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The Centennial History of Independence, Mo. by W. L. Webb
   

Chapter 12:
Wanted Peace in 1862 and 1866

 
On April 19, 1862, a public meeting was held in Independence pursuant to a call previously issued, for the purpose of mitigating the rigors of war, which during the previous years had devastated the country in the vicinity of Independence.

     An address to the people of Jackson County declared that "We now live in a sate of anarchy and lawless violence. ...  If we have been misled by exciting appeals to our passions, or if we have been moved by the generous sympathies of our nature to turn the channel of our thought and action in the wrong direction, it is not too late to retrace our steps."

     The meeting issued a "Declaration," which follows and which was signed by the citizens, whose names are appended:

     "We, the undersigned citizens of Jackson County, Missouri, desiring to make known to the public authorities and all others whom it may concern, our position in reference to the present deplorable civil strife in which our beloved country is involved, do not hesitate to declare:

     "That whatever prejudices swayed our judgments during the political excitements of the past, we are now fully assured that the interest, as well as the geographical position of our state, unites her indissolubly to the Federal union, established by our fathers, and attached as we are to her soil, and by education and habit devoted to her institutions, we earnestly desire to share her destiny herein.

     "In harmony with the above declaration, thus voluntarily made, we hereby solemnly  pledge ourselves that we will give no countenance, aid or support, in any manner whatsoever, to any person, combinations of persons or states who are endeavoring by force of arms or otherwise to overthrow the Government of the United States or impair its constitutional authority within the limits of our state." (Names at the bottom of this post)

     Notwithstanding this passionate declaration for peace, there was no peace.  Killing and burning continued; Bushwhackers and Red Legs came often to Independence, and in August the following the above Declaration, a bloody battle was fought on the streets of Independence.

     War conditions did not en d in Jackson County when Lee surrendered to Grant.

     The Independence Sentinel in its issue of Aug. 11, 1866, contained an editorial which proclaimed final peace in Jackson County.  The subtitle to the editorial proclaimed "Peace in Jackson County -- The Last of the War -- Glorious work of the Law and Order Association -- Bush-Whackers give bonds -- no more discord and commotion."  Quoting the editorial in the Sentinel:

     "For some weeks back a growing anxiety existed lest by some misapprehension of the desire and intent of the civil authorities difficulties might arise that would again involve us in the wild and reckless confusion that prevailed during the war.  It was thought that the sheriff had indictments in his hands against many returned Confederate soldiers, upon which he was bound to procure their arrest, and they themselves being under the same impression and fearing that in case of their arrest they might be taken for trial otherwise have an impartial examination.  Many of them absented themselves from their homes, and might be induced to resist the necessary enforcement of legal process.  Such being the case it was easy to perceive that a single collision would put the matter beyond remedy, and hence it was sought on the part of a few of our citizens to bring about a conference between these parties and the Sheriff (Major Williams) in the hope that the erroneous impressions which they had as to the number of indictments against them might be corrected. ... A meeting was accordingly agreed upon to take place some miles east of Independence, it having been mutually understood that no arrests on the one hand nor violence on the other would be attempted."

     The conference was accordingly held between the sheriff and the ex-guerillas, and peace established.  The indictments in the Sheriff's hands were not against Confederate soldiers in the regular service, but only against members of the several guerilla bands, chiefly Quantrell's band.  For some years the ex-guerillas were apprehensive of the civil authorities, but there is nothing of record to show that any of them were arrested, except Frank Gregg, who stood trial and was acquitted.

     Although strongly Southern in sympathy as we shall now discover, we shall also discover toward the close of this Topic that the citizens of Independence grew weary of the war and wanted peace.

     When news reached Independence that Fort Sumpter had surrendered to the South, the purpose quickly formed among the Southern advocates, to cross the river and rifle the United States Arsenal at Liberty Landing.  This was successfully accomplished by men from Independence, Kansas City, and Liberty.  Some of the cannon carried away from the Arsenal were secreted near Independence.  Firearms also were distributed to those willing to take the chance of having the same in their possession.  A few years ago somebody near Independence unearthed a short sword, which the late Capt. Ed. Strode recognized as the kind he had seen distributed from the Liberty Arsenal  These swords were not more than two feet in length and were trophies brought from Mexico by Missourians upon their return from the Mexican War. 

     The rifling of the Liberty Arsenal was a habit with the Missourians, who upon any invasion of Kansas, used to "borrow" whatever they wanted from the Arsenal.  Such borrowed arms were, according to the testimony of the late Col. R. T. Van Horn, faithfully returned, as the Missourians were on good terms with the administration at Washington City, but in 1861 the National administration had changed and was inimical to Missouri methods.  Therefore the arms taken were not borrowed, but captured, as from an enemy, and were not returned.

 

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