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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
Richardson, Salvin C.
Elmer and the Civil War
(Submitted by John Mathis)
Although Northeastern Missouri was not a major theater of conflict during the War, there was considerable involvement. Men were recruited by both sides for varying lengths of conscription and the fertile ground was a valuable resource for garnering supplies for the fighting forces. Consequently, occassional battles and skirmishes happened. One such incident occurred on August 8-9, 1962. Colonel Joseph Porter (Confederacy) led a guerrilla band that operated primarily in Northeast Missouri. It seems his primary purpose was to recruit fighters for the CSA and to generally cause havoc wherever it seemed to deter progress of the Union army. Colonels John McNeil and Lewis Merrill of the Union army were detached to break up such rebel bands and stop their recruiting efforts.
Their pursuit of Porter finally led Porter to Kirksville where Merrill caught and engaged Porter's force. Porter was driven from Kirksville and headed south toward New Cambria. This movement took Porter within a mile or so of where Elmer was to later be incorporated. As he was retreating, Porter's men stole a wagon from the James Drake farm to transport the few supplies that they were carrying. On August 9, Union forces again caught Porter's men and engaged them in what is now known as the Skirmish at Walnut Creek. Whereas the Confederates clearly were the victors in this action, it was only temporary. Once again, the superior Union forces forced Porter to continue his retreat. Porter was forced to disband his troops in September of that year, but did continue less important operations until the end of the war.
James Bailey was a young boy while the Civil War was raging. The skirmish mentioned above occurred on (or near) the Bailey family farm near Walnut Creek in Macon County. James, at the ages of twelve, sat on a high hill on the Bailey farm and observed the battle. He remarked that it seemed as if the two sides would mingle in the evening, playing cards and such, and then fight the next day. This seems unlikely, considering the bitter feelings between the two sides that has been chronicled in so much of the Civil War literature. Of course, this was early in the conflict, so perhaps it was as James remembered it. It was two years later that his father, Joseph, joined the Union forces for a seven month stint.
Elmer citizens who took part in the fighting of this war included:
Boyd, William T.
Buchanan, Jacob E.
Galyen, David T.
Owen, E. W.
Patterson, James C.
Steele, John A.