Yes, it does "muddle things a bit," doesn't it? We are only as good as our sources, and ours takes us to the "Twilight Zone" in this case of the mysterious "General Crabtree."
By the way, you mentioned that the Miller County history said Crabtree was not from Missouri but came into the state to help recruit for the southern cause, or some such. Please give me which Miller County history you used for that and the page number please. Somehow I missed that important detail. It makes quite a difference.
Yes, there is enough wiggle room to suppose the celebrated "wedding suit" story about the death and burial of "General Crabtree" MAY have involved an unknown corpse and not the good general after all. As you suggested, Quantill and especially Dick Yager or Yeager in his band and guerrilla band leader Jim Carter later in the war were all reported dead and gone several times during the war until they eventually proved such reports to be correct.
Also, "Crabtree" is an unlikely false name to use, at least to me.
As I suggested earlier, a master recruiter such as this guy had to have military experience before the war in order to step right in and show such military expertise as "General Crabtree" did.
On the "General" part, now we know that he reported to Brigadier General James McBride with his recruits, so maybe Crabtree thought he deserved the same rank. There is nothing like a new war for men to shoot up in the rank structure. After all, Nathaniel Lyon, the tempermental Union commander from Connecticut, rose from the rank of major to major general skipping three ranks to do so in 1861. Such a deal!
If anything else rolls in on this discussion, I will be interested to hear it.