In May of 1863, western Jasper County, Missouri was destroyed - including the village of Sherwood - in retaliation for a brutal Confederate guerrilla attack. The Union forces attacked were members of the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The events in Jasper County would raise serious national questions about the treatment of black solders in combat and when taken as prisoners.
On May 18, 1863, Union soldiers from the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, based at a fort in Baxter Springs, Kansas, crossed into Jasper County to forage for food and stopped at the home of Andrew Rader and his family to take some corn they’d harvested. Andrew Rader was away fighting with Confederate forces at the time.
While the soldiers threw the corn from an attic storage area to their wagons, Confederate guerrillas under Maj. Thomas Livingston struck suddenly, cutting down some of the Union soldiers before they could get to their guns, which were stacked around trees some distance from the home.
An eyewitness narrative says white Union officers and men fled before Livingston’s forces, leaving the Black soldiers at the home to be slaughtered and their bodies mutilated by the Confederates.
Union soldiers returned in force the next day and found their comrades still laying where they fell. The narrative says the bodies were so badly mutilated the commander of the Union troops had them placed in the Rader Farm home and the home burned.
The Union commander then retaliated by burning and destroying the nearby town of Sherwood, the third-largest community in Jasper County at the time behind Carthage and Sarcoxie.
This small park features a storyboard about the attack, as well as a replication of the barn once found on Rader Farm.