Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Civil War gets ugly in Missouri

The longstanding hatreds caused by Bleeding Kansas meant that the Civil War in Missouri turned nasty faster than in other areas. On September 3, rebel bushwhackers undercut the Platte River railroad bridge of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. This wrecked a civilian train, causing more than a hundred casualties, including 17-20 deaths (reports vary). The bushwhackers claimed it was a military target because some soldiers were aboard.

Down in Jasper County in southwest Missouri, there had been a lull in fighting after the Battle of Carthage on 5 July 1861. There wasn't another fight recorded until August 23, when a group of secessionists heading south to enlist and a group of Unionists heading to Fort Scott to enlist bumped into each other near Medoc. A small skirmish ensued. Both sides were ready to fight even though neither had been mustered into an army.

This lull in battles and skirmishes didn't stop the killing. With the rebels emboldened by their victory at Carthage, Unionists started getting anonymous warnings to leave the area or face the consequences. Some got robbed or assaulted. Soon an exodus started to safer areas such as Kansas. The farms left behind were often taken over by secessionists. By early September at least three civilians had been murdered. One had his house plundered and then burned to the ground.

These stories were being repeated in counties all over Missouri. As Union and Confederate armies seesawed across the state, and the rule of law crumbled, life would only get harder for civilians trapped in the middle.


  1. Hi Sean,

    Fascinating information and history about the Civil War in Missouri. I always learn something new after visiting your blog.

    Almost forgot: I read your interview in the MWG neswletter with Dianna Graveman. Great job!

    Donna V.

  2. Thanks! Congrats on the Pushcart nomination!


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