History of Hickory County, Missouri
B. B. Ihrig
THE CIVIL WAR
General View.—There were few localities in the United States
that felt more keenly the prolonged agony of the Civil War
than did Hickory County. It has been stained with brothers’
blood-assassinations in cold blood of neighbor by neighbor,
and the awful resort of slaughtering unarmed prisoners
without any form of trial; house burning, robbery, and theft-
every able bodied man in the county driven by awful times
from home and family; and the destitute and impoverished
people left at home to sleep in the brush, and inthe open
day to prowl and move cautiously in the often vain effort
to find something to eat. Those who were small children here
then will never need further telling that all war is a scourge
and cruel calamity, but that all civil wars are the most unholy
things that ever maddened men's brains or shed brother’s
blood. Even common salt could notbeobtained in many localities
and the dirt under where they hung their meat in the smoke
houses was dug up and drained with water toobtain salt.
The people of Hickory County did not divide on the question
of slavery. It was rather a question of Union and State's
rights. The strongest and most outspoken men, in many instances,
were the largest slave owners, while the H1051
active rebels were men who never even expected to own slaves}
but who believed in State's rights;and today, between those whr
believed in State's rights and had the courage of their con-
victions and went into the regular armies of the South, and the
volunteer soldiers, there existed as high respect by their old
neighbors who thought the other way, as there was before the
blood issue was joined.
On the other hand, there were men on both sides who
seized upon the disrupted state of society, and who, in the
false name of fealty to their respective sides, made the fair
face of the county a blackened hell.
The emigrants to the county had been poor men-farmers and
stock-raisers mostly-—who had gone to work, and had just begun
to conquer their way toward comfort and competence, all to
be wasted and destroyed, many killed and many crippled
and then to gather their families together and commence the
work of life anew. This was the condition in which they emerge
from the six years of horrid nightmare.
Organizations.-Nearly a thousand men from the county, from
first to last, were in some way connected with the respective
CIVIL WAR CAMP NEAR WHEATLAND
armies. Major John Cosgrove was a leading spirit on the
Union side. The Union men had all been ordered to leave the
county, and a large number started for Jefferson City to
join the Federal forces. Upon reaching Warsaw, stories
were heard to the effect that Hickory County was swarming
with armed rebe1s; that a lot of Texas rangers were overrunning
the country. Maj. Cosgrove and Lt. L. Lindsey called for
volunteers to return and drive them out. A squad was raised
which came down to Cross Timbers; finding no enemy, they
pushed on to Preston, where a rebel squad was camped, and
One man named Mooney was killed, and the Union forces
then burned the town. In December, 1869, John Cosgrove
raised Company B, Eighth Regiment Calvary, Missouri State
Militia. He was first Captain, and, then promoted to Major,
was succeeded by John Lindsey; the first lieutenant was
Lycurgus Lindsey, and the second Iieutenants, William W.
Owens, John Lindsey, and William R. Rains. This company
made up of Hickory County men and there were a few from the
county in Company C., same regiment. The second lieutenant
was Preston Richardson.
In Company 1, B. A. Reeder was captain, succeeded by
Jacob Cossair; Ethan Paxton was second lieutenant. This
regiment was mustered out in May, 1865.
In the Sixtieth Regiment, E. M. M., Joel B. Halbert was
lieutenant colonel, entering the service October 13, 1862,
Of Company C. William A. Liggett was captain; first lieutenant,
William A. Pitts; second lieutenant, Hiram Dixon. Company D
(second lieutenant, Joseph Whitaker) was composed mostly
(partly) of Hickory County men.
Company B, in this regiment formed mostly of men from
Hickory, had John A. Pare as captatn and W. V. Murray,
lieutenant, Capt. W. L. Snidow succeeded Capt. Pare.
In another Company, Willliam L. McCracken was second
Among the first Union troops raised in the county may be
mentioned 300 Home Guards under Major Hastain.
In the early part of 1862 occurred the attak on the invalid
Iowa soldiers, mostly at Quincy, under the noted Capt. Rafter.
The men took refuge in a building which the rebels surrounded
and set on fire. One of them killed Rafter with a small pistol.
On the Union side, John T. Frames was killed, and Lt.
William Charlton wounded.
On the retreat of Shelby through the county, a part of his
command went into camp near Hermitage. Capt. James Coissart
called soldiers and citizens and charged upon them, scattermg
and killing a large number, who were left unburied where they
At one time Capt. Robert Allen’s company was camped in
Hermitage, and had four prisoners guarded in the courthouse.
A man entered town on horseback at full speed and announced
that the rebels were coming in force. The prisoners were
shot and killed except one, and the company retreated south
across the river. The alarm was a false one. One of the
prisoners, the only one known to be a Hickory County man,
though badly wounded, recovered.
Review. -some of the richest farming neighborhoods, especially
in the southeast part of the county, presented but a sad
scene of desolation at close of the war. It is said that there
were roads on which one could ride for miles and see nothing
but the blackened chimneys left standing to mark the spot where
were once happy homes. The people had learned to sleep in
the brush, and very few dared sleep in their houses. Light
ceased to shine through windows: women barred the doors,
and, when their men would be on their chance visit to their
families, there was one of the family on watch to warn of
the approach of any party. If they were not dressed when
the signal warning came, they went without clothes, as their
lives depended upon the quickest possible movement. About
all property had been destroyed; horses, cattle, hogs, sheep,
and provisions and feed for domestic animals; rails about the
farms went to carnpfires, and armies had eaten up and destroyed
the sustenance of the people. Besides this was the loss of
six years of time, and from this point, all or nearly all had
to commence life and its labors anew.
The Confederates generally went off to join Price's army
or Claib Jackson’s. The only regularly enlisted organization
in the camp on that side was Capt. John Mabary’s company.
The estimates by those on the grounds were that about a
equal number went to the respective armies. When the cruel
war was over, there was no bitterness of soul between those
who chose to go south and those who went to the opposite
side. They crossed bayonets in civilized war, and, then the
war was ended, the conqueror respected the vanquished, and
on both sides, no old scores or old sores remained. It was
the irregular bands on both sides who seized upon the times
to assassinate and rob and destroy. Their days for evil were
over, and then the vanquished Confederates in line laid down
their arms and surrendered.
None of the people here on either side had any hand in
plunging the country into war; on the other hand,they had
done all they could to prevent it. The cruel calamity was forced
upon them. And, when the storm had passed, the respectable
elements in society had no criminations to make, but shoulder
to shoulder, they went to work to rehabilitate the county, to
heal the wounds, rebuild their homes and be good and loyal
If anyone visiting this page has any information to share, please contact me.
Return to Home.