The Sacking of Osceola
Battle of Wilson's Creek,
August 10, 1861, the Union army retreated, leaving the
exposed. To combat this, General James H. Lane organized his men led them
into action against Confederate general, Sterling Price, in the
Battle of Dry Wood Creek
on September 2, 1861. Though, his troops lost the battle,
on, fighting and pillaging in the towns of Paninsville, Butler,
Harrisonville, and Clinton,
before he finally came to Osceola on September 23, 1861. At that time,
Osceola was a prosperous town of over 2,000 people, though the vast
majority of its able-bodied men were off to war.
The sacking of
After exchanging a few shots with some Confederates on the outskirts of
entered the settlement with two pieces of large
artillery and immediately began to ransack it, starting with the bank.
After blowing open the safe, they were disappointed to find no money
there, but only a few documents. Allegedly, the citizens of
having heard of the incoming soldiers, had hidden the money before their
Sentries were posted at the town entry points to stop any help from
approaching and anyone daring to do so, was fired on immediately.
Lane ordered his men to pillage and
burn the entire town. The courthouse was broken open and the county
records destroyed, stores and private homes were pillaged and torched, and
buildings were bombarded with cannon balls. It was not long before the
city was a smoking mass of ruins.
If this was not enough of an atrocity, twelve men were given a farcical
trial and shot on the town square. These men, who had tried to defend the
town, were "convicted” of treason and condemned to death by firing squad,
Lane himself took part. Amazingly, three of them would survive,
not aware of this or he probably would have returned to kill them.
men brought their frenzy of pillaging and murder to a close by
celebrated by getting drunk, so much so,
that according to reports, many of the men were unable to march when it
came time to leave many and had to ride in wagons and carriages. With
them, they took their plunder including Lane's personal share, which
included a piano and a quantity of silk dresses. The troops then continued
to Kansas City,
settlement suffered more than $1,000,000 worth of damage including that
belonging to pro-Union citizens.
Lingering fury regarding the
stirred hatred in many a
Missouri citizen and would become one of the causes for William
Quantrill’s raid on
Kansas two years later on August 21, 1863.
severely criticized for his actions in
Osceola, most severely by General Henry Halleck, Commander of the
Missouri, who believed that the attacks made by Lane and Colonel
Charles Jennison, aggravated anti-Union sentiments in
Missouri and intensified resistance to federal authority in the state.
Of their actions, he would state: "The course pursued by those under Lane
and Jennison has turned against us many thousands who were formerly Union
men. A few more such raids will make this State unanimous against us."
Lane's Brigade was ended.
Two years later, when
William Quantrill attacked
Kansas in what has become known as the
Lawrence Massacre, Confederate
guerillas could be heard shouting, "Remember
Lane was in
Lawrence at the time, he was able to escape the attack by racing
through a cornfield in his nightshirt.