John S Marmaduke

JOHN S.  MARMADUKE

by

E. W. Stephens

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

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

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

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

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

Further Reading:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 3

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


goto Part I

goto Part II

III.

THE FORCED MARCH TO SPRINGFIELD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is that enough?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SLAVERY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE SITUATION.

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

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

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

THE REMOVAL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH DIVISION WESTERN DEPARTMENT.

Springfield, November 3d, 1861.

To MAJOR-GENERAL J. C. FREMONT,

Commanding Western Department.

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

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

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

Very respectfully,

Your obedient serv’t,

Asboth,

Act.. Maj.-Gen’l Com’d’g 4th Div.

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

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

HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT.

Springfield, November 3, 1861.

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

Act’g Maj.-Gen. Asboth, right wing.

“          “          McKinstry, centre.

“          “          Sigel, left.

“          “          Pope, reserve.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. C. FREMONT,

Maj.-Gen’l Com’d’g.

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

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

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

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

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

HOMEWARD BOUND.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus ended the expedition of General Fremont to Springfield.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 2

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


goto Part I

goto Part III

II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who is there?”

“We are travellers,” is the reply.

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

“Who is there?”

“Men of Colonel Carr’s regiment.”

“What are you doing here?”

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

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

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

“Where are headquarters?”

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

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

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

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

“What are those cheers for, Dan?”

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

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

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

THE BODY-GUARD AT SPRINGFIELD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One glance at their array.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 1

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


goto Part II

goto Part III

I.

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

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

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

FROM ST. LOUIS TO WARSAW.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Will Massa have a drink of water?”

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

“Where is your husband?”

“He went off a little while ago.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missouri Civil War Syllabus

A Missouri Civil War Syllabus

By the Webmasters of www.civilwarstlouis.com

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

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So you want to learn about the war in Missouri? The goal of the lists presented below is to give someone relatively new to the story of the Civil War in Missouri a list of titles they can work their way through –in the order given for each side—to gain a relatively complete understanding of the war. There are many other works on the war we’ve enjoyed that don’t appear below. The goal is to provide a solid grounding on the war in Missouri for both sides, not to offer a complete list of titles we have read and enjoyed.

Why two lists, one Confederate and one Union? That’s the way they categorized themselves as we considered the issue. Does this mean that none of the works below have relevance to “the other side”? No, of course not —just read the footnotes and you’ll see the authors are freely borrowing from those works where they feel appropriate. The thing about a civil war on the scale of the American one as a whole, and the viciousness of the Missouri war-within-a-war, however, is that in the final analysis it represents a fundamental chasm between the viewpoints of the two sides. There are times when reading accounts of the participants of both sides that one can wonder if they are even talking about the same war. This is almost necessarily so; else how could such carnage and death been allowed to come to pass in a democracy? You, the reader, will of course come to whatever conclusions your reading may bring you to; the goal of presenting the lists below is to give you the grounding to do so knowledgeably.

The list for each side is offered in an order that will take you from “Big Picture” to detail, hopefully providing you with the appropriate background and context to make the most of the succeeding titles on the list. It would be hard –even irresponsible— to recommend Edwards’ “Noted Guerrillas” or Peckham’s “Lyon and Missouri” to a general reader as “first reads” on the war in Missouri, but both are vital to get an understanding for how the two sides saw themselves and each other. The trick is to have enough background from broader and more balanced works to accept those books for what they are and not build your whole picture of the war in Missouri around either of them. On the other hand, there are no reported cases of fatalities from sampling the lists out of order.

Those interested in a list of most of what has been published on the war in Missouri should consult the site maintained by Gary Shearer, reference librarian at Pacific Union College. For those even further interested in works not commonly available, there are the wonderful resources of the Missouri Historical Society and the State Historical Society of Missouri. The National Archives and Records Administration has the Provost Marshall records for Missouri. The Library of Congress has some nice Missouri material, including Confederate Governor Thomas C. Reynolds’ letter books. The New York Historical Society has a suspiciously good collection of the Army Argus & Crisis while it was located at Mobile, Alabama, but still run by Missouri Confederates Joseph W. Tucker and William F. Wisely. Most Missourians remember it as the “Missouri Army Argus” from the early days of the war. One could speculate the post-war residence of Thomas L. Snead in New York City might have something to do with NHS fortune in having this rare newspaper.

We have provided search boxes on the right side of the page to help you find any of these books from Amazon or ABEBOOKS. In some cases we link free editions offered on this site, or available inexpensively on CD-ROM from the webmasters of www.civilwarstlouis.com.

Confederate/“Pro-Southern Neutral”

Missouri’s Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identify in the Border West. Christopher Phillips, University of Missouri Press, 2000. Phillips, heir-apparent to the title “Leading Historian of the Civil War in Missouri”, has created the book that should be the beginning point for gaining an understanding of how Missouri became a state with a “southern identity”, what that meant to Missourians, and the effect it was to have on the war to come. Phillips tells a humorous story in the introduction of how he was able to hijack what was originally intended to be a standard biography of Missouri’s Confederate governor, Claib Jackson, and turn it into a broad examination of what it meant to be Southern in Missouri. Not to worry though, the biography of Jackson—the Pro-South governor who dared too much and too little—is there too. A very nice telling of the battle to retire Thomas Hart Benton from Missouri politics over the slavery question in the period leading up to the war is included as well.

Sterling Price: Portrait of a Southerner. Robert E. Shalhope. University of Missouri Press, 1971. Chapters 1-10. We are recommending the pre-war chapters of this biography of Missouri’s leading Confederate general, “Pap” Price, for a further delineation of many of the same themes that Phillips synthesizes into a unified whole in his book on Claib Jackson.

The Borderland in the Civil War. Edward Conrad Smith. 1927 (There is also a 1970 reprint edition.) Smith’s examination is more broad than just Missouri, which is why it is very valuable to anyone trying to understand what happened in Missouri and whether it could have been different. Smith looks at the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The comparison between Kentucky and Missouri is particularly interesting, and makes a strong case that the worst part of the war in Missouri could have been ameliorated —maybe even avoided?—if pro-Union forces had acted with greater restraint, much as they did in Kentucky. This is a serious and credible position. It has problems too, however. It is worth noting that the pro-southern governor of Kentucky was not so blatant in his efforts to align his state with the South as Claib Jackson was in Missouri. Also, that while Kentucky avoided the early nastiness that was evident in Missouri, by 1864 they had their own guerrilla war going, every bit as vicious as the one in Missouri. Remember that Quantrill ended his career in Kentucky, not Missouri.

The Fight for Missouri. Thomas L. Snead. 1886 (There is a CD reprint available from the webmasters of www.civilwarstlouis.com). This is still the best single work on the politics of secession in Missouri in late 1860 and 1861. Snead was a proud Confederate, aide to Governor Jackson, adjutant to General Price, and Confederate Congressman from Missouri. Some pro-Confederate partisans consider by 1886 that Snead was too “reconstructed”, by which they mean he says some nice things about Frank Blair and Nathaniel Lyon in the course of his book. Snead clearly admires men of action, unafraid to act in the crisis for the right as they see it, and this is the basis for the kind comments he makes about Blair and Lyon. Nevertheless, this is a relatively balanced book from a Confederate participant who had an excellent view of events from the positions he enjoyed. Regardless of his kind words for Blair and Lyon, Snead makes no apologies for those who fought for the “Lost Cause”. His explanation of the “Right of Revolution” early in the book is an eye-opener –and a clear reminder that we are dealing with a generation of men not far removed from those who ousted the British in the American Revolution. Snead’s book is also very valuable for gaining a recognition that “southern identity” or not, it was primarily Southern men who lead Missouri –both Union and Confederate—during the war and the crisis that preceded it, and that a great many “Southern men” went with the Union because they saw it as the best hope for maintaining slavery in Missouri. To the modern reader this is a counter-intuitive observation, yet it is an important one for understanding the war in a border slave state that did not want “Canada at its borders”.

General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West. Albert Castel. Louisiana State University Press, 1968 (There are also several softcover reprints). Castel, over a published career that is approaching fifty years, has proven himself to be the leading historian of the war in the West. This is probably his most valuable contribution to understanding the war in Missouri. Castel’s book is more of a military history, with politics included, while Shalhope includes more of the social aspects. Indeed, Shalhope readily recommends and leans heavily on Castel for the military aspects of Price’s career during the war. Castel will also give you a sense of the tension between the leadership of the Confederacy at Richmond and the Missouri forces lead by General Price over the proper strategy for regaining Missouri for the Confederacy.

I Acted From Principle: The Civil War Diary of William McPheeters. William McPheeters, edited by Cynthia Dehaven Pitcock and Bill J. Gurley. University of Arkansas Press, 2002. McPheeters, a St. Louis doctor, was General Price’s surgeon during the last half of the war, and was along for his campaigns in Louisiana, Arkansas, and the Great Raid into Missouri in 1864. An educated and moderate man, McPheeters’ diary provides an educational glimpse into the mind of a Southern man who did not choose sides because of the slavery issue. As Confederate secret service experts, we also cannot help noticing the great regularity with which McPheeters reports mail, newspapers, and persons being exchanged between General Price’s headquarters and St. Louis. It seems hardly a day goes by without letters leaving for or arriving from there. Persons, usually in the form of wives of Confederate officers, also arrive and return with regularity —almost always loaded down with illicit mail, and often supplies as well.

Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861-1865. Richard S. Brownlee. Louisiana State University Press, 1958 (There are also several reprints). Brownlee, a longtime executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri (link SHSM), produced an excellent overview of the causes that produced the Confederate irregulars in Missouri, and the southern sympathizers who nurtured them. Brownlee clearly has sympathy for at least some of those who found themselves Confederate guerrillas, and makes a strong and damning case against the mismanagement of Union authorities for greatly intensifying the ferocity and scope of the guerrilla war in Missouri. General Price also comes in for criticism, however, in encouraging and setting in motion this mode of warfare in Missouri in the fall of 1861. Brownlee’s chapters 9-10 are not to be missed; they are as good a history of the uses and abuses of the Provost Marshall system in Missouri as can be found anywhere. Combine it with Neely on the Union list for a pretty complete picture of the mechanics, history, and scope of martial law in Missouri.

“Tucker’s War: Missouri and the Northwest Conspiracy”. G. E. Rule. www.civilwarstlouis.com, 2003. After having read Phillips, Castel, Shalhope, and Brownlee, this is the point where you will be able to understand and appreciate just who J. W. Tucker was, his relationship to Price and the Missouri Confederates, and the implications of his leadership of a group of saboteurs composed mainly of members of the secret society OAK (Order of American Knights) that were responsible for the destruction of dozens of Union-controlled steamboats in the Mississippi River valley.

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Confederate Mail Runner. Absalom Grimes, edited by M. M. Quaife. Yale University Press, 1926 (There are also reprints available from Two Trails Publishing). Having learned that General Price was promoting, if not exactly controlling, the guerrilla war in Missouri, it is time for you to learn how he kept in contact with pro-southern forces remaining in the state. During 1862 and 1863, General Price’s main pipeline into and out of Missouri was Ab Grimes and his partner Bob Louden. Grimes comes across as a gentleman adventurer—the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Mississippi River valley—and the casual reader might be fooled into thinking that there is a lot of “old soldiering” going on in his account of his war experiences. However, if one takes the time to check, and takes the trouble to collate Grimes accounts with other sources, you will be rewarded with the Rosetta Stone allowing you to untangle the Confederate secret service in the Mississippi River valley. A great source for getting a sense that even in “Unionist St. Louis” there was an effective Confederate underground throughout the war.

The Devil Knows How to Ride: The True Story of William Clarke Quantrill and His Confederate Raiders. Edward E. Leslie. Random House, 1996 (There is also a paperback edition). Simply the best book on Quantrill and his Confederate irregulars yet produced; though some observers feel it is too sympathetic. Building on the work of Castel (William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times, 1962) and others who came before, Leslie’s book is an unblinking look at the most famous and infamous of the Confederate irregulars.

Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Confederate Guerrilla. Albert Castel and Thomas Goodrich. Stackpole Books, 1998. A fascinating look at the most crazed of the Confederate guerrilla leaders in Missouri. Anderson, who lost a sister when a Union jail in Kansas City holding the women-folk of Confederate guerrillas collapsed, embarked on a gory career that ended during General Price’s great raid of 1864. It is clear that Castel and Goodrich do not see eye to eye on many aspects of Anderson’s career; indeed it says so right in the book. While no doubt uncomfortable for the two authors, it results in a interesting and more thought-provoking book for the readers.

Reminiscences of the Women of Missouri During the Sixties. Various. United Daughters of the Confederacy, Missouri Division, 1913 (The webmasters of www.civilwarstlouis.com intend to produce a CD reprint later this year.) Full of tragic stories of Jayhawker raids, Union militia atrocities, and yearning for a society that is gone. A wonderful compilation from all sections of the state of the stories of ordinary women thrust into extraordinary circumstances. However, for nearly every story of a “pro-southern neutral” family set upon and ruthlessly pillaged, there is a story of southern women aiding the Confederate war effort through supplies, spying, or harboring Confederate soldiers or irregulars. It is unfortunate that there is no similar title for Union women’s stories on the other list.

Shelby and His Men, or the War in the West and Noted Guerrillas, or the Warfare on the Border. John N. Edwards. 1867 and 1877, respectively (There are reprints of both available, including a CD reprint of Noted Guerrillas from the webmasters of www.civilwarstlouis.com). Having reached this point in your reading, you should be amply prepared to deal with flowery, rampant Missouri Confederatism in its purest form; the “Victor Hugo of the West”, John N. Edwards. We’ve lumped both books together, but really there is a distinction to be made here. Edwards, as Confederate General Jo. Shelby’s adjutant, had a much better first-hand view of the events in Shelby and His Men. In Noted Guerrillas (the story of Quantrill, Anderson, Todd, and the rest of the Missouri Confederate irregulars), while Edwards had access to great sources, he is still mostly reporting second hand. Also, it seems clear, by 1877 he had turned to myth-making in pursuit of providing political support to the ex-Confederate wing of the Democratic Party in Missouri. As a result, he has clearly “improved” some of the stories in Noted Guerrillas –one need only compare the versions of stories that appear in both books to see that this is true.

Nevertheless, one can never truly understand the way the Missouri Confederates saw themselves without reading Edwards. He is, of course, wildly biased in favor of his Confederate comrades, but is often surprisingly respectful of some Union figures as well. “Some”, that is –at any given moment he is perfectly capable of tearing off a line like “Missouri’s cruel hyena, F. A. Dick, Provost Marshall of St. Louis”, who had angered St. Louis Confederates by forbidding public burial services for the ex-mayor of St. Louis, Col. John M. Wimer (CSA).

Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War. T. J. Stiles. Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. We can hear the groans of our pro-Confederate and James’ expert friends over this one. Yes, Stiles puts rather too much emphasis on slavery and not enough on Jayhawking and other Union atrocities. He seems to interpret “abolitionist” the way a modern reader would instead of with the full and awful meaning of the term as used by Missourians at the time. Was Unionist James O. Broadhead talking about Free-Soiler Frank Blair when he fantasized that “Every damn abolitionist in the country ought to be hung!”? Unlikely. When African-Americans were refused the franchise in the Republican-controlled Missouri election of 1868, who was it that voted that amendment down? Not Jesse and his disenfranchised friends. Stiles also labels Jesse a “terrorist”, though he does so in rather more of an academic way than it has been received. If he’d used “politically-motivated criminal” instead of the “T-word”, the reaction might have been quite different.

However, none of this is why we are recommending this book. Whatever the more controversial aspects of this book, it is the best that has yet appeared to deal with the Reconstruction period in Missouri from an ex-Confederate point of view in detail, and therefore is an essential companion to Parrish’s book on the Union list that deals with the same period.

Union

The South vs. The South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War. William W. Freehling. Oxford University Press. 2001 (There is a paperback edition available as well). Freehling, author of The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay 1776-1854 (1990), has provided a slender but provocative book that starts our survey of the war in Missouri from a Unionist perspective. While this book spreads its Missouri-specific observations throughout the work, its value for our purpose is in placing Missouri in the context of the rest of the Border South states. Clearly a Lincoln fan, Freehling offers an interesting analysis of Lincoln’s ultimately successful efforts to hold the Border South for the Union (or, as Freehling would say, encourage the Border South to recognize for itself that its future was with the Union). Freehling’s position is that the Confederacy lost the war by losing the Border South, both before and during the war. He does not take the traditional view of the centrality of Nathaniel Lyon in causing the crisis in Missouri, observing “But take away the tempestuous Connecticut Yankee and no becalmed Missouri would have emerged”.

For some Border buffs, one of Freehling’s more controversial arguments will be “that neutrality was an illusion”. The Union had to have the Border states or the job of subduing the Confederacy would have been simply too big and too impractical. As Freehling notes, Lincoln himself observed that neutrality would lead to “disunion without a struggle”. Without the shipyards and strategic position of St. Louis, and the warehouses and rail yards of Louisville, the Union would have started the war at a much greater disadvantage.

Turbulent Partnership: Missouri and the Union 1861-1865. William E. Parrish. University of Missouri Press, 1963. Parrish is the undisputed holder of the title “Leading Historian of the Civil War in Missouri”. It is no accident that he is represented by three titles on this list. His history of the pro-Union Provisional Government (“one of the most unusual extralegal actions any state ever witnessed”) will be read for as long as anyone cares about the Civil War in Missouri. Ever wondered what the difference between the MSM (Missouri State Militia) and the EMM (Enrolled Missouri Militia) was, and why there were two of them? This is the book for you. Particularly fine is his telling of the story of Provisional Governor Hamilton R. Gamble, a good man trying his best to do an impossible job. Also valuable is his history of the various state conventions as they moved from slavery, to gradual emancipation, to freedom. There is a grievous lack of a similar book on the Confederate list, but the source material seems to exist for one some day (“Paging Mr. Phillips. . .Mr. Phillips, your party is waiting. . .”), and it could even use the same title with “Confederacy” replacing “Union”.

Civil War St. Louis. Louis S. Gerteis. University Press of Kansas, 2001. (There is a prewar excerpt of the lynching of Francis L. McIntosh and subsequent murder of abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy here ) St. Louis was the heart of Unionism in Missouri, and Gerteis does a nice job of capturing the variety and breadth of her stories before, during, and after the war. Examples of stories you won’t find elsewhere on this list are ironclad shipbuilder James B. Eads and a very nice history of the Western Sanitary Commission. All this breadth does come at the occasional cost of a lack of depth, and there is an error or two, but Gerteis has provided a worthy chronicling of our favorite Civil War city, at least from the Union perspective. The definitive story of St. Louis from the Confederate side has yet to be written.

Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative. William E. Parrish. University of Missouri Press, 1998. We have something in common with Thomas L. Snead; we like Francis Preston Blair, Jr. too. We just have to love a guy who before the war would threaten quite seriously to have St. Louis secede from Missouri if Missouri seceded from the Union. . .and then after the war, Union Major General Blair would refuse to take Radical Republican Charles Drake’s anti-Confederate oath of loyalty on the grounds that he had made war against the government of Missouri (which he did –Claib Jackson’s government) in 1861! For good or ill—heck, for good and ill—Frank Blair was the heart of militant Unionism in Missouri in 1861, and the heart of the eventually successful post-war effort to revive the Democratic Party too. Parrish’s bio of the brawling Blair (“if he was in for a fight, he was in for a funeral”) provides a full-length treatment of one of the most important and interesting characters of the Civil War and Reconstruction in Missouri.

The Struggle for Missouri. John McElroy. National Tribune Co. 1909 (There are later editions available, including a CD reprint from the webmasters of www.civilwarstlouis.com). John McElroy joined an Illinois cavalry regiment at the age of 16. He was captured after six month’s service and spent much of the rest of the war in Andersonville prison. After the war, he wrote one of the primary works on the infamous Confederate prison. McElroy was also the long-time editor of the National Tribune, official journal of the Grand Army of the Republic (the fraternal organization of Union veterans of the Civil War). Eventually McElroy was elected national commander of the G.A.R. as well. His book is dedicated “To the Union Men of Missouri”. So don’t be looking for balance from McElroy, though he is an entertaining writer who specializes in the snide remark and the cutting observation.

We are recommending the introduction (which you can find here on our site) to McElroy’s book on the war in Missouri precisely because it is a representative, though especially venomous, example of many hard-core Unionist’s views on the causes of the Civil War, and this particular example is Missouri-centric. An up-close look at fire-breathing Unionist/Abolitionist thought “from the horse’s mouth” will serve you well for your next assignment. Though one suspects it was not the mouth of the horse that Missouri ex-Confederates were reminded of while reading McElroy.

Damned Yankee: The Life of General Nathaniel Lyon. Christopher Phillips. University of Missouri Press, 1990 (There is a paperback edition from Louisiana State University Press). This is the only book we seriously considered having on both lists. From a Confederate viewpoint, Phillips’ characterization of the inflexible and volatile Lyon as the match that lit the fire in Missouri is right on target. The thing is, at least contemporaneously, “unconditional” Unionists don’t really disagree with that analysis either. They just use different adjectives. This group felt pretty strongly the fire needed lighting, and the sooner the better. To push the metaphor to the extreme, they were willing to risk burning the house (Missouri) to the ground in order to “smoke out” Claib Jackson and the rest of the Missouri secessionists before they were able to gain the upper hand. The debate over whether such would ever have happened will continue for as long as Civil War buffs debate the war in Missouri.

Phillips adds to our understanding of Lyon by delving into his pre-Civil War career in the Army in greater detail than any previous biographer, including the “Bleeding Kansas” period that put the finishing touches on the character and political development of the hard-nosed commander that would further polarize St. Louisians in the early months of 1861. A lively and important account—the only work we would call a worthy biography of Lyon that has yet appeared.

“James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder.” Kirby Ross, www.civilwarstlouis.com, 2002. Here is a very good example of the other side of the coin of Missouri Unionists. Broadhead, a native Virginian and pro-slavery Unionist, was one of Blair’s key allies in St. Louis in the early days of the crisis. He was a member of Blair’s “Safety Committee” that lead pro-Union efforts in St. Louis, Assistant U. S. Attorney that prosecuted newspaper editor J. W. Tucker for treason, and Provost Marshall General for the Department of Missouri under General Schofield. He was a southern man through-and-through –a fact that brought him criticism from suspicious Radicals—and was occasionally lead astray by his sympathy for other southern men. For example, Broadhead wrote the letter of recommendation that allowed future Confederate saboteur (and former Sheriff of St. Louis County) Thomas E. Courtenay back into St. Louis in 1863. After the war, Broadhead would be a “favorite son” candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 1876, and the first president of the American Bar Association. He deserves to be better known than he is, and Ross’ profile is an excellent step in the right direction.

cover

The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties. Mark E. Neely, Jr. Oxford University Press, 1991 (There is a paperback edition as well). This is another excellent “big picture” book that allows you to compare Missouri to the situation elsewhere, and get a sense for just how bad it was in Missouri. Neely clearly is a big Lincoln fan, and his second chapter, “Missouri and Martial Law”, just as clearly pained him to write. A nice numerical summary of the Provost Marshall system gleaned from National Archives material is included. Neely ends the Missouri chapter of his award-winning book with the plaintive observation, “What a different story this book would tell if Missouri and its thousands of political prisoners could be left out.” Our own research, sampling NARA Civil War Provost Marshall records from all across the country by name to find the individuals we were after, indicates that Missouri, by itself, constitutes a majority of such material.

Inside War: The Guerrilla War in Missouri During the American Civil War. Michael Fellman. Oxford University Press, 1989. One could argue this book belongs on the other list, but the doings of the Confederate irregulars are well represented over there. We like this book on the Union side for its very revealing view of the “middle management” of Union officers engaged in trying to suppress the Confederate guerrillas. These Union officers were under incredible pressure from their superiors to do something—anything—to bring the guerrillas under control. But there is a strong undercurrent of hypocrisy in the direction they received. Essentially the unspoken message was “Do whatever you have to do, I don’t care what it is so long as it works; just don’t tell me the details.” A few unlucky officers were not quite bright enough to catch the second half of that message; they told their superiors what they were doing to the civilian population in their efforts to suppress the guerrillas. Once “on the record”, this left their superiors with no choice but to punish them. This would explain why in post-war Missouri there was a law passed absolving all Union soldiers of culpability for any acts committed during the war; ex-Confederates were given no such protection.

“Order No. 11 and the Civil War on the Border”. Albert Castel. Missouri Historical Review, July 1963. (Reprint available at www.civilwarstlouis.com) Castel looks at the history of the infamous Order No. 11 that temporarily depopulated three Missouri counties after Quantrill’s equally infamous raid on Lawrence, Kansas. The article focuses on the decision-making among Union officials who formulated and implemented the order, and analyzes the common criticisms lodged against them and it. A balanced and thoughtful appraisal of one of the most emotional issues of the war in Missouri.

Forty Six Years in the Army. John M. Schofield. 1892 (There is a recent reprint available and an excerpt here on our site.) Schofield had one of the most meteoric careers in the Civil War, and was intimately connected to the war in Missouri. He was Lyon’s adjutant in the Wilson’s Creek campaign, and twice was Union commander of the Department of Missouri. A moderate man, the Missouri sections (Chapters 3-6) of his memoirs make for informative reading. His take on the “Claybanks” (Conservatives, of which he was considered to be a leader) versus “Charcoals” (Radicals) is good stuff.

General Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861. James Peckham. 1866 (The first half of this book is available for free at www.civilwarstlouis.com). Quite a marvelous piece of work for 1866, long before many important sources became available, and one of the granddaddies of Missouri Civil War scholarship. Heavy on the detail, and a good many anecdotes of St. Louis personages that cannot be found anywhere else. Peckham was a St. Louis Republican member of the Missouri Assembly when the war began, and was closely associated with the group around Frank Blair. A more accurate authorship credit would read “The Committee of Safety and Friends”, as Peckham clearly had access to the personal papers and reminiscences of Blair, Broadhead, Glover, How, the Filleys, etc. While he is not as gifted a writer as John McElroy or John N. Edwards, he is every bit as biased. This book was also used as a campaign biography for Frank Blair in his 1868 campaign for Vice President of the U.S. on the Horatio Seymour (D-New York) ticket.

“Solving the Mystery of the Arsenal Guns”. Randy McGuire. www.civilwarstlouis.com, 2003. Throughout your reading you have been repeatedly exposed to the story of the St. Louis Arsenal in 1861, and told time and again that there were 60,000 small arms in its inventory. Now it is time to unlearn that factoid. McGuire, author of St. Louis Arsenal: Armory of the West (2001), has produced an extensive and convincing history of the numbers of arms at the St. Louis Arsenal and concludes that the most likely number was approximately 36,600.

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Mrs. Hill’s Journal: Civil War Reminiscences. Sarah Jane Full Hill, ed. by Mark M. Krug. Lakeside Press, 1980. A marvelous reminiscence by the wife of a St. Louis Union officer in the Engineer Corps. The devoted and strong-willed Mrs. Hill does a goodly amount of traveling in the book to visit her husband, but there is strong Missouri and St. Louis content by a dedicated Unionist lady.

The Story of a Border City During the Civil War. Galusha Anderson, 1908 (There is a CD reprint available from the webmasters of www.civilwarstlouis.com). Reverend Anderson was a strong Union man, and his history of the war in St. Louis reflects that from every page. Unlike Peckham, who stops in 1861, Anderson’s account covers the whole war. His congregation included some of the leading pro-Union personages in the city, and Rev. Anderson seems to have been well-informed, at least from a Union perspective. He puts himself in the middle of great events a little much, but he has a fine eye for detail and is a must read to get a sense for how the Union side saw itself and its adversaries. Also a good source for a view of the refugees that flooded St. Louis during the war. There is a nice bio of Rev. Anderson, written by his son, here.

Missouri Under Radical Rule, 1865-1870

Missouri Under Radical Rule 1865-1870. William E. Parrish. University of Missouri Press, 1965. Parrish again. Here we get a telling of the rise and fall of the Radical Republican Party in Missouri, lead by Charles Drake. Missouri, considered a “loyal Union state” by the Federal government (at least officially), was never subject to Congressional Reconstruction. However, for the five years that Parrish covers here there was a State-run Reconstruction. Our favorite section from the book is the birth of the Liberal Republican Party, accomplished when ex-Union General John McNeil stomped out of a Radical Republican convention, followed by dozens of delegates. The issue that caused the split was the re-enfranchisement of the ex-Confederates, and McNeil was in favor. The rich irony of this story is that McNeil was known to most ex-Confederates as “The Butcher of Palmyra”, and was one of the most hated men in Missouri for that reason. Unfortunately, Parrish leaves that part out, but then this book is very much an “inside the camps of the ex-Unionists” kind of affair. Which is fine, and why it is here, ending the Union list.

Solving the Mystery of the Arsenal Guns

Solving the Mystery of the Arsenal Guns

by

Randy R. McGuire, PhD

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

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

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

St. Louis Arsenal: Armory of the West

by Randy R. McGuire, PhD

available from Amazon.com

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

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

Part II:

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Go to Part II

Bibliography

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

©2003 Randy R. McGuire, PhD.

No reproduction or distribution without the consent of the author

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

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

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

Sources and Methodology

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

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

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

Background of the Arsenal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Rifles 719

Total Small Arms on Hand 33,734

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

States and

Territories

With Arms

All Types

of

Muskets

All Types

of

Rifles

Total

Small

Arms


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



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



115,024 25,720 140,744

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Part II

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Part I:

Introduction

Sources and Methodology

Background of the Arsenal

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

Return to Part I

Part II:

Events of Early 1861 Affect the St. Louis Arsenal

Conclusion

Go to Part II

Bibliography

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D


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

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

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

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

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

OAK Call to Arms

The OAK Call to Arms

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

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

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

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

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


O.R.—SERIES I—VOLUME 41/3 pp. 975-976

O. A. K.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN H. TAYLOR,

Supreme Commander of the State of Missouri.

The Missouri Convention by Thomas L Snead

The Missouri Convention

By Thomas L. Snead

A bio of Thomas L. Snead

Excerpted and Introduced by G.E. Rule

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

Missouri Civil War Reader CD-ROM

Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I now available

The Fight for Missouri by Thomas L. Snead, 1886

The Struggle for Missouri by John McElroy, 1909

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

The Crisis by Winston Churchill, 1901

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

The Brown-Reynolds Duel, 1911

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In advocating this resolution he said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“More true joy an exile feels,

Than Cæsar with a Senate at his heels.”

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

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

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

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


General Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861

General Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861

by

James Peckham, 1866

Introduced by G. E. Rule

James Peckham was a St. Louis Unionist and Republican member of the Missouri legislature in the period leading up to the Civil War. During the war he joined the Union army and eventually became Colonel of the 8th Missouri Infantry. Peckham’s connections to the group centered around Francis P. Blair, Jr. in early 1861 were extensive and close. In many instances it is clear that he is working directly from the personal papers and recollections of Blair, James O. Broadhead, and other members of the “Committee of Safety” and its allies. Peckham is listed on the roster of the “parent company” of the Union Home Guards in January 1861 —a company whose captain was Blair himself. Peckham is not just a chronicler of the events he describes; he was often an actor and first-hand observer as well.

In many ways, “General Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861” is an unfortunate title for Peckham’s book. Indeed, a much more accurate title and authorship credit for this book would read “The Struggle for St. Louis in 1861” by “The Union Committee of Safety and Friends.” While of necessity any treatment of events in Missouri in 1861 must have Lyon near the center of the story, Peckham’s book is much more than the bio of Lyon that its title implies. It contains a wealth of anecdotes about lesser-known but interesting characters like J. Richard Barrett, Elton W. Fox, Charles Elleard, and many others that are not to be found anywhere else. Additionally, there are rosters of Union Home Guard companies, lists of financial contributors to the Union cause in Missouri, and just a general wealth of detail of interest to Civil War scholars and genealogists.

For 1866, well before the publication of any of the other well-known accounts of Missouri during the war, Peckham’s book is nothing short of amazing. Consider all the sources that were not available to Peckham yet –no Snead, McElroy, or Galusha Anderson. The publication of the Official Records of the Rebellion are still far in the future. Peckham’s book is clearly the “granddaddy” of much Missouri Civil War scholarship, relied on extensively by many of the authors who came later—sometimes to the detriment of the historical record in those instances where Peckham got it wrong.

Of course the downside of such an early account by an unapologetic Unionist, is that his access to Confederate sources was limited to rumor, spy reports, newspaper accounts, and captured correspondence. While this was often valuable and reasonably accurate, clearly Peckham is not the best source for what was going on inside secessionist circles. Additionally, there can be no doubt which side Peckham was on, and he is rarely in the mood to be fair-minded about Confederate actions, aims, and personalities. Peckham’s book is not, and makes no attempt to be, an uninterested and balanced account of events. Nevertheless, it is a very valuable contribution and should be read by anyone interested in St. Louis or Missouri during the Civil War.

Peckham’s book is 447 pages, organized into an introduction, four “books”, and an appendix. There are no chapters per se. We will be posting the entire text over time, separating each “book” and the appendix into three parts, and posting a part from time to time.

General Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861

by James Peckham, 1866

Introduction
Sumter Part IPart IIPart III
Camp Jackson Part IPart IIPart III
The Harney Regime Part I – Part II – Part III
Wilson’s Creek Part I – Part II – Part III
Appendix Part I – Part II – Part III
Return to Civil War St. Louis



THIS MEMORIAL

OF

THE HEROIC ACTIONS AND DEATH

OF

NATHANIEL LYON

IS MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED TO

CHARLES M. ELLEARD, Esq.,

ONE OF HIS EARLY AND STEADFAST FRIENDS,

BY

THE AUTHOR.

PREFACE.

I SUBMIT this volume to the considerate attention of my countrymen. It is published in order that those who succeed us may know how the men of this generation regarded Truth, and the attitude they assumed in its fearful struggle with Error. No period has been fraught with more momentous interests to humanity than this in which we are living. And no man ever more generously sacrificed himself in the maintenance of Right, or exhibited more religious deference to Justice, or a more gallant soldiership for Truth, than Nathaniel Lyon. No man ever sustained himself with greater nobility of personal deportment. The story of this hero and patriot will stimulate Age to regard patriotism with pious tenacity in the council, and Youth, in the spirit of real chivalry, to buckle on impervious armor for its defense in the field. In unfolding the stupendous drama of the time, the different characters necessary to the plot must find deliberate portrayal, and it is to the greater grandeur of the central figure that it is not obscured by such frequent mention of others. By Americans everywhere, but more especially by MISSOURIANS, the beautiful character of this son of Connecticut will be spoken of with pride, and treasured with reverence, while memory shall remain an attribute of man.

INTRODUCTION.

1860.

THE political contest in Missouri, in 1860, was between those who yielded unqualified obedience to the slave-power, and those who longed for relief from the impositions of the oligarchy. There were in the Democratic party leaders with sufficient influence to induce the party itself to espouse the cause of Douglas; but the selection for governor fell upon one of the most virulent nullifiers who had hounded the great Benton to his grave. Without the possession of more than ordinary sagacity, those leaders saw that the majority of the people, while tolerant toward slavery, were yet averse to secession, and, as Douglas was looked upon as a middle-man, they adopted the cheat of carrying into the gubernatorial chair, under his banner, one in whom they felt they could trust the interests of the South, in any emergency that might arise.

The results of the canvass in 1856 had awakened in the slaveholders gloomy apprehensions as to the security of the “institution.” That there should have been found in Missouri such a numerous body of citizens, forming almost a majority, arrayed against the “time-honored party,” in whose bosom slavery found the necessary aid and comfort, struck the oligarchy with fear and astonishment. Under the circumstances, (the national canvass of 1856,) a position against the Democracy in 1860 indicated alliance with the “Free-soilers.” The vote for Rollins, for Governor, in 1857, caused the tocsin of alarm to be sounded, and slavery, aroused to action, mustered into its service those fiercer passions of human nature, which subjugate the finer sensibilities, and tend to degrade the civilized man.

In 1860, the slaveholder determined to profit by experience. The bitter hate and the opprobrious epithets, which, in the old time, had been hurled against the far-off Garrisonian abolitionists, were launched with renewed force against any freeman who dared to differ from the Democracy. The support of Douglas was considered a sufficient concession to those who were afflicted with the possession of conscience; and when the obtuse voter failed to discover a satisfactory principle under the new guise, he was too often cowed down by a studied ruffianism, and if still persistent in his opposition, it was only to serve the pro-slavery policy from the Bell-Everett platform. While they opposed the Democracy, which they claimed to do as an organization, the Bell-Everetts were as bitter against the Republicans as were the slave-drivers themselves, making the extent of their abuse the measure of their apology for their points of difference from the oligarchy.

But in the whole State there were some twenty thousand Republicans, who were not to be deterred from the performance of their duty by any threat, not to be dismayed by the appearance of any danger. Only in St. Louis, however, did they maintain any kind of an organization, but in that city they were not only splendidly organized, but presented a very formidable front. It may have been that, by reason of three parties being in the field in each canvass, they generally held possession of a majority of the city and county offices; but there were wards in the city, where opposition to them was useless. In 1858 and 1859, Republican meetings were invariably disturbed by the partisans of slavery, who, from their hiding-places in the dark, frequently hurled missiles at the speakers, or rent the air with noisy exclamations of passionate hate or gross obscenity.

The leading spirit and chief adviser of the Republicans in 1860 and 1861 was Frank Preston Blair, Jr. who in the canvass of 1856, had whispered the magic word, EMANCIPATION. No history of Missouri in the momentous crisis of 1861 can possibly be complete without having that name stamped upon its pages in characters of splendid coloring. Himself a Southerner, and a slaveholder, the stereotyped cry of “Yankee prejudice,” “New England education,” and “Nigger equality” could not be raised against him in efforts to intensify passion and excite hate. His own personal courage and coolness, silenced the pretensions of the insolent, and forced opponents from the employment of abuse into the arena of debate, and there, before his exhaustive arguments and array of facts, the mailed squires of slavery were speedily unhorsed. Even in his personal intercourse with opposing partisans, in whose breasts were lurking the twin passions of hate and fear, he exhibited not only the courteousness of an affable gentleman, but an equanimity of temperament and apparent forgetfulness really wonderful. The antagonist who expected at the first meeting a rupture, because of bitter attacks made upon Mr. Blair in recent speeches, was surprised, in passing, at the placid countenance and nonchalance of manner of his political foe. This power over self, made Mr. Blair powerful with others. Serving a great cause in the interests of humanity, warring against an institution deep-seated in the hearts and purposes of a powerful class, he knew exactly the work before him, and the depths he would necessarily stir into fermentation. He made it his purpose to disregard passion, to answer declamation with argument, and to act in self-defense against ruffianly attack. His example was infused into his partisans. The effect was visible in the rapidly increasing growth of the Republican brotherhood and the permanent radiancy of the Republican idea.

Previous to 1860, the element which, in that year, formed the “Republican Party,” was known in St. Louis as the “Free Democratic Party,” but it was determined, in the winter of 1860 and 1861, that the name “Republican” should be adopted, and the party identify itself with the great anti-slavery party of the north. It was determined in a council of leaders, composed principally of O. D. Filley, John How, B. Gratz Brown, H. B. Branch, James O. Broadhead, Samuel T. Glover, Henry Boernstein, Charles L. Bernays, J. B. Gardenhire, Carl Daenzer, Allen P. Richardson, Ben. Farrar, Barton Able, Charles M. Elleard, James Castello, R. J. Howard, P. T. McSherry, Henry T. Blow, Alexis Mudd, Franklin A. Dick, Bernard Poepping, Wm. Doench, John H. Fisse, John O. Sitton, John M. Richardson—men representing different sections of the State, and who agreed with Mr. Blair—who corresponded from Washington City freely with his friends—that a State convention should be called, to meet in St. Louis, for the purpose of selecting delegates to attend the Chicago National Convention, and perfecting a State organization of the Republican party in Missouri.

The first convention of men in Missouri who were determined to take public position with the anti-slavery element of the North met, in obedience to a call which originated with the above gentlemen, in the small hall of the Mercantile Library building, on Saturday, May 10, 1860, and organized by choosing B. Gratz Brown, Chairman, and N. T. Doane, J. K. Kidd, Theophile Papin, and Charles Borg, Secretaries. In all the speeches and resolutions, there breathed nothing but the spirit of genuine freedom, and there was inaugurated an open and relentless warfare upon the project of slavery extension. Delegates to Chicago were chosen, and instructed to present the name of Edward Bates as the first choice of Missouri for the presidency of the Union.

Upon the return of the delegation from Chicago, a mass meeting of Republicans was held, at the south end of Lucas Market, to ratify the nomination of Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Blair while speaking was frequently interrupted by yells and blasphemies from political opponents, but his successors upon the platform met with severer treatment. Some were hit by stones, others completely interrupted by gangs of rowdies, who rushed wildly through the crowd, causing indescribable commotion. Several fights occurred, in which several of the rioters were severely worsted, the meeting finally breaking up in a grand row. These scenes were terribly suggestive to some persons who were present, and resulted in an organization, which, in ability for self-defense, in thorough system and perfect understanding and purpose among members, has never been surpassed by any political club in America.

Thus originated the celebrated club of “St. Louis Wide Awakes.” When the summer canvass of 1860 opened, the Republicans were assured of complete protection at all their public gatherings. From their headquarters, (furnished gratis by a devoted friend, August Loehner, Esq.,) on the southeast corner of Seventh and Chestnut streets, the Wide Awakes marched in procession to the places of appointed political gatherings, and while the meeting continued, (if at night,) each man, with a lighted lamp placed securely on the end of a heavy stick, stationed himself on the outside of the assembled crowd, thus depriving ruffianly opponents of their hiding-places in the dark. At the first two meetings which the Wide Awakes thus attended, the enemy, not understanding the purposes of the club, began their usual serenade of yells and cheers, but they were speedily initiated into the mysteries of the new order; which initiation consisted in being besmeared with burning camphene, and vigorously beaten with leaded sticks. The least sign of disorderly conduct was the signal for an assault upon the offender, and if he escaped unmaimed he was lucky indeed. As the Republicans never disturbed the meetings of their adversaries, they determined to enjoy quietly their own, and this coming to be understood, there began to be perfect freedom of speech. Public meetings in St. Louis were now more orderly than in any other city in the Union.

It will be seen that this club of Wide Awakes was the basis of a military strength, which in the following year gave prompt response to the call of President Lincoln; and even earlier than that call, not only saved the arsenal, but maintained the cause of freedom and union at the February polls.

The Democracy—both wings—also had their clubs; the “Douglas Club,” “Constitutional Guards,” “Broom Rangers,” &c. The latter organization, in the Douglas interest, was the most effective of any on that side, and adopted the plan of the Wide Awakes in marching with lighted lamps to places of public meeting. The several clubs named, during the summer and fall campaigns of 1860, were upon the street every night (Sundays only excepted) for three weeks previous to the election day, and during the whole time, such were the admirable arrangements of their leaders, never once collided. But the Wide Awakes did not escape insult from bitter partisans on the sidewalks. Once only were they assailed with more than words, and on that occasion some rowdies threw stones into the Wide Awake procession, as it was returning to their headquarters from a public meeting. The latter chased their opponents to the Berthold mansion, on the corner of Fifth and Pine streets, the head quarters of the Douglasites. A brisk showering of stones soon demolished several windows of the building, and consequences still more serious would have ensued, had it not been for the personal efforts of J. Richard Barrett (the Democratic candidate for Congress) on the one side, and Charles M. Elleard, Esq., on the other, both of whom labored diligently to quiet the excited partisans.

In St. Louis, in the summer canvass of 1860, Mr. Blair was the Republican candidate for Congress, Mr. Albert Todd the Bell-Everett, and J. Richard Barrett the Democratic, both wings. There was also an election to fill a vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Mr. Blair, who had obtained a seat in the then Congress, by a vote of the House of Representatives ousting Mr. Barrett. Mr. Blair was defeated for the short term by a combination of causes, the principal of which were, first, a coalition between the Bell-Everetts and the Democrats, and secondly, a fraud in the circulation of a bogus ticket, which declared for Blair “for Congress,” but did not state “to fill vacancy.” Enough of such tickets were thrown out, which, if they had been counted, would have elected Mr. Blair. The latter was successful for the long term, by a large vote.

In that canvass the question of union and disunion was fully discussed and understood. While the Breckenridge wing of the Missouri Democracy made but a feeble public show, the majority of those who had places upon the ticket were known to be warm friends of the Southern cause. The difference in the attitude of the two wings of the Democracy was simply this: The Breckenridgers desired the election of Mr. Lincoln as a means of breaking up the union of the States; the Douglasites, boasting of political power in that union, maintained that it was their interest to remain there so long as they held such power, but they agreed with the Breckenridge men that, when that power passed away, the necessity for a dissolution would become immediate. I assert, without fear of contradiction, that there was not a single Democrat who remained with the party in 1860, who declared for unconditional unionism; and I assert with equal confidence that there was not a speaker who addressed the people from Democratic platforms in that canvass who did not encourage conditional secession. There was not a speaker in the Democratic party who did not add to secession tendencies by the most vulgar and inflammatory orations against the Republicans, while many declared themselves for the South. Some few of those men have since atoned for their fatal teachings by grasping Union muskets in the Federal army, while many others, warmed into repentance by the sheen of Northern guns, have further illustrated the temper and spirit of the apostate, in frothy declamation and bitter invective against the thoughtless youths whom they had led astray. The Bell-Everetts were as abusive as the Democracy.

But while in St. Louis, under “Wide Awake” protection and Blair example, the Republicans enjoyed comparative security, it was vastly different in every other place in the State. Mr. Blair and Judge William V. N. Bay arranged to speak at Ironton upon the topics of the day, but in order to secure them protection against murderous assault, some three hundred Wide Awakes accompanied them by special train of cars, engaged for the occasion. The slaveocracy attended the meeting with a predetermination to break it up, but they were so largely outnumbered that they acknowledged themselves flanked, and most of them dispersed, muttering in suppressed tones curses upon the “Abolitionists.” Samuel T. Glover, one of the most finished orators in the State, appointed with Mr. Blair to speak at Hannibal, but no Wide Awakes were there to protect them, and they were effectually interrupted by the opposition. Missiles hurled at the speakers broke up the meeting. No other efforts were made to canvass the State. The opposition had it all their own way,

Even as early as 1860, organized persecution drove many “plain-speaking” people from their homes, and cowed down others less self-sacrificing. Any appeal to the courts for protection, any hope of assistance from neighbors, were useless. In many instances Democratic postmasters refused to deliver anti-Democratic newspapers sent through the mails, and complaints forwarded to Washington, or published in the public prints, were unheeded. The success of Mr. Lincoln drove the oligarchy to desperation, and the great majority of the people, just from the teachings of the hustings, were inclined to sympathize with the cause of slavery, against that “sectional party, against which the South is almost in arms in self-defense,” and which they were taught to believe to be “the author of unimaginable ills.”

During the canvass, Claiborne F. Jackson and Thomas C. Reynolds, the Douglas candidates for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, pretended to some little affection for the American Union; and even after the election, Jackson, in a speech at Boonville, deluded many into the belief that he was averse to secession. But his profession of loyalty was merely a pretense. Events prove that he was cordially in the interests of the South, even before his inauguration as Governor, and that he was ready to throw off all disguise the very moment it should be safe and proper to do so.

[NOTE.]

In order that the reader may know the actual result at the polls, in 1860, I give the following:

IN THE STATE.

Douglas………… 58,361 C. F. Jackson …….73,372

Bell …………….. 57,762 Orr………………….. 65,991

Lincoln………….17,017 Gardenhire ……….. 6,124

Breckenridge….30,297 H. Jackson ………. 11,091

IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY.

For Congress (long term).

Blair…11,453. Barrett…9,967. Todd…4,542.

The following Democratic officers were elected in St. Louis county, by the assistance of Bell-Everett votes:

County Marshal, County Recorder, County Jailer, County Coroner; and Barrett was placed, for the short term, so near Blair in the count, that a small fraud was sufficient to secure for the former the certificate of election.

The Republicans elected the Congressman for the First District, County Sheriff, County School Commissioner, and the entire Legislative delegation (one Senator and twelve Representatives).

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

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

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