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Why is Captain Silas "Cy" Gordon Important to Texomaland?

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Kendall Davis is well-versed in the English language. She has 20 years experience as a published author and writing for clients. Her published works include historical articles in museums, magazines, newspaper articles, columns, content marketing, advertising copy, blogging, and academic papers. Kendall also makes her way in the literary world as a copyeditor. Writing about history is her first love interest. If you have editing or content needs on your website or for your books, articles, blogs, or columns, please visit her website to see details and more examples of her work, the services she offers, and contact information. http://kdavis1836.wixsite.com/luminiwrites




Platte Bridge Railroad Tragedy


September 3, 1861—Soon after the onset of the Civil War, a Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad train flew off a bridge that crossed over the Platte River east of St. Joseph, Missouri, and took with it the freight cars, a baggage car, a mail car, and two passenger cars. The derailment killed between 17 and 20 people and injured at least 100 men, women, and children.


After the horrific train derailment, investigators discovered that bushwhackers had burned the timbers that supported the 160-foot bridge. At 11:15 p.m. on a moonless night, when the train from Hannibal to St. Joseph fell 30 feet into the shallow Platte River in Buchanan County, Missouri, the engineers saw no signs of damage to the bridge as it collapsed. (1)


The Bee Creek Massacre


November 1861—Confederate guerrillas held Weston, Missouri, under siege and captured and killed two federal military authorities near Bee Creek which lies southwest of Weston, Missouri. The guerrillas retreated after running out of ammunition. (2) (3)


Early December 1861—Confederate guerrillas camped on the Platte County courthouse lawn in Platte City, Missouri. The guerrillas stole the county courthouse records and threatened the life of the district judge if he showed up in Platte City. (4)


At that point, Union General David Hunter ordered Platte County trustees to deliver the guerrilla leader responsible for the train wreck and the murder of the federal military officials within 10 days or he would burn the city and free all the slaves in the county. (5)


December 16, 1861—Union Colonel James Morgan of the Eighteenth Missouri Infantry marched his troops from St. Joseph to Platte City and set fire to it. His troops captured three Confederate soldiers but not the leader of the guerrillas. They executed two of the Confederates at the Bee Creek Bridge. (5) A Union soldier wrote “U.S.” on the Bee Creek Bridge railing in the blood of the dead Confederates. The execution of the two Confederate soldiers is known as the Bee Creek Massacre. (6)


Who Was Responsible?


Who led these bushwhacking men to commit these deadly acts of war as the Confederate guerrillas believed they were? Captain Silas “Cy” Gordon. Gordon had hidden under the Baptist church when Colonel Morgan set out to take him prisoner for the Platte River train wreck and escaped while the colonel burned Platte City. Platte City trustees and residents did not aid the Union army. Officials never proved that Gordon planned the train derailment. (7)


Gordon’s Regiment in the Missouri State Guard


Cy Gordon held the rank of captain while organizing a company for the Missouri State Guard under the famous Confederate Major General Sterling Price during the fall of 1861. Later in the 1st Calvary Regiment of the Missouri State Guard, Company I, which was also known as Gordon’s Regiment, is where Cy would have met the future Captain John Thrailkill of Company F. He fought alongside Thrailkill in the Battle of Pea Ridge (Arkansas, March 6-8. 1862). Both captains joined up with William Quantrill’s infamous “Raiders”. (8) (9) (10)


Captain Gordon also led Company I in the Battle of Iuka (Mississippi, September 19, 1862), the Second Battle of Corinth (October 3-4, 1862), and the Battle of Vicksburg a.k.a. Siege of Vicksburg (Mississippi, May 18-July 4, 1863).


To put the Union Vicksburg campaign in perspective, Confederate Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton surrendered to then Major General Grant his men, 172 cannons, and 50,000 rifles on September 12, 1863. Over 10,000 Union and over 9,000 Confederate soldiers died during the Battle of Vicksburg.


What are Civil War Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers?


I called on a fellow, local historian, Natalie Clountz Bauman*, to answer this question.


“Confederate guerrilla fighters in Missouri were known as ‘bushwhackers’, and pro-Union, anti-slavery partisans in Kansas were also known as ‘jayhawkers’, words that began during the ‘Bleeding Kansas’ time, just before the Civil War. Usually, guerrilla fighters are not uniformed soldiers. These small partisan bands acted independently and outside the strategic framework of formal armies and command structures. They didn’t use official uniforms unless they were using them as disguises to safely pass through enemy territory; so they presented challenges for their enemies when they were captured. Should they be treated as enemy combatants or civilian criminals? Tactics used by bushwhackers included ambushing individuals, families and small army units, raiding farms to steal supplies, food, and anything of value, generally causing upheaval in the enemy territory." (11)


Silas Gordon Blamed for the Second Burning of Platte City


I found numerous headlines that name Silas Gordon as the reason why Union soldiers burned Platte City a second time in July of 1864, but I found no accounts that named him as a major player in that event. Gordon did return to Platte County in 1864 but so did many of the bushwhackers. The numerous facts surrounding its second burning are mired in numerous motives of Civil War Unionist military personnel and civilians bound for revenge after years of Confederate guerrilla warfare. (7)


For instance, this headline from The St. Joseph Herald published July 21, 1864, reads, “Operations of the Guerrillas Platte City Captured and Burnt By Federal Troops One-Half the Town Destroyed Several Men Burned to Death Battle at Camden Point”. (12)


The History Of Northwest Missouri states, “The year 1863 is described as a reign of terror, lawless bands of men from Kansas going through the county and robbing and plundering at will.” (13)


From a post in Genealogy.com, I found that Silas Gordon may have met William Quantrill as early as the summer of 1861 and before he met John Thrailkill.


“With Quantrill, on August 12, 1861, it was reported that he [Silas Gordon] had enlisted companies in Platte Co, MO.” (14)


It is accurate for me to report that in 1864 some of the most notorious guerrillas such as William Quantrill, John ThrailKill, Bloody Bill Anderson, who may have been a sociopath, Frank and Jesse James, Cole Younger, and yes, even Cy Gordon had something to do with driving the Union forces to burn out the hotbed of Platte City bushwhackers.


"By 1863, Quantrill's Raiders numbered about 200 to 300. But area people had experienced their relatives being maimed and killed in the Osceola building collapse [September 22-23, 1861, Missouri], and as Quantrill’s men rode toward Lawrence, Kansas, to retaliate, many more joined their band along the way until they numbered 450 men who participated in the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, in revenge for Osceola.


“Harper’s Magazine published an article describing the raid on Lawrence, Kansas, led by Quantrill in August [21] 1863. The town had become known as a center for abolitionists. Arriving in early morning, the raiders in four hours killed most of the male residents, men and boys, (an estimated 150 to 200), as well as looting the banks and stores, and burning many buildings.” (11)


Why Is Silas “Cy” Gordon Important to Texomaland?


All of these bushwhacking leaders and many of their guerrilla warriors held a great amount of hate, resentment, animosity, and venom deep down in their souls against the Union and all it represented, and a good number of them ended up in Cedar Mills, Big Mineral, and Gordonville, Texas—through their association with William Quantrill.


At one point in time, Captain Cy Gordon served as William Quantrill’s treasurer when it was well known that Quantrill and his men traded in gold coins which was rare during the Civil War. When Quantrill’s Raiders moved on after their last winter in Cedar Mills, Cy stayed behind in present-day Gordonville in northwest Grayson County and ran a trading post.


Cy Gordon’s middle initial was M and stood for Muir, his mother’s maiden name, and he was born in Kentucky in 1835. His father, William Roundtree** Gordon (1794-1844), moved his wife, Lucretia (1795-1864), and family to Platte County, Missouri. They had four other children: Cynthia Ann Gordon Daniel (1814-1886), Mary Ann Gordon Willis (1818-1884), Rachel E. Gordon Holt (1823-1851), and Lucretia Gordon Martin Cowls (1827-1892). He may have had two nephews by the name of David R. Holt (1842-1884) and John Paxton Holt (1851-1886). John Holt is buried in the Georgetown Cemetery in Pottsboro, but David is buried in Falls City, Nebraska. Cy married Eutilla T. Simmons Steele (1847-1934), and they had one child named Sanders A. Gordon (1882-1941). Sanders Gordon married, had five children, and is buried in Murray County, Oklahoma. (15)


Holford’s Sheep Ranch occupied much of Gordonville until 1872 when a man named Mark Clayton built a general store there. The community of today’s Gordonville was established much earlier in the 19th century, but Cy donated his land and his name to the town. The Gordonville Post Office (76245) is one of the oldest in Grayson County. Holford’s Sheep Ranch provides me with a whole different research project, but I found that it extended out to the Cedar Bayou Marina neighborhood; four miles stretch between Cedar Bayou Marina and 76245.


Captain Cy Gordon died in Gordonville in 1888, and Grayson County Constable Dallas Hodges was murdered in Gordonville in 1881 when Cy was 46 years of age, so no doubt exists that they knew each other. Gordonville’s population reached its peak population at 300 people in 1925. We do not know where Captain Cy Gordon is buried. His picture is posted below.


*I want to say a special thank you to Natalie Clountz Bauman, a Pottsboro, Texas, author and fellow historian who has published 15 books with topics ranging from the history of the lost towns of Texomaland, to the stories of the Wild West days in Grayson County, Texas, to the ghostly and strange stories of the area. Natalie also writes a regular history column for the Pottsboro Sun Newspaper.


Natalie Clountz Bauman has provided me with invaluable information about William Quantrill’s activities in Texomaland. You can view and purchase all of her books at:


https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00O5JLWCC


**Roundtree is a Cherokee surname that stems from the Ah-ni-wo-di or Paint Clan which made red paint. Prominent medicine men came from this historical Cherokee tribe. (16)


(1)https://www.revolvy.com/topic/Platte%20Bridge%20Railroad%20Tragedy&item_type=topic


(2)https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Bee%20Creek%20Massacre


(3)https://www.revolvy.com/topic/Burning%20of%20Platte%20City&item_type=topic


(4) http://genealogytrails.com/mo/platte/civil-war.htm


(5) https://revolvy.org/main/index.php?s=Silas%20M.%20Gordon


(6) http://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/gordon/4731/


(7) https://www.revolvy.com/topic/Silas%20M.%20Gordon&uid=1575


(8) http://quantrillsguerrillas.com/en/biographies/80-john-thrailkill-confederate-guerrilla-leader-escaped-prisoner-of-war-a-biography.html


(9) http://genealogytrails.com/mo/platte/civil-war.htm


(10)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Missouri_Cavalry_Regiment_(Confederate)


(11) Bauman, Natalie Clountz. QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS IN North Texas and Grayson County Texas: Including Bloody Bill Anderson and The James Younger Gang. Pottsboro: Bauman, 2017. https://www.amazon.com/QUANTRILLS-RAIDERS-North-Grayson-County-ebook/dp/B01N280H89/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


(12)http://www.nytimes.com/1864/07/21/news/operations-guerrillas-platte-city-captured-burnt-federal-troops-one-half-town.html?pagewanted=all&mcubz=0


(13) Williams, Walter, ed. The History Of Northwest Missouri. Vol. 1. Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Company, 1915. Accessed August 20, 2017. http://genealogytrails.com/mo/platte/civil-war.htm


(14) http://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/gordon/4731/


(15)https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=166814227


(16) http://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/rainwater/2008/


 


 


 


 


 




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