The Civil War News & Views Open Discussion Forum

Confederate Dept. of Bushwhackers

Below is a brief bio-sketch of Major Sam Hildebrand, "Confederate Department of Bushwhackers" (Sam coined the term)


By: Esther M. Ziock Carroll

While discussing the Youngers & the Jameses, it is just as well to remember that they were not the only dangerous men in the dug out. There were others along in the ‘60’s [1860's]. Missouri woods were full of men who could hit a bullseye or a human target ten times out of ten. Only of few of them, however, kept on shooting long enough after the war to ensure lasting reputations. Butler Missouri Times

SAM HILDEBRAND: Sam was born into a large family on January 6, 1836. His parents were Rebecca McKee & George Hildebrand. The 1850 cenus of St. Francois County, Missouri lists nine children: Richard, George, Elvira, Samuel, William, James, Mary, Henry, Margaret. During Sam's childhood he only went to school one day so had virtually no education. He was an excellant marksman though & worked hard, along with his siblings, on his father's farm. When Sam was 18 years old he married Margaret Hampton on October 30, 1854. They had six children. (For information on their children & grandchildren click here.)

SAM'S BROTHER LYNCHED: Sam and his brother, Frank, had gotten into some trouble over a horse swapping deal involving a horse that was stolen from Firmin McIlvaine. When the Civil War started in 1861 Frank went to Potosi in Washington County to enlist in the Union Army Home Guards. That is when Capt. Castleman turned Frank over to Firmin McIlvaine and his group of vigilantes. They eventually took Frank to Ste. Genevieve County and, without the benefit of a trial, hung him to a tree then threw his body into a sink hole where it was not found for more than a month. In June, 1862 Sam avenged his brother's death when he shot and killed George Cornicius and Firmin McIlvaine

SAM'S FAMILY SUFFERS: In July, 1862 the Federal Army takes revenge on Sam's family for his killing of Cornicius and McIlvaine. Sam's widowed, aged mother was forced from her home & the Hildebrand homestead was burned. Sam's brother & Sam's sister's fiance were literally shot to pieces by a whole company of Federals. Sam's uncle was shot dead. Sam's other brother, who was only 13 years old, was shot, his body found several days later by neighbors.

SAM HILDEBRAND'S REVENGE: When Sam joined the Confedrate Army he became a rebel soldier/guerilla who was greatly feared in southeast Missouri. He began a reign of killings & terror that continued throughout & after the war until Sam's death in 1872. He killed many people with his rifle, which he had named "Kill Devil". For every person that he killed with "Kill Devil" he carved a notch in the rifle stock. It is said that "Kill-Devil" had over 80 notches.

SAM HILDEBRAND'S VICTIMS: Below is a partial list of the victims of Sam Hildebrand. This information was gleaned from "Sam Hildebrand Rides Again" by Henry C. Thompson.

GEORGE CORNICIUS ~ Shot June 14, 1862 in Flat Woods, St. Francois County, Mo.

FIRMIN McILVAINE ~ Shot June, 1862 while working in his farm field in St. Francois Co., Mo.

UN-NAMED Federal spy ~ Shot July 13, 1862 Bloomfield, Stoddard Co., Mo. & body dragged into the weeds.

MR. STOKES ~ Shot through the heart, August, 1862, Wayne Co., Mo.

MR. SCAGGS ~ Hung him to a tree in the woods in Ste. Genevieve Co., Mo., September, 1862

CAPT. HICKS ~ Shot while he was with his wife in their garden near Bloomfield, Stoddard Co., Mo. 1863

DUTCHMAN ~ Hung for betraying Sam in 1863.

GERMAN MAN ~ Hung in Scott County, Missouri 1863

GERMAN MAN ~ Shot in Scott County, Missouri 1863

GEORGE F. OLLER ~ Shot in Flat Woods, St. Francois County, Missouri 1863

JOHN FOWLER ~ Shot, a friend of Sam's who joined the Union Army. 1863

BILL COOTS ~ Shot between the eyes at his home near Mingo Swamp. He was a friend who betrayed Sam.

UN-NAMED citizen ~ Shot for causing the death of Rev. Polk. Madison Co., Mo. 1864.

JOHN ZIMMER ~ Hung on Wolf Creek near Farmington, St. Francois County, Mo. for lying to Sam about Federal troops. June, 1864.

HENRY VOGUS ~ Hung on Wolf Creek near Farmington, St. Francois County, Mo. for lying to Sam about Federal troops. June, 1864.

CHARLES HART ~ Hung in St. Francouis County, Mo. in retaliation for his murdering a young man named Bowman.

ISAAC ~ A freed slave that Sam hung for informing on southern sympathizers. Near Westover's Mill. 1864.

NEGRO ~ Hung for reporting southerners. 1864.

NEGRO ~ Hung for reporting southerners. 1864.

UN-NAMED ~ Captured in Shannon County, Mo., and taken to Green County, Arkansas where he was hung for deserting Confederate Army. 1864.

UN-NAMED ~ Captured in Shannon County, Mo., and taken to Green County, Arkansas where he was hung for deserting Confederate Army. 1864.

GEORGE MILLER ~ Shot while working his field. Revenge for abusing Sam's wife. April, 1865.

FEDERAL SOLDIERS ~ Large undetermined number.

JOSEPH JOHNSON ~ Sam shot him & cut his head off. Revenge for Mr. Johnson abusing Sam's wife & telling her he would cut Sam's head off & bring it to her.

WHITE MAN & COLORED WOMAN ~ Tied together & thrown into pond & drowned. Retalliation for the white man abandoning his wife (who was the sister of one of Sam's old buddies) & moving in with the colored woman. Occured near Jacksonport, Arkansas. April, 1868.

JIM McILVAINE ~ Shot while trying to capture Sam. June, 1869.