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HOME > Classical Novels > Charles W. Quantrell > Younger Remains in Missouri With a Small Detachment—Winter of 1862 and 1863
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Younger Remains in Missouri With a Small Detachment—Winter of 1862 and 1863
THE remaining part of this chapter is the escapades of Cole Younger, who stayed in Missouri the winter of 1862 and 1863, with quite a number of the old band who were not in condition to ride when Quantrell and Captain Trow went south. But I know them to be true.
Younger was exceedingly enterprising, and fought almost daily. He did not seem to be affected by the severity of the winter, and at night, under a single blanket, he slept often in the snow while it was too bitter cold for Federal scouting parties to leave their comfortable cantonments or Federal garrisons to poke their noses beyond the snug surroundings of their well furnished barracks.
The Guerrilla rode everywhere and waylaid roads, bridges, lines of couriers and routes of travel. Six mail carriers disappeared in one week between Independence and Kansas City.
In a month after Quantrell arrived in Texas, George Todd returned to Jackson County, bringing with him Fletch Taylor, Boon Schull, James Little, Andy Walker and James Reed. Todd and Younger again came together by the bloodhound instinct which all men have who hunt or are hunted. Todd had scarcely made himself known to the Guerrilla in Jackson County before106 he had commenced to kill militiamen. A foraging party from Independence were gathering corn from a field belonging to Daniel White, a most worthy citizen of the vicinity, when Todd and Younger broke in upon it, shot five down in the field and put the rest to flight. Next day, November 30, 1862, Younger, having with him Josiah and Job McCockle and Tom Talley, met four of Jennison’s regiment face to face in the neighborhood of the county poor house. Younger, who had an extraordinary voice, called out loud enough to be heard a mile, “You are four, and we are four. Stand until we come up.” Instead of standing, however, the Jayhawkers turned about and rode off as rapidly as possible, followed by Younger and his men. All being excellently mounted, the ride lasted fully three miles before either party won or lost. At last the Guerrillas began to gain and kept gaining. Three of the four Jayhawkers were finally shot from their saddles and the fourth escaped by superior riding and superior running.
Todd, retaining with him those brought up from Arkansas, kept adding to them all who either from choice or necessity were forced to take refuge in the brush. Never happy except when on the war path, he suggested to Younger and Cunningham a ride into Kansas City west of Little Santa Fe, always doubtful if not dangerous ground. Thirty Guerrillas met sixty-two Jayhawkers. It was a prairie fight, brief, bloody,107 and finished at a gallop. Todd’s tactics, the old yell and the old rush, swept everything—a revolver in each hand, the bridle reins in his teeth, the horse at a full run, the individual rider firing right and left. This is the way the Guerrillas charged. The sixty-two Jayhawkers fought better than most of the militia had been in the habit of fighting, but they could not stand up to the work at revolver range. When Todd charged them furiously, which he did as soon as he came in sight of them, they stood a volley at one hundred yards and returned it, but not a closer grapple.
It was while holding the rear with six men that Cole Younger was attacked by fifty-two men and literally run over. In the midst of the melee bullets fell like hail stones in summer weather. John McDowell’s horse went down, the rider under him and badly hit. He cried out to Younger for help. Younger, hurt himself and almost overwhelmed, dismounted under fire and rescued McDowell and brought him safely back from the furious crash, killing as he went a Federal soldier whose horse had carried him beyond Younger and McDowell who were struggling in the road together. Afterwards Younger was betrayed by the man to save whose life he had risked his own.
Divided again, and operating in different localities, Todd, Younger and Cunningham carried the terror of the Guerrilla name throughout the border counties of Kansas and Missouri. Every day, and sometimes108 twice a day, from December 3rd to December 18th, these three fought some scouting party or attacked some picket post. At the crossing of the Big Blue on the road to Kansas City—the place where the former bridge had been burned by Quantrell—Todd surprised six militiamen and killed them all and then hung them up on a long pole, resting it, either end upon forks, just as hogs are hung in the country after being slaughtered. The Federals, seeing this, began to get ready to drive them away from their lines of communication. Three heavy columns were sent out to scour the country. Surprising Cunningham in camp on Big Creek, they killed one of his splendid soldiers, Will Freeman, and drove the rest of the Guerrillas back into Jackson County.
Todd, joining himself quickly to Younger, ambuscaded the column hunting him, and in a series of combats between Little Blue and Kansas City, killed forty-seven of the pursuers, captured five wagons and thirty-three head of horses.
There was a lull again in marching and counter marching as the winter got colder and colder and some deep snow fell. Christmas time came, and the Guerrillas would have a Christmas frolic. Nothing bolder or braver is recorded upon the records of either side in the Civil War than this so-called Christmas frolic.
Colonel Henry Younger, father of Coleman Younger, was one of the most respected citizens of109 Western Missouri. He was a stalwart pioneer of Jackson County, having fourteen children born to him and his noble wife, a true Christian woman. A politician of the old school, Colonel Younger was for a number of years a judge of the county court of Jackson County, and for several terms was a member of the state legislature. In 1858, he left Jackson County for Cass County where he dealt largely in stock. He was also an extensive farmer, an enterprising merchant and the keeper of one of the best and most popular livery stables in the West, located at Harrisonville, the County seat of Cass County. His blooded horses were very superior, and he usually had on hand for speculative purposes amounts of money ranging from $6,000 to $10,000. On one of Jennison’s periodical raides in the fall of 1862, he sacked and burned Harrisonville. Colonel Younger, although a staunch union man, and known to be such, was made to lose heavily. Jennison and his officers took from him $4,000 worth of buggies, carriages and hacks and fifty head of blooded horses worth $500 each. Then the balance of his property that was perishable and not movable, was burned. The intention was to kill Colonel Younger, on the principle that dead men tell no tales, but he escaped with great difficulty and made his way to Independence. Jennison was told that Colonel Younger was rich and that he invariably carried with him large amounts of money. A plan was immediately laid to kill him.110 Twenty cut-throats were organized as a band, under a Jayhawker named Bailey, and set to watch his every movement. They dogged him from Independence to Kansas City and from Kansas City down to Cass County. Coming upon him at last in an isolated place within a few miles of Harrisonville, they riddled his body with bullets, rifled his pockets and left his body stark and partially stripped by the roadside.
Eight hundred Federals held Kansas City, and on every road was a strong picket post. The streets were patrolled continually, and ready always for an emergency. Horses saddled and bridled stood in their stalls.
Early on the morning of December 25th, 1862, Todd asked Younger if he would like to have a little fun. “What kind of fun?” the latter inquired. “A portion of the command that murdered your father are in Kansas City,” said Todd, “and if you say so we will go into the place and kill a few of them.” Younger caught eagerly at the proposition and commenced at once to get ready for the enterprise. Six were to compose the adventuresome party—Todd, Younger, Abe Cunningham, Fletch Taylor, Zach Traber and George Clayton. Clad in the uniform of the Federal cavalry, carrying instead of one pistol, four, they arrived about dusk at the picket post on the Westport and Kansas City road. They were not even halted. The uniform was a passport; to get in did111 not require a countersign. They left the horses in charge of Traber, bidding him do the best he could do if the worst came to the worst.
The city was filled with revelry. All the saloons were crowded. The five Guerrillas, with their heavy cavalry overcoats buttoned loosely about them, boldly walked down Main Street and into the Christmas revelry. Visiting this saloon and that saloon, they sat knee to knee with some of the Jennison men, some of Jennison’s most blood-thirsty troopers, and drank confusion over and over again to the cut-throat Quantrell and his bushwhacking crew.
Todd knew several of the gang who had waylaid and slain Colonel Younger, but hunt how he could, he could not find a single man of them. Entering near onto midnight an ordinary drinking place near the public square, six soldiers were discovered sitting at two tables playing cards, two at one and four at another. A man and a boy were behind the bar. Todd, as he entered, spoke low to Younger.
“Run to cover at last. Five of the six men before you were in Bailey’s crowd that murdered your father. How does your pulse feel?”
“Like an iron man’s. I feel like I could kill the whole six myself.”
They went up to the bar, called for whiskey and invited the card players to join. They did so.
If it was agreeable, the boy might bring their112 whiskey to them and the game could go on.
“Certainly,” said Todd, with purring of a tiger cat ready for a spring, “that’s what the boy is here for.”
Over their whiskey the Guerrillas whispered. The killing now was as good as accomplished. Cunningham and Clayton were to saunter carelessly up to the table where the two players sat, and Todd, Younger and Taylor up to the table where the four sat. The signal to get ready was to be, “Come, boys, another drink,” and the signal to fire was, “Who said drink?” Cole Younger was to give the first signal in his deep resonant voi............
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