Harrison County, Missouri
Military History

source: Harrison County, Bicentennial History
transcribed by: Melody Beery

The military history of Harrison County begins in 1843, at which time an order was received requiring the citizens to organize into companies, the same to be called upon whenever needed.  Two of these militia companies were organized in Harrison County, with Charles L. Jennings, Col. and S.C. Allen, Major.  There was no necessity for their services, as the Indians were peaceably disposed and no other enemies were near to disturb.

In the Bethany Watchman of January 11, 1872, an old settler gives the following account of the "Killyan War"

"Charles Killyan was a citizen of this territory, residing in the northern part of the county.  He came to Harris' Mill in the spring of 1844 with a sack of corn.  While at the mill the creek raised so that it could not be forded, and as it was likely to remain so for several days he set out north to "head the stream"  After passing into Iowa he crossed the creek and went east, intending to come down the 'divide' between it and Grand River to his home.  When near his home he found he was on the east side of Grand River, which was too full to be forded.  His failure to return home alarmed his family and they sent to the mill in order to learn the cause of his prolonged absence.  He had been to the mill, had started home, but not making his appearnace or being heard from, the rumor at once gained credence that the redskins had captured him.  In this extremity an appeal was made to the gallant Colonel Jennings, who with his company of brave militiamen, started forth to rescue the unfortunate Killyan and punish the treacherous savages.  About forty men rresponded to his call and at the head of these intrepid troopers the gallant Colonel marched northward on the 'divide' in search of the missing neighbor.  In the afternoon of the second day's campaign they discovered in the distance of a compnay of Indians, who were assisting the unfortunate Killyan to find his way home.  But the Colonel and his comrades knew not that they were friendly redskins.  Perhaps they were only an advance guard or they might be coming up in that manner as a decoy squad to draw the militia into an ambush.  But the Colonel was not to be so easily decoyed.  Halting and hastily forming his brigade into line of battle, he revived the drooping courage of his soldiers by bravely shouting:  'Let the enemy come; we are ready for them, by thunder!'  Still the savages continued to approach.  At this juncture some of the men awoke to the fact that they were not fit for military duty and gently fell back, while along the whole line signs of wavering began to appear.  Then was heard the stentorian tones of the officer in command as he shouted, 'By thunder, keep in line there!' The effect of which was to inspire the men with renewed courage.  Seeing the line of battle the Indians ran up a white flag.  Embassadors were sent out to meet them.  Mutual aand satisfactory explanations were made, the war was over, and 'Johnny came marching home again.'  The militia were dismissed and returned to peaceful pursuits without the loss of a single scalp.

The second war in which the militia were called upon to participate  was against the Mormons, under Brigham Young, in the spring of 1846 .  A large number of the Mormons had stopped for a season in Decatur County, Iowa, near where Leon now stands.  The people of North Missouri, remembering the former troubles with the Mormons, were excited and alarmed.  Gathering his soldiers together, Colonel Jennings planned an extensive campaign, and marched boldly against the enemy.  After a two day's march the army came insight of the Mormon camp.  The Mormons were alarmed, as they ahd been forced to flee from the states, and had no desire to meet armed men.  they hoisted a white flag in token of peace, whereupon the colonel advanced and inquired for their leader, Brigham Young.  Colonel Jennings then explained that the company where Missouri militia and feared the Mormons were going to invade their state.  Brigham stated they had been driven from their homes, were starting west, and, running short of provisions, had stopped to raise a crop, after which they would proceed on their journey.  A treaty was entered into under the terms of which the Mormons were not to come into Missouri or disturb its people or property, and while they observed these conditions the militia were to give them no rouble.  So ended the second campaign.

Several persons from Harrison County served in the war with Mexico, but there was no organized effort made to raise troops in the county.

Tuesday, May 10, 1898 was a day long to be remembered in the history of Bethany, for that was the day during the Spanish-American war when Company D, Fourth Regiment, Missouri National Guards, started for the Missouri troops' rendezvous at Jefferson Baracks, St. Lous.  the officers of Comapny D were:  Frank Slinger, captain; Herschel Stark and Ralph J. Ramer, lieutenants.  From St. Louis the comapny was camped at Falls Church, Virginia, then at Middleton, Pennsylvania, where they remained for several months.  Though seeing no real service, Company D proved to be a brave company and left an honorable road.

A state militia was organized at Bethany January 29, 1914, with a membership is sixty, and the following officers:  Randall Wilson, captain; Maurice Frisby and Will P. Bryant, lieutenants.

source: Harrison County, Bicentennial History
transcribed by: Melody Beery

Less than a decade and a half after the close of the Mexican War, the great Civil War between the States broke out.  Hitherto our wars had been waged against savage or foreign foe, but this was an internecine strife wherein brother was arrayed against brother, father against son and neighbor against neighbor.  It was unparalleled in the history of nations, and dwarfs into insignificance the mighty struggles of the past.  It is not the purpose of history to enter upon discussion of the issues that led to the war, nor to paint the horrors of its shifting scenes, but simply give the gallant part the people of Harrison County took in the struggle.  A late writer has truthfully said, "All the evils of war, and all the horrors of civil strife were crowded into those four dreadful years, 1861-1865, and all the refined cruelties known to the science and civilization of the enlightened age in which we live were practiced more or less by the opposing parties."  But after four years of strife and bloodshed, the olive branch of peace again waved over a united country, and now, fraternal, love and prosperity smile upon the land from one end of the nation to the other.  As the South became naturalized and "reconstructed" to the new order of things, it found a source of sincere congratulations that will never cause another war on American soil.  In the final union of the "roses" England found the germ of her future greatness and glory, so in the harmonious blending of the "blue" and "gray", who shall limit the greatness and glory of the American people!

The people of Harrison partook largely of the general excitement of the times, but as the county did not lie along the track of either  army and was altogether unimportant from a strategic point of view, it was not made the theater of any important military operations during the war.  The people were almost unanimously in favor of the Union, and no sooner had war become a fact than meetings were held throughout the county for the purpose of raising troops for mutual protection and defense.  At a large mass meeting held at Bethany on June 3, 1861, the following, among other resolutions, were adopted, expressive of the feeling of the public mind at the time.

WHEREAS, In the present distracted condition of our country, it behooves all citizens without respect to party, who desire to perpetutatethe blessings of our republic and preserve the public peace, to refrain from all acts which may either directly or indirectly tend to excite the public mind to acts of insubordination or rebellion against the laws of our country, and,
WHEREAS, The minds of some of our people have become impressed with the belief that their persons or property are being put in danger through fear of mobs and lawless bands of marauders;
Therefore, be it resolved by the people of Harrison County, in mass meeting assembled, irrespective of party,

First----That we mutually pledge ourselves to protect each other ***against all lawless and unauthorized acts of all persons from whatsoever source they may come.

Second----That we feel justified in stating as a truth, although some persons may have private orders to leave**no person has been forced to leave the country by the citizens of Harrison County, on account of politcal opinions or sentiments**********

Third----We believe it to be the duty of all good citizens to refrain from all acts which may have a tendency to excite people to acts of rebellion against, insubordination to, or violations of, the laws of the country.

Fourth-----That in giving expression to our views in relation to the position of Missouri in the present crisis, we unhesitatingly declare that we are opposed to the secession of the State from the Federal Union, and we believe that the present lamentable evils which are upon the country are not a consequence of any acts of the soverein State of Missouri, and occupying as we do a conservative position between the two extreme parties of the north and south, we hold the "olive branch of peace" to each, and while we deplore the present state of affairs, we believe that it is the duty of all true and loyal subjects of the State of Missouri to assist and defend the rights of the State in the Union, and under the authority of the constitution of the United States and the State of Missouri*******

Seventh---That we claim the right to organize into companies for home protection and defense under the articles of the contitution, which provides that the peiple have a right to asemble for the common good, and that their rights to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State cannot be questioned.

This meeting was addressed by S.C. Allen, Samuel Downey, William G. Lewis, D.J. Heaston and E. Hubbard, all of whom set forth in vigorous and eloquent language the necessity of adhering to the national union.  Similar meetings were held in the summer of 1861 at Mount Moriah, Eagleville and other places, the tendencies of which were to arouse the people to a realization of the situation, and unify the public sentiment against secession.  In the meantime companies of Home Guards were raised, and on July 13, 1861, the various organizations in the county met at a place called Harrison City, for the purpose of forming a regiment and electing officers.  The day was a pleasant one, and the number of spectators on the ground was estimated at from 1,000 to 1,500.  Henry Nevill, by request of the different companies, took charge of the men, paraded them for a while, after which stirring and energetic speeches were made by Messrs. Allen, Elwell, Downy, Hubbard and Heaston.

After the regiment was formed it organized by electing Henry O. Nevill, George Burris, Sr. lieutenant-colonel, and W.P. robinson, major.  The strength of the different companies that reported themselves was as follows:  Eagleville Guards, 160; Washington, 64; Salem, 60; Springfield, 90; Pleasant Ridge, 100; Clay, 78; Mount Moriah, 58; Bethany, 60; "Rough and Ready", 57; Benton, 80; Cainesville, 60.

The main object of the meeting was to ascertain how many of the above men were desirous of enlisting for the regular service.  Quite a number signified their willingness to go to the front, and gave their names to E. Hubbard, who at once proceeded to recruit for the regular service. 

Several other companies of Home Guards were raised during the summer of 1861, the majority of the members of which subsequently went to the front in different regiments, and did valiant service for the Union cause..



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