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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City

Battlefield Dispatches #417

Exterminate This Gang

During the Civil War in the early spring of 1865 the Union forces in Missouri were bracing for another year of combat with the elusive Bushwhacker (Confederate Guerrillas) in Missouri. Little did both sides know that the Civil War would officially end in early April of “65,” so one of the continued Union goals was to eradicate or exterminate the enemy guerrillas. This goal was never completely achieved, but it was relentlessly pursued during the remaining months of the war and is described in the following correspondence. All of the letters are located on Pages 1231, 1239 and 1257 in Series I, vol. 48, Part I Correspondence, of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. 

Clinton FiskHeadquarters District of North Missouri,

Macon, Missouri,

March 21, 1865.

General D. M. Draper,

Mexico, Missouri,

Clinton B. Fisk

General: it seems a burning shame that JIM JACKSON and COMPANY are permitted to roam leisurely through Boone, Randolph, Howard and Chariton counties, SHOOTING, and HANGING CITIZENS. Can you not organize half a dozen scouts and follow the VILLAIN until he is DEAD? I know it is not an easy thing to do, but if with the force we now have and the limited number of BUSHWHACKERS yet on duty and before the leaves come out we can’t EXTERMINATE THIS GANG, what will become of us when the BUSHWHACKING CAMPAIGN fairly opens? I am fearful the Ninth are too indolent; too little inclined to pitch into hard work or hard fighting. Stir up their pure minds. Don’t allow them to rot away at Posts or to spend their time foraging. Let their supplies be furnished from here and keep every able bodied soldier in the brush.

I have ordered Captain Reed to move from Brunswick to Salisbury where he can devote the remainder of his term of service to the vigorous muster out [killing] of his BUSHWHACKING neighbors. You can keep at least 200 men on the constant move. A scout sent out for a few hours or a day and night accomplish but little. Occupy and possess the Perche Hills Country back and forth until the FRIENDS of JIM JACKSON wish he would DIE to relieve them of the presence of your troops.

Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant,

CLINTON B. FISK, Brigadier General.

Headquarters District of North Missouri,

Macon, Missouri; March 22, 1865.

Major J. W. Barnes,

Assistant Adjutant General, Department of the Missouri.

Major: I have the honor to report but with slight exception all is quiet in this district. What troops I have are kept busily employed scouting through the river counties. JIM JACKSON and COMPANY are roaming through Boone, Callaway and Howard Counties. They are chiefly engaged in PLUNDERING and MURDERING NEGROS! They have hung two Negros in Boone and one in Callaway County within the last few days. I have 200 men on the move day and night after the FIENDS. We have killed two of the gang of late. It seems strange, I know, that this VILLAIN should go so long without being caught, but did the General commanding know the country and the people as well as JIM JACKSON does, he would discover how it is that a small party can elude the strictest vigilance.

I’m now organizing a JIM JACKSON EXTERMINATING CORPS and hope to muster out a few of the rascals by that means. A few brave, determined soldiers stimulated by private rewards offered by citizens go into the Blackfoot Country tomorrow, sworn not to return without the head of the monster in a charger. The volunteer militia companies being organized under the Governor’s Order No. 3 are in some localities progressing very well, but in others only moderately. The volunteer force of the District is very small and altogether too limited for the safety of the public property, thoroughfares and appointments and the duty of KILLLING BUSHWHACKERS required at my hands. The people generally in that portion of the district south of the Hannibal and Saint Joseph Railroad are apprehensive of more serious trouble than they have ever experienced before and I can but advise the most thorough preparation for trouble there by ensuring quiet. The civil authorities are generally endeavoring to discharge their duty. I have advised judges that I am simply their aide-de-camp; that we will catch and guard thieves if necessary, while they must try and punish. We don’t mean to have BUSHWHACKERS brought in for trial at all.

I have the honor to be Major, very respectfully, your obedient servant.


Brigadier General.

James E. YeatmanHeadquarters District of North Missouri,

Macon, Mo., March 25, 1865.

James E. Yeatman, Esq.

Law Commissioner, Saint Louis, Mo.

James E. Yeatman

Dear Sir: I have yours of the 22nd instant and will cheerfully do all that I can to restore the family circle of the Monroe County Freedwomen. SLAVERY DIES HARD! I hear its expiring agonies and witness its contortions in death in every quarter of my district. In Boone, Howard, Randolph and Callaway counties the Emancipation Ordinance has caused disruption of society equal to anything I saw in Arkansas or Mississippi in the year 1863. I blush for my race when I discover the wicked barbarity of late masters and mistresses of the recently freed persons of the counties heretofore named.

I have no doubt but that the MONSTER JIM JACKSON is instigated by the late slave owners to hang or shoot every Negro he can find absent from the old plantations. Some few have driven their Black People away from them with nothing to eat or scarcely to wear. The consequence is, between Jim Jackson and his collaborators among the first families, the poor Blacks are rapidly concentrating in the towns, especially the garrisoned places. My hands and heart are full. I am finding homes for them in Northwest Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Iowa. There is much sickness and suffering among them and many need help. Is there any fund that you can appropriate a small sum from to aid me in the deportation of the families I can’t provide for in Missouri? I am retaining all in Missouri that I can get work for in quiet localities. We ought not to spare a single pound of our industrial element. We need to import rather than deport manual labor. I hope the waters will soon grow still and Missouri in peace be permitted to pursue her way in the golden path of freedom and empire. It looks well all around the rapidly contracting lines. Sherman’s conquering legions are marching on and redemption draweth high. All hail the Republic.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier General.

Now then, it is not known if Jim Jackson and his gang were ever exterminated, but General Fisk continued to have his troops pursue Jackson. It is also evident by the last letter that General Fisk was concerned with assisting the former slaves the best that he could with the limited means at his disposal and of course the War Went On.

Editor’s Note: Per the Civil War Monitor, Jim Jackson was killed in June 1865 as he was trying to escape into Illinois.

Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
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Kansas City, MO 64116

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