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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Battlefield Dispatches No. 234: 'Shut of Rebel Women'

Friday, October 1, 2010

One of the fascinating things about the English language, especially here in the United States is that there are many dialectal expressions that are indigenous to specific regions.

In Missouri, the famous folklorist Vance Randolph documented many of these expressions and words in his numerous books. It is rare however, to find any of these expressions in the "official after action reports" of the Civil War.

To get "shut" of anything is such a word and it means to be "rid of or free from" and is used by a "Union" officer who is hoping to be "free" of Rebel Women! Now that was impossible in Missouri because the women of the southern persuasion or "SECESH" were everywhere, in the cities, towns on farms, especially the farms. They were the "Home front" that harbored and supplied the Confederate guerrillas with food, shelter and a place of sanctuary from the infernal "Blue Bellied Billy Yanks." They were also, self reliant, defiant, stubborn, arrogant, fiesty and above all a nuisance to the "Union" troops that was never eliminated throughout the war. All of the following after action reports are located on Pages 619-621 in Series I, Vol. 22, Part I, reports of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

[To:] "Brigadier John McNeil,

Commanding District of Southwest Missouri.

General: On the 11th instant I sent Captain E. J. Morris out to the head of Cedar [Creek], to assist a Union man to move out, when a BAND of REBELS run onto him & caught private Samuel Downing and MURDERED him. He had 32 BULLETS SHOT into him and was beaten up with his musket!

I started out on the 15th instant with a detachment of 70 men and returned yesterday evening; traveled 90 miles; KILLED 1 REBEL; ordered all rebels south of the Federal lines; I BURNED EVERYTHING from a PIGPEN to a MANSION on Cedar and Horse Creeks. [Now then, it's one thing to kill an enemy soldier with one or two shots, but 32 BULLET SHOTS & to BEAT him with his MUSKET before or after he was DEAD! The latter "BURNING" was probably done in retaliation for the killing & mutilation of Private Downing.]

The band that killed Downing has gone south. They started last Monday morning. There were about 100 Rebs, Negroes, women and children. They went out between Horse Creek & Lamar.

I understand there are some BUSHWHACKERS collecting on the Big Jack. I have sent a scout to ascertain their whereabouts and their strength. I think as soon as I get "SHUT [rid of or free from] of the REBEL WOMEN" in these parts we will have peace! [Now that was a fond wish that probably never came true!]

There were 2 men some 7 miles east of town, calling themselves soldiers, stealing horses. They stole a horse from Mr. Gilmore, as loyal a man as there is in Missouri.

One of the men was William Rowan, the other Ragsdale. They claim to belong to the Second Kansas. They also took a horse from Samuel Harris.

Please send the horses down by Captain Morris and oblige, yours respectfully,


Major, Commanding."

[To:] "Brigadier General Ewing,

Commanding, District of the Border.

Pleasant Hill, Mo., September 15, 1863.

Sir: After a week spent in BUSHWHACKING, in search of Quantrill guerrillas, I became convinced that his band continued to secrete themselves upon the waters of the Sinbar and Blue Creek, in Jackson County, Missouri. This morning I made another night march, with view to surprise him, if possible. I crossed the intervening prairie, an entered the timber of the Snibar without being observed. At daylight, the command being divided into four detachments, we commenced a through scouring of the Snibar Hills. The country is very rugged and filled with almost impenetrable thickets. Half of the different detachments were dismounted and penetrated the woods deployed as skirmishers, the horses being led in the rear. By three of the detachments nothing particular was discovered, except evidences that the guerrillas inhabited these woods.

Captain C. F. Coleman, of the 91 Kansas, who commanded on the extreme left, in the course of the day fell upon a trail, by following which he soon came upon Quantrill's own camp. He promptly attacked it, KILLED 2 of the guerrillas, captured some 40 horses, destroyed all their subsistence stores, including some flour recently stolen from a citizen, all their bedding, clothing, ammunition and some arms. The enemy fired but one volley and at once disappeared in the thick underbrush where pursuit was impossible.

Too much credit cannot be given to Captain Coleman for the ingenuity, courage and energy with which he conducted this as well as other attacks upon the guerrillas or to the zeal and bravery of the men of his command, in seconding the labors of their chief.

The effect of this surprise and capture is most damaging to the designs of Quantrill in making another raid upon Kansas. The loss of horses and clothing is to him worse than the loss of men, as the country is denuded of both.

The expedition demonstrates the fact that Quantrills' band is still secreting itself in Jackson County, though evidently preparing for another raid.

The BUSHWHACKERS have within a day or two BURNED the splendid flourmill at Lone Jack, Mo. Tomorrow morning I shall start an expedition to endeavor the capture of another camp of the guerrillas.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel Commanding."

[To:] "General Brown,

Commanding Dist. of Central Mo., Jefferson City,

Hdqrs. 1st Mo. State Militia Cavalry,

Lexington, September 27, 1863.

General: I have the honor to report on the morning of the 22nd instant, I left this place, with 140 men of Companies B, H, L & M, 1st Mo. State Militia Cavalry, for a scout in the eastern part of this county. At the same time I ordered 100 men of Companies C, I & K from Warrensburg to the headwaters ofBlackwater and Davis Creeks. I have no official report from them yet, but leam they are doing good work. I returned to this place on the 251, having had a severe skirmish [small engagement] in the brush on the Tabo on the 22nd, that resulted in the KILLING of 1, wounding 2 (since dead), capturing 8 horses, 5 revolvers, 1 carbine & 1 double barrel shotgun. Our casualty was 1 killed, a Mr. Sullivan, who was acting as our guide. In another skirmish, on the 24th we KILLED another; captured his horse & equipments & revolver. We brought in 6 prisoners, 3 of whom have everything necessary to prove them as BUSHWHACKERS, except we could not find their arms.

The result of the scout was 4 KILLED, 6 prisoners, 17 horses & 1 mule, 13 horse equipments [bridles, saddles, blankets, etc.], 6 revolvers, 2 guns & 1 carbine. The body of guerrillas, seem to be west of us. Captain M. Morris, Company A, 1st Mo. State Militia Cavalry, reports that on the 22nd he surprised Marchbanks on the Double Branches in Bates County, capturing 18 horses & equipments, 18 guns, their camp equipage [tents, cook pots, utensils, blankets & subsistence stores (foodstuff)] & Marchbank's private papers. Thinks none were killed.

Very respectfully,


Lieut. Colonel, 1st Mo. State Militia Cavalry."

Now then, did the "Union" troops in Missouri ever "get shut of" [rid of or be "free from"] "the rebel women in these parts and have peace"? NO THEY DID NOT and of course the War Went On!

Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches