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The Raid on Palmyra.


September 1862

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, September 17, 1862.


Four Hundred Rebels in Town—A Sharp Skirmish—One Rebel and one Citizen Killed—Several Dangerously Wounded—45 Prisoners Released—Intense Excitement.

[From the Palmyra Courier, 12th.]

After working off about 200 of our edition last night for the early mails, we retired to rest, the town being unusually quiet.

This (Friday) morning, about 6 o’clock, as we awoke, we arose and stepped to the window to close an open blind.  Five armed men at that moment filed up before the front of our residence.  They were dressed in citizen’s clothes, and the first thought was that they were Enrolled Militia.  The truth at the next instant flashed upon us.  They were veritable bushwhackers, and the house was undoubtedly surrounded.  Brief time for escape was left.  How that time was improved it is not worth while to relate.  The house was, within two minutes, thoroughly searched by armed rebels, with huge navy revolvers cocked and thrust forward as if anticipating a formidable foe.  But the search for the editor was in vain.  The bird had flown.

We relate these incidents as illustrative of the manner in which the town was entered; for although pickets were stationed upon all the principal avenues leading into town, not a shot was fired, not an alarm given, not a drum beat a single tap, until fifteen minutes after our residence and that of Col. Lipscomb had been surrounded, and the Colonel himself taken prisoner.  These occurrences took place within one square (diagonally) of the court house; yet all was so quietly done that the town seemed sunk in the deepest slumber.

The rebels were not long after this discovered at “quarters,” when the drums at the court house and Louthan’s store beat the alarm, arousing the slumbering soldiers and citizens to a sense of their critical position.

It appears that the rebels, about three hundred and fifty or four hundred strong, stealthily approached the city from the west, hitching their horses in the woods a half or three quarters of a mile west of the limits of the city.  They then came through the fields, by Mr. Berkley Summer’s residence, thence through Sloan’s addition, north of the residence of Mrs. Mahan, and thence east as far as Main street.  They surrounded the residence of Col. Lipscomb a few moments before they did our own.  A servant opening the door of his dwelling, without warning to his family, three young ruffians rushed instantly into his bed-room, and presenting close to his breast, in the presence of his wife, three double-barrelled shot-guns, ready cocked, cried out—“surrender!  surrender!  surrender!”  He demanded to know who they were.  Their only reply was—“surrender!”  After marching him one and a half miles west of town, he was permitted to return to his family, who occupied an exposed point, on condition that he would take no part in the fight then progressing, but remain in his house ready to answer the demand of Porter at its close.  It seems they left in too much haste to make the demand.

The main body of their forces was stationed in companies upon Olive, Church and Hamilton streets, between Dickinson and Spring streets, and along Spring street.  Some of them ventured up to Main street, on Olive, but most of them kept one square west of Main.  A company in command (it is thought) of John N. Hicks, was stationed on Olive, south of, and behind the residence of Dr. Lafon.  Others entered the Methodist Church, and cutting out slate from the north window blinds, brought their guns to bear upon the Court House, a square distant.  Some approached to Main street and sheltered themselves at Shepherd’s corner, from the fire or our boys at Louthan’s store, one square north and across the street.  Another company was stationed near the Presbyterian Church, and west of Mr. Lipscomb’s residence.  Another company still was a street further south.  Other companies or detachments were yet further west and south.  A detachment went to the Hannibal and St. Jo. depot, stopping the up train, and taking prisoner Mr. Alex. Leighton, belonging to the Palmyra company enrolled militia.  They soon released him on parole.

Meantime, little or no fighting had occurred.  Our forces were as follows:  Thirty of Captain Dubach’s Hannibal Company, (E,) stationed at the court house; twenty-two of the same company at the jail, (one square west of the court house,) a part of the Palmyra and West Ely companies, enrolled militia, (numbering perhaps, thirty,) at Louthan’s two story brick store, corner of Main and Lafayette streets; a few citizens—perhaps six or eight—also gathered in there.

The rebels, passing through the alley leading from Olive to Lafayette streets, between Main and Dickinson, got into the drinking saloon of Thos. Reed, and also into the room of Thompson’s store, immediately south of the court house.  They also got into the brick residence of Mrs. Willock, just south of the jail, from which they commanded the court house.  They soon opened fire from these various places, at tolerably long range, upon the court house.  This was replied to with so much spirit by our troops that the rebels were not much include to follow it up.

In the jail were nearly fifty rebel prisoners.  They have been guarded by twelve men; but at the first alarm Captain Dubach sent ten more to their support.  These, in the brick part of the jail, were deemed sufficient to hold it against almost any number.  One of the principal designs of the rebels seemed to be to release these prisoners.  The firing had not been long in progress when the officer in command of the jail, Sergeant E. C. Davis, it is charged, contrary to the unanimous desire of his command, displayed a white flag.  Lieutenant Daulton at once hauled it down.  It was displayed again, and again indignantly hauled down.  It is said that the Sergeant for the third time displayed the flag, and that it was even then torn away by the brave soldier.

But by this time the rebels, availing themselves of the confusion caused by these acts among the defenders of the jail, had so surrounded it, and taken such positions, that resistance would have been madness, and they were compelled to surrender.  Two or three of our troops threw down their guns, and escaped through the rebels.  The rest were taken to their camp west of town, and there paroled.  The soldiers at the jail are very indignant at the conduct of Sergeant Davis, and consider it disgraceful in the extreme.  What he may have to say for himself we do not know.

Meantime, scattering shots were exchanged between our forces and the rebels, who took good care to keep well out of the range of our Enfield rifles.

One citizen, a German Union man, Mr. J. B. Liborius, unarmed, in front of his store, east of Main street, (nearly opposite the Court-house,) was shot in the head by the rebels, and almost instantly killed.  He was an industrious, good citizen.  The same shot struck a soldier of the 11th M. S. M., who was standing just behind Mr. Liborius, and entering at the nose, caused a dangerous if not mortal wound.  His name is Phillips.

In the Court-house two of our men were wounded.  One was Thomas Arnold, of Company E, Hannibal enrolled militia, wounded severely, but not dangerously, in the right thigh.  The other was a soldier named Ryland, belonging to Company B, 2d Regiment M. S. M.  He was wounded in the breast—it is feared mortally.

Sergeant Silas Renick, of Lieut. R. B. Laird’s recruiting party, (stationed here,) belonging to the 11th Regiment Missouri Volunteers, U. S. A., was shot three times by the rebels as he was returning from Louthan’s store to the recruiting office, a block and a half south, nearly opposite the National Hotel.  He had, against the remonstrances of Lieut. Laird, gone down to Louthan’s store at the first alarm.  After being there some moments he thought it a false alarm, and began to return.  Meantime a party of rebels had gathered together at Shepherd’s three-story brick building, on the south side, and were peering around the corner.  He seeing them, and mistaking them for militia, began to cross diagonally to meet them.  They called upon him to halt, which he did.  He then stepped forward, when they fired a whole volley upon him.  He fell, but rising, struggled on, when he was again fired upon.  He finally reached the west side of the pavement and crawled into the recess made by the closed front doors of Shepherd & Co.’s store.  There he bled profusely and suffered intensely.

We have here to record an act of courage of the noblest sort, upon the part of a lady.  Mrs. A. B. Lassing, seeing the wounded man from her residence on the east side of Main street, asked permission to cross the street to attend him.  The rebels replied that she would do so at her peril.  She did not hesitate a moment, but, taking a pitcher of water, crossed the street, going directly across the line of the firing between the rebels at the corner and our men at Louthan’s store, and furnished water to the stricken man, now tortured by raging thirst.  How grateful that draught of water!  How noble the act!  No pen can fully paint the true and unselfish heroism of that one incident.  Rennick, though dreadfully wounded in his arm and body, finally managed to arise and walk across the street to Mrs. Muldrow’s, where he was very kindly treated by ladies.  It is hoped that his wounds are not mortal.  These embrace all the casualties we have heard on our side.  They include one killed, three dangerously and one severely wounded.

The rebel loss, as far as ascertained, was but one killed and one dangerously wounded.  The one killed was McLaughlin, a resident, we believe, of this county.  He was shot through the head while in Reed’s saloon; was taken to the Methodist church, where he soon died, and was left a ghastly spectacle.  Henry Bowles was shot while standing close by Lafon’s house, by a ball from the court house.  He was carried away by his comrades—placed in a carriage and taken off.  It is supposed he was dangerously wounded in the breast or stomach.  Reports were circulated that eight or ten rebels were seen lying out west of the railroad, but they were not well authenticated.

After about two hours’ stay in the place, the rebels left as suddenly as they appeared.  They returned to their horses, and, it is reported, took a northerly direction.  They carried off with them, as prisoners, Mr. Andrew Allsman, and old and well known citizen of this place; also Mr. Chas. Maddok, of this county.

They entered the gun shop of Mr. Fred. Milstead, by breaking in the back door, and completely rifled it of its contents.  They took a large number of rifles, muskets and shotguns placed there by our military authorities for repairs; also all the private arms and stock and arms owned by Mr. M.  They smashed in his show cases, shivering the glass to atoms, and doing a great deal of wanton and needless injury.  Indeed, they left the interior of his shop pretty much a wreck.  He places his loss at $1,500.

They entered no other store or shop that we know of.  From Dr. Hinde and Col. Lipscomb they took each a horse.  From private houses we have not heard that they took anything.  In their behavior towards our own family we must do them the justice to say they behaved very gentlemanly.  They disturbed nothing in or about the premises.  The peaches suffered more than anything else.  We hope they did not kill any of our cats when they amused themselves with firing into the thick tomato vines and other vegetable shelter in the garden.  If they did we forgive them.

About 8 o’clock the town was once more clear, and citizens began to show themselves again upon the streets.  Dispatches were sent to Hannibal and Quincy for reinforcements.  About 11 o’clock A. M. Colonel Hayward came from Hannibal with Company D, E. M., and with several other companies.  Other and heavy reinforcements are looked for from Quincy or elsewhere—that is, if the authorities take any interest in the matter.  If they don’t, we suppose the town will go to—-grass.