|Union Gen. John McNeil|
I stumbled upon an interesting book while digging through some archives. The book entitled "Crimes of the Civil War and Curse of the Funding" contains the story of 10 Southern citizens in Palmyra, Missouri who were executed because a Union informant had gone missing. This book goes into more detail of the event than any other book I've read that touched on this subject. According to the author Henry Clay Dean:
"In the town of Palmyra, Missouri, John McNeil had his headquarters as colonel of a Missouri regiment and commander of the post. An officious person who had acted as a spy and common informant', named Andrew Allsman, who was engaged in the detestable business of having his neighbors arrested upon charges of disloyalty, and securing the scouting's and ravages from every house that was not summarily burned to the earth.
Mr. Humphreys, also in prison, was to have been shot instead of one of those named above, but which' one the author has not the means of knowing. The change in the persons transpired in this way : Early on the morning of the execution, Mrs. Mary Humphreys came to see her husband before his death, to intercede for his re- lease. She first went to see McNeil, who frowned, stormed, and let loose a volley of such horrible oaths at her for daring to plead for her husband's life that she fled away through fear, and when she closed the door, the unnameable fiend cursed her with blasphemous assurances that her husband should be dispatched to hell at one o'clock. The poor affrighted woman, with bleeding heart, hastened to the provost marshal's office, and quite fainted away as she besought him to intercede with McNeil for the preservation of her husband's life. With a savage, taunting grin, Strachan said " that may be done, madam, by getting me three hundred dollars." This she did through the kindness of two gentlemen, who advanced the money at once.
She returned with the money and paid it to Strachan. Mrs. Humphrey had her little daughter by her side, when she sank into her seat with exhaustion. Scarcely had she taken her j^lace, until Strachan told her that she had still to do something else to secure her husband's release. At this moment he thrust the little girl out of the door and threatened the fainting woman with the execution of her husband. She fell as a lifeless corpse to the floor. After he had filled his pockets with money and satisfied his lust, the provost marshal released poor Humphreys.
The rough coffins were placed before them in such manner as to excite horror;
the grave opened its yawning mouth to terrify them ; but they stood unmoved amid the frenzied, murderous mob. Capt. Snyder was dressed in beautiful black, with white vest; magnificent head, covered with rich wavy locks that fell around his broad shoulders like the mane of a lion.
Two of the men were killed outright. Capt. Snyder sprang to his feet, faced the soldiers, pierced their cowardly faces with his unbandaged eagle eye fell forward to rise no more. The other seven were wounded, mangled and butchered in detail, with pistols ; Whilst the ear was rent with their piteous groans, praying to find refuge in death. The whole butchery occupied some fifteen minutes. The country Avas appalled at the recital of these crimes, and. incredulous of the facts. The newspapers Avere suppressed to prevent their joublication, and the exposure of the perpetrators. The punishment of the criminals was demanded by public justice and expected by everybody except the criminals, who well understood the cruelty and corruption of the Executive Department.