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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City

Battlefield Dispatches #386

Thieving Scoundrels

Scoundrel by definition according to Mr. Webster is defined as, a “rascal or villain” and to be sure there were plenty of SCOUNDRELS in Kansas & Missouri during the Civil War. In fact the enemy whoever it was be they loyal to the Union or allies of the Guerrillas they were all probably defined as scoundrels by the opposition. They also would be labeled thieves & murderers by the opposition and the title of this column was used to describe the enemy Guerrillas which are mentioned in the following report. This report is located in Series I, Vol. 34, Part I; Reports of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion on Pages 101 & 102 and is as follows:

Charleston, Mo., February 17, 1864.

Colonel: On the evening of the 15th I learned that there were some GUERRILLAS lurking about the country west or southwest of town. I sent out a detachment of 20 men with 2 guides and ordered them to take two different roads hoping that one or the other would come upon them. Corporal Philliber with 10 men surrounded the house where two of the SCOUNDRELS lived, named Vernon. Having searched the house several times before unsuccessfully they did not much expect to find them; 5 of them got to the house a little before the others and were fired upon by 4 GUERRILLAS from the house and E. C. Edwards was KILLED AND Henry P. Bronson was mortally wounded (since died). The Rebels then dashed out and took to the brush close by and a desperate fight of some minutes took place and the Rebels were repulsed until my men took care of the dead and wounded; they thought that 1 or 2 of the Rebels were KILLED, but the brush was so thick they could not tell for certain.

One of my men came in for help and I sent Lieutenant Calvert with 15 men and 4 or 5 armed citizens immediately to their rescue. When he [they] arrived there it was dark. Edwards and Bronson were put into a wagon and brought into town. The remainder went to watch for the SCOUNDRELS when they were fired on from an ambush and Corporal Thomas M. Philliber and a citizen named Hughes were severely wounded and perhaps will die. They were put in a wagon and the whole party came back, not knowing how much injury was inflicted upon the enemy, it being impossible to do anything with them in the brush.

I then started yesterday morning with 20 men and a few citizens and gave the country a through scouring, brush and all. I found 4 horses tied in the thick brush back of Vernon’s house, 2 of them saddled ready to mount. I felt sure that I would find them there, but did not. I BURNED the HOUSE and ALL the BUILDINGS on the place and today have the REBEL CITIZENS (their connection) hauling in a lot of corn there that was on the place.

The WIFE of one of the SCOUNDRELS told my men when they first rode up that there was no one in the house, which I suppose caused them to be more careless than they would have been. I HAVE ORDERED HER TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY. If it was not for the name of the thing, I WOULD SHOOT HER FOR SURE; for SHE MURDERED those men.

I INTEND to BURN EVERY HOUSE that I find that HARBORS THEM, BUT I THINK THAT THEY SLEEP MOSTLY IN THE WOODS. We found a hat all covered with blood near where we found the horses. There are not a great many of these SCOUNDRELS here, but they are desperate fellows and will FIGHT to the DEATH!

Thus three of the best and bravest men in my Company are sacrificed by the hands of “THIEVING SCOUNDRELS”, who will not come out and fight openly. I WILL AVENGE THEIR DEATH!

I am, Colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. EWING, Captain, Commanding.

P.S. The mail starts out in the morning, the first opportunity I have had to report. Henry p. Bronson’s fine mare and J. Van Osdol’s grey mare got loose in the fracas and I think have gone to the Cape [Girardeau].; if so, please let me know ,as he requested his mare sent home.


Now then, deception by women & soldiers and guerrillas of the Blue & the Gray was common place throughout the Civil War. This occurred frequently in the friendly and enemy territory in eastern Kansas & throughout Missouri and of Course the War Went On!

Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
4125 NW Willow DR
Kansas City, MO 64116

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