Camden Point Confederate Monument

"Oldest Confederate Monument West of the Mississippi"

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"Erected to the memory of the Confederate soldiers by their friends", dedicated November 1, 1871. Camden Point cemetery, Platte County, Missouri

[Photos courtesy of Jerry Wheeler.]

     In July of 1864, Col. John Calhoun Thornton began recruiting men for Confederate service in Platte County. Eventhough the puppet Union government of Missouri forced the enlistment of its citizens into the "Enrolled Missouri Militia" (E.M.M.), approximately 1,500 E.M.M. members rallied to the Confederate cause.  These pro-Southern E.M.M. were sometimes known as the "Paw Paw Militia". According to one Federal report, "There never were more than 200 true Union men in this county" and "the Southern sympathizers all call themselves conservative Union men now, and are very active in withholding the facts and misleading the authorities." Union General Clinton B. Fisk on July 12, 1864 reporting to Maj. Gen. Rosecrans, declared, "the Paw Paw militia in Platte County, with scarcely an exception, went over to Thornton in a body, and the great mass of the citizens have thrown off the mask and declared openly for Jeff. Davis and the Southern Confederacy. An abundance of Confederate uniforms was found to be in waiting at Platte City, and the Paw Paws with alacrity exchanged their blue jackets for gray ones. Major Clark reports the uprising among the people as general...General, be not deceived, Missouri is as rebellious to-day as ever, and the earlier the national authorities act upon this conclusion the better. It will require more than 5,000 reliable U.S. troops to hold my district from a general uprising; every hour I spend among the people confirms me in this opinion."

     While an account by Confederate Col. Thornton is not known to survive, it is believed his intentions were to liberate Platte and adjacent counties from  Federal occupation and perhaps hold the area long enough until Gen. Sterling Price could arrive with reinforcements from Arkansas. With a three to four  hundred men detachment, Col. Thornton  "attacked and captured Platte City and its garrison of militia." Union General Clinton B. Frisk reported, "The Confederate flag has been waving over Platte City for two days, protected by men who for many months have worn our uniforms and carried under the stars and stripes the guns they now turn against us." In response, Federal forces were not idle. On July 13, 1864, detachments of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry (under Col. J.H. Ford) and the 15th Kansas (under Col. Charles Jennison), sometimes known as "the worst body of cut-throats and freebooters that ever tortured a victim or looted a community", made a surprise attack on approximately 200-300 of Col.   Thornton's Confederates at Camden Point. Union Assistant Adjutant-General, G. A. Holloway reported, "Our combined forces had a fight with the rascals last night at Camden Point, burned the town and mustered out a few devils, but the rest were routed.." Col. J. H. Ford (2nd Colorado Cavalry) reported, "we ran on to the enemy at this place, killing 15 of them. Our loss, 1 killed and 1 badly wounded", "killed no citizens, although many of them need killing" as well as "capturing and destroying a large number of muskets, shotguns, cartridges, accouterments and also ten kegs of powder."

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Old Burial ground at Camden Point.

     Eventhough the Federals reported killing 15 of Thornton's men, the Confederate memorial at Camden Point only lists six Confederates who died at the skirmish. The names of these six are: Robert McCormack;  Jasper Clements;  Almarine Hardin;  Richard Alvis;  Andrew Smith; and Jesse Myles. These men were first buried on the battlefield, then later  moved to the Camden Point Cemetery nearby. Aside from the human casualities, the loss in arms and especially gunpowder was a devastating loss to Col. Thornton's command. Although Thornton's forces again clashed with federals on July 17th near Fredericksburg (Ray County, Missouri), most of his forces dispersed, and the general uprising abandoned, being replaced with guerrilla tactical warfare.

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Iron fence that surrounds the old   Camden Point cemetery.

(Photos courtesy of Jerry Wheeler.)