Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks 'story telling' history professor Jim Pasley continues with the fifth installment of his series of essays commemorating the Civil War

This article appeared in the Jan. 5 edition of the Lake Sun newspaper.

Lesson 5: Guerillas make history-continued

To help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, we asked Columbia College history professor Jim Pasley, also known as the ‘story telling’ teacher to give us a little more insight into the history of the war.
Read Lesson 1

Read Lesson 2
Read Lesson 3
Read Lesson 4

As you may recall from my last article, former Missouri Governor Sterling Price had won a decisive victory over Union Troops at the Battle of Wilson's Creek on August 10, 1861. General Price commanded the Missouri State Guard, a force of local boys from Missouri who were not a part of the Confederate Army. General Price tried to enlist the support of the Confederacy following his victory at Wilson's Creek, but the Confederate Army refused. Confederate General McCulloch stated "We might as well be in Boston so far as the friendly feelings of the inhabitants of Missouri are concerned."
So, General Price set out alone with his band of local boys in hope of recapturing control of the state from the Union Army.  On July 3 of 1861, Union General John Freemont had been given command of all Union forces west of the Mississippi. When he heard of the victory at Wilson's Creek he set up Headquarters in St. Louis and now sent 40,000 men into the state to hunt down and destroy General Price and the Missouri State Guard.
On August 30, 1861, Union General Freemont declared martial law in Missouri, making the Union military judge, jury, and executioner throughout the state. All civil authority was now suspended and handed over to military courts.
In the meantime, following Wilson's Creek, General Price led his force of 18,000, Missouri State Guardsmen  to Lexington, Missouri where they defeated a force of 3500 Union forces. How did he do it? Price knew the commander at Lexington was an Irishman named Mulligan. So Price had his band play an Irish tune as they approached Lexington. Mulligan assumed they were friendly forces and Price led his men right up to the Union force before launching his surprise attack.
General Price now received word that a Union force of 40,000 troops had been dispatched to hunt him down. Knowing he was far outnumbered he now retreated south into Arkansas where he and a major portion of the Missouri State Guard now joined the regular Confederate Army. These troops would see considerable action throughout the war fighting east of the Mississippi.
So as 1861, the first year of the war, draws to a close, there is not a single Confederate soldier in the state of Missouri, and the Missouri State Guard no longer exists. The people of Missouri now find themselves in a state occupied by a huge Union force that has suspended their civil liberties in an effort to maintain the peace. Needless to say, many Missourians will not sit still for this.
This is where William Clarke Quantrill and his band of guerillas step in. We discussed Quantrill in my last article, so let us now look at some of his men. Knowing the country like the back of their hand, the guerillas operated in small groups, were excellent horsemen, and could gather and disperse quickly. As a result, Quantrill and his men could ambush and destroy Union forces many times their size.
To keep it simple, let us just simply list some facts about a few of the guerillas:
Frank and Jesse James:  Frank was 19 when he joined, Jesse was 17. The James family was southern sympathizers. As such, they were constantly harassed and eventually robbed of all their material possessions in the name of the Union. Pro-South landowners saw their farms, raided and their crops burned by Federal forces. The James family, one of the most outspoken for Southern rights, bore the brunt of these raids. Frank and Jesse had seen enough and now decided to take action by joining the guerillas.
Cole and James Younger: Cole was 19 when he joined, James was 16. Things were much the same for the Younger family with one big exception. The Younger family was a loyal Pro-Union family. It didn't seem to matter.  The boy's father was murdered by a Union officer leading a Union Calvary force. They had followed the elder Younger from a cattle sale in Independence then robbed him and shot him on the trip home. That same year the family home was burned to the ground by Union forces.
Riley Crawford: Riley was 14 years old when he joined. Riley's dad, Jeptha Crawford, was taken from the family home near Blue Springs and shot by Union forces. After her husband was killed, Mrs. Crawford brought her son to Quantrill and asked him to make a soldier out of the boy. Little Riley killed every Union soldier he saw from that point forward.
Bloody Bill Anderson: I will let him describe in his own words why he joined. "Because I would not fight the people of Missouri, my native state, the Yankees sought my life, but failed to get me. Revenged themselves by murdering my father, destroying all my property, and since that time murdered one of my sisters and kept the other two in jail 12 months." 
Lexington, Missouri, newspaper July 7, 1864
Bloody Bill was one of the old men of the gang. He was 23. He had a sidekick named Little Archie Clements who was just 16 when he joined. These two were among the most brutal of the guerillas. The reins to Bloody Bill's horse were made of human scalps and Little Archie was famous for scalping and then beheading his victims.
Did you notice that with the exception of Anderson and Quantrill, these are all just teenagers? Can you imagine? These kids, fueled by rage and driven by the pursuit of revenge will wreak havoc on nearly 60,00 Union forces in Missouri between 1861 and 1865. In class we refer to them as "Hell Angels on Horseback." In my next article you will see why.