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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thomas K. Young, Cedar County Guerrilla

Another military court martial case during the Civil War similar to the one I wrote about last week concerning Thomas Caldwell of Dade County, Missouri, was that of Thomas K. Young of Cedar County. Young, who was referred to in Union documents as "a notorious rebel," was charged with five counts, or specifications, of "Violating the laws of war," two counts of murder, and one count of robbery, and he was tried by military commission at Butler in Bates County in June 1862. He pled not guilty to all charges and specifications.
On the first charge, the first specification was that Young had jayhawked through Cedar County with a gang of guerrillas, plundering and committing various depredations. The second specification was that, after returning home from General Price's Missouri State Guard in the late fall of 1861, he had exerted himself during December of that year and January, February, and March of 1862 to "stir up rebellion" in Cedar County. Specifications 3 and 4 both had to do with Young's participation in Colonel James M. "Polk" Frazier's raid on Humansville in Polk County in late March. Specification 5 was that Young, at the head of a party of guerrillas, had led a jaunt from Montevallo in Vernon County to the Caplinger's Mill area of Cedar County, committing depredations along the way.
Both specifications on the charge of murder had to do with the raid on Humansville, during which Benjamin Smith, a Union man, was killed. On the robbery charge, the only count was that Young had stolen 200 bushels of corn and 40 bushels of wheat from James M. Cooley, another "good and loyal citizen of the United States."
Young was found guilty on counts 1,2, and 5 of the first charge and not guilty on counts 3 and 4. On the most serious charge of murder, he was found not guilty of both specifications and not guilty of the charge. On the charge of robbery, he was found guilty of both the charge and the specification. He was sentenced to be shot to death. However, as in the case of Thomas Caldwell, the findings of the commission were forwarded to President Lincoln for review. Unlike in Caldwell's case, the president ruled in favor of the condemned man in Young's case. He said that the death sentence was "inoperative" because it had not been approved by the officer who had ordered the court martial, and he directed that Young be released.

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