Book Review, Guerillas in Missouri Jan 9/20







On Amazon there are a great many books (non-fiction) on the guerillas in Missouri during the Civil War, and almost all of them have to do with the guerillas/bushwhackers in Central Missouri; Quantrell, Frank and Jesse James, Bloody Bill Anderson and others.  Blood in the Ozarks by Clint Lacy is a much-needed look at the war in southeastern Missouri. In that area things were quite different and this work makes things about as clear as they are going to get.

The geography was different, the terrain and the people and the circumstances were different and other than Jerry Ponder’s books this is one of the few or perhaps only book dealing with the war in the southeast.  I don’t have the reference here to hand but I believe it was the only part of Missouri held under martial law/reconstruction after the war was over. I think it was two years under martial law.

Other non-fiction studies; Gray Ghosts, Bushwhackers, Guerillas in Civil War Missouri and many others, almost all dealing with the better-documented activities of Confederate-sympathizing freelancers in Central Missouri.

The situation  in the Ozarks of the southeast can be simplified more easily than in other places; it was mainly Tim Reeves Fifteenth Missouri State Guard units against Union units, mainly Missouri Militia (Union) and the Twelfth Cavalry (Union). The rivalry and intense, personal animosity between Reeves and the men of the Missouri Twelfth Cavalry (Wilson and Leeper) turn the situation into a terrible years-long vendetta and Lacy documents this extremely well, including civilian deaths. It occasioned one of the most moving, despairing and yet well-written night-before-the-execution letters I have ever read, that of Asa Ladd.

During a reading and book-signing a woman came up to me and told me she was a descendant of Asa Ladd, that it was in her great-grandmother’s house they had found the letter.

This book sets out this rivalry and the tragic consequences, and it all took place in the most difficult terrain, far from the notice of “important” people or newspapers, played out, one could say, almost in darkness.

My mother’s people were from Central Missouri and we have stories passed down about the bushwhackers — Bloody Bill Anderson came close to killing a distant relative of mine but said relative (George Brownfield) escaped into the thickets surrounding the Pilot Grove post office, dodging Bloody Bill’s bullets. There was a lot at stake in Central Missouri — good farmland, harvests of cotton and hemp, the great commercial highway that the Missouri River had become, not to speak of the extremely rich bottomlands of that great river.

My father’s people came from southeastern Missouri, the Ozarks, which was not in any way a vital area for crops, conscripts, herds or war products. We have no stories, only a confused report that my great-great-grandfather was hung, no details. Leaving a wife and three children and a pregnant wife; Mahala Giles. His name was Marquis Lafayette Giles, justice of the peace, taught the common school in Carter County.

Often in war, I have heard, from the participants, that certain units will develop an intense rivalry and hatred for one another — this happened to my husband in Vietnam. He was with an ARVN unit, as an advisor, spoke Vietnamese and lived with these troops. They got it on with a certain unit of the Viet Cong, and the two units fought each other for years. In the course of which my husband was wounded, got himself repaired and went back to the fight.

Also a wonderful man, a world war 2 vet, Charles Meuth, told me years ago that his unit of the Texas National Guard (141st Regiment) developed the same personal and intense rivalry with a certain unit of the German SS tank command and pursued them all the way up the Italian Peninsula and finally into Germany, where the war ended and they surrendered. He even knew their names.

So this is the drama and ferocity outlined in Lacy’s book, very well documented, a fascinating story of conflict played out in a country of great beauty but thin soil, heavy swamps, thick forest that almost nobody wanted, except the people who lived there. Blood In the Ozarks by Clint Lacy.




Christmas 2019







Hark the Herald Angels siiiiiing….

Marry Christmas!

And a lovely Christmas eve sky.







And happy Hanukkah, Sumptuous Solistice and wishing everyone a calm, quiet, deliberate, creative, sensible New Year.


December 14/19






This view of the hills from my front door always thrills me no matter how busy I get, pressed or hurried.

So many Johnsons have their birthdays in December! Jim Jr. on Christmas Day, Jimmy (J-III) on December 31st, Faith on December 13th. Coming up cantata dress rerearsal in three hours, tomorrow morning Christmas special with the group, me on whistle, traditional hymns, then the big cantata performance tomorrow night, on the 22nd another special with Chloe singing Hallelujah Christmas for which we have to learn the alto, which is HARD, Sherry party the 19th, which is going to be fun, just all of us with our instruments playing whatever we can come up with and drinking and eating, plus horsegirlfriends and husbands.

So this view is calming and quiets the heart.


Spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with my stepson, DIL and grandkids. They cooked — they are all great cooks. Here’s Faith;







Very much fun. Also their lemon tree out front was loaded and I took a lot home and gave some to Auriel down the road, of the Kay establishment, she looks after my animals for me when I travel. She also sings in cantata and choir. Cantata practice tonight and tomorrow night storms coming. Cleared trail today, love doing that.

Pearl Harbor Day December 7/2019

07 Dec 1941, Oahu, Hawaii — The battleship U.S.S. Arizona (foreground) sits low in the water and burns after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


New Crop of Colts, Musical performance November 12/19

Spent a great afternoon with Wanda Waters, April Baxter, June Chism, Laurel Waters, Evelyn O’Hara, Rebecca Douglas and Carole Larue, going out to Wanda and Lou’s place to see the new crop of colts from Wild Card. Wild Card is their Colonel Freckles-descended stud horse, a perfect gentleman, and the horse Robert Duval chose to ride in one of his movies. A great performance horse, a great stud and gentle as a kitten. Most of Wanda’s colts are so popular they are sold as soon as they are six months old, but I think they keep them there at the ranch until they are two.

Wanda and one of the six-month old babies.







Here he is running alongside the van. And below, us, standing around in awe and rather avid appreciation of these gorgeous young things.







June Chism giving a loving stroke to a beautiful little buckskin. June is going through chemotherapy. Healing touches…







Above, April getting up close and personal with two bays.







These three on the right are younger than the rest, they’re only about a month old and so the older six-month-olds scare them to death. All the time we were in the pasture they stuck together like three peas in a pod. Re; windshield picture. The van held no terrors for the rest of them, they were chewing at the windshield wipers.  On left, Evelyn and the little buckskin; he’s looking at her phone to see if his picture turned out okay I guess.







Then a great lunch at the main house, thank you Wanda and Laurel! So happy to be out there and get to see the new babies! That’s Evelyn O’Hara on the left and April and then June on the right. Several of Wanda’s two-year olds are going to CalPoly for their horsemanship and competition program, students take one horse for the whole year, break and train them, see to all their medical needs, feed them etc. CalPoly is very happy with her horses and want more. Gorgeous day, good friends, good food!

Then the Fall Festival, where my musical group played, making as much noise as we could over the sounds of the crowd. We actually got paid!







Diane Causey with her hammer dulcimer — “You’re up!” Chuck (on mando) and I, Tom (on fiddle) and Diane played the tune of ‘Mary of the Wild Moor’ and then flowed straight into ‘The Outlander Song’ properly known as ‘Over the Sea to Skye’, which was Cathy’s solo.






Setting up; Cathy with her guitar and Kim behind her and Tom messing with his fiddle’s electronic booster thingie. Mark Hall (voice, guitar) set up all the speakers and electronics, he is very hardworking and helpful to all.

As I said we did fine, our singers are very good, and I went shopping among all the booths and found a great handmade pot to put on my hearth that will hold all my whistles. I have a terrific new A whistle, made of carbon fiber, and as soon as I can afford it I am gong to replace all my other whistles with carbon fiber ones from Eric the Flutemaker. They have a beautiful crisp sound and are right on the money as far as tuning goes.

Okay I have got caught up with this blog. Girl Dog sends her regrets for not appearing but she is at the vet’s having surgery for a recurring cist, we have had freezing and below temperatures and the most horrible wind yesterday, it went up to 40 mph. So I have not gone to get her and can’t get over the mountain pass until tomorrow when I am sure there’ll be no ice and I won’t go sliding and whirling around as I come down the far side of the pass.

Veteran’s Day (late) Nov. 11/19

Because of a sudden norther and a drop in temperature from 74F to 31F, horses to get up to the corral and hay needed hauling for them, dog to veterinarian, I didn’t get to post for Veteran’s Day but although a day late, here’s to all my relatives and friends who served; those who are gone, those still with us.

But especially to my Dad (deceased, Navy WW2 Pacific) and to James Marshall Jiles, Texas 36th Division, killed at Anzio Beach March 1944.



November 6/19 Ozark Ride






We didn’t do too much riding this year, as my other cousin Cindy had just had open-heart surgery and needed my cousin Susan’s care quite often. Cindy’s husband and kids were also with her a lot.
But Susan and Mark threw a wonderful barbecue and party and Susan got Bobby Lewis, one of the best fiddlers in southeast Missouri, to come too, and he and I played together, luckily I had brought my D and A whistles, we had a fantastic time! Loved playing with him, I wish I were better. . .


Since we didn’t ride all that much I went for long walks in the woods north of Susan and Mark’s place and took lots of arty nature pictures. The sweet gums (above) were brilliant. This is along Beaver Creek.





























Megan Harris, wildlife zoologist extraordinaire.







This is Megan Harris, she and her husband Russel work for the Forestry Service, he is a firefighter and she is an expert on bats. It is wonderful to ride with her as she knows every birdsong and every animal track we ride past and never misses.

Below, Susan with her black-and-white pinto named Doc and his one blue eye.



















Then when we got time to take a short ride, Susan got a branch caught in her necklace which she was wearing outside of her hoodie, and it tore off, a valuable diamond which meant a lot to Susan as it was a recognition gift for raising so much money for Haven House (battered women’s shelter) there in Poplar Bluff and she had had it for years. So we went back on foot with a metal detector and found it! In all those leaves! Great joy reigned.












I would post more pictures but am having trouble transferring from phone to downloads. This was a great year! Less packing and loading horses and cooking gear and cowboy beds etc. etc. and slower, quieter, just as much fun. Susan and Mark drove me back to St. Louis for my flight home, then two hours drive from San Antonio airport to home, and at last in bed with a good book. And a cat. Obligatory cat picture.