JOPLIN, Mo. —
During the Civil War, neighbors and relatives in Missouri often supported opposite sides. In a few pockets of the state, however, the majority of families held similar views.
That was the situation that occurred in the region between Joplin and Kansas City. The majority of residents of that stretch of land were pro-South.
Osceola, a bustling town nestled along the Osage River in the area, had numerous citizens who were also Southern supporters.
President Lincoln appointed Union Gen. Jim Lane to rid the region of people who were aiding Rebels. On Sept. 22, 1861, Lane and his group of Jayhawkers headed from Kansas to Osceola on a mission to destroy it.
During the following two days, Lane and his group burned businesses, the courthouse and homes. They executed nine men on the public square. When Lane and his Jayhawkers finally left with loot from the homes, the town had been completely destroyed and over 2,000 people left homeless.
“The Burning of Osceola, Missouri,” a 403-page book by Richard F. Sunderwirth, contains 48 stories about St. Clair County, the town of Osceola, and the famous raid.
The book discusses the events of the Civil War in the western area of Missouri as they were viewed through the eyes of the Rebel supporters who lived there.
Numerous letters, maps and military records are included. Some of the stories are about men such as William Clarke Quantrill, Henry Ledbetter, the Younger brothers, Thomas Moore Johnson, John Weidemeyer and Dr. Ruth Seevers.
Three of the military leaders who are discussed are Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, Gen. Lane and Maj. Robert Rogers. Several stories pertain to Sen. Waldo P. Johnson (one of my hen-skin cousins), who was a well-respected Osceola leader.
Another topic is the Missouri Brigade Monument, which was erected in 2003 at the site where the Sac and Osage rivers converge.
From October through December of 1861, 12,000 men of the Missouri State Guard, led by Maj. Gen. Price, gathered at that spot. After December, about 2,000 of the men returned to their homes to protect their families, while the rest joined the newly formed Confederate Army.
If your ancestors lived in the western area, this book will help you understand the turmoil that they and their families encountered during the war. The price is $23.95. For more information, call Sunderwirth at 417-646-5538 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Also contact the author at P.O. Box 543, 180 Third Street, Osceola, MO.
Another way to learn about the war from the perspective of the affected families is to visit the Bushwhacker Museum at Nevada. The museum has closed for the season but will open again May 1. Similar to Sunderwirth’s book, the museum exhibits provide an excellent account of the war from a perspective that is not often presented.
Suggestions or queries? Send to Frankie Meyer, P.O. Box 731, Joplin, MO 64801, or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.