Banishment from Missouri in 1864

 

Near the close of the year 1864 this order of banishment was issued in Missouri and began to be enforced. The order was that all women and children whose husbands, fathers, or brothers were in the Confederate Army were to be banished and sent South to some point within the Confederate lines.

Rosecrans was the general in command.  Many of the best families were compelled to leave their homes and were permitted to take only what they could pack in trunks. Sales were made, and household furniture was auctioned off for what it would bring, which was little.  Southern people would not buy, for they felt that it was only a question of time when an order would be served on them to go; Yankees would not buy, saying: "We might be punished for buying Rebel goods."  Consequently these sales were almost thesame as giving the things away.

A day was set, and those who had received notice to be ready to leave were ordered to headquarters' post, from which they were to start with an escort, "To see them through the lines," as they phrased it.  Farm wagons and teams were pressed into service by the Federal authorities.  If wagon covers could be had, they were used; if none, straw was placed in the bottom of the wagon bed, and the women and children were packed in like sardines in a box until all the space was taken up.  Then another wagon was drawn  up  to the platform where they were being loaded with this precious human freight, and so on until all that had been ordered in for shipment with this cargo were loaded in this cramped condition.  Mrs. McCoy, who lived near Missouri City, her husband, Capt. Moses McCoy, being in Gen. Joe Shelby's command, was sick, scarcely able to sit up, and having a babe two years old and two other small children, asked permission to delay being sent away until she was better able to stand the trip. "No", said the commander of the Liberty post, "The order can't be changed; you must go with this crowd that have beenordered to be ready for this day's departure."

It was February and cold; the ground was frozen.  Cameron, forty miles away, was the nearest railroad station and had to be reached overland, mostly prairie, in these rough farm wagons.  On the way the children suffered both with cold and cramped limbs in the bottom of these closely packed wagons, jolting along over the frozen ground.  Billy Moore, a bright little boy,
became furious and began to cry out against the officer who was escorting the wagon train.  When the captain, who was mounted on a spirited horse, riding first ahead and then back, came alongside the wagon Mrs. Moore was in, Billy would raise the edge of the wagon cover, shake his fist at him and yell at the top of his voice: "You old Captain Kemper ! You'll be killed
when I get where my pa is. I'll make him shoot you, see if I don't !  You mean old Kemper!"

"Hush, Billy," said his mother.  "They will hang us, and we will never get to your papa if you don't hush."

"I don't care," said Billy. "I'll tell him how mean he is for sending us out of our warm home in the cold, and my feet are freezin'."

As soon as Captain Kemper was again in the reach of Billy's voice, "Here he is!" up goes the wagon cover and out goes Billy's chubby fist with a vicious shake and the repeated threat to make his pa shoot him. "I hate you, old Kemper, Kemper Old Kemper ! I'd shoot you now if I had a gun. I want to kill you for sending my mother and little sister out"--

"Billy, you must hush!  Sit down here and let me put my shawl over you."

But Billy would not be covered up and whenever Captain Kemper was in sight he stormed at him in his wrath.  But Captain Kemper was obeying the orders of his superior officers and was not to blame.  He too, was cold and sympathized with the suffering women and children in the crowded wagons bumping along on the frozen ground, and where a good piece of road was
reached he would hurry the drivers on as fast as possible; but he managed to keep away from Billy's wagon most of the time.

What those women and children suffered on that trip southward into Arkansas and into the Confederate lines will never be known.  Many of those unfortunate Southerners never recovered the breaking up of their homes. Some of them never returned to Missouri nor ever saw their homes again. Captain McCoy and his wife, my sister, lived in Texas after the war ended.
She is still living at the time of this writing.  Those people were banished for no offense but being Southerners and in sympathy with the Confederacy.

In our part of Missouri it was no uncommon thing to hear of some man being shot or hanged who was too old or physically unfit for service and who tried to remain at home, but who was known to be in sympathy with the South.

The Rev. Mr. Payne, of Clinton County, who had a son in the Confederate Army, was arrested one day by a squad of Federal soldiers; and not being heard from for two days, his daughter went to the headquarters of Plattsburg near their home and begged the commander to tell her what they had done with her father, to please tell her if he had been sent to prison.  To this
pathetic appeal he gruffly replied, "You had better  look in the woods for him."

She returned home and related what he had said. The neighbor women gathered in to join in the search, thinking he might be tied to a tree somewhere in the woods.  They discovered buzzards circling  around and lighting down in a dense forest not very far from his home.  Following in that direction, they came to the spot where the birds of ill omen where alighting and there found
serveral of them feeding on the dead body of Preacher Payne, who was loved by all who knew him.  He was a good man and a good preacher and made no trouble for those who were opposed to him in sentiment.

Banishment was not the worst feature of the situation in Missouri during the war period.  Sad as is the narrative of the murder of Rev. Mr. Payne, there ware others equally pathetic. A few nights after Dr. Payne was shot the same Federal soldiers went to the house of Mr. John Morris, who also had a son in the Confederate Army, in General Price's command.  Arousing him out of his bed, before he had time to dress himself they began beating him over the head with pistols.  When in an almost unconscious condition, his gray hair matted with his wife clinging  to him.  Breaking her loose from him, they dragged Mr. Morris outside of the yard, riddled his body with bullets, then mounted their horses and disappeared, leaving the family to care for the body as best they might.

A mile and a half from Liberty, Mo., lived a fine citizen, Mr. Thatcher, who was Southern and entered the service at the beginning of the war; but after a few month's campaign he found that he was not strong enough to stand camp life and long marches.  Returning home, he asked permission of the commander of the Liberty post to remain with his family and be neutral.  The privilege was granted by his taking the oath of allegiance to the Federal government.

But very soon afterwards a new commander was sent to the post.  He was not of a mind to be satisfied with the mild treatment accorded to Mr. Thatcher. As soon as he heard of it he sent out a squad of soldiers with orders to hang him.  They found Mr. Thatcher seated on the front porch holding his sick baby on a pillow.  Seeing the child in a dying condition, the soldiers
returned to town without stating the object of their visit and said to their Colonel: "We can't hang that man; his babe seems to be dying."

Colonel Pennick was very little more humane than old Asurbanipal, of the Assyrian kings.  Not be thwarted in his purpose, he said: "I'll send my lop-eared Dutch.  They'll hang him."

True to their trust, they rode to Mr. Thatcher's home and found him holding the sick baby on a pillow. They called to him: "Colonel Pennick vant you."

His wife, fearing that he might be detained as a prisoner, begged them to excuse him and let him remain with her till the child died or got better. But to no purpose.  They ordered him to come at once. He handed the baby, burning with fever, to his wife and went with them.  In a few minutes one of the soldiers came galloping up to the yard fence and asked her if she "vant
some trouble."

"No, no!" she said. "Baby is dying, and I have all I can bear."

"Vell, veder you vant or nod vant, dere is some.  You find you' huspan' hang on a tree down de road."

Her aged father and the little girls ran down to the place indicated and found his lifeless body hanging to the tree.

A fine old gentleman, the father of Rev. Charlie  Hodges and of Mrs. Slaughter, stepmother of Tom and Jesse Slaughter, of Liberty, lived near Platte City in war time.  Some Federal soldiers, raiding the homes of Southern people and robbing them of money, household goods, or anything else they wanted, began to ransack Mr. Hodges's house, gathering up valuable, opening trunks and bureau drawers, and taking whatever they could carry away.  Old Mr. Hodges, a soldier of two wars, came leaning on his cane into the room where they were filling bags with their plunder.  Full of his ancient courage, he said in a voice filled with rage: "Get out from here, you cowardly thieves!"

At the this they turned on him and threatened to hang him.  He stood in the doorway, his hands on the door frame on each side of him, and looked the very "god of war".  "Hang me, you cowardly thieves! You can't cheat me out of my many days. Hang as high as Haman if you want to ! You can't show such honorable scars as I have on my body, received in fighting for my country in the War of 1812 and in the Mexican War. You are not true soldiers fighting for the Union, as you claim to be, or you would not be found robbing my house.  I defy you!  You are cowardly thieves!  Put those things down and leave this house!"

Alarmed by the fury of the old veteran of two wars or stung by his words, the men filed out one at a time and left the place, but taking their booty with them.

Not far from the home of the murdered Norris, in Clay County, lived an aged man whose name was Ferrell.  He had three sons in the Southern army fighting for their constitutional rights and in defense of their homes.  One morning before breakfast he was visited by eight or ten Federal soldiers, who ordered him to go with them.  Placing him before them, they compelled him to run while their horses galloped after him.  His daughter attempted to follow, but they told her to go back, or they would shoot her. Thinking it might be better for her father, she obeyed.  After a few hours the family went up the road to where they last saw his gray head disappearing over the hill and just beyond that point found the lifeless body of the good old man hanging by a rope thrown over one of the lower limbs of a tree.  Mr. Ferrell was a quiet, harmless neighbor, an elder in the Church, and was never known to have injured any one.
 

[Published 1918, Vol. 26, Confederate Veteran Magazine, page 62-63, 91. Republished 1999 in "Missouri's Sons of the South", Missouri Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.]