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, March 9, 2013

Skirmish at Humansville

On March 26, 1862, a minor action occurred at Humansville, Missouri, when a party of about 300-400 irregular Confederate soldiers skirmished with two companies of McClurg's Batallion Missouri State Militia (later the 8th Cavalry Missouri State Militia) on the southern outskirts of the town. Losses on both sides were minimal, although one of those killed was the rebel leader, Colonel Frazier. The skirmish is, therefore, considered a Union victory, since the Southerners retired after Frazier was killed. Several accounts of this affair identify the rebel leader who was killed as Colonel Julian Frazier of Wright County, the same man who commanded the Southern force at Springfield at the time of Zagonyi's charge in the fall of 1861. However, this is an error. The man who was fatally wounded at Humansville was Colonel James M. Frazier, a prominent citizen of Cedar County prior to the war. The definite proof of this appears in a Union Provost Marshal's file in which a man named German P. Bacon of Cedar County is charged with violating the laws of war for participating in the skirmish as part of James M. Frazier's guerrilla band. A separate Provost Marshal's file charges a second Cedar County man with the same offense, although Frazier's last name is not given in this second file. A contemporaneous newspaper account of this skirmish identifies the rebel leader as "Polk" Frazier. This, of course, does not prove that his name was actually James instead of Julian, but it's probably more likely that a man named James who grew up during the 1840s would be called "Polk" than a man named Julian, since James K. Polk was president during that time. In addition, nearly all the men under Frazier were recruits from the Cedar and Vernon County areas (including Henry Taylor and his men). It's unlikely Julian Frazier from Wright County would have been recruiting in the Cedar and Vernon County area. Missouri guerrillas and former Missouri State Guard leaders who were recruiting for the Confederacy almost always operated in the general area where they lived or had grown up.

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