The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board

Morgan County Guerrillas

Forum (especially hrf),

I am trying to make sense of the following newspaper article "Billy Chapman," in the 1 November 1864 St. Louis "Daily Missouri Democrat":

"This bushwhacker is rapidly acquiring a reputation that will rank besides [Bill] Anderson's or [George] Todd's. He has a man with him called Packett [or Puckett, hard to read]. He is now in the neighborhood of Syracuse, Morgan county, imitating Todd's cruelties. He and his man Puckett have been in the State a good deal during the past year as spies. He has obtained nearly a hundred recruits. He has already killed a number of men, and obtained considerable plunder. Citizens who have given him shelter and information are well known and marked. He is not as sharp as Todd, and may yet be caught. There is no doubt of his belonging to Price's army., as he has been known to show authority from Price himself to recruit."

This is quite an odd article, since it really has little detail to report except about Chapman's recruiting commission. I somehow get the impression that the article writer was enticing Chapman to post a reply and reveal details about his operation. The author signed himself as "Waldo" and acted more as a freelance letter writer to the "Democrat" rather than as an authorized correspondent, and revealed his pro-northern bias in nearly every letter to the newspaper that he wrote. I have my doubts that Chapman killed anybody in the Morgan County area, but I could be wrong.

Thanks to the 1883 Henry County history, the military service records of Nelson Knight Chapman and W. K. or M. K. Chapman online at the Missouri State Archives, and the 1860 census of Tipton in west Moniteau County I have most of what I need on the young Nelson Chapman who made wagons before the war in Tipton and postwar in Windsor, NE Henry County. I know he was a private in Company F or G of the First Missouri Infantry (military service record at MO State Archives) or he was in Captain William Chapman's Company G in LTC John A. Schnable's Cavalry Battalion (maybe he was the Captain William Chapman?). Nelson Knight Chapman is the "Billy" Chapman.

What I really lack is Chapman's subordinate officers. Can anybody tell me anything about this Puckett or Packett that the above newspaper article mentions? I did find a census record on a James C. Packett of west Morgan County, but I don't want to say he is the man in the article without more information. Who else worked for Chapman when he was a recruiter in Morgan County? Help!

Bruce Nichols

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