Cassville the Confederate capitol 157 years ago

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Multiple bills passed in county courthouse during Civil War

In the northeast corner of the square in front of the Barry County Courthouse, there stands a plaque that describes the Secession Convention held in Cassville from Oct. 29 to Nov. 7, 1861.

Barry County was officially formed in 1835, encompassing the entire Southwest corner of the state. Eventually, several counties were formed out of Barry County, including, Newton, McDonald, Lawerence, Stone, Jasper and Dade. Cassville became the county seat in 1844, and the city was named after Lewis Cass.

In 1856, a brick courthouse was built and housed county officials and a jail. In 1915, the building was replaced by the current white stone Courthouse located on the square.

Governor of Missouri Clairborne Fox Jackson was elected in August 1860, with the Civil War on his heels.

During the Civil War, which started in April of 1860, Cassville was divided between Union and Confederate. Although there were no major battles in Barry County, many businesses shut down, and many residents fled the area.

Wire Road allowed Union and Confederate troops to move through Barry County with ease.

According to “The First 150 Years in Cassville Missouri” by Emory Melton, the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Aug. 1861 was more a defeat of the Union than a victory for the Confederates. However, the Confederates maintained control over Wire Road to move troops and army supplies.

Governor Jackson called a session of the Missouri legislature to be held in Neosho on Oct. 21,1861. On Oct. 28, 1861, legislature decided to move to Cassville, which they did Oct.31, 1861. The decision was understood, no doubt due to Union troops in Neosho.

Official records of sessions held in both Neosho and Cassville show, on Oct. 31, 1861, the legislature met on the second floor of the Barry County Courthouse and discussed regulating millage allowances for senators.

The next day was spent discussing financial arrangements to support the war effort, and on Nov. 2, approval was given to the supplying and distribution of state bonds.

On Nov. 4, 1861, two bills were introduced. One to elect representatives to the Congress of the Confederate States of America, and another to provide organization, support and government to the military forces in the state of Missouri. Many items of business of military appointments and organization were voted on that day.

On Nov. 5, 1861, with more to deal with on military organizations and defense bonds, one item stood out.

“The board of commissioners, authorized by law to issue defense bonds, are hereby authorized to allow to the owner, or if he be dead, to his representatives, of any horse lost in battle in the service of the state by any incident thereof, the value of such horse, and shall pay such value in defense bonds,” the legislation said.

On Nov. 8, both the house and the state agreed to meet Nov. 9, 1861, in Prineville. That meeting did not happen because of a later amendment to meet in New Madrid in March of 1862, which was agreed upon on the last day of Missouri’s confederate government in Cassville on Nov. 7, 1861.

Although there are no reliable records for the number of senators and representatives in sessions, it is estimated that 15 senators and 35 representative attended.

It was the Battle of Pea Ridge, on March 6-8, 1862, that secured Cassville under Union control.

In February 1875, legal agents of Barry County prosecuted a claim for $1,882.69 against the United States. This amount of money represented the funds paid from March 1866 to October 1872 for repairs to the Barry County Courthouse.

Repairs were needed due to its occupation of United States troops for four years during the Civil War.

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