Area 11: Morristown/West Line

This neighborhood of Morristown on the MO/KS border witnessed much strife during both the Border War and Civil War due to its proximity to Kansas and the road going from Harrisonville to Morristown to Paola. Troop movements brought raiders and looters.

The following information is taken from the book, Caught Between Three Fires, by Tom Rafiner. 2010, ExLibris

10th Cavalry Missouri State Guard, Rain’s 8th Division attracted many men from this area early in 1861. Company B listed 27 men from this area. Company C included five brothers from the Dolan family which lived near Morristown. William H. Dolan was elected Captain on Sept. 1, 1861. He was a 24-year-old bachelor when he enlisted. Three of his brothers, Benjamin, James, and Thomas enlisted in Company C. William owned lots in the town and worked as a clerk at the general store. Another Dolan son later joined. All five survived the War.

July 15, 1861 – Charles “Doc” Jennison and his Kansas Jayhawks rode into Morristown, a prosperous town about ten miles west of Harrisonville. On July 21, 1861 they killed two men while in town. One, a Mr. White, had apparently killed one of John Brown’s sons in 1856. The next day Jennison’s men took two wagons, one mule and an old negro. They loaded the wagon with dry goods, groceries, boots and shoes and left Morristown for Camp Prince, about 111 miles southwest.

September 17, 1861The Battle of Morristown

Confederates were camped at Morristown recruiting men to serve with the Missouri State Guard and fight with Gen. Sterling Price at Lexington. At dawn, Union soldiers under the command of Col. Hampton Johnson attacked. Johnson was mortally wounded and the Confederates retreated east to Harrisonville. But four Confederate prisoners paid with their lives when forced to dig their own graves, they were executed.

These two videos explain details of the battle, the terrain, and the people involved.

Jay Roberts discusses how he and Jackie Roberts built a diorama of Morristown to recreate the battle there on Sept. 17, 1861.

Using the diorama he created, Jay Roberts explains the Battle of Morristown, when Union troops attacked Confederates recruiting for the Missouri State Guard.

December 15, 1861 – The 7th Kansas Cavalry commanded by David R. Anthony arrived in Morristown to establish winter headquarters, naming it Camp Johnson for the Union commander slain at the Battle of Morristown. From this post, the soldier foraged far and wide, taking food, fencing, horses, mules and whatever they desired regardless of citizen’s loyalties. Their burning, looting and murdering do more to drive men to support the southern cause than any other one motivation. In the next two months, they burn the towns of Dayton, Columbus, Pleasant Hill, and Rose Hill before being sent to Humboldt, Kansas on Jan. 31, 1862. Their indiscriminate killing of civilians without due process of law invited revenge.