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The brigade that refused to surrender

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The brigade that refused to surrender Robert E. Lee surrendered the armies of the Confederacy at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865. The American Civil War was at an end. Or was it? Lee had been typical of those old school soldiers from states like Virginia with a West Point background. A very different type of war had been fought in the West.

On the Missouri-Kansas borders a War Between The States had already raged for twice as long as the war that would go into the history books. Back in 1856 Missouri Border Ruffians had raided Lawrence, Kansas seven years before Quantrill’s infamous attack. Abolitionist Kansas fought slaveholding Missouri in a pitiless war between rabid Free State men like Jim Lane and John Brown and Southern bravos such as David Atchison and Jo Shelby.

The conflict intensified after 1861. Partis ans on both sides pursued a scorched earth policy. The Kansans were still led on by Senator Jim Lane described as having “the sad eyes of a harlot”- after the war he put a gun in his mouth and blew his brains out.

The Missouri men, boys really many of them, have been better remembered not just because of Quantrill’s infamy and the second raid on Lawrence in 1863 but also through the outlaw dynasties they founded. Some of these guerrillas were decent men fighting for their land, some like John Thrailkill turned vicious out of a need for revenge, but their leaders were psychotic madmen- Quantrill himself, Bloody Bill Anderson, George Todd, Arch Clement and by 1866 the last man standing of them Jesse James who would more than anyone ensure their place in history.

Jo Shelby led his own Iron Brigade through the war and he fought campaigns with those bushwhackers. He admired their bravery while not necessarily approving of their methods.

Shelby had started out back in the mid 1850s with the Border Ruffians and by 1865 he was still not through with fighting. He refused to surrender at Appomattox; his was the only brigade that held out. He and his men now including Thrailkill marched into Mexico and offered their services to The Emperor Maximilian, Napoleon III’s puppet ruler fighting another civil war against the native forces of Benito Juarez. Under pressure from the victorious Yankees, Secretary of State Seward and General Phil Sheridan intent on pursuing Confederate rebels even into Mexico, Maximilian declined their offer.

Instead he gave Shelby and his men land to settle on. They stayed for a couple of years before at last returning to America. Shelby came to repent of his slaveholding. He also gave evidence at the trial of Frank James, Jesse’s brother whom he remembered for his bravery in that by then long ago Civil War.


Tags: history, war



Category: Education  - ( Education Archive)

Date Added: 09 February '11


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