The Ham Brown Massacre
Copied from The Mexico Weekly Ledger June 30, 1932
George Lloyd McIntosh, 87 year old Audrain County resident who lives today on the farm
on which he was born, and has never lived any other place, is the lone Audrain County survivor of the famous Ham Brown Massacre of 1864. History records that Union militia took the lives of several Confederate soldiers, after surrounding them in the Ham Brown barn, in the southwest edge of the county, and obtaining their surrender.
Mr. McIntosh will be 87 years old on September 25. He is the son of the late G.L. and Sarah Harper McIntosh, who secured a part of the home farm on a government grant, almost a century ago. He continues in good health and does his own house and farm work. He seldom discusses that year long ago, when he was still in his teens, and experienced while still a boy, the horrors of war at such close, intimate range.
Joe Lee Bomar, a friend, whose father, Alexcander Bomar, was the other grown man to escape the massacre, is familiar with its details, and tells them in the following interesting historical account.
“In the summer and fall of 1864, the cabinet, and President Jefferson Davis, ordered an invasion of Missouri, to distract the thousands of Union troops concentrating on General Robert E. Lee’s hard pressed, gallant army in Virginia.
“Gen Sterling Price, the idol of the Missouri and Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy, was selected of all others, to lead the forlorn boys to victory, or whatever was in store.
“Price’s under generals were Shelby, Marmaduke, Parsons, John B. Clark, Harris, Cabbell, Fagan and Jackman. He set out from Pocohontas, Arkansas, with about 10,000 men.
“Price struck Fredericktown, in southeast Missouri, beat the Unionists into Pilot Knob, fought the entrenched fortified Unionists, compelling McNeil to flee for his life, threatened St. Louis, to cause a large force of Union soldiers to coverage there, then wheeled to the left, and hit and demolished a Union force garrisoning Hermann.
“Shelby, at the same time, struck and captured the block house and Union forces, at the Osage bridge, burned the bridge of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, paroled the captives, set them disarmed on the north side of the Missojri, and swept on with Price to the highlands overlooking Jefferson city, tossing shells into its works, to intimidate and hold McNeil and other large Union forces there.
“Shelby made strenuous efforts to take “Butcher” McNeil of Palmyra fame, and offered $10,000 for him, dead or alive.
“McNeil rode day and night, and arrived at the Jefferson fortifications haggard, but thankful he had evaded his nemesis, Shelby.
“Price threw Shelby into the left, where he defeated the Unionists arriving to reinforce Jefferson, fought at the Moreau Ford, and at Russellville and Syracuse, and defeated and captured a whole train of U.S. army supplies, enroute to Jefferson, and bombarded and compelled the surrender of a large force of Unionists at Boonville.
“Then Price reassembled his widely scattered army awaiting the arrival of some 3,000 new C.S.A. recruits from north Missouri, after Anderson has swept away, or run to hiding, all Union forces in north Missouri, after the Centralia massacre.
“Anderson looked after the green, new recruits, and crossed them at Rochport, where they joined Price at Boonville amid the shouts of the old veterans. ‘Tis said they were the best mounted men the old vets ever saw, except the Quantrell men.
“Price and Shelby threw Gen. Sydney Jackman southwest to Sedalia, where he stormed, and compelled the surrender of a large Union force. Shelby, leading the advance from Boonville, beat the Unionists at Lamine River, and fought a bloody battle, defeating the Unionist at Black Water.
“Thence, on to the west side of Glasgow, where he opened on 3,000 to 4,000 of the Union army, while Price ordered Generals John B. Clark and Harris to cross the river at Arrow Rock and attack Glasgow from the east.
“Glasgow fell and its Union army, as prisoners of war, fell before the victorious Confederates. One big general, officers and vast supplies aided the captures.
“Marmaduke’s ragamuffins clothed themselves in the captured blue uniforms of their late adversaries.
“Shelby was thrown forward, capturing Marshall, and its Yankee garrison. On to Lexington went Shelby, where he fought Blunt and Lane’s Kansas Jayhawkers, defeating them at the fair grounds and compelling a hurried retreat up the Spring Branch road to Independence, where he fortified to hold the town and vast army supplies, routing them and capturing all the wagons and much other booty. They were assisted by Capt. George Todd, who had succeeded to the command of “Terror” Bill Anderson on Anderson’s death a few days before at Liberty Landing. Todd was killed …at the Independence battle.
“A great problem now awaited Price that taxed him and his chiefs to the utmost, and Jackman was called in from Warrensburg and Kingston forays and joined Shellby.
“Shelby fought a desperate battle at Westport, against great odds and superior arms at Pleasanton and Curtis’ Kansas troops, inflicting great loss and suffering the same.
“Shelby told me he lost more men at Westport than his crack brigade ever lost, before or after.
“He stated his desire to be buried among his former heroes and vets at Forest Hill Cemetery, near Kansas City. Years afterward, on his death, his wishes were carried out, and he was intered at Forest Hill. His great battle saved Price’s Army and the vast train referred to.
“On South, at Mine Creek, Marmaduke and his blue clothed men rode into clouds of blues, thinking they were his own men, with the result that Marmaduke and 1,000 were captured,
“Again, Price called the old war horse to the rescue of hi army. Shelby was far to the south, bent on the capture of Fort Scott. He beat back and held the rear in the long retreat southward, until Newtonia was reached.
“Tiring of the vast hordes of Unionists following on the rear and the dense clouds on each flank, Price ordered Shelby to strip for the fight, which was done with a cheer, and the Federals were driven pell mell from the field.
“Hundreds of Price’s lean horses gave out, necessitating the burning of much of his captured wagon trains.
“At Boggy Depot, Stanwaiti, Indian confederate, met Price with meal and beef for 60 days.
“Price had gathered 5,000 to 7,000 recruits and traveled 900 miles, with 90,000 Unions in the field after him, and had battled and fought for 60 days, with no bread or salt, in what is said to be the hardest raid, by either side, during the war. The raid, Shelby said, gave life for 5 more months to the faltering Confederacy.
“Price crossed the Red River at Clarksville, Texas, and went into winter quarters at Fulton, Arkansas, and Shreveport, Louisiana, until his surrender at the close of the war, 1865.
:At Boonville, Price awaited Colonel Caleb Dorsey as long as he could, as the celerity of his movements meant all to his success. Dorsey was in the Black foothills of Boone County, concentrating his forces, when Price’s recruits swept on west, leaving him.
“A great snow for the time of year had fallen, making foraging and travel difficult and hazardous.
“After Price and Anderson had gone the Union forces came out and swarmed over the town and highway alike. All Missouri river fords and ferries were in their possession.
“So, Colonel Dorsey held a council with his men and officers, and agreed to disband, and take chances in small squads, in trying to get home, or to the Confederate army of Price.
“Some succeeded, but many were killed or captured. Eight men and a boy, Thomas Henry Bradley, started southeast piloted by my father, Alexander Bomar, a sergeant.
“The snow was deep, with timbers breaking under its weight. At last, about 11 o’clock at night, they arrived at the Ham Brown barn southwest of Mexico, tired, cold, wet and hungry.
“With tobacco sticks and boards for fuel, they built a fire to warm for an hour and fed their mounts sheaf oats from the barn loft.
“My father and Lloyd McIntosh sought and implored them to no avail to mount and ride on, or be tracked up in the snow and perhaps perish.
“But the poor fellows, tired, wet and cold, could go no further. My father and McIntosh, with anguish and regrets, went on and made their escape, my father in time rejoining Price in the South, before his surrender.
“Sure enough, before good daylight, Major Bay, of Wellsville, with 200 or more cavalry, surrounded the barn and attacked the small force within. The defenders fought gamely, and killed and wounded a number. To rush the barn meant a big loss and a parley was held.
“Bay told the defenders if they would surrender, and give up their arms, they would not be molested.
“No sooner were they disarmed, however, than all were stood up and shot by a firing squad, except for T.H Bradley, the boy from Callaway County, and he was pleaded for, by the woman at the house, or he would have suffered the same fate.
“Some of them shot were named Sincler, and some are buried near Millersburg, Callaway County. The date was near the last of October, or the first of November, 1864.