The Four George Brothers Thier Home Was Burned Seven Times.

There are those that mouth their patriotism to millions and there are those that through their deeds and actions live their lives as an example to others what a true patriot should be. Brothers Nathan, John, Hiram and Gabriel George were those kinds of men. Here at quantrillsguerrillas.com we continue to share what brave men had to endure and what they accomplish during the most trying period in American history.  

The four George brothers were sons of David C. George of Oak Grove, Missouri. David C. George owned some of the most beautiful land in the county comprising pasture, timber and an ample supply of water. Quantrill often camped on the George’s 900-acre farm, two miles southwest of Oak Grove protected by its thick woods and deep ravines. The oldest son, Nathan B. George first rode with Quantrill after his house was burned down by Kansas Jayhawkers. Nathan had been the postmaster in Oak Grove. He was married to Sarah E. Farmer, the daughter of Jeremiah Farmer the Baptist pastor in Brooking Township who married many of the guerrillas before and during the war. Because the George family was all Southerners their home was burned seven times during the war, the first time being on June 12, 1862.  Below is the Ambrotype of brothers John Hicks "HIX" George and Hiram James "Hi" George.     

David C. George wrote a letter describing the Jayhawker’s actions. "Stealing horses is quite a common occurrence here, but by reason of the close proximity of the state of Kansas which furnishes them a place of retreat, as well as a market for such stolen stock their arrest and detection is exceedingly difficult.” For his outspoken criticism David C. George was murdered on February 15, 1863 by Union Captain Anderson Morton. Morton then ordered his soldiers to burn down the George home. Nathan B. George later joined the 12th Cavalry Regiment in the Missouri State Guards rising to the rank of Captain. The regiment was from Jackson County organized during the summer of 1863. The unit was assigned to General Joseph O. Shelby's brigade, in the Trans-Mississippi Department, and confronted the Federals in Missouri and Arkansas. Later it was part of Price's operations in Missouri. It was included in the surrender on June 2, 1865. Its commanders were Colonel David Shanks, Lieutenant Colonel William H. Erwin, Major Samuel Bowman, and H.J. Vivien.

The next oldest brother, Hiram James George also known as "Hi" was born on April 7, 1834. He first enlisted in the regular CSA in Company C, 2nd Missouri Cavalry in Upton Hays Regiment, of General Joseph O. Shelby’s brigade then returned home to ride with Quantrill. His father had been murdered by Jayhawkers, the home of his mother burned down three times the first time on June 12, 1862. Hiram described what happened after Federals found his brother's name and that of his brother-in-law, Ezra Moore on Quantrill's company muster roll dated July 6, 1862. "The muster list became a death list because so many of Quantrill’s men were related to one another. As a result, they burned and took everything I had. Killed my father. Hung my brother.” The Federals often murdered all the men of a guerrilla’s family, burned down their homes, confiscated their property, and stole their livestock. These cruelties did not, however, weaken the resolve of Quantrill’s men. As Guerrilla John McCorkle had learned, even if a man wanted to put down his weapons and live in peace, the Federals would not allow it. By threatening and bullying and harassing and killing members of the guerrillas families, the Federal authorities drove six men into the ranks of the guerrillas for every one they tried to eradicate. The Union army also learned that these vengeful men were much more ferocious and effective fighters than those who fought only for a cause. Hiram was wounded three times during the war.

John Hicks George also known as "Hix" was born on March 24, 1838 in Oak Grove, Missouri. On June 14, 1862 George enlisted in Company C of the 2nd Missouri Cavalry under Colonel Upton Hays with his brother Hiram two days after this Federals burned down his home on June 12, 1862. His name then appears on Quantrill’s company muster roll dated July 6, 1862. On August 15, 1862 Federals hung John by the neck in an attempt to get him to tell where his brother Hiram was who was hiding nearby with Quantrill.

John described the ordeal. I had an experience along about the first part of the war that took my breath away. I don’t mean that just as an expression, but I mean literally. My breath was taken away and I was extremely lucky to get it back again. It was at the outbreak of the war and I was twenty-three years old. I was at work on my farm one morning when a troop of Federal cavalry came up the road leading to my house.  They asked me the whereabouts of Quantrill and I refused to answer. In truth, Charlie and his men were camped about a half-mile over the hill. When I refused to answer, the Federal leader ordered his men to hang me to the most convenient limb. And they did. After several minutes of choking and gasping they cut me down and asked about the guerrilla chieftain again. Again I refused to answer, so up I went. When I was almost dead, they let me to the ground and repeated the questioning and again met with refusal. 

John was said to be "an iron man who could sleep in the saddle and eat as he ran." John and his brother Hiram could always be found together and took part in most of the battles fought with Quantrill's company. John fought at the Battle of the Ravines, 1st Battle of Independence, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Wellington, Lawrence, Baxter Springs, Mark’s Mill, Arkansas and Jefferson City, Missouri. At the Battle of the Ravines his brother-in-law guerrilla Ezra Moore was killed. John joined General Shelby at the close of the war and fought at the 2nd Battle of Independence and the Battle of Westport.  

The youngest George brother was Gabriel William George born on April 17, 1843. Gabriel joined Quantrill early in the war and was killed during a skirmish on the streets of Independence, Missouri on February 22, 1862 when only 19 years old. Quantrill had led his men into Independence sixteen miles from Oak Grove to attack a Federal company but discovered that another company of soldiers had entered the town after dark. As he opened the engagement on the streets of town he found himself vastly outnumbered. Guerrilla Harrison Trow noted that Gabriel George was in the lead of Quantrill’s column, and as the guerrillas chased the Federals into the brick courthouse, George was killed so close to the fence surrounding the building that it was only with great difficulty that his comrades were able to drag his body away under the point-blank fire. Quantrill himself had his horse shot out from under him and suffered a leg wound.  The guerrillas killed seventeen Federals while only losing two of their own men along with several wounded.  

After the skirmish Gabriel's body was picked up by his relatives and prepared for burial. Two days after the battle, although wounded and using a cane, Quantrill attended the funeral with his men providing security. The service was officiated by Hiram Bowman. "During the funeral Quantrill was seen saying a few words privately to David C. George and grasping the hand of Nancy Elizabeth George, the bereaving mother, in silent sympathy before slipping silently into the friendly timber, accompanied by one of his trusted lieutenants. His men scattered in three directions as silently as they had come but a short time before.”  

The Georges along with their relatives were all members of the Oak Grove Baptist Church. The church’s pastor, sixty-three-year-old Hiram Bowman, was a cousin and became the father-in-law of John Koger, one of Quantrill’s bravest soldiers. The brothers recalled when Quantrill would stay with them they all attended the "protracted" meetings at their church and that “He [Quantrill] was an admirer of many of the beautiful girls in that vicinity. To one of these girls he gave the first photograph he ever had made of himself.”  

The George's neighbor was guerrilla Ezra Moore. He had his house burned down the same day as his neighbors and relatives the Georges.  Ezra was married to one of David George’s daughters and lived on land given to him by his father-in-law. Another daughter, Amanda was a sweetheart of guerrilla Captain Andy Blunt. Ezra was killed fighting with Quantrill at the Battle of the Ravines on July 10, 1862.  During the battle Ezra was shot trying to climb up a bluff when he was taken prisoner. As he lay wounded and bleeding the Federals shot him again over his left ear leaving powder burns on his face.

Just before the Battle of the Ravines John Hicks George was posted as rear guard. He discovered the enemy at first light and reported to Quantrill who told him to take a shot at them when they were close enough and then fall back. John commented after the fighting, “[We] were surrounded by 400 Federal soldiers and a hot fight ensued.” Quantrill had seven men killed and two taken prisoner. The Federal loss was ninety-two killed.  George himself took a conspicuous part in the battle. His comrades recounted that he “never fired a shot at the enemy without cursing them, either in a biting whisper or out loud, and that he was an excellent shot.”  

At the Battle of Wellington on September 18, 1862, John Hicks George was credited with emptying two Federal saddles of their riders.  The Federals lost 40 men. When the nearby Federal outposts heard of Quantrill's success they closed in on him. In the running battle that ensued the guerrillas found themselves surrounded. Fighting out of the trap John Hicks George was wounded. The guerrillas only lost one man. When Quantrill led his men south to Arkansas during the winter of 1862-63 they were attached to Confederate General Joseph O. Shelby's division. Some of Quantrill’s men continued riding south. These men included the George brothers, Nathan, Hiram and John along with their brother-in-law Ezra Moore where they traveled on to the area of Kentuckytown, Texas, driving a herd of cattle to be traded for horses and food. The small band stopped on the way at Clarksville, Texas to have their horses shod by Zachary Cooper, a refugee from Jackson County before reaching Shelby on April 2, 1864. When they returned Nathan joined Shelby’s Brigade on February 12, becoming a captain while Moore and the remaining George brothers rejoined Quantrill’s command. Hiram and John both rose to the rank of corporal under Quantrill. In Arkansas the brothers took part in the Battles of Cane Hill and Prairie Grove. At one point the fighting grew desperate. Allen Parmer along with Jesse James, Hiram and Nathan George and others of the Missouri guerrillas helped save Shelby's life on the Fayetteville Road during the battle of Prairie Grove. Shelby had four horses shot out from under him while directing the rear guard action. Hiram George and his comrades all recalled that “Shelby was a brave soldier and was always in the thickest of the fight.” During one engagement on December 7, 1862 the Federals pressed Shelby so closely they were able to capture him and several of his men. But before he could be escorted away as a prisoner-of-war Quantrill's men under the command of Captain John Jarrette counterattacked in such a bold sudden strike, so surprising the enemy, that they were able to rescue the general. Shelby never forgot this act of sacrifice and bravery and to his dying day he defended the guerrillas whenever he got the chance.  

Arriving back from Texas Hiram George remembered that “In the spring of 1863 Quantrill assembled his men in the timber on the farm of David George and he outlined his work for the coming summer and fall.  He said he would not command a band himself that summer but would keep all the captains subject to him, and when necessary he would command the whole force.” This new command structure let him focus on higher-level concerns permitting him to concentrate on maintaining a higher tempo of operations by devising ways to use the various units of his command more efficiently.  

It was during the summer that Jayhawkers stationed in Kansas City arrested female members of Quantrill's men and placed them in a three story brick building then undermined the supporting structure killing five young women most notably the sister of Bloody Bill Anderson. After the women’s jail collapse Hiram knew Quantrill would exact a terrible revenge. Being one of Quantrill’s earliest recruits he knew Quantrill well. He told those around him, “He [Quantrill] was a very mild-mannered person and as kind and gentle as a woman but when aroused, however, he had the spirit and vindictiveness of a tiger and would fight a buzz saw.”  

The deaths of the female relatives ignited the passions of the guerrillas to the extent that in only a few days the guerrillas found themselves riding on the Lawrence raid. During the battle John and Hiram George gathered up the wounded Josiah L. Bledsoe under a hail of fire and carried him to safety.  After clearing a group of Redlegs out of the Johnson House Hotel in Lawrence one of the George brothers wrote: “The officers in the hotel begged to be taken prisoner, but Quantrill reminded them of General Halleck’s order, and of the hundreds of old men they had killed in Missouri.”  Some attempted to escape and were spared. Others stayed, thinking they would be safe." Hiram was responsible for carrying $30,000 in gold from Lawrence for the needy citizens along the border who had been burned out of their homes by the Kansas Jayhawkers.

After Lawrence the George brothers fought at Baxter Springs on October 6, 1863, before joining the Missouri State Guard enlisting in the company led by their brother Captain Nathan B. George. Hiram James George formally surrendered on May 26, 1865 at Shreveport, Louisiana being listed as a member of Shanks, Regiment, 12th Missouri Cavalry Regiment in Company C. Hiram was a pallbearer for Jesse James' second funeral in 1902.  He attended all the Quantrill reunions, as did his brother. Hiram died on October, 22, 1911. John joined the same unit as his brother and was captured at Fort Scott, Kansas in 1864, and sent to the Federal prison at Rock Island Illinois. He was exchanged at Richmond and then went to North and South Carolina. He surrendered at Shreveport, Louisiana in May 1865. John Hicks George died on January 29, 1926. Both brothers are buried in the George Family Cemetery in Oak Grove, Missouri along with their brother-in-law Ezra Moore.

References: Paul R. Petersen - Quantrill of Missouri and Quantrill in Texas. George, B. James Sr. The Georges – Pioneers and Rebels, David C. George & Nancy E. George, Their Life and Times. Jackson County Historical Society, Independence, Missouri. Oak Grove Banner, October 8, 1898  December 21, 1906. Edwards, John Newman. Shelby and his Men or The War in the West. Cincinnati, Miami Printing & Publishing Co. 1867, pg. 118) George, B. James Sr.. Hiram James George – Man of Many Faces. 1959, Jackson County Historical Archives.

Paul R. Petersen © Quantrillguerrillas.com. Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this or copyrighted essay and/or image."



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