Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Skirmish at Ft. Lawrence

On the early morning of January 7, 1863 (some sources mistakenly say January 6), a skirmish that occurred at Fort Lawrence in what was then Taney County served as a prelude to the Battle of Springfield the next day. Fort Lawrence was just a blockhouse manned by the local Enrolled Missouri Militia. It was located on Beaver Creek, and the place was sometimes referred to as Beaver Creek Station or just Beaver Station. It was located in a part of Taney that later became southwestern Douglas County (near present-day Rome). When the E. M. M. at the fort were surprised by a force under Colonel Emmett McDonald, who was temporarily detached from the larger force under General John S. Marmaduke that later attacked Springfield, many of the militiamen took to flight at the sound of the first gun. The Enrolled Missouri Militia in general contained a lot of reluctant warriors. The E. M. M. was created in the summer of 1862 as a sort of home guard force to supplement the already exisisting Missouri State Militia Cavalry and to free up the MSM to pursue guerrillas or meet other threats throughout the state. Since service was compulsory for all able bodied men not already in the Federal military, the creation of the E. M. M. drove many Southern sympathizers into Confederate service or into the bush as guerrillas. Many others, however, went ahead and joined the E. M. M. rather than reveal their true sentiments and became dubious warriors for the Union cause. When it came time to do battle, though, they often fled at the first fire or, in some cases, even went over to the other side. For this reason, the E. M. M. was derided as the "Paw Paw Militia" in some parts of Missouri. I'm not saying the E. M. M. at Fort Lawrence were Southern sympathizers, but, like a lot of their comrades, they apparently weren't any too eager to do battle.


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