WASHINGTON COUNTY MISSOURI IN THE
Researched & Written By:
Esther M. Ziock Carroll ©
PART II - WASHINGTON COUNTY PAYS THE "PRICE"
On July 19, 1864 twenty-five bushwhackers robbed the town of Webster (now known as Palmer). They took $1500 worth of goods, killed one man, six horses and took two men off with them. They passed three miles west of Potosi on their route toward Jefferson County. During the night firing was also heard northeast of Cadet. This was according to Capt. Kellerman (Union).
Another version of the story is that this was Sam Hildebrand and some of his men. Hildebrand was a ruthless guerrilla from neighboring St. Francois County. They went in a westerly direction but not toward Potosi. They then encountered and skirmished with six Federals, killing one and capturing two; three escaped. They captured all of their guns and horses. They later shot the two prisoners and dumped them in a deep hole in the Black River while on their way to Arkansas. Hildebrand had a reputation for murdering many people. Everytime he killed someone, he would carve a notch in the stock of his rifle which he had named "Kill Devil".
On August 25, 1864, O.N. Adams of the Office of the Mo. Penn. Lead Co. of Webster reports to Gen. Ewing that the country has been full of Confederate marauders for three weeks, robbing farm houses and devastating the county. People are very, very poor, having been robbed of nearly everything. He states that on the morning of August 23, two separate Confederate gangs met about two miles east of Webster and fought a skirmish, evidently mistaking the identity of the other. They left behind $200 worth of goods, a gun and a dead horse.
He also states that later the same morning fifty-seven to eighty-four mounted and well armed Confederate men under the command of Capt. Evans and Capt. Harris entered the town of Webster. They fired approximately 160 shots, more to frighten the citizens than to harm them. No one was hurt except one horse. They did, however, kill two men after leaving. They cleaned out the store and most of the homes; took the horses and stripped several men naked in the street taking their clothing. Women and children were also robbed of their clothing. As soon as possible the people rallied and gathered what few broke-down and unshod horses as could be found and pursued them to near the Huzzah in Dent County. But after catching up to them, they were unable to make an attack since their numbers were so reduced due from exhaustion of their horses.
August 25, Maj. James Wilson (Union) at Pilot knob, reported to Gen. Ewing in St. Louis of the raid on Webster and the raiders leaving in a southwesterly direction. He states that scouts are out constantly scouring Wasnington and St. Francois counties.
CONFRONTATION AT CALEDONIA
On September 13th Maj. Wilson reports from Pilot Knob that the day before (the 12th) at 12:00 o'clock 40 to 50 guerrillas attacked 14 Union men commanded by Sgt. Warfield at Caledonia. The Confederates were repulsed with one man killed and several wounded. Sgt. Warfield had two men severly wounded. Maj. Wilson states that all the mounted men he has are in pursuit of the guerrillas.
At this time things were looking bad enough for Washington County but more was yet to come. As Union Gen. William T. Sherman and his troops, including many men from Washington County and surrounding area, were marching through Georgia looting, pillaging and destroying nearly everything in their path, Washington county awaited a similar fate as Confederate Gen. Sterling Price prepared his Missouri campaign. He entered Missouri from Pocohontas, Arkansas on Sept. 19th, 1864 with approximately 12,000 troops. More would enlist along the way.
Price's army had three divisions commanded by Gen.'s Joseph Shelby, John S. Marmaduke and James Fagan. They advanced into Missouri in three columns marching about 10 to 20 miles apart leaving death and destruction behind them. They ransacked homes and robbed families of food, crops and horses to provide for the massive troops. Their orders were to drive the Federal forces ahead of them, unite at Fredericktown and prepare to attack Ft. Davidson at Pilot Knob. Their objective was to capture St. Louis.
Marmaduke commanded the divisiont o the right and went by way of Poplar Bluff. A detachment was sent to attack Bloomfield. A skirmish was fought at Jackson and the town captured. Gen. Price and Fagan, commanding the central division, entered Missouri to the east of Doniphan. Gen. Shelby was on the left and went by way of Doniphan. As he approached, the Federals torched the town and retreated. He followed and defeated them at Ponder's Mill. He then moved on the Patterson killing and capturing Union soldiers there as they retreated. Shelby arrived at Fredericktown on the 23rd, two days ahead of schedule. A detachment was sent to Farmington and fought a skirmish at the courthouse there and captured the town. After waiting for a time at Fredericktown, shelby then moved northwwest, on the morning of the 26th, to destroy the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad - which runs through Washington County. That night he and 3,000 troops who called themselves "The Avengers of Blood" camped five miles from the doomed track.
In the meantime - on September 24th, forty residents of Potosi, mounted on horses, left that place to join Shelby. Also, on the 24th, Gen. Rosecrans (Union) ordered Gen. Thomas Ewing, Jr. to take a brigade of the 16th Army Corps from Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis to patrol and garrison the Iron Mountain Railroad reporting to Maj. Gen A.J. Smith, who was to follow the next day with other brigades of the division. Leaving the rest of the brigde at DeSoto, Jefferson County, to await further orders from Gen. Smith, Ewing proceeded on with the 14th Iowa Infantry, strengthening the garrisons at all the bridges and making temporary headquarters at Mineral Point in Washington County. At 10:00 a.m. Monday the 26th he took companies B,C,D,E and H of the 14th Iowa, under Capt. Campbell and went to Pilot Knob where Maj. James Wilson, 3rd Missouri State Militia Cavalry was headquartered. By noon Ewing was at Ft. Davidson in the Arcadia Valley of Iron County, making the total number of troops there approximately 1,200.
Fagan's division moved from Fredericktown to Arcadia Valley also arriving on the 26th and was later reinforced by Marmaduke. A battle was fought at Shut-In Gap and Ironton. Than night more of Price's troops were arriving and their encampment was growing extensively. By midnight it was evident that the enemy was in strong force. Gen. Ewing, early on the morning of the 27th ordered the quartermaster's wagons and a railroad train loaded with supplies not needed in the fort to retreat north to DeSoto. If Ft. Davidson should be captured, Ewing did not want these supplies to fall into enemy hands. He was unaware that a detachment had circled around by way of Farmington to cut the railroad. The wagon train, consisting of 30 - 40 wagons and accompanied by about 35 Union soldiers and some citizens, left first before daylight. The night was very dark and ominous as it thundered and rained. They followed the main dirt road leading up beside the railroad tracks unaware of the fate that lay ahead of them.
THE BATTLE OF POTOSI
On the morning of the 27th Shelby sent detachments throughout the eastern part of Washington County. Fearing the impending onslaught, many citizens and merchants fled Potosi with what valuables they could carry by horses and wagons. County records and large quantities of goods were left behind.
Potosi was attacked first at around noon by about 600 soldiers of Shelby's advance. When John Meyers, an elderly citizen and veteran of the War of 1812, heard the rebels were advancing on the town, he prepared to defend it. He provided himself with three guns, loaded them all and took position upon his porch. As the rebels charged into town, he opened fire upon them wounding one of them. They rushed upon him and shot him dead on his porch, then riddled his lifeless body with bullets and trampled over him as they proceeded to ransack his home.
Stationed at Potosi were about 26 Union soldiers of Co. E, 50th Regiment Infantry, Missouri Volunteers under command of Capt. Cook of Old Mines and Col. Madison Miller. They, along with about 130 citizens attempted to resist, but the Confederates charged and chased them into the courthouse. Here they bravely continued their defense. The rebels then placed a cannon near the railroad depot and began to bombard the courthouse. According to Capt. Cook, one of the shells burst in the courtroom where 30 people were present, but miraculously no one even received a scratch. As the bombardment continued, citizens of all denominations prayed within the walls of the new St. James Catholic Church, where they had taken refuge, about a block north of the courthouse. After the rebels fired their artillery 10 or 12 times, the defenders of the courthouse were compelled to wave the white flag and surrender, although some fled and managed to escape.
The men were then marched out and inspected and "some of those who had by their devotion to the Union flag, rendered themselves obnoxious to the rebels" were taken out in front of the company and shot. The remaining men were then robbed of money, stripped of clothing, shoes and blankets and marched off as prisoners of war. Thomas Casey and John Roach were also taken prisoner and shot by mistake. They were not members of Co. E but were actually southern sympathizers. Among those taken prisoners were: Green Holland, Benj. Davidson, Sam'l. Weast, Andrew Link, Augustus Henrich, Henry Bub, John F. Miller, Joseph Walton, James Rodifer, F.M. Gibson, Hugh Smith, Wm. Carroll, Michael Lefler, Sylvester C. Mason, John Kincaide, J.T. Huett, James Double, Sam'l. Wigger, Irwin Conway, Robt. Gibson, W.D. Morton, Wm. Cathcart and Wm. H. Key.
The rebels took possession of Potosi and hoisted the rebel flag. They plundered stores and homes and robbed women and children of clothing. They destroyed the lead works and used knives to rip up a brand new bellows. The Potosi branch of the railroad and seven railroad cars were destroyed and the depot burned.
Three Union men who managed to escape went to Mineral Point and told of the attack. One of them was John Harrison who had been shot while on picket duty. A ball had grazed his head and four of his fingers were shot off. Shortly after their arrival there, Mineral Point was attacked.
MAYHEM AT MINERAL POINT AND HAVOC AT HOPEWELL
About 1:00 p.m. Mr. F. K. Boyd, a businessman residing at Mineral Point, saw 200 or more rebel cavalry approaching over the railroad from the south. They moved in rapidly paying no attention to the firing upon them by Federal pickets who withdrew. This was a different detachment than the one that attacked Potosi. There were 1,500 - 2,000 Union troops commanded by Col. Mills and Gen. A.J. Smith at Mineral Point. The rebels rushed in upon the yankees who managed to hold them off for about 45 minutes. The rebels were then repulsed with about 50 killed whose bodies, with those of many horses, were left upon the ground. The wounded were all carried off. The yankees then began preparations to withdraw. They knew a railroad train was on it's way from Pilot Knob as Gen. Ewing had notified them by telegraph before the line went down.
The wagon train that had left Ft. Davidson during the night reached the vicinity of Hopewell approximately two miles south of Mineral Point at around 2:00 in the afternoon. Here they ran into very serious trouble. As they entered the edge of an old out-field the advance wagons went into a trap set by the Confederates from Shelby's advance army. The enemy lay on both sides of the road and ordered the wagons to keep driving on as there were no soldiers in the front wagons. They finally cut these off from the rest of the train. But then a brave teamster, Alfred Bird, turned his mule team and wagon across the road, tangling his mules among the trees and saplings blocking the road. He then drew his revolver, ready to fight! As the soldiers jumped from their wagons and started for the head of the train, a negro woman came running back crying, "Hurry up, soldiers! De rebels are comin' !" A skirmish ensued in which Absalom Bess was wounded. Tom Stephens went to him and managed to get him to a house. The enemy was in small force and was soon driven back, after which some of the soldiers including P.H. Harrison Hickman of the 47th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, stood up to watch two or three Confederates on the ridge some distance off. Hickman saw smoke rise from the gun of one of them and heard the bullet "zip" close above his head. It was then followed by the report of the gun. Mr. Hickman saw the rebel take aim and knew the bullet had been meant for him. After that Lt. Tate ordered the soldiers down. Soon after the yankees saw a cloud of rebel reinforcements coming - 800 of them! The 35 Union soldiers stayed until they heard the rebel officers yell, "CHARGE!!" Everyone then abandoned the wagons and ran like hell, scattering in all directions. Some were killed and captured while others more fortunate managed to escape including Hickman, Alfred Bird, and David and Sam Pugh. The rebels then captured the wagon train and 23 negroes. They loosed the mules and burned some of the wagons and confiscated the rest including seven wagons, two caissons, a traveling forge and a number of mules and horses.
Meanwhile back at the fort - The railroad train, engineered by M. Lynch and commanded by Capt. Garven, left Ft. Davidson at 8:00 that morning and a quarter mile out saw some invalids and aged people running to get on the train. The train stopped to pick them up and as they did this, they could see Federal troops retreating into the fort and the Confederate troops closing in on them. Someone on the wall of the fort was waving the American flag. The train proceeded on but progress was slow as it stopped at different bridges along the way picking up the bridge guards as ordered. Also caution had to be used to avoid collisions in case they met any trains coming down the track. At the south Big River bridge in Washington County, two citizens hurriedly rode up yelling for the train to get away as soon as possible as the Confederates were coming to destroy the bridge. The train quickly left and a distance beyond it passed where the wagon train had been captured. The wagons were on fire and the mules running around wild. When the train reached Cut#47 about 1 1/2 miles south of Mineral Point it was forced to stop, as one rail had been pried up and blocked in that position. As some of the soldiers got off to repair the obstruction, they were immediately fired upon by the rebels. However, they were able to drive them back, killing 10 or 12, wounding others and capturing one. While this was happening, a section foreman was able to repair the track sufficiently for the train to continue on. They looked back after leaving and saw the track covered with Confederate cavalry. The train had not gone far berfore the Big River bridge was on fire.
A couple of hours after the attack on Mineral Point, the train arrived at that place and a battery of artillery was loaded on in three minutes. The soldiers evacuated the town and as they boarded the train, rebels appeared in much larger numbers than before. The men of the town deserted it with the troops, to escape conscription, leaving behind the women and children. The train, now carrying the soldiers along with supplies, bridge guards and citizens, fled Mineral Point, narrowly escaping as the enemy began firing down into the town with their artillery. The train eventually reached it's destination in DeSoto safely.
Shelby's soldiers captured Mineral Point burning Frank Boyd's store and the tanks and station house there. The destruction of the railroad had commenced. Irondale was looted and the tanks and station house there were burned. The station house at Hopewell was burned. The bridges at Mineral Point and Cole's Bridge were burned and other bridges over Mill Creek. The south Big River bridge had been burned. Near Mineral Point, the rebels captured and killed three negroes; their bodies would be discovered sometime later partially devoured by hogs. A short distance beyond Hopewell, track was torn up and so well hidden that they could not be found. At the crossing of the Potosi and Farmington roads the track and ties for 300 yards were turned over without being removed from the road bed. At 47 Cut several rails were taken up and carried to the woods. For miles and miles between Irondale and Cadet, they tore up track and burned ties and rail, trestle-work, depots, tanks, cord-wood, telegraph wire and poles, the red flames devouring the debris.
FLIGHT IN THE NIGHT
After wreaking this destruction, Shelby recalled all of his detachments and spent the night in Potosi. The next day, the 28th, he then began moving down the Potosi Road with intentions of joining Price at Pilot Knob. At the time that Shelby had been capturing Potosi and Mineral Point the day before, Gen. Ewing was fighting a very bloody battle in defense of Ft. Davidson. That night he realized he would be unable to hold the fort another day and must take desperate measures or be annihilated. So, at about midnight, Ewing muffled the wheels of the field guns and marched silently out of the fort. He accomplished a daring escape right through enemy lines. As they passed through, the camp of the enemy could be seen on either side of the road not over 300 yards away. The Confederates evidently thought it was their own troops moving about. The yankees were moving up the Potosi Road road with intentions of joining the Union troops at Mineral Point, unaware they had retreated. A squad had been left behind to blow up the powder magazine in the center of the fort. About an hour or so after the evacuation, they lit a slow burning fuse and galloped away as fast as their horses could carry them. Shortly, a huge explosion occurred which shook the earth and was distinctly heard 30 miles away. It sounded like the crack of doom! The Confederates thought the explosion had been an accident and expected to find most of the Federal soldiers dead the next morning.
At 8:00 a.m. in the morning Gen. Price was inquiring whether Ewing was a West Pointer and stated that the men in the fort either "fought like tigers or must have damned good commanders." When he was informed of the evacuation, he exlaimed, "Damn them, they have given me the slip and I will follow them." He then sent Marmaduke and his troops in pursuit.
By sunrise Ewing and troops were entering Caledonia where they ran into a company of 25 Confederate cavalry. They opened fire on them, killing one and wounding one, also killing a horse and capturing it's rider. Gen. Ewing began to interrogate the prisoner but he was uncooperative and refused to answer. Capt. Campbell, becoming impatient at the loss of valuable time, stepped up and stated, "I will make him talk or I will hang him higher than Haman." He then ordered two men to bring him a rope, which was acquired from a nearby house. When they returned with the rope and approached Campbell and the prisoner, the prisoner suddenly became very agreeable and cooperative and told them everything they needed to know! He informed them that he was part of Shelby's advance and that Shelby's command consisted of 3,000 cavalry and they were about one to two miles north of Caledonia. Gen. Ewing knew that the rebels would be hot on his tail from Pilot Knob and he could not continue north as originally planned without running smack into Shelby's troops who also greatly outnumbered them. They had to find an alternative route. Ewing stepped across the road and inquired of a citizen about the road to Rolla. The citizen informed him it was 200 yards ahead on the left. Ewing returned, mounted his horse and commanded, "Forward, march" They marched the 200 yards, made a left and began the retreat toward Webster, then Leasburg and eventually Rolla. Shelby's advance returned to their command and informed Shelby of their run in with Union troops. Shelby sent a detachment back to potosi and around by way of the Steelville road to try and head 'em off at the pass so to speak, where the Steelville and Webster roads intersect in case they went that'a way. Shelby then waited several hours two miles north of Caledonia to do battle with them in case they continued north. This gave Ewing a good head start. Shelby later moved on to Caledonia where he received orders to join Marmaduke's division, up from Pilot Knob, in pursuit of Ewing. The chase was on!
Later that morning on the way to Webster, Aleck Adams of the 3rd M.S.M. Cavalry (Union) stopped briefly at a residence where he married his sweetheart. He then hastily made preparations to rejoin his troops and his bride insisted on going along. She rode her husband's horse while he walked by her side. They had quite an adventurous honeymoon ahead of them!
After reaching Webster at around sundown Ewing and his troops, along with numerous refugees from Pilot Knob, including men, women and children both black and white, stopped to rest for the night. Although some were traveling by horseback, many or most (including soldiers) were on foot. In a field some found two fat caws which they shot, butchered and roasted for their supper. Others, including Sam McGehee, found a spring house on the northwest side of the village and enjoyed some delicious cream. Others consumed hardtack, bacon and coffee. The horses were fed and everyone finally settled down to rest, the men sleeping with their muskets in their hands.
There were a number of people at Webster from the crossroads and surrounding villages and farms, among them two women whose homes were somewhere back near Caledonia. After everyone settled down for the night, these women mounted their horses and left. It was of the opinion that they would give the enemy Ewing's position which was a place poorly situated for defense. It was learned later that Gen. Ewing intentionally allowed them to leave. Soon after, at around 1:00 a.m. everyone was ordered to resume the march. Campfires were left lighted to deceive the enemy into thinking everyone was still at Webster.
Mr. Wingo, a local resident, acted as a guide and as they left, it began to thunder, lightning and rain. They marched in double file, the men holding their guns reversed with the locks under their armpits to keep the priming dry. A lantern was carried in front and drifts of wood were set on fire to help light the way. A few candles, which had been brought from Webster, were lighted and placed by the roadside. When these were gone, a bugle was sounded in front. The prisoner that had been captured at Caledonia had been turned over to the custody of the colored men. Once in a while someone would call out, "Where is that prisoner?" and one of the negroes would reply, "right hyah, 'long wid me."
As the rain fell in torrents, they followed the road along Hazel Creek, blundering through the intense dark over stumps, stones and bushes, wading streams, dragging through mud, plunging and surging through gulleys, mud holes and swollen creeks. They had to wade the swollen Courtois Creek numerous times, losing a piece of artillery in the water. They held hands as they waded across so if someone was swept off his feet he would not be lost. Still no one complained for they knew that every mile gained in the night brought them closer to safety. Finally, in the Courtois Valley, a halt was ordered to wait until daylight when the march resumed.
At daybreak the next morning Shelby and Marmaduke surrounded Webster and closed in from all sides only to find the yankees long gone! By the time they recovered from their surprise, Ewing and his people were maybe 10 miles on their way to Leasburg. Once again the rebels set off in pursuit of the elusive Ewing!
The detachment that Shelby had sent by way of Potosi the day before to intercept Ewing at the crossing of the Steelville and Webster roads narrowly missed them, arriving there only 30 minutes after Ewing passed through. After crossing the Steelville road, Ewing took a road along a crest of ridges between the Courtois and Huzzah Creeks making it impossible for the enemy to flank him. Eventually the enemy caught up and followed closely behind and Ewing's troops fought a half dozen or more rear guard actions on the retreat to Leasburg. One of these was a furious battle fought at Huzzah Valley in Crawford County with a cannon ball going through the wall of a farm house. When crossing the Huzzah, the water was so deep that Pvt. John A. Wynn, Co. A, 3rd M.S.M., bowed his head and drank without stopping while bullets were striking the water like large raindrops. At least three soldiers were killed and are buried there in Huzzah Valley and three or four more are buried about two miles farther along the road. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was used as a field hospital for the wounded of both sides.
Ewing crossed the Meramec River and arrived at Leasburg on the southwest branch of the Pacific railroad around dusk of the 29th after having covered 66 miles in 39 hours with precious little rest or food and almost continuously harrassed by the Confederates. The exhasusted survivors began to fortify the railroad by piling up cord-wood and railroad ties, stopping yet again to do battle with the rebels. Shortly afterward a supply train from St. Louis arrived and the infantry and artillery were loaded on for an escape by rail. But before the train could leave, it was determined that rebels held the stations at Bourbon and Cuba above and below Leasburg, making escape by rail impossible. Everything was then unloaded and fortfying resumed. The morning of the 30th the rebels demanded the yankeses surrender. This demand was adamantly declined with the yankees hoisting an American flag which was provided them by Mrs. Lea, their own flag having been left back at Ft. Davidson and "went up to heaven" in the explosion of the magazine. The rest of the day was spent skirmishing and that night a volunteer crept out and fired a barn to illuminate the area in case the rebels tried to sneak up during the night. The next day, at about noon, Col. Beveredge with 300 Union troops arrived from Rolla. Shelby and Marmaduke withdrew and moved to rejoin Price who by now had left Pilot Knob and was moving north toward St. Louis. That night the yankees marched to Rolla arriving Sunday, October 2nd. The newlyweds also arrived safely. In his official report Ewing estimated his losses at Pilot Knob as 200 killed, wounded and missing. On the retreat to Rolla, about 150 killed and wounded and 50 captured and paroled. Many of the missing eventually found and rejoined ther commands. Other sources show a much lower number of casualties. The Confederate losses for Pilot Knob alone were more than a thousand. It is unknown what the Confederate losses were on the pursuit.
Ewing stayed only one day at Rolla. Here on the morning of Tuesday, October 4th he got an escort of 40 men and passing in the rear of the enemy reached the highway over which he had recently retreated and made his way back by way of Steelville and Old Mines. On the march Ewing's force was unmolested; however, rebels would put in an appearance occasionally when they halted but seldom ventured near. At daylight Wednesday morning, the 5th, they arrived at Old Mines in Washington County and continued to DeSoto. During the ride to DeSoto Gen. Ewing's horse fell injuring the General's foot and Maj. Williams was hurt in the shoulder and hip by his horse falling. Lt. Murphy bruised his knee when his horse jammed him against a tree. At 1:00 in the afternoon they reached DeSoto having traveled 59 miles in 31 hours through drenching rain and over very rough roads. They took the train from De Soto and arrived in St. Louis that night.
PRICE PASSES THROUGH POTOSI
While Ewing and his people had been fleeing for their lives as they were pursued by Shelby and Marmaduke, Gen. Price was moving the remainder of his troops northward. Gen. M. Jeff "Swamp Fox" Thompson joined the command, having been released from captivity through a prisoner exchange; and Sam Hildebrand had come with Price from Arkansas. They passed through Caledonia and Potosi September 29th and they were so numerous it took them from early in the morning until 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon to pass through Potosi. Their number was estimated at 15,000. Some of the men were recognized by citizens to be former Potosians, among them Bill Willoughby and Sam Long.
During Price's continuing raid, numerous Washington County men were killed. Among Capt. Cook's men were F.K. and Isaac Jamison and Mr. Grenia. Pete Welker, Ira Yount and Mr. Roupe were shot for having set fire to Confederate homes. Other persons killed were: Lt. Col. Irwin K. Walker, Capt. Andrew J. Harris and Lt. Henry C. Beckett, all of the 32nd Regiment, Jones Tennison and David C. Mason. At Old Mines a negro man was killed and a white man named McLoughlin was shot and either wounded or killed while trying to escape from rebel scouts.
Prisoners that had been captured at Potosi were herded like sheep into a corral where they were kept without shelter. At 11:00 o'clock one night Bill Willoughby, the Quantrill of this raid, went into the corral and called out the names of five men: I.K. Walker, Mathew Jamison, William Murphy, Allen Glore, and Robert Glore. Only Walker and Jamison wee present. They were taken from among the other prisoners and about an hour later, at midnight, a volley was heard. Everyone knew that Walker and Jamison had been shot but no one dared say a word. After Willoughby had left town, two days later citizens found the bodies of the victims lying in a deserted mineral pit, mutilated almost beyond recognition and partially covered with leaves.
The following appeared in the Daily Missouri Democrat: "There are certain marauders such as Freeman, Hildebrand, Anderson, Holzeclaw, Willoughby and others following in the wake of Price's army whom he affects to disown; and when any of his officers are spoken to about these wretches he says "they are outside of the original Confederate army." And yet, Freeman, Willoughby and others are conscripting for Price's army. If he disowns them, why does he not protect the citizens of the country he conquers from them?"
After passing through Potosi a contingent of Price's army arrived at the Cresswell farm and furnace where the skraggly, hungry soldiers looted the Cresswell store. While camped on the farm, one of the soldiers died of his wounds and is buried in the bottom field on the bank of Mineral Fork Creek.
REBELS AT RICHWOODS
On September 30th, Gen. Price camped at Richwoods and captured the flag there. As in Potosi and other towns, many of the inhabitants fled the area. Now, instead of marching to attack St. Louis, Price had had a change of plan. He had lost valuable time in attacking Ft. Davidson and suffered many casualties. Gen. Ewing standing his ground at the fort instead of immediately retreating delayed the Confederate advance. Price concluded that St. Louis was by now too heavily fortified and an attack on the city woud be futile. The heroism of the soldiers and citizens at Pilot Knob saved St. Louis.
Price's army now divided with a division marching from Richwoods to St. Clair in Franklin County where Shelby and Marmaduke, having withdrawn from Leasburg, rejoined the command on October 1st. Other divisions left Richwoods and went to DeSoto destroying the depot there, the Federal troops having retreated to St. Louis. They then went to the town of Franklin (now called Pacific) on the Franklin-St.Louis County line and tore up track east of that place. They moved west destroying the bridge over the Meramec River at Moselle and captured the town of Union. Here Price's army reunited. Their objective now was Jefferson City, the capitol of Missouri.
About 25 miles the other side of Union near the Gasconade River, Gen. Price paroled some 200 prisoners including 20 captured citizens and soldiers of Ewing's command and 23 who were captured at Potosi when Shelby attacked the courthouse there. The St. Louis Democrat, after telling of the releases, stated the following: "A number of refugees gave out on the way from exhaustion and hunger. Those now here are pitiable looking objects. The rebels have exchanged hats and boots with them when they had such articles worth robbing and left them with the tatterdemalion attire of the bandits of the C.S.A."
The following appeared in the Missouri Republican: "In conversation with some prisoners who were captured by Price after leaving Pilot Knob, who were kept by him some three days before being paroled, I learned that Price's force was about 17,000 strong, the horses quite thin and they moved leisurely along. The officers and men, with scarce an exception, had bundles of plunder from stores and houses which they had robbed, attached to their saddles. They said they were going to Jefferson City to reinstate the rightful governor of Missouri; but I think they will find that Gen. Smith and his men have something to say in regard to that little matter. Old Pap (this was Price's nickname) rides in a buggy most of the time, and the prisoners say that they believed as far as they knew, he wanted them treated well; but there were a set of brutes with him who robbed and did not hesitate to murder without stint.
In a later edition of the paper it states that one prisoner was forced to follow Price and his gang for six or eight days in stocking feet over rough and stony roads. Also that many of the goods and groceries that were pillaged were wontonly wasted, destroyed and scattered on the wayside while in their onward march.
The main body of the Confederate army had passed through Washington County leaving only a few rebel bands here and there. Refugees who had fled the area and paroled soldiers and citizens were now beginning to return home. Federal soldiers began returning to Washington County and chasing the last of the rebel bands from the area. Capt. R.D. Russell (Union) left the Meramec bridge early on the morning of October 3rd with 30 men and instructions to march toward Richwoods. On October 4th, when about four miles from Richwoods, he met several paroled Federal prisoners who belonged to the Potosi militia and were on their way home. These men told Russell that there were three rebels at the next house. Five men were sent after them. Two rebels were killed and one taken prisoner. One of the men that was killed stated that he had deserted the militia and joined the rebels and was immediately shot by Lt. Smith. Russell then pushed forward about a mile and met another group of 80 rebels, charged and drove them three miles beyond Richwoods. Ten rebels were killed and others seriously wounded and three captured. About 30 of them threw down their arms and fled. It was stated the men went in like they charging a McClellan meeting. One of the rebel prisoners said that there was a force of 300 under Douglass at Potosi who were under orders to march that day to join Price's main force beyond Union.
KIDNAPPING AT CADET
On October 6th, Maj. Samuel Montgomery left camp at DeSoto with 200 men for Potosi. After proceeding abut 10 miles, he learned there was a party of rebels between Lawson and Cadet Stations. He changed course and marched for Cadet Station which had not been burned as reported but the stores had been robbed, and Mr. Marr kidnapped and carried off as a conscript. He followed the rebel trail to Tyler's Mill in St. Francois County where he found a camp of 300 under Dick Berryman and Sam Hildebrand. Some of them were the same ones driven from Richwoods by Capt. Russell and they had with them 11 who had been wounded there. Montgomery attacked their camp scattering them in confusion, killing 21, took one prisoner and retrieved Mr. Marr. One Union soldier was severly wounded. At Tyler's Mill a large number of citizens were on friendly and intimate terms with the rebels but were loud in their professions of loyalty upon the arrival of lthe Federal soldiers! Montgomery followed the rebels to within eight miles of Farmington where they became so scttered he was forced to abondon pursuit.
LIES AT LAWSON STATION
By the middle of October the reconstruction of the Iron Mountain railroad was underway. It was well guarded with Brig. Gen. Madison Miller's headquarters at Lawson's Station seven miles northeast of Mineral Point. It was said that he was a popular and highly efficient commander and had enough troops under his command to "eat up for breakfast" any rebel forces that could be mustered against him. Details of work parties were dispatched daily. Telegraph communication was being restored and rapid progress was being made at repairing track and rebuilding bridges including five bridges over Mill Creek averaging 120-130 feet long and 15-20 feet high and the south Big River bridge, 180 feet long and 35 feet high.
Just when everyone thought they were safe again, an incident occurred which sent many citizens fleeing to the Union troops for protection. A report of the incident appeared in the Missouri Republican:
Lawson's Station - October 15, 1864: "..........A pretty heavy scare occurred in and around the country here yesterday. Women and children, with a sprinkling of men, white and black, flocked into camp by the dozen, with the report that Potosi was burned and that Mineral Point and other places were in the process of being sacked by Magruder at the head of 6,000 Indians.
Gen. Miller immediately sent out a scout to look into the matter, but before his return reliable information was received that no force had been seen or heard of in that vicinity. An Italian was the first to start the story - he received a worse scare when he was caught than before. He stated he counted 600 and left.
The poor fellow was terribly frightened when threats were made by the boys (in jest) of hanging him. It is thought he will emigrate.........."
By October 18th the railroad was running to the 2nd bridge south of Lawson's Station and was expected to be running all the way to Pilot Knob in about 10 days. The following appeared in the Missouri Republican: "Any number of refugees from Washington, St. Francois and Iron counties are now returning home, mostly on foot, carrying in many cases, all the personal goods they have in the world.
The public feeling is highly excitable. All kinds of stories about rebels can be heard. Saturday the story that 6,000 Indians were in Potosi and burned the town, sent hundreds away. Yesterday they returned. Today 3,000 rebels are reported in St. Francois County. There may be 30, the balance probably a lie. The people at and south of Ironton are suffering terribly. A man from there tells me between 700 and 900 dead rebels have been buried there."
By November 4th, the Big River bridge in Washington County was the only one remaining to be completed. It was expected to be done within the week thus opening the railroad to Pilot Knob for which many people would be thankful. There had been no more reports of rebels. Survivors could now begin to rebuild their tattered lives, and the citizens all felt much hope for the future. There remains however, one more story to be told:
REPRIEVE AND REPRISAL
(Published in The Independent Journal - 29 October 1998)
A tragic incident occurred on October 29th, 1864 in St. Louis involving a citizen of Washington County. The events which led up to this incident began almost a year earlier:
In late 1863 yankee troops captured Centerville in Reynolds County. On December 21st of the same year the town was recaptured by a company of Rev. Col. Tim Reeves' (a baptist minister) cavalry under command of Jesse Pratt. The yankee prisoners were taken to Reeves at Pulliam's farm in ripley County.
*** Maj. Wilson was ordered to pursue the rebels and left Pilot Knob on December 23rd, 1863. He arrived at Pulliam's on Christmas day, as a gathering of three hundred people sat at Christmas dinner. The group included the Confederates, the prisoners, and at least sixty civilians - family, friends, neighbors, women, and children. Wilson's army attacked without warning, killing with sabres and shooting into the crowd. Many civilians were killed or wounded, however Col. Reeves managed to escape.*** (Please see below.)
In September, 1864, when Gen. Sterling Price's Confederate army invaded Missouri and attacked Ironton and Pilot Knob, Maj. Wilson was captured. He was taken to Franklin County and on the morning of October 3rd he, along with six of his men, was turned over to and executed by Rev. Col. Tim Reeves. They were shot by a firing squad in retaliation for Wilson's brutal "Christmas Day Massacre".
After the discovery of their bodies twenty days later on October 23rd Gen. Rosecrans, in reprisal, issued an order to execute six Confederate soldiers. The prisoners were chosen from the Gratiot Street prison in St. Louis. They were not informed until the day of execution and were expectedly shocked to learn of their fate. Of the six selected prisoners, John Ferguson was fortunate to be reprieved and was so grateful he cried and promised to fight only for the Union. Not so fortunate Pvt. George Bunch, a citizen of Washington County, Missouri was substituted in Ferguson's place.
Pvt. Bunch had been captured at Moniteau County on October 5th and had never taken the oath of allegiance. He served under Generals Thompson and Price and had been in the battles of Jenkins Ferry, Fredericktown, and Prairie D'Alma. He belonged to Clark's Brigade, Marmaduke's division. His occupation was farming, and he was twenty-two years old.
On the morning of October 29th, five of the prisoners were baptized, the sixth having been previously baptized. The execution would be witnessed by several thousand spectators, most of them soldiers. Around 3:00 in the afternoon the six innocent condemned prisoners arrived at Fort Number Four, a short distance south of Lafayette Park. They sat down on benches attached to posts to which they would be tied. Father Ward and Reverend McKim spoke to the men in their last moments, urging them to put their trust in God. One soldier shed tears and asked if there was any hope of a postponement. When told there was none, he replied, "Lord, have mercy on my poor soul."
After the reading of the sentence, another soldier asked to say a few words: "Soldiers, and all of you who hear me, take warning from me. I have been a Confederate soldier four years and have served my country faithfully. I am now to be shot for what other men have done, that I had no hand in and know nothing about. I never was a guerilla, and I am sorry to be shot for what I had nothing to do with and what I am not guilty of. When I took a prisoner, I always treated him kindly and never harmed a man after he surrendered. I hope God will take me to his bosom when I am dead. O, Lord be with me."
The soldiers were then blindfolded, and they said good-bye to each other. The firing squad of thirty-six Union soldiers was about ten paces away. Some of them were reluctant to shoot but were told by an officer that it was their duty. On the signal, at 3:04 p.m., all thirty-six fired simultaneously, the volley sounding like a single explosion. One or two of the victims groaned, and one cried out, "Oh, kill me quick!" as another convulsed. In five minutes all were dead, their lifeless bodies swinging limply to the sides of their posts. Their bodies were then placed in plain painted coffins and buried in Jefferson Barracks Cemetery. Pvt. George Bunch would never again return to his home in Washington County. He, along with the five other executed men, is listed on Missouri's Confederate Roll of Honor.
My information for the paragraph about Maj. James Wilson's attack at Pulliam's Farm on Christmas day came from the published works of author Jerry Ponder. I have received several correspondences from credible historians contradicting Mr. Ponder & stating that the information about the massacre of civilians is incorrect.. They cite numerous sources & say "This event had over 400 eyewitnesses, yet not one in his lifetime ever reported the murder of any civilians.
Esther M. Carroll placing flowers on the grave of executed Washington County Civil War soldier, Pvt. George Bunch, Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery - St. Louis, Missouri. Photographed 1994