Attack on the Paw Paw Fort - Parkville, Missouri
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 39° 11.306 W 094° 40.908
15S E 354752 N 4339034
Historical marker about Civil War action in Parkville, Missouri.
Waymark Code: WMB7DT
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 04/14/2011
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member GEO*Trailblazer 1
Views: 10

Text of marker:

Attack on the Paw Paw Fort
Missouri's Civil War

Major General Sterling Price's raid into Missouri in 1864 was the Confederacy's last effort to liberate the state from the grip of Federal control.  In preparation for Price's raid, officers were sent into numerous counties in the area known as "Little Dixie" to recruit men to swell the ranks of Price's army as he moved through the state.  One such recruiter was Lieutenant Colonel John C. Calhoun "Coon" Thornton, who was originally from Clay County but was recruiting in Platte County.

In July 1864, Lieutenant Colonel Thornton began his recruiting and "hold the land" campaign in Platte County with Parkville as his first objective.  The town was occupied by about 50 members of the 82d Enrolled Missouri Militia under the command of a regular Federal officer, Captain Thomas Wilson.  Known as "Paw Paws", the militiamen were from Parkville and the surrounding area.  They had been conscripted into Federal  service for the purpose of protecting their local communities from any outside threat, whether it was from conventional Confederate units or guerrillas, marauding jayhawkers, or Red Legs from Kansas intent on preying on the unprotected civilians.  The militiamen were referred to as Paw Paws due to their suspected sympathies for Confederate guerrillas who hid among the Paw Paw plants along the Missouri River bottoms.  The headquarters for the militia unit was the Missouri Valley Hotel, a large building overlooking the Missouri River.  The building, at 100 feet by 80 feet, was the largest in Parkville, with the lower two floors made of stone while the upper two floors were frame.

On the morning of July 7, 1864, Lieutenant Colon Thornton, accompanied by Captain Charles Fetcher "Fletch" Taylor and 50 of this partisan guerrillas, including Frank and Jesse James entered Parkville to demand its surrender from Federal control.  Captain Wilson immediately fled the town while his militia barricaded themselves in the "Paw Paw Fort."  A shot was fired from the hotel but hit no one.  When the guerrillas immediately returned fire militia Lieutenant Martin C. Noland and a woman standing next to him were wounded.

Angered at being fired upon, Captain Taylor's men fored open the locked front door using a large log as a battering ram.  They entered the fort and found that the militia had retreated to the second floor.  When Taylor threatened to burn down the building the militia force surrendered.  Forty-two of the militiamen immediately joined Lieutenant Colonel Thornton's force.  This was not surprising as many of the militiamen actually belonged to Confederate secret societies such as the Knights of the Golden Circle and the Sons of Liberty.  They were simply waiting for the first opportunity to defect to the Southern side.  With Southern uniforms already close at hand, the conversion from blue to gray went quickly.

Not all the Paw Paws joined Thornton's force and they were paroled and released unharmed.  Now numbering just over 100 men, the Confederates occupied Parkville for the next two days.  On July 10th Lieutenant Colonel Thornton and his force departed Parkville and rode toward his next objective -- Platte City.  Parkville's Confederate occupation had ended.

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