The group are on a train heading for Osceloa, but as they near the town, the emergency break is applied and smoke can be seen on the horizon. McCoy quickly forms a posse and heads into town to investigate. They arrive to find the entire town ablaze. Bodies are strewn about the main street, the church locked and fired with numerous people inside. As they search for survivors, drunken laughter is heard from the saloon and Union soldiers stagger out, their arms filled with loot. Guns are drawn, tomahawks pulled and a measure of revenge is taken.
As the dust settles, riders are heard approaching and a Confederate officer and his guerrilla band rein in. The officer is Captain William T. Anderson (better known as ‘Bloody Bill’) who has been chasing the blue-bellies, the ‘Kansas Redlegs’, across Missouri.
The group is quickly sworn in as conscripts and Anderson displays his aggressive tendencies by executing the groups prisoner.
Anderson then leads the group to join with the 13th Alabama Rifles, who are re-fitting at a Confederate Camp in Montgomery, Alabama. After a hard winter of training, the Rifles form part of the defences around Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign. During the successful defence of the capital, Anderson leads a heroic/suicidal charge out of the Confederate trenches to assault the Union lines. Apparently against General Longstreet’s orders, the charge is successful, but with dreadful losses. Only 28 soldiers survive.
The Sacking of Osceola was a Union Jayhawker initiative on September 23, 1861, to push out pro-Southern elements at Osceola, Missouri. It was not authorized by Union military authorities but was the work of an informal group of Kansas pro-Union “Jayhawkers”. The town of 3,000 people was plundered and burned to the ground, and nine local citizens were executed.
Following Sterling Price’s secessionist Missouri State Guard victory over General Nathaniel Lyon’s Union army at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Price began initiatives to “clean out” opposition in Kansas and retake the state of Missouri.
James H. Lane organized 1,200 troops to resist the Price invasion into Kansas. Price defeated Lane in the Battle of Dry Wood Creek near Fort Scott, Kansas. Lane retreated and Price continued his offensive further into Missouri to the Siege of Lexington.
While Price moved North, Lane launched an attack behind him. After crossing the Missouri border at Trading Post, Kansas on September 10, Lane began an offensive moving East on Butler, Harrisonville, Osceola and Clinton, Missouri.
The climax of the campaign was on September 23, 1861, at Osceola, where Lane’s forces drove off a small Southern force and then looted and burned the town. An artillery battery under Capt. Thomas Moonlight shelled the St. Clair County courthouse. According to reports, many of the Kansans got so drunk that when it came time to leave they were unable to march and had to ride in wagons and carriages. They carried off with them a tremendous load of plunder, including as Lane’s personal share a piano and a quantity of silk dresses. Hundreds of slaves followed Lane to Kansas and freedom. The troops moved Northwest and arrived at Kansas City, Missouri, on September 29, to pursue Price as he retreated south through the state.
Osceola was plundered with Lane’s men taking 350 horses and 200 slaves, 400 cattle, 3,000 bags of flour, and quantities of supplies from all the town shops and stores as well as carriages and wagons. Nine local men were rounded up, given a quick drumhead court-martial trial, and executed. All but three of the town’s 800 buildings burned; the town never fully recovered.