Story of Capt. Thomas Sidner

This was just one of the many sad Civil War stories of Monroe County. The background information about Allsman and Capt. Sidner’s subsequent death was extracted from the book “With Porter in North Missouri” by Joseph A. Mudd. LPP


“The number of prisoners, citizen and Confederate, killed in Missouri during the war by the Federal militia reached many hundreds, but no case of single or wholesale slaughter created so great an inquiry or so general reprobation as the killing of Willis Baker, Thomas Humston, Morgan Bixler, John Y. McPheeters and Hiram Smith, of Lewis County, Herbert Hudson, John M. Wade and Marion Lair, of Ralls County, Thomas Sidenor, of Monroe County, and Eleazer Lake, of Scotland County, by order of General John McNeil, at Palmyra, Saturday, October 18, 1862. 

J.B. Threlkeld of Shelbina, Shelby Co, related his Palmyra prison experience which gives background on this sad story: “Provost- Marshal Strachan (of Palmyra, Marion Co office) thought he had me pretty well worn out, and writing to my father asked him to influence me to take the oath, give bond and go home, or he would have to send me to Alton, Illinois, the following Monday morning. My father got Uncle Bob Threlkeld and Judge Foster to come to Palmyra and see what they could do. They got me out that night on parole, to report next morning at eight o’clock. Andrew Allsman (note: of Marion Co PM office) was in the office when I went in and remained there during my entire examination. Strachan put a great many questions to me which I answered. Allsman told Strachan that he very readily recognized me, and that I had done some terrible deeds, all of which I denied. It was hard to bear, but circumstances were such that I had to make the best of it. 

I told Strachan before I took the oath that I would never go into the militia. I had been home two months when the order came for every man to go into the militia. I got on my horse and went to Porter, taking forty men with me, and we were sworn into the Confederate service for three years or during the war. When Porter went to Palmyra he burned all of Strachan’s papers, my oath and bond with the rest, which was good for me. He took Allsman with him. At Whaleys Mill he released Allsman and furnished him with a horse to ride back to Palmyra. I think Allsman’s bones lie in a cave between Whaley’s Mill and Palmyra.”

Later, a notice was served on Colonel Porter by publication in the local papers and by a copy placed in the hands of Mrs. Porter which read thus:  

      Palmyra, Mo. October 8, 1862

Joseph C. Porter 

Sir:- Andrew Allsman, an aged citizen of Palmyra, and a non-combatant, having been carried from his home by a band of persons unlawfully arrayed against the peace and good order of the State of Missouri, and which band was under your control; this is to notify you that unless said Andrew Allsman is returned unharmed to his family within ten days from date ten men who have belonged to you band, and unlawfully sworn by you to carry arms against the Government of the United States, and who are now in custody, will be shot as a meet reward for their crimes, among which is the illegal restraining of said Allsman of his liberty, and if not returned, presumably aiding in his murder. Your prompt attention to this will save much suffering. 

Yours etc., W.R. Strachan

Provost-Marshal General District N.E. Missouri

Per order of Brigadier-General Command McNeil’s Column. 

The dread day came without light on the fate of Allsman… The fortitude of the ten victims in the face of death robbed Strachan of half his pleasure in the deed… Of all the men, Captain Tom Sidenor aroused the greatest interest. Young, handsome, cultivated, of high parentage, he had given his best to the cause of the South and the din of battle was sweet music to his ear. “Aim here,” he said, placing his hand over his heart, and his executioners, merciful to him, did his bidding, but many of the soldiers purposely aimed high; their repugnance and horror preventing them from realizing that obedience to orders was not only a duty but a mercy. 

…The editor of the Palmyra Courier whose hatred of everything Confederate or Southern was bounded only by the scope of his vigorous intellect, gave a minute description of the tragedy. Heretofore he had gloried in all the lesser “severities,” but now, no word of approval for this tragedy, and scarcely a word of condemnation for its victims: “He (Captain Sidenor) was now elegantly attired in a suit of black broadcloth with white vest. A luxurious growth of beautiful hair rolled down upon his shoulders which, with his fine personal appearance, could not but bring to mind the handsome but vicious Absolom…” 

Letter of Capt. Thomas Sidner


“Below we (print) a letter handed (unknown) week by Mr. Frank Sidner, of this city, which will bring to many old citizens and inhabitants of this country, familiar recollections of ‘war times.’ The letter was written by Captain T.A. Sidner to his brother, Mr. Noah Sidner, father of Mr. Frank Sidner, who lived near this city, at the time of the shooting in Palmyra. The McNeal butchery, as it has always been called, is too well known to need a review of the affair, having been published in this paper several months ago. Captain Sidner was born and raised in Monroe county, south of this city, but was known as a Shelbinian, as he did (much of) his training and spent much (of his) time here. The letter has (been) well kept and looks as though (it) had been written only a short time. It is published just as it was written:

                                    Military Prison,

                                    Palmyra, October 17, ‘62

Dear Brothers, Sisters, Friends:

I seat myself for the last time to write you a few lines. I am in good health, but alas tomorrow is the day set apart for me to be carried away to another world. Oh, I hope I will be welcome in Heaven where justice is done. I have not had a trial for my life; they will give me no trial. Oh, I hope God will forgive them for this unpardonable act, to take innocent men and shoot them for crime that others have done. We are to be shot for one man that J.C. Porter took away from this place, a man that I (never) saw in my life. Oh, is this (… unknown) God in Heaven knows that (… unknown) justice. Oh, how can it be (…unknown) no mortal man can do any (…unable to read next few lines …) we to leave you all, to never meet again only in Heaven, where (all the) righteous meet to never (part again). 

Tell my friends good bye for (yon) brother who will be no more (on) this earth in a few short hours. Oh, my mind is so frustrated. I cannot write, I cannot collect hardly (a) sentence or spell a word correctly but read it the best you can and think it is from your brother. (Jacob) he is with me, I will tell him good bye myself. Take good care of yourselves and try and get along through this hard and troublesome world the best you can. Tell Uncle Thornton’s family good bye and all inquiring friends. I have some little money with me, divide it to suit yourselves I will have no use for it. Boys, I want you all three to pay my debts, I don’t want any blemish left on my character after I am gone. Oh little did I think I would be caught and shot, if I had they would not have kept me this long. I have had several chances to get away from them but I thought they would give me justice consequently I stayed, and now see what they are going to do with me.

Oh, if I had only known they were going to shoot me I would have left them days ago. October 18, 1862, good bye to you all this morning, brothers, sisters, friends, and relatives, I have to bid you all good bye for the last time. I am to be shot at 1o’clock this evening. The federals won’t let Jack come up to see me. I got to see him this morning and shake hands with him. I don’t know that I will get to see him any more. If I do not, tell him good bye to me. I can only say ‘Farewell Forever’ on this earth but I have better prospects for the future. I put my trust in the God and hope to receive the rewards in Heaven. Farewell (unknown) forever.”

Source: Original source unknown; untitled, undated article extracted from the newspaper article collection started in 1879 by Mrs. Nannie Brown of Madison, Missouri. Generously provided by NE Missouri genealogist Kathleen Wilham of Shelbina, MO (