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!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Firefight in a haystack: just another day hunting bushwhackers in Civil War Missouri

June of 1862 was a tough month for the Union forces occupying Missouri. The bushwhackers seemed to be everywhere, cutting telegraph wire, attacking outposts and patrols, killing mail couriers, and committing depredations on Unionist civilians.

Several major firefights are recorded for this month. The strangest occurred on the 18th, when a group of Union soldiers arrived at Hambright's Station near Independence in order to arrest some suspected guerrillas. As they made the arrest, a black man on the farm (presumably a slave) quietly took the soldiers aside and told them more guerrillas were hiding in a nearby haystack.

A skirmish ensued, in which the guerrillas fired out of the haystack and the soldiers fired into it. Hay doesn't provide much protection against bullets and so one guerrilla was killed and the other two wounded and captured. The soldiers completed their mission by burning Mr Barnes' grocery store, presumably for supporting the rebels.

This was only the beginning. Missouri faced three long years of guerrilla warfare before it would be over.

Photo courtesy U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. It actually shows a haystack on an Indian reservation in 1941, but that's OK, it's a nice picture.

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