Women of War

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Read the stories of Cass County women during the war.

Martha Jane Rice Tate (1836 – 1870)

Martha Jane Rice Tate wrote a letter in 1864 detailing her harrowing experiences trying to comply with Order #11.

Tate was the daughter of Martin Rice, whose eyewitness account of the massacre of six-men near Lone Jack, Missouri is chronicled in his writing “What I Saw of Order #11.” Tate returned to the area after the war to live with her father and died there in 1870. Her husband Calvin Tate is buried in the Six-Man Cemetery just south of Lone Jack in Jackson County, Missouri.

December the 14, 1864

Dear Cousin Mary no doubt but what you will be supprised at the name at the bottom of this sheet if it is ever so fortunate as to reach you which is uncertain those times and it is only by request that I attempt to reach you by letter now at this time. Your Pa and I have been corresponding for over [ ] year and he has asked me frequently to write to you [ ] tell you of some of my troubles that I have seen and undergone within the last year and everybody and to those I never saw I have be delaying from time to time until the present.

In the first place I am the wife of Calvin Tate who was in Indiana ten years ago when you was quite small. I have often heard him speak of you and your Pa when he was there. But alas I never shall hear his lovely voice again on Earth for he is gone gone from me forever and I am left with three small children to take care of am not able a great part of y time to take care of myself and what is to become of them I cannot tell. But the Lord has said I will a Husband to the widow and a Father to the Fatherless and I hope he is such to me and mine for if ever a poor family needed his help it surely is mine and not mine alone for there are many these war times that need a great deal of help from above such is and has been the case with me and five other familys all related to my Husband save one and all living within one mile of each other and although I say it myself a better set of men never lived or died that they were in September 1863.

Ewing made the order No 11 to devastate the Countys of Jackson-Cass Bates and part of Vernon [countys]. People had but nine days to get out of those Countys [or to] a Milatary Post [and we] were all trying to get out [of the] County and the Men would have started in one hour on Sunday Morning. But before they got off some Soldiers from Kansas came and taken My Father Brother and my Husband and five others, two Hunters Brothers and one by the name of Cave Brother-in-law to the Hunters and one Boy 17 years old named Owsley, Nephew to the Hunters, and one old man 60 years old by the name of Potter, Father-in-law to one of the hunters and taken them something over half mile from home and shot them all but Father and Brother. They were released and came home and had just got home when the guns were heard that made four widows and 26 Fatherless children. And oh what a sight to Behold. They were shot all to pieces most and left on the ground by them to stay there Forever for what they cares.

There was but three Men left to Bury them, my Father, Brother and Uncle John Hunter 70 years old and the Father of the two that was killed. Everybody was gone but there familys and one other woman and we had to just dig a hole and put them all six in without any Coffins or Boxes. Nothing but Blankets and right where they were Massacerced by a bunch of Murders and a set of Blood thirsty ‗‗‗‗‗‗. None of those men had ever been in arms on either side except David Hunter who was in the Malisha at Kansas City about two weeks. They were all at home and had Been and was minding their own Business. They were killed in the Morning about 10 O’clock and we left home about 4 in the evening, that home that was to be home no more for me.

We went to Ray County North side of the River and stayed all Winter and came back in the spring. When we left we all had to leave all our stock and left with one wagon apiece and what could Be put in them. Mr. Hunters family and Caves have not come home yet. They live near Dover, Lafayette Co. There is four families of them and But one man among them and that is Uncle John Hunter. The women has all the work to do in and out of the house. They have all got good homes here and good houses and have had several Blacks but they have all gone to Kansas to get their Freedom (do you think they will get it)…. Suffice it to say that War is evil. War absorbs all things else.

…your Devoted Cousin.
Mattie Jane Tate

PS Address me at Pleasant Hill Cass Co, Mo (my childrens names [are] John Martin/Mary Matilda/Nancy Rosalie

Mary Jane Gillenwaters Brown (1819 – 1890)

Mary Brown was forced to leave the family home north of Harrisonville, Cass County, to stay in a Harrisonville hotel as a result of Order #11. Her husband, Robert Allison Brown, was one of the largest land and slave owners in the county, but voted against secession as a delegate to the Missouri 1861 convention.

Their son Thomas fought for the south and died in Alton Prison. The Browns entertained the Youngers at their home known as Wayside Rest, and daughter Lizzie Brown corresponded with Cole Younger when he was imprisoned in Minnesota years after the war.


Harriet Louise Gregg-Young (1818 – 1909)

Harriet Young, President Harry Truman’s Maternal Grandmother, lived on a farm near Hickman’s Mill, south of present-day Kansas City in Grandview.

Her husband, Solomon Young, was a large Jackson County land owner, making his fortune as a freighter and trader. He was away from home most of the “War Years” making long business trips to California and Salt Lake City.

Their farm near Hickman Mills was targeted over and over by Unions troops. In May 1861 they shot 400 of their Hampshire hogs and burned barns and haystacks while stealing 15 mules, 13 horses and the family silverware. That fall, the Union took 150 head of cattle.

In July 1862 the Kansans terrorized her 14-year-old son Harrison with a “mock hanging” for information about southern neighbors. That September, Union Col Burris confiscated 65 tons of hay, 500 bushels of corn, 44 hogs, 2 horses and more. They forced her little daughter Martha Ellen to stand still while they jumped horses over her head, some of the hooves cutting her scalp. They hung Harrison and left him for dead, but the family cut him down in time to save his life.

The following month, these same men came back and stole 1200 pounds of bacon, 7 wagons, and 30,000 nails, then took over the place and moved in!

During Order No. 11, Harriett and the children were put in a prison camp somewhere near Kansas City. Upon release they went to stay with friends in Platte County, MO until they could safely return. Harriett kept meticulous accounting of property stolen during the war and promptly filed a war claim.
(research courtesy of Jackie Polsgrove Roberts)

Bursheba Leighton Fristoe Younger (1816 – 1870)
buried in Lee’s Summit Historic Cemetery

Bursheba Younger was the mother of fourteen children including Cole, Jim, John and Bob. Her husband, Henry Washington Younger was one of Cass County’s largest land owners and had a livery and dry goods store in Harrisonville as well as a federal mail contract in western Missouri and eastern Kansas. He was the first elected mayor of Harrisonville in 1859.

Although a loyal Union man, Younger was murdered by Federal troops in July 1862. Bursheba was burned out of the family’s Cass County home in February 1863 and three of her daughters were imprisoned in Kansas City in the summer of 1863. She relates how the family survived their eviction and subsequent journeys as a result of Order #11.

(Taken from a first person interpretation written by Carol Bohl):

Oh, it feels so good to be back home in Missouri to smell the spring lilacs. I begged my boys to bring me back here where out family enjoyed the good times before the war set us to wandering… I think back to hat summer of 1863. Stress and worry had driven me to my bed. My own daughters Josie, Caroline and Sally and their cousins Nannie Harris and Charity Kerr thrown in jail! Then news came on August 13 that the stone walls of their prison collapsed. Four young girls crushed to death, and one crippled for life. Thank the Lord, my girls survived, but their cousins and friends did not. I still hear their screams for help each time I close my eyes and try to sleep.

One week later, Cole, Quantrill and about 400 of our Missouri boys rode into Lawrence, Kansas, looking for Jim Lane, Jennison and other Jayhawks and Redlegs who had been burning and killing over here in Missouri for three years.

Two weeks after that, in early September I was resting at home near Harrisonville with my five youngest: Sally, John, Bob, Emma, and Retta along with faithful Suze, when Kansas Jayhawks rode up the lane to enforce Ewing’s Order #11. The temperature must have been 100, it was so dry and dusty. I was lying in bed too weak to walk.

I remember still that conversation:

JAYHAWK OFFICER: Excuse me, Mrs. Younger, why haven’t you complied with Order Number ll like all the others? Why are you still in your house?
BURSHEBA YOUNGER: Officer, I am sick; and it seems impossible for me to leave when I cannot even walk.”
JAYHAWK OFFICER: Don’t you know we have orders to burn your buildings, crops and fences?”
BURSHEBA: Officer, I have no husband to help, seeing as you Federals murdered him last summer on the road just south of Westport. Shot him three times in the back, You cowards!
JAYHAWK : You better mind your mouth, Mrs. Younger. Where is that son of yours, Cole Younger? Why isn’t he here to take care of you instead of riding with that guerrilla Quantrill?
BURSHEBA YOUNGER: I would never tell you Federals where he is even if I knew, which I don’t. As for Cole and Quantrill, they are the only protection we have from the likes of you.

Then Suze and the children wrapped me in this quilt and carried me to a bed in the wagon. As we left, none of us looked back to see our home go up in flames. We moved east on that hot, dusty road some 60 miles up to Waverly on the Missouri River to stay with family.

But the war stalked us everywhere we went. The Federals next appeared at our door in Waverly. Bob and John were fishing on the Missouri River when they noticed smoke rising from the direction of our house. They ran as fast as they could up the bluff to check on and protect the family. As they ran into the yard, the last Federal was mounting his horse. Bob shoved him, and the bluebelly threw him to the ground saying, “It’s too bad General Ewing failed to teach you Youngers a lesson,” and rode off. After he left, Bob vowed to never again use his middle name. Robert Ewing Younger became Robert Oliver Younger.

We had lost our home again. We moved north of the river and stayed with my sister Frances Twyman in Missouri City until the war ended in 1865, and then we traveled down to Texas. But now, we are back home in Missouri.

The Federals had destroyed our homes, but they would never destroy our family. All I ever wanted was to keep the family together. And we have to this day.

Brant, Marley. The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood. Madison Books, 1992
Younger, Cole. Cole Younger by Himself. (The Henneberry Co. 1903)

Frances Fristoe Twyman (1829 – 1909)

Jackson County resident Frances Fristoe Twyman, sister to Bursheba Fristoe Younger, related her memories of Order # 11 for the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1896. Her prominent Jackson County family first moved east to Howard County and then north of the Missouri River to Missouri City after Order #11.

Following the war they returned to their home near Blue Mills, east of Independence where Dr. Twyman practiced medicine.

Her story of Order No. 11, along with many others Missouri women, can be found in the book Reminiscences of the Women of Missouri During the Sixties, Various authors, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Missouri Division, 1913.

A piece written by Frances Fristoe Twyman recalls the Battle of Blue Mills Landing from The Kansas City Genealogist, Vol. 35 No. 3.

She starts, “An incident worthy of note occurred at this battle. It was a hotly contested fight three to one, yet the Confederates acquitted themselves valiantly. They were in a running fight from Liberty to the ferry.”

After the battle, “Apparently on the 18th of September, the soldiers commenced to coming to our house at two or three o’clock in the night. I cooked and fed soldiers all night, fed at least 100 men, and still they came. At ten the next morning I was still feeding Confederates. At last the officer told them no more could come in, and I was completely worn out. Then I told all the children and the negroes to cut all the cabbage in the garden. Cut them in two and pile them up at the gate and within reach of the soldiers and to fill every bucket on the place with water and put them on the stile block. Soon the army came in sight some two or three thousand men. They had been fighting all day and night before without sleep or anything to eat. They were a pitiful sight to look at. They were so tired and footsore that they could hardly walk. Some were coatless and hatless. Our boys gave their hats to them and all the extra hats on the place. Oh, you should have seen how eagerly and gratefully they went for those cabbages. They had nothing to eat for 24 hours. I really thought they would drink the cistern dry. We all kept busy filling up the buckets. They could not halt, but grabbed for things as they went. Each one would get a cup of water, grab up a piece of cabbage, give three cheers for Jeff Davis and march on, bound for Lexington and Old Pap Price.

In the afternoon the men got busy hunting up and caring for the wounded. Mr. Sale brought one man to our house to have the doctor dress his wounds and care for him. His name was Thornton. The doctor was not home. When I went to the door, I was completely shocked. The man was stripped to the waist and the bloodiest thing I ever saw. In a moment I controlled myself. Mr Sale and myself took the man upstairs though his wound was fearful to look at, shot in the breast with an old musket. The bullet came out under the shoulder blade, and the wound looked like it was large enough to run my fist in….

Late one afternoon a man came running down the lane, came to the gate and said, “Flee for your lives, the Federals are coming, killing and burning everything before them” Now, what were we to do? Here was the wounded man and his brother, they would be sure to kill them and perhaps all of us for taking care of him. William Twyman his wife and child who had fled from Kansas City when the Federals landed there, were now in our house. All was confusion. The only thing that we could do was to take refuge in the woods. Two horses were brought out. The sick man was mounted on one. Quilts, comforts and blankets were piled up before him… I gave the sick man one piece of chicken, a butter biscuit, jelly, etc. I next filled two baskets with two chickens, ham, eggs, pickles and jelly with a lot of buttered bread, etc.

Oh, you should have seen us as we took up our line of march. First our pack horse led by one of our boys. Next the horse with the wounded man on it led by his brother who had a basket of lunch in his hand. Then the doctor with our baby in his arms. Next William Twyman with their baby in his arms. Next us two women each with a big basket of provisions in our hands, then all the little children following after. Just imagine if you can how we looked as we trudged through the brush and briars, hunting for a safe place to hide in.

A way over in the woods, a mile or two from home, we halted. There was a storm coming up, so the men went to work to fix a tent. They bent two saplings over, tied them together with a rope. Then they pinned two quilts together with pins made by sharpening sticks on switches. These they threw across the poles. Then they threw another quilt over this, fastened all to the ground by driving pegs through the quilts and fastened up one end of the tent with another quilt. All was now ready, so we crawled in and none too soon, for the rain came down in torrents. But our tent was waterproof. Doctor had the sick man taken over on the next hill, so if the Federals came, perhaps they would not find and kill us all…

Now it was bedtime, so we spread comforts and quilts all under the tent, a bolster at each end. We all prepared to slumber: two men, two women and seven children all under this one tent, content to think we were safe from the Federals. In the night, one of the children asked for a drink of water. I said, “Darling, we have no pan or bucket to catch water in.” Soon the little fella said, “Momma, I am starved for a drink of water.” I told him as soon as it was light, I would get him some water if I had to go home for it. The little fella was silent for some time. I thought he was going to sleep. Again that agonized appeal, “Momma, I shall die if I do not get water.” I could not stand this, so I crawled up, found a glass with jelly in it, emptied it, wiped it out with a towel, got to the door of the tent, got hold of one end of the quilt on our tent and rung some water out of it. I gave this to my boy who drank it eagerly and asked no more questions but was soon sound asleep. Next morning we concluded to go back home.

Doctor notified the sick man’s brother for the pack horses were again got ready, and we took up the line of the march, this time up toward home. Oh, how happy we all were when we came in sight of our home and found our house still standing. No palace ever looked better to a queen than that old house did to me. The negro woman had a fire in the stove, so we soon had a steaming hot breakfast on the table: coffee, ham and eggs with hot biscuits and butter. I told the doctor we would never leave home again. One night’s experience of camp was enough for me. The sick man went home in a few days in Platte County. We never tried camping out again until driven out by Order No. 11.

Frances Fristoe Twyman

Prudence Miller Woodfin (1848 – 1936)

Prudence Miller was twelve years old when the Civil War began. Her father, Oliver Hazard Perry Miller, a native of Missouri, had settled in Bates County in 1832 and taught in the first school in New Home Township. He was a well educated man, skilled in languages and familiar with the classics. Mr. Miller and his son, Henry, joined the Confederate forces. Henry was killed at the Battle of Lone Jack, and Mr. Miller was taken prisoner in Arkansas and died in the Federal prison in Springfield. The setting is the the Woodfin family gathering at the funeral of Jason Woodfin, Sept. 9, 1899.

A first-person interpretation written by Peggy Buhr follows:

Every family who lived in western Missouri during the war has a story. By 1856 raids along the border had begun in earnest. There was an unsettled atmosphere. Fear of the ruthless Jayhawkers loomed heavy. Men braced for war. Women prayed for peace. Even as a young girl, I knew times were troubled and precarious. When the war did come, I was 12 years old, and it came with a vengeance.

My father, Oliver Miller, had built a beautiful home out of native walnut and in one room there were bookshelves from floor to ceiling. People called it a mansion. Father loved learning and he taught at the first school in New Home Township. During those first few months of the war, Father grew increasingly concerned about our safety so we moved to Henry County. Almost right away the house was looted and on Christmas Day 1861, it was burned to the ground.

Shortly after that, Father, and my brother Henry, joined the Confederate forces and served under Captain John McComb. In August of 1862, both Henry and Captain McComb were killed at the Battle of Lone Jack. Mother was devastated but stoically carried on, clinging to the hope that Father would soon be home. But, a few weeks later we received word that he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Newtonia. They sent him to a Federal prison in Springfield. He died in early 1863.

We never knew if it was from wounds suffered in battle or sickness. We never even knew where my beloved father was buried. Everything had changed and nothing would ever again be the same. A great unspeakable sadness overwhelmed us and fear of what the future held in store was almost more than we could bear.

Drawing upon every ounce of strength and courage she could muster, Mother managed to keep our day to day lives as normal as was possible. We remained in Henry County until the spring of ‘66. Five years living in a state of uncertainty, but finally, we returned home, only to find everything gone. That did not deter my Mother. Our family would return to our home and we would indeed rebuild. Her determination and faith carried us through those lean, hard days.

The war years are gone. They are but distant memories of a dark time now. Mother firmly believed that time would heal the wounds and sorrows caused by the misfortunes of war and that we would once again prosper and live in peace…. Mother was right.

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