County Histories of Northeast Missouri

Civil War in Audrain County

As noted above the old parties were prior to the Civil war about equally divided in the county. In 1860 all three of the Democratic tickets as well as the Republican were represented in the campaign.

The Bell and Everett voters and the Douglass voters maintained flags on a pole in the courthouse yard throughout that campaign. In that election Lincoln received one vote in the county. As above noted Audrain's representative was a secessionist and its representative in the state senate was a Union man. Early in the spring of 1861 when the lines between union and secession were beginning to be drawn, the people of the county were about equally divided, there being, however, a strong secession sentiment in and around Mexico. The divided sentiment is well illustrated by an effort which was made to raise a secession flag in Mexico that spring. William O. Johnson, Green Bishop, James and Robert Carter and Joe Inlow were the leaders of the participants on the part of the secessionists. On the other hand, were George W. Fentem, Samuel Fentem, Henry Estes and W. H. White, the leaders of the opposition. It was undertaken to put the flag on the Bell and Everett pole of the fall campaign still standing. This resulted in a general fight in which no one was killed but several badly hurt. The secessionists were compelled to retire without ever getting the flag on the pole and the secession flag never floated in Mexico.

From the time of the Camp Jackson affair at St. Louis in May it was the determination of the Federal forces to hold the Missouri river through the entire state. General Lyon, after that affair, promptly seized Jefferson City, and the contention was over the possession of the river west of there, culminating in battles at Boonville and Lexington. It was also the determination of the Federal forces to keep up a complete line of communication along the line of the North Missouri Railroad to Macon City and from there east on the Hannibal & St. Joe to Hannibal. From the central position of Mexico it was regarded as the military key to all Northeastern Missouri and was occupied by the Union troops early in the war and held by them to the end of the conflict.

The first troops stationed at Mexico were in June or July, 1861. A portion of the Second and Eighth Missouri Regiments, in all about six hundred men were under the command of Colonel Morgan L. Smith and Lieutenant Colonel G. A. Schaefer. Prior to the arrival of these troops efforts were made in various parts of the county toward raising companies of the State Guard, under the call of Governor Jackson, for 50,000 men to defend the state against invasion. While they were called State Guards, they in reality afterwards became the bulk of Price's army.

John G. Muldrow, a strong secessionist, got a crowd of men and boys together, which he called the ''Audrain Rangers," but never perfected an organization of them. When the first train load of these soldiers riding on flat cars, were approaching Mexico from the east, he took his men a mile or so east of Mexico and just east of the Salt River Bridge, hid in the corn and brush and fired on the Union soldiers, killing some and wounding a number of them. There is no account of this affair in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, but it must have occurred in the last half of July. Immediately after this affair, Muldrow's crowd dissolved, some hiding in the brush and some going to their homes and remaining hidden for a number of days. It was the first start of real disorder which was constant throughout the remainder of the war. This regiment of Union soldiers was mostly composed of undisciplined Germans and they seemed to have the idea that the war was a personal matter between them and the individual secessionists as they came into contact with them. Muldrow was a brother-in-law of John P. Clark, who was a very strong Union man and it was doubtless through his efforts that Muldrow was never held accountable for this affair. John Q. Muldrow being mistaken for the real Muldrow, was by the soldiers, on being met by them, shot down and killed, and by a company of these soldiers passing through the town about the same time, two other citizens, William Lockridge and Garland Surber, were killed.

When Col. U. S. Grant came to Mexico, John G. Muldrow came in from hiding and at the house of John P. Clark surrendered to Grant, took the oath of loyalty and remained loyal from then on.

When General Pope was placed in command of north Missouri he located his headquarters at Mexico, where he remained from the 29th of July until the 7th of August. On the day that General Pope established headquarters here, he assigned Col. U. S. Grant, Twenty-first Illinois Volunteers to command at Mexico, with a territory from Montgromery City on the south to include Centralia on the north. Colonel Grant remained here until August 7th and it was while here that his name was sent into the senate for promotion to brigadier general. On August 6th Colonel Grant was ordered to St. Louis, and from there to Iron ton, Missouri. While it is true that Grant's name was sent into the senate to be made brigadier general while at Mexico, he did not receive his commission until he had arrived at Ironton. The first order addressed him as brigadier general was at that place August 8th and the next day, reporting to General Fremont, he says ''I arrived here yesterday and assumed command in pursuance of directions from Major General John C. Fremont.''

In Ironton in commemoration of Grant's promotion from colonel to brigadier general, there has been erected a statue of him in Emerson Park, where he stood when he received his commission. General Grant in his Personal Memoirs does not state the date of his arrival in Mexico. He mentions being here in charge of a sub-district embracing the troops in the immediate vicinity and composed of three regiments and a section of artillery. Here he spent some time restoring order among the people, disciplining the soldiers, ''drilling his regiment and studying Hardee's Tactics." He says, ''We were encamped just outside of town on the common, among scattering suburban houses with enclosed gardens." He further says that ''owing to a want of proper discipline of the other regiments, it became necessary to take steps to prevent marauding and the appropriation of property for their own' or government use, by the soldiers, but that soon the people were no longer molested or made afraid." He adds, ''I received the most marked courtesy from the citizens of Mexico as long as I remained there." An account of his stay in Mexico is found in Personal Memoirs. Vol. 1, pages 251-253.

On account of Grant's after prominence in the Civil war, his location in Mexico at the very beginning of his career has always been regarded with great interest by the people here. There has been some controversy as to the location of his headquarters. It has been claimed that he had his headquarters in a house on the lot which has been purchased by the government for the post office building. Someday, the people of Mexico, or some patriotic society may want to mark the spot where he was located. While persons are living who know where that spot is, it should be settled. His regiment was camped on what is now the western part of Mexico, mainly on what composes Morris' addition, north of the railroad. Under the tactics at that time the colonel of a regiment was required to keep his tent with his men. His tent was located on the west side of Depot Street, on the east end of block No. 9, of that addition, and his men were encamped in every direction from him except east. At that time there was more vacant space on the north side of the railroad than now, for it was before the building of the Chicago & Alton Railroad along there. In sup-port of this statement reference is made to ** History of Audrain County, 1884" information furnished by John Saunders, now deceased, at that time postmaster at Mexico and a citizen of Mexico throughout the entire war. Of those living now who were on the ground and at his headquarters during the time he was located here, are James H. Sallee, E. D. Graham, John W. Beatty, Elmer Cunningham and George Clark (colored), all of whom were there under such circumstances that they cannot be mistaken about the place of location.

Major W. M. Stone of the Third Iowa Volunteers, commanded the post at Mexico in January, 1862. Upon the authority of Mr. Sallee, the statement is here made that it was he who occupied the building on the post office lot.

In June, 1861, James O'Bannon raised a company of men, not in Mexico, but in the vicinity around Mexico and undertook to join the Confederates at Boonville, but before reaching there the battle had taken place and it being impossible for them to get across the river they returned home and the company disbanded. Several members of that company afterward in one way or another got to Price's army. Among them were Louis and George Simpson, Richard Lee and Joseph W. Luckie.

The Union forces were not of sufficient numbers in that time to spread all over and take charge of Northeast Missouri, hence in Audrain, Monroe, Boone, Marion and Callaway, remote from the county seats, where Federal posts had been established, there was a great deal of recruiting going on for the Confederates.

D. H. McIntyre, at that time a student at Westminster College, raised a company in Callaway County, composed largely of Audrain County men.

Alvin Cobb, a one-armed man, raised a company of bush whackers which during the early part of the war he kept in the north part of Callaway County and south of Martinsburg in Audrain County. Lieutenant Jaeger of St. Louis, a German, was in command of a company of Union soldiers around Wellsville. Sometime in August, 1861, with a few men on either side there was a little fight near the town of Martinsburg in which Lieutenant Jaeger was wounded. Benjamin T. Sharp, a citizen of Wellsville, was riding in a buggy with Lieutenant Jaeger and was also wounded. He and Jaeger were both followed into the town of Martinsburg and taken prisoners. Cobb took them with him and within about four miles of Martinsburg on Hickory creek in Audrain, killed both of them. The killing of Sharp was due more to a personal matter between him and Cobb, than to sectional strife. The excitement of the time furnished Cobb an excuse for the murder, Jaeger being with Sharp, had to suffer with him. By way of retaliation for the murder of Sharp, a company of German troops marched on Danville and without as much as a drum-head court martial, lined up and shot four citizens, all of whom were southern sympathizers.

The next day after the murder of these men the Federal soldiers destroyed Cobb's dwelling. He had a force of about one dozen men together, stayed in the brush, bush-whacked, plundered and robbed, and was with his force at the battle of Moore's Mill, in Callaway County, on the Confederate side. He finally got to Price's army and in a personal interview with General Price, was told that he must cease his guerilla warfare and take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate states if he desired to have his company mustered into the Confederate service, but civilized warfare not being suited to his tastes and from inability to carry on his bush-whacking further, he, in the early part of the war, went west into the state of Oregon, where he died many years ago. Shortly after this, three young men, not in arms, Robert and James Rodgers and one Hawkins were killed by the Federal soldiers west of Mexico.

John Murray raised a company in Audrain County which became a member of Colonel Brace's regiment. The first officers were, captain, John Murray; first lieutenant, James B. Davis; second lieutenant, Henry Gillispie. Murray afterward became major of the regiment and was succeeded as captain by George W. Edmonston. W. J. Botts now living in Mexico, upon the reorganization of the regiment, after the battle of Lexington became its ordnance master.

As this company has the most complete record of any raised in Audrain County for warfare, the writer of this sketch addressed Colonel Brace, for twenty years a judge of the supreme court of Missouri, after the war, and a man nearly eighty years of age now, a letter of inquiry concerning it, to which was received the following answer, and it is here inserted as the best account extant of Captain Murray's company:

Paris, Mo. Aug. 6, 1912.

When Lee surrendered, I determined to forget all about the Civil war, and have succeeded pretty well. It remains with me only vaguely in memory, and the only record extant of my regiment is such slight mention as may be found in the official reports preserved and published by the Federal government, and the newspapers of the day. The only record I have is my commission as colonel of ''The Third Regiment of Cavalry of the Second Military District, '' dated September 23, 1861, signed by C. F. Jackson, commander in Chief of the Missouri State Guards, B. F. Massey, secretary of state and Warwick Hough adjutant general Missouri State Guards, with seal of the state, and recorded Vol. one, page 54, adjutant general's office. The incidents which led up to the organization of the regiment are briefly as follows: After our return from the Boonville races where I with quite a number of young men from Monroe first heard the report of a cannon in actual warfare, we commenced and consummated the organization of a company under the state law of which I was elected captain, and we commenced trying to make soldiers of ourselves by daily drill. After some scouting and skirmishing I went into camp at the site of Higgenbotham's old mill on Elk Fork where we were soon after joined by a company from Audrain of which Murray was captain, Davis, first lieutenant and Gillispie, second lieutenant. This must have been about the first of August, 1861. Soon after we were joined by a company from Ralls and one from Pike, and we organized a battalion, of which I was elected lieutenant colonel and Murray major. At this time the Federal forces occupying the line of the Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad were thence from time to time making inroads upon the adjoining territory. Cols. Green and Porter of the State Guards were operating north of the railroad and I with my force south of it, and General Price was in southwest Missouri, on the move towards the Missouri river. Green and Porter crossed the railroad on the move to join Price's forces and joined me in Monroe county; after a skirmish at Shelbina we went into camp for a short time east of Florida where the ''Salt River Tigers'' Captain Grisby joined my battalion and soon after another company was added to my battalion, but I cannot recall the name of its captain. I think it came from Montgomery County. Colonel Green and I determined to join General Price's forces south of the Missouri River while Colonel Porter determined to remain in northeast Missouri. I cannot give the date of our starting but we crossed the Missouri river and reached Lexington and joined Price's forces, in the seige and battle followed, where we first met and came under the command of the brigadier general of our district who was Gen. Tom Harris.

The position of our brigade was on the river below the Anderson house, from which we rolled up the hill the Hemp bales which enabled us to use our shot guns and rifles with some advantage in bringing about the surrender of Mulligan's forces. After the surrender my battalion then consisting of six companies was entitled to a regimental organization and accordingly the regiment was organized as ''The Third Missouri Cavalry of the Second Military District.'' I was elected lieutenant colonel and Murray of the Audrain Company major, and thereafter we were absorbed in Price's army and operated therein until after the battle of Pea Ridge. By that time the terms of enlistment of my men (being for only six months) had expired, and the men had been discharged, some entering the Confederate Service others returning to their homes, and this ended the brief and inglorious existence of Brace's Regiment.

Yours truly,
Theodore Brace.

After the battle of Lexington, Major Murray returned to Audrain County to recruit, was not successful, and in company with Joseph Lakenan, he and Lakenan were drowned in crossing the Missouri river in an attempt to rejoin Price.

Grant was succeeded at Mexico by General S. D. Sturgis. Sturgis had under his control about four thousand men. He arrived at Mexico on the 9th of September, 1861, and was ordered to Lexington the 13th. He left a small force in charge of the post at Mexico.

Along in July desperate efforts were made by the Confederates and citizens who were secessionists, to destroy the North Missouri Railroad, so as to break up the line of communications established by the Union forces. They succeeded in practically destroying the railroad from Wellsville to within a short distance of Mexico, destroy-ing the bridge west of Mexico on the 27th day of July. In the destruction of this bridge, a number of citizens of Mexico were engaged. They acted under a commission from General Price, who sent men along the line of the North Missouri Railroad for that purpose, com-missioned to destroy the railroad, with authority to procure assistance from the citizens. A great many citizens of Audrain County were arrested for their participation in this matter, but none were ever tried for it by court-martial although a great number were sent to St. Louis and Alton as prisoners on account of it.

John B. Henderson of Pike County, prominent before the war as a Democrat, and distinguished as a lawyer, raised a regiment of militia for the Union side. Colonel Jefferson P. Jones, equally prominent as a lawyer, in Callaway County, raised a regiment under the call of Governor Jackson for troops to prevent invasion of the state. These two distinguished men being well acquainted and having probably met as antagonists often in court, concluded to effect a compromise and so far as they and their sections were concerned, bring about a fightless, bloodless war. In August, 1861, they met at Benton City about six miles east of Mexico and signed a paper providing that the Union forces should after that date, keep out of Callaway county and the Missouri defense or Confederate forces should after that date keep out of Pike county. It is needless to say that when this compromise was brought to the attention of the Federal authorities, it was promptly repudiated. Colonel Jones force soon surrendered and disbanded. He was taken prisoner by the Federal forces and put under bond for good behavior during the remainder of the war. He was tried by court martial, but not found guilty of violation of any of the Articles of War.

Colonel Henderson continued in charge of his command but changed his views as to warfare. He became brigadier general and was placed in charge of a section of the country in north Missouri. He was located at Mexico in the early part of January, 1862, and on January 9th reports having captured forty prisoners, ten of whom he took in battle. They were held by the Federal authorities for bridge burning.

After Henderson came Major H. C. Caldwell, t Third Iowa Cavalry. He and different detachments of his men were located at Mexico for some time.

Another attempt to organize a company for the Confederate forces was made by William O. Johnson, in the northern part of Audrain County, in the early winter of 1861. On the 24th of December, a company of Colonel John W. Burge's Sharp Shooters, then called, afterward the Thirteenth Missouri Infantry, was on its way from Palmyra to Sturgeon and in order to avoid the timber and thus escape chances of ambush, they detoured south through Audrain county over the prairie and stopped to rest in a barn known as McClintock's barn, situated on the northeast corner of section 16, township 52, range 9. This presented a splendid opportunity to the mind of Captain John-son, for a battle or surrender. His company was mostly undisciplined farmers of the neighborhood. He approached the barn from the east and when within a short distance of it, halted, lined up his men, to give the Federals an opportunity to surrender. . They filed out of the barn, formed a line of battle, swung around in front of Johnson's company, to use the language of Johnson, ''like a gate,'' and when all this military precision was observed, before anyone had time to fire, his men broke. The Federal company fired a volley or two after them, probably not aiming to hit anybody, and continued on their way to Sturgeon, arriving there the next day in time for the battle at Mount Zion, in Boone County. This resulted in the dissolution of Captain Johnson's company.

In the battle of Mount Zion, on the Union side, Captain John D. Macfarlane of Mexico distinguished himself in action and was mentioned in the report of the battle, for meritorious services. Later on account of his splendid services in the Ninth Missouri Cavalry, his brother, Wm. W. Macfarlane, a Confederate soldier, who had been taken prisoner at the battle of Moore's Hill, and ordered shot without a judgment of court martial, had his sentence commuted to imprisonment at Alton, Illinois.

In September, 1862, General Lewis Merrill was commanding the Northeast Missouri Division and was located at Macon. There were three Macfarlane brothers, George B., a lawyer. Captain John D., above mentioned, also a lawyer; and Wm. W. Macfarlane, a physician. The Macfarlane family was prominent in Callaway and Audrain counties. During a part of the war and after the war they lived in Mexico, hence an order like that issued by General Merrill on September 2, 1862, from his headquarters at Macon, would produce unusual excitement in Audrain County. On that date General Merrill addressed an order to Major Caldwell, located at Mexico, to dispose of the following prisoners, as follows: First, John Gastemee, to be shot to death, the 5th of September, between the hours of 10 A. M. and 3 P. M., at Mexico, Missouri. Second. W. W. Macfarlane, to be shot to death on Friday, the 5th of September, between the hours of 10 A. M. and 3 P., at Mexico, Missouri. Third, Solomon Donaldson, to be shot to death on Friday, the 5th of September, between the hours of 10 A. M. and 3 P. M. at Mexico, Missouri. There was no attempt made to carry out the order as to Gastemee and Donaldson, but what final disposition was made of them there is no account. As to Macfarlane, he was ordered to be taken to the execution ground and an order read to him as follows: ''In consideration of the noble stand taken for the right by your brother, Captain Macfarlane, of the Ninth Missouri State Militia, the commanding general is pleased to order that your life be spared and your sentence commuted to confinement during the war." Amidst great excitement of the people of Mexico and a large crowd which had gathered there that day to witness the execution of Dr. Macfarlane, as well as three others, he was led to the execution grounds, where all necessary preparations for his execution had been made. Standing in his place, the order was read to him, whereupon he was returned to the prison house and removed to prison in St. Louis, where he remained for some time, thence to Alton, where he remained until December 30, 1862, when he was paroled by Col. J. O. Broadhead, provost marshal at St. Louis.

By another order. Major Elliott Major of Monroe County was ordered to be shot at Mexico at the same time as Macfarlane. Major had been in the Confederate service, taken prisoner and discharged upon taking the oath of allegiance and not to again bear arms against the United States. He had violated his oath and had again taken up arms for the southern cause, having been given a commission as Major in General Joe C. Porter's command. Upon being taken prisoner the second time, this order was made. Major had participated in the battle at Kirksville under Porter and afterward at Chariton River. He had surrendered under promise of being treated as a prisoner of war.

In the minds of the people of Audrain and Monroe counties, there has always been a romance connected with the release of Major. He had a sweetheart living at Paris, Missouri, the daughter of a Union man. Lieutenant Cravin Hartman of the Third Iowa Cavalry, located at Mexico and part of the time at Paris, was attempting to pay his addresses to the sister of Major's sweetheart. Hartman was a fine looking young fellow but considerable of a swash-buckler and in order to ingratiate himself into the good graces of this young lady, pre-tended at least to be interested in the release of Major. John W. Beatty now living in Mexico accompanied Hartman to Monroe County to secure the influence of Union men there to petition General Merrill to prevent the execution. Just how far Hartman's influence went is not known, or if it be real or pretended, may never be known. Hart-man turned out to be a man of neither veracity nor integrity. He committed many depredations in this section of the state, under the guise of warfare.

It is more probable that the kind heartedness and soldierly con-duct of Major Caldwell had more to do with the saving of Major's life, as well as the others from Monroe County, who were ordered shot, than that of any other person. In a letter of September 6, 1912, to the author of this sketch, Judge Caldwell says: ''The day after I received this order, the mothers, sisters and friends of these men, appeared at my headquarters in Mexico to entreat for their lives, the day fixed by the orders for their execution was only four days off. The delegation was headed by Mr. Marion Biggs, of Monroe County, one of the kindest and most tender-hearted men I ever knew. He was so highly esteemed by both sides in the war, that neither side molested him; and he devoted himself to the task of interceding for the relief of his neighbors (whether rebels or Federals, he made no distinction) who were so unfortunate as to fall into the hands of the enemy and likely to become victims to the rigors and passions of a civil war.

''As soon as the delegation entered my headquarters and before Mr. Biggs or any other member of it had spoken a word, I said, ''Mr. Biggs, you don't have to tell me what you or your friends have come here for. You want to save the lives of these men who are under sentence of death, which I am ordered by my superior officers to carry into effect. I have not the power to cancel General Merrill's orders however much I might desire to do so, but I can tell you who can cancel these orders and how you can save the lives of these men.' At that remark a female voice in the crowd cried out in great anguish, ''Oh, for God's sake, tell, tell, tell us quick.' And I replied, ''Hasten to the railroad station and catch the morning train to St. Louis and as soon as you get there, go to the headquarters of General Curtis and tell him what you have come here to tell me. He is one of the most humane and tender-hearted men you ever saw and when you have told your story, he will at once revoke General Merrill's orders, and send me an order to that effect. Have him send his order to me by telegraph and give you a duplicate to fetch to me, so that if the wires are cut and the order by telegraph does not reach me, you will be sure to get here with the one entrusted to you. Now go quickly and catch your train. '' Major Caldwell is right,' said Biggs, ''we must act on his advice, come let's go.' And they hastened to the station, caught the train, got to St. Louis and by eleven o'clock the next day. I had received an order from General Curtis revoking the orders to shoot the men, and directing me to send them to St. Louis."

Major was sent to prison at Alton, where he remained for some time and was regularly exchanged, reentered the Confederate army and after the close of the war removed to California, where while city marshal of a town in that state, died.

Major Caldwell was in charge of the post at Mexico through the summer and fall of 1862. During the time here, he with his command, fought Porter at Florida, July 22d; Santa Fe, called by the Federals, but by the Confederates, called Botts' Bluff, July 24th; and Moore's Mill with Colonel Guitar's regiment, July 28th. After the battle at Botts' Bluff, Caldwell pushed Porter south in Audrain County, north of the Callaway line on the north fork of Salt River, where Porter's men rested for a day or two before the engagement at Moore's Mill. Major Caldwell has always been well and favorably remembered by the people of Audrain County.

After the battle of Lexington, Silas L. Hickerson, a member of Murray's command, returned to Audrain County with a commission as a captain, for the purpose of recruiting a company. He was never able to get back to Price's army, but with his company, joined Porter and remained in Audrain and surrounding counties. He was in the battles of Florida, and Santa Fe, and was looked upon by both sides as a guerilla.

Another man of Audrain County, with a company, was Young Purcell. Before the war he was a farmer on Littleby. With his band he was part of the time with Porter, and at other times out carrying on the usual work of a bush-whacker on his own account. On August 13, 1862, he and another, with a company of two hundred men, entered Columbia and liberated the Confederate prisoners there in jail, one of whom was Wm. R. Jackson, son of Judge James Jackson, of pioneer days of the county.

After the battle of Moore's Mill, Porter's command divided up into small detachments, some going to their homes, some to their rendezvous but the main body was removed to the northern part of the state.

After the battle at Kirksville, Porter's command again divided into small detachments, some surrendering under Lieutenant Todd at Mexico and some going south with Captain R. K. Phillips, among whom were Joe Inlow and Sam Murray, both of Audrain County.

The Confederate forces were never at any time able during the war to enter Mexico. After the battle at Moore's Mill the last of July, 1862, Col. Odon Guitar, with the Ninth Missouri moved into Mexico and in doing so cut off a Confederate force from entering Mexico and which was coming in that direction from Concord. Guitar was here a short while and afterward was promoted to brigadier general and placed in charge of the northern district of Missouri.

A great deal of recruiting took place in various parts of the county and a great deal of bush-whacking was done. Small numbers of men would get together, stay under cover and at the first opportunity, make an effort to get south of the Missouri river to join Price's army. Sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they did not. The number of men going into the Confederate service from Audrain County was probably about four hundred.

When the Third Iowa Cavalry was removed from here, it was succeeded by a company of militia under Captain John McRoberts, then he was followed by Colonel Smart and the Third Missouri State Militia, Cavalry. Smart's regiment was located here until January, 1863, when he was succeeded by the return of McRoberts' Company. McRoberts in turn in May, 1863, was succeeded by Col. Joseph B. Douglass and Douglass remained in Mexico and the vicinity until the close of the war. Douglass was in charge of a district.

In August, 1864, a company of Home Guards was organized in Mexico, for the purpose of helping to defend the town from the various guerilla bands operating throughout the county. John M. Gordon was captain; W. D. H. Hunter, first lieutenant; and F. M. Shryock, second lieutenant. There are many living in Mexico and its vicinity now who were members of Captain Gordon's company. It was their duty to keep the town picketed and to keep guards at the blockhouses at the railroad bridges on either side of the town.

In 1864 when Price made his raid north, there was again a fresh outbreak of activity in Audrain County, as well as all over Northeast Missouri. Three hundred Confederates crossed the river near Glasgow and got as far northeast as Paris, where they compelled Captain William E. Fawkes with a company of seventy militia, to surrender. This was October, 1864.

The excitement at this time caused Captain Gordon to take extra precautions to guard the town. On this occasion or some similar one, the town was picketed for fear of an attack from the Confederates. In those days it was not always just exactly safe to be too free about expressing one's sentiments in the presence of strangers, and until it was known which side the stranger belonged to, cautious men were careful, and it becoming known that the stranger was a Federal or Confederate, it was not unusual to express great sympathy for his cause, especially if he was serving either. At the time referred to, Jim Carroll and John Jeffries were sent out to picket the road coming in from toward Centralia. They were stationed at suitable distances apart along the road, with Carroll the farther out. They were instructed that if they heard gun shots in their direction, they were to give the alarm by firing their guns and immediately retreat into the town to give further alarm. Carroll while handling his gun, allowed it to go off accidentally. Jeffries hearing this, immediately fired his gun and started to run for the town. Carroll, becoming panic-stricken, struck out at his best lick to town and in his excitement ran against Jeffries, knocking him down and falling on him. Jeffries mistaking Carroll for a large part of the rebel forces, concluded that he had been taken prisoner and without looking to see who had him, began to profess adherence to the rebel cause, swearing that he was as good a rebel as anybody and ''for goodness sake to let him go the way of a good rebel." By this time Carroll had recovered sufficiently to recognize his friend Jeffries, and said to him, ''John, don't make a fool of yourself. ''I'm no rebel, it's nobody but Jim. '' When Jeffries discovered that it was Carroll, and looking round to see that no one else was there, and to make sure they were alone, said, ''Being as it is you Jim, and there is nobody here but you and me, we'll just stick to our principles."

Great excitement was created in Mexico and its vicinity when it was known that the notorious Bill Anderson was in an adjoining county and headed toward Audrain, shortly before the Centralia Massacre. A little after the middle of September, 1864, Anderson made an attack on the post at Fayette and was driven off. He then went through Randolph County to Paris and finding the federal forces there too strong for him, turned to the southward, coming in the direction of Mexico, until he reached a point where the Mexico and Paris road crosses Long Branch. Instead of continuing on his way toward Mexico, he turned southwestward and crossed the western part of Audrain County to Centralia. He was followed from Paris by Major Johnson with about one hundred and seventy-five men and the next day the fight at Centralia occurred. Shortly before this Captain George W. Bryson, a regular Confederate soldier of the Missouri troops, who had been in the siege of Vicksburg, was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department, then commanded by General Kirby E. Smith, made his appearance in this section on a recruiting expedition. In April, 1864, General Smith made a detail of ten men, of his best and most daring scouts to go to north Missouri to recruit men for the service. Pursued by Federals from the south side, these men got across the river just below Jefferson City. After traveling about twenty miles northward in Callaway county, they separated, each going to his former home. Bryson went to the home of John Barnes south of Centralia and there recruited four men. Near Centralia Bryson ran across a company of Federals guarding a wagon load of ammunition and guns, being taken from Centralia to Columbia. Bryson, with his men, opened fire on the Federals, and though Major Evans in charge of the troop, had a full company, they ran, abandoning their charge. Bryson captured 75 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition and soon raised a company of sixty-two men. He soon afterward captured a train of Federal horses at Centralia. He then started on a scout to capture Mexico. While north of Mexico about ten miles one morning, he divided his men into small bunches in order to breakfast at different houses. One of these houses was that of Peyton Botts. The lieutenant, who had ordered breakfast at the Botts' home, failed to leave a guard there to look out for Federals. While Mrs. Botts was preparing a breakfast, a Federal troop came along and seeing that unusual preparations were being made for breakfast, compelled Mrs. Botts by threats of killing her husband, to tell that the breakfast was for a band of rebels. The Federals concealed themselves and when Bryson with ten men returned to the house to eat breakfast, they were fired upon at close range by the Federals, killing one horse and wounding Bryson. Bryson fell back into the woods and rallied his men, but when he got back to Botts' house, they were all gone, carrying with them as a prisoner the man whose horse they had killed.

This fight occurred the day before the Bill Anderson fight at Centralia, and for that reason in the minds of some, Bryson has been connected with Anderson in the guerilla warfare of North Missouri. Bryson was never connected with Bill Anderson though Britton in his "The Civil War on the Border," puts Bryson down as a guerilla, and classes him with Anderson, Todd and others. He was a regular Confederate soldier and at the time of these occurrences was recruit-ing. Captain Bryson was taken care of by Logan Mundy and John Ellis of that neighborhood, until he recovered from his wounds. He was kept in the timber near their houses. Bryson was attended by Dr. W. R. Rodes, then of Santa Fe, now residing in Mexico. While Bryson was still unable for service, the first lieutenant of the company, under Bryson's instructions, joined General Price near Boonville. By the time Bryson was able to travel, seventy-five men had come to him and he started to the southern army and after a long and tiresome march, rejoined Kirby Smith, with whom he remained until the surrender. Captain Bryson returned to Missouri after the war and married the daughter of Logan Mundy, with whom he became acquainted while being nursed for his wounds. He now lives in Gaines-ville, Texas, and is treasurer of Cooke County.

In addition to those already mentioned, the non-combatants killed by the Federals in and around Mexico during the Civil war, was Gabriel Turner, a citizen of Boone County, being in Mexico along the latter part of the war, was fallen upon by a number of soldiers and killed. Then the Barnett boys, two inoffensive young fellows, attending to their own affairs at their home about two miles from Mexico, on the Florida road were also killed by the Federal Militia. The Federals by virtue of military power had a means by which they could hold the other side responsible for murders and depredations, but there was no way to hold responsible the Federal soldiers, or militia-men, who were guilty of killing southern sympathizers, so that matters of that kind went uninvestigated, unpunished and passed into a mere memory.

At the beginning of the war General Pope, by his Order No. 3, undertook to make all citizens, regardless of political belief, stand responsible for the destruction of the North Missouri Railroad. This was a policy he undertook to pursue throughout Northeast Missouri. Every man living within five miles of the railroad, he undertook to hold responsible for anything done toward destroying it. This and other things done by him, instead of restoring order and creating confidence in the Federal authorities, had the opposite effect, and the consequence was that so long as that policy was pursued, there was a general state of disorder, not only in this, but in all the surrounding counties of Northeast Missouri.

Later in the war a committee of seven was appointed for each county, whose duty it was to assess the various counties of Northeast Missouri, their share of $300,000 with which to compensate for depredations done by all forces unfriendly to the Union cause. On January 15, 1863, there was assessed by the Federal authorities against Audrain County as its part, $21,000, which was levied against the southern sympathizers of the county, and which they were compelled to pay. In many instances, people perfectly innocent of any wrong, and who had taken, and were living under the oath of loyalty, were compelled to suffer for the acts of irresponsible outlaws.

Shortly before the close of the war, there was a fellow by the name of Nath Williams with a band in the southeastern part of the county, engaged in bush-whacking Union men and robbing men of both sides. A Federal soldier named James Davis returned to his home in that neighborhood, and Williams with his band, took Davis out and murdered him. This was unknown to and contrary to the desires of the citizens of the neighborhood, but notwithstanding that the Federal authorities caused Henry and James H. Shock, Thomas R. and Josiah Gantt and William Ragland, to be arrested and held in prison as a ransom for Davis, not knowing that he had been killed, and when that was ascertained, these men were compelled to raise a considerable amount of money to pay the Federal authorities, as a recompense for the loss of the soldier.

The number of men going into the Federal service from Audrain County was probably about five or six hundred. The secession sentiment probably prevailed in the north and south parts of the county, but in Cuivre Township, it was almost unanimously Union, from the beginning, of the war until the end. Before the Civil war there had settled in that township a considerable number of French and a great many Pennsylvania Germans, and these men were strong adherents to the Union, and being generally men of strong character they dominated the sentiment in that end of the county. It has been said that eight out of every ten men of military age in Cuivre Township were in the Union army. There were parts of three companies of militia made up in Cuivre, those of Captain Geo. M. Boss, Abraham Kempinsky, and Captain Lewis Musick. Another company that of Captain M. E. Swift, was made up in the western part of the county while McRoberts Company came more from the central part.

In this sketch, the Federal volunteer soldier and the militiaman is referred to as either Federal or Union. There was a vast difference in the conduct of the regular soldier from that of the militiaman. In many instances, the militia were as disorderly and unlawful as were the guerillas.

It is not attempted to give a full list of the murders and depredations committed by the militiamen in the county during the Civil war Numbers of southern sympathizers and sometimes Union men were killed and mistreated of which no account has ever been taken.

The civil administration during the war was but a reflex of the military. In 1862 strong Union men were elected to all of the offices in the county. In 1864, armed 'soldiers guarded the polls while the voting took place and of course this resulted in the carrying out of the will of the military power. W. D. H. Hunter was elected to the legislature, where he opposes the adoption of the constitution of 1865 on account of the test oath and the disfranchisement provisions. In 1866, notwithstanding all of the ex-Confederates and southern sympathizers were precluded from voting, the Democrats were successful in electing a set of officers, all of whom had been Union men. In 1868 John D. Macfarlane, a Liberal Republican, was elected to the legislature, over W. T. Cook, Radical. Cook contested and Macfarlane re-signed, and at another election M. F. Simmons, Liberal, was elected over R. M. Sturgeon, Radical. It was not until 1870 that the whole people had a voice in the elections. In that year the Democrats elected a good class of officers, all former Union men, among whom was William H, White, sheriff, who in 1861 had opposed the raising of the secession flag in Mexico. In 1872, Captain Daniel H. McIntyre was elected prosecuting attorney. He was the first ex-Confederate elected to an office in the county after the close of the Civil war. Since that time, there has been scarcely an election but some ex-Confederate soldier has been elected to a place in the court house.


© Missouri American History and Genealogy Project
Created August 16, 2017 by Judy White

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913