Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Bushwhacker Capital" is nothing to be proud of? Them's fightin' words lady!

Dear editor:

It always amazes me how much of history we don't understand; myself included. But I think is very important for people to understand their local history and how that applies to regional history and to the greater picture of our nation's history.

I don't know if Shannon Harwell has ever visited the "Bushwhacker" Museum or not, but it might be helpful to her in her quest of understanding of just what a "Bushwhacker" was. (By the way, their official name was "Partisan Rangers".) Ms Harwell says that she is from southern Missouri and I imagine that that has influenced her feelings on this subject. (Keep in mind that during the Civil War Missouri to a great degree was upside down in her political sympathies, south was north and north was south.)

I can think of some thugs from the southern part of the state who used the war to their advantage to prey on the local citizenry, many of these men were called "Bushwhackers" by the federals.

Politics had nothing to do with people like them and their ilk; war just made it easier to terrorize, steal and murder. The same can be said of many of the Jayhawkers and Red Legs from Kansas.

Northern newspapers first used the term "Bushwhackers", which originally just meant a backwoodsman, as an insult. But the partisans embraced the name, which gives us a bit of an insight into their opinion of the northern press.

For the most part our Vernon County "Bushwhackers" were and still are our heroes. Quite simply they were our husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons and they were our main defense against raiding Jayhawkers. I once heard Arnold Schofield, at that time historian at Fort Scott, liken our Vernon County "Bushwhackers" to the Minutemen in the Revolutionary War. They would quite literally come out of the woods to protect their homes and neighborhoods then fade back into the landscape.

And yes, Ms. Harwell, this is part of our shared history and because of that fact alone it is something to know, understand, and celebrate.

I am not even going to start on just how effective a marketing tool the name "Bushwhacker Museum" has been for our site. Nor am I going to cite the economic ramifications of heritage tourism to our state, or the projected economic value of the planned national celebration for the upcoming sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

If you want more information about these subjects, please contact the Missouri Division of Tourism.

I don't normally write responses to letters printed in newspapers and will not be following up with any others on this subject, but I do want to personally invite Ms. Harwell to visit the Bushwhacker Museum to learn more about the Bushwhackers or Partisan Rangers if you prefer, and how their activities affected our region during the Border War/Civil War period.

Hopefully you will better appreciate the annual Bushwhacker Days celebration, especially this our sesquicentennial year.

I promise you an interesting time and you will have the opportunity to discover much more about our 150 years of county history than just the Civil War period.

You can experience all of that right in your own back yard for just $3 (I just can't forget those economic ramifications.)

Terry Ramsey

Bushwhacker Museum