Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: Palmyra Massacre Collection

Marion County Library Subdistrict #1; Gardner House Museum – Heritage Seekers of Palmyra, Missouri
Palmyra Massacre Collection

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Palmyra Massacre Collection

Introduction

The event referred to as the Palmyra Massacre occurred in 1862, at the height of the Civil War. Guerilla warfare was becoming widespread in the Missouri countryside, as Confederate raiders came north to recruit and organize Southern sympathizers. One such soldier, Col. Joseph E. Porter, came to northeast Missouri, recruited several hundred men and carried out a number of raids on the region. During a raid on Palmyra, Missouri, his outfit captured Andrew Allsman, a Union sympathizer; Allsman was never heard from again. The local Union commanders gave warning that if Allsman wasn’t returned within 10 days, 10 local Confederate prisoners would be shot. Allsman didn’t reappear, and the order was carried out despite protests from local townspeople.

The Collection

This collection includes letters containing personal recollections of the Palmyra Massacre; farewell letters written by two of the executed men; as well as a booklet, “The Palmyra Massacre: A Short, Concise but True History of the Execution of Ten Confederate Soldiers, at Palmyra, Mo., October 18, 1862.” The letters recalling the Massacre were gathered by Frank H. Sosey to obtain information for his book "Robert Devoy: Tale of the Palmyra Massacre," published in 1903. These letters range from 1885-1902 and were written by: G. W. Calvert, S. M. Kelly, J. R. Wine (involved in Porter's Raid), J. W. Shattuck (commander of the detail that took Andrew Allsman), and Mrs. R. M. Shults (sister-in-law of Morgan Bixler, one of the men executed). The farewell letters were written by Captain Thomas A. Sidner and John M. Wade in the days before their execution. Sidner’s letter addresses family and friends, while Wade’s letter is religious in tone and addresses the Reverend James S. Green, who ministered to the prisoners. The booklet was published to raise funds for the Confederate Monument on the Palmyra courthouse square, erected in 1907 in memory of the ten men executed during the Palmyra Massacre.

Rights and Reproductions

These materials are in the public domain. The institutions that have the original materials are identified in the document data included on the site. When an individual document is on the screen, the document data can be found by selecting document description from the view menu on the left of the screen and then clicking the “go” button. The bibliographic and ownership information will appear on the screen.


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