Clay, John, and John,
A rolling mill is used in steel production, but I appreciate your input to this mystery. I know of no metal fabrication in this region, but you never know what clue may turn the tide.
John Russell's clue about Rowland's Mill in the south edge of Macon County near the Randolph County line bears some promise. The Union military kept a heavy presence in Macon County throughout the war through their base at Macon City (near present-day Moberly), which was an important railroad junction. Therefore, this base tended to prevent guerrilla actions in the immediate area, and I have no record of any near there during autumn 1863.
However, somewhere in Randolph County on 30 Sep 1863 Confederate Captain Ingraham or Ingram's small band of guerrillas or Rebel recruits ambushed Captain W. A. Skinner's patrol of 14 men of Company D, 1st Provisional EMM. From ten paces away Ingraham's men let fly, slightly wounding Captain Skinner, mortally wounding Private Jasper Taylor, and killing and wounding some of the militia's horses. The militia fired back, and after the ambushers left the scene, tracked them by following blood trails to the Rebel camp. Ingraham's men were not to be found, but the miliita captured six of the southerners' horses, 9 shotguns, 1 Allen revolver, ammunition, and overcoats, and camp equipment. This was in the 2 Oct 1863 Columbia "Missouri Statesman" newspaper, and this is the only skirmish my records show in the Macon/Randolph County area this season.
I think that it is possible that one of the southern wounded could have been this Robert Thompson, and his comrades took him along some time after the 30 September ambush when they rode south to join the Confederate army in Arkansas, as this was customary with Confederate recruits brought into the service so far behind Union lines. Perhaps Thompson succumbed to his wound in north Moniteau County enroute to Arkansas.
In fact, there was a Missouri-born Robert Thompson farm laborer, age 16, shown in the 1860 MO census in the VA-born Granelle Thompson household of Middle Park Township in the far southeast corner of Macon County. Middle Park Township adjoins Narrows Township (the site of Rowland's Mill) on its east. I wonder if the 30 September skirmish didn't take place in Randolph County as the newspaper said, but took place near Rowland's Mill in the southern edge of Macon County.
We will probably never know for sure, but at least this tends to match the information John Kay found in the Hickham Cemetery records in Linn Township, north Moniteau County. I suppose the records were wrong that the dead man's companions were home guards, unless that's what they claimed to be to the people present when they left the body. Them being Rebels in an unfamiliar county with Union troops not far away could account for their haste in not remaining long enough to bury the body themselves. And I suppose those comrades sent the money or wrote later to have a family member deliver the coffin after the burial.
Well, at least the pieces seem to fit.
Thanks for all the help. Now, wasn't this fun?