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History records that during the Civil War, many acts of violence were committed by both the armies of the north and the south. Once such act occurred in October of 1862 in the town of Palmyra, Missouri. According to W. E. Sutterfield, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Palmyra, the town was under military law at the time....occupied by one of the armies involved in this conflict.


The commander of the army ordered ten men shot in reprisal for the work of an informer in the town who leaked information to the enemy. Several men were being detained in Palmyra jail as prisoners of war at that time, and ten were selected from among them. One of the number was William T. Humphrey, the father of several children. His wife pleaded for his release because of the children and her poor physical condition. Because of this, the commanding officer struck Humphrey’s name from the list and chose the name of Hiram Smith, a young man without a family. Hiram agreed to take the place of Humphrey, stating that perhaps it was better for a single man to die than a man with a family.


The ten men were shot on October 17, 1862 in what has come to be known as the “Palmyra massacre.” At the Mount Pleasant Church cemetery, there is a stone erected at the grave of Hiram Smith by G. W. Humphrey, the son of the reprieved man. It reads: “This monument is dedicated to the memory of HIRAM SMITH, the hero who sleeps beneath the sod here, who was shot at Palmyra, October 17, 1862 as a substitute for William T. Humphrey, my father.”


SOURCE: http://www.scv674.org/gacsahist17.htm

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