Nevada City, Missouri

1886 map of Nevada City, Missouri. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Notable Events:

  • Incorporated (1855)
  • Union Militiamen Attacked (May 24, 1863)
  • Burning of Nevada (May 26, 1863)

Named after a California town made famous by the Gold Rush, Nevada City was home to some 450 residents at the outset of the Civil War. By the end of the war, half of the population (including most of the adult men) was gone and virtually all of the town had been destroyed. In addition to smaller guerrilla actions, the town suffered a massive retaliation from pro-Union militiamen who were outraged at the killing of two militiamen on May 24, 1863. Two days after the killing, a militia party set out from Cedar and St. Clair Counties and sacked Nevada City, which they called the "Bushwhacker Capital." All but a handful of structures were burned to the ground, and the residents were only given 15 or 20 minutes to remove possessions from their homes. According to local legend, the would-be raiders who occasionally passed by the site proclaimed, "Here is where Nevada City once stood." Renamed simply "Nevada" after the war, the town rebuilt, connected with the railroads, and grew. Nonetheless, the example of Nevada remains an important reminder of the brutality of the Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas border.