Razorbacks Are Just Another Scavenger

Being an avid history buff, I have long enjoyed the Civil War element of our rivalry with the Jayhawkers of Kansas, including the famous sacking of Lawrence by Missouri "outlaws."

In recent posts concerning Mu's possible move to the SEC, I have noted many who fear they may lose that intense rivalry - with nothing to replace it. Such persons, I fear, do not know enough Missouri history.

Throughout the Civil War period, there was fierce fighting between Confederate sympathizers in Arkansas (many of whom were dislocated Missourians) and Union soldiers from Central and Northern Missouri. The battlegrounds were mostly the Ozark hills and plateaus across the state which lie south of Interstate 44, and an inordinate amount of the victims were the native hill people who just wanted to be left alone (being too poor to own slaves, but too independent to yield to either army).

The primary figure in the Western Campaign throughout Southern Missouri was one Stirling Price, a native of Fayette, Mo., who was a popular Mexican-American War hero, and Governor of the state from 1853-57.

At first a Union sympathizer, Price turned coat and joined the Confederacy early in 1861 after a personal conflict with Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon. Price raised an army of Southern sympathizers called the Missouri State Guard, and marched across Central and Southwest Missouri in an attempt to win the state for the Confederacy. He won victories in the Battle of Lexington in Lafayette County, the Battle of Carthage in Jasper County, and the Battle of Wilson Creek just south of Springfield.

In March, 1862, a combined Confederate Army of the West (which included Price's forces) was defeated in a three-day battle at Pea Ridge, Arkansas (about 20 miles north of Fayetteville, home of the Razorbacks, on the Missouri-Arkansas border), and Price and his army had to be content to spend the next year-and-a-half raiding across the border into Southern Missouri, while stationed in North Central Arkansas. 

Price's regular raids into Missouri from the south were answered by similar raids south out of Fort Davidson in Pilot Knob (Iron County in Southeast Missouri). The raiding armies regularly hanged or shot "spies" identified by "neighbors," creating chaos and hatred against all "sojers" throughout the region. My g-g-g-grandfather and his older brother, born in Hawk Point in Lincoln County (northwest of St. Louis), were members of the Union Cavalry which rode regularly out of Fort Davidson. After the war he settled in the area, having grown to love the clear streams and unconquerable hill people of the Ozarks.

In the fall of 1864, Price marched north in a desperate attempt to take St. Louis and flank the Union Army from the West. The first real battle of the Missouri Invasion was at Pilot Knob, which Price took after a devastating loss of personnel, though his victory was an empty one when the Union forces slipped away in the night, leaving Price with nothing but an empty Fort Davidson.

Realizing he did not have the strength to take St. Louis, Price set his sights on Kansas City. Marching west, he skirted well-fortified Jefferson City, before winning battles at Glasgow, Lexington (again), at the Little Blue River east of Independence, then the Big Blue River west of Independence, before reaching Kansas City.

In the Battle of Westport at Kansas City (known as the "Gettysburg of the West, in which more than 30,000 troops were engaged), Price was crushed by the Union forces and driven into Kansas (to be picked apart by common vultures, affectionately called Jayhawks by the local yokels).

So, for four years, a once-loyal Missourian attacked his former home state and killed its citizens as the leader of an army of malcontents and confederates based in Northern Arkansas. Just because we never sacked and burned Fayetteville or Little Rock does not mean there was any less hatred for those areas than for Lawrence by Missouri people.

Having said all of that, I can only say this: If we are going to the SEC, let's just move our disdain from the Jayhawks to the scrawny Ozark pigs known to the locals as Razorbacks - both are just scavengers, good for nothing else but cleaning up the carnage left behind along the devastating trail of rampaging Tigers!

Go Mizzou!


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