The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 17, 2013

Hatred, resentment and retribution fueled bloody encounter at Rader’s Farm

Members of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry regiment had been in Jasper County in large numbers on previous foraging missions. Coming from their outpost in modern-day Baxter Springs, Kan., the armed former slaves in Union uniforms had entered the property and homes of white residents to take their food or other useful supplies.

“The 1st Kansas had come in in force,” said Jasper County archivist and amateur historian Steve Weldon. He said armed former slaves had been a longtime fear in Missouri and other slave-holding states. He said there was a lot of resentment and hatred in the area against the black soldiers.

“They’re madder than hornets,” Carthage author and historian Steve Cottrell said of county residents.

The 1st Kansas Colored had distinguished themselves in October 1862 at what is known as the battle of Island Mound, near Butler. The skirmish was the first combat experience of black soldiers in the Civil War, a Union victory.

Since the last visit of the 1st Kansas to Jasper County, Confederate guerilla activity had increased substantially. On May 13, 1863, Union Maj. Edward B. Eno and 184 of his men went on a scouting expedition into Jasper County, searching for Confederate guerilla leader Thomas Livingston.

The 1st Kansas, under Col. James Williams, its white commander, also had previously encountered Livingston’s men, in a successful assault on a camp of guerillas on an island in Spring River.

“Livingston would not underestimate the regiment after this raid,” wrote John Paul Ringquist in his 2009 doctoral dissertation for the University of Kansas titled “Color No Longer a Sign of Bondage: Race, Identity and the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment (1862-1865).”

On May 14, Eno’s soldiers caught up with Livingston’s men in hand-to-hand battle near present-day Oronogo, with the guerillas repulsing Eno’s Union troops.

The Union troops reorganized, and went on pursuit of Livingston and his men. Livingston’s guerillas split up to avoid capture.

But on May 18, a foraging party from the 1st Kansas came to Livingston’s attention. It was a small group comprised of 25 black soldiers with the 1st Kansas and 22 white soldiers with the 2nd Kansas Volunteer Artillery Battery. They had five wagons, each pulled by six mules.

“It was not well thought out,” Weldon said of the expedition. “They didn’t have the protection they should have.”

They arrived at the farmhouse built by William Rader, a few miles east of the village of Sherwood. William Rader had died years before. His son, Andrew Rader had lived in the house but was enlisted in the Confederate Army. Weldon said probably just Andrew Rader’s wife was there when the Union soldiers arrived at the two-story pine farmhouse.

The black soldiers had set their weapons aside as they threw corn stored upstairs out a window and into the wagons outside.

Livingston and around 70 of his men had been trailing the Union soldiers and emerged from the woods to the south of the farm. The black soldiers didn’t have time to reach their weapons. White soldiers, on horseback, rode away to escape.

Weldon said some of the black soldiers tried to surrender, but they were shot by the guerillas.

“The Rader farm attack lasted no more than five to 10 minutes,” Weldon said.

Fifteen black Union soldiers from the 1st Kansas were killed, including two who were killed after being taken prisoner. Three white Union soldiers from the 2nd Kansas were killed, including one who was killed after being taken prisoner.

Union officer J.K. Graton, based in Baxter Springs, wrote an account of the battle in a letter home to his wife dated May 22, 1863.

“The artillery boys, and our officers being mounted were able to get out of (the) way, but the black boys being on foot had to take it and most of them were killed.”

Graton wrote that the guerillas chased the mounted Union soldiers for six miles, resulting in two more Union deaths.

Ringquist wrote that the black soldiers could offer no resistance after their white leadership fled.

“Instead of standing and dying in common cause with their soldiers, the flight of the white officers set off a panic amongst the dismounted majority,” Ringquist wrote. “Abolitionist sentiments evaporated in the face of imminent annihilation.”

Union soldiers returned to the location the next morning, May 19, finding the bodies of the black soldiers stripped naked and mutilated and their heads bashed.

Weldon said it wouldn’t be good to automatically assume that the guerillas mutilated the bodies.

“There is no proof who in the world did that,” Weldon said. He said it could just as well have been area residents.

Weldon said the white Union soldiers received proper burials, but the bodies of the black soldiers were piled in the farmhouse. There was a final touch.

Union soldiers had found one of Livingston’s men, John Bishop, his shirt bloodied from the battle.

“The colonel had him marched into the house and shot, his body placed upon the pile and the house burned,” Graton wrote about Bishop, referring to the pile of bodies of black Union soldiers.

When the war was done, the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry regiment had suffered more casualties than any other Kansas regiment.

Weldon said an enraged Col. Williams ordered the village of Sherwood and every structure within five miles burned. Sherwood had a population of around 250 at the time and was the third largest town in the county, behind Sarcoxie and Carthage. It was located west of the Rader farm around JJ Highway and Fir Road. Historian and author Larry Wood said the highway was Liberty Street in Sherwood.

Graton wrote that he and his fellow Union soldiers had burned some dozen houses, giving families a few minutes to leave.

“It is pretty hard, but war is a serious business,” he wrote.

Weldon said the order destroyed western Jasper County, with many residents fleeing to Arkansas and Texas. There was no population there again until after the war ended.

Weldon said the story is complicated.

“It’s so full of things to think about,” he said. “There’s hatred and resentment and things boiling over.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho police warn residents of phone scam

    The Neosho Police Department has received complaints from residents saying someone impersonating a lieutenant from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office warrants division has been calling them.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter