"Ozarks Civil War History and Time Line"
"Civil War Cause and Effect upon Oregon County, Missouri"

This is the civil war document presented to the Oregon Co, MO, Genealogical Society
Credit for the hard work and research goes out to: Lou Wehmer and Carl Burkhead


Many Oregon County men joined the Missouri State Guard brigade of Judge James McBride to defend the state against what they considered to be foreigners (Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin, Indiana, etc.). Many did not return (Wilson’s Creek, Lexington, Pea Ridge).


Missouri State Guard enlistment periods expired, many survivors joined the regular Confederate Army. Some did not approve leaving the Union, and came home. Colonel Mitchell recruited the 8th Infantry at Camp Holmes, in Thomasville. Generals Jeff Davis and Asboth came through Alton in June with their division, after General Curtis’ stay in West Plains. Colonel Conrad Baker was in Thomasville during August 1862, trying to catch Dick Boze. While here, he took John R. Woodside prisoner.
An article on John R.Woodside)

Major James Wilson operated from Oregon County Courthouse for about a month from the end of September to the end of October 1863 on a continued mission of suppressing recruiting. Southern partisans then burned the Courthouse (we believe to deprive federal forces of further use of the building as headquarters). George Evans, James Harris, Peter Younger were indicted for the crime in 1866, upon testimony of three witnesses. Captain Robert Murphy and the Union Third Missouri State Militia were in Alton to supervise the election of November 1863.

Continuous patrols through Oregon County. By this time both sides had to bring grain for horses and pack in other supplies because the country had been stripped so bare. A court record seems to indicate rivalry between Captain Webster’s partisans on Warm Fork and the Boze outfit on the Eleven Point River. The rivalry ended with Sterling Price’s 1864 Raid in September 1864.

As the war ground to a close in the south and east, some local partisans had trickled back into the county, but little was left in Oregon County to interest patrols. The last action came June 15, 1865, when a patrol of the 7th Kansas sent from Pilot Knob to eradicate Devil Dick Boze, located him at the Widow Huddleston’s home at Yellow Bluff on the Eleven Point River, and killed him.


The surrender of General Lee at Appomattox Courthouse April 9, 1865, did not end the Civil War in Oregon County. In many respects a greater and more lasting struggle was already in motion, with effects felt locally to this day. Because of a lack of interest in occupying or controlling Oregon County after Price’s Raid, 1865 was a period of infiltration of lawless bands and a general disregard of any authority in the area. The man or group with the guns and willingness to use them ruled. Deserters, freebooters, smugglers, thieves, both local and imported infested the hills and hollers and became powers unto themselves, especially after the last of the Federal forces moved out of Rolla, Springfield and Pilot Knob during the summer of 1865. Since the war had dissolved local government and the size of the problem exceeded the capacity of any local government to suppress, anarchy ruled.

The outlaws plundered the few locals left in the area and sortied from hideouts to steal horses and loot homes of anyone foolish enough to try to move back. They persistently defied attempts by local officials, whether former Confederates or northern carpetbaggers, to re-establish civil authority. Circuit court officials ventured south from Rolla and Ironton only in fear for their lives. Oregon County was especially congenial to these gangs; the sheriff himself consorted with these outlaws.
Gangs led by Jim Jamison, Dick Kitchen, Richard Boze, and other former Confederate guerrillas sheltered along the Eleven Point River near Thomasville. The former county seat of Oregon County, Thomasville had a long-established reputation along the border as a place for racing, buying, and trading fast horses. During and after the war, there were persistent rumors that it was a depot for stolen horses and a center of horse-theft and smuggling with national connections through Ironton and St. Louis.
Into this picture from neighboring Howell County steps Captain William Monks. Monks. The Civil War made Monks. From his kidnapping by southern sympathetic Missouri State Guardsmen in July 1861, to his promotion to Captain of Company K or the Union 16th Missouri Cavalry, Monks had made it his mission in life to eradicate secessionists in this part of Missouri. Monks had chased and tried to kill these particular guerillas like Jamison and Boze in 1865, and, although his men had winnowed outlaws by the score, he never got the alleged local ringleaders.
Though the 7th Kansas beat Monks to Devil Dick Boze, Jim Jamison, a former resident of Dent County, remained in Oregon County openly defying any effort to re-establish civil law. Radical Republican Governor Thomas Fletcher came under increasing pressure to bring the southern Missouri counties under control, and since the Missouri legislature had decreed that all men between the ages of 18 and 45 be registered in a post-war militia, he had a force to do it with. In Howell County William Monks was appointed registering officer, and to beef up his authority was given a Major’s commission in the new militia. He immediately armed one hundred men, who seem to have spent a lot of their time in Howell County insuring former rebels they were no longer welcome there. The opposite was happening here in Oregon County.

Monks later wrote that he accepted the militia commission solely to ensure the security of Howell County from depredations of outlaws in neighboring counties, and that Gov. Fletcher asked him to take command after receiving pleas by Capt. John Alley, former Confederate officer and the registrar of Oregon County. Outlaws had killed returning Union veterans and threatened Capt. Alley’s life, preventing him from enrolling voters according to law. Monks claimed that a secret organization of ex-Confederates known as the Sons of Liberty cooperated with the outlaws. Their combined efforts were dedicated to preventing Union men from ever living in the area, by means including intimidation, robbery, arson, and murder. The outlaw chief Jim Jamison personally vowed to kill Monks if he ever entered Oregon County.

The truth of the matter from all that we have been able to glean from a variety of sources is this: Oregon County was in a lot of trouble, and the outlaw element was going to have to be removed. But, part of the resistance to civil authority here came from the fact that Oregon had become the opposite of Republican controlled Howell County, it was a county of former Missouri State Guard and Confederate veterans. The problem centered on the fact that these former soldiers were no longer allowed to vote in any election or hold public office. The Drake Constitution, passed by the Missouri Legislature in 1866, remained in effect until 1872. So, there might not have been sympathy to outlawry, but there was less for Union men coming into the county to regulate it in any way. Many of the men elected by popular vote in this time frame found themselves disqualified to hold office and replaced by men who had received only a handful of votes. Monks wrote his version of the Jamison situation in his book:


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Updated 07/10/10