Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds

The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds:

Confederate Victory Against the Odds

by

©2003 Kirby Ross

with an Introduction by James E. McGhee, ©2003

The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds: Confederate Victory Against the Odds

© Kirby Ross

Author’s Note & Introduction
Ch 1 – Lindsay Murdoch Ch 6 – Playing a Squally Game of Marbles
Ch 2 – Chasing Phantoms Ch 7 – Aftermath
Ch 3 – Closing In Ch 8 – Mopping Up
Ch 4 – Hell Breaks Loose Epilogue
Ch 5 – To the Death Bibliography
Return to Civil War St. Louis



AUTHOR’S NOTE

In the course of researching the Federal Missouri State Militia and its counter-insurgency operations in Missouri, I ran across the obscure story of the Skirmish at Jackson, Missouri.  The event itself was not unusual for the state—as Missouri historian and writer James E. McGhee mentions in his Introduction that follows this note, over 1000 military engagements took place there during the Civil War.  What is unusual, and even remarkable, is the level of documentation that exists concerning the Jackson affair.  It did not take long for me to see that this was a story waiting to be told—a story that might just be one of the most detailed accounts of a small-unit action existing in regard to the Trans-Mississippi Theater.  So detailed, in fact, that it has even been possible to deduce who killed whom in the fighting.

Despite the fact the number of soldiers that participated in the Jackson Skirmish barely totaled 90 men, no fewer than eight first-person eyewitness accounts relating to it have surfaced—most of which have been gathered through the work of Jim McGhee.  Where one personal anecdote would fade off and leave the reader wondering what happened next or what happened on other parts of the far-flung field of battle, lo and behold, another version would surface, until finally a very comprehensive, all-encompassing picture emerged.  While my efforts in weaving each account into a seamless, cogent, single story was at time quite trying and entailed more than a few rewrites, I believe the final result that is embodied in the story that follows is an accurate depiction of what transpired in and around Jackson, Missouri, on the first days of April in 1862.

Kirby Ross

INTRODUCTION

The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-Popping Cow Waddy

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available for pre-order at Amazon.com

Also by this author:

James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross

Missouri was the scene of over 1,000 engagements during the American civil war, ranking it third behind only Virginia and Tennessee in the number of military encounters that occurred within its boundaries between 1861-1865.  Some of the Missouri battles were large affairs that decided important strategic issues, involved sizeable numbers of troops, and resulted in great loss of life.  The bloody combats at Belmont, Lexington, Pilot Knob, Wilson’s Creek, and Westport fall into that category.  Much of the warfare in the state, however, consisted of little fights between small groups of men simply intent on killing one another.  The skirmish at Jackson in April 1862 is a classic example of the type of fighting that most often happened in Missouri during four years of internecine warfare.

The engagement at Jackson, sometimes referred to as the “Battle at the Fair-Grounds,” was a chance encounter between a small group of Confederate recruits and a Union militia detachment from Cape Girardeau determined on driving them from the area.  Barely mentioned in the official records of the war, it has been nearly forgotten, even by the people of Jackson.  But the skirmish at the fairgrounds was important to local residents in 1862 for at least two reasons.  First, the fight brought home the dreadful reality that war was not necessarily something that occurred elsewhere; the townspeople actually heard the exchange of fire between the contending parties and later viewed the blood and pain of wounded soldiers first hand.  Secondly, the men who fought that day, especially on the Confederate side, were “their” boys, members of the local community that were suddenly seen in the unfamiliar role of soldiers.  Doubtless the war never seemed quite the same to Jackson residents after seeing it so close to home.

After the fight at Jackson the Union troops of the Missouri State Militia that were involved returned to Cape Girardeau.  Their unit would undergo several reorganizations over the succeeding months and spend the remainder of the war fighting local guerrillas and Confederate raiders that occasionally penetrated Missouri.

The center of attraction at the Jackson fight—the small contingent of Confederate recruits commanded by William L. Jeffers—formally organized a company on April 16, merely a few days after leaving Jackson.  It had Jeffers as captain; William E. “Button” McGuire, as first lieutenant; Richard J. Medley, as second lieutenant; and John A. Bennett, as third lieutenant—all of whom figure somewhat prominently in the following story by Kirby Ross.  Operating initially as an independent company, their unit was driven from the state into northeast Arkansas in May.  It eventually was attached to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Matlock’s Arkansas Cavalry Battalion on June 16.  When Matlock’s troopers were dismounted in July, Captain Jeffers resigned his commission.  He returned to southeast Missouri to recruit again, and was soon followed by Lieutenant McGuire and other members of his company.

Jeffers’ recruiting efforts were very successful, aided no doubt by a Federal order commanding all men to enroll in the Missouri (Union) militia.  Unwilling to fight against the South, men flocked to Jeffers’ standard in sufficient numbers to create the 8th Missouri Calvary Regiment.  The balance of the war saw the 8th raiding Missouri with Generals Johns S. Marmaduke and Sterling Price, and vainly contesting the Federals for control of Arkansas.  Throughout, Colonel Jeffers led his men from the front rank during its combat history.  As Luther Jenkins would recall, with Jeffers in command “It was never ‘Go on,’ but ‘Come on, boys.’”  The regiment finally surrendered, with the men receiving their paroles at Shreveport, Louisiana, in June 1865.

Years after the war, when Colonel Jeffers died, survivors of his regiment initiated a campaign to erect a monument in his honor at Jackson.  Although the process was slow, the monument was finally dedicated at the Jackson Homecoming celebration of 1908.  It stands today at the south end of High Street at the entrance to the Old City Cemetery near Jeffers’ final resting place.  In the northwest part of the cemetery is a stone that marks the burial place of William E. McGuire, Jeffers’ lieutenant.  It makes no mention of his Confederate service, or of the fact that he died shortly after being released from the hell that was the military prison at Alton, Illinois.  Remembered on the opposite side of the same stone is John W. McGuire, William’s son, who fell while charging a Federal line at Glasgow, Missouri, on October 16, 1864.  Other troopers of Jeffers’ little recruit command are buried nearby.  And to the southwest, only a short distance away, is the Russell Heights Cemetery, once the fairgrounds, where Jeffers’ squad boldly won their spurs in combat and then rode away into history.

Kirby Ross has rescued the fight at Jackson in 1862 from historical obscurity.  He has diligently researched the official records, various memoirs, muster rolls, and newspapers in a whole-hearted effort to reconstruct the events of the engagement as accurately as possible.  It must be said that he has accomplished his goal in admirable fashion.  The men and events come alive in a fast paced and well written narrative that places the event in its proper historical context.  It is a fine, well balanced battle account, and a fitting tribute to the men in blue and gray that fought at Jackson on a quiet spring day in 1862—for cause, honor and survival during some of the dark days in the history of our great republic.

James E. McGhee

John S Marmaduke

JOHN S.  MARMADUKE

by

E. W. Stephens

Missouri State Tribune, Jefferson City, MO, 24 November 1901.

The distinguishing characteristics of Governor Marmaduke were courage, conscience, and common sense.  There may have been greater statesmen or soldiers, but he was a leader of men in war and peace, and he combined those qualities which constitute a strong character in private and public life.  His courage was both physical and moral.  More truly than anyone I ever knew was he [a] stranger to fear.  On the field of battle it could be said of him, as it was of another, that he was superb.  Of splendid physical organization, over six feet in height, with a symmetrical and well knit frame of noble bearing, graceful and athletic, nature formed him for a soldier.  A thorough training at West Point had molded him into an ideal military leader.  No wonder was it that when in the war between the states leaders were needed to take command of the raw recruits which flocked to the standard of General Sterling Price to form the Missouri State Guard, he was selected for the command of a regiment from which he rose by rapid promotion to a major generalcy.  Those who saw him at the capitol in 1861, when his uncle, Gov. Claiborne F. Jackson, was organizing an army to carry away the State government, and cast their fortunes with the lost cause, described him as a tall young soldier, straight as an arrow, of imposing presence, with long auburn hair, as handsome as Adonis, and as knightly as a Cocur[sic] de Lion.  He deserved in the best sense the title of chivalrous. There was never any man to whom the word could have been more appropriately applied.

As a cavalry officer, he was brave, gallant, and dashing, who infused his enthusiasm into his troops.  He was a splendid horseman, and his presence at the head of his command was an inspiration.  In the army he was celebrated for his brilliant leadership and dauntless courage.  He fought through the entire war, and at its close no more stainless sword was surrendered.

There have been men who could brave the storm of battle, who could face undaunted the deadly fire of cannon and musketry; but when the flags were furled, the shouting had ceased and the excitement of battle had subsided, would quail before the calmer conflicts of private life.  This was not true of Marmaduke.  His courage was as strenuous and as true in private life as it was upon the battlefield, and while he never sought a quarrel, was self-contained, and slow to anger, when his courage and honor was impugned, and this was rare, his resentment was swift and terrible.  Several illustrations of his superb personal courage could be given.  One will suffice:

When he was a member of the Board of Railroad Commissioners he was called upon to testify in a case in which the commission was involved.  Just as he was beginning one of the parties to the suit spoke up and said to him:  “Remember, sir, you are on your oath.”  Marmaduke stopped suddenly, looked at the man, who was a person of considerable distinction in State affairs, and proceeded quietly with his testimony.  After court had adjourned he walked over to the Madison House, and, being near-sighted, requested a friend to point out the party who had offered what he considered an insult, walked up to the offender and with deliberation slapped him upon both cheeks and slowly walked away.

Further Reading:

Confederate Wizards of the Saddle: Being Remininscences and Observations of One Who Rode With Morganby Bennett H. Young
Bennett H. Young was one of Morgan’s men from Kentucky. Later in the war he was a secret service operative with Hines and Castleman. The stories he tells in this book are not of his own adventures but of the cavalrymen, like Morgan, with whom he rode. Included are Morgan, Forrest, J.E.B. Stuart, Mosby, Marmaduke’s Cape Girardeau, Missouri raid, and Shelby’s September 1863 Missouri raid.

He rarely had personal difficulties, for the reason that he was absolutely just, never gave needless offense, and it was well understood that an insult to him was a perilous matter to him that gave it.  He was charitable in thought and word.  He saw the good but not the evil in men.  He rarely criticized.  If he thought a man was in error, and was untruthful or dishonest, he said so to the man, or said nothing about it.  He talked to people, not about them.  He stabbed no man in the dark.  He despised censoriousness and slander.  His life was an open book.  He lived in daylight, not in darkness.  He detested chicanery, intrigue, [and] double-dealing as sincerely in public life as in private.  Hence he had few if any secrets.  He never whispered and never asked that what he said be not repeated.  He talked it out, and the larger the number of people who heard it, the more it pleased him.  He was not a little man in any sense.

During the civil war he fought a duel with General [Lucius M.] Walker, another confederate officer, and slew his antagonist.  He always regretted it and never spoke of it.  But it was, he felt, forced upon him by the exigencies of honor, and he could not avoid it.  Although nearsighted and not a superior marksman, such was his steady nerve that when he pulled the trigger of his pistol the deadly bullet sped straight to the fated spot.

But if his physical courage was marked, his moral courage was no less so.  He never flinched from duty.  He had a conscience and he obeyed it.  In the exercise of his official functions he never stopped to consider the cost to himself.  The right was his only standard.  He was cautious and deliberate to the last degree.  But when the path of duty was clear he dashed into it with the same celerity and promptness with which he led a cavalry charge upon the tented field.  When a great strike threatened to overwhelm the railroad corporations of the State, he refused sternly to use the militia to usurp the functions of local authority in the enforcement of the law, notwithstanding the most strenuous appeals.  But when the time came for him to act, he took the mob by the throat and strangled it.

When he thought that legislation was needed to place proper restrictions upon the railroads of the State, although fully recognizing the value of those great interests to the public, he urged action with all his energy, and the General Assembly at one session having failed to enact the needed legislation, he promptly reconvened it and the laws were passed.

As governor he was in full sympathy with all classes of the people and stood as resolutely in defense of the rights of capital, as of labor, and was just alike to both.

His administration will stand as one of the wisest and cleanest in the history of the State.  No stain or suspicion ever rested upon it.  He trusted his subordinates as he did all of his friends, implicitly, and hence held their unflinching love and allegiance.  But woe to the one who abused his confidence.  His wrath was as terrible as his friendship was faithful.  He admired an open foe; he detested a vacillating and false friend.

He possessed the genius of common sense.  He had an instinctive sense of right and wrong, and his judgment and conscience led him into the wise conclusion that the duty of him into whose hands the people had placed the sacred trust of office was to defend the right and assail the wrong, whatever the consequences might be.

There have been abler men in public life in Missouri, as the word is popularly understood, but there has never been one who had a higher standard of official duty or who has left a more wholesome example to those who follow him.

The granite shaft which a grateful people has erected over his last earthly resting place, fittingly symbolizes the stalwart manliness of his character, and the impregnable public record he left to posterity.

Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 3

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

The unnamed author of Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri was a member of the general’s staff. Clearly not a native of Missouri, this Union officer often displayed a definite bias against Missourians; no doubt fueled by reading years of “Border Ruffian” stories in eastern newspapers. He observes of the people of Jefferson City, cited by most historians as the second most pro-Union population in Missouri behind only St. Louis, that “Such vacant, listless faces, with laziness written in every line, and ignorance seated upon every feature! Is it for these that the descendants of New England and the thrifty Germans are going forth to battle? If Missouri depended upon the Missourians, there would be little chance for her safety, and, indeed, not very much to save.”  Later he observes of some local farmers that “The Union men of Missouri are quite willing to have you fight for them, but their patriotism does not go farther than this.” These statements might be amusing if one didn’t know that such biases by many Union troops would lead to bitter fruit in the guerrilla war ahead.

Also, there can be no doubt of the author’s opinion of General Fremont. Fremont is depicted as nearly God-like in his attributes and skills in everything he does. To be fair, this is hardly unknown in the history of campaign journals written by junior officers. We have not hesitated to depict Fremont in much less favorable light on the site; we are pleased to have the opportunity to give one of the general’s defenders a chance to tell the story from the other side.

Regardless of the obvious biases of the author, this seems to be an important, detailed primary account by a participant of Fremont’s abortive campaign to catch General Price in the fall of 1861.  It appeared in three parts in the national magazine The Atlantic Monthly (still a going concern), Jan through March, 1862, and gained enough national attention that Frank Blair felt the need to refer to it by name, and rebut it, on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 7, 1862. Blair’s rebuttal can be found here on our site.

The author uses almost 24,000 words to cover just five weeks of campaigning, and when he isn’t lauding the general provides some very interesting details of the first large-scale campaign by a Union army west of the Mississippi (an army six times the size of the one Lyon lead at Wilson’s Creek), the general condition of affairs in Missouri, the slavery issue, and the people of Missouri. His account of the famous “Zagonyi’s Charge” at Springfield is particularly fine, and as the author claims to have been a member of the committee of inquiry following the event, may be presumed to be fairly accurate, if a bit breathless –most historians would not agree that it deserves to be compared to the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, as the author alludes to here. His personal observations of two hundred armed and mounted “contrabands” as part of Jim Lane’s Kansas brigade leads one to suspect that “contraband” is a title of convenience here; an armed and mounted man on campaign with an army is a soldier no matter what you call him. Since under the then-current regs of the Union army he could not be called a “soldier”, the author avoids that label –but “a rose by any other name”.

It is also worth noting that most historians would argue with the author’s conclusion at the end that just another forty-eight hours given to Fremont would have resulted in the climactic battle with Price that the Pathfinder sought. Albert Castel’s General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1968), widely considered the leading history of Price’s Civil War career, asserts that Price was at Pineville, much further southwest of where Fremont thought he was on November 2, 1861.

Interestingly enough, the standard bio of the general’s life, Fremont: Pathmarker of the West, by Allan Nevins, does not appear to use this article as one of its sources. As it is very sympathetic to Fremont, a fine, detailed campaign journal of his major campaign in Missouri, and impactful enough to warrant a public rebuttal from Frank Blair, this is more than passingly strange. It is unclear if Nevins was unaware of this article or just did not find it interesting enough to use for his book.

We found this article on the excellent (and free) Making of America site of Cornell University, that includes many journals from this period besides The Atlantic Monthly. We will be publishing it in three parts, just as it appeared in the magazine.


goto Part I

goto Part II

III.

THE FORCED MARCH TO SPRINGFIELD.

Bolivar, October 26th. Zagonyi’s success has roused the enthusiasm of the army. The old stagers took it coolly, but the green hands revealed their excitement by preparing for instant battle. Pistols were oiled and reloaded, and swords sharpened. We did all this a month ago, before leaving St. Louis. We then expected a battle, and went forth with the shadow and the sunshine of that expectation upon our hearts; but up to this time we have not seen a shot fired in earnest. Now the blast of war blows in our ears, and we instinctively “stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood.”

Captain H., the young chevalier of the staff, whom we have named Le Beau Capitaine, went this morning to St. Louis with intelligence of the victory. He has ninety miles to ride before midnight, to catch to-morrow’s train.

Under the influence of the excitement which prevailed, we were on horseback this morning long before it was necessary, when the General sent us word that the staff might go forward, and he would over-take us. The gay and brilliant cavalcade which marched out of Jefferson City is destroyed, —the maimed and bleeding Guard is reposing a few miles south of Bolivar,—the detachment which was left at head-quarters has gone on to join the main body,—and the staff broken into small parties, straggles along the road. A more beautiful day never delighted the earth. The atmosphere is warm, the sky cloudless, and the distance is filled with a soft dreamy haze, which veils, but does not conceal, the purple hills and golden forests.

A few miles south of our last night’s camp we came out upon a large prairie, called the Twenty-Five Mile Prairie. It is an undulating plain, seven miles wide and twenty-five long. It was the intention to concentrate the army here. A more favorable position for reviewing and manoeuvring a large force cannot be found. But the plan has been changed. We must hasten to Springfield, lest the Rebels seize the place, capture White and our wounded, and throw a cloud over Zagonyi’s brilliant victory.

Passing from the prairie, we entered a broad belt of timber, and soon reached a fine stream. We drew rein at a farm-house on the top of the river-bank, where we found a pleasant Union family. The farmer came out, and, thinking Colonel Eaton was the General, offered him two superb apples, large enough for foot-balls. He was disappointed to find his mistake, and to be compelled to withdraw the proffered gift. Sigel encamped here last night, and the debris of his camp-fires checker the hill-side and the flats along the margin of the creek. After waiting an hour, the General not coming up, Colonel Eaton and myself set out alone over a road which was crowded with Sigel’s wagons. Everything bears witness to the extraordinary energy and efficiency of that officer. This morning he started before day, and he will be in Springfield by noon to-morrow. His train is made up of materials which would drive most generals to despair. There are mule-teams, and ox-teams, and in some cases horses, mules, and oxen hitched together. There are army-wagons, box-wagons, lumber-wagons, hay-racks, buggies, carriages, —in fact, every kind of animal and every description of vehicle which could be found in the country. Most of our division-commanders would have refused to leave camp with such a train; but Sigel has made it answer his purpose, and here he is, fifty miles in advance of any other officer, tearing after Price.

We were jogging painfully over the incumbered road, and through clouds of dust, when an officer rode up in great haste, and asked for Dr. C., who was needed at the camp of the Guards. By reason of the broken order in which the staff rode to-day, he could not be found. For two mortal hours unlucky aides-de-camp dashed to the front and the rear, and scoured the country for five miles upon the flanks, visiting the farm-houses in search of the missing surgeon. At last he was found, and hurried on to the relief of the Guard. At this moment the General came up, and, to our astonishment, Zagonyi was riding beside him, bearing upon his trim person no mark of yesterday’s fatigue and danger. The Major fell behind, and rode into Bolivar with me. On the way we met Lieutenant Maythenyi of the Guard.

Our camp is on the farm of a member of the State legislature who is now serving under Price. His white cottage and well-ordered farm-buildings are surrounded by rich meadows, bearing frequent groups of noble trees; the fences are in good condition, and the whole place wears an air of thrift and prosperity which must be foreign to Missouri even in her best estate.

Springfield, October 28th. Few of those who endured the labor of yesterday will forget the march into Springfield. At midnight of Saturday, the Sharp-shooters were sent on in wagons, and at two in the morning the Benton Cadets started, with orders to march that day to Springfield, thirty miles. Their departure broke the repose of the camp. To add to the confusion, a report was spread that the General intended to start at daybreak, and that we must have breakfast at four o’clock and be ready for the saddle at six. This programme was carried out. Long before day our servants called us; fires were lighted, and breakfast eaten by starlight. Before dawn the wagons were packed and horses saddled. But the General had no intention of going so early; the report had its origin in the uneasy brain of some officer who probably thought the General ought to leave at daybreak. Some of the old heads paid no attention to the report, or did not hear it, and they were deep in the pleasures of the morning nap while we poor fellows were shivering over our breakfast.

Colonel Wyman reported himself at Bolivar, having marched from Rolla and beaten the Rebels in three engagements. The General set out at nine o’clock for our thirty-mile ride. The black horse fell into his usual scrambling gait, and we pounded along uneasily after him. As we passed through Bolivar, the inhabitants came into the streets and greeted us with cheers and the waving of handkerchiefs, —a degree of interest which is not often exhibited. Fording a small stream, we came into Wyman’s camp, and thence upon a long, rolling prairie. An hour’s ride brought us to the place where the Guard encamped the night before. The troops had left, but the wounded officers were still in a neighboring house, waiting for our ambulances. Those who were able to walk came out to see the General. He received them with marked kindness. At times like this, he has a simple grace and poetry of expression and a tenderness of manner which are very winning. He spoke a few words to each of the brave fellows, which brought smiles to their faces and tears into their eyes. Next came our turn, and we were soon listening to the incidents of the fearful fray. None of them are severely wounded, except Kennedy, and he will probably lose an arm. We saw them all placed in the ambulances, and then fell in behind the black pacer.

A short distance farther on, a very amusing scene occurred. The road in front was nearly filled by a middle-aged woman, fat enough to have been the original of some of the pictures which are displayed over the booths at a county fair.

“Are you Gin’ral Freemount ?” she shouted, her loud voice husky with rage.

“Yes,” replied the General in a low tone, somewhat abashed at the formidable obstruction in his path, and occupied in restraining the black pacer, who was as much frightened at the huge woman as he could have been at a park of artillery.

“Waal, you ‘re the man I want to see. I ‘m a widder. I wus born in Old Kentuck, and am a Union, and allers wus a Union, and will he a Union to the eend, clear grit.”

She said this with startling earnestness and velocity of utterance, and paused, the veins in her face swollen almost to bursting. The black pacer bounded from one side of the road to the other, throwing the whole party into confusion.

The General raised his cap and asked, — “What is the matter, my good woman?”

“Matter, Gin’ral! Ther’ ‘s enough the matter. I ‘ye allers gi’n the sogers all they wanted. I gi’n ‘em turkeys and chickens and eggs and butter and bread. And I never charged ‘em anything for it. They tuk all my corn, and I never said nuthing. I allers treated ‘em well, for I ‘m Union, and so wus my man, who died more nor six yeah ago.”

She again paused, evidently for no reason except to escape a stroke of apoplexy.

“But tell me what you want now. I will see to it that you have justice,” interrupted the General.

“You see, Gin’ral, last night some sogers come and tuk my ox-chains,— two on ‘em, — all I ‘ye got, — and I can’t buy no more in these war-times. I can’t do any work without them chains; they ‘d ‘a’ better uv tuk my teams with ‘em, too.”

“How much were your ox-chains worth,” said the General, laughing.

“Waal now,” answered the fat one, moderating her tone, “they ‘re wuth a good deal jes’ now. The war has made such things dreffle deah. The big one wus the best I ever see; bought it last yeah, up at Hinman’s store in Bolivar; that chain was wuth — waal now — Ho, Jim! ho, Dick! come y’ere! Gin’ral Freemount wants to know how much them ox-chains wus wuth.”

A lazy negro and a lazier white man, the latter whittling a piece of cedar, walked slowly from the house to the road, and, leaning against the fence, began in drawling tones to discuss the value of the ox-chains, how much they cost, how much it would take to buy new ones in these times. One thought “may-be four dollars wud do,” but the other was sure they could not be bought for less than five. There was no promise of a decision, and the black pacer was floundering about in a perfect agony of fear. At last the General drew out a gold eagle and gave it to the woman, asking, —

“Is that enough?”

She took the money with a ludicrous expression of joy and astonishment at the rare sight, but exclaimed, —

“Lor’ bless me! it ‘s too much, Gin’ral! I don’t want more nor my rights. It‘s too much.”

But the General spurred by her, and we followed, leaving the “Union” shouting after us, “It‘s too much! It‘s more nor I expected!” She must have received an impression of the simplicity and promptitude of the quartermaster’s department which the experience of those who have had more to do with it will hardly sustain.

Our road was filled with teams belonging to Sigel’s train, and the dust was very oppressive. At length it became so distressing to our animals that the General permitted us to separate from him and break up into small parties. I made the rest of the journey in company with Colonel Eaton. Our road lay through the most picturesque region we had seen. The Ozark Mountains filled the southern horizon, and ranges of hills swept along our flanks. The broad prairies, covered with tall grass waving and rustling in the light breeze, were succeeded by patches of woods, through which the road passed, winding among picturesque hills covered with golden forests and inlaid with the silver of swift-running crystal streams.

As we came near the town, we saw many evidences of the rapid march Sigel had made. We passed large numbers of stragglers. Some were limping along, weary and foot-sore, others were lying by the road-side, and every farm- house was filled with exhausted men. A mile or two from Springfield we overtook the Cadets. They had marched thirty miles since morning, and had halted beside a brook to wash themselves. As we approached, Colonel Marshall dressed the ranks, the colors were flung out, the music struck up, and the Cadets marched into Springfield in as good order as if they had just left camp.

It was a gala-day in Springfield. The Stars and Stripes were flying from windows and house-tops, and ladies and children, with little flags in their hands, stood on the door-steps to welcome us. This is the prettiest town I have found in Missouri, and we can see the remains of former thrift and comfort worthy a village in the Valley of the Merrimack or Genesee. It has suffered severely from the war. From its position it is the key to Southern Missouri, and all decisive battles for the possession of that region must he fought near Springfield. This is the third Union army which has been here, and the Confederate armies have already occupied the place twice. When the Federals came, the leading Secessionists fled; and when the Rebels came, the most prominent Union men ran away. Thus by the working of events the town has lost its chief citizens, and their residences are either deserted or have been sacked. War’s dreary record is written upon the dismantled houses, the wasted gardens, the empty storehouses, and the deserted taverns. The market, which stood in the centre of the Plaza, was last night fired by a crazy old man, well known here, and previously thought to be harmless: it now stands a black ruin, a type of the desolation which broods over the once happy and prosperous town.

Near the market is a substantial brick edifice, newly built, —the county court-house. It is used as a hospital, and we were told that the dead Guardsmen were lying in the basement. Colonel Eaton and myself dismounted, and entered a long, narrow room in which lay sixteen ghastly figures in open coffins of unpainted pine, ranged along the walls. All were shot to death except one. They seemed to have died easily, and many wore smiles upon their faces. Death had come so suddenly that the color still lingered in their boyish cheeks, giving them the appearance of wax-figures. Near the door was the manly form of the sergeant of the first company, who, while on the march, rode immediately in front of the General. We all knew him well. He was a model soldier: his dress always neat, his horse well groomed, the trappings clean, and his sabre-scabbard bright. He lay as calm and placid as if asleep; and a small blue mark between his nose and left eye told the story of his death. Opposite him was a terrible spectacle, —the bruised, mangled, and distorted shape of a bright-eyed lad belonging to the Kentucky company. I had often remarked his arch, mirthful, Irish-like face; and the evening the Guard left camp he brought me a letter to send to his mother, and talked of the fun he was going to have at Springfield. His body was found seven miles from the battle-field, stripped naked. There was neither bullet nor sabre-wound upon him, but his skull bad been beaten in by a score of blows. The cowards had taken him prisoner, carried him with them in their flight, and then robbed and murdered him.

After leaving the hospital we met Major White, whom we supposed to be a prisoner. He is quite ill from the effects of exposure and anxiety. With his little band of twenty-four men he held the town, protecting and caring for the wounded, until Sigel came in yester- day noon.

Headquarters were established at the residence of Colonel Phelps, the member of Congress from this district, and our tents are now grouped in front and at the sides of the house. The wagons did not come up until midnight, and we were compelled to forage for our supper and lodging. A widow lady who lives near gave some half-dozen officers an excellent meal, and Major White and myself slept on the floor of her sitting-room.

This afternoon the Guardsmen were buried with solemn ceremony. We placed the sixteen in one huge grave. Up on a grassy hill-side, and beneath the shade of tall trees, the brave boys sleep in the soil they have hallowed by their valor.

We are so far in advance that there is some solicitude lest we may be attacked before the other divisions come up. Sigel has no more than five thousand men, and the addition of our little column makes the whole force here less than six thousand. Asboth is two days’ march behind. McKinstry is on the Pomme-de-Terre, seventy miles north, and Pope is about the same distance. Hunter —we do not know precisely where he is, but we suppose him to be south of the Osage, and that he will come by the Buffalo road: he has not reported for some time. Price is at Neosho, fifty-four miles to the southwest. Should he advance rapidly, it will need energetic marching to bring up our reinforcements. Price and McCulloch have joined, and there are rumors that Hardee has reached their camp with ten thousand men. The best information we can get places the enemy’s force at thirty thousand men and thirty-two pieces of artillery. Deserters are numerous. I have interrogated a number of them to-day, and they all say they came away because Price was retreating, and they did not wish to be taken so far from their homes. They also say that the time for which his men are enlisted expires in the middle of November, and if he does not fight, his army will dissolve.

SLAVERY.

Springfield, October 30th. Asboth brought in his division this morning, and soon after Lane came at the head of his brigade. It was a motley procession, made up of the desperate fighters of the Kansas borders and about two hundred negroes. The contrabands were mounted and armed, and rode through the streets rolling about in their saddles with their shiny faces on a broad grin.

The disposition to be made of fugitive slaves is a subject which every day presents itself. The camps and even head-quarters are filled with runaways. Several negroes came from St. Louis as servants of staff-officers, and these men have become a sort of Vigilance Committee to secure the freedom of the slaves in our neighborhood. The new-comers are employed to do the work about camp, and we find them very useful, —and they serve us with a zeal which is born of their long-baffled love of liberty. The officers of the regular army here have little sympathy with this practical Abolitionism; but it is very different with the volunteers and the rank and file of the army at large. The men do not talk much about it; it is not likely that they think very profoundly upon the social and legal questions involved; they are Abolitionists by the inexorable logic of their situation. However ignorant or thoughtless they may be, they know that they are here at the peril of their lives, facing a stern, vigilant, and relentless foe. To subdue this foe, to cripple and destroy him, is not only their duty, but the purpose to which the instinct of self-preservation concentrates all their energies. Is it to be supposed that men who, like the soldiers of the Guard, last week pursued Rebellion into the very valley and shadow of death, will be solicitous to protect the system which incited their enemies to that fearful struggle, and hurried their comrades to early graves? What laws or proclamations can control men stimulated by such memories? The stern decrees of fact prescribe the conditions upon which this war must be waged. An attempt to give back the negroes who ask our protection would demoralize the army; an order to assist in such rendition would he resented as an insult. Fortunately, no such attempt will be made. So long as General Fremont is in command of this department, no person, white or black, will be taken out of our lines into slavery. The flag we follow will be in truth what the nation has proudly called it, a symbol of freedom to all.

The other day a farmer of the neighborhood came into our quarters, seeking a runaway slave. It happened that the fugitive had been employed as a servant by Colonel Owen Lovejoy. Some one told the man to apply to the Colonel, and he entered the tent of that officer and said, — “Colonel, I am told you have got my boy Ben, who has run away from me.”

“Your boy?” exclaimed the Colonel; “I do not know that I have any boy of yours.”

“Yes, there he is,” insisted the master, pointing to a negro who was approaching. “I want you to deliver him to me: you have no right to him; he is my slave.”

“Your slave?” shouted Colonel Lovejoy, springing to his feet. “That man is my servant. By his own consent he is in my service, and I pay him for his labor, which it is his right to sell and mine to buy. Do you dare come here and claim the person of my servant? He is entitled to my protection, and shall have it. I advise you to leave this camp forthwith.”

The farmer was astounded at the cool way in which the Colonel turned the tables upon him, and set his claim to the negro, by reason of having hired him, above the one which he had as the negro’s master. He left hastily, and we afterwards learned that his brother and two eons were in the Rebel army.

As an instance of the peculiar manner in which some of the fugitive slaves address our sympathies, I may mention the case of Lanzy, one of my servants, He came to my tent the morning after I arrived here, ragged, hungry, foot-sore, and weary. Upon inquiry, I have found his story to be true. He is nearly white, and is the son of his master, whose residence is a few miles west of here, but who is now a captain under Price,— a fact which does not predispose me to the rendition of Lanzy, should he be pursued. He is married, after the fashion in which slaves are usually married, and has two children. But his wife and of course her children belong to a widow lady, whose estate adjoins his master’s farm, and several months ago, by reason of the unsettled condition of the country, Lanzy’s wife and little children were sold and taken down to the Red River. Fearing the approach of the Federal forces, last week the Rebel captain sent instructions to have Lanzy and his other slaves removed into Arkansas. This purpose was discovered, and Lanzy and a very old negro, whom he calls uncle, fled at night. For several days they wandered through the forests, and at last succeeded in reaching Springfield. How can a man establish a stronger claim to the sympathy and protection of a stranger than that which tyranny, misfortune, and misery have given to this poor negro upon me? Bereft of wife and children, whose love was the sunshine of his dark and dreary life, threatened with instant exile from which there was no hope of escape, what was there of which imagination can conceive that could increase the load of evil which pressed upon this unhappy man? Is it strange that he fled from his hard fate, as the hare flies from the hounds?

His case is by no means extraordinary. Go to any one of the dusky figures loitering around yonder fire, and you will hear a moving story of oppression and sorrow. Every slave who runs breathless into our lines and claims the soldier’s protection, not only appeals to him as a soldier struggling with a deadly foe, but addresses every generous instinct of his manhood. Mighty forces born of man’s sympathy for man are at work in this war, and will continue their work, whether we oppose or yield to them.

Yesterday fifty-three Delaware Indians came from Kansas to serve under the General. Years ago he made friends of the Delawares, when travelling through their country upon his first journey of exploration; and hearing that he was on the war-path, the tribe have sent their best young warriors to join him. They are descendants of the famous tribe which once dwelt on the Delaware River, and belonged to the confederacy of the Six  Nations,—for more than two centuries the most powerful Indian community in America. Their ancient prowess remains. The Delawares are feared all over the Plains, and their war-parties have often penetrated beyond the Rocky Mountains, carrying terror through all the Indian tribes. These men are fine specimens of their race, — tall, lightly formed, and agile. They ride little shaggy ponies, rough enough to look at, but very hardy and active; and they are armed with the old American rifle, the traditional weapon which Cooper places in the hands of his red heroes. They are led by the chief of their tribe, Fall-Leaf, a dignified personage, past the noon of life, but showing in his erect form and dark eye that the fires of manhood burn with undiminished vigor.

THE SITUATION.

Springfield, November 1st. It is certain that Price left Neosho on Monday and is moving towards us. He probably heard how small the force was with which the General arrived here, and thinks that he can overwhelm us before the other divisions come up. We have had some fear of this ourselves, and all the dispositions have been made for a stubborn defence in case we are attacked. The last two nights we have slept on our arms, with our horses saddled and baggage packed. Now all danger is past: a part of Pope’s division came in this morning, and McKinstry is close at hand. He has marched nearly seventy miles in three days. The evidence that Price is advancing is conclusive. Our scouts have reported that he was moving, and numerous deserters have confirmed these reports; but we have other evidence of the most undoubted reliability. During the last two days, hundreds of men, women, and children have come into our lines, —Union people who fled at the approach of the Rebels. I have talked with a number of these fugitives who reside southwest from here, and they all represent the roads to be filled with vast numbers of men and teams going towards Wilson’s Creek. They give the most exaggerated estimates of the number of the enemy, placing them at from fifty thousand to one hundred and twenty-five thousand men; but the scouts and deserters say that the whole force does not exceed thirty-two thousand, and of these a large number are poorly armed and quite undisciplined. Hunter has not come up, nor has he been heard from directly, but there is a report that yesterday he had not left the Osage: if this be true, he will not be here in time for the battle.

The Rebel generals must now make their choice between permitting themselves to be cut off from their base of operations and sources of supply and reinforcement, and attempting to reach Forsyth, in which case they will have to give us battle. The movement from Neosho leaves no doubt that they intend to fight. It is said by the deserters that Price would be willing to avoid an engagement, but he is forced to offer battle by the necessities of his position, the discontent of his followers, the approaching expiration of their term of enlistment, and the importunities of McCulloch, who declares he will not make another retreat.

We are now perfectly prepared. Hunter’s delay leaves us with only twenty-two thousand men, seventy pieces of artillery, and about four thousand cavalry. In view of our superiority as respects armament, discipline, and ordnance, we are more than a match for our opponent. We sleep to-night in constant expectation of an attack: two guns will be fired as a signal that the enemy are at hand.

THE REMOVAL.

Springfield, November 2d. The catastrophe has come which we have long dreaded, but for which we were in no degree prepared. This morning, at about ten o’clock, while I was standing in front of my tent, chatting with some friends, an officer in the uniform of a captain of the general staff rode up, and asked the orderly to show him to the General. He went into the house, and in a few moments came out and rode off. I soon learned that he had brought an order from General Scott informing General Fremont that he was temporarily relieved of his command, and directing him to transfer it to Major-General Hunter and report himself to the head-quarters of the army by letter. The order was originally dated October 7th, but the date had been altered to October 24th, on which day it left St. Louis, —the day the Guards started upon their expedition to Springfield.

This order, which, on the very eve of consummation, has defeated the carefully matured plans upon which the General’s fortunes and in so large a measure the fortunes of the country depended, —which has destroyed the results of three months of patient labor, transferring to another the splendid army he has called together, organized, and equipped, and giving to another the laurel wreath of victory which now hangs ready to fall at the touch, —this order, which has disappointed so many long-cherished hopes, was received by our magnanimous General without a word of complaint. In his noble mind there was no doubt or hesitation. He obeyed it promptly and implicitly. He at once directed Colonel Eaton to issue the proper order transferring the command to General Hunter, and having prepared a brief address to the soldiers, full of pathos and patriotic devotion, he rode out accompanied by the Delawares to examine the positions south of the village.

Hunter has not yet been heard from: three couriers have been sent after him. General Pope is now in command here. It is understood, that, until the Commanding General arrives, the army will stand upon the defensive, and that no engagement will take place, unless it is attacked. General Fremont and his staff will leave to-morrow for St. Louis.

This evening I rode through Sigel’s and McKinstry’s camps. The general order and the farewell address had been read to the regiments, and the camp-fires were surrounded by groups of excited soldiers, and cheers for Fremont were heard on every side.

November 3d, 8 P. M. This morning it became apparent that the departure of the General before the arrival of Hunter would endanger the discipline of the army. Great numbers of officers have offered their resignations, and it has required the constant and earnest efforts of General Fremont to induce them to retain their positions. The slightest encouragement upon his part of the discontent which prevails will disorganize the divisions of Sigel and Asboth.

The attitude of the enemy is threatening, and it does not seem possible to avoid a battle more than a few hours. Great numbers of people, flying before Price, have come in to-day. A reconnaissance in the direction of Springfield has been made, and the following report rendered by General Asboth.

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH DIVISION WESTERN DEPARTMENT.

Springfield, November 3d, 1861.

To MAJOR-GENERAL J. C. FREMONT,

Commanding Western Department.

GENERAL : —The captain commanding the company of Major Wright’s battalion, which was sent out on a scouting party to Wilson’s Creek, has just sent in his report by a runner. He says, last night the enemy’s advanced guard, some two thousand strong, camped at Wilson’s Creek. Price’s forces are at Terrill’s Creek on the Marionsville road, nine miles behind Wilson’s Creek, and McCulloch’s forces are at Dug Springs.

Both these forces were expected to concentrate at Wilson’s Creek to-night, and offer battle there.

The scout depicts every road and path covered with moving troops, estimating them at forty thousand men.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient serv’t,

Asboth,

Act.. Maj.-Gen’l Com’d’g 4th Div.

According to this report, the whole of Price’s army is within twenty miles of us, and probably nearer. Hunter has not been heard from, and it is impossible to discover his whereabouts. This afternoon General McKinstry designed to make a reconnaissance in force with his whole division towards Wilson’s Creek but yielding to the solicitations of the chief officers, and in view of the imminence of battle, to-day General Fremont resumed the command, and ordered McKinstry not to make his reconnaissance,—not wishing to bring on a general engagement during the absence of Hunter.

All day long officers have visited General Fremont and urged him to give battle, representing, that, if this opportunity were permitted to pass, Price, after ascertaining our force, would retire, and it would be impossible to catch him again. This evening one hundred and ten officers called upon him in a body. They ranged themselves in semicircular array in front of the house, and one of their number presented an address to the General full of sympathy and respect, and earnestly requesting him to lead them against the enemy. At the close of the interview, the General said, that, under all the circumstances, he felt it to be his duty not to decline the battle which our foe offers us,—and that, if General Hunter did not arrive before midnight, he would lead the army forward to-morrow morning at daybreak; and that they might so inform their several commands. This announcement was received with loud cheers. The staff-officers were at once despatched with directions to the division and brigade commanders to repair forth-with to head-quarters and receive their orders. The Generals assembled at eight o’clock, and the following order of battle was then published.

HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT.

Springfield, November 3, 1861.

The different divisions of the army shall be put in the following order of battle.

Act’g Maj.-Gen. Asboth, right wing.

“          “          McKinstry, centre.

“          “          Sigel, left.

“          “          Pope, reserve.

General McKinstry’s column to leave camp at six o’clock, and proceed by the Fayetteville road to the upper end of the upper cornfield on the left, where General Lyon made his first attack.

General Sigel to start at six o’clock by Joakum’s Mill, and follow his old trail, except that he is to turn to the right some two miles sooner, and proceed to the old stable on the lower end of the lower cornfield.

General Asboth to start at six and one-half o’clock, by the Mount Vernon road, then by a prairie road to the right of the ravine opposite the lower field.

General Pope to start at seven o’clock by the Fayetteville road, following General McKinstry’s column.

General Lane to join General Sigel’s division. General Wyman to join General Asboth’s division.

One regiment and two pieces of artillery of General Pope’s division to remain as a reserve in Springfield.

The different divisions to come into their positions at the same time, about eleven o’clock, at which hour a simultaneous attack will be made.

The baggage-trains to be packed and held in readiness at Springfield. Each regiment to carry three two-horse wagons to transport the wounded.

J. C. FREMONT,

Maj.-Gen’l Com’d’g.

The General and staff with the Body-Guard, Benton Cadets, Sharp-shooters, and Delawares, will accompany McKinstry’s column.

The news has spread like wildfire. As I galloped up the road this evening, returning from McKinstry’s quarters, every camp was astir. The enthusiasm was unbounded. On every side the eager soldiers are preparing for the conflict. They are packing wagons, sharpening sabres, grooming horses, and cleaning muskets. The spirit of our men promises a brilliant victory.

Midnight. At eleven o’clock General Hunter entered the Council of Generals at headquarters. General Fremont explained to him the situation of affairs, the attitude of the enemy, and the dispositions which had been made for the following day, and then gracefully resigned the command into his hands. And thus our hopes are finally defeated, and in the morning we turn our faces to the north. General Hunter will not advance tomorrow, and the opportunity of catching Price will probably be lost, for it is not likely the Rebel General will remain at Wilson’s Creek after he has learned that the whole Federal army is concentrated.

The news of the change has not yet reached the camps. As I sit here, wearied with the excitement and labors of the day, the midnight stillness is broken by the din of preparation, the shouting of teamsters, the clang of the cavalry anvils, and the distant cheers of the soldiers, still excited with the hope of tomorrow’s victory.

The Body-Guard and Sharp-shooters return with us; and all the officers of General Fremont’s staff have received orders to accompany him.

HOMEWARD BOUND.

In camp, twenty-five miles north of Springfield, November 4th. At nine o’clock this morning we were in the saddle, and our little column was in marching order. The Delawares led, then came our band, the General and his staff followed, the Body-Guard came next, and the Sharp-shooters in wagons brought up the rear. In this order we proceeded through the village. The Benton Cadets were drawn up in line in front of their camp, and saluted us as we passed, but none of the other regiments were paraded. The band had been directed to play lively airs, and we marched out to merry music. The troops did not seem to know that the General was to leave; but when they heard the band, they ran out of their camps and flocked into the streets: there was no order in their coming; they came without arms, many of them without their coats and bareheaded, and filled the road. The crowd was so dense that with difficulty the General rode through the throng. The farewell was most touching. There was little cheering, but an expression of sorrow on every face. Some pressed forward to take his hand; others cried, “God bless you, General!” “Your enemies are not in the camp!” “Come back and lead us to battle; we will fight for you!” The General rode on perfectly calm, a pleasant smile on his face, telling the men he was doing his duty, and they must do theirs.

We travelled with great rapidity and circumspection; for there was some reason to suppose that parties of the enemy had been thrown to the north of Springfield, in which case we might have been interfered with.

Sedalia, November 7th. We are waiting for the train which is to take us to St. Louis. Our journey here has been made very quickly. Monday we marched twenty-five miles. Tuesday we started at dawn, and made thirty miles, encamping twenty-five miles south of the Osage. Wednesday we were in the saddle at six o’clock, crossed the Osage in the afternoon, and halted ten miles north of that river, the day’s journey being thirty-five miles. We pitched our tents upon a high, flat prairie, covered with long dry grass.

In the evening the Delawares signified, that, if the General would consent to it, they would perform a war-dance. Permission was easily obtained, and, after the Indian braves had finished their toilet, they approached in formal procession, arrayed in all the glory and terror of war-paint. A huge fire had been built. The inhabitants of our little camp quickly gathered, officers, soldiers of the Guard, and Sharp-shooters, negroes and teamsters. The Indians ranged themselves on one side of the fire, and the rest of us completed the circle. The dancing was done by some half-dozen young Indians, to the monotonous beating of two small drums and a guttural accompaniment which the dancers sang, the other Indians joining in the chorus. The performance was divided into parts, and the whole was intended to express the passions which war excites in the Indian nature, —the joy which they feel at the prospect of a fight, —their contempt for their enemies, —their frenzy at sight of the foe, —the conflict, —the operations of tomahawking and scalping their opponents, —and, finally, the triumph of victory. The performances occupied over two hours. Fall-Leaf presided with an air of becoming gravity, smoking an enormous stone pipe with a long reed stem.

After rendering thanks in proper form, Fall-Leaf was told, that, by way of return for their civility, and in special honor of the Delawares, the negroes would dance one of their national dances. Two agile darkies came forward, and went through with a regular break-down, to the evident entertainment of the red men. Afterwards an Irishman leaped into the ring, and began an Irish hornpipe. He was the best dancer of all, and his complicated steps and astonishing tours-de-force completely upset the gravity of the Indians, and they burst into loud laughter. It was midnight before the camp was composed to its last night’s sleep.

This morning we started an hour before day, and marched to this place, twenty miles, by noon.

Thus ended the expedition of General Fremont to Springfield.

In bringing these papers to a close, the writer cannot refrain from expressing his regret that circumstances have prevented him from making that exposition of affairs in the Western Department which the country has long expected. While he was in the field, General Fremont permitted the attacks of his enemies to pass unheeded, because he held them unworthy to be intruded upon more important occupations, and he would not be diverted from the great objects he was pursuing; since his recall, considerations affecting the public service, and the desire not at this time to embarrass the Government with personal matters, have sealed his lips. I will not now disregard his wishes by entering into any detailed discussion of the charges which have been made against him, —but I cannot lay down my pen without bearing voluntary testimony to the fidelity, energy, and skill which he brought to his high office. It will be hard for any one who was not a constant witness of his career to appreciate the labor which he assumed and successfully performed. From the first to the last hour of the day, there was no idle moment. No time was given to pleasure, —none even to needed relaxation. Often, long after the strength of his body was spent, the force of his will bound him to exhausting toil. No religious zealot ever gave himself to his devotions with more absorbing abandonment than General Fremont to his hard, and, as it has proved, most thankless task. Time will verify the statement, that, whether as respects thoroughness or economy, his administration of affairs at the West will compare favorably with the transactions of any other department of the Government, military or civil, during the last nine months. Let it be contrasted with the most conspicuous instance of the management of military affairs at the East.

The period between the President’s Proclamation and the Battle of Manassas was about equal in duration to the career of Fremont in the West. The Federal Government had at command all the resources, in men, material, and money, of powerful, wealthy, and populous communities. Nothing was asked which was not promptly and lavishly given. After three months of earnest effort, assisted by the best military and civil talent of the country, by the whole army organization, by scientific soldiers and an accomplished and experienced staff, a column of thirty thousand men, with thirty-four pieces of artillery and but four hundred cavalry, was moved a distance of twenty-two miles. Though it had been in camp several weeks, up to a few days before its departure it was without brigade or division organization, and ignorant of any evolutions except those of the battalion. It was sent forward without equipage, without a sufficient commissariat or an adequate medical establishment. This armed mob was led against an intrenched foe, and driven back in wild and disgraceful defeat, —a defeat which has prolonged the war for a year, called for a vast expenditure of men and treasure, and now to our present burdens seems likely to add those of a foreign war. The authors of this great disaster remain unpunished, and, except in the opinions of the public, unblamed; while nearly all the officers who led the ill-planned, ill-timed, and badly executed enterprise have received distinguished promotions, such as the soldier never expects to obtain, except as the reward of heroic and successful effort.

When General Fremont reached St. Louis, the Federal militia were returning to their homes, and a confident foe pressed upon every salient point of an extended and difficult defensive position. Drawing his troops from a few sparsely settled and impoverished States, denied expected and needed assistance in money and material from the General Government, he overcame every obstacle, and at the end of eight weeks led forth an army of thirty thousand men, with five thousand cavalry and eighty-six pieces of artillery. Officers of high rank declared that this force could not leave its encampments by reason of the lack of supplies and transportation; but he conveyed them one hundred and ninety miles by rail, marched them one hundred and thirty-five miles, crossing a broad and rapid river in five days, and in three months from his assumption of the command, and in one month after leaving St. Louis, placed them in presence of the enemy, —not an incoherent mass, but a well-ordered and compact army, upon whose valor, steadfastness, and discipline the fate of the nation might safely have been pledged.

If General Fremont was not tried by the crowning test of the soldier—the battle-field —it was not through fault of his. On the very eve of battle he was removed. His army was arrested in its triumphal progress, and compelled to a shameful retreat, abandoning the beautiful region it had wrested from the foe, and deserting the loyal people who trusted to its protection, and who, exiles from their homes, followed its retreating files,—a mournful procession of broken-hearted men, weeping women, and suffering children. With an unscrupulousness which passes belief, the authors of this terrible disaster have denied the presence of the enemy at Springfield. The miserable wretches, once prosperous farmers upon the slopes of the Ozark Hills, who now wander mendicants through the streets of St. Louis, or crouch around the camp-fires of Rolla and Sedalia, can tell whether Price was near Springfield or not.

Forty-eight hours more must have given to General Fremont an engagement. What the result would have been no one who was there doubted. A victory such as the country has long desired and sorely needs, —a decisive, complete, and overwhelming victory, —was as certain as it is possible for the skill and valor of man to make certain any future event. Now, twenty thousand men are required to hold our long line of defence in Missouri; then, five thousand at Springfield would have secured the State of Missouri, and a column pushed into Arkansas would have turned the enemy’s position upon the Mississippi. In the same time and with the same labor that the march to the rear was made, two States might have been won, and the fate of the Rebellion in the Southwest decided.

While I am writing these concluding pages, the telegraph brings information that another expedition has started for Springfield. Strong columns are marching from Rolla, Sedalia, and Versailles, to do the work which General Fremont stood ready to do last November. After three months of experience and reflection, the enterprise which was denounced as aimless, extravagant, and ill-judged, which was derided as a wild hunt after an unreal foe, an exploration into desert regions, is now repeated in face of the obstacles of difficult roads and an inclement season, and when many of the objects of the expedition no longer exist, —for, unhappily, the loyal inhabitants of those fertile uplands, the fruitful farms and pleasant homes, are no longer there to receive the protection of our armies. General Fremont’s military conduct could not have received more signal approval. The malignant criticisms of his enemies could in no other manner have been so completely refuted. Unmoved by the storm of calumny and detraction which raged around him, he has calmly and silently awaited the unerring judgment, the triumphant verdict, which he knew time and the ebb of the bad passions his success excited would surely bring.


Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 2

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

The unnamed author of Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri was a member of the general’s staff. Clearly not a native of Missouri, this Union officer often displayed a definite bias against Missourians; no doubt fueled by reading years of “Border Ruffian” stories in eastern newspapers. He observes of the people of Jefferson City, cited by most historians as the second most pro-Union population in Missouri behind only St. Louis, that “Such vacant, listless faces, with laziness written in every line, and ignorance seated upon every feature! Is it for these that the descendants of New England and the thrifty Germans are going forth to battle? If Missouri depended upon the Missourians, there would be little chance for her safety, and, indeed, not very much to save.”  Later he observes of some local farmers that “The Union men of Missouri are quite willing to have you fight for them, but their patriotism does not go farther than this.” These statements might be amusing if one didn’t know that such biases by many Union troops would lead to bitter fruit in the guerrilla war ahead.

Also, there can be no doubt of the author’s opinion of General Fremont. Fremont is depicted as nearly God-like in his attributes and skills in everything he does. To be fair, this is hardly unknown in the history of campaign journals written by junior officers. We have not hesitated to depict Fremont in much less favorable light on the site; we are pleased to have the opportunity to give one of the general’s defenders a chance to tell the story from the other side.

Regardless of the obvious biases of the author, this seems to be an important, detailed primary account by a participant of Fremont’s abortive campaign to catch General Price in the fall of 1861.  It appeared in three parts in the national magazine The Atlantic Monthly (still a going concern), Jan through March, 1862, and gained enough national attention that Frank Blair felt the need to refer to it by name, and rebut it, on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 7, 1862. Blair’s rebuttal can be found here on our site.

The author uses almost 24,000 words to cover just five weeks of campaigning, and when he isn’t lauding the general provides some very interesting details of the first large-scale campaign by a Union army west of the Mississippi (an army six times the size of the one Lyon lead at Wilson’s Creek), the general condition of affairs in Missouri, the slavery issue, and the people of Missouri. His account of the famous “Zagonyi’s Charge” at Springfield is particularly fine, and as the author claims to have been a member of the committee of inquiry following the event, may be presumed to be fairly accurate, if a bit breathless –most historians would not agree that it deserves to be compared to the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, as the author alludes to here. His personal observations of two hundred armed and mounted “contrabands” as part of Jim Lane’s Kansas brigade leads one to suspect that “contraband” is a title of convenience here; an armed and mounted man on campaign with an army is a soldier no matter what you call him. Since under the then-current regs of the Union army he could not be called a “soldier”, the author avoids that label –but “a rose by any other name”.

It is also worth noting that most historians would argue with the author’s conclusion at the end that just another forty-eight hours given to Fremont would have resulted in the climactic battle with Price that the Pathfinder sought. Albert Castel’s General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1968), widely considered the leading history of Price’s Civil War career, asserts that Price was at Pineville, much further southwest of where Fremont thought he was on November 2, 1861.

Interestingly enough, the standard bio of the general’s life, Fremont: Pathmarker of the West, by Allan Nevins, does not appear to use this article as one of its sources. As it is very sympathetic to Fremont, a fine, detailed campaign journal of his major campaign in Missouri, and impactful enough to warrant a public rebuttal from Frank Blair, this is more than passingly strange. It is unclear if Nevins was unaware of this article or just did not find it interesting enough to use for his book.

We found this article on the excellent (and free) Making of America site of Cornell University, that includes many journals from this period besides The Atlantic Monthly. We will be publishing it in three parts, just as it appeared in the magazine.


goto Part I

goto Part III

II.

Camp Haskell, October 24th. We have marched twelve miles to-day, and are encamped near the house of a friendly German farmer. Our cortege has been greatly diminished in number. Some of the staff have returned to St. Louis; to others have been assigned duties which remove them from headquarters; and General Asboth’s division being now in the rear, that soldierly-looking officer no longer rides beside the General, and the gentlemen of his staff no longer swell our ranks.

As we approach the enemy there is a marked change in the General’s demeanor. Usually reserved, and even retiring, —now that his plans begin to work out results, that the Osage is behind us, that the difficulties of deficient transportation have been conquered, there is an unwonted eagerness in his face, his voice is louder, and there is more self-assertion in his attitude. He has hitherto proceeded on a walk, but now he presses on at a trot. His horsemanship is perfect. Asboth is a daring rider, loving to drive his animal at the top of his speed. Zagonyi rides with surpassing grace, and selects fiery chargers which no one else cares to mount. Colonel E. has an easy, business-like gait. But in lightness and security in the saddle the General excels them all. He never worries his beast, is sure to get from him all the work of which he is capable, is himself quite incapable of being fatigued in this way.

Just after sundown the camp was startled by heavy infantry firing. Going around the spur of the forest which screens head-quarters from the prairie, we found the Guard dismounted, drawn up in line, firing their carbines and revolvers. The circumstance excites curiosity, and we learn that Zagonyi has been ordered to make a descent upon Springfield, and capture or disperse the Rebel garrison, three or four hundred strong, which is said to be there. Major White has already gone forward with his squadron of “Prairie Scouts” to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Springfield. Zagonyi will overtake White, assume command of the whole force, which will number about three hundred men, and turn the reconnaissance into an attack. The Guard set out at eight o’clock this evening. A few are left behind to do duty around headquarters. Lieutenant Kennedy, of the Kentucky company, was ordered to remain in command of our Home-Guard. He was greatly grieved, and went to the Major and with tears in his eyes besought him to permit him to go. Zagonyi could not refuse the gallant fellow, and all the officers of the Guard have gone. There is a feeling of sadness in camp to-night. We wonder which of our gay and generous comrades will come back to us again.

October 25th. We moved only seven miles to-day. It is understood that the General will gather the whole army upon a large prairie a few miles north of Bolivar, and devote a few days to reviewing the troops, and to field-maneuvers. This will have an excellent effect. The men will be encouraged when they see how large the column is, for the army has never been concentrated.

This morning we received news of the brilliant affair at Fredericktown.

Just before the General left camp to-day, I received orders to report myself to General Asboth, for duty as Judge-Advocate of a Court-Martial to be held in his division. General Asboth was several miles behind us, and I set out to ride back and join him. After a gallop of half an hour across the prairie, I discovered that I had lost my way. I vainly tried to find some landmark of yesterday’s march, but was at last compelled to trust to the sagacity of my horse, — the redoubtable Spitfire, so named by reason of his utter contempt for gunpowder, whether sputtered out of muskets or belched forth by cannon. I gave him his head. He snuffed the air for a moment, deliberately swept the horizon with his eyes, and then turned short around and carried me back to the farm-house from which I had started. I arrived just in time for dinner. Two officers of Lane’s brigade, which had marched from Kansas, came in while we were at the table. They seasoned our food with spicy incidents of Kansas life.

After dinner I started with Captain H., of Springfield, to find Asboth. As we left the house, we were joined by the most extraordinary character I have seen. He was a man of medium height. His chest was enormous in length and breadth; his arms long, muscular, and very large; his legs short. He had the body of a giant upon the legs of a dwarf. This curious figure was surmounted by a huge head, covered with coarse brown hair, which grew very nearly down to his eyes, while his beard grew almost up to his eyes. It seemed as if the hair and beard had had a struggle for the possession of his face, and were kept apart by the deep chasm in which his small gray eyes were set. He was armed with a huge bowie-knife, which he carried slung like a sword. It was at least two feet long, heavy as a butcher’s cleaver, and was thrust into a sheath of undressed hide. He called this pleasant instrument an Arkansas toothpick. He bestrode, as well as his diminutive legs would let him, an Indian pony as shaggy as himself. This person proved to be a bearer of despatches, and offered to guide us to the main road, along which Asboth was marching.

The pony started off at a brisk trot, and in an hour we were upon the road, which we found crowded with troops and wagons. Pressing through the underbrush alongside the road, we kept on at a rapid pace. We soon heard shouts and cheers ahead of us, and in a few moments came in sight of a farm-house, in front of which was an excited crowd. Men were swarming in at every door and window. The yard was filled with furniture which the troops were angrily breaking, and a considerable party was busy tearing up the roof. I could not learn the cause of the uproar, except that a Secessionist lived there who had killed some one. I passed on, and in a little while arrived at Asboth’s quarters.

He had established himself in an unpretending, but comfortable farm-house, formerly owned by a German, named Brown. This house has lately been the scene of one of those bloody outrages, instigated by neighborhood hatred, which have been so frequent in Missouri. Old Brown had lived here more than thirty years. He was industrious, thrifty, and withal a skilful workman. Under his intelligent husbandry his farm became the marvel of all that region. He had long outlived his strength, and when the war broke out he could give to the Union nothing but his voice and influence: these he gave freely and at all times. The plain-spoken patriot excited the enmity of the Secessionists, and the special hatred of one man, his nearest neighbor. All through the summer, his barns were plundered, his cattle driven away, his fences torn down; but no one offered violence to the white-headed old man, or to the three women who composed his family. The approach of our army compelled the Rebels of the neighborhood to fly, and among the fugitives was the foe I have mentioned. He was not willing to depart and leave the old German to welcome the Union troops. Just one week ago, at a late hour in the evening, he rode up to Brown’s door and knocked loudly. The old man cautiously asked who it was. The wretch replied, “A friend who wants lodging.” As a matter of course, —for in this region every house is a tavern,—the farmer opened the door, and at the instant was pierced through the heart by a bullet from the pistol of his cowardly foe. The blood-stains are upon the threshold still. It was the murderer’s house the soldiers sacked to-day. A German artillery company heard the story, and began to plunder the premises under the influence of a not unjustifiable desire for revenge. General Asboth, however, compelled the men to desist, and to replace the furniture they had taken out.

I found General Sturgis, and Captain Parrot, his Adjutant, at General Asboth’s, on their way to report to General Fremont. Sturgis has brought his command one hundred and fifty miles in ten days. He says that large numbers of deserters have come into his lines. Price’s followers are becoming discouraged by his continued retreat.

The business which detained me in the rear was finished at an early hour, but I waited in order to accompany General Asboth, who, with some of his staff, was intending to go to headquarters, five miles farther south. We set out at nine o clock. General Asboth likes to ride at the top of his horse’s speed, and at once put his gray into a trot so rapid that we were compelled to gallop in order to keep up. We dashed over a rough road, down a steep decline, and suddenly found ourselves floundering through a stream nearly up to our saddle-girths. My horse had had a hard day’s work. He began to be unsteady on his pins. So I drew up, preferring the hazards of a night-ride across the prairie to a fall upon the stony road. The impetuous old soldier, followed by his companions, rushed into the darkness, and the clatter of their hoofs and the rattling of their sabres faded from my hearing.

I was once more alone on the prairie. The sky was cloudless, but the starlight struggling through a thin haze suggested rather than revealed surrounding objects. I bent over my horse’s shoulder to trace the course of the road but I could see nothing. There were no trees, no fences. I listened for the rustling of the wind over the prairie-grass; but as soon as Spitfire stopped, I found that not a breath of air was stirring: his motion had created the breeze. I turned a little to the left, and at once felt the Mexican stirrup strike against the long, rank grass. Quite exultant with the thought that I had found a certain test that I was in the road, I turned back and regained the beaten track. But now a new difficulty arose. At once the thought suggested itself—“Perhaps I turned the wrong way when I came back into the road, and am now going away from my destination.” I drew up and looked around me. There was nothing to be seen except the veiled stars above, and upon either hand a vast dark expanse, which might be a lake, the sea, or a desert, for anything I could discern. I listened: there was no sound except the deep breathing of my faithful horse, who stood with ears erect, eagerly snuffing the night-air. I had heard that horses can see better than men. “Let me try the experiment.” I gave Spitfire his head. He moved across the road, went out upon the prairie a little distance, waded into a brook which I had not seen, and began to drink. When he had finished, he returned to the road without the least hesitation.

“The horse can certainly see better than I. Perhaps I am the only one of this company who is in trouble, and the good beast is all this while perfectly composed and at ease, and knows quite well where to go.”

I loosened the reins. Spitfire went forward slowly, apparently quite confident, and yet cautious about the stones in his path.

I now began to speculate upon the distance I had come. I thought,— “It is some time since we started. Headquarters were only five miles off. I rode fast at first. It is strange there are no campfires in sight.”

Time is measured by sensation, and with me minutes were drawn out into hours. “Surely, it is midnight. I have been here three hours at the least. The road must have forked, and I have gone the wrong way. The most sagacious of horses could not be expected to know which of two roads to take. There is nothing to be done. I am in for the night, and had better stay here than go farther in the wrong direction.”

I dismount, fill my pipe, and strike a light. I laugh at my thoughtlessness, and another match is lighted to look at my watch, which tells me I have been on the road precisely twenty minutes. I mount. Spitfire seems quite composed, perhaps a little astonished at the unusual conduct of his rider, hut he walks on composedly, carefully avoiding the rolling stones.

It is not a pleasant situation, —on a prairie alone and at night, not knowing where you are going or where you ought to go. Zimmermann himself never imagined a solitude more complete, albeit such a situation is not so favorable to philosophic meditation as the rapt Zimmermann might suppose. I employ my thoughts as well as I am able, and pin my faith to the sagacity of Spitfire. Presently a light gleams in front of me. It is only a flickering, uncertain ray; perhaps some belated teamster is urging his reluctant mules to camp and has lighted his lantern. No, — there are sparks; it is a camp-fire. I hearken for the challenge, not without solicitude; for it is about as dangerous to approach a nervous sentinel as to charge a battery. I do not hear the stern inquiry, “Who comes there?” At last I am abreast of the fire, and myself call out, —

“Who is there?”

“We are travellers,” is the reply.

What this meant I did not know. What travellers are there through this distracted, war-worn region? Are they fugitives from Price, or traitors flying before us? I am not in sufficient force to capture half a dozen men, and if they are foes, it is not worth while to be too inquisitive; so I continue on my way, and they and their fire are soon enveloped by the night. Presently I see another light in the far distance. This must be a picket, for there are soldiers. I look around for the sentry, not quite sure whether I am to be challenged or shot; but again am permitted to approach unquestioned. I call out, —

“Who is there?”

“Men of Colonel Carr’s regiment.”

“What are you doing here?”

“We are guarding some of our wagons which were left here. Our regiment has gone forward at a half-hour’s notice to reinforce Zagonyi,” said a sergeant, rising and saluting me.

“But is there no sentry here?” I asked.

“There was one, but he has been withdrawn,” replied the sergeant.

“Where are headquarters?”

“At the first house on your right, about a hundred yards farther up the road,” he said, pointing in the direction I was going.

It was strange that I could ride up to within pistol-shot of headquarters without being challenged. I soon reached the house. A sentry stood at the gate. I tied my horse to the fence, and walked into the Adjutant’s tent. I had passed by night from one division of the army to another, along the public road, and entered headquarters without being questioned. Twenty-five bold men might have carried off the General. I at once reported these facts to Colonel E.; inquiry was made, and it was found that some one had blundered.

There is no report from Springfield. Zagonyi sent back for reinforcements before he reached the town, and Carr’s cavalry, with two light field-pieces, have been sent forward. Captain R., my companion this afternoon, has also gone to learn what he may. While I am writing up my journal, a group of officers is around the fire in front of the tent. They are talking about Zagonyi and the Guard. We are all feverish with anxiety.

October 26th. This morning I was awakened by loud cheers from the camp of the Benton Cadets. My servant came at my call.

“What are those cheers for, Dan?”

“The Body-Guard has won a great victory, Sir! They have beaten the Rebels, driven them out of Springfield, and killed over a hundred of them. The news came late last night, and the General has issued an order which has just been read to the Cadets.”

The joyful words had hardly reached my eager ears when shouts were heard from the sharp-shooters. They have got the news. In an instant the camp is astir. Half-dressed, the officers rush from their tents, — servants leave their work, cooks forget breakfast, — they gather together, and breathless drink in the delicious story. We hear how the brave Guard, finding the foe three times as strong as had been reported, resolved to go on, in spite of odds, for their own honor and the honor of our General,— how Zagonyi led the onset, —how with cheers and shouts of “Union and Fremont,” the noble fellows rushed upon the foe as gayly as boys at play,—what deeds of daring were done, — that Zagonyi, Foley, Maythenyi, Newhall, Treikel, Goff and Kennedy shone heroes in the fray, — how gallantly the Guards had fought, and how gloriously they had died. These things we heard, feasting upon every word, and interrupting the fervid recital with involuntary exclamations of sympathy and joy.

It did not fall to the fortune of the writer to take part with the Body-Guard in their memorable attack, but, as the Judge-Advocate of a Court of Inquiry into that affair, which was held at Springfield immediately after our arrival there, I became familiar with the field and the incidents of the battle. I trust it will not be regarded as an inexcusable digression, if I recite the facts connected with the engagement, which, as respects the odds encountered, the heroism displayed, and the importance of its results, is still the most remarkable encounter of the war.

THE BODY-GUARD AT SPRINGFIELD.

It may not be out of place to say a few words as to the character and organization of the Guard. Among the foreign officers whom the fame of General Fremont drew around him was Charles Zagonyi, —an Hungarian refugee, but long a resident of this country. In his boyhood, Zagonyi had plunged into the passionate, but unavailing, struggle which Hungary made for her liberty. He at once attracted the attention of General Bem, and was by him placed in command of a picked company of cavalry. In one of the desperate engagements of the war, Zagonyi led a charge upon a large artillery force. More than half of his men were slain. He was wounded and taken prisoner. Two years passed before he could exchange an Austrian dungeon for American exile.

General Fremont welcomed Zagonyi cordially, and authorized him to recruit a company of horse, to act as his body-guard. Zagonyi was most scrupulous in his selection; but so ardent was the desire to serve under the eye and near the person of the General, that in five days after the lists were opened two full companies were enlisted. Soon after a whole company, composed of the very flower of the youth of Kentucky, tendered its services, and requested to be added to the Guard. Zagonyi was still overwhelmed with applications, and he obtained permission to recruit a fourth company. The fourth company, however, did not go with us into the field. The men were clad in blue jackets, trousers, and caps. They were armed with light German sabres, the best that at that time could be procured, and revolvers; besides which, the first company carried carbines. They were mounted upon bay horses, carefully chosen from the Government stables. Zagonyi had but little time to instruct his recruits, but in less than a month from the commencement of the enlistments the Body-Guard was a well-disciplined and most efficient corps of cavalry. The officers were all Americans except three, —one Hollander, and two Hungarians, Zagonyi and Lieutenant Maythenyi, who came to the United States during his boyhood.

Zagonyi left our camp at eight o’clock on the evening of the twenty-fourth, with about a hundred and sixty men, the remainder of the Guard being left at head-quarters under the command of a non-commissioned officer.

Major White was already on his way to Springfield with his squadron. This young officer, hardly twenty-one years old, had won great reputation for energy and zeal while a captain of infantry in a New York regiment stationed at Fort Monroe. He there saw much hazardous scouting-service, and had been in a number of small engagements. In the West he held a position upon General Fremont’s staff, with the rank of Major. While at Jefferson City, by permission of the General he had organized a battalion to act as scouts and rangers, composed of two companies of the Third Illinois Cavalry, under Captains Fairbanks and Kehoe, and a company of Irish dragoons, Captain Naughton, which had been recruited for Mulligan’s brigade, but had not joined Mulligan in time to be at Lexington.

Major White went to Georgetown in advance of the whole army, from there marched sixty-five miles in one night to Lexington, surprised the garrison, liberated a number of Federal officers who were there wounded and prisoners, and captured the steamers which Price had taken from Mulligan. From Lexington White came by way of Warrensburg to Warsaw. During this long and hazardous expedition, the Prairie Scouts had been without tents, and dependent for food upon the supplies they could take from the enemy.

Major White did not remain at Warsaw to recruit his health, seriously impaired by hardship and exposure. He asked for further service, and was directed to report himself to General Sigel, by whom he was ordered to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Springfield.

After a rapid night-march, Zagonyi overtook White, and assumed command of the whole force. White was quite ill, and, unable to stay in the saddle, was obliged to follow in a carriage. In the morning, yielding to the request of Zagonyi, he remained at a farm-house where the troop had halted for refreshment, — it being arranged that he should rest an hour or two, come on in his carriage with a small escort, and overtake Zagonyi before he reached Springfield. The Prairie Scouts numbered one hundred and thirty, so that the troop was nearly three hundred strong.

The day was fine, the road good, and the little column pushed on merrily, hoping to surprise the enemy. When within two hours’ march of the town, they met a Union farmer of the neighborhood, who told Zagonyi that a large body of Rebels had arrived at Springfield the day before, on their way to reinforce Price, and that the enemy were now two thousand strong. Zagonyi would have been justified, if he had turned back. But the Guard had been made the subject of much malicious remark, and had brought ridicule upon the General. Should they retire now, a storm of abuse would burst upon them. Zagonyi therefore took no counsel of prudence. He could not hope to defeat and capture the foe, but he might surprise them, dash into their camp, destroy their train, and, as he expressed it, “disturb their sleep,” — obtaining a victory which, for its moral effects, would be worth the sacrifices it cost. His daring resolve found unanimous and ardent assent with his zealous followers.

The Union farmer offered to guide Zagonyi by a circuitous route to the rear of the Rebel position, and under his guidance he left the main road about five miles from Springfield.

After an hour of repose, White set out in pursuit of his men, driving his horses at a gallop. He knew nothing of the change in Zagonyi’s plans, and supposed the attack was to be made upon the front of the town. He therefore continued upon the main road, expecting every minute to overtake the column. As he drew near the village, and heard and saw nothing of Zagonyi, he supposed the enemy had left the place and the Federals had taken it without opposition. The approach to Springfield from the north is through a forest, and the village cannot be seen until its outskirts are reached. A sudden turn in the road brought White into the very midst of a strong Rebel guard. They surrounded him, seized his horses, and in an instant he and his companions were prisoners. When they learned his rank, they danced around him like a pack of savages, shouting and holding their cocked pieces at his heart. The leader of the party had a few days before lost a brother in a skirmish with Wyman’s force, and with loud oaths he swore that the Federal Major should die in expiation of his brother s death. He was about to carry his inhuman threat into execution, Major White boldly facing him and saying, “If my men were here, I ‘d give you all the revenge you want.” At this moment a young officer, Captain Wroton by name, — of whom more hereafter, — pressed through the throng, and, placing himself in front of White, declared that he would protect the prisoner with his own life. The firm bearing of Wroton saved the Major’s life, but his captors robbed him and hurried him to their camp, where he remained during the fight, exposed to the hottest of the fire, an excited, hut helpless spectator of the stirring events which followed. He promised his generous protector that he would not attempt to escape, unless his men should try to rescue him; but Captain Wroton remained by his side, guarding him.

Making a detour of twelve miles, Zagonyi approached the position of the enemy. They were encamped half a mile west of Springfield, upon a hill which sloped to the east. Along the northern side of their camp was a broad and well-travelled road; along the southern side a narrow lane ran down to a brook at the foot of the hill: the space between, about three hundred yards broad, was the field of battle. Along the west side of the field, separating it from the county fair-ground, was another lane, connecting the main road and the first-mentioned lane. The side of the hill was clear, but its summit, which was broad and flat, was covered with a rank growth of small timber, so dense as to he impervious to horse.

The following diagram, drawn from memory, will illustrate sufficiently well the shape of the ground, and the position of the respective forces.

The foe were advised of the intended attack. When Major White was brought into their camp, they were preparing to defend their position. As appears from the confessions of prisoners, they had twenty-two hundred men, of whom four hundred were cavalry, the rest being infantry, armed with shot-guns, American rifles, and revolvers. Twelve hundred of their foot were posted along the edge of the wood upon the crest of the hill. The cavalry was stationed upon the extreme left, on top of a spur of the hill and in front of a patch of timber. Sharp-shooters were concealed behind the trees close to the fence along-side the lane, and a small number in some underbrush near the foot of the hill. Another detachment guarded their train, holding possession of the county fair-ground, which was surrounded by a high board-fence.

This position was unassailable by cavalry from the road, the only point of attack being down the lane on the right; and the enemy were so disposed as to command this approach perfectly. The lane was a blind one, being closed, after passing the brook, by fences and ploughed land: it was in fact a cul-de-sac. If the infantry should stand, nothing could save the rash assailants. There are horsemen sufficient to sweep the little band before them, as helplessly as the withered forest-leaves in the grasp of the autumn winds; there are deadly marksmen lying behind the trees upon the heights and lurking in the long grass upon the lowlands; while a long line of foot stand upon the summit of the slope, who, only stepping a few paces back into the forest, may defy the boldest riders. Yet, down this narrow lane, leading into the very jaws of death, came the three hundred.

On the prairie, at the edge of the woodland in which he knew his wily foe lay hidden, Zagonyi halted his command. He spurred along the line. With eager glance he scanned each horse and rider. To his officers be gave the simple order, “Follow me! do as I do!” and then, drawing up in front of his men, with a voice tremulous and shrill with emotion, he spoke : —

“Fellow-soldiers, comrades, brothers! This is your first battle. For our three hundred, the enemy are two thousand. If any of you are sick, or tired by the long march, or if any think the number is too great, now is the time to turn back.” He paused; no one was sick or tired. “We must not retreat. Our honor, the honor of our General and our country, tell us to go on. I will lead you. We have been called holiday soldiers for the pavements of St. Louis; to-day we will show that we are soldiers for the battle. Your watchword shall be, ‘The Union and Fremont!’ Draw sabre! By the right flank, — quick trot, — march!”

Bright swords flashed in the sunshine, a passionate shout burst from every lip, and with one accord, the trot passing into a gallop, the compact column swept on to its deadly purpose. Most of them were boys. A few weeks before they had left their homes. Those who were cool enough to note it say that ruddy cheeks grew pale, and fiery eyes were dimmed with tears. Who shall tell what thoughts, — what visions of peaceful cottages nestling among the groves of Kentucky or shining upon the banks of the Ohio and the Illinois,— what sad recollections of tearful farewells, of tender, loving faces, filled their minds during those fearful moments of suspense? No word was spoken. With lips compressed, firmly clenching their sword-hilts, with quick tramp of hoofs and clang of steel, honor leading and glory awaiting them, the young soldiers flew forward, each brave rider and each straining steed members of one huge creature, enormous, terrible, irresistible.

“‘T’were worth ten years of peaceful life,

One glance at their array.”

They pass the fair-ground. They are at the corner of the lane where the wood begins. It runs close to the fence on their left for a hundred yards, and beyond it they see white tents gleaming. They are half-way past the forest, when, sharp and loud, a volley of musketry bursts upon the head of the column; horses stagger, riders reel and fall, but the troop presses forward undismayed. The farther corner of the wood is reached, and Zagonyi beholds the terrible array. Amazed, he involuntarily checks his horse. The Rebels are not surprised. There to his left they stand crowning the height, foot and horse ready to ingulf him, if he shall be rash enough to go on. The road he is following declines rapidly. There is but one thing to do, —run the gantlet, gain the cover of the hill, and charge up the steep. These thoughts pass quicker than they can be told. He waves his sabre over his head, and shouting, “Forward! follow me! quick trot! gallop!” he dashes headlong down the stony road. The first company and most of the second follow. From the left a thousand muzzles belch forth a hissing flood of bullets; the poor fellows clutch wildly at the air and fall from their saddles, and maddened horses throw themselves against the fences. Their speed is not for an instant checked; farther down the hill they fly, like wasps driven by the leaden storm. Sharp volleys pour out of the underbrush at the left, clearing wide gaps through their ranks. They leap the brook, take down the fence, and draw up under the shelter of the hill. Zagonyi looks around him, and to his horror sees that only a fourth of his men are with him. He cries, “They do not come, —we are lost!” and frantically waves his sabre.

He has not long to wait. The delay of the rest of the Guard was not from hesitation. When Captain Foley reached the lower corner of the wood and saw the enemy’s line, he thought a flank attack might be advantageously made. He ordered some of his men to dismount and take down the fence. This was done under a severe fire. Several men fell, and he found the wood so dense that it could not be penetrated. Looking down the hill, he saw the flash of Zagonyi’s sabre, and at once gave the order, “Forward!” At the same time, Lieutenant Kennedy, a stalwart Kentuckian, shouted, “Come on, boys! remember Old Kentucky!” and the third company of the Guard, fire on every side of them, —from behind trees, from under the fences, —with thundering strides and loud cheers, poured down the slope and rushed to the side of Zagonyi. They have lost seventy dead and wounded men, and the carcasses of horses are strewn along the lane. Kennedy is wounded in the arm and lies upon the stones, his faithful charger standing motionless beside him. Lieutenant Goff received a wound in the thigh; he kept his seat, and cried out, “The devils have hit me, but I will give it to them yet!”

The remnant of the Guard are now in the field under the hill, and from the shape of the ground the Rebel fire sweeps with the roar of a whirlwind over their heads. Here we will leave them for a moment, and trace the fortunes of the Prairie Scouts.

When Foley brought his troop to a halt, Captain Fairbanks, at the head of the first company of Scouts, was at the point where the first volley of musketry had been received. The narrow lane was crowded by a dense mass of struggling horses, and filled with the tumult of battle. Captain Fairbanks says, and he is corroborated by several of his men who were near, that at this moment an officer of the Guard rode up to him and said, “They are flying; take your men down that lane and cut off their retreat,” —pointing to the lane at the left. Captain Fairbanks was not able to identify the person who gave this order. It certainly did not come from Zagonyi, who was several hundred yards farther on. Captain Fairbanks executed the order, followed by the second company of Prairie Scouts, under Captain Kehoe. When this movement was made, Captain Naughton, with the Third Irish Dragoons, had not reached the corner of the lane. He came up at a gallop, and was about to follow Fairbanks, when he saw a Guards-man who pointed in the direction in which Zagonyi had gone. He took this for an order, and obeyed it. When he reached the gap in the fence, made by Foley, not seeing anything of the Guard, he supposed they had passed through at that place, and gallantly attempted to follow. Thirteen men fell in a few minutes. He was shot in the arm and dismounted. Lieutenant Connolly spurred into the under-brush and received two balls through the lungs and one in the left shoulder. The Dragoons, at the outset not more than fifty strong, were broken, and, dispirited by the loss of their officers, retired. A sergeant rallied a few and brought them up to the gap again, and they were again driven back. Five of the boldest passed down the hill, joined Zagonyi, and were conspicuous by their valor during the rest of the day. —Fairbanks and Kehoe, having gained the rear and left of the enemy’s position, made two or three assaults upon detached parties of the foe, but did not join in the main attack.

I now return to the Guard. It is forming under the shelter of the hill. In front with a gentle inclination rises a grassy slope broken by occasional tree-stumps. A line of fire upon the summit marks the position of the Rebel infantry, and nearer and on the top of a lower eminence to the right stand their horse. Up to this time no Guardsman has struck a blow, but blue coats and bay horses lie thick along the bloody lane. Their time has come. Lieutenant Maythenyi with thirty men is ordered to attack the cavalry. With sabres flashing over their heads, the little band of heroes spring towards their tremendous foe. Right upon the centre they charge. The dense mass opens, the blue coats force their way in, and the whole Rebel squadron scatter in disgraceful flight through the cornfields in the rear. The bays follow them, sabring the fugitives. Days after, the enemy’s horses lay thick among the uncut corn.

Zagonyi holds his main body until Maythenyi disappears in the cloud of Rebel cavalry; then his voice rises through the air,—“In open order, — charge!” The line opens out to give play to their sword-arm. Steeds respond to the ardor of their riders, and quick as thought, with thrilling cheers, the noble hearts rush into the leaden torrent which pours down the incline. With unabated fire the gallant fellows press through. Their fierce onset is not even checked. The foe do not wait for them, —they waver, break, and fly. The Guardsmen spur into the midst of the rout, and their fast-falling swords work a terrible revenge. Some of the boldest of the Southrons retreat into the woods, and continue a murderous fire from behind trees and thickets. Seven Guard horses fall upon a space not more than twenty feet square. As his steed sinks under him, one of the officers is caught around the shoulders by a grape-vine, and hangs dangling in the air until he is cut down by his friends.

The Rebel foot are flying in furious haste from the field. Some take refuge in the fair-ground, some hurry into the cornfield, but the greater part run along the edge of the wood, swarm over the fence into the road, and hasten to the village. The Guardsmen follow. Zagonyi leads them. Over the loudest roar of battle rings his clarion voice, —“Come on, Old Kentuck! I’m with you!” And the flash of his sword-blade tells his men where to go. As he approaches a barn, a man steps from behind the door and lowers his rifle; but before it has reached the level, Zagonyi’s sabre-point descends upon his head, and his life-blood leaps to the very top of the huge barn-door.

The conflict now rages through the village, —in the public square, and along the streets. Up and down the Guards ride in squads of three or four, and whereever they see a group of the enemy charge upon and scatter them. It is hand to hand. No one but has a share in the fray.

There was at least one soldier in the Southern ranks. A young officer, superbly mounted, charges alone upon a large body of the Guard. He passes through the line unscathed, killing one man. He wheels, charges back, and again breaks through, killing another man. A third time he rushes upon the Federal line, a score of sabre-points confront him, a cloud of bullets fly around him, but he pushes on until he reaches Zagonyi, —he presses his pistol so close to the Major’s side that he feels it and draws convulsively back, the bullet passes through the front of Zagonyi’s coat, who at the instant runs the daring Rebel through the body, he falls, and the men, thinking their commander hurt, kill him with half a dozen wounds.

“He was a brave man,” said Zagonyi afterwards, “and I did wish to make him prisoner.”

Meanwhile it has grown dark. The foe have left the village and the battle has ceased. The assembly is sounded, and the Guard gathers in the Plaza. Not more than eighty mounted men appear: the rest are killed, wounded, or unhorsed. At this time one of the most characteristic incidents of the affair took place.

Just before the charge, Zagonyi directed one of his buglers, a Frenchman, to sound a signal. The bugler did not seem to pay any attention to the order, but darted off with Lieutenant Maythenyi. A few moments afterwards he was observed in another part of the field vigorously pursuing the flying infantry. His active form was always seen in the thickest of the fight. When the line was formed in the Plaza, Zagonyi noticed the bugler, and approaching him said, “In the midst of the battle you disobeyed my order. You are unworthy to be a member of the Guard. I dismiss you.” The bugler showed his bugle to his indignant commander; —the mouth-piece of the instrument was shot away. He said, “The mouth was shoot off. I could not bugle viz mon bugle, and so I bugle viz mon pistol and sabre.” It is unnecessary to add, the brave Frenchman was not dismissed.

I must not forget to mention Sergeant Hunter, of the Kentucky company. His soldierly figure never failed to attract the eye in the ranks of the Guard. He had served in the regular cavalry, and the Body-Guard had profited greatly from his skill as a drill-master. He lost three horses in the fight. As soon as one was killed, he caught another from the Rebels: the third horse taken by him in this way he rode into St. Louis.

The Sergeant slew five men. “I won’t speak of those I shot,” said he, —“another may have hit them; but those I touched with my sabre I am sure of, because I felt them.”

At the beginning of the charge, he came to the extreme right and took position next to Zagonyi, whom he followed closely through the battle. The Major, seeing him, said,—

“Why are you here, Sergeant Hunter? Your place is with your company on the left.”

“I kind o’ wanted to be in the front,” was the answer.

“What could I say to such a man?” exclaimed Zagonyi, speaking of the matter afterwards.

There was hardly a horse or rider among the survivors that did not bring away some mark of the fray. I saw one animal with no less than seven wounds, —none of them serious. Scabbards were bent, clothes and caps pierced, pistols injured. I saw one pistol from which the sight had been cut as neatly as it could have been done by machinery. A piece of board a few inches long was cut from a fence on the field, in which there were thirty-one shot-holes.

It was now nine o’clock. The wounded had been carried to the hospital. The dismounted troopers were placed in charge of them,—in the double capacity of nurses and guards. Zagonyi expected the foe to return every minute. It seemed like madness to try and hold the town with his small force, exhausted by the long march and desperate fight. He therefore left Springfield, and retired before morning twenty-five miles on the Bolivar road.

Captain Fairbanks did not see his commander after leaving the column in the lane, at the commencement of the engagement. About dusk he repaired to the prairie, and remained there within a mile of the village until midnight, when he followed Zagonyi, rejoining him in the morning.

I will now return to Major White. During the conflict upon the hill, he was in the forest near the front of the Rebel line. Here his horse was shot under him. Captain Wroton kept careful watch over him. When the flight began he hurried White away, and, accompanied by a squad of eleven men, took him ten miles into the country. They stopped at a farm-house for the night. White discovered that their host was a Union man. His parole having expired, he took advantage of the momentary absence of his captor to speak to the farmer, telling him who he was, and asking him to send for assistance. The countryman mounted his son upon his swiftest horse, and sent him for succor. The party lay down by the fire, White being placed in the midst. The Rebels were soon asleep, but there was no sleep for the Major. He listened anxiously for the footsteps of his rescuers. After long, weary hours, he heard the tramp of horses. He arose, and walking on tiptoe, cautiously stepping over his sleeping guards, he reached the door and silently unfastened it. The Union men rushed into the room and took the astonished Wroton and his followers prisoners. At daybreak White rode into Springfield at the head of his captives and a motley band of Home-Guards. He found the Federals still in possession of the place. As the officer of highest rank, he took command. His garrison consisted of twenty-four men. He stationed twenty-two of them as pickets in the outskirts of the village, and held the other two as a reserve. At noon the enemy sent in a flag of truce, and asked permission to bury their dead. Major White received the flag with proper ceremony, but said that General Sigel was in command and the request would have to be referred to him. Sigel was then forty miles away. In a short time a written communication purporting to come from General Sigel, saying that the Rebels might send a party under certain restrictions to bury their dead, White drew in some of his pickets, stationed them about the field, and under their surveillance the Southern dead were buried.

The loss of the enemy, as reported by some of their working party, was one hundred and sixteen killed. The number of wounded could not be ascertained. After the conflict had drifted away from the hill-side, some of the foe had returned to the field, taken away their wounded, and robbed our dead. The loss of the Guard was fifty-three out of one hundred and forty-eight actually engaged, twelve men having been left by Zagonyi in charge of his train. The Prairie Scouts reported a loss of thirty-one out of one hundred and thirty: half of these belonged to the Irish Dragoons. In a neighboring field an Irishman was found stark and stiff, still clinging to the hilt of his sword, which was thrust through the body of a Rebel who lay beside him. Within a few feet a second Rebel lay, shot through the head.

I have given a statement of this affair drawn from the testimony taken before a Court of Inquiry, from conversations with men who were engaged upon both sides, and from a careful examination of the locality. It was the first essay of raw troops, and yet there are few more brilliant achievements in history.

It is humiliating to be obliged to tell what followed. The heroism of the Guard was rewarded by such treatment as we blush to record. Upon their return to St. Louis, rations and forage were denied them, the men were compelled to wear the clothing soiled and torn in battle, they were promptly disbanded, and the officers retired from service. The swords which pricked the clouds and let the joyful sunshine of victory into the darkness of constant defeat are now idle. But the fame of the Guard is secure. Out from that fiery baptism they came children of the nation, and American song and story will carry their heroic triumph down to the latest generation.

Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 1

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

The unnamed author of Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri was a member of the general’s staff. Clearly not a native of Missouri, this Union officer often displayed a definite bias against Missourians; no doubt fueled by reading years of “Border Ruffian” stories in eastern newspapers. He observes of the people of Jefferson City, cited by most historians as the second most pro-Union population in Missouri behind only St. Louis, that “Such vacant, listless faces, with laziness written in every line, and ignorance seated upon every feature! Is it for these that the descendants of New England and the thrifty Germans are going forth to battle? If Missouri depended upon the Missourians, there would be little chance for her safety, and, indeed, not very much to save.”  Later he observes of some local farmers that “The Union men of Missouri are quite willing to have you fight for them, but their patriotism does not go farther than this.” These statements might be amusing if one didn’t know that such biases by many Union troops would lead to bitter fruit in the guerrilla war ahead.

Also, there can be no doubt of the author’s opinion of General Fremont. Fremont is depicted as nearly God-like in his attributes and skills in everything he does. To be fair, this is hardly unknown in the history of campaign journals written by junior officers. We have not hesitated to depict Fremont in much less favorable light on the site; we are pleased to have the opportunity to give one of the general’s defenders a chance to tell the story from the other side.

Regardless of the obvious biases of the author, this seems to be an important, detailed primary account by a participant of Fremont’s abortive campaign to catch General Price in the fall of 1861.  It appeared in three parts in the national magazine The Atlantic Monthly (still a going concern), Jan through March, 1862, and gained enough national attention that Frank Blair felt the need to refer to it by name, and rebut it, on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 7, 1862. Blair’s rebuttal can be found here on our site.

The author uses almost 24,000 words to cover just five weeks of campaigning, and when he isn’t lauding the general provides some very interesting details of the first large-scale campaign by a Union army west of the Mississippi (an army six times the size of the one Lyon lead at Wilson’s Creek), the general condition of affairs in Missouri, the slavery issue, and the people of Missouri. His account of the famous “Zagonyi’s Charge” at Springfield is particularly fine, and as the author claims to have been a member of the committee of inquiry following the event, may be presumed to be fairly accurate, if a bit breathless –most historians would not agree that it deserves to be compared to the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, as the author alludes to here. His personal observations of two hundred armed and mounted “contrabands” as part of Jim Lane’s Kansas brigade leads one to suspect that “contraband” is a title of convenience here; an armed and mounted man on campaign with an army is a soldier no matter what you call him. Since under the then-current regs of the Union army he could not be called a “soldier”, the author avoids that label –but “a rose by any other name”.

It is also worth noting that most historians would argue with the author’s conclusion at the end that just another forty-eight hours given to Fremont would have resulted in the climactic battle with Price that the Pathfinder sought. Albert Castel’s General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1968), widely considered the leading history of Price’s Civil War career, asserts that Price was at Pineville, much further southwest of where Fremont thought he was on November 2, 1861.

Interestingly enough, the standard bio of the general’s life, Fremont: Pathmarker of the West, by Allan Nevins, does not appear to use this article as one of its sources. As it is very sympathetic to Fremont, a fine, detailed campaign journal of his major campaign in Missouri, and impactful enough to warrant a public rebuttal from Frank Blair, this is more than passingly strange. It is unclear if Nevins was unaware of this article or just did not find it interesting enough to use for his book.

We found this article on the excellent (and free) Making of America site of Cornell University, that includes many journals from this period besides The Atlantic Monthly. We will be publishing it in three parts, just as it appeared in the magazine.


goto Part II

goto Part III

I.

THE narrative we propose to give of events in Missouri is not intended to be a defence of General Fremont, nor in any respect an answer to the charges which have been made against him. Our purpose is the more humble one of presenting a hasty sketch of the expedition to Springfield, confining ourselves almost entirely to the incidents which came under the observation of an officer of the General’s staff.

General Fremont was in command of the Western Department precisely One Hundred Days. He assumed the command at the time when the army with which Lyon had captured Camp Jackson and won the Battle of Booneville was on the point of dissolution. The enemy, knowing that the term for which our soldiers had been enlisted was near its close, began offensive movements along their whole line. Cairo, Bird’s Point, Ironton, and Springfield were simultaneously threatened. Jeff Thompson wrote to his friends in St. Louis, promising to be in that city in a month. The sad, but glorious day upon Wilson’s Creek defeated the Rebel designs, and compelled McCulloch, Pillow, Hardee, and Thompson to retire.

Relieved from immediate danger, General Fremont found an opportunity to organize the expedition down the Mississippi. Won by the magic of his name and the ceaseless energy of his action, the hardy youth of the Northwest flocked into St. Louis, eager to share his labors and his glory. There was little time for organization and discipline. They were armed with such weapons as could be procured against the competition of the General Government, and at once forwarded to the exposed points. History can furnish few parallels to the hasty levy and organization of the Army of the West. When suddenly required to defend Washington, the Government was able to summon the equipped and disciplined militia of the East, and could call upon the inexhaustible resources of a wealthy and skilful people. But in the West there was neither a disciplined militia nor trained mechanics. Men, indeed, brave, earnest, patriotic men, were plenty, —men who appreciated the magnitude and importance of the task before them, and who were confident of their ability to accomplish it. But to introduce order into their tumultuous ranks, to place arms in their eager hands, to clothe and feed them, to provide them with transportation and equipage for the march, and inspire them with confidence for the siege and the battle, —this labor the General, almost unaided, was called upon to perform. Like all the rest of our generals, he was without experience in military affairs of such magnitude and urgency, and he was compelled to rely chiefly upon the assistance of men entirely without military training and knowledge. The general staff and the division and brigade staffs were, from the necessity of the case, made up mainly of civilians. A small number of foreign officers brought to his aid their learning and experience, and a still smaller number of West Point officers gave him their invaluable assistance. In spite of all difficulties the work proceeded. In six weeks the strategic positions were placed in a state of defence, and an army of sixty thousand men, with a greater than common proportion of cavalry and artillery, stood ready to clear Missouri of the invader and to open the valley of the Mississippi. At this time the sudden appearance of Price in the West, and the fall of Lexington, compelled the General to take the field. We will now confine ourselves to the narrative of the incidents of the march to Springfield, as it is given in the journal which has been placed in our hands.

FROM ST. LOUIS TO WARSAW.

St. Louis, September 27th, 1861. For four days the headquarters have been ready to take the field at an hour’s notice. The baggage has been packed, the wagons loaded, horses have stood saddled all through the day, and the officers have been sitting at their desks, booted and spurred, awaiting the order for their departure. It is not unlikely that the suspense in which they are held and the constant condition of readiness which is required of them are a sort of preliminary discipline to which the General is subjecting them. Yesterday the bodyguard left by the river, and the staff-horses went upon the same steamer, so that we cannot be detained much longer.

Jefferson City, September 28th. Yesterday, at eleven o’clock, we were informed that the General would leave for Jefferson City at noon; and that those members of the staff who were not ready would be left behind, and their places filled in the field. At the appointed hour we were all gathered at the depot. The General drove down entirely unattended. Most of the train was occupied by a battalion of sharp-shooters, but in the rear car the General and his staff found seats. The day was cloudy and damp; there was no one to say farewell; and as the train passed through the cold hills, a feeling of gloom seemed to pervade the company. Nature was in harmony with the clouded fortunes of our General, and the laboring locomotive dragged us at a snail’s pace, as if it were unwilling to assist us in our adventure.

Those who were strangers in the West looked out eagerly for the Missouri, hoping to find the valley of the river rich in scenery which would relieve the tedium of the journey. But when we came out upon the river-bank and looked at the dull shores, and the sandy bed, which the scant stream does not cover, but through which it creeps, treacherous and slimy, in half a dozen channels, there was no pleasure to the eye, no relief for the spirit. Late in the afternoon we approached a little village, and were greeted with music and hearty cheers, —the first sign of hospitality the day had furnished. It was the German settlement of Hermann, famous for good cheer and good wines. The Home-Guard was drawn up at the station, files of soldiers kept the passage clear to the dining-room, and through an avenue of muskets, and amidst the shouts of an enthusiastic little crowd, the General passed into a room decorated with flowers, through the centre of which was stretched a table groaning under the weight of delicious fruits and smoking viands. With little ceremony the hungry company seated themselves, and vigorously assailed the tempting array, quite unconscious of the curious glances of a motley assemblage of men, women, and children who assisted at the entertainment. The day had been dark, the journey dull, and the people we had seen silent and sullen but here was a welcome, the hearty, generous welcome of sympathizing friends, who saw in their guests the defenders of their homes. They were Germans, and our language came broken from their lips. But they are Germans who fill the ranks of our regiments. Look where you will, and the sturdy Teuton meets your eye. If Missouri shall be preserved for the Union and civilization, it will be by the valor of men who learned their lessons of American liberty and glory upon the banks of the Rhine and the Elbe. We think of this at Hermann, and we pledge our German hosts and our German fellow-soldiers in strong draughts of delicious Catawba, — not such Catawba as is sent forth from the slovenly manufactories of Cincinnati, for the careful vintners of Hermann select the choice grapes, and in the quiet cellars of Hermann the Catawba has time to grow old and to ripen.

We at length extricate ourselves from the maze of corn-cakes and pancakes, waffles and muffins and pies without number, with which our kind friends of Hermann tempt and tantalize our satiated palates, and once more set forth after the wheezing, reluctant locomotive, over the rough road, through the dreary hills, along the bank of the treacherous river.

At ten o’clock, in ten weary hours, we have accomplished one hundred and twenty miles, and have reached Jefferson City. The train backs and starts ahead, halts and backs and jerks, and finally, with a long sigh of relief, the locomotive stops, and a gentleman in citizen’s dress enters the car, carrying a lantern in his hand. It was Brigadier-General Price, commanding at Jefferson City. He took possession of the General, and, with us closely following, left the car. But leaving the train was a somewhat more difficult matter. We went alongside the train, over the train, under the train, but still those cars seemed to surround us like a corral. We at length outflanked the train, but still failed to extricate ourselves from the labyrinth. Informed, or rather deluded, by the “lantern dimly burning,” we floundered into ditches and scrambled out of them, we waded mud-puddles and stumbled over boulders, until finally the ever-present train disappeared in the darkness, we rushed up a steep hill, heard the welcome sound as our feet touched a brick walk, and, after turning two or three corners, found ourselves in the narrow hall of the “principal hotel.” We were tired and disgusted, and no one stood upon the order of his going, but went at once to sleep upon whatever floor, table, or bed offered itself.

This morning we are pleased to hear that the General has resolved to go into camp. Of course the best houses in the place are at our disposal, but it is wisely thought that our soldier life will not begin until we are fairly under canvas.

All day we have had an exhibition of a Missouri crowd. The sidewalk has been fringed with curious gazers waiting to catch a glimpse of the General. Foote, the comedian, said, that, until he landed on the quays at Dublin, he never knew what the London beggars did with their old clothes. One should go to Missouri to see what the New-York beggars do with their old clothes. But it is not the dress alone. Such vacant, listless faces, with laziness written in every line, and ignorance seated upon every feature! Is it for these that the descendants of New England and the thrifty Germans are going forth to battle? If Missouri depended upon the Missourians, there would be little chance for her safety, and, indeed, not very much to save.

October 4th. We have been in camp since Sunday, the 29th of September. Our tents are pitched upon a broad shelf half-way down a considerable hill. Behind us the hill rises a hundred feet or more, shutting us in from the south; in front, to the north, the hill inclines to a ravine which separates us from other less lofty hills. Our camp is upon open ground, but there is a fine forest to the east and west.

In a few days we have all become very learned in camp-life. We have found out what we want and what we do not want. Fortunately, St. Louis is near at hand, and we send there to provide for our necessities, and also to get rid of our superfluities. The troops have been gathering all the week. There are several regiments in front of us, and batteries of artillery behind us. Go where you will, spread out upon the plain or shining amidst the trees you will see the encampments. Headquarters are busy providing for the transportation and the maintenance of this great force; and as rapidly as the railway can carry them, regiment after regiment is sent west. There is plenty of work for the staff-officers; and yet our life is not without its pleasures. The horses and their riders need training. This getting used to the saddle is no light matter for the civilian spoiled by years of ease and comfort. But the General gives all his officers plenty of horseback discipline. Then there is the broadsword exercise to fill up the idle time. Evening is the festive hour in camp; though I judge, from what I have seen and heard, that our camp has little of the gayety which is commonly associated with the soldier’s life. We are too busy for merrymaking, but in the evening there are pleasant little circles around the fires or in the snug tents. There are old campaigners among us, men who have served in Mexico and Utah, and others whose lives have been passed upon the Plains; they tell us campaign stories, and teach the green hands the slang and the airs of the camp. But the unfailing amusement is the band. This is the special pride of the General, and soon after nightfall the musicians appear upon the little plaza around which the tents are grouped. At the first note the audience gather. The guardsmen come up from their camp on the edge of the ravine, the negro-quarter is deserted, the wagoners flock in from the surrounding forest, the officers stroll out of their tents,—a picturesque crowd stands around the huge camp-fire. The programme is simple and not often varied. It uniformly opens with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and closes with “Home, Sweet Home.” By way of a grand finale, a procession is organized every night, led by some score of negro torch-bearers, which makes the circuit of the camp,—a performance which never fails to produce something of a stampede among the animals.

Last night we had an alarm. About eleven o’clock, when the camp was fairly asleep, some one tried to pass a picket half a mile west of us. The guard fired at the intruder, and in an instant the regimental drums sounded the long roll. We started from our beds, with frantic haste buckled on swords, spurs, and pistols, hurried servants after the horses, and hastened to report for duty to the General. The officer who was first to appear found him standing in front of his tent, himself the first man in camp who was ready for service. Presently a messenger came with information as to the cause of the alarm, and we were dismissed.

At two o’clock in the morning there was another alarm. Again the body-guard bugles sounded and the drums rolled. Again soldiers sprang to their arms, and officers rushed to report to the General, —the first man finding him, as before, leaning upon his sword in front of his tent. But, alas for the reputation of our mess, not one of its number appeared. In complete unconsciousness of danger or duty, we slept on. Colonel S. said he heard “the music, but thought it was a continuation of the evening’s serenade,” and went to sleep again. It was not long before we discovered that the General knew that four members of his staff did not report to him when the long roll was sounded.

There are several encampments on the hill-sides north of us which are in full view from our quarters, and it is not the least of our amusements to watch the regiments going through the after-noon drill. In the soft light of these golden days we see the long blue lines, silver-tipped, wheel and turn, scatter and form, upon the brown hill-sides. Now the slopes are dotted with skirmishers, and puffs of gray smoke rise over the kneeling figures; again a solid wall of bayonets gleams along the crest of the hill, and peals of musketry echo through the woods in the ravines.

Colonel Myscall Johnson, a Methodist exhorter and formidable Rebel marauder, is said to be forty miles south of us with a small force, and some of the Union farmers came into camp to-day asking for protection. Zagonyi, the commander of the body-guard, is anxious to descend upon Johnson and scatter his thieving crew; but it is not probable he will obtain permission. The Union men of Missouri are quite willing to have you fight for them, but their patriotism does not go farther than this. These people represent that three-fourths of the inhabitants of Miller County are loyal. The General probably thinks, if this be true, they ought to be able to take care of Johnson’s men. But a suggestion that they should defend their own homes and families astonishes our Missouri friends. General Lyon established Home-Guards throughout the State, and armed them with several thousand Springfield muskets taken from the arsenal at St. Louis. Most of these muskets are now in Price’s army, and are the most formidable weapons he has. In some instances the Rebels enlisted in the home-Guards and thus controlled the organization, carrying whole companies into Price’s ranks. In other cases bands of Rebels scoured the country, went to the house of every Home-Guard, and took away his musket. In the German settlements alone the Guards still preserve their organization and their arms.

A few days ago it fell to the lot of our mess to entertain a Rebel officer who had come in with a flag of truce. Strange to say, he was a New Yorker, and had a younger brother in one of the Indiana regiments. He was a pleasant and courteous gentleman, albeit his faded dress, with its red-flannel trimmings, did not indicate great prosperity in the enemy’s camp. We gave him the best meal we could command. I apologized because it was no better. He replied, —“Make no apology, Sir. It is the best dinner I have eaten these three months. I have campaigned it a good deal this summer upon three ears of roast corn a day.” He added, —“I never have received a cent of pay. None of us have. We never expect to receive any.” This captain has already seen considerable service. He was at Booneville, Carthage, Wilson’s Creek, and Lexington. His descriptions of these engagements were animated and interesting, his point of view presenting matters in a novel light. He spoke particularly of a gunner stationed at the first piece in Totten’s battery, saying that his energy and coolness made him one of the most conspicuous figures of the day. “Our sharp-shooters did their best, but they failed to bring him down. There he was all day long, doing his duty as if on parade.” He also told us there was no hard fighting at Lexington. “We knew,” said he, “the place was short of water, and so we spared our men, and waited for time to do the work.”

Camp Lovejoy, October 7th. For the last two days the troops have been leaving Jefferson City, and the densely peopled hills are bare. This morning, at seven o’clock, we began to break camp. There was no little trouble and confusion in lowering the tents and packing the wagons. It took us a long time to-day, but we shall soon get accustomed to it, and become able to move more quickly. At noon we left Jefferson City, going due west.

Our little column consists of three companies of the body-guard, numbering about two hundred and fifty men, a battalion of sharp-shooters (infantry) under Major Holman, one hundred and eighty strong, and the staff. The march is in the following order. The first company of the guard act as advance-guard; then comes the General, followed by his staff riding by twos, according to rank; the other two companies of the guard come next. The sharp-shooters accompany and protect the train. Our route lay through a broken and heavily wooded region. The roads were very bad, but the day was bright, and the march was a succession of beautiful pictures, of which the long and brilliant line of horsemen winding through the forest was the chief ornament.

We reached camp at three o’clock. It is a lovely spot, upon a hill-side, with a clear, swift-running brook washing the foot of the hill. Presently the horses are tied along the fences, riders are lounging under the trees, the kitchen-fires are lighted, guardsmen are scattered along the banks of the stream bathing, the wagons roll heavily over the prairie and are drawn up along the edge of the wood, tents are raised, tent-furniture is hastily arranged, and the camp looks as if it had been there a month. Before dark a regiment of infantry and two batteries of artillery come up. The men sleep in the open air without tents, and innumerable fires cover the hill-sides.

We are upon land which is owned by an influential and wealthy citizen, who is an open Secessionist in opinion, though he has had the prudence not to take up arms. By way of a slight punishment, the General has annoyed the old man by naming his farm “Camp Owen Lovejoy,” a name which the Union neighbors will not fail to make perpetual.

California, October 8th. This morning we broke camp at six o’clock and marched at eight. The road was bad, for which the beauty of the scenery did not entirely compensate. To-day’s experience has taught us how completely an army is tied to the wheels of the wagons. Tell a general how fast the train can travel and he will know how long the journey will be. We passed our wagons in a terrible plight: some upset, some with balky mules, some stuck in the mud, and some broken down. The loud-swearing drivers, and the stubborn, patient, hard-pulling mules did not fail to vary and enliven the scene.

A journey of eighteen miles brought us to this place, where we are encamped upon the county fair-ground. California is a mean, thriftless village; there are no trees shading the cottages, no shrubbery in the yards. The place is only two or three years old, but already wears a slovenly air of decay.

I set out with Colonel L. upon a foraging expedition. We passed a small house, in front of which a fat little negro-girl was drawing a bucket of water from the well, the girl puffing and the windlass creaking.

“Will Massa have a drink of water?”

It was the first token of hospitality since Hermann. We stopped and drank from the bucket, but had not been there a minute before the mistress ran out, with suspicion in her face, to protect her property. A single question sufficed to show the politics of that house.

“Where is your husband?”

“He went off a little while ago.”

This was the Missouri way of informing us that he was in the Rebel army.

A little farther on we came to what was evidently the chief house of the place. A bevy of maidens stood at the gate, supported by a pleasant matron, fair and fat.

“Can you sell us some bread?” was our rather practical inquiry.

“We have none baked, but will bake you some by sundown,” was the answer, given in a hearty, generous voice.

The bargain was soon made. Our portly dame proved to be a Virginian, who still cherished a true Virginian love for the Union.

Tipton, October 9th. The General was in the saddle very early, and left camp before the staff was ready. I was fortunate enough to be on hand, and indulged in some excusable banter when the tardy members of our company rode up after we were a mile or two on the way. We have marched twelve miles to-day through a lovely country. We have left the hills and stony roads behind us, and now we pass over beautiful little prairies, bordered by forests blazing with the crimson and gold of autumn. The day’s ride has been delightful, the atmosphere soft and warm, the sky cloudless, and the prairie firm and hard under our horses’ feet. We passed several regiments on the road, who received the General with unbounded enthusiasm; and when we entered Tipton, we found the country covered with tents, and alive with men and horses. Amidst the cheers of the troops, we passed through the camps, and settled down upon a fine prairie-farm a mile to the southwest of Tipton. The divisions of Asboth and Hunter are here, not less than twelve thousand men, and from this point our course is to be south-ward.

Camp Asboth, near Tipton, October 11th. For the last twenty-four hours it has rained violently, and the prairie upon which we are encamped is a sea of black mud. But the tents are tight, and inside we contrive to keep comparatively warm.

The camp is filled with speculations as to our future course. Shall we follow Price, who is crossing the Osage now, or are we to garrison the important positions upon this line and return to St. Louis and prepare for the expedition down the river? The General is silent, his reserve is never broken, and no one knows what his plans are, except those whose business it is to know. I will here record the plan of the campaign.

Our campaign has been in some measure decided by the movements of the Rebels. The sudden appearance of Price in the West, gathering to his standard many thousands of the disaffected, has made it necessary for the General to check his bold and successful progress. Carthage, Wilson’s Creek, and Lexington have given to Price a prestige which it is essential to destroy. The gun-boats cannot be finished for two months or more, and we cannot go down the Mississippi until the flotilla is ready; and from the character of the country upon each side of the river it will he difficult to operate there with a large body of men. In Southwestern Missouri we are sure of fine weather till the last of November, the prairies are high and dry, and there are no natural obstacles except such as it will excite the enthusiasm of the troops to overcome. Therefore the General has determined to pursue Price until he catches him. He can march faster than we can now, but we shall soon be able to move faster than it is possible for him to do. The Rebels have no base of operations from which to draw supplies; they depend entirely upon foraging; and for this reason Price has to make long halts wherever he finds mills, and grind the flour. He is so deficient in equipage, also, that it will be impossible for him to carry his troops over great distances. But we can safely calculate that Price and Rains will not leave the State; their followers are enlisted for six months, and are already becoming discontented at their continued retreat, and will not go with them beyond the borders. This is the uniform testimony of deserters and scouts. Price disposed of, either by a defeat or by the dispersal of his army, we are to proceed to Bird’s Point, or into Arkansas, according to circumstances. A blow at Little Rock seems now the wisest, as it is the boldest plan. We can reach that place by the middle of November; and if we obtain possession of it, the position of the enemy upon the Mississippi will be completely turned. The communications of Pillow, Hardee, and Thompson, who draw their supplies through Arkansas, will be cut off, they will be compelled to retreat, and our flotilla and the reinforcements can descend the river to assist in the operations against Memphis and the attack upon New Orleans.

This campaign may be difficult, the army will have to encounter hardships and perils, but, unless defeated in the field, the enterprise will be successful. No hardships or perils can daunt the spirit of the General, or arrest the march of the enthusiastic army his genius has created.

Our column is composed of five divisions, under Generals Hunter, Pope, Sigel, McKinstry, and Asboth, and numbers about thirty thousand men, including over five thousand cavalry and eighty-six pieces of artillery, a large proportion of which are rifled. The infantry is generally well, though not uniformly armed. But the cavalry is very badly armed. Colonel Carr’s regiment has no sabres, except for the commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The men carry Hall’s carbines and revolvers. Major Waring’s fine corps, the Fremont Hussars, is also deficient in sabres, and some of the companies are provided with lances,—formidable weapons in skilful hands, but only an embarrassment to our raw troops.

Lane and Sturgis are to come from Kansas and join us on the Osage, and Wyman is to bring his command from Rolla and meet us south of that river.

Paducah, Cairo, Bird’s Point, Cape Girardeau, and Ironton are well protected against attack, and the commanders at those posts are ordered to engage the enemy as soon as we catch Price; and if the Rebels retreat, they are to pursue them. Thus our expedition is part of a combined and extended movement, and, instead of having no purpose except the defeat of Price, we are on the road to New Orleans.

Next Monday we are to start. Asboth will go from here, Hunter by way of Versailles, McKinstry from Syracuse, Pope from his present position in the direction of Booneville, and Sigel from Sedalia. We are to cross the Osage at Warsaw; and as Sigel has the shortest distance to march, he is expected to reach that town first.

Precious time has already been lost because of a lack of transportation and supplies. Foraging parties have been scouring the country, and large numbers of wagons, horses, and mules have been brought in. This property is all appraised, and when taken from Union men it is paid for. In doubtful cases a certificate is given to the owner, which recites that he is to be paid in case he shall continue to be loyal to the Government. We thus obtain a hold upon these people which an oath of allegiance every day would not give us.

Camp Asboth, October 13th. Mr. Cameron, Senator Chandler of Michigan, and Adjutant-General Thomas arrived at an early hour this morning; and at eight o’clock, the General, attended by his staff and body-guard, repaired to the Secretary’s quarters. After a short stay there, the whole party, except General Thomas, set out for Syracuse to review the division of General McKinstry. The day was fine, and we proceeded at a hand gallop until we reached a prairie some three or four miles wide. Here the Secretary set spurs to his horse, and we tore across the plain as fast as our animals could be driven. Passing from the open plain into a forest, the whole cortege dashed over a very rough road with but little slackening of our pace; nor did we draw rein until we reached Syracuse. A few moments were passed in the interchange of the usual civilities, and we then went a mile farther on, to a large prairie upon which the division was drawn up. McKinstry has the flower of the army. He has in his ranks some regular infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and among his subordinate officers are Totten, Steele, Kelton, and Stanley, all distinguished in the regular service. There was no time for the observance of the usual forms of’ a review. The Secretary passed in front and behind the lines, made a short address, and left immediately by rail for St. Louis, stopping at Tipton to review Asboth’s division. The staff and guard rode slowly back to camp, both men and animals having had quite enough of the day’s work. It is said, that Adjutant-General Thomas has expressed the opinion that we shall not be able to move from here, because we have no transportation. As we are ordered to march to-morrow, the prediction will soon be tested.

Camp Zagonyi, October 14th. We were in the saddle this morning at nine o’clock. A short march of eleven miles, in a south-westerly direction, and through a prairie country, brought us to our camp. As we came upon the summit of a hill which lies to the west of our present position, our attention was directed to a group standing in front of a house about a mile distant. We had hardly caught sight of them when half a dozen men and three women mounted their horses and started at full speed towards the northeast, each man leading a horse. The General ordered some of the body-guard to pursue and try to stop the fugitives. We eagerly watched the chase. A narrow valley separated us from the elevation upon which the farm-house stood, and a small stream with low banks ran through the bottom of the valley. The pursuit was active, the guardsmen ran their horses down the slope, leaped the pool, and rushed up the opposite hill but the runaways were on fresh horses, and had no rough ground to pass, and so they escaped. One of them lost the horse he was leading, and it was caught by a guardsman. This was the first exhibition we have seen of a desire on the part of the inhabitants to avoid us.

The General established headquarters alongside the house where we first discovered the Rebel party. Our position is the most beautiful one we have yet found. To the west stretches an undulating prairie, separated from us by a valley, into which our camping-ground subsides with a mild declivity; to the north is a range of low hills, their round sides unbroken by shrub or tree while to the south stretches an extensive tract of low land, densely covered with timber, and resplendent with the colors of autumn.       

Before dark the whole of Asboth’s division came up and encamped on the slopes to the west and north: not less than seven thousand men are here. This evening the scene is beautiful. I sit in the door of my lodge, and as far as the eye can reach the prairie is dotted with tents, the dark forms of men and horses, the huge white-topped wagons,—and a thousand fires gleam through the faint moonlight. Our band is playing near the General’s quarters, its strains are echoed by a score of regimental bands, and their music is mingled with the numberless noises of camp, the hum of voices, the laughter from the groups around the fires, the clatter of hoofs as some rider hurries to the General, the distant challenges of the sentries, the neighing of horses, the hoarse bellowing of the mules, and the clinking of the cavalry anvils. This, at last, is the romance of war. How soon will our ears be saluted by sterner music?

Camp Hudson, October 15th. We moved at seven o’clock this morning. For the first four miles the road ran through woods intersected by small streams. The ground was as rough as it could well be, and the teams which had started before us were struggling through the mire and over the rocks. We dashed past them at a fast trot, and in half an hour came upon a high prairie. The prairies of Southern Missouri are not large and flat, like the monotonous levels of Central Illinois, but they are rolling, usually small, and broken by frequent narrow belts of timber. In the woods there are hills, rocky soil, and always one, often two streams, clear and rapid as a mountain-brook in New England.

The scenery to-day was particularly attractive, a constant succession of prairies surrounded by wooded hills. As we go south, the color of the forest becomes richer, and the atmosphere more mellow and hazy.

During the first two hours we passed several regiments of foot. The men were nearly all Germans, and I scanned the ranks carefully, longing to see an American countenance. I found none, but caught sight of one arch-devil-may-care Irish face. I doubt whether there is a company in the army without an Irishman in it, though the proportion of Irishmen in our ranks is not so great as at the East.

Early in the afternoon we rode up to a farm-house, at the gate of which a middle-aged woman was standing, crying bitterly. The General stopped, and the woman at once assailed him vehemently. She told him the soldiers had that day taken her husband and his team away with them. She said that there was no one left to take care of her old blind mother, —at which allusion, the blind mother tottered down the walk and took a position in the rear of the attacking party, — that they had two orphan girls, the children of a deceased sister, and the orphans had lost their second father. The assailants were here reinforced by the two orphan girls. She protested that her husband was loyal, —“Truly, Sir, he was a Union man and voted for the Union, and always told his neighbors Disunion would do nothing except bring trouble upon innocent people, as indeed it has,” said she, with a fresh flood of tears. The General was moved by her distress, and ordered Colonel E. to have the man, whose name is Rutherford, sent hack at once.

A few rods farther on we came to another house, in front of which was another weeping woman afflicted in the same way. Several little flaxen-haired children surrounded her, and a white-bearded man, trembling with age, stood behind, leaning upon a staff. Her earnestness far surpassed that of Mrs. Rutherford. She wrung her hands, and could hardly speak for her tears. She seized the General’s hand and entreated him to return her husband, with an expression of distress which the hardest heart could not resist. The General comforted the poor woman with a few kind words, and promised to grant what she asked.

It is very difficult to refuse such requests, and yet, in point of fact, no great hardship or sacrifice is required of these men. They profess to he Union men, but they are not in arms for the Union, and a Federal general now asks of them that they shall help the army for a day with their teams. To those who come here from all parts of the nation to defend these homes this does not appear to be a harsh demand.

We arrived at camp about five o’clock. Our day’s march was twenty-two miles, and the wagons were far behind. A neighboring farm-house afforded the General and a few of his officers a dinner, but it was late in the evening before the tents were pitched.

Warsaw, October 17th. Yesterday we made our longest march, making twenty-five miles, and encamped three miles north of this place.

It is a problem, why riding in a column should be so much more wearisome than riding alone, but so it undeniably is. Men who would think little of a sixty-mile ride were quite broken down by to-day’s march.

As soon as we reached camp, the General asked for volunteers from the staff to ride over to Warsaw: of course the whole staff volunteered. On the way we met General Sigel. This very able and enterprising officer is a pleasant, scholarly-looking gentleman, his studious air being increased by the spectacles he always wears. His figure is light, active, and graceful, and he is an excellent horseman. The country has few better heads than his. Always on the alert, he is full of resources, and no difficulties daunt him. Hunter, Pope, and McKinstry are behind, waiting for tea and coffee, beans and flour, and army-wagons. Sigel gathered the ox-team and the farmers’ wagons and brought his division forward with no food for his men but fresh beef. His advance-guard is already across the Osage, and in a day or two his whole division will be over.

Guided by General Sigel, we rode down to the ford across the Osage. The river here is broad and rapid, and its banks are immense bare cliffs rising one hundred feet perpendicularly from the water’s edge. The ford is crooked, uncertain, and never practicable except for horsemen. The ferry is an old flat-boat drawn across by a rope, and the ascent up the farther bank is steep and rocky. It will not answer to leave in our rear this river, liable to be changed by a night’s rain into a fierce torrent, with no other means of crossing it than the rickety ferry. A bridge must at once be built, strong and firm, a safe road for the army in case of disaster. So decides the General. And as we look upon the swift-running river and its rocky shores, cold and gloomy in the twilight, every one agrees that the General is right. His decision has since been strongly supported, for to-day two soldiers of the Fremont Hussars were drowned in trying to cross the ford, and the water is now rising rapidly.

This morning we moved into Warsaw, and for the first time the staff is billeted in the Secession houses of the town; but the General clings to his tent. Our mess is quartered in the house of the county judge, who says his sympathies are with the South. But the poor man is so frightened, that we pity and protect him.

Bridge-building is now the sole purpose of the army. There is no saw-mill here, nor any lumber. The forest must be cut down and fashioned into a bridge, as well as the tools and the skill at command will permit. Details are already told off from the sharp-shooters, the cadets, and even the body-guard, and the banks of the river now resound with the quick blows of their axes.

Warsaw, October 21st. Four days we have been waiting for the building of the bridge. By night and by day the work goes on, and now the long black shape is striding slowly across the stream. In a few hours it will have gained the opposite bank, and then, Ho, for Springfield!

Our scouts have come in frequently the last few days. They tell us Price is at Stockton, and is pushing rapidly on towards the southwest. He has been grinding corn near Stockton, and has now food enough for another journey. His army numbers twenty thousand men, of whom five thousand have no arms. The rest carry everything, from double-barrelled shotguns to the Springfield muskets taken from the Home-Guards. They load their shot-guns with a Minie-ball and two buck-shot, and those who have had experience say that at one hundred yards they are very effective weapons. There is little discipline in the Rebel army, and the only organization is by companies. The men are badly clothed, and without shoes, and often without food. The deserters say that those who remain are waiting only to get the new clothes which McCulloch is expected to bring from the South.

McCulloch, the redoubtable Ben, does not seem to be held in high esteem by the Rebel soldiers. They say he lacks judgment and self-command. But all speak well of Price. No one can doubt that he is a man of unusual energy and ability. McCulloch will increase Price’s force to about thirty-five thousand, which number we must expect to meet.

Hunter and McKinstry have not yet appeared, but Pope reported himself last night, and some of his men came in to-day.

Camp White, October 22d. The bridge is built, and the army is now crossing the Osage. In five days a firm road has been thrown across the river, over which our troops may pass in a day. The General and staff crossed by the ferry, and are now encamped two miles south of the Pomme-de-Terre.

A New View of the Battle of Pea Ridge by Albert Castel

©Albert Castel, published with permission

“A NEW VIEW OF THE BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE”

by Albert Castel

Copyright 1968 Albert Castel. Used with Permission.

This is copyrighted material–the article, the pictures, and the introduction–and may not be copied or reproduced in any form, including on other websites, without permission of the authors.
Books by Albert Castel

available from Amazon.com

Articles of War: Winners, Losers, and Some Who Were Both During the Civil War

Tom Taylor’s Civil War

General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West

Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla

William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times

Decision in the West

More books by Albert Castel

Introduced by G. E. Rule

Albert Castel, over a published career that is approaching fifty years, has proven himself to be the leading historian of the Civil War in the West. With titles like General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1968), William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times (1962), and Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla (with Thomas Goodrich, 1998), none of those who are serious about studying the war in Missouri can consider themselves well-read on the subject if they have not read Castel. His other titles on the war in the West will also be read for many years to come, and his Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (1992) is an award-winning title that is likely to remain the definitive statement on what was arguably the most important campaign of the war. Dr. Castel’s most recent title, Articles of War: Winners, Losers, and Some Who Were Both in the Civil War, Stackpole Books, 2001, is available from Amazon.com.

“A New View of the Battle of Pea Ridge” originally appeared in the Missouri Historical Review 62/2 (State Historical Society of Missouri, January 1968). While this article offers a solid accounting of the battle itself, where it strikes hardest at the accepted conventional wisdom is in its analysis of the aftermath. Many participants and historians have anointed Pea Ridge as the defining moment of the war in the Trans-Mississippi. Castel disagrees, and makes a solid case that larger forces both before and after this battle determined the course of events in Missouri and Arkansas. One could speculate that the morale boost of a Southern victory at Elkhorn Tavern might have changed the calculus of the Confederate high command that Castel points at as one of his key arguments. Possibly. Given the urgent demands elsewhere, however, it could just as easily been used as an excuse to strip a suddenly “secured” Arkansas –where there is a will to find a reason to do what they want to do, political leaders will usually find it.



Because it was important, dramatic, and one of the few major engagements of the Civil War west of the Mississippi, the Battle of Pea Ridge (otherwise known as Elkhorn Tavern) has been described numerous times, both in general works and special articles.[1] Thus to offer yet another account of it would at first glance seem superfluous, even presumptuous. The only valid scholarly excuse for doing so is the presentation of new facts and fresh interpretations.

Active military operations in the Trans-Mississippi began in June, 1861, when Union forces under General Nathaniel Lyon occupied northern and central Missouri and drove the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard commanded by Major General Sterling Price into the southwest corner of the State. Two months later Price, in conjunction with a Confederate army under Brigadier General Ben McCulloch, defeated and killed Lyon at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek near Springfield. Following this success, Price marched to the Missouri River, hoping to spark a popular uprising against Federal rule. He besieged and captured a Union garrison at Lexington, but soon had to retreat again to southern Missouri in the face of a much superior force under Major General John C. Fremont. Fremont pursued Price almost to the Arkansas border and was set to engage him in battle when relieved of command by Lincoln, who ordered his successor to withdraw to central Missouri. Price, thereupon, marched northward once more, then fell back to Springfield where he went into winter quarters. Early in February a Federal army of 12,000, commanded by Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis, advanced on Springfield with the object of driving Price out of Missouri and occupying northwest Arkansas. Too weak to stand, Price evacuated Springfield on February 12, and fled into Arkansas, followed closely by Curtis.

The top Confederate commander in the Trans-Mississippi was Major General Earl Van Dorn. Forty-one, a Mississippian, and a West Pointer, he was brave, determined, and enterprising, but tended to be overambitious in his plans and unlucky in their execution. On assuming his command he had been instructed by General Albert Sidney Johnston, head of all Confederate armies west of the Appalachians, to invade Missouri as a means of relieving Union pressure in Kentucky and Tennessee. He was at Pocahontas, Arkansas, preparing for a movement against St. Louis when, on February 22, news reached him that Curtis had pushed Price out of Missouri. He at once sent orders to McCulloch, whose army was at Fort Smith, and to Brigadier General Albert Pike, commanding Confederate forces in the Indian Territory, to join Price. Then, accompanied by a small staff, he set out on horseback to take personal charge of operations. He was confident that he would defeat Curtis, after which he would “push on” into Missouri.[2]

Meanwhile Price continued to retreat until he reached Cove Creek, where he linked up with McCulloch. Curtis, on orders from Major General Henry W. Halleck, Union commander in the West, halted his pursuit at Fayetteville. On the night of March 1, Van Dorn arrived at Price’s headquarters after an arduous journey during which he had become stricken with chills and fever as a result of falling into an icy stream. The next day he took command of “The Army of the West,” as he dubbed the combined forces of McCulloch and Price.

To Van Dorn the Union invasion of Arkansas represented an opportunity rather than a danger. Curtis had moved far from his base into thinly populated, mountainous country, and in order to obtain food and forage had dispersed his forces widely. If he could be attacked before he regrouped, he would not merely be defeated but destroyed, and the way opened to St. Louis. Accordingly Van Dorn’s first order to the Army of the West was to prepare three days rations and make ready to march.[3]

On March 4, the Confederates traveled northward on the Telegraph Road, the main highway of the region, connecting Fort Smith, Van Buren, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and Springfield. At Elm Springs, on the afternoon of the following day, they were joined by Pike’s Indian Brigade. This brought Van Dorn’s total strength to about 16,000 men, supported by 60 cannons. Nearly 7,000 of this number consisted of Price’s Missourians, organized into two regular Confederate brigades and several so-called divisions of State Guards. The brigades were commanded by Colonel Henry Little and Brigadier General W. Y. Slack and were the best drilled and equipped of Price’s units. The State Guard contingents, on the other hand, were indifferently armed and poorly disciplined, but like most of the Missourians they had acquired some battle experience.[4] Price himself was a man of magnificent physical presence and outstanding courage whose soldiers affectionately called him “Ol’ Pap.” Despite his victories he possessed at most only mediocre military ability, but was shrewd and cool in combat.

McCulloch’s division contained slightly over 8,000 Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas troops organized into an infantry brigade under Colonel Louis Hebert and a cavalry brigade under Brigadier General James McIntosh. McCulloch was a professional soldier who had gained fame as leader of the Texas Rangers in the Mexican War, and he shared with Price the honors of Wilson’s Creek. Unfortunately, however, he and Price had quarreled over the conduct of operations in Missouri and were barely on speaking terms.

The Indian Brigade, 1,000 strong, was attached to McCulloch’s division. Aside from a squadron of Texas cavalry it consisted of semi-civilized Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles, their faces daubed with warpaint. The Indians totally lacked discipline, and were in large part armed only with tomahawks and warclubs. Their commander, long-haired and bewhiskered Pike, was a prominent Arkansas politician and an accomplished poet, but by no stretch of the imagination a soldier.[5]

In the meantime Curtis had retired to Bentonville and then, after learning of Van Dorn’s advance, to the north bank of Sugar Creek, an excellent defensive position at the southern base of Pea Ridge Mountain near the now extinct hamlet of Leetown. Here he began concentrating his scattered units behind a line of log and dirt breastworks running across the Telegraph Road, up which he expected the Confederates to deliver their attack. He chose to stand on the defensive, as his army had been reduced by the attrition of campaigning to less than 10,500 effectives and he believed that Van Dorn greatly outnumbered him. However the Federals possessed a large, well-served artillery train and the infantry—mainly Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri Unionist troops—were better drilled and equipped than the majority of the Southern foot soldiers. As a general, Curtis was slow and unimaginative, but at the same time steady and tenacious. His army was organized into four divisions of two brigades each, commanded by Brigadier General Alexander Asboth, Colonel Eugene A. Carr, Colonel Jefferson C. Davis, and Colonel Peter J. Osterhaus. Two of these divisions, Asboth’s and Osterhaus’, were under Brigadier General Franz Sigel, who was second-in-command to Curtis.[6]

Sigel’s two divisions still lingered at Bentonville on March 5. Informed of this by scouts, Van Dorn pushed forward on the morning of March 6 with the intention of gobbling them up before they fell back to Sugar Creek. But, according to his own report, the Confederate troops “marched so very slowly” and their officers handled them so ineptly that the attempt failed.[7] On the other hand one of the Missouri soldiers recalled doing the last ten miles to Bentonville “at double quick,”[8] and Sigel declared that he was never in any danger of being cut off, having received ample warning of Van Dorn’s approach.[9] In any case, as the Confederates entered Bentonville from the south, Sigel’s rear guard left it on the north. McIntosh’s cavalry pursued vigorously, but Sigel (who specialized in retreating) made good his escape with little difficulty. Dusk found the Army of the West strung out along the road between Bentonville and Sugar Creek. On the other side of that stream the Union forces waited tensely but confidently for the Confederates to attack on the morrow.[10]

Van Dorn had failed to catch Curtis’ army in a dispersed condition. Moreover his troops were tired, hungry, and cold, and he himself suffering so severely from his illness that he was obliged to ride in an ambulance. Nevertheless he remained determined to strike the invaders a crushing blow. Indeed, the only alternative to battle was ignominious retreat.

Late in the afternoon he conferred with Price, McCulloch, and McIntosh. Price favored attacking Curtis from the south and west on his right flank, driving him from his position and finishing him off with cavalry as he retreated into Missouri.[11] McCulloch and McIntosh, on the other hand, proposed a much more ambitious plan: Swinging the army around Curtis’ right flank by way of the Bentonville Detour, a rough dirt trail which branched off from the Telegraph Road to the west then rejoined it northeast of Pea Ridge about two miles above the Elkhorn Tavern—a distance in all of some eight miles. In this fashion the Confederates would not only be able to surprise Curtis and attack him from the rear, but would cut his line of retreat to the north and force him to fight under circumstances in which defeat meant destruction. Van Dorn adopted this second plan, which, if successful, would be a maneuver worthy of Napoleon.[12]

The Confederates masked their flanking march by throwing out pickets, lighting camp fires, and pretending to bivouac for the night south of Sugar Creek. Then, as soon as it was dark, they reformed in line of march and moved off on the Bentonville Detour. Price’s division, accompanied by Van Dorn, took the lead, followed by McCulloch and Pike. Five hundred of McCulloch’s troops and 1,500 Missouri State Guards, all under Brigadier General Martin Green, remained behind to protect the wagon train. Consequently Van Dorn took with him approximately 14,000 men.

Van Dorn calculated that Price’s division would reach the Telegraph Road by sunrise—certainly it should not take more than eight hours to march eight miles, even at night. But Curtis had foreseen the possibility of an enemy turning movement along the Bentonville detour and had ordered it obstructed with fallen trees. The necessity of removing these obstructions greatly slowed the Confederate march. In addition, Van Dorn had neglected to make any provision for crossing Sugar Creek, with the result that his soldiers had to pass over a hastily constructed bridge of rails and poles, causing further delay. Thus it was that when the sun began to rise Price was still several miles from the Telegraph Road, and McCulloch and Pike had not even gotten all their troops across Sugar Creek.[13]

Curtis, meanwhile, was deceived by the Confederate campfires into believing that Van Dorn would oblige him with a frontal assault. Also, despite his precaution against a flanking movement, he failed to station pickets on the Bentonville detour. Consequently not until about 8 A.M. did he discover that the Confederates had given him the slip and were in the act of turning his right flank. But fortunately for him, Price did not reach the Telegraph Road until nearly 10 A.M., thus giving him ample time in which to redeploy his forces. Three of the Union divisions—Asboth’s, Osterhaus’, and Davis’—formed a line west and north of Leetown facing the Bentonville detour, and the fourth division, Carr’s, moved up the Telegraph Road to the Elkhorn Tavern.[14] These dispositions meant that Pea Ridge would be a battle in which the Southerners attacked from the north and the Northerners from the south—an untypical yet not unique situation in the Civil War.

Van Dorn had intended to strike down the Telegraph Road with his entire army. But when McCulloch saw that it would take several more hours to get his division into position he obtained permission from Van Dorn to turn off the Bentonville detour and attack west of Pea Ridge.[15] As a consequence the Confederates went into battle in two widely separated wings which, because of the intervening bulk of Pea Ridge, were unable to see each other or communicate readily. The right wing, under McCulloch, advanced against what was now Curtis’ left (Osterhaus, Davis, and Asboth). The other wing, headed by Price, marched down the Telegraph Road through a deep valley until it came in view of the Union right (Carr) stationed on a plateau north of the Elkhorn Tavern.

As the Missourians advanced, Van Dorn told Price that McCulloch would attack on the other side of Pea Ridge. Price, surprised and disturbed, declared that this would enable the enemy to concentrate against each wing separately. Van Dorn replied that Price was right, but that it was now too late to do anything about it.[16]

Price deployed his troops, which totaled about 5,500, with eight batteries of light artillery, into the line of battle. Slack’s and Little’s brigades moved to the right and two State Guard divisions under Brigadier Generals James R. Rains and Daniel M. Frost debouched to the left. All moved forward and occupied some heights on either side of the road, gaining thereby commanding positions from which to assault the Union line. Price enjoyed a two-to-one superiority in numbers over Carr, and his soldiers drove forward vigorously, slowly pushing the stubborn Northern infantry back. Little’s brigade spearheaded the attack, while Colonel Grenville M. Dodge’s Iowans were the mainstay of the defense. Slack fell mortally wounded and Price suffered painful flesh wounds but remained on the field. In a final charge just before sundown Little’s brigade drove the Federals beyond Elkhorn Tavern and seized two cannons.[17]

At this juncture, according to the testimony of Colonel Dabney H. Maury, Van Dorn’s chief of staff, the Union forces fled in disorganized rout, but Price “stopped the pursuit and ordered his troops to fall back to take up a position for the night,” thus throwing away a golden opportunity to crush the Union right and win the battle.[18] Maury was in a position to know whereof he wrote, and Union sources admit that Carr’s ranks were wavering. But Price did not suspend the battle until darkness fell; Carr by then had been reinforced by Asboth’s division, and other Federal units were within supporting distance. Hence if Price had continued to attack, chances are he would not have achieved anything decisive, and he might well have suffered a bloody repulse. As it was his weary but exultant Missourians felt that they had done a good day’s work, and they were confident of completing their victory in the morning.

Unknown to them, however, the right wing had met with disaster. McCulloch encountered Osterhaus’ division in some open fields north of Leetown. Apparently hoping to catch the Federals off balance, he attacked at once, throwing in his regiments one by one as they came up. The Indians, in a wild rush, captured a Union battery and caused some of Osterhaus’ advance units to flee in confusion. However the Indians stopped fighting and began plundering and—at least in a few instances—scalping the enemy dead. Suddenly they came under artillery fire. Panic-stricken, they scurried into the woods, from which they refused to budge. Concurrently the white troops, although putting great pressure on Osterhaus, never attacked with sufficient strength and coordination to gain a decision.

Early in the afternoon Davis’ division reinforced Osterhaus. Soon the Confederates began to waver under the murderous Union volleys. Recklessly exposing himself, McCulloch rallied his men for another charge. Then, a perfect target in his dove-colored coat, he tumbled from his horse, a bullet through his heart. McIntosh also was killed and Colonel Hebert taken prisoner. The loss of their leaders dismayed the Southerners, and a strong Union counter­attack on the left flank routed them. Pike and Colonel Ellsworth Greer of the Third Texas Cavalry, on whom command now devolved, managed to collect the fleeing fragments and lead them by way of the Bentonville detour to Van Dorn during the night. Fortunately for the defeated and demoralized Confederates, the immediate necessity of reinforcing his hard pressed right made it impossible for Curtis to follow up this victory.[19]

That night Van Dorn took stock of the situation and found it far from encouraging. Half of his army had been routed, the men were famished and bone-tired, and the artillery and cavalry horses “beaten out.” But worst of all, owing to the “strange and criminal mistake” of an unknown ordnance officer the reserve ammunition train had gone back to Bentonville: This meant that it would be impossible to replenish the army’s nearly exhausted ammunition supply. Nevertheless he resolved to “accept the gage” of battle on the morrow and hope for the best.[20]

The fighting resumed at dawn. Curtis’ entire army now confronted Price’s troops and such remnants of McCulloch’s division as could be brought into action. The Federals took the offensive, advancing slowly but steadily under the cover of their powerful batteries. Then Van Dorn, deciding that in view of his rapidly dwindling ammunition supply it would be suicidal to continue the battle, ordered a retreat by way of the Huntsville Road.[21] According to the official Confederate reports this movement was made in an orderly and deliberate fashion. However, some of the Southern artillery fled in panic across the Missouri line before returning,[22] Pike’s troops were not even notified of the retreat but were left to fend for themselves,[23] and according to one of his soldiers Van Dorn himself became so excited that he sent word to General Green to destroy the wagon train to prevent the enemy from capturing it—an order that Green fortunately ignored.[24] For the Federals were too battered and exhausted to follow up their victory with a vigorous pursuit—or at least so Curtis believed. Had they done so, complete destruction of the Army of the West probably would have ensued.

For a week the Confederates retreated, passing through Huntsville, then turning toward Van Buren. Hundreds of cold, hungry, and discouraged soldiers deserted or straggled, and blood dripping from the wounded congealed into icicles. Finally, on March 16, they reached Van Buren, “weak, broken down, and exhausted.”[25] Here they remained for the rest of the month, reorganizing, reinforcing and recuperating. Casualties at Pea Ridge were reported as between 800 and 1,000 dead and wounded, plus 200-300 missing, but these figures refer mainly to Price’s division, so undoubtedly the total loss was considerably higher. On the Union side slightly in excess of one-tenth of Curtis’ army was killed, wounded, or missing, and it was some time before it resumed active operations. And when it did, it did not push deeper into Arkansas but instead retired to Missouri.[26]

The Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge was essentially the result of a failure on Van Dorn’s part to adjust quickly and appropriately to unanticipated situations. As noted, Van Dorn in his battle plan proposed to strike the Federal rear at daylight. When it became apparent, as it soon must have, that Price’s division would not reach the Telegraph Road by that time, he should have abandoned this portion of his plan and hurled the bulk of his army on Curtis’ west flank, at the same time sending a smaller force to block the Union escape route to the north. In this way he would have achieved full tactical surprise against Curtis and avoided the fatal gap between the two wings of his army. As it was, Curtis had sufficient time in which to react to the Confederate maneuver, and (as Price had feared) he was able to use his interior lines to deal with McCulloch and Price separately and in sequence.[27]

Indeed it could be argued that Van Dorn would have done better to have adopted Price’s suggestion of simply attacking the Union right flank at Sugar Creek. By so doing he would have avoided the complications and great risks inherent in the strategy he did pursue. For in cutting off Curtis’ army from its base he did precisely the same thing to his own army, thereby exposing it to potential disaster in case of defeat—a disaster which in fact it escaped only because of the inability (or failure) of Curtis to exploit the Union victory. On the other hand, had he employed a more modest strategy in quest of less ambitious goals he might well have defeated the Federals and imposed on them a retreat as arduous as the one his forces made to Van Buren.[28]

Most of the Confederates attributed their failure to the incredible bad luck by which McCulloch, McIntosh, and Hebert were all killed or captured. However this assumes that if these leaders had remained in action Van Dorn’s right wing would have been victorious; this at best is debatable. Moreover, by fighting his army in two widely separated halves Van Dorn created a situation in which the consequences of these three commanders being rendered hors de combat were more serious than otherwise would have been the case: Had Van Dorn been in close contact with the right wing he would have learned of McCulloch’s death in time to restore order and prevent demoralization and rout.

Van Dorn himself blamed the “disappointment” at Pea Ridge mainly on the “want of military knowledge and discipline among the higher officers” of his command. “I cannot convey to you,” he wrote the Confederate War Department shortly after the battle, “a correct idea of the material with which I have to deal in organizing an army out here. There is an absolute want of any degree of sound military information, and even an ignorance of the value of such information.” He added that if West Point-trained officers could have been substituted at Pea Ridge for “some of the highest commanders, my orders would have been promptly and intelligently carried out and the enemy’s army put to utter rout.”[29]

Undoubtedly these statements contained much truth. But Van Dorn did not name the “highest commanders” whom he considered incompetent, and his strictures probably should be discounted as representing an effort to explain away a failure which in large part was the consequence of his own blunders. Thus in his report on Pea Ridge he greatly exaggerated the Union numbers and losses, minimized his own casualties, and declared “I was not defeated, but only foiled in my intentions”—true, but scarcely the full story.[30]

The military consequences of the Pea Ridge campaign were as follows: By invading Arkansas when they did the Federals disrupted Van Dorn’s projected movement against St. Louis, and by throwing back the Confederates at Pea Ridge they ended for the time being any serious challenge to their domination over Missouri. However the significance of these two results should not be exaggerated. Regarding the first, there never was much likelihood that Van Dorn’s small and poorly equipped army could have taken St. Louis in any event. As to the second, the basic strategic decision in Missouri was rendered in June, 1861, when Lyon occupied the northern and central areas of the State and drove Price to the Arkansas border. Not only did this give the Federals control over most of the population, wealth, industry, agriculture, and transportation of Missouri, but made it virtually impossible for the South to regain control. For, as Lincoln observed,[31] the North could easily counter any Confederate invasion of Missouri by concentrating superior forces along the line of the Missouri River—which is precisely what occurred when Price captured Lexington in 1861 and again three years later when he once more penetrated the State. And, it should be added, whichever side dominated Missouri would tend to dominate the entire Trans-Mississippi, as the course of the war in that theater amply demonstrated.

Some historians have termed Pea Ridge one of the decisive battles of the Civil War because, they assert, it so discouraged the Confederates that they abandoned their effort in the West and soon after the battle transferred Van Dorn’s and Price’s forces to the east side of the Mississippi, thereby in effect conceding Missouri to the North.[32] But while it is true that the Army of the West did cross over to Tennessee in April, 1862, leaving Arkansas practically defenseless, this interpretation confuses effects with causes and also overlooks the military situation of the South as a whole at that time. Despite the setback at Pea Ridge, Van Dorn and Price did not propose to quit the struggle in the West. As soon as he reached Van Buren the indefatigable Van Dorn ordered his cavalry to cut Curtis’ communications and began preparing for a new campaign, this time against New Madrid in southeast Missouri. As for Price, on March 19 he wrote Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin that “With such additions to my force as I am led to believe will shortly be made … I do not question my ability to penetrate aggressively the heart of Missouri.”[33] Hence there can be little doubt that within a month after Pea Ridge the Army of the West would have marched northward again had not the Confederacy needed its services elsewhere.

Late in March, Albert Sidney Johnston, fearful that the recent loss of Forts Henry and Donelson would lead to the complete collapse of Confederate resistance in Tennessee, began concentrating all available units at Corinth, Mississippi, for an attack on Grant at Pittsburgh Landing on the Tennessee River—a movement which eventuated in the great Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862). As part of this concentration of forces Johnston ordered Van Dorn on March 23 to bring the Army of the West to the other side of the Mississippi.[34] Van Dorn responded promptly and his troops began crossing the Mississippi on April 8—too late to be used at Shiloh. It was the transfer of Van Dorn’s army to the east, more than the defeat at Pea Ridge, that brought an end to any major Confederate effort in the Trans-Mississippi and rendered Missouri secure from Southern invasion. And even that but temporarily, for late in the fall of 1862 a new Confederate army in Arkansas, organized and led by General Thomas C. Hindman, was to advance northward with the intention of invading Missouri, only to be smashed at the Battle of Prairie Grove, not far from Pea Ridge.[35]

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The transfer of the Army of the West to the other side of the Mississippi meant that the Confederate high command decided to treat the Trans-Mississippi as strictly a secondary theater to be subordinated and even sacrificed if need be to the requirements of Virginia and Tennessee. Such a policy, given the military situation that existed in the spring of 1862, was probably the only practical one open to the South. And since this situation never materially improved, but got steadily worse, the policy remained in force to the end. Hence the course of the war in the West was determined largely in the East, and what took place in the West had little or no influence on events east of the Mississippi: Pea Ridge, in the final analysis, is an illustration of this fact.[36]
Notes:


[1]Some of the general histories containing accounts of the Battle of Pea Ridge are Wiley Britton, The Civil War on the Border (New York, 1899), I, 210-280; Kenneth P. Williams, Lincoln Finds A General (New York, 1952), III, 287-293; and Jay Monaghan, Civil War on the Western Border (New York, 1955), 228-251. No less than five articles on the battle have been published since 1956 in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, the most detailed of which is Edwin C. Bearss, “The First Day at Pea Ridge, March 7, 1862,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, XVII (Summer, 1958), 132-154, and the best of which is Walter Lee Brown, “Pea Ridge, Gettysburg of the West,” ibid., XV (Spring, 1956), 3-16.

[2]The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (128 vols., Washington, D. C., 1881-1901), Series I, Volume VIII, 283, 755, 763. Hereinafter this work will be cited as OR, with all references to Series I.

[3]Ibid., 283; Dabney H. Maury, “Recollections of the Elkhorn Campaign,” Southern Historical Society Papers, II (October, 1876), 181-185.

[4] OR, VIII, 283, 305. Price’s command at this time was in the process of being transferred into regular Confederate service, thus accounting for its irregular organization. Price himself at the time was technically a general in the Missouri State Guard.

[5]Wiley Britton, “Union and Confederate Indians in the Civil War,” in Robert U. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel, eds., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (New York, 1887), I, 335-336; Ephraim M. Anderson, Memoirs: Historical and Personal, Including Campaigns of the First Missouri Confederate Brigade (St. Louis, 1868), 159-160.

[6]OR, VIII, 196-198, 209-210; Franz Sigel, “The Pea Ridge Campaign,” Battles and Leaders, I, 317, 337.

[7]OR, VIII, 283; Maury, “Elkhorn Campaign,” 189, asserts the same.

[8]R. S. Bevier, History of the First and Second Missouri Confederate Brigades, 1861-1865 (St. Louis, 1879), 317.

[9]Sigel, “Pea Ridge Campaign,” 320.

[10] OR, VIII, 196-198, 209-210, 283, 305.

[11] John Wilson to Francis M. Wilson, September, 1926, Francis M. Wilson Papers, 1853-1946, Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, University of Missouri, Columbia.

[12]OR, VIII, 283; Maury, “Elkhorn Campaign,” 182-183.

[13]OR, VIII, 198, 283, 287, 305, 316-317; Maury, “Elkhorn Campaign,” 187; Anderson, Memoirs, 163-164.

[14]OR, VIII, 198-199, 283-284, 287; Sigel, “Pea Ridge Campaign,” 320-321; Maury, “Elkhorn Campaign,” 187-188; Bevier, Missouri Brigades, 98.

[15]OR, VIII, 305-306, 308; Maury, “Elkhorn Campaign,” 187-189.

[16]Account of Col. R. H. Musser, St. Louis Missouri Republican, November 21, 1885. Clipping in Daniel Marsh Frost Papers, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis.

[17]OR, VIII, 305-306, 308; Anderson, Memoirs, 163-173; Sigel, “Pea Ridge Campaign,” 334, puts Price’s strength at 6,500, the Union forces opposing him at 4,500. However he did not allow for the detachment from Price’s division left at Sugar Creek, and the Union figure includes reinforcements which did not arrive until the end of the day.

[18]Maury, “Elkhorn Campaign,” 187-188.

[19]OR, VIII, 199-200, 217-218, 287-294, 293-294, 297-299; Sigel, “Pea Ridge Campaign,” 324; Britton, War on the Border, I, 224, 242-259; Washington, Arkansas, Telegraph, April 2, 1862. McCulloch fell at about 2 P.M. Pike on the Confederate right and Greer on the left both found themselves the senior officer on their respective part of the field, but neither was able to communicate with the other or had any knowledge of the other’s situation. Two Confederate regiments, not receiving any orders, retreated in the direction of Bentonville.

[20] OR, VIII, 284, 317-318; Maury, “Elkhorn Campaign,” 188; Bevier, Missouri Brigades, 103.

[21]OR, VIII, 214, 284, 290, 306; Britton, War on the Border, I, 262-267.

[22]Ibid., 272.

[23] OR, VIII, 290-292.

[24]Homer L. Calkins, ed., “Elk Horn to Vicksburg: James H. Fauntelroy’s Diary for the Year 1862,” Civil War History, II, (January, 1956), 14.

[25]John N. Edwards, Shelby and His Men; or, The War in the West (Cincinnati, 1867), 51; Washington, Arkansas, Telegraph, April 2, 1862; Anderson, Memoirs 178.

[26] Sigel, “Pea Ridge Campaign,” 331, 337.

[27] This analysis of the battle agrees essentially with the one presented in ibid., 331-334.

[28]James W. Green, Jr., in his “Address on the Hundredth Anniversary of the Battle of Pea Ridge,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, XXI (Summer, 1962), 163, criticizes Van Dorn for not making a holding attack on Curtis’ front at Sugar Creek while swinging around to the rear. In this way, he argues, Van Dorn could have tied down enough of Curtis’ troops to have enabled McCulloch and Price to have succeeded with their attacks. This view is sound in principle, but in actual fact the possibility of a Confederate attack on the Sugar Creek line caused Curtis to hold back a large number of his troops during the first day’s battle. Anyway Van Dorn planned to make a surprise attack with overwhelming force on the Union rear and so probably saw no need for General Green’s detachment, left to guard the wagon train, to engage the Federals except to block their retreat southward. Indeed he may have feared that if Green’s weak and poorly armed force attacked, the Federals might counter­attack, defeat it, and capture the wagon train.

[29]OR, VIII, 787.

[30]Ibid., 282.

[31] Lincoln to D. M. Hunter, October 24, 1861, ibid., III, 554.

[32]This view is presented by Sigel, “Pea Ridge Campaign,” 331; Walter Lee Brown, “Pea Ridge, Gettysburg of the West,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, XV (Spring, 1956), 15-16; Edward Conrad Smith, The Borderland in the Civil War (New York, 1927), 260; and Bruce Catton, Terrible Swift Sword (New York, 1963), 223.

[33] OR, VIII, 282, 790, for Van Dorn’s plan to launch a new offensive, and ibid., 792, for Price’s statement. Catton, in Terrible Swift Sword, 223, writes that after Pea Ridge “It was no longer possible for Van Dorn to contemplate an invasion of Missouri.” Obviously his researchers let him down here.

[34]OR, X, Pt. 2, 354.

[35]The Army of the West was already in the process of moving to Northeast Arkansas in preparation for a campaign in the New Madrid area when Johnston’s order to cross the Mississippi arrived. Indeed Van Dorn planned, if unable to accomplish anything at New Madrid, to “march boldly and rapidly towards St. Louis. . . .” See ibid., VIII, 282, 784, 787, 790-791.

[36]For a bitter denunciation of this policy, see Thomas L. Snead, “The Conquest of Arkansas,” Battles and Leaders, III, 443. Grant’s drive also caused Johnston to strip the defenses of New Orleans, leading to the fall of that key city—a far greater blow to the Confederacy in the Trans-Mississippi than Pea Ridge.

Missouri Jayhawking Raids into Kansas by Albert Castel

©Albert Castel, published with permission

“KANSAS JAYHAWKING RAIDS INTO WESTERN MISSOURI IN 1861”

by Albert Castel

Copyright 1959 Albert Castel. Used with Permission.

This is copyrighted material–the article, the pictures, and the introduction–and may not be copied or reproduced in any form, including on other websites, without permission of the authors.
Books by Albert Castel

available from Amazon.com

Articles of War: Winners, Losers, and Some Who Were Both During the Civil War

Tom Taylor’s Civil War

General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West

Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla

William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times

Decision in the West

More books by Albert Castel

Introduced by G. E. Rule

Albert Castel, over a published career that is approaching fifty years, has proven himself to be the leading historian of the Civil War in the West. With titles like General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1968), William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times (1962), and Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla (with Thomas Goodrich, 1998), none of those who are serious about studying the war in Missouri can consider themselves well-read on the subject if they have not read Castel. His other titles on the war in the West will also be read for many years to come, and his Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (1992) is an award-winning title that is likely to remain the definitive statement on what was arguably the most important campaign of the war. Dr. Castel’s most recent title, Articles of War: Winners, Losers, and Some Who Were Both in the Civil War, Stackpole Books, 2001, is available from Amazon.com.

“Kansas Jayhawking Raids into Western Missouri in 1861” originally appeared in the Missouri Historical Review 54/1 (State Historical Society of Missouri, October 1959). Castel, as both pioneer and leading authority on Kansas and the Civil War, provides an interesting account of the early history of the Kansas-Missouri war-within-a-war. This war would continue to build in intensity and tragedy until culminating in August of 1863 in the Lawrence Massacre and Order No. 11 depopulating three western Missouri counties (see also Castel’s “Order No. 11 and the Civil War on the Border”). It is worth noting that T.J. Stiles recent and critically acclaimed Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War has challenged, at least to a degree, the traditional reading of the relationship between Jayhawking and the motivation of the Pro-Confederate guerrillas of western Missouri. Unlike Castel and the traditional school of thought on this issue, Stiles puts more emphasis on Lawrence as “the abolitionist center” of Kansas rather than as “the Jayhawking center”.  It was both, of course, and it will be interesting to see if future historians continue to accept Castel’s analysis of the guerrillas, or take Stiles’ reading and generalize it beyond Jesse James. Our own opinion is that the average Missourian of the time, although unfairly in many cases, would have seen “Jayhawker” and “abolitionist” as nearly interchangeable terms, with the former being merely a subset of the latter.



Kansans watched Missouri closely during the early months of 1861, anxious as to the course it would pursue in the crisis between North and South. They retained bitter memories of the “Border Ruffian” raids of the ’50’s and feared that if Missouri joined the Confederacy these would be repeated on a greater and more devastating scale. Many Missourians, they knew, harbored an intense hatred of the “horse-stealing abolitionists” of Kansas.[1]

The direction Missouri would take, North or South, long remained uncertain. Torn by conflicting sympathies and interests, most Missourians hoped that their state could be neutral. Finally, however, open warfare broke out in June between the Unionists headed by Brigadier General Nathaniel B. Lyon and the pro-­Southern followers of Governor Claiborne F. Jackson. Lyon drove Jackson from the State capital at Jefferson City, and Jackson countered with a proclamation calling for 50,000 men to resist the Northern “invasion.” The Missouri State Guard, commanded by Major General Sterling Price, gathered in Southwest Missouri for a campaign against Lyon in conjunction with Confederate forces from Arkansas.[2]

Governor Charles Robinson of Kansas regarded Jackson’s proclamation as tantamount to a declaration of war. At his order, hundreds of armed Kansans gathered along the border and prepared to repel invasion.[3] Some Kansans, however, declared that the best policy was to take the offensive against the Missourians in order to “keep them from our doors by giving them something to do at home.”[4] Foremost among this group were the “jayhawkers” of “Captain” James Montgomery and “Captain” Charles Jennison, who for several years had been harassing alleged proslavery settlers in southern Kansas and making occasional raids into Missouri. Their activities had gained them notoriety as “the scourges of the border,” and they had the support of influential Kansas and New England abolitionists. But although they claimed to be inspired by only the highest motives, it was often difficult to determine whether their hatred of slavery equaled their love of plunder. They wel­comed the coming of war in Missouri as opening up new and greater opportunities.

Jennison was the first to act. On June 19, with about 100 men “well-versed in guerrilla war­fare,” he accompanied a regular army expedition to Kansas City and participated in a Union flag-raising ceremony. The fol­lowing day he went on an “independent scouting mission” to Independence, where he forced “several of the leading rebels” to take the oath of allegiance.[5] Shortly afterwards Montgomery made a quick dash across the border, fought a skirmish with “rebel guerrillas,” then marched back loaded with plunder and accompanied by “contrabands”–slaves who “happened to walk off on their own accord.”[6] In July, Jennison struck at Morristown, Missouri, where his men reportedly killed a number of “secesh,” and in August he looted the stores of Harrisonville.[7] Throughout the summer other jayhawker bands led by John Stewart and Marshall Cleveland followed the example of Montgomery and Jennison on a lesser scale.[8]

Late in August a force of 1,200 troops, entitled the “Kansas Brigade,” assembled at Fort Scott under the command of Senator James H. Lane, leader of the extreme antislavery element in Kansas. Its ostensible mission was to defend southern Kansas from Price, who had defeated Lyon at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10. However Lane openly proclaimed his intention of marching into Missouri, declaring that as he did so he would not object to seeing “an army of slaves marching out.”[9] Montgomery, who had procured a colonel’s commission, was second in com­mand to Lane, Jennison, Stew­art, and other jayhawkers attached themselves informally to the brigade.

Price, having heard that the Missouri counties east of Fort Scott were “infested” with the “marauding and murdering bands” of Lane, decided to “clear them out.” On September 2 he defeated a portion of Lane’s troops in a skirmish at Drywood Creek near Fort Scott, which Lane evacuated. Content with thus “chastising” the Kansans, he marched on to Lexing­ton, Missouri, where he successfully besieged the Union garrison.[10]

Lane remained in a fortified camp near Fort Scott, fearful for the safety of his army and Kansas, until assured that Price had gone on to the Missouri River. He then sent a detachment under Jennison in “pursuit.” Jennison followed Price at a respectable distance as far as Papinsville, Missouri, then returned with 200 cattle and a number of “contrabands.”[11]

On September 10, “with a smart little army of about 1,500,” Lane started northward along the Missouri line. His avowed objective, however, was not to pursue Price but to “clear out” the valley of the Osage and to “pitch into” the towns of Butler, Harri­sonville, Osceola, and Clinton. On September 12 he reached Trading Post, Kansas, and from there turned eastward into Missouri. As soon as they crossed the border his men began to loot, burn, and perhaps murder and rape.[12]

The climax of Lane’s march occurred at Osceola on Septem­ber 23. After exchanging a few shots with some Confederates on the outskirts, his men entered the town and proceeded to ransack it. They robbed the bank, pillaged stores and private houses, and looted the courthouse. Captain Thomas Moonlight bombarded this last building with a cannon, and others set fire to the town, almost totally destroying it. Many of the Kansans got so drunk that when it came time to leave they were unable to march and had to ride in wagons and carriages.[13] They carried off with them a tremendous load of plunder, including as Lane’s personal share a piano and a quantity of silk dresses.[14] The “Sack of Osceola” henceforth was a prime cause of bitter hatred of Lane and Kansans by the people of West Missouri.

The self-proclaimed purpose of Lane’s expedition was to sup­press secessionist sentiment in western Missouri and to hamper Price’s operations. But his real objective, besides plunder, was to give a practical demonstration of what he had told his Senate colleagues in July, that slavery could not survive the march of the Union armies.[15] By the time his brigade had completed its march scores of Negroes were present in its ranks as teamsters, cooks, and even as soldiers.[16] Probably most of the Negroes came along on their own accord. As early as July, Montgomery wrote that “Contraband Brigades are coming in hourly” and that he did not know what to do with them.[17] Other reports told of large numbers of Negroes, either singly or in groups, fleeing into Kansas.[18] Later, in November, chaplains H. H. Moore and H. D. Fisher of the brigade led a “Black Brigade” of 160 wagons, all filled with Negroes, into Kansas, where they distributed the ex-slaves as laborers among the farms and towns of the southern part of the state.[19]

Lane completed his march at Kansas City on September 29. After remaining three weeks, he joined Major General John C. Fremont’s army in a southward pursuit of Price’s retreating forces. “Our march through Missouri,” later wrote the commander of Lane’s cavalry, “was noted for nothing very remarkable except that our trail was marked by the feathers of ‘secesh’ poultry and the debris of disloyal beegums.” The brigade arrived at Springfield on November 1 but advanced no further. At Lincoln’s order Major General David Hunter replaced Fremont and dispersed the army into defensive positions. Lane and his men headed back to Fort Scott.[20] Thus ended the garish career of the Kansas Brigade.

In the meantime Jennison, through the good offices of Governor Robinson, had acquired a commission as colonel of United States Volunteers. Robinson hoped, fatuously, that if Jennison were given a legitimate outlet for his warlike propensities he would cease his marauding and be of service to the state and the Union.[21] Jennison set about recruiting a regiment which he called the “Independent Mounted Kansas jayhawkers” but which was officially designated the Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry.[22] Second in command of the regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Daniel R. Anthony, brother of Susan B. Anthony, a hotheaded abolitionist and publisher of the Leavenworth Daily Conservative, which despite its name was the most radical newspaper in Kansas.

Jennison did not have a complete regiment until November 7. Many of his men were Missourians, and several units came from Illinois. The most notable company, however, was from Ashtabula County, Ohio, and was commanded by John Brown, Jr. The members of this company were all fanatical abolitionists. Another organization of more than passing interest was Company H, which consisted mostly of criminals and ruffians, commanded by the notorious jayhawker and ex-convict, Marshall Cleveland. Many of the other officers were hardly better than Cleveland.[23] Jennison himself was “in reality unfit for any position [of authority] on account of his poor education.” Anthony and the other staff officers were “very careful not to permit him to write or do anything unless done under the supervision of some of his friends who have good judgment [sic].”[24]

After exercising their martial prowess in sacking the saloons of Leavenworth, eight companies of the Seventh Kansas crossed into Missouri at Kansas City on November 11 and 12. Anthony was in command, as Jennison remained behind “to perfect the organization of the regiment. The announced purpose of the expedition was to protect Union supply trains in Jackson County against bush­whackers, put down “rebels,” and “loyalize” the people of that section. [25] Company H rode one-fourth mile ahead of the main column as the advance guard. Its movements were marked by the flames of burning houses and wheatfields and by the flight of women and children into the woods.[26] Near the Little Blue, Anthony encountered a band of armed Missouri irregulars headed by the “notorious” Upton Hayes. After a sharp fight in which he lost nine killed, Anthony drove Hayes’ men from their camp. He next marched to Pleasant Hill, near where his men killed eleven guer­rillas and recaptured most of a wagon train.[27] Then followed a raid on Independence, where “the citizens were given a little touch of the misfortunes of war,” after which the jayhawkers, as the Seventh Kansas was popularly known, marched back to Kansas City, carry­ing much plunder and accompanied by many Negroes.[28] Some of the former slaves, reported Missouri artist George C. Bingham, were armed and serving as soldiers.[29]

Late in November, Brigadier General James W. Denver, com­mander of the District of Kansas, ordered the Seventh Kansas to West Point, Missouri, to protect against a threatened northward thrust by Price. Its march to that town followed the pattern of its earlier operations, as a member of the Ohio company wrote that “Every house along our line of march but one was burned and off on our left flank for miles, columns of smoke from burning houses could be seen.”[30] On reaching West Point, Anthony wrote to his father that his men had taken on the way 150 mules, 40 horses, and 129 Negroes, and that he had given the Negroes 60 horses and mules,  some oxen, and ten wagons and two carriages, “all loaded down with Household Furniters [sic]….” “The Negroes [sic] train into Kansas,” he added, “was one mile long. . . .”[31] In a letter written several weeks later to sister Susan, he declared: “In our march we free every slave … and arm or use them in such manner as will best aid us in putting down rebels. . . . We hope to stir up an insurrection among the negroes. . . .”[32]

Although Price’s invasion failed to materialize, the Jayhawkers remained in the vicinity of West Point well into January. Com­manded by Anthony, sections of the regiment plundered Pleasant Hill, Morristown, and Rose Hill and burned Dayton and Columbus. General Hunter “read with surprise” Anthony’s reports on the destruction of these villages and wrote him that he found no evidence in them “of a state of facts sufficient to warrant these extreme measures.”[33]

Late in January the Seventh Kansas was ordered to Humboldt, Kansas. There, in April, Jennison resigned his commission in a huff over not being promoted to brigadier general. Before resigning he made an “intemperate speech” to the regiment in which he denounced the President and the commanding general and practi­cally urged his men to desert. A number of them, mainly from Company H, took his advice.[34] On learning of Jennison’s speech, General Hunter had him arrested and confined in the military prison at St. Louis. Pressure from influential abolitionists, to whom he was a hero, prevented a court martial and secured his release.[35] He then entered the “live stock” business in Leavenworth–an enterprise which perhaps gave rise to the saying that the horses of Kansas were mostly “out of Missouri, by Jennison.”

Although Jennison’s name was identified with the activities of the Seventh Kansas by both Kansans and Missourians, he had actually exercised little direct command over the regiment. Accord­ing to a letter of Anthony’s, dated March 1, 1862, “Col. Jennison has been Col of his regiment six months and has yet to give the first command to them. I have always commanded them.[36] Therefore, on the basis of his own testimony, as well as other evidence,[37] Anthony deserves most of the “credit” for the operations of the Jayhawkers in Missouri. He himself admitted as much when, in writing to a brother about Jennison’s arrest, he remarked uneasily that if Jennison were brought to trial for “his Missouri policy,” then “we are all in the same boat.”[38]

It is difficult to assess precisely and completely the personal motives which lay behind the conduct of Jennison, Montgomery, Lane, and Anthony in Missouri. With Jennison it was probably a desire primarily for the profits of plunder: in one instance he is reported as selling his loot at a public auction.[39] As for Montgomery, while the plunder motive was present, it seems that he was a sincere, if unscrupulous, antislavery zealot.[40] Lane and Anthony, however, although doubtlessly abolitionists, were impelled mainly by military and political ambition. This was especially true of Lane, who hoped to become President with radical backing and who declared to the New England abolitionist, George L. Stearns, that if given the chance he would march to New Orleans, “stir­ring up slave insurrections on the way.”[41]

Kansans generally approved the forays of the jayhawkers through the border counties of Missouri. Their growing anti­slavery fervor caused them to applaud the slave-liberating aspect of these operations, espe­cially since the freed Negroes relieved the labor shortage in Kansas. True, exaggerated, and false reports of outrages suffered by Kansans and Missouri Union­ists at the hands of Missouri secessionists seemed to warrant retaliation in kind. In addition, the people of Kansas had a distorted concept of the object and nature of the activities of Lane, Jennison, Anthony, and James H. Lane. They believed that their campaigns and raids were designed to put down “treason” and guard against invasion, while the newspaper correspondents who accompanied Lane’s brigade and the Seventh Kansas wrote up the supposedly heroic exploits of these commands and either ignored or glossed over the looting and killing. Finally, there was a rather sizeable element in Kansas which out of economic and moral poverty was quite willing to advocate and practice the plundering of the farmers of western Missouri, who had “a dangerous reputa­tion for wealth.”[42]

The majority of Kansans tended to classify all Missourians, at least those living in the border counties, as rebels. This viewpoint ran counter to the facts and largely reflected prejudice, ignorance, and a desire to rationalize the depredations in Missouri. Probably from one-third to over one-half of the people residing in western Missouri were loyal to the Union or at least neutral in 1861.[43] One of the main results of the raids of Lane and Anthony was to turn many of these Unionists and neutralists into Confederates. By the end of 1861 Major General Henry W. Halleck, then in command of all Union armies west of the Mississippi, expressed the opinion that a few more such raids would make Missouri “as Confederate as Eastern Virginia.”[44]

Another serious consequence of the jayhawking incursions was that they transformed the already existent animosity of the people of western Missouri toward Kansas into an embittered and impas­sioned hatred. This feeling was not confined to pro-Confederate Missourians, but it also affected pro-Unionists. On at least one occasion Missouri State Militia in Federal service warned that they would fire on Kansas soldiers if they did not stay on their side of the line.[45] By the spring of 1862 the situation along the border was so tense that Brigadier General John M. Schofield, commander of the Department of Missouri, feared “open hostility between the Union troops of Kansas and Missouri.”[46]

Scores, perhaps hundreds, of Missourians in the country devas­tated by Lane, Jennison, and Anthony formed guerrilla bands or joined the Confederate army. The force under Upton Hayes which Anthony encountered on the Little Blue had been raised in the locality to defend it against Jennison. Hayes was a freighter engaged in the Santa Fe trade when the war began, operating out of the town of Little Santa Fe near Kansas City. He turned bushwhacker after jayhawkers captured one of his wagon trains, burgled his house, and took his cattle, horses, carriages, and slaves. The famous Cole Younger similarly “took to the brush” when Jennison’s men robbed and killed his father, who had been pro-Union. Far from stamping out such bands as Hayes’, the marches of Lane and Anthony served only to increase their number and intensify their desire for vengeance.[47]

Early in the spring of 1862 a gang of bushwhackers made a shockingly brutal raid on the little village of Aubry in Johnson County, Kansas. The

Membership in the State Historical Society of Missouri, publisher of the
Missouri Historical Review for almost 100 years, is an inexpensive and
effective way to support the preservation of Missouri’s Civil War heritage.

State Historical Society of Missouri

raiders not only took horses and other property, but they shot down helpless civilians in cold blood. Their leader had a strange, sinister-sounding name: Quantrill.[48] The seed sowed by Lane at Osceola and by Jennison and Anthony in Jackson County would be harvested by this man at Lawrence.
Notes:


[1]S. J. Reader to “Frank,” June 2, 1861, Kansas Historical Quarterly, IX (February 1940), 33; John Ingalls to “Father,” May 15, 1861, William E. Connelley, editor, “Some Ingalls Letters.” Kansas Historical Collections, XIV (1910-1918), 122; Charles Robinson to Mrs. Charles Robinson, June 17, 1861, Charles and Sara T. D. Robinson Papers, State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas; Floyd C. Shoemaker, “Missouri’s Proslavery Fight for Kansas, 1854-18:15,” Missouri Historical Review, XLVIII (April-July 1954), 221-36,325-40, XLIX (October 1954), 41-54.

[2]A good brief account of the secession crisis in Missouri is Edward Conrad Smith, The Border­land in the Civil War (New York, 1927), 240-60.

[3]Leavenworth Daily Conservative, June 18, August 4, 1861; “Military History of Kansas Regiments,” Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kansas, 1861-1865 (Topeka, 1896), 73.

[4]James Montgomery to George L. Stearns, June 21, 1861, James Montgomery Papers, State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas.

[5]Leavenworth Daily Times, June 9, 18, 23, 1861; Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, June 14, 15, 16, 20, 1861.

[6]Montgomery to Stearns, June 26, July 5, 1861, George L. Stearns Papers, State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas.

[7]Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, July 25, August 12, 1861.

[8]Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 11, 17, 27, 30, August 20, 1861; Atchison Freedom’s Champion, August 10, 1861; Elwood Free Press, August 10, 1861; Lawrence Kansas State Journal, August 8, 15, 1861; Lawrence Republican, July 17, 1861; White Cloud Kansas Chief, September 5, 1861; Olathe Mirror, June 27, July 25, 1861.

[9]Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 16, 1861. Lane had been appointed a brigadier general by President Lincoln but had been forced to relinquish the commission or else resign his Senate seat. However, he possessed a brigadier general’s commission from the Governor of Indiana and signed his military correspondence and was addressed by the Federal military authorities as “Brigadier General.”

[10]The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, D. C., 1881-1901), Series I, III, 162, 185; LIII, 435-36. (This publication henceforth shall be cited as O. R.).

[11]Ibid., III, 163-64, 475; A. T. Andrews, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago, 1883), 1,071.

[12]O. R., Ser. I, III, 485, 490; Jacob Stringfellow (Nicholas Verres Smith), “Jim Lane,” Lippin­cott’s Magazine, V (March 1870), 274. Lane’s men are charged with committing murders and molesting women in the following sources: Charles Robinson, The Kansas Conflict (Lawrence, Kansas, 1898), 447; John McCorkle, Three Years with Quantrill (Armstrong, Missouri, 1915), 10-11, 75; William H. Gregg, “The Gregg Manuscript”, (State Historical Society, Columbia, Missouri), 48, 62; John C. Shea, compiler, Reminiscences of Quantrell’s Raid upon the City of Law­rence, Kas. (Kansas City, Missouri, 1879), 5; Council Grove Press, September 14, 1863.

[13]O. R., Ser. I, III, 196; Henry E. Palmer, “The Black-flag Character of the war on the Border,” K. H. C., IX (1905-1906), 456; W. S. Drought, “James Montgomery,” ibid., VI (1897-­1900), 243; John Speer, “The Burning of Osceola, Mo., by Lane, and the Quantrill Massacre Contrasted,” ibid., 306-308; Robinson, Kansas Conflict, 452-54; William E. Connelley, Quantrill and the Border Wars (Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1910), 199-200.

[14]Lawrence Kansas State Journal, November 28, 1861; White Cloud Kansas Chief, October 6, 1864. One of Quantrill’s men who participated in the Lawrence Raid of August 21, 1863, wrote years later that the raiders found three pianos in the parlor of Lane’s home in Lawrence, two of which were recognized as having belonged to Southern people in Missouri. See McCorkle, Three Years with Quantrill, 87.

[15]Congressional Globe, 37th Cong., 1st Sess., 187.

[16]Leavenworth Daily Conservative, October 8, 9, 1861.

[17]Montgomery to Stearns, July 26, 1861, Stearns Papers.

[18]Leavenworth Daily Conservative, September 20, 1861.

[19]Ibid., November 21, 1861.

[20]O. R., Ser. I, III, 559, 748; James G. Blunt, “General Blunt’s Account of His Civil war Ex­periences,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, I (May 1932), 216-17.

[21]Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, August 9, 1861; Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 21, 1861; Robinson, Kansas Conflict, 434-35.

[22]William A. Lyman, “Origin of the Name ‘jayhawker’ and How It Came To Be Applied to the People of Kansas,” K. H. C., XIV (1915-1918), 206-07; Simon M. Fox, “The Story of the Seventh Kansas,” ibid., VIII (1903-1904), 27.

[23]Ibid., 19-23, 26. Cleveland resigned his commission on November 1, following a quarrel with Anthony.

[24]Anthony to Aaron Anthony, March 1, 1862, Daniel R. Anthony Papers, State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas.

[25]Leavenworth Daily Conservative, November 10, 12, 13, 1861; Anthony to “Father,” Novem­ber 5, 1861, Anthony Papers.

[26]War Diary of Fletcher Pomeroy (typewritten copy of the original MS, State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas), 15. Pomeroy was a member of John Brown, Jr.’s company. This section of his diary was written in a summary fashion and is not under chronological headings.

[27]Anthony to “Father,” November 24, 1861, Anthony Papers. In this letter Anthony states that one of his men was to be shot for having stolen some property.

[28]Leavenworth Daily Conservative, November 19, 1861

[29]George Caleb Bingham to James S. Rollins and William A. Hall, February 12, 1862, M. H. R. XXXIII (October 1938), 52.

[30]Pomeroy Diary, 18.

[31]Anthony to “Father,” December 22, 1861, Anthony Papers.

[32]Anthony to “Sister,” February 3, 1862, Anthony Papers.

[33]Hunter to Anthony, January 20, 1862, O. R., Ser. I, VIII, 508.

[34]Anthony to “Brother,” April 25, 1862, Anthony Papers.

[35]Jennison to George L. Stearns, April 21, 1862, Stearns Papers; Leavenworth Daily Conservative, April 8, 30, June 3, 1862.

[36]Anthony to Aaron Anthony, March 1, 1862, Anthony Papers.

[37]Pomeroy Diary, 34; Fox, “Seventh Kansas,” K. H. C., VIII, 24, 27-30.

[38]Anthony to “Brother,” April 25, 1862, Anthony Papers.

[39]Leavenworth Daily Conservative, January 12, 1862.

[40]Theodosius Botkin, “Among the Sovereign Squats,” K. H. C., VII (1901-1903), 433; John N. Edwards, Noted Guerrillas, or the Warfare on the Border (St. Louis, 1877), 38.

[41]Frank L. Stearns, The Life and Public Services of George Luther Stearns (New York, 1907), 251-52.

[42]The above discussion of the Kansas attitude toward jayhawking raids in Missouri is based on a complete survey of the Kansas press of the period and of other contemporary records.

[43]Wiley Britton, Memoirs of the Rebellion on the Border—1863 (Chicago, 1882), 114-18; Wil­liam L. Webb, Battles and Biographies of Missourians (Kansas City, Missouri, 1900), 263.

[44]O. R., Ser. I, VIII, 449-50, 507-08, 819; III, 742-43.

[45]Ibid., 433-35, 457-461, 467-68; XXII, Part I, 798-801, 808, 824.

[46]Ibid., 386-87.

[47]Webb, Battles and Biographies, 324; Leavenworth Daily Conservative, November 13, 26, 1861; George Miller, Missouri’s Memorable Decade, 1860-1870 (Columbia, 1898), 76, 89; A. Birdsall, The History of Jackson County, Missouri (Kansas City, 1881), 208-09, 271-73; W. Z. Hickman, History of Jackson County, Mo. (Topeka, 1920), 208-09, 214, 299; Pomeroy Diary, 16; Bingham to James S. Rollins, M. H. R., XXXIII, 46.

[48]O. R., Ser. I, VIII, 335-36.

Fremont’s Hundred Days

Fremont’s One Hundred Days

Francis P. Blair, Jr.’s speech

to the House of Representatives, March 7, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

The implosion of the relationship between Frank Blair and John Fremont had far-reaching consequences for Unionism in Missouri. Blair and his Safety Committee had, for a short time, been the uncontested power in St. Louis. The arrival of Fremont to take over command of the Western Department on July 25th changed all that. The Blairs had been instrumental in getting Fremont the job in the first place, and no doubt had expected a close and fruitful relationship with the new general.

But it didn’t happen. Instead of working with the Blairs and the other Unionist “powers that be” in St. Louis, Fremont relied on his own circle of cronies, including many of his old California friends, some of whom were not particularly ethical. Possibly (experts differ) Blair could have forgiven being shut out of the inner circles and decision-making in Missouri if success to Union arms had come along with it. Alas, this was not the case. A string of Union reverses attended the reign of the new general, and Frank Blair turned bitterly against the department commander he had helped to make. Fremont was removed by President Lincoln as commander of the Department of the West on November 2, 1861.

See Charcoals vs Claybanks

Even more unfortunate, the battle between the two men became entangled in the growing battle between radical Republicans (known in Missouri as “Charcoals”) and more conservative Unionists (known as “Claybanks”) over slavery. What had been growing tension suddenly became an open rupture that would last until the end of the war and beyond.

On March 7, 1862, Frank Blair rose on the floor of the House of Representatives to give his version of what had happened in Missouri during the Fremont reign. You will find the complete text below, taken from the Congressional Globe as provided on the Library of Congress website. You will note in reading Blair’s speech that he references a magazine article called “Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri”. We will be providing this article on the site too.

There are other pages on the site that you might find informative on the short-lived Fremont era in Missouri. See the amalgamated combination of John McElroy, Galusha Anderson, and William T. Sherman here. Also the court-martial and “Vindication” of Fremont’s quartermaster, Justus McKinstry, here .

For an analysis that is sympathetic (certainly much more so than you will find below) to Fremont without being totally blind to his faults, we recommend Allan Nevins’ Fremont: Pathmarker of the West. This is considered by most experts to be the standard work on Fremont. It is important to get the revised edition, 1955 or later —not the original 1939 edition. This is because the revised edition includes the chapter “Some New Light on Fremont” at the end of the book, which is where much of the interesting discussion on what went wrong in Missouri is. For an analysis that walks a middle-path between Blair and Fremont, see Louis S. Gerteis Civil War St. Louis (2001).


Mr. BLAIR, of Missouri: I have sought the floor, Mr. Chairman, for the purpose of making some observations upon the subject of the administration of the department of the West under General Fremont. I did not introduce this topic to the House of Representatives, nor have I ever desired to make any issue between General Fremont and myself; but I have noticed for several weeks past a very great pressure brought to bear in certain newspapers to force General Fremont back into an active command in the field, to force the Administration, against its judgment, after mature deliberation, again to place him in command of one of the departments of the army. I have seen telegraphic dispatches sent from this place, asserting that General Fremont had again and again demanded a trial upon the charges preferred against him, and that the Administration had steadily refused him this act of justice. No part of this statement is true.

Mr. RIDDLE: Will the gentleman state his authority for that denial?

Mr. BLAIR, of Missouri: I had intended to give the House my authority without the request of the gentleman. Unless General Fremont has made that demand within the past three or four days, I assert that he has not made it at all. I have taken the pains to inquire of the Adjutant General of the United States Army, through whose office, under the regulations, such an application would necessarily be made, and also of the Judge Advocate, in whose office that application would be filed, and I was assured by both of those officers that no such application had ever been made by him. I refer to this matter for the purpose of remarking that it is one of the most extraordinary examples of an officer charged with grave errors and high military offenses in the conduct of his administration, and in consequence of such charges, after deliberate examination by the Administration, dismissed from his command, and yet up to this time he has demanded no trial or investigation. He quietly holds on to his office under the censure thus pronounced upon him by the highest officer of the Government, and has not sufficient faith in his own innocence to challenge an inquiry, which might deprive him of his office as well as of his command. He prefers a different kind of trial, one in which his own loose and unsupported statements, and those of his friends, shall go to the public, rather than a lawful trial in which evidence can he sifted and a judgment pronounced by his peers. I express the opinion, that if he were to demand a trial he would obtain it. The Government, although not disposed in time of war, as long as the officer deposed from his command neglects to make application for trial, to detail for that purpose other officers of equal rank now in active service, and who could not well be spared for such a purpose, yet it would not deny him a trial if he should demand it. It has also been heralded in the newspapers that the committee on the conduct of the war has unanimously demanded the restoration of General Fremont to an active command in the military service. I undertake to say there is no truth in the statement. It is simply an attempt of some of his partisans to induce the belief in the country that the committee on the conduct of the war, after an examination into his administration of his department, had approved it, which is not true in point of fact. It is proclaimed upon the same authority that he is to be appointed to an important command, and that he has been promised such a command by the President of tire United States. I do not know whether such is the case or not, but inasmuch as the information comes in the same shape as the other publications I have noticed, I believe it is of the same character. The President could not, with propriety, give an important command to an officer charged with the gravest offenses known to military law, and on account of such charges censured and deposed from his command, who yet quietly submits to this censure, and does not ask to have his character vindicated by a court-martial. I think no other instance of the same kind can be found in military annals.

The publications to which I have referred, put forth by his partisans, foreshadowed and heralded the simultaneous appearance of the statement made by General Fremont in his own defense before the committee on the conduct of the war, and the speech of his aid-de-camp, the member from Indiana, [Mr. Shanks] made in this House the other day. This speech and statement inaugurate a new campaign, and in a new and more congenial field, to be fought with new weapons, far different from the rude instruments of war with which General Fremont has been so unsuccessful. It is a campaign of proclamations, the only weapons which, up to this time, he seems to have used with effect. I commend his choice of weapons. His proclamations will not help the enemy as much as he did by supplying them with arms at his isolated and unsupported positions at Lexington and elsewhere, nor will his proclamations injure the Government in its struggle to put down rebellion one tithe as much as one single contract of his making for condemned arms or for useless earthworks.

The statement made by General Fremont is extraordinary both in its character and in the manner in which it was made public. I do not believe, after the statements upon this floor the other day by authority of the committee on the conduct of the war, that its publication was sanctioned by them.

Mr. GOOCH: As that testimony has been made public, I feel bound to state, with the permission of the gentleman from Missouri, the action of the committee on the conduct of the war in reference to it.

General Fremont came before the committee the same as all other witnesses that appeared before us. The committee deemed it essential that they should inquire into the conduct of the war in the western department, and for that purpose begun, as they have begun in all other departments, where it has been possible for them to do so, by bringing before them first the general in command of the department.

When he appeared before the committee he produced certain documents, from which he said the committee could select such parts as they deemed material. It was suggested by the chairman of the committee—and in that the whole committee agreed—that General Fremont had better make a concise statement in writing, such as he wished to make in reference to the conduct of the war in his department. He did so; and when that statement was submitted these documents were submitted with it. They were not, however, received by the committee with the understanding that all of them were to be published in the report the committee were to make to Congress, but only such parts as they should deem material to the investigation which they had been instructed to make. At a subsequent time General Fremont appeared before the committee, and certain questions were asked him, in relation to the western department, which he answered. When General Fremont left the committee room he was requested by the committee, as all other witnesses have been, to give no information to any one of what he had stated to the committee. With that request I understood him to comply, the same as all other witnesses have done.

I only wish to say further, that the testimony was published without the knowledge or consent of the committee; and I will add that I do not believe that under any circumstances the committee would have felt it to be their duty to have reported to Congress all the letters and telegraphic dispatches which were laid before them, because they would have considered that some of them would throw no light upon the investigation which the committee was making, and ought, from their very character, to be suppressed.

Mr. BLAIR, of Missouri: I ask the gentleman if all General Fremont’s testimony is published?

Mr. GOOCH: The written statement and the letters and dispatches which he gave to the committee are published, but not that part of his testimony which was in response to interrogatories propounded to him by the committee. He did not give to the committee the original letters and dispatches, but copies of them, and said that he would furnish the originals when we desired them. He had no copy of that part of his testimony which was in response to interrogatories, and therefore could not publish that.

Mr. BLAIR, of Missouri: Mr. Chairman, the character of this statement is as extraordinary as the manner in which it has found its way before the public. It is an apology for disaster and defeat; ingenious upon its face by the omission of important facts, and by the suggestion of others which never existed. It proves him to be a much better apologist for the defeats which he suffered, than he is a general to achieve victories. One of his aids-de-camp, a gentleman distinguished as a literary man, has also published an account of his campaign in Missouri, in one of our popular magazines, under the title of “Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri,” thereby challenging comparison with the far-famed campaign of Bonaparte. Is there anything in this campaign, as portrayed by the general himself, and by his several aids-de-camp, that resembles, except in the number of days, the historic campaign of the first Napoleon? Can imagination conceive of Bonaparte returning to Paris, and announcing that he had lost two armies, liberated two negroes, and published a bombastic proclamation.

It is known, Mr. Chairman, that I took an interest in the elevation of General Fremont to his present rank and recent command in the Army. I do not suppose that my recommendation aided him in securing him that position, but it shows the good feeling I entertained for him, and the confidence I had in him at the time. I should have rejoiced in his success in the department over which he was placed. I had been his friend for many years, and my whole family had been most friendly to him and to his family. The kindest relations had always existed between us. I should have rejoiced in his success, not only on account of the great public cause in which we were both engaged, but also on account of my personal interest in him. I recommended him in the belief that he would serve the great public interest, and when I found he was incompetent to serve that cause, I recommended his removal upon the same public considerations, and with no other feelings than those of humiliation and regret. There is nothing in the letter that I addressed to my brother, the Postmaster General, and through him to the President, that shows that I had one particle of feeling against him. The conviction which was forced upon me, came with grief and mortification, such as I have never before experienced. My judgment, uninfluenced by any motives except those for the public good, compelled me to the conclusion that General Fremont was unfitted for the command of that department. I never had any private griefs against him of any kind. I never asked anything of him for myself, because there was nothing I desired that I could have obtained by his aid, which I could not just as well have obtained without it. I never asked for anything for others, that he did not cheerfully assent to, and, so far as it was in his power, grant.

Now, sir, I have read with attention the statement he has made through the press, and I have read also the speech of the gentleman from Indiana, [Mr. SHANKS,] who followed him to Springfield as an aid-de-camp, and I can find nothing in either to justify the enthusiasm which that gentleman seems to feel over a sad record of defeats and unvaried disasters. The one is a tame apology, the other a sort of frothy rhetoric and confused declamation. There are two great points which will forever stand out in relief in the history of those hundred days, the saddest days that ever befell the loyal men of that State, which no rhetoric and no studied obscurity of expression can shield from view or make the nation forget. Those two great points of public interest upon which the sad eyes of the nation will always be fixed, are Springfield and Lexington; the fields where the heroic Lyon fell, and where Mulligan yielded, not to the foe, but to famine and thirst. What had the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. SHANKS] to say about them? Absolutely nothing! What has General Fremont said about them in his statement? He treads lightly on that ground. The other historian, who has chosen a popular magazine for his forum, finds little time to bestow upon them. But I will do General Fremont the justice to quote his own language:

“From St. Louis to Cairo was an easy days journey by water, and transportation abundant. To Springfield was a weeks march, and before I could have reached it, Cairo would have been taken, and with it, I believe, St. Louis.” On my arrival at Cairo, I found the force under General Prentiss reduced to one thousand two hundred men, consisting mainly of a regiment which had agreed to await my arrival.

“A few miles below, at New Madrid, General Pillow had landed a force estimated at twenty thousand, which subsequent events showed was not exaggerated. Our force, greatly increased to the enemy by rumors, drove him to a hasty retreat, and permanently secured the position. To these facts the accompanying papers and the testimony of General Prentiss and other officers is offered to the committee.

“I returned to St. Louis on the 4th August, having in the mean time ordered Colonel Stevenson’s regiment, from Booneville, and Colonel Montgomery, from Kansas, to march to the relief of General Lyon.

“Immediately upon my return from Cairo, I set myself to work, amid incessant demands upon my time from every quarter, principally to provide reinforcements for General Lyon.

“I do not accept Springfield as a disaster belonging in my administration. Causes wholly out of my jurisdiction had already prepared the defeat of General Lyon before my arrival at St. Louis. His letter to me of the 9th August, with other papers annexed, will show that I was already in communication with him, and that he knew his wants were being provided for. It will be seen that I had all reasonable expectations of being able to relieve him in time, and had he been able to adhere to the course indicated in his letter, a very short time would have found him efficiently sustained.”

His defense for not succoring Lyon at Springfield is that Cairo was threatened; that it was an easy day’s journey from St. Louis by water, and transportation abundant; that Lyon was at Springfield, a week’s march from St. Louis, and that he does not accept Lyon’s defeat as belonging to his administration. Now, I undertake to say, that it is true Cairo was within an easy day’s journey from St. Louis by water, and less by railroad, that it could be reached from Springfield, Illinois, as easily and in as short a time. From Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana, from Columbus, Ohio, from almost any point in any of the northwestern States, Cairo was not more than an easy day’s journey by water or by railroad. It was and is, the point of all others, most accessible to the entire Northwest, and easily reinforced. It was also intrenched, defended by eight thousand men, and with ordnance of the heaviest caliber. General Prentiss had as many men as Lyon and more, as shown by their statements, accompanying General Fremont’s defense. McCulloch and Price, according to Fremont’s statement, had one third more then to attack Lyon than Pillow had to assail Cairo, its it was then said he was threatening to do. Lyon was without fortifications and without heavy guns, Prentiss had both at Cairo, and that place was covered by two rivers in front, and could not have been assailed without crossing them, which it was utterly impossible for the enemy to do, in face of an army to oppose them.

It is pretended and attempted to be shown by a dispatch from General Prentiss, that his army, consisting of six “three months” and two “three years” regiments, was about to be disbanded, and the statement of General Prentiss is left unexplained, and the argument boldly advanced that without reinforcements he could have had but two regiments left to defend the post. The truth of the matter is, as shown by General Prentiss in a subsequent dispatch, that these six “three months” regiments were then in process of reorganization; and I say they did not disband, but reentered the service almost in a body for the war. Cook’s regiment, Oglesby’s regiment, McArthur’s regiment, the regiment originally raised by Prentiss, were all “three months” men. They remained in the service; they remained at Cairo, and the other two regiments of “three months” men, whose names I do not now remember, remained also, and all have since made their names illustrious at the siege of Fort Donelson. But if a portion of Prentiss’s command were “three months” men, so also were a majority of the troops under Lyon’s command, at Springfield. Springfield was a week’s march from St. Louis, and was capable of being reinforced only from that point. Yet General Fremont believed and acted upon the belief that Cairo, threatened by Pillow with twenty thousand men, was the point to be reinforced, although it was strongly intrenched, garrisoned by eight regiments, defended by guns of the heaviest caliber, with the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in front, and capable of being reinforced within twenty-four hours from any part of the entire Northwest; and that Lyon at Springfield, threatened by thirty thousand men, having under his command a less force than that at Cairo, with no intrenchments, with no heavy guns, with no natural defenses interposed between him and the enemy, a week’s march from St. Louis, from which point alone it could be effectually reinforced, was to be left to his fate, or to be left to wait until Cairo, naturally so much stronger, and with its artificial defenses so much better, so much more easily reinforced, and defended by more men, should first be attended to. This is the amplification of his own argument. Let him be judged on his own statement.

So thoroughly was he possessed by this idea that he seems utterly to have forgotten Lyon and Springfield until the 3d day of August, nine days after his arrival in Missouri. A messenger came from Lyon repeating the sad story of his distress and peril, which was forwarded to Cairo, and General Fremont on that day telegraphed an order to Stevenson at Booneville and Colonel Montgomery at Leavenworth in Kansas, ordering them to reinforce Lyon with their regiments. These two regiments were probably the two of all others in his command the farthest from Springfield by the routes which they would be compelled to take, and in positions the most difficult to supply them immediately with transportation. This is literally all that Fremont ever did to reinforce Lyon. You may search his statement—every letter, every telegram, and every document—and you will find no other order given. He makes the distress of Lyon the pretext for the purchase of condemned arms, but he made no effort of any kind except the orders given to Stevenson and to Montgomery, to relieve Lyon’s distress, and he provided neither Stevenson nor Montgomery with transportation to enable them to carry out the order of relief. If he had provided the transportation for these two regiments, they could not have reached Lyon in time, although both could certainly have done so had he made the order on his first arrival in Missouri. He had other regiments in his command which could have reached Lyon and reinforced him, even if ordered as late as the 3d of August. For instance, Wyman’s regiment, thirteenth Illinois, then at Rolla, and thirty-six hundred other men, as shown by the report of Colonel Chester Harding, Jr., to have been at the arsenal and Jefferson barracks on the 5th day of August, of which Coler’s Illinois regiment is stated by him to be the only one not ready for service.

In this place I desire to allude to the assertions of General Fremont and of Colonel Chester Harding Jr., to the effect that the force which Pillow is said to have had, and with which he was threatening to assault and take Cairo, was demonstrated by subsequent events not to have been over-estimated. Well, sir, if subsequent events have demonstrated that fact, they have been very unfortunate in not pointing to a single one of them. Neither of them point to anything that has occurred that justifies any such statement; and, in my opinion, there was good reason for this singular reserve on their parts. Months afterwards, when the battle was fought at Belmont, it was not supposed by any one that there were twenty thousand men at Columbus, under command of General Polk, who had then taken the place formerly held by Pillow. It has not been shown, by anything that will pass for evidence, that there were twenty thousand men at Columbus the other day when it was evacuated. The fact that Pillow retired when the reinforcements went forward under Fremont, would go to show that Pillow did not consider himself very strong at that time, and the fact that no demonstration has since that time been made against Cairo, are among the “subsequent events” that do not strengthen their assertions. It is the opinion of many well-informed persons that the movement towards Cairo at that time, as well as the demonstration under Hardee against Iron Mountain; were more feints to draw off reinforcements from Lyon, in order that he might be overwhelmed by the superior force brought against him under Price and McCulloch. The general and the adjutant general who had been deceived by such a ruse would he among the last to admit that they had been outwitted, although the fact that no serious attack nor even a demonstration in that quarter has since been made will go far to convince impartial persons that the enemy in that quarter were standing on the defensive, and their heavy fortifications at Columbus will be almost conclusive. I leave this branch of the case. I think I have made it appear that it was not Fremont’s first duty to reinforce Cairo in preference to Springfield, but I am willing for the sake of the argument to admit that he was correct in his judgment upon this point. It is a matter of opinion, and will always be a matter of opinion, whether he should have taken that course or not. I am willing that upon the facts of the case—not, however, upon his statement of facts—the country shall judge his conduct upon this point.

There remains, however, another branch of this case, which is not a matter of opinion, but a question of fact, upon which I take issue with him. It is the statement that he had not sufficient force under his command with which to reinforce both Cairo and General Lyon at Springfield. It is perfectly evident that he had enough to reinforce Cairo, for that was done, and the enemy fled before his grand flotilla. I will undertake to prove that he had enough also, after he had reinforced Cairo, to have reinforced Lyon; and that he had ample notice of Lyon’s peril, and ample time in which to forward reinforcements. I premise by saying that it is curious that he should have omitted, when he stated that he had not sufficient force for both of these objects, to state also the force which he then had under his command.

The statement which I shall make is not derived from the books in the Adjutant General’s office, for I have had no access to them. General Fremont probably has those books, or at least all the data which embrace the returns of the number of troops in his own department. My knowledge is derived from my own early connection with the organization of troops in the department, from my association with them since, and from scattered items of information which I have been able to glean from the studied obscurity of General Fremont’s own statements and the documents annexed to it.

There was, on the day of arrival of General Fremont in Missouri, sixteen full Missouri regiments in the service of the United States. They were as follows:

First regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel F. P. Blair, at Springfield.

Second regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Boernstein.

Third regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Sigel, at Springfield.

Fourth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Schuttner.

Fifth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Saloman, at Springfield.

Of these, the first regiment was the only three years’ regiment.

The sixth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Bland, at Ironton.

Seventh regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Stevenson, at Booneville.

Eighth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Smith, in Warren county, Missouri.

Ninth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Fredericks, at St. Louis.

Tenth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Bayles, at or near St. Louis.

I find Colonel Schaeffer’s regiment, which I believe to be the eleventh regiment Missouri volunteers, is noticed in the Missouri Democrat with that of Bayle’s and Frederick’s, as being armed and equipped, and under marching orders on the 6th day of August. In addition to these, the five reserved corps regiments—Almstedt’s, Kalmann’s, McNeil’s, Brown’s, and Stifel’s—were then in the service, fully armed and equipped, and stationed at different points in Missouri. There were four Kansas regiments in his department—Dietzler’s and Mitchell’s, the first and second, then with General Lyon; the third and fourth regiments, Montgomery’s and Weer’s, one at Leavenworth, the other at Fort Scott, on the boundary between Missouri and Kansas, about sixty or seventy miles from Springfield. There were at that time four Iowa regiments in the State of Missouri, the first under Bates at Springfield, the second (Curtis) at Jefferson barracks, the third (Williams) on the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad; there was one other in the State, and three others, making seven regiments in all, in Iowa, and ready for service; two of which, the sixth and seventh regiments, reached Jefferson barracks on the 11th of August, and a battalion of the Iowa fifth was at the arsenal, St. Louis, on August 10; three companies of the Iowa fourth arrived in St. Louis on the 11th of August. There were eighteen Illinois regiments to the service and under his command. These regiments were numbered from seven to twenty-fourth inclusive; six of these were “three months” men, which I have already named as being at Cairo in the command of General Prentiss, almost the whole body of which were reorganized and reentered the service, and are now leading the column of victory in Tennessee. There were ten others, “three years” men, numbered from thirteenth to twenty-fourth, inclusive, fully armed and equipped, all in active service, mostly in Missouri, and all under Fremont’s command. These ten regiments had been authorized by the Legislature of Illinois to be raised by the Governor in anticipation of a call by the President. There were one thousand regular troops under Lyon at Springfield, as will appear from the statement of the adjutant general, Captain Kelton, which is among the documents published in Fremont’s papers. These consisted of cavalry, artillery, and infantry. There were also three companies of regulars at Leavenworth. There was a battalion of four hundred home guards at St. Joseph under Colonel Peabody, who was afterwards severely wounded in the siege of Lexington. There were three hundred under Major Hunt at Hannibal, and three hundred at Kansas City under Major ——, who was also subsequently wounded at Lexington; there were also one hundred and fifty at Booneville, under a gallant officer, who afterwards defended that city with his small force and dispersed eight hundred rebels. The Nebraska regiment of four hundred and fifty-seven men reached St. Louis on the 13th or 14th of August.

This statement shows that there were forty-four regiments in the western department armed and equipped when General Fremont arrived there and took the command. On the 4th of August Governor Morton of Indiana telegraphed to General Fremont, as appears from his dispatch annexed to Fremont’s statement, offering him five regiments. Surely these regiments could have been made available for the defense of Cairo, if any serious attack had been made on that position, and although they were not in the western department the Government would not have hesitated to have given him this force if Cairo had been attacked. The Government did consent to his taking those regiments, for they arrived in St. Louis on or about the 17th of August, and were soon followed by three other regiments and several batteries of artillery from that State, all of which have since served with distinction in Missouri.

I propose now to show something as to the particular location of the troops actually in his department at the time of Fremont’s arrival in Missouri, and to prove that he not only had the men to reinforce Cairo and to succor Lyon, but that they were in position to be available to him for those purposes. I read from a letter addressed to me by Colonel John M. Palmer, fourteenth Illinois volunteers, now a brigadier general; who is well known to every member of this House from the State of Illinois:

St. Louis, November 22, 1861.

Dear Sir: On the 5th of July, 1861, the fourteenth regiment Illinois volunteers (nine hundred strong) crossed the Mississippi river, and on tile 13th moved from Hannibal to Macon City, and remaining there and at Renich and Sturgeon, on the North Missouri railroad, until the 9th of August, and on the 10th reached Jefferson barracks.

When this regiment left Hannibal, the third Iowa and the sixteenth Illinois were on the line of the Hannibal and St, Joseph railroad. On the 13th July, Colonel Turchin’s Illinois regiment came into the State of Missouri. On the 14th, Colonel Grant’s twenty-first Illinois was at Palmyra, at which place Colonel Turchin was stationed. On the 3lst July, I found at Mexico Colonel Marshall’s first Illinois cavalry and one battalion of the fifteenth Illinois, Colonel Heeler’s regiment having left the same place a few days before.

During the month of July the following regiments were in North Missouri and within twenty-four hours of St. Louis:

Fourteenth Illinois volunteers, (Palmer,)………………900 men.

Sixteenth Illinois volunteers, (Smith,) say…………….800 ”

Nineteenth Illinois volunteers, (Turchin,) say……..800 ”

Fifteenth Illinois Volunteers, (Turner,) say…………..800 ”

Twenty-first Illinois volunteers, (Grant,) say………..800 ”

First Illinois cavalry, (Marshall,) say……………………600 ”

Twenty-fourth Illinois volunteers, (Hecker,) say…..900 ”

Third Iowa volunteers, (Williams,) say………………..700 ”

Total……………………………………………………………..6,300 men.

All these regiments were then full, and the estimate of their actual strength is low.

Very truly, &c.,

J. M. PALMER.

Colonel F. P. BLAIR.

P. S. If it be inquired what all these regiments were doing, the answer is, eating their rations and holding the railroads. J. M. PALMER

I annex a statement, also, of the number and designation of troops taken by General Fremont to reinforce Cairo, and it will be seen that of the whole number of sixty-three hundred men, contained in the list of General Palmer above, there was but one regiment of these taken to Cairo—Colonel Turchin’s—leaving fifty-five hundred men within twenty-four hours of St. Louis, available, when Fremont first arrived in St. Louis, to reinforce Lyon:

List of troops taken by General Fremont to Cairo, August 1, 1861:

“Nineteenth Illinois regiment, Colonel Turchin, armed with Minies.

“Seventeenth Illinois regiment.

“Rombauer’s house guard, composed of one battalion of Almstedt’s and one of Kalmann’s of the first and second United States reserve corps—eleven hundred strong.

“Second Iowa regiment, formerly Curtis’s, and Captain Buell’s battery of six pieces; eight steamboats; Fremont and staff in four carriages, the City of Alton steamboat being especially devoted to the general and his staff.”

This statement is made front the columns of the St. Louis Democrat.

In addition to the regiments mentioned in the schedule of Colonel Palmer within easy reach of Fremont, there was the thirteenth Illinois regiment, Colonel Wyman, at Rolla; Colonel Stevenson’s regiment, at Booneville; Weer’s regiment, at Fort Scott, in Kansas, sixty or seventy miles from Springfield, and Colonel Montgomery’s regiment at Leavenworth, Kansas, all of which could have reached Springfield before the 10th of August, and in time to have reinforced Lyon. There were other regiments, including Bayle’s, Frederick’s, Shaeffer’s, Smith’s and Coler’s, then at or near St. Louis, which regiments I presume are included in the statement of Colonel Chester Harding, Jr., as comprising the thirty-six hundred men in the St. Louis arsenal on the 5th of August. As the regiments not named by him in his statement are enumerated in the Republican newspaper of St. Louis as being at the arsenal, and under marching orders, on the 6th of August. From this statement it is very clear that there were ten thousand men fully armed and equipped which might have been used to reinforce Lyon, if General Fremont had had the capacity to appreciate the difficulties surrounding Lyon, instead of making those difficulties an excuse for his purchase of Austrian guns, and breaking down under that effort for his relief, and making no other movement, and giving no other order for that purpose, except the order to move two regiments, the only regiments at that time among those I have enumerated, whose positions made it impossible they should reach Lyon by the 10th of August. He not only made no other effort, but, so far from it, transportation which was at Rolla, and which might have been used to forward troops to Springfield if Fremont had had any intention of sending them, was on the 4th of August discharged from service at Rolla and brought back to St. Louis.

I assert that Fremont had notice of Lyon’s perilous condition before he left the city of New York for St. Louis. I received a dispatch from General Lyon while I was in Washington during the extra session of Congress, on or about the 18th of July, stating that Price was advancing upon him with a force of thirty thousand men, and that he would be overwhelmed unless reinforced. My brother, Montgomery Blair, transmitted that message to General Fremont in New York, urging him at the same time to proceed to the West. When General Fremont arrived at St. Louis he was met by a messenger from General Lyon, Major Barnard G. Farrar, attached to Lyon’s staff’, who came from Lyon with urgent entreaties for reinforcements. Captain John S. Cavender, of the first regiment Missouri volunteers, also come from Lyon upon the same errand, and returned, and was afterwards wounded at the battle of Wilson’s Creek. Colonel John S. Phelps, a member of this House from the Springfield district, made the same statements to Fremont, and placed in his hands a written statement from General Lyon, which will be found among the documents attached to Fremont’s defense, to which Lyon said that Missouri would be devastated unless he was reinforced. Fremont, therefore, had ample knowledge of the position in which Lyon stood. He had that knowledge when he left New York, and it was repeated to him in the most urgent terms when he arrived in St. Louis. He seems to have disregarded it altogether, and to have paid no attention to the wants of Lyon until the 3d of August. It does not appear that he even opened communication with Lyon until his return from Cairo. Lyon’s letter of August 9, in response to one from Fremont, does not disclose any encouragement held out to him by Fremont’s letter, to which his is in reply. Fremont’s letter to Lyon is not published, for some reason best known to himself. He has favored the public with a great many of his letters upon matters wholly immaterial, and has chosen to keep back this letter, which might have disclosed what his views were at that time, and what his intentions were with regard to reinforcing Lyon. I know of no subject connected with General Fremont’s career which at this moment would have so much interest for the public.

He says that Lyon had the assurance that he was doing everything he could for him. If he had that assurance, it is more than anybody else has been able to discover. If he had, it is more than he has attempted to prove by this record; for thus record shows that he took no notice of Lyon until the 3d of August, nine days after his arrival in St. Louis, although I have shown that he had ample force under his command, in addition to that which he sent to Cairo. The only remaining question is, whether there was time, to the period intervening between the 25th of July, the date of his arrival in St. Louis, and the 10th of August, when the battle was fought, to draw in his forces and send them to reinforce Lyon. From St. Louis to Rolla, by railroad, the distance is one hundred and eleven miles; from Rolla to Springfield, one hundred and fifteen miles, with a road firm and hard, though rough and broken. Sigel, in his first expedition to Springfield, made the same distance in much less time than fifteen days. The distance has been traversed before and since by large armies, in much less time, and we have General Fremont’s own authority for saying that Springfield is only a week’s march from St. Louis.

I am willing to rest the case here. I think that I have proven that he had ample notice, ample time, and ample force with which to have relieved Lyon; but the difficulty was that he had no appreciation of Lyon’s condition. He told Governor Gamble, of Missouri, who went to him to urge upon him the necessity of sending forward reinforcements, that Lyon was stronger than anybody else upon his line. If further proof were needed it would be found in the fact, that immediately upon the receipt of the news of the battle of Springfield he sent forward Palmer’s and Turner’s regiments, and two other regiments, all of which reached Rolla within three days after the news of the battle, and all of which might have been sent on the first clay he arrived in St. Louis. The pretext now put up by himself for not sending them, and which is also to be found in the certificate given him by Colonel Chester Harding, Jr., was that they were required in northeast Missouri to prevent an uprising of the rebels. The fact is, that these troops were withdrawn from northeast Missouri before the battle of Springfield, Palmer’s regiment arriving in St. Louis on the 10th of August, and there was no organized body of secessionists there when Fremont arrived in the State, and Palmer, in his letter above quoted, states: “If it be inquired what all these regiments were doing, the answer is, eating their rations and holding the railroads.” Everybody knows that these troops could have been better spared from northeast Missouri, or indeed from any other part of the State before the battle of Springfield, than they could afterwards, because that event inspired the rebels with hope and confidence, and set them to organizing all over the State. The sum total of his attempts to succor Lyon may be thus stated. He made no effort at all until it was too late. He ordered two regiments forward, but made no arrangements for transportation; and that these two regiments, so ordered, had the least chance of getting to Springfield in time.

It was under these circumstances that Lyon was forced, by the condition in which he found himself, to engage the enemy twenty-three thousand strong, with his force of less than five thousand men, in one of the most sanguinary and deadly conflicts that ever took place on this continent, and which resulted in a victory and driving the enemy from the field. After the battle was over and the enemy had disappeared from sight, it was discovered that during the tremendous struggle which they had endured, the ammunition of our forces had been almost entirely expended, and they had suffered so much that it was not possible, if the enemy should return and renew the attack, for them to hold their ground, and therefore they retired unmolested. They were never pursued. The enemy showed no disposition to engage them again. They plundered the bodies of tile slain, but never attacked the remnant of Lyon’s army. Fremont has done injustice to the men who at Springfield risked everything for their country, by speaking of it as a defeat. It was a disaster, but no defeat. In the opinion of Lyon and his officers, to attack the enemy was the only way in which the army could be saved, it being unsupported and beyond the hope of any succor. If they had attempted to retreat over the broken roads, through the defiles and forests to Rolla, the enemy having a large force of cavalry, would have harassed them and cut them off, especially as they would have been embarrassed and impeded by the large numbers of Union men fleeing with their wives and children. General Lyon thought his best course was to attack the enemy in front. He did attack them and lost his life, but saved his army and won a victory. That victory did not bear fruit, but that was not the fault of the general who ordered the battle or the men who fought and won it; it was the fault of another. The battle need not to have been fought that day, if there had been any hope of succor; it might have been delayed possibly for a week. It was simply because Lyon, as he then stated, considered himself abandoned, and was hopeless of receiving reinforcements, and felt that this was the only road to safety, that the battle was fought.

The next point to which I shall ask the attention of the House is the siege and fall of Lexington, the most disastrous blow which the Union cause has received in the whole war, if we regard it in the aspect of the number of prisoners taken, and the number of arms, munitions of war, stores, money, and other valuables lost to the Government and captured by the enemy. The number of killed and wounded on our side was not very large, and did not exceed two hundred men, but the enemy took three thousand prisoners, upwards of one thousand horses, three thousand stand of small arms, four heavy guns, wagons, stores, and munitions of war, and nearly half a million of dollars in money. General Fremont says that the first news he received of Price’s advance upon Lexington was on the 12th of September, the day of Mulligan’s arrival at that place. The fact is, that it had been known for weeks that Price was advancing into that part of the State, and Mulligan went to Lexington to take possession of it, and hold it, against Price’s advance. The dispatch of Mulligan, to which General Fremont refers to support his statement, proves simply that on the 12th of August he received news that Price had arrived at Warrensburg, thirty-five miles distant from Lexington, with an army estimated at from twelve to fifteen thousand. Two days afterwards, Fremont made a statement of the forces, under his command, which I here give:

HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT

September 14, 1861.

To the Hon. SIMON CAMERON,

Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

Subjoined is a list of our total force, with its distribution:

St. Louis, including home guard……………………………. 6,899

Under Brigadier General Pope, including home guard 5,483

Lexington, including home guard………………………….. 2,400

Jefferson City, one fourth house guard…………………… 9,677

Rolla………………………………………………………………….. 4,700

Ironton……………………………………………………………….. 3,057

Cape Girardeau…………………………………………………… 650

Bird’s Point and Norfolk………………………………………. 3,510

Cairo. including, McClernand’s brigade…………………. 4,826

Fort Holt, opposite Cairo, Kentucky shore……………… 3,595

Paducah …………………………………………………………….. 7,791

Under General Lane…………………………………………….. 2,200

Mound City; near Cairo………………………………………….. 900

Total of present and absent on detached duty …………55,693

JOHN C. FREMONT

Major General Commanding.

It will be seen from the above that, according to his own showing, he had at the time nearly fifty-six thousand men under his Command.

[Here the hammer fell.]

Mr. COLFAX: If the gentleman from Missouri has not concluded his remarks, I hope he will be allowed to do so.

No objection was made.

Mr. BLAIR, of Missouri: I am very much obliged to the committee and to the gentleman from Indiana for the courtesy which has been shown me. I am well satisfied that it could be shown that Fremont had a larger force at this time. His adjutant general, Captain McKeever, informed me, on or about the middle of October, one month later, that General Fremont had upwards of ninety thousand men under his command in the department of the West; but I am content to take his own statements. Mulligan was ordered to Lexington, to take and hold it until relieved. The dispatches which he sent to Colonel Jefferson C. Davis, commanding at Jefferson City, and which are annexed to Fremont’s statement, show that such were his instructions, for he declares his determination to hold it, and asks that reinforcements be sent to him. But for these instructions, he could have saved his command by crossing the river in the two ferry-boats and a steamboat which lay at the landing of Lexington, and thus put the Missouri river between him and Price, who would have had no means of crossing over and following him. He could thus have joined his forces to those of Sturgis on the north side of the river, and made a stand against Price. But he was ordered to hold Lexington until relieved. He was sent there for that purpose and none other, and he obeyed the order. When General Fremont gave that order, he must have had an opinion as to his ability to reinforce Mulligan in time; he must have supposed either that he was able or that he was not able to do it. If he believed he was able to do it, and then failed, the responsibility of giving such instructions, by which three thousand men with their arms, ammunition, equipments, munitions of war, and stores fell into the hands of the enemy, must rest upon him. If he gave such instructions without believing that he could reinforce Mulligan in time, then the responsibility that rests upon him is unrelieved by any redeeming feature.

This latter construction has been placed upon his conduct by two newspapers published in St. Louis, the Democrat and Republican, both advocates and apologists of his administration of the western department. The Democrat of September 25, in announcing the fall of Lexington, and noticing the movements against Price’s victorious army, says:

“All look to the grand movement for the complete entrapping of the rebel army under General Price, to the accomplishment of which, we are disposed to believe, the Capture of Colonel Mulligan was but one of the predetermined necessities.”

The Republican contained an article of the same tenor. I take a different view of it. I do not think Fremont meditated the destruction of Mulligan. He doubtless believed he had the force to succor him, and he simply lacked the capacity to wield it. I point to the number of troops then under his command, and the positions they occupied, as shown by the statement of his adjutant general, which I have already quoted to prove that he had ample force, if he had known how to use it. Everybody in Missouri, prior to the fall of Lexington, friend and foe alike, believed that he would succeed in cutting off and destroying Price’s army.

The statement already referred to which I hold in my hand, shows that he had nearly seven thousand men in St. Louis; under General Pope, in North Missouri, five thousand four hundred; in Lexington, including the home guard, two thousand four hundred; (the real force in Lexington was three thousand;) at Jefferson City, nearly ten thousand men; at Rolla, four thousand seven hundred, and under General Lane, two thousand two hundred. All of these forces were within less than a week’s march of Lexington; all of them could have been brought to bear upon Lexington in less than a week; in all, upwards of thirty thousand men, armed and equipped. Mulligan held out for nine days. Price held possession for ten days of Lexington, after the capture of Mulligan, making in all nineteen days. The army with which he invested Lexington was reported at from ten to fifteen thousand. He was reinforced by Harris and Green with five thousand men, who traversed the State from its eastern boundary, crossing the river at Glasgow and reaching Lexington before its fall, traveling the whole distance by land, and aiding in its capture. In the mean time, General Fremont, with the railroads at his command to carry his troops within sixty miles of Lexington, with the river and abundant transportation to carry his troops to the city of Lexington itself, and land them at the foot of the hill on which Mulligan was making his gallant defense, failed to send a single man to his assistance. He alleges that he gave orders that were not executed. It was a case in which he should have executed his own orders.

It was a case in which he knew day by day, or had the means of knowing, whether his orders were executed or not; and after the loss of a few days, when he found his orders were not being executed, it was still in his power to take the matter in his own hands, and by moving the troops from St. Louis and Jefferson City, he could have reached Lexington in three days by the river, reinforced Mulligan, and destroyed Price’s army.

After the fall of Lexington he had full time to have rushed upon Price and destroyed him before he left that city, where he remained for ten days after its capture. He announced his intention to do so in a telegraphic dispatch to the President. He remained nearly a week in St. Louis after this announcement. He went to Jefferson City by railroad, and remained there another week; not leaving there with his army until Price moved off leisurely from Lexington. He went then in the direction of Sedalia, on the Pacific railroad, and remained nearly another week. He then marched off to Warsaw and Springfield, and reached the latter place one month after leaving St. Louis, a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles by railroad, and less than a hundred and thirty by land. He started on his expedition with an army of forty thousand men, sufficient to have confronted every secessionist on the western bank of the Mississippi. With that army he reached Springfield in disorder and confusion, the division of General Hunter being compelled by his order’s to make forced marches by night and day to relieve the panic fears of a leader whose enemy was sixty miles away and in full retreat. Was he disturbed by thoughts of the neglected Lyon, or of that other gallant soldier who succumbed to famine in the trenches of Lexington, while he indulged his vanity in the pomp and parade of the inauguration of Benton barracks? It is a curious coincidence, marking the trivial and frivolous character of the man, that at the very moment when the cry of distress came with its wildest accents from both Wilson’s Creek and Lexington, it was drowned by the music of a holiday parade, the only warlike sound that ever smote on our general s ear; and it is not the less curious that he who could be so indifferent to the dangers that beset Lyon and Mulligan, should turn pale at the visionary terrors of the approach of Price’s Falstaffian army in buckram and Kendal green, when he was surrounded and defended by a well-appointed army of more than forty thousand men. If he had made half the haste to succor Lyon or to relieve Mulligan as he did in ordering up Hunter to his own relief, it would have been better for his fame, and far better for the country. Yet I would not impugn his personal courage. A man may be physically brave, but so conscious of the want of faculties to answer the responsibilities of a great occasion as to be paralyzed by it. Fremont was in consternation with such apprehension amid affairs he could not manage.

In his own summing up of the results of his command in Missouri, he declares that it is unreasonable to expect that a general shall always be victorious. It is equally unreasonable to expect that our generals shall always be defeated. He adds that when he had completed the organization of his army, and got it into the field, and commenced handling it, that he was victorious at all points. He cites the instances of Zagonyi’s charge at Springfield and the battle of Frederickton. Something has already been said in this Hall of the battle of Frederickton. I did not make any observation upon it at the time, because I had not seen the dispatches produced by the gentleman from Indiana on that occasion. The occasion of their production was a statement made by the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Gurley] that the battle was fought against the orders of the commanding general, and that therefore he was not entitled to the credit of winning it. It would appear on the face of the telegraphic dispatches produced by the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Shanks] that General Fremont did not order the concerted movement on Frederickton, which was the only victory won in the hundred days in Missouri. The charge of Zagonyi was, in no sense, a victory. Zagonyi and the men under him made a gallant charge; they went in and came out very much worsted, and fell back twenty-five miles. There could be no result from the charge to compensate for the loss it occasioned, as Springfield must necessarily have fallen without loss upon the approach of Fremont’s overwhelming force. The action was brave indeed, and the men who performed it deserve applause. The general who ordered such a sacrifice without any advantage to be obtained from it, deserves nothing but censure.

The dispatches read by the gentleman from Indiana to prove that General Fremont ordered the battle of Frederickton do not sustain that theory, but prove the reverse of it. The dispatches read by the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Gurley] establish the absolute truth of his statement that it was fought against General Fremont’s orders. All of the dispatches taken together prove that if Fremont had not been providentially taken away from St. Louis, and out of the reach of the telegraph, he would have been without a single victory to illustrate his hundred days. The first dispatch is from Colonel Carlin, commanding at Pilot Knob, announcing the approach of Jeff Thompson’s army. I read it:

( 1 ) (Vol. 5, p. 94.

(Special Messenger.) Pilot Knob October 15, 1861.

Captain C. McKeever A. A. G.:

Jeff Thompson is reported twenty two miles east, near Farmington. I require two more regiments If you can send them. I will attack him and follow him up. His force is estimated at three thousand, (3,000.) The telegraph is broken or cut, and I fear the railroad will be obstructed.

CARLIN, Colonel Commanding.

The second dispatch shows that Fremont was out of reach of the telegraph, and was, fortunately for the country, where he could not interfere with the disposition of the troops called on to act against Thompson. He was twenty-five miles south of Syracuse, and could only be

Communicated with by express. The date of the dispatch is the night of the 15th of October. I present it:

(2) [Vol. 4,p,94.

Syracuse, October 15, 1861.

Captain C. McKeever, A. A. G.:

Rumor reports the destruction of long bridge, on Iron Mountain road, and the capture by the enemy of its guard. General Fremont is to-night twenty-five miles south of here. Dispatches sent to me can reach him by express from this place.

McKinstry, Brigadier General.

The dispatches which I shall now read prove that the movements which led to the defeat of Thompson, at Frederickton, were concerted between General Curtis and Captain C. McKeever, who agreed cordially upon the measures necessary to be taken. The dates of these dispatches prove that Fremont had no hand in them:

(3) [Vol. 5, p. l00.

BENTON Barracks, October 16, 1861.

C. M. McKeever, A. A. G.:

Who commands south of St. Louis county? Important reports are coming to me. Thompson was at Big River bridge.

SAMUEL R. CURTIS,

Brigadier General Commanding.

(4) (Vol. 5, P. 101.

St. Louis, October 15, 1861.

Brigadier General Grant, Cairo, Illinois:

Jeff Thompson, with between two and three thousand men, is at Farmington, twenty miles east of Ironton. Send as large a force as you can from Cape Girardeau, in the direction of Ironton, or Pilot Knob, to cut off his retreat into Arkansas.

By order of Major General Fremont.

McKeever, A. A. G.

(5) (Vol. 5, p.102.

Camp Benton, October 16; 1861

C. McKeever, A. A. G.:

The remainder of tire (8th) eighth Wisconsin went to depot early this morning. Boyd’s is about ready to move; is delayed for want of wagons, but will soon move down.

S. R. CURTIS,

Brigadier General.

(6) (Vol. 5, p. 102,

Camp Benton, October 16, 1861.

C. McKeever, A. A. G.:

Have detailed Captain Spoore’s company, Dodge’s light battery, and the captain, to go forthwith.

S. R. CURTIS,

Brig. Gen. Com.

[Vide No.5.] (7) [Vol. 5.p.111.

St. Louis, October 16, 1861.

Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

Colonel Carlin is in command south of St. Louis county. His headquarters are at Pilot Knob, Send six days’ provisions with Colonel Boyd’s regiment. Have the remaining companies of the eighth Wisconsin left this morning? Thompson is at Farmington. Answer how soon troops can be at depot.

C. McKeever, A. A. G.

[ Vide No. 6.] (8) [Vol. 5, p. 111.

St. Louis, October 16, 1861.

Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

Have one of the companies of light artillery under your command equipped immediately. You will make requisition upon Major Allen and Captain Callender for everything that is necessary. Please notify me which company you intend equipping.

By order of General Fremont.

C. McKeever A. A. G.

The next dispatch is from General Fremont, McKinstry’s express having reached him and brought back his orders. Fortunately they came too late to make another Springfield or Lexington at Frederickton:

Headquarters, October 2l, 1861.

To Brigadier General Curtis

Order all the troops that you have sent on the Iron Mountain road back to Benton barracks. The whole affair has been grossly exaggerated. Colonel Carlin should have kept the road open without any additional force.

By order of Major General Fremont.

C. McKeever, A. A. A. G.

The querulous tone of this dispatch proves that it emanated from the commanding general, who never thought anybody to be in danger but himself. It could not have been McKeever’s, because he had concerted the movements with Curtis which led to the sending of the reinforcements countermanded by Fremont. I read another dispatch announcing the victory:

HEADQUARTERS, October 21, 1861.

To Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

Colonel Carlin left Pilot Knob Sunday. Attacked the enemy yesterday and routed him. The eighth Wisconsin and Colonel Boyd’s Missouri volunteers will remain for the present at Pilot Knob. You will order Colonel St. James with his command to return immediately to Benton barracks. Orders will be issued at once sending his regiment forward to Tipton.

By order:

C. McKeever, A. A. A. G.

A singular fact in connection with this transaction which deserves mention is, that the dispatch to Curtis, countermanding the reinforcements is not to be found in the whole batch produced by the gentleman from Indiana; each of which has the mark of the folio of Fremont’s order-book attached to it, showing who furnished them, for the purpose of appropriating to General Fremont the honors of that victory. The dispatch to Curtis is discreetly left out. May we not presume that the man who suppressed that dispatch might overlook others calculated to throw light on the other events of the “hundred days.” The dispatch to Curtis was given to me by that gentleman with his own hand; I use it now, that honor may be given where honor is due.

We have heard much in this House and out of it of the great army which General Fremont created, and of the enthusiasm which he inspired. I had thought that the people of the West had volunteered for the defense of the cause. When the President made his first call for “three months” volunteers, the quota was filled to overflowing in the West. The second call was filled up before General Fremont’s reluctant footsteps were lured back from France by the offer of a major generalship. Every call made on the people of the West has been filled, and the acceptance of more men was refused by the Government. But the idolators of General Fremont will have it that his popularity alone created our western army, and that the Governors and people of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and the entire Northwest have no merit at all in this matter; but when we have been forced by the clamors of his partisans almost to admit that he alone raised this vast army, and when we beheld with our eyes their gallant array, as we did on the grand flotilla which bore him and them to Cairo, when the pleading for succor fell sadly on our ears before the battle of Wilson’s Creek, and as we did, also, at that splendid pageant which commemorated the inauguration of Benton barracks, at the very hour when the booming cannon shook the resounding hills at Lexington, and when we ask why were these brave men not permitted to succor their brothers and carry our banners to victory upon the stricken fields of Wilson’s Creek and Lexington instead of ministering to the pride and vainglory of our chief, then we are told that these long and splendid lines of troops, who marched before our own eyes to the sound of martial music and with flaunting flags, were not men, they were phantoms; the gay flotilla “a painted ship upon a painted ocean;” and the clang of arms, which made the breast of more than one burly brigadier swell with pride, and paled the cheek of beauty at Benton barracks, was a mere imagination of men, and a thing unreal.

Now, sir, he did have the troops, but he did not know how to use them. He did not create these troops. Most of them were enlisted before his feet touched the shores of America on his return from Europe. Missouri overflowed her quota. I have seen men in Missouri after he arrived there, high men, too, coming to him with offers of regiments, and they were elbowed out of the way by his lackeys and orderlies. They were made to give way to the California cormorants. The army that he raised was that army of contractors who settled down upon us like obscene birds of prey upon a carcass. They elbowed everybody else out of the way, and unfortunately for him and the country, engrossed his time and attention. I suppose that there are no men in America whose characters are so bad as the men who were his familiars and associates. Of course, I do not refer to the gentlemen who were near him, of whom there were many on his staff; very many of them were most honorable men, whose only motives were to serve the country and to serve him, and among that number I take pleasure in distinguishing the gentleman from Indiana. My allusion is directed to those who sought him for the sake of contracts. Those of his aids-de-camp who did get contracts were the worst of all.

I desire, in this place, although somewhat out of place in the line of my remarks, to refer, for a moment, to an allusion in the speech of the gentleman from Indiana, to the effect that St. Louis was seething with treason when Fremont arrived there. The general himself stigmatizes St. Louis as a rebellious city, over which he was compelled to establish martial law, and resort to the most stringent measures to prevent the secessionists from taking the town. These statements are made in utter ignorance of affairs in St. Louis. The city and county of St. Louis voted for Abraham Lincoln for President by a large majority, and almost all the votes of the minority were given for Douglas. The vote for Breckinridge did not number one thousand, in a total vote of more than twenty thousand. I venture the assertion that, at the time General Fremont came to the city, there were not a thousand secessionists there. They had the whole winter, with the State and national Governments in their favor, to raise and arm men for the secession cause, and yet they raised only two meager regiments; the other troops captured with these two regiments at Camp Jackson, by General Lyon, on the 10th of May, came from the interior of the State. The secessionists are found among the would-be respectable people, and a few other thoughtless persons, led by these upstarts; but when the call to arms was made in support of the Union cause, ten thousand men volunteered in St. Louis in two weeks, and ten thousand more would have offered if they could have been accepted. No congressional district in the Union has given so many soldiers to the Union cause as the city and county of St. Louis. St. Louis a rebellious city! There never was a greater slander uttered by any man. Some of the rich men were, as he said, secessionists, but the working men, the mechanics and the great body of the people, nine tenths of them, were for the Union, and ready to bear arms in its defense. The declaration of martial law by General Fremont was the offspring of timidity, seeking to prevent imaginary dangers by inspiring the terrors with which he himself was haunted. The robust courage of Lyon failed to see any efficacy in martial law, even when the traitors were openly congregating in Camp Jackson. He relied on his own courage and the valor of his soldiers. The people of that city took up arms, when they were not permitted to bear commissions, but the men who bore arms for their country without commissions from anybody, sustained the power of the Government in the State of Missouri. If they had waited for commissions, an armed minority would have trampled down the authority of the Government there, as was done in many, if not all, of the southern States. It can be said of St. Louis, what cannot be said of any city in a slave State, that the arsenal of the United Suites and the United States treasury were saved to the Government by its loyal citizens, while the State and national governments were conspiring for their capture.

I return to the point I was discussing before this digression on the subject of the loyalty of St. Louis demanded that I should say a few words in defense of the patriotism of its citizens. General Fremont approaches the subject of contracts with rather more of confusion in his manner than characterizes the rest of his statement. In respect to the Beard contract, he makes use of some remarkable language. Among other things, with regard to this contract, when speaking of its treatment in the report of the Van Wyck committee, he says:

“Concerning the contract for this work the committee of investigation say that it was made under the ‘special order and direction of General Fremont,’ and concerning the payments that they were made upon his ‘personal order’. The following extract will show that not only was I recognized to have this power, but that I was so late as the 3d of September, counseled to exercise it by the Quartermaster General, General Meigs.”

Here is the counsel of Quartermaster General Meigs, which he quotes:

Letters of the Hon. M. Blair, P. M. G.

“WASHINGTON, September 3, 1861.

“Meigs begged me this afternoon to get you to order fifteen-inch guns from Pittsburg for your gunboats. He says that the boats can empty any battery the enemy can make with such guns. He advises that you contract for them directly yourself, telling the contractor you will direct your ordnance officer to pay for them.”

Quartermaster General Meigs counsels him to buy fifteen-inch guns. For what? For his gunboats. And this he construes as authority to erect fortifications around St. Louis, forgetful of the order of the Secretary of War to stop the erection of these same fortifications, and make no further payment on account of them, which order he set at defiance, and continued the construction of the forts, and ordered the payment of $60,000 on them to be made by Major Allen, as is clearly shown by the testimony of that officer in the very report upon which he was commenting. What is still more singular is, that when the committee were charging that this was a case of gross fraud upon the Government, and not laying so much stress upon his want of authority, that he should set up his power to make the contract instead of vindicating its fairness. The contract, by its terms, requires that the forts shall be built in five days. It is proven, and admitted by General Fremont; that he set Beard to work upon them as soon as he (Beard) arrived in St. Louis from California. The first payment on account of the forts was made to Beard on the 29th of August; the contract was dated on the 25th of September. It is shown by the testimony that Beard had been working for twenty-five gays on the forts before the contract was signed, which contract required him to complete them in five days. It is proven that the forts were not completed on the 14th of October, when the Secretary of War ordered Fremont to stop the work on them. The work continued. How long Beard was in completing them, I do not know. I have been informed that they were not completed on the 1st of November.

Thus it is established that Beard was working for six weeks, and probably for two months, on a job which he had stipulated to finish in five days. The fact of his having been employed in constructing these forts for six weeks, is brought home to the knowledge of General Fremont; the stipulation to complete them in five days was the colorable pretext merely for the enormous prices paid him for the job. Beard built five of the forts; five others were built under the superintendence of Major Kappner, he employing and paying the laborers. The five built by Kappner cost $60,000, and were one fifth larger than the five built by Beard, who received in money $171,000, and received orders upon the quartermaster, signed by General Fremont, for $75,000 more; making in all $246,000. The committee in their report say:

“It will be seen, therefore, the total amount ordered to be paid to Beard, on account of these works, by General Fremont, was $246,000, of which $171,000 was actually paid. Through the firmness of Major Allen, who appears to be a vigilant and incorruptible guardian of the public interest, this last amount of $60,000 was saved from going into the capacious and already gorged pocket of Beard, who, in the language of Major Allen, was the ‘leader among the contractors,’ and perhaps ‘the most extravagant and grasping of them all.”‘

The committee say further:

“There is, however, another way of testing the character of this contract. The five forts built by Major Kappner, by days’ work, which would ordinarily be the most expensive way, cost the sum of $60,000, while they were one fifth larger on an average than the five built by Beard. Major Kappner testifies positively that the five forts built by Beard would certainly not cost more than $60,000, which the five forts cost that he built. Allowing to Beard the liberal estimate that the cost of building the five forts which he constructed was $60,000, he has already obtained from the Treasury of the United States the profit of $111,000; and had the additional amount of $75,000 been paid him, which General Fremont had ordered to he paid, the Government would have been defrauded in that one transaction out of the enormous sum of $176,000.

“From the facet that the contract with Beard was entered into so long after the work had been commenced by him it has the appearance that it was really intended to cover all the work on all the forts—that done by Major Kappner by days’ work as well a by himself—for the purpose of enabling him to obtain pay for the whole at the extravagant and outrageous prices provided for in his contract. It is but justice to General McKinstry to state that he is not responsible for this contract. It was made at headquarters, and the enormous and unconscionable prices were there fixed upon between General Fremont and the contractor, and the payments made by him on the contract were made by the express direction of General Fremont. He acted for the commanding general, and by his direction. Beard brought to him a paper from headquarters, ‘formally drawn up,’ which contained the prices. (See Clement’s testimony, p. 885.) He objected to the prices, and ‘greatly reduced them.’ If the prices named in the contract were tile ‘reduced’ prices, it would be a matter of curiosity to know what the original prices were as sent from headquarters.”

I cannot forbear another quotation from the report of the committee:

“The money appropriated by Congress to subsist and clothe and transport our armies was thus, in utter contempt of all law and of the Army regulations, as well as in utter defiance of superior authority, ordered to be diverted from its lawful purpose, and turned over to the cormorant, Beard. While he had received $171,000 from the Government, it will be seen from the testimony of Major Kappner that there had only been paid to the honest German laborers, who did the work on the first five forts built under his direction, the sum of $15,500, leaving from forty to fifty thousand dollars still their due. And while these laborers, whose families were clamoring for bread, were besieging the quartermaster’s department for their pay, this rapacious contractor, Beard, with $171,000 in his pocket, is found following up the army, and in the confidence of the major general, who gives him orders for large purchases, which only could have been legally made through the quartermaster’s department, and which afforded him further opportunities for still plundering the Government.”

I can only add to this, that the laboring men who did the work for Beard went without their money as well as those who did the work under Kappner. Dozens of them came to my house to ask how they should get their money, and as I was not its well acquainted with Beard as General Fremont appears to be, from his statement, and had not the same confidence in him as the general declared that he had, I could not answer their questions.

The above quotations show what was the gravamen of the charge made by the committee, and I regard it as a most singular answer to this charge that Quartermaster General Meigs had recommended him to purchase fifteen-inch guns for his gunboats.

This allusion to gunboats, however, reminds me of the declaration made by the gentleman from Indiana, [Mr. Shanks,] and many times repeated in his speech, in praise of the forethought and energy of Fremont to ordering and constructing the gunboats on the western waters. The gentleman says they were a part of Fremont’s plan, and originated by him. Now, sir, I am compelled to state, in vindication of the truth of history, that Fremont did not order the gunboats, and that the plan did not originate with him. They were ordered before he came back from Europe. The Government had determined upon the plan, and the advertisements for proposals were published before he reached the shores of America. They were intended for McClellan when he was in command of that department. The idea of the mortar boats originated with Captain Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, to whom the whole merit of their plan is justly due.

The gentleman from Indiana is haunted with the idea of an awful combination against the “champion of freedom.” There is scarcely a paragraph in his speech in which this combination does not crop out. He classifies the parties to that combination or conspiracy, and goes over it again and again in “damnable iteration,” showing that it had made a great impression on his mind, and that he actually believed in it. Parties to this “unholy alliance” consisted of pro-slavery men, jealous politicians looking to the Presidency, West Pointers, and contractors. I do not know in which of these classes the gentleman has placed me. I am inclined to think that I am left out altogether. My opposition to slavery has been tried and proven in a more severe ordeal than any through which the gentleman front Indiana or General Fremont have ever been called on to pass. It has been tested in worse places and in worse times than either of them have ever experienced. I have sealed my devotion to that cause by quite as many sacrifices as the gentleman from Indiana, or his friend General Fremont. I intend, so far as I can, under the Constitution of my country, to continue my hostility to the institution of slavery. I shall oppose, as I have always opposed, its existence in the State in which I live; and if any mode, under the Constitution, can be devised by which the institution of slavery can be obliterated from all the States in the Union, I shall be among the first to support that measure; but I will not aid in breaking down the Constitution even to destroy slavery. I consider the Constitution of more value to me and to my children than any other earthly possession.

During the pendency of the present struggle, I have taken upon myself some slight hazards in its defense, and will never be found enrolled among its enemies and violators, no matter from what quarter they may come. I understand that by pro-slavery men the gentleman means to designate those who opposed the proclamation of General Fremont. I can say that I did not see anything very bad in that proclamation. Nobody paid much attention to it in Missouri, where it really had little or no effect. Everybody understood very well that it was not intended for that meridian, but that it was put out for a campaign in New England and elsewhere. It was not intended to operate upon the theater of war, where its only effect would be to make the rebels fight more desperately to save their property and negroes; it was rather intended for a political campaign in which the general had embarked, and in which he hoped for better success than had attended his arms. The net results of this bombastic proclamation was the loss of two armies and the liberation of two negroes—negroes that did not belong to the man from whom they were taken, but to his wife, to whom they were secured by a marriage contract. The deeds of emancipation which he gave to these two negro men were intended to point an electioneering document. In the course that I have thought proper to pursue towards General Fremont, I believe I am uninfluenced by any sentiment of jealousy. I have heretofore given him a very cordial support for every position to which he has aspired, and I am unconscious of ever having experienced a feeling of jealousy to any one. There is certainly nothing in General Fremont’s present position to inspire any one with jealousy. I am neither a West Pointer nor a contractor, and do not feel myself included in the conspiracy, which the imagination of the gentleman from Indiana has conjured up.

My belief is that the President was operated upon in the removal of General Fremont by his own judgment upon events which transpired in Missouri. Before General Fremont took command in that department uninterrupted success attended the standard of the Union. The first blow which was struck for the Government was given in Missouri; the first successes of the cause were won upon the soil of that State. Camp Jackson, Booneville, and Carthage, made the names of Lyon and Sigel historic, and gilded the cloud of disaster which had settled upon our arms elsewhere. The welcome which greeted the advent of Fremont had hardly ceased to sound before the cry of distress broke upon our ears. Humiliation, disaster, defeat, and disgrace, came with him, remained with him, and went away with him and his army of contractors.

As soon as the paralyzing influence of his imbecility was removed victory came back to the standard of the Union in the West, and the advancing columns of our victorious armies have penetrated to the very heart of the rebellion, inflicting blows from which it lies writhing in death, and from which it can never recover.

I believe it is the judgment of mankind that there is no such thing as an unfortunate great man. A man to be great must be able to do great things with small means; and when we hear of a fellow going whimpering around the country trying to give the reasons for his being whipped, the spectacle may excite sympathy, he may even be regarded as a very good man, but nobody will ever select him as a fit person to fight battles and to carry on war.

The admirers of General Fremont say that he would have won a victory if he had been permitted to remain in command. The world would have more confidence if he had given any proof of his capacity by winning victories when he had a command. It was with great difficulty that the order for General Fremont’s removal was carried through his lines. A messenger who bore the dispatch passed through his lines by a ruse, as I am given to understand, and delivered it to General Fremont.

The newspapers that were in his interest in St. Louis announced that, when the intelligence of his removal was made known, there was a mutiny in the army, and that there was a meeting of officers, especially of those whose commissions expired with the end of his service in the department; that they gathered around him, and shouted “Hurrah for Fremont, and down with Hunter!” His friends say that he used his potent influence to put down this terrible mutiny. There was no mutiny that was not of his own making. The press in St. Louis, in his interest and under his control, instigated mutiny, and promoted it by every species of influence they could bring to bear; by misrepresentations of the grossest character; by appeals to the pride and passions of the men.

The general himself permitted it by not preventing it, if he did anything to quell the mutiny, it was only when he found that it did not extend beyond a few of his own dependents and retainers, and that the army had risen in defense of the country and not to put him above the country. The conduct of his nearest and most trusted friends, and the conduct of the press, which had only spoken during his administration of the department as he dictated, proved most conclusively that he would have defied the Government and retained the command, if he had dared to do so.

The fact that his friends applaud him, even for yielding his command when ordered to do so by the Government, shows how little margin there is for praise when such an act, under such circumstances, is extolled. But as little as there is to exalt in his enforced obedience to what he could not and dared not resist, yet it was the most commendable act, after all, of his administration.

“Nothing in life [official life] so became him

As the leaving it.”

Order 11 by Albert Castel

©Albert Castel, published with permission

“Order No. 11 and the Civil War on the Border”

by Albert Castel

Copyright 1963 Albert Castel. Used with Permission.

This is copyrighted material–the article, the pictures, and the introduction–and may not be copied or reproduced in any form, including on other websites, without permission of the authors.
Books by Albert Castel

available from Amazon.com

Articles of War: Winners, Losers, and Some Who Were Both During the Civil War

Tom Taylor’s Civil War

General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West

Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla

William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times

Decision in the West

More books by Albert Castel

Introduced by G. E. Rule

Albert Castel, over a published career that is approaching fifty years, has proven himself to be the leading historian of the Civil War in the West. With titles like General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1968), William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times (1962), and Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla (with Thomas Goodrich, 1998), none of those who are serious about studying the war in Missouri can consider themselves well-read on the subject if they have not read Castel. His other titles on the war in the West will also be read for many years to come, and his Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (1992) is an award-winning title that is likely to remain the definitive statement on what was arguably the most important campaign of the war. Dr. Castel’s most recent title, Articles of War: Winners, Losers, and Some Who Were Both in the Civil War, Stackpole Books, 2001, is available from Amazon.com.

“Order No. 11 and the Civil War on the Border” originally appeared in the Missouri Historical Review 57 (State Historical Society of Missouri, July 1963): 357-68 and was reprinted in Winning and Losing in the Civil War (University of South Carolina, 1996), which is an excellent compilation of dry wit and sharp observations on a variety of issues and incidents of the war. As an example of the former, Castel skewers one academic colleague by noting “he achieves a truly remarkable originality when he refers to McClellan’s operations as commander of the Army of the Potomac as ‘lightning maneuvers.’” The current article, below, is an example of the latter.

Castel reports this article has been largely ignored by his fellow historians, while also noting “so far no one has directly challenged these findings, much less rebutted them.” Civilwarstlouis.com is pleased to give “Order No. 11 and the Civil War on the Border” a home on the internet, and to offer a balanced and thoughtful appraisal of one of the most emotional issues of the war in Missouri. Indeed, one can speculate this balance has been a factor in the neglect Castel notes; his article does not offer either side the unqualified brick-bat they would like to belabor the other with. While each side could pick telling phrases to hurl at the other, they would immediately find themselves confronted with an equally powerful excerpt from the same source that they would find distasteful.


Order No. 11 was the most drastic and repressive military measure directed against civilians by the Union Army during the Civil War. In fact, with the exception of the hysteria-motivated herding of Japanese-Americans into concentration camps during World War II, it stands as the harshest treatment ever imposed on United States citizens under the plea of military necessity in our nation’s history.

Issued August 25, 1863, by Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr., commander of the District of the Border, with headquarters at Kansas City, Order No. 11 required all the inhabitants of the Western Missouri counties of Jackson, Cass, and Bates not living within one mile of specified military posts to vacate their homes by September 9. Those who by that date established their loyalty to the United States government with the commanding officer of the military station nearest their place of residence would be permitted to remove to any military station in the District of the Border or to any part of Kansas except the counties on the eastern border of that state. Persons failing to establish their loyalty were to move out of the district completely or be subject to military punishment.[1]

Lawrence ruins from Harpers

The general public at the time, as well as most historians since, regarded the order as an act of retaliation for the destruction of Lawrence, Kansas, and the massacre of c. 200 of its male residents by William Clarke Quantrill’s Missouri guerrillas on August 21, 1863. Critics of the order both then and thereafter condemned it as being cruel, unjust, and unnecessary.[2]Its defenders, on the other hand, while admitting its severity, maintained that it was fully warranted by the military situation and that it achieved the results intended—the forcing of Quantrill’s bushwhackers out of the border region of Missouri and the ending of guerrilla raids into Kansas.[3]

Both parties to the controversy over Order No. 11 have usually dwelt upon the circumstances immediately preceding its promulgation and upon the short-range impact of its execution. Rarely, if at all, have they examined its full background or its ultimate operation. Yet it is only through such an examination that a valid evaluation of the order can be made. Once this is done, then perhaps a definite answer can be given to the question, was Order No. 11 a justified act of military necessity or an unjustified deed of military tyranny?

The territorial conflict of the 1850s left a legacy of hatred between Kansas and Missouri. Kansans resented the invasions of the Missouri “Border Ruffians” and the Missourians bitterly recalled the incursions of John Brown, James Montgomery, and other Kansas “jayhawkers.” The outbreak of the Civil War intensified this mutual animosity. Kansas jayhawkers and Red Legs made devastating raids into Missouri during which they plundered and murdered, burned farmhouses and crops, and liberated hundreds of slaves. These forays in turn caused pro-Southern guerrilla bands to retaliate against Kansas. Led by Quantrill, the Missouri bushwhackers sacked Kansas border settlements and shot down unarmed civilians “like so many hogs.” At the same time they waged a deadly partisan warfare against Federal troops and Union adherents in Missouri itself.

The efforts of the Federal army to put down bushwhacking were frustrated by the skill of the guerrillas, the difficult nature of the countryside, and above all the assistance rendered the bushwhackers by the civilian population. Most of the people of Western Missouri looked upon the guerrillas as their avengers and defenders, and a large portion of them had friends and kinsmen riding with Quantrill. Consequently they aided them in every possible way, from feeding and sheltering them, to smuggling them ammunition and acting as spies. Even anti-Confederates assisted the partisans out of fear of reprisals. Thus in effect the Federal forces in Western Missouri were opposed by an entire people.[4]

By the spring of 1863 Union officers serving along the border had concluded that the bushwhackers could never be suppressed by ordinary tactics. “Good men and true,” wrote one of them, “have been for months trying to catch the bushwhackers, and I know it is, as they declare, almost an impossibility.”[5] And declared another: “If any one … can do better against bushwhackers than we have done, let him try this country, where the people and bushwhackers are allied against the United States and its soldiers.”[6]

In June 1863, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr., took command of the District of the Border. Ewing, aged thirty-four, was a prominent Kansas Republican, former chief justice of Kansas, and the brother-in-law and one-time law partner of General William T. Sherman. A man who believed that he had “few equals in mental vigor,” he was intensely ambitious and hoped to secure election to the United States Senate. With that goal in mind he was at this period seeking the favor of Senator James H. Lane, the “King” of Kansas politics.

By the end of July Ewing decided that unless his forces were tripled the only possible way to destroy the guerrillas was to strike at the root of their power, the support they received from the civilian population. Therefore on August 3 he wrote his departmental commander, Major General John M. Schofield, stating that since two-thirds of the families in Western Missouri were kin to the bushwhackers and were “actively and heartily engaged in feeding, clothing, and sustaining them,” several hundred families of the “worst guerrillas” should be transported to Arkansas. This would not only deprive the guerrillas of their aid, but would cause the guerrillas whose families had been removed to follow them out of the state. Surrender terms could then be offered to the less offensive bushwhackers remaining.[7]

Schofield approved the plan, and on August 18 Ewing put it into effect by issuing General Order No. 10.[8] Then, three days later, Quantrill and 440 bushwhackers destroyed Lawrence. This deed, which was not only the climax of the Kansas-Missouri Border War but also the most horrible atrocity of the entire Civil War, shocked, frightened, and enraged Unionists in both Kansas and Missouri, and caused them to demand that the bushwhackers be crushed once and for all so as to prevent further raids of this kind. Ewing, who likewise believed that drastic action was needed, responded to their clamor by promulgating Order No. 11 on August 25.

Immediately large numbers of pro-Southern and Conservative Union Missourians denounced the order as “inhuman, unmanly, and barbarous.”[9]Most prominent and vehement among the critics was George Caleb Bingham, the famous artist. Although a Unionist, Bingham hated Kansans in general and Ewing in particular. After Order No. 11 was announced he went to Ewing’s headquarters in Kansas City and demanded that it be rescinded. Ewing refused, and the interview became highly acrimonious. Finally, as he departed, Bingham warned: “If you persist in executing that order, I will make you infamous with pen and brush as far as I am able.”[10]

Photographic reproductions of the George Caleb Bingham painting “Order No. 11” are available from the State Historical Society of Missouri

Bingham carried out his threat in both respects. First he produced a painting entitled “Order No. 11 .” It showed Ewing astride a horse complacently supervising his troops as they expel a Missouri family from its home. A Kansas Red Leg has just shot down a young man, and another is about to shoot the elderly head of the family, oblivious to the pleas of a beautiful young woman kneeling at his feet. The house is being pillaged by Union soldiers, one of whom bears a likeness to the noted jayhawker, Colonel Charles Jennison. In the background columns of smoke rise from burning fields and a long, funereal line of refugees wends its way along the road. The painting was mediocre art but excellent propaganda, and it did more than anything else to create the popular conception of Order No. 11.[11]

What he depicted in the painting Bingham also expressed in various writings which may be regarded as representative of all the criticisms of Order No. 11. According to him the order was “an act of purely arbitrary power, directed against a disarmed and defenseless population” in violation of “every principle of justice.” It was inspired by vengeance and was issued by Ewing in order to curry favor with the Kansas “mob” and advance his political ambitions. It resulted in “barefooted and bareheaded women and children, stripped of every article of clothing except a scant covering for their bodies,” being “exposed to the heat of an August sun and compelled to struggle through the dust on foot.” Under it men “were shot down in the very act of obeying the order, and their wagons and effects seized by their murderers.” Union soldiers and Red Legs burned dwellings and sent long wagon trains of plunder into Kansas. Refugees “crowded by hundreds upon the banks of the Missouri River, and were indebted to the charity of benevolent steamboat conductors for transportation to places of safety where friendly aid could be extended to them without danger to those who ventured to contribute it.”

There was neither need nor cause for Order No. 11, asserted Bingham. Most of the real bandits on the border were not Quantrill’s bushwhackers but Kansas Red Legs who carried on their “nefarious operations under the protection and patronage of General Ewing. . . . The bushwhackers were but small in number, “at all times insignificant in comparison with the Federal troops. . . .” The guerrillas could “at any time have been exterminated or driven from the country had there been an earnest purpose on the part of the Federal forces in that direction, properly braced by a willingness to incur such personal risks as become the profession of a soldier.”

Finally, the order did not accomplish its professed purpose. Instead of driving them out, it gave up the country to the bushwhackers, “who, until the close of the war, continued to stop the stages and rob the mails and passengers, and no one wearing the Federal uniform dared to risk his life within the desolated district.”[12]

Much of Bingham’s pictorial and verbal condemnation of Ewing and Order No. 11 was false and unfair, and motivated by personal malice. It is extremely unlikely, for instance, that Ewing, as the painting “Order No. 11” would imply, ever sat about on his horse callously watching the Red Legs slay defenseless men. The charge that the Red Legs enjoyed Ewing’s “protection and patronage” was viciously absurd, since Ewing, while in command of the District of the Border, made constant and earnest efforts to suppress the Red Legs and stop jayhawking.[13]As for the assertion that bushwhacking did not become widespread until after Order No. 11, this is so obviously contrary to facts as not to require refutation.

Other of Bingham’s accusations, however, had at least some basis in fact. Thus, in issuing the order, Ewing was motivated in part by a desire to satisfy the clamor for revenge in Kansas. In addition there can be little question that he was also concerned about his political prospects. Many Kansans criticized his conduct of affairs along the border and declared that he should be removed from command. Senator Lane warned him that unless he took harsh measures against the guerrillas, he would be a “dead dog” politically.[14]

However, these were not the sole motives, nor even necessarily the main ones, behind the issuance of Order No. 11. Other important considerations were Ewing’s desire to reassure the badly frightened people of Kansas, and to forestall a threatened mob invasion of Western Missouri. Shortly after the Lawrence Massacre, Senator Lane called on the men of Kansas to assemble on the border for the purpose of marching into Missouri and carrying out a campaign of “devastation and extermination.” Had it not been for Order No. 11 this invasion probably would have taken place; as it was, even after issuing the order Ewing had a great deal of difficulty heading off Lane’s proposed expedition.[15] Thus it can be argued that however drastic Order No. 11 was, it helped prevent much worse.

Still another reason for Order No. 11, and probably the main one, was the military situation. The Lawrence Massacre made it obvious that all previous efforts to combat the guerrillas had been unavailing, and that they threatened to drive all Unionists from the border. Therefore the only thing that could be done, for it was the only thing left to be done, was to direct measures against the civilian population which contributed so much to the success of the bushwhackers. Although the timing and circumstances of the order made such an assumption natural and plausible, it was not, except in a limited sense, a retaliation for the massacre. It had been presaged by Order No. 10, and was essentially an extension of a policy already in effect, a policy suddenly made more drastic as a result of a shockingly horrible event.[16]

Finally, even if Ewing had not issued Order No. 11, a similar program would have gone into effect. For on the very same day that Ewing published the order, Schofield sent him the draft of an almost identical order. The major difference between the two was that Schofield’s draft was much harsher than Ewing’s order. Schofield believed that “nothing short of total devastation of the districts which are made the haunts of the guerrillas will be sufficient to put a stop to the evils.” Unlike Order No. 11, Schofield’s proposal established no method of differentiating between Union and Confederate adherents.[17] All in all, Bingham’s criticism of Ewing’s motives in issuing Order No. 11 were for the most part either erroneous, pointless, or both. In any case, Schofield must share the responsibility for the order with Ewing.

Bingham was on much firmer ground in denouncing the severity of the order. There can be no doubt that its execution resulted in a great deal of hardship and suffering. H. B. Bouton, a Unionist living near Kansas City, told of seeing large numbers of “poor people, widows and children, who, with little bundles of clothing, are crossing the river to be subsisted by the charities of the people amongst whom they might find shelter.”[18] Colonel Bazel Lazear, Federal commander at Lexington, Missouri, wrote his wife: “It is heartsickening to see what I have seen. . . . A desolated country and men & women and children, some of them all most [sic] naked. Some on foot and some in old wagons. Oh God.[19]

Marauding by Union troops increased the misery of the refugees. Most of the soldiers enforcing the order were vengeance-minded Kansans who welcomed such a splendid opportunity to punish the Missourians. Ewing, to be sure, repeatedly ordered his men not to engage in wanton pillaging, but his efforts were largely in vain.[20] By the end of September the depopulated district was a silent, forlorn land of stark chimney standing over charred ruins.[21]

But if Bingham had some justification for denouncing the hardships caused by Order No. 11, he was almost totally wrong in contending that it was unnecessary and that the inefficiency and cowardice of the Federal forces were alone responsible for the success of the bushwhackers. Schofield, a competent professional soldier who ultimately became the commanding general of the United States Army, personally investigated the situation in Western Missouri after the issuance of the order and concluded that it was “wise and just—in fact a necessity.”[22] For over two years the guerrillas had been attacking Federal posts and patrols, terrorizing Unionists, and raiding border settlements, and doing so with ever-mounting intensity. As anyone familiar with the nature and history of partisan warfare knows, not only are guerrillas extremely exasperating but also terribly difficult to combat, and that one of the most effective ways (sometimes the only way) to defeat them is to deprive them of their civilian support as Orders No. 10 and 11 contemplated.[23] Such tactics, for example, were employed successfully in South Africa by Lord Kitchener against the Boer commandos, partisans who had many characteristics in common with the Missouri bushwhackers. According to the British military historian, Cyril Falls, Kitchener resorted to “destroying farmhouses and their stores . . . and placing the inhabitants, mostly women, old people, and children, in camps, wherein the death-toll from sickness was high.”[24] And along the same line, it should be noted that Grant in 1864 became so annoyed by Mosby’s raids that he instructed Sheridan to send a cavalry division through Loudon County, Virginia “to destroy and carry off the crops, animals, Negroes, and all men under 50 years of age capable of bearing arms.”[25]

Order No. 11, moreover, was imposed on a predominantly enemy population which was willingly aiding and abetting the bushwhackers. Neither Bingham nor any of the other critics of the order maintained otherwise. The most they claimed was that “hundreds” of the people subjected to the order were “true and loyal” to the Union.[26] But even if this were true the loyalists constituted only a small fraction of those affected by the order. Ewing, it will be recalled, estimated that two-thirds of the families in Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties were voluntarily helping the bushwhackers. This contention is supported by the Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, which declared that most of the inhabitants of these counties were disloyal, and that the few remaining Unionists were terrorized by the guerrillas into aiding them.[27] The Reverend George Miller, who lived in Kansas City during most of the war and opposed Order No. 11, stated in his memoirs that over four-fifths of the people in that region were secessionists.[28] In connection with this last statement, it is interesting to note that a Federal officer engaged in carrying out the order wrote in his diary that only one person in five was being permitted to remain in the district as being loyal to the Union.[29]

As a final answer to this particular criticism of Bingham’s, it should be pointed out that under the laws and practices of war, whenever enemy civilians willingly assist guerrillas, then they must expect to take the consequences, and that among the consequences is forced evacuation of their homes.

The last, and in a way the most important, of Bingham’s strictures on Order No. 11 was that it utterly failed to attain its avowed objective: the destruction of the guerrillas. This charge, to the extent it referred to the immediate effect of the order, was well founded. On this matter we have the testimony of one of the bushwhackers, who later recalled that despite the order,

Quantrill was in no hurry to leave the country for the South. The farmhouses were nearly all vacated as required by Order No. 11, but in every smoke house there hung from the rafters hams and bacon, and the country was full of stray hogs, cattle, and chickens which the owners had been forced to leave behind. There was plenty of feed for horses, and the men gathered the food at night.[30]

When Quantrill left Missouri early in October he did so only because of the approach of cold weather.

Thus the immediate effectiveness of Order No. 11 was practically nil. What, then, was its ultimate result? To this question, unfortunately, there can be no definite answer, for the simple reason that the order was not allowed to function as originally intended. First, Ewing himself relaxed its terms by issuing, on November 20, Order No. 20. This provided for a limited resettlement of the depopulated district by “loyal persons” under a strict system of screening and accountability.[31] Then, in January 1864, as part of a general re-organization of military affairs in the West, the border counties came under the command of Brigadier General Egbert B. Brown, a Missouri militia officer who disapproved of Order No. 11. Acting without prior consultation with Schofield or his approval, Brown on January 14 issued an order permitting all persons not “disloyal or unworthy” to return to their homes in the district.[32] Although nominally similar to Order No. 20, Brown’s order set up a very loose procedure for determining loyalty and disloyalty, and it seemingly ignored the existence of Ewing’s resettlement program, under which, according to the Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, “nine-tenths of all the really loyal who intend to return have done so.”[33] Ewing at once protested the new order to Schofield, declaring that it would undo all that Order No. 11 had accomplished, and that “General Brown will let disloyal refugees return, and following them will return the guerrillas.”[34] But Schofield soon ceased to command in Missouri, and Brown’s policy remained in effect.

As a consequence Ewing’s prediction was fulfilled. By May Colonel James H. Ford, commander of Union forces in Jackson County, was writing that “the county is full of bushwhackers, and they have friends all through the country who furnish them with food . . . . I am satisfied that there are many families that are feeding them that have proved their loyalty. . . .”[35] And in June, following a scout through Jackson County, another Federal officer reported that “wherever we found settlements there we found signs of bushwhackers, and vice versa. Around Hickman Mills, Pleasant Hill, and the Sni Hills there are a good many families returned under the orders of General Brown, all of them bearing protection papers, either from General Brown’s headquarters or headquarters at St. Louis.”[36]

Significantly, not one of the bushwhackers in his memoirs indicates that Order No. 11 in any way handicapped their operations in 1864. On the contrary, one of them related that Quantrill’s band, when it returned to Missouri in the spring, stopped off at a farmhouse and “got a good breakfast of biscuits and bacon . . . prepared by the woman of the house.”[37]

To be sure, it might be argued that Order No. 11 was successful since there were no more guerrilla raids into Kansas from Missouri following its issuance. But it is extremely doubtful that the order as such was more than a minor and indirect factor in achieving this result. Of greater importance were the strengthened border defenses of Kansas following the Lawrence Massacre, an improved home guard system in that state, and above all the fact that the bushwhackers during the summer of 1864 concentrated their operation in Northern and Central Missouri so as to prepare the way for Sterling Price’s invasion that fall.[38] If the guerrillas had wanted to make another foray into Kansas they could have done so at almost any time. Certainly all through 1864 and even in 1865 Kansas communities were in a constant fret over being raided, a good indication that they placed little faith in the effectiveness of the badly watered-down Order No. 11.[39]

Regarded objectively from the standpoint of historical perspective Order No. 11 was a natural and perhaps inevitable response on the part of the Federal military authorities to a situation which had become intolerable. It was, by mid-Victorian if not by modern standards, very cruel. Yet this cruelty, in the final analysis, merely reflected the cruelty of the Kansas-Missouri Border War, without doubt the most savage and bitter phase of the entire Civil War.

Membership in the State Historical Society of Missouri, publisher of the
Missouri Historical Review for almost 100 years, is an inexpensive and
effective way to support the preservation of Missouri’s Civil War heritage.

State Historical Society of Missouri

NOTES


[1]U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), Series I, 22, pt. 2, 473 (hereinafter cited as O.R., followed by series number, volume number, part number [if any], and page). The terms of the order also included a narrow strip of the northern part of Vernon County. In all, the region affected by the order had a population of about 40,000 at the beginning of the war.

[2] For example, see Jay Monaghan, Civil War on the Western Border (Boston: Little, Brown, 1955), 287; Carl W. Breihan, Quantrill and his Civil War Guerrillas (Denver: Sage, 1959), 135-39; Darrell Garwood, Crossroads of America: The Story of Kansas City (New York: Norton, 1948), 320-21; John N. Edwards, Noted Guerrillas; or, The Warfare of the Border (St. Louis: Bryan, Brand, 1877), 205; Charles Robinson, The Kansas Conflict (Lawrence, Kans.: Privately printed, 1898), 447-48.

Editor’s Note: The article as published in MHR in 1963 uses a death toll of 150 from the raid on Lawrence, which was the standard figure used at the time. Castel reports he later came to the conclusion the actual number was probably closer to 180, and that he now accepts the estimate of “around two hundred” as given by Edward E. Leslie in The Devil Knows How to Ride: William Clarke Quantrill and His Confederate Raiders, Random House, 1996, p.237. We have made this correction at the author’s request.

[3] See Lt. Col. R. H. Hunt, General Order No. 11 (Topeka: Kansas Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, 1908), 3-7; Henry E. Palmer, “The Lawrence Raid,” Kansas Historical Collections, 6 (18971900): 317-25; Shalor W. Eldridge, Recollections of Early Days in Kansas (Topeka: Kansas State Printing Plant, 1920), 197.

[4] The Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, January 23, 1864, estimated that in 1863 nine-tenths of the people in Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties “supplied and aided” the guerrillas.

[5] Ibid., June 13, 1863.

[6] Ibid., May 2, 1863.

[7] O.R., I, 22, pt. 2, 428-29.

[8] Ibid., 450-51, 460-61.

[9] Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, September 5, October 3, October 10, 1863, quoting the Lexington Union and the St. Louis Republican.

[10] C. B. Rollins, ed., “Letters of George Caleb Bingham to James S. Rollins,” Missouri Historical Review, 33 (October 1938): 62.

[11] Bingham completed the painting in November 1868. The original hangs in the art gallery of the State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia.

[12] The above statements and quotations are from a public letter written by Bingham in 1877, most conveniently found in William L. Webb, Battles and Biographies of Missourians (Kansas City: Hudson-Kimberly, 1900), 256-64.

[13] Albert Castel, Frontier State at War. Kansas, 1861-1865 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1958), 111-12.

[14] William E. Connelly, Quantrill and the Border Wars (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1910), 417-18.

[15] Castel, Frontier State at War, 146-49.

[16] Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, September 5, 1863; Schofield to Ewing, January 25, 1877, in Webb, Battles and Biographies, 265.

[17] O.R., I, 22, pt. 2, 471-72. John N. Edwards, Noted Guerrillas, 205-6, who got most of the material for his book from former guerrillas, even stated, mistakenly, that the order actually originated with Schofield, who in turn got his instructions from Washington.

[18] Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, September 19, 1863.

[19] Vivian K. McLarty, ed., “The Civil War Letters of Colonel Bazel Lazear,” Missouri Historical Review, 44 (July 1950): 390.

[20] O.R., I, 22, pt. 2, 570-71, 591; ibid., 34, pt. 2, 326, 375; Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, September 19, November 23, 1863, January 30, 1864. John N. Edwards, who rarely missed an opportunity to berate the Kansans, declared that Ewing executed Order No. 11 “mercifully.” Edwards, Noted Guerrillas, 206.

[21] About one-half of the refugees crossed into North Missouri, while most of the other half went South. O.R., I, 22, pt. 2, 753. Only about 600 of the 10,000 some inhabitants of Cass County remained there by September 9. Richard S. Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1958), 126.

[22] John M. Schofield, Forty-six Years in the Army (New York: Century, 1897), 83.

[23] Theodore Ropp, War in the Modern World (Durham: Duke University Press, 1959), 77; Cyril Falls, A Hundred Years of War (London: Duckworth, 1953), 278, 282, 288-89.

[24] Ibid., 148, 279.

[25] Virgil Carrington Jones, Gray Ghosts and Rebel Raiders (New York: Macmillan, 1956), 279.

[26] O.R., I, 22, pt. 2, 484; ibid., 34, pt. 2, 242-43; Webb, Battles and Biographies, 261.

[27] Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, September 5, 1863.

[28] George Miller, Missouri’s Memorable Decade, 1860-1870 (Columbia, Mo.: Press of E. W. Stephens, 1898), 36.

[29] Diary of Sherman Bodwell, MS, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, August 29, 1863.

[30] MS Memoirs of Frank Smith, copy of original in possession of author.

[31] O.R., I, 22, pt. 2, 693-94, 702-3, 713-14; Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, November 21, 1863.

[32] O.R., I, 34, pt. 2, 79-80.

[33] Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, January 23, 30, 1864. About 250 families were allowed to resettle under Order No. 20, according to Ewing’s chief quartermaster. William Birdsall, comp., The History of Jackson County, Missouri (Kansas City: Union Historical Co., 1881), 290-91.

[34] O.R., I, 34, pt. 2, 81, 89.

[35] Ibid., pt. 3, 623.

[36] Ibid., pt. 1, 1022.

[37] MS Memoirs of Frank Smith.

[38] Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy, 206-9.

[39] Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce, June 18, July 2, 1864; O.R., I, 34, pt. 3, 401, 502; ibid., pt. 4, 25, 54-55; Charles Robinson to Mrs. Charles Robinson, February 5, 1865, Charles Robinson Papers, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.

Solving the Mystery of the Arsenal Guns

Solving the Mystery of the Arsenal Guns

by

Randy R. McGuire, PhD

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

The St. Louis Arsenal in the Years Leading up to the Civil War

Randy R. McGuire, PhD is an archivist at Saint Louis University, and author of the recent St. Louis Arsenal: Armory of the West.

St. Louis Arsenal: Armory of the West

by Randy R. McGuire, PhD

available from Amazon.com

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

The St. Louis Arsenal in the Years Leading up to the Civil War

Part II:

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Go to Part II

Bibliography

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

©2003 Randy R. McGuire, PhD.

No reproduction or distribution without the consent of the author

Geo Rule, webmaster of civilwarstlouis.com, has posed an interesting and historically significant question in his recent website article, “The 140 Year Debate Over the Number of Guns at the Arsenal.”  Having been impressed by Rule’s thorough research and his comparison of the various statements of Civil War historians in regard to this question, I have decided to enter the fray with a more definitive statement than that which I gave in my recent book, St. Louis Arsenal: Armory of the West.

I believe that Geo Rule clearly establishes the importance of this question in the same way that Basil Duke argued that control of the St. Louis Arsenal was essential to controlling the City of St. Louis, which was the key to deciding Missouri’s future in the Union (see App C.11).  Some sources indicate that the arsenal held approximately “30,000 stand of arms” (Anderson [1908] App C.8; Catton [1961] App D.4.a; Vogelgesang [1963] App D.6.a; Nevin [1983] App D.7), that is to say, the weapons and accoutrements necessary to equip 30,000 infantry soldiers. Other sources suggest 40,000 arms (Shoemaker [1943] App D.3.a; Iverson [1963] App D.5.b), or the more commonly cited 60,000 arms (Peckham [1866] App C.5.a; Snead [1886] App C.7; McElroy [1909] App C.9; Rombauer [1909] App C.10.b; Duke [1911] App C.11; Stevens [1921] App D.1.c; Reasoner [1936] App D.2; Phillips [1990] App D.8.a; Primm [1998] App D.10), while one source mentions as many as 75,000 arms (Blair [1861] App C.5.l). Which account can the present-day reader believe? Clearly, it was, and perhaps is, important to know how many serviceable arms were in the arsenal because of the risks involved in keeping or capturing the installation and using the arms to outfit the newly forming regiments, whether Union or Confederate.  Each infantry regiment comprised approximately one thousand soldiers.  Therefore, the St. Louis Arsenal, in the opening days of the war, had enough small arms on hand to equip at least thirty regiments, and possibly as many as sixty.  If we are to believe a common calculation that the entire Confederacy had only about 150,000 stand of arms in the spring of 1861 (Stevens, App D.1.c), then we can readily see how important the addition of 30,000 to 60,000 arms would have been to the South’s efforts to prevail against the much better-equipped Union forces.

While conducting research for my history of the St. Louis Arsenal, I initially concluded that it held between 30,000 and 40,000 small arms.  This was based on my acceptance of the events described in the James Stokes affair, (Duyckinck [1861] App C.3; Moore [1862] App C.4.a) in which he was credited with “rescuing” about 21,000 small arms from the arsenal and transporting them to Illinois where they would be issued to newly formed volunteer regiments.  According to this account, the arsenal retained only enough weapons to outfit the ten regiments which Captain Lyon was authorized to enlist.  That would leave approximately 10,000 weapons at the arsenal or in the hands of Lyon’s recruits after the others were ferreted away to Illinois on April 26, 1861.  But what remains perplexing is why the Confederate sympathizers in Missouri remained resolute in their plan to take over the arsenal in spite of the fact that the majority of its guns had been shipped to Illinois.  Perhaps they dismissed, as Union propaganda, the report of this event in the Daily Democrat of April 27, for they persisted in believing that a substantial number of arms remained for the taking at the arsenal.

Sources and Methodology

In order to address the narrow question of how many arms were in the arsenal in early 1861, it is helpful to understand the wider spectrum of issues occurring at that time.  To set this question in a broader context, we will consider the political, military and logistical concerns which placed the St. Louis Arsenal at the center of events in the bitter struggle for control of the West.  We will proceed with the discussion in chronological order, considering the sources cited in Geo Rule’s article and consulting a number of others which bear upon the question.

Perhaps it will be helpful, in answering the basic question posed here, to trace the number of guns in the Arsenal by starting from a known, early point.  The arsenal was a vital, operating installation, evolving to meet the changing needs of the times.  As such, it took in small arms and other ordnance on a regular basis, primarily from arsenals of construction, such as Springfield, MA, and Harper’s Ferry, VA, holding and maintaining the armaments until issued to militia forces and regular units upon the receipt of authorized requisitions.  Arsenal commanders sent quarterly operations reports to the Chief of Ordnance, and the contents of the arsenals were inventoried, in great detail, on an annual basis.

There are many surviving quarterly reports and annual inventories in the National Archives in Washington, DC, and these would no doubt answer our question in minute detail.  But short of having these records at our fingertips, we can extract some very useful statistics from published government documents containing the annual reports of the Chief of Ordnance to the Secretary of War.  Many reports and records of the Civil War period are also available in the voluminous “Official Records of the Rebellion” (OR).[1] There are also references to the arsenal published in local newspapers of this period.  The reports are not always accurate, because they were written by reporters who had imperfect access to official sources.  Still, these articles can be helpful in corroborating information or helping to narrow down the possible options.  Finally, there are the published reminiscences of people who were present at the time of these events and who may have been privy to inside information.  These reminiscences often contain contemporary letters that might provide an insightful window on the world of Civil War St. Louis.  All of the above sources have been consulted in the research for this article, and the findings will be presented here in the order of their composition.

Background of the Arsenal

Map of southeast St. Louis showing the location of the Arsenal in regard to the city, the Mississippi and Arsenal Island, where many soldiers who had died at the Arsenal were buried. The Arsenal’s location on the river made it directly accessible to riverboat traffic.

The St. Louis Arsenal was established in 1827 when the U.S. Government decided to replace Fort Belle Fontaine, which had been located since 1805 some 15 miles north of St. Louis on the Missouri River.  Belle Fontaine had served as an arsenal and quartermaster post, supplying Government outposts in the watershed of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.  It also served as a cantonment for a regiment of U. S. troops guarding the Western and Northwestern frontier.  The main body of troops was moved from Belle Fontaine in 1826 and established a few miles south of St. Louis at what became Jefferson Barracks.  The following year, Lieutenant Martin Thomas was instructed to purchase land convenient to the Mississippi for the establishment of a major arsenal to serve the needs of the growing Western military forces, as well as outfitting the militias of nine states and territories.  Lieutenant Thomas purchased a beautiful 37 acre tract on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi.  The Carondelet Road, which eventually became Broadway Street, marked the western border of the property, giving easy access to St. Louis, Carondelet and Jefferson Barracks, in addition to the access provided by the river.  A house of one-and-a-half stories stood on the property when it was purchased, which soon became an officers’ quarters.

View of the main arsenal building from the west. This is possibly the oldest extant image of the arsenal (c1862). Piled in the foreground are pigs of lead captured from secessionists shortly after the beginning of hostilities. (Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society)

Within twelve years, this property blossomed into a beautifully designed installation of 22 buildings within a handsome stone enclosing wall.  During peacetime, the population of the arsenal rarely amounted to more than about thirty Army ordnance soldiers and about as many civilian workers.  The installation was commanded by a captain in the early days and by a major just shortly before the Civil War.  There were usually two or three junior officers to serve as assistant ordnance officers or quartermasters.  The bulk of the work was done by civilians (many of whom were highly skilled German artisans) and a few enlisted personnel.  The work consisted of assembling, storing and issuing small arms, artillery, gun carriages, ammunition, gunpowder and a host of accoutrements.  The St. Louis Arsenal was not an “arsenal of manufacture.”  In other words, it did not manufacture small arms or artillery.  Rather, it assembled them from parts made at the major U. S. armories, Springfield, MA and Harper’s Ferry, VA, and contracted for cannonballs and artillery tubes from civilian foundries.  But the workforce manufactured nearly all types of ammunition and built gun carriages, traveling forges and caissons from scratch.  The arsenal also ran a bustling business in pyrotechnics and was said to create some of the finest fireworks displays in the country.

Arsenal fireworks displays were popular with the community in the peaceful years prior to the Civil War.

The St. Louis Arsenal in the Years Leading up to the Civil War

In order to understand the traditional functions of the St. Louis Arsenal and to better evaluate its status in the opening days of the Civil War, it is helpful to become acquainted with the significant period leading up to the war. Our overview begins with the period of the Mexican War, 1846 to 1848.  When the war broke out in early 1846, the civilian workforce at the St. Louis Arsenal grew at an unprecedented rate, from a couple dozen laborers to a high of 517 workers.  During the two years of war, the arsenal produced 19,500 artillery rounds, 8.4 million small arms cartridges, 13.7 million musket balls, 4.7 million rifle balls, 17 field cannon with full attachments, 15,700 stand of small arms, 4,600 edged weapons, and much more.  It is of some interest to notice that only 17 artillery pieces were issued, even though thousands of cannonballs were produced by the arsenal.  The primary reason for this is that the St. Louis Arsenal was established to outfit forces on the western frontier.  In the West, the Army units were infantry or cavalry and they had little use for artillery, except for those permanent units which had one or two cannons or howitzers to ward off Indian attacks and to perform formal gun salutes.  So the St. Louis Arsenal maintained only a small number of these guns.  When war came with Mexico, however, the U. S. faced a threat from a relatively modern and well-equipped opponent which had its own cities to defend and a strong force of artillery to be defeated.  In this case, the U. S. Army required substantial amounts of artillery and most of it came from the major eastern arsenals.  Still, St. Louis remained in a good position to provide ammunition for U. S. artillery forces, so a large proportion of shot and shell was produced in this western outpost.

The St. Louis Arsenal served an important role during the Mexican War of the mid-1840s as it supplied the American Army with thousands of small arms and artillery rounds, and millions of rounds of ammunition.

It is, perhaps, significant to note that a large part of the Missouri Volunteer Militia who served in the Mexican War were equipped at the St. Louis Arsenal.  Many key commanders of Missouri troops who would later gain notoriety in the Civil War, such as Sterling Price, Daniel Frost and John Bowen, were intimately familiar with the St. Louis Arsenal, its manufacturing capabilities and the types of weapons and equipment housed there.  These leaders and their Missouri volunteers served both in Mexico and in the border strife with Kansas from the late 1840s to 1861.  It was, therefore, quite natural that these veterans should turn to the St. Louis Arsenal to gain the means to advance their interests in the opening days of sectional strife.  In fact, the arsenal commander, Major William Bell, who had served intermittently in this post since before the Mexican War, was highly sympathetic with the Southern Cause and would play a significant role in the events of the spring of 1861.

The Missouri Volunteer Militia was activated in the late 1850s to protect the western border of the state from pro-slavery violence in Kansas. This image depicts the militia at Camp Lewis, near St. Louis, in 1860. (Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society)

After the Mexican War a flood of materiel returned to the St. Louis Arsenal where it was reconditioned and put back in storage or sold off as military surplus.  In the mid-1850s the U. S. Army began equipping its regular troops with Springfield muskets, which featured rifling for the new .58 caliber “Minié ball” and had a highly accurate rear sight with an improved percussion system.  The Army also acquired a significant number of British Enfield muskets, rifled at .577 caliber, originally intended for issue to militia troops.  Some held the Enfield to be an inferior weapon to the Springfield, but tens of thousands of Enfields would see service with both Union and Confederate units.  Other rifles and carbines, developed from the 1840s to the 60s, would also be used in large numbers in the Civil War; Hall’s, Remington and Spencer were popular, and deadly, names in longarms, equipping both sides of the conflict.  Especially popular with cavalry and infantry were Sharp’s Carbines and Army rifles, which used a metallic cartridge and could fire with extreme accuracy and high volume.  Berdan’s “Sharps Shooters” would gain fame in the Civil War for their prowess with these weapons.  The St. Louis Arsenal held these and other patent small arms in its inventory, but the Springfield and Enfield would remain the workhorses of the common infantryman.

Two of the more common .58 caliber muskets issued to troops by the St. Louis Arsenal. The weapon on the left is the 1855 U.S. Model rifle musket and the right-side one is the 1853 British Enfield rifle musket, both of which were in rather short supply in the opening days of the war, but were eventually issued in large numbers to the armies of North and South. (Courtesy of NIMA)

In 1857 and 58 there was a flurry of activity at the arsenal after President Buchanan ordered an expedition of U. S. troops to march on Utah to suppress a threatened Mormon uprising.  This “Utah Expedition,” led by General William S. Harney and later, Colonel Albert Sydney Johnston, was primarily outfitted from the St. Louis Arsenal and organized at Fort Leavenworth, KS.  At this time, the arsenal contingent consisted of thirty enlisted men and a similar number of civilians, but the heavy demand for armaments soon increased the civilian workforce to a hundred men.  The arsenal armed sixteen hundred federal troops for the expedition, in addition to providing its usual services for the militias of nine states and territories.  In all, during this period of crisis, the arsenal shipped 608 chests of small arms (usually packed with 20 rifles or muskets to a case) and 7,135 boxes of ordnance stores. Brevet Captain Jesse L. Reno was assigned as the expedition’s ordnance officer.  Reno’s “Battery” or “Siege Train,” as it was sometimes called, consisted of fifteen guns, fourteen caissons, four battery wagons and fourteen traveling forges.   The expedition evidently expected to encounter heavy resistance from the Mormons.  As it turned out, the Mormons were intimidated by the large show of force and accepted the offer of President Buchanan to submit to the U. S. Constitution and receive “a full pardon for their past seditions and treasons” (Moore 217).  A portion of the army established a camp forty miles southwest of Salt Lake City while the remainder was ordered to the Oregon frontier to suppress Indian hostilities.  Many of these troops remained in Utah and Oregon until the outbreak of the Civil War, when they were recalled to the East, or departed for service with the Confederacy.  It is unclear what happened to the large amount of arms and munitions sent on the expedition, but there is no known record of their being returned to the arsenal (Moore 217; Iverson 297-98; Missouri Republican, July 3 and 4, 1857 and February 4, 1858).

U.S. Model 1842 Musket. This .69 caliber musket was produced in large numbers between the Mexican War and the Civil War and was the primary long arm issued by the St. Louis Arsenal before the .58 caliber Springfield rifle replaced it on the eve of the Civil War. Many of these were rifled and saw service in the war. (Courtesy of NIMA)

In 1857, U. S. Government inspectors condemned 190,000 outdated muskets as being “unsuitable for the public service” and recommended that they be sold.  At that time there were nearly 500,000 of these arms in the U. S. inventory  (Moore 206-07).  The Chief of Ordnance announced that on June 15, 1859, 50,000 unused United States muskets, both flintlock and percussion, would be sold by the department at a nationwide auction.  All sealed bids were to be submitted to the Ordnance Department and would be opened on June 15, at which time the muskets would be sold to the highest bidders.  The arms were all in serviceable condition but were being sold because they did not conform to the new army regulations.  These were mostly the old .69 caliber muskets which had been superceded by the new .58 caliber Model 1855 rifle muskets.  Each of the ten primary arsenals in the U. S. contributed to the number of weapons to be auctioned off.  The St. Louis Arsenal contributed 330 flintlocks and 6,160 percussion muskets, for a total of 6,490 firearms (Iverson 296-97; Missouri Republican, April 12, 1859) .  Unfortunately, the auction sale was a bust.  Colonel Craig, the Chief of Ordnance, said, “The bids received were very unsatisfactory, ranging from 10 ½ cents to $2.00, except one bid for a small lot for $3.50.  In submitting them to the Secretary [of War] I recommended that none of them be accepted at less than $2.00” (Moore 207).  So the Ordnance Department made an effort to sell the guns in private sale for $2.50 apiece.  Still, only 31,610 of them were sold in parcels and it is unclear how many were disposed of by the St. Louis Arsenal.

Late in 1859, in answer to a request from Secretary of War John B. Floyd, the Chief of Ordnance provided a detailed list of “the number of serviceable muskets and rifles on hand at each armory and arsenal in the United States” (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, p 1—see App A.1).  It is of great interest, in regard to the present question, to know how the St. Louis Arsenal fared in this respect, less than a year and a half prior to the onset of hostilities.  The Chief of Ordnance reported to the Secretary of War that the St. Louis Arsenal held 33,015 muskets and 719 rifles.   This is close to 34,000 stand of arms.  The report actually breaks down the specific types of weapons included in the count, which is very instructive:

Altered to percussion, cal .69 25,990
Altered to Maynard lock, cal .69 1,502
Made as percussion, cal .69 325
Percussion since rifled, cal .69 4,488
Rifled Musket, cal .58 710

Total Muskets 33,015
Made as percussion, cal .54 236
New model rifle, cal .58 483

Total Rifles 719

Total Small Arms on Hand 33,734

Some significant conclusions can be drawn from this report which was issued just thirteen months prior to Secession (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, p 1—see App A.1).  The report shows that United States armories and arsenals held 610,262 small arms in twenty-one locations across the country.  Of those arms, 56,933 were located on the west coast or were in transit there.  In northern states that could pose an immediate threat to the South, there were 504,525 small arms. The future seceding states held, at that time, only 48,804 muskets and rifles, [2] about eight percent of the total owned by the U. S. Government, and slightly less than ten percent of what the threatening northern states held.  But all of this was about to change through the influential actions of one man, Secretary of War John B. Floyd, who served in the Buchanan administration from 1857 through 1860.

This image illustrates how rifles and muskets were packed 20 to a case for shipment or storage. This made the transport and preservation of small arms more convenient.

It might be of some significance that Secretary Floyd hailed from Virginia.  He was, in fact, a former governor of the state.  His actions as Secretary of War appear, in retrospect, to have been considerably favorable toward the South.  After having received the results of the above inventory of arms at U. S. arsenals, Floyd ordered, on 30 December 1859, that 105,000 muskets and 10,000 rifles be transferred from three northern repositories to five southern arsenals.  This transaction was carried out in the spring of 1860 and received little notice from federal authorities.  At this time, of course, all of the southern arsenals were in federal hands.  Within a year, however, those arsenals, with all of their arms, would be controlled by secessionist governments (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, p 39—see App A.9).

This reduction of 115,000 small arms from northern inventories and their addition to southern arsenals considerably changed the potential balance of firepower. If we compare the number of southern arms to those held only by the northern states that posed an immediate threat to the South, then we will see that the proportions had changed significantly. The South now held 163,804 arms as opposed to the 389,525 in threatening northern inventories. This meant that the South would potentially control, at the outset of a regional conflict, nearly thirty percent of the small arms available in that theater of war, and this was the situation just nine months prior to secession. Moreover, with the strong possibility that Missouri would secede from the Union, secessionists looked longingly at the St. Louis Arsenal. Had they been able to add its 1859 figure of 33,734 small arms to the Confederate inventory, it would make the proportion 197,538 southern guns to 355,791 guns available to the North, giving the South control of more than thirty-five percent of the small arms in the theater of war. In fact, had the Confederacy come to control the St. Louis Arsenal, they likely would have held a majority of the small arms available to the western theater of operations, and who knows what chain of events that might have resulted from that set of circumstances? [3]

In spite of early protestations that he was “an avowed opponent of secession,” Secretary Floyd resigned early from his post in the Buchanan Administration, effective December 29, 1860, to return to Virginia, where he was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army five months later. After Floyd’s resignation, a Congressional investigation looked into his activities in regard to the transfer of arms to the South while he held office. Although the investigation formally exonerated him and President Buchanan stoutly defended his friend of any wrong-doing, there were many who continued to believe that the South would not have been as well-armed as it was at the outbreak of hostilities had it not been for the provisions made by their man in the Administration looking after their interests (Moore 206-07).

In the months leading up to secession there was a flurry of activity as the southern states attempted to get their share (and more) of arms and accoutrements before leaving the Union.  Several states asked for their annual allotment of arms, designated for the state militias, a year or two in advance of what was due them.  It is hard not to conclude, when reading the correspondence of the War Department and the Ordnance Department in the Official Records of the Rebellion, that the southern states, from an early date, were fully aware of their intention to secede and desired to absent the Union as well-equipped as possible (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, pp 3-15).

Two popular small arms found in fair numbers during the early months of the war were Sharps carbines and full length rifles, which used the convenient metal cartridge that permitted a higher volume of fire than was capable with the traditional muzzle-loader.

In addition to the 115,000 arms transferred to southern inventories by Secretary Floyd during 1860, several thousand other small arms were added by distribution in the annual allotment system and by purchase of surplus arms.  The total number of weapons distributed to southern states from all sources, including the St. Louis Arsenal, was as follows:  6-pounder bronze cannon—6;  12-pounder bronze howitzer—2;  .58 cal rifle muskets—1617;  .58 cal long range rifle muskets—686;  .58 cal cadet muskets—716;  .69 cal percussion muskets—450;  Sharps carbine—1;  Colt belt pistols—49;  percussion pistols—61;  various swords and sabers—325.  There were also at least 18,550 flintlock muskets (.69 cal) altered to percussion which were sold to southern states.  So, during 1860, the eleven states which would eventually secede from the Union had received, by annual distribution or by sale, (in addition to the transfer of the 115,000 arms) a total of: 8 cannon; 12,020 muskets and rifles; 110 pistols; and 325 swords and sabers.  (Another 5,560 flintlock  muskets (.69 cal) were sold to individual entrepreneurs who may or may not have been serving southern interests.  It is unclear how many of these guns made it into southern inventories.)  During this period, the St. Louis Arsenal gained 252 rifled muskets (.58 cal.), 8 Colt belt pistols and 8 non-commissioned officers’ swords as Missouri’s portion of the annual allotment.  But the record also shows that the arsenal sold 4,130 flintlock muskets, altered to percussion, to private parties, some of which might have had southern connections  (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, pp 27-29.  Note, for instance, attempts of George B. Lamar, an agent for a southern state, attempting to buy large numbers of weapons for his client:  see App B.2-4.)

On January 8, 1861, barely a week after Secretary Floyd resigned his office and was replaced by Joseph Holt (see App A.3), the Chief of Ordnance sent the new Acting Secretary of War an eye-opening report revealing the serious lack of weapons in federal arsenals:

In my last annual report, dated 30th of October, 1860, I had the honor, among other matters, to state as follows:

“The number of arms manufactured at the national armories during the last year was not as great as the available funds would have justified.  This diminution is in a measure attributable to the diversion of armory operations from the manufacture of arms of the established model to the alteration of arms according to plans of patentees and to getting up models of arms for inventors.  Our store of muskets of all kinds at this time does not exceed 530,000, dispersed among the arsenals of the country—nowhere more than 130,000 arms being together.  As this supply of arms is applicable to the equipment of the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the militia of the country, it is certainly too small, and every effort should be made to increase the number of our new-model [.58 caliber] guns, whilst no further reduction by sale of the old-model [.69 caliber] serviceable arms should be allowed until our arsenals are better supplied.  Our store of muskets in former years reached nearly 700,000, and was not then considered too great for the country, as was evidenced by the liberal appropriations made for the further increase and for the construction of more perfect and productive machinery for the fabrication of small arms.”

Since that date, 127,655 serviceable muskets altered to percussion have been ordered to be sold, many of which have already been disposed of and passed out of the possession of Government.  I have now respectfully to recommend that no more arms on the orders already given be disposed of, and that no further sales be made except in the manner authorized by the Act of March 3, 1825.  (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, p 33—see App  A.6)

Secretary Holt followed the advice of the Chief of Ordnance and ordered an immediate halt to the sale of Government small arms.

The Committee on Military Affairs of the U. S. House of Representatives took a great deal of interest in the status of small arms in U. S. arsenals, especially after South Carolina seceded and captured the Charleston Arsenal with all of its ordnance while several other southern states were threatening secession.  The committee sought information on the transfer of arms to southern arsenals under Secretary Floyd, and then on January 18, 1861, the chairman of the committee, Benjamin Stanton, requested of Secretary Holt detailed information on the “number of improved arms, now recognized as suitable for the service, [that] are now in possession of the [U. S. War] Department, and how large a force the Department can now arm with the latest improved arms” (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, p 42—see App A.11-12).

On January 21, 1861, the Chief of Ordnance, Colonel Craig, produced for Mr. Stanton a detailed enumeration of the small arms transactions under former Secretary Floyd and the effect it had on the supply of guns remaining in Union inventories:

In answer to the letter of the Hon. B. Stanton of the 18th instant I have to state that it appears by the last returns that there were remaining in the U.  S. arsenals and armories as follows: Percussion muskets and muskets altered to percussion (caliber .69), 499,554, and percussion rifles (caliber .54), 42,011; total, 541,565. If from this number are deducted the numbers of the same description that were in the arsenals in South Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana, which arsenals have been officially reported to have been taken possession of by the authorities of those States, 60,878, it leaves this number, 480,687; the whole of which are “recognized as suitable for the service.” In addition to these there are, rifle muskets, model of 1855 (caliber .58), 22,827; rifles, model of 1855 (caliber .58), 12,508; total, 35,335; which are “the latest improved arms.”

In a footnote, the ever-fastidious Craig added a comment concerning the number of weapons which, it was implied, would soon fall into Confederate hands with the imminent secession of two more states:  “NOTE.—Of the above 480,687 muskets and rifles, 22,000 of them are in the arsenal at Augusta, Ga., and 36,362 in the arsenal at Fayetteville, N. C.” (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, pp 42-43—see App A.13).

Since Colonel Craig’s discussion of the numbers is rather convoluted, a simplified form of the chart accompanying his letter is reproduced below:

States and

Territories

With Arms

All Types

of

Muskets

All Types

of

Rifles

Total

Small

Arms


Union and Border States
Massachusetts 155,566 12,177 167,743
Dist. of Columbia 73,778 2,285 76,063
New York 42,005 28,406 70,411
California 47,501 7,218 54,719
Missouri 32,468 5,673 38,141
Pennsylvania 27,443 5,493 32,936
Maine 24,313 24,313
New Mexico 2,333 2,248 4,581
Washington Territory 4,082 470 4,552
Kansas 1,385 2,193 3,578
Maryland 50 50



410,924 66,163 477,087
Seceding States
North Carolina 32,678 3,636 [36,314]
Georgia 20,001 2,000 22,001
South Carolina 17,413 2,817 20,230
Alabama 17,359 2,000 19,359
Louisiana 12,364 6,141 18,505
Virginia 10,646 6,868 17,514
Texas 3,253 2,204 5,457
Arkansas 1,310 54 1,364



115,024 25,720 140,744

Unfortunately, the figures in Colonel Craig’s chart do not square with his calculations in the letter.  One sum in the original chart was found to be incorrect and it has been corrected for the simplified table above.[4] In the original chart, Colonel Craig included all of the states having arsenals, in both North and South.  He then listed the total number of small arms (muskets and rifles) and artillery pieces (sea coast, siege and garrison, and field artillery) held in their inventories.  There is no reason to believe the inventory numbers are inaccurate, even though Craig’s handling of the figures leaves something to be desired.

As for artillery, the Union states show the following totals of sea coast, siege and garrison, and field guns:  Maine—19;  New Hampshire—22;  Massachusetts—265;  Rhode Island—151;  Connecticut—73;  New York—744;  Pennsylvania—295;  Maryland—81;  District of Columbia—490;  Missouri—11;  Kansas—4;  New Mexico—5;  California—197: for a total of 2,357 Union guns.

The seceding states show the following number of heavy guns:  Virginia—864;  North Carolina—41;  South Carolina—133;  Georgia—22;  Florida—464;  Alabama—79;  Louisiana—187;  Texas—10;  Arkansas—10:  for a total of 1,810 Confederate guns. A large proportion of these guns was coastal artillery, and would not offer the advantage of small size or mobility to support the field armies of the South.  We might conclude then, that the Confederate states, at the time of secession, held about 77 percent as many artillery pieces as those held by the Union. So the North held a 1.3 to 1 ratio of advantage over the South in terms of the big guns.

Drawing of a typical 6-pounder field gun with parts labeled. The St. Louis Arsenal did not have many artillery pieces when the war began, but once the Union controlled the facility, thousands of heavy guns and millions of rounds of ammunition passed through here on the way to western armies.

Finally, with regard to the initial question of this article concerning the number of guns at the St. Louis Arsenal, the above chart, dated 21 January 1861, shows the state of Missouri to have an aggregate number (in its two arsenals) of 32,468 muskets and 5,673 rifles, for a total of 38,141 small arms.  Of artillery pieces, Missouri has two siege or garrison guns, and nine brass field guns and howitzers.  The chart does not show how many of each type of weapon were at each arsenal, but it is clear that the St. Louis Arsenal contained the vast majority of ordnance in Missouri and the Liberty Arsenal held just enough to equip a small militia force in the northwestern part of the state—probably 1,500 small arms.  This becomes the key information necessary to answer the question of how many guns were at the St. Louis Arsenal in the opening days of the war.   If all of Missouri had 38,141 small arms, and the Liberty Arsenal held approximately 1,500 of those arms, that would leave the St. Louis Arsenal with about 36,600 small arms (OR Ser 3, Vol 1, p 43—see App A.13).

As far as artillery is concerned, it is likely that nine or ten guns were located at the St. Louis Arsenal at the beginning of the war.  This dispels the notion of some writers that the arsenal held up to forty artillery pieces.[5] Early in the war the St. Louis Arsenal simply had no reason to have large numbers of cannon in its inventory.  It was a supplier of western posts and western state militias, few of which had any need for artillery.

Go to Part II

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

The St. Louis Arsenal in the Years Leading up to the Civil War

Return to Part I

Part II:

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Go to Part II

Bibliography

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D


[1] The full title of this excellent series is The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.  It was published in 70 volumes between 1880 and 1901.

[2]Harper’s Ferry Armory, VA—18,322;  Fort Monroe Arsenal, VA—372;  Fayetteville Arsenal, NC—9,363;  Charleston Arsenal, SC—3,227;  Mount Vernon Arsenal, AL—2,396;  Baton Rouge Arsenal, LA—13,160;  San Antonio Arsenal, TX—1,561;  Little Rock Arsenal, AR—403.

[3]It might be noted at this point that all of the figures discussed above represent a theoretical consideration of the status of arms nine months prior to secession. In the subsequent year, more arms would be manufactured and distributed throughout the North and South, but the relative percentages of arms would remain about the same. As it turned out, southerners were shocked and disappointed when Missouri did not secede from the Union and the St. Louis Arsenal arms remained in Union hands. But another surprise occurred when Fort Monroe could not be taken by Confederate forces during the entire war and its humble (1859) collection of 372 small arms likewise remained with the Union. While the loss of the St. Louis Arsenal was judged a great tragedy to the Confederacy, the absence of the Fort Monroe arms would not appreciably affect its firepower.

[4]See North Carolina under the “total small arms” column.

[5]See the figures estimated by some of the historians cited in Geo Rule’s article.  At least one source says that there were one or two old cannon captured at Liberty Arsenal and later used at Wilson’s Creek, which would suggest that St. Louis held nine or ten.