Ok guys keep digging and you never know what turns up. Prior to now, essentially all of the references to Crabtree tie back to Judge Jenkins story in his history. I stumbled across this version written by a different historian Anna Mae Whittle (1896-1979) that relates the history of Henley in Cole County. (has some really nice old photos of the area involved) She gives names and unit numbers for Crabtree's men and accomplices. She also gives insight into Loethen and Scheuler. From her comment about Southern Guards I take it she is referring to a Cole Co unit. It also seems a bit less embellished compared to Jenkins. Note no grieving wife and he was buried in a cemetery by 3 named citizens. Now if this works out it blows JW Crabtree out the picture. Lets work that angle a bit.
"During the Civil War one of the caves was used as a retreat by the bandit Crabtree.
During the Civil War, a squad of militia was camped on Curtman Island on the Osage River. In 1864 they were surprised by the guerrilla Crabtree. Seven men were butchered by him and his men: Yancy Roark, F.B. Long, Nathaniel Hicks, Richard Crisp, S. McClure, W. Gibson and John Starling; undoubtedly the Crabtree outlaw had been hiding in two caves. This information was told to me by the grandson of Adolph Loethen. Crabtree was killed in Goonsfield, about three or four miles away on Teal Bottom road, east of Henley, toward the Osage River. He was shot in an old barn in the field by Adolph Loethen, and died in what is called the Crabtree Cave, about one half mile from where he was shot. He crawled or his men helped him to the cave, where he was found dead. This cave is approximately one mile from Curtman Island on the north side of the Osage River. I hear it was called Goose Island, now owned by Leonard Kempker and sons. This Crabtree had terrorized the entire central part of Cole County, stealing anything he could use, burning buildings and fields. Crabtree, when found dead, was loaded in a wagon by Judge Smith, Thomas H. “Turkey Bill” Hoskins and Willard Hoskins. He was buried close to the old Teal schoolhouse. Later he was dug up and taken to Hickory Hill. I assume this was in the old Bethel Cemetery.
In 1860 a log church was built northeast of Hickory Hill, which now lies between Old Route 54 and the county road near the Curtis Bush home. Daniel Green, a Kentuckian, was the first minister. Crabtree was buried in Herman Scheuler’s wedding suit.
I have no way of knowing if this Crabtree was a deserter or not, but in Company B., Clark Township, Southern Guards, Crabtree and five others were listed as “desertion.” "