How To Cover Up War Crimes: Governor Fletcher Vacated All Positions of Law and Order.

Protected snitches, dirty cops and a defense lawyer who made international headlines in a murder for hire plot. This is the stranger than fiction, real life story of Delaware County, Oklahoma.

On Jan. 31’st, 2020 I published a story asking “Who Murdered the Patterson Family?”. It was an attempt to find out who could have murdered Confederate Officer William Patterson and his entire family outside of Dallas (current day Marble Hill, Missouri).

As I stated in the previous article I had found information in a clipping from the June 28, 1866 Daily Union and American newspaper reporting Bollinger County Sheriff James Rogers was appointed by Missouri Governor Fletcher and that he was being charged with murder for acts he committed during the Civil War. The paper reported:

“General J.R. McCormack, who is a candidate for the Conservative nomination for Congress in the third district, delivered a speech in Dallas, Webster County [Editors note: mistake by newspaper, Dallas present day Marble Hill, Missouri is in Bollinger County] on the 14th inst. , and he was attentively listened to. Shortly afterward a squad of five or six ruffians surrounded him, when one of them, named James Rogers, without provocation, knocked the Doctor down, the blow for a time rendering him speechless.

On recovering , he found the ruffians had left. Rogers is Sheriff of Bollinger county, an officer of the peace, appointed by Governor Fletcher. He is also charged with committing murder during the troubles in Southeast Missouri, and to have been guilty of swindling the Government in some lead and beef contracts down there.”

Governor Thomas Fletcher
served as from the later part of
Civil War-Reconstruction.

I wondered how James Rogers was “appointed” the Sheriff of Bollinger County, Missouri or how Erich Pape was “appointed” sheriff after Rogers. These questions were answered when I stumbled upon a March 18, 1865 issue of the Chicago Tribune which reported:

“The State Convention passed an ordinance today, vacating all offices of Circuit Judges, Circuit Attorneys, Criminal Judges, Sheriffs, Probate Judges, and clerks, and All Courts of Record, from and after May 1’st, by a vote of forty-three to five. The offices are all to be filled by the Governor. By this ordinance, eight-hundred offices eight hundred offices are made vacant at one blow. Governor Fletcher promises to reappoint all the loyal men, elected by the people, the object being to get rid of the disloyal.”

I get the distinct feeling that disloyalty was a very weak excuse and that the main object was to get rid of all forms of Civil Government in order to insulate and protect themselves from being prosecuted for war crimes.

Governor Fletcher vacates all courts, judges and sheriffs.Governor Fletcher vacates all courts, judges and sheriffs. Sat, Mar 18, 1865 – 1 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

In Post-War Bollinger County, Republicans Weren’t Welcome

One account of Bollinger County, Missouri during the Civil War called it a “hotbed of secession”, Historian Glen Bishop, (whose speech at the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History was covered in the September 4, 2011 Southeast Missourian Newspaper) stated that 6 out of 10 men in Bollinger County sided with the South during the war.

Not surprisingly, many of these men either fled the state or lost their property during the war. A common practice was to claim back taxes owned on the land that were not paid during the hostilities. When the land owners couldn’t pay, they county took the land. In other instances during the war men who were charged with being Southern sympathizers would have to take an “Oath of Allegiance” and put up a bond. If the accused did not have the cash for the bond, they were allowed to use their property. In the event they were accused of disloyalty again, the property was forfeited and often time the accused sent to prison.

It is important to remember that during and after the War most Southerners were Democrats and most Unionists were Republican, of course most Southerners could not hold office or vote until the Drake Constitution (which served as the basis for Missouri Reconstruction) was abolished in 1875.

By 1872 land in Bollinger County could be found advertised in papers throughout the United States but as some would find out, the land was not much of a bargain. Evidence of this can be found in the August 5, 1872 Inter Ocean newspaper (Chicago, Illinois) and the August 8, 1872 Boston Globe (both articles being republished from the St. Louis Globe).

Republicans intimidated in Bollinger CountyRepublicans intimidated in Bollinger County Mon, Aug 5, 1872 – Page 6 · The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com KKK Intimidation, Bollinger County, MissouriKKK Intimidation, Bollinger County, Missouri Thu, Aug 8, 1872 – 4 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

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A Northern View on Race

I write and post a lot of historical articles mainly related to the Ozarks and the Civil War. Most of it is well received but every now and then and sometimes someone feels the need to dispute what I say. It’s only natural but most of the time when someone is triggered they make a counterpoint by grabbing the first headline that they feel makes their case.

Ironically I rarely discuss slavery because in the Ozarks, it really wasn’t an issue. Those that fought for the Confederacy in the area usually did so for one of two reasons:

1: Their view on patriotism was based on the fact that they believed in loyalty to the State in which they were living first.

2: Their first taste of war came at the hands of local Union militias looking for opportunities to benefit themselves at the expense of their victims.

On one forum someone posted a video from the Washington Post entitled: “How a propaganda campaign to minimize slavery’s role in the civil war became American history

The obvious take away from the video is to place emphasis on slavery as being a cause of the war. Anyone who doesn’t believe this is accused of subscribing to a “Lost Cause” belief.

Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition” Available in paperback $15 or Kindle format eBook for $2.99

My response to these types of accusations is to take a look at how former slaves were treated in the post-war North. The May 18, 1866 edition of Charleston Courier (Mississippi County, Missouri) carries an article originally published in the Princeton (Indiana) Democrat newspaper, which carried the headline “A Henderson County Nigger on the Witness Stand” The article needs no explanation.

Respect Escaped Leeper

William Leeper of Wayne County, Missouri

By all accounts William T. Leeper was an ambitious man. Through my research a picture begins to form of him. He was a man who desired to be a man of means, someone of prominence, of importance, a man of authority. In this picture are shadows of darkness, which if examined closely, reveal a man who was willing to do anything to achieve these goals. He was a driven man who chased his dreams with reckless abandon.

The official narrative for Leeper can be found in “Wayne County Place Names 1928-1945” archived at the Missouri State Historical Society which states:

“Colonel William T. Leeper moved to Wayne County in 1857 and purchased 225 acres of land. In 1858 he was elected County Surveyor and served until the beginning of the Civil War. He organized Company D. of the Twelfth Regiment of Missouri Militia and was made captain.”

That is a sanitized summary of the man. In a previous post I quoted a story from the Wayne County Historical Society about Leeper which states:

“History has not ignored Leeper’s methods or actions. In an account published in the Wayne County Journal Banner and shared on the Wayne County Historical Society’s social media page on August 1, 2018 , Captain William Leeper’s actions while he was in the 12’th Missouri Militia Cavalry (the 3’rd’s predecessor ) so much so that Leeper is labeled the “Chief Jayhawker” himself.

“Captain Leeper, I have no doubt, is wishing to merit and obtain a higher command than he now holds”. This was sent from Greenville and dated February 27, 1862, eleven days after the [Greenville] raid. A telegraph to General Gray at Pilot Knob was sent from Patterson soon thereafter. It read; “I have ordered Captain Leeper of CO B to Pilot Knob. Keep him and learn him to be a soldier”. One historian previously wrote about Leeper: “Captain Leeper’s methods of ferreting out and interrogating men to determine their loyalties were direct and brutal. He was known to shoot anything that moved and burn anything that would light. In February 1863 (almost exactly a year since the Greenville raid), Leeper and the 12th Missouri Militia participated in what was called by some “The Battle of Mingo Swamp” and by others as the “Mingo Swamp Massacre.” The McGee boys had just left the confederate army and returned home; ironically, to protect their home from Captain Leeper’s reign of terror. The McGee’s and their friends, the Cato’s sat unarmed at their camp at the McGee home when they were set upon in the early hours of February 4, 1863 by Captain Leeper and his “militia”. All 29 men were mercilessly gunned down in a barrage of gunfire. Captain Leeper’s report differs somewhat in that he reports “engaging a Union camp” on this date”.

 This account of Leeper is significant as it details his brutality (calling him the “Chief Jayhawker”) but also his gaffs. In this account , a quote of one of Leeper’s after action reports calls attention to Leeper referring to a Confederate camp as a “Union” camp.

Another instance can be found in Ivan McKee’s book “Lost Family, Lost Cause” which states:

“Some of the letters he wrote seem almost pathetic and his hatred must have bordered on the ruminations of a paranoid mind. An example: He had seen a report of a black Union group of soldiers in the general area. He wrote that he would like to see southern chivalry subdued by the African, and continued on that he would like to make a “flank” movement with black soldiers . The term, flank movement, as he used it showed unfortunately he had little or no concept of what a flank movement is in military tactics.”

Another , more humorous account of William T. Leeper’s gaffs , or Leeperisms (as I call them) can be found in the Wednesday February 28, 1872 , Lexington Intelligencer newspaper (which also shows how others viewed him), when Leeper was a Missouri State Representative.

The paper states that Leeper moved to amend everything and would move to amend the decalogue were it introduced in the House and that:

“The business of the House in particular would be greatly facilitated, if not improved, were some three or four [representatives] at home or bereft of speech.”

All of which prove that while that while William T. Leeper was willing to go to most any lengths to achieve success and become a man of means he was unable to achieve what he most wanted from many of his contemporaries, which was respect.

Clint Lacy is author of Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition which is available in Paperback for $15 and Kindle format for $2.99. It can be ordered by clicking this link or the image above.