Sherwood/Rader Farm Civil War Park, Inc. | Civil War site | located at the northeast corner of Fountain Road and Peace Church Road.
In May of 1863, the severe brutality of the Civil War became painfully real to the soldiers and residents of western Jasper County.
On May 18, 1863, a violent fight occurred at William Rader’s farmhouse. When the gun smoke cleared 18 Union soldiers lay dead. The soldiers that survived regrouped on the grounds of Sherwood/Rader Farm Civil Park and fought back at their aggressors. The following day Union troops retaliated by burning the Rader homestead and the nearest community of Sherwood to the ground. These two days in May explain the nature of life and the ferocity of war in western Jasper County.
In 2009, Jasper County acquired the five-acre area with funds from a donation. Since then, other donations have been made to improve the site and create the Sherwood/Rader Farm Civil Park, including a new plaque telling the of the site’s significance to the Civil War in Jasper County.
The plaque reads: “The Civil War action on this field was part of a series of events in May 1863 that intensified southwest Missouri’s bitter guerilla conflict and ultimately left most of Jasper County depopulated and in ruins by war’s end.
In early May, Union forces established a small outpost at Baxter Springs to secure the vital supply line between Fort Scott, Kansas and Fort Gibson in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) Confederate guerrillas operating in western Jasper County, Missouri, under Major Thomas Livingston posed the principal threat.
On May 18, following a week of earlier engagements between the opposing armies, Livingston surprised about 50 soldiers of the First Kansas Colored Infantry and Second Kansas Battery, as they foraged at the Rader farm just east of the site. Livingston’s 67 men routed the soldiers, killing 18, including several African-American troops who tried to surrender. Falling back, the Federals made a stand on this property before retreating to Kansas.
On May 19, Union troops from Baxter Springs, bent on revenge, returned to the scene. Although Livingston’s band eluded the force, the Federals captured and executed John Bishop, known to be a Southern sympathizer. They then proceeded three miles northwest to Sherwood, near the intersection of JJ Highway and Fir Road. Because this third-largest town in Jasper County was a guerrilla base, all of the businesses and homes of the 250 inhabitants were burned. The town was never rebuilt. Indeed, for the remainder of the war, a cycle of burned homes and revenge killings perpetrated by both sides devastate the entire region.
A 2015 archaeological study at this site provided important evidence regarding the likely course of the battle at Rader’s Farm. The public is invited to tour the area and read further information gleaned from this study and from the accounts written by both sides.”
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