The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board

Last KIA of Civil War/Last Skirmish of War

Here's an interesting one that has emerged out of my dive into the Ray County militia. Everybody knows the "Last battle of the Civil War" was at Palmito Ranch on May 13, 1865. Lesser known is that on May 19, 1865 there was a shooting scrape at Hobdy's Bridge that Alabamans claim was the last fight of the war.


The Ray County Missouri Militia took on Bill Anderson and killed him October 26 (or 27), 1864. Afterwards Arch Clement took over the band, and, with Jim Anderson, was back in Ray County stirring things up in May 1865. Ray County Federal Captain Clayton Tiffin, who had played a major role in taking on Bill Anderson months earlier, brought out his Ray and Caldwell County Veteran Missouri Militia Company (G.O. 3) and set out on their trail. Splitting up his command of around a dozen men, on May 25, 1865 Tiffin and five of his militia walked into an ambush against Clement six miles northeast of Richmond in Ray County.

A spirited exchange of gunfire unfolded, and when the smoke cleared Corporal Madison S. Walker from Tiffin's Company lay dead and Tiffin had the toe of his boot shot off. At least two Confederates were hit, with one turning himself in at Lexington the next day, along with most of the rest of Clement's force. That same day, May 26, Kirby Smith surrendered, an act widely considered by historians as concluding the Civil War.

Madison S. Walker has a card with the Secretary of State, and it confirms KIA May 25, 1865. Listed under "Tiffin's Ray & Caldwell Counties V.M.M. G.O. #3. So jackpot there. The Richmond Conservator newspaper published an article on May 27, 1865 outlining the unfolding of this hunt, ambush, and skirmish. Note that this article was published literally hours after the affair. Around the turn of the century sporadic obscure newspaper articles would pop up on this skirmish, generally one article reprinting the other in a cycle, talking about how this was the last fight of the Civil War, but placing the date as May 23, 1865.

I've found a Madison Walker in the 1860 Ray County census, but either it's not my guy, or some genealogist has poached him to fill out an empty slot in her own family tree, since this Madison Walker in the 1860 Ray census is claimed to have lived well into the 20th century and is buried in southeast Missouri.

I have found that my Madison Walker, the guy who appears to have been the last soldier killed in the last fight of the American Civil War, appears to also have had a wife, Sarah E. Searcy, married in Ray County February 21, 1861. There's a Sarah Searcy living in Ray County in the household of Alexander Searcy in 1870. Two doors away there's a Mattie Walker living in the Couch household.

And then I have found that in the 1880s one Mattie S. Keel was claiming a minor's pension for the Civil War death of her father, one Madison S. Walker of the "Ray & Caldwell Cos. Mo. Mil. (Tiffin)." And that just so happens to definitely be my guy. So minor daughter named Mattie confirmed.

Which means there's a pension application out there, for a pension claimed by Mattie S. Keel (S for Searcy?). Keel probably a married name, or a name obtained through adoption. At some previous point she was Mattie Walker, and probably was pulling in a minor's pension under that name too.

And maybe there was a widow's pension for Sarah E. Searcy Walker. Adding a bit of confusion, it looks like Sarah Searcy Walker may have married a Confederate veteran Isaac Burgess in Ray County in 1869 -- at least there are Burgess descendants claiming her and saying she was probably the widow of Madison Walker.

Whether it has anything to do with anything, I'm also under the impression the Sarah who married Madison Walker may have been in her early teens when the marriage took place.

Anyway--now this is fun research, but I don't have ready access to pension types of databases. Can somebody help me in that regard? It could help suss out the question of the last casualty of the Civil War. I welcome any other insights on this "last man killed in the war" issue.

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Last KIA of Civil War/Last Skirmish of War
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