The Raid on Captains Shacklett and Gorsuch at the Sheep Shed” parts 4 &5

The Raid on Captains Shacklett and Gorsuch at the Sheep Shed”

Part 5

 The Battle Rages

 The rebels, caught unaware, did not have time to organize a defense.  The Union troopers were on them in a flash, firing their rifles and pistols with deadly effect.  Rebels broke in all directions.  It took only minutes for the battle to claim its first victim.  James Gorsuch, his only exit blocked by Union horsemen, urged his horse over a small cliff.  The horse stumbled and pinned Gorsuch against a tree crushing out his life.  One of Hare’s men placed a pistol under Gorsuch’s nose and fired to make sure he was dead.  The shot was so close that Gorsuch’s moustache caught fire.  The troopers came upon John Wimp, who after emptying his revolvers, raised his hands and surrendered.  Hare’s orderly, Amos Griffin came up behind Wimp, and shot him in the back of the head.  That murder happened at the top of the hill above the Barnes house, and blood ran to the bottom of the hill.  Dan Morgan Shacklett saw this murder and was quickly captured and bound with ropes.

Billy Shacklett began shooting from behind a Red Oak tree at the men that swarmed toward him.  Shacklett was wounded, shot through the eye.  The men approaching the tree shot Billy several times more.  Still firing, he dragged himself to another tree and with his back against the trunk continued to fight.  Captain Hare dashed up to Billy and demanded his surrender, but the desperate Shacklett continued, without effect, to fire his pistols.  Hare shot him two or three more times, and Shacklett fell.  Three Union men wanting a souvenir went to Shacklett placing a foot against his stomach pulled on the tick-leather holster belt until it broke.  Unconscious and near death, Billy yet lived.  After the battle Hare said he regretted killing Billy Shacklett because he was the bravest man he had ever seen.  Later that night Billy said those men hurt him worse than the bullets.

One report states that Billy Shacklett, John Wimp, Tom Tobin, Jim Gorsuch, and Dick Hedges were killed.  A. J. Thompson a school boy helped load the dead on to a wagon said that Hedges was not in the fight.  Jess Taylor escaped by hiding under a rock and Hare’s men did not see him.  Thompson says that Tom Tobin, Hedges, and a man named Duke were not in the battle.  It is true that a guerrilla names Dick Hedges was hanged in Louisville more than a year later.  Some of the soldiers were milling around the school, when Jarrett stood up and took off his gun belt saying, “I surrender captain.”  After he surrendered he stood with his back against a tree and began cursing his captors.  They brought him to the school house and Susan Willett gave him a gourd dipper of water.  One of the soldiers said, “Drink it, because it will be the last drink you ever get.”  And it was.  On the trip back to Louisville, near Garnettsville, a prisoner was shot.  Duke or Jarrett was cursing his captors, and a sergeant asked the captain if he could shoot the man to shut him up.  Being given consent the man was shot from his horse and killed.

 Part 6

The Aftermath


Captain Hare stopped at Thomas Shumate’s farm, and ordered him to go up and collect the dead.  Shumate hitched up horses to wagon, and drove to the school.  A. J. Thompson joined in the hunt for the dead.  Gorsuch was found first and loaded in the wagon.  Next they came upon Wimp.  Meanwhile, Billy Shacklett had regained consciousness, and began crawling through the woods toward the Barnes house.  He was found much like a deer shot by a hunter, by following the trail of blood.  Tender hands placed him in the wagon.  He said he did not want to die alone in the woods, but he may well have feared the free roaming hogs.  That night Billy died about 11:00 p.m. at the W. W. Barne’s house, but his wife Anne and his daughter Juliet arrived before he died.  If Gorsuch was alive when he was shot he was murdered.  Jerrett or Duke as well as Dan Morgan Shacklet, and John Wimp were shamefully murdered after being taken prisoner.  The Louisville Daily Journal, on May 2nd, 1863, reports 7 notorious guerrillas were killed.  Interestingly it names Dan Morgan Shacklett, John Wymp (sic) Gorsuch, and John Garrett, (Note:  Garett could have been Jarrett), but does not list Billy Shacklett as killed, nor whomever completed the compliment of seven.   Meade County history states 9 men were killed outright and another died later of his wounds.  Various reports state between seven and eleven rebels were killed.  John Wimp and Billy Shacklett were buried the next day in the Meadeville Cemetery almost back to back.

Authors Note:

  When I first found the Meadeville Cemetery it was unmarked and covered in waist high grass and broom sage.  Deer were bedding amidst the tombstones.  Moving aside the grass that covered one of the stones, I discovered the grave of Billy Shacklett.  I was excited to find the grave of this courageous rebel warrior, and be in a position to pay my respects albeit some 146 years late.  When I was pulling the grass away from the stone, I noticed someone had decorated his grave with a little, now faded, Confederate flag.  I concluded it was a thoughtful and appropriate gesture, for some unknown admirer to make, but somehow, in a way I can’t explain, it made me sad.

      In retrospect, I believe the Civil War was as hard on the citizens of Meade County as any place the war was fought.  Do not think the Guerrillas and Home Guard were cowards because they did not join the ragged armies of Lee and Johnston or those armies of Grant and Sherman.  Their bravery and courage was tested over and again in the hills and hollows of old Meade.  Although their raids and battles were brief they were just as serious and deadly.  These dashing and daring fighters enriched the history and heritage of Meade County and gave it’s citizenry a pride that cannot be matched. 

 The End