A Little War Story.
“Did you ever hear how General Jeff. Thompson once evaded an order in the field and didn’t get caught at it?” asked an old Missourian. “ It happened, I think, in the summer of 1864, the year when General Price and General A. J. Smith were chasing each other up and down the State. General Thompson, with a section of Price’s army, swept across the Central Missouri prairies, and on one hot August day the citizens of Sedalia saw his men approaching the town in a perfect cloud of dust.
“ Sedalia was garrisoned by a body of Home Guards under the command of Colonel William Bloess and Major William Gentry, and so, when the alarm bell sounded, the little band hurried to the trenches and prepared for defense. Thompson saw the handful of citizens in the ditches and unlimbered his guns. An apparently fierce cannonading was kept for half an hour, during which time one man was killed, and then the Home Guards capitulated and Thompson rode into town. I remember the terrible lime he had that day endeavoring to control his rough-riders, who seemed bent on making everything contraband, but he finally made them understand his imperative orders and quiet was soon restored, but not until every citizen of fighting age had been placed under arrest and guard.
” Well, it leaked out before night that Thompson had orders to burn the railroad depot. It was a great, wooden structure, against which a large number of the store buildings backed, and to burn the depot was to burn the town. The general was a spectacular soldier as w ell as a brave fighter.and his picturesque dress showed him to be somewhat of a gallant knight. Hence the ladies of Sedalia banded themselves together to the number of about fifty and waited upon him with a prayer not to destroy the depot and the town.
” He treated the delegation with conspicuous courtesy, and finally told the ladies that a soldier must obey orders, but he felt free to notify them that he would set fire to the depot at 5 o’clock on the following morning, and he hinted to them that if the old barn happened to be green and didn’t burn up, the fault would be theirs. They took the hint. Promptly at 5 o’clock a b.ucket brigade of ladies was in line at the depot. The soldiers started the fire, the general gave the orders for the army to move on, the ladies waited until the commander had disappeared and then promptly extinquished the flames amid the joyous shouts of the soldiers.”