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.

Fremont’s Hundred Days

Fremont’s One Hundred Days

Francis P. Blair, Jr.’s speech

to the House of Representatives, March 7, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

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

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

See Charcoals vs Claybanks

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Boernstein.

Third regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Sigel, at Springfield.

Fourth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Schuttner.

Fifth regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Saloman, at Springfield.

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

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

Seventh regiment Missouri volunteers, Colonel Stevenson, at Booneville.

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Louis, November 22, 1861.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very truly, &c.,

J. M. PALMER.

Colonel F. P. BLAIR.

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

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

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

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

“Seventeenth Illinois regiment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT

September 14, 1861.

To the Hon. SIMON CAMERON,

Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

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

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

Under Brigadier General Pope, including home guard 5,483

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN C. FREMONT

Major General Commanding.

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

[Here the hammer fell.]

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

No objection was made.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Captain C. McKeever A. A. G.:

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

CARLIN, Colonel Commanding.

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

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

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

Syracuse, October 15, 1861.

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

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

McKinstry, Brigadier General.

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

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

BENTON Barracks, October 16, 1861.

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

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

SAMUEL R. CURTIS,

Brigadier General Commanding.

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

St. Louis, October 15, 1861.

Brigadier General Grant, Cairo, Illinois:

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

By order of Major General Fremont.

McKeever, A. A. G.

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

Camp Benton, October 16; 1861

C. McKeever, A. A. G.:

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

S. R. CURTIS,

Brigadier General.

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

Camp Benton, October 16, 1861.

C. McKeever, A. A. G.:

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

S. R. CURTIS,

Brig. Gen. Com.

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

St. Louis, October 16, 1861.

Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

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

C. McKeever, A. A. G.

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

St. Louis, October 16, 1861.

Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

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

By order of General Fremont.

C. McKeever A. A. G.

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

Headquarters, October 2l, 1861.

To Brigadier General Curtis

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

By order of Major General Fremont.

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

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

HEADQUARTERS, October 21, 1861.

To Brigadier General CURTIS, Benton Barracks:

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

By order:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“WASHINGTON, September 3, 1861.

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

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

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

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

The committee say further:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing in life [official life] so became him

As the leaving it.”

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.

Tucker’s War

Posted February 19, 2003

©2003 G. E. Rule

No reproduction or distribution without consent of author.

Tucker’s War:

Missouri and the Northwest Conspiracy

by

G. E. Rule

Copyright G. E. Rule, 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also Hell and Maria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also The Boat-Burners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tucker’s War

Appendix A

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

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

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Tucker’s War

Appendix B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tucker’s War

Appendix C

J. W. Tucker to Jefferson Davis.

(From Confederate Memorial Hall.)

(Spotswood Hotel 14th March, 1864.)

Confidential statements; for the President alone.

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

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

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

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

Illinois, ………………………….110,000

Indiana,……………………………120,000

Ohio,……………………………….40,000

Iowa, ………………………………15,000

Pennsylvania,………………………..40,000

New York, …………………………..40,000

New Jersey, …………………………15,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. W. TUCKER.

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Tucker’s War

Appendix D

O. A. K.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN H. TAYLOR,

Supreme Commander of the State of Missouri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[19]Trial transcript of Robert Louden, NARA

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

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

[22]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[34]OR S1 V32 P2 p13

[35]Trial transcript of Robert Louden, NARA

[36]Grimes, Confederate Mail Runner

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

[38]OR, S4 V3 p125

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

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

[41]Compiled service records, NARA, RG109 M253

[42]OR S1 V22 P2 pg970

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

[44]Navy OR S1 V26 pp186-187.

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

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

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

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

[49]Castleman, Active Service

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

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

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

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

[54]Klement, Dark Lanterns, p107

[55]Reynolds, Price and the Confederacy

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

[57]OR S2 V7 pp. 228-340

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

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

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

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

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

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

[64]OR S1 V41 P3, pp975-976

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

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

[67]OR S1 V48 P2 pp194-196

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays in Civil War St Louis

“Happy” Holidays in Civil War St. Louis

by D. H. Rule

If it hasn’t been terribly clear from the other pages on this website so far, your webmasters–Deb & Geo Rule–are extremely fond of the strange, and sometimes bitter, historical ironies that are threaded throughout the history of the Civil War in St. Louis, such as the fervent abolitionists who joined the Confederacy, and the powerful Unionists who were adamant slaveowners, and so on.

Here, then, are accounts of Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays in a city at war reflecting that sense of irony… May your own holidays be happier!

Thanksgiving, 1861:On Thanksgiving Day of 1861, a secession family, living next door to me, determined to cheer some of their disloyal friends shut up in the Gratiot Street prison, by setting before them an abundant and delicious dinner. Their neighbors of like political views threw themselves with ardor into the scheme. Early in the day baskets full of appetizing food were brought from every direction, until these parcels, piled one upon another, quite covered the floor of their front hall. Then a covered wagon appeared at the door. Into it all these tempting viands were hastily packed and harried to the military prison. Those in charge of them asked the officer of the day, if they could give the prisoners a Thanksgiving dinner. He assured them that it would give him great pleasure to receive the food that had been so thoughtfully and kindly provided, but since it was contrary to orders to allow any outsiders to enter the prison, he would himself distribute the contents of the baskets and be careful that the most needy should not be overlooked. Two Iowa regiments that had just arrived had been sent down to Gratiot Street to do guard duty. They were weary, cold and hungry. The officer who had received the food, sent by devoted secession women, deeming these newly arrived soldiers to be the most needy, gave to them the roast turkey, fried chicken, mince pies, cranberry sauce, roast pig and apple sauce, and kept the disloyal within the prison walls on wholesome, but coarser, diet. While that commanding officer told no explicit lie, the ethics of his act will hardly bear very close inspection. He may have justified his deception by the fact that we were in a state of war, and have erroneously thought that war excuses “a multitude of sins.”

from “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War,” by Galusha Anderson1908

(available on Missouri Civil War Reader Vol. 1)

Christmas 1861:

DECEMBER, 25, 1861.—To-day is what we used to call Christmas at home, sweet home, where my wife and baby are. “Do they miss me at home, do they miss me?” God bless them and give them “Merry Christmas.” They little imagine how we pass our holiday Christmas!

Capt. Griffin Frost

Christmas 1863:

Another week of prison life, has dragged its long length slowly by, taking a joyous Christmas in its train. Tuesday was a day of perfect stagnation. The Feds thought of no new method of cmelty, and we submitted to all the plans in operation. Old Gratiot was like a ship becalmed in Southern seas. Wednesday a little breeze sprung up on the admission of a citizen prisoner, a Mr. O’Neal, from Herman, Gasconade county, arrested for speaking disloyally. He seems somewhat uneasy, and well he may if there is any prospect of his being shipped east. We see in an old copy of the Columbus Crisis, which an underground accident threw in our way, that political prisoners at Camp Chase fare even worse than prisoners of war do here. The following is the article in full, which we copy for future reference—it bears date December 24, 1862.

“We speak wholly of the political prison, of the State, as we know nothing whatever of what occurs in the prison where “rebels taken in arms” are kept—that is, “the prisoner of war.”…

Friday was Christmas day—I cannot speak for those jamming and crowding around in their rags in the lower quarters, nor for those in the lock-ups whose heavy balls and chains are eating into their ankles, while the still more deadly iron of despair is cankering in their souls, their Christmas enjoyments are best known to themselves, but as a specimen from our quarters, decidedly the best in Gratiot, I will chronicle the events of my holiday operations, commencing at six o’clock in the morning, when I arose and answered to roll call, then breakfast—pickled pork, bread and coffee; went out in the hall and peeped from the window awhile, then went back to our room and warmed, from thence to the window again—in and warmed, and out again; this time saw some Feds starting off; also saw several lady friends; went in again and watched the boys play cards, which is the only amusement they have; got tired of that and returned to the window; stood there and wished for the privilege of being out where I could enjoy myself with my friends, but wishing was all I could do, so I yawned and sighed and went into the pickled pork dinner. Frank Noel declared he would not insult his stomach with the cod livery stuff, and so confined himself to a limited supply of baker’s bread and coffee. Frank has not been here long—he will come to it yet—he ought to sojourn in the lower quarters, if he wants the kinks taken out of his stomach, there is not much turning up of noses down there I guess, no matter what is set before them. After dinner a fellow prisoner sent me a pear, I don’t know how he obtained it, but I regarded it as a most acceptable Christmas gift, appreciating it for its own intrinsic sweetness, as well as the generous refinement which actuated the donor. Fine fruits are not so plentiful in Gratiot as to be given away without self sacrifice. We did not tarry unusually long at the festal board, but sought the more inviting precincts of the hall window; saw some ladies pass—did not “throw kisses or wave my handkerchief,” but I thought “as long as I have the spirit of a man I will peep.” I won’t say the ladies didn’t peep some too. They looked at our gloomy walls as though they would like to have Aladdin’s Lamp, and make the Genii spirit us off, prison and all, into some far country where they could have opened our doors, and feasted us in the most royal manner, but their wishes were no more effectual than mine. I gazed for awhile longer at the paving stones, imagined they had a hard hearted appearance, lying there watching us; went back to my room, picked up the romance of “Zaidee,” read an hour or two, and—went back to the window for a last look, stood some ten or fifteen minutes, saw nothing of interest and left; went to the lamp room, brought up our lamp, pulled out the table, and played cards till time to go to bed, and thus ended Christmas day 1863, in the officer’s quarters, Gratiot street Military Prison, St. Louis, Mo. Not much after the style in vogue in the palmy days of old Dr. McDowell and his Medical College. Wonder how that gentleman would feel to walk around his premises and take a view of the students now gathered in the institution together with the faculty presiding over the establishment. His remarks on such an occasion would be rich beyond a doubt. More than one Yank would burn beneath the touch of his caustic wit.—Christmas day passed off dull enough, and we stole to our beds as quietly as chained dogs to their kennels. Slept till midnight, when a militia horse thief from the lower quarters, came running up and informed the prison officers that the lock-up prisoners were about to make their escape. Of course the whole gang were out in a minute, they went down and discovered that a hole had been cut through the floor of Clifford’s and Carlin’s room, through which they proposed to let themselves down by blankets, when they would be joined by a lot from the lower quarters, and all make a rush on the guards and as many escape as possible. It would have been a perfect success if it had not been for the coward who reported. The next day Clifford was thrown into a solitary dungeon, the darkest pit in the prison; and Carlin, Sebring and one other, were taken down into the yard, and hand-cuffed and chained to a post—after they had stood there for several hours, a second squad was brought down and chained to another post, where they could be seen from a Southern residence across the street. They were kept there until late at night, although the weather was extremely cold; they stamped, shouted, and sung to keep from freezing; we could hear them after we went to bed, thumping the pavement, and singing “Hard times.” The same thing was repeated yesterday and to-day, except Carlin had a post to himself, and the weather much colder; we find it difficult to keep comfortable by the fire, and yet we hear “Hard times come again no more” pealing out on the frozen air. They unchain them and take them in to eat their meals. While passing near the kitchen one of them struck an old fellow over the head and “made the blood flow” pretty freely, it was the father of the horse thief who reported on them, and said to be the cause of his son’s doing so. Desperate measures will cook desperation. I guess they would have killed the old sinner if they could. While they are chained at the post, old Masterson goes out and stands and scolds as long as he can endure the cold, then he comes in and takes an easy chair, smacks his lips, and admires his own bravery; chuckling over the big things he said to them. Had another letter from John, and one from home, the latter reads:

“I have a bid to a Christmas dinner, but do not expect to go, for I could not enjoy myself and you in prison. All the pleasure I expect to see is when Annie gets her doll, which I have been dressing to-day. Dear little creature, she is more company for me than all the rest. She talks a great deal about “Old Kris,” and what she expects him to bring her. I would like to send you a turkey, but know it would be useless.”

Capt. Griffin Frost, 1863

Gratiot
Christmas 1863:About two P.M.. on Christmas eve, 1863, as I was going down an outside stairway to get water from the hydrant, a prisoner (whom I knew) was standing at a window that opened on the stairway. He handed me a note which said: ‘Ten of its have procured an ax and some other useful tools and Dave planned to break out tonight; if your men in Room No. 3 can manage to get down in lower room by ten o’clock we will have our plans in operation and you can join us.’ I read the note to the boys in my room, No. 3, and we decided we would join them; it would be a little relief from the monotony and give us some exercise whether we succeeded in escaping or not.

Our large coal heating stove stood in one corner of our three-cornered room. The weather was quite warm but we built up a good fire in order to heat the two pokers we had red-hot. With these I burned a succession of holes in a circle, in this way removing a round block from the floor about fourteen inches in diameter. This hole was complete by ten o’clock. We then looked down into the lower room–where there were more than fifty prisoners–and right under the hole stood four guards waiting for us. They said: ‘Hello, boys, how are you?’ Come on down–we will help you !’ ‘Well, I guess not, we will put our trip off until later.’ After guying each other a while we stuck the block back in the hole and in a jolly manner discussed the episode. While I was burning the holes in the floor my six room-mates pulled our long pine table in a position that hid me from the guard who paced the hall past our grated window. The boys made all the noise they could with a game of cards. There was no investigation made of us or our room that night; not a word said by the officials. Next morning as soon as we had breakfast and cleaned up our room Sergt. Mike Welch said: ‘Gentlemen I have a little treat in store for you so get your hats and come with me.’ He took us down to the yard and to the porch of the old McDowell dwelling house and handcuffed three and three of us around the two posts. As Sam Clifford was the seventh man and there was no room at the posts for him he was placed in a dungeon at the south end of the house.

Next day the stunt was rehearsed; by the third morning a proposition was produced by old Mike that all who would promise not to try to escape would be permitted to remain in our room. Four of the boys gave the required promise. Sebring, Clifford and myself refused to accept any such terms and so we were reinstated. Clifford was put into the dungeon, Sebring and myself handcuffed around the post daily and we enjoyed the company and the hospitality of the Confederate officers.

Maj. Absalom Grimes, memoirs, 1911

Christmas 1861:The Medical College and the Collegians,–Active preparations are being made for the accommodation of the prisoners confined in McDowell’s College. The institution is in charge of Lient. Batterworth, and under his supervision cooking ranges and sleeping bunks are being constructed, and everything will soon be properly systemized. Until then, it will be impossible to obtain the names of the prisoners. The officers will be assigned separate apartments from the men. The building is capable of accommodating two thousand men. The room which was formerly used dissecting purposes is used as a dining room”

St. Louis Democrat, Dec. 27, 1861

Christmas 1861:Office of the Provost-Marshal General

of the Department of the Missouri

St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 20, 1861

You are herby notified that, pursuant to General Orders No. 23, from the headquarters of the Department of the Missouri, directing a levy upon the friends of the enemy for charitable purposes, you have been assessed the sum of ___ hundred dollars as your contribution in aid of the suffering families driven by the rebels from Southwestern Missouri.

You will, therefore, pay the amount so assessed, or its equivalent in clothing, provisions, or quarters, to me within five days after the service of this notice upon you, or, in default thereof, execution will be issued against your property for sufficient to satisfy the assessments, costs, and twenty-five percent penalty in addition. Should you elect to pay your assessment in clothing, provisions, or quarters, you will give notice of such intention to this office, accompanying the same with an inventory and description of the articles, or of the situation and value of the quarters tendered, which will be accepted the same with an inventory and description of the articles, or of the situation and value of the quarters tendered, which will be accepted, subject to an appraisement of the same by me.

Bernard G. Farrar, Provost-Marshal-General

(affidavits of loyalty were due to be filed on or before December 26, 1861)


Throughout December they poured in on the afflicted city, already overtaxed. All the way to Springfield the road was lined with remains of articles once dear —a child’s doll, a little rocking chair, a colored print that had hung in the best room, a Bible text.

Anne Brinsmade, driven by Nicodemus, went from house to house to solicit old clothes, and take them to the crowded place of detention. Christmas was drawing near —a sorry Christmas, in truth. And many of the wanderers were unclothed and unfed.

More battles had been fought; factions had arisen among Union men. Another general had come to St. Louis to take charge of the Department, and the other with his wondrous body guard was gone.

The most serious problem confronting the new general was —how to care for the refugees. A council of citizens was called at headquarters, and the verdict went forth in the never to be forgotten Orders No. 24. “Inasmuch,” said the General, “as the Secession army had driven these people from their homes, Secession sympathizers should be made to support them.” He added that the city was unquestionably full of these. Indignation was rife the day that order was published. Sixty prominent “disloyalists” were to be chosen and assessed to make up a sum of ten thousand dollars.

“They may sell my house over my head before I will pay a cent,” cried Mr. Russell. And he meant it. This was the way the others felt. Who were to be on this mysterious list of “Sixty”? That was the all absorbing question of the town. It was an easy matter to pick the conspicuous ones. Colonel Carvel was sure to be there, and Mr. Catherwood and Mr. Russell and Mr. James, and Mr. Worington the lawyer. Mrs. Addison Colfax lived for days in a fermented state of excitement which she declared would break her down; and which, despite her many cares and worries, gave her niece not a little amusement. For Virginia was human, and one morning she went to her aunt’s room to read this editorial from the newspaper:

“For the relief of many palpitating hearts it may be well to state that we understand only two ladies are on the ten thousand dollar list.”

“Jinny,” she cried, “how can you be so cruel as to read me that, when you know that I am in a state of frenzy now? How does that relieve me? It makes it an absolute certainty that Madame Jules and I will have to pay. We are the only women of importance in the city.” That afternoon she made good her much uttered threat, and drove to Bellegarde. Only the Colonel and Virginia and Mammy Easter and Ned were left in the big house. Rosetta and Uncle Ben and Jackson had been hired out, and the horses sold —all save old Dick, who was running, long haired, in the fields at Glencoe.

Christmas eve was a steel gray day, and the sleet froze as it fell. Since morning Colonel Carvel had sat poking the sitting room fire, or pacing the floor restlessly. His occupation was gone. He was observed night and day by Federal detectives. Virginia strove to arouse him, to conceal her anxiety as she watched him. Well she knew that but for her he would long since have fled southward, and often in the bitterness of the night time she blamed herself for not telling him to go. Ten years had seemed to pass over him since the war had begun.

All day long she had been striving to put away from her the memory of Christmas eves past and gone; of her father’s early home coming from the store, a mysterious smile on his face; of Captain Lige stamping noisily into the house, exchanging uproarious jests with Ned and Jackson. The Captain had always carried under his arm a shapeless bundle which he would confide to Ned with a knowing wink. And then the house would be lighted from top to bottom, and Mr. Russell and Mr. Catherwood and Mr. Brinsmade came in for a long evening with Mr. Carvel over great bowls of apple toddy and eggnog. And Virginia would have her own friends in the big parlor. That parlor was shut up now, and icy cold.

Then there was Judge Whipple, the joyous event of whose year was his Christmas dinner at Colonel Carvel’s house. Virginia pictured him this year at Mrs. Brice’s little table, and wondered whether he would miss them as much as they missed him. War may break friendships, but it cannot take away the sacredness of memories.

The somber daylight was drawing to an early close as the two stood looking out of the sitting room window. A man’s figure muffled in a greatcoat slanting carefully across the street caught their eyes. Virginia started. It was the same United States deputy marshal she had seen the day before at Mr. Russell’s house.

“Pa,” she cried, “do you think he is coming here?”

“I reckon so, honey.”

“The brute! Are you going to pay?”

“No, Jinny.”

“Then they will take away the furniture.”

“I reckon they will.”

“Pa, you must promise me to take down the mahogany bed in your room. It —it was mother’s. I could not bear to see them take that. Let me put it in the garret.”

The Colonel was distressed, but he spoke without a tremor.

“No, Jinny. We must leave this house just as it is.” Then he added, strangely enough for him, “God’s will be done.”

The bell rang sharply. And Ned, who was cook and housemaid, came in with his apron on.

“Does you want to see folks, Marse Comyn?”

The Colonel rose, and went to the door himself. He was an imposing figure as he stood in the windy vestibule, confronting the deputy. Virginia’s first impulse was to shrink under the stairs. Then she came out and stood beside her father.

“Are you Colonel Carvel?”

“I reckon I am. Will you come in?”

The officer took off his cap. He was a young man with a smooth face, and a frank brown eye which paid its tribute to Virginia. He did not appear to relish the duty thrust upon him. He fumbled in his coat and drew from his inner pocket a paper.

“Colonel Carvel,” said he, “by order of Major General Halleck, I serve you with this notice to pay the sum of three hundred and fifty dollars for the benefit of the destitute families which the Rebels have driven from their homes. In default of payment within a reasonable time such personal articles will be seized and sold at public auction as will satisfy the demand against you.”

The Colonel took the paper. “Very well, sir,” he said. “You may tell the General that the articles may be seized. That I will not, while in my right mind, be forced to support persons who have no claim upon me.”

It was said in the tone in which he might have refused an invitation to dinner. The deputy marveled. He had gone into many houses that week; had seen indignation, hysterics, frenzy. He had even heard men and women whose sons and brothers were in the army of secession proclaim their loyalty to the Union. But this dignity, and the quiet scorn of the girl who had stood silent beside them, were new. He bowed, and casting his eyes to the vestibule, was glad to escape from the house.

The Colonel shut the door. Then he turned toward Virginia, thoughtfully pulled his goatee, and laughed gently.

“Lordy, we haven’t got three hundred and fifty dollars to our names,” said he.

fictional account from “The Crisis,” by Winston Churchill, 1901

(available on Missouri Civil War Reader Vol. 1)

James O Broadhead by Kirby Ross

Posted December 6, 2002

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

available at Amazon.com

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available for pre-order at Amazon.com

Civil War St. Louis contributing author Kirby Ross published in North & South magazine, Vol 6, issue 7

The Burning of Doniphan by Kirby Ross

(Vol 6, Issue 7 of North & South mails to subscribers October 21st; on sale in stores November 11th)

JAMES O. BROADHEAD

ARDENT UNIONIST, UNREPENTANT SLAVEHOLDER

by Kirby Ross

While serious students of Missouri Civil War history readily recognize the name James O. Broadhead, it is usually in regard to his seven-month tenure as Provost Marshal General of the Department of the Missouri.  His prior very key role in holding Missouri in the Union is otherwise generally overlooked and he himself forgotten—this even though it was once said of him “his powers were almost absolute.”1 Despite his leading position among Missouri Unionists, he was a proud Southerner and well into the Civil War continued to cling to the notion that slavery should be preserved.  As a slaveholder at the dawn of hostilities he once proclaimed, “I am willing to go as far as any living man to protect the institution of slavery in the State of Missouri.  I have no prejudice against the institution.  I have been raised with the institution, and I know something of it.”2 Even as he was being assigned in 1863 to the position of Provost Marshal General—a military command that encompassed Missouri, Arkansas, Indian Territory, Kansas, and southern Iowa—he maintained this mind-set and was reported to have gone so far as to assert that “every damned Abolitionist in the country should be hung.”3

Despite these extreme sentiments and the fact he grew up in Virginia, few men doubted Broadhead’s loyalty to the Union as the war found its way to Missouri.  After the Rebellion was over an ex-Confederate Congressman referred to Broadhead as having been “a trusted counsellor of Mr. Lincoln.”  And an observer on the other side of the conflict later noted, “No man…was more stalwart in his Unionism, or took a more active part when war came, in supporting the Federal Government than did James O. Broadhead.”4

For those that might be unsure about his priorities Broadhead explained, “I am a slave owner myself, but I am not willing to sacrifice other interests to the slave interest….”  Emphasizing the nature of the interests he was willing to place over and above his slave interests, Broadhead also offered words that familiarly echoed ones once uttered by his more famous cousin, Patrick Henry: “Who would not be willing to meet these calamities to preserve the Union and Missouri in the Union and secure to ourselves and our posterity such a destiny as most assuredly awaits us.  That man who does not know when to die is not fit to live; and what better time to offer up our lives than in behalf of such a cause?”5

To understand the paradox of Broadhead, one must look far back into his ancestry and his birthplace.  “Born at the South,” Broadhead once said, “I think I know something of my duty to the South as well as to the Constitution of my country.”  As a native son of Charlottesville, Virginia, it was said by one of his contemporaries that he “imbibed in his youth and early manhood the spirit which actuated the fathers of the Republic.”  Another acquaintance made a similar observation in noting that Broadhead “grew to manhood in an atmosphere created by eminent statesmen and permeated by a love of country, a patriotic devotion to public duty, and a full recognition of the obligation which rests upon the citizen.”6

This “spirit” and “atmosphere” created by eminent statesmen radiated from Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, who also hailed from Charlottesville.  Furthermore, not only was Broadhead a cousin of Patrick Henry but also of Dolley Madison.  In his formative years he was a frequent guest in her house where the host of the manor was James Madison, the “Father of the U.S. Constitution.”  Young James Broadhead’s “personal acquaintance and relations with ex-President Madison served to foster still further these virtues” of love of country and patriotic devotion to it.7

Broadhead’s ties to the Founding Fathers ran deeper still, however.  His father Achilles Broadhead was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson to survey the grounds that became the University of Virginia.8 In an even more powerful connection to Jefferson, Dabney Carr, the brother of James’s grandfather Garland Carr, was the beloved childhood friend of Jefferson.  This relationship ultimately evolved from friendship to kinship upon the marriage of Broadhead’s Uncle Dabney to Martha Jefferson, the third President’s sister.  When Dabney died he was the first person to be laid to rest in the new burial grounds of Monticello.  Jefferson interred the body so it would one day be directly at his own side and then placed a headstone over Dabney’s remains that contained the inscription “To His Virtue, Good Sense, Learning and Friendship this stone is dedicated by Thomas Jefferson, who of all men living loved him most.”  After the burial, Jefferson took the Carr children into his household and raised them as his own.9

Completing the atmosphere that so-compelled slaveholder James Overton Broadhead to fight for the very cause that ultimately resulted in the extinction of the “peculiar institution,” Broadhead was also distantly related by marriage to Martha Washington and Mary Todd Lincoln.10


Having completed studies in Red Hills at the classical school of his uncle, Dr. Francis Carr, Broadhead thereafter entered the University of Virginia in 1836 at age 16.  When in 1837 most of his immediate family removed to St. Charles County, Missouri, James remained behind and taught at a private school near Baltimore before joining them out west a year later.  Upon his arrival the scholarly aristocrat joined the employ of the Hon. Edward Bates as a tutor for his children.11

Bates, a prominent attorney as well as nationally recognized Whig politician, reversed roles and soon took Broadhead on as student of his own in the study of law.  By 1842 Broadhead was licensed as an attorney and had moved to Pike County.  Within three more years Broadhead was following in his mentor’s footsteps and was active in state politics as a Whig.  At the age of 26 he was elected to be a delegate to Missouri’s second constitutional convention.  The following year he was sent by Pike County to the state house of representatives, and four years afterward to the state senate.12

Shortly before the Civil War began, Broadhead moved from Pike to St. Louis where he entered into a law partnership with Fidelio C. Sharp, an affiliation that by 1873 grew into “the largest legal practice of any firm, not only in Missouri, but in the West.”13 Then in 1860 Edward Bates, now a Republican, was a candidate for the presidency of the United States.  Strongly backed by newspaperman Horace Greeley, Bates was thought in some quarters to have a good chance at gaining the party nomination.  Instead, Abraham Lincoln was chosen to be the standard-bearer but promptly appointed Bates to be his Attorney General after the general election.14

Broadhead’s own politics began to evolve around this time, although he remained committed to the institution of slavery.  Shortly after the election he admitted, “it is true I voted for Lincoln—and yet I am not exactly a Republican, certainly not a Black Republican….”  Asserting “Lincoln is himself an honest man and a patriot,” Broadhead attributed his support of the Illinoisan to be a consequence of Lincoln’s pro-business economic platform and his advocacy for a strong government, as well as his Free-soil stance that would leave slavery alone where it existed (the Emancipation Proclamation was still far off and unforeseen).  Broadhead did state abhorrence for the fringe groups of the Party—the Red Republicans (labor agitators) and the “fanatical” Black Republicans (Abolitionists), a body that he claimed “is the smallest class.”  All a very interesting perspective given that the Republican Party of 1860 that Broadhead was involved in and spoke of is now seen in a significantly different light in the hindsight of modern times and through the intervening prism of the American Civil War.15

After moving to St. Louis Broadhead began to associate closely with U.S. Congressman Frank Blair, who was a leading opponent of secession in Missouri.  As early as 1859 Blair urged Broadhead to run for the Missouri Supreme Court and advised him he could help deliver at least 10,000 votes.  Although this entreaty was not accepted, Broadhead’s relationship with Blair continued to expand and ultimately developed to the point where “Broadhead was his right hand, his chief lieutenant.”  So close were the two that one day Blair would ask Broadhead to give the nominating speech at a national convention when he ran for President.  Broadhead would also serve as his pallbearer several years after that.16

As Blair rallied his supporters, in February 1861 he was instrumental in forming the Committee of Safety, whose “purpose was to serve as the executive committee of the Union party.”  Besides Blair, five other men were selected for the Committee, and among their ranks was James Broadhead, who was appointed secretary of the group.  Under the auspices of this organization an armed force of Loyalists was recruited in the city and within a short time several regiments were mobilized.17

A couple of weeks after he joined the Committee of Safety, running on a campaign slogan of “the Union at any cost” Broadhead was also elected to serve as a delegate to the State Convention assembled to decide the question of whether Missouri should secede from the Union.18 As a leader of the Unconditional Unionist, on March 14, 1861, he addressed the group.  By now Broadhead was also a proponent of the belief that secession would result in economic disaster for the state.  Furthermore, should Missouri leave the Union the Fugitive Slave Act would be abrogated—an act that legally required free states to assist in the return of escaped slaves to their owners.  Surrounded on three sides by what would be a foreign country if the secessionists were successful, slaves in Missouri would readily find freedom in Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois after secession just as easily as if they made their way all the way to Canada before secession.19

In his address to the Convention Broadhead observed that Missouri stood directly along the route between the eastern United States and western United States.  He stated that “efforts have been made for the purpose of connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean, by means of a railroad, in order that the wealth of the Indies may be poured into the lap of this country of ours.  And Missouri stands in the pathway of nations; over her soil this pathway must run, just as inevitably as fate.  And do you suppose that the accumulated interest of the East and the West, and I may say the world, will ever submit to have an interdict placed upon that pathway?”  In dramatic fashion Broadhead was arguing that even if the Deep South were allowed to remove itself from the Union, geographic positioning made Missouri different than those states.  Consequently, as Broadhead opined, “I say, then, gentlemen of the Convention, that Missouri cannot go out of the Union if she would; and I think I know what I say when I speak it, that she has not the power to go out of the Union if she would.”20

Several weeks after the March session of the Convention concluded, Abraham Lincoln issued orders that effectively federalized the paramilitary forces raised by the Committee of Safety, thus allowing them to operate under color of authority as U.S. Volunteers.  Now permitted to recruit up to 10,000 troops, additional loyal citizens of St. Louis were brought into another umbrella organization known as the United States Reserve Corps.  Thomas William Sweeny of the Regular Army was placed in command of the five regiments of the Reserve Corps, with James Broadhead assigned to his staff at the rank of major.21

The President also issued orders for the U.S. military in St. Louis to consult closely with the Committee of Safety and to go so far as to proclaim martial law in the city if deemed necessary by the members of the Committee.  Lincoln specifically referred to Broadhead by name in this order.22 One historian later elaborated on the extraordinary influence of the Safety Committee—“Into its hands was given absolute authority in all matters concerning the Union cause in St. Louis….  The Committee became the central medium of advice, information, and direction of the Union activities of the City, and a little later, throughout the State of Missouri.”23

The Committee was not lax in exercising its considerable power in the course of the compulsory military consultations.  When the U.S. general commanding in Missouri, William S. Harney, did not act according to their desires the Committee petitioned Washington and saw to it that he was removed and replaced by Nathaniel Lyon, a much more aggressive officer.24

With Federal authorities concerned about the creation of the Southern-sympathizing Camp Jackson on the outskirts of St. Louis in early May, Lyon asked leave of the Committee for permission to close it down.  Upon receiving their acquiescence, with Secretary Broadhead voting guardedly in favor of the plan, on May 10 Lyon surrounded the military encampment and took its occupants prisoner.  Marching them through the streets of St. Louis, a crowd began to gather along the route.  In the course of events one shot was fired, then another, and very quickly a general maelstrom swept across the area.  When the smoke cleared at least twenty-eight men had lost their lives and many more were wounded.25

While not commenting on the deaths that resulted from this affair, Broadhead did discern a marked shift in the balance of power in the city that resulted from the dispersal of the camp.  Writing to an acquaintance eleven days later Broadhead said the action “operated like a poultice—the inflammation has been drawn out of the great numbers of men [in St. Louis] who were heretofore rampant secessionists.”26

With events happening very quickly in Missouri, Broadhead expanded his Union-supporting activities.  Simultaneous to his service as a major in the Reserve Corps and delegate to the State Convention, he was also appointed by Bates to serve as Assistant United States Attorney.  In that latter position Broadhead was party to a decision made in concert with Attorney General Bates to pursue prosecutions for treason, but only in extreme cases and only when the chances of a conviction were certain.  The treason card was not to be played precipitately.27 One case Broadhead did bring forward—in fact it was the first treason indictment he drew up—was against Governor Claiborne F. Jackson.  This charge was the consequence of a search warrant Broadhead executed that resulted in the seizure of a letter written by Jackson on April 28, 1861, that spoke freely about plans for taking Missouri out of the Union.  Writing a confidential communication to a friend, on May 21 Broadhead discussed the development:  “we have a warrant out for Jackson for treason, but it will not be served yet—perhaps not at all—if he makes the proper settlement.”  (This may very well mark the only time in United States history that a sitting governor has been indicted for treason.)28

A settlement to Broadhead’s liking remained elusive as the situation deteriorated further over the next few weeks.  All finally came to a climax on June 11 in a meeting at the Planter’s House in St. Louis between General Lyon, Governor Jackson, and Jackson’s head of militia, General Sterling Price.  When the negotiations reached an impasse, Lyon rose to his feet and angrily exited the room thundering “This means war!” on his way out.  Whether Broadhead was now ready to serve his warrant is unknown, since Jackson and Price immediately returned to the capital at Jefferson City, gathered their allies, packed the state records, and promptly proceeded on a journey west and then south that saw a large part of the elected Missouri government spend the remainder of the war in exile.29

Afterward, the State Convention reassembled to address the absence of a governing body in Jefferson City.  James Broadhead was appointed chair of a committee formed to consider the status of the state government and to recommend a course of action regarding it.  Broadhead seized upon language the now-absent Governor and General Assembly (legislature) had given force of law when they enacted the bill that created the Convention.  Passed by a very overwhelming margin of 30-2 in the senate and 105-8 in the house of representatives, Section 5 of that statute specifically gave the Convention delegates the power “to adopt such measures for vindicating the sovereignty of the State and the protection of its institutions as shall appear to them to be demanded.”30 Wrote Broadhead on the authority granted, “If the Convention is to be limited in its action by the provisions of the act of the General Assembly, it is difficult to perceive how language could have been used which would have vested it with greater powers.”31

In taking full advantage of the legislature’s legal authorization allowing the Convention to adopt measures that appeared to be needed to protect the state’s institutions, Broadhead issued a report that recommended, among other things, that the offices of governor and lieutenant governor be declared vacated, as well as the General Assembly.  This recommendation was ultimately accepted by a two to one margin by the whole of the Convention, which then promptly appointed Edward Bates’ brother-in-law Hamilton Gamble to fill the position of Provisional Governor.  The Convention thereupon proceeded to act as a legislative body until new elections could be held.32

So went James Broadhead’s very major and very forgotten actions in those first days and weeks of the war in Missouri.  Thirteen years after the close of hostilities one writer summed up his role by stating, “looking back at the critical condition of the government in the early part of 1861, the importance of these prompt proceedings assume immense proportions.  What Mr. Broadhead accomplished in the preservation of the Union . . . can never be fully estimated.33

His activities that followed, important though they might have been in the scheme of events, were almost anti-climactic compared to what had preceded them.  Broadhead spent 1862 serving on the military staff of Provisional Governor Gamble as Judge Advocate General, at the rank of colonel.  He also continued in the employ of Edward Bates where he received a promotion from Assistant U.S. Attorney to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, where he served from November 1861 through August 1862.34

The following year he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment, a Pike County unit.  He was then detached from the regiment and assigned to the post of Provost Marshal General for the Department of the Missouri from June 1863 through January 1864.  In this position he ironically wielded far more power than his commanding officer in the Third M.S.M. (who happened to be Edward Bates’ cousin and law partner).  While his wife’s brothers—John and Caleb Dorsey of Pike County—and their Confederate activities occasionally bedeviled him in his position as PMG, his Conservative Unionist policies offered relative moderation towards the non-combatant slaveholding and Southern-oriented citizenry of the state, as well as extreme aggravation to his Radical Unionist political opponents that desired sterner action on his part.35

After the war Broadhead continued his association with Frank Blair, and together they pursued an effort to repeal the onerous restrictions placed upon ex-Confederates in Missouri.  It was said of Broadhead “he had taken a bold stand against the provisions of the Drake Constitution, which not only destroyed the citizenship, but prevented many from pursuing their vocations as a means of earning their daily bread.  He was equally outspoken in denouncing the reconstruction acts of Congress as revolutionary.”36 In 1868 and 1872 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and in 1875 played a leading role in the Missouri Constitutional Convention.  The following year he was appointed special counsel for the U.S. Attorney’s office in St. Louis and assisted in the prosecution of the so-called “Whisky Ring”—a scandal that reached directly into the White House.  That same year he was the Missouri delegation’s favorite son choice for President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention.  Two years later he helped found the American Bar Association and was elected to be that organization’s first president.37

In 1882 Broadhead successfully ran for the United States Congress, and, after serving one term, was appointed a special claims commissioner by Grover Cleveland.  Broadhead spent his sunset years as Minister to Switzerland from 1893 through 1897.  Finally retiring at the age of 78 years old, he returned home to St. Louis where he passed away on August 7, 1898.38

© 2002 by Kirby Ross

All Rights Reserved


1In Memoriam. James Overton Broadhead (St. Louis: Legal Publishing Company 1899) 42

2Samuel B. Harding, “Missouri Party Struggles in the Civil War Period,” American Historical Association Annual Report For the Year 1900 I (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office 1901) 93; Journal and Proceedings of the Missouri State Convention, March 1861 (St. Louis: George Knapp & Co., Printers and Binders 1861) 122.

3St. Louis Democrat, 2 June 1863, p. 1; St. Louis Democrat, 10 June 1863, p. 1.  See also The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1901) Ser. 1, Vol. LIII, p. 582 (hereinafter cited as Official Records).  The Democrat was a Radical Unionist newspaper very strongly opposed to the appointment of Conservative Unionist Broadhead as PMG.  The Official Records correspondence was a direct reflection of that newspaper’s reporting.  Whether Broadhead actually said these particular words is problematic and thus far no definitive support has been located elsewhere.

4Harding, 93; Thomas L. Snead, The Fight For Missouri (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1886) 88

5Missouri State Convention, March 1861, 122-123; In Memoriam, 41-42.  For Broadhead’s relationship to Patrick Henry, see Howard L. Conard and William Hyde, eds., Encyclopedia of the History of St. Louis I (New York: The Southern History Company 1899) 241; Garland Carr Broadhead, “Carrs, Winstons and Barretts,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (April 1898) 442; Garland Carr Broadhead, “The Family of Achilles Broadhead,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (October 1895) 212; Garland Carr Broadhead, “Carr Family,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (October 1895) 208-211; Garland Carr Broadhead “Carr Family,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (April 1898) 440-441.  Robert Douthat Meade, Patrick Henry: Patriot in the Making (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company 1957) 23, 40, 53, 64, 65; Henry Mayer, A Son of Thunder: Patrick Henry and the American Republic (New York: Franklin Watts 1986) 24, 40, 47.  Patrick Henry was the grandson of Isaac Winston and Mary Dabney Winston, making him the first cousin of Broadhead’s maternal grandmother Mary Winston Carr.

6Conard and Hyde, 241; In Memoriam, 13, 30, 84; Missouri State Convention, March 1861, 122

7Conard and Hyde, 241; In Memoriam, 13, 84.  See also, Katharine Anthony, Dolly Madison: Her Life and Times (New York: Doubleday & Company Inc. 1949) 5; Ralph Ketcham, James Madison: A Biography (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia 1990) 376-377.  Like Patrick Henry and James Broadhead, Dolley Madison was a direct descendant of Isaac Winston and Mary Dabney Winston.  Broadhead’s great-grandfather, Colonel William “Langloo” Winston, was a brother of Lucy Winston Coles, Dolley Madison’s grandmother.  See, “Carrs, Winstons and Barretts”; “The Family of Achilles Broadhead”; “Carr Family” Oct. 1895; “Carr Family” Apr. 1898.

8Plat of Land (A. Broadhead), 15 Nov. 1825, Accession #RG-5/3/1.002, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

9Rev. Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia (Charlottesville: The Michie Company 1901) 160-161; “Carrs, Winstons and Barretts”; “The Family of Achilles Broadhead”; “Carr Family” Oct. 1895; “Carr Family” Apr. 1898; Thomas Fleming, The Man From Monticello (New York: William Morrow and Company 1969) 8, 12, 22-23; William Howard Adams, Jefferson’s Monticello (New York: Abbeville Press 1983) 259; Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life (New York: Henry Holt and Company 1993) 90, 176

10See Conard and Hyde, 386; “Carrs, Winstons and Barretts”; Mark Freeman, 20 Mar. 2002, “Thomas Carr of Caroline and Louisa Co., Va.,” http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~markfreeman/carr_lou.html

11In Memoriam, 21; William E. Parrish, “James Overton Broadhead,” American National Biography III (New York: Oxford University Press 1999) 579; “Hon. James O. Broadhead,” The United States Biographical Dictionary Missouri Volume (Kansas City: Press of Ramsey, Millett & Hudson 1878) 434-435; St. Louis: the Future Great City (St. Louis: C.R. Barnes 1876) 636-637

12In Memoriam, 21-22, 33; American National Biography, 579; United States Biographical Dictionary, 435.  See also John Vollmer Mering, The Whig Party in Missouri (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press 1967)

13“Hon. James O. Broadhead,” The Century Magazine III (August, 1873) 2

14Parrish, American National Biography, 329-330; History of St. Charles, Montgomery and Warren Counties, Missouri (St. Louis: National Historical Company 1885) 207; Perry McCandles, A History of Missouri II (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press 1972) 280.  See also Marvin R. Cain, Lincoln’s Attorney General Edward Bates of Missouri (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press 1965)

15“Fragments of the Broadhead Collection,” MHS, Glimpses of the Past, 2, 4 (March 1935) 49-51

16Ibid.; In Memoriam, 45; William E. Parrish, Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative (Columbia: University of Missouri Press 1998) 254

17Lieutenant-Colonel James O. Broadhead, “Early Events of the War in Missouri,” War Papers and Personal Reminiscences—Missouri (St. Louis: Becktold & Co. 1892) 4-5, 8, 9-12, 18-19; United States Biographical Dictionary, 435-436; Walter Harrington Ryle, Missouri: Union or Secession (Nashville: George Peabody College For Teachers 1931) 206

18Robert J. Rombauer, The Union Cause in St. Louis in 1861 (St. Louis: Press of Nixon-Jones Printing Co. 1909) 191; Conard and Hyde, 241

19For Broadhead’s position on the economic issue, see Missouri State Convention, March 1861, p. 122-123.  For a concise presentation of the Unionist economic argument, see Ryle, 208-209.

20Missouri State Convention, March 1861, 122-123

21Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, p. 675; United States Biographical Dictionary, p. 436; War Papers and Personal Reminiscences, 5; Adjutant General’s Report of Missouri State Militia For the Year 1861 (St. Louis: George Knapp & Co., Printers and Binders 1862) 6; James O. Broadhead, “St. Louis During the War,” James O. Broadhead Papers, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis; “General Sweeny’s: A Museum of Civil War History,” 15 Nov. 2002, http://www.civilwarmuseum.com/gensweeny.html

22Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, p. 675

23Ryle, 206

24United States Biographical Dictionary, 436; William E. Parrish, A History of Missouri 1860-1875 (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press 1973) 10-11

25Ibid.; Parrish, A History of Missouri 1860-1875, 12-14; War Papers and Personal Reminiscences, 19-22; James Peckham, Gen. Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861 (New York: American News Company, Publisher 1866) 140-141

26“Fragments of the Broadhead Collection,” 57-58

27James O. Broadhead correspondence to Edward Bates, 4 Apr. 1862, James O. Broadhead Papers, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis; Official Records, Ser. 2, Vol. I, p. 277; Louis S. Gerteis, Civil War St. Louis (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas 2001) 169

28War Papers and Personal Reminiscences, 22-26; “Fragments of the Broadhead Collection,” 58

29Parrish, A History of Missouri 1860-1875, 22-23

30 Journal of the Missouri State Convention, July 1861 (St. Louis: George Knapp & Co., Printers and Binders 1861) 5, 9-10; W.F. Switzler, Illustrated History of Missouri From 1541 to 1877 (Saint Louis: C.R. Barns, Editor and Publisher 1879) 322; Eugene Morrow Violette, A History Of Missouri (Cape Girardeau, MO: Ramfre Press 1960 reprint, 1918) 328; Louisiana (Mo.) Journal, 1 Aug. 1861, p. 2

31Missouri State Convention, July 1861, 10

32Missouri State Convention, July 1861, 5-12, 17-18, 20-22, 25

33United States Biographical Dictionary, 436

34Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Missouri for 1862 (St. Louis 1862) 3; Gerteis, 269; In Memoriam, 42

35United States Biographical Dictionary, 436; In Memoriam, 42

36In Memoriam, 44; See, William E. Parrish, Missouri Under Radical Rule, 1865-1870 (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press 1965) 58, 78, 84, 88, 248, 305, 315; Parrish, Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative, 236, 241, 245, 251

37Biographical Dictionary of the United States, 436-437; “Broadhead, James Overton,” 29 May 2000, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/

biodisplay.pl?index=B000848

38 Ibid.

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.