Louden Letters

Louden Letters…

Letters written by Robert Louden from Gratiot Street Prison:

November 1, 1863 – letter by Robert Louden to brother Andrew Louden (a POW in Ohio). Louden wrote and spelled well yet used absolutely no punctuation. The letter has been broken into sentences for easier reading. Liz is his sister. Mollie is his daughter. Lulu is his step-daughter. Arthur is his brother-in-law, Arthur C. McCoy.

Gratiot Sr Prison St Louis Nov 1st

Dear Brother

I suppose you have heard of my arrest if you have received any letter from mother or Liz. At all events I was taken prisoner Sept 2nd 1863 in this city and immediately confined in Lynch’s nigger pen on 5th & Mrytle and a ball & chain on my leg. I was kept there 3 weeks and then I moved to this prison, where I have since been kept in close confinement not having even the liberty of the yard. I am in the same room that Mary was in during her imprisonment, what I am charged with, I do not know, and the probability is that I will not find out until I am about to be tried, and that event seems to be further off now than the day I was taken. I would have been over to see you had I not been taken for I was on my way there and only came here to see about Mollie and get Lulu off to the Convent. They had no one to look to for anything but me, for you are aware that Mary was banished last May and is now in Miss. somewhere. I do not know what will become of the children too. Mother wrote to you of the cruel and inhuman way the Fed’s have treated Father. Nothing had been heard of him at the date of the last letter from mother. She was about frantic at his loss and the way they murdered him but you know the old Jewish law and if you ever rejoin your command carry it out to the full letter. Of your treatment I know nothing but hope it has been better than mine, even little Mollie is not permitted to visit me nor have I been allowed to receive a visitor since my arrest. Where Mary is, God only knows. I seen her for a few minutes when she arrived south and since then have not heard from her or about her. I do not know how you are off for clothing but if you need any send me word and I will try and have some sent to you for I have some money due me by parties in town that I can draw if necessary. Aleck & Jim Buist have both deserted and are in the Yankee nation now. The old lady, Mrs. G. comes down occasionally to get my soiled clothes and generally has Mollie with her but Nellie (you remember her) has stuck to me as she always did & was the first one to come and see what I wanted. Arthur is now a major in the C.S.A. and [?] he will fight them on the last half-inch for he has a double duty to perform now, fight for freedom & revenge both. I am in hopes you will soon be exchanged and if you are well of your wound be in the service again. I do not know what mother says to you but she was in hopes you would take the oath and stay at home, poor Mother she has suffered in this war. Father and Jim gone, you and I in prison. I seen Dave Thomson he has recovered entirely from his wound and says he has enough of the war he was in the 79th Regt of New York at Bull Run. Lizzy and he are living in New York now but I understand Liz is in bad health, when you write send my love to them and to Mother. Frank write to me as soon as you can and if I can assist you let me know. Direct to Robert Louden Gratiot St Prison St Louis hoping you have fully recovered.

I remain

Your affectionate brother

Bob


With his execution nearing, Robert Louden wrote the following letter pleading for mercy. The confession of guilt sparked excited articles in St. Louis newspapers saying Louden had confessed all, and that there were many very nervous people in St. Louis, not knowing if Louden had named them or not.

Gratiot Prison

April 29, 1864

Major General W. S. Rosecrans

Comdg Dept of Missouri

Sir

Upon you as Commander of this Department devolve the duty of appointing the sentence of the Military Commission in my case to be carried into effect, and to you in this hour of tribulation I appeal for that mercy in your power to show me an afflicted wife and helpless family join in this prayer to you.

That I have violated the laws of my country I freely and humbly confess and do not seek to extenuate my guilt but I am deeply and truly penitent for all I have done and pray for forgiveness.

An affectionate wife and infant children will be left entirely destitute at my death, my long imprisonment has diminished their scanty resources and deprived entirely of their natural protection I tremble for their future. My aged parents, residing in Philadelphia have not yet received the sad news of my condemnation, although immediately on the first knowledge of it means were taken to inform them and they will make no delay in coming to see me.

I appeal to you then, to intercede in my behalf for the sake of those who will suffer so much by the execution of my sentence, my sufferings will I hope end with death, for though the intercession of our Divine Saviour I trust to be forgiven for all my sins, but at my death the suffering of my innocent family will commence, for their sake then do not turn from the pleading of an humble and penitent offender.

Throwing myself entirely on your mercy and praying that this appeal may not be in vain, but that sympathizing with my own distress and that of my afflicted and heart-broken family you may think proper to recommend my case for Executive clemency, and solemnly pledging never again to transgress the laws of my country but as a true and loyal citizen to devote myself to my family.

I remain, Sir,

With respect, Yours

Robert Louden

Sabotage of the Robert J Campbell

Sabotage of the Robert J. Campbell, Jr….

The Steamer Robert J. Campbell, Jr., destroyed September 28, 1863 by Isaac Elshire, one of the Organized Boat-burners:

Excerpts of a passenger’s account published in Boston:

“I was a passenger on board the steamer Robert Campbell, Jr. I stood upon the boat with four other men until everyman, women and child that was not burnt was overboard, nor did I leave it then until my neck, face and hands commenced to burn… I saw a women rise for the last time, with her two hands raised to Heaven for help. I recognized in her the mother of two children on board; and as she already sunk twice, my resolution was taken either to save her or perish in the attempt. No sooner thought of that I made for her just as she was going to sink. I got her by her clothing and pulled her into the wheel-house and seated her on the paddle. I then commenced to built a raft out of such things that floated near; and those were principally trunks and boxes of clothing… she was raving about her children“her little angels.” It was an awful moment, but not a moment to be spend in idleness. I had already broken up three boxes and lashed them together, but the raft was not needed, for they came to our relief with a boat. When we got on shore we inquired about the children, but they were not found. The little girl was seven years of age, the boy nine. Both were drowned. I held out the hope to her when we were in the wheel-house that her boy was saved. I saw a man take him under his arm, but I did not tell her that I saw a man jump right on his back as he struck the water… I need not dwell on the horrors of that scene; but the tragedy is played, and I have witnessed it all. It will never be forgotten by me. The cries of those women and children, the groaning and bellowing of the 200 cattle on board, are still ringing in my ears… It is not doubted that the burning of the Campbell is one of a series of similar rebel atrocities, and that the perpetrators of this act came on board at Goodrich’s landing, leaving the steamer just before the discovery of the fire, and getting ashore by means of life preservers.”

Known dead of approximately 40 fatalities:

  • David L. Lynch, age 28, son of William A. and Catherine Lynch, former brother-in-law of Mary Louden (her first husband was David Lynch’s older brother William L. Lynch)
  • Assistant Adjt Gen. Lowden, of the 40th Illinois
  • Lt. Warner of the 53rd Illinois
  • Lt. Hopkins of the 40th Illinois
  • two children, boy aged 9, girl aged 7, of Mrs. Cooley of New Orleans

Sabotage of the Ruth

Sabotage of the Ruth…

The Steamer Ruth, destroyed August 5, 1863:

On the night of August 4, 1863, shortly before midnight, after a refueling stop at Cairo, Illinois, the Ruth burned. The Ruth was enroute to Vicksburg with eight Union payroll masters and $2.6 million dollars in army payroll on board. The money was reported destroyed. Twenty-six of the one hundred fifty passengers, military and civilian, were killed. Grimes, in his memoirs, places the blame squarely on Robert Louden. St. Louis Provost Marshal documents also link Louden to the burning of the Ruth. Louden ultimately confessed to destroying the Ruth, was tried and convicted.

From The Missouri Republican, August 6, 1863:

“Ruth burned last night. Crew saved. Twenty-six lives lost. Boat, cargo, books and two million six hundred thousand dollars total loss. One Paymaster and three Paymaster Clerks lost… the flames spread all over the boat in less than five minutes. There  is no satisfactory theory as to how the fire originated. It is believed, however, to have been fired by an incendiary in the interest of the rebel Government.”

Known dead of 26 fatalities:

  • Maj. Theodore D. Greenwaldt, paymaster
  • L. R. Martin, clerk
  • S. G. Sampson, clerk
  • H. C. Fletcher, clerk
  • Frank Oglesby, clerk of the steamer (son of the captain of the Ruth)
  • two negro deck hands
  • a chambermaid
  • colored woman deck passenger
  • One corporal and four privates of Company I, Ninth Wisconsin
  • several passengers

J W Tucker and the Boatburners

Sabotage of the Sultana…

Joseph W. Tucker and the Boat-Burners

by G. E. Rule

See also Tucker’s War: Missouri and the Northwest Conspiracy by G. E. Rule – original research on J. W. Tucker, one of the most important, yet shadowy, figures in the secret war for Missouri, head of the Boat-Burners a secret service sabotage unit

A South Carolinian by birth, Joseph W. Tucker has been greatly underestimated by historians trying to understand the War in the West.  Methodist minister, pro-secession newspaper editor, lawyer, political ally of Claiborne Jackson and Sterling Price, spymaster—the very diversity of his roles has lead to a fragmentary telling of his story.

You will find Albert Castel and Thomas C. Reynolds talking about “Deacon Tucker” and his role as one of Sterling Price’s most important political lieutenants. Christopher Phillips writes of Tucker the St. Louis newspaper editor tried for treason by U.S. Attorney James O. Broadhead in the spring of 1861. According to Broadhead, Tucker skipped bail when the trial appeared to be going against him, forfeiting a $10,000 bond. Tidwell, Hall, and Gaddy speak of Tucker the boss of the boat-burners in “Come Retribution.” The Official Records of both armies note “Judge Tucker” in this role as well.  Pro-Union Baptist minister Galusha Anderson writes with astonishment of the pro-secession minister who tried to bait him into a duel. David E. Long credits Tucker as a relatively minor Confederate spy in “The Jewel of Liberty.”  It does not help matters that Tucker sometimes identified himself as “J. Wofford Tucker.”

All are the same J.W. Tucker, and all of these authors seem unaware of the totality of Tucker’s role and just how influential he was in Confederate Missouri circles—and by extension to the War in the West. Appreciation for Tucker’s influence wasn’t always so unknown, however. One post-war history of St. Louis goes so far as to credit Tucker with arranging the naming of Sterling Price to head the Missouri State Guard. This meeting was said to have taken place in Tucker’s St. Louis State Journal offices, with most of the important pro-secession leaders—including Governor Jackson—in attendance. While certainly apocryphal in its exact details (Jackson’s aide Thomas L. Snead and Lt. Gov. Thomas C. Reynolds give more reliable accounts of how Price came to be Major General of the Guard), this account shows just how influential Tucker was believed to be at a time when many of the war’s participants were still around to share their memories of events.

Tucker had his bellicose thumb in other important pies than just the effort to interdict Union shipping on the Mississippi. In due course we will be sharing our research in those areas as well.

Below are two letters relating to Judge Deacon J.(oseph) W.(offord) Tucker (take your pick on combination of names—everyone else has) and the boat-burners. The first letter, from the OR, provides the earliest documented evidence of official non-Missouri Confederate support for Tucker’s boat-burners. Johnston’s dating of this encounter suggests that it was probably June of 1863 when he agreed to provide funds to support Tucker and his boat-burners. However, keep in mind that Tucker’s close connections to the highest levels of Missouri Confederates strongly suggests that he and his group could have been drawing financial support from that quarter from well before this date. It isn’t documented—it wouldn’t need to be—but it is a reasonable supposition.

The excerpts from Tucker’s 1864 letter to Jefferson Davis do not paint the boat-burners in a particularly patriotic light. “Filthy lucre” seems to be much more the aim of at least some of them, even by the admission of their paymaster. It is however another indicator of how easily Tucker’s group was able to strike in Union-held Memphis.

While Robert Louden is well-documented to have been a drinker, which can be expensive, and he was not unfond of money, there is no reason to believe that his early career as a spy and saboteur was driven by anything other than his support for the Confederacy. Louden was an early Missouri secessionist, closely associated with the Minute Men and their leaders in the spring of 1861. As “Sultana –A Case for Sabotage” documents, in his later career a warm grudge against the Union probably played an increasingly important role.

* * * *

DALTON, January 31, 1864.

Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War:

SIR: I have had the honor to receive the letter of the Secretary of the Treasury to the President, dated January 9, with your indorsement, dated 11th.

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

This sum was not a part of that transferred to me by Commander [Samuel] Barron, all of which was returned by me to the Navy Department.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. JOHNSTON.

* * * * * * * *

J. W. Tucker to Jefferson Davis.

(From Confederate Memorial Hall.)

(Spotswood Hotel 14th March, 1864.)

Confidential statements; for the President alone

* * *

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

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

James H Baker – Provost Marshal

James H. Baker – Union Provost Marshal

James H. Baker was Union Provost Marshal of St. Louis in 1863, later of the Department of Missouri. In his role as Provost Marshal he pursued, among others, Robert Louden, subject of the article in “North and South” magazine.

Baker was from Minnesota, having served as Secretary of State. He became a Colonel in the 10th Minnesota, later brevet brigadier-general.

Baker in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

Following are memorial tributes by fellow Minnesotans:


I met General Baker first in the political campaign of 1860. I heard him then make one of the very ablest and most eloquent speeches I had ever listened to, though I had heard speeches by Daniel Webster, Daniel S. Dickinson, William H. Seward, Joshua R. Giddings, Benjamin F. Wade, Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and many other noted orators. I say now, after hearing many speeches delivered by General Baker, that in true eloquence he was the peer of all of them, and in power the superior of all of them, Abraham Lincoln excepted. Once I heard Henry Clay, when I was in my “teens” and Clay was an old man, somewhat enfeebled doubtless by age and disappointment; but the old fire flashed as he “picked his flint and tried it again,”–at any rate, he electro-fired me. When I heard General Baker the first time (and many times after), the image of Henry Clay came before me like a flash.


James Heaton Baker, son of Rev. Henry Baker, a Methodist preacher, and Hannah (Heaton) Baker, was born in Monroe, Ohio, May 6, 1829. He graduated at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1852. In 1853 he purchased the Sciota Gazette, at Chillicothe, Ohio. In 1855 he was elected secretary of state on the ticket headed by Salmon P. Chase as governor. In 1857 he removed to Minnesota, where, for two successive terms he was elected to the same office. At the outbreak of the Civil War he resigned, and accepted a colonel’s commission in the Tenth Minnesota Volunteers. In 1863 his command was ordered to the South, and he was detached and made provost marshal of St. Louis, and subsequently of the department of Missouri, in which position he served until the close of the war, he being meanwhile promoted to a brevet brigadier generalship.

At the close of the war he was appointed register of the land office at Booneville, Missouri, but in two years resigned and returned to his farm in Blue Earth county, Minnesota.

In 1871 President Grant appointed him commissioner of pensions, a position for which he was singularly well fitted. He resigned in 1875, and was appointed by President Grant surveyor general of Minnesota. Gen. Baker has been prominent in Masonic circles, and has contributed much to the newspaper and periodical press. He was married Sept. 25, 1852, to Rose, daughter of Reuben H. Thurston, then of Delaware, Ohio, now of Mankato, Minnesota. This estimable lady died at Washington City, March 21, 1873, leaving two sons, Arthur and Harry E. Gen. Baker, since his appointment as surveyor general, has resided at Mankato. He served in 1885 and 1886 as railroad commissioner for the State.


General James H. Baker, a life member of the Minnesota Historical Society, died at his home in the City of Mankato in this state on May 25, 1913.

General Baker was born in Monroe, Butler county, Ohio, on the 6th day of May, 1829. He was the son of Henry Baker, M. D., and Hannah Heaton Baker. In his youth he attended the Firnian Academy at Middletown, Ohio, and later the Ohio Wesleyan University. For a period of time he edited the Sciota Gazette at Chillicothe, Ohio, it then being the oldest newspaper in the state. He served as Secretary of State of Ohio from 1854 to 1856, when Salmon P. Chase was Governor of that State. In 1857 he came to Minnesota, and shortly thereafter located with his family in Blue Earth County.

He was elected Secretary of State in 1859 and again in 1861. In 1862 he was commissioned, by Governor Alexander Ramsey, to be Colonel of the Tenth Minnesota Volunteers, then being recruited for service in the War of the Rebellion. He served with his regiment the first year in the campaign against the Sioux Indians, and in the fall of 1863 with his regiment went South. At the close of the war General Baker was appointed Commissioner of Pensions, and afterward Surveyor General for Minnesota. In 1881 he was elected State Railway Commissioner, in which office he served two terms.

For a time General Baker was the editor and proprietor of the Mankato Free Press. A goodly portion of his life in Blue Earth county was spent on a beautiful farm owned by him near Rapidan, where he personally engaged in agriculture, in which he was always much interested and very progressive.

General Baker was always much interested in the early history of Minnesota, and was never more at home than at the meetings of the old settlers of his county and state. He was pre-eminently a social man, an easy, fluent, and very interesting conversationalist, and hospitable to a fault. He was never more happy than when surrounded by his friends whom he always delighted to entertain.

He was a consistent attendant and supporter of the Methodist Church, and also belonged to the Masonic Order, as well as the Elks, the Grand Army of the Republic, and the Loyal Legion.

He was a power to be reckoned with in politics, and his influence was always felt in the civic and social life of the community in which he lived, and always for the betterment of conditions and of humanity in particular. The life of General Baker stands out as one of pronounced individuality, and of great strength of purpose.

On September 25, 1851, he was married to Rose Lucia Thurston at Delaware, Ohio, who died March 20, 1873. On December 23, 1879, he was married to Miss Zula Bartlett, who survives him and now resides in the homestead in Mankato.
General Baker was away in beautiful Glenwood Cemetery in Mankato. His funeral was held on Wednesday, May 28, 1913, being largely attended.


The late General James H. Baker was a man of many splendid talents. Eminent as he was as an orator, warrior, and statesman, he also possessed rare talents as an author. His numerous and valuable historical and biographical contributions found in the publications of this Society attest this fact. Among these papers are “History of Lake Superior,” “The Sources of the Mississippi River,” “Transportation in Minnesota,” and “The Lives of the Governors of Minnesota.” All these writings show great research and a masterly selection and presentation of the mass of material their author was always able to discover.

The general had a very acute mind and retentive memory, and his long life spanned one of the most eventful periods of the world’s history; and so far as this related to the “Middle West” of our own country, he had a personal acquaintance with most of the great men and a personal touch with most of the big events which went to make up that history. Hence the ease with which General Baker could always command the right material and infuse into it the very life and atmosphere it had when it was the actual reality.

Besides the very unique relation he bore to the people and the times concerning which he wrote, the general had a remarkable command of the English language and a fervid literary spirit, which gave force, fitness, and finish to every sentence he penned. His style is never dull nor florid, but always elegant, incisive, and vigorous.

His monograph on “The Sources of the Mississippi” is a valuable contribution to geographic knowledge, and it dealt a mortal blow to certain theories as to the head of the great river once in vogue. His “History of Lake Superior” did much to call attention to the world’s greatest waterway and the world’s greatest iron mines. “The Lives of the Governors of Minnesota,” forming Volume XIII of this Society’s Historical Collections, written at the eventide of our author’s life, is a fitting climax to his literary activity, being truly a great work, which will grow in worth and importance as the years go by.

Mighty was he with tongue, sword, and pen, and his passing removes from our midst one of our greatest and best citizens.