Cass County | Missouri Civil War Order No. 11

The Burnt District's Tragedy

Recovering and Remembering

Caught Between Three Fires: Cass Co. Mo., Chaos, and Order No. 11 and Cinders and Silence: A Chronicle of Missouri’s Burnt District recover and resurrect western Missouri’s Burnt District history. Families and communities disappeared in a horrific 16 year period taking Missouri history with them. Long lost and forgotten, this national tragedy bears a powerful legacy. Tom Rafiner reclaims western Missouri’s turbulent history in these two documented histories.

From 1854 to 1870 western Missouri’s border counties underwent a devastating transformation. These three counties transitioned from prosperity to devastation to oblivion. In 1853, Jackson, Cass, and Bates Counties were launching points for western commerce and immigration. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, May 1854, sparked confrontation and violence between eastern abolitionists and Missouri citizens. Missouri, the early aggressor, became, following the resolution of Kansas’ slavery issue, the primary abolitionist target. From 1858 through 1865 western Missouri disappeared under the “stern visitations of war.” By 1870 the burnt district was completely repopulated.