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February 7, 2013
Civil War Skirmishes, Johnson County, Missouri "Mary M. Bedichek" Heroine
The following is a list of the skirmishes and engagements in the county, as far as can be learned:
1. In the eastern part of the county, between a squad of the Home Guards under Colonel Knaus, and a small detachment of Confederates. (One of the first skirmishes.) No casualties, if any, ever officially reported.
2. About September 1, 1861. Union pickets south of Warrensburg fired on by Confederates, two killed. A few days later, the Confederates took prisoner a Union man, Jake Sams, who resided near Holden and no trace of him, was ever found afterward.
About this time, General Price passed through this county on his way from Springfield to Lexington, with his command, which consisted of about twenty thousand men.
3. On October 16, General Jim Lane, of Kansas, sacked Kingsville, killed eight men, confiscated several horses and other property, and burned several houses of Southern sympathizers.
4. In November 1861, a government train of ox wagons was captured near Warrensburg by the Confederates, recaptured by six hundred Federal cavalry from Sedalia. On their road to Fort Leavenworth with prisoners and cattle and Matt Houx with about a hundred men ambushed Federals near Blackwater church. Houx's men opened fire on advanced guard and then both the Federals and Confederates ran in opposite directions. Federals reformed but could not find any trace of Houx or his men.
5. In January 1862, about two hundred of Jamison's men from Kansas, under Major Herrick, came to Holden, and with former Johnson county Union men for guides, burned forty or fifty homes of the most prominent Southern men in the western part of the county. The raiders carried everything they did not burn. About two days later about fifty of this command destroyed and carried off much property at Columbus. Captain Elliott, of Lafayette County, with his company and quite a number of Johnson county men, met this detachment, killed five, and captured two. The Jayhawkers retreated, joined the main body under Major Herrick, and Captain Elliott retreated. The Kansans entered Columbus again and burned nearly every house in town.
6. Early in 1862 ten or twelve men, formerly from Johnson county, came from Kansas, camped on Big creek, not far from Rose Hill, and were attacked by a small squad of men under Dr. Jones and two or three of them wounded.
7. Twenty-four of Foster's men, under Lieutenant Christian, after a foraging trip in the northwestern part of the county, about five miles from Warrensburg near Inga’s Mill, were fired upon by concealed Confederates and four wounded.
8. An old gentleman, named Racer, of Chilhowee township, father of Capt. D. M. Raker, who later became sheriff of Johnson county, a man named Piper, seven miles southwest of Warrensburg, a Mr. Greenlet, in Warrensburg, were all killed by Foster's men. A man named Keene near Pittsville, killed by bushwhackers under Ross.
9. Scouts under Captain Houts, captured Bill Stewart at Cornelia and decided to hang him, but some of the boys who were well acquainted with him used their influence in his behalf and the officer finally decided to take Stuart to camp. On the way, he escaped and later became one of the most noted bushwhackers of that period. In 1864, Stuart was killed north of the Missouri river.
10. A detail of Foster's men surrounded a house where John Brinker and Frank Burgess were, a short distance south of Warrensburg. Brinker and Burgess made a sudden dash, killed and wounded two of Foster's men and escaped. Foster's men burned the house and killed the owner for harboring Brinker and Burgess.
11. A skirmish took place between Foster's command and the Confederates a few miles south of Centerview. Foster's men ambushed; Confederates escaped. Eight of the Federals wounded, two mortally.
12. The Confederates planned to organize on a systematic basis to drive Federals out. They notified their friends in Johnson, Jackson and Lafayette counties to meet at Craig's old mill on Blackwater Creek, about ten miles northeast of Holden.
Foster learned their plans and sent to Sedalia for reinforcements, and two companies of the First Iowa Cavalry reached Warrensburg about daylight of the very morning that the Confederates had planned to attack. Through some misunderstanding the Confederates did not
all meet; the attack was given up and they disbanded.
Foster, with two hundred of his men and the Iowa troops, started out in search of the Confederates. He encountered the belated command of Colonel Parker with fifty-six Jackson county men. Colonel Parker immediately began a retreat and a running fight was kept up for a mile or so, when Colonel Parker's command scattered and most of them escaped. The Federals captured Colonel Parker and ten of his men, two of the Confederates and two Federals were killed and mortally wounded. In Colonel Parker's hasty retreat he was thrown from his horse and the Federals overtook him. He fell prone on the ground and played dead. Some of the Iowa soldiers came up and examined him. They rolled him over and looked for the wound that caused his death, but not even a drop of blood could be found. At this perplexing juncture one of them said, 'think we'd better empty a load into him and finish the job. If he's not already dead that will help him along, and if he is dead it won't hurt him." This was enough for Parker. He bounded to his feet just in time to surrender alive. He was released in a few days, and a few months later was killed near Wellington, Lafayette County.
Later Major Curley, of Sedalia, was transferred and took command of the Warrensburg post. He issued a proclamation calling on all the Confederates to come in and lay down their arms, promising them protection. Many by this time were sick and tired of fighting and quite a
number went to Warrensburg and took the oath of allegiance. This move met with strong condemnation of their former comrades, they became afraid, and many left immediately for Illinois and elsewhere.
Others succeeded those who dropped out of the conflict because of taking the oath of allegiance and local operations were kept up with as much intensity as ever.
13. Shortly after this a Union man named Wilham Barton, who lived two miles west of Holden. was killed, then a man named Brown, who lived near Chilhowee, and had a son in Captain Houts" company, was killed on his way to Warrensburg. A man named Potts, who had been in the confederate army. He had been captured and after being released started home. Two of Foster's men followed him and killed him near Devil's Branch, west of Warrensburg.
14. Shortly after this Captain Houts, with forty men, encountered a party of Confederates northeast of Hazel Hill, one Confederate was killed.
15. The following story of wartime days comes from Columbus Township and is from the Johnson County history of 1881: On the night of January 8, 1865, two men requested admission at the home of an old man named Bedichek, near Columbus. Bedichek's daughter, a girl of nineteen, upon looking out the window, saw that the men were armed with double-barreled shotguns. They stated that they wanted to come in to get warm. The girl told them one might come in unarmed. He did so. After entering the house, he found the old gentleman and the girl were the only inmates, and upon being told that they were, he drew a revolver and started to kill the old man. The latter seized the pistol with one hand and the girl drew a heavy corn knife, which she had concealed by her side and struck the intruder several times, cutting off one of his ears and nearly severing his pistol hand. The intruder then tried to escape and the man on the outside came to the rescue. The girl met him at the door and drove him off with her corn knife. Later in the night, a couple of shots were fired through the window, but with no damage. Colonel Crittenden, who commanded the post, upon receiving the report of this girl's bravery, presented her with a regulation Colt's revolver. The heroine of this occasion was Mary M. Bedichek. Later she married S. Campbell. In 1879, she came into public notice by fasting forty-one days.
During the last part of the Civil War the Union, state troops and enrolled militia practically dominated the situation in Johnson County. However, minor outbreaks and insignificant clashes frequently occurred. May 5. 1865, Bill Anderson, Arch Clement and Dave Pool with about two hundred bushwhackers appeared in Kingsville and began firing on the inhabitants. The citizens tried unsuccessfully to defend themselves under Captain Leroy C. Duncan and soon the bushwhackers had robbed the inhabitants and burned the town. After the war had officially closed, April 9, 1865, many desperate characters in organized bands continued their guerrilla warfare and terrorized this section of the state for some time. They came from both sides and seemingly had become accustomed to this method of living and were unwilling to return to ordinary civil life. The Jesse James gang and others came from these bands.
On the other hand, when Grant and Lee agreed upon the closing chapter of the great struggle, the real soldiers of both the Union and the Confederacy had had enough of war and returned to retrieve their lost fortunes and rebuild their homes. They were both anxious to make their county a safe place where life and property would be secure and civil authority supreme. It was through the combined efforts of these men who had bravely fought on opposite sides for four years, that Johnson County eventually rid itself of those who had become outlaws.
Lieutenant-Colonel Woolfolk has just returned, with 225 men and two pieces of artillery. He drove the rebels, from 700 to 1,000 strong, across Johnson County(Missouri). They are in precipitate retreat out of the State. The crisis is past here; we do not need any re-enforcements now. There will soon be peace here.
Trouble at Warrensburg
Sir: Your telegram of the 24th, making inquiries about the situation of affairs in Johnson county, received, and in reply will state that immediately on my return from Warrensburg i made the following report, as near as i can recollect. Owing to carelessness the report was not recorded.
In compliance with your telegram of the 10th, which was not received until 5 p. m., 11th, I proceeded, on the 12th, with Companies I and k, First Missouri State Militia Cavalry, to Warrensburg, reaching that place same evening, and on the 14th the two companies of the Fourth Missouri State Militia Cavalry marched for Kansas City. i found a very bad state of affairs there; a great many outrages and murders had been committed; but as your order was to arrest the ringleaders, i found it very hard to find out who were the ringleaders in these depredations, as they were mostly committed by irresponsible persons, who would frequently go out with soldiers and commit these outrages. The minds of some of the soldiers had been worked upon by bad, designing men until they had become so incensed against some of the best Union citizens that they had to leave their houses for their own safety. Under these circumstances, i concluded that it was best to make no arrests for the present. it is very well known who the leaders of this party are, but they disclaim having anything to do with the outrages. There have been but few murders or other outrages committed there but what can be clearly proven who the guilty parties are, but to do that it will require some time, and must be done by some one whom the people will have confidence in their staying long enough to make a full investigation and bring the guilty parties to punishment. There are women these whose husbands have been murdered, but owing to threats, and the frequent removals and changes of commanding officers, they are afraid to give their testimony. There has been a perfect reign of terror existing there, but I am satisfied that all will go well while our men remain there, as they cannot be induced to take any part in the personal difficulties of the citizens there, and Captain Burris, who is in command, is a good man, and will put a stop to all such outrages as have been heretofore committed by the aid of, and in many instances by, a dissatisfied soldiery.
The above, I think, is about the substance of my former report, which, I hope, you will receive. I will add that since my return from there some four citizens, who are the leaders of the party spoken of, have been arrested by the Enrolled Missouri State Militia, and sent to Saint Louis by order of the provost marshal general of the department. I think their arrest was caused by their illegal proceedings in carrying out the assessment order issued by General Schofield last summer. I receive communications from Captain Burris almost daily. Our men are doing good work there, and I am happy to report that a better state of affairs exists in that section than did a short time ago.
B. F. Lazerar, Lieutenant-Colonel, Comadg. First Missouri State Militia Cavalry. (WR XXXIV: 38-9).
Corinth, July 20, 1863 Col. Aug. Mersy: Any band of rebels or single person caught interfering with the railroad or telegraph, in any way, who are not regularly in the Confederate service, shoot on the spot. I don't want any prisoners of that kind. G. M. Dodge (WR XXXVI: 538)
Operations against Quantrill's Raid into Kansas
General: I have the honor to report that at 10 o'clock, august 20, I received information, at Warrensburg, that Quantrill, with 250 men, had passed 12 miles north of that place on the 19th, going west. I immediately dispatched messengers to Lexington and Harrisonville, asking for all the force that could be sent from these stations to meet me at Chapel hill at daylight next morning.
I left Warrensburg at 10 o'clock with 100 men of companies C, I, and K. We formed a junction near Chapel Hill with Major Mullins, with 130 men of companies B, F, G, and H, all of the First Missouri State Militia Cavalry. Delayed here until late in the evening waiting on detachment from Lexington, when Colonel Neill, with 50 men of Fifth Provisional regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia, came up; pushed on that night as far as Lone Jack. Started early on the morning of the 22d on Quantrill's trail as far as Big Creek, 5 miles northwest of Pleasant Hill, where we stopped to feed, and as soon as the advance came out of the brush west of Big Creek they discovered a body of men some half mile in their front. The whole command was immediately ordered up and parties sent out to discover who they were, when they replied that they were Federal troops, but would no say whose command they belonged to. Fearing they were Federal troops, I road forward and satisfied myself they were bushwhackers, and were forming line of battle behind a fence; and as they were on top of a ridge, and were still coming up, I though it prudent to dismount a company to take the advance. While engaged in this, they commenced retreating from their right. After going some three-quarters of a mile, they changed their course to their left, and formed just over a ridge, where we came up with them and exchanged several rounds, when they broke for the brush. Five were killed. Have heard since several were wounded; several horses killed and some captured. Some goods were picked up, but mostly left. The ground they passed over was strewed with goods of every description. As soon as I found they had scattered, the force was divided, and Capt. H. F. Peery, in command of one of the detachments, came up with them late in the evening, and fought them in the brush as considerable time, when they again scattered in every direction. Five more were killed in this engagement. Our casualties were none, so far. I attempted to guard the passes that night to keep them from passing east, but the most of them passed over, several parties of them being fired upon, and 1 rebel killed. From two prisoners we learned this party was commanded by Quantrill, and that there were 200 men.
August 23, the brush of Big Creek was scoured, but none found.
[August] 24, marched from Pleasant Hill to Lone Jack, and from there to the head of Texas Prairie. Saw some trails, but no rebels. One of the prisoners took us to one of their caps, but found nothing but about a keg of powder and some corn, which was destroyed.
[August] 25, divided the command (except Colonel Neill's force, who left the 24th) into small parties, and scoured the country from the head of Texas Prairie north of Big Sni, and some 10 miles south of the prairie, sending Captain Jackson as far sough as Kingsvill, where I learned the party passed the day before. I have not heard from him yet, although he was to report to me at Hopewell. We had a number of skirmishes this day, killing 3 (no doubt wounding several) and capturing a number of horses, and some prisoners, who were unarmed, and a female, by the name of Miss Hutchins, of this place, who was standing picket while 2 bushwhackers were eating their dinner, and since their capture by giving them timely notice of the approach of troops. Our casualties today were 1 killed and 1 wounded, viz: Killed, Robert C. Key, private Company K, and wounded, Joshua Stevens, Company I.
[August] 26, a picket skirmish this morning near Hopewell, and a long chase after a party of 30, but they scattered in the brush. Learned 1 was wounded in the skirmish this morning. From here scoured the country to Greenton, and, finding no fresh traces, I concluded best to come to this place and get our horses shod, some supplies and learn something of the movements of other troops, so that i could co-operate with them.
I cannot close this report without calling your attention to the fact that if we had been armed so that we could have made a charge, we could have captured Quantrill's entire command; but cavalry armed with long guns, and these empty, are not in a very good condition to make a charge on an enemy.
Officers and men behaved well, and I take pleasure in mentioning the names of Captains Peery, W. Meredith, M.Burris, and lieutenants [B. F.] Johnson, J. D. Mullins, D. Groomer, P. S. Kenney. The latter is our quartermaster, and is certainly one of the bravest and coolest men I have met with during an engagement, and is well worthy of promotion. I must also call your attention to Cpl. Andrew J. Fuller, of Company I, who seized a bushwhacker, after they had emptied their revolvers, and beat his brains out with his pistol. This is the same man who a short time since attacked 3 bushwhackers, killing 2 and running the third. His bravery is certainly worthy of reward.
In closing this report, i would recommend that every citizen, man, woman, and child, in Texas Prairie, and near it, be sent out of the country, and troops sent there to use up the forage, or that it be destroyed. There are large quantities of it there, and every farmer there, with one or two exceptions, favors and feeds the bushwhackers, and the quickest way to destroy them is to destroy their subsistence and remove their friends.
The whole number killed during the scout was 16; brought in 8 male and 2 female prisoners; ordered a number of females to report to the provost-marshal; 25 horses, several guns and pistols.
General: In compliance with your order, you will find a brief statement of such facts as I have been able to obtain relative to the Quantrill raid.
On the night of the 20th of August, Lieut. col. B. F. Lazear informed Major Mullins that a large body of guerrillas were reported to be in the neighborhood of Chapel Hill, and ordered him to move without delay with the effective portion of his command in that direction. Accordingly, major Mullins moved, with 126 men; formed a junction in the vicinity of Lone jack, or Chapel Hill, with lieutenant-Colonel Lazear; ascertained that the guerrillas had gone toward Kansas. The whole force, about 300 strong, met Quantrill and his band of murderers and thieves 5 miles west of Pleasant Hill about 2 o'clock Saturday, when, after a short parley, which was thought necessary in order to ascertain who they were. As soon as this was done our gallant lieutenant-colonel ordered the boys of the First Cavalry, and a portion of the Fifth Provisional Regiment, under Colonel Neill, to open fire on them, which was done with a will. The bushwhackers fled in great confusion, hotly pursued by our soldiers. I am credibly informed that there were 5 of the enemy killed in this engagement, and 10 wounded. Several horses were killed, some captured, and plunder, from a horse to a finger ring, all of which was turned over, by order of lieutenant-Colonel Lazear, to the quartermaster First Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
After this the lieutenant-colonel divided his forces and began to scour the brush in the neighborhood of Pleasant Hill. A detachment of his force, G and K, under command of Capt. [H. F.] Peery, had an engagement with some stragglers and succeeded in killing 5. Next day 2 prisoners were captured, from whom some valuable information was obtained. This band of bushwhackers, whom it is supposed was commanded by Quantrill, passed through or near Lone Jack on the night of the 19th of August, came within 1 1/2 or 2 miles of Pleasant Hill, and then turned abruptly north for a distance of 5 miles, then west toward the headwaters of Grand River. John Ballinger, Capt., Comdg. Detachment First Missouri State Militia Cavalry. P. S.--Some papers were captured that had been entrusted to care of Captain Quantrill, &c. (WR XXXIV: 590-1)
Operations about Warrensburg, February 22-24, 1864
15th Cavalry, Weston, Missouri
Major: I have the honor to report that a scout of 19 men, under command of Captain Burris, First Missouri State Militia Cavalry, waylaid a small party of guerrillas, part of Blunt's band, that I reported on the 23d, and mortally wounded 2 of them; the balance escaped into the Sni Hills. E. B. Brown Brigadier-General Volunteers, Commanding (WR XLVI: 151
Colonel: I have the honor to report that I have had out fourteen scouts and one escort to Warrensburg, with wagons for rations, since my last report on the 10th instant. We have scouted over the north part of Johnson County, Greenton Valley, and Texas Prairie, in La Fayette County, and traveled in the aggregate 3,235 miles making it equal to about 42 miles per day for the whole company. I find several old camps where bushwhackers have been, and some late camps signs, but all of them are small, not more than from 3 to 7 at any one place. We judge the number by the way they feed their horses and the signs they make.
I do not think there is any large body of bushwhackers in this part of the country, but I feel very confident that there are several small squads which pass through frequently and perhaps stop a short time in the brush on Black Water. We have not been close enough to any bushwhackers to fire upon them, nor do we know certainly that the men have seen any since they have seen stationed here. The country over which we travel is very quiet at this time and the people all appear to be preparing to go to work with a view of raising a crop. We have been able to procure full rations of corn and hay for our horses up to this time. James D. Eads, Capt. Co. M, First Cavalry, Missouri State Mil. (WR XLVI: 683-4)
Holden, April 28, 1864
Major: I have the honor to report, for the information of the major-general commanding, that at 4 a.m. to-day 1 received information that a party of about 80 rebels crossed Grand River, near Dayton, Cass county, at 3 p.m. yesterday, and were moving toward Rose Hill; at 10 a.m. that they had passed near Holden, and 2.30 p.m. had crossed Black Water river, south of Chapel Hill, and had met Lieutenant Couch, First Missouri State Militia, with 3 soldiers, in a hack, and murdered them when on the way to this place, when about 5 miles this side of Chapel Hill. . .My troops are alive to the necessity of making short work of these fellows, and they will do it if possible. E. B. Brown Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
Warrensburg, April 30, 1864. The first Missouri State Militia skirmished with the guerrillas Thursday afternoon; drove them onto the Second Colorado, who had a warm chase all day yesterday. We had 1 man killed, 1 wounded. Several guerrillas fell.
The band is broken and scattered. E. B. Brown Brigadier-General of volunteers, Commanding Captain: I have the honor to state that First Lieut. James E. Couch, Company C, First Cavalry, Missouri State Militia, and Francis N. Kelly, bugler, and Joseph T. Mason, private, Company C, First Cavalry, Missouri State militia, were killed by Quantrill's guerrillas in Johnson County, Mo., on the 28th ultimo, and Jacob Spake, private in same company, was dangerously wounded. These guerrillas had just arrived from the south, and took Lieutenant Couch and his party by surprise. The band is supposed to number from 80 to 100 men, well mounted, armed, and equipped, and are reported to be in Federal uniform. Afterward, detachments of Companies D and M, First Cavalry, Missouri State Militia, attached the guerrillas, and after several sharp skirmishes dispersed them in small parties. . . James McFerran, Colonel First Cav., Missouri State Militia, Comdg. (WR XLVI: 902-3)
May Orders May 28
Col. James McFerran, Warrensburg, Mo.: Do not have less than three companies of your regiment at Warrensburg; two west of there. Hold the balance, except the three companies in Henry and Saint Clair counties, in western part of la Fayette County and Lexington, all in position to concentrate rapidly, if necessary. By order of Brigadier-General Brown; J. H. Steger, Assistant Adjutant-General. (WR XLVI: 35).
Scout from Warrensburg
General: I have the honor to state that I have been absent from this station since the morning of the 23d instant; that at about daylight that morning I received information that about 20 guerrillas, at 5 p. m. the day before, 4 miles northeast of Chilhowee, had attacked Solathel Stone, orderly sergeant, and 5 men, one of them Judge King, of Capt. W. H. Thompson's company of citizen guards, and killed Judge King and captured the sergeant and 3 of his men; 1 escaped. The party were scouting at the time. The guerrillas got the arms of the captured men. I also learned by other messengers about the same time that another party of 15 were seen the night before near the line of the railroad east of Holden. I also received a communication about the same time from lieutenant Hardesty, at Germantown, on Saturday night, 21st instant, that 100 guerrillas had crossed the Osage at Taberville, coming north; Lieutenant Goodbrake, commanding Clinton, endorsed this communication, that he had reliable information that the number was much larger than stated by Lieutenant Hardesty. I immediately started for Holden with 47 men, and on the way learned from a woman that 30 guerrillas had taken her husband's horse the night before about 6 miles east of Holden and north of the road, and that they went north. we reached Holden at 12 m., and not being able to hear of any guerrillas south of that point, I sent Captain Wyckoff with 27 men of his company to scout the Black Water timber, and after having done so to return to Warrensburg. I retained 10 men of company A with me. Upon inspection of Company M, i found but 12 men for duty at Holden. I went to Kingsville the same evening, where I found 20 men of same company, which I inspected and returned to Holden.
Captain Eads informed me that he had sent his two teams to the vicinity of Hopewell, La Fayette County, Mo., for forage under an escort of 20 men, and that they would return next day. At dark a messenger came to Holden from Captain Taggart with the information that Quantrill with 200 men was about 6 miles south of Holden marching in that direction. I immediately sent messengers to Kingsville for the men at that place to join me, with the 22 men marched for Hopewell, taking the railroad; transportation and company property with me. About 8 miles from Holden we were joined by the 20 men from Kingsville and 15 citizen guards of Captain Jones' company. We reached Hopewell about daylight. I immediately sent messengers to Captain Burris to join me, which he did at 10 a.m. with about 65 men, and we marched immediately for Holden, where we arrived at about 4 p. m. Upon communicating again with Captain Taggart we learned that the guerrillas had left his neighborhood the night before and gone north, but was unable to learn their course. We remained at Holden last night and this morning i sent Captain Burris with his command to scout the country between Lone jack and Chapel Hill, on his return to his camp on Walton's farm, in Texas prairie, and I came to this place. I learn since arriving here that Captain Wykcoff returned to this place on last evening, finding no trace of guerrillas on Black Water. As you directed a company to be sent to Kingsville Captain Wyckoff marched for that point last night and is now at that point. Company M is at Holden.
The descent of the guerrillas upon Captain Taggart's neighborhood was sudden, and in suck force that he was unable to get his company together, each in small force that he was unable to get his company together, each man saving himself by hiding in the brush. At Hopewell I sent messengers to Captain Eads' forage train, and they came into Holden immediately after we arrived there. I cannot say for a certainty how many guerrillas were in the vicinity of Holden, but am satisfied that there were more than 100, from reported counts by different persons. The instructions forwarded in relation to the scout beginning on the 27th have been sent to Major Mullins and Captain Burris, in the western part of La Fayette County.
In order to complete my monthly inspection it will be necessary to visit Companies B, E, and K in Henry. I expect to start there in a day or two. There should be another company of troops here, and I am inclined to bring company E, leaving Companies B and k in the field in the western part of Henry. I think this company can better be spared than any other from present locations. a company from some other regiment would be better, as all of my regiment now in the field should be kept there. James McFerran, Col. First Cav., M. S. M., Comadg. Third Sub-District. (WR XLVL: 945-6)