Bates County was formed in 1841. Many early settlers came from Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. The 1860 census listed a population of 6,765 with a slave population of 442. In 1862, the slave population had dropped greatly.
Most Bates County residents supported the Confederacy. Several groups of guerrilla fighters operated in the area. Using Hog Island, located about nine miles from the town of Butler, Mo., local guerrillas terrorized pro-Union families and led raids into eastern Kansas.
"The whole force of the enemy was commanded by Cockerel [Cockrell], and numbered about 500."
Lawrence [Kan.] Republican, reporting on the Battle of Island Mound, Nov. 6, 1862
"As we came into sight of it [the Toothman house], we discovered at the same time a number of horsemen on the Osage bottoms, a mile to the southeast. The scouts and mounted officers galloped forward to reconnoitre, and soon discovered them to be rebel guerillas. A citizen with a load of wood, on inquiry, stated that they were reported as Cockrell's [Cockrell], Hancock's and Truman's [Turman's] gangs, moving south in the direction of Arkansas."
The New York Times, reporting on the Battle of Island Mound, Nov. 8, 1862
The Fort Scott Road
On Oct. 26, 1862 the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry received orders to clean out the gang of bushwhackers on Hog Island. They marched from Fort Lincoln, Kan. with about 240 men and 12 officers. Using the Fort Scott Road, they arrived near Hog Island in Bates County, Mo. on Oct. 27.
The road used by the First Kansas linked the Western Military Road and the town of Butler, Mo. Begun in 1836, the Western Military Road connected a series of forts stretching from Minnesota Territory to Louisiana. The forts defined the eastern boundary of Indian Territory.
The name of the road depended on where the person was from, however. In Kansas, it was called the Butler Road. In Butler, Mo. it was called the Fort Scott Road. Fort Scott Street, in the town of Butler, preserves a part of this historic road.
In 1862, the Toothman farm house was located near the Fort Scott Road. The men of the First Kansas camped in the yard around the Toothman home and used the rails of a fence to build a breastworks. They named their camp "Fort Africa."