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Trial of James Quisenberry for aiding and abetting the destruction of railroad property.

COLUMBIA, Mo., Tuesday, February 25, 1862--10 a. m.
The commission met pursuant to the above order and adjournment, all the members present, and proceeded to the trial of James Quisenberry, a citizen of Boone County, Mo., who being called into court had the above order read in his hearing and was asked if he objected to be tried by any member named in the detail, to which he replied in the negative.

The commission was then duly sworn in the presence of the accused and the judge-advocate duly sworn by the president also in the presence of the accused.

The accused was then arraigned on the following charge and specification

CHARGE: Aiding and abetting in the destruction of the property of the North Missouri Railroad Company.
Specfication.--In this, that James Quisenberry, a citizen of Boone County, Mo., did join with a band of armed persons engaged in the destruction of the property of the North Missouri Railroad Company and by his presence did aide and abet the destruction by fire and otherwise of certain rails, ties, bridges and timbers belonging to and necessary to the use of said company in the transaction of their ordinary and legitimate business. All this at or near Sturgeon, Boone County, Mo., on or about the 21st day of December, 1861.

To which the prisoner pleaded as follows, viz:
To the specification, guilty.
To the charge, guilty.

The prosecution here rested; and the prisoner in open court made the following statement which with a full knowledge of its consequences to himself he states to be a voluntary and full confession of his crime:

My name is James Quisenberry. I will be eighteen years of age if I live till next August. On December 19, 1861, I started from home having had two days' notice with the understanding that we were going to join the army of General Price, and I did not know any better until we got on the railroad. The notice was given me by Captain Watson. I do not know that Captain Petty was along; I had no acquaintance with him until he was brought here as a prisoner. Captain Searcy was along; he once taught in this university. We started on the night of the 19th from Brick Chapel, between Columbia and Fayette and about seven miles distant from this place. It was about 2 o'clock; we went direct to Germantown. We then went about four miles to the bridge on Perche Creek where we stopped about three hours. Some of the officers then held a council of war. John McKinney was also along whom I never knew till then. These three men were the leading men of the expedition so far as I know. After the council of war we moved on, it being still dark; rather northwest but I knew not to what point we were going. We arrived on the railroad in sight of Sturgeon above Sturgeon, and some of the men were ordered to tear up the railroad and others to guard them while they were tearing it up. About fifty yards of it were torn up at that place. I being ordered to guard the men while they were at it did so. Captain Watson and Captain Searcy gave the orders to tear it up. Houchens and Williamson took part in tearing up the road and Isaac Newland, who lives on the river-bottom about eight or nine miles from here. Barney Lynch also assisted who lives near the Brick Chapel, about eight miles from here. Doctor Coleman was appointed to guard the men while at work; Sam Langdon also was appointed as guard; Watson was also along. I was present within about 100 yards when the Sturgeon bridge was burnt but did not know the men who took part in it. Captain Watson was not with his company during the burning but left them with his orderly sergeant. I did not see him engaged in burning it. Captain Searcy was right up against the bridge with his company during the burning. They were all dismounted--some carrying fence-rails and some fire and others holding the horses. At the burning of the other bridge the name of which I do not remember-- but it was about seven miles from Sturgeon--Captain Watson and his men dismounted and I saw him and them carrying fence-rails and throwing them on the fire after it was built. There was another man whose name I have forgotten but it is something like Sanders who started the fires at both bridges. I was in the fight next morning. The only men of Watson's company who remained in the fight were myself and Houchens and Williamson and Newland; all the others ran away.

The court was then cleared and after mature deliberation confirmed the plea of the prisoner and finds the prisoner, James Quisenberry--
Of the specification, guilty.
Of the charge, guilty.
And the court do therefore sentence him, James Quisenberry, to be shot to death at such time and place as the major-general commanding the department shall direct.

Colonel Regiment Merrill's Horse, President Military Commission.
First Lieutenant, Merrill's Horse, Recorder Military Commission.

In consideration of the youth of the above-named James Quisenberry and the fact evident to the minds of the court that his crime was the result of too much confidence in the representations of designing men much older than himself by whom he was led into it; in consideration also of his full and frank confession of his guilt and of that of his older and wiser instigators and of his evidently sincere penitence for the crime of which he has been convicted, the members of the court without exception recommend his case to the commanding general as a fit one in which to exercise clemency and recommend that he be pardoned and released on taking the oath of allegiance and giving bonds for his future good behavior.

Colonel Regiment Merrill's Horse, President Military Commission.
Lieutenant-Colonel Merrill's Horse.
Captain, Merrill's Horse.
Lieutenant, Merrill's Horse.
Lieutenant, Merrill's Horse.

Finding approved. The commission having urgently recommended the prisoner to mercy and in consideration of his youth and his frank acknowledgment of guilt the sentence will be mitigated. He will be released from arrest upon his taking the oath of allegiance and filing a bond in $2,000 with proper securities for future good behavior and loyalty to the Government.


Source: Official Records, Series 2, Volume 1.

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