The Burnt District

The burnt district

Missouri’s Burnt District contained the border counties of Jackson, Cass, and Bates as well as a small northern section of Vernon County. Order No. 11 was issued August 25, 1863. Civilians were given 15 days to leave. Refugees, mostly women, children, and the elderly, fled in an atmosphere of burning, murder, and deprivation. Kansas troops and scavengers stole the Missourians’ property and carried it to Kansas. By October 1, 1863 the entire district, outside of military stations, had been destroyed. It remained so until 1865.


Most of the pre-War population, 40,000, transformed to refugees


Over 2,200 square miles of western Missouri burnt to cinders


Approximately 2,800 family farms burnt


Over 3,000 miles of six and eight rail fencing was destroyed.


Bates County:  No towns or villages survived


Cass County:  Only Harrisonville & Pleasant Hill, (military

stations) survived


Jackson County:  Only Kansas City, Independence, & Westport, l

(military stations) remained


Between 1865 and 1870 the population exploded from a few thousand to over 90,000 as northern  immigrants flooded and repopulated the district. By 1870, only about 1 in 7 of the Burnt District residents had any personal knowledge of the events.