The Massacre of the Third
Missouri State Militia Cavalry
Second Battalion

     On September 23, 1864, a wagon train moving headquarters of the Second Battalion, Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry was ambushed between Sturgeon  and Rocheport, Missouri.  This event came to be referred to as The Massacre of the Third.   The following is a Confederate account.


Union                                                      Confederate

Company E                                              Jo Davis
  Samuel Kingston
  Lewis O. Igo

Company F
  Frederick C. Drunert
  Henry Dryer
  Charles Hanley

Company G
  Isaac Graham
  Elemuel Kinion
  Joseph Martinek
  John H. Monroe
  Reuben Presley
  (name illegible)

     Companies E, F, and G, of the Second Battalion, Third M.S.M. Cavalry  were involved in this affair.  Companies E and F were from Warren County Missouri,  while G was from Lincoln County Missouri.  It is my studied opinion that the  "infantry" referred to was Company G.  The military dispatches published in the Official Record referred to the unmounted men as footmen.  The Second  Battalion was reporting a critical shortage of horses at the time.

    With some editing, this is John N. Edwards' account written eleven years  after the event and published in 1877.  Edwards was adjutant for Confederate  General John S. Marmaduke.

     "Day dawned, cold and raw.  At intervals an east wind brought rain in torrents.  Nevertheless, it was to be a day of murder.  Todd moved camp only  a few miles, when the muddy roads and the inhospitable weather drove him into it again.  Lieutenant Shepherd, taking with him Kinney, Andy McGuire,  Harrison Trow, Lafe Privin, Jesse and Frank James, went scouting along the  Sturgeon road until Federals were met escorting seventeen wagons.  The column  was approaching Rocheport, with cavalry in advance, infantry divided up among  the wagons, and in the rear the balance of horsemen.  It was probable that one of  Todd's charges would make of the march a massacre.  He was four miles  to the left of the enemy's line of travel when Jesse James carried to him  swiftly the news of the situation, but by the rapid movment of half an hour he threw himself across the main road and dashed at the cavalry in front with the old yell and the old result.  Todd killed the first Federal  in the  fight, a handsome trooper well ahead of the men and striving to hold them for a grapple.  Then the on-going tide inundated everything.  Those first to the  wagons, after breaking through the covering cavalry as though it had been tissue paper stretched across a race-course, were Todd, raging like a lion, Thrailkill, the two Jameses, Gordon, McGuire, Hulse, Oll Shephered, William and Hugh Archie, Mead, Kinney, Tom Todd, Privin, Glasscock, De Hart, and  Vaughn.  Death came to men so quickly there that something superhuman seemed  to be inflicting it.  Corduroyed with corpses, the muddy road in a measure  became firm.  Inextricably entangled, men and mules fell together.  Past the  infantry, or rather the remains of it, dashed the two Jameses, De Hart,  Kiney, Hulse, Mead, and Vaughn, Jesse James killing as he galloped a Federal  two hundred yards from the road.  This shot was a most remarkable one, and  for some time was the talk of the command.  The Federal was in the act of  firing, having just lifted a carbine to his face, when James put a dragoon pistol ball into his head.  The rout, if, indeed, it were not better called a butchery, lasted until dark.  All the wagons were burnt, together with  fifty-four Ballard rifles, abandoned by the enemy in their frantic efforts to escape.  Each of the seventeen wagons had six spendid mules to it, but every  mule was killed.  In burning the wagons three negro drivers were burned up  with them, the Guerrillas not taking the trouble to drag them out from the  flames.  Driving another wagon was a well known Southern citizen who had been  pressed into service and forced to accompany the expedition. Before he could  either explain the surroundings or make himself known to the Guerrillas, he was shot dead.

The wagons were loaded with ammunition and clothing, and  Todd, ordering each of his men to help himself to a suit, the line looked as  blue after the metamorphosis as any Federal line in Missouri.  He had but one man hurt in the fight, Bart Lewis, of Platte county, and he only slightly in  the leg.  Dick Glasscock had a horse killed.  Tom Todd had two men wounded, Jo Davis, of Randolph county, who afterwards died of his wound, and John M. Taylor.  The Federals did not fight.  After the first volley, a volley fired  at long range and with scarcely the semblance of steadiness, everything was flight or panic.  Ere the infantry knew the nature of the attack they were  overridden.  The cavalry in the rear ran away while thier comrades in the  front were being butchered.  The scene after the conflict was sickening.  Charred human remains stuck out from the mouldering wagon heaps.  Death, in all forms and shapes of agony made itself  visible.  Limbs were kneaded into the deep mud of the roadway, and faces, under the iron feet of the horses,  crushed into shapelessness. "

This page is attributed to the research of Kirby Ross. If you wish to contact Kirby, he can be reached at this email address.

      "I am seeking stories and anecdotes related to the Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry and their activities in Arkansas and Missouri."
     "One particular story I am interested in concerns the attack by the Third  on Col. Tim Reeves recruiting camp southwest of Doniphan, Missouri, near the  Arkansas/Missouri state line on December 25, 1863.  Reeves had just captured  an entire company of 100+ men of the Third at Centerville, Missouri, and had  transported them back to his camp.  Instead of posting his men in preparation  for a possible counter attack, he had them making pants and shirts out of  tents that had been obtained in the capture of the Federal company.  Major
James Wilson took full advantage of this lapse, attacked the camp, and  annihilated the Confederate force, humiliating Reeves in the process.  This event likely proved to be instrumental in Reeves' execution of Wilson and his  men nine months later."

     After Wilson and six of his men were executed, Union authorities in St.  Louis chose six Confederate enlisted men and one major to be shot in  retaliation.  At 2:00 p.m. on October 29, 1864, Asa Ladd, James W. Gates,
John A. Nichols, Charles W. Minnekin, George T. Bunch and Harvey Blackburn  were executed.  Major Enoch O. Wolf was scheduled to be shot November 18,  1864, but had his execution halted on order of Abraham Lincoln.

© 1999  by Kirby Ross -  all rights reserved. This information may be used by libraries and genealogical societies, however, commercial use of this information is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If
copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.  This page is not associated with USGenweb or Rootsweb and the information on these pages is not to be used or copied by them.

Letters and Story of Asa Ladd and his family

Return to the Warstory and Letters Page

This page was created by
Phoenix Helms on