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Friday, May 6, 2016

Bushwhackers 'Armed to the Teeth'

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Very often, during the Civil War irregular forces such as partisan rangers, guerrillas, bushwhackers and redlegs were armed with better weapons than the opposing Union or Confederate soldiers. This was not unusual because members of the irregular forces could individually purchase better weapons on the open market, take them from prisoners or dead enemy soldiers, rob or steal them from civilians. Eventually, as the Civil War progressed Union or Confederate combat cavalry veterans learned that one revolver was simply not enough, so they acquired one or two more.

The following "after action" report describes the attack on the small Union town of Lindley in north central Missouri on July 15, 1864, by bushwhackers who were "armed to the teeth." The report is located on pages 71 and 72 in Series I. Vol. 41 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

To: Brigadier General C. B. Fisk, Commanding, District of Northwest Missouri at St. Joseph, Mo.

Trenton, Mo., July 18, 1864

Dear Sir: On the morning of the 15th instant a party of bushwhackers, numbering (27), came into the little town of Lindley, in this county [Grundy County], and robbed the citizens of money, horses, guns and pistols. They were pursued by Capt. E.L. Winters with what men he could hastily collect and overtaken some eight miles from the place robbed. A fight ensued, in which five of Captain Winters' men were wounded. The bushwhackers again fled. The captain overhauled them again in the afternoon and fought them in which he had one man killed and one mortally wounded. The bushwhackers were all well armed, with from two to four revolvers and one and two shotguns each!

Our men were but poorly armed and were scarce of ammunition. How long, oh, how long must we suffer with these fiends in human shape? If the loyal Enrolled Missouri Militia were armed they would soon stop this bushwhacking. Why this is not done I cannot imagine. We need help, and we look to those in power to furnish it, and if aid is not furnished soon I fear the loyal men will take the matter in their own hands.

Then, I fear, they would violate the orders of Provost Marshall McWrath, who I fear, is not thoroughly loyal to the core; at least, he acts very favorable to rebels, as I am informed.

Hoping that aid to loyal men will soon be furnished,
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, R. A. DE BOLT,

Chairman of County Committee of Safety for Grundy County, Mo."

It is not known if the requested aid was ever furnished and the violent guerrilla/bushwhacking war continued throughout Missouri until and beyond the end of the Civil War. More of this will appear in future columns.

Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches