LIVINGSTON COUNTY IN
THE CIVIL WAR
To show the sympathies of Livingston County toward the Civil War, one must look even before the Election of 1860. According to the Liberty Tribune there was a Union Rally on 30 September 1860 in Livingston County. We see that Abraham Lincoln, the man elected to the presidency that year, received only 20 votes from Livingston County. The people of Livingston County believed there were ways other than Republican views and methods to solve the existing problems of the North against the South. In the fall of 1860 in Utica, Missouri there was some retaliation for a vote for Lincoln. There was a problem with Rev. J. E Gardner. He had three misfortunes, he was united with the Northern Methodist Church, he had voted for Lincoln, and when leading a tent revival in the town of Utica he had been found in the wrong tent. In December of that year the inhabitants of Utica undertook to drive him out of town. This was accomplished after letters, marches, a suit in court was attempted and finally when Rev. Gardner was ridden out of town on a rail. A family, who came from Monroe Township, took the family safely away. (Mrs. Gardner reported this in the Central Christian Advocate and it was in the Missouri Methodist Minutes.)
Following the inauguration of President Lincoln the following April, events began happening so fast that Livingston County, as well as the rest of the state, was on the road to four years of disorder.
On 7 January 1861-- There was a county meeting presided over by Col. Graves with J. W. McMillen as Sec. The group wanted slave holders to have a convention and wanted Federal guarantee for the slave property. (Quoted in the Tribune Liberty Mo. on February 16, 1866)
12 April 1861-- The Confederates fired on Fort Sumpter at Charleston, South Carolina, Lincoln called for troops to put down the Secessionist Movement.
In Livingston County another shooting occurred. A young man who had stirred up trouble where ever he went; California, on the gold rush, Springhill where he was born, playing cards in Utica and Breckinridge, or on the square of Chillicothe, was shot by one of his enemies. Lorenzo Dow Kirk was shot by a resident of Livingston County, Tom Jennings. Dow Kirk and a friend Tomas Curtis were loading goods at Dunglin & Morling’s Store on the square when Jennings moved stealthily through the trees on the square and leaned on the fence and shot. First killing Curtis and injuring Kirk and then shooting again and killing Kirk. This wasn’t related to the problems of the Federal government but it shows the problems in Livingston County when a jury in 1862 acquitted Jennings for both deaths. In fact, the Kirks were in the same military unit with Jennings in May,1861 and they were still fussing but on the same side, the South, in the larger fuss. (History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties Mo. published 1886, Chapter VI)
3 May 1861-- Lincoln called for 42,000 Army volunteers and 18,000 seamen. Commanders selected were George McClellan and Winfield Scott.
In Livingston County, as all over the United States, the people sprang into action.The Secessionist (those of southern leanings) were in the majority and therefore more active, while the Unionist’s were more quiet and lacking in leadership.
From Livingston County, the following leaders for the Secessionists were William Y. Slack, C. J. Rockliff, Hon. A. J. Austin and John Graves. The Unionists, before the actual shooting war began in the county, had a rough time. Some Union men were forced to leave the county. Others were frightened by threats.
One Unionist received the following message dated May 6, 1861:
Sir: You and your friends that vote(d) for Lincoln better go (sic) where you belong and (sic) tak your property and stay there if you know when you are well, better(sic) tak refug in Abraham Bosom. We are the Boys that for Southern Rights. (History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, 1886 page 754)
While the Missouri state government was still deciding whether or not to remain neutral and independent, or whether to secede or be coerced to remain the union, Livingston county citizens, as well as other counties of the state, “began getting their shot-guns in order.”
The leader of the secession movement in Livingston County was Captain William Y. Slack, a prominent lawyer and politician. He was a man of strong natural ability and of undoubted honor and integrity, having been one of the first lawyers of the county. He served in the Mexican War, and his southern leanings caused Governor Jackson to commission Slack as a brigadier general of the Missouri Guard and place him in charge of the 4th Military district consisting of 11-12 counties. (Missouri Heritage by Lew Larkin) He had charge of the 4th division with 500 cavalry en and 7oo infantrymen. The federal forces entered Chillicothe 14 June 1861 with the ambition of capturing Slack but he evaded them. He never saw his home again.
From an old affidavit book in Staton's Abstract Office on page 87 is this information. Ellen K. Samuel was a sister of Wm. Y. Slack's first wife. Their maiden name was Woodward and they lived in Lexington, Mo. Another sister married Judge Sam Richardson of Gallatin and they had a brother who was a physician in Chillicothe.Slack's first wife died in the late 1850's and he married Isabella Bower, widow of Frank Hollingsworth in 1859.
10 May 1861-- The arsenal Camp Jackson near St. Louis became the target of the Union Forces who attacked it and captured the state militiamen who were guarding it. There were people killed during the conflict. Due to the death of innocent bystanders, this action was disastrous to the Union Cause in Missouri.
May 1861-- Governor Jackson was given the authority to raise an army. Men hastened to enlist in the state militia in hopes that defending the state and becoming neither Federal nor Confederate would keep Missouri neutral. One who joined was Sterling Price, who was appointed commander in chief of the militia, or state guard. Price was from Chariton County , next to Livingston. He was Slack’s commander in the Mexican War and a former governor of Missouri.
While the state militia was being formed, Federal troops were being called into the state from neighboring states, and the Union militia, or Home guards, were being prepared for war. Missourians never were allowed to remain neutral and with just as many believing in the Union Cause as the Southern Cause there was just as much strife of Civil War within the state as without..
It was finally necessary for Governor Jackson to retreat from the Capitol at Jefferson City. He was escorted by Price and his men, retiring slowly into the southwest part of the state, picking up volunteers along the way. General Lyon, a Federal Officer sent to St. Louis, on the other hand was occupying the towns on the Missouri River. So at the very beginning of the war, the Federals got control of the Missouri River, and cut off the whole northern part of the state from the southern part. This was an important factor of Livingston County’s involvement in the war.
18 May 1861-- In its first offensive against the South, the Union engaged rebel batteries at Sewall’s Point, Virginia.
Captain William Y. Slack, of the Missouri State Guard, was commissioned a brigadier general of the Fourth Military District which was composed of twelve counties. They were Worth, Gentry, DeKalb, Clinton, Harrison, Daviess, Caldwell, Ray, Carroll, Livingston, Grundy and Mercer. He immediately started recruiting men for the State Militia, drilling and preparing for the possibility of action.
As one can see, in only a month’s time, the state was preparing for conflict, even though it had not officially become a part of the war favoring the North or South. These men were preparing for their state, their homes, their families and way of life. Yet conferences were taking place behind governmental doors which would lead to the war known as the Civil War..
1 June 1861-- British territorial waters and ports are proclaimed off-limits to beligerants carrying spoils of war.
“To defend our homes against the invader,” citizens of Chillicothe put the town in a state of defense. A subscription paper was circulated and a considerable sum of money was subscribed in order to purchase two pieces of cannon. General Slack arranged with a firm in Hannibal to manufacture and ship the cannon to Chillicothe on the Hannibal-St. Joseph Railroad which had been completed in 1859.
Once the cannon was completed, however, the railroad officials, who were loyal to the Federals, would not ship it. An alternative route was chosen and a wagon was fitted with a good team and driver. The cannon was loaded and covered with straw. The driver told anyone who seemed interested that he was an immigrant headed for Pike’s Peak. The ruse seemed as though it would work.
The Federals, however, soon found out about the manufacture and shipping of the cannon and set up road blocks near Brookfield, Missouri, in Linn County, and at other points where Union Home Guards were organized. A company of Home Guards from Brookfield intercepted the wagon about three miles from St. Catherine and after a search the cannon was found. It was captured and taken to Brookfield in triumph. Only one hour later a detachment of men sent out by Slack to escort the cannon to Chillicothe arrived on the spot where the Home Guards had overtaken their prize. Slack’s men returned home to Livingston County without the cannon.
11-17 June 1861-- Troubles in St. Louis, Missouri continue as General Nathaniel Lyon met with a pro-Southern state government. Lyon was angered over what he felt was local intervention in orders given to Federal troops.
Governor Jackson issued a call to arms. He, then, left Jefferson City for Booneville, Booneville to Arrow Rock, Arrow Rock to Osage River and the city of Lamar. At the same time General Lyon had entered Jefferson City on the 15th. The men in the state penitentiary stood and shouted for Lincoln as the Yankees entered the city. (Floyd Shoemaker in Chillicothe Newspaper June 17,1925) Governor Jackson ordered the State Guard into the field. Slack’s division was ordered to Lexington. He gathered his men from all areas. Livingston County was ready with at least 200 men. On the 13 of June there was a big parade around the square in Chillicothe. Many men from the county were joining to do battle for the Southern cause. Secession flags were waving from many places.
The Union men remained silent and just bided their time, for they knew their time would come when they, too, would have to take a stand. They just waited and watched.
The Hannibal-St. Joseph Railroad, as mentioned earlier, was protected by the Federal authorities and the railroad men were loyal. It was necessary for the railroad to be guarded and the bridges kept in good repair. When the rumor reached the Federal authorities that Slack’s men intended to burn the bridges when they left the area, they took immediate action. The rumor was that the bridges over the Grand River and Medicine Creek were to be burned as the Confederates left the county. A detachment of the 16th Illinois under Lt. Colonel Wilson was dispatched by way of the railroad. They spent the night of the 13th of June at the Grand River Bridge, remaining in the railroad cars all night. The first Federal Troops entered north Missouri.
The alarm was spread to General Slack, whose home was in Chillicothe. Soon the General was mounted, as were many of Governor Jackson’s men who were in town for the parade, and made their way to Spring Hill, which was located in “the forks of the river.” The Grand River and a tributary known then as the East Grand River (this was later named the Thompson River) merged in Livingston County leaving the northwest corner of the county a natural fortification with the rivers as boundaries. This area was Jackson township, and General Slack made it his temporary headquarters, with his base in Spring Hill.
One very brave young girl, Molly Jennings risked capture and death in the Grand River to aid the Southern cause. Governor Jackson sent a message to General Slack by way of Col. Jennings (county sheriff) of Chillicothe. Slack had gone on to Spring Hill and Jennings had to get the message to him. His daughter, Molly, an excellent horsewoman rode at hot haste to catch up with Slack and deliver Jackson’s message.(From Missouri Blue Book Woman’s Roll in History)Official Manual State of Missouri 1971 - 72 Page 8-9
General Slack and his fleeing soldiers had crossed the river on the ferry and as soon as the last soldier was over, sank the ferry. When Molly reached the river, there was no way to cross. Undaunted, she put the message in her hair to keep it from getting wet, put her horse in the stream and swam across the river. She overtook Slack, gave him the message and headed her tired horse back to Chillicothe.
R. Tisdale told of the capture of the first Missouri Confederate flag. Tisdale helped a Frenchman named Durand and John Miller make the flag. The newspaper (Morning Constiitution 13 March 1890)said: STATES RIGHTS--SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY It (the flag) had been ordered for a swordsmanship class that was led by 'Buena Vista; Bell and taught by Durand. The flag was seen in Utica and evidently being taken to Bell's home when the 16th Illinois troops caaptured it on the 15 June 1861 as they marched to Utica to protect the crossing there. The next week the newspaper printed additional information sent in by E. M. Ware. He told that Bell was the drill master for Rives Cavalry, a regiment of Slack's division Missouri State Guard. Bell had fought with Slack in the Mexican War. Ware continued that he was the first citizen captured by the 16th Illinois. He also confirmed that the flag was captured that day.
14 June 1861-- The Federal soldiers, the 16th Illinois, with Col. Wilson at the head, arrived in Chillicothe. As soon as Wilson was sure the bridge was safe, his next concern was to capture Slack. The Union soldiers marched to the square and broke into squads to search the town for prisoners and contraband. They placed a small cannon on the square. They had expected to find Slack still in town and were prepared for a fight.
In the Reminiscences of General George Cook (quoted in Chillicothe Constitution 29 May 1873. Other groups met General Slack in Chillicothe. Capt. John H. McNeil of McNeil’s Rangers from Daviess Co. covered General Slack’s movement from Chillicothe.
After a search of the town and learning that Slack had made his escape, Wilson brought some of the “sequesh’ citizens under arrest, but they were released as soon as they took an oath of loyalty.
When war broke out, an Illinois regiment camped where the Hannibal Road crosses Grand River. A squad was sent to Chillicothe, and Crouch was arrested and taken to camp. The Colonel was asked what must be done with the prisoner, the order was, “wade him into the river and until further orders!” and the order was carried out to the letter, and the best man in the outfit stood waist deep in Grand River for the space of an hour or two, guiltless of any crime, unless it was being born on the wrong side of Mason & Dixon’s line. (Chillicothe Semi-Weekly Constitution of Thursday 12 Dec. 1889 Reminiscences of the Life of Judge M.M. Towner and Wm. S. Crouch.
16 June 1861-- Col. Wilson had the following proclamation printed and distributed around the small town:
Chillicothe, June 16, 1861 “I have been sent here by the United States Government for the purpose of putting down armed rebellion against the Government of the United States, and I call upon all companies or regiments of troops, whose object is not the upholding of the Government of the United States, to deliver me their arms and disperse immediately. Protection will be given to all peaceful citizens, and I hope the common avocations of life will be resumed, and trade and commerce go on in their usual channels, and all the power at my command shall be extended to the utmost to protect all loyal citizens.”
Sam Wilson Lieut.-Col....., Commanding U.S.. Forces The same day troops went to Utica, Mooresville, and Medicine Creek. From that day forth until the end of the Civil War, Livingston County was occupied by Federal forces.
June 1861-- Under the protection of darkness, the Southern troops left Spring Hill in Jackson township with General Slack at the head of his men numbering close to 250. They were on foot, and armed with shot-guns, rifles and revolvers. They carried as much provisions with them as they could. The town of Spring Hill was a good sized town and could provide supplies, including meat from their pork packing business. Dr. William Keith whose title was Assistant Brigade Surgeon under Slack’s command was with them They marched silently and swiftly toward the south. They managed to slip past the Union troops at Mooresville where they crossed the railroad and the river. They passed southward into Ray county and on to Richmond and Lexington. There they were organized into a regiment with Colonel Rives of Ray County as the colonel. At least 102 of the members of this regiment are listed by Douglas Stewart . ( Daily constitution of Chillicothe, Mo., 19 June 1926.
Soon after the appearance of the first Federal troops in Livingston County some union men formed a company of Home Guards which numbered about 67 men. The company belonged to Livingston County Home Guards. It was finally mustered out by order of General Pope. In the fall other Union Home Guard companies were organized at Utica, Spring Hill and on Shoal Creek. The company at Spring Hill numbered about 50 and Greenberry Lyons was chosen captain. Thomas H. Reid was captain for the Utica company. The leader of the Shoal Creek company is not known. Summer of 1861--
Captain Joe Kirk of Livingston County served under General Sterling Price south of the Missouri River for a brief service when he was authorized to return to Livingston County in order to recruit men for the Confederate service. While in “the forks” where he lived and where his base of operations was, he became the object of the Federal authorities scorn, and he became the watchword for the county. The Federals hated and feared him, the Confederates applauded him and his operations. It became a main objective of the Federal authorities to capture him.
Kirk remained in Jackson township with intention of holding the natural fortification for the South. His well-ordered movements resembled military tactics in many ways, those of ambuscades, sudden waylays, surprises and predatory incursions and foraging on the enemy. His men became known as bushwackers.
Kirk posted notices warning the Federals not to cross the rivers nor to trespass on what he felt was Confederate ground. His active group in opposition to the Federal group in that same area set up a situation of brother vs. brother or neighbor vs. neighbor.
The Hannibal-St Joseph R R...was owned and operated by Boston capitalists who supported Union Causes. However, its route was laid through territory where staunch Southern supporters continually harassed the line because it served northern interests. Bushwackers tore up tracks, ditched trains, burned rolling stock and station equipment, and fired upon passing trains..(Margaret L. Fitzsimmonds “Missouri RR During the Civil War & Reconstruction” Missouri Historical Review Vol. 35 page 193
The largest expense of the RR over the period Sept. 1, 1860 to Dec.31,1862 $85,240.15 $89,522.16 and $45,251.01. The next two closest expenses were locomotive repairs and station services. (Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad by J. T. K. Hayward (Jefferson City, Mo. )March 6, 1863.)
10 August 1861-- The Battle of Wilson’s Creek took place near Springfield, Missouri. It was the largest battle in the state of Missouri. There were 6,000 Federal troops under Capt. Lyon against 11,600 Confederates with Generals McCullough and Price. General Lyon, the brilliant Federal leader who was prominent in Missouri’s military tactics for the Union cause was killed. Colonel Richard Weightman of the Confederate Army was mortally wounded, as was Col. Benjamin Brown of Ray County. Both General Sterling Price and General Wm. Y. Slack were injured. (“Brigadier-General Slack’s division suffered severely. He, himself, fell dangerously wounded at the head of his column. Of his regiment of infantry, under Col. John T. Hughes, consisting of about 650 men, 36 were killed, 76 wounded, many of the mortally, and 30 are missing. Among the killed were C. H. Bennett, adjutant of the regiment; Captain Blackburn, and Lieutenant Hughes.”) Excerpt from report of Major General Sterling Price, Commander of Missouri State Guard to Governor Claiborne F. Jackson.) The Union lost 223 dead, 731 wounded and 290 missing. The Confederates lost 257 dead, 900 wounded and only 27 missing.
Wounded: Lt. W. C. Norman, slight; Serg. L. B. Carter, severely; Corp. H. W. Lansing, severely; W. B. Martin, severely; G. W. Litton, slight; John W. Ballinger, slightly; James McDowell, slight; E. W. ballinger, slightly; C.C. Graves, severely; J. L. Marlow, severely; S. H. Williams, severely; J. Scarborough, severely; Brig. Gen Wm. Y. Slack, severely; Lt. Wyatt Jennings, killed; Sgt. M. I. Duncan, killed; Walter E. Frost, killed; Wm. Hutchison, killed; John W. Wolfskill, killed; James P. Minnick, killed; J. J. Rosen, killed, Nathaniel Tippet, killed; James W. Cloudis, killed. 23 August 1861 Liberty Tribune
One of the injured on that day was Lawson B. Carter, one of Slack’s men. His daughter, Mrs. J. K. Steen recalls: “At the age of 3, she moved to Nebraska City with her parents to escape the violence of Civil War soldiers, but in six months, returned to Livingston County where her father bought the Hyde farm, eight miles north of Chillicothe, shortly after the Civil War.” She married J. K Steen a Civil War Union Soldier. CENTENNIAL HISTORY of Livingston Co. published 1937 page 96
Douglas Stewart reported that Huston Frazier brought back hair from the tail of General Lyon’s horse obtained after the death of General Lyon and which was used by Frazier, as a violin player. One of the soldiers, still alive in ‘26, J. Press Hutchison related that at the battle a bullet struck the metal cap of the powder horn of Lewis Best, glanced off, struck and killed Alex Wolfskill. Others killed were James Cloudas, Walter Frost, Jim Pad Minnick, Black Martin, M. P. Duncan, Wm. Huchison, Andy J. Austin, and Henry W. Lansing. Others still alive in ‘26 (according to Stewart) who were there included James A. Shirley, Alexander (Dick) House, John Y. Cooper, and Louis Woldrige. 19 June 1926 Daily constitution
Out in “the forks” on this same day Elisha Boucher was killed by his brother in law, Thomas Sneed. Boucher and his wife did not get on too well due partly to his drinking and rough character. When the two were fighting, the brother who was nearby cutting wood came to the aid of his sister by hitting Boucher and then cutting off his head.(Livingston. Co. Mo. Probate Court File #157) Snead immediately left the area and joined the Rebels as he went. There were no charges ever brought but the whispers said that Martha Sneed Boucher had aided her brother in the killing by holding her husband by his coat while the brother attacked. Sneed joined Co. I 3rd Missouri Infantry as a private and served all over the South and died in battle in 1864 in Georgia after being wounded several times.(Confederate. Service Records of Mo. Records of Thomas Sneed Micro Copy # 322 Roll 19.)
Following the Battle of Wilson's Creek more Federal troops were sent to Chillicothe in Livingston County. Altogether there were about 1,500 of them in the small town. This may have been a plan to possibly catch the injured Confederate General Slack at his home as he recuperated, if the General had been foolish enough to return to his hometown. Instead, Slack’s wife, Mrs. Isabella Bower Slack, who had been staying with family in Paris, Monroe County, made the perilous journey by carriage to the side of her husband to nurse and administer to his needs together with Dr. Keith. The serious wound took nearly two months to heal enough for Slack to resume command. Against the advice of his wife and doctor, Slack instructed them to take him by ambulance to join his men. They arrived at Lexington the day after the defeat of the Union forces and Colonel Mulligan’s surrender, September 21, 1861. During the Lexington battle, his men had participated in the attack under the command of Colonel Rives.
The first fierce struggles in North Missouri occurred in my mission, along the line of the Hannibal and St. Joseph and North Missouri Railways; the passing train being fired upon from every convenient ambush, and bridges and trestles being burnt and rebuilt many times in succession. ...Many a life was lost by the flying bullets that smashed and splintered through the cars, and by the derailed trains hurled down over precipices and embankments...On the Mission in Missouri by Rt. Rev. J. J. Hagen page 100-101
31 August 1861-- Yesterday General John C. Fremont declared martial law throughout Missouri. In an unauthorized act, Fremont allowed for the confiscation of property belonging to “those who shall take up arms against the United States.” He also made an emanicpation proclamation concerning their slaves, “their slaves...are here by declared free.”
Another murder occurred in Jackson Township when William Avery was waylaid by Samuel Husher, about a mile east of Spring Hill. It seems a feud had been ensuing between Matthew McGaugh, Wm. Avery and others against Samuel Husher, Henry Cooper and others. Husher had warned Avery that the next time he was found near Husher home he would be a “dead man.” When Avery did not return from a errand his wife became concerned and a general search was started. His body was discovered, having been shot and mutilated. R. B. Moss acted as coroner and held an inquest. The jury included J. P. Hutcherson, J. M. Hutcherson, Andrew Anderson, John M. Crews, John Simpson, and James Nave. The conclusion was that he had been shot. Immediately the neighbors suspected Husher and Cooper. Cooper had blood on some of his clothing but he proved that he had been butchering sheep the day before. A jury of 24 men were called for a trial of Husher. From those Husher was allowed to choose 12 to be his jury. Two magistrates heard the case, Samuel Pepper and William Lewis. Convincing testimony was heard including eyewitness evidence from Husher’s daughter and the jury returned a verdict of guilty and the sentence was death by hanging. This was carried out September 4. He was allowed to write his will and it is on file in the probate office of Livingston Co. This murder was number three, within five months and all were related to the Spring Hill area.
September 1861-- In Missouri, Confederate General Price continued to press Colonel Mulligan’s troops at Lexington; the later was waiting for help from General Fremont.
A company of Federal cavalry was organized at Chillicothe, being recruited principally from Livingston County. The company consisted of 70 members and afterward became Co. E 2nd Missouri Cavalry, better known as “Merrill’s Horse,” from the name of the colonel, Lewis Merrill. The officers were as follows; Captain Garrison Harker; First lieutenant William N. Norville; Second Lieutenant S. W. McCoy. They were commissioned September 3, 1861. Co. E served in Missouri and Arkansas, fighting in numerous battles and skirmishes. (With Porter in Missouri by J. A. Mudd p.261 “under direction of Capt. Barr of the Merrill Horse; page 259 “a detachment of the Merrill Horse under Lt. Col. Shaffer; page 254 “Capt. J. E Mason commander of a Co. of Merrill Horse and Capt. Geo. H. Rowell of Merrill Horse; p. 255;Lt. John N. Cowdrey of Merrill Horse all at Kirksville Aug. 6, 1862.; Members of the group from Livingston County were Corp. Wm. Thompson in Co. A (married Olivia Wier) T. C. Mathias of Co. G. H. M. Campbell Co. E, James S. Bryan of Co. E. Monroe Center Cemetery Stones 1843 to 1932
Just before the Battle of Lexington the regiments of Pope and Sturgis were expected from north of the Missouri River to give help to the Union forces under Mulligan. In fact when he was looking for them they were just 15 miles north of the river. Sturgis had de-trained his men at Utica on the Hannibal -St. Jo Railroad, and while quarter masters were impresssing wagons for the march to Lexington, his boys raided neighboring apiaries for honey. Irate owners stormed the camp, claiming damages. Sturgis lined up his men, picked out those with honey on their beards--then marched them away without punishment. (Civil War on the Western Border by Monaghan 1955 Little Brown & Co Boston p 191-2 ) I “In September, when Gen. Sturgis disembarked from the train here (in Utica), on his way to the relief of Mulligan at Lexington, as mentioned elsewhere, he pressed a sufficient number of wagons and teams o transport his baggage. In most instances however, the owners were quite willing to render this service, many of them being Union men. Gen Sturgis repressed all disorder among his men. Some of them robbed Capt. Cooper’s bee hives, ad the General had every honey forager put under guard.(History of Caldwell and Livingstn Counties, Missouri published 1886)
8 April 1862-- General Albert Johnson has been killed, leader of Confederates at Shiloh.
On the night of April 8, men of the MSM were guarding the railroad bridge over Medicine Creek, east of Chillicothe. The men were lounging around a fire, not yet retired to the nearby block house. The newly enlisted militiamen were discussing their new life when they were ambushed by a party of Confederate “bushwackers,” believed to number about 9 or 10. One militiaman was killed and three others were wounded in the first volley and the brisk battle which followed. The militiamen took positions along the embankment and other cover available and returned the fire. The attackers finally retreated.
Col. King immediately sent scouting parties in search for the attackers, but they were not found.
In the spring; summer of 1862 Jacob Wells of Utica finished the block house at the Grand River Bridge. He also worked on the one at Medicine Creek.(History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri page 890 )
I was read out for Chillicothe found the town a vast military encampment. All churches closed but mine. Rev. E. K. Miller. He also state the Missouri Militia took over in late winter 1862. This was the worst elements of the state. Methodism in Missouri Vol .1 1881 Page 302-3.) Methodist Church in Chillicothe in charge of W. T. Ellington who was teaching there at the time 1862-3.
24 May 1862-- President Lincoln has just signed the Homestead Act, 160 acres available for a nominal fee for those who can improve the parcel of land for five years.
By the early spring of 1862 Kirk and his men had become quite notorious throughout Livingston County. They defied all attempts at capture and frequently fired on small parties of their pursuers. They kept the Federal forces in the county in a constant state of uneasiness and annoyance. Finally Lt. Col. Alexander M. Woolfolk of the 1st MSM described a plan for their capture.
In his own words, Woolfolk gave the following report dated May 25, 1862: (Official Records Series 1 Vol. III, page 80.)
“On Saturday night, the 24th inst, I started from this place with Company G and a detach-ment from Company K on a count, for the purpose of breaking up a band of jayhawkers in the vicinity of Spring hill, Mo. The band is supposed to number some 60 or 70 men, and is reported to be under the leadership of the notorious Joe Kirk and Charles Cooper. They have hither to defied all attempts of the military to arrest them, and have on one or occasions fired on small parties of soldiers, having killed and wounded some 10 or 12 in this manner.
We started from this place at 10 o’clock at night, while Companies A and B, Captain McGhee and Folmsbee, started from Breckenridge, Mo., at the same hour, and entered the Spring Hill country from the west. The detachment commanded by myself succeeded in capturing Joe Kirk, John Cooper, Jr. and James Hail (sic), while the de-tachment from Breckenridge, led by Adj. Doyle, captures Charles Cooper. My detachment, it is believed, also wounded Daniel Hail (sic.), one of the band, who succeeded in escaping. We also captured three horses, supposed to be contraband, and took three navy revolvers. The parties captured are supposed to be the leaders of the band, and it is hoped that thisportion of Missouri will now have peace.
Each one of the parties captured has been in the rebel army, and has been in the habit ofreturning from the army at certain intervals only to be the terror of all loyal men. Charles Cooper, sr., was arrested at the commencement of the rebellion in Missouri, took the oath, and afterward joined the rebel army, being a captain the Confederate service.
It is said that it can be proved that Joe Kirk was the leader of a party that fired into the cars, and also was seen with the band that fired upon and wounded some United States soldiers in The vicinity of Spring Hill last summer.Several horses have recently been taken from Union men in the neighborhood of Spring Hill, and these parties are supposed to have taken them. Conservative men of all parties insist that these men should bee retained in military custody during the continuation of of the rebellion. We have taken them into custody at this place, and will dispose of them as you think proper. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, Alexander M. Woolfolk
Kirk was taken to Breckenridge and confined in a railroad car with other prisoners. One night he succeeded in cutting a hole in the floor of the car that through this he made his escape. In twenty-four hour he was in the saddle.
Charles Cooper was sent to St. Louis and soon paroled back home. When he returned to his home just north of Mooresville there were several Utica militiamen who took exception to his freedom. They came to his house among his family and killed him. His brother, who was there, recognized two of the men in the militia and one of them recalled the incident on his death bed years later. (Hisory of Caldwell and Livingston Counties , 1884 p 895)
Charles Cooper served the Confederate cause in the 15th Missouri Cavalry, Col. Benjamin A. Reeves’ Regiment under Sterling Price, and also a a “Bushwacker” with Nancy’s first cousin, Capt. Joseph Burke Kirk. Charles was captured by Federal force in St. Louis on October 24, 1862, and received into the Grtioit Street Prison there. On November 18 he was discharged from there on Dec. 5, 1862. He signed a document which is now in the National Archives in Washington D.C. (Per: Edgar C. Smith P. O. Box 6073 Carmel, CA 93921) “Statement: Charles Cooper examined. I belong in Livingston County, Mo. (Green Township) some six miles from Chillicothe. I started from home on the 13 day of June 1861 and joined Col. Rives Regt. (Ray Co. Regt.) on the 17 day of June 1861 at Lexington, Mo. I volunteered and served in the capacity of private and after the battle of Carthage (where the Captn of my company was killed) was elected Captain of said compay. We went from Carthage to Camp Consken(?) and from thence to Springfiled, after having drilled for about four weeks, I participated in the Springfield battle. We next marched on Lexington where we ha a fight, from thence we retreated to Cassville, remained there some time and marched on Osecola. Our time was out (six months) and I determined to go home. Was at hoe only two days when I was arrested (in April 1862 I believe). I was sent to St. Joe and from thence to St. Louis two months ago. I excaped from Gratiot Street prison on Sunday, the 12th day of
Oct. 1862-- The second time i started for the Southern army and remained about a week or ten days. Did not serve again and made up my mind to go home. I was not in the Pea Ridge fight. I took four of my negroes into Arkansas. I then returned home, and in doing so passed through several union camps. I was not molested while on my way home. I was arrested by some of Col. McFerran’s men within about two miles from my home. I had no arms on my person, neither had I any (?)house to my knowledge. I remained four days on St Louis after my escape. The people where I stayed asked me no questions. I left St. Louis about the 16th of Oct. instant and stopped at the house of an Irishman (living on the road). I do not know his name. He lives about eight miles form town. He has a wife and two or three children (pretty good sized ones). I paid him $1.50 for his trouble in boarding me. I did not tell him who or what I was. I do not know who sent me the saddle, bridle and provisions. I did not pay anything for them, but I agreed to pay him (my partner Tarlawn(?). Tarlawn, Jones and some others started under command of a Commissioned Officer. Jones knew where we were to meet on crossing the Merrimac River. I understood some twelve or fourteen men in all were to meet us on the other side of the Merrimac. The night I left I called upon a Dutchman and told him I wanted to borrow a horse to ride some twenty miles. I did not threaten him. He asked me to go into the light so that he could see my face. I did so. Tuolawn did not threaten him. He then went to the stable and let us have two horses. I again promised to return the horses, which I fully intended doing. I was sworn into the Confederate service by a Commissioned officer some three or four days before we started. I never took an oath of allegience to support the United States. I would rather be paroled than take the oath, as I consider it would be safe for me to do so. I can give bonds in the sum of $2000. Charles Cooper” (Editor’ note--He left behind a widow, Nancy Haven Kirk Rucker Cooper and 5 daughters and a son .)
1 June 1862-- Yesterday Robert E. Lee was named by President Jefferson Davis as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The one year’s enlistment of the Missouri State Guards had expired, and General Price gave some of his recruiting officers commissions, authorizing them to return to Missouri and recruit troops for the Confederate service. Among those who received that commission was Colonel Poindexter. By the last of July he had recruited almost 1,000 men, mostly from the counties of Boone, Howard, Randolph and Chariton. He was headed for the southern states, planning to cross the Missouri River at Brunswick or Waverly.
In June Lewis M. Best was carrying documents from General Price in Arkansas to various people in Missouri. Several days before June 25 Best was captured by Col Thompkins in Texas County, Missouri. He was carrying a Navy revolver, many letters to people in Livingston County and documents from General Price. Before these were examined at the camp (Copaye's Mill) a member of the troop recognized Lewis Morrison Best as a dangerous rebel from Livingston County called Old Best. Col. Thompkins investigated the matter at least as far as riding into Rolla to confer about the capture of Best. He came back to camp and calling several men to witness the act. He shot and killed Best. There was an inquiry into this act and a decision that Thompkins should have had a hearing at least but since it was done and Best deserved killing it would be overlooked and Thompkins could return to duty. (Official Records Series II Book 4 pps. 61,93,109, 119, 136,142.)
During this same time Captain Logan Ballew, Captain John L. Merick, and Capt. Robert Austin of Carroll County had recruited men for the Confederate service and they were skirmishing with the Union forces under Captain D. H. David in the river bottoms of Carroll County.
Captain David’s regiment, the 5th MSM at last drove the Confederates out of the bottoms and they started for Poindexter who was reported as being in either Chariton or Randolph Counties. As David and his men entered northeast Carroll County they met with Merick and Ballew with their Confederate band and two or three skirmishes took place, killing two Confederates. Merick and Ballew continued on, intending to cross Grand River at Compton’s Ferry in Livingston County.
David was on his way back to Carrollton when he was met by about 225 enrolled militia under the command of Major Thomas B. Biggers, also of the 5th MSM. The latter had 100 Ray County militia under Captain Clayton Tiffin, and 100 enrolled militia and 10th MSM under Lieutenant Thomas , of the 1st MSM, who had left Breckenridge July 30, and united with Major Biggers at Carrollton. The latter had made a night march from Richmond to re-enforce David.
The Union forces of approximately 400 men, pushed rapidly forward and came up with Mirick and Ballew at Compton’s Ferry on Grand River, Livingston County. Ballew had crossed the stream to the east bank, and Mirick was guarding the rear. A brisk little skirmish resulted. The Confederates were driven across the stream. On the east bank Ballew released three Federal prisoners which he had captured, disbanded his men, and made good his escape. Here some wagons, provisions, arms , camp equipage, etc., were abandoned to the Federals. Mirick, with the greater part of his company, got across the stream and kept on for Poindexter.
“The morning after Mirick and Ballew had been driven across Grand River, Captain David perpetrated an act which called down upon himself almost universal censure. The previous day he had captured some prisoners from the force he was fighting, and had also recovered some of the stores which had been taken from the “War Eagle” (a steamboat on the Missouri). Three of these prisoners were named Arch Austin, _____ Walden and Green (E.G.) Wallace (_____ Black as well)... The men were led out, placed in line, and at the crack of the guns of the firing party all four fell. Strangely enough, however, not all were killed. Austin and Walden were killed instantly, but Wallace was not seriously hurt; the ball grazed the top of his head, bringing blood and felling him to the ground, where he lay stunned and insensible for some time, and was greatly surprised when, upon regaining consciousness, he found his comrades dead and himself comparatively unhurt.” ( History of Caldwell and Livingston County, 1886, page 778.
During the month of July 1862 at the Circuit Court in Chillicothe J. T. Jennings was acquitted of the murder of L. D. Kirk which had occurred April 12, 1861.
2 July 1862-- President Lincoln presents his Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinent. Governor Gamble created the enrolled Missouri Militia. By his order the entire militia of the state was organized into companies, regiments and brigades for the purpose of putting down all marauders, and defending the peaceable citizens of the state.
But not all of the men joined the EMM to fight for the North. This Civil War “DRAFT” actually forced some Missouri men into the Confederate service, for they had vowed that if ever they wewe forced to fight, it would be for the South. By General Order No. 24 the citizens of Missouri were to present themselves before authorities as either loyal or disloyal. Some 289 men signed up as disloyal in Livingston County. The 65th regiment of EMM was organized in the early fall of 1862 and to this regiment four companies from Livingston County were attached; six others were from Carroll County.
Field officers were John B. Hale, Colonel; Richard F. Dunn and A. J. Swain, Lieutenant-colonels; J. J. Wall, F. M. Bedford and George Deigle, majors; D. J. Kirby, adjutant; C V. Mead, quartermaster, and Charles Heidel, surgeon. The names of the men who served in the Livingston companies are not now available, but history books list the officers as follows:
Company G was made up of men from Green and Mound Townships chiefly. The officers were first commissioned September 4, 1862 and all of the companies were mustered out of service March 12, 1865. Thomas H. Reid was captain during his term of service. First lieutenants, Peter Ludwig, till May 20, 1864, then Robert Harrison, Second lieutenants, Joseph T. Halleck, till May 20, 1864, then Ashford A. Stone.
Company H was from Chillicothe. The first captain was R. F. Dunn, promoted to lieutenant-colonel November 3, 1862, then Robert S. Moore. First lieutenants A. J. Swain , promoted to lieutenant-colonel October 5, 1863, then John Desha. Second lieutenants, Robert S. Moore, promoted to captain October 30, 1862, then Hardin R. Wright.
Company I was from Spring Hill and Jackson township . The captain was Henry H.Turner, First lieutenants were G. B. Lyon then Lemuel Hargrave. Second lieutenant was David Gibbs.
Company H was from Fairview township and south of the Grand River. It was headed by Captain William Barnes from September 27, 1862. The First lieutenant was Drury N. Matthews and the Second lieutenant was J. H. Kincaide. 4 August 1862--President Lincoln declined to enlist two black regiments from Indiana. General Order # 24 by Brig-Gen. Scholfield...All the loyal men of Missouri subject to military duty will be organized into companies, regiments and brigades....
All disloyal men, and those who have at any time sympathized with the rebellion, are required to report at the nearest military post or other enrolling station, be enrolled, surrender their arms, and return to their homes or ordinary places of business, where they will be permitted to remain so long as they shall continue quietly attending to their ordinary and legitimate business and in no way give aid or comfort to the enemy. Disloyal persons, or sympathizers with the rebellion will not be organized into companies, nor required nor permitted to do duty in the Missouri militia." There were 389 enrolled as “Disloyal.” The men with Kirk were not included in this list
5 August 1862-- OFFICIAL RECORDS Series 1 Vol. 13 page 2-7 Joseph Kirk’s local bushwackers Capt. Frank Davis’ men were attacked by Federal forces near Diamond in Daviess Co. Several were wounded on each side and a young man, Thomas Hicklin who was from Springhill and with Kirk was captured. He refused to give information that the federal forces wanted pertaining to the number of troops with Kirk and names, etc. The officer in command ordered that Hicklin be shot. This order was carried out and his letter to his family was destroyed but someone notified his family and his body was recovered and buried in the family plot. See page 105 History of Daviess & Grundy Co Mo 1922
The next day west of Spring Hill Joe Kirk’s brother in law Daniel Hale was captured in a cane patch by the same detachment that killed Hicklin. They also killed Hale, who was buried nearby.
Judge Roy Hicklin who was very interested in the Livingston County Civil War told there was an exchange of prisoners between the Federals and Rebels at the old home where he grew up in Jackson Township.August 12-15 1862-- The Second Battle of Bull Run In the summer of 1862 there was residing in Boone County, Mo. on a farm located between Columbia and Sturgeon, a young man with his wife and two small children. He was living in peace with all mankind dutifully taking care of his young family. The war that had broken out between the North and South had not as yet caused very much disturbance among the people of that part of the state. But one day in the midsummer of 1862 a squad of recruiting officers officers for Gen. J. A. Poindexter’s army that was being raised to join General Price, came to the home of this young man and prevailed on him to join then. General Sterling Price, a Confederate officer was at that time operating on the South side of the Missouri River and it was Poindexter’s aim to bring to him a regiment of recruits but he found every crossing of the Missouri River guarded with fresh armies of Union soldiers constantly gathering. So Poindexter found it best to start north and west and try to effect a crossing of the river at Lexington, Missouri. As he was being closely pursued by the Union forces, he directed his course up through Chariton and Carroll counties, crossing the main channel of the Grand River at Compton’s ferry thence into Livingston county, passing through the place where the town of Avalon is now located, then on to Utica, where he crossed Grand River again, traveling north and reaching Springhill about 11 o’clock, August 13, 1862. Here he commandeered all the food in the village and directed the women to cook for his soldiers. This they did. His command was a tired, worn out looking lot of men and horses many of the horses carrying two men. Some of the horses had no saddles on and many of the men were without shoes or hats. After resting his men and horses until 3 o’clock, Poindexter, with his men marched eastward, having pressed Horatio K. Pearl, a citizen into service to guide them across the East fork of Grand River. They crossed at what was known as the McGhee ford, thence eastward through the present site of Sturges, onward over the open prairie country to a point north of Laclede. Here the command was disbanded.On the morning of August 14, 1862 there appeared at a farm house near where the town of Sturges is now located a man and horse. The man proved to be one of Poindexter’s men who with his horse had become exhausted, and turning aside to rest, had spent the night in the tall prairie grass that at that time grew very profusely there. He had no sooner make his wants known to the farmer’s wife than two farmers, R. and C. happened along, bound for Chillicothe. The woman called their attention to the man, telling them that he was one of Poindexter’s men.While they were talking Lt. Sam Warner came along with some of his men and was notified by the woman that a rebel soldier was there awaiting his breakfast. Warner called him out, talked with him and told him that he would eat his breakfast in hell that morning. The young man begged for his life, telling Warner that he had been pressed into Poindexter’s service that he had a wife and two small children depending upon him. He said his name was William Booth of Boone County.He was marched off by Warner and his men and nothing further was heard of him until late the fall, when William H. (Sug) Turner, now deceased in riding across the prairie, where the soldier was last seen, espied a man’s hat, and coming nearer discovered the body of a man lying on the ground. Calling some of his neighbors, they removed the body to a spot to what is now known as the northwest corner of Sturges and buried the body in a corner of a field by one “Call.” The cottonwood trees grew up near this grave and are now large trees. A few years ago, two veterans, one of the Confederacy and one of the Union Army, had the remains removed to the Rickett cemetery across Medicine Creek, just east of Sturges. There the body still lies buried. Is it possible that at this late date that any one of the soldier’s family is still living? There are only one or two persons now living near the place where the tragedy was enacted who remember the above incident. From one of them was obtained a part of the above information. I, myself, as a small boy was an eye-witness to the visit of the army at Springhill. (An Unrecorded Tragedy of the Civil War by Douglas Stewart-Chillicothe Constitution clipping 1924-5.)The war that had broken out between the North and South had not as yet caused very much disturbance among the people of that part of the state. But one day in the midsummer of 1862 a squad of recruiting officers officers for Gen. J. A. Poindexter’s army that was being raised to join General Price, came to the home of this young man and prevailed on him to join them. General Sterling Price, a Confederate officer was at that time operating on the South side of the Missouri River and it was Poindexter’s aim to bring to him a regiment of recruits but he found every crossing of the Missouri River guarded with fresh armies of Union soldiers constantly gathering. So Poindexter found it best to start north and west and try to effect a crossing of the river at Lexington, Missouri. As he was being closely pursued by the Union forces, he directed his course up through Carroll counties, crossing the main channel of the Grand River at Compton’s ferry thence into Livingston county, passing through the place where the town of Avalon is now located, then on to Utica, where he crossed Grand River again, traveling north and reaching Springhill about 11 o’clock, August 13, 1862.Here he commandeered all the food in the village and directed the women to cook for his soldiers. This they did. His command was a tired, worn out looking lot of men and horses many of the horses carrying two men. Some of the horses had no saddles on and many of the men were without shoes or hats. After resting his men and horses until 3 o’clock, Poindexter, with his men marched eastward, having pressed Horatio K. Pearl, a citizen, into service to guide them across the East fork of Grand River. They crossed at what was known as the McGhee ford, thence eastward through the present site of Sturges, onward over the open prairie country to a point north of Laclede. Here the command was disbanded.17 August 1862-- A group of Sioux Indians revolt due to living conditions on their reservation in Minnesota.Kirk captured five Union men who were on leave in Daviess County and about that same time part of his company under Lt. David Martin bushwacked about twenty of the enrolled militia on Hicklin’s Branch northwest of Spring Hill. Joseph Conklin was killed and a man named Thomas was mortally wounded. Kirk’s men suffered no loss.Kirk then withdrew to the Van Winkle Bend on the river north and west of Chillicothe. Col. Shanklin sent Capt. Spickard and Capt. Winter's companies of Grundy Co. and Capt. Turner’s enrolled militia of Chillicothe to attack Kirk. They managed to surprise the bushwackers routing them completely and one of their number, Joseph Allen, was drowned. Union men, who had lost horses, had their stock returned after this. Kirk and his men headed south but he was wounded and that ended his war on the Union. When he recovered he moved to California with his family until after the war. (Hist of Caldewell and Livingston Counties , Mo.1886 Page 787 )Joe Kirk was gone to California, Cooper was dead, Best was dead, Hicklin and one of the Hales had been killed, several others were wounded or had moved away. As far as rebel action in Livingston County it was over.