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Saturday, May 11, 2013

BATTLEFIELD ARCHEOLOGISTS EXPLORE SITE OF CALLAWAY COUNTY FIGHT

CALWOOD, Mo. - Nearly 200 artifacts were unearthed March 22-23, 2013, from sites of the July 28, 1862, Battle of Moore's Mill at Calwood, Mo., in a historic battlefield "dig" sponsored by Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation. Leading about fifty volunteers, battlefield archeologist Doug Scott - a professor at the University of Nebraska - assessed the dig record as "very good."

One of the sites - the property of the family of Kingdom of Callaway Co-Chair Bryant Liddle - is the location of two interpretive panels on the Gray Ghosts Trail dedicated on the 150th anniversary by KoCCWH, the local affiliate of Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation.

Scott was most excited about discovery of a fuse cap and striker from an artillery round proving that the Union forces led by Col. Odon Guitar included rifled artillery. And while the various finds from the dig must be assessed and evaluated, their location tends to support the historical narrative reported on the interpretive panels located about ¾ mile south of the intersection of State Roads Z and JJ.

The battle occurred during the recruiting campaign of Confederate Col. Joseph C. Porter, pitting perhaps 260 of his cavalry against Guitar's seven hundred in an intense four-hour fight in which Porter's force was defeated and retreated from the field.

The dig was financed by a $28,500 grant to the state foundation by the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program. State Foundation Director Greg Wolk led the project. Bryant Liddle and KoCCWH member Warren Hollrah helped coordinate local planning. Volunteers from Fulton's Westminster College were led by Asst. Prof. Cinnamon Brown, those from St. Louis' Lindenwood University by Steve Dasovich, professor and director of Lindenwood's Archaeological Research Program. Other students came from Missouri Valley College in Marshall.

Out-of-town volunteers were housed locally, and there was a Friday evening supper hosted at Westminster College. Wright Bros Store in Calwood prepared lunches for volunteers.

Artifacts from the dig are to be displayed and stored at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society Museum in Fulton.

Meanwhile, in another part of Calwood, the Elijah Gates Camp No. 570 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, with the help of a private survey firm specializing in sonar scanning, believes it has identified a mass grave including the remains of both Union and Confederate soldiers from the battle. Capping a year-long study by the camp's volunteers, the find now permits the camp to proceed with plans to create a fenced memorial, with the generous cooperation of the property owner. Fund-raising goals are to be announced.

Students from three Missouri colleges worked as volunteers on the "dig" at Moore's Mill battlefield sites.


Photos from the "Dig" - photos by Doug Scott and Cinnamon Brown
 



Saturday, July 28, 2012

GRAY GHOSTS TRAIL PANELS DEDICATED AT BATTLE SITE

CALWOOD, Mo. - With the heavy Confederate casualties in their losing effort at the Battle of Moore's Mill 150 years ago, "Is it any wonder there are stories that their ghosts linger here?" speaker Warren Hollrah asked about 150 people gathered Saturday morning, July 28, 2012 to dedicate a pair of interpretive panels on the Gray Ghosts Trail near Calwood on the property of Bryant and Kathy Liddle.

The dedication began on the day, and at very near the hour, that the Civil War battle commenced, on the ground where it occurred. The panels commemorating the fight are in a small, carefully manicured park just off St. Rd. JJ about 7/10 mile south of its intersection with St. Rd. Z at Calwood.

A narrative panel was unveiled by the donor family of the late Ray Liddle. A panel of maps in part honoring late local heritage leaders Mark K. Douglas and Allen L. Conner was unveiled by the Conner and Douglas familes; it was funded by Bill and Genevieve Conner, Allen's parents.

Hollrah was flanked by a display of U.S. and Civil War colors and in the background were more than a dozen uniformed color guard and honor guard consisting of members and friends of the Elijah Gates Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, with delegates of the Col. Joseph C. Porter SCV.

Porter was the leader of Confederate troops ultimately overwhelmed by the superior numbers - and artillery - of Union commander Col. Odon Guitar. Hollrah recounted how after the desperate four-hour battle of dismounted cavalry in country then heavily timbered, the surviving Rebels fled. Exhausted by fighting in the summer heat, the Federals did not pursue.

They removed their dead and wounded from the field for burial or medical attention, while the Confederate casualties were left to the clemency of neighbors. There were reports some fell from trees where they had hidden to avoid capture. It appears that some were treated at nearby Old Auxvasse Presbyterian Church, as well as in local homes. About two dozen are buried in a common unmarked grave in Calwood; three unknowns are interred at Fulton's Hillcrest Cemetery.

The event was emceed by Joe D. Holt, co-chair of Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage, sponsor of the Gray Ghosts Trail in Callaway County. Also appearing was Gregory Wolk, president of Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation, Inc., overall sponsor of both the Gray Ghosts and U.S. Grant Trails driving tours. Wolk outlined the events of Colonel Porter's long recruiting campaign throughout northeast Missouri that included the Battle of Moore's Mill.

The final event was the Union execution of ten of Porter's recruits in reprisal for the capture and presumed killing of a Union man. The "Palmyra Massacre" is a reminder of how important it is to investigate clearly all aspects of the war of brother against brother in Missouri, Wolk said.

Old Auxvasse-Nine Mile Presbyterian Pastor Jim Cruickshank delivered an invocation emphasizing the importance of recalling the sacrifices of principled ancestors. Elijah Gates Gates Camp SCV Commander and Chaplain Noel Crowson spoke of the heritage contributions of Allen Conner and Mark Douglas, and of how fitting it is their works are recalled on one of the panels. Western District Commissioner Doc Kritzer read a commissioners' resolution proclaiming the day "an appropriate occasion for all our citizens not only to learn and reflect upon the sacrifices of our principled forebears, wearing both Blue and Gray during the 1861-1865 conflict, including this terrible battle, but of our ancestors' determination to join once again as one American people in the years afterward."

After the ceremony, more than one hundred gathered at a freewill-offering homestyle dinner at Old Auxvasse Presbyterian Church served by church volunteers and the Reuben Hollingsworth Bullard Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Pastor Cruickshank recounted some of the Old Auxvasse history, including Civil War burial information provided by cemetery association secretary Sharon Pierson. Many visitors toured the church's historic 1828 cemetery, also marked by an interpretive panel on the Gray Ghosts Trail.

For more information on the Gray Ghosts Trail in Callaway County, consult the Web site www.callawaycivilwar.org/ .


Photos from the Event


 Captain of the Guard John Burgher instructs the Color Guard of the Elijah Gates Camp SCV, with delegates from the Joseph C. Porter Camp SCV.  The Color Guard of Elijah Gates Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, took part in the ceremony with (foreground) the Shamrock Lone Scouts, Boy Scouts of America.  Aaron Luther Conner, son of Allen Conner, and Kathryn Douglas, daughter of Mark Douglas, unveil the map panel at Battle of Moore's Mill site.  Saturday's crowd with (left) Noel Crowson, Commander of Elijah Gates Camp SCV, and (right) emcee Joe D. Holt. >
 Color and Honor Guard of the Elijah Gates Camp SCV, with delegates from the Joseph C. Porter Camp SCV, fires a salute in honor of the dedication.  Warren Hollrah of Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage, tells tales of the Battle of Moore's Mill.  Crowd at Saturday's dedication emceed by Joe D. Holt  Commissioner Doc Kritzer presents the county commissioners' proclamation for the day.
 The Moore's Mill narrative panel is unveiled by the family of the late Ray Liddle family.  Tom Schultz of Fulton provided acoustic period music.  Volunteers prepare -- and sample -- homecooked meal at Old Auxvasse Presbyterian Church.  Some of the crowd gathered for dinner at Old Auxvasse.
 The Color Guard marches to post the colors at Saturday's event.  Gregory Wolk, president of Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation, seaks about the Gray Ghosts Trail and Colonel Porter's military campaign of which the Battle of Moore's Mill was a part.



Friday, July 13, 2012

DEDICATION TO MARK 150th ANNIVERSARY OF DESPERATE BATTLE

FULTON, Mo. - The biggest Civil War fight in Missouri's Callaway County involved almost a thousand dismounted cavalry, resulted in a Union victory - and produced horrendous Confederate casualties.

The Battle of Moore's Mill, fought on July 28, 1862, about seven miles northeast of Fulton resulted in Confederate dead and wounded that were more than 50 percent of the force engaged.

"There is no question that many of the Confederates thought they were in a fight to the death," says historian Martin Northway, chair of Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage. "A Union order authorized the execution of guerrillas, and many Unionists regarded the mounted troops serving under Col. Joseph C. Porter as guerrillas."

The battle will be marked on its 150th anniversary by the dedication of a pair of interpretive panels on the Gray Ghosts Trail driving tour in central Missouri. They will be dedicated at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 28, in Calwood, Mo., at the property of Bryant and Kathy Liddle, on St. Rd. JJ about .7 mile south of the St. Rds. Z/JJ junction.

The event will feature historic talks, Civil War re-enactors, the Blue-Gray Color Guard of the Elijah Gates Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and period music. Afterward, there will be a home-style dinner at Old Auxvasse Presbyterian Church (2982 Callaway Co. Rd. 156), whose historic cemetery is also marked by an interpretive panel on the Gray Ghosts Trail.

"The fight at Moore's Mill was really two battles in one," says Northway. "In the first part, Porter's men ambushed a nearly equal force of Union cavalry under Col. Odon Guitar. The Confederates were winning when Guitar was greatly reinforced. The odds shifted to more than 2 ½ to 1 in favor of the Union and a long, bloody, destructive phase that killed an estimated 52 Confederates and wounded another 100, out of fewer than 300 rebels."

At least two dozen Confederates are buried in Calwood in a location that has been under wraps for 150 years. Another three "unknowns" are buried in Fulton. It is also believed the Old Auxvasse Church was used as a field hospital, while the victorious Unionists removed their casualties from the field for medical treatment or burial.

The battle was an important event in a long recruiting drive throughout northeast Missouri by Colonel Porter that resulted in numerous other events, including the Battle of Kirksville and the so-called Palmyra Massacre. Although Porter may have led as many as 2,000 men, only a few hundred made it into Confederate lines south of the Missouri River. Others were killed, captured, became guerrillas or returned home.

The two panels at Calwood are being funded by Bryant Liddle and his family in the name of his late father, Ray Liddle, and by Bill and Genevieve Conner in the name of the Elijah Gates Camp SCV.

Liddle and attorney Joe D. Holt are co-chairs of Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage, sponsor of the Gray Ghosts Trail in Callaway County. Holt will emcee the ceremony.

The current Gray Ghosts Trail - which begins in the east in Danville, and includes historic sites in Boone and Callaway Counties and Boonville before wrapping up at Marshall in the west - is sponsored by Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation. The foundation also sponsors the developing U.S. Grant Trail in eastern Missouri. The nonprofit group's Web site is www.mocivilwar.org .

The Web site of the foundation's Callaway County affiliate is www.callawaycivilwar.org. For information, call the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society at (573) 642-0570.


Earl Mercille's diorama of the Battle of Moore's Mill
can be viewed at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society, 513 Court St. in Fulton.
Photo by Don Ernst.

There is no known contemporary image of Confederate Col. Joseph C. Porter, but this sketch is based on physical descriptions.















Col. Odon Guitar led victorious Union troops at the Battle of Moore's Mill.














Confederate partisan cavalry on the move in Missouri, from a period newspaper.




















Thursday, March 29, 2012

DEDICATION OF HISTORIC PANELS TO MARK CIVIL WAR BATTLE’S 150th ANNIVERSARY

FULTON, Mo. — The dedication this summer of two new historic panels on the Gray Ghosts Trail Civil War driving tour will coincide with the 150th anniversary of Callaway County, Missouri’s bloodiest battle.

The Battle of Moore’s Mill took place at Calwood, Missouri, about seven miles northeast of Fulton, on July 28, 1862. A pair of interpretive panels about the battle will be dedicated there at the property of Bryant Liddle at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 28. The dedication will feature historic talks, a period color guard and military demonstrations by Civil War re-enactors.

One panel will describe the battle in narrative form and include a description of the long campaign of which the battle was a part – the 1862 recruiting drive throughout northeast Missouri by Confederate cavalry Col. Joseph C. Porter that resulted in numerous other events, including the Battle of Kirksville and the so-called Palmyra Massacre.

The panel is being funded by Bryant Liddle and his family in the name of his late father, Ray Liddle. Liddle is co-chair of Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage, sponsor of the Gray Ghosts Trail in Callaway County.

“We are very proud to support the Gray Ghosts Trail project,” says Liddle. “With the addition of these new panels, we will continue our stewardship of the land and help preserve our county’s rich heritage.”

The second panel will feature maps detailing the play-by-play progression of the battle. Funded by Bill and Genevieve Conner, the panel will also include brief biographies of late heritage colleagues Mark Douglas and Allen Conner, who investigated the battle for reenactments in 1995 and 1997. The Conners are the parents of Allen Conner, who died in 2000.

The Conners are also funding the panel on behalf of the Elijah Gates Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, of which Douglas and both male Conners were charter members.

The Battle of Moore’s Mill was a decisive victory by Union cavalry serving under Col. Odon Guitar. The battle initially went in the Confederates’ favor as they ambushed Guitar’s divided force near Moore’s Mill (now Calwood) before his reinforcements came up. When those reinforcements arrived, the proportion of troops engaged shifted dramatically in favor of the Union. Despite the heavy timber, the disparity in numbers and the Federals’ use of cannon resulted in heavy Confederate casualties.

The surviving Confederates fled the battlefield but the Federals were too exhausted to pursue. The Confederate wounded were left to the clemency of neighbors, while the wounded Union soldiers were loaded into wagons to receive medical attention in Fulton.

About two dozen dead Confederates are buried at an undisclosed location in Calwood. A Civil War “bitten bullet” found at the site of Old Auxvasse Presbyterian Church — strongly suggesting it was used to care for Rebel wounded — is on display at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society Museum in Fulton.

Privately funded Gray Ghosts Trail directional signs, intended to guide drivers from Kingdom City to the sites at Old Auxvasse Cemetery and Calwood, are to be installed this spring by Callaway County road crews.

The Gray Ghosts Trail encompassing Civil War sites all across central Missouri is sponsored by Missouri’s Civil War Heritage Foundation, Inc. The driving tour’s name is derived from Robert Brownlee’s seminal book about Missouri’s guerrilla war, “Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy.”

The sponsor of the Trail’s sites in Callaway County is the foundation’s local affiliate, Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage. For information consult the Web site www.callawaycivilwar.org

Odon Guitar, colonel commanding the Union 9th Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment, was later promoted to brigadier general. He was a prominent Columbia attorney, politician and trustee of the University of Missouri. There is no known image of Guitar’s adversary at the Battle of Moore’s Mill, Col. Joseph C. Porter.











Confederate partisan cavalry on the move in Missouri, from a period newspaper.




















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heritage@callawaycivilwar.org       http://www.callawaycivilwar.org/