Historical Facts About Civil War in Western Missouri

Posted on July 27, 2015

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Since the Confederate flag and monuments have  been in the news, some historical facts need to be brought to light. The Civil War in Western Missouri was not about freeing slaves.

Here are facts about the Civil War near its beginning.

First, Major General Sterling Price, a Missourian, defeated Union Col. James A. Mulligan and his 3,500 soldiers in the first Battle of Lexington (or Battle of the Hemp Bales), September 18-20,1861. This victory was believed to secure Missouri for the Confederacy, but later Union soldiers from other states came to battle in Missouri.

Col. Mulligan’s troops were called the Irish Brigade and composed the 23rd Illinois Infantry. The Union Army wanted to secure the Missouri River and stop supplies moving into Lexington for the Confederacy. Lexington was the second largest town in Missouri at that time and headquarters for the Overland Freighters.

Second, the Confederate battle flag has a place in Missouri history. Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson in a meeting at Neosho with the General Assembly enacted an ordinance on October 28, 1861, whereby Missouri was granted admission to the Confederacy. Missouri is represented as the 12th star on the Confederate battle flag.

Third, the Confederate battle flag was never hateful or racist as some people claim today. Confederate soldiers, sailors, and Marines that fought in the Civil war were made U.S. Veterans by an act of Congress in 1957, U.S. Public Law 85-425, Sec 410, approved 23 May, 1958. This made all Confederate Army/Navy/Marine Veterans equal to U.S. Veterans.

Additionally, under U.S. Public Law 810, approved by the 17th Congress on 26 February 1929 the War Department was directed to erect headstones and recognize Confederate grave sites as U.S. war dead grave sites. This included flying the Confederate battle flag over Confederate graves as the American flag is flown over Union graves. So, in essence, when a Confederate statue, monument or headstone is removed, this is like removing a statue, monument or head stone of a U.S. veteran. The Confederate battle flag is considered an American flag like the Stars and Stripes.

Fourth, many people in Cass County favored the Union of states; however, on July 17, 1861, Charles “Doc” Jennison’s Jayhawkers rode on the Harrisonville square where Henry Washington Younger’s businesses were. And the Jayhawkers rode into town and burst into every business and basically looted the town.

They took all the dried goods from Henry’s store. They took his horses because they were the best. They took all the wagons he used in the mail order or in mail delivery. And basically they filled up all of those wagons with clothing, saddles, clocks, jewelry, implements, anything they could load on the wagons and haul back to Kansas. Lane’s Jayhawkers raided towns along the Missouri-Kansas border.

Tensions escalated and many Cass County young men joined the Confederacy. Cass County men fought with regular CSA units in such famous battles as Vicksburg, Helena, Pleasant Hill, Corinth and other places across the south. They painted the battles in white on their battle flag.

Henry Younger was for the Union prior to that time the Jayhawkers raided his stores. He was the first mayor of Harrisonville.

Henry and his wife, Bursheba, had 14 children. They owned over 2,500 acres in Cass County. I remember seeing the second Younger home west of Highway 71 By-Pass between Harrisonville and Lee’s Summit.

Fifth, Cuthbert Mockby threw a party that winter for his 16-year-old daughter. Sally Younger, a daughter of Henry, was 16, and the girls were best of friends.

At the dance several Union soldiers were present. Captain Irving Walley, Illinois-born and Bates County farmer, asked Sally for a dance. Sally said, “No, thank you.” Capt. Walley grabbed Sally’s arm. Henry said, “Let her alone.”

Cole Younger, 17-years-old, stepped in to defend his sister. Cole and Walley got into a heated verbal exchange, and probably some punches were thrown. Friends pulled them apart, and Cole and Sally left the dance. Cole fled Harrisonville as he was at odds with the occupying Union Army garrisoned there.

Sixth, In the summer of 1862, Captain Walley waylaid Henry Younger and shot him in the back three times and left him in the dust. Henry actually died there in the dust near Westport.

The Union soldiers rounded up the Younger daughters and other women and jailed them in Kansas City in an effort to keep them from assisting guerillas. Tensions further escalated on August 13, 1863, when the building in which some of the girls were held collapsed.

Four girls were killed and two were cousins of Cole Younger. One was a sister of Bill Anderson who was a guerilla.

Sixth, General Thomas Erving, Commander of the District of the Border, issued Order Number 11. This resulted in the four burnt counties along the Kansas Border including Cass. A Burnt District monument is in Harrisonville.

Index, north of Garden City was burnt to the ground. Thomas Washington and Minnie Washington lived there, and Tom was the post master. They were the last living descendents of Thomas Washington, George Washington’s brother. George and Martha did not have children. Tom and Minnie are buried in the Garden City Cemetery.

But all this is a different story.

As you can see, the Civil War was more than about the freeing slaves. President Lincoln said that the war was to keep the Union united.

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