The Confederate Invasion of Iowa monument marks a point in history of cold-blooded murder, brazen disguise, shameless theft, and unrepentant escape. This spot marks the furthest incursion of any Confederate faction during the Civil War. On October 12, 1864, Missouri guerillas, led by Jim “Bill” Jackson ventured into southern Iowa, looking for money and horses. They left behind a little-known trail of terror, which is recognized by this Civil War monument.
By early October of 1864, the American Civil War was in its final stages. The Mississippi River was under Union control, Atlanta had fallen to Union forces, and Sherman’s “March to the Sea” and the November election were both on the horizon. In addition, the balance of the war was teetering towards Union victory. Within this context, Missouri guerrillas continued to wreak havoc, seemingly at will. One of these events occurred in Davis County, Iowa on Oct. 12, 1864.
On this date, Jim “Bill” Jackson and about twelve “Missouri Partisan Rangers” conducted a day-long raid that would result in three civilians brutally shot and left for dead, thousands of dollars stolen from innocent farmer by-standers, and scores of others abducted during the terror campaign. The assault began in the morning as the raiders, dressed in stolen Union uniforms, entered the southeast corner of Davis County, Iowa on horseback. They first stopped at the farm of John Brumley, demanding “greenbacks.” After ransacking Brumley’s farmhouse, Jackson and his raiders left with $80, cursing their bad luck at not finding even more “greenbacks.” Over the course of the day, Jackson and his men would cover about forty-five miles and visit twenty-four different farms, looking for cash and horses at each stop. They also shot and killed three men, leaving their bodies uncovered on the Iowa soil.
In the course of the raid, Captain P.H. Bence, of the 30th Iowa Infantry was shot in the back of the head while riding a horse as a prisoner of the raiders. Thomas Hardy, a wealthy farmer, was also shot in the head as Jackson tried to steal some of his horses. Eleazer Small was also shot and killed. Small threw his hands up when confronted by Jackson as if to say, “I give up.” His actions did not matter. Jackson shot him three times with his revolver.
Jackson’s raid serves as an example of the violent tactics often used by Missouri guerrilla units during the Civil War. That Iowans were the victims in this case is particularly noteworthy. Davis County is described, according to the monument, as “the northern most point of incursion into Iowa by Confederate forces.” The placement of the monument plaque is at this northern-most point.
The “Confederate Invasion of Iowa” monument was erected in 2005 by the Davis County Civil War Guerilla Raid Society. This monument contains three plaques. One recognizes the citizens of Davis County “who sacrificed and served to preserve the Union.” This plaque was donated in 2005 by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Another plaque, donated in 2005 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans of the Civil War, recognizes its location as “the furthermost north of any Confederate incursion during the Civil War.” The final, and most dominant plaque, briefly describes the Jackson raid, noting the precise date and that three people were killed.