There seems to be a common misconception that the Missouri guerrillas during the Civil War were little more than outlaws. Of course, that's how Union authorities tried to brand them, but the truth is that many, if not most, of the guerrillas were respected citizens before the war (or, in the case of the younger guerrillas, came from respected families). An example is Absalom S. Humbard of Jasper County. Humbard got married in Jasper County in 1856 and was an established farmer when the war came on. In the years immediately preceding the war, he was a member a group calling themselves the Minutemen who formed in Jasper County for protection against Kansas jayhawkers. Leader of the group was county judge John R. Chenault. At the outset of the war, Humbard joined the Missouri State Guard but declined to re-enlist when his initial six-month term was over. Many of the men who initially joined the State Guard did so with the limited goal of protecting their own soil, and this was true of Humbard. By the end of the six-month enlistment, though, most of them were being asked to join the Confederacy or were being otherwise expected to fight outside Missouri. Like a lot of his fellow State Guardsmen, Humbard balked at this idea and instead returned to Jasper County, where he began recruiting his own small squad. Not long afterwards he fell in with Tom Livingston and became an officer in Livingston's command. Although officially affiliated with Standwatie's Cherokee Indian regiment as part of the Confederate army, Livingston's men were usually referred to as a guerillas. At one point during the war, Humbard was taken prisoner and held at Springfield for six weeks. At the end of the war, he moved to Texas and became a prominent farmer. Humbard's story is probably more typical of the Missouri guerrillas than that of the men we tend to hear about--men like Frank and Jesse James, who became post-war outlaws.
Labels: Frank James, Jesse James, Tom Livingston