Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 1

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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I.

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

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

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

FROM ST. LOUIS TO WARSAW.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Will Massa have a drink of water?”

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

“Where is your husband?”

“He went off a little while ago.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia

PROVISIONAL ENROLLED MISSOURI MILITIA
County Origins of Specified Units
by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

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

Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand
by Kirby Ross, Samuel S. Hildebrand, James W. Evans, A. Wendell Keith

available at Amazon.com

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at Amazon.com


Within months of the creation of the Enrolled Missouri Militia it became evident to the Union command in St. Louis that the use of part-time soldiers was not the answer to addressing the rebellion in the state.  Consequently it was decided to detail “picked men” from the EMM into a new, full-time organization.  The result was the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (aka the Detailed Militia).

One independent PEMM company and eleven PEMM regiments were formed in the different regions of Missouri.  All of these units, along with the EMM regiments and counties from which they were drawn, are listed below.1

See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4. Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

6. Provisional Enrolled Militia (G.O. #107) 1864-1865

7. Missouri Militia (G.O. #3) 1865

8. Missouri Militia (State Convention) 1865-late 19th century

PRIMARY                                    EMM UNITS                                                   COUNTIES

REGIMENT                  OPERATIONAL AREA                  DRAWN FROM                                     DRAWN FROM COMMANDNG OFFICER

1st PEMM          Northeast Missouri         27th EMM                                         St. Charles County    Col. Joseph B. Douglass

46th EMM                                          Howard County

“                                                    Randolph County

49th EMM                                          Pike County

61st EMM                                          Boone County

62nd EMM                                         Macon County

“                                                    Linn County

67th EMM                                          Montgomery County

75th EMM                                          St. Charles County

Callaway Independent EMM            Callaway County

1st Battalion EMM                            Pike County

2nd PEMM         Northeast Missouri        29th EMM                                         Scotland County    Col. Edward A. Kutzer

37th EMM                                          Lincoln County

45th EMM                                          Putnam County

50th EMM                                          Knox County

“                                                    Adair County

53rd EMM                                          Ralls County

59th EMM                                          Warren County

62nd EMM                                          Macon County

“                                                    Linn County

66th EMM                                          Sullivan County

69th EMM                                          Clark County

“                                                    Lewis County

70th EMM                                          Monroe County

“                                                    Shelby County

3rd PEMM         Northwest Missouri        25th EMM                                          Buchanan County    Col. William Heron

31st EMM                                           Gentry County           Col. Bennett Pike

36th EMM                                          Nodaway County

39th EMM                                          Platte County

41st EMM                                           Andrew County

57th EMM                                          Harrison County

58th EMM                                          Atchison County

“                                                    Holt County

4th PEMM         Northwest Missouri        25th EMM                                          Buchanan County    Col. John B. Hale

30th EMM                                          Grundy County

31st EMM                                           Gentry County

33rd EMM                                          Daviess County

“                                                    Caldwell County

35th EMM                                          Chariton County

44th EMM                                          Mercer County

48th EMM                                          Clay County

“                                                    Clinton County

51st EMM                                           Ray County

57th EMM                                          Harrison County

65th EMM                                          Carroll County

“                                                    Livingston County

Mercer Independent EMM               Mercer County

5th PEMM         West Central Missouri    40th EMM                                          Pettis County    Col. Henry Neill

60th EMM                                          Osage Valley

71st EMM                                           Lafayette County

“                                                    Saline County

77th EMM                                          Jackson County

6th PEMM         Southwest Missouri        26th EMM                                          Polk County        Col. Henry Sheppard

72nd EMM                                          Greene County    Col. F. S. Jones

“                                                    Christian County

73rd EMM                                          Laclede County

“                                                    Douglas County

“                                                    Dallas County

74th EMM                                          Lawrence County

“                                                    Webster County

Kelly’s Independent   Southwest Missouri  26th EMM                                        Polk County        Capt. Morgan Kelly

PEMM company

Note: Was operating as an indepedent PEMM company in the summer of 1863, but was integrated into the 6th PEMM as Company I on September 6.

7th PEMM         Southwest Missouri        26th EMM                                          Polk County        Col. John D. Allen

72nd EMM                                          Greene County

“                                                    Christian County

73rd EMM                                          Laclede County

“                                                    Douglas County

“                                                    Dallas County

76th EMM                                          Lawrence

8th PEMM         Southeast Missouri         32nd EMM                                        Washington Co.        Col. William H. McLane

56th EMM                                          Cape Girardeau County

64th EMM                                          Perry County

68th EMM                                          Iron County

“                                                    Wayne County

“                                                    Madison County

78th EMM                                          Ste. Genevieve County

Bollinger Independent EMM           Bollinger County

9th PEMM         Central/East Central        28th EMM                                          Osage County        Col. Thomas L. Crawford

Missouri                             34th EMM                                         Gasconade County

42nd EMM                                          Cole County

43rd EMM                                          Moniteau County

47th EMM                                          Camden County

52nd EMM                                          Cooper County

Maries Independent EMM              Maries County

10th PEMM 2 St. Louis                         1st thru 16th EMM                              St. Louis                Col. C. D. Wolf (10 days)

11th PEMM 2 St. Louis                         1st thru 16th EMM                              St. Louis                Col. John Knapp (1 day)

Col. Henry H. Catherwood (6 days)


1 Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives of the Twenty-Second General Assembly of the State of Missouri, Appointed to Investigate the Conduct and Management of the Militia (Jefferson City, Mo.: W.A. Curry, Public Printer, 1864), pp. 224-233; Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Missouri, December 15, 1862 (St. Louis: Adjutant General’s Office, 1862), pp. 11-12

2 Intended to replace U. S. Volunteers stationed at New Madrid in southeast Missouri. There were limited desertions in the 10th PEMM and mass desertions and mutiny in the 11th PEMM. For more on this story, see “The St. Louis Mutiny of the Provisionals”.


Enrolled Missouri Militia

ENROLLED MISSOURI MILITIA

County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

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

Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand
by Kirby Ross, Samuel S. Hildebrand, James W. Evans, A. Wendell Keith

available at Amazon.com

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at Amazon.com

Given the general lack of information available on the Federal Enrolled Militia, in conducting research on the Civil War in Missouri a historian might tend to come across mention of a particular EMM unit—either by the name of its commander or its numerical designation—and have no idea where that unit might have been organized and based.  The following table provides for quick number/name/locale cross-referencing of units formed by the end 1862 as well as the number of men enrolled in those particular units at that time.  Note a dozen or so additional EMM units were formed after 1862 and are not included in this list.1
See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4. Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

6. Provisional Enrolled Militia (G.O. #107) 1864-1865

7. Missouri Militia (G.O. #3) 1865

8. Missouri Militia (State Convention) 1865-late 19th century

Regiment Where Organized Colonel Strength
1 St. Louis

©Kirby Ross

www.civilwarstlouis.com

©Kirby Ross

www.civilwarstlouis.com

©Kirby Ross

www.civilwarstlouis.com

©Kirby Ross

William P. Fenn 565
2 E. Stafford 565
3 N. Schittner 921
4 C. D. Wolf 927
5 F. T. Boyle 606
6 Thomas Richeson 817
7 George E. Leighton 581
8 Jno. Knapp 742
9 J. M. Krum 603
10 E. H. E. Jameson 811
11 William. Cuddy 792
12 William. Bailey 824
13 B. M. Million 845
16 M. W. Warne 752
17 C. L. Tucker 712
22 Thomas Miller, Jr. 1,471
23 Pacific Railroad George R. Taylor 890
24 St. Louis Arsenal A. R. Buffington 520
25 Buchanan County Jno. Severance 723
26 Polk County J. W. Johnson 593
27 St. Charles County Benj. Emmons 884
28 Osage County L. Zevely 760
29 Scotland County E. A. Kutzner 657
30 Grundy County J. H. Shanklin 469
31 Gentry County M. Craner 624
32 Washington County T. J. Whitely 607
33 Davis & Caldwell Counties William S. Brown 628
34 Gasconade County J. O. Sitton 787
35 Chariton County W. E. Moberly 706
36 Nodaway County W. J. W. Bickett 575
37 Lincoln County C. W. Parker 754
38 Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad J. T. K. Hayward 633
39 Platte County J. A. Price 621
40 Pettis County R. R. Spedden 620
41 Andrew County William Heron 571
42 Cole County H. L. Burns (Lt. Col.) 818
43 Moniteau County F. W. Hickox 810
44 Mercer County Willam M. Rodgers 681
45 Putnam County William A. Shelton 622
46 Howard & Randolph Counties Thomas J. Bartholow 759
47 Camden County H. A. Massey 677
48 Clay & Clinton Counties James H. Moss 667
49 Pike County G. W. Anderson 734
50 Knox & Adair Counties S. W. Wirt 734
51 Ray County A. J. Barr 506
52 Cooper County William Pope 598
53 Ralls County Corwin C. Tinker 595
54 Washington County2 Daniel Q. Gale 786
55 Franklin County A. W. Maupin 636
56 Cape Girardeau County W. H. McLane 676
57 Harrison County D. J. Heaston 535
58 Atchison & Holt Counties Bennett Pike 580
59 Warren County Jno. E. Hutton 636
60 Osage Valley A. C. Marvin 720
61 Boone County J. B. Douglass 587
62 Macon & Linn Counties R. J. Elberman 687
63 Phelps, Crawford & Pulaski Counties J. E. Davis 705
64 Perry County R. M. Brewer 732
65 Carroll & Livingston Counties J. B. Hale 500
66 Sullivan County O. P. Phillips 549
67 Montgomery County James Kettle 432
68 Iron, Wayne, & Madison Counties J. Lindsay 840
69 Clark & Lewis Counties 713
70 Monroe & Shelby Counties W. B. Okeson 513
71 Lafayette & Saline Counties Henry Neill 527
72 Greene & Christian Counties H. Sheppard 700
73 Laclede, Douglas, & Dallas Counties R. Palmer 830
74 Lawrence & Webster Counties M. Boyd 699
75 St. Charles County 676
1st Batt. Pike County G.W. Anderson3 505
Batt. Howard County B. Reeves (Major) 445
Batt. St. Louis Policemen J. E. D. Couzins (Major) 167
©Kirby Ross Totals: 48,733

NOTES:

1Source: Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Missouri, December 15, 1862 (St. Louis: Adjutant General’s Office, 1862), pp. 11-12.  Name spellings are left as they were in the original document.

2The original 1862 report stated this was a Franklin County unit, which was in error—this was actually a Washington County regiment.  See, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri For 1864 (Jefferson City, Mo.: W.A. Curry, Public Printer, 1865), p. 310

3The original 1862 report did not have information on the commanding officer of this unit.  Copies of letters from Colonel George W. Anderson that are in my possession show he led both the 49th Regiment EMM and the 1st Battalion EMM.

Federal Militia

Federal Militia

in Missouri

by Kirby Ross

Introduction

In studying the Civil War in Missouri nothing is more confusing than sorting out the various hodge-podge of militia units that fought on the Federal side. A general statement regarding a generic militia unit in a military report, newspaper article, diary, magazine, book, etc., should rightly leave the reader scratching his or her head.

Too many historians and writers on the war in Missouri tend to lump “the militia” into one broad category. Being apprised of specific instances of prominent, institutionally undisciplined behavior by the troops and/or leadership of one particular militia organization all too often results in unsubstantiated and unprovable claims that other militia organizations were of the same ilk. Such broad oversimplifications give the appearance of falling into one of two categories: 1) at best, the writer has failed to do their homework; or, 2) at worst, the writer is allowing an agenda to supercede objective historical accuracy. This is certainly not to say that specific militia organizations never engaged in wrongful conduct—without a doubt, many if not all of them had troops that crossed the line, just as many soldiers in a prolonged armed conflict are prone to do. What is being communicated is that there were different types of militia in Missouri during the war, and the quality and discipline of each unit was as varied and diverse as the ways in which those units came into existence.

The following listing, while not necessarily complete, provides brief profiles of the most prominent militia organizations that existed in Missouri during the War Between the States.

1. Home Guard 1861

See also: HOME GUARD: County Origins of Specified Units

On June 11, 1861, the commander of the Department of the West, Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon, was ordered by the Department of War to enlist “such loyal citizens” of Missouri as he thought proper to allow those individuals to protect their homes and neighborhoods from the state’s pro-Southern element. With the formational authority being provided by the United States government as opposed to the secessionist state government, this national-level involvement in localized community defense efforts was unique in the course of the Civil War.

Just under 20,000 men served in what came to be known as the Home Guard, filling a total of 241 companies in 6 regiments and 22 battalions. According to a post-war Congressional report on the various military organizations that were created in Missouri, “the Home Guard consisted of two classes:

“(1) Those who were organized for their own protection and the preservation of peace in their own neighborhoods, and were armed by the United States but were to receive neither pay, clothing, nor rations, and,

“(2) Those who were organized, armed, and equipped for more active local service, for which service it was understood they would have a valid claim for pay.” These latter units were called into service by Federal military authorities in Missouri after recruitment quotas for U.S. Volunteers were reached and additional manpower was needed to deal with the deteriorating state of affairs.

By the end of 1861 a very confused situation had arisen in that different rules were governing the individual units—some companies were being mustered in on condition that they serve only in Missouri, while others that were actively serving never actually mustered in. In addition, there were units that had been formed without any underlying legal authority whatsoever. To resolve matters the Union command commenced disbanding these organizations in December, while a few had already “relieved themselves from duty,” to provide for their families after coming to the realization there was no chance of obtaining payment for their services.

With the Confederate-supporting state government having been ousted from the capital by the summer of 1861, the newly installed Unionist government began assuming responsibility for local defense by creating several organizations to fill the niche served by the Home Guard, including the Six-month Militia in late 1861 and the Enrolled Missouri Militia in mid-1862.

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

In the face of Federal control over community defense in Missouri and the structural deficiencies associated with the Home Guard, on August 24, 1861, the newly installed Unionist governor of Missouri, Hamilton Gamble, issued a proclamation calling into service 42,000 militia “to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the State.” Falling far short of its goals, just over 6,000 men signed up for six-month enlistments into five regiments, eleven battalions, and ten independent companies in the following weeks.

Assuming the primary role in local defense from the disbanding Home Guard, the Six-month Militia performed duty primarily in “scouring their counties in search of rebel camps and rendezvous, and acting as scouts and guides to the various bodies of volunteers then in the State.” After a few months the great expense in maintaining this force was deemed to be without a corresponding benefit and the governor ordered it dismantled in January 1862. Its duties were subsequently filled in large part by the Missouri State Militia that was being brought into existence at this time.

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

Coming to grips with the financial realities of fielding large numbers of men to defend the state, Governor Hamilton Gamble developed a plan that shifted the cost to the national government while at the same time allowing him to maintain personal control of the force himself. Meeting with President Abraham Lincoln in the fall of 1861, an agreement was finalized on November 6 wherein a force called the Missouri State Militia was created that was “armed, equipped, clothed, subsisted, transported, and paid by the United States,” but at the same time was not subjected to duty outside of Missouri except in “the immediate defense of the State.” Orders were issued out of the War Department the next day formalizing this agreement, which was further sanctioned by an act of Congress.

Gamble appointed the field officers of this organization, and had the power to remove them at his discretion. The MSM leadership reported to the senior U.S. military officers in the state, who were also given commissions in the MSM to bridge a military chain of command that reached directly to Washington D.C. Consequently the precise nature of this entity, according to President Lincoln, was that it “is not strictly either ‘State troops’ or ‘United States troops.’ It is a mixed character.”

Initially not having any constraints on the number of troops it could enlist, within months over 13,000 filled the ranks in 14 regiments (each of which had from eight to ten companies), 3 battalions, 2 independent batteries of artillery, and single independent companies of cavalry, infantry, and sappers and miners. Realizing the enlistments would continue to grow, along with the costs associated with them, in February 1862 Congress limited the number of MSM troops to 10,000. This cap was afterward reached through discharges and attrition, and various units were either disbanded or merged until only nine regiments of cavalry and one regiment of infantry were left.

The Missouri State Militia saw hard service during the course of the war and was the primary force that engaged the guerrilla threat in the state. It was also the first line of defense when Confederate regulars made major raids into the state in 1863 and 1864 and suffered heavy losses on those occasions (the 3rd MSM Cavalry played a very critical role in preventing St. Louis from falling to Confederate forces in 1864).

According to Governor Gamble, the force was “found very efficient,” and General John M. Schofield (future General-in-Chief of the Army) found that in drill, discipline, and efficiency “these troops will compare favorably with any volunteer troops which I have seen.” Consequently they were made eligible for the same reenlistment bonuses as mainline U.S. Volunteers in 1864, and were granted Federal pensions after the war.

4. Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

See also: ENROLLED MISSOURI MILITIA: County Origins of Specified Units

In the summer of 1862, Confederate Colonel Joseph Porter began a recruiting program behind Federal lines in northeast Missouri. As the Unionist population began to become more and more panicked by the Rebel force in its midst and it became evident the newly-formed Missouri State Militia was stretched too thin to be in all places at all times, the powers-that-be sought a solution.

The U.S. Government-funded MSM had quickly reached its cap of 10,000 troops, so additional manpower could not be brought into the field at Federal expense. At the same time, Missouri’s experience in footing the bill on the ill-fated Six-month Militia had provided a costly lesson to the state government and helped it realize that creating another such force was out of the question. A different solution to addressing the wide-spread guerrilla problem would have to be found.

In late July 1862 the plan was unveiled. The solution was not to be had by funding a full-time force that would constantly be in service—instead, the solution was to create a force of part-time citizen soldiers that would only be called up in times of emergency, and only have to be paid during those specific times of call-up. The solution was the Enrolled Missouri Militia.

On July 22 Governor Gamble issued an order directing Brigadier General John Schofield to organize this militia. Acting with haste, that same day General Schofield issued his own order directing every able bodied man in the state to report immediately to the nearest military outpost to enroll and be sworn into the new militia organization.

The net effect was that tens of thousands of fence-sitting men of military age were brought into the military fold. At the same time, thousands of other fence-sitters that were quietly supporting the South were forced to make a decision whether to serve in a Federal unit, or to flee the state and enlist in the Confederate Army. While many men did pursue the latter course of action, over 52,000 others remained behind to form the militia force that eventually reached 85 regiments, 16 battalions, and 33 independent companies.

On average, most men in the EMM served only a few weeks of active duty over the course of the next two and a half years. Given the nature of the organization—which naturally included disloyal men, men that would not otherwise have been qualified for service, and men that had little desire to serve—the EMM was destined for controversy.

Many of the troops called to duty used their positions for their own financial gain, or to settle personal scores with enemies (prompting occasional references to it in the Union press as being the “Enraged Militia”). Nonetheless the Enrolled Militia did fill a Unionist need by freeing up the MSM and other frontline U.S. troops for duty in the field while it conducted local patrols and garrisoned towns.

Veterans of the EMM were not eligible for Federal pensions after the conclusion of the war.

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

See also: PROVISIONAL ENROLLED MISSOURI MILITIA: County Origins of Specified Units

By early 1863, with the temporary abatement of the guerrilla crisis it was decided that the bulk of the EMM companies in active service would be relieved of duty and the men sent home to resume civilian pursuits. In their place an offshoot of the EMM was created with the object to “1) repress any attempt at insurrection; 2) prevent any combinations for rebellion against the Government; and 3) maintain the laws of the State.” (italics from the original)

This new force, the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia, was formed under the authority of the EMM and the military status of the men that served in it was the same as the original force with the exception that it would be a full-time organization. As the thinking went, a reduced force of full-time troops would be as effective as a larger force of part-time troops.

The PEMM began organizing in May 1863 by detailing picked men from the individual EMM regiments (this force was most commonly referred to as the “Detailed Militia”). In order that the personnel could concentrate on the job at hand and not have the distractions that marred the original EMM, the troops chosen for the PEMM were those “who could most easily be spared from their ordinary avocations, having but few if any others dependent upon their labor for support” and would be “commanded by judiciously selected officers.” While the state was responsible for paying them, their clothing, camp and garrison equipage, and medical supplies were provided by the United States.

Eleven regiments and one independent company were formed, which were placed under the overall command of General Schofield who referred to them as being “a real addition to the effective force in the department.” Because of the nature of their service, veterans of the PEMM were eligible for Federal pensions after the war.

The PEMM was marred by self-destructive political infighting between the Conservative Unionist governor, Hamilton Gamble, and large numbers of Radical Unionist troops that were detailed to it. Because of this, most of the regiments were disbanded to prevent them from having any influence over the November 1863 judicial elections. Two regiments remained in service until the end of the conflict after being converted to U.S. Volunteer cavalry regiments in 1864.

6. Provisional Enrolled Militia (G.O. #107) 1864-1865

See also: PROVISIONAL ENROLLED MILITIA: County Origins of Specified Units

Not to be confused with the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia. Brought into existence on June 28, 1864, via General Order No. 107 issued by the senior commander of the Department of the Missouri, Major General William S. Rosecrans, this organization was created to address a new wave of guerrilla activity that began overwhelming the state in mid-1864. Commonly referred to as “Order 107 Militia” the organization was intended “to provide for local defense against bands of bushwhackers and other disturbers of the public peace, and for the maintenance of law and order more effectually than could be done by calling out the Enrolled Militia, as well as to engage all good citizens in the work.”

This was truly a grass-roots organization as residents of the individual counties were required to hold meetings to choose and organize one or two companies of “about 100 men each, selected for courage, energy, and willingness to serve for the protection of your respective counties.” The men chosen were to be detailed from the Enrolled Militia (although in actual practice volunteers were also accepted) and were to be led by “the best officers selected and recommended by the proper Enrolled Militia colonels and brigadier-generals of the districts in which they belong.”

The sixty-two companies that were formed under Order 107 differed from the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia in three major respects—they were organized as independent companies as opposed to being but one company in a larger regiment; their enlisted personnel were chosen by county committees as opposed to EMM officers; and their duty was intended to be temporary and local along the lines of the regular EMM, as opposed to permanent and regional as in the PEMM (consequently, unlike the PEMM, veterans of the Provisional Companies were not eligible for post-war Federal pensions).

7. Missouri Militia (G.O. #3) 1865

See also: MISSOURI MILITIA (G. O. #3): County Origins of Specified Units

In anticipation of the disbanding of the Enrolled Missouri Militia scheduled to take place on March 12, 1865, as well as the ongoing expirations of enlistments of most of the troops in the Missouri State Militia, the present commanding general of the Department of the Missouri, Major General Grenville Dodge, sought to create a replacement force that “would be more effective and available, and at the same time less expensive to the State.” The result was the Missouri Militia, a creation of individual independent companies to be provisioned by the U.S. government and paid by the counties in question and the disloyal citizens that resided therein.

On January 30, 1865, the newly installed governor, Thomas Fletcher, caused to be issued General Order #3 providing for the Missouri Militia. Sixty-one companies were formed, with a charge that was more law-enforcement oriented than military. According to the formational order, it was organized for active service “for the purpose of repressing lawlessness and to secure safety of life and property to all good citizens, and to strengthen the hands of legal justice by enabling the officers of the law to execute its processes and judgments.”

In April the state’s civil authority created a second Missouri Militia organization that was to be based on regiments (as stated, the present MM was based on independent companies), causing two different Missouri Militias to be operating at the same time. With the Confederate surrender at Appomattox a few days later and the general cessation of hostilities in the following weeks, the Order #3 Missouri Militia quickly ran into insurmountable funding problems. In late June and early July Governor Fletcher caused to be issued a series of orders dismantling it, “in consequence of the refusal of the United States Government to issue subsistence. . . . and the inability, for want of appropriations, of the State to subsist them, and the necessity for employing that class of troops no longer existing. . . .”

8. Missouri Militia (State Convention) 1865-late 19th century

See also: MISSOURI MILITIA (State Convention): County Origins of Specified Units

In the waning days of the war the State Convention adopted an ordinance requiring a state militia force to organize into platoons, companies, regiments, and brigades (marking a shift from creation by military fiat to creation by civil authority). Created on April 8, 1865, this version of the Missouri Militia survived long after hostilities finally ended and was the primary force that addressed the lawless element that engulfed post-war Missouri. Eighty-four regiments and six battalions were formed.

For additional reading, see: Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives of the Twenty-second General Assembly of the State of Missouri Appointed to Investigate the Conduct and Management of the Militia (Jefferson City, MO: W. A. Curry, Public Printer, 1864); Organization and Status of Missouri Troops In Service During the Civil War (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902); Joseph A. Mudd, With Porter in North Missouri (Washington: The National Publishing Co., 1909)

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.

Fremont’s Hundred Days

Fremont’s One Hundred Days

Francis P. Blair, Jr.’s speech

to the House of Representatives, March 7, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

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

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

See Charcoals vs Claybanks

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Boernstein.

Third regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Sigel, at Springfield.

Fourth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Schuttner.

Fifth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Saloman, at Springfield.

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

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

Seventh regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Stevenson, at Booneville.

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Louis, November 22, 1861.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very truly, &c.,

J. M. PALMER.

Colonel F. P. BLAIR.

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

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

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

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

“Seventeenth Illinois regiment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT

September 14, 1861.

To the Hon. SIMON CAMERON,

Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

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

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

Under Brigadier General Pope, including home guard 5,483

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN C. FREMONT

Major General Commanding.

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

[Here the hammer fell.]

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

No objection was made.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Captain C. McKeever A. A. G.:

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

CARLIN, Colonel Commanding.

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

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

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

Syracuse, October 15, 1861.

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

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

McKinstry, Brigadier General.

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

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

BENTON Barracks, October 16, 1861.

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

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

SAMUEL R. CURTIS,

Brigadier General Commanding.

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

St. Louis, October 15, 1861.

Brigadier General Grant, Cairo, Illinois:

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

By order of Major General Fremont.

McKeever, A. A. G.

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

Camp Benton, October 16; 1861

C. McKeever, A. A. G.:

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

S. R. CURTIS,

Brigadier General.

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

Camp Benton, October 16, 1861.

C. McKeever, A. A. G.:

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

S. R. CURTIS,

Brig. Gen. Com.

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

St. Louis, October 16, 1861.

Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

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

C. McKeever, A. A. G.

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

St. Louis, October 16, 1861.

Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

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

By order of General Fremont.

C. McKeever A. A. G.

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

Headquarters, October 2l, 1861.

To Brigadier General Curtis

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

By order of Major General Fremont.

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

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

HEADQUARTERS, October 21, 1861.

To Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

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

By order:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“WASHINGTON, September 3, 1861.

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

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

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

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

The committee say further:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing in life [official life] so became him

As the leaving it.”

Solving the Mystery of the Arsenal Guns

Solving the Mystery of the Arsenal Guns

by

Randy R. McGuire, PhD

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

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

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

St. Louis Arsenal: Armory of the West

by Randy R. McGuire, PhD

available from Amazon.com

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

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

Part II:

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Go to Part II

Bibliography

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

©2003 Randy R. McGuire, PhD.

No reproduction or distribution without the consent of the author

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

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

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

Sources and Methodology

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

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

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

Background of the Arsenal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Rifles 719

Total Small Arms on Hand 33,734

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

States and

Territories

With Arms

All Types

of

Muskets

All Types

of

Rifles

Total

Small

Arms


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



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



115,024 25,720 140,744

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Part II

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

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

Return to Part I

Part II:

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Go to Part II

Bibliography

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D


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

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

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

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

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

Sorrowful Revenge by Firing Squad!

True Tales of the Tenth Kansas Infantry

Sorrowful Revenge by Firing Squad!

by Howard Mann

Twenty-four year old Michael Zwicky of rural Washington, Missouri walked along St. John’s Creek on October 23, 1864 with four of his neighbors. They were hunting persimmons when suddenly they spied three bodies lying on the ground partially covered by leaves. Two were in federal uniform, one distinguished as an artillerist, and one in civilian clothing. Horrified, the young men saw three more bodies, one with major’s straps on his coat. The other two bodies were “torn to pieces (I suppose the hogs and buzzards tore them and I saw pieces of brown jeans lying around and near the bodies)”. Zwicky and his comrades hastily reburied the bodies since the retreating Confederate invasion force had recently passed through. They quickly notified the local Justice of the Peace and Coroner, Esquire Kleinbeck.[1]

Kleinbeck rounded up another local man, James M. Kitchen, to investigate the suspicious deaths. Kitchen had heard “fourteen or fifteen shots [being fired] in rapid succession” three weeks earlier on a Monday while hiding in the brush from Sterling Price’s invading forces. Kitchen rifled through the dead major’s pockets to try and identify him. He removed two pocket diaries, a receipt for $25, the two shoulder straps, and several sets of orders including one from Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, signed by his aide-de-camp, Captain Charles S. Hills, Tenth Kansas Infantry. In each case the recipient was Major James Wilson. The body with civilian clothing had a $10 Confederate bill and a $5 Federal greenback, and a photograph of a soldier. Kitchen also found a letter dated May 13, 1864 to “Mr. T. Boyd, ever dear and sweet husband. Most of the letter was unreadable.[2] By that time the Rebels had left the area quickly moving to the west and already on the verge of engaging the Kansas militia and Federal forces in front of Kansas City at the battle of Westport. Only a few weeks before (September 26-27) a much stronger Confederate army had broken itself on repeated charges against the self-same Brigadier General Thomas Ewing and a small 1,000-man force at Pilot Knob, Missouri. Among the missing Union men was Major James Wilson, 3rd Missouri State Militia Cavalry.

The Federal authorities were notified and had been looking for the missing Major. The mystery was quickly solved. Captain Hills had provided Major Wilson with orders early in the action when Price’s army converged across the Arcadia valley in front of Fort Davidson, Pilot Knob. He noted that Major Wilson had a minor head injury and was exhausted from regrouping his 3rd Missouri State Militia Cavalry trying to slow the Confederate onslaught. On September 27th, Wilson was captured along with Captain Franz Dinger, 47th Missouri Infantry.[3]

The first Union soldiers to again validate the identity the unfortunate Major Wilson was Lieutenant Colonel Amos W. Maupin of the 47th Missouri Infantry. Not having sufficient wagons he again buried the bodies by October 25th.[4] Finally on October 28th Lieutenant John F. Jacoby and a party from Wilson’s regiment, 3rd Missouri State Militia Cavalry, arrived with wagons to recover the bodies. Jacoby and his companions easily identified Major Wilson, whose eyes were gone and face blackened through decomposition. A wart on his forehead identified one of the other soldiers, Sergeant John W. Shaw, Company I, 3rd M.S.M. Cavalry.  Private William C. Grotte, of the same company, was recognized by his red hair and profuse freckles on his face and neck. One soldier recognized another man as Private William Skaggs, Company I. A less positive identification was of Corporal William R. Cowley (Gourley), Company I. The body clad in the artillery jacket may have belonged to Company I or K, 3rd M.S.M Cavalry. These companies originally were recruited as artillery and had kept the red-striped jackets. It was obvious that Sterling Price’s men had executed the dead Federals.[5]

In fact, Major Wilson and the entire 3rd Missouri State Militia Cavalry had bitter and personal enemies among Price’s army. The war in southeastern Missouri was waged between families and neighbors in adjoining counties. The balance of pro-Union supporters and pro-southern families dotted the countryside in the southernmost counties of Missouri along the Mississippi River and next to Arkansas. Opposing much of the area patrolled by the 3rd Missouri State Militia Cavalry were pro-Confederate Home Guard units such as Timothy Reeves Company of Independent Scouts. In 1862 events shaped a consolidation of these independent units into a battalion sized regiment, the 15th Missouri Cavalry Regiment, C.S.A. led by Colonel Timothy Reeves. Reeves, a rural Baptist minister, was targeted by the 3rd M.S.M. under Major James Wilson. Members of Wilson’s family were pro-southern and his loyalty to the Union cost him the relationship with his wife, children, brother and father. Since many of the men from both units had been local farmers in Ripley and Pike counties, the guerrilla aspect of war quickly escalated.

According to Kirby Ross in “Atrocity at Doniphan, Missouri” he describes the ensuing events:

“During the course of the war Wilson’s troops routed Reeves’ command several times.  Then on September 19, 1864, under orders from the Union command in St. Louis, Wilson dispatched a small task force consisting of troops from the 3rd M.S.M. and the 47th Missouri Infantry under First Lieutenant Erich Pape, with instructions to burn Doniphan, the seat of Ripley County.  After fulfilling their orders the Federal raiders retreated to the northeast, burning several farms along the route.  At Ponder’s Mill on the Little Black River a pursuing force of Confederates under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Rector Johnson surrounded them and a sharp skirmish ensued.  Several on both sides were killed or wounded, and six Union troops taken prisoner.  All of the prisoners were subsequently executed.”[6]

Reeves and Wilson were personal enemies and Wilson along with five hapless men of the 3rd M.S.M. was in General Sterling Price’s power. As Price’s army retreated away from Pilot Knob, let Brigadier General Thomas Ewing and his men slip from their grasp, and saw St. Louis eluding their invasion, Price decided to turn over his prisoners to Colonel Timothy Reeves and the 15th Missouri Cavalry near Union, Missouri.[7]

Reeves men marched Major Wilson and his men near St. John’s Creek in Franklin County, formed up the firing squad, shot and killed the men.  The dead were left where they lay. In his study of the executions, Kirby Ross continues:

After the war, three Confederates explained the motives behind the executions.  Griffin Frost, who spent time in a military prison with some of Reeves’ men, stated in his diary that Reeves was retaliating for the previous execution of a similar number of his men. Confederate Generals M. Jeff Thompson and Jo Shelby shed light on what may have been the reasons for the acquiescence to the executions by the Confederate senior command and attributed them to the burnings undertaken by Wilson’s men.  General Thompson went on to regret that the killings were not “done by such order and form that retaliation would have been avoided….  [B]ut responsibilities of this kind were not to our commander’s liking, and they were turned over to Reeves to guard, with a pretty full knowledge that they would be shot.”[8]

As General Thompson had foreseen, the Federal response was severe.  On July 30, 1863, President Lincoln had issued orders “that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed.”  In this spirit and in the cycle of violence alluded to in General Thompson’s statement the U.S. command opened yet another round of reprisals that targeted captured Southern troops held in St. Louis.  “[I]f the laws of war and humanity are not sufficient to secure our prisoners from murder I will add to their force the motive of personal interest,” proclaimed Major General William S. Rosecrans.  A Union military dispatch goes on to tell the tale:  “I have to report to the commanding general that I have this day ordered the slayings of six enlisted rebel prisoners of war, in compliance with his orders to retaliate for the murder of six men of Major Wilson’s command, of the Third Cavalry Missouri State Militia, by the guerrilla, Tim Reves….  Captain Ferguson has been ordered to send a major to Colonel Darr from Independence for the same purpose.”  As Rosecrans ordered, six Confederate enlisted men were selected, taken to a public place, and shot.[9]

Capt. Griffin Frost wrote from Alton, Ill., prison:

“OCT. 28.—The six men who were placed in close confinement on the 9th of this month, were handcuffed and taken to St. Louis this morning, where, it is said they will be shot some time to-day. They are to be executed in retaliation for a Maj. Wilson and six men, who were turned over to Reeves and by him shot, in retaliation for the murder of the same number of his men. When will this thing stop? This game of lex talionis makes sad havoc upon the lives of innocent men.”

The outcry in St. Louis was very loud. Brigadier General Ewing was particularly affected having been Wilson’s commanding officer at Pilot Knob. Ewing was also aware that many of Price’s men would have treated him the same way if he had been captured for promulgating the infamous Order Number 11 that emptied the border counties of Missouri after the burning of Lawrence.[10] Ewing and his commanding officer, General William S. Rosecrans agreed that retribution needed to be made. Rosecrans issued the order for retribution as the body of Major Wilson lay in state in a church in St. Louis.[11]

None of the six condemned privates served in the 15th Missouri Cavalry nor were involved in Price’s battle at Pilot Knob. The hapless men were Harvey H. Blackburn, age 47; George T. Bunch, age unknown; Asa V. Ladd, age 34; Charles W. Minnekin, age 22; George Nichols, age 21 and James W. Gates, age 21. In many ways they were similar to the executed men of the 3rd M.S.M.

James W. Gates was a member of Company H, Captain Dickey’s 3rd Missouri Cavalry. Gates was from Cooper County.

Asa V. Ladd lived in Stoddard County. He was a member of Company A, Jackson’s, in Burbridge’s Missouri Cavalry. Ladd was a farmer and had a wife, Amy, and four children.

Charles W. Minnekin, Independence, Arkansas, was a private in Company A, Crabtree’s Cavalry Regiment.

John Nichols, Company G, 2nd Missouri Cavalry, was from western Cass County, Missouri. Nichols had faced forces containing the Tenth Kansas at Newtonia, Cane Hill and Prairie Grove in the fall of 1862. He would see them again as his executioners.

Harvey H. Blackburn was also from Independence, Arkansas. He was a private in Colonel A. Coleman’s Arkansas Cavalry.

George T. Bunch had been substituted for a teamster, John H. Furgeson. Bunch was a private in Company B, 3rd Missouri Cavalry. They were all captured during the raid.[12]

Absalom Grimes was in a cell in Gratiot St. Prison across from the condemned men the night before they were executed. He wrote:

“Never, so long as I live, will I be able to forget or cease to hear the cries and pleadings of those men after the death warrant had been read to them. Ministers and priests were allowed to visit them and during the entire night their lamentations were ceaseless.”

Asa Ladd story and his last letters to his family

The men were housed in the Gratiot Street Prison and not informed until the day slated for the execution, October 29, 1864. A Catholic priest, Father Ward, and an Episcopalian minister, Reverend Phillip McKim, attended the men in their last few hours. They baptized five of the men, and Asa Ladd, who was already baptized, wrote a heart-rending letter to his wife, Amy, and children. Reverend McKim sorrowfully added a personal note to comfort the unknowing widow.[13]

The men were taken in a covered wagon to Fort Number 4, near Lafayette Park at two o’clock on Saturday, October 29th.  Their escort was made up of men; at least one of them had faced in battle before. The Tenth Kansas Infantry had drawn this distasteful duty before. Several weeks before a firing squad of Tenth Kansas soldiers had shot a Union deserter, Barney Gibbons, to death. The Tenth Kansas had been posted in St. Louis and at the nearby Alton, Illinois, military prison since January 1864. The veteran soldiers finished out their three-year enlistment as prison guards, provost guard, and posted around St. Louis in administrative capacity. The regiment mustered out a majority of the men and officers on August 19, 1864. The same month saw the court-martial and cashiering of their Colonel, William Weer, for improprieties while in command at Alton. The remaining men were steadfast in their desire to complete their duty and they re-enlisted in the Veteran Tenth Kansas Volunteer Infantry under the temporary command of Captain William C. Jones.

The ensuing scene was filled with tension. The Saint Louis Democrat of October 30th described the events:

“On the west side of the fort six posts had been set in the ground, each with a seat attached, and each tied with a strip of white cotton cloth, afterward used in bandaging the eyes of the prisoners. Fifty-four men were selected as the executioners. Forty-four belonged to the 10th Kansas and ten to the 41st Missouri. Thirty-six of these comprised the front firing party, eighteen being reserved in case they should not do this work effectually.

About three o’clock the prisoners arrived on the ground, and sat down, attached to the posts. They all appeared to be more or less affected, but, considering the circumstances, remained remarkably firm. Father Ward and Rev. Mr. McKim spoke to the men in their last moments, exhorting them to put their trust in God. The row of posts ranged north and south, and at the first on the north was Asa V. Ladd, on his left was George Nichols; next Harvey H. Blackburn, George T. Bunch, Charles W. Minnekin, and James W. Gates. Ladd and Blackburn sat with perfect calmness, with their eyes fixed on the ground, and did not speak. Nichols shed tears, which he wiped away wit a red pocket-handkerchief, and continued to weep until his eyes were bandaged. Nichols gave no sign of emotion at first, but sat with seeming indifference, scraping the ground with his heel. He asked one of the surgeons if there was any hope of a postponement, and being assured that there was none, he looked more serious, and frequently ejaculated, “Lord, have mercy on my poor soul!” Again he said: “O, to think of the news that will go to father and mother!”

After the reading of the sentence by Col. Heinrichs, Minnekin expressed a desire to say a few words. He said:

“Soldiers, and all of you who hear me, take warning from me. I have been a Confederate soldier four years, and have served my country faithfully. I am now to be shot for what other men have done, that I had no hand in, and know nothing about. I never was a guerrilla, and I am sorry to be shot for what I had nothing to do with, and what I am not guilty of. When I took a prisoner, I always treated him kindly and never harmed a man after he surrendered. I hope God will take me to his bosom when I am dead. O, Lord, be with me!”

While the sergeant was bandaging his eyes, Minnekin, said: “Sergeant, I don’t blame you. I hope we will all meet in heaven. Boys, farewell to you all; the Lord have mercy on our poor souls!”

The firing party was about ten paces off. Some of the Kansas men appeared to be reluctant to fire upon the prisoners, but Captain Jones told them it was their duty; that they should have no hesitation, as these men had taken the life of many a Union man who was as innocent as themselves.

At the word, the thirty-six soldiers fired simultaneously, the discharge sounding like a single explosion. The aim of every man was true. One or two of the victims groaned, and Blackburn cried out: “Oh, kill me quick!” In five minutes they were all dead, their heads falling to one side, and their bodies swinging around to the sides of the posts, and being kept from falling by the pinions on their arms. Five of them were shot through the heart, and the sixth received three balls in his breast, dying almost instantly.

The execution was witness by several thousand spectators, most of them soldiers, and it was conducted in a manner highly creditable to those engaged in the performance of the disagreeable duty.

The bodies were placed in plain painted coffins, and interred by Mr. Smithers.”[14]

The Confederate major selected, Major Enoch O. Wolf, Ford’s Battalion was ordered to be shot in November 1864. Major Wolf credited his reprieve to his showing the Mason’s sign to his minister. He claimed that President Lincoln wired an order ending the execution.[15] A second telling by Brigadier General Thomas Fletcher, 47th Missouri Infantry, who had been at Pilot Knob, was slightly different.

“Eleven Confederate Majors in our hands were compelled to draw lots to determine who should be shot in retaliation for the murder of Wilson. The man so selected was in charge, for a time, of Lieut. Col. Charles S. Hills of the 10th Kansas, then on staff duty. Col. Hills became interested in him. The night before the morning fixed for his execution, Col. Hills appealed to Hon. Henry T. Blow, one of the noble-hearted, patriotic men who deservedly stood near to the great generous-hearted Lincoln. He telegraphed Mr. Lincoln and the answer came to stay the execution, and it remains stayed until this day.”[16]

Documentation, letters, diaries, or comments by the men and officers of the Tenth Kansas Infantry have never surfaced. The execution apparently affected the men to the point of wavering in their duty. The veterans would fight against Missourians at Nashville in December 1864 and at the last large land battle of the Civil War, Fort Blakely, April 9, 1865. It does seem that the Kansas grew to respect and connect more with their opponents as the war ground to a halt. During the lulls in siege at Fort Blakely, the Kansas and Missouri men would talk with each other, swap tobacco and coffee, and wish for home.


[1]“The Retaliation: The Murder of Wilson and his Comrades”, St. Louis Democrat. October 31, 1864.

[2]Idid.

[3]Suderow, Bryce A., Thunder in Arcadia Valley: Price’s Defeat, September 27, 1864. Southeast Missouri State University, 1986. pages 71-72; Peterman, Cyrus A. and Hanson, Joseph Mills, Pilot Knob: The Thermopylae of the West. Two Trails Publishing Company, 2000. pages 95-96.

[4]“Retribution: The Murder of Wilson and his Comrades”, St. Louis Democrat. October 29, 1864.

[5]Ibid.

[6]Ross, Kirby. “Atrocity at Doniphan, Missouri”. Unpublished manuscript used with permission of the author.

[7]Wilson, James Papers. Western Historical Manuscript Collection. “Testimony of Capt. Franz Dinger, the main witness concerning the battle of Pilot Knob, the capture of Maj. Wilson, and treatment after surrender, taken in St. Louis on October 30, 1864.”

[8] Ross, Atrocity at Doniphan; Donal J. Stanton, Goodwin F. Berquist, and Paul C. Bowers, The Civil War Reminiscences of General M. Jeff Thompson (Dayton, OH.: Morningside 1988) 294; General Joseph Shelby correspondence to Major C.C. Rainwater read before the Southern Historical Association, Ewing Family Papers, Box 213; Letter from Gen. J.O. Shelby, CSA to Maj. C.C. Rainwater, Jan. 5, 1888, Cyrus Peterson Battle of Pilot Knob Research Collection, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, MO.  See also, Griffin Frost, Camp and Prison Journal (Quincy, Ill.: Quincy Herald Book and Job Office 1867).

[9] Ross; Roy P. Basler (ed.), The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 9 vols. (New Brunswick, New Jersey: 1953, VI: p. 357; General Order No. 252, Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. XXXIII, pp. 866-867; Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. XLI, Pt. 4, p. 316; Official Records, Ser. 2, Vol. VI, p. 163; Official Records, Ser. 2, Vol. VII, pp. 1118-1119

[10]Thunder in Arcadia Valley, page 151, pages 35 – 36.

[11]“Retribution”

[12]Ibid. “The Retaliation”.

[13]“The Retaliation”.

[14]St. Louis Democrat. “A Military Execution: Shooting of Six Rebel Soldiers”. October 30, 1863.

[15]Bartels, Carolyn. The Last-Long Mile: Westport to Arkansas October 1864. Two Trails Publishing, 1999. pages 115 – 120.

[16]“The Asa Ladd Story”. Ladd Digging Ground. http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~ladd/asa.htm.

Paradox of Captain George D Brooke

True Tales of the Tenth Kansas Infantry:

The Paradox of Captain George D. Brooke

by Howard Mann

In August 1864 the Tenth Kansas underwent a dramatic transformation. Having served for three years, two in the field and the last parceled throughout St. Louis and Alton as prison guards, it is small wonder that the stresses and strains of service told on officers and men, alike. A more difficult period in the life of the regiment could not be imagined. Colonel William Weer went past the boundaries of testing the authorities above and managed to divide the regiment’s loyalties over his conduct at Alton Military prison. The resulting court martial caused Weer to be stripped of his rank and cashiered from duty. Two other incidents revealed two different perspectives of another long time Tenth Kansas officer, Captain George D. Brooke.

Captain Brooke was a mainstay of the regiment having enlisted as First Lieutenant of Company A, Third Kansas Volunteers and quickly being promoted to the head of his company since upon transfer to the Tenth Kansas, Company C. Captain Brooke was 42 years old in 1864 and while enlisting from Kansas City, had family in Lawrence, Kansas.

When the Tenth Kansas Infantry arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in January 1864, the veterans were needed as prison guards at the military prison in Alton, Illinois across the Mississippi River. Some companies served on additional details as many of the officers were moved to staff positions with Major General Rosecrans or Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr. in St. Louis. Two secondary posts for the Tenth Kansas were as guards of St. Louis’s Gratiot Street Prison and the lesser Myrtle Street prison.

Originally known as Lynch’s Slave Pen, the Myrtle Street Prison stood two blocks from the St. Louis courthouse on Myrtle and Fifth street (Broadway and Clark Streets today). Also known as the “Hotel de Lynch” the structure consisted of a two and one-half story brick building. Built to hold slaves by an enterprising dealer, the pen was naturally designed to contain prisoners with barred windows and locks and bolts for chains. The prison capacity was one hundred with an additional overseer’s quarters upstairs. In September 1861 twenty-seven prisoners were moved into the slave pen for the first time. By May 1862 Myrtle Street Prison was abandoned in favor of the more spacious Gratiot Street Prison. Due to overcrowding, however, Myrtle Street Prison was again put into service on November 5, 1862, receiving 150 of the overcrowded Gratiot Street prisoners. By September 1864, the Provost Marshal reported about Myrtle Street Prison, “This old negro stall [Myrtle] is a nuisance in every respect and will not do for the coming winter.” This was not a pleasant post for any officer.

Captain Brooke was first posted to replace another Tenth Kansas officer, Captain Samuel J. Stewart on July 12, 1864.

Captain Brooke seemed to be everywhere at once when an escape attempt quickly occurred. The August 15, 1864 edition of the St. Louis Democrat reported the following humorous story.

“Several days ago, Captain Brooks, company C, 10th Kansas Infantry, keeper of Myrtle street military prison, received information that several of his prisoners were engaged in an attempt to escape. He therefore, kept a close watch on the movements of his prisoners, and posted his sentinels in such positions that escape from the building would be next to impossible. He had instructed the officer of the guard every night to place the most trustworthy men on post at the prison, and had cautioned the sentinels to be on the look-out for an attempt on the part of the prisoners to escape. On Saturday night Lieutenant Charles T. Knoll, of the 10th E.M.M., was officer of the guard, and is entitled to great credit for his vigilance.

Love, which “laughs at locksmiths,” pulls the wool over the eyes of philosophers, and makes a fool of the wisest sage, was at the bottom of this affair; but as

“The course of true love never did run smooth,”

So in this case it ran against the rough edge of Lieutenant Knoll’s sentinels, and came to grief. No one, in looking at the uninviting exterior of the Myrtle street prison, would suppose that its walls were calculated for a nursery of the tender passion, or that they confined a fair Cleopatra whose fascinations could tempt Anthony to lay a world at her feet; but appearances are often deceitful, and Myrtle prison has its romance as well as the French bastille and the Italian dungeons.

See more on Annie Fickle in the Gratiot Women and Children’s prisoner list and corresponding Prisoner Notes

Our readers may remember reading in the Democrat, several months ago, an account of the killing of the guerrilla chief, James Blunt, in Lafayette county, and the arrest of his betrothed, Miss Annie Fickle. This young lady, who is said to be something of a beauty, high spirited, about 23 years of age, and a rank rebel at heart, was confined in a room, in the prison, with five other female prisoners. Her deportment during her confinement has been decorous and lady-like, and she has been treated with as much indulgence as the prison rules will allow.

Charles Warner, of the 1st Nebraska, also a prisoner, saw Annie and fell desperately in love with her. Whether his passion was reciprocated, the lady can alone tell; but it seems that she encouraged his attentions, for several reasons. He had been promoted to the position of head cook for the prison guard, and had conducted himself so well that Captain Brooks had the utmost confidence in him, and did not suppose that he had any desire to escape, as several opportunities had been presented which he manifested no disposition to take advantage of. A short time ago he had got out of the prison and spent a night in the city, but returned the next day. Warner had been sentenced to twelve month’s confinement for leaving his post and carrying whiskey to prisoners, and three-fourths of his time had expired. Annie was doomed to remain in duress for a longer period, and Warner determined to steal her – fly with her to some remote land – make her his own – settle down to the cultivation of turnips, cabbages and children, and become a worthy citizen.

To carry out his plan, he let six of his fellow prisoners into this secret, and obtained their assistance in burrowing out of the prison. A piece of file and an old iron poker were obtained, and about a week ago the party went to work with these simple tools. Beginning at the corner of the kitchen, in the eastern part of prison, they succeeded in making an opening under the floor, and through two brick walls east and north of the kitchen. But one wall remained to be cut through, and they had worked about a dozen bricks out of this and made a small opening, when at half-past two o’clock yesterday morning the sentinel posted immediately over the place descried them and gave the alarm. Captain Brooks called up Sergeant Issac T. Swart, company A, 10th Kansas, and Sergeant James R. Kennedy, company I, same regiment, and hurried to the place. On seeing the opening in the wall, Sergeant Swart plunged in like a bull-dog after a badger, and confronted the fugitives. They were waiting eagerly for the last wall to be cut through, and felt confident that in a few moments they would be at liberty. Annie was in front, and Warner sat with his back against the opening, which had been made. The party were conducted to the “Ice-box,” and in future will not be allowed as many privileges as heretofore. The following are the prisoners who accompanied Warner in his expedition:

John C. Eates, 25th Missouri, has been ten months in prison, and was recently tried by court-martial, but his sentence has not been promulgated.

John Williams, 30th M.S.M., committed April 11, 1864, and tried a few days ago for deserting five times; sentence not promulgated.

James and John Berry, brothers, the first a lieutenant, the other a sergeant in company D, 14th Kansas; committed April 12, 1864, and not yet tried. They are charged with murder, desertion, and about all the other offenses known to military law.

David Best, 9th M.S.M.; sentenced to confinement at hard labor for six months; sent from St. Joseph.

David Mills, 1st Iowa; committed July 15, 1864, and under sentence to be shot September 2nd, for desertion. Mills had been shackled with ball and chain, which he had managed to unfasten. When Captain Brooks asked him how they got off, he said they “dropped off,” and the Captain fastened them on him again, and said, “When you get these off again, let me know.” “Yes, Captain,” said Mills, “I’ll come right in and let you know.”

Warner, the cook, who had periled his life in attempting to rescue Annie Fickle, appeared greatly mortified at his failure. He had but little to say, however, on the subject, but will, no doubt, recover from his love fit long before his charmer regains the light of liberty.”

Captain Brooke’s diligence did not remain unassailable for long. He inherited a substantial problem in the structure of the old building, the overcrowded conditions and with the ingenuity of his prisoners. His selection as commanding officer of the prison was predicated on an existing problem as noted by the Provost Marshal. In a communiqué on July 9, 1864 it was noted that “an officer of more dignity and self respect should be appointed.” Captain Stewart was observed as “on too intimate terms with prisoners, eating and sleeping with Lieutenant Hines & Major Coats.” Since Brooke was consumed by his vigilance for more dramatic escapes, he was not as prepared for Lieutenant Hines to simply walk away.

The story unfolded on September 12, 1864 with a short note from Captain Brooke to Colonel J. P. Sanderson, Provost Marshal General:

“Sir:

I have to inform you of the escape from confinement at this prison of Lieut. H. H. Hine. From all that I can learn, it was about one o’clock this morning. Sergt. Stewart saw him returning from the privy about that hour. Sergt. Deitz who was on watch for the night, informs me that he made his rounds outside of the prison at about one o’clock and the presumption is that he (Hine) pass’d the Sentinel at the door, during the time that the Sergt. on watch was out, and escaped.”

While the facts started out simple, they were quickly complicated by more complex circumstances. A second note, the same day, recognized that it was there was inside assistance.

“Sir,

Since I forwarded the written report of the escape of Lieut. Hine to your office, Sergt. Deitz, who was on watch during the night, has owned up that he permitted him to go under the pretense of getting some money promising to return in two hours time. I was about to send Sergt. Deitz after the Sentinel, who was on post at the door at the time Hine, was supposed to have escaped, and he concluded to make a clean breast of it and acknowledge his complicity with the affair. I at once placed him under arrest, and will prefer charges against him.”

Possibly realizing that he might be held accountable for this perplexing situation, Brooke wrote again on September 14 to Colonel James Darr, Assistant Provost Marshal:

“Sir,

I have the honor as directed by you this day to forward to your office, a list of the employees in this Prison Office, as follows.

Sergt. J. H. Stewart, Clerk, Corpl. Elijah Strosnider, Prison Keeper, Sergt. Wm. F. Waggoner, Commissary Sergt.

I would further state that when I took command of this Prison I found G. J. Ham and Maj. Coats, both prisoners, employed to a certain extent in the Office. Ham as Clerk and Coats in charge of the Medicine and the Ice Box and was informed by my predecessor, Capt. Stewart, that they were there with the approbation and wish of Capt. Burdett. I therefore permitted them to remain. Today I received instructions from Maj. Williams not to allow it, unless authorized by competent authority. I therefore removed them at once.”

Whether politically motivated, as many court-martial cases were, or through an earnest desire to uncover the truth, the Provost Marshal and his assistant quickly filed charges against Captain Brooke through Major Lucien Eaton, Judge Advocate under Special Orders #22 for a General Court-martial on September 28, 1864. The trial was held on October 11, 1864 at 10 o’clock at the Southeast corner of 5th and Pine streets, Room number 5, 3rd Floor. Brigadier General Solomon Meredith presides as President of the court-martial. The witness list expanded to soldiers and civilians. In the charges and specifications Captain Brooke was accused of extending privileges to certain prisoners at Mrytle Street Prison that allowed for the escape to occur.

The official charge is “Neglect of duty to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.” The specification concerns the “permitting sundry prisoners there confined as well as other persons, unlawful ingress and egress from and into said prison.”

The trial centered around Captain Brooke’s knowledge of three “privileged” prisoners, Lt. H. H. Hine, 2nd Colorado Cavalry, Lt. G. J. Ham, and Major Coats, who all occupied the upper room and held unofficial duties under several regimes of prison commanders. It was quickly established that the enlisted men did not know that the three were even prisoners, but poorly dressed officers of the prison. Since none of the men were Confederates, this is plausible. While the sergeants, who shared an extra upper room with the prisoners, knew they were incarcerated, they may have thought they had additional privileges from the other prisoners.

Captain Brooke protested his innocence in a forthright, factual manner. The second witness, Charles Y. Mason was a prisoner, possibly with an ax to grind. His diatribe revealed that the prison was rampant with illicit activities. He stated that Hine was frequently escorted to houses of “ill-fame” by prison guards and that prisoners could get whiskey. He accused Brooke of being lax in both of these areas as well as allowing prisoners to mix with the few female prisoners kept in a separate room. The trial quickly moved to interrogations of women that had visited Lieutenant Hine at Myrtle Street. With a Victorian purient interest, the prosecutor questioned Mary Chapman, a widow who was obviously a prostitute. Chapman established that she had an ongoing relationship with Lt. Hine since 1861. When asked, “What was the nature of these calls” (by Lt. Hines), she replied, “Friendly Calls.” Mary Chapman also noted visiting other prisoners who had escaped in the past and that Union guards accompanied many. A laundress, Mary Wood, was more evasive, swearing that she had picked up Hine’s laundry at the prison and nothing more. A washerwoman, Dora Gray and her daughter, Sarah Jane McDermott, 14, were even more mysterious. Sarah revealed that she occasionally acted as a go between, but would only acknowledge she had taken a basket of food to Lt. Hine at the prison. The women were unshaken in their affirmation of lack of knowledge.

The seemingly guilty Sergeant Deitz, Company B, 10th Kansas, who was arrested on September 11, 1864 for allowing the escape, made it clear that he believed that Hine would return after acquiring money. He noted that Privates Benton Baily, Company B, 6th Missouri Cavalry and John C. Pierce, Company D, 6th Missouri Cavalry, both prison guards thought Hine was an officer of the prison. Sergeant James H. Stewart, Company D, 10th Kansas Infantry, explained how he and Corporal Elijah Strosnider, Prison Keeper, examined packages and letters of the prisoners and noted nothing unusual. While he firmly believed that Deitz purposefully let Hine escape, Stewart was surprised and defended Deitz’s motives and Brooke’s professionalism.

While others were named as witnesses, such as Colonel Sanderson, Provost Marshal, they either did not appear or claimed illness. No one wanted to accept responsibility nor blame. The court accepted Captain Brooke’s story, as well as the arrest of Sergeant Deitz as a final farewell to Lieutenant Henry. H. Hine. The guilty party in the escape was the lack of communication between officers and staff, the fraternization between Union soldiers and Union prisoners, and the building, itself, which did not easily accommodate overcrowding. Captain Brooke was, at most, admonished but not removed from office. Captain George D. Brooke remained with the regiment until June 16, 1865 having been a good officer, even commanding the regiment at one point. Private Lewis A. Deitz from Ogden, Kansas, mustered out with the regiment on August 30, 1865. James H. Stewart, Sergeant, mustered out shortly after the incident, in October 1864. Lieutenant Henry H. Hine, Second Colorado Cavalry disappeared from the scene.

The Confederate Camp by J W Tucker

“The Confederate Camp” by J. W. Tucker, Missouri Army Argus, Osceola, Mo., Dec. 12, 1861

We have written on Joseph W. Tucker before (see J.W. Tucker and the Boat-Burners and “Sultana: A Case for Sabotage” in North and South magazine) and no doubt will do so again. Tucker is an endlessly fascinating topic, the hottest “fire-eater” in Missouri and a man who appears to have had his thumb in every secret scheme and society that the Missouri Confederates ever cooked up.

Having maneuvered all state printing business to his unambiguously pro-secession Missouri State Journal in the months before the war commenced, his St. Louis offices were raided in June of 1861 by the Union authorities. Found there was a letter from Governor Claiborne Jackson, unambiguously stating his plans to take the state out of the Union. This letter was used against the Governor when the State Convention —by this time shorn of almost all members who were not Unconditional Unionists— met in July and removed Jackson from office.

A footnote in Christopher Phillips’ Missouri’s Confederate seems to suggest that this letter may have been a fake, possibly planted by the Unionists to be found during their search and used against both Tucker and Jackson. This is an interesting possibility, but to our minds is unlikely. Thomas L. Snead knew both of these men very well, and worked closely with them during the war. It is hard to believe that if the letter were a fake that one or both of them would not have apprised him of the fact. Yet Snead makes no mention of it in his book The Fight For Missouri. As this letter was one of the grounds used (though there can be little doubt that the Convention was going to supplant Jackson with one of its own no matter what) to remove the Governor, certainly Snead would have mentioned it had one of the principals ever claimed the letter to be a forgery.

On trial for Treason in St. Louis, Tucker jumped a $10,000 bail and headed straight for the camp of the Missouri State Guard. There he started the Missouri Army Argus and followed after the Guard. As the Guard was sworn into Confederate service in late ’61 and early ’62, he and his paper continued to tag along. Following the Missourians across Ole Man River, Tucker situated his paper first at Jackson, Miss., and finally at Mobile, Ala. as the Argus & Crisis. Wherever Tucker and his paper were based, two things were constant —it was the unofficial voice of Governor Claiborne Jackson and Gen. Sterling Price, and it was often a thorn in the side of the Confederate government at Richmond.

Below is one of the few surviving articles from the Missouri Army Argus. This article was written at a time when the Missouri Confederate leadership was doing everything it could to encourage soldiers of the State Guard to re-enlist as members of the Confederate States Army. It is, quite frankly, a recruiting pitch —as full of promises as a politician on the stump.



Missouri Army Argus

December 12th, 1861

J. W. Tucker

THE CONFEDERATE CAMP.

We visited the encampment of Missouri troops, enlisted into the Confederate States’ service, yesterday, with feelings of pride and gratification.

The organization of State Guards, while it comprised the best fighting material in this or any other country, has proved very loose and defective. The largest army of troops thus organized would never constitute a very reliable force for military purposes. Without detailing reasons why this is so, every one is conscious of the fact, and all experience demonstrates its truth. The army of the Confederate States will present all the order, discipline, compactness, power, and efficiency of regular soldiers. It will constitute the regular army, while the State Guards, if the organization be maintained at all, will be regarded as the militia troops.

The popularity of the Confederate army in Missouri will sweep all before it. It is the army to conquer and hold the State. It is, in the language of sportsmen, the card that will win. That army will become the Old Guard of our history. It will be admirably armed and equipped, and well provided with all things necessary to the soldier’s comfort. The troops thus employed will be regularly paid in money every two months. The entire corps will be under the command of General Price.

Reason as we may, only this movement can save the State and insure its complete protection. Missouri can never be free by her own unaided efforts. Our Southern allies open wide their arms to embrace her as one of their family. Their money and their men are pledged to our defence. Flock to the Confederate camp, brave boys, and raise a war-cry there which shall shake the hills and strike terror into the ranks of the oppressors!

There will be connected with the Confederate camp a most magnificent sutler’s establishment, where every comfort and delicacy known to the shops of a great city can be purchased. The parties have already ordered up from the South the necessary supplies.

Rally to the Confederate camp, boys, join hands with your comrades in arms and hurl defiance into the teeth of the cruel and bloody tyrants that waste and afflict the State.

Who’ll go?

Who will NOT go?

Thousands have already enrolled their names, and those names WILL BE RECORDED IN HISTORY.