The Guerrilla Season Book Blog

Join 8th grade American History students at South Valley Jr High in Liberty, Missouri as they read Guerrilla Season by Pat Hughes. For more information contact Eric Langhorst at

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Week 3 - Actual Oath now in Liberty Missouri Museum

Above is an actual oath used in Clay County in 1862 given to those thought to be guerrillas aiding the southern effort. This is an earlier version than the one quoted in the novel Guerrilla Season but is very similar to what Matt was forced to sign in the field. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

This artifact is currently on display in Liberty, Missouri at the Clay County Historical Society Museum located downtown on the historic square. Check it out if you live in Liberty. It is an incredible artifact!

Check out the name of the county on the oath - HOWARD! Very odd considering that Howard was the name Pat used for the last name of Matt's family and she had never seen a copy of this artifact until today!

Here are some comments from Pat:

Eric and everybody - What an awesome post! To be able to see the real thing -- it just chills me. Oh that I were in Liberty and could see it in person. But the wonders of the Web are once again brought to bear. ...

Especially interesting to me is the use of the term "provisional government" - i.e. the oath-taker is promising to bear true allegiance to the "provisional government of the state of Missouri," meaning the Union government that took over Missouri after running elected Gov. Claiborne Jackson & his government out of the state.

I also wanted to point out that this oath, dated 1862, pre-dates the oath that Matt takes in "Guerrilla Season." I found Matt's oath in Michael Fellman's "Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War." Fellman writes that in 1863, Union officials "codified a system of oaths and bonds which had been developed in various forms in the field. When a suspected guerrilla sympathizer was arrested he would take the following oath:" Fellman then gives the oath that I used in "Guerrilla Season."

Thanks Eric for showing us this amazing piece of history! - Pat


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