Behind Yankee Lines Bud Had a Bonnet, Basket and a Brace of Colts, Cole Younger AKA The Applewoman

Henry Washington Younger, son of Colonel Charles Lee Younger and Sarah Sullivan Purcell, was born on February 22, 1810. Henry married Bersheba Leighton Fristoe, fathering fourteen children including Thomas Coleman Younger, James Hardin Younger, and Robert Ewing Younger. In his autobiography, Cole Younger writes that his Father Henry "was one of the founders of Lees Summit, Missouri, was elected to Jackson county legislature, three times in the legislature, and judge of the county court. Cole also shared his Father had the US Mail contract that covered "500 miles of Northwestern Missouri."(1)  Next is an image of Cole & Jim Younger.                                                                  

Henry Washington Younger was a known Pro-Union man and, like Missouri, his sons tried to remain neutral after the War was officially declared. Unfortunately, both attempts were doomed for failure.

Returning home from a business trip to Washington DC concerning his mail contract, Henry Younger found the hordes from Kansas had raided his farm, stealing livestock and wagons. He traveled to Kansas City where he was promised protection by the (Union) Missouri State Militia.

On July 20, 1862 Henry Washington Younger while returning home from a short trip from Harrisonville, Missouri  was murdered and robbed of $500.00. The scoundrels hurried away because they heard people approaching, so they failed to find Younger's money belt which contains an additional $2200.00.

Mrs. Washington Wells and her son Samuel, (better known by his alias Charlie Pitts) stumbled upon the gruesome scene where they found the body and saw the seven Yankee murders riding away. Sam galloped off to Kansas City to advise the Federal commanders while his mother bravely stood guard over the body. Based upon information provided by the Wells, and the fact Walley knew his Father carried large sums of money, and because "two of my cousins, on my mother's side, Charity Kerr and Nannie Harris (afterwards Mrs. McCorkle) with first my father and then a short distance on with Capt. Walley and his gang of the Missouri Militia, whose hands (were) stained with the blood of my father." (2).

Cole also mentions Walley fearing that they could identify him and his men, had Charity Kerr and Nannie Harris imprisoned in the house located on Grand Avenue in Kansas City. One year later, after the two woman had endured over six months in that living hell, the structure was deliberately undermined undermined till it would collapse upon them and the other innocent woman confirmed there. 

Cole Younger immediately attributed the heinous crime to Union Captain Irvin Walley and six of his men who had a vendetta against him. Cole documented that the bad blood started when Walley and a detachment of six men crashed the Younger's barn dance. One of Cole's sisters refused to dance with Captain Walley, which in turn caused Younger and Walley to engage in their own pugilist dance.

Embittered by the murder of his Father within days Cole joined Shelby's brigade, Colonel Upton B Hays regiment. He was appointed First Lieutenant under Captain John Jarret.

On August 1, 1862, John T. Hughes, now a Confederate brigadier general, moved into Jackson County with seventy-five men to recruit a brigade for the Confederate army. He set up recruiting camp near Lee’s Summit. It was so near the Union command in Independence the Confederate flag could be seen from the top of the courthouse. This did not seem to concern Lt Colonel James T Buell, who was planning to wipe out the Rebel forces with his command which numbered no more than five hundred.

Colonel William Clarke Quantrill had already attacked Independence earlier in the year, and according to Homer Croy, "Quantrill wanted Independence more than a bear wants honey, but Lt. Colonel James T Buell stood between them and the honey pot." (2). 

Clearly Hughes and Hays agreed. Hays had 300 men to add to Hughes command. Quantrill had twenty five Missouri Minute Men which, considering how they were armed and mounted, significantly evened the odds.

No matter what the odds every Military commander wants to enter a battle with the most accurate and up to date intelligence available. Thanks to Don Gilmore we know Quantrill selected Morgan Maddox as his spy into town, and as documented by Cole and Harrison Trow we know Cole Younger was selected for the same task by Col Upton Hays.

All things considered Cole Younger may have been the worse choice. Based solely upon size; at six foot and one hundred and seventy-five pounds Cole, stood out in any crowd of the day. Not to mention the fact he was already a wanted man, and was well known to many because he had delivered mail.

At this point in the conflict the Confederate spies would disguise themselves as "cattle buyers, farmers (selling their crops) and/or wood-choppers. (3). The only way Cole would be able to convince Colonel Hays he had better than a snow-balls chance in hell was to find a new disguise.

Unbound by current day perceptions of manhood and sexuality Cole came upon a bold idea, he would dress up as an old Woman who was trying to sell vegetables from her farm.

On August 8th 1862, "about ten o'clock in the morning, an old woman with gray hair and wearing spectacles rode up to the public square from the South... A faded sunbonnet, long and antique hid  almost all her face. The riding shirt, which had once been black was now bleached, some tatters also abounded, and here and there an unsightly patch.

On the horse was a blind bridle, the left rein leather and the right rein rope. Neither did it have a throat latch. The saddle was a man's saddle, strong in the stirrups and fit for any service. Women resorted often to such saddles then, the Civil War had made many a hard thing easy. On the old lady's arm was a huge market basket covered by a white cloth. Under the cloth were beets, garden (green) beans and some summer apples."(4)

Hidden in the basket under the fruit was a brace of loaded Colt revolvers.

Thanks to his disguise Cole was able to enter Independence without attracting too much attention. Encountering the mocking and cat-calls any Southern woman endured at the hands of the Saintly boys in blue, he remained undetected long enough to learn Colonel Buel's headquarters were located half a mile from his troops with no means of communication between them.

Everything seemed to be was going well enough until Cole rode past the picket post two hours later than he had entered the town. The Sergeant of the Guard decided he wanted to see what was in the basket as well as get a better look look at the horse which upon reexamination seemed far too high of quality of a mount for an old lady.

Trow wrote: "At first the old lady did not heed the summons to halt, ... she did shift the basket from the right arm to he left arm and straighten up in the saddle.. Another cry and the old lady look back innocently over one shoulder and snapped out; Do you mean me?

By this time a mounted picket had galloped up to her, ranged alongside and seized the bridle of the horse. It was thirty steps back to post, maybe, two here the sergeant and eight men were down from their horses and their horses hitched. To the outpost it was a hundred yards and a single picket stood there.

The old woman said to the solder, as he was turning her horse around and doing it roughly. What will you have? I'm a poor lone woman going peacefully to my home. Didn't you hear the Sergeant call for you, damn you? Do you want to be carried back? the sentinel answered.

The face under the sunbonnet transformed itself; the demure eyes behind their glasses grew scintillant. From beneath the riding shirt a heavy foot emerged; the old horse in the blind bridle seemed to undergo an electric impulse; there was the gliding of the old hand the sergeant had inspected into the basket, and a cocked pistol came out and was fired almost before it got into sight. With his grasp still upon the reins of the old woman's bridle, the Federal picket fell dead under the feet of the horse.

Then stupefied, the impotent reserve saw a weird figure dash away down the road, it's huge bonnet flapping in the wind, and the trail of an antique riding skirt, split at the shoulders, streaming back as the smoke that follows a furnace....The furthest picket heard the firing, saw the apparition, bethought himself of the devil and took to the brush." (5).

On August 11, 1862 Confederate forces under General Hughes, Colonels Hays & Quantrill victoriously attacked Independence Missouri, the information provided by Cole Younger and Morgan Maddox aided the Confederate victory. Next is an image of Cole recreating his war time feat in alter life. This was originally published in A True Story of Charles W. Quantrill, as Told by Harrison Trow 1923, J. P. Burch Vega Texas. This image is made from an original printers block which is owned by one of our members.         

This story helps to disprove three of the common myths about Quantrill and his command.

(A). When Hughes was killed Quantrill took battle field command over Hays, which proves beyond any a doubt that Quantrill was appointed as a Colonel by Price. There is no way a Colonel would take orders from a Captain.

(B). It demonstrates Quantrill's forces sometimes worked in conjunction with regular Confederate troops from almost the day they took up arms.

(C). Many of the exploits of Quantrill and his men including this event have been dismissed as being larger than life. The reality is Quantrill and his command were legendary men who lived extraordinary lives.

The campaign to dehumanize these brave Southern hero's waged since 1865 is finally being torn asunder thanks to men like Paul Petersen and Don Gilmore.

©Patrick Marquis,quantrillguerrillas2012.Written permission should be obtained before utilizing the copyrighted essay and/or images.

(1) The Story of Cole Younger by Himself, 1903, T. C Younger & D. McCarty

(2). Cole Younger, The Last of the Great Outlaws, Homer Croy page 18.

(3). Ibid.

(4). A True Story of Charles W. Quantrill, as Told by Harrison Trow 1923, J. P. Burch Vega Texas page 79

(5). A True Story of Charles W. Quantrill, as Told by Harrison Trow 1923, J. P. Burch Vega Texas pages 80- 82.



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