“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harrisonville in Cass County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Burnt District Monument

The Heart of the Burnt District


óMissouri's Civil War ó

Burnt District Monument Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, June 21, 2009
1. Burnt District Monument Marker
Photo of the Heart of the Burnt District Marker
Missouri's Civil War

The Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas border was an extension of the raiding and looting that took place during the Bleeding Kansas era of 1854 to 1860. Early in the war, Kansas Jayhawkers and Redlegs dressed in blue Union uniforms looted and burned towns such as Osceola, Dayton, Pleasant Hill, Columbus and Butler as well as farms dotting the countryside. In response, guerrillas known as bushwackers rose up to harass the Federals and protect local interests and support the Southern cause.

Neither site gave quarter, meaning that prisoners were shot on sight. Revenge was rampant. Federals and guerrillas alike terrorized families by stealing food, horses, and property.

The summer of 1863 saw the settling of old scores. Relatives of the guerrillas were imprisoned in Kansas City to control their supposed spying and support. In August, a prison collasped under suspicious circumstances, killing four women and crippling several others.

A few days later on the morning of August 21, 1863, guerrilla leader William Quantrill and more than 400 men rose into Lawrence, Kansas. They burned and looted the town and killed more than 150 men and boys. After the attack, they escaped back to Missouri where they disbanded and evaporated into the brush.

Four days later,
Burnt District Monument Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, June 21, 2009
2. Burnt District Monument Marker
Photo of the Burnt District Monument
on August 25, Gen Thomas Ewing, Union commander of the District of the Border, issued Order No. 11. Ewing's order mandated the evacuation of the district's entire civilian population with the exception of a few specifically identified urban areas. The order allowed only 15 days for complete evacuation. The objective of the extreme measure was to create a neutral zone to reduce the violence and bloodshed.Under a sweltering September sun and clouds of dust, most resident of Jackson, Cass, Bates and northern Vernon counties began a march to safe havens. Many of the men were away fighting, so the roads were filled with mostly women, children and old men. The good horses, wagons and buggies had by this time been stolen by Kansas Redlegs and Jayhawkers. Federal soldiers or Southern bushwackers. As a result most walked or led small oxen-pulled wagons.

Order No. 11 sparked burning and destruction of unbelievable proportions. Almost before the families left thei land, soldiers set fire to homes, barns, and outbuildings. Farm animals and forage were confiscated by the Federal army or stolen for personal use. The devastation was so complete that the entire area became known as "The Burnt District." For miles and miles, all that remained of farms and homes were charred chimneys.

Much of the destruction in the area throughout the war was directed by a Kansas, Col. Charles
Burnt District Monument Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, June 21, 2009
3. Burnt District Monument Marker
Photo of the Chimney in relation to the Cass County Justice Center.
"Doc" Jennison. The chimneys that remained of burned-out homesteads became known as "Jennison's Tombstones."

In 1860, Cass County's population was nearly 10,000, including more than 1,600 families. Under Order No. 11, the county population dropped to a few hundred people living in Harrisonville and Pleasant Hill. More than 60 percent of the1860 population never returned.

Historian Albert Castel wrote, "Order No. 11 stands as the harshest treatment ever imposed on United States citizens under the plea of military necessity in our nation's history."

The Home Front

Cole Younger related what happened to his mother, Bursheba: "On the day the Federals came to execute Order No. 11, my mother was bedfast, weak, worn and sick. The captain in charge said, 'Mrs. Younger, why haven't you complied with order No. 11?' My mother said, 'I am sick; I have no place to go and it is serious impossible for me to leave.' 'Mrs. Younger, you refuse to obey. We are going to burn your buildings.' She pleaded with them and asked to stay the night. They said that she must burn the buildings herself in the morning. She agreed. On the following day she set it afire with her own hands."

Caroline Dye and and her neighbor lived northwest of Harrisonville. Displaced by Order No. 11, they walked and drove their cattle from Cass County through
Burnt District Monument Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, June 21, 2009
4. Burnt District Monument Marker
Closeup of Chimney Monument
Kansas City to Liberty for safety. The Jayhawkers had stolen all of their good animals, and all they had to haul their belongings was an old pony and a worn-out horse. Troops took the meat from the smokehouse, quilts from the beds, corn, wheat, machinery and anything they could sell. The Dye barns and home were burned, with the exception of a single room of a log house.

Caroline Dye's brother, Isaac Percival Dye, returned after the war and built a new house around the remaining room. In 1885, Harry Truman moved into that house with his family and lived there until 1887.

William Quantrill arrived in Kansas Territory in 1857 from Ohio, but moved to Missouri early in the war and formed a guerrilla band that included Frank and Jesse James and Cole and Jim Younger. In response to Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing issued Order No.11. The decision haunted him when artist George Caleb Bingham vowed to make Ewing "infamous with my brush" in his painting of Order No. 11, which contributed to Ewing's defeat in a run for governor of Ohio in 1880.
Erected 2009 by Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Missouriís Civil War marker series.
Location. 38° 39.076′ 
Burnt District Monument Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, June 21, 2009
5. Burnt District Monument Marker
Marker of the list of Donors
N, 94° 22.138′ W. Marker is in Harrisonville, Missouri, in Cass County. Marker is on Missouri Route 2 ľ mile from U.S. 71, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. The Burnt District Monument is on the grounds of the Cass County Justice Center. It is just off Missouri Highway 2 as you come into the entrance of the Justice Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2501 W. Wall, Harrisonville MO 64701, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named The Burnt District Monument (here, next to this marker); Lest We Forget (approx. 0.9 miles away); Jennisonís Jayhawks raid Harrisonville Square (approx. 1.1 miles away); Harrisonville WWI Memorial (approx. 1.1 miles away); Cass County (approx. 1.1 miles away); United We Stand Divided We Fall (approx. 1.1 miles away); General Order No. 11 (approx. 1.1 miles away); 140 First Street (approx. 10.5 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Harrisonville.
More about this marker. On the left side of the marker is a Map of the Burnt District as described by Order No. 11. On the right are portraits of William Quantrill and Brigadier General Thomas Ewing. Below them is a portrait of Bursheba Younger. Also on the right is a painting dramatically portraying Order No. 11 by George Caleb
Burnt District Monument Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, June 21, 2009
6. Burnt District Monument Marker
Informational marker on the acquisition of the lumber for the Wooden Burnt District Sign.

Sources listed on the marker: Castel, Albert. "Order No. 11", Missouri Historical Review 57 Oct. 1962, page 357. Cass County Missouri Historian 1976 by Cass County Historical Society, page 287. Brant, Marley, The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood. 1992 Madison Books,Lanham MD, page 52.

Photo and Image Credits: Order No 11: used by permission State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia. Burnt District Map, Mark Alley, Drexel, Missouri.

The marker was made possible by a grant from The Peculiar Charitable Foundation.

The Monument is a chimney - which was usually all that was left after the rest of the house was burnt. There are 6 markers associated with this monument. The description of Cedar Sign, the donor list, an overview plaque on the Burnt District, and three plaques on the chimney itself.
Also see . . .
1. Burnt District Monument. This link provides history of the Burnt District Monument and an interview with Carol Bohl of the Cass County Historical Society on the Dedication of the Monument. (Submitted on June 28, 2009, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 

2. Cass County Historical Society. This is the link to the Cass County Historical Society with information on the Burnt District Monument. (Submitted on June 28, 2009, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 

3. The Civil War in Missouri. (Submitted on June 29, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Additional keywords. Burnt District Bleeding Kansas
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas. This page has been viewed 3,451 times since then and 227 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.   3. submitted on , by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.   4. submitted on , by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.   5, 6. submitted on , by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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