Chapter 2 - Rumors of War

    Two of Sarcoxie’s finest, Benjamin Massey and James Rains, became politically active.  In 1856, Massey won election as Missouri’s secretary of state.  He served a full term but his second term was cut short because he joined Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson and other state leaders in declaring allegiance to the Confederate States of America.   James S. Rains, a gentleman farmer, was elected state senator and then to Congress but was not able to serve as he took up the confederate cause.    

    As the turmoil over slavery began to fester, strong feelings deepened and military companies began to form.   By March 1, 1861, a company of 80 pro-Southern militiamen was organized under the leadership of James Rains and the Cravens family.  It has been reported that the group formed was probably the first in the area and occurred in Sarcoxie.   Major James S Rains became a major and later a brigadier general in the State Guard during the Civil War.  Although the area saw both Confederate and Union soldiers camped in the area, Sarcoxie declared allegiance to the confederacy.  Many of the large bodies of troops that operated in southwest Missouri passed through Sarcoxie. Troops camped in the surrounding areas and some accounts indicate the city was damaged by fires as the troops “squirmished” in the area.  In 1961, historians report that the first Confederate flag, “Stars and Bars,” flew on the square from a100 foot pole which was guarded closely for several weeks.  

    It was reported that a school teacher from Kansas hired to teach in Sarcoxie was tar and feathered for his views expressed to his students regarding slavery.  When asked to resign, he refused.  A group of angry citizens took him out of town and applied the tar and feathers.  Undocumented legend tells that five years later a scarred lieutenant heading a U.S. cavalry from Kansas looked on as his men torched Sarcoxie.  Many of Sarcoxie’s young men lost their life during this sad time!