentry and Worth County History – 1822, the Legislature of Missouri enacted the establishment of the mega county of Clay. As the dominoes tumble, Clinton County was then detached from Clay and organized in 1833. What was thought to be the final county detachment, Dekalb and Gentry were organized into separate counties in 1845. Some political jockeying of the western boundary with adjacent counties of Andrew and Nodaway occurred as late as 1863.

And then it was done! That would have been wishful thinking. The Gentry and Worth County History -1882 published in near entirety, some 18 Sections of the “Act Organizing Worth County” was enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri on February 5, 1861, and approved on February 8, 1861.

Questions spurt forth: Why were Dekalb, Gentry, and later Worth having been attached to the County of Clinton, for civil and military purposes, afterwards detached from said county and organized into separate counties: Gentry and DeKalb in 1845, and Worth, which had been attached to Gentry, in 1861 written as such? How could, as the preceding sentence appears to indicate, Worth County already be attached to Clinton County, when it had not yet been created? Most likely, the writer and publisher of this 1882 piece became as confused as this reader.

More questions: Was the organization of Worth County in 1861– the year of the start of the Civil War — merely coincidental or did it involve the abolitionist-secessionist rationale and conflict? Was the split or detachment of Worth County just due to the wishes of a few politically powerful residents of the region? Did the citizens of the northern tier of Gentry County to be detached to form Worth County find government services unbearably lacking? The above and many other possibilities exist. Until a more definitive answer is available from a more thorough historical literature search, interesting hypotheses exist.

Perhaps most interesting is an event — “Kessler And Milligan Hung By A Mob” — that occurred pre-Civil War about 1858 at the Gentry County jail (courthouse) in Albany, as well as the northwest region of then Gentry County. It involved repeated actions of a hanging mob of some 100 of the leading citizens from what would later become largely the southwestern part of Worth County.

A side-note to this story is that the writer of Chapter II, “Political History of Worth County,” in the book, Gentry and Worth County History -1882, recognized the fact in a run-on sentence, “From the records it will be an easy matter to obtain the names of persons who have been honored with official positions in the county, but the collateral facts connected with the popular sentiment which wrought political changes in the administration of county affairs, must be predicted wholly upon heresy — a species of testimony not admissible in court of record, but which forms a very large part of local history.”

The same source but different author agreed that, “For the facts and incidents of the following chapter we have depended mainly upon tradition, and the memory of men, who have, in a majority of cases cited, been personally cognizant of what herein has transpired.” Such is the nature of recorded history.

Recorded in some detail in the Gentry and Worth County History-1882, the details of the mob lynching of two Gentry County constables of considerable negative repute were also covered in the History of Northwest Missouri, Volume I by Walter Williams. While written accounts are careful not to include rationale for the vigilante action that might include animosities of separated counties not so unlike those of a separated nation. However, the grudges and hatred are often tied into the above, passed down word-of-mouth.

Williams points out in his 1915 book that, “It has been the boast of Gentry County that there has never been a legal hanging within her borders, although not so much is said about the only times mob law executed vengeance upon murderers.”

The author also reminds today’s reader that the two lynchings occurred in so early a period of time in the county’s history that no authentic accounts were preserved. The occurrences of the hanging were passed down in spoke stories as citizens remembered and perhaps embellished the events. Yet, the written version found in the two named history books above were gleaned more than 30 years ago (first published in 1882) when the events were still fresh in the witnesses’ memories.

Kessler and Milligan Hung by a Mob (1858)

In 1858, a man named Samuel Timmons was a resident constable of Bogle Township, located in the north-central portion of Gentry County. Witnesses reported that he committed a minor infraction and a complaint was sworn out and a warrant issued by D.P. Gregg, a justice of the township. It was then given to Jeff Kessler to be served. Not the best choice to carry out the law, a grudge between Kessler and Timmons had been brewing for some time. When ready to act on the warrant, Kessler enlisted the assistance of James Milligan.

Witnesses claim that Timmons had been informed of the events to date and had departed his home and “secreted himself on the premises” to avoid any trouble.

Leaving Milligan to stand guard at the house, Kessler searched for Timmons, finding him some distance from the premises. Finding Timmons, Kessler shot him in the back with a shotgun, killing him instantly. Kessler returned to the house, picked up Milligan, and together they departed without advising the family of the murdered man’s fate.

“That night about 12 o’clock, Mrs. Timmons found her husband cold and dead.”

Timmons had the reputation among those who knew him of being a good citizen. On the other hand, Kessler — one of the parties implicated in the murder — was known to be of bad character. Citizens of the township knew what he had done, and was capable of doing bad deeds. In addition, the community was also aware of an old grudge between Kessler and the murdered man.

The History of Gentry and Worth County – 1882 adds rather lengthily, “A number of murders had occurred in Gentry and Worth Counties, (Worth being at that time attached to Gentry County, for civil and judicial purposes) the perpetrators either coming clear or having escaped the clutches of the law, a large number of the citizens, residing mostly in Worth County (Timmons was killed not far from the line of Worth), assembled at the town of Oxford, in said county, for the purpose of adopting some plan whereby a cessation of crime or bloodshed could be brought about.”

It is agreed that the men in the meeting, planning the vigilante events that would later take place, were some of the most law-abiding, influential, and best citizens of Worth County. The meeting determined that there should be no more unnecessary delays of meting out justice to criminals. Wherein the law failed to be vigorously and promptly executed, the assembly would take the law into their own hands.

A few days later, Kessler and Milligan were arrested under a warrant issued by another justice of Bogle Township, Henry Carlock. They were brought before him on June 18, 1858, for trial, when a large contingent of men that had organized and passed resolution at the Oxford meeting, “assembled with the avowed determination of lynching the prisoners then and there.”

The defendants waived an examination, and Bogle Township justice Henry Carlock committed them to jail. The crowd, however, was crying out for their pound of flesh and that the defendants should suffer for their crimes. Only by strong arguments by the lovers of the law and order — in addition to an agreement by the defendants that they would stand trial as soon as Judge Norton could be scheduled to hold a special term of court and that they would not request a change of venue or a continuance — did the mob return home. Finally, the sheriff had to take the defendants into custody at the courthouse in Albany to be guarded until court could be called since there was no jail.

The special term was set for June 24 and the grand jury was not long in bringing in an indictment against both defendants for murder in the first degree. On the same day, a company of about 100 men, from the northwest part of the county — understood to be mostly from the territory that would become Worth County — marched into town in double file. They paraded around the Albany square and went to a vacant lot where a large American elm tree grew (west side of town along Highway 136 today, south of Hogue Lumber Company).

The court convened next day on June 25. A motion was made after a severance had been granted for a continuance of the case against Kessler; it was argued and granted by the court. The case against Milligan continued on the same grounds, without argument. The special term of the court was adjourned.

The crowd had seen enough. The mob rushed in and took control of Kessler; the sheriff and posse were powerless to prevent it. The judge and attorneys, according to witnesses, had already retired … through the window.

The lynch mob dragged Kessler off to the old elm tree and hanged him by the neck until dead. Not totally prepared, the mob failed in its first attempt. In a misplaced comedy of errors, the first time he was drawn up, the rope — the smaller kind most usually used for bed cords — broke and he fell to the ground. The second attempt was final; the rope held.

It should also be noted that in the excitement of the rush to justice, Milligan was spirited upstairs in the courthouse and saved from his lynching. On his next meeting with the court, he would not be so lucky.

On Monday, July 5, 1858, the day of the regular county court meeting, the same crowd of men from the same section of the county, numbering about 100, came to town and requested of the court that they appropriate money for guarding him in the county rather than sending him to a neighboring county to be incarcerated. The court refused.

The mob once again took possession of a prisoner, this time Milligan, and escorted him to the old elm to be hanged. Someone suggested that Milligan ought to be baptized before he was sent to meet his Maker. He was then marched down to Town Creek [Culp Creek] south of the square, baptized by the Reverend Hiram Warner, a minister of the Christian Church, and hanged.

The episode ended the only instance of lynch law ever enacted in Gentry County. No printed information was found regarding arrest or prosecution of the “good citizens” that meted out pre-planned vigilante justice.

Here and now, the question still begs an answer, “Is Worth County, on a smaller scale, the West Virginia of the upper counties of Northwest Missouri? Or is it that there are other undocumented causes just waiting to be discovered?

The above described event of mob action was no doubt precipitated by an increase in hardened criminal actions and events. As a result, some 100 of the “most law-abiding” and “influential” citizens were in the forefront of planning and carrying out vigilante action.

The events with such a coordinated planning appear to be more than some hodgepodge of unrehearsed mob action. For the same band of riders to enter Albany, remove the murderer from apparently lawful custody in such an effective and organized fashion appears unlikely by today’s standards.

For nearly the same planned action to be successfully coordinated and carried out some 11 days later, with the county judge, sheriff, and deputies present, gives some doubt about any spontaneity of actions from any of the epoch’s players.

The rhythm by which the mob actions occurred – except for the person supplying the hanging rope on the first occasion — imply the action of an organized body of men, perhaps drilled militia. While the written account of the events are recorded at very least in the History of Northwest Missouri by Walter Williams in 1915, History of Gentry and Worth County – 1882 by an unidentified writer, and by other local historians in more recent times, they appear to be written from one report in the 1882 publication, showing quotation ownership in most other sources.

Thus, the descriptions of events are really those gleaned from one author, unnamed, from a list of contributors representing both Gentry and Worth counties. The unnamed author of the event appears to hint of an organized group of men that he calls a “company” that was marched into town [Albany] in “double file” and “paraded” around the square before going to the vacant lot with the old elm tree. The “mob” then twice, not once, rushed in and took control of the prisoner, apparently with little resistance from the law. Not only the action but also the words describing the event, resemble a highly organized military action, with a chain of command.

While the Civil War had not yet started up, friction between those settlers and their originations was not unknown, and perhaps responsible in part for the increase in murders and other crime in the area. Like most of the upper counties of the Northwest, according to the History of Northwest Missouri, “The early settlers of Worth County prior to 1854-55 were nearly all from the Southland, and were what would be known as Southerners.” The text also added, “After the lands of the county were thrown open to settlement, about this time, immigration came in from many states.”

With the abolitionist versus pro-slavery Border Wars along and inland of the Missouri-Kansas border on-going for several years, Worth and Gentry counties were not totally immune to spill-over repercussions. The confrontations of the Civil War, yet a couple of years down the road, were beginning to rear their ugly heads.

A perusal of the biographical included in the History of Gentry and Worth County – 1882 appear to reflect an influx after the early 1850s of immigrants from northern states like Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York, in addition to southern states like Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. The same source of 1882 explains, “The people of Worth County are intelligent and enterprising, at least sixty per cent of them hailing from the old free states, the provinces, and Europe.”

In one of his books, Gentry County to Pike’s Peak Region, published in 1979, local historian Loy Layton Hammond concurs, “Worth County was a strong Union county during the Civil War.

Place names reinforce the general northern affiliation of Worth County. The naming of the county (William Jenkins Worth); its county seat; Grant City (Ulysses S. Grant); and second largest city, Sheridan (Philip Henry Sheridan) are all named after well-known generals of the United States. Plus, a township, Union, appears to follow the same emphasis.

Using the quote from the same history book as above, Gentry County, on the other hand, reports ” …sturdy pioneers, largely from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and Ohio, came to this section by the scores and settlements sprang up in this frontier county.” As is the case with Worth County, more immigrants from northern states many of German and Scotch-Irish origin — increased settlement in Gentry County just before the war.

It does appear that Worth County — the smallest county in Missouri — with its common border against the strongly northern pro-Union state of Iowa was likewise influenced. Whereas Gentry County was a thoroughly mixed county of a higher parentage of pro-Union settlers in its north with pro-Confederate sympathies running stronger in the southern sections. While all of the upper counties contained a mix of abolition and pro-slavery advocates, all also contained a healthy population with a mixed viewpoint of the inhabitants.

It is known that many people living in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri attempted to escape the atrocities of violence, murder, and mayhem precipitated first by the confrontation over Bleeding Kansas, and more importantly during the effects of the Civil War. Once again, the biographical sections of the Worth County history reveal that many Worth Countians — mostly Union proponents — moved into Iowa during the War for added security against secessionist guerrillas and to avoid confrontation. Many returned after the armistice. Others stayed. Iowa militias in the border counties of Southeast Iowa provided assistance to Gentry-Worth County Union militias and on south into the State of Missouri, protecting property and people against bushwhackers.

Chapter 9:

Militia in Northwest Missouri


Most of the written discussion about the Civil War skirmishes and battles in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri appears to involve home-grown militias, bushwhackers, guerrillas, and farmers. More likely than not, it includes lawless gangs of ruffians using the upheaval to create their devilishness and to settle old grudges.

The description ignores those of superb loyalty and belief in their cause to answer the calls of Union President Abraham Lincoln or Confederate President Jefferson Davis. These men — some young and seeking adventure, others laying their lives down for a way of life and a cause — enlisted in the armies of their persuasion, put themselves at mortal risk, and went out to join their fellows to do battle. Chances are they would never survive to make it back to their homes on the farms or small towns.

Local men joined armies in nearly every known Union or Confederate or Border state. Recruitment was highly localized throughout the war, especially in militia units. The building blocks of approximately 1,000 soldier regiments were often raised from a population of a few adjacent counties. Armies went to war with their neighbors and kin. Recruitment in this manner meant a single disaster on the battlefield could decimate an entire rural community, wreaking havoc on the population.

The Civil War was America’s bloodiest conflict. According to the Civil War Trust, “The human cost of the Civil War was beyond anybody’s expectations. The young nation experienced bloodshed of a magnitude that has not been equaled since or by any other American conflict.”

Numbers of casualties of the Civil War are difficult to chart with accuracy. “A ‘casualty’ is a military person lost through death, wounds, injury, sickness, internment, capture, or through being missing in action.” Thus “fatality” and “casualty” are not interchangeable descriptors. When being recorded, a “casualty” who is unable to perform basic functions of his duties, could be marked as a “casualty” several times during the war. Primitive Civil War medicine did not recognize care for psychological damage from warfare.

The Civil War Trust agrees, “Most casualties and deaths in the Civil War were the result of non-combat-related disease. For every three soldiers killed in battle, five more died of disease.” The Trust estimates 1.5 million casualties were reported during the Civil War. While some sources list as many as 850,000 deaths due to the war, the Trust believes the death toll to be about 620,000. The organization’s research then adds in the casualty list another 476,000 wounded and some 400,000 captured and/or missing. When considering the numbers, the reader should remember that “casualty” and “fatality” are not an interchangeable term. “Death” is only one way that a soldier can become a casualty.

The same source also reports, “Approximately one in four soldiers that went to war never returned.” At the outset of the war, neither army had mechanisms in place to handle the amount of injuries and death that they were about the experience. There were too few hospitals, no burial details, and no national cemeteries. The Civil War forced the young nation to confront death and destruction in a way not equaled before or since.

By the end of the Civil War, Missouri had supplied nearly 110,000 troops to the Union and at least 30,000 troops for the Confederate Army with additional bands of pro Confederate guerrillas. There were battles and skirmishes in all areas of the state. Counting minor engagements, actions, and skirmishes, the state witnessed over 1,200 distinct fights. Most Civil War historians agree that only Virginia and Tennessee exceeded Missouri in the number of clashes within its boundaries.

1st Regiment Missouri State Militia Calvary (Union)

The 1st Missouri Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was a cavalry regiment with three battalions that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865. By the end of the war, some 447 regiments like the 1st Regiment Missouri State Militia Calvary fought for the Union.

Tracing the organization of the various units appears an impossible task. Locating and following the movement of recruits within the various units, companies, and regiments is even more difficult, requiring the persistent patience of a monk in the very least.

Because of the availability of data, especially on the internet and government records, the 1st Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Union) is a natural choice for discussion. Most importantly, the 1st Regiment consisted of Companies A through M, mostly made up of recruits from the upper counties of Northwest Missouri. A posting of the “First Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry” website reports, “All of the members of Company M, by the way, came from Worth and Gentry Counties.” The Family Search Wiki on the Regiment identifies commanding officers and general origin of all recruits for the following companies:

  • Company A — Captain Meredith Morris — Many men from Gallatin, Daviess County
  • Company B — Captain John T. Goodbrake — Many men from Gallatin, Daviess County
  • Company C — Captain Andrew G. Jackson — Many men from Milan, Sullivan County
  • Company D — Captain John Wyckoff — Many men from Gallatin, Daviess County
  • Company E — Captain Joseph H. Little — Many men from Gallatin, Daviess County
  • Company F — 1st Lieutenant John D. Mullin — Many men from Linneus, Linn County
  • Company G — Captain John Ballinger — Many men from Maysville, DeKalb County
  • Company H — Captain William Meredith — Many men from Gentryville, Gentry County
  • Company I — Captain Milton Burris — Many men from Gallatin, Daviess County
  • [No Listing For a Company J]
  • Company K — Captain Henry F. Perry — Many men from Laclede, Linn County
  • Company L — Captain Horace B. Johnson — Many men from St. Joseph, Buchanan
  • Company M — Captain James D. Eads — Many men from Albany, Gentry County”

Publications appear to agree on the general source of enlisted locations. Soldiers tended to be recruited and enrolled into county units where they resided, or adjacent to their residence. Many of the young men and boys of the upper counties, mostly farmers, joined the militia for many reasons. Each could fight for a cause and country, earn a few dollars a month to help families strapped of resources by the war. Instead of enrolling in the Regular Army and spending most of his enlistment far away in the Eastern and Trans-Mississippi Theaters, he would likely serve relatively close to home. Then, also, a certain excitement was always there to be tested when the real shooting skirmishes began.

The Missouri Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U.S. (MOLLUS), using “A compendium of the War of the Rebellion, VII” by Frederick H. Dyer (1908), has provided the following (it appears that the various sources of the above information vary slightly):


“Organized in Missouri at large February 3 to April 9, 1862. Companies’ A’ and ‘B’ in Davies [Daviess] County, Company ‘C’ in Sullivan County, ‘D’ in Putnam County, ‘E’ in Gentry County, ‘F’ in Linn County, ‘H’ in Dekalb County, ‘I’ in Harrison County and ‘K’ in Lundy [Grundy] County. Company ‘L’ organized in Andrew and Buchanan Counties and attached May, 1863. Company ‘M’ organized in Worth and Gentry Counties and attached July, 1863. District of the Border, Dept. of Missouri, to January, 1864. District of Central Missouri, Dept. of Missouri, to July, 1865. Headquarters at Lexington till March, 1863. (4 Cos. at Sedalia, Mo., November, 1862, to April, 1863.) At Independence till April, 1863. At Warrensburg till July, 1865, operating against Cash’., Davis’, Kirk’s, Merrick’s, Marchbank’s, Ballou’s, Porter’, Poindester’s, Quantrell’s . [ sic] and Cockrell’s guerrillas.”

While MOLLUS also lists “Service” of the varied duties and expeditions of the Regiment, specific accounts are available in assorted sources of military and county publications. Rosters can be accessed from various web sites and publications derived in the records of the National Archives by the United States Park Service. Identification of individual soldiers sometimes requires some “by gosh and by golly” research. Civil War soldiers did not have serial numbers, social security numbers, or dog tags. They were not identified by the immensely infinite data carried on computers today.

While men were often enlisted in a home county, they may have found themselves switched into a different company in a different headquarters zone. After battles, where heavy casualties had deflated their numbers, companies were often combined or otherwise reconstructed. In addition, many enrollees from the rural and “backwoods” areas of the country were illiterate or semi-literate. Even when and where records were properly kept, there was great potential for misspellings and mistakes.

The Missouri State Militia (MSM) was naturally attractive to the young Union men of the upper counties, and the young men were desirable to the Federal recruiters working the area. The counties along the Missouri River, especially in west-central reaches below the river,  were heavily populated with Confederate sympathizers, making part of a region known as “Little Dixie.”

With the Confederate federal army pushed south into Arkansas, the numbers of guerrilla bands working the local area increased. The larger more active groups of bushwhackers, led by guerrilla chiefs easily recognized today. The likes of William Clarke Quantrill and William “Bloody Bill” Anderson were marauding throughout the countryside.

Even in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri, guerrilla chieftains of lesser standing, like Joseph L. Hart of Andrew County, aspired to be the Quantrill of the upper northwest. Armed with just as large an ego, they coursed the countryside along with criminal gangs, robbing, murdering, and immersing all residents in fear. Thus, a larger number of Union troops — namely militia — were needed to protect the local citizenry, often even the pro-southern residents.

Recruiters increased their efforts to fill companies to optimal strength. Gentry County and the part of Gentry County that became Worth County in 1861, and other upper counties were targets for those of MSM recruitment focus.

In the late summer and fall of 1861, southern irregulars were torching Missouri railroad bridges and culverts in an attempt to eliminate the total control the Union had on the state’s rails. At the time, the only trans-Missouri railroad crossed from Hannibal to St. Joseph, tying the East to the West. Even Pony Express communications were dependent on the railroad as it moved military personnel, armament, and supplies to the war in the West. The railroads had to be protected at all costs; militias were assigned the task.

While railroad arson had been comparatively commonplace in sections of the line, it proved more of an aggravation that became a deterrent to the war effort. But on September 3, 1861, the effort at preventing bridge and culvert fires became more intense.

An engineer piloting his passenger train across a bridge spanning the Little Platte River outside of St. Joseph failed to see that the bridge had been undermined. The resultant crash of twisted steel and bloody bodies killed 20 and injured many more. News of the tragedy spread like wildfire through newspapers across the nation.

The Little Platte Railroad bridge tragedy and its slaughter changed the tenor of the war. In the upper counties where actual warfare was lacking, most actions were more like evil criminal acts of murder and mayhem. The enemy, Union or Rebel, was an abstract concept. These were friends except when they met on a battlefield.

For those Union militias guarding against railroad sabotage, the war was now real! Union commander Henry Wager Halleck, a traditional military man, was not sure what to do with bridge burners. Were they fellow soldiers destroying property in the name of the enemy and thus protected by the rules of warfare? Or were they criminals, pure and simple, to be hunted down and killed?

Attacks on the railroad had been made before, but none targeted civilians. The country, North and South, appeared incensed. The Union stepped up patrols with a “take-no-prisoners” order from General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck. It was Halleck, after all, who had earlier initiated the policy, “No quarter asked or given,” that significantly increased the regional death toll on both sides. While the public comment may have helped curtail railroad attacks, militia patrols and presence were also more effective.

General Henry W. Halleck, chief of the Department of the Missouri, published on March 13, 1862, General Order #2, which required Union leaders to shoot captured guerrillas on the spot as outlaws. Up to this time, those captured by the Union had been sent to prison where they were treated like regular troops and exchanged some weeks later. Southern irregulars had paroled and released Union captives in relatively short order.

Halleck’s order totally changed the face of the war in Missouri. Heretofore, “exchanging” meant that, by mutual agreement, each side would release prisoners; they would afterward be free to be combatants again. With General Order #2, immediate death was ordered for all partisans caught in arms. Suspected partisans, in addition, faced imprisonment, and eventually a military tribunal. The “take no prisoners” doctrine was reciprocated by the partisan rangers.

“Every skirmish became a life-and-death struggle, and survivors became revenge seekers,” writes Bruce Nichols, as he explains, “The ‘no quarter’ practice applied between citizens and guerrillas, as well. To survive, bushwhackers could not tolerate informants in their operating areas, and so were ruthless driving them out or silencing them for good.” Of course, local partisans were not to be crossed. There was a desperately ruthless aspect in the guerrilla warfare of Northwest Missouri.

The Confusion of Overlapping Militias

Very little in studying Civil War history in Missouri is more confusing than figuring out the jumbled mess of militia units that fought on the Federal side. The Confederates, due to position and role in Missouri, operated mostly, but not altogether, through guerrilla bands. Some of these bands were affiliated with the Confederacy. But later, most all guerilla bands operated as independent units.

All too often “militia is militia is militia” when describing all units as the same in organization and function. The following, using information researched from Civil War historians, attempts to identify the various militias and provide information about each.

At least two sources were most useful in sorting out copious data and compiling this document. They are: “Federal Militia in Missouri,” by Kirby Ross and Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume I and Volume II, by Bruce Nichols.

At least eight Federal militias have been identified in this discussion of Civil War in Northwest Missouri. Because most of the Civil War was fought with massive armies and complex campaigns centered in the Eastern Theater of the United States, Missouri relied on Federal or state militias to fight guerrilla skirmishes and battles and even to enforce civil law. Thus, the proliferation of various militias and large number of troops, supplemented by full time Union troops, was certainly understandable, even predictable.

To the Federal high command, the State of Missouri was really not considered occupied enemy territory. The Provisional State Government was in control. Much of Missouri’s population was already contributing a great deal to the United States war effort. The Union command figured that the state could “handle a few pesky bushwhackers out of its own resources and not tie up trained and armed veteran troops needed more on the ‘real’ war fronts,” quips Bruce Nichols in his book, Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume 11.

The bottom line is that the State had to raise and train and equip an army of militiamen. This they did, or attempted to do. Historian Kirby Ross reports that at least eight different types of militias were organized that fought on the Federal side during 1861-1865, some concurrently. Each militia was different from another kind. Brief profiles gleaned from listed resources are herein included.

Home Guard 1861

Brigadier General Nathanial Lyon of the Department of the West was ordered by the United States Department of War on June 11, 1861, to enlist loyal citizens of Missouri as proper to protect their homes and neighborhoods from the state’s pro Southern element. The formational authority was provided by the United States government rather than the secessionist state government.

It is recorded that just under 20,000 men served in what came to be known as the Home Guard. The Guard filled a total of 241 companies in six regiments and 22 battalions. This national level involvement in localized community defense efforts was unique in the Civil War.

Two classes of Home Guards are said to have existed. One was organized for the protection of the members enrolled and keeping peace in their neighborhoods. These were armed by the United States but received no pay, clothing, or rations. The second was organized, armed, and equipped for more active service. It was also acknowledged that members would have a valid claim for pay. The latter category of units was often called into service by the Federal military authorities, when needed.

By the end of 1861, the regulations governing the various units were in shambles. Units were being mustered in helter-skelter with regulations to only serve in Missouri. Others were never even mustered in, but were, nevertheless, actively serving. With the Confederate-backed state government of Claiborne Jackson ousted from state control in the summer of 1861, the provisionist Union government assumed responsibility for local defense. Thus, pro-Union volunteers were selected to fill the ranks of the Home Guard.

Six-Month Militia 61

As Federal control took over local defense from the Confederate authorities, the Unionist governor, Hamilton Gamble, called into service a 42,000 man militia to “protect the lives and property of the people of the state.” Coming up very short of its goal, somewhere just over 6,000 men signed up for six-month enlistments in five regiments, eleven battalions, and ten independent companies.

The Six -Month Militia 61 assumed similar duties as the now disbanded Home Guard 1861: searching for guerrilla encampments and acting as guides and scouts for other volunteers. After a few months, the expense outweighed the benefit and the force was dismantled in January, 1862. Its duties were as summed largely by the Missouri State Militia (MSM) just being brought into existence.

Missouri State Militia (MSM)

In the fall of 1861, Provisional Missouri Governor Hamilton Gamble negotiated a coup at a meeting with President Lincoln. The vast increase in the financial responsibility for fielding large numbers of militia to defend the state required Federal assistance. An agreement finalized on November 6, 1861, created a joint force, the Missouri State Militia (MSM) that was armed, equipped, clothed, subsisted, transported, and paid by the United States. Even with Federal support, the MSM was of a “mixed character,” not just state troops or United States troops. And it was not subject to duty outside Missouri, except in immediate defense.

Most unusual, the MSM was to function under the supervision of Federal officers appointed by State Governor Gamble, yet its creation was sanctioned by the War Department and the U.S. Congress.

The MSM was initially created without constraints on number of troops it could enlist, and over 13,000 filled the ranks in 14 regiments, each made up of 8 to 10 companies, and support Congress soon realized that the piggy bank that they provided was legally without limitation. In February, 1862, Congress limited the number of MSM troops enrolled to 10,000.

The MSM saw tough action during the war, were found “efficient” by Gamble and considered to be the equal of volunteer troops anywhere by General John M. Schofield, future General-in-Chief of the Army. As a result, MSM troops were made eligible for the same reenlistment bonuses as regular U.S. volunteers in 1864 and granted Federal pensions after the war.

Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM)

Aggressive guerrilla operations in west central Missouri led to increased fear and frustration on the Union side and bolstered Southern aspirations. As a result, Missouri’s Northern governor, Hamilton R. Gamble, issued General Order #19 on July 22, 1862, creating a new local organization called the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM).

As the Unionist population became more alarmed by the increasing guerrilla activity, it became increasingly apparent that the newly formed MSM was stretched too thin and could not be at all places at all times.

The less-than-successful experience of the State of Missouri footing the bill of the less-than-successful Six-Month Militia left a bare spot in the finances of the state. The troop cap funding of 10,000 men in the MSM by the Federal Congress prevented the addition of manpower at the expense of the United States.

The governor’s solution, one of the most controversial innovations, created the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) that was in practice, a form of home guard. It should also be noted that according to Bruce Nichols in Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume 1, “Federal authorities had outlawed home guards in Missouri some months earlier, on the grounds that they were disorganized, unprofessional and ineffective, unable or unwilling to answer to Federal military command, and hindered the recruiting of Union soldiers in the same neighborhoods.”

The EMM would serve as inactive state troops, remaining in their civilian employment and at home. As minutemen, they would be a quick reaction force, springing into action when needed. Perhaps the greatest attraction was that they would only be paid for those conditions on which they were called to active duty. The real situation was that the state coffers were bottoming out.

Missouri’s Union military head, Major General John M. Schofield, and the governor created and organized the EMM without the consent or permission of the Federal authorities. As a result, years later, EMM soldiers and their families would find that they were ineligible for Federal pensions, because the EMM was not an accredited Federal military unit.

The same day that Gamble issued the order creating the EMM, Schofield issued an order directing all able bodied men in the state to report immediately to the nearest military outpost to enroll and be sworn into the new militia.

The effect, and perhaps intention, of General Order #19 that created the EMM was to force all Missouri men to decide which side they would support. The controversial order forced most neutrals to pick a side, North or South. Thousands of military age men straddling the fence were forced into the military fold and others, at the same time, had to make a decision whether to serve in a Federal unit or flee the state and enlist in the Confederate Army. According to Kirby Ross’ “Federal Militia in Missouri,” “While many men did pursue the latter course of action, over 52,000 others remained behind to form the militia force that eventually reached 85 regiments, 16 battalions, and 33 independent companies.”

Most men in the EMM served but a few weeks of active duty until disbanded at the end of the War. Of course, given the nature of the order, the EMM included those that lacked Union loyalty and would not have qualified for service otherwise. Members of the EMM did not qualify for Federal pensions after the conclusion of the war.

The controversial Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM), created by Major General John M. Schofield and Provisional Governor Hamilton R. Gamble in the summer of 1862 provided mostly an unauthorized emergency state army and was likely illegal. Units of the EMM were often rag-tagged. With little state money to support the emergency militia, they were often encouraged to wear their own clothes, carry their own provisions, ride their own horses, carry their own firearms, and suffer no pay. Lack of military training and experience limited EMM unit effectiveness. In spite of inadequacies, some units conducted daring offensive actions on their own and served along side MSM units in tough fighting.

EMM Units’ Knack for Getting Into Trouble

Enrolled Missouri Militias tended to be made up of recruits from a single county or at least adjacent communities. As such, the membership roles tended to be homogenous, filled with locals who had grown up together; many were likely “relation.” While the familiarity could also reveal hostile activity like carrying out grudges, it more likely resulted in tightly knit groups who watched each other’s backs.

The typical EMM composition of young men, teenagers “full of vim and vinegar,” often resulted in interesting “soldiering activities.” Known by the county of origin, the cohesive units often appeared as bullies. They rode roughshod over citizens, especially those with Southern sympathies or attachments. A bit of thieving appears to have been the rule rather than the exception.

While many EMMs took blame, deserved or not, for such behavior in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri. Books like the 1911 Twentieth Century History of Carroll County, Missouri, and the Centennial History of Grundy County, Missouri, 1839-1939, agreed that ”the Grundyites [Grundy County Militia] seemed to have a knack for getting into trouble. The Grundy County EMM appeared to have a well-deserved reputation for petty theft of stealing com and chickens in surrounding counties north of the Missouri River. Likely gathering some inappropriate accusations and criticism, the militia was found guilty by neighboring counties for “shooting first and asking questions later.”

Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (PEMM)

The problems associated with the EMM, motivated Provisional Governor Gamble to authorize creation of the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (PEMM) in an order of February 3, 1863. Leaving the EMM in place, the PEMM was created by detailing select subunits of EMM troops “of exceptional courage, discipline, and leadership ability.” The order was intended to take the best parts of EMM and create a “Super EMM.”

Consisting of 11 regiments spread around the state, the PEMM was designed to serve on a more permanent basis than the EMM. The soldiers were mostly active duty and were issued uniforms and weapons. Unlike the EMM troops, these were not come-as-you-are outfits with bring-your-own-logistic problems.

Although some PEMM units were highly effective at limiting guerrilla activity in their areas of operation, 11 regiments were not enough to off-set 75-plus EMM regiments of questionable effectiveness. A couple of top units were transformed into the active duty 15th and 16th Missouri Volunteer Calvary Regiments. Other PEMM units were disbanded because of self-destructive political infighting.

Provisional Enrolled Militia (PEM)

Easily confused with the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (PEMM), the Provisional Enrolled Militia (PEM) was ordered into existence on June 28, 1864, by General Order #107. The order was issued by senior commander of the Department of the Missouri, Major General William S. Rosecrans. Commonly called the “Order 107 Militia,” the PEM was created to combat a new wave of guerrilla activity overwhelming the state in mid-1864.

Providing local defense against bands of bushwhackers and providing law and order more effectively than the Enrolled Militia, it was designed to be a grass-roots organization. Residents of individual counties were required to hold meetings to choose and organize one or two companies of 100 men each, selected for “courage, energy, and willingness to serve.”

Sixty-two companies were formed under Order 107. The Provisional Enrolled Militia (G.O. #107) differed from the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia in a few aspects. The Order 107 Militia was intended to be temporary and local, similar to the regular Enrolled Missouri Militia. As a result, the Order 107 Militia veterans were not eligible for Federal pensions.

With the disbanding of the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) scheduled for March 12, 1865, and the ongoing expiration of the enlistments of most of the troops in the Missouri State Militia (MSM), a replacement force would soon be needed.

Missouri Militia G.O. #3 (MM-G.O.#3)

Commanding general of the Department of the Missouri, Major General Grenville Dodge, sought to created Missouri Militia G.O. #3, a force that would be more affective, available, and less expensive to the state.

The newly installed governor, Thomas Fletcher, issued General Order #3 providing for the Missouri Militia (MM-G.O.#3). Sixty-one companies were formed and given a charge that was more law enforcement than military …strengthening the hands of legal justice by assisting officers of the law.

Following in April 1865, the civil authority of Missouri created a second Missouri Militia (MM) organization that was to be based on regiments rather than independent companies of the already ordered MM. With the Confederate surrender at Appomattox a few days later and the general decline in hostilities in the following days and months, the MM ran into insurmountable funding deficiencies. In late July, Governor Fletcher issued orders dismantling it.

In the final days of the war, the State Convention adopted an ordinance to cause the State Militia to organize into platoons, companies, regiments, and brigades. This marked a shift from creation by military fiat to creation by civil authority. This version, established on April 8, 1865, composed of 84 regiments and six battalions, survived long after the Civil War and was the primary force that engaged the lawless elements that appeared to overtake much of Deconstructionist Missouri.

Missouri State Guard (MSG – Confederate)

“One of the most important but often overlooked factors of the Civil War in Missouri was a body of citizenry known as the Missouri State Guard,” claims the book, Exploring Missouri Legacy State Parks and Historic Sites. To be sure, the Missouri State Guard (MSG) was a state militia, organized in the State of Missouri during the very early days of the Civil War. Initially not part of the Confederate States Army, the MSG fought along side Confederate troops, at times under the direction of their officers.

The 1st Missouri Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was a cavalry regiment with three battalions that served in the Union Army during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. “Price’s Flag” (aka the “Missouri Battle Flag”) was popular with many Missouri Confederate regiments in the later part of the war (a blue flag, bordered in red, with a white Latin cross near the fly). [Civil War in the West, Missouri Digital Heritage]

The pro-Southern Missouri State Legislature passed the “Military Bill” on May 11, 1861, in direct response to and one day after the St. Louis, Camp Jackson Affair. The bill approved on May 14, 1861, allowed the Governor of Missouri, Claiborne Fox Jackson, to disband the old Missouri Volunteer Militia and reform it as the Missouri State Guard (MSG).

The organization was formed to stand in defense and resistance of the state against invasion by the Union Army. The pro-southern Missouri government at that early time viewed Unionist Home Guards “to be hostile armies of the United States.”

Some sources recently estimated that the MSG numbered at least 34,000 Missourians at one point or another during the war (others suggest the figure closer to 40,000). Yet other researchers believe its strength peaked at between 22,000 and 28,000 men in September 1861, with an additional 5,000 men in Southwest Missouri operating independently.

The MSG formation bill also outlawed other militia organizations, except those authorized by the Guard’s district commanders. The prohibition was aimed at preventing Unionist Missourians from organizing “Home Guards,” and targeted volunteers that were predominantly Unionist German immigrants or heritage. The law did provide for the formation of local Home Guards under the authority of the MSG, but the membership was limited to 14 to 17 and 45+ year olds. And it specified that all spoken commands be in English, another factor intended to limit the membership involvement of ethnic Germans …predominantly Unionist in their political orientation.

The act divided the state into nine Military Districts based on the Federal Congressional Districts. It made men ages 18 to 45 years of age eligible for MSG service unless exempted due to office, occupation, or other reasons. Each district was called a “division,” but they were formed along brigade lines. Each district’s division was commanded by a brigadier general who was a resident of the district, and elected by commissioned officers of the district.

A May 15, 1861, act passed that caused the appointment of a major general to act as a field commander, with Major General Sterling “Pap” Price, the popular former governor and perhaps the most influential man in Missouri, named as the first to serve. A Virginia-born tobacco grower from Chariton County, he was a conservative Democrat, opposed to abolitionism but “in love” with the old Union. In fact, he presided over the state convention in February 1861, in which Missouri, at the time, decided there was no cause to secede. That decision was to change …at least in part.

A Federal force composed mostly of ethnic Germans, Missouri Volunteers, occupied Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital, and forced pro-southern state officials to take refuge in Southwest Missouri. There, “Old Pap” Price drilled the Guard into the semblance of an army.

Despite their lack of equipment, supplies, and discipline, Price’s rough and ready Missourians helped to win for the South two of its most important victories west of the Mississippi River: Battle of Wilson’s Creek on September 1-2, 1861, and the First Battle of Lexington (Battle of the Hemp Bales) in mid-month, September 1861.

Not long afterward, the exiled elements of the pro-southern Missouri legislature convened in the southwest Missouri town of Neosho and reported to have passed an Ordinance of Secession on October 30, 1861, with the Governor-in-Exile Claiborne Jackson signing on October 31, 1861. Even though the vote was not endorsed by a statewide plebiscite, the national Confederate Congress officially admitted Missouri as the 12th Confederate State on November 28, 1861.

Missouri now had two governors, Claiborne Jackson and Hamilton Gamble, and two sets of state officials with both sets claiming legitimacy. A situation that would persist throughout the war.

On March 17, 1862, Price merged the Missouri State Guard into the Confederate Army of the West. After disbanding in 1862, veterans of the Missouri State Guard made up the core of the most highly regarded and decorated units of the regular Confederate States Army. A small number of MSG units remained independent until war’s end in 1865, joining action in several engagements in the Trans-Mississippi Theater.

The Ordinance of Succession was in reality a wasted effort. The pro-Confederate government was never officially in control of state government.

Grades in the Union Army

      • Lieutenant General
      • Major General
      • Brigadier General
      • Colonel
      • Lieutenant Colonel
      • Major
      • Captain
      • First Lieutenant
      • Second Lieutenant
      • Sergeant Major
      • Regimental, Quartermaster, and Commissary Sergeants
      • Ordinance Sergeants and Hospital Stewards
      • First Sergeant
      • Sergeants
      • Corporals
      • Private

(Source: // …)


Civil War Uniforms

While Union regular troops were authorized a myriad of uniform types and even colors depending on their divisions and origins, uniforms worn in the Missouri theater were not the same as other national regions of the war. The relaxed discipline of the more relaxed Yankee occupation troops of a rather remote portion of the war resulted in uniform regulations that were not strictly observed. Some locally organized Union militias were poorly equipped and armed, and wore their own civilian clothing.

Guerrillas for the most part also wore civilian attire. The casual or opportunistic “come as you are” warfare usually meant the combatant likely wore the same overalls and denim shirt used on the farm. The more fashionable Rebels, those no doubt caught up in their own egos, followed a rather dashing “devil-may care” image. They wore hunting shirts decorated by sweethearts, wives, and mothers with embroidery and beadwork and other decorations. These garments were often topped off with gaudily plumed hats. They sat stout war horses with gilded saddles and bridles and mane festooned with ribbons of fabric and, sometimes, Yankee scalps.

Camden Point Battle Flag: “Protect Missouri

Before the use of advanced communication technologies, flags gave soldiers a rallying point, a place for units and commanders to stay together and identify other units and locations. Battle flags identified friend and foe and helped commanders chart and understand troop movements.

In the more personal battles and skirmishes during the Civil War, we are told by historians who study such things, flags had a major psychological impact. National and battle flags were symbols of pride and belonging. Little was considered more disgraceful than for a unit to give up its battle flag. The loss of a single piece of fabric, no matter how worn and soiled the symbol, could shatter a unit’s morale. But the capture of an enemy flag was a huge morale boost.

The civilian population of the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri didn’t have countless battle flags to identify their loyalties. But they did recognize an absolute loyalty to their national flag: the stars and stripes of the Union or the stars and bars or some other home-designed and home-sewn flag of the Confederacy. The women of families with bushwhacker connections busily stitched battle flags for local guerrilla units. A young guerrilla soldier in his late teens or early 20s and his seamstress came up with some unusual designs. In some communities sympathetic to the Rebel cause, sewing circles and organized groups of social quilters put their talents to making banners and flags for the informal southern militia and bands of raiders.

The Camden Point Battle Flag is perhaps the best-known of battle flag of Northwest Missouri. Platte County, located along the Missouri River with a decidedly secessionist population at the onset of the Civil War, furnished some 2,000 men to the Southern ranks.

According to articles of belated subject matter in the December 15, 1905, edition of the Dearborn Democrat newspaper, “Frayed and faded, the old battle flag still retains its individuality and deep-felt meaning.” The newspaper claimed that at least half of it was sewn from the wedding gown of Majot Kuykendal’s wife who is several years dead. The wedding gown was of cream silk and upon this was embroidered in wavering lines, “Protect Missouri.” The newspaper feature notes, after a fact, that the “flag should be returned to the women who made it, but they are all long since dead.”

When Confederate Colonel John Caldwell Calhoun Thornton’s regiment of recruits was raised, the flag was presented to the group. According to a New York Times article dated July 28, 1864 (sent from a correspondent on Tuesday, July 10, 1864), about 80 bushwhackers followed their leaders on a surprise raid of Platte City, Platte County, Missouri, after dark. A Paw Paw company stationed there made no resistance and others joined them. All the arms and militia were turned over to the raiders. The correspondent added, “They plundered the town, seriously wounding a prominent citizen and his wife. They also took down the Union flag and hoisted a rebel ensign.”

The Paw Paws were invited to join the new Confederate chief. Twenty-eight of the 30 did so and “took the oath to serve the Confederacy, with much more sincerity than they did the one administered on their entering the militia. All of the arms were brought out and turned over to the raiders. With scarcely an exception they were heartily welcomed. A rebel flag was hoisted. The women of the place, old and young, immediately set to work making rebel flags as emblems for their horses and badges to be worn on their hats.”

“Thornton’s different companies came in from the different deeds of plunder and butchery on which they had been sent.” (The reader should consider the reporter here is a self-admitted participant against the marauders and totally subjective to the side of the Union). The Confederate Force of some 200-300 encamped at Camden Point in Platte County, in a pasture on the north side of town. A detachment of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry and the 15th Kansas Cavalry (“sometimes known to Missourians as the worst body of cut-throats and freebooters that ever tortured a victim or looted a community”) ambushed Thornton’s force. It was there that the Camden Point Battle Flag was captured. The “Protect Missouri” battle flag now resides with the Colorado State Historical Society.

The Black Flag: Symbol of Death

Another flag varied in size and shape and sometimes was hardly more than a hand-torn piece of fabric. But its notoriety was immediately known during the Civil War in Missouri. The Black Flag carried on a union officer’s person or tied to the saddle or reigns of a mounted guerrilla sent forth the grim message, “No quarter asked, No quarter given.”

The black flag, once used by Muhammed to represent his religion, took on a deadly and sinister meaning in the Missouri Civil War. In a frustrated effort, Union General Henry Wager Halleck, chief of the Department of the Missouri, published General Order #2 on March 13, 1862. The order required Union commanders to shoot captured guerrillas on the spot, treated as outlaws not soldiers of another country.

Certain irregular Confederate units in the Civil War adopted and even surpassed Halleck’s order. As a result, a black flag was carried by many guerrilla bands, symbolizing that they would not give, nor accept, quarter. The black banner was the antithesis of the white flag of surrender or truce in color and meaning.

Chapter 10: 

Small Arms to the Upper Counties


The American Civil War is often called, somewhat tongue in cheek, the first “modern” war in history. During the war’s tenure of April 12, 1861, to May 26, 1865, the most up-to-date technologies and innovations were advanced for the war effort by the Union and Confederate armies. Advances in the mass production and supply of war materials, communications like the telegraph, transportation including the railroads, and updating of battle tactics from Napoleonic linear used earlier in the century resulted in a yet more catastrophic war.

In addition to the development of better armaments and canonry and the invention of Gatling guns, the improvement of small arms design and manufacture exploded in the nearly five-year period, especially in the industrialized North. At the beginning of the Civil War, the weapon commonly used by infantry was a smoothbore musket that had to be loaded through the muzzle each time it was fired.

The technology revolution soon developed rifling (spiral grooves and lands cut in the steel of the interior barrel) that caused a fired bullet to spin and stabilize in flight. Like a tight spiral of a forward pass of a football quarterback, the controlled spin of the projectile, or bullet, generally increased the accuracy and range of the rifle-musket (rifle) to a few hundred yards. The accuracy of the smoothbore musket, without rifling, was considered to be something just over 50 or so yards. A newly developed conically shaped bullet, named after its French inventor, Claude-Etienne Minie, replaced the round lead ball and, where available, increased ballistic accuracy.

Musket and Rifle-Musket Shoulder Arms

The rifle-musket was first manufactured in the United States in 1855, especially in the industrialized Union. It quickly replaced earlier smoothbore muskets. The rifle muskets were for the most part also percussion single shot weapons. Pulling the trigger caused the hammer to fall on and strike a small metal cap located on the breech of the rifle. The charge of fulminate of mercury in the cap exploded upon impact and ignited the gun powder charge, earlier pushed down the barrel ahead of the bullet from the muzzle. The explosion of the gunpowder, in turn, drove the round bullet or Minie ball down the barrel with great speed and force to exit the muzzle and hit a well-aimed target.

At the beginning of the Civil War, firearms of all types were in short supply. The North’s industrial machine swung into viable production in short order. With an industrial base far weaker, the Confederacy established a more limited, yet productive, arms manufacturing capability in quick order. Agents of both governments, Union and Confederacy, scoured available sources of European arms dealers for suitable firearms to ensure their armies an adequate supply of weapons. Early volunteers on both sides, especially Confederates, were issued antiquated, imported, or nearly obsolete weapons in an attempt to meet demands. Throughout the war, the basic weapon of infantry soldiers in both armies was the single-shot, muzzle-loading percussion musket.

Production and acquisition of suitable small arms was achieved. The most widely used and likely highly rated rifle-musket of the Civil War was the Springfield Model 1861, made at the United States Arsenal at Springfield, Massachusetts, and at other armories under license. The “Thomas Legion” internet site reports that at the end of the war, some 1.4 million of the highly regarded .58 caliber rifles had been manufactured.

The Confederacy captured the gun-making equipment at the United States Army at Harpers Ferry, Virginia [West Virginia] in 1861. The South used the equipment to establish factories in Richmond, Virginia, and at Fayetteville, North Carolina, to manufacture guns the spitting image of the Springfield 1861s. The “Thomas Legion” internet site lists the manufacture of 64,000 copies produced in .577 caliber, interchangeable with the Northern .58 caliber.

A close competition to the Springfield, and likely the best of the foreign manufactured rifle-muskets was the Enfield 1853 of British production. Also used in limited numbers by the North, they were imported by both armies in numbers exceeding 800,000 rifles collectively. The Pattern 1853 Enfield was the second most widely used infantry weapon in the war.

Both armies also carried rifle-muskets of varied European manufacture and caliber, especially early in the war. They included arms made in Austria, Belgium, France, and Prussia. The quality of the imports ranged from similar to the Springfields and Enfields to barely functional.

In addition to standard muzzle-loading rifle-muskets, limited numbers of mostly Union troops carried breech-loaders where cartridges of various design were loaded in the breech (lock). A few of the lucky Civil War infantrymen were issued breech-loaders, some repeaters, which were shorter and lighter, thus easier to carry and faster to reload, Henry .44 rimfire caliber lever action rifles could be fired rapidly up to 16 times before reloading the magazine. These ancestors of the Winchester rifle were highly prized weapons and with extremely few exceptions were used by soldiers who could afford a private purchase.

The Spenser repeating rifle and shorter carbines were manually operated lever action repeating rifles, fed from a tube magazine. The Spenser was adopted by the Union army, especially the cavalry, during the Civil War. In number, it did not replace the standard issue rifled musket already in use. The shortened lighter carbine was prized by the Union cavalry for more ease of operation on horseback.

Carbine-Musket and Rifle-Musket Small Arms

The principal shoulder weapon of the cavalry services was the short-barreled carbine. While mounted soldiers of both armies often fought on foot, the cavalries most typically armed the troops with carbines. They were, after all, shorter, lighter, and easier to carry, manipulate, and reload from the back of a galloping horse.

Cavalry on both sides used a variety of breech-loading, single-shot, rifled barreled carbines as standard issue. Having a barrel several inches shorter and weighing several ounces less than a rifle-musket, the carbine had a somewhat limited range of accuracy of a couple hundred yards. When fired, the smaller rifles — ranging from.44 to .54 caliber and many with special hard-to-get cartridges — kicked like the proverbial Missouri mule.

As a shorter than normal shoulder arm, the carbine was never in large supply nationwide before the war. With the war and the needs of the mounted cavalry, manufacturers were pushed to develop models to meet the needs. No fewer than 17 different makes were adopted by United States troops alone, and that says nothing of those adopted by the Confederate Army.

The mainstay of both the Union and the Confederate cavalries was the Sharps carbine. Some 80,000 were purchased by the Federals. Even though a single-shot, the breech-loading design allowed a trooper to get off some five aimed shots per minute. As with the rifle-musket, the Confederates manufactured copies of the preferred Sharps. The demand far outstripped the ability of the Richmond arsenal to supply more than 5,000 carbines.

The Spenser carbine was a shorter and lighter model of the Spenser repeating rifle, a manually operated lever-action fed .52 caliber cartridges from a tube magazine in the butt stock. It was adopted by the Union; over 94,000 of the repeaters were acquired by the Federal government. Warman reports that more than 107,000 carbine and rifle repeaters were received from the same source.

The .44 rimfire caliber lever-action Henry was another carbine held in high regard. Loaded with 15 cartridges in the tube below the barrel, its presence on the battlefield, although limited, put the Confederates at a severe disadvantage. Thomas Legion internet site passes along a comment supposedly uttered by one of General William T. Sherman’s soldiers, “I think the Johnnys are getting rattled; they are afraid of our repeating rifles. They say we are not fair, that we have guns we can load up on Sunday and shoot the rest of the week.” So popular was the thought among soldiers that the quip is attributed to dozens of men and just as many situations.

While only 10,000 Henrys were manufactured, a paltry 1,731 are listed as being purchased by the Union government. Warman reports that approximately 14,000 Henry Rifles were produced by New Haven Arms Company for 1860 to 1866. These highly prized weapons, although considered somewhat underpowered, were pricey and thus, privately purchased by those well-to-do soldiers who could afford them. Southern troops could not expect to match the firepower of these repeating weapons; the special copper rimfire cartridge they used was beyond the confederate manufacturing capabilities.

Percussion Revolvers

In addition to rifles and carbines issued to the infantry and cavalry, respectively, most cavalrymen were also issued percussion revolvers. These handguns utilized cylinders that rotated from chamber to chamber as the hammer was cocked and the trigger pulled. Most revolvers had cylinders bored with five or six chambers, allowing the handgun to be fired multiple times without reloading.

To load, the shooter had to pour a measured charge of gunpowder into each chamber of the cylinder, ram a round or conical ball on top of each powder charge, all from the front. Grease was then applied to the front of each powder charge and ball (loaded chamber) to prevent cross-ignition of adjacent cylinder chambers when fired. Percussion caps were then fixed in place by pressing them on small nipples at the rear of each chamber.

Although a time-consuming and somewhat tedious task, the soldier could then expect to fire five or six shots in close succession. Troopers with expendable funds could buy extra cylinders, pre-load them, and then exchange them on the revolver for a fired cylinder in rapid succession during a skirmish. Most revolvers were fixed with rather crude sights and were considered accurate to only about some 50 paces, likely much less galloping in battle on horseback.

Warman reports that the Union purchased 373,077 handguns during the Civil War. They estimated that more than a fourth were of Colt manufacture. Confederate purchases are estimated to be half that number. These numbers must only be a faction of the weapons used by soldiers; private purchases must have made up for the difference.

The most prolific producer of revolvers in the Civil War era was the Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The firm manufactured nearly 150,000 of the Colt Army Model 1860 six-shot revolvers in .44 caliber. The guns were durable as well as powerful — but somewhat heavy and full of recoil — and were the military sidearm in demand by most Union cavalry. The vast majority were purchased by the Federal government. At that, Colt sold to all buyers up to a few days after the firing on Fort Sumter; thus the South was able to purchase a smaller quantity.

The preferred handgun of the Confederacy was with little doubt the Colt 1851 Navy Revolver. Similar in design to the 1860 Army in durability, the 1851 Navy was manufactured in the smaller and lighter, but just as deadly, .36 caliber. The reduced weight and size allowed horsemen to carry multiple side arms; this fact, alone, made the model a favorite of southern partisans and guerrillas of the western front. It is said that copies of the 1851 Navy were made in converted armories and cotton mills allover the South.

The Remington Repeating Arms, Colt’s chief competitor, also manufactured revolvers during the Civil War. According to the Flayderman ‘s Guide To Antique American Firearms, the Remington New Model Army Revolver, a .44 caliber six-shot cylinder revolver was one of the major handguns of the Civil War and the stiffest competitor of Colt’s Model 1860 models niche. Built on a single frame of steel, the Remington revolvers were noted for their strength and ease of changing cylinders. Some 122,000 were made between 1863 and ten years after the war in 1875.

The smaller and lighter Remington New Model Navy Revolver version of the New Model Army, competed with Colt and its Colt Model 1851 models niche. Some 28,000 were manufactured between 1863 and 1878.

Manufacturers and models of handguns appeared to flourish in the opening days of the Civil War, each introducing new improved models or masking old antiquated and unusable designs, vying for a piece of the war machines’ budgetary pie. One massive Confederate revolver, the LeMat, took perhaps the prize for “most unusual.” Probably the best known Civil War revolver of foreign manufacture, it was designed with two barrels, one atop the other. The top barrel could fire up to nine rotating chambers of .42 caliber percussion while the bottom barrel fired a 20 gauge charge of shot. The French made revolver appeared a deadly weapon, but it proved to be unreliable in use as well as difficult to manufacture.

The Starr was a double-action revolver briefly used in the western theater of the American Civil War (the hammer of a double action revolver does not have to be cocked in a separate action before being fired by the pull of the trigger, as does the single action). Starr Arms Company then converted to production of single action revolvers at request of the United States Ordinance Department. Records indicate that the Union then purchased some 25,000 of the single action revolvers at $12 a piece.

The Starr revolvers and breech-loading Starr carbines made by the same company and assigned to the Union’s 2nd Colorado Cavalry, were widely known as being of faulty function. In the heat of the battle with guerrillas of west-central Missouri, the Colorado Federal troops had apparent Starr revolver and carbine firearm problems, such as failure to fire.

The Civil War revealed new and different models of small arms and ammunition not before widely known. American manufacturers, Smith & Wesson, had perfected revolvers with an excellently engineered break-open action that facilitated ejection and loading of the spent and fresh copper and brass cases. Earlier firearms cartridges were made of stiff paper or thin animal skin wrapped around a primer, powder charge, and projectile.

The Smith & Wesson c1inque in the armor was that its models chambered the rather small and underpowered .22 and .32 caliber rimfire cartridges. Though more convenient to carry, the smaller guns lacked the knock-down power of .36 and .44 caliber percussion handguns.

One of the more fascinating, but now obsolete, type of metallic firearms cartridge is the pinfire cartridge. It was invented by Frenchman Casimir Lefaucheaux in the 1830s. As one of the earliest practical designs of a metallic cartridge, the priming compound is ignited by the hammer of the firearm striking a small pin that protrudes radically from just above the base of the cartridge.

Pinfire revolvers became quite popular, successful, and widespread worldwide in the early 1860s, adopted by many continental European armies. They even gained limited popularity in the American Civil War, particularly with select Union and Confederate officers. Once reliable rimfire and centerfue cartridges became available, the pinfire became obsolete. The pinfire cartridge, even in larger and often preferred 12 nun (about .4 3 caliber), was considered underpowered compared to the Colt and other percussion revolvers of .36 and.44 caliber. Easier to load than percussion revolvers, the pin in the pinfire cartridge had to be aligned in the slots in the cylinder to discharge. But it could be knocked off, even accidentally detonating the cartridge or otherwise rendering it useless with rough handling.

French-made Lefaucheux pinfire revolvers made their entrance into the American Civil War in late September 1861. During this time, the United States Government purchased 52 Lefaucheux revolvers and ammunition from a New York gun dealer. A month later, 10,000 Model 1854 revolvers were purchased from the manufacturer, Eugene Lefaucheux in France. The revolvers were issued to a few Union units west of the Mississippi River. Others were acquired by the small purchases of Union and Confederate officers from military armament suppliers.

Small Arms Used in the Upper Counties

The early months of the guerrilla Civil War in the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri could have been labeled, tongue-in-cheek, as a come-as-you-are event. Southern recruiters were busy forming camps in places in the sheltered and somewhat obscure river bottoms and hills, forming up and preparing troops to send south into Southern Missouri and Arkansas. Many would distinguish themselves in battles at places like Pea Ridge, Springfield, and Lexington.

Partisans, joining troops training all over the state wore their home spun overalls and denim shirts. They carried pokes of victuals and rode the old dappled grey mare that was meant to pull a plow …or traveled to their destinations from farms and villages across the region on shank’s mare.

These men joined up for hundreds of varied reasons, spanning from a dedicated belief in the preservation of the Confederacy to a soldier of fortune desire. After all, life was somewhat boring back home on the farm — and full of hard labor from sun-up to sundown, day after day. As these men, many just teenagers who would become guerrillas, reported to regular Confederate Army or partisan camps, they carried all the smalls arms that could be spared from home. Nearly every rural household had a muzzleloading shotgun, usually a double-barrel stamped with one of dozens of American and European manufacturer’s names, to carry to war. Hunting rifles, Kentucky flintlocks converted to percussion actions, or not, and pistols and revolvers kept at home for self-defense were carried until better military firearms were provided. For many, that time was slow in coming.

The Yankee camps and militias being formed about the same time were not blessed with firepower, either. The Government of the United States, from the start to the completion of the Civil War, considered Missouri a “backwater” region compared to the total war effort. While the “backwoods” state had made noise to break apart and, in fact, existed with two state governments, Union and Confederate, it had never officially seceded from the United States. And the prevailing belief was that it could handle its own problems.

The rule was that Yankee troops and state militias in Missouri were ignored by Washington, D.C. and were seldom blessed with fantastic firepower …just as were the Rebels. The militias of various design were usually only partially designated and even then, partially armed with the “leavings” leftover from supplying Union troops in the Eastern and Trans-Mississippi Theaters. Some companies of state troops were issued second-rate smoothbore muskets and single-shot pistols, and sabers.

At one point, some state Union militia patrols were so poorly equipped that they picked up weapons discarded by Rebel troops in a firefight and often considered junk. “To the victors goes the spoils,” was common and often supplied the Southern partisans, the bushwhackers and guerrillas, with arms and ammunition taken from victories throughout the war. The situation of poorly arming Union troops changed gradually with the progression of the war.

Artillery found little use in Northwest Missouri’s guerrilla war, perhaps none except a few smaller mobile mortars and “mountain canons” in the Upper Counties. Much of the large heavy artillery was poorly suited to being dragged around in the brush by bushwhackers who were usually on the move. Most reports of artillery being used in guerrilla skirmishes were of combined Federal forces firing small, portable canonry at fleeing guerrillas. Major Union encampments were usually ringed with small numbers of small mobile canons for protection and defense.

In the overall picture of the Civil War, the revolver and pistol were not the source of a great number of wounds and deaths. Issued only to mounted troops by both armies, thousands of foot soldiers on both sides purchased personal handguns to carry in addition to government issued weapons. When compared to the massive numbers of shoulder fired weapons, handguns were few in number.

No doubt, the handgun provided a certain mystique, however misplaced, of personal safety for the average soldier and civilian. Warman’s Civil War Collectibles, authored by John F. Graf, reported that the Union purchased some 373,077 handguns during the Civil War, with more than a fourth of Colt manufacture. Graf also suggested that Confederate purchases were likely near half the Union number.

The Guerrillas and their Revolvers

The great exception to the relatively “ineffective use” of revolvers in the Civil War was written in guerrilla warfare throughout the boundary of Missouri and beyond. Bushwhackers in the Northwest Region were renowned for their effective use of handguns. While single-shot Sharps carbines were the favored shoulder-fired weapon of both Union and Rebel cavalries, southern partisans of trained and organized bands generally favored the use of multiple revolvers with the hit-and-run guerrilla, Indian-style tactics to their liking.

Most sources credit the bushwhackers as also preferring Sharps carbines as a favorite single-projectile shoulder arm. The choice was of little surprise. The partisans, after all, relied upon arms and ammunition from raids and skirmish-ground salvage for much of their weaponry. With Union and Confederate federal cavalry carrying Sharps carbines, the guerrilla groups often depended on the “leavings” for their arms and ammo. As the activity of the Civil War on the western border played out, the quality of weaponry generally improved.

The very nature of the combination of geography and style of fighting on horseback along the brushy hills and valleys of Northwest Missouri made long shoulder fired weapons unwieldy and unpopular for bushwhackers to handle. The guerrillas greatly valued the battlefield acquisition of revolvers and carbines and suitable ammunition. Still, the Rebel bands most favored revolvers and sawed-off double-barrel shotguns for their up-close hit-and-run style of warfare. While short-barreled carbine rifles had a definite function at moderate distances across relatively open countryside, repeated loads of double-ought buckshot were respected deadly medicine in terrain overgrown with brush.

Bushwhackers, by definition of their nicknames, often preferred the close-in fighting that the shorter barreled scatter-gun could provide. The revolver, better yet several revolvers, were the preferred arms of the partisans in Northwest Missouri. Offering multiple shots while allowing ease of manipulation with one hand, while reining up a charging steed with the other, the revolver became the preferred tool of note.

Many varieties of percussion revolvers were used in Missouri. The favorite of government officials was the Colt 1860 Army model with its heavier and more powerful .44 caliber. The lighter and less powerful Colt 1851 Navy model in .36 caliber was said to be the only revolver used by guerrilla chieftain William Clarke Quantrill and his band. Author William Elsey Connelley in this book, Quantrill and the Border Wars, reported,  “In the warfare of the border it was the principal weapon, and the guerrillas and other irregular forces rarely carried any other arm.”

So popular was the Colt model 1851 Navy to both sides that the model of handgun became recognized as a specialty style aspired to by many manufacturers. Most firearms manufacturers in the North and many in the South developed their own ”Navy” models, often infringing on patents registered by Samuel Colt and his firm.

As the border war fired up, the guerrilla once was armed with any firearm they had at home or could “beg, borrow, or steal.” Some carried Sharp’s carbines; they were available in some volume, leftovers from the Bleeding Kansas era. As the Federal Army and state militias were issued weapons, especially the revolvers of the mounted cavalries, battlefield salvage and acquisition provided many of the revolvers and much of the ammo prized by the partisans.

The guerrillas were mostly young men, in their upper teens and early twenties. Lean and wiry, they generally operated with nicely honed hand-eye coordination. Most guerrilla chiefs enhanced accuracy, especially with the handgun, by encouraging constant practice, when powder, bullets, and caps were in ready supply. The partisans appeared to understand the art of accurately firing the revolver and how to effectively put it in practice.

Author Connelley extolled the shooting virtues as almost super human, to the man. He reports, “The aim was never by sighting along the pistol, but by intuition, judgment… but the ball rarely missed the mark — the center.” Then he almost bragged, “Many a guerrilla could hit a mark to both the right and the left with shots fired at the same instant from each hand.” It is generally agreed that the guerrilla was a dead-shot marksman either on horseback or afoot.

Once equipped, every partisan carried at least two revolvers, most of them four, and many carried six in body holsters and waist sashes and belts. Some even carried eight. The experienced fighters of the Rebels, and state militias, carried the heavier pistols -likely a couple of .44 caliber side arms, in scabbards strapped to their horses. Not to be unduly weighted down, they wore the smaller and lighter two-and-one-half pound “Navy” models on their person. Some even carried extra pre-loaded cylinders in their pockets.

Fighting Comanche-style, the guerrillas fought on horseback, laying down a withering rate of fire from their personal arsenals. With up to eight revolvers spitting out a fast and accurate rain of deadly bullets, each spewing six rounds each and with pre-loaded cylinders awaiting their turns, a bushwhacker could easily lay down an insurmountable barrage against infantry armed with single-shot rifle-muskets or often dismounted cavalry and poorly trained and armed state militias.

The powder charges provided the Union soldiers were pre-measured and assembled. While the charges were uniformly put together, largely for the .44 percussion rounds, they were heavily charged with powder and enough power to knock down a charging horse with a frontal hit. Thus the heavy Colt Army revolver was credited with “kicking like the proverbial mule.” Recovery from the muzzle recoil for successive shots with one hand while on horseback was no small challenge.

On the other hand, the smaller .36 caliber “Navy” revolver required a lesser powder charge to deliver the smaller and lighter bullet to the target. Some even claim that the guerrillas found that a smaller powder charge enabled more accurate shooting than a larger charge. The .36 caliber with lighter charges was much less likely to bounce or recoil when fired, steadying the handgun for follow-up aimed shots at the target. They also suggested that the ball ranged as far and penetrated as deeply as did a heavier charge. Because gunpowder was not always in surplus supply, the smaller caliber with reduced charge provided economy of ammunition.

Arming Major Cox’s Daviess County Militia

At the beginning of the war; militias of both Federa1s and Confederates were fairly much on their own, finding armament and equipment. Those men who enlisted in either force moved on with their recruiters to training camps to be issued suitable firearms and the necessities of war, whatever and whenever available. Those who stayed closer to home and joined the Union state militias or Confederate guerrilla bands fended for themselves with help from local sympathizers. Here’s an example.

Major Samuel P. Cox and others from Daviess County were attempting to raise a couple of Union companies, in part from men released by Colonel Manlove Cranor of Gentry County. When the companies were mustered in on September 18, 1861, they were typical of those formed as Missouri State Militia (MSM). The men were assigned no arms and carried their old farm shotguns and rifles.

With the word out that Confederate Army General Sterling Price had sent troops north to sabotage portions of the Hannibal & S1. Joseph Rail Road, the newly mustered militias were given the duty of guarding the railroad line. Poorly equipped and armed as they were, the soldiers were dispersed with pickets scouting for the Confederate raiders. In a fashion not totally unknown at other times and places during the war, a well-to-do Union supporter jumped on the engine of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad and then eventually went south down the Mississippi River by boat to St. Louis. There he gave his personal bond to secure shoulder arms for the companies. He then returned with his purchase.

The percussion guns that he returned with were “nothing” but old worn Springfield muskets. With the purchase of additional “fixed ammunition” of powder and ball, the aged muzzleloaders were, at that, an improvement over anything previously used. Major Samuel P. Cox established his camp at Gallatin and patrolled the region through 1861 and 1862. At some point these old Springfield muskets and the improvement in issue of other firearms, provided in part the successes that honed Cox’s rather storied career.

Among other assignments in the Civil War, Cox was directed by Brigadier General Clinton B. Fisk, Provost Marshal of the Northwest of Missouri, a special task. By summer 1864, “Major Cox’s Strange Guerrilla Hunter Unit” was operating with sufficient numbers of men and weapons to take on some of the larger guerrilla groups, now operating in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri. Other volunteer militias, mostly Enrolled Missouri Militias (EMMs), from surrounding Upper Counties volunteered for the Major’s patchwork quilt of poorly formed and armed command.

Things were looking up for the polyglot mixture of units, clothing, and weapons. Skirmishes with highly regarded Rebel bands operating in Northwest and West-Central Missouri gave the bushwhackers all they could handle.

To Skirmish Winners Go the Spoils

Large skirmishes and battles were few in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri. With the passing of the opening weeks of the war when competing camps played a “cat and mouse” game throughout the region to the Iowa border, marauding bands of local militias, guerrillas, and southern sympathizers and gangs of thugs terrorized the rural countryside. Though the large guerrilla bands that were common in West-Central Missouri, depended largely on battle-ground salvage for discarded firearms and ammunition, the bushwhackers in the upper counties of Northwest Missouri also depended on “leavings” of raids on farmsteads, small towns, and lesser skirmishes.

Only one skirmish is reported by The History of Daviess and Gentry Counties to have occurred in Daviess County. It reported that on August 5, 1862, some 35 men of a couple of regiments of the Missouri State Militia (MSM) were fired on from ambush at an encampment near Cravensville, Daviess County, Missouri. Two guerrilla chieftains, Davies and Kirk, led some 85 bushwhackers in the hour and a half fight.

Instead of the Southern partisans gathering up the spoils of the skirmish, outnumbered militia won the day, killing six and wounding ten, compared to three severely and two slightly wounded of their own. The poorly supplied militia appeared pleased to have captured five horses and ten guns (likely .36 caliber “Navies).”

While Union reports were usually somewhat complete, although perhaps exaggerated, they usually gave fair pictures of events. The loosely organized guerrilla bands kept no official journals. Thus, reports of skirmishes and results tended to be provided in diaries and letters of officers and literate men or at later times, by interviews by newspaper men or “dime novelists.” The reports, after the fact, often reflected the motives of the person reporting the event.


The territory which became nationally known as “Bleeding Kansas” was settled with but a few New England abolitionists, some 16% of the population as reported at that time. Settlers from the northern Border States added about 35%; migrants from the southern parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois contributed an estimated 22%. The open prairies characteristic of Kansas did not hold allure for settlers from the South; they made up only 13.5% of the population.

On the other hand, Western Missouri’s settlers mostly hailed from the southern states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Prior to the Civil War, the Democratic Party was the majority party in Missouri, led by powerful political figures like Thomas Hart Benton and Andrew Jackson. Many of the older county history books and publications, probably lacking some statistical veracity, reported that the Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri were 60% Democratic, many counties sympathetic to the Southern cause by a two-to-one ratio.

As the Civil War progressed toward its end, the percentage of settlers from northern, Midwestern, and eastern states greatly increased and politics changed. By the end of the war in 1865, Northwest Missouri was in the grasp of the united Republican Party as Democrats loyal to the Union regrouped with the Republicans. Turbulent times still defined Missouri. “Scratch a Democrat and you find a rebel” was a rally slogan used by the Republican Party in the 1868 election. “Waving the bloody shirt” was a common gesture underscoring the message from Radical Republicans, blaming Democrats for the bloodletting of the war.

Most farmers and town folks living in the rural Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri simply wanted a return to normalcy. Women widowed by the war as well as widowers remarried as soon as possible to provide family security. “Bounty” lands were issued to widows and children of veterans. Available farmlands attracted eastern and foreign families seeking nature’s bounties and promises of new fortunes opening on the western front of the newly renovated nation.

People were ready for peace!

But the years immediately following the Civil War were tough ones for Missouri Confederate soldiers and sympathizers. These defeated ones were no longer allowed to vote. Union friends and neighbors were sharp with their tongues and icy with their stares. Violence, if less widespread, was ever more clandestine and even increased. Some Union militia decided victory in war provided a peacetime license to kill any pro-Southern lover or relative who went afoul of their scrutiny.

This stage was set during the autumn of 1864 when the Radicals swept into power by a statewide election. the Radicals immediately found approval from the General Assembly for the election of a constitution convention. The convention was held from Jan. 6, 1865, to April 10, 1865. The new constitution was signed one day before the 66 delegates adjourned the convention.

The Radicals successfully forced a new constitution with harsh and vindictive measures aimed at Southern sympathizers. Along with emancipating Missouri’s slaves, they passed a bill to oust an estimated 800 officeholders. The bill removed all state judges, circuit attorneys, sheriffs, and county recorders from office. Radical Republicans were named to fill these vacancies. The Constitution of 1865 passed the “Ousting Ordinances” to prevent the emancipation bill, and other acts that they thought might be unconstitutional, from being overturned.

One of the most abusive, vengeful, and high-handed measures, even to the sensibilities of Conservative Republicans, called “The Ironclad Oath.” To vote, hold office, or practice professions like law, education, or the ministry, eligibility required the candidate to sign “The Ironclad Oath.” Eighty-six acts were listed by the convention as “disloyal” and would deny a person’s voting rights.

The Missouri Loyalty Oath of 1865 was described in Section 6 of Article II of the “new” Constitution. It is included in the following terms:

“I, A.B., do solemnly swear, that I am well acquainted with the terms of the third section of the second Article of the Constitution of the State of Missouri, adopted in the year eighteen hundred and sixty-five, and have carefully considered the same; that I have never, directly or indirectly, done any of the acts in said section specified; that I have always been truly and loyally on the side of the United States against all enemies thereof, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States, and will support the Constitution and laws thereof, as the supreme law of the land, any law or ordinance of any State to the contrary notwithstanding; that I will, to the best of my ability, protect and defend the Union of the United States, and not allow the same to be broken up and dissolved, or the Government thereof to be destroyed of overthrown, under any circumstances, if in my power to prevent it; that I will support the Constitution of the State of Missouri; and that I make this oath without any mental reservation or evasion, and hold it to be binding on me.

Henry Clay McDougal, a well-known and highly regarded attorney and judge from Gallatin and later Kansas City, Missouri, presented a dissertation to The State Historical Society of Missouri at Columbia on March 8, 1904. In his oratory entitled A Decade in Missouri Politics – 1860 to 1870 – From a Republican Viewpoint, Judge McDougal singled out many “life-long Democrats who will be remembered and honored with pleasure and pride by every loyal Missourian as long as Missouri is known in history.” Included in his list were two men from the Upper Counties: Colonel J.H. Shanklin, Trenton, Grundy County, and Judge James McFerran, Gallatin, Daviess County.

McFerran, a Democrat, was a Union officer who participated in the Battle of Westport (Kansas City, Missouri) in 1864. McDougal cited Judge McFerran’s opinion concerning the oath as it should apply to the clergy while the first oath of union loyalty was being debated during the convention. Clergymen were held under certain suspicion by the Radicals during the war, as evidenced by Judge McFerran’s viewpoint:

“The question now is, whether ministers of the Gospel and school teachers shall take this oath. I think if there is any class in the State that ought to be put under the solemnity of an oath, it is the ministers of the Gospel. Of all the men in the state who have contributed to bring about the evils now on us, I think there is no class that is so responsible as ministers of the Gospel. The minister always does his work effectually; and whenever he gets to be a politician and gets among his flock, he instills poison into their minds, and all the arguments of politicians and orators can never remove it.”

In addition to clergy, church officers, teachers, lawyers, and even officers of corporations suffered discrimination by the Radical Republicans as they developed the Constitution of 1865. If they refused to take the oath, they were denied the right to act in their normal capacities.

Charles D. Drake, a St. Louis lawyer, was the dominant player in the convention. Drake boldly labeled those who disagreed with him as “traitors.” Bullying the convention, he dominated the content of the constitution by powerfully injecting his personal convictions. The Constitution of 1865 was best explained in Drake’s own words:

“We intend to erect a wall and a barrier, in the shape of a constitution that would be as high as the eternal heavens, deep down as the very center of the earth, so that they [Conservatives] shall neither climb over it nor dig under it, and as thick as the whole territory of Missouri so that they shall never batter it down nor pierce through it; and never shall put upon the colored race the disqualifications which have borne them down in times past.”

The severity of the Constitution even caused some Radicals to vote against it. The overwhelming insensitivity of the Radicals set stage for their fall. Conservative and moderate Unionists together with Liberal Republicans and politicians of all persuasions elected a Liberal Republican governor in 1870.

Through a series of political maneuvers and actions allowing Southern sympathizers to once again vote, the Democratic Party seized control of state affairs in 1874, maintaining state leadership to the end of the century.

Civil officials replacing the wartime Federal militia units were often considered weak. The Upper Counties of Northwest Missouri were populated with many Southern sympathizers, now discontent with the Radical state government. Any semblance of positive administration and cooperation between state and local government was for all practical purposes, lost. The conditions provided an invitation for the likes of Frank and Jesse James and other outlaws of all or any persuasion to flourish throughout Missouri.

And they did.




  1. Ambrose, Stephen E. Halleck: Lincoln‘s Chief of Staff. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1962.
  2. Bassett, Major John M. Union Men and Their Sufferings in North-western Missouri: The Remedy: Secrets of the Rebels Exposed. New York: Press of Wynkoop, Hallenbeck & Thomas, 1864.
  3. B.F. Bowen & Company. Past and Present of Nodaway County Missouri: Illustrated Volume 1. Indianapolis, IN: B.F. Bowen & Company, 1910.
  4. Conard, Howard Louis, ed. Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, a Compendium of History and Biography for Ready Reference. New York, Louisville, KY: The Southern History Company, Haldeman, Conard & Co., Proprietors, 1901.
  5. Connelley, William Elsey. Quantrill and the Border Wars. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch, 1910. Reprint Ottawa, KS: Kansas Heritage, 1992.
  6. Cooper, Martha. The Civil War and Nodaway County, Missouri. Signal Mountain, TN: Mountain, 1989.
  7. Denny, James and John Bradbury. The Civil War’s First Blood, Missouri 1854 -186l. Booneville, MO: Missouri Life, Inc. 2007.
  8. Denslow, William Ray. Centennial History of Grundy County, Missouri, 1839-1939. Trenton, MO: Denslow, 1939.
  9. Edwards Brothers of Missouri. An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Gentry County, Missouri. Philadelphia, PA: Edwards Brothers of Missouri, 1877.
  10. Filbert, Preston. The Half Not Told: The Civil War in a Frontier Town. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2001.
  11. Flader, Susan, ed. Exploring Missouri‘s Legacy State Parks and Historic Sites. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 1992.
  12. Flayderman, Norm. Flayderman’s Guide To Antique American Firearms And Their Values. Lola, WS: Krause Publications, 2001.
  13. Ford, James E. A History of Grundy County. Trenton, Grundy County, MO: News Publishing. 1908.
  14. George A. Ogle and Company. Standard Atlas of Gentry County. Chicago, IL: George A. Ogle and Company, 1914.
  15. Goble, Wanda, ed. A Bridge To Memories, Gentryville, Missouri. Shawnee, KS: KesPrint, Inc., 1984.
  16. Goodspeed Publishing Company. History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties, Missouri. Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1888.
  17. Goodspeed Publishing Company. History of Harrison and Mercer Counties, Missouri. St. Louis and Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1888. (reprint of the History of Mercer County section was made by the Mercer County Historical Society, Inc., Princeton, MO, in September, 1972).
  18. Graf, John F. Warman’s Civil War Collectibles. Lola, WS: Krause Publications, 2003.
  19. Hammond, Loy Layton. Gentry County to Pike’s Peak Region. Maysville, MO: Farmer Printing Company, 1979.
  20. Historical Publishing Company. History of Daviess and Gentry Counties, Missouri. Topeka, KS: Historical Publishing Company, 1922.
  21. McDougal, Henry Clay. Recollections, 1844-1909. Kansas City, MO: Franklin Hudson Publishing, 1910.
  22. McGee, Joseph H. Story of the Grand River Country: Memoirs of Major Joseph H. McGee, 1821-1905. Gallatin, MO: North Missourian Press, 1909.
  23. Meyer, Duane, PhD. The Heritage o/Missouri: A History. St. Louis, MO: State Publishing Company, Inc., 1963.
  24. Muehlberger, James P. The Lost Cause: The Trials of Frank and Jesse James. Yardley, P A: Westholme Publishing, LLC, 2013.
  25. National Historical Company. History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri. St. Louis, MO: National Historical Publishing Company, 1886.
  26. National Historical Company. History of Gentry and Worth Counties, Missouri. St. Joseph, MO: National Historical Publishing Company, 1882.
  27. National Historical Company. The History of Nodaway County, Missouri. St. Joseph, MO: Steam Printing Company, Printers, Binders, etc., 1882.
  28. Nichols, Bruce. Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume 1, 1862. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004.
  29. Nichols, Bruce. Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume IL 1863. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.
  30. Nichols, Bruce. Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume IlL January-August 1864. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014.
  31. Nichols, Bruce. Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume IV, September 1864 – June 1865. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014.
  32. Pope, General John (to Governor Thomas C. Fletcher from St. Louis March 3, 1865). Supplemental Report on the Joint Committee of the Conduct of the War, Vol. II, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1866.
  33. Robertson, Canneta Pierce. Fighters & Survivors Gentry County, Mo. Civil War 1861-1865, Self-Published, Ozark, MO: Ancestor Lore – Quality Research, 1994.
  34. Turner, S.K. and S.A. Clark. Twentieth Century History of Carroll County Missouri” Volume I and II Indianapolis, IN: B.F. Bourke & Company, 1911.
  35. United States Bureau of the Census. A Census of the United States, 1860: Population. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1864. (also listing for 1855 and 1865 available).
  36. United States Department of War. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of Union and Confederate Armies. 128 Volumes. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
  37. Wallace, William H. Speeches and Writings o/William H Wallace, with Autobiography. Kansas City, MO: Western Baptist, 1914.
  38. Williams, Walter, ed. A History of Northwest Missouri. Volume 1-3. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1915.
  39. Williams, Walter, ed. The State of Missouri: An Autobiography. Columbia, MO: Press of E.W. Stephens, 1904.
  40. Wooderson, Margaret. A Dream Remembered The Story of Old Siloam, Gentry County, Missouri. Self-published, date unknown.
  41. Younger, Thomas Coleman. The Story of Cole Younger, By Himself. Lee’s Summit, MO: n.p. 1903. (Reprint, Springfield, MO: Oak Hills, 1996).

Newspaper Articles

  1. “A Dastardly Outrage.” St. Joseph Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), July 31, 1880. (Comstock scrapbook in author’s possession).
  2. “A Delegation from Clay County,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), June 24, 1864.
  3. “A Notorious Guerrilla Caught,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), February 4, 1864.
  4. “An Outrage in Gentry,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County. MO), July 7, 1864.
  5. “A Very Cheeky Fraud.” Albany Ledger, (Albany, Gentry County, MO). August, 1880. (Comstock scrapbook in author’s possession).
  6. “Camden Point Battle Flag,” Dearborn Democrat, (Dearborn, Buchanan County, MO), December 15, 1905.
  7. “Capt. C.G. Comstock Dead,” Albany Ledger, (Albany, Gentry County, MO), Volume 49, May 3, 1917.
  8. “Death of Captain Shoemaker: Notice To The Citizens of Gentry County!” Grand River News, (Albany, Gentry County, MO), May 8, 1866 (Comstock scrapbook in author’s possession).
  9. “From General Fisk,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), October 6, 1864.
  10. “From Gentry County,” St. Joseph Herald. (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), July 20, 1880.
  11. “Guerrilla Raid in Worth County,” Daily Missouri Republican, (St. Louis, MO), June 8, 1863 (quoting St. Joseph News of June 4, 1863).
  12. “Guerrillas and their Operations,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), August 11, 1864.
  13. “Guerrillas in Gentry,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), August 4, 1864.
  14. “How Bill Anderson Was Killed,” Gallatin Democrat, (Gallatin, Daviess County, MO), November 2, 1899.
  15. “Ladies Sew Secessionist Flags,” St. Joseph Weekly Gazette, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), September 4, 1861.
  16. “More Bushwhackers Captured,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), August 4, 1864.
  17. “More Flag Literature,” St. Joseph Gazette. St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO. July 31, 1880. (Comstock Scrapbook in author’s possession).
  18. “Murder in Holt,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), March 3, 1864.
  19. “On the Camden Point Battle Flag,” Dearborn Democrat, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), December 15, 1905.
  20. “Reprinted Letter from Joseph Hart to Parents,” St. Joseph Morning Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), July 16, 1863.
  21. “Robbery,” Grand River News, (Albany, Gentry County, MO), February 7, 1864.
  22. “Robbery in Holt County,” St. Joseph Weekly Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), February 4, 1864.
  23. “That Cheeky Fraud.” Freeman, (Albany, Gentry County, MO), August, 1880 (Comstock scrapbook in author’s possession).
  24. “That Flag Matter.” St. Joseph Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), August 5, 1880 (Comstock scrapbook in author’s possession).
  25. “That Flag Outrage.” St. Joseph Herald, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), July 31, 1880.
  26. “The Removal of Gen. Curtis,” Missouri State Times, (Jefferson City, Cole County, MO), May 23, 1863.
  27. “Untitled,” St. Joseph Weekly Gazette, (St. Joseph, Buchanan County, MO), September 4, 1861.
  28. “Wanted – A Business Man to Settle Up the Affairs of an Exile,” unidentified newspaper thought to be the Albany Ledger, (Albany, Gentry County, MO), February 26, 1862 (includes two attached documents threatening Captain Comstock; Comstock scrapbook in author’s possession).

Periodical Articles

  1. Baughn, James. “The Oliver Flag,” Rural Missouri Magazine. Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, August 2015.
  2. Denny, Jim. “Missouri’s Postwar Politics,” Rural Missouri Magazine. Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, June 2015.
  3. Denny, Jim. “An Uncertain Peace,” Rural Missouri Magazine. Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, May 15.
  4. Green, Rodney J. “The Man Who Killed Quantrill.” Missouri Life Magazine. May, 2017.

Interviews, Correspondence, Internet Sources

  1. “Camden Point Confederate Monument,” Missouri Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans. http://www.missouridivision-scv.orglcamdenpt.htm
  2. “Civil War Army Organization and Order of Rank. (posted by Allen, Johnathan B.) At The Civil War Army Organization at http://www.nellaware.comlblog/civil-war-armyorganization-and-order-of-rank.html
  3. “Civil War Casualties.” Civil War Trust.
  4. “Civil War Flags.” http://www.americacivilwarstory.comlcivil-war-flags.html
  5. “Civil War on the Western Border: Disloyalists Banished for Western Missouri.”
  6. “Civil War on the Western Border: Platte Bridge Railroad Tragedy.” at
  7. “Civil War on the Western Border: Missouri’s Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad Opens.”
  8. “Confederate Stars and Bars.”
  9. Crofil, James. “1864 Battle of Plattsburg.” at
  10. Donnell, R.W. (auction #6074 authorized by) “Confederate Oath of Allegiance from the State of Missouri.” December 21,1861. https:/ Ihistorical.ha.comlitmlmiscellaneous/ephemeralconfederate-oath-of-allegiancefrom-….
  11. Ewing, Martha K. “Place Names in the Northwest Counties of Missouri.” M.A. Thesis. University of Missouri-Columbia.
  12. “First Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regimental Roster.”  http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.coml-firstmsmcavalry/missouricavalry/index
  13. “First [1st] Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Union). FamilySearch Wiki. Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Union)
  14. “Flags of South Carolina.” https://wikipedia.orgiwiki/Flag South Carolina
  15. “Grades in the Union Army.” https://freepages.military.rootweb.ancestry.comlfirstmsmcavalrylmissouricavalry
  16. “Halleck’s General Order #2 Missouri” (“Civil War Talk” at American Civil War Forms). http://civilwartalk.comlthreads/hallecks-general-order-2-missouri
  17. Harris, W.M. “Gentry County Reminiscences.” Reference of this document found in The Story of Old Siloam by Margaret Wooderson, self-published book.
  18. Hulbert, Matthew C. “Killing Bloody Bill: The New York Times: The Opinion Pages, Oct. 29, 2014. http://opinnionator.blogs.nytimes.coml2014/10/29/killing–bloody-bill
  19. Keller, Rudi. “150 Years Ago: ‘Paw Paw’ militia desert to join Confederate colonel in Platte County.” http://www.columbiatribune.comlnews/civil warl150 years/years-agopaw-paw-militia
  20. Kerr, W.H. An Interesting History of Alanthus Grove Area. Self-published June 28, 1959 (copy in author’s possession).
  21. “Kingsville Massacre.” “Civil War Talk.” http://civilwartalk.comlthreadslkingsvillemassacre
  22. “Letter in Regard to Colonel Manlove Cranor.” Written by J.H. Collins, Office Provost Marshal, Smithton, Worth County, MO, Feb. 4, 1863. (Comstock scrapbook in possession of author).
  23. “List of Weapons in the American Civil War.” Wikipedia. in_the_American_Civil_War
  24. Logan, Guy E. “Historical Sketc14 Southern Border Brigade.” Roster and Record of Iowa Troops in the Rebellion, Vol. 6. http://www.iagenweb.orgicivilwarlbooks/loganlmiI806.htm
  25. Missouri Commandery of MOLLUS. “Missouri Volunteer Forces in the Civil War With Federal Service (Union): 1st Regiment Mo State Militia Cavalry (MSM). http://home.usmo.comi-momollusIMOREG/C002.htm
  26. Missouri Digital Heritage. “Missouri’s Union Provost Marshal Papers: 1861-1866.” Internet exchange for Gentry County, Missouri.
  27. National Archives, United States Park Service.
  28. New York Times. Unnamed correspondent. “The Guerrillas in Missouri. Movements of Thornton. Capture of Parkville and Platte City. Vigorous Measures Adopted by General Curtis. Particulars of the Pursuit of the Guerrillas.” Leavenworth, KS: to New York Times. Tuesday, July 10, 1864. http://www.nytimes.coml1864/07/28/news/guerrillasmissouri-movements-thornton
  29. Oath, E.M.M. Blank copy of application for 1864 period. (Comstock scrapbook in possession of author).
  30. “Order of America Knights: The Civil War in Missouri.” order-american-knights
  31. Page County, Iowa Home Guard or Iowa Volunteer Militia. “Friends of Page Co. (FOPC@) Family Profile@” http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.coml-iapage/cwar/cwhomeguard.htm
  32. Phillips, Christopher. “Civil War on the Western Border: Shadow War: Federal Military Authority and Loyalty Oaths in Civil War Missouri (page 2 of 2).”
  33. Ringgold County IA Gen Web Project. “Southern Iowa Border Brigade, During the American Civil War, Iowa State Militia.” siaborder–cw.html
  34. Ross, Kirby. “Federal Militia n Missouri.” Civil War in St. Louis. http://www.civilwarstlouis.comlmilitialfederalmilitia.htm
  35. Rule, D.H. “Provost Marshals.” Civil War in St. Louis.  http://www.civilwarstlouis/history/provostmarshals.htm
  36. Segelquist, Dennis. “Civil War Days & Those Surnames: They Took The Oath of Allegiance.”
  37. “Small Arms of the Civil War.” Civil War Trust.
  38. State of Missouri: Secretary of State’s Office. “History of the Provost Marshal.” Missouri Digital Heritage. Jefferson City: Secretary of State Building.
  39. “The American Civil War Soldier: Firearms.” Thomas’ Legion. http://thomaslegion.netltheamericancivilwarsoldierfirearms.html
  40. The State Historical Society of Missouri. “Gentry County Place Names, 1928-1945.”
    http://umsystem.edulmanuscripts/ramsay/ramsay gentry.html
  41. United States Congressional Serial Set, “The Miscellaneous Documents of the House of Representative for the Second Session of the Fifty-Second Congress, 1892-’93 in Thirty Volumes.” Includes “The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.” Printed by the United States Government Printing Office in 1892 (now available online).