Missouri Guerrillas and North Texas
One of my favorite movies of all time is Josey Wales. I must have seen it a dozen times. I finally obtained the book the movie was based upon, Gone to Texas by Forrest Carter. After reading only a few pages, I was reminded of how connected Indian Territory and North Texas (where I lived and where my parents live now) was to the Confederate Partisans of Missouri. Evidently, they often made their way here. To understand these guerrilla fighters, is it important to see them in context. As Carter says in his preface, “Missouri is called the Mother of Outlaws.” She acquired her title in the aftermath of the Civil War, when bitter men who had fought without benefit of rules in the Border War (a war with a War) could find no place for themselves in a society of old enmities and Reconstruction government . . . Many of them drifted to Texas.”
Carter says that with “muffled horses’ hooves, they would slip through Union lines to cross the Indian Nations on their way to Texas to lick their wounds and regroup. But always they came back” (9).
These men were likely the fiercest fighters in the Confederacy. They were feared and hated by the Federal (Yankee) forces, so much that in 1862, General Halleck issued General Order Two: Exterminate the guerrillas of Missouri; shoot them down like animals hang all prisoners.” This was followed by General Order Eleven which gave orders to arrest the womenfolk, to burn the homes and to depopulate the Missouri counties along the Border of Kansas.
My point is that these fierce Confederates often moved through North Texas and Indian Territory. Quantrill was in Bonham, Bloody Bill Anderson’s men camped outside of Sherman and married a saloon girl from the area, and there’s little doubt that some of the other fighters left a desolate Missouri, moved here to stay and were absorbed by the Red River Valley’s population. I know that in the Kemp Cemetery there is a grave of a soldier who was in the 6th Missouri. Whether he’s Confederate or Federal, I’m not sure, but I intend to look into it.
If you can obtain a copy of Carter’s book, I think you’ll enjoy it. It reflects good research and if you like to read westerns, it will stir your heart.
*Correction to an earlier post: I reposted the correct and complete lyrics to Mickey Newbury’s song, “Nights When I Am Sane” on Oct. 19, 2008. I finally obtained the CD it was on. Yesterday, I listened to the song till I was manic. I have these creative episodes now and then in which I temporarily lose my head.