“I am a border ruffian from the State of Missouri.”*
Today is the 152nd anniversary of the massacre in Lawrence, Kansas perpetrated by Colonel Quantrill and his Confederate Raiders. I won’t go into all that dark history, but I will suggest that we watch Ang Lee’s very good movie Ride With the Devil (1999).
Considered to be a box-office bomb, it is, I would assert, a very good movie. Why people didn’t line up to see it, I have no idea. There are lots of very good actors in it. It is an exciting, romantic and historically accurate movie filmed beautifully on location in Missouri. Furthermore, it is based on a very good book (Woe to Live On) by Daniel Woodrell, who is from right here in the Missouri Ozarks and knows whereof he writes.
“Our mode of war was an irregular one. We were as likely to be guided by an aged farmer’s breathless recounting of a definite rumor, or by the moods of our horses, as we were by logic. It was a situation where logic made no sense. So we slouched about in wooded areas, our eyes on main roads and cow paths, watching for our foe to pass in reasonable numbers. They often did.”
As the screenwriter prefaces the film, “On the western frontier of Missouri, the American Civil War was fought not by armies, but by neighbors. Informal gangs of local southern Bushwhackers fought a bloody and desperate guerrilla war against the occupying Union Army and pro-Union Jayhawkers. Allegiance to either side was dangerous. But it was more dangerous still to find oneself caught in the middle.”
Indeed, Louis Vogel, the 17-year old half-brother of my great-great-grandmother Mary Prowers Hough, was beaten to death in Westport in 1863 by Jayhawkers or Bushwackers (nobody seems to know which) who wanted his horse.
This movie is a good reminder of how rough it was back then.
As usual, I have no Big Plans for the weekend, but the OM and I are planning to take a pile of old computers to a recycling event in O’Fallon, MO. As you know, old computers are not so easy to dispose of, so when there is one of these free drop-off events, it is good to take advantage of it. Since we’ll be out and about, we may venture up to Clarksville (population 442) in Pike County.
This little city on the Mississippi River was platted in 1819 and named for the then governor of the territory, William Clark. Maybe we will drive up there and have lunch and look at old man river.
I can’t think of anything better to do, can you?
*”I am a border ruffian from the State of Missouri. I am a Connecticut Yankee by adoption. In me you have Missouri morals, Connecticut culture; this, gentlemen, is the combination which makes the perfect man.”
-Mark Twain (“Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims”) on December 22, 1881