Provost Marshals

byD. H. Rule

James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross new December 6, 2002


George E. Leighton - George Elliot Leighton, Born March 7, 1835 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Came to St. Louis in 1858. Lawyer in St. Louis. Lieutenant in 3rd Missouri US Reserve Volunteers, April 1861. Major in 5th Missouri State Militia Cavalry. Married Isabella Bridge October 23, 1862. Son George B. Leighton born 1864. Provost Marshal of St. Louis fall 1861 through 1862. 1863 Colonel of 7th Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia. Later President of the Missouri Historical Society. Died July 4, 1901. 

George E. Leighton

"I was on the other side myself, but I recollected Colonel Leighton's administration, and, though this was a Southern city, I can say that the only recollection of it to most of us is admiration for the man himself. I can't say that we indorsed all his moves, of course, but most of his orders were worded with great humanity, and were carried out in the same manner so long as he was personally present to supervise them. He was not responsible for the doings of some of his subordinates." Jefferson Meek, 1901


GENERAL ORDERS No. 13.

HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, Mo., December 4, 1861.

I. Lieut. Col. Bernard G. Farrar is hereby appointed provost-marshal-general of this department. Capt. George E. Leighton is provost-marshal of the city of Saint Louis and its vicinity. All local provost-marshals will be subject to the orders of the provost-marshal-general, who will receive his instructions direct from these headquarters.


OFFICE OF PROVOST-MARSHAL,
Saint Louis, Mo., December 4, 1861

I may be permitted to say that on my appointment to the position I hold I found the department greatly disorganized and that from the date of the proclamation of martial law there had been exercised a very general jurisdiction over civil as well as military matters. Perhaps at first it was in a measure necessary, but if so the necessity exists no longer; and it has been my aim by thorough organization to increase its efficiency though operating with a less force and disentangle it from all connection with civil matters except in cases of absolute necessity and where it is believed the interests of the Government imperatively require it.

The police department of the city is under the control of men of unquestioned loyalty, and a thorough understanding exists between the chief of that department and myself so that there may be co-operation when desired. The executive of the city while he is not to be considered loyal is not one who would give aid or assistance against us. He has scrupulously avoided all chance of collision and where the peace and good order of the city has been involved has not hesitated to operate in connection with this department.

The council and aldermen are all of undoubted disloyalty but nothing is to be apprehended from them, the police and executive being the only branches of the city government with which it is desirable that this department should co-operate.

I have the honor to be, general,

 GEORGE E. LEIGHTON,

Provost-Marshal.

"I was informed Colonel Leighton was to be married that night at the Trinity Episcopal Church... Out of pure deviltry I proposed to attend the ceremony. To this some of my friends seriously objected, while others said I would not dare do such a risky thing, when all the government officials and the police were on the alert to capture me. A dare or a challenge was a thing I never dodged, so I determined to undertake it. My dear friend, Miss Lizzie Pickering, proposed to accompany me and we were present when the ceremony was performed. We occupied seats near the rear of the church and left promptly after the ceremony. A few days later I wrote Colonel and Mrs. Leighton a note of congratulations, and he had the note published in the St. Louis Globe under the title, 'Insolent Nerve.'" -- Absalom C. Grimes

 


James H. Baker 1910James H. Baker - former Secretary of State of Minnesota, fought in the Sioux uprising. Born in Monroe, Ohio, May 6, 1829. Moved to Minnesota in 1857 where he served two terms as Secretary of State. Married Rose Thurston September 25, 1852. She died March 21, 1873. Two sons, Arthur and Harry Baker. Married December 23, 1879 to Zula Bartlett. Baker died May 25, 1913 in Mankato, Minnesota. Provost Marshal of St. Louis and Department of Missouri 1863-65. Baker's Correspondence in the Official Records

From the 1864 St. Louis Directory:

Provost Marshal General's Dept. of the Missouri

Office, 5th st., cor. St. Charles

Colonel J. H. Baker, P. M. General

Lt. Col. C. W. Davis, 1st Asst. P. M. General

Capt. Saml. S. Burdett, 2d Asst. P. M. General

Lieut. J. C. Bradler, 3d Asst. P. M. General

Lieut. G. H. Richardson, 4th Asst. P. M. General

Lieut. Geo. W. Shinn, Chief of Bureau of Examiners

Samuel S. Boyd, Solicitor

Capt. Peter Fallon [sic--Tallon], Chief U. S. Military Police

A. B. Converse, Asst. Chief U. S. Mil. Police


James O. Broadhead - James Overton Broadhead. May 28, 1819-August 7, 1898. Lawyer from Virginia with many Southern friends and sympathies, pro-slavery. Married Mary Snowden Dorsey. Children: Nannie Dorsey Broadhead-1849, Charles L. S. Broadhead-1853, May Mary W.Broadhead-1856, John D. Broadhead-1858. 

See: James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross new December 6, 2002

"With the approbation of Governor Gamble, General Schofield appointed as a staff officer and assigned to duty as provost-marshal-general one James O. Broadhead, who, it is said, declared recently in Saint Louis that every damned abolitionist in the country ought to be hung, with Chase and Stanton at their head. Under this new administration, faithful, diligent, and competent assistant provost-marshals were arbitrarily removed without any cause being assigned and their places supplied by those whose sympathies were with the Conservatives."

James O BroadheadBROADHEAD, James O., lawyer, was born in Albemarle county, Va., May 19, 1819. He was educated at the high school, and when sixteen years of ago studied for one year at the University of Virginia. In June, 1837, he removed to Missouri, where he studied law in the office of Edward Bates for three years. In 1841 he began the practice of the law in Pike county, Mo., and in 1845 was elected as a delegate to the constitutional convention of the state. In 1846 he was elected to the state legislature from Pike county, and in 1850 to the state senate, and served in that capacity four years. In 1859 he located in St. Louis, and in February, 1861, he was appointed U.S. district attorney of Missouri, but resigned when he found it interfered with his duties as a delegate to the state convention, "for vindicating the sovereignty of the state, and the protection of its institutions." Under the provisions of resolutions offered by Mr. Broadhead, this convention abolished the existing state government, and established a provisional government, which for the first three years of the civil war managed its affairs, raising and organizing a military force in support of the United States government. He was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the 3d Missouri cavalry, and was assigned to duty on the staff of General Schofield, as provost marshal-general of the department of Missouri. In 1876 he was [p.416] appointed by President Grant as counsel on the part of the government in the prosecution of the "whisky frauds." In 1878 he was chosen president of the American bar association, which met at Saratoga, N.Y. In 1882 he was elected a representative to the 48th Congress as a Democrat, and in 1885 was appointed by the government as special agent to make preliminary search of the record of the French archives in the matter of the French spoliation claims, making his report in October, 1885. He was U.S. minister to Switzerland, 1893-'97, and on his return he took up the practice of his profession. He died in St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 7, 1898.

Johnson, Rossiter, ed. Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, - Vol. I-X (10). Boston, MA: The Biographical Society, 1904

From the  Westliche Post, a German newspaper in St. Louis:

MISSOURI AS HUNTING-GROUND FOR NEGRO-CATCHERS.

Our Jail, under the administration of General Schofield and Provost-Marshal Broadhead, has become area; "slave-pen? Every day blacks and colored people of all shades--men, women, and children--are thrown into it, who had believed in the gospel of liberty proclaimed by "honest "--it is too great a shame that this word must now be written with quotation marks--by honest Father Abraham. This honest man has made Missouri a real hunting-ground for nigger-catchers, and the authorities appointed by him protect this "honest" calling in every possible way. If we say the Jail has become a slave-pen, we don't mean to censure the jailer. He is bound to receive the slaves that are arrested by order of the provost-marshal and brought to jail; he is bound to do it as his duty, and we are sure it is a disagreeable duty to him. But who has given our Provost-Marshal-General Broadhead authority to recall and declare null and void the free papers which have been given by his predecessors or by former commanders of this department to the slaves of rebel masters? Does a slave become a free man by a certificate of liberty, duly made out by competent authority, or is such a certificate of liberty a mere piece of paper, which may be torn up at pleasure? Is the great liberty proclamation of the President himself also a mere rag, which every provost-marshal may spit upon and kick with his feet, if he so chooses? Every day fugitive slaves from all quarters of the rebellious States are arrested in our streets by professional rascals and dragged to jail. The process of such an outrage is a very- simple one. Any rebel from Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, or any other slave State sells his human property to a dealer in men's flesh, who is, of course, a "loyal" man, Just as Mr. Lincoln is an "honest man, and this slave-trader puts immediately his blood-hounds on the track of the scented game, which is then surely fated, for the provost-marshal-general never neglects to play his role. Thus, in the past month hundreds of liberated slaves have been carried back into slavery; thus, yesterday, six of them sat in the jail waiting for the next boat to Kentucky, and thus things will continue as long as Schofield and Broadhead are at the head of affairs, and probably as long as "honest Old Abe" sits in the White House. We spoke to an old soldier of the Twelfth Regiment, who had carried a musket in the service of liberty since the commencement of the war, and we heard him say, "May my right hand wither before it ever again throws a ticket for Abraham Lincoln into the ballot-box and may my lips be struck dumb if ever I pronounce that name otherwise than with contempt!" A negro who has gone through all the toils of the Twelfth Regiment for two years is now a fugitive slave in the jail, caught on Lincoln's slave-hunting ground in Missouri.

To such a pass has a weak-brained and weak-spirited Republican administration brought affairs in Missouri that it has incurred the hatred and the disgust of all true Union men, of all true emancipationists, and of all those who are honestly in favor of liberty: while noon its head descend the blessings and the praises of those who stigmatized the conquerors of Camp Jackson as murderers and the author of the emancipation proclamation as an Abolitionist. Be it so. Italia far a da so. We will help ourselves. 


Thomas T. Gantt - Thomas Tasker Gantt. Lawyer. Born in the District of Columbia July 22, 1814. Attended West Point 1831-33 but a military career was prevented by an injury. Moved to St. Louis May, 1839. In 1845 Gantt was appointed by President Polk as United States District Attorney for the District of Missouri, as which he served four years. City counselor of St. Louis 1853 for two years. Elected to State Convention February 1861 from the city and county of St. Louis as an unconditional Union man. Gantt became a colonel in the Army of the Potomac August 1861 by appointment of General McClellan. He served as judge advocate. Resigned due to ill health and returned to St. Louis in July 1862. Served as unpaid Provost Marshal from July to November 1862. Returned to law practice until 1875 when he was first a member of the Constitutional Convention of Missouri, then a judge of the Court of Appeals. In January 1877 he returned to private law practice. Died June 17, 1889.

"He is a man of warm impulses, and a generous friend. By his own industry, energy, and enterprise he has acquired a competent fortune; is a fine scholar, a finished and accomplished lawyer, and has won for himself in the community where he has so long lived, the reputation of an honest man, and an upright, public-spirited, worthy citizen, ever to be relied upon in the hour of danger and public emergency." --Personal Recollections of John F. Darby (mayor of St. Louis 1835)

Thomas Gantt Building

Thomas Gantt building in St. Louis, built 1877

A link to photos of Gantt's grave on Find-a-Grave

(use your back button to return here)


Franklin A. Dick - Franklin Archibald Dick. From Pennsylvania. Lawyer. Lieut. Col. and Provost-Marshal-General, Dept. of the Missouri, brother-in-law of Frank Blair. Married Mira M. (Midge) Alexander November 25, 1851 (she was the sister of Blair's wife). Credited with getting the dress from his mother-in-law that Nathaniel Lyon wore on his scouting trip into Camp Jackson (see Lady With Spurs). 

"Hither came the trusty agents of Missouri's cruel hyena, F. A. Dick, Provost Marshal of St. Louis..." from Shelby and his Men by John N. Edwards, 1867

 

SAINT LOUIS, March 5, 1862.

 [Hon. FRANCIS P. BLAIR,  Jr.]

DEAR FRANK: There is one thing that at first was inexplicable to me—it is the feeling or policy that induces U. S. officers to grant extraordinary privileges to the rebel officers who are taken as prisoners, such as releasing of a number of them in this city on parole by General Halleck, thus giving them the opportunity of going freely among our wealthy secessionists. The consequence of this was that these home rebels ran after the officers, dined and feted them, encouraged them to stand firm in their disloyalty, and so bold and defiant did they become as I am informed that General Halleck has revoked the parole, gathered up the officers and sent them to confinement at Alton.

I was surprised that so judicious a man as Halleck should have fallen into this error; but with his usual correctness he soon saw his mistake. From what I have learned of the feelings of the regular officers I am inclined to believe that Halleck fell into this error through their influence. I have heard most loyal and sensible officers of the U.S. Army say that they had no personal feeling whatever in the war nor toward the officers whom they captured. This I suppose because these officers of ours have kept aloof from political contests and do not recognize in the rebel officers the instigators and workers up of this rebellion. In our eyes Buckner, Floyd, Jo. Johnston, &c., are traitors, and none the less so because they hold in this rebellion the place of officers. If the rebellion had been less formidable and soon put down these men would not have been treated as officers but as felons if captured. There are necessary reasons why to a certain extent we have to treat them as conducting a war and therefore according to the rules of war. The only reason that I recognize for this is that we may save our own soldiers from severe treatment when captured by them. Beyond this there is no necessity for our going, and I say that it is only necessity or in other words our inability to do so that prevented us in the beginning from hanging them all as traitors. The privates and non-commissioned officers in the rebel armies are mostly ignorant men who enlisted as they believed to protect their country from an unjust aggressive war. The proper treatment for them—all I believe concur in this—treat them fairly, correct the errors they have been educated in, inform them of the truth and let them go back home when it can be safely done. But these men who under a mock government are called officers, who are but political desperadoes in military garb and disguise, must be punished; if not for their misdeeds certainly for the sake of the country. Will the privates, the masses, believe their leaders criminals or in the wrong when they see them set at large on their honor and allowed to associate with the wealthy rebels who so openly honor them?

I call your attention to this matter at this early day hoping that you will think it Worth while to bring the matter before Secretary Stanton. The officers of the Army do not feel the effects of this rebellion as the masses of the people do. To them (the officers of the U.S. Army) it is a war merely, and not a political struggle—maddened, desperate, and aimed to destroy rather than submit to a political defeat. Believing as I do that the practice I have spoken of is a serious evil and that the only way of remedying it is for the Secretary of War to make general regulations upon the subject, to be departed from by commanding officers only for pressing reasons, I therefore suggest that you call his attention to the matter. I have no fear that General Halleck will again fall into the error, but in my opinion few of our officers are equal to him in correctness of judgment.

Yours, very truly,

 F. A. DICK.     


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, January 15, 1863.

 Hon. E. M. STANTON,  Secretary of War:

I telegraphed a request that I might confer by letter before executing your telegraphic order concerning provost-marshals' orders, and the provost-marshals generally.

The provost-marshal system is not of my planting or growth, but is now so old, deep-rooted, and wide-spread it cannot be summarily disposed of without danger of losses and disasters. It began in General Fremont's administration, by the appointment of Major McKinstry in this city, who was followed by Colonel McNeil and Captain Leighton; neither of them were properly in the United States service. From this it spread out through the whole department, and when I came in command Colonel Gantt was provost-marshal-general, and hundreds were elsewhere located; most of them not officers in the United States service, except by virtue of their appointment as provost-marshals. General Halleck had given the system a head by creating a provost-marshal-general, and issued some orders devolving specific duties on these functionaries, and, by a kind of common understanding, provost-marshals took charge of prisoners, watched contraband trade, discovered and arrested spies, found out rebel camps, and pursued and arrested the rebels in their neighborhoods. They operate with volunteers, militia and police force, just as circumstances require, and in Southern Iowa and large districts of Missouri, where recruiting guerrilla agents strive to organize their bands, they are the only stationary, permanent official sentinels, who keep me advised and guard the public safety. Public arms, prisoners, contraband property, and forfeited bonds are held by them and properly disposed of, and immediate discharge would create loss and confusion where everything is now quiet and secure For instance, the provost-marshal at Glasgow has 30 or 40 prisoners. At Columbia last Sunday the provost-marshal resisted an effort to rescue a parcel of most desperate prisoners—one a Confederate recruiting officer.

I send you the letter of Colonel Dick, my provost-marshal-general, to show other duties devolved on these men. Soon after my assuming command, I presented to the General-in-Chief the importance of more exact and uniform rules in regard to the system, and desired the matter might be taken up at Washington, but, in the absence of any instructions, I directed the provost-marshal-general to compile and construct some general and uniform rule of action. This he did in Orders, No. 35, which I suppose is the order disapproved by His Excellency the President. It contains the gist of a great many old orders and some new ones, but in the main it conforms to the current business of the system. No paper or person here has made complaints against the order, and I am surprised that such apprehension and immediate necessity should be presented at headquarters. As far as possible, action under the order is suspended, but I presume most of it will be found to be a mere condensation of our police regulations.

I have been urged to send away my regular volunteers, and have stripped portions of my department to comply with pressing demands elsewhere. To compensate for this, provost-marshals, taken from the Enrolled Militia, are earnestly endeavoring to keep me posted and maintain public tranquility. If they are to have no supervision of trade, commerce, or anything but the discipline and government of the troops in the United States service, how am I to prevent contraband of war, guns, ammunition, and other supplies going into the hands of the guerrillas, and how am I to know what is doing or to be done in various parts of my district when I have no other command, and what am I to do with the prisoners and other rebels that are held either in fact or fear by these provost-marshals?

I regret that I am thus forced to defend a system I never did approve and have often condemned. I could not find either statute or military law to rest it upon. I have not appointed one, except to fill the vacancy of the provost marshal-general; but the system has started and grown up from surrounding necessities; it is now working very extensively and quite harmoniously, and I believe it must in some shape be continued during the war. When a nation is at war, war exists everywhere, and we must have some sort of military representatives wherever military offenses can be committed. It costs too much to keep stationary troops everywhere, but without such officers as I may trust and constantly employ in every county of this State and in various parts of my department, I must have many more troops in actual service in Missouri. While, therefore, there is no apparent necessity of a sudden radical change, I most respectfully request that some substitute may be allowed me for a system of military power which now serves a most important purpose throughout my command, or so order the matter that we may perfect what now seems to be a useful military expedient.

I have the honor to be, Mr. Secretary, your very obedient servant,

 SAML. R. CURTIS,

Major-General.

[ Inclosure. ]

[SAINT LOUIS, Mo.,] January 15, 1863.

 Maj. Gen. SAMUEL R. CURTIS,  Commanding:

GENERAL: The telegram of the Secretary of War, of the 14th, to the major-general commanding this department, contemplating a change in the system of provost-marshals in the interior of the State, requires of me that I should present to you some of the duties performed by them.

Commanding officers in the field turn over prisoners captured by them to provost-marshals, who take the evidence against the prisoners and forward it and them to Saint Louis. With guerrillas and marauding bands operating in the State, whenever opportunity occurs, appearing at first one place and then another, our troops are kept moving, and the officers in the field do not furnish the evidence against the men they capture. Were these prisoners considered prisoners of war, and to be sent forward for exchange, but little evidence would be needed, but they are many of them lawless men, known in certain localities. After their capture their friends constantly make efforts to have them released, and it is through the provost-marshals that the facts relating to them are ascertained, and upon which the proper action can be based, as to holding or releasing them. These provost-marshals are made by your orders conservators of the peace. They know and report the state of the country, and can and do determine better than any one else which men can safely be enlarged and which not. Remove them, and to whom shall we apply for the information constantly needed at your headquarters, and to whom will commanders in the field send their prisoners to be examined and forwarded? Again, it is well known that rebel recruiting officers and spies are constantly coming into this State. It is the business of provost-marshals to keep on the watch for them, and to break up their practices; and, but for their efforts, in many counties recruiting for the rebel army would be carried on without danger. There are many disloyal farmers who would constantly aid the rebellion with supplies of different kinds, but for the provost-marshal system. Remove the danger of detection, and the State would furnish (to the rebs) considerable amounts of supplies, and the stream of rebel soldiers southward would be largely increased.

I have released, all the time, men in whose promises reliance could not be placed, but I have felt justified in doing it by placing them under the surveillance of the provost-marshals of their counties. If, however, they have no local officer to care for, they either cannot be released or would soon again be led off into aiding the rebellion. Provost-marshals, too, give confidence to the Union men through the State; they stand as the representatives of the United States Government, and if a neighborhood becomes so rebellious as to endanger Union men, they feel that the report of the provost-marshals will call the attention of the military authorities to the condition of things. To relieve the provost-marshals will be a shock to the Union cause in this State, and will have a most depressing effect upon those who require the support of the Government. They acquire a local knowledge which is valuable and reliable. The men who have been disloyal in Missouri, most of them, remain so; and it will prove a costly mistake to act upon a contrary hypothesis. They are Southern sympathizers who have taken up arms, and they are none the less sympathizers because for the time disarmed; and I feel safe in making the assertion that, if they believe it not too perilous to do it, they will again take up arms, or by other means aid the rebellion. My belief is that these people have got to be kept down while the war rages, and my every day's experience confirms that belief. After the rebellion becomes powerless, then the Missouri rebels will give up their plans of co-operation, and not until then. So far as they have ceased hostilities, it has been from force, and not voluntary submission, and to consider these people no longer enemies of the Union is to fall into a practical error. They have had pretty hard experience in this war, and I believe, by vigilance, can easily be kept down; but a show of military power is necessary, and the presence of some military force, too, accompanied by the continuation of the military system sufficient to keep them sensible of this, that renewed hostilities on their part will be promptly met by force. If my hypothesis is correct, then the system of military law cannot be dispensed with in Missouri, while disloyal men believe that the Union will be dissolved, and they very generally do believe it. If my judgment and opinions are incorrect, then let the capture and detection of guerrillas and marauders be turned over to the civil authorities, and let military action be confined only to regular movements in the field; and it may be that it will be found that the State is

I consider it my duty as an officer to make this statement relating to the disloyal men in Missouri, believing that the reliable supporters of the Union cause in this State are the men who feel that the safety of this State lies in the control of it by the military power of the United States, so long as this rebellion continues defiant; and these men who alone constitute the strength of the Government in this State will have bitter sufferings to endure, if the protection of the Government is withdrawn.

I have the honor to remain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

 F. A. DICK,

 Lieut. Col. and Provost-Marshal- General, Dept. of the Missouri.

 


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