The Civil War

1861 to 1863

Early in the Civil War, western Missouri was invaded by Lane’s Kansas Brigade and the Kansas 7th Cavalry. Largely unopposed, these military commands murdered, plundered, and burned much of the area. Missouri towns such as Papinsville, Butler, West Point, Dayton, and Osceola disappeared in the conflagration. In 1862, Missouri bushwhacker rosters swelled with returning Confederate veterans and disenchanted Unionists. Battles and skirmishes raged between Union troops and Southern guerrillas. In June of 1863 Union authorities established the District of the Border in western Missouri in an effort to contain and defeat the bushwhackers.

1863 to 1865


On August 21, 1863, guerrilla leader, William Quantrill, led 400 men into Lawrence, Kansas. The guerrillas killed almost 200 men and boys and burned much of the town. Four days later, General Thomas Ewing, Jr. issued General Orders No. 11. By Christmas 1863 the Burnt District was a fact in name and reality. The Burnt District remained a violent wasteland throughout the remainder of the Civil War. The autumn of 1864 Confederate General Sterling Price’s army invaded Missouri. Price was defeated at the Battle of Westport in Jackson County.