Marion County, Missouri Genealogy Trails
[Pictures and Data transcribed by: Candi Horton - 2008]

The Palmyra Massacre


The Confederates had occupied Palmyra for a short time, and when the Federals returned to the town, a Unionist named
Andrew Allsman
had disappeared. No one could tell whether he had been murdered, or made prisoner, or fled from fear, or had left the town for the purpose of business. He had gone, and that was all that was heard about him. McNeil assumed, or pretended to assume, that he was murdered or a prisoner, and gave notice that if Allsman was not returned within ten days he would retaliate upon the Confederate prisoners in his hands. The ten days passed, and Allsman did not return; he might have been dead, or he might have been in a different part of the country transacting some business. No matter; he was absent, and the fiend was not baulked of his intended brutality. On the evening of the tenth day, the Confederate prisoners, ten in number, were informed that if Allsman did not appear by 1 o'clock the following day, “they would all be shot at that hour." .... Friends claimed and took seven of the corpses. Three were buried by the military in the public cemetery. [transcribed from-
The Index, Nov. 20, 1862 - by Candi Horton -2008]

Andrew Allsman was a man about sixty years of age, and a carpenter by trade. He was a native of Kentucky, but had come to Missouri when 36 years of age and located in Palmyra.  ... He was an ardent Union man and had enlisted at the breaking out of the war, but being too old to stand the hardships of military duty, had been detailed for special service in Palmyra. This service, it was charged, consisted principally of passing upon the loyalty or disloyalty of certain citizens and piloting foraging parties to the homes of  alleged secessionists or those who had relatives in the Confederate service. In Palmyra sympathy was strongly for the South, and it is not strange that Allsman soon became exceedingly unpopular and among the boys in gray was looked upon as a Union spy.
Colonel Porter was acquainted with the situation, and one of his first orders on his arrival in Palmyra was for the arrest of Allsman.
This commission was given Captain J. W. Shuttuck and it may be assumed that it was not an altogether unpleasant duty, for only a short time before, he had escaped from a military prison, here he had been confined on information furnished the Federal authorities by Allsman.

With a squad of soldiers Capt. Shattuck repaired to the home of Mr. Allsman, in the northern part of the city, ordered him from his bed, and despite the protestation and entreaties of his family, hurried him away, to return no more. On leaving Palmyra, Colonel Porter made his first halt in Summers's pasture, just west of the city limits. Here his prisoners were lined up, and all save four paroled. Among the four was Andrew Allsman. Had Allsman been permitted to return to Palmyra that day, the blackest crime of the civil war would have been averted and the memories of Gen. John McNeil and William R. Strachan would be free from the damnable stain that will forever rest upon them.  ...

A skull found by Troublesome creek , near the spot Allsman was thought to be be killed, was found.  There were no bullet holes in the skull.
and no other remains had been found. He was thought to be killed by some of his enemies not by Colonel Porter's men.
Abstracted from:  "A Tale of the Palmyra Massacre" by Robert Devoy, 1903   pg. 62-64

 


This monument is located on the Marion County Court House lawn, in Palmyra.

confederate monument

Erected To The Memory Of
Capt. Thomas A. Sidenor
Willis T. Baker
Thomas Mumston
Morgan Bixler
John Y. Mc Pheetens
Hiran T. Smith
Herbert Hudson
John W. Wade
Francis M. Lear
Eleazer Lake

Names on monument

Other sides of  the Monument.

Date of Massacre, Oct. 18, 1862
Oct. 18, 1862

View of side of monument.

 

Who Erected the Monument.
Erected By The
Palmyra Confederate
Monument Association
And It's Friends
Feb. 25, 1907

Capt. Thomas A. Sidenor (Confederate)
Imprisoned because they were Southern sympathizers. Executed on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862.
Resident of Monroe County.
Abstracted from his latter from Military Prison dated Oct. 17, 1862:
Ellen, I want you to have this valise I have with me, and keep it in remembrance of me.
Frank, Lena, George, good-bye, good-bye, forever on this earth. Jacob is with me. I will tell him good-bye myself. ...
Tell Uncle Thorton's family good-bye. src#3
 

Thomas A. Sidner  (Confederate) - Enlisted as Captain - Commissioned into G Company, 1st Northeast Cav (Missouri)
Note the spelling of the last name. In the newspaper articles they have it spelled as Sidner instead of
Sidenor
 

Willis T. Baker (Confederate) Service: Col. Porter
Age 60 years. Resident of Lewis County.  Imprisoned because they were Southern sympathizers.
Executed on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862.
He had been accused of being connected with the killing of Ezekiel Pratt, a Union Citizen. src#3

John Y. Mc Pheeters (Confederate) - Resident of Lewis County.
Imprisoned because they were Southern sympathizers. Executed on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862.
His body was claimed by the family.

Morgan Bixler - Lived in Lewis County src#3
No information could be found on him.

Thomas Humston (Confederate)- 19years old. Resident of Lewis County.
Imprisoned because they were Southern sympathizers. Executed on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862.

Hiram Smith  (Confederate) - Enlisted as Private into B Company, 10th Cavalry (Missouri)
Note Spelling of name Hiram instead of Hiran
Scarcely 22 years old.
He was the replacement for William T. Humphrey's (wife Mary) who was freed.
Buried in little cemetery in Lewis County.
A headstone was erected by Senator George W. Humphreys the son of William.
The headstone reads:
Hiram Smith
This Monument is Dedicated to the Memory of Hiram Smith
Who was Shot at Palmyra, Oct. 18, 1862
As a Substitute for William T. Humphrey, My Father   src
#3

Herbert Hudson (Confederate) - A resident of Ralls County. He formerly had lived in Marion County.
Imprisoned because they were Southern sympathizers. Executed on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862.

John M. Wade (Confederate) - A resident of Ralls County. He formerly had lived in Marion County.
Imprisoned because they were Southern sympathizers. Executed on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862.

Francis M. Lear  (Confederate) - Executed at Palmyra, Missouri
 - Retaliation for the abduction of Andrew Allsman, an aged citizen of Palmyra by Colonel Joseph C. Porter. [Civil War Times, Dec.1980]

Eleazer Lake  (Confederate) - Enlisted as Private into C Company, Snider's Battn Cav (Missouri)
Eleazer Lake
Pvt. - Co. C, Snider's Bn., Mo. Cav.
Enlisted Jun. 15, 1862 at Scoland [sic] Co., MO.
Final disposition not found of record.
Appears on a muster roll for Jul. 28, 1862 to --- as shot Oct. 18, 1862
See- also 2nd Regt. N.E. Mo. Cav.
Then another record has his name and - Imprisoned because they were Southern sympathizers. Executed on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862.
Resident of Scotland County but formerly of Marion County. src#3

The execution of the ten Confederates.


General McNeil took up his residence in St. Louis until his death, which occurred very suddenly, due to heart disease,
as he was walking down the steps of government building, June 7, 1891. src#3
 

Colonel Strachan was charged with the rape of Mrs. Humphrey, drunkenness, gross immorality, embezzlement and other criminal offenses.
He was tried by Court Martial, was found guilty of having prostituted his position for base and immoral purposes, sentenced to a year's imprisonment and to pay back the government $680 of stolen funds. However, General Rosecrans, who was in command of this military district, was made to believe that Strachan was the victim of persecution and he disapproved the findings of the Court. Strachan was set at liberty and drifted to New Orleans and from there into Old Mexico. In time he returned to New Orleans where he died Feb. 10, 1866 from tuberculosis and other diseases. He was about 48 years old, unmarried. He came to Missouri from New York State, he was born in 1844.

Sources: Unless noted, Office of Adjutant General; Index of service records, Confederate, 1861-1865, MO State Archives,
National Park Service; Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System.
src#3 Abstracted from "A Tale of the Palmyra Massacre" by Robert Devoy, 1903
[transcribed by: Candi Horton - 2008 and 2009 ]


Newspaper Articles

The Palmyra Massacre
source:
The Index, 11/20/1862


It is with unfeigned regret that we record and comment on the atrocious crime committed by the Federals in Missouri, the revelation of which has
produced a sentiment in Europe of mingled indignation, horror, and disgust. We have no desire to make political capital our of the savage conduct of
the North. It is a misfortune for the South that she has to war against those who have committed and endorsed such deeds as have met with the execration of mankind. Her glory is not greater because her enemy is the enemy of civilization and humanity. Besides, every infamous action of the
North brings us nearer to that terrible crisis when forbearance will be a crime, and retaliation a solemn obligation. We have, therefore, felt it consistent with our duty to abstain from publishing the heart-rending accounts that have reached us from Southern sources of Northern vandalism and Northern inhumanity. Wherever the Northern soldiery have been there are homes wantonly desolated, and there are heard the whispers of cruelties of such a nature as may be only spoken of with bated breath. We have not hitherto thought it necessary to proclaim these things. All the bitterness engendered by Federal barbarity is useless, and worse than useless. Nothing is needed to perpetuate the separation of the South from the North. The two peoples are parted by a great gulf, which is impassable and irremovable. We can believe that after the lapse of generations the present animosity may cease to rankle in the hearts of the two nations, and there may be friendly international relations, but political reunion is impossible. If the North thought that reunion was something more than a chimera the war would be conducted as humanely as possible. The object of this unheard-of barbarity must be revenge, or the vain hope of terrifying the South into submission; but whatever the motive or delusion, the conduct is only saved from being thoroughly absurd by being thoroughly fiendish.

Our reticence, of course, is limited to those affairs which do not force themselves on the public attention. When the North parades her infamy we cannot be silent; and yet, to treat such a proceeding as the Palmyra massacre with calmness, is equally difficult and painful. We are as much incensed as our contemporaries at the savage slaughter of innocent men, yet in the interest of the Confederacy, for the sake of humanity, and in the name of Christianity, whilst we may call for lawful and justifiable reprisals, we are bound to advocate a policy of forbearance, under such provocation as no nation has heretofore suffered. We should exceedingly rejoice if the `North hereafter abstains from barbarous warfare, for then we should not have cause to dread the coming of that day when the Government of the Confederate States may be called upon to make ample reprisals, but not to retaliate in kind; for the South can punish, but never imitate the conduct of monsters like Butler, Turchin, and McNeil.

McNeil has certainly outdone both Butler and Turchin in savageness. Butler has for his excuse the stinging contempt of the women of New Orleans; and as yet his fell plot of inciting the black population to murder the whites is only a diabolical threat. Turchin had to revenge the refusal of the town to submit at the first summons. But McNeil has no shadow of excuse. When he decreed and insisted on the butchery of ten innocent men he merely gratified his fiendish nature.

The Confederates had occupied Palmyra for a short time, and when the Federals returned to the town, a Unionist named Andrew Allsman had disappeared. No one could tell whether he had been murdered, or made prisoner, or fled from fear, or had left the town for the purpose of business. He had gone, and that was all that was heard about him. McNeil assumed, or pretended to assume, that he was murdered or a prisoner, and gave notice that if Allsman was not returned within ten days he would retaliate upon the Confederate prisoners in his hands. The ten days passed, and Allsman did not return; he might have been dead, or he might have been in a different part of the country transacting some business. No matter; he was absent, and the fiend was not baulked of his intended brutality. On the evening of the tenth day, the Confederate prisoners, ten in number, were informed that if Allsman did not appear by 1 o'clock the following day, “they would all be shot at that hour.” We are giving the Northern account taken from the Palmyra Courier; and the cool manner in which the tragedy is therein described is equally astounding and terrible.

McNeil was not contented with the death of his victims, but he must do his best to torture them. For ten days he had kept them in cruel suspense, and when the time for slaughter arrived, he deter mined to make death as fearful as possible.
We are told: “The Rev. James S. Green, of this city, remained with them during that night as their spiritual adviser, endeavoring to prepare them for their sudden entrance into the presence of their Maker.” We wonder if the rev. gentleman had done what he could to change the resolution of the miscreant thirsting for human blood. We will, we must, think he had not spared any exertion to prevent the commission of the crime.
We will now let the Palmyra Courier continue the horrible narrative:-


A little after 12 o'clock at noon the next day three Government waggons [sic] drove to the goal. One contained four, and each of the others three, rough board coffins. The condemned men were conducted from the prison, and seated in the waggons [sic] one upon each coffin. A sufficient guard of soldiers accompanied them, and the cavalcade started for the fatal grounds. Proceeding east to Main-street, the cortège turned, and moved slowly southward as far as Malone's livery stable.
Thence, turning east, it entered the Hannibal-road, pursuing it to the residence of Colonel James Culbertson. There, throwing down the fences, they turned northward, entering the the Fair Grounds (half-a-mile east of the town) on the west side, and, driving within the circular amphitheatrically ring, paused for the final consummation of the scene. The ten coffins were removed from the waggons [sic] and placed in a row, six or eight feet apart, forming a line north and south about fifteen paces east of the central pagoda or music stand in the centre of the ring. Each coffin was placed upon the ground, with its foot' west and head east. Thirty soldiers of the 2nd M. S. M. were drawn up in single line, extending, north and south, facing the row of coffins. This line of executioners ran immediately at the east base of the pagoda, leaving a space between them and the coffins of 12 or 13 paces. Reserves were drawn up in a line upon either flank of these executioners. The arrangements completed, the doomed men knelt upon the grass between their coffins and the soldiers while the Rev. R. M. Rhoades offered up a prayer. At the conclusion of this each prisoner took his seat upon the foot of his coffin, facing the muskets which in a few minutes were to launch them into eternity. They were nearly all firm and undaunted. Two or three only showed signs of trepidation. The most noted of the ten was Captain Thomas A. Sidner, of Monroe county.
He was now elegantly attired in a suit of black broadcloth, with a white vest. A luxuriant growth of beautiful hair rolled down upon his shoulders. There was nothing especially worthy of note in the appearance of the others. One of them, Willis Baker, of Lewis county, was proved to be a man who last year shot and killed Mr. Ezekiel Pratte, his Union neighbor, near Williamstown, in that county. All the others were rebels of lesser note. A few minutes after 1 o'clock, Colonel Strachan, Pre-post-Marshal-General, and the Rev. Mr. Rhoades, shook hands with the prisoners. Two of them then accepted bandages; all the others refused. One hundred spectators had gathered around the amphitheatre to witness the impressive scene.
The stillness of death pervaded the place. The officer in command now stepped forward and gave the word of command, “Ready! Aim! Fire!” The discharges, however, were not made simultaneously, probably through want of a perfect previous understanding of the orders and of the time at which to fire. Two of the rebels fell backwards upon their coffins, and died instantly. Captain Sidner sprang forward, and fell with his head towards the soldiers, his face upwards, his hands clasped upon his breast, and the left leg drawn half way up. He did not move again, but died immediately. He had requested the soldiers to aim at his heart, and they obeyed but too implicitly. The other seven were not killed outright; so the reserves were called in, who dispatched them with their revolvers. The lifeless remains were then placed in the coffins, the lids, upon which the name of each man was written, were screwed on, and the direful procession returned to town by the same route that it pursued in going. Friends claimed and took seven of the corpses. Three were buried by the military in the public cemetery.

The tragedy was over. What a refinement of cruelty—the men seated on their coffins—the long drive to the human shambles—the selection of the music-stand, or pagoda, for the place of slaughter—the ineffectual fire of the—we were nearly designating them soldiers—the seven men out of the ten wounded and writhing in agony—the completion of the brutality with revolvers. Was ever such a scene before enacted on the earth? Did savages, maddened by fire-water, and excited by the incantations of their medicine-men, ever so torture their fellow-countrymen? Never. Such questions are insults to humanity.

The guilt is not all McNeil's. We wish we could say it was his deed only, and that possibly he was mad. But what of his officers? They had ten days' warning of the tragedy, and they could have prevented it. There were, too, a hundred persons who stood by and saw the slaughter, and were, so to speak, consenting to the perpetration of the crime.  The newspaper that gives the narrative does not seek to palliate or to condemn the tragedy. 
It even says the orders of Captain Thomas A. Sidner to aim at his heart were “obeyed too implicitly.” Does this mean he died too quickly, and that it was not enough to have seven men writhing on the ground? Above all, we do not hear that at Washington and New York there is an outburst of
indignation, and that the Government had denounced the crime, which, though denounced, will still cling to and disgrace the North. So far then, and until this time, the crime is endorsed by the Federal people and Government.


This affair must be noticed by the Confederate Government. We shall not presume to indicate the probable course that may be adopted, besides decreeing the hanging of McNeil, if captured now or in the future. We are, however, exceedingly glad that the President will be the judge. He is too devoted to the South and too true a statesman to allow himself to blemish the honor of his country by any act dictated by passion. His decision will be calm and judicial, and will, whatever it may be, satisfy the people of the South, who, differing in their political views, agree in this—that their President is the trusty guardian of the honour [sic] of the Confederate States. We sincerely trust that the President may devise some means of chastising the savageness of the North without the retribution that takes life “for life”. We should deplore for the sake of the South the decision of the President if he should declare that duty and humanity alike demand retaliation in order to put an end to Northern barbarity.

We are not very sanguine that the Washington Government will offer such reparation as is in their power. We cannot forget that Butler rules at New Orleans, and that Turchin is not disgraced. We cannot forget that Mr. Lincoln has proclaimed a servile war as a military measure. Yet we will, in this case, hope against hope; and until we hear it for a fact we will not charge upon the Lincoln Government  and the Northern people deliberate connivance in such a tragedy. But the punishment must not be long delayed. Europe has declared McNeil hostis humani generis, and his presence would not be tolerated in any civilized country; and unless the Federal Government is quick to chastise this cold-blooded miscreant, they will assuredly be execrated as the participators in his guilt.
 


Jackson, Mississippi, May 1.
-General McNeill, of the Palmyra Massacre notoriety, is reported captured. [The Index, June 4, 1863- C. Horton 2008]

-A horrible incident in connection with the Palmyra Massacre has just been brought to light.
When General McNeil shot ten Confederates for the murder of a man who was afterwards found alive and well, a person
named Strachan was provost-marshal at Palmyra. This Strachan has been arrested, and is to be tried for embezzling $20,000 of government money.
Whilst under examination, a worse crime was proved against him. [source: The Index, 10/15,1863]


The Quincy Herald says:—
“On the morning appointed for the shooting of these ten men, the wife of one of the men thus condemned to be shot
came to Palmyra with six little children, called upon Strachan, told him her husband was condemned to be shot that day, and that these were her children—that if her husband should be murdered she should be unable to support the children—and begged the inhuman wretch, with big tears in her eyes, to release him from the sentence. Strachan at first refused, but the poor woman's importunities were so persistent, that he finally told her if she would raise him $500, and permit him to use her, he would release her husband! The heart broken woman canvassed the town of Palmyra, and found she could raise the sum of money required.
Mr. Revely, of Lagrange, Mo., called at our office some days ago and told us that he furnished her $300 of the amount, and that he had
Strachan's receipt in his pocket for it. The money was raised; Strachan pocketed it; compelled the poor, heartbroken, afflicted woman to submit to his hellish lust, and released her husband. For this crime against God, against law, against all the nobler impulses and instincts of human
nature, he has been indicted by the grand jury of Marion county.” [source: The Index,]
 


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