MORE INDIAN DISTURBANCES - "THE SARCOXIE WAR"
The Delawares out at the Town had uniformly been peaceable, quiet, and very friendly and nobody was afraid of them. There were Indians, however, from the Territory and elsewhere, who came in from time to time in roving bands whom it was well to watch. Some time in June a strolling band of Senecas from the Indian Territory stole some horses and appropriated some other property from certain citizens of the country now embraced in Jasper and Newton counties, then in Barry county, and from certain citizens of where is now Dade county, then in Polk county, and when asked to make restitution, refused, and made certain threatening demonstrations. A settler named Thatcher, living on Cedar creek, was visited one day by an Indian who wanted to trade "squaws" with him. Thatcher knocked the Indian down, and then drove him from his premises. The next day, as he was at work in his field, a shot was fired and a rifle ball whizzed by Thatcher's ear.
The alarm was given and the county court of Polk county ordered Maj. L. A. Williams to take command of a company of militia, hastily raised for the purpose, and proceed against the Indians and march them out of the State. Captain Williams, as he was then called, accomplished the object as far as Polk county was concerned, without any difficulty, and, after an absence of about twenty days, returned home and disbanded his company.
At this time, under the militia laws of the State, every able-bodied man over 18 years of age and under 45 was required to enroll in the State militia and to drill regularly three or four times a year. The officers of the companies, battalions, regiments, brigades, amid divisions were elected by the men and commissioned by the Governor. Southwest Missouri then formed the 7th division and the militia of Greene county composed the first brigade, while the second brigade was composed of Polk and some of the other counties adjacent. The first organization of these counties under this arrangement was in 1837, and the following were the first general officers elected: Major General of the Division, Joseph Powell; Brigadier General of the 1st Brigade, N. R. Smith; Brigadier General of the 2d Brigade, Abner Null.
Just about the time that Capt. Williams expelled the Senecas, trouble broke out with the Osage Indians, a large body of which tribe had gathered in large numbers near Sarcoxie, and were acting suspiciously.
General Powell at once called out the whole military force of his division and marched against the savages, and came upon them unexpectedly and to their great surprise. After but little negotiating and parleying the Indians were marched out of the State and into their own territory, and made to give solemn assurances that they would not return without permission They stoutly persisted in their innocence of any evil intent in coming into the State, saying they had only come to hunt and fish; declared they knew nothing of any stolen horses, or other property, and averred that they had always been and would always be the faithful friends of the whites. After an absence of about fifteen days Gen. Powell marched his division home and the Greene county troops were disbanded and permitted to return to work in their fields.
This was known as the "Sarcoxie War," and was a very nice sort of a war, being one in which no human blood was shed or any serious casualties suffered. The reports of the outbreak were greatly exaggerated from the start. The Indians had done nothing, and doubtless intended doing nothing to harm the settlers, and all of the alarm and uneasiness the mustering, the arming, and the marching, were for nothing. General Powell marched out to Sarcoxie and then, like the famous "King of France," straightway "marched back again."
The Greene county troops in the "Sarcoxie War" did not like Gen. Powell, who was very inexperienced in military matters, and committed many breaches of military law and discipline. Upon charges preferred by Gen. Smith, of the Greene county brigade, Gen. Powell was afterward tried by a military commission and dismissed from the State service, being succeeded by Gen. Nelson and then by Col. Chas. S. Yancey, of this county.
Of Gen. N. R. Smith it is related that he was not a thorough military man himself. On one occasion after dark a militiaman who had seen service in the regular army, was standing guard around the camp of the 1st brigade. Gen. Smith approached and attempted to pass the lines. " Halt " cried out the faithful sentinel. "Who comes there?" "A friend," was the reply. "Advance and give the countersign," demanded the guard. "I haven't the countersign," returned the General, "but I am General Smith, from Springfield, and it's all right." " Halt ! " again the sentinel shouted, adding, "I don't care if you are General Smith, from hell, you can't pass here without the countersign ! " The latter remark, albeit somewhat profane, became a by-word in the camp, and indeed was remembered long after the "Sarcoxie War" was over.
(History of Greene County, Westerm Historical Company, 1883)