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.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Shooting of Isaac Whittenberg

Late in the evening, on or about January 24, 1863, two men came to the home of 21-year-old Isaac Whittenberg in Webster County, Missouri. One of them barged into his house with a revolver drawn and demanded that Whittenberg pilot him to the home of a neighbor named Alexander. Whittenberg resisted the idea at first but complied under threats from the intruder. He dressed and accompanied the unwelcome caller outside, where the other man, a Wright County resident named Thomas Paul with whom Whittenberg was slightly acquainted, awaited on horseback. Whittenberg mounted Paul's horse, riding double behind Paul, and the three men started toward Alexander's house.
Whittenberg learned that the man who had burst into his house was named Todd, and Paul let Todd go first, advising Whittenberg that it was best to let Todd take the lead because Todd would just as soon shoot him (Whittenberg) as not. When the threesome neared Alexander's place, Whittenberg was allowed to dismount and start back on foot toward his house. He had not gone more than fifteen or twenty steps, however, before the two men rode back and overtook him, and Todd demanded that he give up his pistol. When Whittenberg said he did not have a pistol, Todd promptly shot him in the breast and fired a second shot before Paul intervened to prevent Todd from firing again.
Paul was later arrested and charged with the assault on Whittenberg, while Todd apparently was nowhere to be found. However, the victim, who was recovering from his wound, testified at Paul's trial in Springfield near the end of February that he felt he owed his life to Paul. He said Paul had intervened to stop Todd from shooting him a second time and that he felt Paul had done everything he could to protect him. Paul was accordingly acquitted of the charges against him.
What intrigues me about this case is the possibility that the man named Todd could have been notorious Quantrill guerrilla George Todd. I have no evidence that such is the case, but I do know that Todd and some of Quantrill's other men did participate in the Battle of Springfield in early January of 1863 and the Battle of Hartville later the same month. And Paul's description of Todd as just as likely to shoot a man as not sounds like an apt description of George Todd. It's possible that George Todd, tiring of regular Confederate service, was trying to get back to his old stomping grounds of Jackson County and thus needed local men to pilot him through the territory. It is known that some of Quantrill's men did, in fact, return to the Kansas City area shortly after the Battles of Springfield and Hartville.

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