Civil War Stories: From Soldier To Quantrill Raider

Jonathan A. Ross has storied career as Confederate Soldier and one of Quantrill's Raiders.

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The year was 1860, and John Ross was soon to be caught up in the most pressing political issues of that era: States Rights; the slavery question; and for him the most interesting issue, economics and the generating of capital.

Early in the War, John Ross saw action at Dug Spring, Wilson's Creek, Dry Wood and Lexington. At the Wilson's Creek battle he was reported to have been the first Confederate soldier to reach and raise the Union General Lyon, after Lyon had been shot from his horse. This was in August, 1861. Confederate forces defeated those of the Union, maintaining a small foothold in Missouri.

John Ross next took part in the battles of Pea Ridge, Shiloh and Farmington. Pea Ridge was a resounding Confederate defeat that ended all Confederate control in Missouri. At the Battle of Shiloh, over 24,000 soldiers were killed or wounded. This was one of the bloodiest battles fought in the War Between the States and a terrible experience for all involved.

The Battle of Farmington was for John Ross, personally, the end of participation in conventional war. Having been sick and unable to do duty, he was confined in a hospital in Mobile, Alabama, until his discharge from the Confederacy. This was in 1863 and his last order as a Confederate States of America soldier came from General Marmaduke and it instructed John Ross to go from Alabama thru Arkansas to Missouri on a mission of recruiting soldiers for the South.

Having finished his obligation as a "regular" in the Confederate forces, John Ross now decided that he could also serve in an "irregular" capacity and thus joined the now infamous group known as Quantrill's Raiders. He was to be an active member of this guerrilla band until the summer of 1865. He is known to have been with the gang on several of their raids and to have been involved in a number of situations when murders were said to have occurred. He was a member of the group that dressed in Union Army uniforms and infiltrated the Northern lines for purposes of sabotage and raising havoc.

John Ross was a survivor of the shoot-out in which Quantrill was mortally wounded. Seeing the situation as impossible, Quantrill yelled that it was "every man for himself," and consequently John Ross, William Hulse, Allen Parmer, Bud Perce and Lee McMurtry shot their way to freedom. It is interesting to note that Parmer was Jesse James's brother-in-law, and like Frank and Jesse James, a personal friend of John Ross.

On July 26, 1865, John Ross and Frank James surrendered to federal authorities at Samuels Depot in Nelson County, Kentucky. They were later granted a pardon.

Althea Fifield Kendall
Pullman, Washington


 Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’S WEEKLY asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.