by B.L. Williams
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The most famous Confederate guerrilla of Kentucky was in reality a young woman from Missouri! We are, of course, speaking of Sue Mundy. Jerome Clark, most generally said to be Sue, was often mistaken for her, and the two do fairly resemble each other. Just how this strange circumstance came about and how I come to know the truth of it takes me back more than forty years to a white haired old man and a mountain cabin long gone and a series of stories of days long past. The old gentleman spoke of Charlie Quantrill, Cole Younger, Frank and Jesse James, his father, Andy Potter and a time of high adventure. A secret mission under taken by a mixed band of Missouri and Kentucky Confederate guerrillas in a desperate bid to save the Southern Confederacy. At the center of the fire storm was a woman of indomitable will, her name was Susan Mundy. This is her story.
The man who told it was my great grandfather, Jim Potter, a mountaineer of some ninety years. A living history book, he knew the story of our family and how it connected to the flow of American history. The words that follow are a testament to the accuracy of his recollections. The footnotes bear witness to the truths he told.
Susan Mundy first entered the pages of history when she was confined on the upper floors of a large three story brick building in Kansas City, Missouri. The building was being used by the Yankees as a prison for female Confederates, who were being held on charges of giving aide to Quantrill or his men.
The building which was only six years old(1), collapsed under very suspicious circumstances, on August 14, 1863, killing four young women instantly, one other dying a few days later. Other young women and girls were seriously injured. Among the four women who survived was Susan Mundy.
The building collapse was hardly an "accident" and the cover up most flimsy. Connelley, who hated Quantrill, said it was "cheap, poorly constructed(2)." A charge that Adj. General Caleb Bingham's (a Yankee) many affidavits utterly disprove(3). More recently Leslie relates that Dr. Thorne, some eleven years after the collapse, that in addition to the female confederates held on the top floors, whores were being held in the basement, drunken whores who chopped away at the building's foundations with an ax! The value of this contention may be measured by Connelley's description that the building was built without excavation, no basement! Neither does Caleb Bingham, in his lengthy descriptions of the ill fated building describe or refer to a basement(4). It also must be said that the deaths and injuries of the Confederate women are very well documented. There is not the least "proof" of the deaths or injuries of other women which surely would have occurred if a three story building had fallen into the basement of the building containing them.
Having dealt with an obvious Union "war crime," we shall now delve into the known facts concerning the mysterious Miss Mundy.
Susan Mundy was born in 1842. This would have her age at or about 21 in 1863. Her brother James Mundy was associated with Quantrill's band and attended the Quantrill reunions after the Civil War. In common with many of the Quantrill band, the 'Mundy' name is associated with a North Carolina and a group of people known as Melungeons.
Melungeons are a people Mediterranean origins classified as "dark whites", resembling, more or less, southern Italians, Arabs or Turks. They are believed to be descended from a Spanish colony in the Carolinas mixed with Turkish, native American (Cherokee), and some African elements. As a group, they are Caucasian with the same range of skin color as the Caucasian sub-species as a whole. Individually, some are darker, than the North American (read English, Irish, German) norm. The face form is often clearly Mediterranean. A single family may exhibit siblings which individually could have the fair skin, blue eyes and blonde hair of a Norwegian, or the glossy black hair, brown eyes and sallow skin of an Egyptian and yet, be full descendants of the same parents. Most fall somewhere between.
Historically, Melungeons have described themselves as "Portuguese", "French", "Spanish", "Cherokee,"and so forth. Interestingly the Mundy of the Jonathon Swift Mine fame (and the same geographic region) described himself as "French". Virtually all the Melungeons identify themselves as "white" and are generally regarded as such in early records. Individual families are sometimes listed as colored, mulatto, or white in successive census records, depending upon the judgment of the clerk.
Now we shall endeavor to present our evidence that Jerome Clark, Henry Magruder and Sue Mundy are three individuals who were at times mistaken one for the other.
The name "Sue Mundy" would have been familiar to virtually every member of the Quantrill band from the time of the Kansas City building collapse, as they regarded it as what we would term a "war crime." Apparently, every female in that ill fated building was connected in one way or another to members of Quantrill's command. Kentucky readers were introduced to "Sue Mundy" via the October 11, 1864 issue of Louisville Daily Journal "one of the peculiarities of this band of cutthroats is the officer second in command, recognized by the men as Lt. Flowers," wrote Printice. "The young officer in question is a woman, and her right name is Sue Mundy. She dresses in male attire generally sporting a full confederate uniform. She is possessed of a comely form, is a bold rider and a dashing leader.
George Printice, editor of the Louisville Courier (or Daily) Journal, is generally depicted as a Unionist. I do not view him as such. His newspaper had been declared a treasonous scandal sheet and the US Post Office refused to carry it in the mails(5) in order to continue in business, Printice simply wrote in such a way that the intelligent "man in the street" could "read between the lines" get a fairly good idea of what was occurring.
As Printice gleefully reported the growing numbers of confederate guerrillas. The Unionists tried ever more repressive measures to eliminate the problem, which as a result of those measures grew ever more troublesome. Printice has been accused of overstating Kentucky's "guerrilla problem." If anything, he under reported the exploits of the Confederate guerrillas. Most probably, not out of love of Lincolnism. The governmental restrictions, lack of communications and other reasons, one of which surely was that there were things he simply did not want to print. A good example of Printice's style is to be found in his coverage of the battle between Magruder's (Sue Mundy's) Confederate guerrillas and Yankee Terrill's "Confederate guerrillas" at Bloomfield. Printice correctly identifies the culprits as Yankees in Confederate clothing and further points out that the Yankees had been caught in outright robbery of citizens by real Confederates. This surely upset General Burbridge and his unconditional Unionists. Operations of this sort are of necessity closely guarded secrets. The design being to ferret out real confederates, instill in the population the supposed "criminal nature" of confederates and so forth. Printice blew the whistle and let everyone know what the Yankees were up to. (See Leslie p351).
George Prentice's confederate sympathies were shared by his son, Lt. Col. Clarence J. Prentice, who commanded the 7th Battalion of the Confederate Cavalry which operated along the Kentucky-Virginia border.
Among Lt. Col. Prentice's men was one Ezekiel K. Counts, "a true man though plain and rough." Counts had been a constable at Sand Lick and had the reputation of being "to brainy and resolute." A kinsman of ex-Virginia Governor John B. Floyd, Counts had helped Floyd recruit the borderland for Virginia and the Confederacy. Officially, the men were known as the Sand Lick Company. In February 1863, the Virginia Legislature transferred the State line to the Army of the Confederate States of America and Captain Ezekiel Counts and his men fell under the command of Lt. Col. Clarence J. Prentice, by the Spring of 1864.
David Edmundson, acting Commander of the 21st Virginia Cavalry reported that Captain Ezekiel Counts was behind enemy lines, in the spring of 1864(6). This was something of an understatement and concealed the real truth; "Devil Zeke" Counts was indeed behind enemy line -- far behind enemy lines, transversing the State of Kentucky with a number of southern families, heading for Meeker County, Minnesota!
Did Ezekiel Counts meet with Quantrill in the spring of 1864? George Prentice could certainly have arranged such a meeting and Ezekiel Counts cooperation with Quantrill would explain much of Quantrill's 1865 Kentucky campaign and later James-Younger gang activity.
It is probable that Susan Mundy entered the state of Kentucky about April or May of 1864(8). This is interesting in that a number of other notable Confederates "disappear" at about the same time. Cole Younger, in his autobiography, The Story of Cole Younger (p 56-59) claims that in May of 1864 he was with Colonel George S. Jackson on a secret mission for the Confederacy in Colorado and so forth. This is highly unlikely. Leslie recounts Cole's supposed adventures and notes that his pension for Confederate service was denied because he could not prove at least six months service (p 290-291), largely because there were no records of the units he mentioned or his name did not appear on the rosters. Quantrill too, disappears about the same time, Leslie (p 301) mentions a "long standing tradition" that the Missouri guerrilla chief visited his home town, Dover, Ohio in the summer of 1864. Leslie cites several reasons for his not believing this legend. We, however, consider that it's probably true. One reasoning is that Quantrill was planning his Kentucky campaign (crossing Kentucky to Richmond, Virginia) and like any good officer, was familiarizing himself with the terrain of the various possible routes. A side trip to a Canal Dove was very likely. Leslie considered that Quantrill's mother was being truthful when she said that she never saw her son again after he went West in 1857, and infers that this proves no trip home for Quantrill in 1864. We also consider that Quantrill was most likely very cautious and may simply have viewed the home place from a discreet distance. Assuring himself that the appearance of normalcy meant that everything was "normal."
Another possible stop on Quantrill's 1864 summer tour was a meeting held in Chicago, Illinois on the 21st of July(9). A very secret meeting of a shadowy organization known by many names: The Sons of Liberty, Knights of the Golden Circle, American Knights, to cite a few. Rumored to have thousands of armed men to serve the Confederacy upon Northern soil, it was a secret society with notable associations.
We consider it quite likely that Quantrill was busy on behalf of the Southern Confederacy during his absence from Missouri and we also consider it quite likely that Cole Younger accompanied him during that time(10). That the two men partly accompanied by Miss Susan Mundy, were on some sort of secret mission is the probable reason that Cole Younger told pure fabrications on his Confederate pension application. He couldn't tell the truth without revealing his whereabouts that fateful spring of 1864 until the end of the Civil War.
There may be two very good reasons for Cole Younger's "white lies". Reason number one occurred on July 26, 1864: State Senator Gibson Mallory of Jefferson County was killed by guerrillas wearing union uniforms, five mile form Louisville. A honest-to-goodness genuine Yankee was arrested, then released, for the murder. The newspapers reported that "guerrillas" were responsible. We think correctly(11).
Reason number two occurred on October 10, 1864. Pro-Yankee Kentucky legislator William Darnaby Massie of Spencer County was murdered . There is a long standing tradition in Kentucky that Frank James did the killing while on a secret mission for the Confederacy. Reverend B.F. Hungerford recorded in his diary that a party of eighteen men were responsible(12). This is very revealing in that Edwards, noted Guerrillas, page 234, reports that Quantrill and a body guard of 16 men went into Howard County, Missouri, in the early Spring of 1864, "to be at peace." We don't doubt that Quantrill and his men went into Howard County. We doubt that they stayed there! We contend that they traveled from Howard County and ranged widely. We propose that Frank James, who is known to have been at the Centralia "massacre" on September 27, 1864, left Missouri on a matter of importance (it's probable that he informed Quantrill that Confederate General Sterling Price wanted his presents) and participated in the assassination of Massie. Quantrill, himself, could not have been a participant. On October 11,1864, Bill Anderson, Quantrill and George Todd met General Sterling Price at Boonville, in central Missouri(13).
Whatever guilt Frank James and Cole Younger may or may not have had in these two political assassinations, one thing is certain: Cole Younger could not - would not tell that he was in Kentucky with Quantrill in 1864. To have done so would have immediately linked him with the murder of legislature Massie through his well known association with Frank James! There is no statute of limitations on murder!
About the middle of October, 1864, Cole Younger, Frank James and others of Quantrill men reappear in Missouri. Jim Cummins, who later rode with the James Younger gang recalled, "we started south to meet with General Price, who was marching north. With the entire command we crossed the river at Rochport, swimming our horses. After we crossed the river into Clay County at Sibly, as we wished to see our friends and relatives before moving south. Among these boys were Jesse and Frank James, Peyton Long, Theo Castle and Jack Rupe. Allen Palmer came over from the south side of the river and told Peyton Long that Quantrill was over there and wished to see him. Peyton Long and myself crossed the river and found Quantrill at Mrs. Hamlet's, who lived on the border of Lafayette County. Quantrill informed Peyton Long that he would like to muster up twenty-five men to accompany him to Kentucky. Peyton at once told him he could get him the men and there upon commenced to name them. Jesse James and myself were not entirely satisfied with some of the men whom Peyton Long had selected, he having left out some of our special friends whom we wished to accompany us. We were not pleased with such treatment and so expressed ourselves. We went south with George Shepherd...."(14)
William Anderson, the much feared "Bloody Bill," who reputedly killed 53 Yankees(15) in vengeance for the deaths of the women in Kansas City, one of whom was Josephine Anderson, his sister. A second sister, Mary, was badly wounded. Susan Mundy had been confined along side the Anderson girls at the time of the collapse of the Yankee prison. These wrongs had filled Bill Anderson with a terrible rage. He knew neither fear nor self preservation. He was never known to turn his back to the enemy. His death, on October 26, 1864 befitted him. Federal infantry of the 51st and 33rd regiments, hundreds of them, managed to surround Anderson and about 25 guerrillas in Ray County. Alerted by the shots of the pickets, Anderson, and one other man, charged straight into the Yankees, their revolvers spitting death. Bill Anderson was killed, the other guerrillas escaped.(16)
That same night Cole Younger and Frank James slipped into the barn where Bill Anderson's body was being guarded by Union soldiers. They quickly removed some of Anderson's clothing because there were secret papers (Note: most probably sewn into the lining) hidden in them. They also found a $100 bill which the Yankees had missed.. They quickly burnt the clothing and left the area, fearful that the Unionists might discover them.(17)
We feel that is highly likely that those secret papers had to do with Quantrill's forth coming campaign to Kentucky that would shortly begin.
There is a great deal of uncertainty about Quantrill and his command in the late fall of 1864. Sometime around the beginning of November. Most of the guerrillas left Missouri to winter in Texas. Others gathered to follow Quantrill into Kentucky. Of particular interest is the confusion (we consider it to be intended) surrounding the whereabouts of Cole Younger (which we have touched upon), Jesse James, and Jim Cummins, a source we have previously cited that claims that Jesse went to Texas with George Shepherd and Bill Gregg.(Hale, 1992) Bill Gregg tells much of the same story and adds that there were Fifty men in the band, among whom was Jesse James. John McCorkle (Cole Younger's first cousin) who was with Quantrill, tells a much different story: He states that Jesse James, John Koger, Ben Morrow, Baker Hedgepeth, Rufus Hedgepeth and Bob Hedgepeth left Quantrill at the plantation of Colonel Morrison (p185). The time must have been late December of 1864 and fairly near the Mississippi and before Quantrill and Company cross the Mississippi. Edwards (p 389) has yet another version: Oll (Oliver) Shepherd, Robert, Rufus and Babe Hudspeth with John Croger leave Quantrill after he crossed the Mississippi. Notice that Ben Morrow has been replaced with Oll Shepherd and Jesse James has been left out entirely. More recently, Leslie (p344) believes that "Ol" Shepherd and five other men, including John Koger, "Babe" and Rufus Hudspeth and Jesse James left Quantrill near Pocahontas, Arkansas to join the Confederate army. Phillip Steele and Steve Cottrell(18) (p119) contend that Jesse James went to Texas with Cole Younger, Jim Reed and others. A primary source(19) states that Frank and Jesse James separated in November of 1864, Jesse going to Texas reaching Sherman December 2, 1864. The guerrillas then split into groups, some going to Western Texas. Jesse James and others returning to Missouri.
Obviously, there is confusion where we should see consensus. We consider that the authentic primary sources were men well known to one another, Jim Cummins was with Quantrill and the James-Younger Gang. Cole Younger and John McCorkle were cousins. McCorkle lost a sister in Kansas City Union prison collapse in which, Susan Mundy escaped death only by divine providence. Also, John N. Edwards was honored by Jesse James by naming his son Jesse Edwards James, after him..
We therefore, propose there is some broad truth within these conflicting accounts, and that in detail, there is intentional deception. This concerns the whereabouts of two men: Jesse James and Cole Younger, and the identity of a third person, Sue Mundy.
Miss Sue Mundy, Confederate guerrilla, is first mentioned publicly in George Printice's Louisville Kentucky Journal on October 11, 1864.
Sometime around the end of the October or the beginning of November, George Shepherd, and about fifty other men, including Jesse James, leave Missouri to winter in Texas(20). They arrive at Sherman, Texas on December 2, 1864. At this point, George Shepherd and about forty-five men continue into West Texas. Jesse James and four to seven other men plan a return to Missouri with Arch Clements, or so they say.
December 4, 1864 Quantrill's men gather at the designated assembly point, about five miles west of Waverly, in Lafayette County, Missouri. Every man is fully dressed in Federal uniforms. They are told to answer all challenges that they were the "2nd Colorado Calvary, Captain Moses, commanding."(21)
From Lafayette County they traveled southeast, crossing the Osage River near Tuscumbia. Continuing their journey to a point near Raleigh, the guerrillas boldly camped with Yankee General Fremont's army and draw rations from his stores!(22)
They continued southeast and reached the vicinity of Pocahontas Arkansas about December 22, 1864. It's probable that Jesse James and five or six other men met Quantrill and his command at about this time. They had conducted some mysterious business near Sherman, Texas and were to continue with some even more mysterious business in Kentucky.
On January 1, 1865, Quantrill's men spent the day repairing an old boat. At dusk they began to cross the Mississippi River at Shawnee Village on Devil's Bend, some 25 miles above Memphis, Tennessee(23). The crossing took all night, with some forty-seven men, their horses and material making safe passage(24).
The guerrillas traveled a few miles inland and turned north towards Kentucky. Near the Kentucky line, a lady rode up on horseback. She asked Quantrill if they were Missourians and if there were any Fristoes with him, saying that she was the wife of Colonel Fristoe. Quantrill replied that he had three of her husbands nephews in the command(25). This exchange sounds rather much like a prearranged meeting and almost certainly was. We consider it very probable that Cole Younger was instrumental in effecting Colonel Robert Fristoe's cooperation. It is notable that Colonel Fristoe was also Cole Younger's uncle! Whatever the motivation, Colonel Fristoe apparently considered Quantrill's mission important enough to meet with him only a month after losing a leg at the battle of Franklin! McCorkle hints that Quantrill's and Colonel Fristoe's commands merge for some unknown period of time. Colonel Fristoe's men must have also been dressed as Federals as McCorkle also relates that the day after they left Canton, which is near the Kentucky boarder, they met a command of 800 Federals and joked with them(26). This would have been about January 11, 1865.
(1)Leslie, Edward, E. The Devil Knows How to Ride, Random House: 1996, p196 (2)Connley, Quantrill and the Border Wars, p301 (3)Hale, Donald R. We Rode With Quantrill, 1992, p198-201 (4)Hale, Donald R. We Rode With Quantrill, 1992. p199. Bingham refers to the cellar which infers that there was a fair space between the flooring of the building and the soil below. (5)Beach, Damian. Civil War Battles, Skirmishes and Events in Kentucky . 1995. p22, p503-505 (6)The Civil War in Appalachian: Collected Essays, edited by Kenneth Noe and Shannon H. Wilson. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1997. (8)Leslie, Edward. E. The Devil Knows How to Ride. Random House. 1996. p350 (9)Stridger, Felix G. Knights of the Golden Circle Treason History, Son of Liberty. 1903. p168 (10)Croy, Homer. Jesse James Was My Neighbor. Nebraska Press. 1997. p51-52 (11)Civil War Battles, Skirmishes and Events in Kentucky, Beach. p179 (12)Watson, Thomas Shelby. Silent Riders. p75 (13)Brownlee, Richard S. Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy. Louisiana State University, 1958. p223 (14)Cummin, Jim. Jim Cummin's Book. Trinton Press. 1988. p51-52 (15)Younger, Cole. The Story of Cole Younger. Trinton Press. 1994. p12 (16)Hale, Donald R. They Called Him Bloody Bill. 1992. p77-84 (17) Kansas City Star. Interview with Harvey C. (Harry) Hoffman. 1959. February 15. (18)Cottrell, Steve & Steele, Phillip. Civil War in the Ozarks. Pelician Publishing Co. Gretna. 1996. (19)Triplett, Frank. The Life and Times & Treacherous Death of Jesse James. Long Meadow Press. 1970. p19-20. (20)Versions vary greatly. Refer to: Cummins, Jim p51-52; Hale, p58; Triplett, p20; McCorkle, John p185. (21)Edwards. "Noted Guerrillas" p383. (22)Hale, Donald R. We Rode With Quantrill, 1992, p145-146. Recollection of Allen Parmer. Parmer married Susan James, sister of Frank and Jesse. (23)McCorkle. Three Years With Quantrill. p185 (24)McCorkle, p186; Hale, p145-146; Edwards, p389. (25)McCorkle, John. Three Years With Quantrill. University of Oklahoma Press, 1992 p189 (26)McCorkle, John. Three Years With Quantrill. University of Oklahoma Press, 1992 p190, note p. 224
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