The Fight For Fayette
1863 .44 Remington Relic

Courtesy of David V. Radcliffe Collection

This spectacular item is a great part of Missouri Partisan Ranger history. It is a wonderful weapon lost during the Sept. 24, 1864 "Fight For Fayette" by one of Anderson, Todd, or Quantrill's men. It might have even been one of these men themsleves.

Found in 1929 by a worker for a WPA sewer project which was under way at Central College in Fayette. While they were digging at the site of a railroad-tie block house, the center point of the Civil War "Fight for Fayette" 2 guns, both empty, were excavated at the base of the hill.

There is quite a history behind the "Fight For Fayette". In September of 1864, Bill Anderson, George Todd and John Thrailkill, all somewhat independent lieutenants of William Quantrill, were riding hard in Central Missouri. Anderson had sacked Rocheport, Todd and Thraikill followed his example at Keytesville and all mails between military posts at Fayette, Franklin and Renick were stopped.

On the 23rd of September 1864, their combined forces wiped out a twelve wagon military train northeast of Rocheport at a place commonly known as Gosline's Lane near Woodlandville, Missouri.

That evening, Brigadier General J.B. Douglas landed at Rocheport with 500 men and went north looking for Anderson. Major Reeves Leonard with a company of the 9th Missouri Cavalry came down from Fayette to join him. While Leonard was moving toward Douglas, the Missouri Partisan Rangers neatly circled him, and at dawn of the next day, (September 24, 1864) were on the outskirts of Fayette, the county seat of Howard County.

As Anderson and Todd rested in the hills south of Fayette, they were joined by their old captain, William Quantrill. The three men sat down and discussed the possibility of raiding the town. Anderson and Todd were of the opinion that the Union post had been drained of men; Quantrill, who had had some sad experiences with fortified brick courthouses, believed that the village should be avoided.

Heated words were exchanged, but Bill Anderson prevailed, and an attack was decided upon. The Missouri Partisan Rangers formed in a column in the timber south of town, and at a trot proceeded up Church Street west of the city cemetery. As they reached the edge of town, they broke into a gallop, and with their fierce Rebel yells charged into the courthouse square. Here they were met by a volley of Minie balls from some thirty troopers of the Ninth Cavalry barricaded in the courthouse and in a heavy railroad-tie blockhouse on the hill were Central College is presently located.

The Missouri Partisan Rangers had stuck their heads into a hornet's nest. Commanded by Lieutenants Joseph M. Street and Thomas H. Smith, the Union troopers picked them off as they circled around the courthouse, firing their pistols futilely at brick walls.

Bill Anderson led one wild dash at the blockhouse, his black curls streaming out from under a large plumed hat, but the Missouri Partisan Rangers had no way of entering it. Frank James afterwards said, "It was like charging a stone wall, only this stone wall belched lead", and added: "The worst scared I ever was during the war was in the Fayette fight."

In a few minutes it was all over. The Missouri Partisan Rangers pulled north out of town, leaving thirteen dead behind, and holding in their saddles some thirty wounded companions. They went slowly up the Roanoke Road, leaving their wounded to be hidden by sympathetic farmers.

At dusk Quantrill and his loyal, tried and true men parted with Anderson and Todd in disgust.

Then later that night Todd and Thraikill and their company left Bloody Bill.

As fate and destiny (as well as their own direspect for Quantrill) Todd and Anderson were to die by the Yankee hand within the next month. All without their commander, William Clarke Quantrill.

Left behind by one of the Missouri Partisan Rangers (possibly Anderson, Todd, or Quantrill himself) was this new model 1863 Remington .44 cal. revolver. It is doubtful it would have belonged or been left on the field by one of the Federals as they used arsenal made long range muskets and carbines.

In Missouri, the Partisan Ranger rarely used a rifle musket or sword. They rode into battle with a minimum of 2 and a probable maximum of 8 six-shot pistols per man. One would be carried on each hip, two would be in saddle holsters and 2 in each saddle bag. All loaded and all expendable.

These Missouri Partisan Rangers would generally throw their empty pistols down as they emptied them and draw those ready to fire. They could afford to do this as they generally carried the field and they could go back over it and pick up their empty guns as well as the loaded ones dropped by the defending militia. But, this time it wasn't meant to be.


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