The Neophyte General – US Grant and the Belmont Campaign

The Neophyte General:

U. S. Grant and the Belmont Campaign

by James E. McGhee

Copyright 1973 James E. McGhee. Used with Permission.

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

James E. McGhee is a retired lawyer with an avid interest in the Missouri State Guard and Missouri Confederate units. His latest book is Missouri Confederates: A Guide to Sources for Confederate Soldiers and Units, 1861-1865 (Independence, Mo.: Two Trails Publishing, 2001). McGhee’s titles are available from Camp Pope Bookshop. The article below first appeared in the Missouri Historical Review, Volume 67, Issue 4, July 1973.

In the spring of 1885 Ulysses S. Grant raced against death to complete his memoirs. While suffering from an agonizing throat cancer that greatly impaired his ability to speak, he spent long hours compiling reference notes and quietly assessing his life and accomplishments. The determined general won this last battle, for he completed the reminiscences one week before his death.[1]

A model of military writing, Grant’s Personal Memoirs provided narratives of his experiences in two wars, including a chapter that related the details of his initial Civil War command in the engagement at Belmont, Missouri. Surprisingly, Grant concluded the chapter by attempting to justify his reasons for fighting the battle.[2] After the passage of almost a quarter of a century, it was ironic that the conqueror of Vicksburg and Robert E. Lee still deemed it necessary to offer an explanation of that first and rather minor campaign.

Comments of the press immediately after Belmont, coupled with the political embarrassment caused by the engagement later on, may have motivated Grant to pen a justification of the battle in his memoirs. Initial newspaper reactions, while mixed, tended to be unfavorable. One distant New York editor wrote that the Belmont expedition had been no less than disastrous, while opinion in western papers varied from doubts of the battle’s value to an open pronouncement of defeat.[3] In addition, complaints sprang up from the ranks; one northern officer observed that if Belmont had been a great victory as so many claimed he hoped God would spare them defeat![4] Later, moreover, Grant’s political opponents raised the subject of Belmont during the presidential campaign of 1868.[5] No doubt such criticism lingered with Grant for a long time.

Research suggests that the controversy that surrounded Grant’s actions in the Belmont campaign may well have been justified, and quite probably the battle should never have been fought. Certainly Grant’s stated reasons for entering the engagement were open to argument. Tactically the battle plan Grant followed was extremely risky, and if his opponents had not blundered so badly his entire command could have been captured or destroyed. Finally, far from accomplishing any worthwhile objectives, the campaign lacked strategic effect.

Grant’s first step toward the bloody field of Belmont occurred on September 1, 1861, when he assumed command of the District of Southeast Missouri at Cape Girardeau. His area of responsibility encompassed most of Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Both regions appeared to be threatened by the new Confederacy and were therefore scenes of a substantial military build-up by the federal government. Grant seemed pleased with the assignment, writing later that his district ranked third in importance in the country.[6]

Shortly after taking command Grant moved his headquarters to Cairo, Illinois. In the view of Major General John C. Frémont, commander of the Department of the West and Grant’s immediate superior, Cairo was the key to Union control of the Upper Mississippi Valley. Strategically situated at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, Frémont considered Cairo a logical control point for area defense and offensive operations as well.[7] Grant assessed the military situation in his district less than a week after he established his new command post. He described an increasing concentration of rebel forces in Kentucky and Missouri and forecasted an enemy attack in the near future.[8]

Grant’s prediction of an early enemy offensive proved groundless, but the Confederate threat along his front was very real indeed. On September 3 regiments belonging to the command of Major General Leonidas Polk entered neutral Kentucky and occupied the important military point of Columbus on the Mississippi River.[9] Polk quickly fortified Columbus by emplacing a large number of guns that commanded the river traffic. He also established an observation post directly opposite Columbus on the Missouri side of the river. The small encampment was situated in a marshy area near a boat landing at the obscure hamlet of Belmont.[10]

Another concern plagued Grant in addition to Polk’s activities, for lurking somewhere in the vast swamps of Southeast Missouri was a bothersome and elusive brigadier of the secessionist Missouri State Guard, M. Jeff Thompson. In recognition of his exploits in the backwaters the effervescent Thompson had earned the sobriquet “Swamp Fox of the Confederacy,” and his Missourians excelled in partisan tactics. While probably more noisy than dangerous, Thompson’s troops had nevertheless been a source of worry to the Federals since midsummer and had successfully evaded all attempts to draw them into battle.[11]

With Polk and Thompson threatening from the south, Grant devoted his efforts to organizing and training his recently enlisted volunteers. In addition to the base at Cairo, the District of Southeast Missouri included garrisons at Paducah, Kentucky, Bird’s Point, Cape Girardeau and Pilot Knob, Missouri, with a combined troop strength that approached seventeen thousand soldiers of all arms.[12] During the early fall months Grant insured that his men were drilled and disciplined in preparation for the fighting that he knew must come.

While the necessity of teaching infantry assault formations to raw Federal troops was time consuming, it did not mean that Grant ignored the enemy along the Mississippi. Much to the contrary, he desired to commence offensive operations, wanting very much to strike the Confederate redoubt at Columbus. In fact, he petitioned department headquarters for permission to move against Polk on no less than three occasions during September.[13] Later he reported that only the lack of essential equipment prohibited him from driving Polk out of his defensive position.[14] Nothing came of this talk, however, and relative quiet prevailed along his front. But in late October a distant campaign in Southwest Missouri changed the situation almost overnight.

On September 27 General Frémont had moved a large army toward Springfield in an attempt to defeat a force of rebels congregated under Major General Sterling Price. Frémont was under extreme pressure to destroy Price, because the latter had greatly embarrassed the Lincoln administration with dramatic victories at Wilson’s Creek and Lexington.[15] Late October found the Federals at Springfield expecting to meet the secessionists in battle. Frémont may have become concerned over possible reinforcements for Price from Polk’s army at this point, for on November 1, Grant received orders to hold his command ready to make demonstrations in the direction of Columbus.[16]

Grant’s instructions called for movements along both sides of the Mississippi River. Points to be threatened were designated as Charleston and Norfolk, Missouri, and Blandville, Kentucky. He was directed to keep his columns moving back and forth against those places without, however, attacking the enemy.[17] Grant started preparations for the expedition, but before he could put his troops in motion orders arrived that substantially expanded his assigned mission.

New orders appeared the next day over the signature of Frémont’s adjutant, Captain Chauncey McKeever. The captain informed Grant that the troublesome Jeff Thompson, along with three thousand rebels, had been located at Indian Ford some twenty miles west of Bloomfield. A Federal detachment had started in pursuit of Thompson from Pilot Knob, and Grant was advised to supplement that force with additional troops from Cape Girardeau and Bird’s Point. These columns would then cooperate in driving Thompson out of Missouri into Arkansas.[18] Grant immediately set about implementing this latest plan.

To Colonel Richard Oglesby, commander at Bird’s Point, went instructions to move units up the Mississippi by transports to Commerce. He would then march to Sikeston and from that point pursue Thompson in any direction necessary. Expanding the original orders somewhat, Grant told Oglesby the purpose of the expedition was to destroy Thompson’s force. Pursuant to orders, Oglesby proceeded to Commerce on November 3 with approximately three thousand men. A similar column departed Cape Girardeau three days later in a march toward Bloomfield. The expedition against the Missourians drew heavily from Grant’s command, but he soon faced even greater demands on his troop resources as once again the situation rapidly changed.[19]

On Tuesday, November 5, Grant received an urgent telegram from headquarters indicating that Polk was reinforcing Price’s army from Columbus. In order to counter that move the message directed Grant to initiate the previously ordered demonstrations. The telegram intimated that like instructions had been dispatched to General C. F. Smith, the Federal commander at Paducah, outlining a similar operation on the Kentucky side of the river.[20] Heavily involved in the attempt to chastise Thompson, Grant now had the added responsibility of preventing reinforcements from leaving Columbus and moving to Price’s assistance. Failure in this threatened serious trouble for Frémont’s campaign in the Missouri Ozark country.

Unfortunately, Federal headquarters relied on erroneous reports. Jeff Thompson, supposedly in strength at Indian Ford, actually occupied Bloomfield, where he quickly learned of the columns advancing to entrap his militiamen. Moreover, Polk had no intention of reinforcing Price or anyone else for that matter. In October Polk had refused Thompson’s request for troops in nearby Southeast Missouri and had been sustained in his decision by his superiors. Furthermore, Price did not solicit help until November 7, the day of the fight at Belmont, when he wired the Confederate commander in the West, General Albert S. Johnson, and suggested cooperation in a march on St. Louis.[21] Federal intelligence in this instance, as so often happened to both sides during the Civil War, seemingly depended on sources of dubious reliability.

Grant, of course, had to act on information supplied by his headquarters regardless of its veracity. He therefore boarded three thousand troops on transports and prepared to move down the Mississippi. In a communication to General Smith he outlined the combined operation in progress against Thompson and described the expedition he was undertaking to “menace” Belmont. Grant suggested that if Smith could make a demonstration toward Columbus, Polk would probably be unable to reinforce the Belmont garrison. And unless the rebels there received support, Grant believed he could drive them out of Missouri.[22]

As a result of the changed circumstances, Grant also sent new orders to Colonel Oglesby that instructed him to march his command in the direction of New Madrid. When Oglesby reached a point on his line of march from which a road led to Columbus, he was to halt and communicate with Grant at Belmont.[23] Entrusting delivery of the somewhat confusing message to a small unit led by Colonel W. H. L. Wallace, and directing him to join Oglesby when the two were near enough, Grant started his army south.[24]

On the night of November 6 the Federal flotilla of four transports and two gunboats anchored nine miles below Cairo. At 2:00 a.m. a courier arrived from Wallace. A “reliable Union man” reported Confederates crossing from Columbus to Belmont with the intention of cutting off the column under Oglesby. Such a movement seemed likely to Grant, and he immediately decided to turn the demonstrations desired by headquarters into an attack on the rebel camp at Belmont. Orders were issued to proceed that morning at first light.[25]

Grant’s convoy suffered a slight delay in getting underway, but by 8:30 a.m. Federal troops disembarked at Hunter’s Farm, a landing area two miles northwest of Belmont that lay out of effective range of the heavy guns at Columbus. While officers attempted to assemble troops in regimental organizations, Grant marched five companies south of the farm on the road to Belmont and deployed them in a ravine. This detachment of two hundred fifty men constituted the transport guard and was the only reserve available if the Federals happened to be repulsed.[26] Grant then returned to the landing area where he prepared his command for combat. The Union brigades moved forward in column for about a mile and took positions on the edge of a cornfield. Soon a skirmish line proceeded across a dry slough that paralleled the battle line to ascertain the enemy positions. Immediate contact with the rebels resulted.[27]

Grant’s men encountered Confederate cavalry elements sent forward to reconnoiter the Federal advance. Polk had been advised of the approach of the convoy at 7:30 a.m. He could scarcely believe the movement against Belmont could be anything other than a feint and thought the main thrust would be directed against the fort at Columbus. Nevertheless, he reluctantly dispatched General Gideon Pillow across the river with four infantry regiments, and an additional regiment followed shortly thereafter.[28]

Colonel James Tappan, commander of the Belmont post, met Pillow on the riverbank. Prior to Pillow’s arrival he had placed the garrison of seven hundred men and available pieces of artillery in position to guard the approaches to the small encampment.[29] Pillow, after a hasty inspection of Tappan’s troop dispositions, redeployed the battery and most of the infantry. At this point Pillow seemed to have the situation well in hand, for his force equaled Grant’s in numbers, and he had the added advantage of selecting a defensive position.[30] Once Pillow completed his line of defense he ordered the cavalry to advance and locate the enemy. The horsemen moved to the front and quickly engaged the Federal skirmishers.

Grant’s small army consisted of two brigades commanded by General John McClernand and Colonel Henry Dougherty, respectively. McClernand led the First Brigade, consisting of the Twenty-seventy, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Illinois infantry regiments, two companies of cavalry, and Battery B, First Illinois Artillery. Dougherty’s brigade, much inferior to McClernand’s in numbers and firepower, included two regiments of infantry, the Seventh Iowa and Twenty-second Illinois.[31] Grant formed his troops with Dougherty’s brigade holding the left flank and McClernand’s responsible for the right. Battery B unlimbered behind the infantry in the cornfield.[32] Once the formation of his battle line was completed, Grant turned his attention to the engagement along the slough.

A substantial firefight had developed in front of the Union position. Neither side demonstrated any reluctance to engage the enemy even though this was the first time under fire for Federal and Confederate alike.[33] As the exchange of small-arms fire increased in intensity, a heavy but largely ineffective cannonade from the Columbus batteries rained down on the Federal right flank. McClernand, anxious to meet the enemy at close quarter, ordered his brigade forward. The rebel cavalry, unable to withstand the pressure, retreated through the dense woods with the Union forces in cautious pursuit.[34]

Pillow’s chosen defensive line blocked only the main road leading from Hunter’s Farm to Belmont. Two infantry regiments were deployed in a wooded area on the right that provided adequate cover. Inexplicably, the remaining three regiments of infantry and the battery were situated in front of a slight rise in an open field. Pillow’s dispositions could hardly have been worse. In fact one regimental commander complained to General Polk after the battle that a less favorable location for defense was unimaginable.[35]

Grant’s troops had probed through the woods, and when the rebel line came into view the Federals immediately attacked. The Confederates, as a consequence of being placed in an exposed position, found themselves confronted by an enemy protected by heavy timber some eighty yards distant. A thirty minute engagement took place at this point, the viciousness of which threw the Union forces into temporary disorder, while Grant had his horse shot from beneath him.[36]

The Federals soon gained the initiative after repelling two offensive thrusts by the Confederates. Pillow, hard pressed by an enemy that threatened to outflank his position, made a costly decision, ordering a charge across the open terrain against the Union infantry concealed in the distant trees.[37] The rebels gallantly rushed forward but failed to reach the Federal line. Exposed to a withering fire, they retired and attempted to regroup. Shortly thereafter an effort to turn the Federal left also failed. Grant’s army began passing around both Confederate flanks, causing Pillow to order a retreat to the river encampment.[38]

The post of Belmont encompassed seven hundred acres of low, marshy ground surrounded by a flimsy abatis. Pillow’s men hurriedly retired to these crude fortifications and took up new defensive positions.[39] Meanwhile the Federals approached the camp in a formation resembling a widespread arc. Grant’s brigade commanders then closed the long lines so as to threaten three sides of the outpost. After a temporary halt to realign regiments, the Union infantry rushed forward. The ensuing struggle was short but fierce with casualties heavy on both sides. Battery B fired numerous barrages in the rebel ranks, causing Pillow’s soldiers to seek shelter along the embankment bordering the river. Nearly surrounded and badly demoralized, many of the Confederates retreated up the riverbank in a desperate effort to escape capture.[40]

Grant’s troops swept into the nearly deserted camp. A rebel battery, which had been abandoned, was quickly secured and a number of prisoners taken. Federal soldiers shortly turned to gleefully rummaging through tents for souvenirs, while General McClernand, lately an Illinois congressman, led the troops in three cheers for the Union.[41] A regimental band struck up the national anthem and then gave its rendition of “Dixie.” In short, Grant’s victorious army turned into little more than an undisciplined mob. Furthermore, the troops ignored all pleas to stop looting until Grant finally ordered his officers to burn the camp’s tents in the hope of directing attention to Confederate reinforcements crossing from Columbus.[42]

Polk hesitated in sending assistance to Pillow early in the battle. He was preoccupied with the threat posed against Columbus by the troops from Paducah under Smith’s command. But once Polk concluded that he need not fear their activities, he moved to reverse the disaster on the Missouri shore. Seeing that all was lost unless more troops were put across the river, he dispatched two additional regiments of infantry and prepared two more for deployment. The sight of the burning tents verified Federal occupation of Belmont, and Polk ordered the heavy artillery at Columbus to fire into the camp.[43] The bursting shells did much to assist Grant in gaining control over his near riotous soldiers as their elation quickly changed to panic.

While Grant worked to bring organization back into his ranks, someone saw rebels landing above Belmont and spread the word of impending disaster. A number of Grant’s officers informed him that the army was surrounded and urged surrender as the only honorable course of action. Rejecting such pleas, Grant finally succeeded in moving his troops back in the direction of their landing area at Hunter’s Farm. The retreat became a running fight as the rejuvenated Confederates counter-attacked.[44]

General Pillow had gradually restored order in his badly demoralized regiments following their initial rout. He took the newly arrived reinforcements, along with remnants of his original command, and struck Grant’s retreating army on front and flank.[45] Along the road to Hunter’s Farm a series of sharp, bloody encounters between groups of disorganized troops occurred. Casualties were once again heavy, especially among the straggling Federals.[46] Eventually the Unionists cut open an avenue of escape and hurried to their transports and relative safety.

Grant assessed his tactical situation as the soldiers rushed to board the waiting boats. He found that much had gone awry. The transport guard, so badly needed at this point, had already retreated to the landing area.[47] Also, due to the precipitate withdrawal, all of the dead and many of the wounded Federals remained on the field.[48] Another matter of concern was that an entire regiment, the Twenty-seventh Illinois, had become separated from the command when the retreat commenced and still remained unaccounted for.[49] As Grant mulled over the day’s events the Confederates closed in on the transports.

Polk crossed the river at this juncture and personally directed the rebel forces against the rapidly embarking Federals. Between the boats and rebels a lone figure on horseback hurried toward the river. A gangplank was extended from one of the transports and the rider and his horse slid down the bank and crossed onto the boat. The last Union soldier to leave the field, Grant dismounted and went up to the upper deck for one last look at the enemy. He watched as the Confederates rushed to the bank and commenced shooting into the convoy of troopships, only to be driven back by a hail of canister from the gunboats.[50]

En route to Cairo the Federals rested quietly. To the relief of everyone, the Twenty-seventh Illinois was observed some miles up the river and brought safely aboard. Grant noted that each of his men viewed Belmont as a great victory.[51] This apparently impressed Grant very much, and his after battle report indicated that he shared his men’s opinion.

Grant’s report to headquarters tended toward generalizations and contained some inaccuracies. While claiming that the Confederate casualties greatly exceeded his own, he underestimated his losses by over a hundred. He applauded the conduct of both his men and the gunboat crews, but made no mention of the loss of control over the men after the camp had been captured. Grant explained that the message from Wallace had convinced him to strike Belmont and surmised that the attack had prevented Oglesby from being cut off. In addition, he thought that Polk would be forced to refrain from dispatching any reinforcements to Price. Lastly, Grant believed that the experience had inspired confidence in his men that would be invaluable in future engagements.[52]

The Confederates likewise proclaimed a victory at Belmont. Polk told of defeating a vastly superior force that had intended to strike at both Belmont and Columbus. He cited the bravery of his soldiers and reported possession of an enemy flag, over a thousand stand of arms and quantities of military equipment of various types. The Confederate Congress joined in the celebration by addressing a resolution of thanks to the soldiers of Polk’s command.[53]

Ten days after the battle Grant’s medical officer submitted a supplementary report that reflected the final casualty figures for the Union army. The Federals suffered losses of 607 at Belmont, including 120 killed, 383 wounded, and 104 captured or missing.[54] The casualties amounted to about twenty percent of those engaged, a high percentage in the early phases of the war. An estimated five thousand Confederates actively participated in the battle. Polk’s report listed 105 killed, 419 wounded, and 117 missing, for a total of 641, or about thirteen percent of the number that saw action.[55]

Grant learned the results of the other columns involved in the combined operations a few days after returning to Cairo. In Kentucky C. F. Smith followed his orders rather explicitly, conducting a demonstration against Columbus and little more. Two of the three groups that had attempted to ensnare Thompson converged at Bloomfield only to discover that the wily “Swamp Fox” had escaped to the South. The Federals heard of the “defeat” at Belmont while at Bloomfield and returned to their home bases without accomplishing anything of lasting value.[56]

Thus the Belmont campaign ended, and it quickly became the subject of a controversy that was never entirely forgotten by Grant. Oddly enough the criticism emanated from unofficial sources, for apparently neither the administration nor the army ever gave the battle a second thought. Nothing in the public record indicated that Belmont affected Grant’s military career one way or another. His final word on the matter had been his justification of the engagement in his memoirs. Grant noted that critics claimed that the battle had been wholly unnecessary and barren of results. The Confederate threat to Oglesby’s column necessitated his action, Grant maintained, and had he not struck the enemy Oglesby would probably have been captured or destroyed. In his view he had done only what was required to protect his command.[57] Grant possibly believed that his statement settled the issue for all time.

Nevertheless, debate on the campaign continued and for seemingly ample reasons. Grant concluded that he saved Oglesby’s three thousand men from a major disaster by striking Belmont. Logically, since the two Federal commands were almost equal in strength, the danger of capture or annihilation was as real for Grant as it was for his subordinate. Moreover, Polk never sent any troops to threaten Oglesby, for Confederate orders or correspondence mentioned no such movement. Rather than making an effort to check the validity of Wallace’s report, Grant chose to accept the information at face value and ordered the attack. Any supposed danger to Oglesby’s column may have been just a pretext, a convenient one to be sure, to initiate a battle.

It will be recalled that Grant wanted to move against Columbus soon after taking command at Cairo. Despite the refusal of headquarters to permit any attack, he never lost interest in taking the offensive. Perhaps in the demonstrations that were ordered he saw the opportunity for that desired fight. His dispatch to Smith of November 5 suggested that he planned something more aggressive than the mere feints desired by headquarters. Also there was the message he sent to Oglesby that day before the battle telling the latter to communicate with him at Belmont. Moreover while Grant persistently disclaimed any intention of attacking Belmont prior to 2:00 a.m. on November 7, he also described his troops’ elation at the prospect of getting to fight after they started down the Mississippi. He wrote later that if he had not done something to satisfy their demands for action he would have lost their confidence and the ability to maintain discipline.[58] In light of the above, any report of a potential threat from Belmont was probably welcomed.

Grant’s generalship at Belmont dramatized his inexperience in leading an army into battle. His decision to strike a position in such close proximity to the large Columbus garrison was inherently dangerous, especially so with untried troops. In addition, he knew little of the tactical situation around Belmont. Grant moved down the river without knowing where he was going to land or much about the terrain where he would have to fight the battle.[59] The need for a large and reliable reserve force became obvious once the hasty retreat from the camp commenced. Fortunately, for the Federals, Grant’s tactical errors were minimized by Pillow’s rash decision to deploy his troops in an open field and attack instead of taking advantage of the defenses surrounding the camp at Belmont. Tactically, Grant’s battle plan had risked much, and under slightly different circumstances a Federal disaster was always a distinct possibility.

Belmont did not result in any strategic advantage despite Grant’s assertions to the contrary. As previously demonstrated, Grant’s claim that he saved Oglesby and prevented Confederate troops from moving to assist Price had no basis in fact. In reality the strategic balance in the area remained the same. Grant returned to Cairo to await another opportunity. Down river the rebels still occupied Columbus and Belmont, and the Confederate defensive line in the Mississippi Valley stood unbroken.

Grant’s mistakes at Belmont were manifest. A neophyte general had led raw troops into an unnecessary battle and after inflicting damage on the enemy had barely escaped destruction. Certainly Grant’s reputation as a great commander could never stand on his accomplishments at Belmont.

The record indicates, however, that Grant profited from his experience at Belmont, and even in that unfortunate battle he gave evidence of the qualities that would propel him into the front rank of Union generals. Unlike many of his contemporaries Grant displayed the willingness to fight that Lincoln expected of his commanders. Faced with a fluid military situation and changing orders, Grant used his available forces without badgering headquarters for more men and attacked. He led his army to victory initially, and when the tide of battle turned he retired fighting. In his first action Grant seemed to follow what he later claimed was the secret to the art of war, “Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike at him hard as you can, and keep moving on.”[60]

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From a purely military standpoint, Belmont might well be forgotten. It ranks as one of many minor engagements that were of little significance in deciding the final outcome of the Civil War. But as a starting point for studying the development of the military leadership of Grant the battle serves a useful purpose. For at Belmont, Ulysses S. Grant first demonstrated the qualities of aggressiveness, initiative and determination that characterized the man who eventually won the campaigns that saved the Union.

[1] W. E. Woodward, Meet General Grant (n. p., 1928), 495

[2] Ulysses S. Grant, The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (New York, 1885) I, 281.

[3] New York Times, November 14, 1861; J. Cutler Andrews, The North Reports the Civil War (Pittsburgh, 1955), 119.

[4] Isabel Wallace, Life and Letters of W. H. L. Wallace (Chicago, 1909), 141

[5] John Fiske, The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War (Cambridge, 1900), 50.

[6] John Simon, ed, The Papers of U. S. Grant (Carbondale, Ill., 1969), II, 163, 214.

[7] Robert J. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel, eds., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (New York, 1956), I, 280

[8] Simon, Papers, II, 214

[9] U. S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1901), Series I, IV, 179. (Hereafter cited as O. R.; all citations are to Series I.)

[10] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 348.

[11] Jay Monaghan, Swamp Fox of the Confederacy: The Life and Military Services of M. Jeff Thompson (Tuscaloosa, 1956), 32; Grant, Memoirs, I, 261-263.

[12] Simon, Papers, II, 198; O. R., III, 493.

[13] Simon, Papers, II, 225, 242, 288

[14] Kenneth P. Williams, Lincoln Finds a General (New York, 1952), III, 75.

[15] Ibid., III, 64-65.

[16] O. R., III, 267.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid., 268.

[19] Ibid., 256, 259, 268.

[20] Ibid., 268-269.

[21] Ibid., III, 260, 724-728, IV, 491.

[22] Ibid., III, 273.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Grant, Memoirs, I, 270-271.

[25] Ibid., 271-272; O. R., III, 269-270.

[26] O. R., III, 294; Williams, Lincoln, III, 94.

[27] Grant, Memoirs, I, 273.

[28] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 348-349.

[29] O.R., III, 355.

[30] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 354-355.

[31] Ibid.

[32] O. R., III, 278, 292.

[33] Grant, Memoirs, I, 269, 273; Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 355.

[34] O. R., III, 278; Henry I. Kurtz, “The Battle of Belmont,” Civil War Times Illustrated, II (June, 1963), 20.

[35] O. R., III, 340-341, 355.

[36] Ibid., 278-279

[37] Patricia Bell, “Gideon Pillow—A Personality Profile,” Civil War Times Illustrated, VI (October, 1967), 15.

[38] O. R., III, 355-358.

[39] M. F. Force, From Fort Henry to Corinth (New York, 1963), 20-21

[40] O. R., III, 325, 356-358; Grant, Memoirs, I, 273-274

[41] O. R., III, 280, 284.

[42] Grant, Memoirs, I, 274-276; Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South (Boston, 1960), 76-77

[43] O. R., III, 280-281.

[44] Grant, Memoirs, I, 276; Kurtz, “Belmont,” 21.

[45] William G. Stevenson, Thirteen Months in the Rebel Army (New York, 1959), 54-56.

[46] Harper’s Weekly, December 7, 1861.

[47] Grant, Memoirs, I, 276.

[48] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 353.

[49] O. R., III, 270.

[50] Grant, Memoirs, I, 280.

[51] Ibid.; O. R., III, 281.

[52] O. R., III, 269-272.

[53] Ibid., 310-312.

[54] New York Times, November 17, 1861

[55] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 356.

[56] O. R., III, 256-257; Harvey L. Carter and Norma L. Peterson, eds., “William S. Stewart Letters, January 13, 1861 to December 4, 1862,” Part II, Missouri Historical Review, LXI (April, 1967), 309-310.

[57] Grant, Memoirs, I, 281.

[58] Ibid., 271.

[59] Williams, Lincoln, III, 94.

[60] As quoted in David Donald, Lincoln Reconsidered, Essays on the Civil War Era (New York, 1961), 102.

Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds

The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds:

Confederate Victory Against the Odds


©2003 Kirby Ross

with an Introduction by James E. McGhee, ©2003

The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds: Confederate Victory Against the Odds

© Kirby Ross

Author’s Note & Introduction
Ch 1 – Lindsay Murdoch Ch 6 – Playing a Squally Game of Marbles
Ch 2 – Chasing Phantoms Ch 7 – Aftermath
Ch 3 – Closing In Ch 8 – Mopping Up
Ch 4 – Hell Breaks Loose Epilogue
Ch 5 – To the Death Bibliography
Return to Civil War St. Louis


In the course of researching the Federal Missouri State Militia and its counter-insurgency operations in Missouri, I ran across the obscure story of the Skirmish at Jackson, Missouri.  The event itself was not unusual for the state—as Missouri historian and writer James E. McGhee mentions in his Introduction that follows this note, over 1000 military engagements took place there during the Civil War.  What is unusual, and even remarkable, is the level of documentation that exists concerning the Jackson affair.  It did not take long for me to see that this was a story waiting to be told—a story that might just be one of the most detailed accounts of a small-unit action existing in regard to the Trans-Mississippi Theater.  So detailed, in fact, that it has even been possible to deduce who killed whom in the fighting.

Despite the fact the number of soldiers that participated in the Jackson Skirmish barely totaled 90 men, no fewer than eight first-person eyewitness accounts relating to it have surfaced—most of which have been gathered through the work of Jim McGhee.  Where one personal anecdote would fade off and leave the reader wondering what happened next or what happened on other parts of the far-flung field of battle, lo and behold, another version would surface, until finally a very comprehensive, all-encompassing picture emerged.  While my efforts in weaving each account into a seamless, cogent, single story was at time quite trying and entailed more than a few rewrites, I believe the final result that is embodied in the story that follows is an accurate depiction of what transpired in and around Jackson, Missouri, on the first days of April in 1862.

Kirby Ross


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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available for pre-order at

Also by this author:

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

Missouri was the scene of over 1,000 engagements during the American civil war, ranking it third behind only Virginia and Tennessee in the number of military encounters that occurred within its boundaries between 1861-1865.  Some of the Missouri battles were large affairs that decided important strategic issues, involved sizeable numbers of troops, and resulted in great loss of life.  The bloody combats at Belmont, Lexington, Pilot Knob, Wilson’s Creek, and Westport fall into that category.  Much of the warfare in the state, however, consisted of little fights between small groups of men simply intent on killing one another.  The skirmish at Jackson in April 1862 is a classic example of the type of fighting that most often happened in Missouri during four years of internecine warfare.

The engagement at Jackson, sometimes referred to as the “Battle at the Fair-Grounds,” was a chance encounter between a small group of Confederate recruits and a Union militia detachment from Cape Girardeau determined on driving them from the area.  Barely mentioned in the official records of the war, it has been nearly forgotten, even by the people of Jackson.  But the skirmish at the fairgrounds was important to local residents in 1862 for at least two reasons.  First, the fight brought home the dreadful reality that war was not necessarily something that occurred elsewhere; the townspeople actually heard the exchange of fire between the contending parties and later viewed the blood and pain of wounded soldiers first hand.  Secondly, the men who fought that day, especially on the Confederate side, were “their” boys, members of the local community that were suddenly seen in the unfamiliar role of soldiers.  Doubtless the war never seemed quite the same to Jackson residents after seeing it so close to home.

After the fight at Jackson the Union troops of the Missouri State Militia that were involved returned to Cape Girardeau.  Their unit would undergo several reorganizations over the succeeding months and spend the remainder of the war fighting local guerrillas and Confederate raiders that occasionally penetrated Missouri.

The center of attraction at the Jackson fight—the small contingent of Confederate recruits commanded by William L. Jeffers—formally organized a company on April 16, merely a few days after leaving Jackson.  It had Jeffers as captain; William E. “Button” McGuire, as first lieutenant; Richard J. Medley, as second lieutenant; and John A. Bennett, as third lieutenant—all of whom figure somewhat prominently in the following story by Kirby Ross.  Operating initially as an independent company, their unit was driven from the state into northeast Arkansas in May.  It eventually was attached to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Matlock’s Arkansas Cavalry Battalion on June 16.  When Matlock’s troopers were dismounted in July, Captain Jeffers resigned his commission.  He returned to southeast Missouri to recruit again, and was soon followed by Lieutenant McGuire and other members of his company.

Jeffers’ recruiting efforts were very successful, aided no doubt by a Federal order commanding all men to enroll in the Missouri (Union) militia.  Unwilling to fight against the South, men flocked to Jeffers’ standard in sufficient numbers to create the 8th Missouri Calvary Regiment.  The balance of the war saw the 8th raiding Missouri with Generals Johns S. Marmaduke and Sterling Price, and vainly contesting the Federals for control of Arkansas.  Throughout, Colonel Jeffers led his men from the front rank during its combat history.  As Luther Jenkins would recall, with Jeffers in command “It was never ‘Go on,’ but ‘Come on, boys.’”  The regiment finally surrendered, with the men receiving their paroles at Shreveport, Louisiana, in June 1865.

Years after the war, when Colonel Jeffers died, survivors of his regiment initiated a campaign to erect a monument in his honor at Jackson.  Although the process was slow, the monument was finally dedicated at the Jackson Homecoming celebration of 1908.  It stands today at the south end of High Street at the entrance to the Old City Cemetery near Jeffers’ final resting place.  In the northwest part of the cemetery is a stone that marks the burial place of William E. McGuire, Jeffers’ lieutenant.  It makes no mention of his Confederate service, or of the fact that he died shortly after being released from the hell that was the military prison at Alton, Illinois.  Remembered on the opposite side of the same stone is John W. McGuire, William’s son, who fell while charging a Federal line at Glasgow, Missouri, on October 16, 1864.  Other troopers of Jeffers’ little recruit command are buried nearby.  And to the southwest, only a short distance away, is the Russell Heights Cemetery, once the fairgrounds, where Jeffers’ squad boldly won their spurs in combat and then rode away into history.

Kirby Ross has rescued the fight at Jackson in 1862 from historical obscurity.  He has diligently researched the official records, various memoirs, muster rolls, and newspapers in a whole-hearted effort to reconstruct the events of the engagement as accurately as possible.  It must be said that he has accomplished his goal in admirable fashion.  The men and events come alive in a fast paced and well written narrative that places the event in its proper historical context.  It is a fine, well balanced battle account, and a fitting tribute to the men in blue and gray that fought at Jackson on a quiet spring day in 1862—for cause, honor and survival during some of the dark days in the history of our great republic.

James E. McGhee

Missouri Militia GO 3


County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

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

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

available at

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at

On January 30, 1865, Governor Thomas Fletcher had an order issued providing for the creation of the Missouri Militia.  This organization was made up of independent companies that were referred to by county designation as opposed to numerical designation.  Its troops were provisioned by the Federal government and paid, at least in part, by imposing a fee upon “disloyal” citizens residing within the individual counties in question.  Sixty-one companies were formed, fifty-five of which are identified in the chart below.
See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4.Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

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

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

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

Unit Commanding Officer Troop Strength Comments
Audrain County M.M. John J. Mitchell (1Lt.) 57
Bates County M.M. John Atkinson (1Lt.) 44
Bates & Henry County M.M. William Weaver (Capt.) 97
Benton County M.M. John Cosgrove (1st Lt.) 61
Bollinger County M.M. John R. Cochran (Capt.) 91
Boone County M.M. Henry N. Cook (Capt.) 95
Caldwell & Ray County M.M. Clayton Tiffin (Capt.) 86
Callaway County M.M. Wm. H. Thomas (1st Lt.) 56
Camden County M.M. Henry G. Bollinger (Capt.) 86
Cape Girardeau County M.M. Ezra King (Capt.) 93
Carroll & Livingston County M.M. Daniel Hoover (1Lt.) 73
Cass County M.M. Joseph Burk (1st Lt.) 58
Chariton County M.M. Peter R. Dolman (Capt.) 91 Note:  This company became Company A, 76th Missouri Militia Regiment.  Dolman was appointed colonel of that unit.  See, Missouri Militia (State Convention).
Christian County M.M. T.J. Gideon (1st Lt.) 45
Clay & Clinton County M.M. John W. Younger (Capt.) 84
Cooper County M.M. George Miller (Capt.) 80
Cooper & Moniteau County M.M. John B. Calhoun (Capt.) 82
Crawford County M.M. N.G. Clark (Capt.) 80
Dent County M.M. G.A. Kenamore (Capt.) 101
Douglas & Ozark County M.M. Charles K. Ford (Capt.) 90
Dunklin & Stoddard County M.M. J.C. Thomas (Capt.) 11
Howard County M.M. Warren W. Harris (Capt.) 97
Howard County M.M. William R. Forbes (Capt.) 5 Note:  Where one county had multiple independent companies, the unit would have been referred to by the name of the commanding officer.
Jackson County M.M. William S. Smith (Capt.) 84
Jasper County M.M. Lyman J. Burch (1st Lt.) 59
Johnston County M.M. Wm. E. Chester (Capt.) 93
Lafayette County M.M. R.W.P. Mooney (1st Lt.) 60
Linn County M.M. B.F. Carter (1st Lt.) 46
Livingston County M.M. A.J. Boucher (1st Lt.) 40
Macon County M.M. Robert Davis (1st Lt.) 59
Maries & Osage County M.M. James M. Dennis (Capt.) 83
Marion, Monroe & Ralls County M.M. Henry C. Gentry (1st Lt.) 60
Miller County M.M. John B. Salsman (Capt.) 88
Mississippi County M.M. John A. Rice (Capt.)
Montgomery & Warren County M.M. S.W. Hopkins (Capt.) 98
Morgan County M.M. R.P. Ruley (Capt.) 81
Newton County M.M. Samuel Achord (1st Lt.) 42
Perry County M.M. Hiram Minor (Capt.) 94
Pettis County M.M. H.C. Donnohue (Capt.) 97
Pike County M.M. William Kerr (Capt.) 82
Platte County M.M. Franklin Luthey (1st Lt.) 71
Pulaski & Texas County M.M. Richard Murphy (Capt.) 85
Randolph County M.M. Charles F. Mayo (Capt.) 87
Randolph County M.M. Alexander Denny (Capt.) 87
St. Clair County M.M. Benjamin F. Cook (Capt.) 41
St. Francois County M.M. F.A. Millert (1st Lt.)
Ste. Genevieve County M.M. David Flood (1st Lt.)
Saline County M.M. John S. Crain (Capt.) 94
Stoddard County M.M. Louis M. Ringer (1st Lt.) Note:  This company consolidated into Dunklin & Stoddard County Company (see above)
Stone County M.M. Patrick C. Berry (Capt.) 83
Taney County M.M. Wm. F. Fenex (Capt.) 95
Wright County M.M. Thomas K. Paul (Capt.) 90
Bridges North Missouri Railroad M.M. Luman W. Story (Capt.) 88
Pacific Railroad M.M. H.P. Dow (Capt.) 91
S.W. Branch Pacific Railroad M.M. Thomas Thomas (Capt.) 99

Source: Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1865 (Jefferson City, Mo.: Emory S. Foster, Public Printer, 1866), pp. 694-699. Name spellings remain as they were in the original document.

Home Guard 1861


County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

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

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

available at

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at

The Missouri Home Guard was unlike the Home Guard organization in any other state.  It was controlled by the national government, as opposed to the state government, and existed only for a few months.  Closely related to (and sometimes considered a part of) the United States Reserve Corps (USRC), the Home Guard was a major component of the Federal force that bore the brunt of the fighting in Missouri in the first months of the war.

Despite the key role it played, records are sparse on the Home Guard.  One post-war Congressional report stated it consisted of 241 companies, 6 regiments, and 22 battalions, a partial listing of which appears below.  This inventory is nowhere near complete, and the names of large numbers of units that were formed seem to have been forever lost to history.  Those that have been identified seem, in large part, to be the consequence of members of the individual units having taken a small amount of time to compile a roster of the troops in their commands.

An observant reader will note a discrepancy between the number of regiments the Congressional report listed and the number named on this chart.  This appears to be the result of battalion-sized units being listed as regiments in some primary sources.

Brief notes are sometimes included below regarding the units and/or their commanding officers.  This is not to slight any other men or units that went on to do noteworthy deeds—it is merely the consequence of having had specific information very close at hand as this list was being drawn up.

See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4.Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

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

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

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

Adair County Home Guard
Gordon’s Independent Company (Mtd.) Capt. James E. Gordon 58 May-Oct. 15 Note:  Participated in Action at Blue Mills on Sept. 17
Shibley’s Point Independent Company Capt. Jacob R. Cook 164 June-Sept.
Bolander’s Independent Company (Inf.) Capt. William H. Bolander 49 Aug.-Oct. 5
Barry County Home Guard
Stone Prairie Independent Company Capt. John Sexton 41 June-Aug
Benton County Home Guard Regiment Col. Henry Imhauser 6 companies June 13-Sept. 13 24 KIA/3 DOW Note:  Participated in the Battle of Cole Camp on June 19
Caldwell County Home Guard
Kingston Independent Company Capt. Moses L. James 57 June-Sept. 24 3 KIA Note:  Participated in Action at Blue Mills on Sept. 17
Shoal Creek Rangers Capt. James R. Murphy 80 ?
Cape Girardeau County Home Guard
Cape Girardeau Independent Battalion Maj. George H. Cramer 4 companies June-Sept.
Fremont Rangers Independent Battalion Lt. Col. Lindsay Murdock 3 companies ??-Dec. 10 8 KIA/1 DOW/2 MIA Note:  Not to be confused with two unrelated independent companies operating under the “Fremont Rangers” name in Dade and Johnson counties (see below).
Cass County Independent Company Capt. Aaron Thomas 76 July-Sept. 8 2 KIA
Christian County Home Guard See Greene County Home Guard, below
Clinton County Home Guard
Edgar’s Independent Company Capt. William A. Edgar 91 June-Sept. 16
Rogers’ Independent Company Capt. Hugh L.W. Rogers 64 June 14-Nov. 20 1 KIA
Cole County Home Guard
Jefferson City Home Guard Battalion ? ? June-Aug.
Cole County Home Guard Regiment Col. Allen P. Richardson 11 companies June-Oct. 1 2 KIA/2 DOW/2 MIA
Cooper County Home Guard
Boonville Independent Battalion Maj. Joseph A. Eppstein 3 companies June-Dec. 18 5 KIA
Dade County Home Guard
Fremont Rangers Independent Company Capt. T.A. Switzler 138 Aug-Sept. 1 Note:  Participated in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on Aug. 10
Dallas County Home Guard Battalion Col. William B. Edwards 4 companies June-Aug. 10
DeKalb County Home Guard Regiment ? ? June-Sept.
Douglas County Independent Company Capt. John S. Upshaw 77 July-Oct. 13 Note:  Absorbed into Phelps’ Volunteer Regiment on 10/13/61
Franklin County Home Guard
Pacific Railroad Home Guard Battalion Col. William C. Inks 6 companies June-Sep. 17
Franklin County Home Guard Battalion Col. James W. Owens 6 companies June-Sept. 28 3 KIA
Railroad Patrol Guard Company Captain George King 100 Sept.-Jan. 23, 1862
Gasconade County Home Guard
Matthew’s Independent Battalion Col. James A. Matthews 4 companies June-Sept. 4
Hundhausen’s Independent Battalion Lt. Col. Julius Hundhausen 5 companies ??-Oct. 1 Note:  Reorganized as Hundhausen’s Battalion U.S.R.C. (3 Years), which was subsequently absorbed into the 4th Missouri Infantry Volunteers.
Gentry County Home Guard Regiment Col. Manlove Cranor 8 companies June-Oct. 1 KIA/2 MIA Note:  Participated in Action at Blue Mills on Sept. 17
Greene County Home Guard
Greene County Independent Company Capt. Colly B. Holland 89 June-Oct. 5
Greene & Christian County Regiment Col. John S. Phelps 13 companies June-Aug. 17 4 KIA/5 MIA Note:  Detachment participated in Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10.  Colonel Phelps was a U.S. Congressman at the time of his service in the Home Guard.  After this unit was disbanded he served as commanding officer of Phelps’ Volunteer Regiment and then as military governor of Arkansas.  After the war he was elected governor of Missouri.
Harrison County Home Guard Regiment Col. Henry O. Nevill 7 companies Sept. 3-Sept. 23
Hickory County Home Guard Battalion See Osage County Home Guard, below
Iron County Home Guard
Pilot Knob Independent Company Capt. Ferdinand Schmitz 99 June-Oct. 13
Jefferson County Home Guard
DeSoto Independent Company Capt. Allen Cook 85 June-Sept. 19 1 KIA
Johnson County Home Guard
Johnson County Home Guard Regiment Col. James D. Eads 11 companies June-Sept. 1 KIA/1 DOW Note:  Participated in the Siege of Lexington Sept. 11-21.  Records are available only for field officers and one company: of the two casualties identified, one was a lieutenant colonel and the other a first lieutenant.  This indicates the possibility a significant number of casualties may have been incurred throughout the entire regiment.
Fremont Rangers Independent Company Capt. William J. Budd 99 Aug.-Dec.
Knox County Home Guard Regiment ? 7 companies July-Oct. 1 KIA Note:  Participated in the Action at Clapp’s Ford on Aug. 14
Lafayette County Home Guard
14th Missouri Home Guard Regiment Col. Robert White 8 companies July-Oct. 19 3 KIA Note:  Fought at Siege of Lexington Sept. 11-21 and was captured en masse.
Lexington Independent Company Capt. Frederick R. Neet 74 Aug. 12-Oct. 22 Note:  Fought at Siege of Lexington Sept. 11-21 and was captured en masse.
Lawrence County Home Guard Regiment Col. James C. Martin 6 companies May 25-Aug. 10 14 KIA/1 DOW
Lewis County Independent Company Capt. Robert McCollum 41 June-July 16
Linn County Home Guard
Linn County Independent Company ? 41 ??-July 16
Brookfield Independent Company Capt. Watson E. Crandall 87 June-Aug.
Livingston County Independent Company Capt. Peter Sutliff 67 June-Sept.
Maries County Independent Company Capt. William Wenzel 60 June-Aug. 26
Marion County Home Guard Battalion Maj. Josiah Hunt 3 companies June-Sept. 2 KIA/1 MIA
Moniteau County Independent Company Capt. John E. Pothoff 62 June-Aug. 16
Nodaway County Home Guard Regiment Col. Wm. J.W. Bickett 7 companies July-Oct. 20
Osage County Home Guard
Osage County Independent Battalion Maj. Chesley Glover 6 companies May 27-July 21
Osage County Regiment and Hickory   County Battalion Col. Joseph W. McClurg 17 companies June-Dec. 1 KIA/1 MIA Note:  Colonel McClurg was elected governor of Missouri after the war.
Ozark County Home Guard
Martindale’s Independent Company Capt. W.F. Martindale June-Oct. 13 2 KIA/3 DOW
Stone’s Independent Company Capt. B.S. Stone June-Oct. 18
Pettis County Independent Company Capt. John P. Thatcher 92 June-Aug. 15
Phelps County Home Guard
Bennight’s Independent Company Capt. John W. Bennight 63 July-Sept. 20 4 KIA Note:   Available records indicate large number of casualties incurred at Bennight’s Mill against Col. Freeman on Sept. 1
Pike County Home Guard Regiment Col. George W. Anderson 8 companies May-Sept. 3 Note:  Anderson’s father and two brothers served in the Confederate Army, with his father being killed in action in December 1861.  After the Pike Home Guard was disbanded,  Anderson served as colonel in the 49th Enrolled Missouri Militia and 1st Battalion Enrolled Missouri Militia.  He was elected to the United States Congress as a Radical in 1864.
Polk County Home Guard
15th Regiment USRC Home Guard Col. James W. Johnson 4 companies June-Dec. 6 1 KIA Note:  Detachment fought at Siege of Lexington Sept. 11-21 and was captured en masse.
Putnam County Home Guard
Collins’ Independent Company Capt. Sylvester S. Collins 58 May-Aug. 1
Shawneetown Independent Company Capt. James Ewing 84 July-Sept. 1
Bogle’s Independent Company Capt. William H. Bogle 59 Aug.-Oct. 13
St. Charles County Home Guard Regiment Col. Arnold Krekel 12 companies July-Aug.
St. Louis County Home Guard
Carondelet Independent Company Capt. Henry Nagel 127 June-Oct. 17
Scott County Home Guard Battalion Maj. Daniel Abbey 4 companies May-Aug. 5
Shelby County Independent Company Capt. Joseph H. Forman 70 July 23-Aug. 23
Stone County Home Guard Regiment Col. Asa G. Smith 6 companies June 5-July 19 8 KIA
Sullivan County Home Guard
Cooper’s Independent Company Capt. James W. Cooper 63 June-Sept. 20
Meals’ Independent Company Capt. William S. Meals 72 June-Sept. 20
Washington County Home Guard
Potosi Independent Company Capt. George R. French 75 July-Sept. 9 1 DOW Note:  Participated in Action at Potosi on Aug. 10
Webster County Home Guard Regiment Col. Noah H. Hampton 7 companies July-Aug. 18

Sources: Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Missouri for the Year 1863 (St. Louis, Mo., 1864), pp. 95-133;

Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1865 (Jefferson City, Mo., 1866), pp. 28-30, 36-39;

Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (Des Moines, 1908), pp. 1341-1343. See also,

Organization and Status of Missouri Troops in Service During the Civil War (Washington: Government Printing Office 1902)

Missouri Militia State Convention



County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

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

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

available at

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at

On April 8, 1865, a second organization called the Missouri Militia was created, this one by the State Convention.  Eighty-four regiments, six battalions, and two independent companies were formed, all of which have been identified and are listed on the chart below.
See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4.Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

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

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

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

1st Regiment M.M. Ray County A.J. Bair
2nd Regiment M.M. Buchanan County Wm. R. Penick
3rd Regiment M.M. Buchanan County Cyrus J. Missemer
4th Regiment M.M Buchanan County Joseph Thompson (Maj.)
5th Regiment M.M. Osage & Maries Counties James M. Dennis
6th Regiment M.M. Jackson & Cass Counties H.H. Williams
8th Regiment M.M. Franklin County Daniel Q. Gale
9th Regiment M.M. Moniteau County F.W. Hickox
10th Regiment M.M. Cooper County Andrew P. McKee
11th Regiment M.M. Cooper County John Fessler
12th Regiment M.M. Greene County Hosea G. Mullings
13th Regiment M.M. Greene County Jacob Hursh
14th Regiment M.M. Livingston County Robert S. Moore
15th Regiment M.M. Jefferson County Anton Yerger
16th Regiment M.M. Audrain County Winfield S. Wood
William E. Jones
17th Regiment M.M. Polk & Cedar Counties James J. Akard
18th Regiment M.M. Dallas & Laclede Counties Milton Burch
19th Regiment M.M. Webster, Douglas, Wright, Texas, Ozark, & Howell Counties John S. Coleman
20th Regiment M.M. Lawrence, Newton, McDonald, & Barry Counties John M. Filler
21st Regiment M.M. Nodaway County Josiah Coleman
22nd Regiment M.M. Clay County James M. Jones
23rd Regiment M.M. Mississippi County ———
24th Regiment M.M. Iron County William T. Leeper Note:  Leeper, a prominent Missouri State Militia captain during the war as well as Radical Unionist candidate for Congress in 1864, was commonly referred to as “Colonel Leeper” in the post-war period.  He was quite controversial and has in modern times been the target of revisionist historical writings in southeast Missouri that assert he lied about being a colonel.  However his appointment at that rank and as senior commanding officer of the 24th Missouri Militia Regiment on 23 June 1865 is easily verified through the 1865 Missouri Adjutant General’s Report as well as through personal and regimental records at the Missouri State Archives.
25th Regiment M.M. Cole County Herman L. Bruns
26th Regiment M.M. Miller & Camden Counties T.J. Babcoke
27th Regiment M.M. Knox County Jacob Pugh
28th Regiment M.M. Adair County J.B. Dodson
29th Regiment M.M. Linn County Marion Cave
30th Regiment M.M. Andrew County William P. Hobson
31st Regiment M.M. Grundy County Henry V. Stall
32nd Regiment M.M. Holt County Geo. W. Kelly (Lt. Col.)
33rd Regiment M.M. Atchison County George Steck (Lt. Col.)
34th Regiment M.M. Gentry County C.G. Comstock (Lt. Col.)
35th Regiment M.M. Mercer County David M. King
36th Regiment M.M. Carroll County Daniel Hoover (Lt. Col.)
37th Regiment M.M. Putnam County James B. Harper
38th Regiment M.M. Clinton County H.L. Rogers
39th Regiment M.M. Cape Girardeau County Geo. F. Thilenues
40th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City N. Schittner
41st Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Christian Ploeser
42nd Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Ezra O. English
43rd Regiment M.M. St. Louis City T. Niederweiser
44th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City James Blood
45th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City John McFall
46th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Henry Hildebrand
47th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City E.C. Harrington
48th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Phil H. Murphy
49th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Wm. D. Bowen
50th Regiment M.M. Pacific Railroad Joseph B. Wilde (Lt. Col.)
51st Regiment M.M. St. Louis County R.C. Allen
52nd Regiment M.M. Colored, St. Louis Frank Robinson
53rd Regiment M.M. Macon County Dennis C. McKay
54th Regiment M.M. DeKalb County Levi Pritchard (Lt. Col.)
55th Regiment M.M. Gasconade County W.Q. Dallmeyer
56th Regiment M.M. Harrison County John W. Moore
57th Regiment M.M. Boone County Thomas J. Sutton (Lt. Col.)
58th Regiment M.M. Lafayette County James C. McGinnis
59th Regiment M.M. Clark County John H. Cox (Lt. Col.)
60th Regiment M.M. Platte County Wm. J. Fitzgerald
61st Regiment M.M. Pike County Robert McElroy
Pat. F. Lonergan
62nd Regiment M.M. Randolph County A.F. Denny
63rd Regiment M.M. St. Charles County Fred. Weineben
64th Regiment M.M. Lincoln County A.C. Marsh
65th Regiment M.M. Marion County J.T.K. Hayward
66th Regiment M.M. Lewis County Robert Carrick
67th Regiment M.M. Scotland & Schuyler Counties E.A. Kutzner
68th Regiment M.M. Shelby County George Lair (Lt. Col.)
69th Regiment M.M. Ralls County John A. Lennon
70th Regiment M.M. Crawford & Phelps Counties A.A. Harrison
71st Regiment M.M. Monroe County E.G.B. McNutt
72nd Regiment M.M. Daviess County Joseph H. McGee
73rd Regiment M.M. Montgomery County L.A. Thompson
74th Regiment M.M. Benton County Richard H. Melton
75th Regiment M.M. Callaway County J.J.P. Johnson
76th Regiment M.M. Chariton County Peter R. Dolman
77th Regiment M.M. Johnson County ———
78th Regiment M.M. Morgan County ———
79th Regiment M.M. Sullivan County Asahael Jones (Lt. Col.)
80th Regiment M.M. Saline County Benj. H. Wilson
81st Regiment M.M. St. Louis H.F. Vohlkamp
82nd Regiment M.M. St. Louis Francis Romer
83rd Regiment M.M. Bollinger County ———
84th Regiment M.M. Perry County Thomas Hooss (Adj.)
National Guard Regiment St. Louis H. Kleinschmidt
1st Battalion M.M. Christian, Stone, & Taney Counties S.C. McCullah (Maj.)
2nd Battalion M.M. Dade, Jasper, & Barton Counties James M. Smith (Maj.)
3rd Battalion M.M. St. Louis William A. Steele (Maj.)
5th Battalion M.M. Caldwell County John G. Pierce (Adj.)
6th Battalion M.M. Worth County Adam Wall (Maj.)
Benton Barracks Battalion St. Louis John W. McHarg (Maj.)
Fletcher Guards Middletown, Montgomery County S.W. Hammack (Capt.)
Clark County Ind. Co. Clark County D.A. Day (Capt.)

Source: Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1865. (Jefferson City, Mo.: Emory S. Foster, Public Printer, 1866), pp. 635-685. Spellings of names in the above chart remain unchanged from the original document.

Provisional Enrolled Militia


County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

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

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

available at

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at

Few if any of the many types of militia that existed in Missouri are as misunderstood and mis-categorized as this organization.  The Provisional Enrolled Militia was formed in mid-1864 and was made up of 62 independent companies (56 of which are identified below).  Because of its name, the Provisional Enrolled Militia is often confused as being a part of the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia, but there was absolutely no connection between the two.

The Provisional Companies were formed by county committees that handpicked the men that joined the ranks.  As they were formed, the primary duty of these units was to maintain law and order in their localities.

See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4.Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

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

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

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

Adair County Capt. Hiram B. Foster Aug. 1864
Andrew County Capt. John B. Majors ??
Caldwell County Capt. W.F. Tilson Sept. 1864
Camden County Capt. Henry G. Bollinger Sept. 1864
Camden County Capt. Sayles Brown ??
Carroll County Capt. Daniel Hoover Dec. 1864
Clark County Capt. D.A. Day Nov. 1864
Clay County Capt. Wm. G. Garth Aug. 1864
Cole County Capt. Andrew J. Green Sept. 1864 While serving as captain in the Cole County Provisional Enrolled Militia, Andrew Green was also serving as lieutenant colonel in the 42nd Enrolled Missouri Militia.
Cooper County Capt. H. Shoemaker Aug. 1864
Cooper County Capt. R.B. Newman ??
Crawford County Capt. W.H. Ferguson Aug. 1864
Crawford County See Phelps county
Dallas County Capt. Noah Bray Aug. 1864
DeKalb County Capt. John Pinger Aug. 1864
Franklin County Capt. Lucius C. Frazer Sept. 1864
Franklin County Capt. Andrew Fink Sept. 1864
Franklin County Capt. Frederick Steines Sept. 1864
Franklin County Capt. Elias Boyd Oct. 1864 Organized by refugees.
Franklin County Capt. B.E. Anderson Jan. 1865
Gentry County Capt. James Castor July 1864
Gentry County Capt. John F. Mason July 1864
Grundy County Capt. George A. Spickard July 1864
Grundy County Capt. E.L. Winters ??
Hickory County 1st Lt. Wm. L. McCaslen Jan. 1865
Iron County Capt. Morgan Mace ?? Also included troops from Madison County and probably from Wayne County
Laclede County Capt. D.A.W. Morehouse Sept. 1864
Lafayette County Capt. George W. Bingham ?? Also included troops from Saline County
Lincoln County Capt. Dedrick Wehde Oct. 1864
Linn County Capt. Robert W. Holland Aug. 1864 Also included troops from Macon County
Macon County Capt. Isaac P. Rallston Sept. 1864
Macon County Troops from this county also combined with men from Linn County to fill out Capt. Holland’s company (see above)
Maries County Capt. Samuel Parpam Aug. 1864
Miller County Capt. John Long Aug. 1864
Miller County Capt. Thos. J. Babcoke Jan. 1865
Moniteau County Capt. A.B. Hale Sept. 1864
Moniteau County Capt. J.F. Hume Sept. 1864 While serving as captain in the Moniteau County Provisonal Enrolled Militia, J.F. Hume was also serving as major in the 43rd Enrolled Missouri Militia.
Moniteau County Capt. John R. Legg Sept. 1864
Moniteau County Capt. Henry Pwiehaus Sept. 1864
Moniteau County Capt. E.P. Renshaw Sept. 1864
Monroe County Capt. E.G.B. McNutt Dec. 1864
Monroe County Capt. Lewis P. Corrothers ?? Also included troops from Shelby County
Montgomery County Capt. John Kendrick July 1864
Morgan County Capt. A.J. Hart ??
Osage County Capt. Adam Miller Aug. 1864 While serving as captain in the Osage County Provisonal Enrolled Militia, Adam Miller was also serving as lieutenant colonel in the 28th Enrolled Missouri Militia.
Phelps County (?) Capt. Abraham Johnson ?? The specific county this company originated in is uncertain.  Capt. Johnson’s Provisonal Enrolled Militia Company was detailed from the 63rd Enrolled Missouri Militia, which consisted of men from Phelps, Crawford and Pulaski counties. Johnson’s PEM company came from one of those counties, or a combination of them.
Platte County Capt. Edward Schelsky Aug. 1864
Pulaski County See Phelps county
Ralls County Capt. John F. McNeil Oct. 1864
Ralls County Capt. John A. Lennon Nov. 1864
Randolph County Capt. Charles F. Mayo Sept. 1864
Ray County Capt. Martin T. Real ??
St. Charles County Capt. F.W. Gatzweller Sept. 1864
Saline County See Lafayette county
Shelby County See Monroe County
Scotland County Capt. John l. Morris ??
Stone County Capt. George E. Gaddy Sept. 1864
Sullivan County Capt. Henry D. Johnson ??
Washington County Capt. J.A.G. Palmer Aug. 1864
Washington County Capt. A.J. Harris Sept. 1864
Washington County Capt. John A. Harris ??
Source:  Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1865 (Jefferson City, Mo.: Emory S. Foster, Public Printer, 1866), pp. 629-632

First Missouri Confederate Brigade

Counties of Origin

First Missouri Confederate Brigade

By James E. McGhee, ©2004

James E. McGhee is a retired lawyer with an avid interest in the Missouri State Guard and Missouri Confederate units. His latest book is Missouri Confederates: A Guide to Sources for Confederate Soldiers and Units, 1861-1865 (Independence, Mo.: Two Trails Publishing, 2001). McGhee’s titles are available from Camp Pope Bookshop.

Following are the counties of origin of the various companies of the First Missouri Confederate Brigade.  The counties in bold face print contributed the greatest number of soldiers to a company. Not all counties that contributed soldiers to a particular company are shown, however, as some companies included men from as many as fifteen or more counties.  Therefore, a county is included only if it provided at least three soldiers to a company.  The artillery units attached to the brigade are not included as the make-up of the batteries was so mixed as to make any attempt at showing a county of origin meaningless.

1st Infantry Regiment:

Co A – New Orleans, La., St. Louis

Co B – St. Louis

Co C – Memphis, Tn., St. Louis

Co D – New Madrid, Pemiscot, St. Louis

Co E – Memphis, Tn., Mississippi, New Madrid, St. Louis

Co F – New Madrid, St. Louis

Co G – New Madrid, Pemiscot, St. Louis

Co H – New Madrid, Pemiscot

Co I –   New Madrid

Co K – Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, Pemiscot

2nd Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Marion, Pike, Ralls, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Louis

Co B – Howard, Lincoln, Montgomery, Pike

Co C – Lincoln, Montgomery, St. Charles, Warren

Co D – Cole, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan

Co E – Andrew, Atchison, Cedar, Howard, Nodaway, Pettis

Co F – Jefferson, Laclede, Lincoln, Marion, Pike, Ralls, St. Charles, St. Louis, Vernon

Co G – Audrain, Boone, Monroe, Shelby, Ralls

Co H – Johnson, St. Louis, Texas [state]

Co I –   Boone, Callaway

Co K – Chariton, Howard, Linn, Sullivan

3rd Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Caldwell, Ray

Co B – Gentry, Harrison, Ray, Worth

Co C – Carroll, Ray

Co D – Barry, Clay, Livingston, Platte, Ray

Co E – Clay, Daviess, DeKalb, Platte

Co F – Boone, Daviess, Chariton, Clay, Howard, Livingston, Randolph, Ray

Co G – Buchanan, Clay, Jackson

Co H – Carroll, Daviess, Grundy, Livingston, Platte

Co I –   Caldwell, Clay, Clinton, Ray, Saline

Co K – Chariton, Lafayette, Macon, Randolph, Shelby

4th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Taney

Co B – Howell, Polk

Co C – Ozark, Arkansas [state]

Co D – Oregon, Shannon

Co E – Henry, Laclede, St. Clair

Co F – Benton, Christian, Greene, St. Clair

Co G – Arkansas [state], Dallas, Dent, Greene

Co H – Bates, Cass, Henry, Johnson

Co I –   Arkansas [state], Oregon, Shannon

Co K – Clark, Marion, Monroe, Lewis

5th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Johnson, Newton

Co B – Adair, Grundy, Howard, Macon

Co C – Polk

Co D – Polk

Co E – Gasconade, Franklin, Osage, St. Clair

Co F – Linn, Macon, Moniteau, St. Louis, Saline

Co G – Cooper, Henry, Pettis

Co H – Cass, Johnson, Lewis, Marion

Co I –  Macon, Johnson, Linn, Randolph

Co K – Dunklin, Stoddard

6th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Cass, Jackson, Kansas [state]

Co B – Cass, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Saline

Co C – Audrain, Boone, Howard

Co D – Arkansas [state], Cape Girardeau, Mississippi, New Madrid, Scott, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard, Washington

Co E – Jackson, Johnson

Co F – Cass, Hickory, Jackson, Johnson, St. Clair

Co G – Kansas [state], Platte

Co H – Chariton, Howard, Macon

Co I –   Dunklin, Cape Girardeau, Mississippi, Perry, Scott, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard

Co K – Arkansas [state], Cape Girardeau, Madison, New Madrid, Ripley, St. Louis, Wayne

1st Cavalry Regiment (Dismounted):

Co A – Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton, Holt, Marion, Lafayette, Nodaway, Platte

Co B – Callaway, Cole, Montgomery, Ray

Co C – Andrew, Grundy, Holt, Platte

Co D – Ray

Co E – Andrew, Buchanan, Clay, Platte

Co F – Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Holt, Ray

Co G – Daviess, Gentry, Harrison, Worth

Co H – Andrew, Gentry, Nodaway, Worth

Co I –   Clay, Jackson, Platte, Ray

Co K – Audrain, Boone, Buchanan, Callaway, Montgomery, Phelps, Platte

3rd Cavalry Battalion (Dismounted):

Co A – Cole, Moniteau, Pulaski

Co B – Clay, Nodaway, Polk, Worth

Co C – Greene, Lawrence

Co D – Andrew, Clay, DeKalb, Platte

Co E – Greene, Laclede, Miller, Pulaski

Co F – Cass, Greene, Laclede, Webster

Co G – [Exchanged prisoners, very mixed. Also, few records denote residence.]

Co H – [Exchanged prisoners, very mixed].


Service Records for the 1st – 6th Infantry Regiments, 1st Cavalry Regiment, and 3rd Cavalry Battalion.  Microfilm. Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri.

Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia

County Origins of Specified Units
by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

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

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

available at

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at

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

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

See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4. Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

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

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

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

PRIMARY                                    EMM UNITS                                                   COUNTIES

REGIMENT                  OPERATIONAL AREA                  DRAWN FROM                                     DRAWN FROM COMMANDNG OFFICER

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

46th EMM                                          Howard County

“                                                    Randolph County

49th EMM                                          Pike County

61st EMM                                          Boone County

62nd EMM                                         Macon County

“                                                    Linn County

67th EMM                                          Montgomery County

75th EMM                                          St. Charles County

Callaway Independent EMM            Callaway County

1st Battalion EMM                            Pike County

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

37th EMM                                          Lincoln County

45th EMM                                          Putnam County

50th EMM                                          Knox County

“                                                    Adair County

53rd EMM                                          Ralls County

59th EMM                                          Warren County

62nd EMM                                          Macon County

“                                                    Linn County

66th EMM                                          Sullivan County

69th EMM                                          Clark County

“                                                    Lewis County

70th EMM                                          Monroe County

“                                                    Shelby County

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

31st EMM                                           Gentry County           Col. Bennett Pike

36th EMM                                          Nodaway County

39th EMM                                          Platte County

41st EMM                                           Andrew County

57th EMM                                          Harrison County

58th EMM                                          Atchison County

“                                                    Holt County

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

30th EMM                                          Grundy County

31st EMM                                           Gentry County

33rd EMM                                          Daviess County

“                                                    Caldwell County

35th EMM                                          Chariton County

44th EMM                                          Mercer County

48th EMM                                          Clay County

“                                                    Clinton County

51st EMM                                           Ray County

57th EMM                                          Harrison County

65th EMM                                          Carroll County

“                                                    Livingston County

Mercer Independent EMM               Mercer County

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

60th EMM                                          Osage Valley

71st EMM                                           Lafayette County

“                                                    Saline County

77th EMM                                          Jackson County

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

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

“                                                    Christian County

73rd EMM                                          Laclede County

“                                                    Douglas County

“                                                    Dallas County

74th EMM                                          Lawrence County

“                                                    Webster County

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

PEMM company

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

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

72nd EMM                                          Greene County

“                                                    Christian County

73rd EMM                                          Laclede County

“                                                    Douglas County

“                                                    Dallas County

76th EMM                                          Lawrence

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

56th EMM                                          Cape Girardeau County

64th EMM                                          Perry County

68th EMM                                          Iron County

“                                                    Wayne County

“                                                    Madison County

78th EMM                                          Ste. Genevieve County

Bollinger Independent EMM           Bollinger County

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

Missouri                             34th EMM                                         Gasconade County

42nd EMM                                          Cole County

43rd EMM                                          Moniteau County

47th EMM                                          Camden County

52nd EMM                                          Cooper County

Maries Independent EMM              Maries County

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

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

Col. Henry H. Catherwood (6 days)

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

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

Enrolled Missouri Militia


County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

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

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

available at

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

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at

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

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4. Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

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

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

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

Regiment Where Organized Colonel Strength
1 St. Louis

©Kirby Ross

©Kirby Ross

©Kirby Ross

©Kirby Ross

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


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

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

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

Federal Militia

Federal Militia

in Missouri

by Kirby Ross


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

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

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

1. Home Guard 1861

See also: HOME GUARD: County Origins of Specified Units

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

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

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

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

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

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

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

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

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

4. Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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