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.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Civil War Punishment

Last time I wrote about the pay received by soldiers in the Missouri State Guard, as recorded in its Letter and Order Book. The same source also has a couple of interesting items illustrating how soldiers who committed crimes and misdeeds were punished.
In early November of 1861, the Guard held a court martial near Pineville for two soldiers, both of whom had been accused of stealing and deserting the army in Newton County a couple of weeks earlier. One of them, Rufus Walbridge, was found guilty and sentenced to receive fifty lashes on the morning of November 9 and dishonorably discharged. The sentence read as follows: "His back will be stripped, he will be tied by the hands to a tree where 50 lashes will be inflicted upon his bare back, well laid on with a raw hide or hickory, and will there receive a dishonorable discharge and be escorted beyond the limits of the camp and then turned loose." No doubt, had the same crimes occurred during battle, particularly the desertion, Rufus would have received an even more severe punishment--probably execution. The other soldier, Conrad Leibricht, was found not guilty, released from confinement, and returned to his company.
On December 4, another court martial was held on the Sac River near Osceola. Timothy Martin, a citizen of Hickory County, was accused of premeditatedly killing Jacob Kirtemeyer in Hickory County on or about July 31, 1861. He was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged in the town of Osceola on December 6, 1861 between ten and eleven o'clock in the morning. Apparently, however, the sentence was overturned or Martin escaped, because he was still living in Hickory County at the time of the 1870 census. He was ten years older than he was at the time of the 1860 census, when he was 23. Also, I think the actual name of his victim was Jacob Kirkhart, not Jacob Kirtemeyer. Jacob Kirkhart is the only person with a name even close to Jacob Kirtemeyer living anywhere near Hickory County in 1860. And Jacob Kirkhart seems to be missing from the 1870 census (probably because he was dead).

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