"Cold-blooded assassinations"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Throughout history civilians killing civilians is and was, commonplace in war. This is especially true today in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Palestine and was quite prevalent throughout Missouri and eastern Kansas during "our" Civil War. Very often "war" is convenient for settling, by murder or assassination, offenses such as personal grudges, or revenge for acts of violence or outrages committed by civilians to other civilians.

Such was the case that confronted "Union" Brig. Gen. Clinton B. Fisk in May, 1864 when he commanded the District of North Missouri and is described in the following telegrams. All of the telegrams are located in Vol. 34. Vol. I, Correspondence: Parts III & IV on Pages 679, 692, 693,709, 710 & 55 of the "Records of the War of the Rebellion."

"St. Louis, Mo., May 19, 1864.

Lt. W. T. Clarke, aide-de-camp:

Is there any information for the sensation reports in the newspapers concerning guerrillas near Saint Joseph? Send me all the particulars and any other information. Answer at once. Holloway and Harding leave the city today.

Clinton B. Fisk Brigadier General."

"St. Louis, May 20, 1864.

Lt. Clarke:

I cannot get away from here for St. Joseph until I can see Gen. Rosecrans, who is now in Illinois. I must know what I can depend upon in relation to troops before I return to the district. We are now waiting intelligence on that point from Washington. I hope Col. Williams will succeed in catching and killing the murderers. Capt. Holloway is enroute to St. Joseph; come down when he arrives, bringing all the mail needing my attention, as well as my private letters, unless I advise you that I am about to return.

Clinton B. Fisk, Brigadier General."

"St. Louis, Mo., May 20, 1864.

Col. Williams,

I see by the morning papers that there is much uneasiness at St. Joseph, that murders are frequent and much serious trouble anticipated. Please telegraph me at once the exact condition of affairs in the northwest. I am hoping that I shall succeed in getting more troops for my district.

Clinton B. Fisk Brigadier General."

"Headquarters District of North Missouri. St. Joseph, Mo., May 21, 1864.

Gen. Fisk, St. Louis, Mo.:

The recent murders have caused considerable excitement in this county. They were "cold blooded assassinations" and strike terror to the heart of every citizen. They were committed by men who live in the immediate vicinity of the unfortunate victims and are partly known to be accomplices. I apprehend nothing serious from them militarily speaking.

John F. Williams Colonel."
"St. Joseph, May 21, 1864.

Gen. C. B. Fisk, St. Louis:

Capt. Holloway arrived too late for me to start last night. With your permission I will not visit St. Louis, as I don't consider it prudent for any one officer to be left at headquarters alone.

Another murder yesterday. Sgt. Bradford was killed about 12 miles below town. This is the fourth murder within this week. It is the beginning of the end of the fight between the radicals and conservatives. There are no vitally important dispatches or papers that need your immediate attention. I will send down the poll-book on the sword vote Monday.

W. T. Clarke, Lieutenant and aide-de-camp."

"St. Joseph, May 26, 1864.

Maj. Gen. Rosecrans, Comdg., Dept. of the Missouri:

I am pressing a most thorough investigation of the "murder cases" of this section. One party was reported found dead with 12 bullets in his head, turns out to be unhurt and at work over in Kansas! The murderer of McDonald has surrendered himself and gives full statement of the quarrel over a mule, which resulted in shooting on both sides. [It must have been a very good mule!] They were Paw Paws (The name for a specific type of militia that frequently changed sides.) Maj. Wilson had $3,000 in money with him and this is more than probable that the money caused his murder. Christian was undoubtedly killed by Platte County Paw Paws.

I shall go to Platte myself and use all my means and power to allay the apprehensions of the people. Not over eight bushwhackers have as yet been seen in any one place. My forces are all at work. I shall organize and put on duty a military force sufficient to maintain quiet.

Clinton B. Fisk Brigadier General, Commanding."
"St. Joseph, Mo., May 28, 1864.

Maj. Gen. Rosecrans:

I have just returned from Platte County, where I conversed (with) farmers, merchants, mechanics and lawyers, representing all parties and factions from every section of the country and thoroughly canvassed the condition of affairs in Platte.

The reports have been grossly fabulous; not a single individual has been harmed in the county, not one bushwhacker has been seen by anybody, and (there has been) but little stealing for months past.Twenty-seven muskets were taken from Camden Point and as yet we can learn nothing of them. There was no cause whatever for adjourning the court at Platte City.

Every man I saw and conversed with concurred with this opinion. There is just now more industry in Platte County than at any previous time during the war and good men of the county have assured me of hearty co-operation in keeping down all lawlessness.

I have increased the militia force and have wide-awake officers to watch the border. We have found and shot one of the murders of Maj. Wilson in this county and shall without doubt secure and kill the entire gang!

Reports of the condition of affairs in Northwest Missouri that have reached St. Louis through the press have been wickedly exaggerated. There are some magnificent liars in this county!
Clinton B. Fisk Brigadier General."

Now then, did the cold blooded assassins, murderers, outlaws, redlegs, bushwhackers and guerrillas continue to commit their fiendish deeds, described by some magnificent liars, in spite of the efforts of Gen. Fisk and his Blue Bellied Billy Yankees from and in Missouri? You bet they did and with a vengeance, because that is the nature of war and the war went on!