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A MISSOURI WALTZ: CIVIL WAB VSBSION Alan W. Farley Oneofthemost extraordinary episodes of our Civil War centers upon a Missouri character named "Captain" Harry Truman (no relation of Harry S. Truman, First Citizen of Independence, Missouri). While our subject used a variety of abases, a small packet of letters in the National Archives written by him are aU signed: "Captain Harry Truman." He first appears as Captain Bill Trueman, leader of a bushwhacker pack with its lair on an island in the Marias des Cygnes River, nine miles from Butler, Missouri. This gang became particularly obnoxious and had to disperse after attacking a forage convoy of the 1st Iowa Cavalry crossing the ford of Miami Creek, on its way back from a farm six miles west of Butler, on May 18, 1862. Three soldiers lost their Uves in this affair and several were wounded. Vigorous pursuit by avenging comrades resulted only in disappearance of the guerrillas.1 About this time Truman gained the confidence of Colonel Robert T. Van Horn, Union mayor of Kansas City, who then introduced him to General Thomas Ewing, Jr., as a rebable scout and spy. Truman led a curious existence in western Missouri, fighting in the outlaw ranks and scouting for the Federals, and there is no doubt he rode into Independence , Missouri, with the guerriUa army of Colonel John T. Hughes and John R. Boyd in the summer of 1862. He was later recognized and denounced by a Union soldier on a steamboat en route to New Madrid for his part in this raid, but he escaped by appealing to his Union connections . On this trip he spent three days in the camp of the swamp-rat, JeffThompson, who had beenmayor of St. Joseph.2 This narrative graphically illustrates the inherent difficulty of keeping Missouri peaceful during the latter part of the Civil War—the primary duty of the Federal officers. Probably more than any other, the state Mr. Farley is president of the Kansas City Civil War Round Table and a practicing attorney. He is also co-author of a recently published biography of John Palmer Usher. 1HiStOTy of Cass and Bates Counties (St. Joseph, 1883), pp. 998-99; Old Settler 's History of Bates County, Missouri (Amsterdam, Mo., 1897), pp. 203-4. 2 St. Joseph Morning Herald, July 10, 1864. 386 contained aU shades of loyalty and rebellion. At that stage of the conflict , many deserters and paroled men from the Confederate army were either at home or prowled in the woods. In addition, many soldiers were given furloughs conditioned on recruiting for General Sterling Price. Addto all these thefamilies and relatives of the many Missourians serving in the Rebel armies, andit becomes easier to visualize the extent of antagonism to Federal rule. As the border warfare progressed, the Knights of the Golden Circle, an organization of Rebels underground, became widespread in rural Missouri, where many of the Union famflies had left in fear or had been driven out of the state or into larger towns to the protection of Federal garrisons. Truman was "employed by Col. Chester Harding to spy out the extent of this conspiracy in northern Missouri. General Hall and others conversant with the situation placed no confidence in Truman's disclosures, but Colonel Harding and Major Bassett at St. Joseph beUeved he had exposed a viUainous and treasonable conspiracy."3 In May, 1864, Truman turned up at the departmental headquarters of General W. S. Rosecrans, with the endorsement of General Ewing. Colonel J. P. Sanderson, the provost marshal, was called in and told that Truman had vital information regarding the guerriUa leader Jackman. Sanderson later testified that Truman's intelUgence was corroborated by his sources and that if reliable, he might be useful. This conference resulted in Truman's being sent on a special mission to capture or IdOQ bushwhacker chieftains in central Missouri, and Colonel Draper at Macon City was ordered to furnish arms, horses, and men required for the job. Some difficulty was experienced in obtaining the six Colt Navy pistols requested, which were unavailable at Macon or St. Joseph.4 Truman led a smaU troop out of Macon into Chariton and Randolph counties. In a...


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