Osceola, Missouri

The Sacking of Osceola, Missouri. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.

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The town of Osceola, Missouri was once home to 2,500 residents, but it would never again sustain such a population after an 1861 sacking at the hands of Senator James H. Lane and a band of Kansas jayhawkers. Prior to the sacking, Lane had raised 1,200 Kansas volunteers to resist an invasion of the Missouri State Guard and secessionist General Sterling Price, only to be defeated by Price at the Battle of Dry Wood Creek near Fort Scott, Kansas. While Price moved to the north and eventually fought at the Battle of Lexington, Lane went on the offensive in southwest Missouri. In his attack on Osceola, Lane defeated a secessionist force, looted the town, liberated hundreds of slaves, and summarily executed nine locals. Of the 800 buildings in town, only three were spared from burning. Following the sacking, only 200 residents remained, and today the population of Osceola is still just 947 residents. A century-and-a-half later, memories and bitterness remain strong in the area, and the town's Board of Aldermen resolved in 2011 to request that the University of Kansas cease using the Jayhawk mascot and to use the lower-case to spell "kansas" and "ku," because "neither is a proper name or a proper place." Notably, KU, or the University of Kansas, is situated in Lawrence, Kansas, which itself suffered a brutal attack at the hands of Missouri bushwhacker William Clarke Quantrill; a raid that was said to have been inspired in part by revenge for Jim Lane's Sacking of Osceola. Unlike Osceola, Jim Lane survived the war physically intact, but he carried the emotional burdens of the conflict and committed suicide shortly after the war's end.