George Todd was a Guerrilla fighter and Bushwhacker who was born on December 28, 1788 to his parents, James Todd, Senior and Katherine Forbes.
We learn from George Carlos Blake, (Blake, 2001) that George Todd was a part of a group of Bushwhackers and guerrilla fighters, who were also some of the Missouri Partisan Rangers, during the war, who initiated a type of warfare that is used today and is fought by the “guerrilla” fighters.
George Todd was a pro at reconnaissance who disguising himself as a Federal or even a woman, occasionally, who would sneak into enemy territories, camps and towns, using massive firepower to overcome overwhelming odds and utilizing tactics of surprise and entrapment, upon his enemy. Some of his style was fashioned from what he learned from Native Americans to many of these settlers, and some of the Guerrillas were from true Native American descent.
George Todd was definitely ahead of his time, as he sent many Blue Bellies to their deaths. Bushwhackers and Bushwhacking are some of the most misunderstood terms of the war. For the most part, a Bushwhacker wasn’t a Missouri Partisan Ranger or a Missouri Irregular Cavalry unit. This misnomer has been strewn about with wanton abandon.
Many writers in the past have mistakenly written that Missouri Partisan Rangers were Bushwhackers, the vast majority were not. Many times this was performed to vilify the Missouri Partisan Ranger and attribute, murder and violence to them by the newspapers and journalists of the time.
It is often a misunderstood term to individuals who haven’t studied the Border War in depth, and was very often used loosely, as a generic term for Missouri Guerrillas. But be advised, it is not an all encompassing term, and should be used with extreme caution. While some units of the Missouri Partisan Rangers were very good at using the “brush” or “bush” for camouflage, surveillance, and tactical maneuvers and surprise attack, it is in this scenario that the term “Bushwhacker” may be applicable, we learn from author, James Carlos Blake, the author of the book, “Wildwood Boys: A Novel” who explains to us about the meaning of bushwhackers.
We learn from the Mid-Missouri Civil War Round Table, that “On the morning of September 27, some 30 to 50 bushwhackers, some dressed in captured Union uniforms, under the leadership of Anderson rode into the village of Centralia, whose population was less than 100 persons.”
While waiting for the train, they terrorized local civilians, robbing and burning stores and killing a civilian who had attempted to defend a young woman. The stage from Columbia came in to the community and they robbed the passengers. One of the stage passengers was Congressman James S. Rollins, a prominent Boone County citizen, who has been identified as the “father of the University of Missouri” for his role in locating the University in Columbia. Rollins and the other state passengers, which included Boone County Sheriff James Waugh, gave fictitious names and identities to the bandits. The stage coach robbery was interrupted when they heard a train whistle, coming from the east.
Captain George Todd, was a memorable Confederate guerrilla fighter who was under William Quantrill, from the year, 1861 in Jackson County until he was killed, near Independence, Missouri in 1864, but before his death he was a part of the Todds and their band, who had joined up with the large bushwhacker force headed by Bill Anderson. The forces of Anderson and the Todd’s rendezvoused in northern Boone County with the intent of holding up a North Missouri Railroad mail train. Michael Fellman tells us that (Fellman, 1989) “The Missouri Partisan Rangers were men that usually had suffered through their family being murdered, raped, stolen from as well as their farms and food crops stolen or destroyed by the Federal Occupational Armies. Some (such as William C. Quantrill, William T. Anderson, George Todd, John Thrailkill, etc.) “formed companies of men to combat the occupational forces (especially the Red Legs and Jayhawkers) that infested the State of Missouri. Sometimes applicable, an appropriate reference to the Missouri Partisan Ranger may also be Missouri Irregular Cavalry.”
We remember George Todd as being an extraordinary individual who was a Bushwhacker and a Guerilla War fighter, who left his mark on history by his unique skills and talent in fighting.
Blake, James Carlos. (2001). “Wildwood Boys: A Novel”. Harper Perennial.
Fellman, Michael. (1989). “Inside War, The Guerilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War. Oxford University Press.
The Missouri Partisan Ranger. (1995). “The Truth Behind the Names”. Partisans, Guerillas, Irregulars and Bushwhackers.