Partheny Horn Memoir

Partheny Horn and her family lived in Linn, Missouri before the war.1 Partheny was the daughter of Hezekiah and Malinda Rector McPherson and was born July 8, 1842 in Roane Co. Tennessee.2 Her Father emigrated from Tennessee to Missouri in 1851 and settled in Cedar County where he prospered as a successful businessman. He accumulated 1,000 acres of fine farming land which he enclosed and put in a high state of cultivation yielding abundant crops. Her family supported slavery and owned several slaves who worked their land. Unfortunately, for Partheny and her family most of their near neighbors were union men or rather abolitionists.

Partheny mentioned several historical events and individuals like Missouri’s pro-Secession Governor, Claiborne Jackson, and the Battle of Wilson Creek in her memoir. For the most part, the atmosphere she described was accurate to what the conditions would have been like for her and her family during that time in Missouri. However, she does not try and conceal her favor towards the Confederacy and her distain for Union troops.

I must say the Mo State Malitia espicialy Southwest Mo were the lowest down set of men God ever made when the war first… broke out our best citizens volunteered in the southern army the next best volunteered in the army and later when the federals were in need of recruits they raked and scraped up all the scalewags and thieves who not have the courage or patriotism to join either army and made militia
Partheny Horn Memoir, pg 30

With the onset of war, Partheny’s father, two eldest brothers, and boyfriend together with many others volunteered for service in the Missouri State Guard.3 When the men of Cedar County left for war, families were devastated. Many knew their loved ones would not return home. Parthey Horn’s brother, H. D. McPherson, foreshadowed his own death in a conversation with Parthey. McPherson serving in the Missouri State Guard died at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861. While the Confederates forced Union troops to withdraw to Rolla, their army suffered nearly a 12% causality rate. The victory at Wilson’s Creek and Lexington, Missouri were short lived as Union troops forced Sterling Price’s Missouri State Guard into Arkansas, and scored a decisive victory in March 1862 at the Battle of Pea Ridge.

Pea Ridge permanently altered the strategic situation in Missouri and Arkansas. The battle forced Confederate commanders to seriously question their ability to hold the Trans-Mississippi. Eventually Confederate troops were withdrawn from the region, and General Thomas Hindman, lacking soldiers and military resources, authorized the formation of guerrilla bands. These small bands, composed of both legitimate soldiers and those seeking adventure and plunder, conducted raids, “hit and run” type attacks, to weaken the Union forces and their collaborators. Success was not measured in combat, but rather in preventing the Union from gaining further control and forcing them to spend resources in non-combat situations.

In response to increased guerrilla activity, additional Union militia regiments formed to protect civilians and their property. Union soldiers took harsher actions towards anyone considered a guerrilla or civilians suspected of providing support to bushwhackers. In the immediate wake of the William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr., commanding the District of the Border, issued Order No. 11 on August 25, 1863. The Order, aimed at those who supported the guerrilla fighters, commanded all residents living in the border counties of Bates, Jackson, Cass and the northern half of Vernon to vacate their homes. Those families were required to give oaths of loyalty to the Union, and their evacuation was demanded within two weeks. Ewing hoped depopulating these Missouri border countries would eliminate the safe havens support structure for guerrillas in the region.

Although Cedar County was not affected by Ewing’s Order No. 11, Horn and her family felt pressure to leave the region as hostility towards southern sympathizers increased. Partheny and a group of neighboring women decided to seek refuge in Texas. Partheny’s mother, six sisters and small brother left Cedar County for Texas three months prior. Partheny remained in Missouri to take care of her family’s estate and look after her widowed sister-in-law Lizzie and her baby. The refugee convoy consisted of women and children of ten families with southern ties. The group of women elected the oldest member of the band, Aunt Polly, as their captain; vowing to follow her guidance throughout their voyage to Texas and never leave a family behind.

She commanded the group and made all the decisions in relation to where they would camp and how to proceed
Partheny Horn Memoir, pg 22

The women left Cedar County on September 6, 1863, and the group’s dynamic and fortitude was tested almost immediately. Horn noted her roles and responsibilities pre-war were very gender oriented, yet with the onset of the war those traditional roles needed to be adapted for survival. Women assumed the responsibilities normally associated with men, while still maintaining their responsibilities as wives, mothers, and daughters. While the women set aside their gender’s roles, gender still played a large factor in their successes and failures. From the beginning of the trip it was obvious that these women where inexperienced and had difficulty handling and maintaining their wagons.

for several wagons contained 2 families each, were provided with a log chain as a substitute for the lock, none of us not even our Capt. Seemed to understand just how to manipulate it…consequently when she started her team, the wheel was drawn under the wagon and the result was every spoke in the wheel was broken
Partheny Horn Memoir, pg 26

The broken wheel caused further problems for the women. Just as none of the party members were experienced wagon drivers, they did not know how to replace the wheel. The women went into camp, as several of their team searched the country side for help. Horn noted finding help was a more difficult task than first imagined. They found, “few men at home, and unfortunately for us, they were on the other side politically and had no sympathy for a rebel, as they called us.” 4 The search party eventually found a southerner several miles from their encampment that owned a blacksmith shop. They pleaded their case to the man, and paid him in “legal tender” for his time. Legal tender is undoubtedly Union currency. Confederate currency held little value during the war and few businesses accepted it as a form of payment. Horn’s choice of words describing the currency is interesting given her political affiliation. Within three days the women had a new wheel and returned to camp.

The women though were not always so fortunate in finding friendly aid. As Partheny recorded in her memoir the small band of wagons was ambushed and raided by the Missouri Militia, who stole the majority of their horses.

We were camped 4 miles west of Greenfield which was a federal post ocupied by the militia… the news of our presence in the community must have reached them the day we came, carried perhaps by the thieves who stoled the mares and mules at any by 10 oclock the folowing day a scout of 35 militia came swooping down on that Old hill side where we were camped charging and yeeling like we had been so many Commanches or Apache indians instead of a lot defenceless woman and Children whom they had driven home. Their first act was to take possession of all our horses which tied off way from our wagons tied to trees. the next thing order was to search our wagons for contrabands goods of which they knew we had none tearing the wagons sheets off 2 or 3 men would mount the wagons and pich trunks boxes and everything else they contained to the grouned bursting trunks breaking everything breakable and scattering things promiscousiley other were engaged in ransacking through everything taking such things as Coffee sugar soda salt and [carton] cards of the last article every woman had prvided herself with one or more pairs knowing it would be difficult to obtain in the south at any price it was very essential that each lady supliy herself with this most needed article we southern people had to manufacture all our wearing appear

These blue coated soldiers took possession of all the above mentioned artickles calling them contraband goods who ever heard of such tings being contraband
Partheny Horn Memoir, pg 31

Throughout their journey the women experienced multiple similarly hardships. Several wheels and axels were broken. Oxen and horses were stolen and killed. Wagons became stuck in mud and overwhelmed while fording rivers. Yet despite their difficulties the women persevered and reached Texas.

us having so many trials and difficulties it is only natural to supose We would be discouraged and depressed but so many laughable and rdiclous things happened most of us realy found enjoyment for we were young and full of romance always looking on the bright side of everthing”
Patheny Horn Memoir, pg 47

The women worked together and supported each other along their journey. They did not let gender prevent them from reaching their families in Texas and escaping the hardships in Missouri. Partheny Horn dedicated her memoir to the women of the South who suffered and fought for the cause they believed in.

I want to leave as a legacy to my children and grand-children a record of a few of the many sacrifices I was permitted to lay upon the altar of the south during the awful conflict.

The womanhood of the south… shouldred the burdens meet the responsibilities and endured the pribation hoping and praying for the loved ones at the battle front many of whom never returned and … when necessity demands there aid they willing laid hold with untrained hands and met every emergency with that indomitable courage and determination of purpose born of true southren patriotism
Partheny Horn Memoir, pg 2

Contributed by a Private Collector

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  1. Partheny Horn, 1860 United States Federal Census; Census Place: Linn, Cedar, Missouri; Roll: M653_613; Page: 73; Image: 77; Family History Library Film: 803613.
  2. Partheny Horn Memoir, pg 6.
  3. National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.
  4. Partheny Horn Memoir, pg 27.