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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Affair on Lane's Prairie, Maries County, Missouri

The guerrilla warfare in Missouri during the Civil War was characterized by raids, sabotage, and occasional atrocities. Most of us know about the big massacres, like the one at Lawrence, Kansas, carried out by Quantrill, and the one at Centralia, Missouri, carried out by Bloody Bill Anderson. However, there were numerous smaller massacres, occasionally involving civilians but more often involving soldiers who had surrendered or were attempting to surrender. In fairness, it should be noted that Federal soldiers as well as Confederate-allied guerrillas were guilty of such atrocities, but in honesty, it should also be admitted that the bushwhackers were guilty of more than their share. (Given the desperate situation the Missouri guerrillas found themselves in late in the war, their occasionally resorting to extreme actions can perhaps be somewhat understood, if not condoned, but let us save that argument for another day.)
One minor atrocity of the guerrilla warfare in Missouri occurred in Maries County when about ten men of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry under Sergeant Legrand Carter went out on a scout from Rolla on May 26, 1864. Northwest of Rolla on the Waynesville to Vienna road near Maries Creek, the soldiers met a party of about twenty guerrillas dressed in Federal uniforms. According to civilian reports after the fact, some heated words were exchanged between the two parties as the soldiers apparently tried to ascertain the identity of the blue-clad strangers. The witnesses said the two parties then moved off together (the soldiers apparently being herded as prisoners) into some nearby woods, where the guerrillas opened fire on the Federals. Some of the soldiers broke and ran and made their escape, but the sergeant and four of his men were shot dead.
A second Union scout went out from Rolla the following day and found the corpses of Sgt. Carter and his four comrades still lying in the woods, minus their weapons. In addition, Carter's body had been stripped of his pants and boots, and someone had put a pair of old worn-out shoes on his feet in place of the stolen boots. The second scouting party ascertained that the guerrillas had left in the direction of Waynesville after killing the Union soldiers, but nothing was discovered to indicate who their leader was. So, on the 18th, the second scouting party gave up its hunt after the culprits and returned to Rolla.

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