The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board

Prairie Grove Massacre eyewitness account

Commonly referred to as the Prairie Chapel Skirmish in Federal reports, and Prairie Grove Massacre in local lore, I am hoping to identify the Callaway County judge (referred to as County Commissioner in the present-day) who was shot by Federal troops during this action.

This engagement occurred on Sept. 4, 1862 and involved the Federal 1st Missouri State Militia Cavalry Battalion, against Company L, 1st Northeast Missouri Cavalry (Purcell Scouts). Radical Unionist Col. Arnold Krekel, who was in the midst of running for United States Congress when this happened, was commanding officer of this unit (but was not present at this skirmish).

The 1st MSM Battalion was at the home of William R. Given northwest of Fulton in Callaway County, looking into a report he had sheltered a Confederate soldier who had been accidentally shot a couple days earlier. The Purcell Scouts, camped a short distance away, learned of the Federal presence, surrounded them and the Givens house and announced their presence. The Federals shot the male prisoners of the home they had been holding--known killed were William R. Givens, his son David Givens, and a neighbor Charles Hill. Up until now these have been the only reported victims.

The memoir I am working on sheds considerable light on this event, in contrast to the previous lack of detailed information available. Written by a Confederate who was present at the skirmish, he saw the bodies laying in the Givens yard and later spoke to Givens' widow, and notes there were a total of nine civilians summarily shot. This account is fairly lengthy and very articulate.

I have this extensive account in my hands right now, with the following being a short extract in order to highlight the part I am seeking help on--

"...I am afraid you may change your opinion of me after you read this but I now repeat, and say again, we ought to have captured those Federal soldiers at Givens' house and had we captured them we would have stood them up beside that brick house and shot them without delay or mercy. We got on our horses and the entire company went to the Givens' house. There a scene met us that beggars description--the yard was full of dead and wounded citizens, NOT SOLDIERS, but citizens of that neighborhood.

"Mr. Givens, an old man about 60 years of age, dead with a bullet hole in the center of his forehead. A young man, apparently about 20 years old, shot through the head, with both out in front of the house. I think the young man was a son of the older Givens. Three other men, badly wounded, were in the front yard on the grass. Another man, said to have been one of the county judges of Callaway County, was shot while trying to mount his horse and had a bad flesh wound in his hip. He succeeded with our help in getting into his saddle, and rode away. As near as I can recall now, there were two men killed, three badly wounded, and four slightly wounded, making nine in all, killed or wounded....

"...We were told the killing was all done before the Federal soldiers knew our company was anywhere near, and the excuse offered for the killing was the care given poor Davy Gay, when so badly wounded. Every man at that house was either killed or wounded, not one escaped, and why the wounded were not killed I never understood. We heard the county judge who was wounded was a staunch Union man, and he was shot because he was trying to save the others from being killed, and the Federals just supposed him to be a Southern man also...."

One of those "badly wounded" civilians ended up being Charles Hill, who died. William Givens, David Givens and Charles Hill were buried in Prairie Chapel Cemetery. I'm thinking some of the others probably died, and were buried in Prairie Chapel or other nearby area cemeteries--so if anybody runs across anything from that area with headstones with dates from early September 1862, let us know -- they may be the unnamed victims.

While I would like to i.d. those other victims, mostly I'm hoping to identify the Callaway County judge who hobbled away from the battle. He may have been judge when this happened, or maybe he was a former judge.

County Commissioners were referred to as County Judges back then, so that may have been the nature of his title and position.

Messages In This Thread

Prairie Grove Massacre eyewitness account
Re: Prairie Grove Massacre eyewitness account
or...George Maupin?
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Re: Givens farm site
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Road trip....and historical markers?
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