Ozarks History

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

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Location: Missouri

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.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bill Jackson, Missouri Guerrilla

When I wrote my book Other Noted Guerrillas, one of the guerrilla leaders I considered writing about was Bill Jackson, but I ended up not including a chapter about him mainly because I decided there probably wasn't enough material to fill out a whole chapter. He was only active as a guerrilla leader for a couple of months during the summer of 1864, and he was not as bloodthirsty as some of the other Missouri guerrilla leaders of the time. Still, he was an interesting character.
Bill was the son of Missouri governor Claiborne F. Jackson. He was twenty-six years old and living with his father and the rest of the Jackson family in Arrow Rock Township of Saline County at the time of the 1860 census. Like most Missouri guerrillas, Bill Jackson mainly operated in his home territory. In Bill's case, that was Saline County and surrounding counties like Cooper and Pettis. All of these counties, except for perhaps the southern tips of Cooper and Pettis, are not really in the Ozarks, but, for the purposes of this blog about Ozarks history, I don't mind stretching the limits of the region a bit if there's an interesting subject I want to write about. Bill Jackson was sometimes confused with the more infamous and bloodthirsty Jim Jackson, but they were definitely not the same person. Jim operated mainly north of the Missouri River in Boone, Howard, and surrounding counties, while Bill operated mainly south of the river.
Bill Jackson conducted a number of raids throughout Saline, Cooper, and Pettis counties, but one of the more notable was his raid on the German community of Frankfort in Saline County northeast of Marshall on August 8, 1864. The previous day a guerrilla named Richard "Dick" Durrett had been captured by Federal soldiers five miles west of Arrow Rock, taken into Arrow Rock, and executed on the morning of the 8th. Durrett was not only a member of Jackson's band, but the two men were very likely good friends, since Durrett was from the same area of Saline County as Jackson. Jackson and about fifty guerrillas promptly marched to Frankfort, where they reportedly set fire to about twenty homes and killed several citizens. Jackson let it be known he was acting in response to Durrett's death, and he swore to kill ten men to avenge the execution. The St. Louis Missouri Republican, in reporting the event, noted facetiously that Jackson was the former governor's son and "seems to be in all respects worthy of the name he bears."  

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