During the Civil War, the effective use of artillery was often one the factors that determined victory in battle. The following after action report by Col. Edward Lynde of the Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry gives credit where credit was due to the Yankee Artillery that was instrumental in the Union victory in the Battle of Newtonia, Mo., on Sept. 29, 1862. This report is found on Pages 291-293 in Series I, Vol. 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

“Sarcoxie, Mo., Oct. 1, 1862.

General: In compliance with your verbal orders, I left camp at this place on the morning of the 29th of September 1862, accompanied by Majs. Bancroft and Pomeroy and four companies of this regiment, viz: Co. D, Capt. Coleman; Co. E, Capt. Flesher; Co. F commanded by Lt. Spencer; Co. H, Capt. Killen and two howitzers (small cannon) under the command of Lt. Opdyke of Co. F and proceeded in the direction of Newtonia, feeling my way. At a distance of eight miles from our camp, we commenced driving in the pickets of the enemy.

Arrived on the prairie in front of the town, our farther advance was disputed by a strong picket guard stationed in and around a deserted house and corn field on our left (distance from town about 1 1/4 miles). At this point I discovered a strong outpost still farther on our left and nearly in our rear. I ordered Capt. Coleman, with his company, to observe their movements, while I directed Lt. Opdyke to shell the house and corn field; Maj. Pomeroy, with one company covering (protecting) the howitzers. A few rounds from our howitzers soon dispersed the enemy, who sought shelter in the town. We then advanced our lines to within three-quarters of a mile of the town and opened on them with the howitzers, but the distance was too great for our shells to do any damage.

After remaining on the field for 1 1/2 hours and making what observations I could, the enemy not replying with any guns, I ordered the command to retire. At this time two prisoners were brought in from whom I learned the strength of the enemy in town to be about 2,000 with two pieces of cannon. We fell back slowly to the prairie north of Shoal Creek, rested, retired to camp and reported to you. On the morning of the 30th, I again left my camp at 3 o’clock a.m. with the same command as yesterday, according to your verbal orders and proceeded to Newtonia, arriving there about 6 o’clock a.m. and found Lt. Col. Jacobi of the 9th Wisconsin Volunteers with reinforcements, already on the ground and the action had already commenced by Capt. Medford of the 6th Kansas volunteer Cavalry, driving in the outpost of the enemy on our left in splendid style and aking some prisoners. A portion of the infantry having been ordered forward to a wooded ravine north of the town by Lt. Col. Jacobi, I now ordered the artillery forward under the command of Lt. Masterson, to the center, at the same time directing Majs. Bancroft and Pomeroy, with the 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and the two howitzers to occupy an elevated piece of ground on our extreme right and Capt. Medford was directed to occupy our left.

The artillery opened on the town in gallant style with shot and shell. The position of the enemy proved to be a strong one, they having the shelter of several brick houses, one large stone barn, as well as a long line of heavy stone wall. Near the stone barn the enemy had two pieces of cannon which opened fire on us in answer tour own. This was the position of things at about 7 o’clock a.m.

The enemy having got the range of our guns, they were changed to a new position father down to the right and nearer the town and enemy. Their shots were now thrown at random sometimes on our right, sometimes on our center and then again our left without doing any damage.

The firing from our guns not being as effective as I desired, they were directed to advance still nearer and within about 600 yards of the town.

The artillery now played on the position of the enemy with marked effect, dealing death and destruction at each discharge and for a time their guns were silenced. They soon got them into a new position, but did us no damage.

The Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, with the howitzers, were now ordered up from our right and Capt. Flesher, with Co. E, was directed to support Capt. Medford on the left — the balance to support the battery, the howitzers occupying a position by the side of the larger guns-the balance of the infantry having been ordered forward to the wooded ravine by Lt. Col. Jacobi I soon after saw the infantry close to the stone wall already described, from which soon leaped a perfect stream of fire right into the ranks of the infantry, they returning the fire nobly and slowly retired. And just here permit me to say the conduct of the infantry under those trying circumstances deserves the highest commendation, showing front against rash odds and resisting the desperate attempts of the enemy to overwhelm them.

Deeming it impossible to take the town by storm with my small force, numbering barely 500 and observing the enemy firing signal rockets from their guns into the air, I ordered the command to retire which was done in good order until we reached the high ground adjoining the timber. Before reaching that point, however, reports were brought to me that large bodies of reinforcements of the enemy were seen arriving from the southwest as well as the west. I now observed the enemy swarming from their concealed position in the town to harass our retreat. One regiment or more, said to be under the command of Col. Cooper, coming up on our rear, another body as large on our right flank through the corn field, the artillery was again brought into position and the ranks of the enemy were mowed down with great slaughter. We continued to retire, forming and reforming, for the infantry to pass the cavalry and reload. The artillery on arriving at the woods having been ordered in the advance, under cover of Company F, Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, were armed with revolvers and sabers only, while the enemy was armed with long- range guns.

Here Maj. Bancroft, assisted by Maj. Pomeroy of the Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, as well as the Ninth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, made a gallant stand, but were overpowered by numbers and were obliged to retreat.

The officers in general are entitled to praise for their heroic manner in which they conducted themselves and the soldiers are worthy of all praise for the determined manner in which they resisted repeated assaults of the enemy. Our loss I am unable to give, as no reports have been made to me. The loss of the enemy must have been far greater than ours. I estimate their loss at 300 killed and wounded.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

E. LYNDE,

Colonel Commanding.”

Throughout the ages, “artillery” has been described as the “King of Battle” and this report clearly indicates that it was a decisive factor in the Battle of Newtonia.

If, it had not been effectively used as it was, Col. Lynde and his command probably would have been destroyed and the battle would have been lost. However this was not the case, and of course, the war went on!

During the Civil War, especially in Missouri and Kansas, there was a fine line between soldiers simply following orders or letting vengeance or retribution take over. As bushwackers continued to stymie Union forces in the state and both sides embracing the “no quarter” philosophy (that is, not taking prisoners, but upon capture, the prisoner would be executed), both sides were determined to break the other. Such is the story of Confederate Major John L. Owen. Owen had been a Major in the Missouri State Guard under the command of General Sterling Price and his actions in Missouri vary depending on whose account is told. However his capture and death also balance between getting what he deserved by the rules of the military or being murdered.

Owen’s wife, Mary submitted her account of events, as well as detailing Owen’s military service and his motives:

About the 1st of September my husband, John L. Owen, then captain of a company of six-months’ men (sworn into the State service about the middle of June), started to General Price. He was promoted to major and returned home the 6th of December. Since that time to my certain knowledge he has had no company nor part of company; neither has he been connected in any way with a company. And I do know and can say with truth that he never either before or since his return from the arms has been engaged in what is termed bushwhacking and that he has never shot into the cars. On the contrary I known he was always opposed to that kind of warfare. I have frequently heard him speak on the subject, therefore I know his opinion…

On the 8th day of June before we had risen in the morning we were surrounded by Federal troops knocking at the doors for admittance. My mother, her two sons who live with her, Amsley and William, myself and child were all who were in the house. The soldiers came in, searched the house, took both Amsley and William prisoners and took them away, while others came and surrounded the place. Persons who saw them estimated their numbers at about 300. They had their pilots with them. They dashed through the fields like so many fiends, and into the meadow where my husband had slept the night before (and no doubt he had been watched to his sleeping place), and oh, they found him in a little cluster of bushes not more than 200 or 300 yards from the house and in plain view of the house. They found him alone, unarmed and defenseless; one poor man, without any resistance at all, gave himself up to his savage captors. Resistance would have been vain and he knew it. Oh, the savage yells they sent up when they found him; they ret.

They brought him to the house. We saw them coming. I was greatly troubled to think they had him prisoner; but oh, I could not conceive that persons calling themselves men and Christian men could have hearts cruel enough to murder him in the brutal manner in which they did. They all halted at the fence and got water. While here they questioned him as to who stayed with him, and several other questions, among the rest where was his company. He told them he had no company. His mother and myself told them the same. They called us all liars and said they knew he had a company for they had been told so, and that he had to tell where it was. We all assured them that he told the truth, but they would not believe us. They said, “Take him away from these women, and if he does not tell us we will hang him. ” He said just as they started from the house if they would treat him as a prisoner of war and according to the honors of war he had no fears.

I feared from their savage appearance that they might abuse him or do him some harm, and I followed them about a quarter of a mile entreating them to spare his life; that he was innocent of the charges they had against him, and not to take an innocent man’s life. They assured me they would not kill him, and told me to go back home now and come down to Palmyra the next day and see him. That satisfied me. I turned and came home.

They did not go over half a mile farther till they killed him.

A letter in the Quincy Whig in 1862 claimed to hold the facts to Owen’s case and disputed his wife’s account. This was written by the Provost-Marshal of Palmyra, Missouri, William R. Strachan, an ardent supporter of the Union. The letter begins with,

SIR: I am led to thank you for your happy answer to a letter purporting to have emanated from Mrs. J. L. Owen describing the manner of the death of her husband. Whilst every person can sympathize with the wife in her affliction and regret she was so unfortunate in having so guilty a husband, still every loyal right-minded citizen must be satisfied with the merited punishment of so notorious a traitor as John L. Owen.

I wish to give points in the career of this “Major ” John L. Owen which may expose the outrage of publishing such a letter as that in the Herald. J. L. Owen was the first man who inaugurated bushwhacking in this portion of the State of Missouri. His company by his orders burned some eight or ten passenger coaches on the Hannibal and Saint Joseph Railroad, burned a depot building at Monroe Station, tore up the railroad track, destroyed culverts and fired into passenger cars. On one occasion they met a man by the name of Hotchkiss who never had carried arms and was particularly inoffensive, being engaged in trading with the farmers in the vicinity of Monroe City for butter, eggs, &c., and in return delivering them coffee, sugar, cotton, &c. He had never committed any higher crime than that of voting for Abraham Lincoln, yet this man while watering his horses was deliberately shot down; eight balls were put into him and he was left for dead. The man, however, was taken care of by the Sixteenth Illinois’ surgeon and I believe is now alive in Hannibal.

He continues,

Again, John L. Owen has been hiding from justice since Christmas, lying concealed, sleeping in the brush, and was found in his bed in the brush, and armed.

General orders from headquarters are imperative that this class of men caught under arms in this part of the United States are to be shot on the spot. These orders have been published to the world. Mr. Owen was not shot in the presence of his family, he was not tied, he was not abused; but the general orders that commanded him to be shot were read to him, and he was regularly executed in accordance with military usage.

However, another version clearly presents a case where there is some discrepancies in the actual shooting of Owen. Joseph Mudd was an unapologetic secessionist, slave holder and served with the Army of Northern Virginia later in the war. During his time with Colonel Joseph C. Porter in northeast Missouri, Mudd was witness to the events surrounding Owen’s death. In his book With Porter in Northern Missouri, he tells the story of the event as such,

On the 8th of June a scouting party of the Eleventh Missouri State Militia, commanded by Captain W. W. Lair, made a prisoner of Major John L. Owen, who lived near Monroe City, in Marion County, and shot him… Returning home in December, 1861, he found an indictment for treason hanging over him, and so he could not come in and surrender. He continued to hide out until he was captured… Captain Collier and the Shelby County company made him prisoner and took him to his family. Here they assured his wife they would take him to Palmyra and would not harm him. Half a mile from his house they set him on a log against a fence and put eight bullets through him-caliber 54… Captain Collier states that when he left Palmyra, he had strict orders to enforce the terms of General Schofield’s ‘Orders No. 18,’ enjoining the ‘utmost vigilance in hunting down and destroying’ all bushwhackers and marauders, who, the order said, ‘when caught in arms, engaged in their unlawful warfare,’ were to be shot down ‘on the spot.

Newspapers were also guilty of either supporting southern sympathies or supporting the Union. The following is from the Hannibal (Mo.) Hearld of June 10:

Information was brought into camp at Palmyra on Saturday last that Colonel John L. Owen, a notorious rebel who has made himself conspicuous in burning bridges, cars and depots, firing into passenger trains, last summer and fall, was secreted at or near his farm in Monroe. A detachment from Company A, Eleventh Regiment Missouri State Militia (Colonel Lipscomb), under command of Lieutenant Donahoo, was immediately sent out from Palmyar to hunt the outlaw. On approaching the farm of Colonel Owen on Sunday about 12 m. the squad discovered a negro running rapidly from the house toward a piece of brush. The lieutenant and his company immediately started for the brush and going into it discovered the game and soon bagged it. At first the colonel showed a determination to resist his capture, but finding such a proceeding useless he yielded. Preparations were made for his execution. He begged the soldiers to take him prisoner. They informed him that “Taking prisoners” was played out. They then placed him upon a stump in front of a file of soldiers and at the word of command eight bullets pierced the body of the rebel, killing him instantly.

Thus has ended the career of a notorious bushwacker and outlaw. He has met the just retribution of his damning crimes.

This leads us to try and determine what really happened with John L. Owen and presents a case that historians struggle with when trying to piece together an event from primary sources, that is, it all depends on who you ask. The facts that are readily clear are that Owen was indeed a southern sympathizer, he did take up arms against the Union while under Price’s command, and he was killed by Union soldiers after being captured. The details, however, will always be at the mercy of the historian piecing together the tale. Was he innocent? Was he indeed unarmed? Was a promise to keep him as a prisoner given and then reneged on?

The list goes on, and the truth is left to the minds of those who attempt to piece the puzzle together, knowing there will always be missing pieces and a true picture is nearly impossible to find.

On Oct. 26, 1864, a company of Missouri Partisan Rangers led by Captain William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson were camped north of present-day Orrick on land owned by “Riley” Blythe, which was then known as Albany. Major Samuel Cox of Gallatin and 300 men of the 51st and 33rd Missouri Militia Mounted Infantry were a few miles away on the other side of Albany. It is believed that Mrs. Mary Rowland, a Union mother, rode to Major Cox and told him where the Rangers were camped.

What ensued is known as the Battle of Albany, and although it lasted only ten minutes, it’s outcome caused ripples throughout Missouri. William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, was killed and his death would be a catalyst for the desperado activities that followed the war, most notably that of Jesse and Frank James, both who rode with Anderson. The following is a report dated Oct. 31, 1864, and addressed to “General Craig, Headquarters, 33rd Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia, Hamilton, Missouri.”  The report was evidently was made by “an officer” present at Albany on Oct. 27,1864.

Dear Sir:

We have already forwarded to you a hasty official report of “Cob” Cox’s expedition against the notorious and fiendish bushwhacker Wm. T. Anderson and his rebel crew, but feeling satisfied that there are facts and circumstances connected with the death and capture of Bill Anderson that would be more gratifying to you and perhaps to the public, I have determined to forward you a more detailed account of the expedition and its results which you can have published or not as you may think proper.

The command left Hamilton on Monday the 24th with detailed portions of six companies of the 33rd Regiment Enrolled Missouri commanded by the following company officers to wit: Capts. J. Woodruff, Napoleon B. Brown and Leabo; Lieuts. Samuel Brown and Levi Cline, all of Daviess County, and Lieut. Orem of Caldwell County; also a portion of two other companies, one commanded by Capt. Jones of Cameron and Lieut. James Mylan commanding company of Caldwell home guards organized under Order No.107, in all some 175 men.

We camped at Knoxville that night. Next morning learning that some 75 or 100 bushwhackers were in camp at or near Millville, six or seven miles southeast of us, we marched directly there, with our whole force, except a small guard sent with the wagon train directly from Knoxville to Richmond.

Lieut. Baker commanding company of the 31st Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia whom we joined at Knoxville was sent by a different route to learn the whereabouts of the enemy and report to us at Millville. We had not. been there more than 30 minutes before a messenger came from Lieut. Baker with the information that he had engaged the enemy some three miles east of us. We joined him on the double quick with the whole force along and found him in possession of one prisoner, a blacksmith and his tools, two horses and two guns.

The lieutenant had come upon them shoeing their horses in the woods near their late camp. They were in small force and fed, all making their escape except as before stated. Their camp had moved the evening before as we suppose joining Anderson’s camp near Albany in the southwest corner of Ray County, where we engaged them as hereinafter stated.

We then moved to Richmond and encamped for the night and rested the next day and recruited men’ and horses. We learned the whereabouts of the enemy: 200 of them had passed up the river the night before we got to Richmond just south of town in the bottoms, 120 the night we got there, and others we learned had moved their camps from Hanesville in Clay County and other points, all concentrating near Albany in the Missouri River bottoms.

The next morning, 27th October, the entire force above stated and some 150 more of the 51st Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia under Maj. Grimes of Ray County were marched directly to Albany under the command of S.P. “Cob” Cox of Daviess County.

We came across the rebel pickets some mile east of Albany in the road, 10 or 15 strong. Our advance guard drove them in and through Albany, which is situated in the Missouri bottoms at the foot of the bluffs. The whole command followed up and were dismounted in and south of the town, leaving the 4th man to hold horses. Except that our advance guard of Calvary, consisting of one company of some 40 men under the command of Lt. Baker of Knoxville, Ray County, was sent forward to engage and draw out the enemy.

Our infantry was formed into company lines and marched forthwith into the open woods beyond Albany some 400 yards, and thrown into line of battle extending from a field on the north to a field on the south. Scarcely had the lines been formed when the enemy, who had also been drawn up in line of battle in Calvary force from two to three hundred strong some five or six hundred yards from our line, were engaged by our advance under Lieut. Baker.

And onward came Bloody Bill and his followers in hot pursuit of our advance guard with such hideous J shrieks and fiendish yells that made the very woods ring for miles. Such was Bloody Bill’s mode of warfare. ‘Our advance retired to the rear of the infantry line, which opened the way for them.

The enemy came on in full charge, yelling like Indians without firing a shot until they were within 75 or 80 yards of our line. Then the firing commenced on both sides and was kept up with great fierceness until the enemy came within 40 or 50 yards of our line.

Bloody Bill and some five or six of his associates in crime came dashing considerably in the advance of their line and their chieftain Anderson, with one other supposed to be Lieut. Rains, son of rebel Gen. Rains, charged fearlessly through our lines and were both unhorsed close in our rear.

Anderson fell dead upon the ground within 20 yards of our men, having received two balls in the left side of his head near the ear. The other raised and scrambled off into a field to our left, where he was found dead next day.

The enemy, seeing their leader fall, could stand no longer but fled in wild confusion and returned no more. Our infantry stood firm and fought bravely throughout the contest. Many of the men and officers there deserve especial praise for their gallantry and cool bravery. The retreat of the advance guard to our rear caused a stampede of our horses behind but it was soon checked and did us but little damage.

When the firing ceased, which did not last over 10 minutes before the enemy fled, our advance under Lieut. Baker came in front again and pursued the enemy some two miles, but fell further behind the farther he went.

So the enemy was completely routed. We had four men wounded, three slightly. One James Mulligan, Daviess County, very severely received four balls, one entering the forehead, one through the hips, one through the arm and two fingers shot off; dangerously ill but yet alive. A brave and good man and most excellent soldier. We lost one horse dead on the field, one wounded and since dead.

The enemy lost seven dead men, as stated by a prisoner and young wounded man of theirs, young Miller of Clay County, and some 10 or 12 wounded. But one fell immediately on the field. That was Anderson. Two more were found the next day close by.

The same enemy passed through Millville early that night 25 miles from the battlefield. The battle was fought between two and three o’clock in the evening.

We captured two fine horses in the fight, one supposed to be young Rains’ and the other Anderson’s. The infamous bushwhacker Bill Anderson rode a fine Iron Grey mare with a human scalp tied to the head stall of his bridle on the left rear. He came yelling and shooting and shot until he fell dead and when he fell he was making towards Capt. Woodruff of Daviess County who is another large man and was riding a large gray horse close behind the infantry carrying a flag in his hand.

Bloody Bill had four revolvers buckled around him and two very large ones across his saddle. He was well dressed with rich, clothing. He had on a white wool hat with a long fine black plume in it; wore a fine net undershirt and over it one of fine black cloth most elegantly embroidered on the sleeves and breast; a fine blue cloth vest, and a close-bodied frock coat of excellent drab colored cassimere and pants of same.

He had on his person a fine gold watch and chain and a silver one; $323 in gold and $273 in paper money besides some silver change and small paper currency and $18 in Confederate money.

He also had his own likeness and another supposed to be his wife’s and in his pocketbook was also found a short memorandum which we suppose is from his wife, though he passed himself off through this country for a single man.

After going on to mention certain articles such as a dashing woman would fancy for dress and ornament and some toys for her babe, she winds up thus: ‘Your ever loving and obedient wife until death’ (signed) ‘Bush Anderson, At home Friday evening, April 20th, 1864.’ On the back of same was written: ‘Wm. T. Anderson, Bush Anderson, Grason County, Texas, April 20th, 1864, in pencil mark. Enclosed in this note was a small lock of fine dark chestnut brown hair.

In his pocket was also found a receipt thus: ‘reed, of W.T. Anderson $360. (Signed) Presley Garvis.’ Also two orders thus: ‘Head Quarters Army of Missouri, Boonville 11 October, 1864. Special Order: Capt. Anderson with his command will at once proceed to the north side of the Missouri River and permanently destroy the North Missouri Railroad going as’ far east as practicable. He will report his operations at least every two days. By order of Maj. Gen (Sterling) Price.’

And again: ‘To the officer in charge of the ferry boat: Capt. Anderson and his command will be crossed to the other side of the river after which the ferry boat will await orders on this side of the river. By order of Maj. Gen. Price.’

Both of which there can be no doubt given are genuine and directed by Price. What now can our chivalrous friends of the South say in vindication of their boasted Missouri chieftain General Price: coming into our state under the Confederate flag, leading Missourians and commissioning bushwhackers, yea the infamous, cruel, fiendish Bloody Bill Anderson, for a long time a terror to honest men and women of Missouri.

In his pockets were also found two Rebel flags, one about two feet long and 10 inches wide, another a small but very fine one some foot long and four inches wide, 12 stars on one side and 11 on the other and made of fine silk ribbon. On the middle stripe of which was written on one side, ‘Presented to Capt. Wm. T. Anderson by his friend M.L.R.’ and on the other, ‘Don’t let it be contaminated by Fed. hands.’ As if anything from the hands of such a man as Anderson could be disgraced or be made worse by mortal man. To-the proof of which we need only refer to the cold blooded, heartless and unfeeling butchery of our fellow men at Centralia, unarmed and helpless.

We brought his body off the battlefield and gave it a decent burial in a good coffin, deposited in the extreme south side of the public grave yard in Richmond, marking his resting, place with a head and foot board. Not that we had any respect for him, for God knows we are unable to see how an honest man or woman in Missouri could. But because we respected ourselves and felt that after death his body was but the lifeless remains of a human being and could no longer harm this world and feeling that our cause is a just Holy one we could not forget that we were American citizens and should be guided by feelings of humanity and civilization. God grant that our countrymen in this sanguinary struggle may remember and not disgrace our Anglo Saxon bloom.

After the “Honorable” Burial of Anderson described above, the following was reported by the citizens of Richmond Missouri.

The federal troops took Anderson’s body to Richmond where a series of ghoulish photographs were taken. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Richmond and in the evening federal troops were said to have been seen urinating on his grave. The federals found flowers on the grave a few days later and road their horses over and over the grave in an attempt to hide it. Just a few years ago, a simple marker was placed on his grave in what is now called the Pioneer Cemetery in Richmond, Missouri.