The Palmyra Massacre was a grim ending to Confederate Col. Joseph Porterís 1862 recruiting campaign in northeast Missouri. Besides recruiting local men for the Confederate army, Porter attacked Union outposts and patrols all summer long. In mid-September, Porter led his men to Palmyra, where they capturedĖand later apparently killedĖa pro-Union citizen. The next month, on Oct. 18, 1862, 10 Confederate prisoners were executed at Palmyraís fairgrounds in retaliation for the murder.
Col. John McNeil commanded the Unionís 2nd Missouri State Militia in Palmyra. Also stationed in Palmyra was the Provost Marshal General for Northeast Missouri, Col. William Strachan, who required known and suspected Southern sympathizers to swear oaths and post bonds to ensure their good behavior. One of Strachanís local informants was 60-year-old Andrew Allsman.
Porter Takes Palmyra, Captures an Informer
After a series of mostly successful raids, Porter suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Kirksville on Aug. 6 and disbanded his regiment. He kept about 300-400 recruits with him, not far from his Lewis County home. On Sept. 12, while Col. McNeil was away from headquarters, Porter and his men marched almost unopposed into Palmyra. They freed 45-50 prisoners and destroyed Strachanís provost marshal records of oaths and bonds. Taking three prisoners of their own, including Andrew Allsman, they returned north to Lewis County. With McNeil in hot pursuit, Porter ordered his men to scatter. He also decided to release Allsman, ordering a detachment of six men to accompany Allsman to a nearby public road leading to Palmyra. What exactly happened to Allsman has never been clearly established, but he was undoubtedly shot and killed by someone.