Rural Missouri - October 2012 - (Page 12)

O hope of leading a large body of men into the Confederacy. He was compelled to disband his men and send them southward in small groups. Enough men evidently made it to Arkansas to form a respectable regiment. A summer spent chasing Porter around had not improved the moods of Cols. Lewis Merrill and John McNeil, the Union commanders in northeast Missouri. They believed Porter and his followers Ten face the firing squad in northeast Missouri were not Confederate soldiers but guerrillas subject to summary justice. Those who violated paroles or oaths got one strike and they were out. by Jim Denny draw northward. After Kirksville, info@ruralmissouri.coop By Aug. 1, Porter was in Newark, where he was 15 captured men able to compel the surrender of a 70-man state miliwere determined tia garrison. New Union recruits were coming in by ne of the hottest sectors of the Civil War to have violated the hundreds by then, thanks in part to a decree by in Missouri during the summer and fall of paroles. McNeil Unionist provisional governor, Hamilton Gamble, 1862 was northeast Missouri. In June, Col. executed them that every male of fighting age must join a newly Joseph Porter — a much-respected citizen by firing squad. created enrolled state militia. and farmer from Lewis County — returned to his On Sept. 25, Porter now had some 2,000 men with him that former stomping grounds as a Confederate recruitMerrill exehe needed to deliver to Confederate ing officer. For the next five months, cuted 10 more Arkansas. He decided on a diversion in he made his presence felt in the region. parole violators the form of a pitched battle with the He also stirred up a hornet’s nest of in Macon. Frisby state militiamen who were hounding Union countermeasures that turned McCullough, him. ugly as the summer wore on. Porter’s second in Porter made his stand in the then It all came to a horrific crescendo at command, was capsmall town of Kirksville. More than Palmyra on Oct. 18, 1862, surely that tured by McNeil’s men. half of his men lacked weapons. Of town’s “Day of Infamy.” Union Col. Days before, he had been Col. John McNeil those who did have weapons, half John McNeil intended the executions elected by his men to relied on hunting rifles and shotguns. of 10 men that day to be a terrifying the rank of lieutenant colonel and wore a ConfederHe faced Col. McNeil and 1,000 wellpublic spectacle — a bloody message ate uniform. McCullough had expected his captors armed, disciplined troops supported by to any local folk who might be thinkto treat him as an officer and a gentleman, only to five pieces of artillery. ing of joining a guerrilla band or the discover that the war in northeast Missouri was no Kirksville was situated in open Southern army. longer a gentlemanly affair. After a drumhead court prairie. Porter, normally the master of But McNeil succeeded beyond his martial, his captors shot him as a guerrilla. fighting from concealed posiexpectations. His was a dreadful Porter’s men were not above revenge killing and tions, arrayed his men like sitdeed for the ages, which horriJim Denny, a Co-Mo Electric member were known to make obnoxious Union informers ting ducks. Shot and shell soon fied North and South alike and from Lupus, brings the state’s Civil War disappear permanently. One such “snitch,” Andrew drove defenders from the woodthreatened to escalate the larger history to life in Rural Missouri as we Allsman, was taken away by Porter following his en structures and other hiding conflict into a war of retaliation. commemorate the sesquicentennial of last raid — a foray into Palmyra on Sept. 12 — and places of Kirksville, while the Although he had no milithis time in our nation’s history. Order never seen again. McNeil published an ultimatum in tary experience, Porter proved Jim’s book, “The Civil War’s First Blood,” militia delivered a steady hail a Palmyra newspaper addressed to Porter demanding of fire. As McNeil’s militiamen a skilled partisan ranger and online at www.ruralmissouri.coop. Allsman’s return. closed in from two directions, recruiter. He developed a netIf Allsman was not returned in 10 days, he would Porter and his men withdrew toward the wooded work of informants and planted supply caches have 10 men in his custody shot “as a meet reward breaks of the Chariton River valley. throughout the region. His enemies and pursuers for their crimes.” By then, Porter was across the MisThe retreat was confused and disorganized and were kept in constant confusion by his rapid marchsouri River on his way to Arkansas. soon turned into a rout. es. He was a master of ambush and surprise attacks. The execution was a grotesque spectacle. Seated Perhaps 50 of Porter’s recruits were killed and On July 18, he concealed 125 men on the woodupon their own coffins, a macabre parade of 10 another 100 wounded, although Union authorities ed slopes of a rise called Vassar Hill in southwestern men in wagons clattered through Palmyra all the claimed a much larger number. Porter had lost any Scotland County. They were armed with Federal way from the jail to the muskets confiscated five amphitheater on the days earlier during a fairgrounds. The actual raid on Memphis. They execution was botched ambushed an unsuspectby poor aim on the part ing state militia cavalry of the firing squad, and battalion. After a twomost of the writhing vichour battle that includtims had to be finished ed several futile charges off with pistols. The by the Union cavalry, lurid scene shone briefly Porter made his escape, in the national spotlight leaving 83 Union horseas a sickening example men wounded or killed. of what the war seemed By late July, Porter to be coming to in 1862. had the numerous It caught the attenrecruits he needed to tion of Jefferson Davis, escape into Arkansas. who threatened to He was moving down execute 10 Yankees in the Auxvasse Creek return if McNeil was not valley into Callaway turned over. The Lincoln County with some 260 administration could men when he found his counter that it was Gov. route threatened by Col. Gamble’s state militia Odon Guitar and a force who did the deed and of 733 mainly state milithat these units were not tia cavalry. under Federal control. On July 28, amidst Davis dropped the a dense growth of trees matter, and the worst and thickets, the fierce features of Missouri’s battle of Moore’s Mill neighbor-against-neighraged. After four hours bor war of reprisal fortuof fighting, the SouthUnion Col. John McNeil orders the execution of 10 men on Oct. 18, 1862, in what would be called the Palmyra Masnately did not become erners began to run out of ammunition, and Por- sacre and surely the town’s “Day of Infamy.” The public display was intended to serve as an example to any locals plan- official policy on either ning on joining the Confederacy, but instead the act horrified both sides about what retaliation would bring. side of the fight. ter was forced to with- A grotesque spectacle Palmyra Massacre ~ Oct. 18, 1862 12 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.ruralmissouri.coop http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2012

Rural Missouri - October 2012
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
The future of food
A grotesque spectacle
Outdoors
Out of the Way Eats
Summon your stomach
Soothing suds
Hearth and Home
Out of the woodwork
Marketplace
Around Missouri
A heart to serve
Neighbors
Just4Kids

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