(See update below…)
Go down to my favorite Kendall County cemetery, the Cowdrey Cemetery right off Ill. Route 71, and you’ll see an interesting monument.
Cowdrey’s one of Oswego Township’s older cemeteries and was originally situated on the old Cowdrey farm, thus the name. In the early spring and the late fall when the leaves are not on the trees, you can enjoy a wonderful vista from the cemetery’s high ground, which overlooks some glistening lakes that are the remains of the extensive gravel mining operation on the property. The wooded Cowdrey farm was a favorite picnic spot during the later years of the 19th Century before it was sold off to the gravel mining companies and some folks who tried, with some success, to establish recreational cabins along the river.
The Haynes monument is a two part obelisk (the top of which has since fallen from its base) memorializing Andrew Jackson Haynes, who was killed in 1869 in Arkansas. According to the epitaph on the monument:
“Capt. A. J. Haynes, Assassinated by Collyer while in defence of his country at Marion, Ark, July 15 1869, Aged 31 yrs 1 m 5 dys, O Mother do not weep though You never see again thy noblemanly Son who in a distant land was slain.”
That epitaph has fascinated me ever since I first saw it almost 40 years ago. This week I finally decided to see if I could get to the bottom of Andrew Haynes, and why a nice Kendall County boy was shot dead in Arkansas.
When the Civil War broke out, Haynes was a strapping (over 6 feet) young man working in Oswego as a tinsmith. He enlisted in Company C, 4th Illinois Cavalry Regiment, an outfit recruited by political heavyweight T. Lyle Dickey. Dickey was a Mexican War veteran and had political pull on his side, so he was authorized to recruit a federal cavalry regiment. Illinois Gov. Richard Yates, however, complained, probably to his close friend Abraham Lincoln, and the War Department decided Dickey’s unit ought to be an Illinois volunteer regiment.
C Company was recruited mostly in Kendall County, with the pitch to enlist made by the colonel Charles Townsend and his lieutenant, Asher B. Hall. Both men were well-known, Townsend a farmer and Hall a merchant, who came from well-known families.
Haynes was described as being black haired with blue eyes, standing almost two inches over six feet. Enlisting as a private, Haynes served with the 4th though some pretty heavy campaigning in the western theatre of the war with the Army of the Tennessee. The 4th was there during the Vicksburg campaign and on Grierson’s Raid on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad from Dec. 21, 1864, to Jan. 15, 1865.
But by the time of Grierson’s Mobile and Ohio raid, Haynes was long gone, having been discharged as a sergeant on Feb. 18, 1864. The same day, he was mustered in as a captain in the brand new 1st. Mississippi Cavalry (African Descent). A month later, the 1st Mississippi was mustered in as the 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry Regiment.
During the Civil War, the Union was willing to recruit regiments among escaped slaves and free blacks, but there was a strong cultural prohibition against black officers. Thus, officers in black regiments were almost uniformly white. When the 1st Mississippi was formed, the call went out for experienced horse soldiers, which by then Haynes was certainly one.
We don’t know what his expectations were, but if Andrew Haynes expected his new post to be less rigorous than his old job with the 4th Illinois, he was mistaken. The 3rd USCC saw lots of hard campaigning, and was on hand to join the hunt for Jefferson Davis as he and his wife attempted to escape at the end of the war.
The regiment was mustered out on Jan. 26, 1866, but Haynes apparently decided to stay in the South to assist in reconstruction. He was apparently appointed as an officer in a black militia unit operating in Arkansas. His activities did not make friends among the defeated former rebel military officers and troops. One of those who he had a dispute with was a former rebel soldier and reputed member of the then-new Ku Klux Klan named Clarence Collier. On July 15, 1869, Collier took his revenge by shooting and killing Haynes.
Haynes’ body was brought back to Kendall County for burial, John Redmond Marshall writing in the Aug. 5, 1869 Kendall County Record:
“The corpse of Andrew J. Haynes, who was murderously shot dead by one Collier, at Marion, Arkansas, arrived last Thursday and was buried next day in the Cemetery near Morgan’s. The funeral service was performed by a Rev. Mr. Barna in the Presbyterian church.”
1869 seems like an awful long time ago, but the poison of those divisive years of war and more war still seems to be with us, as the alleged murder of three innocent people in Kansas by a Missouri racist and religious bigot crackpot last week illustrates. As William Faulkner (who knew a thing or two about the South) so famously and so accurately phrased it:
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Still fascinated by Andrew Jackson Haynes, I decided to do a little more research today and found an account of exactly how Clarence Collier carried out Haynes’ murder down in Marion County, Arkansas. From the Aug. 5, 1869 Kendall County Record:
“…Clarence Collier, who had apparently been lying in wait for him [Haynes], came out of a grocery on the opposite corner of the street Haynes was leaving, and without a word of warning, drew a bead upon him with a double-barreled shotgun and fired. The charge took effect in Captain Haynes’ left side. The assassin instantly discharged the contents of the second barrel into his back. The Captain fell upon his face a corpse. But the vengeance of the brutal fiend was not satisfied. He advanced toward his prostrate victim and emptied his revolver into his body, riddling it with balls. Two lodged in his head. The assassin coolly returned to the grocery whence he had issued to do his bloody work, received his coat, mounted a horse, evidently prepared for the occasion, and rode out of town undisturbed.”
Collier was just 23 when he pulled the triggers on his shotgun and revolver. It was a pretty bloody piece of work all the way around…