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Richards R-V Student Stories: The Battle of West Plains

Student Stories: The Battle of West Plains

While studying the history of West Plains, we learned about the Civil War in our area. The students were involved in a creative writing activity to help them understand the importance of this event. They were given the opportunity to choose which side they wanted to be on during the "Battle of West Plains." Did they want to remain loyal to the Union and ride with the troops under the command of Col. Woods, who was attacking West Plains in order to find the Confederate recruiter, Col. W. O. Coleman? Or would they side with the Confederacy in order to protect their town? The students became keenly aware of the difficulty involved in deciding where their loyalty should rest in a conflict as unique as a "civil" war. Besides the creative writing activity, we worked together on a class mural that depicted the Union soldiers firing on the courthouse during the "Battle of West Plains."

Taylor's Story

Melissa's Story


John's Story

Tiffany's Story

Kayla's Story


The Battle of West Plains
by Kayla

My name is Kayla. I was playing outside on my horse when suddenly there was a loud noise. I did not pay any attention. Suddenly, someone came up, grabbed me, and threw me off my horse. Then he ran off with it! I looked over the corner and the courthouse was ruined. The windows were blown out, and there were holes in the wood. What happened was that 262 soldiers surrounded West Plains. Colonel Woods was looking for Colonel Coleman, but Woods did not find him. Eight people were hurt, and six people were killed.

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The Battle of West Plains
by Tiffany

When I was just a six year old slave it was a dark and bloody time on February 19, 1862. You see, Col. Coleman wanted to fight for slavery, but Col. Woods wanted to fight against slavery. Col. Woods thought Col. Coleman would be in the West Plains Courthouse so he shot a canister at it. But it didn't work the first time so he did it again. Six people died the second time. The soldiers took my owners and told me to go to the orphanage to be safe. Two years later someone adopted my friends and me. So at the end it was a dream come true for all of us slaves.

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The Battle of West Plains
by John

My name is Dewy Jackson. I am a soldier in Col. Woods' army. Col. Coleman was at West Plains trying to get people to fight for the South. After we left Salem, Missouri, we stopped at Roark's Store in Spring Valley to camp. The next day we crossed Jack's Fork River at Harlow Mill. It was kind of hard, but we did it.

Now we are heading for West Plains. We got to West Plains on February 19, 1862. Our troops surrounded West Plains. The first thing we did was take the cannon down through the valley and up the hill to the courthouse.

Col. Woods thought Col. Coleman might be hiding in the courthouse. So, he loaded the cannon with a canister. The problem was that the fuse was too short! The canister exploded too fast! The first canister sprayed the front of the courthouse with little metal balls called shrapnel. We loaded the cannon again, but the fuse was too long this time. The canister went through the front of the courthouse, through three interior rooms, and then out the back wall. We heard Col. Coleman was not in West Plains that day. The 262 men packed up and went back home. About a year later, the Confederates came and burned West Plains down so the Union army couldn't take it.

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The Battle of West Plains
by Melissa

On February 19, 1862, my friend Taylor and I were jumping rope. Then I heard the sound of galloping horses. I saw the face of Colonel Woods coming up Square Drive. I was so scared that he would hurt us that I called for my mom inside the house. I had forgotten that my mom and dad had died the year before. Now my sister took care of me. Taylor and I ran to her house to hide. When I got halfway there I heard a mountain howitzer. It was louder than I could scream! I said, "That's the loudest thing I have ever heard!" When I opened my eyes I saw little dents in the courthouse. I have never seen anything like it before. Next, I saw them loading up the cannon again. Real quick I looked back at my house and saw my sister looking at me. I decided to run back when I heard another cannon shot. Then they rode away.

Later, on that year I found out that Col. Woods and his men had come to capture Col. Coleman in the fight against slavery. But some of us didn't own slaves especially me and my sister. Also, when my mom and dad were alive they didn't believe in slavery either. Now, a whole year has passed by, and West Plains is burned down! It is a spooky, SPOOKY ghost town! About a year later the people of West Plains came back to rebuild the city and also to rebuild the West Plains Courthouse.

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The Battle of West Plains
by Taylor

February 19, 1862, was the Battle of West Plains. I was just a little boy when the battle started. Col. Woods was coming from Salem, Missouri. It was a cold and snowy day. I was riding my horse named Thunder. All of a sudden, I heard many horses' hooves. Ma called me in. I was terrified of the men. Suddenly we heard a knock. The man said, "We will take your horses."

I said in a whisper, "He took my brother's horse!"

My brother saw him. He took his gun and said, "Give me my horse back!"

The man kept on walking but then turned around and shot my brother!

Ma held me tight. Ma told me to go to the back of the house. He captured my ma, but I got my horse Thunder. We rode into a big dugout where we slept for the night. That night I heard cries. The winter wind cried with the people. The wind's cry kept me up all night. I heard 262 men's voices.

I decided to go get two week's worth of food. I saw my uncle. He was badly wounded. I picked him up. I put him on Thunder's back and got on Thunder too. We rode to the dugout. I had to go get some blankets because my uncle was cold. As soon as I came back he was half dead so I covered him up. We talked for about an hour and a half. He said he was going.....was going to die.

"I won't let you!"

"You promise?" asked my uncle.


Thunder and I ran into Col. Woods. He said, "Where's the courthouse?"

"South," I said in a whisper.

Col. Woods said, "Speak up, boy!"

"South!" I said.

"Thanks boy," said Col. Woods.

I got my gun and went back to the dugout. When my uncle saw me, he said, "Boy, thank you for your help, but I need something."

"What?" I asked.

"My horse," he said.

"Where is it?" I asked.

"Behind the shop."

"OK," I said.

So I went to get the horse. I got the horse and stopped at the house to get some firewood and pans. My uncle was surprised his horse wasn't wounded. For dinner, we had cornbread and beans. After my uncle was better he said he was going back to war.

I said, "No!"

"OK, I won't," he answered. So I got Thunder, my uncle got his horse, and we got out!


"What was that?" I asked.

"Let's go see," my uncle said.

When we got there, we saw that it was Col. Woods. He was trying to blow the courthouse down, but he couldn't. He tried again, and the fuse was too long. It went through three walls of the courthouse. I heard that the first one was too short. We went back to the dugout. After six weeks, we went to Mississippi. We lived on a farm. My uncle raised me until he got married. When I was 20, I got married to a girl named Sarah. After a few years we had two girls named Ashley and Kimberly. Two years later we moved to Tennessee and lived there on a farm for the rest of our lives.