Friday, October 18, 2013

Ten Killed For One

The Palmyra Massacre took place in Missouri on October 18th 1862, when a Union Colonel had ten Confederate prisoners of war shot in retaliation for the killing of Union sympathizer.

Sixty year old Andrew Alsman was a carpenter and more importantly a Union sympathizer living in a Confederate neighborhood.  It was known that he lead Union troops looking for Confederates in the area.  Confederate Colonel Joseph C Porter had taken Alsman prisoner when he raided through Palmyra on September 12th 1862.  When forced north, Porter picked a detail of men to take Alsman out of the city limits to the nearest Union line.  Alsman was never seen again, and it was believed that he was killed.  Union Colonel John McNeil had his Provost Marshal, William R Strachan publish a notice in the local newspaper on October 8th 1862; the “Palmyra Courier”, stating that if Alsman wasn’t returned in ten day, ten of Porter’s men being held in Palmyra and Hannibal, Missouri would be executed.

Ten prisoners were chosen on the evening of October 17th 1862.  They were Willis Baker [who was in jail because his sons were serving with Porter], Morgan Bixler, Herbert Hudson, Thomas Humston [who was only 19], Eleazer Lake, Francis M Lear, John Y McPheeter, Captain Thomas A Sidnor [a recruiting agent working for Porter], Hiram T Smith, and John M Wade.  On the morning of October 18th 1862, thirty soldiers from the 2nd Missouri State Militia formed a firing squad on the old fairgrounds just east of Palmyra.  The ten Confederates were moved on wagons from the Marion County Jail, seated on their coffins to the fairgrounds.  The men unloaded their own coffins and stood without blindfolds.  There were around 100 people present to watch, and a Baptist minister to offer a final prayer.  The initial shots; fired just after noon, only killed three of the ten men, with one not being hit at all, a second round finished them off.  The executed men were placed in their coffins and taken back to the town square so relatives could claim the bodies.

There was a monument erected in memory of the men on February 25th 1907 by the Palmyra Confederate Monument Association.  The monument is located on the grounds of the Palmyra Courthouse.

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