Galusha Anderson: Preacher and Educator Part 1

Galusha Anderson: Preacher and Educator

by

Frederick L. Anderson, Author

Elbridge R. Anderson, Publisher

1933

Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I now available

The Fight for Missouri by Thomas L. Snead, 1886

The Struggle for Missouri by John McElroy, 1909

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

The Crisis by Winston Churchill, 1901

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

The Brown-Reynolds Duel, 1911

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

Introduction: What follows is a biography written in 1933 by the son of Galusha Anderson, a minister who spent the Civil War years in the volatile, divided city of St. Louis, Missouri. In a city of often ambiguous loyalties, Galusha Anderson was one of the devoutly loyal Unionists and one of the most committed abolitionists. In 1908 he wrote “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War,” his remembrances of the war years in St. Louis. The book is one of the most valuable records of these years in the city, with many of the major players in the events of the war years appearing in its pages. The perspective is very decidedly Union with Galusha Anderson giving no quarter to the opposition’s viewpoint. But he is a fine writer with a lively, very readable style, and a fine eye for detail. His view of events is uniquely his own and shaped by his own biases so the critical reader must balance the accounts of “The Story of a Border City During the War” with other reading. This is one of the reasons for the particular selection of texts offered in the Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I, to provide that balance.

The biographical narrative on these web pages, written by Frederick Lincoln Anderson, born in St. Louis in 1862, offers an interesting background perspective on Galusha Anderson, the person, that he didn’t include in his own book. His background as an abolitionist, the tragic loss of his first family shortly after arriving in St. Louis, and additional events in St. Louis, help round out the character of Reverend Galusha Anderson.

The text of “Galusha Anderson: Preacher and Educator” by Frederick L. Anderson is copyrighted material not in the public domain. It may not be copied, reproduced, or distributed without permission. Contact George L. Thurlow for information.

Thanks to Mr. Thurlow for making this account of his great-grandfather possible on these pages. –D. H. Rule

Bio of Galusha Anderson

Pages on Civil War St. Louis excerpted from “The Story of a Border City During the War”:

Charcoals and Claybanks

Home Guard

Missouri Oath of Loyalty 1865

Go to Part 2


GALUSHA ANDERSON

Date Age Event
1832 Born March 7, in Clarendon, Orleans County, N. Y.; son of Seneca and Lucy Webb Anderson
1844 12 Converted and baptized.
1851 19 Graduated from Alfred Academy.
1854 22 Graduated from University of Rochester.
1856 24 Graduated from Rochester Theological Seminary.Married Selina Dorr of Dansville, N.Y.

Pastor of Baptist Church of Janesville, Wis.

1857 25 Martin Dorr Anderson born.
1858 26 Pastor of Second Baptist Church, St. Louis.William McPherson Anderson born.
1859 27 William and Martin Anderson died January 1 and 3.
1860 28 His wife, Selina Dorr, and John Anderson, his infant son, died March 8 and 10.
1861 29 Married Mary Eleanor Roberts, April 23.
1862 30 Frederick Lincoln Anderson born.
1863 31 Trip to England.
1864 32 Elbridge Roberts Anderson born.
1866 34 Resigned pastorate in St. Louis.Thomas J. Calvert, adopted son, died.

Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Duties in Newton Theological Institution.

1867 35 Lucy Caroline Anderson born.
1868 36 May, 1868-August, 1869, a year in Europe and
1869 37 Palestine to recover his health.
1871 39 Mary Freeman Anderson born.
1873 41 Resigned at Newton.Pastor Strong Place Church, Brooklyn, N. Y.
1876 44 Resigned at Brooklyn. His wife very ill.Pastor Second Baptist Church, Chicago.

Norman Kendall Anderson born.

1878 46 Resigned at Second Church.President of the University of Chicago.
1885 53 Resigned Presidency of University of Chicago.Pastor First Baptist Church, Salem, Mass.
1887 55 President of Denison University, Granville, Ohio.
1890 58 Professor of Homiletics at Baptist Union Theological Seminary, Morgan Park, Ill.
1892 60 Transferred to Divinity School of University of Chicago.Vacation in England, Scotland and Norway.
1904 72 Emeritus Professor, University of Chicago.Published “Ancient Sermons for Modern Times” (Asterius).

Resided thenceforth principally in Newton Centre, Mass., with some winters in Florida and California and summers in New Hampshire.

1908 76 “Border City During the Civil War” (St. Louis).
1910 78 “Hitherto Untold”
1911 79 “When Neighbors Were Neighbors” (stories of his boyhood and home)
1915 83 “Science and Prayer and Other Papers”
1916 84 His wife, Mary Eleanor Roberts, died June 11, at Winnetka, Ill.
1917 85 Published her “Poems and Biography”
1918 86 Died July 20, at 5:30 A.M., at the home of his son, Elbridge R. Anderson, at Wenham, Mass.

GALUSHA ANDERSON

EDUCATION

GALUSHA ANDERSON was the son of a western New York farmer. He graduated at Alfred Academy in Allegheny, County in 1851, at the newly-founded University of Rochester in 1854, and at the Rochester Theological Seminary in 1854. He was one of the leading men in college and seminary, one of those students whose future seemed to the professors likely to be brilliant. A deep and permanent impression was made on him by that truly great educator, Martin B. Anderson, President of the University, and also by A. C. Kendrick, Ezekiel G. Robinson and Thomas J. Conant. As my father had more of a practical than a metaphysical cast of mind, President Anderson, no relative of his, had by far the greatest influence with him. The President was his beau ideal, and from the day of my father’s graduation his intimate and trusted friend. No other man in all my father’s career exercised such molding power on his character. When my father graduated from the seminary, he was a very handsome young man of twenty-four, perfectly sound in body, with a well-trained analytic mind and the highest scholarly ideals, bouyant, hopeful, courageous, sure of himself, an indefatigable worker, and a Christian devoted unreservedly to Christ and his work in the world. Under the tutelage of the two greatest Baptist educators of the time, princes among men, he had acquired a breadth and liberality of mind and taste which he never lost.

PASTORATES

While the whole world lay before him where to choose, two calls came, one to the prominent, well-established First Church of Auburn, N. Y., at $ 1,800.00 a year, and the other to the smaller, more distant church at Janesville, Wisconsin, at $800.00. With little hesitation, against the advice of nearly all his friends, he accepted the latter call, married and moved to Wisconsin.

His first service was a prayer-meeting. It was a dark, rainy night, and the run-down church greeted its new leader with an attendance of seven women and one man. But in a few weeks all was changed. The energy, sympathy and manliness of the young pastor, together with superior preaching, quickly attracted the people. The house was packed at every Sunday service, the Sunday school and the prayer-meeting suddenly took on new life, and soon a gracious revival of religion broke out in the church and the community. Many of the more intelligent and well-to-do began attending the Baptist Church, and the wife of the Governor of the State, Mrs. Barlow, was converted and with many other happy candidates was baptized in the Rock River. The whole two years of the pastorate were marked by mutual love and uninterrupted spiritual and material progress. My father made lifelong friends in Janesville who were a continual blessing to him. He built up the church so solidly that it has ever since been one of the strong Baptist churches of Wisconsin. As he himself said after years of retrospection, he was “successful beyond his most sanguine expectations.”

This happy work ended when, in the fall of 1858, he left to become the pastor of the Second Baptist Church of St. Louis at a salary of $3,000.00. St. Louis was then, as now, the greatest city in the Mississippi Valley, and the largest in the United States west of the great river. His church was at that time the largest Baptist Church west of the Mississippi and probably the largest Baptist Church west of Cincinnati.

He immediately plunged into the work. He carefully kept up his biblical and theological studies and his general reading, but his afternoons and evenings were full of pastoral and denominational labor. He was the faithful friend of the sick and the poor. He always attended the Sabbath School before church and usually taught a Bible class. He preached at 10.30. In later years, he added a Bible class at 2.30. He often preached at missions, colored churches, or union services at 4,00, and then preached again in the evening at 7.00. In addition to the prayer-meeting, he gave an expository lecture weekly on Wednesday evenings. One of his great features was his monthly sermon to the Sabbath School children, taking the place of the usual morning sermon, and popular alike with the children and the adults.

He was deeply interested in City Missions. He constantly visited and strengthened the Jefferson Mission of the church, until it had 400 pupils, a good house, and regular preaching. He revived the dying Fourth Church, cleaned out the secessionists, put in a new pastor, built them a new house, and set them on their way rejoicing. He got a new house built for the Third Church, and started them on the road to their present prosperity. He brought substantial help to the German and Negro Baptist Churches and made them strong. Under his leadership the men of his church in one year raised as much as $12,000.00 for City Missions. All this involved great and taxing labor and many weary and discouraging days, but he won at list. He put the Baptists of St. Louis on their feet. In addition to all this, he was the faithful friend of Shurtleff College and aided in raising its endowment.

But the Civil War was the determining factor in this pastorate. Missouri was a slave state and a border state and St. Louis was its great city, the prize for which the Confederates strove again and again. The fight to hold St. Louis and to keep Missouri in the Union was bitter and often desperate. Sharp and bloody battles were fought on her soil, and were not always won by the Union forces. The people of the city and the state were divided into two hostile camps, continually plotting to secure the advantage in the great contest.

My father was a western New Yorker, “the meanest kind of Yankee,” as a St. Louis neighbor told him. His father had voted for John P. Hale, the original free soiler, for President in 1852, and my father, like him, was an enthusiastic antislavery man. He protected a fugitive slave in his house in Janesville, and was cognizant of the Underground Railroad and its stations in Wisconsin. Yet at first in St. Louis, he restrained his feelings, but voted for Lincoln with 5,000 other Missourians in 1860.

As soon as Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated, my father, alone among St. Louis ministers, began to pray for him in the public services as he had for Mr. Buchanan. This brought forth vigorous protests from the Southern contingent in the church membership, but they were of no avail with the unyielding pastor. Seven days after Fort Sumter surrendered, my father took his stand in a city seething with secessionist intrigues and without a single supporter among his ministerial brethren. He preached on the “Duty of Loyalty to the Government,” and closed by singing, “My Country, ’tis of thee.” In that sermon he said, “There are those here who have assumed the task of dictating what this pulpit shall say. They belong to a class of men who suppose that when a man becomes a minister, he ceases to be a man, to be a citizen, to have an opinion, that he gives his conscience and judgment up to the pew holders, that he speaks, like the puppet on the stage, when some one in the pews pulls the wires. I do not belong to that class of ministers. When I became a Christian minister, I was not conscious of laying aside my manhood. Permit me to say to all such dictators that I shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” Again, “You may differ with me in judgment upon this question, you have your opinions and the right freely to express them and 1 shall have mine. There is no sufficient reason for this rebellion and revolution. It is the most wicked and condemnable of any recorded in the history of nations. The anarchy, conflict and bloodshed, which it has brought upon us, must rest on the heads of those who, without just cause, have inaugurated and carried it forward.” That was a crucial morning in my father’s life, and in the history of the Second Church and of the State of Missouri. The Southern members of the church, slamming the pew doors, marched out in anger. They never came back, nor were they ever asked to do so. Some who requested letters were granted them. The others were excluded.

The results were important. The secessionists of the city, who had been having it all their own way, realized that a leader of the Union sentiment had appeared and all friends of the United States took heart and rallied around him. The final result was that the Second Church became the great Union Church of St. Louis; the great Union generals, who commanded in St. Louis, Halleck, Sumner, Lyon, Hancock, and Scofield, often attended it with their subordinate officers; the new immigration from the North at the close of the war inevitably gravitated to it, and the future of the church for over fifty years was made by that one sermon.

The immediate result was that threats of assassination were freely made, plots were laid to kill my father, secessionist roughs broke the windows of the church during the next Sunday evening service with bricks. Another minister, named Anderson and curiously enough himself a rebel sympathizer, was attacked and seriously wounded by mistake for my father. One of my father’s deacons was shot through the head and killed. The leading opposition daily newspaper advertised that the Devil would preach at the corner of Sixth and Locust Streets (location of the Second Church). But he wrote in his journal for no eye save his own, “None of these things move me. I am in God’s hands and it is my business to speak His truth and leave the consequences to Him. If my poor life is demanded for the sake of establishing an untrammeled pulpit, it could not better be offered up. This unholy rebellion shall receive nothing but condemnation from my lips. May God help me to do my duty.”

His public answer to these threats was his sermon on the “Sanctity of an Oath,” preached June I5, 1861, in which he denounced the oath-breaking all around him as perjury and firmly maintained his position. The reply of the secessionists to that sermon was taken in a raid on their headquarters. A rebel army was approaching St. Louis and, in hope of speedy victory, their sympathizers in the city had drawn up a list of one hundred Union men whom they would immediately arrest if the city was taken. Ninety names were written in black ink. These men were to be given the favor of a trial. The first ten, whose names were written in red ink, however, headed by Frank Blair, were to be seized and hung to lampposts without ceremony. My father stood third on that first list. I think that he was prouder of that recognition than of any other honor that ever came to him. In imagination and memory he cherished it as a decoration, as the red badge of courage and loyalty.

He was one of the leaders of the Union cause in Missouri, loved and honored by all patriotic men. Nicolay and Hay in their “Life of Lincoln” name him as one of five men who kept Missouri in the Union. How much he had to do personally with the taking of the arsenal, and with the bringing of the Constitutional Convention to St. Louis, the decisive act in the whole drama, I cannot discover. But the implications of his words are that he was not only privy to these important plans, but had a subordinate part in them. He was a member of the Home Guard. He drilled and carried a gun when the Union men manned the earthworks against the oncoming rebels.

General Quimby, who was sent by the Government to clean up Arkansas and Louisiana in 1862, offered him a place on his staff with the rank of Colonel, but he thought that he could do more for the cause in St. Louis and declined. Here he often sounded the trumpet note which heartened and inspired the whole loyal population. Mention should be made of his careful and yet passionate testimony against rebellion and slavery in his Thanksgiving Sermon of 1862. He always believed in the ultimate victory of the Federal cause, even in the darkest days, though sometimes in the earlier months he doubted the continuance of the loyalty of Missouri. This courage and optimism were contagious and extremely valuable. They put hope and heart into all good Union men. Their highest expression is found in his Thanksgiving Sermon of 1864, after a dark summer, when even brave men began to despair and to wonder if the war must not end in compromise.

Here is the peroration of that sermon, whose topic was “Peace and the Sword.” “There are those, however, who cry out for peace. Who does not desire it? Have we not had enough of internal strife? Has not enough blood been shed? Yes, a thousandfold more than ought to have flowed. Have we not had enough of lamentation and tears? Let the Rachels, who weep for their children and refuse to be comforted, answer. He has a stone for a heart, who looking on the desolation of war, does not sigh for peace. But peace at what price? At the price of truth? Shall we give up the principle that good government must be obeyed for the sake of peace? Shall we tamely yield the truth that all men are equal in God’s sight and have a right to the products of their own labor? Shall we timidly assent to the tyrannical doctrine that the normal condition of a portion of our race is slavery? We cannot purchase peace at so great a cost. God giving us strength, we never will. Let our wives be widows and our children orphans; let them beg their bread from door to door; let them die without care in almshouses, and be buried uncoffined in the potter’s field; yea, let a conflagration sweep over our land and an earthquake sink it before we yield one rood of our territory to those who, without cause, lifted up the red hand of rebellion against the Government of our fathers in the interest of slavery. And why all this? Because the truth for which we contend is worth more than your life or mine or more than the lives of a generation of men. When peace shall be obtained that is based in righteousness, which flows forth from justice established and exalted in the midst of the nation which grants to all classes of men their inalienable rights, we will sing pæans of joy over it. But if we are to have a peace based on a compromise with iniquity, which will be as deceptive as apples of Sodom, involving our children in disasters more dire than those which have befallen us, every lover of truth and justice and good government will hang his head and in shame shed bitter tears. O God, save us in mercy from such a peace. Give us anything rather than it. Grant us eighty years of war like that waged by the Netherlanders, rather than pour into our cup such an insidious curse…. This is no time for fear or faltering. We must quit ourselves like men, like Christian freemen. Christ, the Prince of Peace, anticipated such conflicts, and his words, corning across the centuries, shall cheer us till the last blow is struck, truth vindicated, and righteousness immovably established.”

Probably the greatest thing my father ever did was his contribution towards keeping Missouri in the Union. It had a mighty influence in keeping Kentucky, West Virginia and Maryland there. It cheered and strengthened Abraham Lincoln, who watched this struggle with observant eye and anxious heart. It encouraged the whole North. It put 109,000 men into the Union armies. It is quite possible that this great military force added to the Federal Army really decided a conflict that often trembled in the balance; and equally it disheartened and weakened the enemies of the United States.

But in addition to these activities, the war imposed on my father many extra burdens. Besides ministering to his own large congregation, he cared for the refugees, who poured into St. Louis by the thousands before the advance of the rebel armies, and for the Union and rebel wounded and sick. Almost every day he visited the great Sisters’ Hospital until he was given the entire charge of the religious work in the Fifth Street Hospital. He took charge of preaching to the soldiers in one of the camps. He served on the Christian Commission, which carried through the great Sanitary Fair among other things, and finally he took his part in establishing negro schools throughout the city. More than this, he carried on a campaign in behalf of the loyal Baptists out in the state, organized and became President of the loyal Baptist State Convention, and established a loyal denominational paper.

These labors at length broke down even his frame of oak, and he finally resigned in April, 1866, and took the Professorship of Homiletics at Newton. During his pastorate in St. Louis, he had become well known to the denomination and had received urgent calls to the First Church of Philadelphia, the Ninth Street Church of Cincinnati, the Second Church of Rochester, the Chair of Old Testament in Chicago, and the Associate Secretaryship of the Home Mission Society.

After seven years in the Newton professorship, which we will discuss under another head, my father was greatly perplexed by simultaneous calls to the First Church of Cambridge, the First Church of Rochester, and the Strong Place Church of Brooklyn. After long hesitation, he finally decided to go to Brooklyn and began a three years’ pastorate there in September, 1873, at a salary of $6,000.00. Here he found a church, which had been long ruled by an exclusive clique of would-be aristocrats, on the edge of one of the poorest districts in the city. The central thing in the pastorate was a successful contest against this clique and the transference of control to a group of younger successful business men, who were desirous of winning the common people of the neighborhood. Excellent audiences always greeted my father. Many were baptized, among them some who for many years were pillars of the church. An effective constructive work was done. But here my mother lingered at death’s door for months with cerebro-spinal meningitis, and the physicians assured my father that she could never recover her health on the seacoast.

He therefore in 1876 accepted a call to the Second Church of Chicago, which at that time was the largest white Baptist church in the country except Tremont Temple, a harmonious, simple-hearted, working church. This was the happiest period in my father’s career, except perhaps the pastorate at Janesville. He was now in his early maturity, forty-four years of age, had entirely reestablished his health, had great audiences, wide influence, was sincerely loved by his leading men, had the best of helpers in Aunt Lizzie Aiken, nomen semper vererandum, and a church which devoted itself to its Christian business gladly and wholeheartedly. There were no crises in this happy two years, but a steady, fruitful, growing work.

In February, 1878, my father was implored to help save the old University of Chicago, and thinking it his duty consented, much against the unanimous wish of his church. This Presidency of the University, which we shall describe later, was followed by his last pastorate, at the First Church of Salem. My father came to this brief pastorate of eighteen months, July, 1885-January 1, 1887, a weary, discouraged man, after what seemed to him his first and only great defeat. It was to him a haven of refuge and rest, where in the midst of genial surroundings, his spirit gradually revived. The hearty welcome which he received from the Boston brethren, after his hard usage in Chicago and in the Vassar affair, made him feel that he had not lost the esteem of his brethren. His election to the Foreign Board was especially gratifying to him. All this, of course, was subjective, known only to the family circle. Outwardly he was calm, genial, courageous. The Salem church recognized that a master hand was at the helm and the little city soon began to honor him. He built up excellent audiences. The Sunday School and prayer-meeting responded to his touch, and he gave himself with delight to the preaching of the gospel which he loved. But he was too big a man to spend his years in Salem, and in the fall of 1886, Denison University called him to its Presidency and Richard was himself again.

These five pastorates, all but one very short, occupied nearly seventeen years of my father’s life. They were a joy to him. He loved to proclaim the gospel and to shepherd the flock. As a pastor, he was diligent, faithful, sympathetic and sensible. He was equally at home in the houses of the poor and the rich. He was a good leader of the church, because he saw clearly, expounded his policies patiently and convincingly, was persistent in urging them, took a large part of the burden of them himself, and carried them through with conspicuous ability. He was a good administrator, broad in conception, careful in detail, forceful in execution. But my father’s glory was in the pulpit. He was a master of the art of preaching. This is high praise, but it will stand every legitimate test. He always had large audiences. Even when he began pastorates with practically empty houses, it was only a short time before they commenced to fill and soon were full. And the people were always interested and attentive. The common people heard him gladly, and the more scholarly were equally delighted. Although he never used any claptrap or indulged in sensationalism, he was a popular preacher in the best sense. And the highest tribute was that the people did not so much praise the sermon, but went out with hearts stirred to adoration, devotion and duty. Unlike many to which it is a pleasure to listen, my father’s printed sermons read as well as they sounded. Standing there upon the printed page, they are still clear, pungent and eloquent. This is an acid test.

Many of the best churches of our denomination coveted my father for his preaching and urgently called him. The Hyde Park Presbyterian Church of Chicago, which he served for over a year, offered to give up infant sprinkling, if he would be their pastor. The leading Universalist church in Chicago, Robert Collyer’s, was loath to let him go at the end of three months. He charmed Dr. Little’s church in Dorchester after he was eighty, and they asked him to be their stated supply. He was the preacher at the May Anniversaries in 1891, was often asked to preach at State Conventions, was a favorite at the University of Chicago, and when over eighty was preacher at Wellesley. One of the greatest comforts of his old age was that the historic First Church of Providence invited him to be their sole summer supply for his last two years, and during his last illness, he received a request to serve them in like manner for the third time.

Allow me to quote from a letter written in 1916 by a distinguished Congregational theological professor and author, who stole away from his own church while a Harvard student to hear my father at the Old Cambridge Church in the 70’s. “Your preaching has always remained in my mind as the greatest which I ever heard. Always uplifting and full of inspiration, it left me on the mountain tops of religious thought and feeling. Delivered without notes, the address was direct, simple, chaste and beautiful in diction, guided and borne on by a distinct current of definite, original and beautiful thought. And it was religion in its clearest, most essential and universal elements. More than any one thing, those addresses made my ideal of preaching and have been the model on which I have formed my own poor efforts…. Nor were my impressions of that preaching the results of immaturity and lack of knowledge of great men and great speaking. Years afterwards, when I entertained you at _____ and heard you preach all one Sunday, I hung entranced on every word. You were for me and you are now the unexcelled preacher, not only perfect in form, but unequalled in thought.” If we discount this somewhat extravagant encomium fifty per cent, we shall still be right in calling my father “A master of the art of preaching.”

And what was this preaching? Behind it was a forceful, well-balanced man of wide sympathies and deep and varied experiences, capable of great emotion which was always under admirable restraint. Great labor had been bestowed on the sermon and it had been carefully prepared for delivery, always without notes. My father lead an excellent voice, a clear enunciation and insisted on a conversational tone in preaching, speaking directly to the hearers. Sermons, to his mind, must always be conceived in the second and not in the third person. The language was simple and the exegesis carefully worked out and plainly presented. Definition was always a strong point. My father insisted that both he and the people should know exactly what he was talking about. The main thought or proposition was then clearly stated and more thoroughly analyzed, the points of the sermon sticking out conspicuously and therefore sticking in. Application of the truth presented was always a large part of the sermon, for my father was above all a practical preacher. He used all kinds of sermons, but expository, practical and historical sermons were his favorites, and he carefully avoided going too far into metaphysics or the technicalities of theology. He always preached as if the subject was of profound and perhaps decisive importance. President Strong wrote to him in 1903, “You know how to preach. That direct, incisive, sensible, sympathetic style especially befits the gospel message.”

The greatest sermon I ever heard my father preach was on “Eternal Life,” a new sermon for the Newton Centre Church in 1915. Of his published sermons I can hardly chose between “Peace and the Sword,” preached Thanksgiving Day, 1864, and “The Kingdom That Changed Rulers,” preached before the Baptist Young People’s Union in Providence in 1903.

Go to Galusha Anderson: Preacher and Educator PART 2

Shelby’s Missouri Raid

SHELBY’S MISSOURI RAID, SEPTEMBER, 1863

By Bennett H. Young

Excerpted and introduced by G. E. Rule

from “Confederate Wizards of the Saddle”, 1914

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

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

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

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

Further Reading: General Jo Shelby

General Jo Shelby: Undefeated Rebel
by Daniel O’Flaherty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charcoals and Claybanks

Charcoals and Claybanks

by

Galusha Anderson

Excerpted and Introduced by G.E. Rule

from “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War”, Galusha Anderson, 1908

Galusha Anderson 1861

Bio of Galusha Anderson


Galusha Anderson was a Baptist minister in St. Louis from 1858-1866. His decidedly pro-Union “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War” has many faults. Anderson’s opinion of his own importance in events is exaggerated, and at times the reader would be forgiven for thinking that Blair, Lyon, Fremont, Schofield, Rosecrans, et al could have just stayed in bed –it was really Galusha who held the fate of the Union cause in Missouri in his strong hands. At one point he has an agitated southerner blame his preaching for the Union seizure of Camp Jackson. One suspects Anderson would not want to discourage his readers from reaching the same conclusion. Describing his first blast from a St. Louis pulpit against the heresy of secession, Galusha reports the event with a freighted solemnity and attention to minute detail most historians would reserve for the third day at Gettysburg or the final scene at Appomattox.

On the plus side, Anderson does have a fine eye for detail and his book is filled with many interesting anecdotes of life in St. Louis during the Civil War. Galusha’s Union sources (men like James O. Broadhead were his parishioners) seem to be excellent and allow the reader a valuable insight into the thinking of the pro-Union population of St. Louis. For those interested in the topic, Rev. Anderson’s book has many revealing stories of the stresses –and sometimes fractures– that can occur in “Christian fellowship” during a time of political upheaval.

The “Charcoals” and “Claybanks” were the local Missouri variant of the national struggle between Radical Republicans on the one hand and moderate Republicans and War Democrats on the other.  The former were for total abolition of slavery –the sooner the better—and harsh treatment of the Rebels.  The latter tended to be for “The Union as it Was” prior to 1861, with slavery continuing to exist in those states where it was already established and relatively lenient treatment of any Rebel who was willing to give up disunion.  Much like “Yankee Doodle” a century before, the names were chosen by their enemies, but accepted with pride.  The intramural fighting caused difficulties for every Union commander of Missouri.  Anderson gives considerably more space for the arguments of the Charcoals, and one suspects that he considered himself –at least ideologically– one of their number.


Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I now available

The Fight for Missouri by Thomas L. Snead, 1886

The Struggle for Missouri by John McElroy, 1909

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

The Crisis by Winston Churchill, 1901

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

The Brown-Reynolds Duel, 1911

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In our [Union men] hot fight for Missouri and the Union we unhappily split up into factions.  We not only contended against secession but against each other. And the warring factions were significantly called Charcoals and Claybanks. The Charcoals taken as a whole were uncompromising radicals, while the Claybanks were the conservatives. Many of the Claybanks had been born and educated in the North, while some of the blackest of the Charcoals had been reared in the midst of slavery. They were recent converts to Unionism and gloried in their new-found faith.

What gave birth to these party names no one can certainly tell. Apparently, like Topsy, they “just growed”. The clay of Missouri is of a decidedly neutral tint. Perhaps an extremist, indignant at a conservative for his colorless views, called him a claybank; and since the name was descriptive, fitting, and easily understood by Missourians, it stuck. The conservative, stung by the epithet, may have warmly retorted, “You are a charcoal.” And that name, equally descriptive and fitting, also stuck. At all events each faction named the other, and each adopted the name hostilely given and gloried in it. And for many months these names bandied by the opposing factions played an important part in the heated controversies of our State.

Both Charcoals and Claybanks were loyal to the federal government. Upon the main issue, the preservation of the Union, they agreed; but they were at swords’ points upong the statement of the problem in hand and the method of its solution. The Claybanks contended that the foremost question was the maintenance of the Union. They were ready to preserve it either with or without slavery. So their cry was; “Let us first save the Union, and afterwards adjust the matter of slavery.”

On the other hand, the avowed object of the Charcoals was to save the Union without slavery; and perhaps they were unduly impatient with those who would save the Union with slavery, or even with those who would save the Union with or without slavery. But they were always ready to give a reason for the faith that was in them. They said: “Slavery is unquestionably the cause of secession and of this bloody war. If we preserve the Union and with it the cause of its present disruption, then, at no distant day, the same cause will rend it again, and our soil will be drenched with the blood of our children. We believe the doctrine of our great President, that the nation cannot continue half slave and half free. We therefore give ourselves to the extermination of the fruitful cause of all our present distress. We fight and pray for the restoration of the Union, but of the Union purged of human bondage.”

*  *  *

When our military commanders came to us one after another, they were beset, not to say besieged, by the Charcoals and Claybanks in reference to the conduct of the war in Missouri. Each faction tried to forestall the other by getting the ear of the new general first, and telling him just what he ought to do in order to achieve success. Each was absolutely sure that only its way was right. Any other course than the one suggested would lead to utter disaster. Each party was so dead in earnest that when its views were discarded it cursed the idiot that had not heeded them. To do his duty intelligently and fearlessly amid this din of clashing opinions, a commander of the Department of the Missouri needed great clearness of though, coolness of disposition, and firmness of purpose. He did not lie on a bed of roses, but on bumblebees’ nest.

* * *

The extreme [Charcoal] policy of General Curtis soon brought him into collision with our conservative, provisional [Claybank] Governor. The sparks flew. The Charcoals and Claybanks put on fresh war-paint. The one upheld the general and his radical policy; the other the Governor and his more moderate policy. While both parties were for the Union, they denounced each other in the hottest terms. If we had believed what both factions declared, we should have been forced to conclude that there was scarcely a decent man among all the Unionists in the State. Each party again and again appealed to the President for his support, but of course he could not side with either. At last, worn out by this incessant strife, in May 1863, he removed General Curtis from his command and put General Schofield in his place.

* * *

Three days after he had relieved General Curtis, the President wrote him [Schofield] a letter, which is so quaint and so packed with good sense that we feel impelled to reproduce it. It tersely portrays the difficult task that confronted him.

Executive Mansion, Washington,

May 27, 1863

General J. M. Schofield:

My Dear Sir: — Having relieved General Curtis and assigned you to the command of the Department of Missouri, I think it may be of some advantage for me to state to you why I did it. I did not relieve General Curtis because of any full conviction that he had done wrong by commission or omission. I did it because of a conviction in my mind that the Union men of Missouri, constituting, when united, a vast majority of the whole people, have entered into a pestilent factional quarrel among themselves –General Curtis, perhaps not from choice, being the head of one faction, and Governor Gamble that of the other. After months of labor to reconcile the difficulty, it seemed to grow worse and worse, until I felt it my duty to break it up somehow; and as I could not remove Governor Gamble, I had to remove General Curtis. Now that you are in the position, I wish you to undo nothing merely because General Curtis or Governor Gamble did it, but to exercise your own judgment and do right for the public interest.

Let your military measures be strong enough to repel the invader and keep the peace, and not so strong as to unnecessarily harass and persecute the people. It is a difficult role, and so much greater will be the honor if you perform it well. If both factions, or neither, shall abuse you, you will probably be about right. Beware of being assailed by the one and praised by the other.

Yours truly,

A. Lincoln

Thomas Hart Benton in Defense of Dueling

Thomas Hart Benton in Defense of Dueling

Excerpted and introduced by G.E. Rule, from “The Brown-Reynolds Duel”, edited by Walter B. Stevens, 1911.


In examining the years-long preliminaries leading up to the crisis of 1860-61 in Missouri, there are two areas that cannot be ignored.  One is the ugly fight over Kansas, and the other is the battle to retire Thomas Hart Benton from his commanding position in Missouri politics.  In the former, the anti-slavery forces finally prevailed; in the latter, the pro-slavery forces.  Both victories caused a deep bitterness in the losers, and helped set the stage for Civil War.

BENTON, Thomas Hart,a Senator and a Representative from Missouri; born at Harts Mill, near Hillsboro, N.C., March 14, 1782; attended Chapel Hill College (now the University of North Carolina) and the law department of William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Va.; was admitted to the bar at Nashville, Tenn., in 1806 and commenced practice in Franklin, Williamson County, Tenn.; member of the State senate 1809-1811; served as aide-de-camp to General Jackson; colonel of a regiment of Tennessee volunteers from December 1812 to April 1813; lieutenant colonel of the Thirty-ninth United States Infantry 1813-1815; moved to St. Louis, Mo., where he edited the Missouri Inquirer and continued the practice of law; upon the admission of Missouri as a State into the Union was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate; reelected in 1827, 1833, 1839, and 1845 and served from August 10, 1821, to March 3, 1851, the first Senator to serve thirty consecutive years; author of the resolution to expunge from the Senate Journal the resolution of censure on Andrew Jackson; unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the Senate in 1850; elected as a Missouri Compromise Democrat to the Thirty-third Congress (March 4, 1853-March 3, 1855); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1854 to the Thirty-fourth Congress and for Governor of Missouri in 1856; engaged in literary pursuits in Washington, D.C., until his death there on April 10, 1858; interment in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949

Benton had been a titan in Missouri politics for over 30 years; gifted, arrogant, imperious in mien. But he was not “right” on slavery, or so the pro-slavery forces believed. Benton did everything he could to stop “agitation on the slavery question”, knowing that it held the seeds of potential dis-union.  He was by no means an abolitionist, and would have been enraged to be called one.  He was, however, against the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and against the expansion of slavery in the territories.

From 1850-56, the fight to retire Benton was a central feature of Missouri politics, with his enemies finally prevailing.  Claiborne Fox Jackson, who would become the secessionist governor of Missouri in early 1861, played an important role in Benton’s downfall. Benton’s abolitionist son-in-law –John Charles Fremont; who was to become the first Republican presidential candidate in 1856—probably didn’t help him much in the eyes of the great middle section of Missouri politics that usually decide (as it does in most places and times) elections.

“In Defense of Dueling” is Benton’s ode to “affairs of honor.” Benton was an acknowledged master of the “code”, and was either principal or second in many “affairs.” While Benton may not have been “right” on slavery, he was still a Southern man, with a Southern man’s view of honor.

It is this view that is often overlooked in the popular understanding of the events leading to secession.  Yes, the ruling class in the South had a large financial interest in slavery.  But that isn’t the whole story, and doesn’t begin to explain the attitudes of the great mass of Southerners who had no such interest.  The prevalent cultural attitude towards “honor” does help explain it, and the Southern attitude towards the “affair of honor,” i.e. a duel, is an important expression of it.

To put it simply, it was intolerable to a large section of Southern opinion that the North treated their “peculiar institution,” slavery, as a nasty, icky thing that desperately needed to be quarantined to the limited area where it already existed.  If the awful disease could not be eradicated (that pesky Constitution regrettably settled that question in the wrong manner), then at least it must be contained.  By 1860 it was very clear to the South that this was the Northern attitude; growing stronger all the time and finally resulting in the election of a President dedicated to halting forever the expansion of slavery –and to a culture steeped in “honor,” it was unacceptable to continue to share a house (the Union) with those who so despised them and their institutions. Southern culture considered itself superior; for the North to view it as not only not superior, but woefully morally corrupt was an insult not to be borne.  In other words, the Civil War could be seen as the largest duel in history. . .

Lastly, note Benton’s description of what happens after the duel is over. The culture with this view would also deeply resent Reconstruction as an affront to its honor.  Having fought for honor, the Southern man expects the whole thing to have been settled by the duel itself, with no repercussions to follow; no retribution; no aspersions upon the character or motivation of either victor or vanquished.  Remember, it is not necessary to win the duel for honor to be vindicated under the code; it is only necessary to fight the duel to vindicate that honor. This also helps account for the magnificent (or damn foolish—take your pick) indifference to the odds against their success that so many Southerners evinced in 1861.

The second section is Benton’s account of the Clay-Randolph duel of 1826.  Henry Clay of Kentucky was Secretary of State to John Quincy Adams, and John Randolph was a Senator from Virginia. Benton was present as “amicus” (i.e. friend) under the code.  Editor Stevens (a long-time St. Louis newspaperman) said of this account that, “In the history of the code there is perhaps no other narrative which will compare with the description Benton wrote of that duel.”


Thomas Hart Benton writes:

Certainly it is deplorable to see a young man, the hope of his father and mother–a ripe man, the head of a family–an eminent man necessary to his country–struck down in a duel; and should be prevented if possible.  Still this deplorable practice is not so bad as the bowie knife and the revolver, and their pretext of self-defense–thirsting for blood. In the duel, there is at least consent on both sides, with a preliminary opportunity for settlement, with a chance for the law Thomas Hart Bentonto arrest them, and room for the interposition of friends as the affair goes on. There is usually equality of terms; and it would not be called an affair of honor if honor was not to prevail all round; and if the satisfying a point of honor, and not vengeance, was not the end to be attained. Finally, in the regular duel, the principals are in the hands of  the seconds (for no man can be made a second without his consent); and as both these are required by the dueling code (for the sake of fairness and humanity), to be free from ill will or grudge towards the adversary principal, they are expected to terminate the affair as soon as the point of honor is satisfied, and the less the injury, so much the better.

The only exceptions to these rules are where the principals are in such relations to each other as to admit of no accommodation, and the injury [to their honor] such as to admit of no compromise. In the knife and revolver business all this is different. There is no preliminary interval for settlement–no chance for officers of justice to intervene­–no room for friends to interpose. Instead of equality of terms, every advantage is sought. Instead of consent, the victim is set upon at the most unguarded moment. Instead of satisfying a point of honor, it is vengeance to be glutted.  Nor does the difference stop with death. In the duel the unhurt principal scorns to continue the combat upon his disabled adversary; in the knife and revolver case, the hero of these weapons continues firing and stabbing while the prostrate body of the dying man gives a sign of life. In the duel the survivor never assails the character of the fallen; in the knife and revolver case, the first movement of the victor is to attack the character of his victim­–to accuse him of an attempt to murder; and to make out a case of self-defense, by making out a case of premeditated attack against the other. And in such false accusation, the French proverb is usually verified–the dead and the absent are always in the wrong.

The Clay-Randolph Duel of 1826

Henry Clay

It was Saturday, the first day of April, toward noon, the Senate not being that day in session, that Mr. Randolph came to my room at Brown’s hotel, and without explain­ing the reason of the question, asked me if I was a blood relation of Mrs. Clay. I answered that I was, and he immediately replied that that put an end to a request which he had wished to make of me, and then went on to tell me that he had just received a challenge from Mr. Clay, had accepted it, was ready to go out, and would apply to Colonel Tatnall to be his second. Before leaving he told me he would make my bosom the depository of a secret which he should commit to no other person. It was that he did not intend to fire at Mr. Clay. He told it to me because he wanted a witness of his intention, and did not mean to tell it to his second or anybody else; and enjoined inviolable secrecy until the duel was over. This was the first notice I had of the affair.

I had heard nothing from him on the point of not returning the fire since the first communication to that effect eight days before. I had no reason to doubt the steadiness of his determination, but felt a desire to have fresh assurance of it after so many days’ delay and so near approach of the trying moment. I knew it would not do to ask him the question–any question which would imply a doubt of his word. His sensitive feelings would be hurt and annoyed at it. So I fell upon a scheme to get at the inquiry without seeming to make it. I told him of my visit to Mr. Clay the night before, of the late sitting, the child asleep, the unconscious tranquility of Mrs. Clay, and added I could not help reflecting how different all that might be the next night. He understood me perfectly, and immediately said, with a quietude of look and expression which seemed to rebuke an unworthy doubt, “I shall do nothing to disturb the sleep of the child or the repose of the mother,” and went on with his employment (his seconds being engaged in their preparations in a different room), which was making codicils to his will, all in the way of remembrances to friends; the bequests slight in value but invaluable in tender­ness of feeling and beauty of expression, and always appropriate to the receiver.

I have already said that the count was to be quick after giving the word “fire,” and for a reason which could not be told to the principals. To Mr. Randolph, who did not mean to fire, and who, though agreeing to be shot at, had no desire to be hit, this rapidity of counting out the time and quick arrival at the command “stop,” presented no objection. With Mr. Clay it was different. With him it was all a real transaction, and gave rise to some proposal for more deliberation in counting off the time, which, being communicated to Colonel Tatnall, and by him to Mr. Randolph, had an ill effect upon his feelings, and, aided by an untoward accident on the ground, unsettled for a moment the noble determination which he had formed not to fire at Mr. Clay. I now give the words of Gen. Jesup:

John Randolph“When I repeated to Mr. Clay the ‘word’ in the manner in which it would be given, he expressed some apprehension that, as he was not accustomed to the use of the pistol, he might not be able to fire within the time, and for that reason alone desired that it might be prolonged. I mentioned to Col. Tatnall the desire of Mr. Clay. He replied, ‘If you insist upon it, the time must be prolonged, but I should very much regret it.’ I informed him I did not insist upon prolonging the time, and I was sure Mr. Clay would acquiesce. The original agreement was carried out.”

I knew nothing of this until it was too late to speak with the seconds or principals. I had crossed the Little Falls bridge just after them, and come to the place where the servants and carriages had stopped. I saw none of the gentlemen and supposed they had all gone to the spot where the ground was being marked off, but on speaking to Johnny, Mr. Randolph, who was still in the carriage and heard my voice, looked out from the window and said to me: “Colonel, since I saw you and since I have been in this carriage, I have heard something which may make me change my determination. Colonel Hamilton will give you a note which will explain it.” Colonel Hamilton was then in the carriage and gave me the note in the course of the evening, of which Mr. Randolph spoke. I readily comprehended that this possible change of determination related to his firing, but the emphasis with which he pronounced the word “may” clearly showed that his mind was undecided, and left it doubtful whether he would fire or not. No further conversation took place between us; the preparations for the duel were finished; the parties went to their places, and I went forward to a piece of rising ground from which I could see what passed and hear what was said. The faithful Johnny followed me close, speaking not a word, but evincing the deepest anxiety for his beloved master. The place was a thick forest, and the immediate spot a little depression or basin, in which the parties stood. The        principals saluted each other courteously as they took their stands. Colonel Tatnall had won the choice of positions, which gave to General Jesup the delivery of the word. They stood on a line east and west–a small stump just behind Mr. Clay; a low gravelly bank rose just behind Mr. Randolph. The latter asked Gen. Jesup to repeat the word as he would give it; and while in the act of doing so, and Mr. Randolph  adjusting the butt of his pistol to his hand, the muzzle pointing downward, and almost to the ground, it  fired. Instantly Mr. Randolph turned to Colonel Tatnall and said, “I protested against that hair trigger.”

Thomas Hart Benton statue in St. LouisColonel Tatnall took the blame to himself for having sprung the hair. Mr. Clay had not then received his pistol. Senator Johnson, of Louisiana, one of his seconds, was carrying it to him, and still several steps from him. This untimely fire, though clearly an accident, necessarily gave rise to some remarks, and a species of inquiry which was conducted with the utmost delicacy, but which, in itself, was of a nature to be inexpressibly painful to a gentleman’s feelings. Mr. Clay stopped it with the generous remark that the fire was clearly an accident; and it was so unanimously declared. Another pistol was immediately furnished; an exchange of shots took place, and, happily, without effect upon persons. Mr. Randolph’s bullet struck the stump behind Mr. Clay, and Mr. Clay’s knocked up the earth and gravel behind Mr. Randolph, and in a line with the level of his hips, both bullets having gone so true and close that it was a marvel how they missed. The moment had come for me to interpose. I went in among the parties and offered my mediation, but nothing could be done. Mr. Clay said, with that wave of the hand with which he was accustomed to put away a trifle, “This is child’s play!” and required another fire. Mr. Randolph also demanded another fire. The seconds were directed to reload. While this was doing I prevailed on Mr. Randolph to walk away from his post, and renewed to him more pressingly than ever my importunities to yield to some accommodation; but I found him more determined than I had ever seen him, and for the first time impatient and seemingly annoyed at what I was doing. He was indeed annoyed and dissatisfied. The accidental fire of his pistol preyed upon his feelings. He was doubly chagrined at it, both as a circumstance susceptible in itself of an unfair interpretation, and as having been the immediate and controlling cause of his firing at Mr. Clay. He regretted this fire the instant it was over. He felt that it had subjected him to imputations from which he knew himself to be free–a desire to kill Mr. Clay and a contempt for the laws of his beloved State; and the annoyances which he felt at these vexatious circumstances revived his original determination, and decided him irrevocably to carry it out.

BENTON, Thomas Hart,statesman, was born near Hillsborough, N. C., March 14, 1782; son of Jesse and Anne (Gooch) Benton. His father was a lawyer and private secretary of Governor Tryon. Thomas obtained a good education, and when he was sixteen years of age his mother, a widow, moved to Tennessee and took possession of forty thousand acres of land near Nashville, which was part of her husband’s estate. With his three brothers he engaged in cotton planting, but their first crop was ruined by a heavy frost, and Thomas abandoned planting to take up the study of law and was admitted to the Tennessee bar. He sat for one term in the state legislature, where he secured the passage of a law for the reform of the judicial system of the state and another by which the right of trial by jury was given to slaves. During the war of 1812 he served as an aide-de-camp to Andrew Jackson, then major-general of the Tennessee militia, and marched with the Tennessee troops to the defence of the Lower Mississippi. While serving under General Jackson the friendly relations which had so long existed between them suffered a severe strain, which lasted for a number of years. William Carroll and Jesse Benton, a brother of Thomas, became involved in a dispute, and a duel was fought in which Jackson was Carroll’s second. Jesse sent an offensive account of the affair to Thomas, and on Sept. 4, 1813, Jackson, with some friends, chanced to meet the Bentons in the streets of Nashville. Jackson struck Thomas Benton with a horsewhip; knives and pistols were then freely used, and Jackson received a ball in his left shoulder, while Jesse Benton was cut severely with a dirk and a sword cane.

Johnson, Rossiter

Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, 1904.

It was in this interval that he told me what he had heard since we parted, and to which he alluded when he spoke to me from the window of the carriage. It was to this effect: That he had been informed by Colonel Tatnall that it was proposed to give out the words with more deliberateness so as to prolong the time for taking aim. This information grated harshly upon his feelings. It unsettled his purpose, and brought his mind to the inquiry (as he now told me, and as I found it expressed in the note which he had immediately written in pencil to apprise me of his possible change), whether under these circumstances he might not “disable” his adversary. This note is so characteristic, and such an essential part of this affair, that I here give its very words, so far as relates to this point. It ran thus:

“Information received from Colonel Tatnall since I got into the carriage may induce me to change my mind of not returning Mr. Clay’s fire. I seek not his death. I would not have his blood on my hands–it will not be upon my soul if shed in self-defense–for the world. He has determined, by the use of a long, preparatory caution by words, to get time to kill me. May I not, then, disable him? Yes, if I please.”

It has been seen by the statement of Gen. Jesup that his “information” was a mis­apprehension; that Mr. Clay had not applied for a prolongation of time for the purpose of getting sure aim, but only to enable his unused hand, long unfamiliar with the pistol, to fire within the limited time; that there was no prolongation, in fact, either granted or insisted upon; but he was in doubt, and Gen. Jesup having won the word, he was having him repeat it in the way he was to give it out, when his finger touched the hair trigger. How unfortunate that I did not know of this in time to speak to Gen. Jesup, when one word from him would have set all right, and saved the imminent risks in­curred! This inquiry, “May I not disable him?” was still on Mr. Randolph’s mind, and dependent for its solution on the rising incidents of the moment, when the accidental fire of his pistol gave the turn to his feelings which solved the doubt. But he declared to me that he had not aimed at the life of Mr. Clay; that he did not level as high as the knees –not higher than the knee-band; “for it was no mercy to shoot a man in the knee;” that his only object was to disable him and spoil his aim. And then added, with a beauty of expression and depth of feeling which no studied oratory can ever attain and which I shall never forget, these impressive words: “I would not have seen him fall mortally, even doubtfully, wounded for all the land that is watered by the King of Floods and all his tributary streams.” He left me to resume his post, utterly refusing to explain out of the Senate anything he had said in it, and with the positive declaration that he would not return the next fire. I withdrew a little way into the woods and kept my eyes fixed on Mr. Randolph, whom then I knew to be the only one in danger. I saw him receive the fire of Mr. Clay, saw the gravel knocked up in the same place, saw Mr. Randolph raise his pistol–discharge it in the air; heard him say, “I do not fire at you, Mr. Clay,” and immediately advancing and offering his hand. He was met in the same spirit. They met half way, shook hands, Mr. Randolph saying jocosely, “You owe me a coat, Mr. Clay” –the bullet had passed through the skirt of the coat, very near the hip– to which Mr. Clay promptly and happily replied, “I am glad the debt is no greater.” I had come up and was prompt to proclaim what I had been obliged to keep secret for eight days.

The joy of all was extreme at this happy termination of a most critical affair, and we immediately left with lighter hearts than we brought. I stopped to sup with Mr. Randolph and his friends–none of us wanted dinner that day–and had a characteristic time of it.

He asked for the sealed paper he had given me, opened it, took out a check for $1,000, drawn in my favor, and with which I was requested to have him carried, if killed, to Virginia, and buried under his patrimonial oaks–not let him be buried at Washington, with a hundred hacks after him. He took the gold from his left breeches pocket and said to us (Hamilton, Tatnall and I), “Gentlemen, Clay’s bad shooting sha’n’t rob you of your seals. I am going to London and will have them made for you,” which he did, and most characteristically, so far as mine were concerned. He went to the herald’s office in London and inquired for the Benton family, of which I had often told him there was none, as we only dated on that side from my grandfather in North Carolina. But the name was found and with it a coat of arms-among the quarterings a lion rampant. “That is the family,” said he; and had the arms engraved on the seal, the same which I have since habitually worn; and added the motto, “Factis non verbis;” of which he was afterwards accustomed to say the non should be changed to et. But enough. I run into these details, not merely to relate an event, but to show character; and if I have not done it, it is not for want of material but of ability to use.

Father Bannon – Bio by James M Gallen

Father Bannon

by James M. Gallen

Jim Gallen is an attorney practicing in St. Louis. He is a member of the Wm. T. Sherman/Billy Yank Camp No. 65 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. He has written numerous articles on the Civil War and other historical topics which have been published in newsletters and posted on websites across the country.

“John B. Bannon: Chaplain, Soldier and Diplomat” previously published in “The Christian Banner”, Vol. XV, #1, 1999; Bushwacker (Civil War Round Table of St. Louis), Vol. IV, #93, October 25, 2000; Bugle Call Echoes, San Joaquin Valley Civil War Round Table, Vol. IX, No. 3, March, 2001.


JOHN B. BANNON:
CHAPLAIN, SOLDIER AND DIPLOMAT

by
James M. Gallen
Father BannonRev. John B. Bannon was one of the most prominent and respected chaplains to serve in the Civil War. General Sterling Price, whose men he served, remarked: “I have no hesitancy in saying that the greatest soldier I ever saw was Father Bannon.” Father Bannon’s service to the Confederacy as chaplain, soldier and diplomat makes his story one worth telling.

Like so many of the troops who fought in the Civil War, Father Bannon’s story did not begin in America. He was born on December 29, 1829 in Roosky, Ireland. He was ordained into the priesthood at Maynooth, County Kildare, in May, 1853. He volunteered to follow so may of his countrymen who had fled famine and sought a new life in America. He chose to serve the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri whose Archbishop, Peter Kenrick, was also a son of Ireland.

St. John's Catholic Church, St. LouisFather Bannon was soon recognized as one of the leading clergymen in St. Louis, and in 1858, was assigned as pastor of the new parish of St. John the Apostle on the then west end of the city. While there he supervised the building of the church building.

In the St. Louis area, which Father Bannon served, he became a prominent leader of the Irish community, many of whom joined him when he went to war. The coming of the War found St. Louis, a deeply divided community. Archbishop Kenrick attempted to guide his divided flock by adopting a policy of neutrality toward the war which surrounded him. In support of this policy Kenrick discouraged his priests from serving as chaplains for either army. Father Bannon, however, could not be dissuaded,

Father Bannon’s military career commenced in November, 1860 when he joined Captain Kelly’s Washington Blues as a chaplain in its response to a call for militia troops to defend western Missouri from raiders from “Bloody Kansas.” The campaign was short and Father Bannon was back in St. Louis by the first Sunday of December, 1860.

After the firing on Fort Sumter, St. Louis began to polarize into two armed camps. In early May, Bannon remained close to Captain Kelly’s troops at Camp Jackson on the western edge of the city. After the surrender of Camp Jackson its troops, including Bannon, became prisoners of the Federal forces until release on May 11, 1861. Bannon returned to St. John’s where he remained until December 15, 1861. At the time of his departure Bannon was targeted for arrest by Federal authorities due to the views which he had expressed from the pulpit. On the night of the 15th, Bannon snuck out of the back door in disguise and a false beard, while Federal officials entered the front door. He then continued his clandestine journey across Missouri to Springfield where he became a member of the “Patriot Army of Missouri,” under the command of General Sterling Price. He then commenced his service as a chaplain, initially voluntary, to the First Missouri Confederate Brigade.

Bannon remained with the First Missouri Confederate Brigade until August 4, 1863. He and the rest of the Brigade had been taken prisoner at the fall of Vicksburg. Although not officially paroled, Bannon was released and went to Mobile and then on to Richmond.

Although his main service was to the Irish Catholic members of the First Missouri, some of whom had been parishioners at St. John’s, Bannon was widely respected in the army. He quickly earned the title of “the Catholic priest who always went into battle.” In accord with instructions to remain in the rear, it was the practice of may Confederate chaplains to pray with their men before battle and then remain in the rear to comfort the wounded  Bannon, however, believed that the chaplains who shared their men’s hardships and dangers “were much respected by all the men, whether Catholics or not; for they saw that [I] did not shrink from danger or labor to assist them.” In his view the practice of many chaplains caused them to become “frequently objects of derision, always disappearing on the eve of an action, when they would stay behind in some farm house till all was quiet.”

At the battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas, Bannon was seen to be in the thick of the action. As firing continued, Father Bannon was seen to be blessing, standing or kneeling with soldiers, and administering the last rites to the dying. His service during this battle led General Price to comment: “The greatest soldier I ever saw was Father Bannon. In the midst of the fray he would step in and take up a fallen soldier. If he were a Catholic, he would give him the rites of the Church; if a Protestant, and if he desired, he would baptize him.” Toward the end of the battle Bannon met general Van Dorn who ordered him to the rear. Bannon refused an order to move to the field hospitals, even under thereat of arrest, responding, “I can attend there later. I must attend now to those who are not able to be removed from the field.” Bannon explained his understanding of his duty when he wrote, “I am doing God’s work, and He has no use for cowards or skilkers. A Catholic priest must do his duty and never consider the time or place. If I am killed, I am not afraid to meet my fate. I am in God’s keeping. His holy will be done.”

The nights before a battle were busy ones for Bannon. Throughout the night he, “Would go up to a watch-fire, and waking one of the men, called him aside, hear his confession, and send him to summon another. The whole night would be spent thus in going from campfire to campfire. The men were always willing to come, generally too glad of the opportunity; some would even be watching for me.” When the night was over and the hour for the battle had arrived, Father Bannon had to substitute group for individual service. “When the time came for advancing, I made a sigh for them all to kneel, and gave them absolution (and) I then went to the second line, or the reserve, till it was their turn also to advance.” It was reported that “no men fight more bravely than Catholics who approach the sacraments before battle.” Bannon only reported one soldier who evaded his service.  An Irish Catholic artillery gunner declined because he had been long from the Sacraments and was afraid of confession.” Father Bannon tried to win him over with the assurance: “Come, man, I know what a soldier’s confession is.” Unfortunately the soldier refused reconciliation and was killed the next day.

Father Bannon’s support of the Confederate cause was based on deeply felt principles. His feelings derived from three influences, ethnic, religious and a general observation of the state of America in his day.

Among many Irish-Americans of his day, a parallel was seen between the British desire to impose its culture and will on Ireland and the efforts of the North to impose its standards on the South. This identification of the North as the oppressor led many Irish-Americans to support the Confederacy.

The circumstances prevalent in St. Louis led some Catholics to identify abolitionism with anti-Catholicism. Many Germans who had participated in the revolutions in Europe in 1848 had immigrated to St. Louis. In their struggles in Europe for freedom and the unification of Germany, their main enemy had been the Austrian Empire, which was identified with Catholicism. The hostility of the German community toward the Irish and its prominence in the Union cause in St. Louis drove many Irish Catholics, including Father Bannon, into the Confederate camp.

His observation of Northern and Southern society also led Bannon to his decision to support the Confederacy. In Bannon’s view the issue could be defined in terms of good versus evil and the forces of light against the darkness. His view of the struggle was revealed in his sermons. The Southerners were God’s chosen people while the Unionists were the Egyptians or philistines. He preached that the struggle was on between “the cross and the crescent, for which the last, the Yankee substitutes the dollar; a war between materialism and infidelity of the North, and the remnant of Christian civilization yet dominant in the South.” The clash between an industrial and an agrarian culture, again reminiscent of the struggle between Britain and Ireland, was on over the future development of North America. Bannon clearly shared the Southern vision.

Jefferson DavisFather Bannon’s service to the Confederacy did not end when he left the First Missouri Brigade. At the time of his visit to Richmond, one of the main military problems facing the Confederacy was the growing imbalance in military strength due in part to the influx of immigrants, many of them Irish, into the Union Army. On August 30, 1863, Bannon was surprised to receive a request from President Jefferson Davis to meet him at the President’s house.  During the visit President Davis asked Bannon to undertake a secret diplomatic mission to Ireland to discourage Irish immigrants from enlisting in the Union Army. In further conversation with Davis and Secretary of War Judah Benjamin, Bannon suggested that his mission be expanded to include an attempt to persuade the Papal States to extend recognition to the Confederacy. It was hoped that recognition by one European state would induce others to follow.

Bannon left America on October 3, 1863 aboard the Robert E. Lee. After arriving in Liverpool, England, Bannon headed for Italy. While in the Vatican he was accorded several long audiences with Pope Pius IX, during which he argued the Confederate cause. Although formal recognition was not obtained, the Pope did speak warmly of the Confederacy. In early December, Pope Pius did send a letter addressed “to the Illustrious and Honorable Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.”  This was taken as a defacto recognition by many and generated widespread outrage in the North.  It would also be helpful in Bannon’s mission in Ireland.

VaticanAfter the conclusion of the Vatican effort, Bannon returned to his native Isle in October, 1863. His first duty was to write long letters to the families of fifty or sixty Irish natives who had died while fighting for the First Missouri. Bannon them approached his diplomatic mission with zeal.  He found that his mission to the Vatican increased his acceptance among the Irish clergy to circulate handbills at the major ports of departure. The handbill reported that the Irish immigrant would be cajoled to join the union Army and be sent to be slaughtered in a “fight for a People that has the greatest antipathy to his birth and creed.” Besides the handbills, Bannon employed a series of large posters which were  nailed up in major ports and on the Churches of Cublin. The most effective poster, employed in 1864 contained the exchange of letters between Pope Pius IX and Judah BenjaminPresident Davis and a letter from Bannon. After he had won over the upper and middle classes, Bannon made an effort to reach the common people, who provided the recruits. To do this he sent a copy of his poster to every parish priest in Ireland. The poster was entitled “remnant of Christian civilization was yet dominant in the South.” He concluded his statement with the assertion; “As a priest of the Catholic Church, I am anxious to see the desires of the Holy Father realized speedily, and therefore have taken this means to lay before you the expression of his sentiments on the subject of the American War, knowing that no Catholic will persevere in the advocacy of an aggression condemned by his Holiness.”

The campaign by Bannon was highly effective. It is estimated the Irish recruits for the Union Army dropped two-thirds between December, 1863 and May, 1864. On May 28, 1864 Bannon reported to Secretary of State Benjamin that his money was exhausted and his mission complete. Benjamin had expressed his gratitude for the services provided by Bannon.

Bannon never returned to America. After the war he was prohibited by law from preaching at St. John’s Church. He joined the Jesuit order, of which he was one of its most distinguished Irish members until his death on July 14, 1913. Although he is little remembered in America, his legacy lives on in St. John’s Church which continues to serve the people of downtown St. Louis.

For more information of Father Bannon see:

McIntosh and Lovejoy from Civil War St Louis by Gerteis

Civil War St. Louis

McIntosh and Lovejoy

From Civil War St. Louis by Louis S. Gerteis, published by the
University Press of Kansas, copyright 2001. Used by permission of the
publisher.

Louis S. Gerteis

University Press of Kansas

Hardcover, 416 pages, 24 illustrations

published November 2001

Suggested Price: $34.95

now available for purchase

Excerpted and introduced by G.E. Rule

LOUIS S. GERTEIS is professor of history at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His previous works include Morality and Utility in American Antislavery Reform and From Contraband to Freedman: Federal Policy toward Southern Blacks, 1861-1865.

As Professor Gerteis writes in McIntosh and Lovejoy, excerpted from his new book Civil War St. Louis, “the aftershocks from the lynching of McIntosh and the murder of Lovejoy continued to unsettle St. Louisans as well. The killings remained vivid memories for a lifetime, and the passions associated with them helped to infuse a greater degree of animosity into the widening debate over slavery.” Echoes would be heard during the crucial struggle over the St. Louis arsenal in the spring of 1861. In order to protect the arms in the arsenal from the city’s secessionists, Captain Nathaniel Lyon arranged to have the surplus transferred to Illinois.

Captain James H. Stokes performed the mission in the dead of night, transferring 20,000 muskets and much powder to Alton, Il  –home of the murdered Lovejoy. Stokes woke the sleeping Altonians and enlisted their aid in getting the guns off the steamer City of Alton and onto train cars bound for the interior of the state.  According to St. Louis Baptist minister Galusha Anderson, writing in The Story of a Border City During the Civil War, the Unionists amongst the sleepy and disheveled Altonians provided enthusiastic assistance: “Nor did they forget that morning their own martyred Lovejoy, who, fighting against slavery and for the freedom of the press, poured out his blood on the same spot where they then stood; and that his blood so ruthlessly spilled foretokened the awful conflict into which the whole nation was then rapidly drifting.”


IN THE MIDDLE DECADES of the nineteenth century, slavery and race became enmeshed in the developing culture of American capitalism. In the process, the spirit of accommodation that had once prevailed between slave states and free states began to fade. In part, the sectional equanimity of the early Republic had rested on the fact that the institutions of the free and slave states evolved largely in isolation from one another. As long as physical mobility remained limited and markets remained local, the cultural frictions that later led to civil war could be contained. But beginning in the 1820s, regional and ethnic cultures intermingled in the United States as never before. In the process, St. Louis emerged from its role as a remote outpost of European Empire to become a thriving city of the American West. A growing network of canals linked the Northeast with a western hinterland, stretching north to the Great Lakes and south to the Ohio Valley. Western waterways in the South, from western Georgia to eastern Texas, carried that region’s new staple, cotton, to the major Gulf ports at Mobile and New Orleans. Located at the center of this burgeoning western commerce, St. Louisans justifiably envisioned their city as the nation’s great inland emporium. By the 1820s, more than thirty steamboats provided regular packet service linking St. Louis with Keokuk, Galena, and Davenport to the north; Louisville, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh to the east; and Memphis, Vicksburg, New Orleans, and Mobile to the south.

A new fluidity characterized social relations and commerce, giving rise to new visions of social progress and perfection as well as to new fears of social disorder and decay. St. Louis prospered, but the city existed uneasily on the border of an increasingly distinct and antagonistic North and South. For the South, slaves became a rapidly appreciating commodity as eastern centers of colonial slavery exported surplus labor to the new cotton-growing regions of the Gulf Plains. For the North, territorial and economic expansion widened the horizons of free labor as farmers and artisans migrated west from New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. In St. Louis, the South and the North commingled as never before and did so at a time when events that once had held significance only within a local community could generate far wider interest and impact. Rumors and enthusiasms had always had the potential of engulfing entire communities. Now, however, with communities linked together along waterways of commerce, the passion of a locality could become the passion of a nation.

The disappearance of William Morgan in upstate New York in 1826 offered an early example of the new phenomenon. A disgruntled member of the Masonic Order, Morgan published a book in which he claimed to reveal the society’s secrets. News of his disappearance spread quickly and widely over the new Erie Canal. Formally opened in 1824, the canal connected Albany, on the Hudson River, with Buffalo, on Lake Erie. It created a direct water route from New York City, at the mouth of the Hudson River, to the Great Lakes. It also provided a passageway to the West for people in upstate New York and New England. Throughout the Northeast and into the mid-Atlantic region, the rumor spread that Morgan had been murdered in a Masonic conspiracy. Anti-Masonic sentiment led to organized efforts to prevent members of the order from being elected to public office. In 1832 an Anti-Masonic political party nominated former attorney general William Wirt as its presidential candidate. The speed with which the rumored murder of Morgan mushroomed into a quasi-national anti-Masonic crusade offers one measure of the way in which the new intermingling of peoples, in what historians of the period have come to call the Market Revolution, reshaped the social landscape.

St. Louis soon offered other, more lurid examples of the new social volatility: the 1836 lynching of Francis L. McIntosh, a free mulatto boatman, and the related killing of the antislavery newspaper editor Elijah P. Lovejoy, in nearby Alton, Illinois, in 1837, became events of national significance. Both incidents contributed measurably to the antislavery movement across the North. But they also revealed a great deal about St. Louis itself. In the McIntosh lynching, observers experienced and remembered events in significantly different ways. Those sympathetic with the lynchers described McIntosh as a defiant killer cursing his white tormentors as he died. They remembered the heroic actions of the men who apprehended him and the collective action of the community in killing him. On the other hand, those who deplored the actions of the lynchers described McIntosh’s excruciating pain and suffering. They remembered an act of mob violence that threatened the foundation of law and civilized society. As a result of these different perspectives, accounts varied concerning the length of time it took for McIntosh to die. Defenders of the lynchers remembered a quick death; critics remembered a lengthy ordeal. Critics also remembered the lynching as the event that led to Lovejoy’s death, though the defenders made no such connection. They remembered McIntosh’s burning as a moment of great clarity for men who considered their role in the community to be that of guardians of public safety and (with no sense of irony) order.

The day after McIntosh died, the Missouri Republican, the city’s leading newspaper and Whig in its political sympathies, published an account of the lynching. Most accounts agreed on the accuracy of the Republican’s report. On the evening of 28 April 1836, St. Louis’s deputy sheriff, George Hammond, joined the city’s deputy constable, William Mull, to arrest Francis McIntosh. Later reports identified McIntosh as a Pittsburgh resident who had arrived in St. Louis with the steamboat Flora, on which he was employed as a steward. Hammond and Mull took McIntosh into custody because he had interfered with them when they tried to arrest two unruly sailors. With McIntosh’s help, the sailors had run off. Hammond and Mull apprehended McIntosh, secured a warrant for his incarceration, and marched him off to the city jail, located directly west of the courthouse. When the group reached the northeast corner of the courthouse square, McIntosh drew a knife. He struck first at Mull, who dodged the blade. Turning, McIntosh struck Hammond on the lower chin and drove the knife into his neck, severing the right carotid artery. Struggling to aid Hammond, Mull received a serious wound in his abdomen. According to later reports, McIntosh then ran south on Fourth Street toward Market. Hammond fell dead in the street while Mull shouted out an alarm and gave chase as best he could before passing out. By later accounts, a crowd of about fifty men pursued McIntosh and cornered him in a private lot near Fourth and Walnut Streets. They disarmed him and took him to jail.

As word of Hammond’s murder spread, a crowd gathered at the jail. Soon, the assembled multitude,” as the Republican described the mob, pushed its way into the jail, forcibly removed the keys from the sheriffs pocket, took hold of McIntosh, and dragged him into the street. Unnamed persons chained him to a tree, stacked wood around him, and burned him to death.

Accounts varied concerning exactly what happened after the mob took McIntosh from the jail. John F. Darby, the mayor of St. Louis at the time of the lynching, described the event in his memoirs more than four decades later. A native of North Carolina, Darby had moved to St. Louis in the mid-1820s and practiced law. A Whig and an ardent supporter of public expenditures for internal improvements, Darby served as mayor from 1835 to 1837 and served a second one-year term in 1840. He did not claim to have been an eye­witness to McIntosh’s lynching, but he recalled the event with great assurance and in considerable detail. It was “a strong and brave Irishman” who disarmed McIntosh after the death of Hammond, recalled Darby. It was a Connecticut man who first made the suggestion that the captive be burned. In Darby’s account, McIntosh died quickly in a “brisk” fire that “ran up far above his head into the tops of the trees.” The whole business, from the murder of Hammond to the death of McIntosh, had occurred within an hour, according to Darby.

Darby’s account functioned in part as a rebuttal to an antislavery inter­pretation of the event, which had its origin in Theodore Dwight Weld’s American Slavery As It Is (1839) and which was reiterated in accounts of Lovejoy’s subsequent death. In the antislavery interpretation, McIntosh’s death had been a sadistic affair. Moreover, both the lynching and the subsequent killing of Lovejoy represented a lawlessness endemic to a slaveholding society. Weld wrote his account to disprove the proslavery claim that “Public Opinion Is a Protection to the Slave,” and he emphasized the public nature of the lynching. McIntosh, he wrote, had been burned “in the midst of the city… in open day.” The St. Louis German editor, Henry Boernstein, who arrived in St. Louis from Europe in 1849, learned about the lynching from his colleagues on the city’s first German language newspaper, the Anzeiger des Westens. In his 1881 memoirs, Boernstein recorded the antislavery version of the affair. A mob, “roused by the slaveholders” chained McIntosh to a tree on the outskirts of town. They lit a fire around him and watched as “the unfortunate man was slowly roasted to death.” In Alton, where Lovejoy continued his attacks on slavery and on St. Louis lynch law, “rowdies and scum” joined “a gang from Missouri” to kill the editor.

Some aspects of these antislavery accounts should be questioned. The Republican originally reported that Hammond had arrested McIntosh at about seven o’clock in the evening. If the events leading up to McIntosh’s death occurred as quickly as Darby recalled, it is possible that the lynching took place while some light remained in the sky. But Weld’s statement that the lynching took place “in open day” was an exaggeration if not an error. So, too, was Weld’s claim that McIntosh died “in the midst of the city.” By most accounts, the lynching took place on the edge of town. The Republican reported that the mob took McIntosh to “the border of town.” A visiting salesman from Vermont wrote to his wife that the mob took McIntosh to “the common, west of the city.” Darby, writing in 1880, recalled that McIntosh had been burned “about where the [O’Fallon] Polytechnic building is now.” That would locate the site of the lynching on the western outskirts of the city, on a block between Seventh and Eighth and Chestnut and Market. Boernstein shared Weld’s abolitionist perspective but located the lynching “at the corner of Seventh and Chestnut.” Yet by the 1880s, when J. Thomas Scharf wrote his History of St. Louis City and County, memories of the event diverged sufficiently to produce a confused account. Scharf wrote that “the negro was… dragged to the bank of the river, where he was tied to a tree.” In the next sentence, however, he added that “the place where the negro was burned is now Tenth and Market Streets, then a common.” In any case, the lynching did not take place, as Weld implied, in full daylight and in the middle of town.

The antislavery conclusion that the barbarism of slavery produced the lawlessness that cost McIntosh and Lovejoy their lives also requires scrutiny. Neither killing was the product of a slaveholders’ conspiracy. In the McIntosh lynching, the mob undoubtedly included a number of prominent citizens, although no one publicly admitted participating. In Alton, the leaders of the mob were the town’s most prominent physicians.

Concerning the McIntosh lynching, Mayor Darby wrote without remorse or apology, as if he had witnessed the event. There is reason to think that Luke Lawless, who, as judge of the St. Louis Circuit Court, later convened a grand jury to investigate the lynching, also witnessed it. On the other hand, one purported eyewitness account is open to doubt. The diary of an unidentified St. Louis physician claimed that a group of ten to twenty men actively participated in the lynching. He recorded that an alderman, whom he did not name, threatened to shoot anyone who tried to loosen the chains binding McIntosh to the tree. McIntosh died very slowly, the physician recorded; the diary provided gruesome detail. As the fire burned through McIntosh’s abdomen and his entrails spilled out, someone in the crowd asked the victim if he still felt pain. McIntosh answered that he felt a great deal of pain. But the diarist also reported that the mob had chained McIntosh to a tree “back of the jail.” The writer probably composed his diary entry from the accounts of others.

In the aftermath of the lynching, St. Louisans tried to sort through their emotions and make sense of the affair. It was in this tense environment that Lovejoy became the object of the mob’s fury. The Republican feared, correctly, that the lynching might “damage the fair name of our town.” It reported a “revolting spectacle” but offered no detailed description of the lynching. The editor focused instead on the crowd. It seemed important to note that the killing of McIntosh had taken place without any other violence or disorder. “There was no tumult,” reported the Republican, “no disturbance of any kind.” Instead, “the crowd retired quietly to their several homes.” The editor hoped, vainly as it turned out, that the episode would be quickly forgotten: “Let the veil of oblivion be drawn over the fatal affair.” The editor of the Whig newspaper, the St. Louis Bulletin, went a bit further to condemn “the atrocious violation of law, (and perhaps we may say humanity)” but said no more about the event. William Weber, editor of the Anzeiger des Westens, asked pointedly why the city’s elite militia, the St. Louis Grays, had not appeared to restore order. When a community ignored the rule of law, the German editor warned, it jeopardized the whole fabric of constitutional government.

The St. Louis Observer, a Presbyterian paper edited by Elijah P. Lovejoy, took a very different view. A New Englander of moderate antislavery views, Lovejoy saw in the lynching a level of lawlessness that threatened civilized society. His account drew from the description previously published in the Republican to report the arrest of McIntosh and the murder of Hammond. But Lovejoy offered a detailed description of the lynching, not, he wrote, to suggest that its brutality reflected “the moral condition of St. Louis,” but to denounce the spirit of “mobism” that it represented. Lovejoy had not witnessed the lynching. He constructed his account, he said, from a number of reports he regarded as reliable. When McIntosh, chained with his back to the tree, realized that the mob intended to burn him, not whip him, he pleaded to be shot. As he felt the flames on his body, he “commenced singing a hymn and trying to pray.” When he grew silent and his head dropped, someone in the crowd speculated that he had died. With most of his facial features destroyed by the fire, McIntosh managed to speak. He still felt the pain, he said. He could hear all that was said around him. Again he pleaded to be shot. Lovejoy did not condemn the St. Louis mob alone. He saw a similar spirit of mobism in the August 1834 burning of the Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and in the July 1835 hanging of five white gamblers in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Lovejoy described McIntosh as “a hardened wretch certainly, and one that deserved to die —but not thus to die.”‘

On 16 May a grand jury, presided over by Luke Lawless, met to investi­gate the McIntosh lynching. It was Lawless who had served as Benton’s second in the 1817 duel that took the life of young Charles Lucas. Lawless understood the tradition of honor that compelled men to fight to the death, and he understood as well a tradition of collective violence that often defied laws and constitutions. He opened the proceedings with a lengthy address. Normally, he said, he would conclude his remarks after offering general com­ments regarding the jury’s duties; under these circumstances, however, he could not do so. His “fellow citizens might well expect from the judge of the Court, a special notice of the dreadful events that have so recently thrown a gloom over our prosperous and generally peaceful city.” The murder of Hammond, the wounding of Mull, and “the destruction of the murderer himself raised the question of what, if any, “action of the Grand Jury is called for by them.” In the killing of McIntosh, the grand jury confronted “a force unauthorized by law” and “a mode of death forbidden by the Constitution,” which forbade “cruel and unusual punishment.” Clearly, “chaining the prisoner to a tree, and burning him to ashes” was both cruel and unusual. If Lawless had left the grand jury “to their own unassisted deliberations upon this question,” he feared that his silence would be construed as timidity. That he considered “unworthy of a judge.” Instead, he offered his frank views about “what your oath and function, as Grand Jurors of the County, require of you to do or abstain from doing, under existing circumstances.”

Since McIntosh was dead, there was no need for the grand jury to consider issuing an indictment for the murder of Hammond or the attempted murder of Mull. The only question that remained was what action should be taken regarding “those persons who effected the destruction of the murderer.” The question was not a straightforward one, Lawless thought. He regarded it as “novel” and “depending for its solution, on considerations not generally influencing the decisions or proceedings of a Grand Jury.” He could find no “parallel case on record.” Having looked to the law and having found no answers, he concluded that “rational action” in the matter made it “necessary to take into view principles of even higher import to the community than those which govern the ordinary march and administration of criminal law.” There was nothing ambiguous about the killing of McIntosh, Lawless admitted. “The difficult work which presents itself,” he explained, “arises as to the possibility and expediency of visiting on the perpetrators of that act the penalties of the law.”

The grand jurors may have already suspected the conclusion toward which Lawless was leading them. Perhaps he sensed a degree of irreverence among the jurors. Abruptly, he launched into a denunciation of the lynching. He could not imagine the existence of an American citizen “of sound mind, and not under the influence of passion,” who would not admit that McIntosh’s death involved “an outrageous violation of the Law and Constitution.” Those who justified the act by pointing to McIntosh’s undisputed guilt overlooked the possibility that the man might have been “a lunatic­ not morally responsible, and therefore, in the view of God and man, innocent.” Any country “calling itself civilized” must recoil from the act, the more so in “this chosen land of liberty.” If law is not supreme, liberty cannot exist, Lawless lectured. If the people disregarded the law, anarchy would prevail and there would be no safety “for life or property.” He could only pray that the fire that consumed McIntosh would become “a beacon light to warn away the citizens of Missouri from the perpetration of similar horrors.”

Still, the question remained what the responsibility of the grand jury was. Lawless told the jurors that he had “reflected much on this matter” and that he felt it to be his duty “to state my opinion … that, whether the Grand Jury shall act at all depends upon … whether the destruction of McIntosh was the act of the ‘few’ or the act of the ‘many.’” If the jurors determined that “a small number of individuals separate from the mass” committed the killing, he expressed his opinion “that you ought to indict them all without a single exception.” If, on the other hand, McIntosh’s killing had been the work “of congregated thousands, seized upon and impelled by that mysterious, metaphysical, and almost electric phrenzy … then, I say, act not at all in the matter the case then transcends your jurisdiction it is beyond the reach of human law.”

Lawless then examined the lynching, as Lovejoy had in the Observer, in the context of recent outbreaks of mob violence elsewhere in the country. He noted the attack in Massachusetts on the Ursuline convent. Although there had been no loss of life in that event, he denounced the “horrid spirit of sectarian bigotry” and compared McIntosh’s killing favorably with it because it had been a “generous excitement,” the natural response of St. Louisans to the inconsolable weeping of Hammond’s wife and children, that led to the lynching. “Is not something to be allowed for human sympathies in these appalling circumstances?” he asked. “Is there not some slight palliation of that deplorable disregard of Law and Constitution, which is now the subject of our deliberations?”

Lawless admitted that efforts in Massachusetts to punish the anti-Catholic rioters had met with some success. But there had been “no ground of extenuation” in the Charlestown riot, and in any case, the prosecution of the rioters had done nothing to cure Massachusetts of its anti-Catholic bigotry. By contrast, in the McIntosh killing the persons “most actively engaged in this tragic scene, must ALREADY REGRET WHAT THEY HAVE DONE.” They must understand that faithful execution of the laws would have ended in justice and would have offered “no pretense for … outcry” by the “unprincipled men engaged in the anti-national scheme of abolitionism.” Had the laws been faithfully executed, the public mind would have been able to concentrate entirely on the atrocities committed by McIntosh. Here, Lawless believed he had arrived at the central issue in the whole affair. What had excited the mob was something more than the killing of Hammond. McIntosh’s crime took its place among “similar atrocities committed in this and other states BY INDIVIDUALS OF NEGRO BLOOD AGAINST THEIR WHITE BRETHREN.”

Lawless then spoke as if he had firsthand knowledge of the lynching. The “passions and intellect” of the “wretched McIntosh,” Lawless charged, had been influenced by abolitionists. This “seems to me to be indicated,” he continued, “by the peculiar character of his language and demeanor.” McIntosh had not died penitent. Lawless noted “his rapid denunciations of the white man his professions of deadly hostility to the whole race his hymns and his prayers, so profanely and frightfully mixed up with those horrid imprecations.” In his death throes, McIntosh revealed the influence on him of the “incendiary” doctrines of abolitionism.

Lawless, then, lay the moral responsibility for the murder of Hammond and the subsequent lynching of McIntosh at the feet of the abolitionists. And he defined abolitionism broadly enough to include Lovejoy’s cautious advocacy of gradual emancipation. Lawless handed the jurors a copy of Lovejoy’s Observer and noted that although the paper professed to be “exclusively devoted to religious object,” the edition published immediately after McIntosh’s death offered a graphic description of the burning and two sermons, one stating that “slavery is a sin and ought to be abandoned,” the other lamenting the “abandonment of virtue” and the “prostration of principle” among the “Pro-Slavery men of modern times.” When such “fanaticism” reached the “fiery, unreasoning instinct of the negro,” continued Lawless, the “ruthless, remorseless revenge” of the African race is inevitably unleashed. “The negro then kills and burns for the love of God and in the name of the Divine Redeemer, and rushes on to crime and carnage under the influence of what appears to him a holy impulse and aspiration.” Lawless did not mention the Nat Turner rebellion, nearly five years earlier in Southampton County, Virginia. But his description of the Negro as divine avenger must have triggered memories of that bloody uprising in the minds of the grand jury. Lawless had finally reached the conclusion of his instructions. He urged the jurors to focus their attention on methods of silencing the voice of abolitionism in Missouri and promised to send their recommendations on that matter to the state legislature.

To Lawless and the grand jurors, the decision not to issue indictments no doubt seemed a victory for the community. The jurors had selected John O’Fallon as their foreman. A native of Kentucky, he had been raised as the ward of his uncle, Missouri’s territorial governor William Clark. By 1830 O’Fallon had established himself as one of the wealthiest merchants in St. Louis, and through the 1840s he led the city’s Whig Party. Before his death in 1865, he devoted a portion of his vast wealth, estimated to be $8 million, to the establishment of O’Fallon Polytechnic Institute on a city lot that Mayor Darby remembered to have been the site of the McIntosh lynching.

O’Fallon undoubtedly agreed with a Whig newspaper, the Bulletin, when it praised the wisdom of Lawless’s remarks. The Catholic weekly, the Shepherd of the Valley, similarly endorsed the judge’s stance. Lawless’s comments contained “much sound wisdom and discretion,” wrote the Catholic editor, who then equated abolitionism with Protestantism and with revolt against all authority, spiritual and secular. To Lovejoy, who reacted to Lawless’s tirade against abolitionism with a tirade of his own against Catholicism and slavery, it seemed clear that Catholicism condoned slavery and that slavery promoted barbarism. Noting Lawless’s Irish birth and Catholic faith, Lovejoy saw “the cloven feet of jesuitism, peeping out from under the veil of almost every paragraph of the judge’s instructions to the jury.” He knew that his refusal to let the matter rest exposed him to mob violence, but he pressed on. He did not seek “martyrdom,” he wrote. But it would be better that he should be “chained to the same tree as McIntosh and share his fate, than that the doctrines promulgated by Judge Lawless from the bench should become prevalent in this community.” Lovejoy’s fellow New Englanders doubtless shared his outrage, but they were not prepared to stand with him in this instance. After two attacks on his press in St. Louis, he announced that he would move the Observer to Alton, Illinois. More mob attacks followed. Lovejoy would not again flee. “Should I attempt it,” he wrote, “I should feel that the angel of the Lord, with his flaming sword, was pursuing me wherever I went. It is because I fear God that I am not afraid of all who oppose me in this city.”

After Alton mobs destroyed three presses, Lovejoy resolved to defend the fourth. The newly elected mayor of Alton, John M. Krum (later elected mayor of St. Louis and involved in the Dred Scott case), seemed sympathetic to Lovejoy’s requests for protection. Ultimately, however, Krum’s efforts to restrain the mob failed. Perhaps he did the best he could. He sought authority from the Alton Common Council to appoint special constables, but the council took no action on the matter. At a public meeting that, in effect, ordered Lovejoy to leave town or face violent consequences, Krum offered a resolution that pleased but did not placate the crowd. The resolution expressed “regret that persons and editors from abroad have seen proper” to agitate against slavery in Alton. Krum managed to station a few constables at the warehouse where Lovejoy’s press was stored, but they were too few and too indecisive to deter the mob. Krum stalled for time by acting as the mob’s emissary to Lovejoy. It was Krum who delivered the ultimatum: surrender the press or the building would be burned. When Krum left the warehouse with nothing but Lovejoy’s defiance to offer the mob, he made his last effort to halt the violence, warning that his police would shoot anyone who attempted to commit arson. In the end, he was ignored by the mob and by the police. As Lovejoy tried to deter an arsonist setting fire to the building’s roof, he was shot and killed.

Lovejoy became a martyr to the antislavery cause. As John Quincy Adams observed, Lovejoy’s death sent “a shock as of an earthquake throughout the continent.” Across the North, the antislavery cause won fresh, dedicated recruits. Adams had already joined the movement. After serving one term as president, he won election to the House of Representatives and, by the time of Lovejoy’s death, he had taken the lead in Congress in the fight against the antiabolitionist “gag rule.” At Lovejoy’s graveside, one of the martyr’s younger brothers, Owen (who later won election to Congress from Illinois), dedicated himself to the antislavery cause. In Hudson, Ohio, Laurens P. Hickok, professor of theology at Western Reserve College, presided over a prayer service memorializing Lovejoy. A young John Brown (of Harper’s Ferry fame) attended. “The crisis has come,” said Hickok. “The question now before the American citizen is no longer alone, ‘Can the slaves be made free?’ but, are we free, or are we slaves under Southern mob law?” When Hickok finished speaking, Brown stood up, raised his right hand, and swore before God and the witnesses at the meeting that he would devote his life to the destruction of slavery.

In Vermont, two young men also felt the shock of Lovejoy’s death. One was Zebina Eastman, already an abolitionist in sentiment and soon to be active in the cause. In 1839, after a failed attempt as a newspaper editor in Vermont, he moved west to Illinois, where he joined the veteran abolitionist, Benjamin Lundy, and John W. E. Lovejoy (another of Elijah P. Lovejoy’s younger brothers) to edit the Genius of Universal Emancipation. Eastman later recalled discussing the Lovejoy murder in the Newfane, Vermont, law office of his friend Roswell Field. Field, as Eastman remembered, was a “firm believer in the Jacksonian democracy of the hour,” and he used “his caustic powers to speak against the abolitionists.” But Lovejoy’s killing deeply affected Field and turned him against the proslavery wing of the Democratic Party. He could not have forgotten the affair when he moved to St. Louis two years later.

The aftershocks of the McIntosh lynching and the Lovejoy murder continued to unsettle St. Louisans as well. The killings remained vivid memories for a lifetime, and the passions associated with them helped to infuse a greater degree of animosity into the widening debate over slavery.

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Aside from a shared interest in the subject of the Civil War in St. Louis, there is no connection between Professor Gerteis, author of the book “Civil War St. Louis”, and the authors/owners of this website, “Civil War St. Louis.com

Making of a Confederate Guerrilla

The Making of a Confederate Guerrilla

by

John N. Edwards

Excerpted and introduced by G. E. Rule, from “Noted Guerrillas or the Warfare of the Border”, by John N. Edwards, 1877

John N. Edwards


Major John Newman Edwards, CSA, was General Jo. Shelby’s adjutant and chronicler. At war’s end Edwards chose to share Mexican exile with Shelby as well. When they returned to the U.S. in 1867, Edwards rapidly published three large volumes of wartime experiences. Two dealt specifically with Shelby, “Shelby and his Men”, 1867 and “Shelby’s Expedition to Mexico”, 1872. In 1877 he published “Noted Guerrillas”, a broad handling of the Confederate irregulars in Missouri during the war. Edwards also founded the Kansas City Times and was its editor for many years.

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

Edwards knew most of the Missouri Confederate guerrilla leaders personally, but did not actually participate in most of their raids in the same way he had as Shelby’s adjutant. So while his sources for “Noted Guerillas” are excellent, they are still mostly second-hand in that he is often reporting what he was told (sometimes months or years after the fact), and not what he saw. In addition to Major Edward’s clear partisanship, one must make allowance for the possibility that the guerillas themselves told him their stories the way they wanted them told, leaving out any inconvenient facts as they saw fit. For example, later historians have thoroughly demolished the tale given in the beginning of the book about Quantrill’s early years in Kansas before the war.  However, all agree that it was Quantrill, and not Edwards, who created the fabrication.

“The Making of a Confederate Guerrilla” does not –quite—constitute a defense of those who decided on this method of warfare instead of joining the regular Confederate army. Edwards clearly sympathizes with them, but in talking about why they made the choice he stays just this side of the “and they were right to do it this way” line that separates biased reporting from naked advocacy.


Further Reading: Civil War on the Western Border, 1854-1865
by Jay Monaghan

Ride With the Devil by Daniel Woodrell

The Story of Cole Younger by Himself : Being an Autobiography of the Missouri Guerrilla Captain and Outlaw, His Capture and Prison Life by Cole Younger

Three Years With Quantrill by John McCorkle

Recommended Movies:

Ride With the Devil

The Outlaw Josey Wales

It is the province of history to deal with results, not to condemn the phenomena which produce them. Nor has it the right to decry the instruments Providence always raises up in the midst of great catastrophes to restore the equilibrium of eternal justice. Civil war might well have made the Guerrilla, but only the excesses of civil war could have made him the untamable and unmerciful creature that history finds him. When he first went into the war he was somehow imbued with the old-fashioned belief that soldiering meant fighting and that fighting meant killing. He had his own ideas of soldiering, however, and desired nothing so much as to remain at home and meet its despoilers upon his own premises. Not naturally cruel, and adverse to invading the territory of any other people, he could not understand the patriotism of those who invaded his own territory. Patriotism, such as he was required to profess, could not spring up in the market place at the bidding of Red Leg or Jayhawker. He believed, indeed, that the patriotism of Jim Lane and Jennison was merely a highway robbery transferred from the darkness to the dawn, and he believed the truth. Neither did the Guerrilla become merciless all of a sudden. Pastoral in many cases by profession, and reared among the bashful and timid surroundings of agricultural life, he knew nothing of the tiger that was in him until death had been dashed against his eyes in numberless and brutal ways, and until the blood of his own kith and kin had been sprinkled plentifully upon things that his hands touched, and things that entered into his daily existence. And that fury of ideas also came to him slowly, which is more implacable than the fury of men, for men have heart, and opinion has none. It took him likewise some time to learn that the Jayhawker’s system of saving the Union was a system of brutal force, which bewailed not even that which it crushed; that it belied its doctrine by its tyranny; stained its arrogated right by its violence, and dishonored its vaunted struggles by its executions. But blood is as contagious as air. The fever of civil war has its delirium. When the Guerrilla awoke he was a giant! He took in, as it were, and at a single glance, all the immensity of the struggle. He saw that he was hunted and proscribed; that he had neither a flag nor a government; that the rights and the amenities of civilized warfare where not to be his; that a dog’s death was certain if he surrendered even in the extremist agony of battle; that the house which sheltered him had to be burnt; the father who succored him had to be butchered; the mother who prayed for him had to be insulted; the sister who carried food to him had to be imprisoned; the neighborhood which witnessed his combats had to be laid waste; the comrade shot down by his side had to be put to death as a wild beast—and he lifted up the black flag in self-defense and fought as became a free man and a hero.

Much obloquy has been cast upon the Guerrilla organization because in its name bad men plundered the helpless, pillaged friend and foe alike, assaulted non-combatants and murdered the unresisting and the innocent. Such devil’s work was not Guerrilla work. It fitted all too well the hands of those cowards crouching in the rear of either army and courageous only where women defended what remained to themselves and their children. Desperate and remorseless as he undoubtedly was, the Guerrilla saw shining down upon his pathway a luminous patriotism, and he followed it eagerly that the might kill in the name of God and his country. The nature of his warfare made him responsible of course for many monstrous things he had no personal share in bringing about. Denied a hearing a the bar of public opinion, the bete noir of all the loyal journalists, painted blacker than ten devils, and given a countenance that was made to retain some shadow of all the death agonies he had seen, is it strange in the least that his fiendishness became omnipresent as well as omnipotent? To justify one crime on the part of a Federal soldier, five crimes more cruel still were laid at the door of the Guerrilla. His long gallop not only tired but infuriated his hunters. That savage standing at bay and dying always as a wolf dies when barked at by hounds and bludgeoned by countrymen, made his enemies fear him and hate him. Hence from all their bomb-proofs his slanderers fired silly lies at long range, and put afloat unnatural stories that hurt him only as it deepened the savage intensity of an already savage strife. Save in rare and memorable instances, the Guerrilla murdered only when fortune in open and honorable battle gave into his hands some victims who were denied that death in combat which they afterward found by ditch or lonesome roadside. Man for man, he put his life fairly on the cast of the war dice, and died when the need came as the red Indian dies, stoical and grim as a stone.

As strange as it may seem, the perilous fascination of fighting under a black flag—where the wounded could have neither surgeon nor hospital, and where all that remained to the prisoners was the absolute certainty of speedy death –attracted a number of young men to the various Guerrilla bands, gently nurtured, born to higher destinies, capable of sustained exertion in any scheme or enterprise, and fit for callings high up in the scale of science or philosophy. Others came who had deadly wrongs to avenge, and these gave to all their combats that sanguinary hue which still remains a part of the Guerrilla’s legacy. Almost from the first a large majority of Quantrell’s [common misspelling of Quantrill used by Edwards throughout] original command had over them the shadow of some terrible crime. This one recalled a father murdered, this one a brother waylaid and shot, this one a house pillaged and burnt, this one a relative assassinated, this one a grievous insult while at peace at home, this one a robbery of all his earthly possessions, this one the force which compelled him to witness the brutal treatment of a mother or sister, this one was driven away from his own life a thief in the night, this one was threatened with death for opinion’s sake, this one was proscribed at the instance of some designing neighbor, this one was arrested wantonly and forced to do the degrading work of a menial; while all had more or less of wrath laid up against the day when they were to meet face to face and hand to hand those whom they had good cause to regard as the living embodiment of unnumbered wrongs. Honorable soldiers in the Confederate army –amenable to every generous impulse and exact in the performance of every manly duty –deserted even the ranks which they had adorned and became desperate Guerrillas because the home they had left had been given to the flames, or a gray-haired father shot upon his own hearth-stone. They wanted to avoid the uncertainty of regular battle and know by actual results how many died as a propitiation or a sacrifice. Every other passion became subsidiary to that of revenge. They sought personal encounters that their own handiwork might become unmistakably manifest. Those who died by other agencies than their own were not counted in the general summing up of a fight, nor were the solacements of any victory sweet to them unless they had the knowledge of being important factors in its achievement. As this class of Guerrillas increased, the warfare of the border became necessarily more cruel and unsparing. Where at first there was only killing in ordinary battle, there became to be no quarter shown. The wounded of the enemy next felt the might of this individual vengeance –acting through a community of bitter memories –and from every stricken field there began, by and by, to come up the substance of this awful bulletin: Dead such and such a number –wounded none. The war had then passed into its fever heat, and thereafter the gentle and the merciful, equally with the harsh and the revengeful, spared nothing clad in blue that could be captured.

Jayhawkers Versus Bushwhackers

Jayhawkers vs Bushwhackers

Jayhawkers were honorable abolitionists…or lowlife horsethieves. Bushwhackers were patriotic defenders… or murderous bandits. Here are vehemently opposing viewpoints by two of the Civil War’s participants. One area they coincide is in their poor opinion of the genetic traits of their opponents. It’s easier to fight people you see as less than human.

The Kansas

Jayhawker

by

John N. Edwards

The original Jayhawker was a growth indigenous to the soil of Kansas. There belonged to him as things of course a pre-emption, a chronic case of chills and fevers, one starved cow and seven dogs, a longing for his neighbor’s goods and chattels, a Sharpe’s rifle, when he could get it, and something of a Bible for hypocrisy’s sake—something that savored of the real presence of the book to give backbone to his canting and snuffling. In some respects a mountebank, in others a scoundrel, and in all a thief—he was a character eminently adapted for civil war which produces more adventurers than heroes. His hands were large, hairy, and red—proof of inherited laziness—and a slouching gait added to the ungainliness of his figure when he walked. The type was all of a kind. The mouth generally wore a calculating smile—the only distinguishable gift remaining of a Puritan ancestry—but when he felt that he was looked at the calculating smile became sanctimonious. Slavery concerned him only as the slaveholder was supposed to be rich; and just so long as Beecher presided over emigration aid societies, preached highway robbery, defended political murder, and sent something to the Jayhawkers in the way of real fruits and funds, there surely was a God in Israel and Beecher was his great high priest. Otherwise they all might go to the devil together. The Jayhawker was not brave. He would fight when he had to fight, but he would not stand in the last ditch and shoot away his last cartridge. Born to nothing, and eternally out at the elbows, what else could he do but laugh and be glad when chance kicked a country into war and gave purple and fine linen to a whole lot of bummers and beggars? In the saddle he rode like a sand bag or a sack of meal. The eternal “ager cake” made a trotting horse his abomination, and he had no use for a thoroughbred, save to steal him. When he abandoned John Brown and rallied to the standard of Jim Lane—when he gave up the fanatic and clove unto the thief—he simply changed his leader without changing his principles.

Excerpted and introduced by G. E. Rule, from “Noted Guerrillas or the Warfare of the Border”, by John N. Edwards, 1877

For Edwards’ view of the Bushwhackers read Making of a Confederate Guerrilla

Major John N. Edwards, CSA, was General Jo. Shelby’s adjutant and chronicler. At war’s end Edwards chose to share Mexican exile with Shelby as well. When they returned to the U.S. in 1867, Edwards rapidly published three large volumes of wartime experiences. Two dealt specifically with Shelby, “Shelby and his Men”, 1867 and “Shelby’s Expedition to Mexico”, 1872.  In 1874 he published “Noted Guerrillas”, a broad handling of the Confederate irregulars in Missouri during the war. Edwards also founded the Kansas City Times and was its editor for many years.

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

The Missouri Bushwhacker

by

John McElroy

Next to Slavery, the South had been cursed by the importation of paupers and criminals who had been transported from England for England’s good, in the early history of the Colonies, to work the new lands. The negro proving the better worker in servitude than this class, they had been driven off the plantations to squat on unoccupied lands, where they bred like the beasts of the field, getting a precarious living from hunting the forest, and the bolder eking out this by depredations upon their thriftier neighbors. Their forebears had been paupers and criminals when sent from England, and the descendants continued to be paupers and criminals in the new country, forming a clearly marked social class, so distinct as to warrant the surmise that they belonged to a different race. As the eastern part of the South and the administration of the laws improved, this element was to some extent forced out, and spread in a noisome trail over Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri. While other immigrants went into the unbroken forest with a few rude tools and in the course of several years built up comfortable homes, theirs never rose above abject squalor. The crudest of cabins sufficed them for shelter, beds of beech leaves were all the couches they required; they had more guns in their huts than agricultural or mechanical implements; they scarcely pretended to raise anything more than a scanty patch of corn; and when they could not put on their tables the flesh of the almost wild razorback hog which roamed the woods, they made meat of woodchucks, raccoons, opossums or any other “varmint” their guns could bring down. They did not scorn hawks or owls if hunger demanded and no better meat could be found.

It was this “White Trash” which added so much to the horrors of the war, especially in Missouri, and so little to its real prosecution. Wolf-like in ferocity, when the advantages were on their side, they were wolf-like in cowardice when the terms were at all equal. They were the Croats, Cossacks, Tolpatches, Pandours of the Confederacy—of little value in battle, but terrible as guerrillas and bushwhackers. From this “White Trash” came the gangs of murderers and robbers, like those led by the Youngers, Jameses, Quantrills, and scores of other names of criminal memory.

As has been the case in all times and countries, these dregs of society became the willing tools of the Slaveholding aristocrats. With dog-like fidelity they followed and served the class which despised and overrode them. Somehow, by inherited habits likely, they seemed to avoid the more fertile parts of the State.

Excerpted and introduced by G.E. Rule, from “The Struggle for Missouri”, John McElroy, 1909

In 1863, at the age of sixteen, John McElroy joined an Illinois cavalry regiment. Six months later he was taken prisoner and remained so until the end of the war, spending much of the time at the infamous Andersonville prison. In 1879 he wrote a book about his experiences, “Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons. Fifteen Months a Guest of the so-called Southern Confederacy”. In 1909 he was back with “Struggle for Missouri”, with little of his anti-Confederate heat dissipated. “The Struggle for Missouri” is dedicated “To the Union Men of Missouri”, and they get the better end of every argument or controversy in its pages.

Home Guard

The Home Guard

by

Galusha Anderson

Excerpted and Introduced by G.E. Rule from “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War”, Galusha Anderson, 1908

Galusha Anderson 1861


Galusha Anderson was a Baptist minister in St. Louis from 1858-1866. His decidedly pro-Union “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War” has many faults. Anderson’s opinion of his own importance in events is exaggerated, and at times the reader would be forgiven for thinking that Blair, Lyon, Fremont, Schofield, Rosecrans, et al could have just stayed in bed –it was really Galusha who held the fate of the Union cause in Missouri in his strong hands. At one point he has an agitated southerner blame his preaching for the Union seizure of Camp Jackson. One suspects Anderson would not want to discourage his readers from reaching the same conclusion. Describing his first blast from a St. Louis pulpit against the heresy of secession, Galusha reports the event with a freighted solemnity and attention to minute detail most historians would reserve for the third day at Gettysburg or the final scene at Appomattox.

On the plus side, Anderson does have a fine eye for detail and his book is filled with many interesting anecdotes of life in St. Louis during the Civil War. Galusha’s Union sources (men like James O. Broadhead were his parishioners) seem to be excellent and allow the reader a valuable insight into the thinking of the pro-Union population of St. Louis. For those interested in the topic, Rev. Anderson’s book has many revealing stories of the stresses –and sometimes fractures– that can occur in “Christian fellowship” during a time of political upheaval.

The Home Guard was Frank Blair’s pro-Union militia, eventually taken into Federal service in April and May of 1861 when Governor Claiborne Jackson refused President Lincoln’s call for four regiments from Missouri. Going around the governor for troops from his state was unprecedented at the time, and at the best extra-constitutional. General Winfield Scott’s endorsement read, “This is irregular, but, being times of revolution, is approved.” Anderson’s account describes how a pro-Republican political club, the Wide-Awakes, was transformed into the Home Guard militia and armed for the conflict that most saw coming. He also touches on the pro-secessionist Minute Men. See Thomas L. Snead’s account of the Minute Men to get their view of events. Both sides blame the other for starting the arming of the private militias.

The Home Guard was made up largely, but not exclusively, of recent German immigrants, many of whom had been on the short-end of the attempted 1848 revolution there. These had no respect whatever for “the peculiar institution” and were referred to as “The Dutch”, a corruption of “Deutsch”, which is the German word for “German”. Anderson, as only he can, prissily tells elsewhere in his book how even the upper-class secessionist ladies of the city often referred to “’The Amsterdam Dutch’, without the ‘Amster’!” This is a lovely double pun for “The Damn Dutch” who had no Amsterdam in their background.

In excerpting from Anderson’s book the section concerning the Home Guards, there is always the danger the resulting piece may give an impression unintended by the author of the original work had he the opportunity to write on the Home Guards solely instead of as part of a larger work. Any perceived problems of that sort should be laid at the door of the editor, not the author.


Missouri Civil War Reader CD-ROM

Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I now available

The Fight for Missouri by Thomas L. Snead, 1886

The Struggle for Missouri by John McElroy, 1909

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

The Crisis by Winston Churchill, 1901

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

The Brown-Reynolds Duel, 1911

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

There were two formidable political clubs in the city. The one was the Wide-Awakes. This was Republican in politics. It was made up of the most progressive young men of St. Louis. Many of them had just come into the Republican ranks; their political faith was new; they had the zeal and enthusiasm of recent converts. They were also stimulated by the fact that they were called upon to maintain their political doctrine in the face of the stoutest opposition. With their torchlights they had just been marching and hurrahing for Lincoln. They had cheered the vigorous speeches of their brilliant orators. Their candidate, though defeated in their city and State, had been triumphantly elected to the Presidency. Such a body of men, flushed with victory, was a political force which every thoughtful man saw must be reckoned with.

The other political club was the Minute Men. They were mostly young, but conservative, Democrats. They had supported Douglas for the Presidency. They too had had their torchlight processions. They had listened to impassioned harangues from the stump and loudly cheered them. Even their distinguished political leader came during the canvas and spoke to them with rare persuasiveness in defense of squatter sovereignty, and they were proud of “The Little Giant”, as Senator Douglas was popularly called. Then in their city and State they had been victorious at the polls. While defeated in the nation at large, they felt strong, braced, as they believed themselves to be, by the old and oft-tested doctrines of Democracy [at this time “Democracy” or “the Democracy” was used to refer to the Democratic party –ed]. Here was another mighty political force. If armed conflict were to come, on which side would it array itself? While Mr. Douglas, their admired leader, was a staunch Union man, most of these Minute Men, who had so strenuously striven to elect him to the Presidency, after they learned that verdict at the polls, began to drift into the ranks of the secessionists. Nor did they disband; but they began to reorganize for hostilities. When this was observed, influential Republicans advised the Wide-Awakes not to break up their organizations, but to continue to meet statedly, just as they had during the presidential campaign, to procure arms so far as they were able, and to subject themselves to military drill. And during the winter of 1860-1861 these antagonistic political organizations, the Minute Men and the Wide-Awakes, now to all intents and purposes transformed into military bodies, met regularly at their various rendezvous and went through the manual of arms. Late in the evening, I often passed a hall occupied by a company of Minute Men, or secessionists, where I heard them march, countermarch and ground arms. Things like this were unmistakable premonitions of bloody battle. Some of our immediate neighbors and friends evidently already contemplated appealing “from ballots to bullets”, and a shiver of apprehension ran down our spines.

But a serious problem now presented itself for solution. How could arms be obtained for the Wide-Awakes or Union men? In some mysterious way the Minute Men or secessionists had been at least partially armed. We could only guess what was the source of their supply. But where could the Wide-Awakes secure guns? There were arms in abundance at the Arsenal in the southern part of the city, but they belonged to the United States; and as there were as yet no open hostilities, private military organizations could not lawfully be furnished with them. Notwithstanding this, we did not propose, if the hour of need should strike, to be found napping. So after due deliberations it was announced that, in a certain hall, there would be an art exhibition, which would continue for three weeks or more. To the general public it seemed to be an unpropitious time for such a venture, but as it had no warlike look it aroused no suspicion, and was generously patronized by those of all shades of political opinion. The exhibition in its display of statuary and painting was not only creditable but attractive. It was also a financial success; but outside the few determined Union men who made up the inner circle, the secret reason of that burning zeal for cultivating the artistic tastes of the city was quite unknown. Considerable material for the exhibition was sent to us from the East; among other things was a plentiful supply of plaster casts from New York. These were packed in large boxes; but some patriots of Gotham, who sent them, knew our secret and our necessities, and also forwarded to us boxes of muskets labeled as plaster casts, with plain directions to handle the fragile contents with care. Those who arranged the material of the art exhibit, unable, on account of the rush of work, to unpack these boxes in the daytime, were compelled to leave them till midnight before they were cared for. Then, unopened, they were carted to the places where patriotic Wide-Awakes were gathered. Shining muskets never gave more joy than these imparted to the Union men of St. Louis. And during that anxious, dismal winter, they often met in their secret places, and while hoping that all threatened disaster might be averted, statedly went through the manual of arms. Hoping for the best, they determined to be ready for the worst.

* * *

These uncompromising loyalists [the Union Safety Committee, headed by Frank Blair] at once saw in [Captain Nathaniel] Lyon the man for the hour and the place, and he saw in them men who would do all in their power to help him realize his aims. He frequently visited the rendezvous of the Wide-Awakes, now, under the lead of Blair, transformed into Home Guards. He encouraged them in their work, suggested plans for their more perfect organization, and often personally drilled them in the manual of arms. They needed muskets. Blair thought that they should be armed from the Arsenal; and while this was contrary to the letter of the law, Lyon was in full accord with Blair.

* * *

Lyon had now [April 23rd, 1861] what he and Blair had so intensely desired, supreme command at the Arsenal. He at once re-enforced it. He fortified it. All approaches to it were vigilantly guarded. Lyon was now [April 30th, 1861] empowered by the Federal government to arm the Home Guards; to raise and arm additional regiments and muster them into the United States’ service.

Fremont in Missouri

Posted March 2001

FremontFremont in Missouri

by

John McElroy

Galusha Anderson

W. T. Sherman

Excerpted and introduced by G. E. Rule, from “The Struggle for Missouri”, John McElroy, 1909; “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War”, Galusha Anderson, 1908; “Memoirs of General William T. Sherman,” by Gen. W. T. Sherman, 1875


Further Reading: Civil War St. Louis by Louis S. Gerteis

Civil War St. Louis by Gerteis

Memoirs by John Charles Fremont

Memoirs of My Life : Including Three Journeys of Western Exploration During the Years 1842, 1843-1844, 1845-1847 by John Charles Fremont

John Charles Fremont: Character As Destiny
by Andrew Rolle
John Charles Fremont

The Letters of Jessie Benton Fremontby Jessie Benton Fremont

Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman by William Techumseh Sheman

Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860-1865

Fremont in Missouri covers the career of Union Major-General John Charles Fremont from the time he was appointed head of the Department of the West with headquarters in St. Louis in July of 1861, until he was relieved less than four months later. Fremont was known as “The Great Pathfinder” for his exploits in finding overland trails to California in the 1840’s. Fremont was also the first U.S. Senator from California and the first Republican candidate for President in the election of 1856. Unfortunately for the Union, he never did become known as “The Competent General” or even “The Adequate Administrator” during the Civil War.

Confederate sources tend to just snicker about Fremont without going into details, and it takes reading the Union sources to get a good idea of his shortcomings. The friendliest sources tend to dwell on his loyalty to the cause, because there is very little else good to be said. The less-friendly sources usually start off with snide comments and often work their way into a high dudgeon before they are through. After his ignominious failure in Missouri, Fremont was relegated to what was considered a much less demanding command in what today would be West Virginia, where he went up against. . . Stonewall Jackson. Ouch.

One of the most interesting sections of the piece is the description of how Union General Franz Sigel may have saved the Republic from a military dictator. It turns out that to the Union, Fremont was dedicated –to the Republic, not so much. Sigel was a German immigrant, and beloved of his brethren. Unfortunately, he came to be known during the Civil War for his “brilliant retreats”. Only the strong affection of a vital part of the Unionist coalition saved his job. However, besides helping to deliver the Germans for the Union, McElroy’s account claims another important service that Sigel performed for his adopted country. When Fremont was relieved by Lincoln in Nov. of 1861, the general considered making a try for the purple instead of accepting the order. Sigel talked him out of it.

This account relies mainly on McElroy, but mixes in the comments of Galusha Anderson and William Tecumseh Sherman where appropriate. Sherman was a young officer in California in 1847 when he had his first experiences with Fremont and his cronies, and already had a very low opinion of him before they met again in St. Louis during the war. Each change in author is marked.


[McElroy]

The country was hysterical [after Bull Run, or Manassas] over the safety of the National Capital, and it seemed that the Administration was equally emotional. Every regiment and gun was being rushed to the heights in front of Washington, and all eyes were fixed on the line of the Potomac.

The perennial adventurer in Gen. Fremont did not fail to suggest to him that the greatest of opportunities might develop in Washington, and he lingered in New York until peremptorily ordered by Gen. Scott to his command. He did not arrive in St. Louis until July 25th [1861].

Like Seward, Chase, McClellan, and many other aspiring men, Fremont had little confidence that the untrained Illinois Rail Splitter in the Presidential chair would be able to keep his head above the waves in the sea of troubles the country had entered. The disaster at Bull Run was but the beginning of a series of catastrophes which would soon call for a stronger brain and more experienced hand at the helm.

Then?

Mrs. Jessie Benton Fremont [the general’s wife, and daughter of Thomas Hart Benton, former Democratic senator from Missouri] was not the only to suggest that the man for the hour would be found to be the first Republican candidate for President –the Great Pathfinder of the Rocky Mountains!

Upon his arrival at St. Louis Gen. Fremont was immediately waited upon by the faithful Chester Harding and others who had been awaiting his coming with painful anxiety. They represented most energetically Gen. Lyon’s predicament [leading up to the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, where Lyon was killed], without money, clothing or ratings, and with a force even more rapidly diminishing [from expiring enlistments] than that of the enemy was augmenting. They revealed Gen. Lyon’s far-reaching plans of making Springfield a base from which to carry the war into Arkansas, and begged for men, money, food, shoes and clothing for him.

Fremont was too much engrossed in forming in the Brant Mansion that vice-regal court of his—the main requirement for which seemed to be inability to speak English—to feel the urgency of these importunities.

The country was swarming with military adventurers from Europe, men with more or less shadow on their connection with the foreign armies, and eager to sell their swords to the highest advantage. They swarmed around Fremont like bees around a sugar barrel, much to the detriment of the honest and earnest men of foreign birth who were rallying to the support of the Union.

Leonidas PolkNext to his satrapal court of exotic manners and speech, Fremont was most concerned about the safety of Cairo, Ill., a most important point, then noisily threatened by Maj.-Gen. Leonidas Polk, the militant Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, and his subordinate, the blatant Gen. Gideon J. Pillow, of Mexican War notoriety.

Gen. Fremont made quite a show of reinforcing Cairo, sending a most imposing fleet of steamboats to carry the 4,000 troops sent thither.

Pretense still counted for much in the war. Later it burnt up like dry straw in the fierce blaze of actualities.

Not being Fremont’s own, nor contributing particularly to his aggrandizement, Gen. Lyon’s plans and aims had little importance to his Commanding General.


Lyon[On Aug. 10, 1861, Lyon was killed at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, and the Union forces under his command were compelled to retreat 125 miles from Springfield to Rolla.]

The death of Gen. Lyon at last aroused Gen. Fremont to a fever of energy to do the things that he should have done weeks before. He began a bombardment of Washington with telegrams asking for men, money and supplies, and sent dispatches of the most urgent nature to everybody from whom he could expect the least help. He called on the Governors of the loyal Western States to hurry to him all the troops that they could raise, and asked from Washington Regular troops, artillery, $3,000,000 for the Quartermaster’s Department, and other requirements in proportion. He made a requisition on St. Louis banks for money, and showed a great deal of fertility of resource.

Aug. 15, five days after the battle, President Lincoln, stirred up by his fusillade of telegrams, dispatched him the following:

Washington, Aug. 15, 1861

To Gen. Fremont:

Been answering your messages ever since day before yesterday. Do you receive the answers? The War Department has notified all Governors you designate to forward all available force. So telegraphed you. Have you received these messages? Answer immediately.

A. Lincoln

With relation to his conduct toward Gen. Lyon, Gen. Fremont afterward testified to this affect before the Committee on the Conduct of the War:

“A glance at the map will make it apparent that Cairo was the point which first demanded immediate attention. The force under Gen. Lyon could retreat, but the position at Cairo could not be abandoned; the question of holding Cairo was one which involved the safety of the whole Northwest. Had the taking of St. Louis followed the defeat of Manassas, the disaster might have been irretrievable; while the loss of Springfield, should our army be compelled to fall back upon Rolla, would only carry with it the loss of a part of Missouri –a loss greatly to be regretted, but not irretrievable.

“Having reinforced Cape Girardeau and Ironton, by the utmost exertions, I succeeded in getting together and embarking with a force of 3,800 men, five days after my arrival in St. Louis.

“From St. Louis to Cairo was an easy day’s journey by water, and transportation abundant. To Springfield was a week’s 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 Gen. Prentiss reduced to 1,200 men, consisting mainly of a regiment which had agreed to await my arrival. A few miles below, at New Madrid, Gen Pillow had landed a force estimated at 20,000, which subsequent events showed was not exaggerated. Our force, greatly increased to the enemy by rumor, drove him to a hasty retreat and permanently secured the position.

“I returned to St. Louis on the 4th, having in the meantime ordered Col. Stephenson’s regiment from Boonville, and Col. Montgomery’s from Kansas, to march to the relief of Gen. Lyon.

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

“I do not accept Springfield as a disaster belonging to my administration. Causes wholly out of my jurisdiction had already prepared the defeat of Gen. Lyon before my arrival at St. Louis.

FremontThe ebullition of the Secession sentiment in Missouri following the news of the battle of Wilson’s Creek made Gen. Fremont feel that the most extraordinary measures were necessary in order to hold the State. He had reasons for this alarm, for the greatest activity was manifested in every County in enrolling young men in Secession companies and regiments. Heavy columns were threatening invasion from various points. One of these was led by Gen. Hardee, a Regular officer of much ability, who had acquired considerable fame by this translation of the tactics in use in the Army. He had been appointed to the command on North Arkansas, and had collected considerable force at Pocahontas, at the head of navigation on the White River, where he was within easy striking distance of the State and Lyon’s line of retreat, and was threatening numberless direful things.

McCulloch and Price had sent special messengers to him to join his force with theirs to crush Lyon, or at least to move forward and cut off Lyon’s communications with Rolla. They found Hardee within 400 yards of the Missouri State line. He had every disposition to do as desired, but had too much of the Regular officer in him to be willing to move until his forces were thoroughly organized and equipped. There was little in him of the spirit of Lyon or Price, who improvised means for doing what they wanted to do, no matter whether regulations permitted it or not.

Hardee complained that though he had then 2,300 men and expected to shortly raise this force to 5,000, one of his batteries had no horses and no harness, and none of his regiments had transportation enough for field service, and that all regiments were badly equipped and needed discipline and instruction.

Later, Hardee repaired many of these deficiencies, and was in shape to do a great deal of damage to the Union cause, and of this Fremont and his subordinates were well aware. Gens. Polk and Pillow, with quite strong forces at Columbus, were threatening Cairo and southeast Missouri, and an advance was made into the State by their picturesque subordinate, Gen. M. Jeff Thompson, the poet laureate of the New Madrid marches and the “Swamp Fox” who was to emulate the exploits of Francis Marion. Thompson moved forward with a considerable force of irregular mounted men, the number of which was greatly exaggerated, and it was reported that behind him was a column command by Pillow, ranging all the way from 8,000 to 25,000.

Gen. Fremont set an immense force of laborers to work on an elaborate system of fortification for the city of St. Louis, and also began the construction of fortifications at Cape Girardeau, Ironton, Rolla, and Jefferson City. He employed laborers instead of using his troops, in order to give the latter the opportunity to be drilled and equipped. He issued the following startling General Order, which produced the greatest commotion in the State and outside it:

Headquarters of the Western Department

St. Louis, Aug. 31, 1861

Circumstances in my judgment of sufficient urgency render it necessary that the Commanding General of this Department should assume the administrative power of the State. Its disorganized condition, the devastation of property by bands of murderers and marauders who infest nearly every County in the State, and avail themselves of the public misfortunes and the vicinity of a hostile force to gratify private and neighborhood vengeance, and who find an enemy wherever they find plunder, finally demand the severest measures to repress the daily increasing crimes and outrages which are driving off the inhabitants and ruining the State. In this condition the public safety and the success of our arms require unity of purpose, without let or hindrance to the prompt administration of affairs.

In order, therefore, to suppress disorders, to maintain, as far as now practicable, the public peace, and to give security and protection to the persons and property of loyal citizens, I do hereby extend and declare established martial law throughout the State of Missouri. The lines of the army of occupation in this State are, for the present, declared to extend from Leavenworth, by way of the posts of Jefferson City, Rolla and Ironton to Cape Girardeau, on the Mississippi River. All persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within these lines hall be tried by court-martial, and, if found guilty, will be shot. The property, real and person, of all persons in the State of Missouri who shall take up arms against the United States, or shall be directly proven to have taken active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use, and there slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men.

All persons who shall be proven to have destroyed, after the publication of this order, railroad tracks, bridges or telegraphs, shall suffer the extreme penalty of the law.

All person engaged in treasonable correspondence, in giving or procuring aid to the enemies of the United States, in disturbing the public tranquility by creating and circulating false reports of incendiary documents, are in their own interest warned that they are exposing themselves.

All persons who have been led away from their allegiance are required to return to their homes forthwith; any such absence, without sufficient cause, will be held to be presumptive evidence against them.

The object of this declaration is to place in the hands of the military authorities the power to give instantaneous effect to existing laws, and to supply such deficiencies as conditions of ward demand. But it is not intended to suspend the ordinary tribunals of the country, where the law will be administered by the civil officers in the usual manner and with their customary authority, while the same can be peaceably exercised.

The Commanding General will labor vigilantly for the public welfare, and, in his efforts for their safety, hopes to obtain not only the acquiescence, but the active support, of the people of the country.

J. C. Fremont

Major-General Commanding


[Galusha Anderson]

Galusha AndersonOn the same day that the provost marshal issued his order in reference to passes [to enter or leave St. Louis], General Fremont put the whole state under martial law [the order given above], and, as many contended, unwarrantably assuming the functions of the general government, proclaimed the freedom of all slaves belonging to those guilty of disloyalty to the United States. He made good his extraordinary proclamation by explicit act. On September 12th, notwithstanding the President had written him on the 2nd, taking exception to this manifesto, he manumitted two slaves, belonging to Thomas L. Snead of St. Louis, and issued their manumission papers over his signature as major-general. Lincoln kindly called his attention to the fact that he was transcending his authority, and gave him the opportunity to modify his own policy, without any open declaration of dissent on the part of the general government. But in reply, Fremont preferred that the President himself should modify the obnoxious proclamation; so, reluctantly but firmly, Mr. Lincoln publicly set aside so much of the general’s proclamation of August 30th as pertained to the manumission of slaves belonging to the rebels.

The question on which the President and his general clashed was confessedly delicate and manifestly perplexing to those in administrative circles. At bottom, the duty of the President was clear. Since slavery was a local institution he could not legally interfere with it in any loyal State; and, as a State, Missouri had declared against secession. Just what, however, might be rightly done, according to the laws of war, with the slaves of the disloyal in loyal States was as yet apparently not altogether clear to those in authority at Washington. Still, on grounds of expediency, conservative action was manifestly wisest, in order not unnecessarily to alienate the loyal pro-slavery element of the border states. The problem in all its bearings greatly agitated the Unionists of our city. Upon it they were divided in both judgment and sentiment. Some said: “The enslavement of the negro is the real cause of the war. By law he is declared to be property; and if, as has been done before our eyes, a general may confiscate buildings belonging to the disloyal, and appropriate them to the use of the United States, why can he not treat the slave property of rebels in the same way?” “But”, their opponents replied, “This is what Fremont did not do with the slaves of Mr. Snead; he did not turn them over to the United States to be used in promoting the interests of the Federal government; he simply set them free. He is putting himself forward as an emancipator.” So the ideas of staunch Unionists were in conflict. Evidently the most intelligent and thoughtful unhesitatingly sustained the President in his modification of the general’s manifesto. And without expressing here any opinion as to whether or not their judgment of Fremont was just, it is true that many of them began to fell that in attempting to do what in itself as a matter of merely abstract justice was right, he was quite too impulsive, effusive, and spectacular, and that he had clearly exceeded his authority. In fact the was attempting to do what the general government felt itself debarred from doing by constitutional law and by a late specific act of Congress.

But Fremont’s career, as commander of the Western Department, now drew rapidly to its close. He had gathered an army of twenty-five thousand men; but when the brave Mulligan at Lexington, on the Missouri River, in the western part of the State, was besieged by a rebel force [commanded by General Sterling Price] more than four times greater than his own, and yet fought on pluckily for days, Fremont failed to reinforce him. To be sure, he made what seemed to us a rather belated and languid effort so to do, but the troops ordered by him to Lexington failed to reach their destination before Mulligan was compelled to surrender. This was a blow so disastrous to the Union cause, that the loyal of our city were filled with disappointment and discontent. Some of them murmured their disapprobation of the commanding general; some openly and bitterly denounced him. The Evening News, a Union journal, in a strong, manly editorial entitled “The Fall of Lexington”, sharply criticized his failure to re-enforce Mulligan, and for this criticism, the proprietor, Charles G. Ramsey, was arrested by order of the provost marshal, taken to headquarters and there examined by the military authorities. He was sent to prison, and his paper was suppressed. All the manuscript in his office was seized and the building, where his paper was published, was put into the possession of a provost-guard. With very few dissenting voices, this invasion of the freedom of the press was sharply condemned by Union men. The occurrence added largely to the distrust of the capacity of the general for a command so large and difficult.

The surrender of Mulligan’s small heroic army at Lexington stimulated Fremont to more strenuous effort. He now contemplated marching against the enemy that was so rapidly gaining strength in west and southwest Missouri. earthwork fortifications from Harpers But in that event St. Louis would be left quite uncovered; so to provide for the defense of the city in the absence of his army, he proceeded to surround it on the north, west, and south with earthworks, in which he placed great guns. These works he intended to man with a few hundred soldiers, who, if any enemy should approach, could with those big guns sweep with grape and canister all the roads that led to the city. Many of us, little acquainted with military affairs, looked on with curiosity mingled with wonder, grateful for the benign care bestowed upon us by our patriotic commander; but I noticed that those who evidently knew more of war viewed these earthworks with ill-concealed contempt. And during many months they remained unmanned, mute reminders of the wisdom or folly of the celebrated Fremont, under whose immediate direction they had been constructed.

He seemed to have a mania for fortifications. He put Jefferson City, the capital of the State, under the command of Brigadier-General Ulysses S. Grant, then unknown to fame, and especially enjoined him to fortify it. To this order Grant replied that he had neither sufficient men nor tools to fortify the place, and added: “Drill and discipline are more important than fortifications”. That pithy, pregnant sentence foreshadowed the hero of Fort Donelson, Vicksburg and Appomattox.


[McElroy]

[After the surrender of Union forces at Lexington Fremont minimized the loss in telegrams to Washington, but the President was clearly becoming exasperated with him.]

1901 pictureFremont, in the palatial Brandt Mansion, for which the Government was paying the very unusual rent of $6,000 per year, was maintaining a vice regal court as difficultly accessible as that of any crowned head of Europe. His uncounted and glittering staff, which seemed to have received the Pentecostal gift of tongues –in which English was not included—was headed by a mysterious “Adlatus”—a title before unknown in America or to the dictionaries, and since retired to oblivion. Naturally, the Adlatus’s command of English was limited. His knowledge of Missouri was even more so. Though commanding Missouri and dealing intensely with Missouri affairs, the men surrounding Fremont were everything but Missourians or those acquainted with Missouri affairs. It would have been surprising to find one of them who could bound the State and name its principal rivers.

This, too, in the midst of a multitude of able, educated, influential Missourians who were ardent Unionists and were burning with zeal to serve the cause. Not one of them appears in the Fremont entourage.


[Sherman]

ShermanMcClellan and Fremont were the two men toward whom the country looked as the great Union leaders, and toward them were streaming the newly-raised regiments of infantry and cavalry, and batteries of artillery; nobody seeming to think of the intervening link covered by Kentucky. While I was to make this tour [of Indiana, Illinois, and St. Louis in late August of 1861], Generals Anderson and Thomas were to go to Louisville and initiate the department [of the Cumberland, responsible for Kentucky]. None of us had a staff, or any of the machinery for organizing an army, and, indeed, we had no army to organize. Anderson was empowered to raise regiments in Kentucky, and to commission a few brigadier-generals.

At Indianapolis I found Governor Morton and all the State officials busy in equipping and providing for the new regiments, and my object was to divert some of them toward Kentucky; but they were called for as fast as they were mustered in, either for the army of McClellan or Fremont. At Springfield also I found the same general activity and zeal, Governor Yates busy in providing for his men; but these men also had been promised to Fremont. I then went on to St. Louis, where all was seeming activity, bustle, and preparation.

Meeting R. M. Renick at the Planters’ House (where I stopped), I inquired where I could find General Fremont. Renick said, “What do you want with General Fremont?” I said I had come to see him on business; and he added, “You don’t suppose that he will see such as you?”, and went on to retail all the scandal of the day: that Fremont was a great potentate, surrounded by sentries and guards; that he had a more showy court than any real king; that he kept senators, governors, and the first citizens, dancing attendance for days and weeks before granting an audience, etc.; that if I expected to see him on business, I would have to make my application in writing, and submit to a close scrutiny by his chief of staff and by his civil surroundings. Of course I laughed at all this, and renewed my simple inquiry as to where was his office, and was informed that he resided and had his office at Major Brant’s new house on Chouteau Avenue. It was then late in the afternoon, and I concluded to wait till the next morning; but that night I received a dispatch from General Anderson in Louisville to hurry back, as events were pressing, and he needed me.

Accordingly, I rose early next morning before daybreak, got breakfast with the early railroad-passengers, and about sunrise was at the gate of General Fremont’s headquarters. A sentinel with drawn saber paraded up and down in front of the house. I had on my undress uniform indicating my rank, and inquired of the sentinel, “Is General Fremont up?” He answered, “I don’t know.” Seeing that he was a soldier by his bearing, I spoke in a sharp, emphatic voice, “Then find out.” He called for the corporal of the guard, and soon a fine-looking German sergeant came, to whom I addressed the same inquiry. He in turn did not know, and I bade him find out, as I had immediate and important business with the general.

The sergeant entered the house by the front-basement door, and after ten or fifteen minutes the main front-door above was slowly opened from the inside, and who should appear but my old San Francisco acquaintance Isaiah C. Woods, whom I had not seen or heard of since his flight to Australia, at the time of the failure of Adams & Co. in 1851! He ushered me in hastily, closed the door, and conducted me into the office on the right of the hall. We were glad to meet, after so long and eventful an interval, and mutually inquired after our respective families and special acquaintances. I found that he was a commissioned officer, a major on duty with Fremont, and Major Eaton, now of the paymaster’s Department, was in the same office with him. I explained to them that I had come from General Anderson, and wanted to confer with General Fremont in person. Woods left me, but soon returned, said the general would see me in a very few minutes, and within ten minutes I was shown across the hall into the large parlor, where General Fremont received me very politely. We had met before, as early as 1847, in California, and I had also seen him several times when he was senator. I then in a rapid manner ran over all the points of interest in General Anderson’s new sphere of action, hoped he would spare us from the new levies what troops he could, and generally act in concert with us. He told me that his first business would be to drive the rebel General Price and his army out of Missouri, when he would turn his attention down the Mississippi. He asked my opinion about the various kinds of field-artillery which manufacturers were thrusting on him, especially the then newly-invented James gun, and afterward our conversation took a wide turn about the character of the principal citizens of St. Louis, with whom I was well acquainted.

Telling General Fremont that I had been summoned to Louisville and that I should leave in the first train, viz., at 3 p.m., I took my leave of him. Returning to Wood’s office, I found there two more Californians, viz., Messrs. Palmer and Haskell, so I felt that, while Fremont might be suspicious of others, he allowed free ingress to his old California acquaintances.

Returning to the Planters’ House, I heard of Beard, another Californian, a Mormon, who had the contract for the line of redoubts which Fremont had ordered to be constructed around the city, before he would take his departure for the interior of the State; and while I stood near the office-counter, I saw old Baron Steinberger, a prince among our early California adventurers, come in and look over the register. I avoided him on purpose, but his presence in St. Louis recalled the maxim, “Where the vultures are, there is a carcass close by;” and I suspected that the profitable contracts of the quartermaster, McKinstry, had drawn to St. Louis some of the most enterprising men of California. I suspect they can account for the fact that, in a very short time, Fremont fell from his high estate in Missouri, by reason of frauds, or supposed frauds, in the administration of the affairs of his command.


[McElroy]

In spite of Gen. Fremont’s promise to the President to “take the field himself and attempt to destroy the enemy”, he moved with exceeding deliberation. It is true that he left St. Louis for Jefferson City, Sept. 27th, a week after Mulligan’s surrender [at the Battle of Lexington], but that week had been well employed by Price in gathering up all that he could carry away and making ready to avoid the blow which he knew must fall. After arriving at Jefferson City, Fremont, instead of taking the troops which were near at hand and making a swift rush upon his enemy, the only way in which he could hope to hurt him, began the organization of a “grande armee” upon the European model, and that which McClellan was deliberately organizing in front of Washington.

The impatient people, who were praying the $3,000,000 a day which the war was now beginning to cost, and who had begun to murmur for results, were amused by stories of plans of sweeping down the Mississippi clear to New Orleans, taking Memphis, Vicksburg and other strongholds on the way, severing the Southern Confederacy in twain, so that it would fall into hopeless ruin.

This was entirely possible at that time with the army that had been given Fremont, had it been handled with the ability and boldness of Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Two weeks after Mulligan’s surrender Fremont announced the formation of this grand “Army of the West”, containing approximately 50,000 men. This was grouped as follows:

The First Division, to which Gen. David Hunter was assigned, consisted of 9,750 men, and was ordered to take position at Versailles, about 40 miles southwest of Jefferson City, and became the Left Wing of the Army.

Gen. John Pope was given command of the Second Division of 9,220 men and ordered to take station at Boonville, 50 miles northwest of Jefferson City. His position was to be the Right Wing of the Army.

Gen. Franz SigelThe Third Division, 7,980 strong, was put under command of Gen. Franz Sigel, and made the advance of the army, with its station at Sedalia and Georgetown, 64 miles west of Jefferson City.

The Fourth Division, commanded by Gen. Asboth, had 6,451 men, and constituted the reserve at Tipton, on the railroad, 38 miles west of Jefferson City.

The Fifth Division, 5,388 men, under Gen. Justus McKinstry, formed the center and was posted at Syracuse, five miles west of Tipton.

Beside these, Gen. Sturgis held Kansas City with 3,000 men and Gen. James H. Lane, with 2,500 men, was to move in Kansas down the State line, between Fort Scott and Kansas City to protect Kansas from an incursion in that direction, and as opportunity offered attack Price’s flank.

Thus, there were 38,789 effectives in the five divisions, which with Sturgis and Lane’s forces made a total force of 44,289, not including garrisons which swell the total of the army to over 90,000.

Among these Division Commanders were two whom Fremont had discovered and created Brigadier-Generals out of his own volition, without consultation at Washington.

These were Gens. Asboth and McKinstry. Gen. Alexander Asboth Gen. Alexander (Sandor) Asboth, born in 1811, was a Hungarian and an educated engineer, with considerable experience in and against the Austrian army. He had entered ardently into the Revolution of 1848, and built a bridge in a single night by which the Revolutionary army crossed and won the brilliant victory of Nagy Salo. He became Adjutant-General of the Hungarian army, and when the Revolution was crushed by Russian troops, escaped with Kossuth into Turkey, came to this country, and became a naturalized citizen. He was by turns farmer, teacher, engineer, and manufacturer of galvanized articles. He sided with the Union Germans, went on Fremont’s staff, and was appointed a Brigadier-General The Senate refused to recognize the appointment, but in consideration of his good service he was brevetted a Major-General, and after the war sent as Minister to the Argentine Confederation, where he died in 1868.

The other, Justus McKinstry, was born in New York and appointed to the Military Academy from Michigan, where he graduated 40th in the class of 1838, of which Beauregard, Barry, Irvin McDowell, W. J. Hardee, R. S. Granger, Henry H. Sibley, Edward Johnson and A.J. Smith were members. Justus McKinstryHe had served creditably in the Mexican War, receiving a brevet for gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco, and at the outbreak of the war was a Major and Quartermaster at St. Louis, where he did very much to frustrate Lyon’s plans and was regarded by him as a Secessionist at heart. He continued to hold his position, however, as Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the West until Fremont appointed him Brigadier-General.

Shortly after Fremont’s removal he was placed under arrest at St. Louis and ordered before a court-martial, which did not convene, [this is in error; read an account of McKinstry’s court martial and his “Vindication”] and he was at last summarily dismissed for “neglect and violation of duty, to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.” He became a stockbroker in New York City, and afterwards a land agent at Rolla, Mo.

It will be seen by the map that the disposition of the troops was good, and that Fremont had the advantage of short lines from Sedalia and Rolla to cut Price’s line of retreat, recapture the spoils he was hastening to a place of safety, and destroy, or at least disperse, his army.

Fremont, however, made no use of this advantage, and Price seems to have had no apprehension that he would. Price remained in Lexington until Oct. 1, serenely contemplating the gigantic preparations made for his destruction, and then having gathered up all that the could readily get, and reading Fremont’s order for a forward movement of the Army of the West, thought, like the prudent meadow lark, that probably something would be now done, and the time had come for moving. He began a deliberate retreat, crossing the Osage River at Osceola, and reaching Greenfield, 150 miles away, at the very comfortable pace of 15 miles a day.

Gen. Fremont ordered the Army of the West forward, but the so-called pursuit was very much like hunting a fox on a dray. He was encumbered with immense trains, for which bridges had to be built over numerous streams and roads made thru the rough country. The trains seemed to contain a world of unnecessary things and astonishing lack of those necessary. Apparently almost anybody who had anything to sell could find purchasers among the numerous men about Fremont’s headquarters who had authority to buy, or assumed it.

One astonishing item in the purchases was a great number of half barrels for holding water, rather an extraordinary provision in a country like Missouri, where in the month of October water is disposed to be in excessive quantities.

Notwithstanding the astonishing purchase of mules by everybody and anybody, none of the Division Commanders seems to have had mules enough to pull their wagons.

The army started out like the horses of a balky team. Gen. Pope, of the Right Wing, left Jefferson City Oct. 11th, Sigel got away from Sedalia with the Third Division Oct. 13th, the same day Hunter left Tipton with the Left Wing, and Asboth followed on Oct. 14th. Even when they started their progress was very slow, for the columns were halted at streams to build bridges and in the rough countries to wait for the sappers and miners to make passable roads.

When one column was halted, all the rest had to do likewise, for though Price kept the safe distance of 100 miles away, Fremont was in constant apprehension of battle, and held his columns in close supporting distance. He did not get across the Osage River until Oct. 25th, or nine days after Price’s leisurely crossing that important stream, on the banks of which it was confidently expected that the would give battle.

Gen. PricePrice, with his diminishing forces, had no such intention, but fell back toward Neosho, to cover as along as possible the Granby Mines, seven miles from that place, which were the most important source of lead for the Southern Confederacy, to which they supplied 200,000 pounds per month.

Gov. Jackson took advantage of this breathing spell to call the Legislature together at Neosho, where it held a two weeks’ “rump” session of the small minority of that body which favored Secession. They passed an ordinance of Secession and elected Senators and Representatives to the Confederate Congress, adjourning when they heard that Fremont had at last passed the Osage.

Then Price took up his line of retreat toward the southern boundary of the State to get near Gen. Ben McCulloch, who had posted his forces at Cross Hollow, in Benton County, northwest Arkansas. Gen. Price took up his position at Pineville, in the extreme southwestern corner of Missouri, where the rough, hilly country offered great chances to the defense, and again began communication with Gen. McCulloch, to induce him to unite his force with his own and attack the Union army.

He had correctly estimated Fremont’s generalship, and thought there was a possibility of massing his and McCulloch’s forces, to attack a portion of Fremont’s army, drive it back and defeat him in detail. McCulloch, in spite of his ranger reputation, entirely lacked Price’s aggressive spirit, and thought that it would be much better to fall back to the Boston Mountain, about 50 miles farther south, and make a stand there. He so informed Gen. Price.

While McCulloch had no disposition to enter Missouri and defend it against the Union troops, he had no hesitation about treating it as part of Confederate territory. Desiring to embarrass and delay Fremont’s advance as much as possible, he sent forward his Texas cavalry to burn the mills, forage and grain as far in the direction of Springfield as they could safely go, and urged Price to do the same. McCulloch’s Texans soon lighted up the southwest country with burning mills, barns and stacks.

To this Gen. Price was bitterly opposed. The mills and grain were in many instances the property of the Secessionists, and to destroy them would be to inflict worse punishment on his own people than the Union commanders had ever done, and would embitter them against his cause. Price repeatedly represent to McCulloch that altogether they would have 25,000 men, and if McCulloch did not desire to go forward they could make a good defensive batter inside the State on the hills around Pineville. To leave it would cause the loss of very many Missourians who had enlisted in the State Guard to defend Missouri, and who would feel that they had no cause to fight outside of the State.

After crossing the Osage, Fremont halted near Connersville, about 25 miles south of Warsaw, where he crossed the river, and then advanced with Sigel to Bolivar, on the Springfield road, and sent forward Maj. Charles Zagonyi with 150 of his famous Body Guard and Maj. F.J. White with 180 men of the 1st Mo. Cav., to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Springfield.

Fremont’s Body Guard had played a large part in the pomp and circumstance of his administration. Maj. Charles Zagonyi was a picturesque and effervescent Hungarian, who recounted fascinating stories of his experience as a subordinate to Gen. Ben during the Hungarian Revolution. Fremont had authorized him to raise a body guard, in imitation of the famous troops of Europe, and the novelty of the organization attracted to it a great number of quite fine young men, most of whom were from the country around Cincinnati—one company being from Kentucky. They were formed into three companies, mounted on fine blooded bay horses, showily uniformed and each armed with two navy revolvers, a five-barreled rifle and a saber.

All the officers were Americans except three—one Hollander and two Hungarians. The members of the Guard, in addition to their expensive and showy outfit, did not conceal from the other soldiers that they were picked men and considered themselves superior to the ordinary run, which did not enhance their popularity with their comrades.

Majors Zagonyi and White marched all that night, and the next day, about noon, when about eight miles north of Springfield, learned that there was a force of at least 1,500 Confederates in the town.

One of the rebel pickets who had not been captured hastened back to Springfield and gave the alarm, so that the Confederates were in readiness for them. Feeling that this would be so, Majors Zagonyi and White determined to move around the town and approach it from the west on the Mt. Vernon road. In this movement White became separated from Zagonyi, who, about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, came most unexpectedly upon the Secessionists drawn up in line at the end of a long lane.

A heavy rail fence intervened between Zagonyi and the head of the lane, and an opening had to be made through this under a heavy fire from the enemy. The moment a gap was made, Zagonyi shouted to his men to follow him, and do as he did, raising the battle cry, “Fremont and the Union”. He dashed gallantly forward, straight for the center of the rebel line, followed at a gallop by his command. The Confederate fire did fearful execution upon the Guard as it was crowded in the lane, but in a few seconds the lane was passed and the cavalry saber began doing its wild work.

The center of the enemy’s lines was at once broken by the terrible impact of galloping horses and the Confederates began a panicky retreat, followed by the vengeful horsemen shooting and sabering them as they ran. The infantry ran through the town to the shelter of the woods, and the Confederate cavalry fell back down the road, pursued by the Guard until it was getting nightfall, when Zagonyi recalled them and returned to the Court House, raised the Union flag from it, released the Union prisoners confined in the jail, gathered up his dead and wounded, and after dark decided to fall back until he met the advance of the army.

He had lost 15 men killed and 26 wounded, and reported that he had found 23 Confederates dead after the charge was over. This brilliant action, which was then compared with the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, redeemed the soldiers of the Guard in the eyes of their comrades, and it became an honor to belong to that organization.

The next morning Major White reached Springfield with a few Home Guards, where he found the Confederates still dazed by the occurrences of the day before, and he was careful not to undeceive them as to his strength. He solemnly received the flag of truce, said that he would have to refer the matter to Gen. Sigel, threw out his men as pickets, permitted the people to bury their dead, and then prudently fell back to meet the advance of the army.

Fremont took up his quarters in Springfield, and began ostentatious preparations for an immediate decisive battle, though Price was then more than 50 miles away from him. This Fremont should have known, for in some mysterious manner he was within ready communication with him, so much so as to be able to conclude the following remarkable convention which was duly published in a joint proclamation:

To all Peaceably-Disposed Citizens of the State of Missouri,

Greeting:

Whereas a solemn agreement has be entered into by and between Maj.-Gens. Fremont and Price, respectively, commanding antagonistic forces in the State of Missouri, to the effect that in the future arrests or forcible interference by armed or unarmed parties of citizens within the limits of said State for the mere entertainment or expression of political opinions shall hereafter cease; that families now broken up for such causes may be reunited, and that the war now progressing shall be exclusively confined to armies in the field:

Therefore, be it known to all whom it may concern:

No arrests whatever on account of political opinions, or for the merely private expression of the same, shall hereafter be made within the limits of the State of Missouri, and all person who may have been arrested and are now held to answer upon such charges only shall be forthwith released; but it is expressly declared that nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to bar or interfere with any of the usual and regular proceedings of the established courts under statues and orders made and provided for such offenses.

All peaceably disposed citizens who may have been driven from their homes because of their political opinions, or who may have left them from fear of force and violence, are hereby advised and permitted to return, upon the faith of our positive assurances that while so returning they shall receive protection from both the armies in the field wherever it can be given.

All bodies of armed men acting without the authority or recognition of the Major-Generals before named, and not legitimately connected with the armies in the field, are hereby ordered at once to disband.

Any violation of either of the foregoing articles hall subject the offender to the penalty of military law, according to the nature of the offense.

In testimony whereof the aforesaid Maj.-Gen John Charles Fremont, at Springfield, Mo., on this 1st day of November, A.D. 1861, and Maj.-Gen. Sterling Price, at Cassville, Mo., on this 5th day of November, A.D. 1861, have hereunto set their hands, and hereby mutually pledge their earnest efforts to the enforcement of the above articles of agreement according to their full tenor and effect, to the best of their ability.

J.C. Fremont, Major-General Commanding

Sterling Price, Major-General Commanding

The practical effect of this was that Price was allowed to send such of his men as he wished home for the Winter, with a safeguard against their being molested by the Union troops, but it had no effect in protecting Union men from being harassed by guerrilla tormentors, who cared as little for conventions and proclamations as for the Sermon on the Mount.

In the meanwhile, Fremont’s astonishing ill success in purely military matters, the freely expressed opinion of all who came in contact with him as to his glaring incompetence, added to the fearful stories of the corruption of the men immediately surrounding him, were making his position very insecure. President Lincoln sent his intimate and life-long friend, David Davis, whom he was about to elevate to the Supreme Bench, to St. Louis with a commission to investigate the rank-smelling contracts and disbursements. No report was ever made public, but it was generally known that they found even worse than they feared.

The Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, undertook a tour of investigation on his own account, accompanied by Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas. Some of the things which they found are set forth in the following extracts from the memorandum from Gen. Thomas to his superior officer:

Samuel Curtis“Gen. Curtis said of Gen. Fremont that he found no difficulty in having access to him, and when he presented business connected with his command, it was attended to. Gen. Fremont never consulted him on military matters, nor informed him of his plans. Gen. Curtis remarked that while he would go with freedom to Gen. Scott and express his opinions, he would not dare to do so to Gen. Fremont. He deemed Gen. Fremont unequal to the command of an army, and said that he was no more bound by law than by the winds.

“Col. Andrews, Chief Paymaster, called and presented irregularities in the Pay Department, and desired instructions from the Secretary for his government, stating that he was required to make payments and transfers of money contrary to law and regulations. Once, upon objecting to what he conceived an improper payment, he was threatened with confinement by a file of soldiers. He exhibited an order for the transfer of $100,000 to the Quartermaster’s Department, which was irregular. Exhibited abstract of payment by one Paymaster (Maj. Febiger) to 42 persons, appointed by Gen. Fremont, viz: one Colonel, three Majors, eight Captains, 15 First Lieutenants, 11 Second Lieutenants, one Surgeon, three Assistant Surgeons; total 42. Nineteen of these have appointments as engineers, and are entitled to cavalry pay.

“Maj. Allen, Principal Quartermaster, had recently taken charge at St. Louis, but reported great irregularities in his Department, and requested special instructions. These he deemed important, as orders were communicated by a variety of person, in a very irregular manner, requiring disbursements of money. These orders were often verbally given. He was sending, under Gen. Fremont’s orders, large amounts of forage from St. Louis to the army where corn was abundant and very cheap. The distance was 160 miles. He gave the indebtedness of the Quartermaster’s Department in St. Louis to be $4,506,309.73.

“By direction of Gen. Meigs, advertisements were made to furnish grain and hay, and contracts made for specific sums –28 cents per bushel for corn, 30 cents for oats, and $17.95 per ton for hay. In face of this another party at St. Louis—Baird, or Baird & Palmer (Palmer being of the old firm in California of Palmer, Cook & Co)—were directed to send to Jefferson City (where hay and corn abound) as fast as possible 100,000 bushels of oats, with a corresponding amount of hay, at 33 cents per bushel for grain and $19 per ton for hay.

“Captain Edward M. Davis, a member of his staff, received a contract by the direct order of Gen. Fremont for blankets. They were examined by a board of army officers consisting of Capt. Hendershott, 4th U.S. Artillery, Capt. Haines, Commissary of Subsistence, and Capt. Turnley, Assistant Quartermaster. The blankets were found to be made of cotton and were rotten and worthless. Notwithstanding this decision they were purchased, and given to the sick and wounded soldiers in hospitals.

“One week after the receipt of the President’s order modifying Gen. Fremont’s proclamation relative to emancipation of slaves, Gen. Fremont, by note to Capt. McKeever, required him to have 200 copies of the original proclamation and address to the army, of same date, printed and sent immediately to Ironton, for the use of Maj. Gavitt, Indiana Cavalry, for distribution through the country. Capt. McKeever had the copies printed and delivered. The order is as follows: ‘Adjutant-General will have 200 copies of proclamation of Commanding General, date Aug. 30th, together with the address to the army of same date, sent immediately to Ironton, for the use of Maj. Gavitt, Indiana Cavalry. Maj. Gavitt will distribute it through the country. J.C.F., Commanding General, Sept. 23rd, 1861’

“As soon as I obtained a view of the several encampments at Tipton, I expressed the opinion that the forces there assembled could not be moved, as scarcely any means of transportation were visible. I saw Gen. Hunter, second in command, and conversed freely with him. He stated that there was great confusion, and that Fremont was utterly incompetent; that his own division was greatly scattered, and the force then present defective in may respects; that he required 100 wagons, yet he was ordered to march that day, and some of his troops were already drawn out on the road. His cavalry regiment (Ellis’s) had horses, arms (indifferent), but no equipments; had to carry their cartridges in their pockets; consequently, on their first day’s march from Jefferson City, in a heavy rain, the cartridges carried about their persons were destroyed. This march to Tipton (35 miles) was made on a miry, heavy earth road parallel to the railroad, and but a little distance from it. The troops were directed by Gen. Fremont to march without provisions or knapsacks, and without transportation. A violent rainstorm came up, and the troops were exposed to it all night, were without food for 24 hours, and when food was received the beef was found to be spoiled.

“Gen. Hunter stated that he had just received a written report from one of his Colonels, informing him that but 20 out of 100 of his guns would go off. These were the guns procured by Gen. Fremont in Europe. I may here state that Gen. Sherman, at Louisville, made a similar complaint of the great inferiority of these European arms. He had given men orders to file down the nipples. In conversation with Col. Swords, Assistant Quartermaster-General, at Louisville, just from California, he stated that Mr. Selover, who was in Europe with Gen. Fremont, wrote to some friend in San Francisco that his share of the profit of the purchase of these arms was $30,000.

“Gen. Hunter expressed to the Secretary of War his decided opinion that Gen. Fremont was incompetent and unfit for his extensive and important command. This opinion he gave reluctantly, owing to his position as second in command.

President Lincoln sent the following characteristic letter to Gen. S.R. Curtis, who, being in command at St. Louis, was directly accessible, and a man in whose discretion the President felt he might trust:

Washington, Oct. 24th, 1861

Brig-Gen. S.R. Curtis

Dear Sir: On receipt of this with the accompanying enclosures, you will take safe, certain and suitable measures to have the enclosure addressed to Maj.-Gen. Fremont delivered to him with all reasonable dispatch, subject to these conditions only, that if, when Gen. Fremont shall be reached by the messenger—yourself or anyone sent by you—he shall then have, in personal command, fought and won a battle, or shall then be in the immediate presence of the enemy in expectation of a battle, it is not to be delivered, but held for further orders. After, and not until after, the delivery to Gen. Fremont, let the enclosed addressed to Gen. Hunter be delivered to him.

A. Lincoln

The following decisive order was one of the enclosures:

Headquarters of the Army, Washington, Oct. 24th, 1861

General Orders No. 18

Maj.-Gen. Fremont, of the U.S. Army, the present Commander of the Western Department of the same, will, on the receipt of this order, call Maj.-Gen Hunter, of the U.S. Volunteers, to relieve him temporarily in that command, when he (Maj.-Gen. Fremont) will report to General Headquarters, by letter, for further orders.

Winfield Scott

A special messenger arrived at Springfield, Nov. 2nd, with the order, which created consternation at Fremont’s headquarters. It is more than probable that Fremont felt his elevation to be such that he could try conclusions with the Administration, and refuse to obey the order.

There was considerable talk at that time about military headquarters as to a dictator, and this was so rife about McClellan’s that his journal constantly abounds in allusions which indicate that he was putting the crown away from him with increasing gentleness each time. There was much of the same atmosphere about the headquarters of the Army of the West, and it is claimed that Fremont at first decided not to obey the order, but on Sigel’s urgent representations finally concluded to do so, and issued the following farewell order to his troops:

Headquarters Western Department,

Springfield, Mo., Nov. 2nd, 1861

Soldiers of the Mississippi Army:

Agreeably to orders this day received I take leave of you. Although our army has been of sudden growth, we have grown up together, and I have become familiar with the brave and generous spirit which you bring to the defense of your country, and which makes me anticipate for you a brilliant career. Continue as you have begun, and give to my successor the same cordial and enthusiastic support with which you have encouraged me. Emulate the splendid example which you have already before you, and let me remain, as I am, proud of the noble army which I had thus far labored to bring together.

Soldiers, I regret to leave you. Most sincerely I thank you for the regard and confidence you have invariably shown me. I deeply regret that I shall not have the honor to lead you to the victory which you are just about to win, but I shall claim to share with you in the joy of every triumph, and trust always to be fraternally remembered by my companions in arms.

J.C. Fremont

Major-General, U.S. Army

FremontHe left at once for St. Louis, with his Body Guard for an escort. Though these men had been enlisted for three years, they were ordered by Gen. McClellan to be mustered out, and Maj. Zagonyi was offered the Colonelcy of a new regiment.

The time and manner of the removal enabled Gen. Fremont’s ardent partisans to complain loudly that he was relieved on the eve of a battle in which he would have accomplished great things, and was thus denied an opportunity to achieve lasting fame and render essential service to the country. The evidence, however, is conclusive that at that time Price was at Pineville, fully 50 miles away, and in the midst of a very rough country, instead of being in Fremont’s immediate front, as Fremont certainly supposed.

Whether he would have accepted battle after Fremont had reached him at Pineville, is a matter of conjecture. The pressure in favor of Fremont continued strong enough, however, to bring about the offer of a new command to him the following year, but it was grotesquely shrunken from the proud proportions of that from which he had been relieved. It was styled the Mountain Department, and embraced a large portion of West Virginia. Even in this restricted area he again failed to give satisfaction.

Gen. John PopeJune 8, 1862, he fought an indecisive battle against Stonewall Jackson at Cross Keys [Actually, Jackson beat Fremont and Pope like rented mules in that campaign, just not in relative casualties between Fremont & Jackson. But casualties are not the be-all of a campaign –results are. Jackson used speed and terrain to keep his much more numerous adversaries separated and unable to crush him with their superior numbers. McElroy has some real issues in admitting any Confederate success of arms –even Wilson’s Creek is a Union victory to him. Some victory. –ed], took umbrage at being placed under the command of Gen. John Pope, whom he had once commanded, asked to be relieved from command, and joined the ranks of the bitter critics of President Lincoln’s Administration, though still retaining his commission and pay as a Major-General.

He still thought his was a name to conjure with, and May 31st, 1864 accepted the nomination for President from a convention of dissatisfied Republicans assembled at Cleveland, resigning his commission at last, June 4th, 1864.

The chill reception with which the country received his nomination at last disillusioned even him, and in September he withdrew from the field, to clear the way for Lincoln’s re-election. He then became connected with the promotion of a Pacific railway over the southern routes which he had surveyed, lost his money and property in the course of time, appealed to Congress for relief, and in 1890 was by special act put on the retired list of the Army with the rank of Major-General.