On September 15, 1865 Amanda Ireland filed a law suit in Jasper County against a group of men for the wrongful death of her husband Austin Ireland in 1861. Amanda sued for five thousand dollars in damages. The Ireland proceedings expose the deadly and dire consequences of guerrilla tactics used during the War and also how individuals used the circumstances of the War to seek monetary wealth and revenge.
Collections in the Jasper Category
Archy Thomas’ undated memoir reflects on the Battle of Carthage, Missouri on July 5, 1861. While Thomas’ recollection is embellished, it is consistent with the official reports and secondary accounts of the Battle. It is unknown if Thomas was a soldier in the Missouri State Guard or a civilian living near Carthage. His account imply his association with the Missouri State Guard, but he offers little detail about his personal involvement or enlistment with a specific company. Furthermore, he only refers to the Missouri State Guard in the third person, thus disassociating himself from the soldiers. Additional information about the author and his potential connection to the MSG warrants further investigation.
Benjamin Gratz Brown was born in Lexington, Kentucky, May 28, 1826 and moved to Missouri in 1849. Brown was a lawyer, state representative, U.S. senator, and governor of Missouri. His collection contains documents relating to his political career in state. The letters in this portion of the collection are specifically related to the Civil War period.
The Bowers Mill Collections include two court cases brought by George, John and William Bowers after the burning of their grist mill in October 1863. Bowers Mill was located on the Spring River in the Oregon settlement of Lawrence County. The Bowers operated the grist mill and wool carding machinery, and maintained a storage facility for flour, wheat, corn, wool and assorted dry goods.
The civil suits stemmed from the destruction of the mill, machinery, stored goods, and the three homes owned by the Bowers. The importance of regional grist mills to rural Ozarks communities cannot be overstated. Mills served myriad functions to the regional economy, and their preservation and continued operation was important to maintain a sense of hopefulness and security in the Ozarks during the War.
On August 17, 1861 Missouri Governor Hamilton R. Gamble ordered a proclamation establishing the Missouri State Militia for defense of the State against guerrilla activity. Gamble soon realized the need for additional troops, and on July 22, 1862 he issued General Order Number 29 organizing the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). General Colley B. Holland assumed command of the 4th Military district, consisting of the counties in southwest Missouri, on October 30, 1862. Based in Springfield, Missouri, roughly 2,500 men reported for duty, operating under the jurisdiction of the State of Missouri. Holland’s documented all activities related to his command in the enrolled Missouri Militia order book for the 4th Military District in Southwest Missouri, from November 1862 through May 1863. His reports cover the Battles of Springfield and Hartville and also include details about depredation in Southwest Missouri and the extensive guerrilla activity that took place in the region.
The Hunter-Hagler collection provides rare documentation on how women endured the War in the Ozarks. The letters are written by Elizabeth Hunter and her daughters, Priscilla A. Hunter and Charlotte Elizabeth (Hunter) Hagler. The Hunters write Margaret Hunter Newberry, who married and left the family farm. The letters describe how the Hunter family survived harsh winters, sold goods at the market, and provide graphic details of murder, theft and destruction caused by bushwhackers in Jasper and Lawrence Counties. Perpetual violence caused the Hunter family to leave their beloved homestead, and flee to Illinois in late 1864. Elizabeth wrote her daughter affectionately and often, and through these letters Elizabeth relates the brutal conditions in which the family endured.
The Isely Family Papers contain correspondence and other documents dating from the late 1850s through the 1930s. A significant portion of the collection consists of letters written during the Civil War between Christian H. Isely and his wife, Marie Elizabeth “Eliza” Dubach. Christian served in the 2nd Kansas Cavalry and they traveled throughout Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma; which was then Indian Territory. During the war, Eliza went to live with Christian’s parents in Ohio, rather than stay with her father in Willow Dale, Kansas, due to the unstable conditions in the Kansas-Missouri border region. The Isely’s were a profoundly religious family and their correspondences depict the deeply rooted connection between religion and political convictions and how their beliefs often divided their family.
Jasper County filed suit in 1865 against John R. Chenault, and 37 others defendants for damages suffered in Carthage between July 1861 and October 1863. The County claimed the defendants burned and destroyed the circuit court records and books, the Courthouse, the Carthage jail, and the Seminary building, which was being used as a school.
John W. Fisher’s diary documents his duties in the Missouri State Guard from mid October, 1861, through the first week of January, 1862. Fisher was born in Virginia, and lived in Westport, Missouri prior to the War. Fisher served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Missouri State Guard. The diary cites Fisher’s movement through Missouri and Indian Territory. Fisher survived the war, ending his days in a Confederate Veterans home in Harrisonburg, Missouri, in 1910.
Lee P. Grey, who was 23 years old in 1860, and lived with his father and four other siblings in Jasper County, Missouri. The Greys owned a small amount of land, which they farmed. Due to its proximity to the Kansas State line, Jasper County experienced a heavy amount of guerrilla warfare between 1854 and 1865. Most of the towns were destroyed at some point during that period that the county became vastly depopulated. Lee Grey claimed that John Dale stole two of his horses, valued at $300, on December 14, 1861. Grey filed his lawsuit against Dale in July 1865. The results of case are unknown, but case represents the wide ranging depredation taking place throughout the Ozarks. Once the war concluded, many civilians spent the post-war years in court filing claims of restitution.
On July 20, 1864, fifteen men without civil or military authority kidnapped Orange Clark at gunpoint. While their prisoner, Clark was executed. His wife, Martha, sued David Rusk, Monroe Scott, Hugh Challes, Thomas Halsell, Edward Halsell, Thomas Hockins, Hubbard Johnson, Daniel Johnson, John M Wilson, Wiley Webb, John Webb, James Tunnel, William A McRea, Isaac Scott and Richard Fisher for five thousand dollars in damages sustained from the murder of her husband, loss of quality of life and her ability to feed, cloth and educate her children.
Martha Hood married William B. Hood on July 30, 1854. The couple had five children and lived in Carthage, Missouri. On July 20, 1864, Martha claimed fifteen men unlawfully detained her husband at gunpoint. The men restrained William while Richard Fisher shot him at point blank range with his pistol. The bullet passed through the right side of William’s body, and the men left him for dead. He lingered in great misery and bodily pain for eight days until he died on July 28. Martha sued the fifteen men for five thousand dollars in damages to the quality of her life and her ability to raise, cloth, feed and educate her children.
The Ozias Ruark collection contains correspondence and a diary detailing the service of a captain in the 8th Missouri State Militia Cavalry. Throughout his diary, Ruark comments on four underlying themes: the impact of the war on civilians, foraging, engagements with guerrillas and the daily routine of camp life. He also notes weather, towns and the Ozarks landscape. Ruark’s perspective as a soldier provides a valuable portrait of military life in the region.
The Stirman Davidson Collection is a spirited group of letters written to Rebecca Stirman Davidson, of Fayetteville, Arkansas. The bulk of the letters are from her brother Erasmus “Ras” Stirman, while serving in the Civil War. The letters tell the story of Erasmus service in the Confederate Army, his fears and doubts about winning the War, and leading his company of sharpshooters into certain death. Erasmus loved meeting new women, and his letters to Rebecca are full of candor and humor, often telling a larger tale of the social and cultural customs of the era to which he opportunistically flaunted. Erasmus’ successes in the military, coupled with his family’s access to political and societal privilege, combine to tell a wonderful story of upper class life in the Civil War of the Ozarks.
The Southwest Missouri Medical Society organized to encourage the development and unity of the medical profession in the region. They hoped to restrict the practice of medicine to educated and properly qualified men, develop talent, and stimulated study and inquiry in the field of medicine. The group organized in May 1874, holding bi-annual meetings in the spring and fall. The group’s membership consisted of physicians from Carthage, Springfield, Neosho and beyond. At their meetings, members presented unusual cases and papers on medical techniques. The group then discussed these cases, best practices, and ethical issues surrounding each topic. The meeting minuets for the Southwest Missouri Medical Society not only document the organization of physicians and medical practitioners in region, but the development of medical practices and thinking in the years after the Civil War.
Thomas Alexander was a resident of Jackson in Jasper County, Missouri in 1860 with his wife Mary and their large family. Alexander filed a law suit against Rice Challas and Hugh Challas on July 4, 1865 for burning and destroying his house and for contributing to the death of his daughter, who was burned to death in the fire. Alexander sought $3,000 in damages from the defendants. Alexander believed the defendants were guerrilla fighters, not from Missouri, and therefore the judge ordered that their summons to appear in court be published in the local paper for several weeks so that the defendants would know to appear in court. The results of case are unknown.
Jasper County’s location along the Missouri-Kansas border made guerrilla warfare a constant threat to its citizens. Bushwhackers or those who were not officially aligned with either side took advantage of the chaos for their benefit. These bands of men were responsible for huge amounts of violence and destruction in the county.
Thomas L. Snead was a soldier and a politician during the Civil War. He served under both Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson and Sterling Price. In 1886, he wrote The Fight for Missouri which chronicles the events in Missouri from the 1860 elections to the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. The Thomas Snead collection consists of several letters written about The Fight for Missouri. Most of these letters contain praise for Snead’s accomplishments, and note his ability to write a full and unbiased history of the events that unfolded. This collection is a valuable compendium to The Fight for Missouri, providing interesting insight to Missouri soldiers and politicians as they reflect on the war 20 years later.
The Thomas R. Livingston Collection consists of three civil law suits related to the estate of the notorious Confederate soldier. These suits include depositions from several of Livingston’s friends and family members. Livingston and his band of Confederates conducted raids throughout the Ozarks to contest the Union’s control of the region. Livingston was known for committing acts of arson, murder, robbery, and disrupting Union supply lines. His ruthless tactics outraged Union officials and civilians. Before the War, Livingston had been a successful and prominent business man. He owned a general store, hotel, saloon, real estate in three counties, and actively traded livestock. His assets were sought as restitution for his actions.
The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was one of the earliest African-American regiments organized during the Civil War. This regimental order book documents correspondences, general orders and special orders between 1863 and 1864. During this period the 1st Kansas Colored was stationed in southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri, western Arkansas, and Indian Territory, Oklahoma.
In October 1862, Soldiers from the regiment engaged Rebel troops at the Battle of Island Mound in Bates County, MO. This skirmish earned them the distinction of the first African-American troops from a northern state to see action as soldiers. The 1st Kansas Colored became seasoned veterans by the end of the war, participating in several battles and engagements. On December 13, 1864, the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was re-designated as the 79th U.S. Colored Troops.
William G. Bulgin and his wife Elmina lived with her sister Mary and her husband David Holsman in Carthage, Missouri in 1860. On July 31, 1865, Bulgin filed suit against, John F Vestal, John Shirley, and John L Fuller for damaging and destroying his property during the war. Bulgin alleged that the men were a band of guerilla fighters, who supported the Confederacy. Due to the vicious nature and predominance of the guerrilla warfare in Missouri, many county court rooms were filled with civilian claims of restitution in the post-war years. The final verdict of Bulgin’s lawsuit is unknown, but the case represents types of depredation committed throughout the region and how civilians were left to recover their losses.
William H. Mengel, a native of Germany, lived in California, Missouri before the War. Mengel was pressed into service as a teamster for the Missouri State Guard in May 1861. He was released a after a little less than a month and he enlisted in the 1st U.S. Reserve Corps, Missouri Home Guards. Mengel was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lexington, where he fought against the Missouri State Guard. After being paroled, he joined the 26th Missouri Infantry, and was sent to Mississippi and Tennessee. Mengel was eventually mustered out of service in January 1865.