In 1861, Callaway County, Missouri, made history by seceding from the Union, but also by refusing to join the Confederacy. They became what the Confederacy had wanted to be—sovereign.
In October of that year, General John B. Henderson and about six hundred Union troops began gathering near Callaway’s northeastern border. Their mission: subdue Callaway.
Jefferson F. Jones and an equal number of volunteers gathered at Brown’s Spring in north central Callaway to fight off the invasion. They were equipped with shotguns, small caliber hunting rifles, and four Quaker Guns, which were logs painted black and hidden in the brush with wagon wheels.
Henderson had spies in Callaway, but none of them realized the artillery they saw was Quaker Guns. Henderson decided to wait for reinforcements before invading against such a well-armed defense.
While Henderson waited, he received a message from Jones. Henderson was told the forces were there in self-defense, and the men would fight against any attack or invasion. Jones further issued terms to the Union and promised to disband his men if the terms of the agreement were met. “Otherwise, the strength of his forces would decide the issue.”
Without reinforcements, Henderson was afraid to move against Callaway and agreed to their terms. The signed treaty recognized the “Kingdom of Callaway” as a free and independent nation with the right to govern itself.
Although there was never a declaration of independence or an official government established, the state did gain limited recognition by the US government. It was, and is, a micro-nation encompassing today’s Callaway County.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News for over ten years. She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.firstname.lastname@example.org.