Reconstructing Cass County, Mo.’s Lost History

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Author revisits the past through the individual histories of the county’s people

Where did these people go after Order No.11 was issued?

For eleven years, astride the Missouri-Kansas border, Cass County endured the vortex of the nation’s most violent conflict. Citizens were trapped in the fires of Secessionism, Unionism, and an undying Border War. Author Tom A. Rafiner’s Caught Between Three Fires revisits its story.

Violent circumstances forged leaders who shaped Missouri’s political and military history. Cass County’s uncivil war—intimate, cruel, and total—suffered no man, woman or child to escape loss or injury Their individual stories weave the fabric of history. In Caught Between Three Fires, Rafiner recreates a lost history, erased by total destruction, Order No. 11, and time’s purposeful neglect. The story’s unprecedented depth and scope rests upon material unearthed from hundreds of claims filed with the federal government after the War and buried in the vaults of the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

“Who were the people who lived in Cass County when the Civil War began?”, “Where did these people go after Order No.11 was issued?”, “Who returned to Cass County,” and “What were their stories?” are the four questions around which the author’s initial research revolved. Rafiner soon realized, finding answers and finding families required expanding his scope – the history is more complex than Order No. 11. Caught Between Three Fires includes the entire Civil War period, 1860 to 1865.,

Devastating events from 1860 to 1865 resulted in the near obliteration of Cass County’s history and pivotal role in Missouri history. Throughout the War, hundreds of civilians left the county, never returning. Order No. 11, expelled virtually the entire population and initiated a scorched earth policy which effectively destroyed any history which might have survived the War. After the War, returning refugees, burdened by the weight of beginning a new life and a desire to leave the violence and pain behind, allowed time to blow a painful past away; further aiding the disappearance of Cass County’s history.

Caught Between Three Fires provides living history reconstructed through first-hand accounts. Connecting the dots has resulted in a quite amazing story embedded in the individual histories of the county’s people. For more information on this fascinating book, log-on to

About the Author
Tom Rafiner, a Jackson County, Missouri, native, has Cass County family ties stretching back 160 years. Rafiner’s ancestors lived outside Harrisonville through the Border War and well into the Civil War. He has invested six years pursuing each Cass County family’s history and stories. Research has taken him to the National Archives four times. Rafiner’s reputation as a talented and engaging oral historian, and storyteller, rests upon meticulous knowledge of Order No. 11. He holds a BA degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia and an MA from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Caught Between Three Fires * by Tom A. Rafiner
Cass County, Chaos, & Order No. 11    1860 – 1865
Publication Date: October 14, 2010
Trade Paperback; $23.99; 705 pages; 978-1-4500-8954-8
Trade Hardback; $34.99; 705 pages; 978-1-4500-8955-5
eBook; $9.99; 978-1-4500-8956-2

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