And it was to carry a message from Quantrill to Reynolds that George Maddox made his memorable trip in 1863. Reynolds in order to understand thoroughly the military condition of Missouri, and know for special reasons how many militia were on duty for the state, how many Federal troops, what posts were fortified, and what the strength of the posts was, had commissioned Quantrill to ascertain these facts and forward to him without delay. Quantrill did what he was ordered to do, and did it thoroughly. Ten reports were made of this information and George Maddox, at the head of nine men, was entrusted with the hazardous duty of conveying said information to Arkansas.
He was to stop for nothing. He was to ride by night as well as
by day. If there were no fords he was to swim; if he could not swim
he was to drown. If he had to fight, very well - fight; if he had
to run, still very well - run; if he had men wounded, leave them; if he
had men killed, leave them. If he had men crippled, leave them.
Some one of the ten was to get through as fast as human flesh and horse
flesh would hold together and go on. These were Quantrill's iron
orders, and he chose an iron man to carry them out. George Maddox
was all tenacity and endurance. Tried in the fire of fifty desperate
combats, he was a fatalist to the extent of believing in the fates good
care of him. He did not speculate, he did not build air castles at
night for the mists of the morning to dissipate; if he was an hungered
and could not get to eat, he drew his revolver belt a hole or two
and forgot that he had an appetite. As he rode he sang, or was
The country in every direction was swarming with Federals. They were by streams and crossings, at ferries and bridges, in the towns and on the main roads, on scouting expeditions and harrying marches. They were killing everywhere, watching everywhere.
Maddox rode fast the first night and fought at daylight the next morning, losing a man killed named William Strother. The dispatch that Strother bore was taken from his person under fire, together with his pistols, and the nine rode on, hard tested and forced nine times during the day to turn about and give and take whether or no.
Just at nightfall John Coger was wounded. The ball knocked him at first from his horse, but he leaped defiantly to his feet and killed the soldier who shot him, mounting again and riding apparently unhurt with his comrades until the darkness deepened. Then his leg began first to burn and throb, next to grow fiery red, then to stiffen. Evidently this battered old hero would have to fall out by the wayside and return by easy stages at his leisure. Where some heavy timber grew in the lower part of Johnson County, Maddox left Coger, taking first his dispatch and giving him in place of it Strother's trusty revolver.
"Watch well behind and before, Coger old boy" said Maddox
In Henry County there was another fight, a short savage venomous one, wherein the eight guerrillas charged twenty ambushed Federals and routed them, losing Sam Jessup killed and Newt Majors seriously wounded. Jessup was let remain where he fell, and Majors carried carefully along to the edge of St.Clair, was deposited at the house of a well-known Southern man deep in some timber. Two days afterwards Majors was surrounded and killed, killing as he died. But neither on the body of Jessup nor on that of Majors, was anything found that told of name, or band, or flag, or mission. These dead men surely told no tales.
In St.Clair, close to where it abuts upon Cedar, the besetments of a night ambuscade added its terror to the fatigue of the long days march, and here before the hidden hornets had done stinging, Jim Whitsett was shot past riding further than to find a place of safety. Whitsett was all nerve, and dash, and rugged appearance, but he was human.
He closed his lips tightly, and gripped his horse with his knees, and managed to make five miles painfully before he found a sure asylum: but the five could not tarry. Maddox took his comrade's precious dispatch, blessed him, and bade him goodbye - a parting of sledgehammer and anvil.
Cedar County, that Valley of the Shadow of Death for isolated or belated Confederate travelers, was circumvented with a balance left largely to the Guerrilla side. Secure in a security that had scarcely known a stir or a ripple of excitement for a year. Maddox caught nine unwary pillagers and left them past seeing or feeling. The last one to be killed was a preacher who blasphemed beyond all endurance and died cursing God and the devil. As a vengeance, or maybe as a punishment for not mowing a wider swathe through Cedar County, Maddox lost one man, Patrick Nagel, killed in Dade County, and another one, Silas Woodruff, killed in Lawrence County. There were but three left - three gaunt, grim, silent, desperate men - worn from hard riding, much starving, scant sleep, and continual fighting.
In Barry County, Henry Hockensmith, undaunted and unflagging as he presses forward with his steed, set far towards Arkansas, was shot from a roadside hollow and severely wounded. The ball did not even sway him in the saddle. Solid as a young oak, built like a grizzly bear for depth of chest and might of muscle, cool as a grenadier, schooled by Quantrill, drilled by George Todd, and graduated from a school that knew no peril that would not flee if faced and no bloody ground that would not give up its ogres if penetrated, he rode on twenty-two miles further with a ball in his shoulder, and into a safe place in Arkansas.
Five days afterward George Maddox and one comrade, the indomitable Press Webb, dismounted at Reynold's tent door, travel-stained, hollow-eyed, bronzed brown as Indians but triumphant. On the exhaustive information thus sent and received, and on similar information sent in 1864 was the Price Expedition conceived and inaugurated."
Richard (Dick) Maddox was killed by a Cherokee Indian just after the close of the war. George Maddox was arrested arbitrarily after the surrender for his participation in the Lawrence Raid, and was confined a long time in jail. He escaped however to go back into peaceful life and made as good a citizen as he made a soldier.
Extract Copy from "Noted Guerrillas or the Warfare of the
1861-1865", by John Edwards. Written by John Edwards - the author