Guide to Missouri Confederate Units 1861-1865 – REVIEW

April 28, 2008

Civil War St. Louis Reviews…

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865 By James E. McGhee

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865
by James E. McGhee

Now available from Amazon.com

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865

By James E. McGhee

Non-fiction

Hardcover: 314 pages, 22 photos
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press (April, 2008)
Price: $34.95
ISBN: 1557288704
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.3 inches

Reviewed by G. E. Rule

It sucks mightily to lose a civil war, and in a host of ways. The obvious result, of course, is that the cause you were willing to spend your blood and treasure on is lost. Less obvious, but even longer lasting, are some of the ancillary consequences. For instance, you might have a little thing called “Reconstruction” if you lived in a state that the victors were kind enough to concede was officially (by their definition) “in rebellion”. What happened to you in a state that was not “official” in the victor’s eyes (see: A Minirant on the Number of Confederate States) was arguably even nastier (see: Oath of Loyalty). And aside from official consequences, one could read in local newspapers for years after of the sad and unofficial results of night riders thundering down a farm lane after dark to call out an ex-rebel to his final moments on a country porch in front of his wife and family.

Then, of course, is one of the hoariest truisms in all of historiography –“the victors write the history”. This means that learned gentlemen shall come behind your bleeding corpse and explain to generations yet unborn why your defeat was inevitable, justified, and really quite to the benefit of all, often with an air of dispassionate smugness that explicitly or implicitly gives the impression that they’d have done much better than the actual actors had history chosen them to land its sledgehammer of unhappiness upon.

But here’s another terribly important thing to consider about why the victors typically get to write the history on a civil war –in general, the victors have much, much better record keeping.

Certainly this was true about the losing side of the American Civil War as it played out in Missouri from the years 1861-1865. Driven from the state in the early days of the war, such bureaucracy as the Confederate government-in-exile that the Missourians had was harried, underfunded, and barely functional. Such recruiting as the Confederacy was able to do in Missouri was typically done under the noses of the Union forces who kinda-sorta controlled the state, more-or-less, for most of the war. Confederate recruiting efforts were ongoing for most of that period, though typically in identifiable waves. Add to this amazingly higgledy-piggledy situation the fact that often there were as many as four levels of pro-Confederate recruiting going on –that for official Confederate forces; those for the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard; those for unofficial local pro-Confederate militias (these typically in the early days of the war – see Ab Grimes’ hilarious account of his and Mark Twain’s early experiences for an example); and those for the infamous pro-Confederate guerrilla groups such as those led by Bill Quantrill and William Anderson. Any way you look at it, trying to recreate even the basic records that good history writing requires in such a situation is obviously quite a challenge.

As we get in range of the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the American Civil War, a new book by James E. McGhee and the University of Arkansas Press addresses at least part of the problem –official Confederate units from Missouri.

First, a word about the University of Arkansas Press “Civil War in the West” series of which the current title is part. The word is a simple “Bravo”. As anyone reading these words can reliably be assumed to be a devotee of the Civil War in Missouri, we can not provide a stronger recommendation than the one we do for the University of Arkansas’ series.

As for the author, Jim McGhee, we must first admit a partiality. Jim is a friend of the site (see: First Missouri Confederate Brigade by James E. McGhee). But then Jim is a friend of anyone who toils seriously to shed illumination on the less well-lit corners of the civil war in Missouri (see: The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds) and has been for more years than he might like to be reminded of (see: U.S. Grant and the Belmont Campaign by James E. McGhee).

At any rate, we cannot imagine anyone better qualified to have written Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865, and the book he has produced does not disappoint. Separated into three sections, one each for Artillery (20 batteries), Cavalry (26 regiments, 7 battalions, and 3 squadrons), and Infantry (12 regiments and 1 battalion), he has produced the definitive guide to official Confederate units from Missouri. Each unit receives a biographical sketch of its composition and career from its inception by one of the leading authorities of the war in Missouri. Just as lovely, if you are even half the geek that we are, is the bibliography of sources given for each unit’s history.

It’s not often that we feel a need to quote someone else’s opinion of a book we’re reviewing. But sometimes, someone else says it at least as well as you can say it yourself. In this case, we tip the cap to series editors Daniel Sutherland and T. Michael Parrish for the best thumbnail description of what McGhee has accomplished with this title: “. . . his expertise is evident on every page of this book. The scope of the work is startling, the depth of detail gratifying, its reliability undeniable, and the unit narratives highly readable”. You can’t ask for more than that from any history book, and while the cause of the Missouri Confederates is still lost, at least it has become a wee bit more possible for their history to be written accurately because of the efforts of James E. McGhee and the University of Arkansas press.

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.

First Missouri Confederate Brigade

Counties of Origin

First Missouri Confederate Brigade

By James E. McGhee, ©2004

James E. McGhee is a retired lawyer with an avid interest in the Missouri State Guard and Missouri Confederate units. His latest book is Missouri Confederates: A Guide to Sources for Confederate Soldiers and Units, 1861-1865 (Independence, Mo.: Two Trails Publishing, 2001). McGhee’s titles are available from Camp Pope Bookshop.

Following are the counties of origin of the various companies of the First Missouri Confederate Brigade.  The counties in bold face print contributed the greatest number of soldiers to a company. Not all counties that contributed soldiers to a particular company are shown, however, as some companies included men from as many as fifteen or more counties.  Therefore, a county is included only if it provided at least three soldiers to a company.  The artillery units attached to the brigade are not included as the make-up of the batteries was so mixed as to make any attempt at showing a county of origin meaningless.



1st Infantry Regiment:

Co A – New Orleans, La., St. Louis

Co B – St. Louis

Co C – Memphis, Tn., St. Louis

Co D – New Madrid, Pemiscot, St. Louis

Co E – Memphis, Tn., Mississippi, New Madrid, St. Louis

Co F – New Madrid, St. Louis

Co G – New Madrid, Pemiscot, St. Louis

Co H – New Madrid, Pemiscot

Co I –   New Madrid

Co K – Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, Pemiscot

2nd Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Marion, Pike, Ralls, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Louis

Co B – Howard, Lincoln, Montgomery, Pike

Co C – Lincoln, Montgomery, St. Charles, Warren

Co D – Cole, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan

Co E – Andrew, Atchison, Cedar, Howard, Nodaway, Pettis

Co F – Jefferson, Laclede, Lincoln, Marion, Pike, Ralls, St. Charles, St. Louis, Vernon

Co G – Audrain, Boone, Monroe, Shelby, Ralls

Co H – Johnson, St. Louis, Texas [state]

Co I –   Boone, Callaway

Co K – Chariton, Howard, Linn, Sullivan

3rd Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Caldwell, Ray

Co B – Gentry, Harrison, Ray, Worth

Co C – Carroll, Ray

Co D – Barry, Clay, Livingston, Platte, Ray

Co E – Clay, Daviess, DeKalb, Platte

Co F – Boone, Daviess, Chariton, Clay, Howard, Livingston, Randolph, Ray

Co G – Buchanan, Clay, Jackson

Co H – Carroll, Daviess, Grundy, Livingston, Platte

Co I –   Caldwell, Clay, Clinton, Ray, Saline

Co K – Chariton, Lafayette, Macon, Randolph, Shelby

4th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Taney

Co B – Howell, Polk

Co C – Ozark, Arkansas [state]

Co D – Oregon, Shannon

Co E – Henry, Laclede, St. Clair

Co F – Benton, Christian, Greene, St. Clair

Co G – Arkansas [state], Dallas, Dent, Greene

Co H – Bates, Cass, Henry, Johnson

Co I –   Arkansas [state], Oregon, Shannon

Co K – Clark, Marion, Monroe, Lewis

5th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Johnson, Newton

Co B – Adair, Grundy, Howard, Macon

Co C – Polk

Co D – Polk

Co E – Gasconade, Franklin, Osage, St. Clair

Co F – Linn, Macon, Moniteau, St. Louis, Saline

Co G – Cooper, Henry, Pettis

Co H – Cass, Johnson, Lewis, Marion

Co I –  Macon, Johnson, Linn, Randolph

Co K – Dunklin, Stoddard

6th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Cass, Jackson, Kansas [state]

Co B – Cass, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Saline

Co C – Audrain, Boone, Howard

Co D – Arkansas [state], Cape Girardeau, Mississippi, New Madrid, Scott, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard, Washington

Co E – Jackson, Johnson

Co F – Cass, Hickory, Jackson, Johnson, St. Clair

Co G – Kansas [state], Platte

Co H – Chariton, Howard, Macon

Co I –   Dunklin, Cape Girardeau, Mississippi, Perry, Scott, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard

Co K – Arkansas [state], Cape Girardeau, Madison, New Madrid, Ripley, St. Louis, Wayne

1st Cavalry Regiment (Dismounted):

Co A – Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton, Holt, Marion, Lafayette, Nodaway, Platte

Co B – Callaway, Cole, Montgomery, Ray

Co C – Andrew, Grundy, Holt, Platte

Co D – Ray

Co E – Andrew, Buchanan, Clay, Platte

Co F – Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Holt, Ray

Co G – Daviess, Gentry, Harrison, Worth

Co H – Andrew, Gentry, Nodaway, Worth

Co I –   Clay, Jackson, Platte, Ray

Co K – Audrain, Boone, Buchanan, Callaway, Montgomery, Phelps, Platte

3rd Cavalry Battalion (Dismounted):

Co A – Cole, Moniteau, Pulaski

Co B – Clay, Nodaway, Polk, Worth

Co C – Greene, Lawrence

Co D – Andrew, Clay, DeKalb, Platte

Co E – Greene, Laclede, Miller, Pulaski

Co F – Cass, Greene, Laclede, Webster

Co G – [Exchanged prisoners, very mixed. Also, few records denote residence.]

Co H – [Exchanged prisoners, very mixed].



Sources:

Service Records for the 1st – 6th Infantry Regiments, 1st Cavalry Regiment, and 3rd Cavalry Battalion.  Microfilm. Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri.

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]

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

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.

Tucker’s War

Posted February 19, 2003

©2003 G. E. Rule

No reproduction or distribution without consent of author.

Tucker’s War:

Missouri and the Northwest Conspiracy

by

G. E. Rule

Copyright G. E. Rule, 2002

“So boys answer when we call; make our legions strong.
Knights of the Golden Circle come and join the Rebel throng.
We’ll raise the banner high once more and give the rebel yell;
Come follow us to victory or march with us through hell.”

–Bob Dyer, “The Last Great Rebel Raid” (1993),

from Johnny Whistletrigger: Civil War Songs from the Western Border, Vol 1.

Joseph W. Tucker was one of the hottest “fire-eaters” in Missouri. Thirty-eight years old when the Civil War began, he is described as a well-built man of two hundred pounds, six feet tall, with blue eyes and dark hair.[1] Lawyer, devout Methodist deacon, educator, St. Louis newspaper editor, and ally of Governor Claiborne F. Jackson and General Sterling Price, Tucker would be near the center of Confederate Missouri affairs over the course of the war.

Joseph Wofford Tucker was born on October 4, 1822 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina to Samuel Willis Tucker and Laodicea Tucker (nee Howard). His father was a man of means, with slaves to work the farm and do the household chores. Young Tucker chose the law as his profession and was admitted to the bar in 1844, the same year of his marriage to Miss Emily Barry, also of Spartanburg. In 1847, he was elected to the state legislature. His Wofford relatives had a proud history in the area, and he chose to emphasize the connection, calling himself “J. Wofford Tucker”.

In 1850, his uncle, Reverend Benjamin Wofford, passed away, bequeathing $100,000 for the establishment of a college in Spartanburg to be run under the authority of the state Methodist Conference. Several members of the late Reverend’s family were named to the provisional board of trustees, including 28 year-old J. Wofford Tucker. The Methodist Conference elected him to the first permanent Board as well. More than one hundred fifty years later, Wofford College is a respected and successful private institution on the same grounds as the original campus.[2]

Besides a lucrative law practice and the state legislature, Tucker also became an editor of the Carolina Spartan. Continuing his interest in education, in 1855 he was elected president of the newly established Spartanburg Female College. A serious financial setback in 1858—cause unknown—became the impetuous for a move west.[3]

In an attempt to revive his finances, Tucker moved his wife and three children to St. Louis, changing the form of his name to “Joseph W.” or “J. W.” at the same time. He opened a law practice with Thomas C. Johnson on Olive Street, joined a local Methodist church, and started a newspaper. His interest in education undimmed, by 1860 he was a member of the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri.[4]

As the secession crisis began to build to a climax in early 1861, Tucker and his Missouri State Journal were stridently engaged in the debates over Missouri’s future course. Pro-secession Governor Jackson and his allies were deeply concerned about their ability to control St. Louis, and Tucker was their champion in the press, smiting Unionists and “submissionists” wherever he found them.

While Tucker, in deference to his status in his church, was usually known as “Deacon”, his personality reminded no one of the kindly stereotype usually associated with that position. One of his ecclesiastical colleagues, Pro-Union Baptist minister Galusha Anderson, once found himself on the pointed end of a Tucker diatribe:

Believing with all his heart in the righteousness of secession, and wishing both in season and out of season, to strike telling blows against all advocates of Unionism, he came out in an editorial, one Saturday evening, in which he said: “The devil preaches at the corner of Sixth and Locust Streets, and he is just the same sort of a being that he was more than eighteen hundred years ago; he wants everybody to bow down and worship him.” Now since that was just where I preached, the editorial was rather personal, and was intended to be offensive. The deacon, fearing that I might miss reading his highly complimentary words, and so lack the stimulus that they might impart to my Sunday ministrations, early on the morning of the Lord’s day, sent a copy of his paper to me by special messenger, having thoughtfully marked his amiable editorial with his blue pencil. Instead of demanding satisfaction of the pious editor as almost any hot‑blooded Southerner of that day would have done, the blue‑penciled editorial was read at my breakfast‑table amid roars of laughter.[5]

Happily, Anderson chose to laugh off Tucker’s broadside, and thus spare St. Louis the spectacle of two devout men of the Lord resorting to the code duello to settle their differences.

As events continued to slide inexorably toward war, the State Journal was widely considered the leading secessionist paper in Missouri. Letters poured in from Unionists across the state to Pro-Union congressman Frank Blair’s Safety Committee in St. Louis, complaining bitterly that Tucker’s paper was providing aid and encouragement to the secessionists in their areas.[6]

Tucker worked closely with the other secessionist elements in St. Louis, including Basil Duke’s Minute Men. Union spy reports identified two leading Minute Men, Arthur McCoy and his brother-in-law Robert Louden, as “the head and front of all mischief” in the Minute Men’s efforts to keep the Unionists of St. Louis in an uproar and inflate estimates of their own strength.[7] Tucker and Louden would later be linked together in much more serious “mischief” at Union expense.

On the morning of May 10, 1861, the storm clouds that had been gathering over Missouri for months finally burst. Almost a month after armed hostilities had begun between the United States and the Confederate States at Fort Sumter, S. C., Captain Nathaniel Lyon led roughly seven thousand Missouri Volunteers and U. S. Reserves to surround approximately seven hundred state militiamen at their camp, named for the governor, on the outskirts of St. Louis. Outnumbered ten-to-one, militia general Daniel M. Frost had little choice but to surrender his command at Lyon’s demand. Lyon believed, correctly, that the camp was hostile to the U. S., and siege weapons, intended for use against the federal arsenal in the city, had been received from the Confederate government. However, a bloodless victory turned into tragedy and political capital for the secessionists when Lyon’s troops, goaded by throngs of onlookers while marching their prisoners back through the city to the arsenal, fired on the crowd. When the smoke cleared, twenty-eight people were dead, including women and children. Lyon later argued enraged secessionists in the crowd had fired first, wounding several of his soldiers, but most historians have concluded the Camp Jackson affair was a major blunder by the Unionist leaders of St. Louis.

A telegram that afternoon from Deacon Tucker to Governor Jackson brought the news of the events at Camp Jackson to the State legislature at Jefferson City, causing scenes of wild confusion and the immediate passage of the long-stalled Militia Bill giving the governor control of a newly strengthened Missouri State Guard.[8] Former governor Sterling Price, long a Pro-Union/Pro-Slavery Democrat, now rushed to Jefferson City to offer his services to the state. Jackson named Price Major-General commanding the State Guard on May 12, 1861.

Tucker’s relationship with the governor would lead to serious trouble for both of them. In the wake of Camp Jackson and the consolidation of Union control in St. Louis, Blair and his allies decided it was time to move against Tucker. Union authorities searched his office on July 12, 1861 and found a letter from the governor written on April 28. Jackson’s letter indiscreetly advocated secession for Missouri, and opined the state “ought to have gone out last winter when she could have seized the public arms and public property and defended herself”. This letter, along with Tucker’s public exhortations in defense of “state’s rights” and against “the murderer Lyon”, lead to suppression of the State Journal. Formal charges of treason against Tucker soon followed. James O. Broadhead, a Blair ally and by now Assistant District Attorney for Eastern Missouri, was the prosecutor.[9]

Interestingly, a footnote in Christopher Phillips’ Missouri’s Confederate hints—based on analysis of the handwriting—that the Jackson letter found in Tucker’s office may have been a forgery. While this is an intriguing theory rife with the possibility of bad faith and abuse of office by Union officials, it is unlikely. Thomas L. Snead, another St. Louis newspaperman who would “go south” first as aide to Governor Jackson, then as adjutant to General Price, and finally as a Confederate congressman for Missouri, worked closely with Tucker and Jackson both before and during the war. More than one hundred fifteen years after its publication, Snead’s The Fight For Missouri (1886) remains the best single source for political events in Missouri during 1861. Yet Snead breathes not a hint of skullduggery involved with Jackson’s letter to Tucker. It is highly likely if the letter were a fake and/or a plant, one or both men would have apprised Snead of the fact at the time or shortly thereafter. Such a juicy story at the expense of Union officials could hardly have failed to be included in his book. Genuine or fake, this letter would be one of the justifications cited by the Missouri Convention for removing Claiborne Jackson from the governor’s chair and replacing him with Unionist Hamilton R. Gamble.[10]

Less than confident in his ability to win a trial in Unionist St. Louis, Tucker jumped bail and fled, forfeiting a $10,000 bond.[11] He joined Governor Jackson in the fall of 1861 and started a new paper, the Missouri Army Argus to support Jackson and the State Guard. The first issue was published on October 28, 1861 at Neosho with an editorial note explaining “this little newspaper is paid for by the State, expressly for the use of the army.”[12] Tucker continued to rail against the Union “oppressors” infesting the state. He also used his newspaper as a recruiting tool for the Missouri Confederates.[13] The Argus would follow the Missourians on their travels over the course of the war, known first as the official organ of Governor Jackson. After Jackson’s death in late 1862, it became “universally regarded” as the voice of General Sterling Price.[14]

In December 1861, while the Guard and the Argus were in camp at Osceola, MO, a curious incident occurred. Two men were arrested in St. Joseph for distributing copies of a pamphlet promoting a new anti-Union secret society known as “The Emmanant”. The editors of the Missouri Republican quickly saw the hand of Deacon Tucker in the new society, basing their conclusions on the style of the diatribe in the pamphlets, the content of the oath required of new adherents, and the quantity and quality of the professionally printed material. By this time the Union had a firm hand on the presses of Missouri, and it was believed Tucker’s rebel press with the Argus at the camp of the State Guard was the most likely source of the pamphlets.[15] It would not be the last time Tucker would be linked to an anti-Union secret society.

After victories at the battles of Wilson’s Creek and Lexington, the war began to go badly for the Missouri Confederates. Forced by the burgeoning Union army into Arkansas, they made a credible bid to reclaim the state at the battle of Pea Ridge in March of 1862. A close-run affair that may have been decided by the untimely deaths of two senior southern officers, the Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge (also known as Elkhorn Tavern) had far-reaching consequences. Shortly afterwards, the Richmond government ordered the cream of the Missouri Confederate forces, the 1st and 2nd brigades, to cross the Mississippi in order to help stop Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s drive on Vicksburg, Mississippi. Tucker and his newspaper followed them, setting up shop at Jackson, Mississippi.[16]

With the mass of Missouri Confederate forces shifted to the east, regular organized resistance to Union rule diminished, and irregulars and guerrillas such as William Quantrill, “Bloody Bill” Anderson, Sam Hildebrand, and others became the main Confederate presence in the state. Spies and saboteurs infiltrated Union lines to maintain contact with the pro-southern elements and to harass Union communication & supply lines.

The longer the Union controlled Missouri, the more of a problem it would be for the Missouri Confederates. Although admitted by the Confederate congress on November 28, 1861, Missouri’s claim to be a Confederate state was of dubious legitimacy. While the Deep South and Virginia could afford to pursue a policy of “winning by not losing”, this strategy carried little comfort for the Missourians. Even if successful, they would be in a poor position to win their freedom from the Union at the eventual peace conference.

The Confederate Missouri leadership recognized this, but dealt with it in different fashions. Price and Tucker lobbied incessantly to return all of the Missouri troops to the west side of the Mississippi and use them and other Confederate troops to liberate the state. Thomas C. Reynolds, who had been elected Lt. Governor of Missouri in the election of 1860 and became Confederate Governor upon the death of Claiborne Jackson in 1862, tried a different tack. Reynolds chose to embrace the Davis administration as closely as possible so as to make it more difficult for them to toss Missouri over the side at the last minute. This difference in approaches brought tension between General Price and his lieutenants on one side and Governor Reynolds and the Richmond government on the other.

Tucker’s naturally combative personality made him particularly well-suited to the gadfly role, and raising hell with those who disagreed with him his instinctive response. His relationship with Price might remind the modern reader of the relationship of James Carville, known as “the ragin’ Cajun”, with his patron President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Price could laugh off Tucker’s antics, providing plausible deniability for the General. Price availed himself of it whenever Richmond complained to him that Tucker’s needles in the Argus struck too deeply into President Davis’ hide.[17]

Meanwhile, the Confederate Missouri leadership used spies to keep itself informed of what was going on in the state. In 1862 and 1863, one of General Price’s most important couriers was the St. Louis Minute Man, Robert Louden.[18] Louden became a courier for Price in the summer of 1862, having been recruited by Absalom Grimes, “Official Mail Carrier” for Price and the Missouri Confederates. While Grimes specialized in letters between the troops and their families, with a lesser amount of courier work of an “official” nature, Louden’s work load seems to have been exactly the opposite in proportion. He had a regular route and schedule from Price in Arkansas, up the Mississippi to St. Louis, along the Missouri River through the Boonslick stronghold of the southerners, and then reverse the route back to Price.[19]

In late 1862, elections in the north went poorly for the Republicans, while the anti-war Democracy scored impressive gains. This was due in part to dissatisfaction with the war, particularly in the Northwest (today’s Midwest), and in part because the Northern states had not yet instituted policies allowing for absentee voting by their soldiers in the field. Ironically, this meant hundreds of thousands of the strongest Union supporters, those giving their blood and lives to support it, were not able to vote for like-minded candidates. Their absence in the 1862 polling was a significant factor in the Democrats’ success.[20]

By early 1863, anti-war politicians in the North were in a much stronger position than they had been in 1861 and 1862. A new name began to be heard across the Northwest—Order of American Knights, or OAK. Formed in early 1863[21], the nature of OAK would fuel a controversy that continues to this day.[22]

In March 1863, a book titled “A Voice From the Camp” was published in Missouri. The author, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander M. Woolfolk of the Missouri State Militia, was a prominent Missouri Democrat, and would be a delegate to the infamous 1864 copperhead-dominated Democratic national convention at Chicago. Woolfolk was arrested, and his book suppressed, when it came to the attention of the Union authorities. It advocated Missouri join a new Northwest Confederacy instead of being in the Union or the Southern Confederacy.[23] Tucker would later tell Jefferson Davis the formation of a Northwest Confederacy was the main goal of OAK. Tucker’s Argus would call for a Northwest Confederacy as well, implying Missouri should be included, and worsening relations between his patron Price and Richmond.[24] Ironically, the Southern Confederacy did not believe in secession—at least not so far as its own states were concerned.

Judge Advocate General of the U. S. Army Joseph A. Holt would conclude OAK had its roots in the moribund “Knights of the Golden Circle” existing in the South before the war, but that Sterling Price had revived it in 1863 first as the “Southern League” and then as the Order of American Knights.[25] Price would have been a uniquely attractive partner in the eyes of Northern peace Democrats, and thus particularly well-suited to serve as a bridge between the northern and southern wings of the movement.[26] To what degree Price was a prime mover in the scheme—or more of a figurehead for the ambitions of his zealous and talented lieutenants—will probably never be known. It seems likely Price’s political lieutenants, Tucker and Thomas L. Snead, played a significant role in originating and pushing forward the Northwest Conspiracy.[27] By early 1863, OAK was holding meetings in St. Louis at the offices of Charles L. Hunt, “Supreme Commander for Missouri”.

Meanwhile, the Missouri troops under Brigadier-General John S. Bowen (Price having since returned to Arkansas without the 1st and 2nd Missouri Brigades) on the east side of the Mississippi continued to guard the southern approaches to Vicksburg. On May 1, 1863, they were attacked by Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s army at Grand Gulf and fought a slow retreat back towards the city, eventually being trapped with Confederate Lieutenant-General John C. Pemberton’s troops inside Vicksburg as Grant invested the city on May 18.

As the siege of Vicksburg continued, Confederate department commander Joseph E. Johnston received a proposal offering to help. The author of the proposal was J. W. Tucker.

Tucker’s patron, Price, had been shackled by his immediate commander in Arkansas, General Theophilus Holmes, and prevented from doing anything to interrupt Grant’s communications with the Northwest. Tucker blasted Holmes in a letter to the editor of the Jackson Mississippian on June 19, 1863. Among other failings, Tucker was incensed Holmes had “thwarted” others best efforts to disrupt Grant’s supplies.[28] If Holmes could not see what needed to be done, perhaps Johnston would be more amenable to supporting a strong course of action.

Johnston and Tucker knew that a lack of supplies could force Grant to loose his hold on Vicksburg. The year before, Grant’s drive on Vicksburg from the northern side had been aborted when a successful cavalry raid destroyed his supply base at Holly Springs. Something similar this time could make Grant turn back again.

The river was the key. St. Louis was the top of the supply chain in the theatre, and if the river supply line could be cut, Grant might have to give up for the year and take his army back north. Unfortunately for the Confederates, interdicting a river supply line is a much more difficult proposition than disrupting a railroad supply line. A single successful cavalry raid can tear up miles of railroad track and make the line useless for weeks or even months. Further, this could be accomplished without destroying a single train.

With a river, this method is simply not practical. Even when the Confederates held strong-points at Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the Union navy managed to pass those points successfully. It would be necessary to go after the boats themselves, particularly the supply boats.

During the Civil War, the privately owned commercial steamboats of the Mississippi River valley were in actual practice completely at the government’s disposal. One expert opined under oath “I consider every boat on the river to be in the government service, directly or indirectly.[29] Unfortunately, seldom was effort made to segregate military cargoes and passengers on the steamboats. Civilians often traveled on a boat that also carried Union soldiers and supplies.

Johnston later reported to his superiors on Tucker’s plan:[30]

During the siege of Vicksburg, Governor Pettus [of Mississippi] proposed to me the adoption of a plan suggested by Judge Tucker, to be executed under that gentleman’s direction, to cut off supplies from the besieging army. He required $20,000 to inaugurate it. I drew a check for that sum on the assistant treasurer in Mobile, in favor of Governor Pettus, who indorsed it to Judge Tucker. After considerable delay, caused by reference of the matter to the Treasury Department, the money was paid. While I remained in Mississippi, Judge Tucker was, I believe, using this money against the enemy’s navigation of the river. About the end of October, I wrote an explanation of the case to the Secretary of the Navy, to be delivered by Judge Tucker, who had large claims against that Department for enemy’s property destroyed on the water. [31]

What did Tucker tell Johnston that made the latter willing to contribute $20,000 to the effort? The support of Governor Pettus would have been helpful in this regard, and Johnston must also have known Tucker acted as a surrogate for General Sterling Price. Still, it seems likely the Deacon gave Johnston some idea of how he intended to accomplish the mission and the organization he could bring to the job.

Steamboats had been burning with regularity and in suspicious manners since late 1861.[32] It would have been easier to sell Johnston on the capabilities of an already existent organization that merely needed more resources and the imprimatur of official government sanction in order to expand its activities, than to convince him such an organization could be started from scratch in a useful timeframe.

Approximately two months after Tucker’s proposal to Johnston, too late to save Vicksburg, steamboats began to burn with great frequency. Twenty-one boats, the majority of which have been confirmed to be strikes by Tucker’s group, burned over the next eight months. (See Appendix A)

On September 3, 1863, General Price’s courier, Robert Louden, was arrested by Union authorities in St. Louis. Louden had been quite active in his year as Price’s courier. His trips included Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Richmond, Philadelphia, and New York City.[33] In his possession at the time of his arrest were two letters in his own hand, signed “R.L” and “OAK”. One of these letters was addressed to “Major Pleasants”, who would later be identified by the Federals as “principal disbursing agent” for what the Union came to know as Tucker’s group.[34] Louden told Pleasants, “I have engaged the secret organization in the work. It will be a powerful lever for us, but funds will be required.” Another letter advised one of his key Memphis contacts that he was trying to get one OAK team to strike again soon in St. Louis, and would be taking another one to Ohio as soon as possible, probably the next day. He also claims, “the Ruth was a small affair comparatively, if all goes well”.[35] His partner, Grimes, confirms Louden was responsible for the burning of the steamer Ruth near Cairo, Illinois the previous month, killing twenty-six, destroying a $2.6 million Union payroll, and initiating a reign of fire on the Mississippi.[36]

Although Louden was now in Gratiot Street military prison, and would be sentenced to death by a military commission in Dec, 1863, his colleagues with Tucker’s group continued burning steamboats. Two weeks after Louden’s arrest they struck at the St. Louis levee, destroying four boats. A few weeks later they did it again, burning another three boats at St. Louis.[37]

Between the battle of Gettysburg in the east, and the loss of Vicksburg in the west, 1863 had been a disastrous year for the young Confederacy. As 1864 began, the worsening military situation caused Confederate strategies to turn increasingly toward unconventional methods for winning their freedom from the Union. Tucker, on his way to visit his family in South Carolina, wrote a letter on February 16, 1864 to Confederate Secretary of War Joseph Seddon requesting financial help for his boat-burners.[38] (See Appendix B) Tucker referred to a meeting with Seddon the previous December and proposed his boat-burners coordinate their efforts to strike in several places on the same day in the March 1-15 timeframe.

While boats continued to burn in the Mississippi River valley, some of which were certainly the work of Tucker’s crew, there is no evidence a concerted effort was made in the first half of March. The closest incident to the time mentioned confirmed to be the work of Tucker’s group is the destruction of the J. H. Russell, burned by Isaac V. Ayleshire at Plaquemine, LA on March 28, 1864.[39] Ayleshire, an Indiana man, would also be credited by Union authorities with the destruction of the Robert Campbell, Jr. and the City of Madison, both with heavy loss of life.[40]

March of 1864 found Tucker in Richmond with his lieutenant Minor Major, a former member of the Missouri State Guard.[41] They were staying at the Spottswood Hotel, a popular venue for visiting officers and others with official business. Also residing at the Spottswood in this period was another Missouri Confederate, Captain Thomas E. Courtenay. Courtenay had been a prominent businessman in St. Louis before the war, and had served as sheriff for a time in 1860.

Courtenay had been detached in Aug. of 1863 on secret service by an order of General Price, signed by his adjutant, Major Thomas L. Snead.[42] By early 1864 he was in Richmond and building a supply of his hollow cast iron “Courtenay torpedoes”, bombs designed to look like lumps of coal. Filled with explosives and then covered with tar and coal dust, they would be indistinguishable from the real article. Deposited by Tucker’s saboteurs in a coal pile used by Union controlled steamboats, when shoveled into the furnace they would cause a devastating explosion of the boilers, destroying the boat.[43] In a letter from Richmond dated January 19, 1864, Courtenay promises to send some of his torpedoes to a colleague at General Price’s headquarters.[44]

While in Richmond, Tucker lobbied Jefferson Davis directly in a very interesting letter. He described OAK to Davis, claiming nearly 500,000 members in the Order, talked about some of the assistance to the war effort they had provided by their sabotage efforts, and asked for $100,000 for Union property already destroyed (See Appendix C).[45]

There are elements of disingenuousness to Tucker’s letter. In March of 1864 he is finally telling Davis of the existence of a secret and violent organization that he had been in close contact with since early the previous year. Tucker knew Davis trusted neither himself nor Price, and one suspects if the Deacon didn’t need Richmond’s gold to further his schemes he wouldn’t be saying even as much as he did about OAK and its goals. Certainly he was careful to leave Missouri off the list of states proposed for the new Northwest Confederacy he described as the aim of OAK.

Another interesting feature of this letter is Tucker’s reference to two non-steamboat sabotage operations:

“a week ago we burnt $500,000 worth of hay at the Memphis wharf, to embarrass Sherman; not long since Colt’s pistol and gun Factory became an earnest of what can be done”.

The Colt fire, on February 4, 1864, did $2,000,000 in damage to their factory in Hartford, Conn. A report at the time stated “Many believed that it was the work of an incendiary, and among them were some of the most prominent contractors in the concern.”[46] Hartford is certainly a long way from the boat-burners usual haunts in the Mississippi River valley, but Tucker appears to be taking credit for the Colt fire. Union authorities, in piecing together Tucker’s organization from captured correspondence, spy reports and arrested agents who agreed to talk, would later claim a “land operations” section headed by ex-congressman J. Richard Barret of St. Louis.

Two days after Tucker sent this letter to Davis from his Richmond hotel room, Captain Thomas H. Hines of John Hunt Morgan’s Kentucky raiders was dispatched to Canada by order of Secretary of War James A. Seddon. Hines was instructed “In passing through the United States you will confer with the leading persons friendly or attached to the cause of the Confederacy, or who may be advocates of peace, and do all in your power to induce our friends to organize and prepare themselves to render such aid as circumstances may allow. . .”.[47] This is the point traditionally given for the beginning of the Confederate government’s formal involvement in the Northwest Conspiracy.

Certainly Missourians and Kentuckians—the two Confederate states most deeply interested in the success of the Northwest Conspiracy[48]—were prominent in its attempted execution. Hines and John B. Castleman of Kentucky wrote of their involvement, and their participation is better documented than most of the Missourians.[49] But everywhere one looked, there were Missourians—Emile Longuemare, early member of the Missouri State Guard, involved in the attempted burning of New York City by the Confederate secret service;[50] Colonel Vincent Marmaduke, brother of Missouri Confederate General John S. Marmaduke, involved in the attempt to free all of the Confederate prisoners at Camp Douglas in Chicago;[51] James A. Barret, of the powerful St. Louis family, “grand lecturer” of the national OAK/Sons of Liberty, and bagman for their connections to the Confederate secret service;[52] J. Richard “Missouri Dick” Barret of the same family, former congressman from St. Louis, suspected of being “head of land operations” for Tucker’s group;[53] Charles L. Hunt, OAK Supreme Commander for Missouri, one of the most militant of the copperhead leaders;[54] Robert Louden, Price’s courier, delivering Rebel mails in northern states in late ’62 and the first half of ’63; and, of course, Price and Tucker.

The Missouri Confederates recognized they were in the precarious position where the south could “win” and Missouri might very well remain in the Union. Unsurprisingly, this was entirely unacceptable to them. The answer Price, Tucker, and Snead devised was two-pronged: Internal revolution and armed invasion by regular Confederate forces. Tucker’s close contacts with OAK would provide the first, and General Price would provide the second. Price was so insistent he be allowed to invade to “reclaim” Missouri that Governor Reynolds was concerned the general would give up his Confederate commission and “bushwhack it” back in Missouri if he was not allowed to make the effort.[55] The threat worked, and Price received permission to go forward with planning an invasion of Missouri for the summer of 1864.

While all this skullduggery was going on, the Union authorities in Missouri began to realize something unpleasant was brewing. General William S. Rosecrans, who became department commander in January of 1864, had a history of placing a high value on an effective intelligence service.[56] Rosecrans’ new Provost Marshal, J. P. Sanderson, began to infiltrate his agents into OAK. Two of the principal Missouri OAK leaders, Charles L. Hunt and Charles E. Dunn, were arrested and questioned.

The result of these investigations, published in the newspapers in July of 1864, is known as “The Sanderson Report”.[57] Sanderson’s agents claimed OAK had 500,000 members, mostly across the Northwest, that General Price was the military head of the order, that a new invasion of the state by Price was in the offing, and it would be timed to coincide with an internal uprising by OAK. The 500,000 number matches remarkably well with what Deacon Tucker had earlier reported to Jefferson Davis as the membership of the Order as of Dec. 1863. This is hardly surprising, as it was Tucker’s organization Sanderson’s agents had penetrated.

While Sanderson’s agents worked to uncover the conspiracy in Missouri, Governor Oliver Morton and General Henry B. Carrington of Indiana worked to forestall the Order’s activities in that state and Kentucky. Their star spy was Felix G. Stidger of Kentucky who managed to get himself named Grand Secretary of the Order for Kentucky and worked closely with the leaders of both states. On May 9, 1864, Stidger reports that Dr. William A. Bowles, a “General” of the Order for Indiana, disclosed to him the goals of the conspiracy:[58]

He told me that the forces of Indiana and Ohio would concentrate in Kentucky, and make Kentucky their battle-ground, and that the forces of Illinois would proceed to St. Louis, and cooperate with those of Missouri; that Illinois would furnish 50,000 men, Missouri 30,000 men, and that the rebel General Sterling Price would invade Missouri with 20,000 troops, and that with the 100,000 men they could occupy and permanently hold Missouri. . .

Stidger’s work would result in the breaking up of the Order in Indiana and Kentucky, with most of the leaders arrested in August of 1864. Several, including Bowles, would be sentenced to death by a military commission in Indianapolis later that year, but would escape the hangman by presidential intervention. Tucker’s “head of land operations”, Dick Barret, would be listed as one of the co-conspirators in the charges against Harrison H. Dodd of Indiana, Grand Commander of the Order for that state.[59] Dodd did not require presidential clemency, however, as he escaped from custody and fled to Canada during the trial.

Tucker’s organized boat-burners continued to be active as well. On July 15, 1864, six steamboats were destroyed at the St. Louis levee.[60] This was almost certainly the work of the Deacon’s men. His lieutenant, Minor Major, had shown up in Canada not long before to solicit a contribution from the newly-arrived Confederate Commissioners in support of the Tucker group’s activities. He received only $2,000 for his trouble, but it is interesting to note that Commissioner Jacob Thompson reported Major arrived at his doorstep not long after Thompson had reached Canada, showing Tucker’s saboteurs knew just where to go in order to tap Richmond’s gold set aside for the Northwest Conspiracy.[61]

The “land operations” section of Tucker’s crew continued their activities too. On July 2, they burned $800,000 of government medical supplies at Louisville and then headed for Richmond to claim their reward.[62] Once there, they negotiated with Secretary of War Seddon and Secretary of State J. P. Benjamin for remuneration for their sabotage on behalf of the Confederacy. They settled for $50,000. After leaving Richmond, they went to Mobile before re-entering Union lines near Memphis. Tucker’s newspaper, by now renamed the Argus and Crisis, had moved from Jackson to Mobile sometime before, and this side-trip was probably for the purpose of reporting to him the results of the negotiations in Richmond and distributing the money. Tucker had affidavits from all his saboteurs on their strikes at his offices in Mobile, and these were used to distribute reward money.[63]

General Price’s long-awaited invasion to reclaim the state for the Confederates began on September 16, 1864. Price moved slowly north towards St. Louis, then without entering the city, westwards toward Kansas, along the Missouri river bypassing Jefferson City. As Price’s invasion worked its way leisurely through Missouri, OAK finally acted as the Confederates neared St. Louis. Charles L. Hunt’s successor, John H. Taylor, called the membership to arms just as the Sanderson Report had predicted.[64] (See Appendix D)

Taylor told the membership General Price’s invasion had been made at OAK’s invitation, and that Price had been named “major-general to command the members called into the military service”. Taylor promised “at least 20,000 true men” to support Price’s invasion and announced until further notice the headquarters of OAK would be in General Price’s camp. He ended with the Order’s motto, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God”, a sentiment Deacon Tucker could support wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately for the Missouri Confederates, it was too little too late. The fall of Atlanta in early September had demoralized the copperheads, making it all too clear the Confederacy was unlikely to survive. Under such circumstances, it is not surprising most of the rank and file copperheads of OAK (those who were needed to do the actual fighting and dying) declined to participate in Price’s invasion. Thousands of southern sympathizers joined him, but OAK had promised—and he expected—tens of thousands.[65] After several weeks in the state—during which Price moved slowly waiting in vain for OAK to swell his ranks—the Missouri Confederates were finally checked bloodily at the battle of Westport near Kansas City on October 23, 1864. Defeated, they turned south for the long march back to Arkansas.

See also Hell and Maria

Invasion may have failed again, but the sabotage would continue. On December 11, 1864, a Cincinnati-owned steamer entered river lore as an epithet for generations of rivermen. Lying at the landing at Carondelet, MO, making moderate steam, Maria’s boilers suddenly exploded. Carrying parts of two Union cavalry regiments at the time, the resulting inferno would kill twenty-five and give rise to “Hell and Maria” as an expletive. A relatively new boat, Maria’s engineer insisted her machinery was working fine just before the blast. The second mate, Andrew Acker, reportedly was “confident he smelled burning powder” at the time of the explosion. Several of the boat’s officers were convinced “that some fiend has placed a shell, or other explosive missive, among the coal used for fuel, which was thrown into the furnace and produced the disaster.” The descriptions of Maria’s demise strongly suggest another successful operation by Tucker’s crew, using one of the coal torpedoes Captain Courtenay had promised to provide them.[66]

The overriding fact of 1864 for the Missouri Confederates was the failure of Price’s invasion. This, coupled with the fall of Atlanta, painted a grim picture for their future. Internal bickering escalated, with Governor Reynolds and General Price trading insults in the press.

As 1865 began, there was a new commander and a new Provost Marshal for the Department of Missouri. Major-General Grenville M. Dodge was named department commander in December 1864. As had been customary during the war, a new commander also meant a new Provost Marshall. Dodge named Col. James H. Baker of Minnesota to the post. Baker began to turn up the heat on Tucker’s boat-burners, and the organization began to unravel. In February, Baker had ten suspected OAK boat-burners in custody, and two of them would agree to talk.[67]

William Murphy voluntarily turned himself in and confessed to being responsible for the burning of the Champion at Memphis in 1863. Murphy named Tucker as the paymaster of the group and admitted to receiving $3,000 from the Deacon for Champion’s destruction.[68] Offered immunity for his cooperation, Murphy told his story and then disappeared.

Edward Frazor was a St. Louis steamboat striker, and the second member of the boat-burners to turn state’s evidence. Frazor told Baker of the Louisville fire and the subsequent trip to Richmond and Mobile. He also admitted to being one of the saboteurs responsible for the St. Louis levee fires in 1863. Murphy and Frazor helped Baker map Tucker’s organization and assign credit for the various acts of sabotage.

See also Provost Marshal J. H. Baker’s report on the Boat-Burners

Baker’s report claimed sixty-one steamboats “owned in Saint Louis” had been destroyed in suspicious circumstances since the beginning of the war. He told his superiors most of them had been destroyed by Tucker’s group “or similar emissaries of the rebel government”. Recent investigations into the matter using sources both contemporaneous and modern have produced a list of approximately one hundred Union-controlled boats destroyed under suspicious circumstances in the Mississippi River valley during the war. Approximately eighty of these were destroyed in 1863 or later.[69] Certainly not all were sabotage, but Baker’s estimate is not unreasonable.

As the Confederacy entered its final days, the Missouri Confederates were amongst the last to give up the fight. Richmond fell on April 3, and General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox on the 9th, but still the Missourians would not lay down their arms. This was due in part to the belief they would not be allowed to return to their homes in peace.[70]

See also The Boat-Burners

One of those sure he would not be allowed to return to his home in St. Louis was the convicted saboteur, Robert Louden. He had escaped from Union custody while being transferred from Gratiot prison to Alton prison during General Price’s raid the previous October, but a death penalty still hung over him should he ever be captured again. After the war, Louden would claim that on the night of April 26-27 he engineered the most gruesomely spectacular strike any of Tucker’s saboteurs ever attempted. Using another of Thomas Courtenay’s coal torpedoes, Louden said he had snuck aboard the Sultana at Memphis and deposited the bomb in the coal piles near her furnace. Shortly after leaving Memphis, Sultana’s boilers exploded, resulting in the deaths of over 1,700 Union POW’s returning to their homes from southern prison camps.[71]

Jefferson Davis, having escaped from Richmond before its fall, tried to make it to the Trans-Mississippi to continue the fight. Union troops were in hot pursuit of the rebel President- without-a-capital. Dispatched to help in the hunt was the famous detective, Allan Pinkerton. He was also instructed to see if he could track down Tucker, Louden, and their colleagues. Pinkerton reported back to Washington on June 6, 1865 rumors both men were on the move. Circulars were dispatched as far away as California alerting Union authorities to keep a close eye out for them.[72]

In the spirit of retribution gripping the North after the assassination of President Lincoln, the trials of the conspirators were full of accusations against the Confederate government for sponsoring various heinous acts in their desperation to stave off defeat. One of the witnesses was the steamboatman from St. Louis, Edward Frazor. Baker’s newest list of sabotaged steamboats had grown to include Sultana. His organization chart of the boat-burners had President Davis at the top, followed by Secretary of State J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of War Seddon and J. W. Tucker.[73]

While General Sterling Price did not make Baker’s chart, it is simply not credible his surrogate Tucker could have sponsored the group on his own without the General’s knowledge and support. Price loyalists like Louden would not have been involved with something so controversial without the General’s blessing. Sterling Price must go down in history as the boss of Tucker’s saboteurs, even if Richmond was paying most of the bills.

Joseph W. Tucker managed to avoid Pinkerton and the rest of the Union authorities in the spring of 1865, escaping to Bermuda. There he stayed for several years, waiting for Union ire to cool. While in exile, Tucker returned to one of his first loves, serving as superintendent for education of the British colony.[74]

While Tucker found safe haven in Bermuda, most of the Missouri leadership went to Mexico, including General Price and Governor Reynolds. There Reynolds, refusing to let the feud over the failed invasion of 1864 die, wrote a poison pen manuscript entitled General Sterling Price and the Confederacy. In it Reynolds detailed his suspicions about Price and the Northwest Conspiracy, leaning heavily on the doings of Tucker and the relationship between the two men. Reynolds alleged Tucker’s paper was “universally regarded as an ‘organ’ of General Price” and called Tucker himself Price’s “confidential friend”. Reynolds’ main complaint was the conspiracy might result in a Northwest Confederacy, and Price intended Missouri to be a member of it. Reynolds’ claimed such had been the consistent tone and some of the articles in Tucker’s paper during the war.

On Christmas day, 1868, President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all but the highest ranking members of the Confederacy. Shortly thereafter, Tucker and his family returned to the United States. Instead of Missouri, they chose Florida, settling in Sanford.

Tucker made Sanford his home for the rest of his life, taking up his old profession of the law and enjoying the family life that had largely been denied him during the war. He returned to using the old form of his name, “J. Wofford Tucker”, as well. The Deacon remained active in the Methodist church, serving as a delegate to the First Ecumenical Methodist Conference held at London in September of 1881.[75] In 1893, he returned to his native South Carolina for the first time in nearly thirty years, speaking at Wofford College, which he had helped to found forty-two years before.[76]

Joseph Wofford Tucker passed away in Sanford after a full and eventful life.[77] A friend since his boyhood days in South Carolina, Reverend Charles A. Fulwood, eulogized him for The American Illustrated Methodist Magazine in the monthly issue for October of 1901. Fulwood wrote that Tucker had “hoped, prayed and labored to prevent bloodshed and a disruption of the Union”, an assertion which would have elicited howls of derision from the Unionists of St. Louis. On much safer ground historically, Fulwood continued, “but when he saw that the catastrophe was inevitable, he sought to unify the South and at least a portion of the West, so that they might stand together in the conflict.”


Tucker’s War

Appendix A

Ruth 1863/08/04 Cairo, IL Burned Louden. 26 dead. $2.6M Union payroll destroyed.
City of Madison 1863/08/18 Vicksburg, MS Exploded Baker says Isaac Elshire (Ayleshire)
Champion 1863/08/21 Memphis, TN Burned William Murphy. Received $3k from Tucker in reward.
Diuranal 1863/09/12 St. Charles, ARK Burned
Hiawatha 1863/09/13 St. Louis, MO Burned 4 boats burned. OAK
Imperial 1863/09/13 St. Louis, MO Burned
Jesse K. Bell 1863/09/13 St. Louis, MO Burned
Post Boy 1863/09/13 St. Louis, MO Burned
Henry Chouteau 1863/09/26 Columbus, KY Burned
Robert Campbell, JR 1863/09/28 Cairo, IL Burned Approx. 40 dead (Ways 22 dead). Baker says Isaac Elshire received $5k from Tucker.
Catahoula 1863/10/04 St. Louis, MO Burned 3 boats burned. OAK
Chancellor 1863/10/04 St. Louis, MO Burned
Forest Queen 1863/10/04 St. Louis, MO Burned
Sunny Side 1863/11/13 Island 16, Miss. R. Burned “Considerable” loss of life
Science No. 2 1863/12 Portland, KY Burned
Allen Collier 1863/12 Burned
Colonna 1863/12/01 Newburgh, IN Burned
Thomas J. Patten 1864/01/25 Memphis, TN Burned Walker’s Bend
Daniel G. Taylor 1864/02/05 Louisville, KY Burned JAG Joseph Holt says sabotage. One person killed. Frazor says sabotage at Lincoln trial.
Des Arc 1864/03/22 Memphis, TN Burned
J. H. Russell 1864/03/28 Plaquemine, LA Burned Isaac V. Ayleshire. Trial in St. Louis Oct-Nov 1865. Boat formerly “Cherokee”.

Note: The above table is part of a larger spreadsheet prepared by G. E. & D. H. Rule that includes approximately one hundred Union-controlled boats destroyed under suspicious circumstances during the war. It is a work in progress. We have attempted to exclude from the list boats known to be Confederate-controlled, destroyed by regular military action, guerrillas, or other causes clearly inconsistent with sabotage (“snagged and lost” being the most common of these). We have another list of approximately thirty boats that were removed from the original list as we were able to confirm their destruction by means other than sabotage. As an example of this latter, we were beginning to be very curious about a group of boats burned at Johnsonville, TN in early November 1864, until we realized what we were seeing was the result of Hood’s great invasion of Tennessee, and saboteurs had nothing to do with it. Lastly, this table is not meant to suggest there were no boats sabotaged by agents affiliated with Tucker and the Missouri Confederates prior to August of 1863. U.S. Quartermaster Charles Parsons named the E. M. Ryland, October 10, 1861, as the first boat sabotaged, and there are thirty-three boats on our list before the Ruth on August 4, 1863. However, the period shown above contains the highest concentration of steamboats known to be destroyed by Tucker and his saboteurs, and coincides with their receiving official sanction and funding to do so by General Johnston. Activity prior to August of 1863 would have been under the authority of General Price and probably unknown to higher levels of the Confederate hierarchy.

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Tucker’s War

Appendix B

AUGUSTA, GA., February 16, 1864.
Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:

Mr. SEDDON: I beg your permission to write a few words, after the style of a plain, unofficial, but earnest man, writing to a man of practical wisdom. I feel, as intensely as it is possible to feel, the vital necessity of striking hard blows now, and striking at as many points and in as many ways as possible, so as to aid our cause and save our country.

I have perfected my plans and distributed my men, with means improvised for the purpose (since the Government has not as yet paid our force any money), and between the 1st and 15th of March, on the same day, I propose to destroy the enemy’s transports, arsenals, navy-yards, stores, &c., in accordance with the outline of the plan I gave you in December.

I beg that this plan be borne in mind as our link in the chain of testimony in favor of our force. On the same day at all points we mean to strike effectually, so as to exert an influence upon the spring campaign.

Hon. John B. Clark did me the kindness to advise me by letter that the Senate had passed a bill—he did not state its provisions—which might aid in facilitating my plans, which he supposed would also be passed by the House. This led me to conclude it was the bill which you informed me in our latest interview you would propose and submit to the Military Committee, for the purpose of putting this secret service upon a systematic and legal footing, and then would give me those facilities which I asked in some written propositions submitted at your suggestion.

Mr. Seddon, please do me the kindness to take ten minutes of your overtaxed time, and give me the commission or order or direction or authority or recognition which will enable me to prosecute this work vigorously and systematically, and I promise you to render a good account of our labors.

I visit my family for a few days, with whom I have spent one week in two and a half years. I shall be much gratified to receive your orders, and for twenty days to come my address will be Hebron, S. C.

With great respect, &c.,
JOSEPH W. TUCKER.

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Tucker’s War

Appendix C

J. W. Tucker to Jefferson Davis.

(From Confederate Memorial Hall.)

(Spotswood Hotel 14th March, 1864.)

Confidential statements; for the President alone.

1. There exists in the North West and North a secret political organization, having a Lodge in St. Louis with one thousand members.

2. The principles and objects of the organization are, among others, the following:

(1) The preservation of state rights and free representative government; (2) everlasting opposition to Black and Red Republicanism; (3) self-preservation against the unscrupulous and bloody purposes of the war and plunder party of the North; (4) the distinct recognition of the Southern Confederacy, and aideing that government in all practicable ways, because, it is contending for the same rights; (5) the distinct recognition that all the slave states, including Kentucky and Missouri, of right belong to the Confederacy; (6) the formation of a North West Republic including Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio; (7) the institution of the most friendly relations, commercially and otherwise, with the Confederate States; (8) and making open war with the perverted government of the United States, if that become necessary to carry out these objects.

3. That organization numbered, on the 3rd December 1863, Four hundred and ninety thousand men, distributed as follows:

Illinois, ………………………….110,000

Indiana,……………………………120,000

Ohio,……………………………….40,000

Iowa, ………………………………15,000

Pennsylvania,………………………..40,000

New York, …………………………..40,000

New Jersey, …………………………15,000

and other numbers proportionate to population in other states, chiefly in the North West.

4. A deputation, under the authority of the order, was sent to confer with me in Mobile in relation to the destruction of the enemy’s marine service, together with armories, arsenals, depots of stores, etc. etc., as a means of weakening and paralyzing the military strength of the Federal Government. The Order is desirous of thus aideing our cause. In the Lodge in St. Louis there are seventy-two Engineers serving on the Western Waters, by whom we destroyed ten Federal Transports in ten days. But a doubt arose whether our work was prosecuted by the approval of the Confederate Government; and whether the men employed in this perilous service would be compensated by any provision of law, and especially when officers in the marine service were thrown out of employment by the destruction of the vessels on which they were employed.

5. Our future plans, if sanctioned and aided by the Government, embrace the destruction of that transport service upon which Grant must rely in the great coming struggle of the spring campaign; a week ago we burnt $500,000 worth of hey at the Memphis wharf, to embarrass Sherman; not long since Colt’s pistol and gun Factory became an earnest of what can be done. We design to strike a blow on the same day, at many points, that will paralyze the foe. To do this confidence in the countenance and approval of our government must be inspired. To do this an adjustment for work already done must be had. The final agents are often ignorant, and sometimes vicious men. No argument but money will avail with them. If a settlement now be practicable, and a sum of money, say $100,000, of a character of funds current within the Federal lines, greenbacks, or Foreign exchange, can be placed in the hands of Lieut. Gen. Polk, for disbursement, some in advance, and the rest as the work proceeds, I am most confident we shall be able, through this association, to render important and telling service to our government in the ensuing campaign.

We had sent through a young man, Mr. Major, now with me, to make himself a member of the order; this induced the coming of the deputation to confer with me personally, since I was known to very many of its members. No mere stranger can by possibility work through the order, or in connection with it. It is the most perfect and the most secret the world has known. Out of 490,000, only two individuals have ever shown a disposition to betray the secrets of the order; and these two men disappeared mysteriously. I could give more information, but fear prolixity and tediousness. I beg respectfully to commend the subject to the notice of His Excellency the President. I know that by a recent enactment the question of secret service is transferred to the War Department.

But there is an important sense in which the Chief Magistrate of the Republic is the Government; and this ought to be so; since to him attaches the responsibility of failure, and to him pertains the glory of success.

I have the honor to subscribe, with great respect &c.

J. W. TUCKER.

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Tucker’s War

Appendix D

O. A. K.

HEADQUARTERS,
Saint Louis, Mo., October 1, 1864.

To THE MEMBERS OF THE ORDER OF AMERICAN KNIGHTS OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI:

SIR KNIGHTS: Morning dawneth. General Price with at least 20,000 veteran soldiers is now within your State. Through your supreme commander (and with the approbation of the supreme council) you invited him to come to your aid. He was assured that if he came at this time with the requisite force you would co operate and add at least 20,000 true men to his army. He has hearkend to your prayer and is now battling for your deliverance. Sons of Liberty, will you falsify your plighted word? I know you will not. You are strong in numbers—full 30,000 strong—and your influence is potent. It requires but prompt action on the part of the members to insure the ultimate triumph of our cause. As you value your property, your liberties, your lives, and your sacred honor, fail not to give a helping hand in this crisis. Under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by section — of the code of the O. A. K.s, authorizing the appointment of a major-general to command the members called into the military service, I shall appoint that brave and true soldier, Missouri’s favorite son, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, military commander of the O. A. K.s of the State of Missouri.

All able-bodied men of the O. A. K.s are hereby called upon and required to render military service in behalf of our cause. All true knights will yield prompt obedience to the orders and commands of General Price. Meantime do all possible damage to the enemy. Seize all arms and munitions of war within your power. Take possession of and hold all important places you can, and recruit as rapidly as possible. If you cannot sustain yourselves fall back upon the army of occupation. In townships and counties where you cannot concentrate on account of the presence of the enemy repair singly or in squads without delay to the army, or to points where your brethren may be marshaling their forces, and in all cases be ready to obey the commands of your chieftain and unite with the forces when an opportune moment others. Ye knights, who belong to the militia, a change of government is now impending and you possess peculiar advantages for doing good service, and it is believed you will not fail to act efficiently. You joined the militia that you might the better protect yourselves under Radical rule. Now prepare to strike with the victorious hosts under General Price and aid in the redemption of the State. Already hundreds of militiamen, arms in hands, have taken position beside the brave and gallant soldiers under General Price. In no event permit yourselves to be arrayed against your brethren. I enjoin it upon the district and county commanders and the grand seniors to be vigilant and active in the discharge of their respective duties. Let each one feel that upon him depends the successful issue of this contest, and that it is paramount duty to immediately enter the service. I address you perhaps for the last time. You have honored me and given me your confidence. I have endeavored to merit as I appreciate that consideration. Danger has not deterred me from the discharge of duty, and the period of my intercourse and collaboration with you and brethren of other States I shall ever revert to with feelings of pleasurable emotion. I have rejoiced to note the unanimity of sentiment and earnestness of purpose evinced to put forth every effort, with force of arms if need be, to establish the great principles of liberty and free government and States rights, so soon as the event which is upon us transpired. Brethren, the time for action has come. We must now meet the hosts of the tyrant in the field and sustain our friends and our cause. Be assured I shall buckle on my armor, and I trust I shall greet many thousands of you in the camp of our friends. If we do not sustain General Price, and our cause in consequence fails, all will be lost. We must fight. Honor and patriotism demand it. Then remember your solemn oaths. Remember the sacred obligations resting upon you and resolve, individually and collectively, to do your duty knowing it full well.

Until otherwise ordered headquarters of the O. A. K.s will be hereafter in the army of General Price.

All officers of the O. A. K.s are charged to use the utmost dispatch in communicating this letter to the members. Absence from the city prevented an earlier issue of this communication. Remember our motto: “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”

Given under my hand and seal of the O. A. K.s of the State of Missouri, this 1st day of October, A. D. 1864.

JOHN H. TAYLOR,

Supreme Commander of the State of Missouri.

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[1]Dr. J. B. O. Landrum, History of Spartanburg County, 1900; 1860 St. Louis census; 1880 Florida census; NARA provost marshal records.

[2]Wofford College website, www.wofford.edu. The college’s Board of Trustees is still selected by the state conference of the United Methodist Church. Family genealogy records in Landrum, History of Spartanburg County, suggest that Reverend Wofford was actually J. Wofford Tucker’s paternal great-uncle.

[3]Rev. Charles A. Fulwood, D.D., “The Late Hon. J. Wofford Tucker”, The American Illustrated Methodist Magazine, October, 1901. Fulwood hints that Tucker was a soft touch where money was concerned and may have been taken advantage of in some way. The Spartanburg Female College would eventually fail in 1871, and an email to author from Wofford College archivist R. Phillip Stone suggests that the women’s college’s shaky finances might have had something to do with Tucker’s own financial problems.

[4]Fulwood, “The Late Hon. J. Wofford Tucker”, 1860 St. Louis business directory; “University of Missouri Installation Exercises, Address by J.W. Tucker, Esq., of St. Louis, Member of the Board of Curators, and Response by Benj. A. Minor, A.M., President of the University, Delivered in the Chapel, October 2, 1860”, Columbia, MO., William F. Switzler, Publisher, Statesmen Office, 1860

[5]Galusha Anderson, The Story of a Border City During the Civil War, 1908

[6]James O. Broadhead papers, Missouri Historical Society

[7]Union spy report, James O. Broadhead papers, Missouri Historical Society. Letter from Basil Duke to Thomas L. Snead, Letter from Colton Greene to Thomas L. Snead, Thomas L. Snead papers, Missouri Historical society.

[8]James Peckham, General Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861, 1866, 165-169. Chris Phillips suggests an alternate scenario for how the news got to the legislature in Missouri’s Confederate, 252-253. Peckham was an Unconditional Unionist member of the assembly for St. Louis at the time, and his account reads like straight first-hand reporting including little details like who was peeking over whose shoulder to read the telegram.

[9]James O. Broadhead papers, Missouri Historical Society; Christopher Phillips, Missouri’s Confederate: Claiborne Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West, 2000, 249. Peckham, Lyon and Missouri, 202.

[10]Phillips, Missouri’s Confederate, 249-250; Thomas L. Snead, The Fight for Missouri, 1886; Civil War researcher Kirby Ross, in an email to author, points out that Tucker published a series of newspapers over the course of the war and had ample opportunity to trumpet any duplicity on the part of Union authorities regarding this letter. One of these, the Missouri Army Argus, was funded by Governor Jackson. While few copies of Tucker’s newspapers have survived, secondary sources would have reported the fact had Tucker ever made the claim.

[11]James O. Broadhead, St. Louis in the Early Days of the War.

[12]James Melvin Lee, History of American Journalism, 1923 revised edition, 301

[13]R. S. Bevier, History of the First and Second Missouri Confederate Brigades 1861-1865, 1879, 76-77, quoting a Tucker editorial in the Missouri Army Argus of Dec. 12, 1861.

[14]Thomas C. Reynolds, General Sterling Price and the Confederacy, unpublished manuscript, Missouri Historical Society

[15]“Another Secret Society”, Missouri Republican, Dec. 29, 1861. “Another” being a reference to the old Knights of the Golden Circle. “The pamphlet itself, judging by the mechanical execution, was printed at Price’s camp, Osceola, and Deacon Tucker has, no doubt, exercised his leisure moments in getting up this infernal society.”

[16]Robert E. Shalhope, Sterling Price: Portrait of a Southerner, 1971, 236

[17]Albert Castel, General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West, 1993 (reissue of 1968 edition), 63-64, 132-133, 135, 194; Reynolds, Price and the Confederacy.

[18]D. H. Rule, “Sultana: A Case for Sabotage”, North & South, Volume 5 Issue 1; Absalom Grimes, Confederate Mail Runner, 1926

[19]Trial transcript of Robert Louden, NARA

[20]David E. Long, The Jewel of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln’s Re-election and the End of Slavery, 1994 (1997 Da Capo press edition), 43-44

[21]Frank L. Klement, Dark Lanterns, 1984, 66. An account provided by Missouri Confederate secret service agent Emile Longuemare, Mary K. Maule, “A Chapter of Unwritten History”, Western Reserve Historical Society, suggests a birth date for O.A.K. in early 1862. While this would be interesting if true, no other confirmation for such an early date can be found, and I believe it likely that Longuemare, giving his account as an old man, misremembered the year.

[22]

The works of Frank L. Klement, The Copperheads in the Middle West (1960), The Limits of Dissent (1970), Dark Lanterns (1984), and Lincoln’s Critics: The Copperheads of the North (1998) argue that the copperhead societies were really a misunderstood and overestimated “loyal opposition” whose sins were only of the venial and “indiscreet” (a favorite word Klement uses to minimize what he cannot ignore) variety. Before Klement, it was generally understood that the copperheads were dangerous and serious. See Wood Gray, The Hidden Civil War, 1942, for an example of this earlier understanding. Several historians have expressed reservations about Klement’s work, with Long, The Jewel of Liberty offering the strongest and most convincing attack. Two “state-specific” experts who have also demurred on Klement’s findings, at least in their own states, are G. R. Tredway, Democratic Opposition to the Lincoln Administration in Indiana, 1973, and Louis S. Gerteis, Civil War St. Louis, 2001.  Klement touches just briefly on Tucker’s saboteurs in Copperheads in the Middle West, without naming any names or showing any awareness of the ample evidence –Confederate and Union– for their existence and considerable success in burning government steamers and supplies.  He refers to it as “the legend of the boat-burning conspiracy” (pg 204), as if Tucker and his crew had as much historical evidence for their exploits as Robin Hood and his Merry Men..  In Dark Lanterns, Tucker makes the barest of cameos  –without mention in the index– as a Missouri editor who was in favor of the Northwest Confederacy.

[23]“The Scheme of a Northwest Republic”, Missouri Democrat, Aug. 2, 1864

[24]Castel, Sterling Price; Reynolds, Price and the Confederacy

[25]Report of Judge Advocate General Joseph A. Holt, OR S2 V7 pp930-953

[26]Before the war, Price, a former governor of the state, had been a leader of the Pro-Union/Pro-slavery faction of Missouri’s Democracy, and had only reluctantly been moved to the secession side by the Camp Jackson massacre. His near religious faith in the Democracy’s mission to preserve—including slavery—“The Union as it was; the Constitution as it is” would have made him seem a perfect partner for the Peace Democracy of the North. See Shalhope Portrait of a Southerner for a discussion of Price’s fervent belief in the mission of the Democratic Party before the war. It is worth noting, however, that Price’s dedication to a “Northwest Confederacy”, with or without Missouri, is not as well documented as his involvement with figures associated with the “Northwest Conspiracy”, which isn’t quite the same thing. It is possible that Northwestern Democrats saw what they wanted to see in Price’s involvement, or even that Price (or his lieutenants) lead them on. A revolt in the Northwest had significant benefits to the Missouri Confederates whether or not it resulted in a separate Northwest Republic.

[27]The evidence of Snead’s involvement is almost entirely circumstantial and the most speculative element of this article. He did sign the order on behalf of General Price detaching T.E. Courtenay on secret service against Union shipping in the summer of 1863. What it comes down to is an analysis of Snead’s talents and personality and his relationship to Price and Tucker during the war. It is nearly inconceivable that Snead, as Price’s adjutant until May 25, 1864 when he went off to Richmond as a Confederate congressman, could have been kept in the dark on something of this scale. By all reports, Price leaned heavily on Snead, and after the failed invasion of 1864 Snead wrote Price that he never should have left him at such a time. The Northwest Conspiracy was, at its heart, a political operation and Snead had been a political operative before the war. Therefore I believe it likely that he was an active player. See Robert E. Miller, “Proud Confederate: Thomas Lowndes Snead of Missouri”, Missouri Historical Review, Jan. 1985. The Northwest Conspiracy is not touched on in the MHR article, but it does nicely cover Snead’s talents, devotion to Sterling Price, and hostility to Governor Reynolds and Confederate policy vis-à-vis Missouri. Interestingly, even a planned second volume of The Fight for Missouri would have stopped short (Summer of 1862) of the period where Snead would have been required to either go into detail or suppress whatever he knew about the Northwest Conspiracy. So far as is known, Snead never wrote about any of these issues, not even to defend his old hero Price from Governor Reynolds’ accusations on the subject.

[28]Shalhope, Portrait of a Southerner, 237. Shalhope says this letter was reprinted in the Richmond Whig of June 29, 1863. I have not been able to acquire a copy of this letter yet, so I am staying very close to Shalhope’s characterization of it, including the use of “blasted” to describe Tucker’s broadside. Indeed, Shalhope gives a whole paragraph of adjectives and insults against Holmes in describing Tucker’s wrath. Given the pattern of sabotage of Union steamers both before and after this date, and the Deacon’s role in those efforts, the charge of “‘thwarted’ the best efforts of others to do so” (an exact quote from Shalhope) is very suggestive that Tucker was taking Holmes’ obstruction personally.

[29]Trial transcript of Robert Louden, NARA, testimony of prosecution witness C. C. Ferguson, insurance investigator.

[30]Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (OR) Series 1 Volume 24 Part 3 page 1066. Letter is dated January 31, 1864.

[31]It will be noted that Tucker is referred to here as “Judge Tucker”. That “Judge Tucker” and “Deacon Tucker” were indeed the same man can be confirmed from documents both Union and Confederate. See OR S1 V52 P2 p763; OR S1 V48 P2 pp195-197. The former is General Price’s adjutant Maj. Thomas L. Snead noting in a letter to the General from Mobile that “Judge Tucker is here editing the Argus.” The latter is Union Provost Marshal James H. Baker noting the “Judge Tucker” in charge of the boat-burners was formerly editor of the Missouri State Journal. Landrum, History of Spartanburg County notes that J. Wofford Tucker, “entered the special secret service of the Confederate States, in which he remained to the close of the war.” The excellent Come Retribution, William A. Tidwell, James O. Hall, and David W. Gaddy, chapter 7 “Department of Dirty Tricks” provided the epiphany that the “Judge” and the “Deacon” were one and the same. Landrum, History of Spartanburg County, pg 229, claims that Tucker became a judge after moving to Missouri. I have been unable to confirm the details on how Tucker earned the distinction of being addressed as “Judge Tucker”. There is no dating for Tucker’s proposal more specific than Johnston’s “during the siege of Vicksburg” (May 18-July 4, 1863). I believe it would have been shortly after Tucker gave up hope on Holmes allowing anything to be done on the same subject, about the same time as the appearance of his letter in the Mississippian referred to previously.

[32]Charles Parsons (U.S. Quartermaster at St. Louis) papers, Missouri Historical Society

[33]NARA RG 109, M345, roll 170, 171 / RG 94, M797, roll 40; Grimes, Confederate Mail Runner. While Grimes is silent on the purpose of Louden’s trips in northern states, Federal authorities document in at least two instances (Indianapolis and Philadelphia) that he delivered “Rebel mail” while on these trips. If, as I believe, Price, Tucker, and Snead were busy making contact with northern Democrats in this period for the purpose of coordinating with the northern wing of the movement, then these trips by Louden are the most likely conduit for that contact. It is interesting to note that the strongest anti-war protests in Philadelphia during the war occurred immediately after Louden’s visit there in May of 1863.

[34]OR S1 V32 P2 p13

[35]Trial transcript of Robert Louden, NARA

[36]Grimes, Confederate Mail Runner

[37]OR S1 V48 P2 pp194-196; Frederic Way, Jr., Ways Packet Directory, 1848-1994, 78, 223, When talking about saboteurs, I am using “Tucker’s group” and “OAK” interchangeably from the summer of 1863 forward as there is no distinction worth making between the two.

[38]OR, S4 V3 p125

[39]Way, Jr., Way’s Packet Directory, 1993, 231-232

[40]OR S1 V48 P2 pp194-196; J. H. Baker Report on Steamers Burned, Edward Steers, Jr. collection. Ayleshire is alternately spelled as “Elshire” and “Alshire” in some sources, including James H. Baker’s provost marshal reports.

[41]Compiled service records, NARA, RG109 M253

[42]OR S1 V22 P2 pg970

[43]J. Thomas Scharf, History of the Confederate States Navy; “Sultana: A Case for Sabotage”, D. H. Rule, North & South Volume 5 Issue 1. Of course other saboteurs than Tucker’s could use them too, and there are at least two accusations that Courtenay’s torpedoes were used on the east coast as well. See Milton F. Perry, Infernal Machines, 1965

[44]Navy OR S1 V26 pp186-187.

[45]Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist, Vol. 6 pp 204-206

[46]“The Fire at Colt’s Armory”, New York Times, February 7, 1864, reprinting Hartford Courant of Feb. 5. “Incendiary” at the time would refer both to the device and the man who used it. As given in this article it would be a clear suggestion of sabotage. If Tucker isn’t taking credit for the Colt fire in the Davis letter, then the other reading would be simply pointing out that much good could be done with “land operations” as well, and that his group could do either. The use of “earnest” is interesting in this context as Tucker was a very educated man, and must have known that “earnest” would suggest to Davis that Tucker’s group had done the Colt fire “free of charge” as it were just to prove their capability to do future operations of the same type. Combining the Colt fire reference in the same sentence with the Memphis wharf fire, which he very clearly was taking credit for, makes a claim of credit the most likely reading.

[47]John B. Castleman, Active Service, 1917; James Horan, Confederate Agent, 1954

[48]Kentucky was admitted to the Confederacy on December 10, 1861, but the Kentucky Confederates’ legitimacy to speak for their state was even more tenuous than the Missourians, and their motivation for supporting the Northwest Conspiracy was at least as strong.

[49]Castleman, Active Service

[50]John W. Headley, Confederate Operations in Canada and New York, 1906

[51]Klement, Dark Lanterns; Castleman, Active Service

[52]Castleman, Active Service; Horan, Confederate Agent

[53]Correct spelling seems to be “Barret”, but most records use “Barrett” instead. There is some confusion in the records between the two men and it is often difficult to be sure which of them is being referred to. See Benjamin Perley Poor, editor, The Conspiracy Trial for the Murder of the President, Vol. III, Arno Press reprint, 1972, pp 424-431 where the questioner is clearly trying to lead witness Edward “Frazier” (Frazor) to J. Richard Barret (“Missourian… formerly in congress”), and Frazor seems just as clearly to be answering in relation to James A. Barret (“adjutant-general… Illinois”). It doesn’t help that apparently both men were entitled to be called “Colonel Barret”. Also, James A. Barret is sometimes referred to as being from Illinois instead of Missouri.

[54]Klement, Dark Lanterns, p107

[55]Reynolds, Price and the Confederacy

[56]William B. Feis, Grant’s Secret Service, 2002, 112

[57]OR S2 V7 pp. 228-340

[58]Felix G. Stidger, Treason History of the Sons of Liberty, Formerly Circle of Honor, Succeeded by the Knights of the Golden Circle, Afterwards the Order of American Knights, 1903, reprint edition by Dogwood Press, pg. 37

[59]Ibid pp 144-145; Baker’s report in OR S1 V48 P2 pp194-196

[60]Way, Jr., Ways Packet Directory, entries for Edward F. Dix, Cherokee, Northerner, Glasgow, Sunshine, Welcome. Entry for Sunshine, #5234, notes “dreaded rebel steamboat burners” believed to be responsible. Baker’s report in OR S1 V48 P2 pp194-196

[61]OR S1 V43 P2 pp930-936, report of Confederate commissioner Jacob Thompson. In trying to control the scope of this article, I’ve chosen not to go into the role Thompson, Clement Clay, and J. P. Holcomb played as Confederate commissioners to Canada. See William A. Tidwell, James O. Hall, and David W. Gaddy, Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln, 1988 and Headley, Confederate Operations in Canada and New York for more information on their role in the Northwest Conspiracy and Confederate sabotage in the last year of the war.

[62]Burlington Iowa Weekly Hawkeye, Saturday, July 9, 1864, “A great fire occurred in Louisville on Saturday of last week. . .government stores to the value of $800,000, belonging to the Medical Perveyor’s Department. . .” One of Tucker’s saboteurs, Edward Frazor, would refer to this as a “hospital fire”, crediting the saboteur as a man named Henry Dillingham. Frazor also said that no one was killed, which seems incredible when considering all the immobile individuals in a war-time hospital at all hours of the day. Felix Stidger, in his Treason History, refers to a “warehouses” fire destroying government supplies at Louisville in July of 1864, but says nothing about a hospital fire that would have been equally interesting to Stidger. The Hawkeye article unscrews the inscrutable. These two seemingly separate incidents are really the same single incident; Frazor’s “hospital” was really a large store of medical supplies stored in government warehouses.

[63]OR S1 V48 P2 pp194-196; RG109 M345 roll 97

[64]OR S1 V41 P3, pp975-976

[65]Shalhope, Portrait of a Southerner, 266-267

[66]“Destruction of Steamer Maria”, Missouri Republican, Dec. 12, 1864

[67]OR S1 V48 P2 pp194-196

[68]Charles Parsons papers, Missouri Historical Society. There is some dispute about just how much “immunity” Murphy received from Baker in early 1865. Murphy was later captured and tried for his boat-burning activities.

[69]D. H. Rule & G. E. Rule papers

[70]J. M. Bundy, “The Last Chapter in the History of the War”, Galaxy, 1870

[71]D. H. Rule, “Sultana: A Case for Sabotage”, North and South, Vol. 5, Issue 1, December, 2001; “Blew up the Sultana”, Missouri Democrat, May 6, 1888. Louden’s claim is a matter of some dispute. See our Sultana section for more information and documentation.

[72]NARA, RG 109, M345, roll 270, Provost Marshal’s file on Joseph W. Tucker, report of Allen Pinkerton dated June 6, 1865 from New Orleans.

[73]Edward Steers, Jr., “Terror 1860’s Style”, North & South, Volume 5 Issue 4; Baker list of steamers sabotaged, Edward Steers, Jr. collection.

[74]Fulwood, “The Late Hon. J. Wofford Tucker”

[75]Landrum, History of Spartanburg County, pg 229, says after the war he was “lay delegate to the great Ecumenical Conference held in London”. E-mail to author from R. Phillip Stone, Wofford College archivist, identifies this as being a reference to the First Ecumenical Methodist Conference at London in September of 1881. Nolan B. Harmon, editor, “Methodist Conferences”, The Encyclopedia of World Methodism, Volume II.

[76]Fulwood, “The Late Hon. J. Wofford Tucker”; Atlanta Constitution, June 15, 1893

[77]Tucker died in 1897 and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Sanford, FL. American Illustrated Methodist Magazine eulogized him in Oct. 1901, including a picture captioned “on the day of his death”. Unfortunately, the article does not state what day, or even year, that was. Landrum, History of Spartanburg County, which was published in 1900, pg 201-202, has this to say about Tucker’s wife Emily, “Emily Augusta [Tucker, nee Barry], born 1824; died 1898” and “…died in Sanford, Florida, her husband having preceded her a short time.” Sanford Historic Trust cemetery search website, at http://www.sanfordhistorictrust.org/cemeterysearch.html confirms Landrum’s account for both Joseph Wofford Tucker and Emily Augusta Tucker.

OAK Call to Arms

The OAK Call to Arms

There has been a goodly amount of dispute about the aims, capabilities, and size of the copperhead society OAK–the Order of American Knights. For many years after the war, it was an article of faith that the copperheads —northern sympathizers with the south—had engaged in treason against the Union, and planned armed uprisings aimed at forcing an end to the war. This plan has generally come down to us under the rubric “The Northwest Conspiracy“. The general idea was based on the fact that the Northeast was the hotbed of abolitionism and the driving engine politically behind the Northern war effort, but the Northwest (today’s Midwest) was much more politically ambivalent. Since the Northwest provided much of the armed strength of the Union armies, if it could be forced out of the war, recalling its regiments, then the Northeast would have no choice but to accept Southern independence.

The works of Frank L. Klement (“The Limits of Dissent”, “Lincoln’s Critics”, “Dark Lanterns”, etc) seriously undermined the earlier understanding. In a series of books (1960-1999) on the copperheads, Klement argued that they were really a misunderstood “loyal opposition” to the Lincoln administration, and that whatever sins they had committed were of the venial or “indiscreet” variety. According to Klement, most of the hullabaloo over the copperheads and OAK (which used various names in different locales) was caused by ambitious Union officers and politicians who really knew better, but were intent on making political hay at the expense of the Democrats.

While Klement did some outstanding basic research in the area, his overriding desire to whitewash the copperheads’ connections to the Confederate secret service can only be described as blatant. In addition, not content with saying they were just wrong, Klement besmirches the memory and contributions of some fine Union officers and public servants in his rush to acquit the copperheads of the charges.

In Missouri, Klement’s ire is pointedly unleashed against Union department commander General William Rosecrans and his Provost Marshal, J. P. Sanderson. Released in the summer of 1864, “The Sanderson Report” alleged that OAK was planning insurrection across the Northwest, that the Order was deeply involved with the Confederate secret service, and that indeed the military commander of OAK was none other than Missouri’s own General Sterling Price. According to the report, a new invasion of the state by Price was brewing, and OAK was planning to rise in support of it.

This is all moonshine and myth according to Klement, born of Rosecrans and Sanderson being more interested in furthering their careers and reputations than the well-being of the Union. Unfortunately for Klement, Price’s invasion of the state occurred just as Sanderson predicted, and the leadership of OAK did indeed attempt to rally their membership to rise in support of it. The call to arms below is taken from the Confederate Correspondence section of the Official Records. Unfortunately for the Missouri Confederates, it was too little too late. The fall of Atlanta in early September had sucked the life out of the copperheads, and made it all too clear that the Confederacy was on its last legs. Under such circumstances, it is not surprising that many of the rank & file copperheads of OAK (those who were needed to do the actual fighting and dying) declined to participate in Price’s invasion. That things did not turn out the way OAK planned does not change the fact that Rosecrans and Sanderson had accurately uncovered and reported OAK’s plans and future activities.


O.R.—SERIES I—VOLUME 41/3 pp. 975-976

O. A. K.

HEADQUARTERS,
Saint Louis, Mo., October 1, 1864.

To THE MEMBERS OF THE ORDER OF
AMERICAN KNIGHTS OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI:

SIR KNIGHTS: Morning dawneth. General Price with at least 20,000 veteran soldiers is now within your State. Through your supreme commander (and with the approbation of the supreme council) you invited him to come to your aid. He was assured that if he came at this time with the requisite force you would co operate and add at least 20,000 true men to his army. He has hearkend to your prayer and is now battling for your deliverance. Sons of Liberty, will you falsify your plighted word? I know you will not. You are strong in numbers—full 30,000 strong—and your influence is potent. It requires but prompt action on the part of the members to insure the ultimate triumph of our cause. As you value your property, your liberties, your lives, and your sacred honor, fail not to give a helping hand in this crisis. Under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by section — of the code of the O. A. K.s, authorizing the appointment of a major-general to command the members called into the military service, I shall appoint that brave and true soldier, Missouri’s favorite son, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, military commander of the O. A. K.s of the State of Missouri.

All able-bodied men of the O. A. K.s are hereby called upon and required to render military service in behalf of our cause. All true knights will yield prompt obedience to the orders and commands of General Price. Meantime do all possible damage to the enemy. Seize all arms and munitions of war within your power. Take possession of and hold all important places you can, and recruit as rapidly as possible. If you cannot sustain yourselves fall back upon the army of occupation. In townships and counties where you cannot concentrate on account of the presence of the enemy repair singly or in squads without delay to the army, or to points where your brethren may be marshaling their forces, and in all cases be ready to obey the commands of your chieftain and unite with the forces when an opportune moment others. Ye knights, who belong to the militia, a change of government is now impending and you possess peculiar advantages for doing good service, and it is believed you will not fail to act efficiently. You joined the militia that you might the better protect yourselves under Radical rule. Now prepare to strike with the victorious hosts <ar85_976> under General Price and aid in the redemption of the State. Already hundreds of militiamen, arms in hands, have taken position beside the brave and gallant soldiers under General Price. In no event permit yourselves to be arrayed against your brethren. I enjoin it upon the district and county commanders and the grand seniors to be vigilant and active in the discharge of their respective duties. Let each one feel that upon him depends the successful issue of this contest, and that it is paramount duty to immediately enter the service. I address you perhaps for the last time. You have honored me and given me your confidence. I have endeavored to merit as I appreciate that consideration. Danger has not deterred me from the discharge of duty, and the period of my intercourse and collaboration with you and brethren of other States I shall ever revert to with feelings of pleasurable emotion. I have rejoiced to note the unanimity of sentiment and earnestness of purpose evinced to put forth every effort, with force of arms if need be, to establish the great principles of liberty and free government and States rights, so soon as the event which is upon us transpired. Brethren, the time for action has come. We must now meet the hosts of the tyrant in the field and sustain our friends and our cause. Be assured I shall buckle on my armor, and I trust I shall greet many thousands of you in the camp of our friends. If we do not sustain General Price, and our cause in consequence fails, all will be lost. We must fight. Honor and patriotism demand it. Then remember your solemn oaths. Remember the sacred obligations resting upon you and resolve, individually and collectively, to do your duty knowing it full well.

Until otherwise ordered headquarters of the O. A. K.s will be hereafter in the army of General Price.

All officers of the O. A. K.s are charged to use the utmost dispatch in communicating this letter to the members. Absence from the city prevented an earlier issue of this communication. Remember our motto: “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”

Given under my hand and seal of the O. A. K.s of the State of Missouri, this 1st day of October, A. D. 1864.

JOHN H. TAYLOR,

Supreme Commander of the State of Missouri.

The Missouri Convention by Thomas L Snead

The Missouri Convention

By Thomas L. Snead

A bio of Thomas L. Snead

Excerpted and Introduced by G.E. Rule

from “The Fight For Missouri”, Thomas L. Snead, 1886

Missouri Civil War Reader CD-ROM

Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I now available

The Fight for Missouri by Thomas L. Snead, 1886

The Struggle for Missouri by John McElroy, 1909

The Story of a Border City During the Civil War by Galusha Anderson, 1908

The Crisis by Winston Churchill, 1901

Basil Duke in Missouri by Gen. Basil Wilson Duke, 1911

The Brown-Reynolds Duel, 1911

Cost per CD ROM is $24.95 + $4.00 priority mail shipping

Thomas L. Snead was, successively, a pro-Breckinridge newspaperman, aide to Governor Claiborne Jackson, adjutant to General Sterling Price, and CSA Congressman from Missouri. His “The Fight for Missouri: From the Election of Lincoln to the Death of Lyon” is the best first hand account of events in Missouri from late 1860 until August of 1861. Predictably, many Pro-Union partisans regard Snead as hopelessly biased towards the secessionist’s point of view. More surprisingly, some Pro-Confederate partisans consider that by 1886 Snead was too much of a “reconstructed Rebel” and not strident enough in defending the secessionist point of view. Snead himself was not above playing hardball during the war, signing the order in 1863 on behalf of General Sterling Price directing Captain Thomas E. Courtenay to raise a corps of 20 men for secret service to engage in sabotage behind Union lines in the Trans-Mississippi.

Chosen by special election in Feb. 1861, the members of The Missouri Convention met, speechified, and decided to do nothing. The timing of the convention worked out very well for the Unionists and very poorly for the Secessionists. A convention chosen, or even still in session, after Lincoln’s call for troops to suppress the South on April 17th might have ended quite differently. Indeed, such was the course of events in Virginia where it was believed that the Unionists held the upper hand right to the end. . .and secession of the state. But in Virginia the Unionists made the fatal mistake of allowing the Convention to stay in session, while in Missouri they were smart enough to disband as soon as possible. A Convention not in session cannot vote to secede.



The State Convention met at Jefferson City on the last day of February. Ex-Governor Sterling Price, a Union man, was chosen President, receiving the votes of seventy-five Union Men, while the votes of fifteen Southern Rights’ men were given to Nathaniel W. Watkins, a half-brother of Henry Clay. As soon as the Convention completed its organization it adjourned its session to St. Louis, whose loyal atmosphere it preferred to that of the capital.

Of its ninety-nine members fifty-three were natives of either Virginia or Kentucky; and all but seventeen had been born in the slave-holding States. Only thirteen were natives of the North. Three were Germans, and there was one Irishman. The President of the Convention, the Chairman of the Committee on Federal Relations Judge Gamble, the leader of the Unconditional Union men on the floor James O. Broadhead, and the most conspicuous opponent of Secession John B. Henderson, were all Virginians.

The Convention reassembled at St. Louis on the 4th of March, the day of Lincoln’s inauguration, and went straight to work. On the 9th the Committee on Federal Relations made a long report through its chairman, Judge Gamble. In this report, after reviewing the condition of the country, they said:

“To involve Missouri in revolution, under the present circumstances, is certainly not demanded by the magnitude of the grievances of which we complain; nor by the certainty that they cannot be otherwise and more peacefully remedied, nor by the hope that they would be remedied, or even diminished by such revolution.

“The position of Missouri in relation to the adjacent States, which would continue in the Union, would necessarily expose her, if she became a member of a new Confederacy, to utter destruction whenever any rupture might take place between the different republics. In a military aspect secession and connection with a Southern Confederacy is annihilation for Missouri.

“The true position for Missouri to assume is that of a State whose interests are bound up in the maintenance of the Union, and whose kind feelings and strong sympathies are with the people of the Southern States, with whom we are connected by the ties of friendship and blood… To go with those States —to leave the government our fathers builded— to blot out the star of Missouri from the constellation of the Union is to ruin ourselves without doing them any good. We cannot follow them, we cannot give up the Union, but we will do all in our power to induce them to again take their places with us in the family from which they have attempted to separate themselves. For this purpose we will not only recommend a compromise with which they ought to be satisfied, but we will endeavor to procure an assemblage of the whole family of States in order that in a General Convention such amendments to the Constitution may be agreed upon as shall permanently restore harmony to the whole nation.”

The committee also submitted to the Convention resolutions conformable to these opinions, and which in substance were,

1. That there was no adequate cause for the withdrawal of Missouri from the Union.

2. That believing that the seceded States would return to the Union if the Crittenden Proposition were adopted, the Convention would request the General Assembly to call a Convention of all the States to consider that proposition.

3. That they would entreat the Federal Government not to employ force against the seceding States, and the latter not to assail the Government, while this proposition was under consideration.

Mr. Bast moved that the Convention should further declare that if the Northern States should refuse to assent to the Crittenden Compromise, and the other border slave States should thereupon secede, Missouri would not then hesitate to take a firm and decided stand in favor of her sister States of the South.

For this proposition only twenty-three members voted. Among them were Sterling Price, Robert A. Hatcher, Harrison Hough, Prince L. Hudgins, John T. Redd, and Nathaniel W. Watkins. Among the seventy who voted against it were General Doniphan, Judge Gamble, James H. Moss, William A. Hall, John B. Henderson, and James O. Broadhead.

While Mr. Moss, who was, by the way, a man of ability and character, would not vote to declare that Missouri would, under any circumstances, secede, he was opposed to coercion, and therefore offered a resolution declaring that Missouri would “never furnish men or money for the purpose of aiding the General Government in any attempts to coerce a seceding State.”

In advocating this resolution he said:

“I submit to every man of common sense in this Assembly to tell me whether Missouri will ever furnish a regiment to invade a Southern State for the purpose of coercion. Never! Never! And, gentlemen! Missouri expects this Convention to say so… I believe it to be the duty of Missouri to stand by the gallant men of southern Illinois, who have declared that they will never suffer a Northern army to pass the southern boundary of Illinois for the purpose of invading a Southern State.”

To this William A. Hall replied with unanswerable argument that if Missouri remained in the Union it would be her duty to furnish both men and money to the General Government when properly called upon for them, whether to coerce a State into submission, or for any other purpose. To say that she would not do this, would be an idle threat at best, and a mischievous one. Threats on the part of Northern men or communities might have a good effect by showing the willingness of some men at the North to be just to the South. But such threats coming from a Southern State would only encourage the seceding States and enrage the North.

The Convention voted down the proposition of Mr. Moss; and “the pitiless logic of facts” forced him afterwards to raise and command a regiment for the subjugation of the South!

While acting consistently with their new-born determination to stand by the Union, the Conditional Union men still talked as they had been wont to talk when they were soliciting the votes of the Southern people of Missouri. Even John B. Henderson, daring and reckless as he had become in his newly awakened zeal and loyalty, opposed Moss’s resolution only because it was useless.

“Does any man suppose,” said he, “that the President of the United States will so far disregard his duties under the Constitution, or forget the obligation of his oath, as to undertake the subjugation of the Southern States by force? Will the abstract principle of the enforcement of the laws ever be carried by the President to the extent of military subjugation? If so, this Government is at an end. Will you tell me that Mr. Lincoln will send Don Quixotes into the Southern States with military force to subjugate those States? Certainly not… He who dreams that this Government was made or intended to subjugate any one of the States dreams certainly against the spirit, against the intent, and against the whole scope of our institutions… The President has no more power to use force than you or I. Why, then, should Missouri declare that she will under no circumstances lend means or money to the enforcement of the laws by the Federal Government?”

There were a few who still dared to speak as Southern men in a Missouri Convention, and to express in the presence of Blair’s Horne Guards and of United States troops and in the centre of the loyal city of St. Louis, the opinions which they had expressed during the canvass to their Southern-born constituents. Among these were: Prince L. Hudgins and John T. Redd. The former, in the course of an able and impassioned argument in support of Moss’ proposition, said:

“I do not believe that a State has a constitutional right to secede; but seven States claim to have seceded, and I, for one, am anxious to bring them back. You cannot do this by threats, nor by force, nor by abuse. They have done what they thought best for themselves, for their children, and for their children’s children. They have done it deliberately and after great consideration… If Missouri wishes to bring them back, she must remember that they are our brethren; that they must be treated not as traitors, but as patriots; and that they can only be brought back upon fair and honorable terms… The Federal Government has no right to force them back; and if it had such a right, this Convention should say that it ought not to be, and in the language of Virginia and Kentucky, must not be, used. It has been settled beyond the power of refutation that the Government has no right to march an armed force into a State in order to subjugate it. If this be so, cannot Missouri have the courage to say that, if Abraham Lincoln, in violation of the Constitution, and in violation of his oath, march an army into the South, she will not aid him with men and money?

“It is strange that any man who lives in Missouri, and believes in her institutions, should hesitate to declare that she will not engage in such a war. It would be a dreadful thing to do, even if the Constitution, and the flag of our country, and our own Honor required us to do it —to make war upon the land in which we were born, and whose churchyards are filled with the graves of our ancestors; to desolate the homes and to shed the blood of our kindred. It is too horrible to contemplate. Missouri never will do it…

“Nor can I believe for one moment that Missouri intends, or that this Convention will say that is her duty, to submit to Northern aggression, to give up her institutions, and to sacrifice her honor. Let our slaves go if they must, let all our property be sacrificed, but let us maintain our honor—the honor of freemen. If ever the President command Missourians to shed the blood of their Southern brothers, they should take the halter in one hand and the sword in the other and tell him that when he had taken the one he might use the other. I have no submission blood in my veins. If I had I would let it out with a knife.”

John T. Redd, of Marion, was even more emphatic than Hudgins. They were both men of ability, and of high standing, and their words had weight with the people of Missouri. It is a pity to offer the reader only a dry summary of their speeches. They ought to be read in full by every one who wishes to comprehend the motives which governed the conduct of the men who took up arms against the Federal Government.

“If the General Government send troops upon Southern soil to retake the forts now in the hands of those States, to retake the custom-houses for the purpose of collecting the revenue, or for any other purpose, the Union is gone. If it be once dissolved it can never be reconstructed, because between the sundered sections there will be a gulf of blood.

“It is my opinion that if the General Government will not wait till the country can, by conciliation and compromise, save the Union, Missouri should and will take the stand with her Southern sisters; and that, having failed to obtain their rights, having failed to obtain any guarantee from that great antislavery party which has so long trampled the Constitution under foot, she and they should take their stand outside of the Union, taking with them the Constitution, and that glorious banner which they have baptized in the blood of a hundred battlefields, and fight, if need be, for their rights and institutions, as their fathers fought, and until the last drop of blood be spilled… If she is to remain in the Union at the sacrifice of her institutions and her rights, she should change the device of her coat-of-arms, remove from it the grizzly bears, whose rugged nature was never animated by a craven spirit, and substitute in their place a fawning spaniel, cowing at the feet of its master, and licking the hand that smites it.

Even Broadhead, an Unconditional Union member from St. Louis, did not believe that the Federal Government had a right to coerce a State; but he found in the power which it had to call out the militia in order to execute the laws, to suppress insurrection, and to repel invasion, abundant authority to use force for the preservation of the Union.

Argument and declamation had, however, little to do with the settlement of the question, and with determining the action of the Convention. It was a fact which decided the matter and persuaded that Body to declare that Missouri would adhere loyally to the Union. This fact was bluntly announced to the Convention and to the people of the State by Broadhead, who was not only a delegate to the Convention but a member of the Union Safety Committee of St. Louis and a trusted counselor of Mr. Lincoln, at the conclusion of his speech, in these words: “Missouri cannot go out of the Union if she would. I think I know what I say when I speak it, Missouri has not the power to go out of the Union if she would.” What he meant will appear in the sequel. He did know what he was saying.

The Convention adopted Gamble’s report and resolutions, and a few days afterwards (March 21) adjourned subject to the call of a committee, which it named.

Early in the session, the General Assembly had refused to elect a United States Senator in place of James S. Green, whose term was to expire on the 3d of March. It had done this upon the ground that it was better to learn first whether Missouri would remain in the Union or not. It being now obvious that the State would not secede, the General Assembly proceeded to the election of a Senator (March 12th). The Democrats nominated Green for the place, but found it impossible, after several days’ balloting, to elect so pronounced a Secessionist as he. Waldo P. Johnson was thereupon elected. It is a noteworthy fact that Green, who was relegated to private life because he was a Secessionist, did not raise his hand or his voice in behalf of the South during the war, while Johnson, who had been elected because he was a good Union man, quickly resigned his seat in the Senate, entered the army, and fought for the Confederacy till the end of the war.

Of Green, Mr. Blaine, who rarely permits himself to write justly or fairly about any Southern man says: “No man among his contemporaries had made so profound an impression in so short a time. He was a very strong debater. He had peers, but no master, in the Senate. Mr. Green on the one side, and Mr. Fessenden on the other, were the Senators whom Douglas most disliked to meet, and who were best fitted in readiness, in accuracy, and in logic to meet him. Douglas rarely had a debate with either in which he did not lose his temper, and to lose one’s temper in debate is generally to lose one’s cause. Green had done more than any other man in Missouri to break down the power of Thomas H. Benton as a leader of the Democracy. His arraignment of Benton before the people of Missouri in 1849, when he was but thirty-two years of age, was one of the most aggressive and most successful warfares in our political annals.”

After serving several years in the House of Representatives, he had been elected to the United States Senate in January 1859, and became the leader of the pro-slavery men in the Congressional contest for the possession of Kansas. He bore himself there with so much dignity and courtesy, and was so able in argument and brilliant in debate, that he won the admiration of every one and deserved even higher praise than that which Mr. Blaine accords to him.

Although the Secessionists had, through defection of some of their number, lost control of the House of Representatives, and could not consequently enact any measure looking toward the secession of the State, they could, nevertheless, bring to their support a majority of the House, whenever they attacked the Republican party and not the Union; for many men who were devoted to the Union were bitterly hostile to the Republicans, and especially hostile to that party as it was constituted in St. Louis. In that city, it consisted almost wholly of Germans, though their leaders were chiefly Kentuckians and Virginians. They were in possession of the City Government, and their Mayor was a stern and uncompromising partisan, a member of the Union Safety Committee, and a man who would not hesitate to use the police force and all the power and resources of the city to repress any movements on the part of the Secessionists. He was sustained also by the powerful semi-military organization of Home Guards, and could, in the moment of need, call them to his aid as special constables and, by investing them with the panoply of the law, thrice arm them for the fight. These companies, as has already been told, had, previous to the election of the 18th of February, become so turbulent and aggressive as to alarm the peaceful residents of the city, and recent events had made them more arrogant and more dangerous still. It had therefore become a matter of supreme importance to the Secessionists to take these great powers from the Mayor, and accordingly a law was now enacted for creating a Board of Police Commissioners and authorizing a police force for the city of St. Louis. This bill, which passed the Senate on the 2d of March, and the House on the 23d, authorized the Governor, with the consent of the Senate, to appoint four commissioners, who, along with the Mayor of the city, should have absolute control of the police, of the Volunteer Militia of St. Louis, and of the sheriff and all other conservators of the peace. This act summarily took away from the Republican Mayor and transferred to the Governor through his appointees, the whole police power of the city of St. Louis. This was its expressed intention. It had other and more important purposes which were carefully concealed.

On the 22d of March, the President of the Convention transmitted to the General Assembly the resolution requesting that body to take the proper steps for calling a Convention of all the States to propose amendments to the Constitution.

Mr. Vest reported (March 27th) from the committee to whom the resolution was referred, that “Going into council with our oppressors before we have agreed among ourselves, can never result in good. It is not the North that has been wronged, but the South, and the South can alone determine what securities in the future will be sufficient. The interests of Missouri, all her sympathies and the affections of her people render her destiny the same with that of the Border Slave States. Mediation by one State alone will amount to nothing. Let us first agree with those whom God and Nature have made our associates in council, and then, in a temperate but firm manner, make known our united decision to the people of the North. If such a demand, coming from the people of eight sister States, swelling in a tone of grandeur and power which should sway the destinies of the universe, shall he disregarded, then, indeed, all hopes of reconstruction would be ended, and appealing to the civilized world a united South, with common lineage, common feelings and common institutions, would take their place among the nations of the earth. With these opinions the committee beg leave to report that it is inexpedient for the General Assembly to take any step towards calling a National Convention.”

In the course of the debate upon this report, Vest said: “The Convention has been guilty of falsehood and deceit. It says that there is no cause for separation. If this be so, why call a Convention? In declaring that if the other Border Slave Sates seceded Missouri would still remain within the Union, these wiseacres have perpetrated a libel upon Missouri. So help me God! if the day ever comes when Missouri shall prove so recreant to herself, so recreant to the memories of the past and to the hopes of the future, as to submit tamely to these Northern Philistines, I will take up my household goods and leave the State. Make another Constitution and these Northern Vandals will trample it under foot… I appeal to the people of Missouri to maintain their rights. I defy the Convention. They are political cheats, jugglers, and charlatans, who foisted themselves upon the people by ditties and music and striped flags. They do not represent Missouri. They have crooked the pliant hinges of the knee that thrift might follow fawning. As for myself, two grandfathers who fought for our liberties rest in the soil of Virginia, and two uncles who fought in the Revolution, sleep in the land of the Dark and Bloody Ground. With such blood in my veins, I will never, never, NEVER submit to Northern rule and dictation, I will risk all to be with the Southern people, and, if defeated, I can with a patriot of old exclaim,

“More true joy an exile feels,

Than Cæsar with a Senate at his heels.”

The Legislature, having adopted the report, adjourned the next day, March the 28th.

The Secessionists now began to gather strength again. The Governor had never wavered in his determination to hold the State firm to her pledge to resist the coercion of the South. And now many of those who had in January and February and in the early days of March been deluded into the belief that it was still possible to prevent war had at last come to the conclusion that war was inevitable, that a collision would sooner or later take place between the Federal Government and the South, and that Missouri would have to take part in the conflict, and they were now taking sides with the Governor. In St. Louis, particularly, a strong revulsion of feeling had set in against Blair and his followers. Their open preparation for war alarmed the great land owners and rich merchants of St. Louis, who preferred peace to everything else, and it frightened thousands of others whose prosperity depended on the continuance of Southern trade, which would be instantly stopped by war. It was plain now that the South was for peace, and the North for war. The Secessionists had thus become the party of peace, and they were joined by every man who wanted that above all things. It was useless for Mr. Lincoln to say that he was averse to war. All men knew that, but they also knew that it was only by war that he could maintain the Union. The common sense of the people recognized this fact, and that they acted upon it was abundantly proven when the Municipal Election took place in St. Louis on the 1st of April, and the Unconditional Union men, who had carried the city in February by a majority of 5,000, were defeated by a majority of 2,600.

This was a declaration in favor, not of secession, but of peace, and against making war upon the South; and there were still men —thousands of men— in St. Louis, and throughout Missouri who continued to believe that war might yet be averted; and there were others who foolishly fancied that, even if war raged from the Lakes to the Gulf and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Missouri could, in the midst of the bloody strife, remain neutral and enjoy unbroken peace.

There were, however, two classes of men in Missouri who had never indulged in these baseless hopes; who had seen at the outset that war inevitable, and had then begun to prepare for war. At the head of the one stood the Governor of the State, Claiborne F. Jackson; at the head of the other Francis P. Blair, Jr. Never did either of them quail in the presence of any danger, nor shrink from the performance of any duty, however difficult or perilous, which he was called upon to encounter, or to undertake, in defense, or in maintenance, of the principles to which he had devoted his life. Under the banner of the State upheld by the one or under the flag of the Union uplifted by the other, all earnest men had at last begun to rally.


John Newman Edwards Bio

JOHN NEWMAN EDWARDS

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

BY REV. GEO. PLATTENBURG, DOVER, MO.

From John N. Edwards: Biography, Memoirs, Reminiscences and Recollections,

edited by Jennie Edwards, 1889

Major John Newman Edwards, CSA, was General Jo. Shelby’s adjutant and chronicler. At war’s end Edwards chose to share Mexican exile with Shelby as well. When they returned to the U.S. in 1867, Edwards rapidly published three large volumes of wartime experiences. Two dealt specifically with Shelby, “Shelby and his Men”, 1867 and “Shelby’s Expedition to Mexico”, 1872. In 1873, he published a long piece in the St. Louis Dispatch —”A Terrible Quintette”—about the James Boys, two of the Youngers, and Arthur McCoy. Some of this piece was reused for his 1877 book “Noted Guerrillas”, a broad handling of the Confederate irregulars in Missouri during the war. Edwards also founded the Kansas City Times and was its editor for many years.

Make no mistake, Major John N. Edwards was a Confederate and proud of it. You will not find more than passing reference to the other side of the coin in his pages. His flamboyantly purple prose is sometimes entertaining and sometimes tiresome, but is always used in defense of Confederate Missouri and its view of the world and “the late unpleasantness”.

Historians almost universally pillory Edwards for his exaggerations and blatant defense of all things Confederate, no matter the individual facts of the case. Yet at the same time, they must deal with him. In many instances he is the only source available. While it would be a grave mistake to rely solely on Edwards for your understanding of the Civil War and Reconstruction in Missouri, you cannot be well read on the war in Missouri without having read Edwards, and you cannot understand the way the Missouri Confederates understood themselves without reading Edwards. In addition, many western historians credit Edwards with almost single-handedly starting the myth of the “noble outlaw” in this country with his defense of the Jameses, Youngers, and their cohorts after the war.


By John Newman Edwards: Noted Guerrillas and, the extremely rare, A Terrible Quintette for the first time available on a searchable CD-ROM:

Click here for more info and to order

FIRST PUBLICATION OF “A TERRIBLE QUINTETTE” ANYWHERE IN 129 YEARS!

FIRST SEARCHABLE PUBLICATION, WITH ALL ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS, OF “NOTED GUERRILLAS”

“Noted Guerrillas, or the Warfare of the Border”, John N. Edwards, 1877, 488 Pages, 26 illustrations.

Quantrill (“Quantrell”), Bloody Bill Anderson, George Todd, Arch Clements, Fletch Taylor, Jesse James, Frank James, Cole Younger, John Jarrette, Arthur C. McCoy, John Thrailkill  —they’re all here, described by a man who knew them.

“A Terrible Quintette”, John N. Edwards, St. Louis Dispatch, Nov. 22, 1873. 21,000 words.

FIRST PUBLICATION ANYWHERE IN 129 YEARS!

“Edwards had for the first time put together some of the most important ingredients of the James Legend.” –William A. Settle, Jr, author of “Jesse James Was His Name”, describing “A Terrible Quintette”

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The subject of this brief sketch, John Newman Edwards, was born in Warren County, Va., January 4, 1839. Whilst a mere boy he learned type-setting at the town of Front Royal, a place now of great and heroic memories, in the Gazette office, a paper at this writing called the Sentinel. Even at that time he was regarded as a boy of extraordinary powers, having, at the immature age of fourteen years, as testifies a contemporary, written a story that gave him “wide celebrity.” While yet a boy, through the influence of his relation, Thomas J. Yerby, of Lexington, now of Marshall, Mo., he was induced to come to the State of Missouri in 1854 or 1855. Arriving in Lexington, he soon thereafter entered upon his avocation of printer in the office of the Expositor, by whom conducted I do not now recall. Here, really, began the education of this singularly gifted boy, whose manhood was to be so rich in strange adventures and romance. Of schools Major Edwards knew but little, his advantages of this kind were limited and poor in character. As a boy, he loved solitude—this peculiarity in manhood made him shy to the verge of girlish timidity. He loved the fields, sweet with “the breath of kine” and the new-mown hay. He lingered in the dim vistas of the woods, and from out their slumberous shadows, dreamily watched the ceaseless swirl of the great river. This love of nature and its communion, made him fond of the hunt and the pastime of gentle Izaak Walton.

His life during these years, in and about Lexington, was of the ordinary uneventful character, belonging to extreme youth and peaceful times. But the storm was brewing. The distant and sullen muttering of a great political upheaval was breaking ominously upon the nation’s ears. Great questions lying radically at the very base of the two antagonistic conceptions of the American system of government, were loudly and hotly contested by the sections of the country. The slavery question was not the cause, but the occasion of the threatened rupture. Whatever men may say, or however much they may deplore sectional controversy, there were, as there are, but two great drifts of thought as to the true theory of our institutions, the one, denominated, “State Rights,” the other, the steady trend toward centralization. Leaving the truth or falsity of these contested theories out of the question, the fact remains that out of them came one of the mightiest struggles known to the annals of the race. The rupture came. The “golden bowl was broken,” the “silver cord was loosened,” and there came an era of hate and blood that all good men ought gladly to wish to be forgotten.

HIS CAREER AS A SOLDIER.

It is at this juncture that Major Edwards began his active career. In the year 1862, Gen. Jo. O. Shelby organized a regiment near Waverly, Lafayette County, Mo. Of this regiment Frank Gordon was Lieutenant-Colonel. Colonels Shanks and Beal G. Jeans, with Capt. Ben Elliott in command of a battalion, joined and united with Shelby at this point. This command moved on the day of the Lone Jack fight with a view of forming a junction with Cockrell and Coffee. The forces of Shanks, Jeans, and Elliott, with his own regiment, constituted the original force under Shelby. Of this command, after the expiration of several months, upon the retirement of Captain Arthur, John N. Edwards received the appointment of Brigade-Adjutant, with the rank of Major. This occurred in the month of September, 1863. When finally Shelby was promoted to the command of a division, Edwards shared the fortune of his generous and chivalrous leader and became the Adjutant of the division, I think with the rank of Colonel, though of this I have no positive evidence at hand. In this position he continued until the disbanding of the whole command after Lee’s surrender.

Shelby’s force, as we have seen, left Waverly to form a junction with Cockrell and Coffee, but on reaching Columbus in Johnson County, he heard of the Lone Jack battle, and was compelled to revise his plans. He began to work his way south, invironed by almost indescribable difficulties, and never at any time were the experiences and dangers of this illustrious body of men greater or graver. Care, prudence and courage of the highest order were manifested in successfully making this junction, with the men that fought at Lone Jack, an accomplished fact. This was done at or near Newtonia, from which point the united force fell back to McKissock’s Springs, in Arkansas. Of this force, as Senior Colonel, Shelby took command, Lieut.-Col. Frank Gordon being at the head of the old regiment. From McKissock’s they fell back to Cane Hill, a place made memorable years before by one of those tragedies so incident to frontier life of almost indescribable horror. Here they rested, Hindman at that time having his headquarters at Van Buren. To Shelby was given the arduous and dangerous duty of watching and contesting, step by step, the Federal advance from Fayetteville. It was necessarily Shelby’s additional duty to cover Hindman’s movements at Van Buren, Blount performing alike service for Curtis. During this period the splendid soldierly qualities of this whole command were daily exhibited. The soldier alone knows the hardships, and the demand for an almost superhuman endurance in this form of military service, of such varied fortune of defeat and victory. During the whole period immediately prior to the battle of Prairie Grove, Shelby held the position in front of Hindman’s advance, and finally, on a frosty December morning, he opened the hard contested fight of Prairie Grove. The sad December night before the battle is thus described by Major Edwards himself, and as he alone could do it: “The moon this night had been eclipsed, too, and upon many of the soldiers the weird, mysterious appearance of the sky, the pale, ghost-like phantom of a cloud across its crimson disc, had much of superstitious influence. At first, when the glowing camp fires had burned low and comfortable a great flood of radiance was pouring over the mountains and silvering even the hoary white beard of the moss clustering about the blank, bare faces of the precipices. The shadows contracted finally. The moon seemed on fire, and burned itself to ashes. The gigantic buckler of the heavens, studded all over with star-diamonds, had for its boss a gloomy, yellowish, struggling moon. Like a Wounded King, it seemed to bleed royally over the nearest cloud, then wrapt its dark mantle about its face, even as Caesar did, and sink gradually into extinction. There was a hollow grief of the winds among the trees, and the snowy phantasm of the frost crinkled and rustled its gauze robes under foot. The men talked in subdued voices around their camp-fires, and were anxious to draw from the eclipse some happy augury. Relief exhibited itself on every face when the moon at least shone out broad and good, and the dark shadows were again lit up with tremulous rays of light.”

And e’er the great sun’s white splendors kissed the rime-robed earth, Shelby’s voice, clear as a bugle’s note, came to gallant Shanks, “Forward, Major!” And since the day that men first learned war, they never rode with more splendid courage into battle; not one of all these men but deserved the golden spurs of chivalrous knighthood. From this field, stained with such precious blood on this chill December day, Shelby again occupied the post of honor and danger, covering Hindman’s retreat. Falling back slowly, on reaching Van Buren he found that General Hindman had abandoned his position at Van Buren, and had fallen back to Little Rock. Shelby finally went into camp at Lewisburg, on the Arkansas River, and became virtually an outpost of Hindman’s command at Little Rock. Shelby in all this service acted independently, although shortly prior to the Prairie Grove battle Shelby’s and Marmaduke’s Brigades had been united, forming Marmaduke’s Division; the latter becoming Division Commander by virtue of a Brigadier’s commission at that time in his possession. At this camp was organized an expedition into Missouri, the leading event of which was the capture of Springfield, January 8, 1863. But being unable to hold the position won, they moved on in an easterly direction to the town of Hartsville, where a disastrous defeat was sustained. From this point a retreat was effected, and the force went finally into camp at Batesville, on the White River in Arkansas. Here, probably in the month of April, subsequent to the events described, was organized what is known as the “Cape Girardeau Expedition,” as the attack upon this town was the leading event of the campaign, where the subject of this sketch was wounded and taken prisoner. Sometime prior to that measureless blunder of a most pitiful senility, the disastrous assault upon Helena, Arkansas, Major Edwards was exchanged and had rejoined his command, taking part in the fateful scenes of that dark day when so many gallant and fearless men were slaughtered upon the altar of a boundless stupidity. Shelby was wounded in this battle. His command then moved to Jackson Port, where he remained until the Federal advance under that humane soldier, General Frederick Steele, was made on Little Rock. Shelby was commanded to take position on Bayou Metoe, to watch Steele’s advance from points on the White River. Price’s whole force was then occupying an intrenched position on the Arkansas River immediately opposite Little Rock. Colonel Frank Gordon’s regiment was occupying a position on the extremity of a spur of Big Rock, in full view of the city. In all the scenes before Little Rock Shelby’s division was a very large part, and finally covered Price’s retreat from the city. At Arkadelphia another expedition into Missouri was organized, at the earnest solicitation of General Shelby, and so the raid of 1863 was inaugurated. He gained permission to select a number of men from each regiment of his division, to the number of 800. After a single day’s march they came within the enemy’s territory. Marching day and night, engaged in countless skirmishes, they reached and captured Boonville; from thence they came to Marshall, where they were surrounded by not less than 5,000 men under Ewing, Crittenden and Pleasonton. The two formed in front, the latter in the rear. After three or four hours’ fighting, Shelby determined to cut his way out, and an order to this effect was borne to Colonel Shanks by Major Edwards. The plan was successfully accomplished despite the mighty odds against them. The inequality of the forces gave especial glory to the deed.

But it is not possible in a brief sketch like this to follow the fortunes of this band of noble soldiers under so dashing and fearless a leader, in a long war. Of the scenes so tragic of this vast conflict each soldier might say with Aeneas as he recounted the miseries and the fall of Troy, to Dido and her Tyrians, until the sinking stars invited to repose “Magna Pars Fui.” Of the great contest and its strangely varied fortunes they were a great part. It was at this point in the history of this great internecine struggle that Major Edwards began to receive that military prominence he so richly deserved. As a soldier, he was not only brave and fearless, and wise in council, but gentle, tender, courteous to the humblest soldier beneath him. As he was whole-hearted in the cause he espoused, so dealt he kindly with the men that shared his convictions and the fortunes of a common cause.

I here employ the beautiful tribute of Major J. F. Stonestreet, who shared with him the vicissitudes of a long and bitter struggle. It is better said than I could say it:

A COMRADE’S TRIBUTE.

The achievements of Shelby and his men are matters of history. Of them all Major Edwards was the hero. The individual instances of his bravery in battle, his wisdom in council, his tender solicitude for his men, his self-sacrificing spirit, would fill a volume. Major J. F. Stonestreet, of this city, who was with him until he crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico, tells well the story of his part in the great struggle.

“I cannot speak of John Edwards without emotion,” he said. “He was the noblest man of the many noble men who took part in the great struggle in the West. I can not begin to tell of all the instances of his valor in .battle, his kindness in camp, his care for his comrades, his noble self-sacrifice, his great brain and noble heart. No one but those who were with him in those dark hours can appreciate his magnificent spirit. He was only a boy when he joined Gordon’s regiment, but he soon became the hero of Shelby’s old brigade. It was a grand sight to see him in battle. He was always where the fight was thickest. He was absolutely devoid of fear. The men had the confidence in him that they would have had, had he been a God. Their trust in him was sublime. He had a genius for war. While he was as brave as a lion, his courage was not of the rash, impetuous sort that led him into foolhardy under takings. His wisdom was as great as his bravery. No one appreciates more the character and achievements of General Shelby than I; but when the dark days came, it was John Edwards who, more than anybody else, inspired hope in the hearts of the men, cheered and encouraged them, and spurred them on to renewed exertions.

“This self-sacrifice was noble. I have seen him dismount and give his horse away to a tired trooper. In the hospital once I saw him take off his shirt and tear it up for bandages for the wounded, not knowing when or how he was to get another one. I have seen him take off his coat and give it to a soldier who, he thought, was more in need of it. His spirit was so gentle that it hurt him more to see others suffer than to suffer himself. What heroism he displayed in that awful retreat from Westport! Small-pox broke out among the men. John Edwards feared it as little as he did the bullets of the enemy. He would take a soldier with the small-pox in his arms, carry him to the most comfortable place that could be secured, and nurse him with the care of a woman. He would brave anything to secure a delicacy for a sick soldier. When we were eating horseflesh on that awful march, and the men were starving, naked and ready to give up, it was he who cheered and encouraged them and held them together. His heart was so big that he thought of everybody before himself.

“In battle he was a very Mars; in camp he was as gentle as a woman. The men loved him, and little wonder. He could never do enough for them. Brave men, all of them, they recognized him as the bravest and the brainiest. ‘Follow me, boys,’ I have heard him cry, ‘and I will take you where the bullets are the thickest and the sabers the sharpest,’ and then, his sword flashed in his hand, he would be off to where the fight was the hottest. And the men would be after him with a confidence and devotion that insured victory. He was the bravest man in war and the gentlest in peace that I ever saw. He was the soul of honor. He was one man in a million. He was the Chevalier Bayard of Missouri.”

Notwithstanding his intrepid bravery, Major Stonestreet says he was badly wounded but once. That was in Marmaduke’s raid on Springfield, when he was shot and taken prisoner in the fight near Hartsville. He was afterward exchanged and rejoined his regiment at Jacksonville, Ark. He especially distinguished himself for bravery and strategy in the 4th of July fight at Helena, which was in progress when Vicksburg surrendered. It was said of him that he had more horses shot from under him, and gave more horses away to those whom he thought needed them more than himself, than any man in Shelby’s brigade.

So testifies one who knew John Edwards through all the trying scenes of a contest all too bitter, and who loved him well. John Edwards was a born soldier. The genius of war and the genius of poetry alike presided at his birth. The courage of the Knight and the poesy of the Troubadour were alike his. He crowned the brow of war with golden nimbus of the poet. For his deft fingers the brand of the grizzled grenadier and the minstrel’s lute were alike fashioned. He brought the chivalry and song of the thirteenth into the Titanic struggles of the nineteenth century.

An officer once bore a report of General Shelby’s to General Holmes, who on reading it exclaimed with an impious expletive: “Why, Shelby is a poet as well as a fighter!” “No,” replied the officer, “but his Adjutant is a born poet.” It was this remarkable combination of elements in Major Edwards that made him as brave and fearless as he was tender and gentle. It also accounts for the strong, religious sentiment of his nature mentioned in a brief speech at his grave. Belief in the supernatural elements of religion and poesy go hand in hand. Goethe stated a very large and a very fundamental truth when he wrote, “Der Aberglaube ist die Poesie des Lebens“—the “overfaith, the supernatural, is the ground of life’s highest political forms.

IN MEXICO—MARRIAGE, ETC.

After the close of the war Major Edwards followed the fortunes of his old leader with others of his fellow’ soldiers into Mexico, where he spent two years, a deeply interested spectator of the affairs of Maximilian’s Empire. With this amiable, but unfortunate Prince, and with his wife the “Poor Carlotta,” he became a favorite, and through him was negotiated and obtained the grant which enabled Shelby, and perhaps fifty others, to establish the Cordova Colony of Carlotta. He and Governor Allen, of Louisiana, a man of beautiful spirit and richly stored mind, established a newspaper, The Mexican Times, devoted to the restoration of an era of peace, prosperity, and good government for this sadly distracted people. Whilst here, the material of one of his books, “An Unwritten Leaf of the War,” was produced and gathered, which appears in this present volume. What a strangely romantic period these two years must have been to the dreamy, poetic soldier of the North. The rich, tropical foliage, the skies luminously blue, the warm airs, the voluptuous climate, the romantic people inheriting the glorious traditions of Old Spain, the memories of the Cid, songs of Calderon and Lope de Vega, chanted in the sweet the Castilian tongue must have been things of ceaseless charm to the imaginative temperament so strongly marked in Major Edwards. It was a period of romantic adventure, and from time to time he has related to me singular episodes that occurred during his association with Governor Allen, but brevity denies indulgence to the reminiscent mood.

In the year 1867, having returned from Mexico, Major Edwards went on the Republican as a reporter, then under the editorial control of Col. William Hyde, a noble gentleman and an able writer, whose contributions to that great paper have rarely been equaled in western journalism. In the year 1868, in connection with the brilliant and versatile Cola John C. Moore, now of the Pueblo Dispatch, he inaugurated the Kansas City Times, with the financial support of R. B. Drury & Co. It was at this time that he was married. This marriage took place on March 28, 1871, to Mary Virginia Plattenburg, of Dover, Lafayette County, Missouri. A woman scarce less brilliant than himself, of high impulses, poetic sentiment and of an uncommon literary faculty, she was a fit companion for this molder of “fiery and delectable shapes.” They were married at the residence of Gen. John O. Shelby, near Aullville, in Lafayette County. This marriage took place away from the home of the bride because of an interposed objection on the part of the parents, grounded solely upon the near family relationship of the parties. The fruit of this marriage is two boys and one girl. The boys are John aged seventeen and James fourteen years, the girl Laura eight.

THE DUEL WITH COLONEL FOSTER.

Major Edwards remained on the Times until 1873, two years after it passed into its present management, and greatly aided in building it up into its present commanding position as director of western thought and enterprise. In this same year, he went upon the St. Louis Dispatch, owned and controlled by Mr. Stilson Hutchins, whom he followed into the St. Louis Times. It was while at work on the Times that his duel with Col. Emory S. Foster took place. The difficulty grew out of certain questions incident to the great civil struggle whose memories were yet fresh in the minds of all, and its passions still unallayed. These matters were discussed with great acerbity of temper and sharpness of expression. The acrimony engendered by a long, bitter contest, was still more or less dominant in the minds of men in all sections. It can serve no good purpose here to dwell on the questions themselves or their mode of treatment; they belong to the dead past, and there let them remain. I know that the acrimony so rife at the time of this occurrence with Major Edwards, in common with the better class of men in both sections, was a thing to be deplored and forgotten. The friends and admirers of Major Edwards are of all parties. There are no more tender or appreciative tributes to his memory than those written by the men in blue. Mrs. Edwards informs me that she has received as many expressions of sympathy and admiration from Federal as from Confederate soldiers. The perpetuation of the rancor of the war is left to the camp-follower and coward. I shall here enter on no defense of Major Edwards’ ideas on the duello. With his education, and sensitive perception of the worth of personal honor, it is easily accounted for. Omitting the offensive paragraphs we give this statement from a morning paper the day after the rencounter:

BELOIT, Wis., Sept. 4, 1875.

A duel was fought at five o’clock this afternoon, six miles north of Rockford, in Winnebago County, Illinois, between Maj. John N. Edwards, of the St. Louis Times and Dispatch, and Col. E. S. Foster, of the St. Louis Journal. The origin of the affair grew out of the recent invitation to Jefferson Davis to address the Winnebago Fair. The St. Louis Times of August the 25th contained an article written by Major Edwards, commenting upon the treatment of Mr. Davis, and reflecting upon the intolerant spirit manifested. To this the Journal replied that the writer of the Times article had lied, and knew he lied, when he wrote it.

Major Edwards took exception to this and demanded a retraction of the offensive language. Colonel Foster, the editor of the Journal, disavowed any personal allusion to Major Edwards, but declined to retract the language. A lengthy correspondence ensued, Col. H. B. Branch acting as the friend of Major Edwards, and Col. W. D. W. Barnard as the friend of Colonel Foster, the result of which is embodied in the last letters of the principals, which show the difference between them:

St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 30, 1875.

“Col. EMORY S. FOSTER:

“Sir: In reply to your letter of this date I have to state that your reply to the reasonable request I made of you, to-wit, to withdraw and to disavow all language in your editorial of the 25th inst., personally offensive to myself, is evasive and not responsive to my request. In my letter to you I referred solely to what was directly personal to myself, without inquiring whether my editorial, or yours in answer to it, exceeded the usages of the press in discussing a subject generally or referring to bodies of persons. I can not admit your right to introduce these questions into this controversy which refer solely to your allusion to the writer of the Times editorial.

“The disclaimer in the first four paragraphs of your letter would be satisfactory had you followed it up by a withdrawal of the offensive terms of your editorial, so far as they referred to me personally. But as you decline to do so I must, therefore, construe your letter of this date, and its spirit, as a refusal on your part to do me an act of common justice, and so regarding it, I deem it my duty to ask of you that satisfaction which one gentleman has a right to ask of another.

“My friend, Col. H. B. Branch, who will deliver this, is authorized to arrange with any friend you may select, the details of further arrangements connected with the subject. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. N. EDWARDS.”

St. Louis, Aug. 31, 1875.

“Col. JOHN N. EDWARDS:

“Sir: Yours of the 30th inst. was handed to my friend, W. D. W. Barnard, Esq., at 11 o’clock this A. M., by your friend, Col. H. B. Branch, and is now before me. In reply, I have to state that I emphatically disclaimed in my note of yesterday any intention of referring to you, or in any way offering to you, a personal offense in the matter in which you have raised the issue.

“My friend Mr. Barnard will have charge of my honor in the premises. I am, very respectfully. your obedient servant, EMORY S. FOSTER.”

It being found impossible, as appears from the above correspondence, to accomplish a reconciliation between the parties by a withdrawal of the offensive language, the matter passed into the hands of the seconds, Col. H. B. Branch, on the part of Major Edwards, and W. D. W. Barnard on the part of Colonel Foster.

They were to meet on the 4th day of September, 1875, between the hours of 6 and 7 A. M., or as soon thereafter as the parties could reach the grounds, in the county of Winnebago, State of Illinois. The weapons, Colt’s navy revolvers calibre 38, the distance twenty paces. Each party entitled to one shot, unless both demanded a second. The firing was to be at the words, thus: “Are you ready; one, two, three”—the firing to occur after the word “two” and not after the word “three.” The seconds were to be similarly armed, and any violation of the rules agreed upon entitled the second of the one to shoot down the offending second of the other.

Upon arriving at Rockford both parties drove to the Holland House and partook of dinner.

About 3 o’clock the seconds completed their arrangements. It was decided to drive five miles north on the Beloit road, and have the meeting in some secluded spot. Both principals agreed, and Col. Edwards’ party started off in a hack at half-past three, the understanding being for them to await the other party for half an hour after arriving as far out as designated. If the challenged party did not arrive on time it was to be regarded as an evidence of cowardice.

The Foster party caught up with the other party just as they were halting at an estimated distance from the city of five miles.

The spot where the halt was called was a shaded valley, with a winding stream called Turtle Creek, running through it. The seconds held another consultation, and, the site suiting them, they went in search of a place sufficiently far from the Beloit road to be safe from intrusion. After an absence of five minutes they were successful in their search, and on their return the whole party left the carriages. The hackmen, who were wondering what was in the wind, but had not the enterprise to gratify their curiosity, were told to wait in the neighborhood for a few minutes, which instructions they filled to the very letter. The names of the parties who went on the field were: Col. John N. Edwards, the challenging principal; Col. H. B. Branch, second; Dr. Montgomery, surgeon; Dr. Munford, of the Kansas City Times, friend; Major Foster, principal; W. D. W. Barnard, second; Dr. P.S. O’Reilly, surgeon, and the representative of the Tribune, friend.

The spot selected was a couple of hundred yards to the west of the road, a beautifully shaded valley in which horses and cattle were grazing. The seconds took up position near a tree and commenced to examine the weapons. The principals were a few yards apart, Foster reclining on a bank, coolly smoking a cigar, Edwards resting with his back against a tree and conversing with Dr. Munford, with whom he served in the Confederate army. The surgeons took their cases of instruments to the hill-side, where they sat watching the preparations for the encounter. Some time was occupied in the examination and loading of the pistols, and while the necessary part of the work was in progress, the principals each divested himself of his watch and other articles which might turn off a bullet. The next procedure was to measure the ground, a matter which was gone through with business-like dispatch and coolness. Twenty paces was the distance. The positions were north and south, and were marked by a short stake driven into the ground. Branches of trees were cleared out of the way to prevent injury from falls, and other details attended to which might render things comfortable for the parties immediately interested. The next important step was to toss up for position and the call. Branch, Edward’s second, won the choice of position, and Barnard the call. This fact was communicated to the principals, who expressed themselves satisfied with the result. The principals and seconds then walked up the ground. Edwards asked Foster’s opinion as to position, but the latter said he had no choice. They both received their weapons from the seconds and Edwards chose the south end of the ground. Before the final arrangements were completed, the friends were requested to relieve themselves of their pistols, a precaution against a general skirmish should either party feel aggrieved. Dr. Munford was the only one who had a pistol on his person, and he at once placed it in his valise. The conditions of the fight were then read. Edwards requested Barnard to articulate the words, “Are you ready? one, two, three,” in a distinct manner, so as to prevent unpleasant haste. Both men at this point displayed marvelous nerve, Foster smoking his cigar in an unconcerned way. Positions were then taken up, the seconds shaking hands with their principals, and receiving instructions in case they should fall. At length all was ready. The seconds had pistols in their hands ready to revenge any infringements of the code. There was an ominous pause. At exactly 5 o’clock the men faced each other and took mental aim; then came the words, “Are you ready?” in clear, distinct tones: “one, two.” Before the word three the duelists fired almost simultaneously. The surgeons anxiously looked each to his man, expecting him to fall, but neither was wounded. “A little high!” exclaimed Foster, as soon as he had fired. Edwards demanded another fire, in an excited tone. His second asked if he would adhere to that resolution. “Yes,” he replied, “it is just as I told you before we came on the field. I will go on if it takes a thousand fires; “and with this remark he sat down on the grass. Foster declined another fire. He was the challenged party, and felt no bitterness against his antagonist. Therefore he was not anxious for blood. His honor had been sustained as the challenged party. Shots had been exchanged, and that was all that was necessary. Barnard went to talk with Edwards, who was heard to say: ” I have admitted as much as I can do—have received no satisfaction to take with me.” After the interchange of a few words, Edwards concluded to make the thing up. He approached Foster and shook hands. There was mutual congratulation all round, and it was interesting to see the brotherly love displayed by the men, who two minutes before, had faced each other with death in their eyes. The genial Bourbon was produced, and the agreeable termination to the affair toasted. A short time was spent on the grass in mutual explanation, and everything was forgotten and forgiven. The parties then returned to their hacks, one shaping toward Beloit and the other to Rockford, which place they left in the evening, but for what point the reporter failed to ascertain.

Apprehending a possible fatal result, Major Edwards wrote the following note to his friend, Dr. Morrison Munford, who was present. It was written at the Tremont House, Chicago, and bears no date, and written in pencil on a leaf torn from a note-book which he carried in his pocket. The note needs no comment—it carries its own:

Dear Morry: A little farewell I want to speak to you. I have but three thoughts: my wife, my two children. When you can help my wife in her pride—help her. It aint much—only it is so much to me. Your friend,

J. N. EDWARDS.

This note is a revelation of the character of the relations between these two men, and shows how implicitly he relied upon the loyalty and steadfastness of Dr. Munford’s friendship—the one man of all others upon whom he called in his supposed extremity. John Edwards knew the man he calls “Dear Morry” as perhaps no other man did, and he trusted him. And now, the “little farewell” has been spoken, and the memory of a brave soul is left to men.

JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR.

After his withdrawal from the St. Louis Times he started to Santa Fe, to engage in sheep-raising, but visiting Dover to make his farewells, he was dissuaded from the undertaking, and remained at the home of his wife’s father, Judge J. S. Plattenburg, and wrote the “Noted Guerrillas,” a wonderful record of the border warfare. Subsequently he went to Sedalia, taking editorial charge of the Democrat. Retiring from this paper he started the Dispatch, which had a brief, but singularly brilliant career. He was then called to the editorial management of the St. Joseph Gazette, by the late Col. J. N. Burnes, the owner of the paper. Again, in 1887, he was recalled to the editorial chair of the Kansas City Times, which place he held at the time of his death. One needs but to read the numerous press tributes to know how exceedingly brilliant his editorial career has been. His style, bright and full of poetic forms, was forceful, vigorous and convincing; as flashing and as keen as the scimitar of Saladdin. Many of the passages in this book bear critical comparison with the most beautiful passages of classic English. The exuberance of expression and prodigality of beautiful words in the compositions of Major Edwards have occasionally led men to overlook or underestimate the more solid aspects of his mind. His historical and general knowledge was very great; his familiarity with the best specimens of Classic English in both prose and poetry was something wonderful in both accuracy and comprehensiveness. The opportunities of a student’s life were never within his reach, and yet he knew vastly more of books than most men who had been patient toilers over their pages through continuous years. To the ordinary mind it was wholly inexplicable, how or when he obtained such stores of rich and varied knowledge. His work was a remarkable blending of fact and fancy, of cogent reasoning and vivid poetic expression. A rare combination of powers. There are many gradgrinds, but few poets to clothe the hard facts of life in the aureole of imperishable beauty. The words necessary to describe fitly the dauntless courage, the greatness of soul, the tenderness surpassing that of woman, characterizing the life of John Edwards, would, to those who little knew him, seem fulsome and extravagant. But not so to his friends who knew him. Some of the virtues of Major Edwards were so intense in their expression as to seem almost weaknesses. He never talked of himself. There was not a single shred of the braggart in his nature. He was reticent of his own deeds to the verge of eccentricity. He seemed to be wholly unambitious, free, even from a suspicion of egotism. A strongly marked instance of this is shown in the fact in three books of which he is the real hero, not once is illusion made to himself. I fully agree with his devoted friend, Dr. Munford, that such a repression of self, under such circumstances, is simply without a parallel. I have known but one other man well, in Missouri, who even nearly equaled the modesty, the unselfish self-forgetfulness of John Edwards. That man was the prince of orators, whose soldiery skill wrote his name beside that of Xenophon, viz. Gen. A. W. Doniphan. For all meretricious methods, for every form of pretense, for merely dramatic effect, John Edwards entertained the harshest scorn. Sham and cant that sniveled, stirred his gentle nature into holiest and hottest wrath, and he wove around its victim the network of scathing lampoon that burned like the shirt of Nessus. Trickery, deceit and cowardice alone made him pitiless. That he was unselfish is clearly manifested in this fact, that his great influence, and surely no single man in all the State had so large a personal following whose devotion was a passion, was never employed to advance his own financial interest or to win place for himself. His influence was always for his friends. The witnesses are everywhere, in every walk of life. Men in high places; and low alike, bear testimony to his unselfish work for every comer. He showed me once a letter from a poor Irishman, asking his assistance to procure a position on the police force of St. Louis, and it was granted as readily as to a seeker of the highest place and power. Of his carelessness of self-advancement and his unceasing thought of other people, this circumstance is recalled. He, the writer, and an old soldier, grim and gray, in stature a very son of Anak, stood together. These two men had ridden into battle as joyously as the groom seeks his bride. And now in the days of peace, the grizzled soldier asks: “John, wouldn’t you make a good governor?” Promptly the answer came: “No, but I know who would.” The swart grenadier asks: “Who?” It is not needful to give the party named, beyond this: that he represented his district in Congress, and wore for years stainlessly the judicial ermine of his State. I reconsider, and give the name of Elijah Norton, the able jurist, the distinguished publicist and reproachless gentleman.

HIS DEATH.

Major Edwards was ill as early as the Wednesday prior to his death, but his demise at last was sudden and unexpected by his friends. The immediate cause of his death was inanition of the cardiac nerves. In the morning early he read part of a late paper. No one witnessed his death, but Thomas, a colored servant, and his little daughter Laura, aged eight years. His sons were at St. Mary’s College, Kansas, and Mrs. Edwards, worn out from loss of rest, had retired to another room. He seemed to have some premonition that the end was near, as three different times he asked Thomas to call Mrs. Edwards. The boy not realizing the Major’s condition, said, “no let Mrs. Edwards rest.” The child was playing with a bubble-pipe, and about ten minutes before death he blew a bubble, and said “Laura, always remember that papa bought you that pipe” evidently from this he knew the end had come. The little girl stood by the bedside wiping the chill death dew from her father’s brow, as his soul took its mysterious flight to that “bourne whence no traveler returns.” Mrs. Edwards and Major Bittinger entered the room together, just as life’s bound was reached. Soon it was noised abroad, and produced a profound sensation in all parts of the city. Says one:

The news soon spread throughout the city, and there was universal expression of profound sorrow. Major Edwards had been a frequent visitor to the capital, attending all the sessions of the Legislature for the past eighteen years, and all Democratic conventions held during that time. He was known to a majority of the members of the General Assembly, to the State officials and to the people generally. As soon as his death was announced, groups of men could be seen on the principal streets, discussing the sad event, and at the capitol half of the members of the Senate and House at once left their seats and gathered in the lobby and adjoining rooms. Republicans and Democrats alike expressed the deepest sorrow for his sudden and untimely death, and the highest sympathy for his bereaved family. During the recess at noon nothing else was talked about among the crowds at the various hotels but the death of the brilliant journalist.

RESOLUTIONS OF RESPECT.

At the afternoon session of the Senate, Senator McGrath, of St. Louis, offered the following resolution:

WHEREAS, The Senate of Missouri, with profound regret, have learned of the death of one of Missouri’s greatest and most distinguished citizens, Major John N. Edwards; therefore, be it

Resolved, That in respect to his memory the Senate now adjourn.

After a few appropriate remarks by Senator Moran, of St. Joseph, the resolution was unanimously adopted and the Senate adjourned. In the House, Hon. Lysander A. Thompson, of Macon, offered a similar resolution, which was unanimously adopted and the House adjourned. This evening a great number of the members of the Senate and House visited the McCarty House to take a last look at the features of the dead journalist.

In addition to the action of the Senate and House of Representatives as a mark of respect to the memory of the dead journalist, the local newspaper men and newspaper correspondents met at the Tribune office this afternoon, and a committee consisting of Walter M. Monroe, of the Tipton Times, W. A. Edwards, of the St. Joseph Gazette, and C. B. Oldham, of the Jefferson City Tribune, were appointed to draft suitable memorial resolutions to the memory of the deceased journalist. The committee reported the following:

Maj. John N. Edwards was born in Virginia about fifty-one years ago. His parents moved to Lexington, Mo., when he was of tender age. He received a common school education and afterward learned the printing trade in an office at Lexington. At the commencement of the Civil War he enlisted in the Confederate army and belonged to Gen. Jo. O. Shelby’s command. He was promoted time and again for skill and personal bravery, and won his military titles in the most honorable manner possible. He was engaged in more than fifty battles and skirmishes, and was severely wounded on more than one occasion. As the war drew to a close he followed Shelby and Price to Texas, and about the time peace was declared a small fragment of Shelby’s command, known as the “Iron Brigade,” sank the flag—the blood-stained flag which they had carried through the war—in the Rio Grande River, crossed the line into Mexico, and for thirteen months served in the French army. Later, Major Edwards returned to Missouri and published several books, one relating to the border warfare in Missouri, Texas and Arkansas, another entitled “Shelby and his Men.” He soon after engaged in newspaper editorial work, first in St. Louis, next in Sedalia, then in St. Joseph and Kansas City, respectively. He was for a time editor of the Dispatch and Times in St. Louis, edited the Sedalia Democrat and Dispatch, later the St. Joseph Gazette, and at the time of his death was editor of the Kansas City Times. No writer in the West was better known than Major Edwards. He followed no man. Every idea he advanced was original, and every thought he expressed in. print was copied far and wide. He had no superior in the newspaper field and but few peers. He was honest and fearless, and never published a line in public prints which he did not believe to be the truth, and for which he would not answer personally at all times. We, representatives of the western press, recognize in his death an irreparable loss. He was brave and generous in war, and fearless and honest in civil life, and liberal to a fault—an affectionate husband and a kind father. We believe that his death has left a vacancy in Missouri journalism that can never be filled. His death is a calamity to the press of the State. As an original writer and conscientious literary man, he never had a superior. He was brave and magnanimous in health, and fearless and resigned when the final summons came. Resolutions can not express our opinion of his ability and fearlessness. He lived the life of a patriotic American, and died the death of a brave, conscientious newspaper man.

Augustine Gallagher, Kansas City Journal, president.

W. A. Edwards, St. Joseph Gazette, secretary.

C. B. Oldham, Tribune, chairman committee.

Walt M. Monroe, Tipton Times.

Walter Sander, Westliche Post.

John Meagher, St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

A. C. Lemmon, Post-Dispatch.

W. M. Smith, St. Louis Republic.

W. N. Graham, Sedalia Gazette.

J. H. Edwards, Tribune.

W. A. Curry, Kansas City Times.

W. J. Cambliss, Higginsville Advance.

John W. Jacks, Montgomery Standard.

A. A. Lesueur, Lexington Intelligencer.

Walter Williams, Boonville Advertiser.

Immediately on the announcement of Major Edwards’ death, Col. A. C. Dawes telegraphed General Manager Clark of the Missouri Pacific, and received a reply that he would place his special car at his disposal to convey the remains of the dead journalist and his family to Dover, Lafayette County, where it had been decided he should be buried. The pall-bearers are: ex-Governor Charles P. Johnson, Dr. Morrison Munford, Maj. J. L. Bittinger, Darwin W. Marmaduke, J. F. Merryman and Col. Thomas P. Hoy.

Captain Lesueur, Secretary of State, gives the following account of the journey from Jefferson City to Dover:

THE FUNERAL JOURNEY.

The death of Maj. John N. Edwards, from heart disease, took place at the McCarty House, in Jefferson City, at 9:40 A. M., Saturday, May 4th. It is not too much to say that it created a profound sensation throughout the city. No man in Missouri was so well known as he to its

public men. In Jefferson City he was known by everybody, and his friends were numbered by the limit of his acquaintance. Republicans as well as Democrats were his warm admirers, and the humblest negro that knew him loved him.

It is safe to say that no funeral that has occurred at Dover for many years has created a more profound impression upon the public mind than did that of Major Edwards. There he learned to know his beloved commander, Gen. Joseph O. Shelby, and many of the brave and daring soldier boys whose firmness in battle and endurance on the march gained for the old brigade that renown which he afterward immortalized in most poetic prose. There, too, he wooed and won his bride, a fair, gray-eyed Southern lassie, as full of impulse and romance as himself, a woman of ideals and poesy perhaps, but a brave and true-hearted woman who stood by him always, in weal and in woe, in joy and affliction, and was ever his ministering angel, his comfort and his solace. O, yes, Dover had many ties upon the heart of Major Edwards, and to the good people of the vicinity, a steady, God-fearing people, but a people of leisure, who read and preserve a touch of the romance of the days of Coeur de Lion, of Bruce and of McGregor, John Edwards was the embodiment of all that was chivalric and poetic. They ever followed from journal to journal his gifted pen, and he was nearer and dearer to them than he was to many with whom he came in daily contact out in the busy, active world. And they were there to put all that was mortal of him away in its last resting place with their own loving hands. Their wives and daughters were there, too, to add their tears to those of the stricken wife and children. As the numerous. assemblage encircled the grave, grief and sorrow written upon every face, the scene was one to immortalize the painter who could have seized it and put it on canvas. There was the evidence of an unusual depth of feeling and regret even for such an occasion.

From the moment of his death until his remains were taken from the train, there was a constant stream of sad and sorrowing friends passing in and out of the corridor, all intent upon hearing the particulars of his dying hours, upon looking just once more at his familiar features, upon expressing grief at his loss and of sympathy with his bereaved wife and children. At 12:30 on Sunday the funeral procession formed at the hotel to go to the depot, where the train was waiting. First, came a long line of gentlemen on foot, led by Governor Francis, and composed of senators, members of the house of representatives, and many others. By the side of the hearse were the pall-bearers—Dr. Morrison Munford, Col. D. W. Marmaduke, Hon. J. Frank Merriman, Maj. John L. Bittinger, Col. T. P. Hoy and Capt. A. A. Lesueur; after them came the family and other friends in carriages. At Tipton a special train furnished by the courtesy of S. H. Clark, Esq., at the request of Col. A. C. Dawes, awaited the funeral party, which was composed of Mrs. Edwards, Miss Ella McCarty, her near friend, all of the pallbearers (except Col. Marmaduke), Rev. Peter Trone, and Messrs. George and Walter Plattenburg. At Boonville they were joined by Hon. Thomas Cranmer, and at Marshall by Elder George Plattenburg and Mr. Yerbey. The train reached the Dover depot at about 6:30 p. m., where it was met by a number of the citizens of the place, and by the following named gentlemen, who acted as actual pall-bearers: John Allen Harwood, E. S. Van Anglen, Dr. E. R. Meng, R. T. Koontz, James F. Winn and George B. Gordon. The casket was deposited at the Plattenburg mansion, Mrs. Edwards’ girlhood home, until 10 o’clock the next morning, when the burial took place in the village cemetery. The whole country-side had turned out.

The train arrived as above, at Dover, 6:40 p. m. Sunday, May 5th. The following day, May 6th, he was borne to his last resting place. The burial is thus described by the Kansas City Times, the paper he started, and at whose helm he gallantly and dauntlessly stood through many a storm:

THE LAST SLEEP.

[Special to the Kansas City Times.]

HIGGINSVILLE, Mo., May 6th.—In the old cemetery, just at the outskirts of the little town of Dover, ten miles from here, the body of John N. Edwards was buried this morning. It is a quiet, secluded spot, where the rumble of wagon wheels in the road near by are the only sounds, save the singing of birds, heard from one year’s end to the other—just the place where one with Major Edwards’ love of nature and the beautiful would desire to lie in his last long sleep. And it was his wish, frequently expressed, that he should be buried there. It is within easy view from the old Plattenburg homestead, where his wife spent her girlhood and he wooed and won her, and from which his body was carried to its last resting place this morning. From the windows the tombstones which mark the graves of the former residents of Dover are plainly visible. The whole scene is a pretty rural one, the scattering houses of Dover giving it just enough of an urban aspect to soften its outlines without destroying its primitive beauty. It was no wonder that one with the poetic temperament and chivalrous ideals of Major Edwards should choose the old Dover cemetery as his burial place, even if his early days had not endeared it to him.

The special train—which was kindly furnished by the Missouri Pacific—bearing the body, the wife and little daughter of Major Edwards, the pall-bearers and friends, arrived at Dover from Jefferson City, Sunday night at 6:40. The pall-bearers were Maj. John L. Bittinger of St. Joseph; Dr. Morrison Munford, Hon. J. F. Merryman, Rev. Peter Trone of Clinton; Col. T. P. Hoy and Secretary of State A. A. Lesueur. Miss Ella McCarty of Jefferson City; Messrs. George and Walter Plattenburg of Kansas City; brothers of Mrs. Edwards, and Mr. Thomas Cranmer, sheriff of Cooper County, were among the party that came from Jefferson City.

The body was at once taken from the station to the residence of Mrs. L. C. Plattenburg, Mrs. Edward’s mother.

THE LAST SAD LOOK.

At 8:30 this morning the casket was opened, and the citizens of Dover and the people from the country for miles around, filed in to take a last look at the face which was loved throughout the length and breadth of Lafayette County, where he passed his early life, and from which he went to make a name that was honored and loved wherever it was known. Moist eyes of strong men gave evidence of the sincere affection with which the dead soldier and journalist had been regarded. Many of the men who passed had seen him go out to battle in the pride of his youthful strength, and they said that after many years the face was not changed as much as might have been expected. The features were life-like and the expression peaceful. “He looks as if he were sleeping,” many remarked.

The greater part of the five or six hundred people who viewed the corpse came from Lexington, Higginsville, Corder and the neighboring towns. There had been a misunderstanding as to the time the funeral would take place, and many persons from Higginsville, Corder and other

places had driven over Sunday. This and the comparative inaccessibility of Dover kept many persons away who had desired to be present. Nevertheless the little town could not have accommodated many more strangers.

There were no services at the house. At 10 o’clock the casket was closed. In addition to the pall-bearers who had accompanied the body from Jefferson City, Mr. John Allen Harwood, E. S. Van Anglen, E. R. Meng, R. I. Koontz, James F. Winn, and George B. Gordon of Dover, had been selected. They carried the casket to the hearse, which had been sent from Lexington. Besides Mrs. Edwards and her two sons and daughter, the members of the family who were present were J. Q. Plattenburg, H. W. Plattenburg, H. Y. Plattenburg, George Plattenburg, and W. L. Plattenburg, brothers of Mrs. Edwards; Mrs. L. C. Plattenburg, her mother and Miss

Eula Plattenburg, her sister. Mrs. Thomas Yerby, with whom Major Edwards lived when he was a boy, and learned to set type, also followed the body to the grave. Mr. Wiley O. Cog, of Kansas City, was in one of the carriages. The procession was a long one, but the distance from the house to the cemetery was short.

THE PREACHER’S TRIBUTE.

The services at the grave were simple, as Major Edwards had wished them to be. They were conducted by Rev. George Plattenburg, a cousin of Mrs. Edwards. He spoke feelingly and every word was listened to intently. His address was substantially as follows:

Twenty-eight years ago, when General Shelby was the captain of a single company, composed largely of the flower of the youth of this immediate vicinity, Major Edwards came to my home in Little Rock, Arkansas, accompanied by Yandell Blackwell, a soldier and gentleman from spur to plume. From that day to this my intercourse with Mayor Edwards has been of a most intimate character. I have never met a more rarely gifted or nobler man. His knowledge of men and books was simply wonderful. When and how he gained this great and varied knowledge was to me, a close student of books for more than forty years, still more wonderful, engaged as he was continuously in great active interests, and involved in the stress of vast political contests. A great journal of yesterday morning spoke of him as only a poet. If by this was meant that he was only a maker of rhythmic phrases, or the framer of melodious sentences, the statement was scarcely just. His was the wonderful and acute insight of the true poetic faculty into the great problems of human life and action and destiny—the faculty that intuitively penetrates the reason of things. In this sense he was a poet. These things he clothed in the poet’s glowing words, in striking and ofttimes surprisingly beautiful forms of speech. In his best moods he threw off passages of rare charm, not surpassed, if equaled, anywhere in the vast field of American journalism.

It was not the splendor of his intellect, the marvelous grace of his diction, or the unequaled mastery of scintillant and forceful words, that bound John Edwards to his friends, but his greatness of heart, his sweet, gentle and unselfish nature. In a long intercourse with men of all ranks and conditions, professions and trades, I have met no man so free from all ignoble and selfish impulses. His wide influence was never used for his own gain or personal advancement, but always for that of others. Those debtor to John Edwards in this regard may be counted by hundreds. A journalist, and now a State official said to me years ago, “he asks for himself, never; for others, always.” A great, loyal, loving and unselfish heart was his. God rarely makes a man like him. Fitly might the Recording Angel write of him, Abou Ben Adhem’s prayer, “write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

Whatever the infirmities of gentle and gifted John Edwards, there was in him a strong religious sentiment. I do not mean religious as defined by books, or as formulated in creeds, but in the acceptance and reverent holding of those great truths that lie behind all formulated systems and of which organized religions are the product. That Infinite Being, forming the primary religious concept of primitive peoples, the Jehovah of the Hebrew records, the “Heaven-Father” of the Vedic hymns, which Max Muller says formed humanity’s first poem and first articulate prayer, and as exalted by the great Master in that universal prayer: “Our Father who art in Heaven,” he

recognized and looked up to with the trust of a child. In addition to this as a necessary sequence, he accepted unfalteringly the doctrine of the soul’s immortality as the sole basis of a hope that can gladden and sweeten the labor of stricken men. Once as I sat by his bedside at the McCarty House, late in the night, turning suddenly to me after a lull in our talk, he asked: “Do you ever go down to the great river that flows near your home, and sitting beneath the midnight stars listen to the solemn swish of the onsweeping mysterious stream, and think of the vast things that lie beyond the river and beyond the stars?” From this we drifted into a discussion of the largest problems with which the soul has to do; the questions of action and destiny. Then, more than ever before or after, John Edwards revealed to me the secrets of his immost life. He felt as the Laureate sings:

My own dim-life should teach me this,

That life shall live forever more,

Else earth is darkness at the core,

And dust and ashes all that is.

This round of green, this orb of flame,

Fantastic beauty, such as lurks

In some wild poet as he works

Without a conscience or an aim.

To-day, from every part of the great Southwest, the scarred veterans of the “lost cause,” will turn with tearful eyes to this village graveyard, where we reverently and lovingly lay their old companion in arms, so brilliant in intellect, so noble in heart, so gentle and generous, so pure and chivalrous in every impulse. May the smile of God rest upon this village grave as a perpetual benediction.

In the quiet, quaint little village of Dover, whose people removed, “Far from the maddening crowd’s ignoble strife,” pursue the even tenor of their way, on a gentle declivity leaning to the kiss of southern suns, a sheltered, sequestered spot, fit place of rest after life’s “fitful fever,” lies the village graveyard. Here:

“The sacred calm that reigns around,

Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease;

In still small accents whispering from the ground

A grateful earnest of eternal peace.”

In this retired spot reverent hands laid all that remained of gifted John Edwards. The voice, that oft within the “battle’s red rim,” shouted, “Steady, Men,” is hushed. The eye that flashed with steely glitter, as it saw the setting and onset of squadrons, but so gently limpid in repose, is closed forever. The blare of bugles, the cannon’s roar, the rush of armed fleet and the voice of love are now alike unheard. The fearless soldier, the brilliant journalist, the loyal friend, the dreamer of sweet dreams, by his own request lies quietly among the village dead, apart from the stress of enterprise and the coldness of greed. Above the narrow, dreamless abode of the great heart now pulseless, the leaves shimmer in soft light, the fragrance of flowers lingers above the turf lovingly, and the sweet May stars distill their dews to keep the grasses green. In his own words, written of “Prince” John B. Magruder’s lone Texas grave, we may say, “If roses are the tear drops of angels as the beautiful Arab belief puts forth in poetry, then is this lowly mound a hallowed spot, and needs not the sculptured stone, the fretted column and the obelisk.” Few men have been so admired, or so mourned. At his grave, old, scarred soldiers, unused to tears wept like girls. Friends, kindred, his children grieved, but a larger grief was hers, whom he wooed and won with knightly devotion in the summer days long ago. She, sitting within the mysterious shadow of the “Spheral Change, by men called death,” can only sing with Dante Rossetti, in mournful questioning:

“O nearest, furthest! Can there be

At length some hard-earned, heart-won home,

Where exile changed for sanctuary.

Our lot may fill indeed its sum,

And you may wait and I may come.”

Shelby’s Missouri Raid

SHELBY’S MISSOURI RAID, SEPTEMBER, 1863

By Bennett H. Young

Excerpted and introduced by G. E. Rule

from “Confederate Wizards of the Saddle”, 1914

Bennett H. Young was a dashing young cavalryman who served under John Hunt Morgan in Kentucky, and then under Thomas H. Hines in the Northwest Conspiracy. Young never did disclose all the details of his secret service in the latter part of the war, but would occasionally drop hints here and there.

Shelby’s Missouri Raid, September, 1863 is an example of why this Missourian is considered by many to be the equal of Nathan Bedford Forrest as a leader of cavalry. Given that Young rode with another cavalry legend in Morgan, he had as much right as anyone to make such judgments.

General JO ShelbyCertain parts of Missouri were settled, almost entirely, by Kentuckians. In the earlier days there had been a tremendous emigration from Kentucky to Indiana and Illinois, and when these States had received a large quota of inhabitants from Kentucky, the overflow from that State then turned to Missouri. Its counties and towns were designated by Kentucky names which were brought over by these new people from their home State. In and around 1850 this tide of emigration flowed with a deep and wide current. Among those who left their homes to find an abiding place in the new State, marvelous accounts of the fertility and splendor of which were constantly being carried back to Kentucky, was Joseph O. Shelby. He was born at Lexington in 1831, and when only nineteen years of age joined in the great march westward and found a home on the Missouri River at Berlin, one hundred and fifty miles west of St. Louis. These Missouri-Kentuckians carried with them one of the important manufacturies of the State –hemp, which for many years was chiefly a Kentucky product. In the rich, loamy lands of Missouri, this staple grew with great luxuriousness, and the introduction of hemp seed from China both improved the quality and increased the production per acre. Not only did the fertile land and the salubrious climate turn these people westward, but a love of change also aroused this spirit of emigration.

Young Shelby was fairly well educated. He was a born leader, and no braver heart ever beat in human bosom. Warrior blood coursed through his veins. His grandfather was a brother of Isaac Shelby. This guaranteed patriotism and valor. He had great dash, a spirit of unlimited enterprise, willing and ready to work, with a vigorous body and a brave soul, he became a Missourian and was an ideal immigrant. He had come from the very center of hemp manufacture in Kentucky. This product was made into bagging and bound with hemp ropes. The cotton country of the South was largely dependent upon Kentucky and Missouri for these two things so essential in marketing cotton. It was a most profitable and remunerative manufacture, and was largely carried on by the use of negro labor. Modern machinery had not then been invented for the use of weaving the bagging or of twisting the ropes. To produce these products so important in cotton growing, it was necessary to rely upon the crudest implements.

Further Reading: General Jo Shelby

General Jo Shelby: Undefeated Rebel
by Daniel O’Flaherty

Confederate Wizards of the Saddle: Being Remininscences and Observations of One Who Rode With Morganby Bennett H. Young
Bennett YoungBennett 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.

Sixty miles east of Kansas City, Shelby selected a location at Waverly, Lafayette County, and there began his operations as a bagging and rope manufacturer. It was easy to ship the product down the Mississippi and from thence to scatter it throughout the cotton districts by the waterways over Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama. Shelby was successful from the very inception of his new enterprise. He was hardly well settled in his new home before the difficulties in Kansas began. Strongly believing in slavery, his views as well as his interests and his proximity to the Kansas line intensified his opinions. Loving adventure, brave in war, he returned to Kentucky to recruit there for the Kansas imbroglio. In these days it was not difficult to find in Shelby’s native State men who loved adventure, who were always ready for war, and were overjoyed at the chance to get into a fight. With Clark, Atchison and Greene, Shelby did his full share in the Kansas fighting. It gave him experience that was valuable to him a few years later in the great war. He won reputation with his Kentucky fighters, and when the truce was patched up he went back to the peaceful surroundings of his rope walk in Waverly. This place was noted for its uncompromising Southern sentiments. The antislavery settlers who went by it, ascending the Missouri River, always steered away from it. They knew there was neither comfort to be obtained nor security to be assured when they passed this point. They could not buy anything they wanted there, and they were likely to find trouble.

When the troubles of 1860 began to develop, no one was more enthusiastic for the South or more willing to fight for its rights than Joseph O. Shelby. There was no section, even in Confederate States, more loyal to the South than the immediate territory about Waverly. With sentiments fixed and embittered by the Kansas War, the young men of that portion of Missouri were not only brave and ambitious, but they were anxious to go to war. With his prejudices quickened and enlarged by his nearness to Kansas, which was even then a bitter State, in so far as slavery was concerned, Shelby organized and equipped a company of cavalry at Waverly. It was easy to fill up its ranks with enthusiastic, dashing young fellows who were only too happy in taking the chances of battle, and they were charmed to find a leader of Shelby’s experience, of his enthusiasm, and of his intrepidity.

Independence, Missouri, the county seat of Jackson County, was only twelve miles from Kansas City. A vast majority of its people were intensely southern, and when Independence was threatened with the presence of Federal dragoons, Shelby and his company lost no time in marching forty miles from Lafayette County to see that their friends and sympathizers at Independence had a square deal from the Union soldiers. It soon was spread abroad that if the dragoons did come there was trouble ahead and they stayed away. Shelby, now in for the war, rode to join Governor Jackson and General Price in defense of Missouri.

In these days it did not take long for fighting men in Missouri to find people who were. willing to fight them. The southern part of the State was much divided in political sentiment, and the bitterness of a civil war found full development in that territory. At the Battle of Carthage, July 5th, 1861, Shelby and his men did splendid service, and their excellent discipline, their superb courage, did a great deal, not only to create, but to intensify the spirit and steady the arms of the entire Missouri contingent. Beginning as a captain, rising to brigadier-general in three years, Shelby had an activity and experience that few enjoy. He fought in the Army of the Tennessee, and he fought in the Trans-Mississippi Department, and he was never more delighted than when fighting.

Wilson’s Creek, one of the sanguinary battles of the war, was fought on the tenth day of August, 1861, and there Shelby again demonstrated that the only thing necessary to make a reputation and fame as a great cavalryman was the opportunity.

General John H. Morgan, in Kentucky, and Shelby were close friends. They began their careers in much the same way, Morgan had his company of Kentucky riflemen: Shelby his company of Missouri cavalrymen. Morgan died in the struggle: Shelby lived thirty-six years after the close and died in 1897. These two soldiers had grown up in Lexington, and while Morgan was five years Shelby’s senior, they were intimates. Shelby’s career did not close until May, 1865. At the end, unwilling to accept the results of the war, he marched into Mexico with five hundred of his followers and undertook to found an American colony. This project soon failed. The wounds of the war began to heal, and Shelby and his colonists were glad to come back and live under the flag they had so bravely and tenaciously fought. No man in the Confederate army marched more miles, and, with the possible exception of General Joe Wheeler, fought more battles. His activities were ceaseless as the seasons, and his capacity for riding and fighting had no limit. The Trans-Mississippi Department had more difficulties to face than any other part of the Confederacy. They were styled “The Orphans.” They were the step-children in supplies of provisions and munitions of war, and, but for the trade in cotton which was arranged through Mexico, its conditions would have been difficult and well-nigh hopeless. Far removed from Richmond, the seat of the government, it was the scene of jealousies and disputes as to the rank of officers. Covering a territory greater than the remainder of the Confederate States, separated by the Mississippi River from the armies of the East, assailable by the ocean on the south, pierced by many navigable streams, with few manufactories, and with contentions caused by conflicting claims, it was the theatre of much mismanagement; but, through all, its soldiers were brave, loyal and patriotic, and lose nothing in comparison with the best the Confederacy produced. Considering the means at hand, the men in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Indian Territory did much to win the garlands with which fame crowned the brows of those who immortalized the gray.

In 1862 and the beginning of 1863, when the call became more urgent from the East, Shelby was among the Missourians and other soldiers from the Trans-Mississippi who crossed the Mississippi River. Leaving their own territory unprotected, these thousands of Arkansas, Missouri and Texas men cheerfully and bravely took their lives in their hands and went over to help their brethren in Mississippi and Tennessee who stood with hands uplifted, crying, “Come over and help us.” Shelby, with his company, gladly crossed the stream. They left their horses behind them and went to aid Beauregard and Bragg, Hardee, Van Dorn and Polk, who, with their armies, were so sorely pressed by the descending avalanche, which, coming down through Kentucky and Tennessee and along the Mississippi and up the Tennessee River, was surely and quietly destroying the life of the Confederacy. The pressure, in the absence of these men who had been transferred into Mississippi and Tennessee, became so tense in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Northern Louisiana, that additional measures were taken to enlist soldiers who would prevent the occupation of the western bank of the Mississippi, and among the men commissioned to raise regiments, Shelby was the first named. It was not much to do for a man to tell him that he might raise a regiment when he was a thousand miles away from anybody he could hope to enlist. He had a hundred trained, disciplined and gallant men, and with these, hope made the future attractive. Difficulties in those days did not discourage Shelby, and so, taking his one hundred men whose terms of enlistment had expired, they found their way by railway and on foot to the Mississippi River, at a point opposite Helena, Arkansas. At this time, that part of the Mississippi River was under control of the Federals, except Vicksburg and Port Hudson. It required an unusual man to meet the conditions that now faced Shelby. He was a wonderful man, and by January, 1863, he had entered the State of Missouri, then within the grip of Federal forces, and almost entirely under Federal control, with garrisons in every center over the State. With fifty thousand Federal soldiers controlling that Commonwealth, he passed through all these; he safely evaded the enemies in the southern part of the State, carrying his one hundred men for two hundred and seventy-five miles through territory thoroughly occupied by his enemies. In a very brief while, he was not only able to get together a regiment, but a brigade. He was unwilling to take any more chances on twelve months’ enlistments, and he swore his recruits in for the war. The men who had been with him gave him the best possible credentials among the young men along the Missouri River. Threatened Federal conscription and persecution by their foes had made them desperate, and they were only too glad to find a leader who had come from Corinth, Mississippi, with fame in battle, to organize and lead them. It was splendid material, and Shelby’s success was not only surprising to him but to all the commanders further south in Arkansas. Such an experience was an unusual one in the life of any man, and only one of great resources and iron will could have succeeded when going into the enemy’s country garrisoned on every hand and made liable to arrest and even death, and secure three regiments of a thousand men each and march them three hundred miles into friendly territory. Having no arms, except such as they could find at home, consisting of shotguns and revolvers, they furnished their own mounts and gladly went where Shelby asked them to go.

Only a man who had the essential qualities of a cavalry leader could have won in the face of such difficulties. Shelby improved every opportunity that came his way. There were constant jealousies which opposed his promotion. After he had organized and disciplined. his brigade, it was nearly twelve months before his commission as brigadier-general came. This he was to win by his raid into Missouri in September, 1863, but he got it later. Waverly, the most northerly point which Shelby was to reach on this raid, was, as the crow flies, two hundred and seventy-five miles from the Arkansas line. From Arkadelphia, where Shelby started, it was two hundred and fifty miles to the Arkansas line. He had been long teasing his superiors to let him make a raid. There were many inducements for him to take the chances of such an expedition. He felt sure in the first place he could carry his men in and safely bring them out. He felt extremely confident that he could enlist a large number of recruits, and he was not devoid of ambition, so he longed to demonstrate his power and his capacity as a leader. He had been a colonel for nearly two years. He had self-confidence, he had marvelous resources, and he always won the admiration of his associates. General Schofield was in command of the department of Missouri. The State covered an area of sixty thousand square miles. To defend this, he had fifty thousand soldiers, and Missouri herself had enlisted many of these, which, while in the employ of the State, were subject to Federal jurisdiction.

On the 10th of September, 1863, Little Rock had been evacuated and a few days later taken possession of by the Federals. This was a great blow to the men of the Confederacy. Fort Smith also had fallen, and these two towns on the Arkansas River gave control to the Federals of one-half of the State. Through the White and Arkansas Rivers it opened up means for transporting men and supplies four hundred miles south of St. Louis. To Arkansas the loss of the Arkansas River was what the loss of the Mississippi River was to the Confederacy. It was yet, however, a great task for the Federals to move supplies from the White River or the Mississippi River when the stages of the Arkansas River prevented the passage of boats along its waters. The loss of Little Rock and Fort Smith and the shutting off of the Confederate troops from easy access to Missouri had done much to depress the spirit of the men who, west of the Mississippi, were struggling for Southern independence. For months Shelby had entertained the idea that if he were but turned loose with one thousand men he could ride to the banks of the Missouri River, do much damage to the property of the Federals, and bring out a large number of recruits. In Missouri the conditions had rendered it unsafe for men who sympathized with the South to express their sentiments, and anxious again to turn his face towards his adopted home and meet his friends and family, and longing for the glory which he felt would come to the successful prosecution of such an expedition, he pleaded with Generals Holmes and Price and Governor Reynolds and the other officials in the Trans-Mississippi to give him this permission. The Confederate authorities looked at the thing, more calmly than the young military enthusiast. He assured them that recruits would be abundant and that he could fill up his ranks, dismay his enemies, and inflict severe loss in every way upon his foes. They felt that he was taking a tremendous risk to make such an expedition. Some suggested that he was hot-headed, that he lacked the experience as well as the poise for so grave an undertaking. He had been a colonel for twenty-two months. None could deny that he was courageous, that he had faith in himself, that he was possessed of unlimited enthusiasm. These were a splendid equipment for the work he essayed to do. Shelby’s persistence at last availed, and on September 10th, 1863, consent was given for him to make the attempt to carry out his plans. He was allowed eight hundred men, twelve ammunition wagons, and two pieces of artillery. Only six hundred of his men started with him from Arkadelphia, two hundred recruits he was to pick up later further north. Arkadelphia, in Clark County, Arkansas, was one hundred and fifteen miles south of Ozark, at which point Shelby had determined to cross the Arkansas River. From Fort Smith, as well as from Little Rock, scouting parties had gone sixty miles south of Ozark, so that in fifty miles from where Shelby started it was certain he would meet opposition, and that the Federals would attempt to thwart his plans. Once permission was given, there was nothing short of death could stop Shelby’s march. He had pleaded to go, and no dangers, no opposition, could deter him from his purpose. It was true that gloom and doubt had settled in the hearts and minds of many of the leaders who at that time were gathered in and about Arkadelphia, but this spirit, either of hesitation or fear, never touched the soul of Shelby. The people who permitted Shelby to go had forebodings of the outcome, and permission was only granted when it became apparent that nothing would satisfy Shelby but an opportunity to work out his plans. The limited number of soldiers allowed him showed that the Confederate leaders were not willing to risk very much on his undertaking. Marmaduke, always ready to take risks, assented, but he gravely doubted the result. The men who were to go with Shelby were as enthusiastic as he. It was “Home-going,” it was an opportunity to try out chances with the militia over in Missouri, whom Shelby and his men hated with greatest bitterness. The autumn sun was shining brightly when Shelby aligned his small force, placed himself at their head, and waved adieu to Governor Reynolds. The other troops, watching the departure of these gallant and dashing raiders, experienced deepest sorrow when they realized that they were to be left behind. There was no man among the thousands who witnessed the going of these brave boys who would not have willingly taken chances with them. There were no fears of what the future would bring forth. One man in every six of those who rode away would not come back, when at the end of thirty-six days Shelby would return.

Two hundred men taken each from four regiments lacked in some respects homogeneity, but all shouted and waved their hats and guns as the command to march passed down the line. From that moment they became brothers with a common purpose and common courage. The fact of going had by some subtle telepathy, which always marked cavalrymen, gone out among the entire brigade, and from that moment there was universal eagerness to ride with Shelby, and when the assignments were made and the columns formed there were two thousand disappointed men who felt most keenly the dealings of fate which deprived them of a place in the moving column.

If the selection had been left to Shelby he would most likely have taken his entire regiment. These had become with him so dependable, and between themselves and Shelby there had grown up not only affection but completest trust. They believed in him and he believed in them, and they felt that no emergency could arise and that he would make no call upon them that was not demanded by duty. As these six hundred brave men mounted into their saddles and the column started, cheer after cheer greeted each company as it passed by. Governor Reynolds and General Price forgot the formality of military etiquette, and with those who went and those who stayed they joined in vociferous cheers. Benedictions came from every heart as out into the unknown dangers and experiences of the expedition these men rode, souls all aglow with patriotism, joy and soldierly valor. When Shelby held the hand of Governor Reynolds, the expatriated governor prayed him to be cautious, begged him to save as far as possible the lives of the young heroes under him and to be watchful even unto death. As this kindly admonition ended the governor pulled the leader close to him and whispered into his ear, “Joe, if you get through safely, this will bring you a brigadier general’s commission.”

An ugly wound received eighty days before at the assault upon Helena, July 4th, still gave Shelby intense suffering. It was unhealed and suppurating. A minie ball had struck his arm and passed longitudinally through the part from the elbow down. It was still bandaged and supported with a sling. With his free hand he gathered up the reins of his bridle and ignoring pain and danger, he looked more the hero, as thus maimed and yet courageous he started on so long a ride and so perilous a campaign. With his great physical handicap, the admiration was all the more intense, for the spirit and the grit of the man who was undertaking one of the most dangerous and difficult expeditions of the war. Shelby’s body was subordinated to the beckonings of glory and the splendor of the opportunity which had now come in obedience to his pleadings to serve his State, his cause, his country. Other men, less brave or determined, would have hesitated. Some men, possibly equally chivalrous, would have taken a furlough rather than have sought new dangers and more difficult service.

None of these boys marching away cared to peer into the future. Along the roads and the paths of the ride and in the midst of battles they were to fight, one in six was to find a soldier’s grave, or, struck down by wounds or disease, might meet death under the most distressing circumstances at the hands of the bushwhackers and home guards who then filled the garrisons of Missouri towns. The joy of home-going eliminated all thought of misery of the future. These men were to ride two hundred and twenty-five miles to the Arkansas State line and two hundred and fifty miles from the Arkansas State line through Missouri to Waverly, in all four hundred and seventy-five miles. The return made nine hundred and fifty miles, even if they marched by an air line.

A little way out on his journey Shelby met Colonel David Hunter with a hundred and fifty men, recruits who were coming out from Missouri to join the Confederates in Arkansas. Hunter and Shelby were kindred spirits. The persecution of some of Hunter’s family had rendered him an intense fighter. He was considered one of the rising infantry officers, but cavalry work suited him better, and so he gave up his rank of colonel with a regiment of infantry in order to take the chances of recruiting a cavalry command. Hunter was bringing out with him several hundred women and children who had been driven from their Missouri homes. Turning these over to a portion of his command, he chose the more promising of his followers and fell into line with Shelby. At Caddo Gap, on the fourteenth day, it was learned that a company of Confederate deserters and Union jayhawkers were in the mountains close by. With a horror and deepest hatred born of the crimes of these men, outlaws from both armies, it was resolved that the first work of the raid should be their extermination. Major Elliott, commanding one of the battalions under Shelby, discovered the lair of these men later in the afternoon, and as soon as it was dark he attacked them with great vigor. Seventy-nine of them were killed and thirty-four captured. Their leader was as brave as any soldier in either army. Puritan blood coursed through his veins. Condemned to death for his crimes, he was left with Major Elliott while the remainder of the force marched forward. The captain of the firing party with a small squad was left to finish up reckonings of justice with this bloody robber and murderer. There had been no court martial. These men were to be killed by common consent. They had been taken in the act, and their crimes were known. The captain in charge of the execution thought it would not be unreasonable to allow any of those who were to be put to death a brief time for prayer. Lifting up his voice, so that all his captors and executioners could hear, the condemned captain prayed-“God bless the Union and all its loyal defenders. Bless the poor ignorant rebels; bless Mrs. McGinniss and her children; bless the Constitution which has been so wrongly misinterpreted, and eradicate slavery from the earth.” The increasing distance between the command induced the captain to cry out, “Hurry up, hurry up, old man, the command has been gone an hour and I will never catch up,” to which the captain, so soon to die, responded, “I am ready, and may Heaven have mercy upon your soul.” The order was given, and the death of twenty old men who had been murdered by this man in the immediate neighborhood shortly before, was avenged, in so far as human law could mete out punishment for horrible crimes. Both sides hated these outlaws, and Federal reports are full of similar condign punishment inflicted upon this class of marauders, who plundered and killed without the least regard for the laws of God or man.

When near Roseville, a short distance south of the Arkansas River, Shelby encountered the 1st Arkansas Federal Cavalry. In northern Arkansas, by the summer of 1863, Union generals had been able to induce enlistments among the residents of that part of the State, and naturally the feeling between these so-called renegades and the Missouri and Arkansas Confederates was extremely bitter, and whenever they faced each other in battle there was no great desire to hear the cries or calls of surrender. These Federal Arkansians and a battalion of the 3rd Illinois Regiment undertook to dispute Shelby’s right of way. They were speedily ridden over and the road cleared of this impediment. The river was forded near Ozark, and here again Shelby. found some old acquaintances of the 6th Kansas Cavalry. This regiment had seen much service in southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas. It had hunted Shelby and Shelby had hunted it, and neither avoided an opportunity to measure swords with the other. Shelby disposed of this new menace in short order. He had now gotten far up among the mountains, and he traveled a hundred and forty miles, with two fights to his credit, and. concluded to give his men one day’s rest.

On the 21st of September, Shelby received authority to make the expedition, and on the 22nd he promptly started on this tremendous march of fifteen hundred miles. Cutting the telegraph wires north of the Arkansas River, Shelby planned to enter the Boston Mountains, from which, northwardly, no intelligence of his coming could be disseminated. It did not take Shelby long to find Federal forces. Within four days from the time he left Arkadelphia, he had learned that his advance would be fiercely contested. His chief concern was to pass the Arkansas River. He found it fordable, but treacherous, and by the 29th, seven days after starting, reached Bentonville, Arkansas. By the 4th of October, Shelby had marched two hundred and fifty-five miles to Neosho, Missouri, where there were three hundred Federal cavalry. These were quickly surrounded and forced to surrender. Their equipment was tremendously valuable, but their horses were a real godsend.

So soon as Shelby passed Neosho, his enemies were fully aware not only of his presence but of his plans. They argued reasonably that he would seek to reach his own home at Waverly and that he would not diverge from a straight line more than twenty or thirty miles. The Federal forces then in Missouri were concentrated at points between Neosho and Waverly over a space twenty or thirty miles wide. By this time, the passions of the war had been fully aroused. Life became no longer a certain thing, the law having been suspended and the southern part of Missouri having been greatly divided; hates had been aroused, excesses committed, men killed, families driven from their homes. McNeil’s disgraceful order for the deportment of Southern sympathizers from a large portion of the State had been savagely enforced, and so, on reaching Bower’s Mills, a place where the militia had been particularly offensive, the town was sacked and then burned. Along the route Shelby traveled the next day, after leaving Bower’s Mills, every house belonging to a Southern family had been burned and, in many instances, the inhabitants put to death. On the 7th of October Shelby captured Warsaw in Benton County, far up towards the point he was attempting to reach. Here, too, Federal forces attempted to dispute his passage of the Osage River. By this time a spirit of highest enthusiasm had taken deepest hold upon the men. Nothing could chill their spirits. Soldiers dashed into and across the river. Neither nature nor man could stay their progress. At Warsaw vast quantities of all kinds of stores and supplies, including horses, had been concentrated and these all fell prey to the hungry raiders, and what they could not use were turned over to the remorseless touch of the flames.

By the 10th of October, Tipton was reached. On an air line, this left Shelby only fifty miles from Waverly, to which place, the abode of his dearest friends, he purposed in his heart to go. From Tipton for thirty miles in every direction rails were torn up, bridges destroyed, wires cut, and cattle guards and water tanks obliterated. When leaving Tipton, Shelby found opposed to him Colonel T. T. Crittenden, a Kentuckian, whom Shelby had known in earlier days, and who had a thousand well-armed and well-drilled mounted men. Shelby had two reasons for destroying Crittenden first, he hated him, because lie was a renegade Kentuckian, according to Shelby’s standard; second, because he stood across his pathway to Booneville. The artillery was brought into line with the cavalry, and Shelby’s whole command, with his artillery in the center, made a galloping charge at Crittenden’s regiment. The Federal regiment melted away, leaving the killed and wounded behind and a few prisoners as hostages.

Booneville, on the south side of the Missouri River, had been a place from which many expeditions had been sent out and from which many orders had been issued for the persecution of the Southern people. The town authorities, pleading for mercy, gladly surrendered. It looked as if Shelby had disregarded all prudence and brought himself into a trap from which it would be impossible for him to escape.

Hardly had Booneville been passed when General Brown, a Federal commander, with four thousand men, came up. Brown was a vigilant general, an impetuous fighter and a soldier of both renown and courage. He was not afraid of Shelby. In this respect he was better off than some of his associates. Game, ambitious and enterprising, he thought it would be a splendid stroke to bag Shelby in his territory and take him a prisoner to Jefferson City –Missouri’s capital. To accomplish these ends, he carefully laid his plans and bent his utmost energies. He well understood this meant real fighting. He lost no time in assailing Shelby’s pickets. He resolved to push his foes at every point, and fight whenever he could find a Confederate.

Shelby had broken an axle of his rifled gun. This he felt would be extremely useful to him later on. He ordered Colonel Hunter to hold the enemy in check until he made the necessary repairs on his cannon. By ten o’clock at night, stores had been removed and the gun repaired. The night before had been one of a great downpour of rain. This prevented much sleep. Shelby, not unmindful of the tremendous work that was immediately before him, determined to give his troopers a night’s rest, so that they might be better prepared for the strenuous experiences, that the morrow and the next three days had in store for them. General Brown was fiercely persistent and assailed Shelby’s rear furiously and incessantly. The Federal authorities were clamoring for Shelby’s destruction or his capture. At the crossing of the Lamine River, Shelby ambushed the Federals and inflicted serious loss and routed the assailants; but only momentarily, and then they came back more savagely. To reach Waverly, it was necessary to pass through Marshall, and, as Shelby approached that place, he found four thousand more Federal soldiers under General Ewing, drawn up ready for the gage of battle. With Brown in the rear and Ewing in the front, it looked gloomy for the Confederates. Shelby was now five hundred miles from any real hope of succor. General Sterling Price and Governor Reynolds at Arkadelphia, Arkansas, however much they might desire to help the dashing raider, could do naught for his rescue. A few scattered companies far down in Missouri had neither the will nor the chance to help him. He was four hundred miles inside the enemy’s lines, and these enemies were hunting him with extremest vigor. His capture meant fame for the captor, and his destruction meant temporary peace in war-torn Missouri. Every available man was being thrown across Shelby’s pathway, and every possible obstacle put along the road he was of necessity compelled to travel. His march from Marshall and Waverly, from a military standpoint, was both audacious and reckless, and appeared to be the act of a man trifling with fate. To his enemies, it seemed that Shelby’s impetuosity and the longing for home-going had destroyed all sense of safety, and they were congratulating themselves that he had gone into places from which escape was impossible. Measured by the ordinary standards of military prudence and foresight, Shelby had pursued a most unwise course, and the omens were bad for biro and his small brigade. Shelby conceived the idea of destroying Ewing before Brown could come up in his rear, and then take his chances with Brown, and so, with his twelve hundred cavalry he attacked four thousand infantry. In a short while Ewing had been roughly handled, and his rout was inevitable. Fate seemed propitious, and hope rose high in Shelby’s breast. The battle with Ewing was almost won, and with him out of the way, with shouts of victory on their lips, Shelby would, he believed, make short work of Brown. An evil destiny now intervened. Brown had overwhelmed Shanks’ two hundred and fifty men left to delay his crossing the Lamine River, and he had rushed on to help Ewing at the moment when Shelby’s genius and vigorous attack had nearly completed victory. Shelby needed no interpreter to tell him that; the firing in his rear demonstrated that he had miscalculated the rate of Brown’s approach and that six pieces of artillery and four thousand fresh troops were upon him.

In such an emergency there was only one course left open and that was to retreat. Shelby had left a valiant lieutenant to dispute the crossing of the Lamine River with Brown, and to hold him while he whipped Ewing. Well did this gallant soldier, Colonel Shanks, perform this task. He stood the test as only a brave man could, but the storm he faced was more than any two hundred and fifty men could withstand. There was nothing left for Shelby but to cut his way through the lines of Ewing. This was a dangerous undertaking. Even to so brave a man as Shelby, it was a hazardous task. He looked and saw a weak place in the Federal line. Only instantaneous action could save him. A Federal regiment stationed in a corn field with skirmishers well to the front, and safely ensconced behind corn shocks, seemed to be the best chance for a hard drive and successful onslaught. He, was too far from his base to give up his ammunition. He hated to abandon his meagre supply of cannon. If he stood still between the two advancing Federal armies of four thousand men each, annihilation or surrender was the only fate that could befall him and his men, however brave they might be. The flash of the eye and the resolve of a practiced warrior decided the course he would follow. Escape he would or die in the attempt. Widening the front of regiments and placing a rider on each horse of the ammunition wagons and artillery, he dashed furiously at the Federal forces. The Federals met the shock with courage and stout resistance, but the fierce riding Confederates were too much: they yielded sufficiently to allow Shelby to pass through with his wagons and his cannon. Hunter’s regiment, becoming entangled in the thick woods, did not keep well closed in, and the Federals rallied and cut off Hunter while Shelby rode triumphantly away. Hunter, true to the necessities of the occasion, turned squarely to the right and galloped through another part of the Federal line and made his escape. Shelby’s force was now divided, but it had left the enemy behind. It was impossible for any troops to out-march them. Shelby, hoping against hope, waited two hours for his separated forces to join him. Prudence told him longer waiting meant destruction, and he retreated to Waverly. For eight miles the Federals pressed his rear with relentless zeal. By three o’clock in the morning Shelby passed through his home town. The desire of his heart was gratified. A few moments were spent in greeting, and now he was ready to find his own again, and so, turning squarely south, he started on his long and ever-lengthening march to the place from whence he had come.

A little way from Waverly, at Hawkins’ Mills, Shelby concluded that his wagons and his artillery would be troublesome, and so he sunk them in the Missouri River and reduced everything to the lightest possible weight. It was of the highest importance that he should safely pass the Osage River. It was a long march from Waverly to this river. Sleep and rest were out of the question. The tired beasts were allowed to feed a little and the men took an hour or two for repose. Even an hour’s delay might bring disaster. Nature pleaded for repose and rest, but safety pointed her finger forward, and fate, willing to extricate the bold horseman, bade him stay not his hand nor speed. Leaving Waverly, on the morning of the 14th, to the evening of the 16th, he had marched more than one hundred miles. He had gone through from the Missouri to the Osage River in two days. This was a tremendous spurt. Nothing now, short of bad management, could prevent Shelby’s escape, and so he began to move somewhat more leisurely. Along by the road at Warrensville, there were two thousand Federals waiting to hold him up; but he passed a few miles west without alarming them, and proceeded on to Johnson County, to which point they pursued him. One of the Federal commanders reported that Shelby’s men were “running like wild hogs,” and another, that, bareheaded and demoralized, they were making their escape in detached parties through the woods, thickets and byways. Even though hard pressed, and with no time to spare, Shelby could not refrain from one effort to punish those who had so vigorously and so sorely pressed upon him. He ordered a dash at his foes, and they, quickly realizing that it was not wise to press Shelby, even if he was running, fled at his coming. On the 17th, 18th and 19th of October, men and horses were put to the utmost limit. The Federals were loth to permit Shelby’s escape, and they hung on to the Confederate rear with the grip of death. With such odds in their favor, they held it a great misfortune to let him get away, and they judged that all sorts of inquiries and criticisms would follow, if, with fifty thousand Federal soldiers in Missouri, even so resourceful and dashing a cavalryman as Shelby could march nearly through the entire State in the face of so many pursuers, and then safely ride away. Energies were redoubled, orders of concentration kept the wires warm; but warm wires, circulating orders and relentless pursuit could not stop the mad speed and the ceaseless tramp of Shelby and his men. They had better reason to urge them escape than those who were following had to run them down. On the 20th of October, he was safely on the Little Osage River in Arkansas, and there, to Shelby’s gratification and surprise, he found the remainder of his command under Colonels Hunter, Hooper and Shanks. Reunited, their spirits rose to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. They had been battered and hammered and pursued, but they were all safe. One hundred and fifty of the eight hundred men who started were either wounded or dead along the line of march; but the expedition was completed, and the apparently impossible was accomplished.

Fate dealt more generously with Hunter and Hooper and Shanks than with Shelby. At Florence and Humansville and Duroc, on the Osage, they had had their troubles with the First Arkansas cavalry. They had a fight with McNeil’s two thousand men at Humansville, but he was held in check. The Federal forces were fierce in their attacks, and they marched with the greatest strenuosity to block the way these men were taking to avoid capture. Artillery with cavalry in a forced march is never a thing to be desired. Guns and caissons make heavy pulling, and no horses can for many miles keep pace with horsemen who are pushed to their highest speed. The help of the cannon had now lost much of its value and as it might retard the speed in some slight degree, it was destroyed and abandoned and the last of Shelby’s battery went down before the aggressive pursuers. It was abandoned at Humansville, and the fleeing horsemen were glad to get rid of such a grievous burden.

The greatest sufferers on the tremendous march had been the horses. They were goaded, tired and driven to the greatest effort. Half starved, with reduced flesh, their speed was ever-decreasing. Mercy was so incessant and so insistent in her appeals that the beasts were given three days’ rest.. Not a single soldier was willing to scout except when absolutely necessary to keep in touch with the movements of the enemy. The Federals, under John Cloud, hearing that Shelby had escaped from Missouri, left Fayetteville and went out to hunt him, but Cloud was not very anxious to find Shelby. He followed slowly and at a safe distance and pursued Shelby to Clarksville on the Arkansas River where Shelby crossed the stream twelve miles east of Ozark, where he had passed thirty days before.

A great march was ended, and Shelby, in his reports, claimed that he had in the thirty days killed and wounded six hundred Federals; he had taken and paroled as many more; he had captured and destroyed ten forts, about eight hundred thousand dollars’ worth of property and he had captured six hundred rifles, forty stand of colors, three hundred wagons, six thousand horses and mules, and destroyed a million dollars’ worth of supplies. At one place in Arkansas he had dispersed eight hundred recruits and destroyed fifty thousand dollars’ worth of ordnance. At the time Shelby left Arkadelphia, Rosecrans was calling for help, and one day after Shelby started, the Battle of Chickamauga had been finished and Rosecrans, with his army driven back and discouraged, was at Chattanooga, crying for help. Ten thousand men were kept from reinforcing Rosecrans. All this was accomplished by eight hundred men. Shelby’s superiors had led him to believe that this was a forlorn hope. The young Confederate colonel had shown them they were mistaken in their estimate of him and that he was worthy of the wreath on his collar which would make him a brigadier-general.