Marker honors town's sacrifices, role in Civil War

Syracuse residents prepare to raise the U.S. flag next to a maker memorializing the Morgan County town residents' sacrifices in the Civil War.
Syracuse residents prepare to raise the U.S. flag next to a maker memorializing the Morgan County town residents' sacrifices in the Civil War.

SYRACUSE, Mo. - At the end of the Union supply line using the Pacific Railway, the community of Pacific City, incorporated in 1868 as Syracuse, was a frequent hotbed of Civil War activity.

More than 100 unknown soldiers from both sides are buried in an unmarked section of the cemetery. More than 20 community leaders, with leanings toward both sides, were murdered by the opposing guerrillas or occupying Union forces.

Regular raids by both sides took more than 450 mules and horses. Four skirmishes over the course of 1861-65 left what had been a boom town of about 8,000 burned to the ground.

"This was not an easy place to live," Morgan County historian Anita Allee said.

A permanent marker recognizing the community's sacrifices and its role in Mid-Missouri Civil War history was dedicated Sunday at the Syracuse Park House.

A flagpole and bench, originally installed across the street at the site of the Butterfield Stagecoach line's Shackleford Station, was relocated with the privately funded marker.

Nearby are the only building still standing in the town of about 170 and a granite marker identifying the stagecoach station, established in 1858. The white-clad, two-story home was once a "hostel-type home where passengers could get meals and stay over," Allee said.

She tried to get the community listed on the state's Civil War Sites of Missouri five years ago, during the sesquicentennial.

Unfortunately, because of the Civil War raids, the state declined, as there wasn't enough context remaining, she said. Even pictures of the town were lost in the raid fire.

"All that's left is the road and the railroad embankment," Allee said.

The sign project developed about a year ago between Allee and the Rev. Harold Nicks, pastor of First Baptist Church.

"I've lived here 17 years. The thing that bothered me most is how come there's no tombstone," Hicks said.

More than 40 people attended Sunday's event, including the honor guard from Tipton's American Legion Post 304 and Tom Briscoe, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Parsons Camp.

Briscoe discussed his ancestor, Pvt. Andrew Smallwood, who died June 4, 1863, at Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Smallwood moved to Syracuse from his family's Cooper County farm in 1860 to work on the railroad. When the war started, he joined Company G Second Missouri Volunteer Cavalry in Springfield, eventually fighting in the battles at Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge.

State Rep. David Wood spoke at the church service preceding the event, as well as at the dedication.

He noted stories like Syracuse's can disappear with time, if not remembered.

"We don't know any names of the 100 buried here, but they're not forgotten," Nicks said. "One hundred fifty years later, we remember those young, brave heroes."