Missouri in the Civil War

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Missouri in the American Civil War

Missouri Civil War History


The land that is now Missouri was acquired from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase and became known as the Missouri Territory. Part of the Territory was admitted into the Union as the 24th U.S. state on August 10, 1821.

The state derived its name from the Missouri River, which was named in honor of the indigenous Missouri Indians, a Siouan-language tribe. They were called the ouemessourita (wimihsoorita), meaning "those who have dugout canoes", by the Miami-Illinois language speakers. As the Illini were the first natives encountered by Europeans in the region, the latter adopted the Illini name for the Missouri people.

Missouri and the Civil War Map
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Missouri was considered a Border State during the Civil War

Critical Border States and the Civil War Map
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Missouri was one of five Border States during the Civil War

Missouri would enter the Union with mixed sentiment from Washington and the nation. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise passed, only to be repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854—which implemented the concept of Popular Sovereignty. From 1854 to 1864, in what is commonly known as the Border War, pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces clashed over the issue of slavery. Congress had long struggled to balance the interests of slaveholders and abolitionists.

Missouri was initially settled by slaveholding Southerners coming up the Mississippi River and Missouri River. Missouri entered the Union in 1821 as a slave state following the Missouri Compromise of 1820, in which it was agreed that no state north of Missouri's southern border with Arkansas could enter the Union as a slave state. Maine entered the Union as a free state in the compromise to balance Missouri. In 1854 the Kansas Nebraska Act nullified the Missouri Compromise and said the two states could decide on their own whether to enter as a free or slave state. The result was a de facto war between pro-slavery residents of Missouri (called Border Ruffians) and Kansas free-staters to influence how Kansas entered the Union.

Bleeding Kansas, aka Bloody Kansas or the Border War, was a series of violent political confrontations involving anti-slavery free-staters and pro-slavery "Border Ruffian" elements. Most of these conflicts involved attacks and murders of individuals on both sides, with the Sacking of Lawrence by pro-slavery forces and the Pottawatomie Massacre by John Brown being the most notable. The Border War occurred in the Kansas Territory and the neighboring towns of Missouri between 1854 and 1861. At the heart of the conflict was the question of whether Kansas would enter the Union as a Free State or slave state. As such, Bleeding Kansas was a proxy war between Northerners and Southerners over the issue of slavery in the United States. The term "Bleeding Kansas" was coined by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune; the events it encompasses directly presaged the American Civil War (1861-1865).
During the Civil War, Missouri was considered a Border State with divided loyalties, the Brother against Brother War, and an environment well-known for its bushwhackers and guerrilla warfare. The Border War, moreover, would continue into the Civil War and beyond.
On the subject of secession—from prominent citizens to state legislatures to U.S. senators—the citizens of Missouri held numerous sessions, conventions and meetings, with various committees and political parties present. Although they drafted or passed several resolutions, acts and bills, Missourians held 3 distinct positions on secession: 1) remain in the Union; 2) secede with sister Southern states and join the Confederacy, and; 3) remain neutral and refuse to support the Union or the Confederacy.

The Union Army states that “Missouri was one of the last as well as one of the first states to feel the curse of Civil War. During the contest she furnished to the Federal government a total of 109,111 men, exclusive of the militia she maintained to keep peace within her borders and protect her people from the raids of the guerrillas, Jayhawkers and other predatory bands who were actuated more by the prospect of plunder than by principles or patriotism.” The total number of Missourians who supported the Confederacy and joined its armies in various Southern states is unknown. Estimates, however, range from "more than" 40,000 to 100,000, with the best estimate of 90,000. See also Total Union and Confederate Casualties.

During the Civil War, in 1861, fighting ensued between Union forces and a combined army of General Price's Missouri State Guard and Confederate troops from Arkansas and Texas under General Ben McCulloch. After winning victories at the battle of Wilson's Creek and the siege of Lexington, Missouri, and suffering losses elsewhere, the Confederate forces retreated to Arkansas and later Marshall, Texas, in the face of a largely reinforced Union Army.
Though regular Confederate troops staged some large-scale raids into Missouri, the fighting in the state for the next three years consisted chiefly of guerrilla warfare with units such as Quantrill's Raiders. "Citizen soldiers" or guerrillas such as Colonel William Quantrill, Frank and Jesse James, the Younger brothers, and William T. Anderson, aka "Bloody Bill" Anderson, made use of quick, small-unit tactics. Pioneered by the Missouri Partisan Rangers, such insurgencies also arose in portions of the Confederacy occupied by the Union during the Civil War. As a result of the lingering feuds from the Border War and American Civil War, Guerrillas and outlaws would continue the region’s lawlessness into the 1880s.

United States Slavery Map
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As the United States expands, so does slavery

Missouri Slavery History
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Slavery Compromises


The history of slavery in Missouri began in 1720, when a man named Philippe Francois Renault brought about 500 negro slaves from Santo Domingo to work in lead mines in the River des Peres area, located in the present-day St. Louis and Jefferson counties.

The institution only became prominent in the area following two major events: the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney (1793). This led to a mass movement of slave-owning proprietors to the area of present-day Missouri and Arkansas, then known as Upper Louisiana. However, the spread of major cotton growth was limited to the more southerly area, near the border with present-day Arkansas. Instead, slavery in the other areas of Missouri was concentrated into other major crops, such as tobacco, hemp, grain and livestock. A number of slaves were hired out as stevedores, cabin boys, or deck hands for the ferries of the Mississippi River.

Missouri Compromise of 1820: The admission of Missouri as a state in 1820 provoked a contentious national debate over slavery. Missouri was the second state to be carved from the vast territory acquired from France in the Louisiana Purchase and was to be admitted as a slave state. This aroused concern in the North. After much wrangling, a compromise was worked out. Under the terms of the Missouri Compromise, Maine was admitted as a free state at the same time that Missouri came in as a slave state, maintaining the balance between slave and free states. Additionally, Congress prohibited slavery in all western territories lying above 36° 30' latitude (the southern boundary of Missouri).

Compromise of 1850: As a result of the Mexican War (1846-1848), the United States won vast acreage in the West (present-day California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado and Texas). This acquisition renewed the controversy over slavery in the territories. California applied for admission as a free state in 1850. Southern political leaders were concerned that this would upset the balance of 15 free and 15 slave states. They also were disturbed by Northern agitation to end slavery in the District of Columbia and by the passage of "personal liberty" laws in the Northern states. The personal liberty laws aimed to restrict the cooperation of state officials in enforcing the Federal fugitive slave law. Southern senators blocked the admission of California and a crisis was at hand. Prolonged negotiation finally produced a series of measures that became known as the Compromise of 1850. Aspects of the compromise included 1) admission of California as a free state; 2) a stronger fugitive slave law; 3) assurance that Congress would not interfere with the interstate traffic in slaves in the South; and 4) prohibition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia. Finally, an act allowed the citizens of the remaining territories to be carved out of former Mexican land to decide for themselves on allowing slavery. Optimists believed that these measures constituted a lasting settlement of the divisive issue of slavery, but this was not to be.

Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854: In 1853-1854, the slavery issue got tied up with the effort to build a transcontinental railroad. In order to achieve territorial organization of land that a railroad to the West Coast might pass through, the Democratic Party had to make concessions to the South. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 gave the people of those territories the authority to decide on the legal status of slavery, effectively repealing the Missouri Compromise line. This act kicked off seven years of intense national dispute over slavery, culminating in secession and, finally, civil war in 1861. Northerners were outraged at the Kansas-Nebraska Act's repeal of a long-established compromise. Pro- and anti-slavery factions immediately converted the territory of Kansas into a bloody battleground.

Border War: The years of 1854-1861 were a turbulent time in Kansas territory. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 established the territorial boundaries of Kansas and Nebraska and opened the land to legal settlement. It allowed the residents of these territories to decide by popular vote whether their state would be free or slave. This concept of self-determination was called "popular sovereignty." In Kansas, people on all sides of this controversial issue flooded the territory, trying to influence the vote in their favor. Rival territorial governments, election fraud, and squabbles over land claims all contributed to the violence of this era.

Three distinct political groups occupied Kansas: pro-slavers, free-staters and abolitionists. Violence broke out immediately between these opposing factions and continued until January 29, 1861, when Kansas entered the Union as a free state. This era became forever known in the state as "Bleeding Kansas."

The majority of slaveowners in Missouri arrived from the agricultural lands of North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. By 1860, only 36 counties in Missouri had 1,000 or more slaves; The value of all the slaves in Missouri was estimated by the State Auditor's 1860 report at approximately $44,181,912 ($1,142,838,790 as of 2013).

As one of the Border States, Missouri was exempt from President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation decreeing the freedom of slaves in all territory then held by Confederate forces. Governor Thomas C. Fletcher, however, abolished slavery in Missouri by executive proclamation on January 11, 1865.

United States in 1860 Map
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Border States, Free States, Slave States, and Territories Map


By 1860, Missouri's initial Southern settlers had been supplanted with a more diversified non-slaveholding population, including many Northerners, German and Irish immigrants. With war seeming inevitable, Missouri thought it could stay out of the conflict by remaining in the Union, but staying neutral—not giving men or supplies to either side and pledging to fight troops from either side who entered the state. The policy was first put forth in 1860 by outgoing Governor Robert Marcellus Stewart, who had Northern leanings. It was notionally reaffirmed by incoming Governor Claiborne Jackson, who had Southern leanings. Jackson however, stated in his inaugural address that in case of Federal "coercion" of Southern states, Missouri should support and defend her "sister Southern states". A Constitutional Convention to discuss secession was convened with Sterling Price presiding. The delegates voted to stay in the Union and supported the neutrality position.
The legislature elected in 1860 met at Jefferson City on the last day of that year. Gov. Stewart, in his farewell message, said: "Our people would feel more sympathy with the movement (secession), had it not originated amongst those who, like ourselves, have suffered severe losses and constant annoyances from the interference and depredations of outsiders. Missouri will hold to the Union so long as it is worth the effort to preserve it. She cannot be frightened by the past unfriendly legislation of the North, nor dragooned into secession by the restrictive legislation of the extreme South."

In the United States presidential election, 1860, Abraham Lincoln received only 10 percent of the state's votes, while 71 percent favored either John Bell or Stephen A. Douglas, both of whom wanted the status quo to remain (Douglas was to narrowly win the Missouri vote over Bell—the only state Douglas carried besides New Jersey) with the remaining 19 percent siding with Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge.

In the election of 1860, Missouri’s newly elected governor was Claiborne "Fox" Jackson, a career politician and an ardent supporter of the South. Jackson campaigned as a Douglas Democrat, favoring a conciliatory program on issues that divided the country. After Jackson’s election, however, he immediately began working behind the scenes to promote Missouri’s secession. In addition to planning to seize the Federal arsenal at St. Louis, Jackson conspired with senior Missouri bankers to illegally divert money from the banks to arm state troops, a measure that the Missouri General Assembly had so far refused to take. See also Missouri Civil War Timeline of Events.

Missouri and Secession of Southern States Map
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Secession of Southern states and readmission to the Union dates

Although Gov. Jackson supported Douglas, who represented the ideas of the Northern Democracy, he soon gave evidence of his fealty to the dogma of secession. In his inaugural message, January 3, 1861, he insisted that "the destiny of the slaveholding states in this Union is one and the same; that it will be impossible to separate Missouri's fate from that of her sister states who have the same social organization; that in the event of a failure to reconcile the conflicting interests which now threaten the disruption of the existing Union, interest and sympathy alike combine to unite the fortunes of all the slaveholding states; that Missouri will not shrink from the duty which her position on the border imposes, but determine her to stand by the South; that the state was in favor of remaining in the Union so long as there was any hope of maintaining the guarantees of the constitution; and that he was utterly opposed to the doctrine of coercion, in any event, as leading to consolidation and despotism." He closed his inaugural by saying that he believed Missouri was entitled to a voice in the settlement of the questions then pending before the country, and recommended the immediate call of a state convention "that the will of the people may be ascertained and effectuated," significantly adding — "It may soon become necessary to send delegates to a convention of the Southern states, or of all the states."

After the secession of Southern states began in 1861, the Missouri legislature called for the election of a special convention on secession. The convention voted decisively to remain within the Union. Pro-Southern Governor Claiborne F. Jackson ordered the mobilization of several hundred members of the state militia who had gathered in a camp in St. Louis for training. Alarmed at this action, Union General Nathaniel Lyon struck first, encircling the camp and forcing the state troops to surrender. Lyon directed his soldiers, largely non-English-speaking German immigrants, to march the prisoners through the streets, and they opened fire on the largely hostile crowds of civilians who gathered around them. Soldiers killed unarmed prisoners as well as men, women and children of St. Louis in the incident that became known as the "St. Louis Massacre."

These events heightened Confederate support within the state. Governor Jackson appointed Sterling Price, president of the convention on secession, as head of the new Missouri State Guard. In the face of Union General Lyon's rapid advance through the state, Jackson and Price were forced to flee the capital of Jefferson City on June 14, 1861. In the town of Neosho, Missouri, Jackson called the state legislature into session. They enacted a secession ordinance. However, even under the Southern view of secession, only the state convention had the power to secede. Since the convention was dominated by Unionists, and the state was more pro-Union than pro-Confederate in any event, the ordinance of secession adopted by the legislature is generally given little credence. The Confederacy nonetheless recognized it on October 30, 1861.

With the elected governor absent from the capital and the legislators largely dispersed, the state convention was reassembled with most of its members present, save 20 that fled south with Jackson's forces. The convention declared all offices vacant, and installed Hamilton Gamble as the new governor of Missouri. President Lincoln's administration immediately recognized Gamble's government as the legal Missouri government. The Federal government's decision enabled raising pro-Union militia forces for service within the state as well as volunteer regiments for the Union Army.

Union Provisional Government

On July 22, 1861, following Lyon's capture of the Missouri capital at Jefferson City, the Missouri Constitutional Convention reconvened and declared the Missouri governor's office to be vacant. On July 28, it appointed former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Hamilton Rowan Gamble as governor of the state and agreed to comply with Lincoln's demand for troops.
Confederate Government of Missouri

In October 1861, the remnants of the elected state government that favored the South (including Jackson and Price) met in Neosho, and voted to formally secede from the Union. The measure gave them votes in the Confederate Congress, but otherwise was symbolic since they did not control any part of the state. The capital was to eventually move to Marshall, Texas. When Jackson died in office in 1862, his lieutenant governor, Thomas Caute Reynolds, succeeded him. See also Missouri Civil War Timeline of Events.

Missouri in the Civil War
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Missouri provided more cavalry units to the Union than any other state*

Missouri Civil War History
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Total Union infantry, cavalry, and artillery units by state

*Missouri had a population of nearly 1,000,000 citizens in 1860, and, although a slaveholding Border State, it provided the Union Army with more cavalry units than any other state, including the great states of New York (population nearly 4,000,000) and Pennsylvania (approximately 3,000,000 citizens). The cavalry total for Missouri does not include consolidated, reorganized, disbanded, independent, unattached, state and militia units. See also Missouri Civil War Battles and Timeline of Events and Missouri in the Civil War (1861-1865).
Civil War

According to the 1860 U.S. census, Missouri had a free population of 1,067,081 and an additional slave population of 114,931.
The Border StatesDelaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and West Virginia—comprised the Civil War's middle ground, a region of moderation lying between the warring North and South. It was the region in which no states supported Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election.

During the Civil War, Missouri, a Border State of divided loyalties, supplied nearly 110,000 troops (including Native Americans and colored) to the Union and as many as 90,000 troops to the Confederacy (many joined Confederate units in neighboring states such as Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee). Missouri provided the Union with 64 regiments and 20 companies of infantry, 30 regiments and 26 companies of cavalry, 6 batteries of artillery, and numerous independent and unattached units. A remarkable testimony of Missouri's loyalty to the United States was the fact that the state provided more cavalrymen to the Union than any other state. By war’s end, Missouri men, who served the Union military, suffered nearly 14,000 in killed and thousands more in wounded. Casualties for the state’s loyal men to the Confederacy are unknown.

Missouri was a keystone in the Union cause. The nation's major western lines of communication and travel were anchored in the state, including the Pony Express, and the California, Oregon, and Santa Fe Trails. The three major waterways of the nation, the Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers, either passed through or touched the state. According to the 1860 census, Missouri ranked eighth in population, making it an excellent manpower resource for the Union Army. The state was rich in deposits of raw materials—lead for bullets, iron for cannonballs. Its agricultural production could feed an army. The state was also host to numerous arsenals, including the St. Louis Arsenal.
In 1861, the U.S. arsenal at St. Louis housed 60,000 stands of arms, a number of cannon and large stores of munitions of war. Both Union and secessionists looked with longing eyes upon the arsenal. Each realized that whichever side gained possession of the arsenal would control St. Louis, and the side that controlled St. Louis would eventually control the state. Then opposing sides, during a series of calculated events, vied for control of said arsenal. The arsenal, however, was located in the southern part of the city, which was occupied almost exclusively by a German population, which was staunchly pro-Union. On February 6, 1861, Captain Nathaniel Lyon marched unopposed into St. Louis at the head of his company from Kansas and secured the St. Louis Arsenal by direction of President Lincoln. On March 13, Lyon was placed in nominal command of the arsenal. With an increasing Union presence daily and as a result of martial law that had been imposed on April 30, the St. Louis Massacre erupted on May 10. Subsequently there was no longer neutrality; citizens were either Union or Confederate. See also Missouri Civil War Timeline of Events.

There were battles and skirmishes in all areas of the state, from the Iowa and Illinois border in the northeast to the edge of the state in the southeast and southwest on the Arkansas border. Counting minor engagements, actions and skirmishes, Missouri saw over 1,200 distinct fights. Only Virginia and Tennessee exceeded Missouri in the number of clashes within the state boundaries.

In the Civil War, Missouri was a Border State that sent men, armies, generals, and supplies to both Union and Confederate sides, had its star on both flags, had separate governments representing each side, and endured a neighbor-against-neighbor intrastate war within the larger national war. The first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River was on August 10, 1861 at Wilson's Creek, Missouri, whereas the largest battle in the war west of the Mississippi River was the Battle of Westport at Kansas City in 1864.

Conflicts and battles in the war were divided into three phases, starting with the Union removal of Governor Jackson and pursuit of Sterling Price and his Missouri State Guard in 1861; a period of neighbor-versus-neighbor bushwhacking guerrilla warfare from 1862 to 1864 (guerrilla warfare would continue after the war and until at least 1889); and finally Sterling Price's attempt to retake the state in 1864. See also Missouri Civil War Battles: The Definitive Timeline of Battles and Events.

Missouri Civil War Battlefield Map
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Map of Civil War battles in Missouri

Notable Missourians
Numerous Missourians fought valiantly during the Civil War and several were awarded the Medal of Honor. Most Missourians who were awarded the medal served in the infantry, fought in the Battle of Vicksburg, and were cited for "Gallantry in the charge of the "'volunteer storming party.'" Perhaps the most recognized name in the list of gallant soldiers is John M. Schofield. See also Missouri and Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients.
John McAllister Schofield (September 29, 1831–March 4, 1906). When the Civil War commenced, Schofield became a major in a Missouri volunteer regiment and served as chief of staff to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon until Lyon's death during the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri, in August 1861. Schofield acted with "conspicuous gallantry" during the battle, and received the Medal of Honor in 1892 for that action.
Schofield was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on November 21, 1861, and to major general on November 29, 1862. From 1861 to 1863, he held various commands in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, mainly commanding the Army of the Frontier. He was eventually relieved of duty in the West, at his own request, due to altercations with his superior Samuel R. Curtis.
On April 17, 1863, he assumed command of the 3rd Division in the XIV Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. He returned to Missouri as commander of the Department of Missouri in 1863. His command in Missouri was marred by controversy, with pro-Union Missourians sending a delegation to Washington D.C. to plead with President Lincoln to dismiss Schofield—for sympathizing with pro-Confederate Bushwhackers who were attacking loyal Union citizens.
In 1864, as commander of the Army of the Ohio, he took part in the Atlanta Campaign under Major General William T. Sherman. Sherman, after the fall of Atlanta, took the majority of his forces on a March to the Sea through Georgia. Schofield's Army of the Ohio was detached to join Major General George H. Thomas in Tennessee. Confederate General John Bell Hood invaded Tennessee, and, on November 30, Hood managed to attack Schofield's Army of the Ohio in the Battle of Franklin. Schofield successfully repulsed Hood and joined his forces with Thomas. December 15-16, Schofield took part in Thomas's crowning victory at the Battle of Nashville. For his services at Franklin he was awarded the rank of brigadier general in the regular army on November 30, 1864, and the brevet rank of major general on March 13, 1865. Ordered to operate with Sherman in North Carolina, Schofield moved his corps by rail and sea to Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in 17 days, occupied Wilmington on February 22, 1865, fought the action at Kinston on March 10, and on March 23, joined Sherman at Goldsboro.
Following the Civil War, Schofield served as 28th United States Secretary of War (June 1, 1868–March 13, 1869); Superintendent of the United States Military Academy (1876–1881), and; General-in-Chief of the U.S. Army (1888–1895). Schofield died on March 4, 1906, and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Schofield stated in his commencement address to the Class of 1879 at West Point: "The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling, but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them respect for himself. While he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect towards others, especially his subordinates, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself."
Schofield's Medal of Honor Citation

Rank and organization: Major, 1st Missouri Infantry. Place and date: At Wilsons Creek, Mo., 10 August 1861. Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo. Born: 29 September 1831, Gerry, N.Y. Date of issue: 2 July 1892. Citation: Was conspicuously gallant in leading a regiment in a successful charge against the enemy.

Battle of Wilson's Creek, Battle of Lexington, and Rebel Ascendancy

The largest battle in the campaign to evict Jackson was the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Missouri, on August 10, 1861. The battle marked the first time that the Missourians had sought formal help from the Confederate States of America. A combined force of over 12,000 Confederate soldiers, Arkansas State Troops, and Missouri State Guardsmen under Confederate Brigadier Ben McCulloch fought approximately 5,400 Federals in a punishing six hour battle. Union forces suffered over 1,300 casualties, including Lyon, who was fatally shot. The Confederates lost 1,200 men. The exhausted Confederates did not closely pursue the retreating Federals. In the aftermath of the battle, the Southern commanders disagreed as to the proper next step. Price argued for an invasion of Missouri. McCulloch, concerned about security of Arkansas and Indian Territory, and skeptical about the possibility of subsisting his army in central Missouri, refused. The Confederate and Arkansas troops fell back to the border, while Price lead his Guardsmen into northwestern Missouri to recapture the state.

Price's emboldened Missouri State Guard marched on Lexington, besieging Col. Mulligan's garrison at the Battle of Lexington on September 20. Deploying wet hemp bales as mobile breastworks, the rebel advance was shielded from heavy cannon fire. By early afternoon, the rolling fortification had advanced close enough for the Southerners to take the Union works in a final rush. By 2:00 p.m., Mulligan had surrendered. Price was reportedly so impressed by Mulligan's demeanor and conduct during and after the battle that he offered him his own horse and buggy, and ordered him safely escorted to Union lines. Years later, in his book The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Southern president Jefferson Davis opined that "The expedient of the bales of hemp was a brilliant conception, not unlike that which made Tarik, the Saracen warrior, immortal, and gave his name to the northern pillar of Hercules."

1864 Civil War Map
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Map of Price's Raid in 1864

The hopes of many Southern-leaning, mostly farming-dependent, families, including Jesse James and family in Liberty, MO., rose and fell based on news of Price's battles. "If Price succeeded, the entire state of Missouri might fall into the hands of the Confederacy. For all anyone knew, it would force Lincoln to accept the South's independence, in light of earlier rebel victories. After all, no one expected the war to last much longer." The Battle of Lexington, also called the Battle of the Hemp Bales was a huge success for the rebels, and meant rebel ascendency, albeit temporarily, in Western and southwest Missouri. Combined with the loss of such a pivotal leader of the Federals' Western campaign in Nathaniel Lyon, and the Union's stunning defeat in the war's first major land battle, First Battle of Bull Run, Missouri's secessionists were "jubilant." Exaggerated stories and rumors of Confederate successes spread easily in this era of slower, often equine-based communication. St. Louis' (ironically named) Unionist-Democrat Daily Missouri Republican reported some of the secessionist scuttlebutt a week after the rebel victory at Lexington:

"A party with whom I have conversed, says no one has any idea how much the secession cause has been strengthened since PRICE'S march to Lexington, and particularly since its surrender. The rebels are jubilant, and swear they will drive the Federalists into the Missouri and Mississippi before two months are over. A party of rebels recently stated that LINCOLN had been hanged by BEAUREGARD, and that for weeks past the National Congress had been held in Philadelphia. Reports are rife in Western Missouri that the Southern Confederacy has been recognized by England and France, and that before the last of October the blockade will be broken by the navies of both nations. The rebels prophesy that before ten years have elapsed the Confederacy will be the greatest, most powerful, and prosperous, nation on the globe, and that the United States will decay, and be forced to seek the protection of England to prevent their being crushed by the South."

Rebel ascendancy in Missouri was short-lived, however, as General John C. Frémont quickly mounted a campaign to retake Missouri. And "...without a single battle, the momentum suddenly shifted." On September 26, "Frémont moved west from St. Louis with thirty-eight thousand troops. Soon, he arrived at Sedalia, southeast of Lexington, threatening to trap the rebels against the river." On September 29, Price was forced to abandon Lexington, and he and his men moved into southwest Missouri. "...their commanders do not wish to run any risk, their policy being to make attacks only where they feel confident, through superiority of numbers, of victory." Price and his generals stuck firmly to this cautious strategy, and similar to General Joseph E. Johnston's infamous retreat toward Atlanta, Price's Missouri State Guard fell back hundreds of miles in the face of a superior force. They soon retreated from the state and headed for Arkansas and later Mississippi.

Small remnants of the Missouri Guard remained in the state and fought isolated battles throughout the war. Price soon came under the command and control of the Confederates. In March 1862, any hopes for a new offensive in Missouri were dimmed in the Battle of Pea Ridge just south of the border in Arkansas. The Missouri State Guard was to stay largely intact as a unit through the war and was to suffer heavy casualties in Mississippi in the Battle of Iuka and Second Battle of Corinth.

Ironclad Navy and Riverine Campaigns

While various forces battled inconclusively for southwest Missouri, a unique Army-Navy-civilian cooperative effort built a war winning riverine navy. St. Louis River salvage expert, and engineering genius, James Buchanan Eads won a contract to build a fleet of shallow-draft ironclads for use on the western rivers. An unusually cooperative relationship between Army officials (who would own the vessels) and Navy officers (who would command them) helped speed the work. Drawing on his reputation and personal credit (and that of St. Louis Unionists) Eads used subcontractors throughout the midwest (and as far east as Pittsburg) to produce nine ironclads in just over three months. Built at Eads' own Union Marine Works (in the St. Louis suburb of Carondelet), and at a satellite yard at Cairo, Illinois, the seven City-class ironclads, the Essex, and heavy ironclad Benton were the first U.S. ironclads and the first to see combat.

St. Louis' Benton Barracks became the mustering depot for western troops, and in February 1862, Department of Missouri commander Major General Henry Halleck approved a joint invasion of west Tennessee along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Army troops under Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant and the newly built Western Gunboat Flotilla, commanded by Navy Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote, captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, unhinging the Confederate defensive perimeter in the west. After the subsequent Battle of Shiloh, the Federal Army pushed into northern Mississippi, while the Gunboat fleet moved down the Mississippi with cooperating Federal troops, systematically capturing every Confederate position north of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The riverine strategy put the Confederacy on the defensive in the west for the rest of the war, and effectively ended meaningful Confederate efforts to recapture Missouri. The defeat of a Confederate army in northern Arkansas, at the Battle of Pea Ridge, further discouraged the Confederate leadership as to the wisdom, or possibility, of occupying Missouri. Subsequent military Confederate military action in the state would be limited to a small number of large raids (notably Shelby's Raid of 1863 and Price's Raid of 1864), and partial endorsement of the activities of Missouri guerrillas.

Civil War Strategy Map
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Strategies of Union and Confederate Armies

Guerrilla Warfare

The Battle of Wilson's Creek was the last large scale engagement in the state until Price returned in 1864 in a last-ditch attempt to capture the state. Between 1862 and 1864, the state endured guerrilla warfare in which Southern partisan rangers and Bushwhackers battled the Kansas irregulars known as Jayhawkers and Redlegs or "Redleggers" (from the red gaiters they wore around their lower legs) and the allied Union forces.

Jayhawker raids against perceived civilian "Confederate sympathizers" alienated Missourians and made maintaining the peace even harder for the Unionist provisional government. As Major General Henry Halleck wrote General John C. Frémont in September 1861, [Jayhawker raider] Jim Hale had to be removed from the Kansas border as "A few more such raids" would render Missouri "as unanimous against us as is Eastern Virginia." While Jayhawker violence alienated communities who would've otherwise been loyal supporters of the Union, marauding bands of pro-secession bushwhackers sustained guerrilla war and outright banditry, especially in Missouri's northern counties. Major General John Pope and, who oversaw northern Missouri, blamed local citizens for not doing enough to put down bushwhacker guerrillas, and ordered locals to raise militias to counter them. "Refusal to do so would bring an occupying force of Federal soldiers into their counties." Pope, Ewing and Frémont's heavy-handed approach alienated even those civilians who were suffering at the hands of the bushwhackers.

Although guerrilla warfare occurred throughout much of the state, most of the incidents occurred in northern Missouri and were characterized by ambushes of individuals or families in rural areas. These incidents were particularly nefarious because their vigilante nature was outside the command and control of either side and often pitted neighbor against neighbor. Civilians on all sides faced looting, violence and other depredations. Among the more notorious incidents of guerrilla warfare were the Sacking of Osceola, Burning of Platte City and the Centralia Massacre. Among the famous bushwhackers were Quantrill's Raiders and Bloody Bill Anderson.

General Order No. 11

In 1863 following the Lawrence Massacre in Kansas, Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr. accused farmers in rural Missouri of either instigating the attack or supporting it. He issued General Order No. 11 which forced the evacuation of all residents of rural areas of the four counties (Jackson, Cass, Bates and Vernon) south of the Missouri River on the Kansas border to leave their property, which was then burned. The order applied to farmers regardless of loyalty, although those who could prove their loyalty to the Union could stay in designated towns and those who could not were exiled entirely. Among those forced to leave were Kansas City founder John Calvin McCoy and its first mayor, William S. Gregory.

Price's Raid

With the Confederacy clearly losing the war in 1864, Sterling Price reassembled his Missouri Guard and launched a last gasp offensive to take Missouri. However, Price was unable to repeat his 1861 victorious campaigns in the state. Striking in the southeastern portion of the state, Price moved north, and attempted to capture Fort Davidson but failed. Next, Price sought to attack St. Louis but found it too heavily fortified and thus broke west in a parallel course with the Missouri River. This took him through the (relatively) friendly country of the "Boonslick", which had provided a large percentage of the Missouri volunteers who had joined the CSA. Ironically, although Price had issued orders against pillage, many of the pro-Confederate civilians in this area (which would be known as "Little Dixie" after the war) suffered from looting and depredations at the hands of Price's men.

The Federals attempted to retard Price's advance through both minor and substantial skirmishing such as at Glasgow and Lexington. Price made his way to the extreme western portion of the state, taking part in a series of bitter battles at the Little Blue, Independence, and Byram's Ford. His Missouri campaign culminated in the battle of Westport in which over 30,000 troops fought, leading to the defeat of the Southern army. The Missourians retreated through Kansas and Indian Territory into Arkansas, where they stayed for the remainder of the war.

Gratiot Street Prison

During the Civil War, Gratiot Street Prison, aka Gratiot Street Military Prison, was a Union Prison located in St. Louis, Missouri. The prison was previously a medical school named McDowell's College, which was confiscated by the Union Army and converted to a prison in December 1861. While in operation from 1861 to 1865, its official maximum capacity was 500 but at times it held nearly 2,000 prisoners. The prison was used primarily as a transfer point for prisoners en route to other Union prisons.
During the Civil War the prison detained Confederate prisoners-of-war, spies, guerrillas, Southern sympathizes, and even Federal soldiers accused of crimes from desertion to bounty jumping to murder. The prison also was centered in a city of divided loyalties. Escapees could find refuge in homes in the same neighborhood. Many of the most dangerous people operating in the Trans-Mississippi passed through its gates, and some escaped in dramatically risky ways; others didn't and lost their lives at the end of a Union rope, or before a firing squad.
According to Lonnie Speer, Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War, the prison had a "maximum capacity of 500," with the most detained on any given day at "1,800." There were more than 108 escapes, and the death toll was 1,140 (with most deaths attributed to smallpox and typhoid fever). 1,010 dead Confederate POWs were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Some were claimed by families and taken home for burial, while others—particularly smallpox victims—were buried in cemeteries at the smallpox hospitals or on a Quarantine Island in the middle of the Mississippi River.
Confederate Soldiers buried at Jefferson Barracks are located in Sections 19, 20, 21, 22, 66 and 67. The lone female interred is Jane N. Foster from Randolph County, Arkansas, who died Nov. 4, 1864. (Section 20, Grave 4613). Six Confederate Prisoners of War executed by the Union Army to avenge the death of Major James Wilson (Section 39, Grave 4319) and a six-man patrol executed by Confederate guerrillas under the command of Major Timothy Reeves during the Battle of Pilot Knob on Oct. 3, 1864. (Section 20, Graves 4605-4610). There are 15 Confederate Unknowns buried in the cemetery. Most of the Unknowns were reported as having died from smallpox and buried on Smallpox Island, from whence the remains were subsequently removed to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The individual graves on the island were not identifiable at the time of removal.

Missouri Civil War Map of Battles and Battlefields
High Resolution Map of Missouri.jpg
High Resolution Map of Missouri

Since Missouri had remained in the Union, it did not suffer outside military occupation or other extreme aspects of Reconstruction. The immediate post-war state government was controlled by Republicans, who attempted to execute an "internal reconstruction", banning politically powerful former secessionists from the political process and empowering the state's newly emancipated African-American population. This led to major dissatisfaction among many politically important groups, and provided opportunities for reactionary elements in the state.
Following the Civil War, new railroads in Missouri created better conditions for large companies, who squeezed out small, independent producers. The railroads opened up new markets for mined, agricultural and manufactured goods. The invention of refrigerated railroad cars would make meat packing, once a part-time local industry, a mainstay of the state's economy.

The Democrats were to return to being the dominant power in the state by 1873 through an alliance with returned ex-Confederates (almost all of whom had been part of the pro-slavery Anti-Benton wing of the Missouri Democratic Party prior to the Civil War). The reunified Democratic Party exploited themes of: racial prejudice; a (largely fictional) version of a Missouri "Lost Cause" which purported Missourians as victims of Federal tyranny and outrages; and depiction of Missouri Unionists and Republicans as traitors (to the state) and criminals. This capture of the historical narrative was largely successful, and secured control of the state for the Democratic Party through the 1950s. The ex-Confederate/Democratic resurgence also defeated efforts to empower Missouri's African-American population, and ushered in the state's version of Jim Crow legislation. (This was motivated both by widespread racial prejudice and concerns that former slaves were likely to be reliable Republican voters.)

Many newspapers in the 1870s Missouri were vehement in their opposition to national Radical Republican policies, for political, economic, and racial reasons. The outlaws James-Younger gang was to capitalize on this and become folk heroes as they robbed banks and trains while getting sympathetic press from the state's newspapers—most notably the Kansas City Times. Jesse James, who killed with bushwacker Bloody Bill Anderson at Centralia, was to excuse his murder of a resident of Gallatin, during a bank robbery, saying he thought he was killing Samuel P. Cox, who had hunted down Anderson after Centralia. In addition, the vigilante activities of the 'Bald Knobbers' in south-central Missouri during the 1880s have been interpreted by some as a further continuation of Civil War related guerrilla warfare.
See also

Sources: National Park Service; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; The Union Army; National Archives; Library of Congress; US Census Bureau; The Union Army (1908); Fox, William F. Regimental Losses in the American Civil War (1889); Phisterer, Frederick. Statistical record of the armies of the United States (1883); Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (1908); Hardesty, Jesse. Killed and died of wounds in the Union army during the Civil War (1915): Wright-Eley Co.; United States Army Center of Military History; Aron, Stephen (2006). American Confluence: The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253346916; Astor, Aaron. Rebels on the Border: Civil War, Emancipation, and the Reconstruction of Kentucky and Missouri (Louisiana State University Press (2012; Aron, Stephen (2006). American Confluence: The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253346916; Brownlee, Richard S. (1958). Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861–1865. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0807103330; Fellman, Michael (1989). Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri during the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019505198X; Geiger, Mark W. Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri’s Civil War, 1861–1865. (Yale University Press, 2010) (ISBN 9780300151510); Goforth, Alan (2009). Historic Photos of Missouri. Turner Publishing Company; Greene, Lorenzo J.; Gary R. Kremer, Antonio F. Holland (1993). Missouri's Black Heritage. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press. ISBN 9780826209047; Hess, Earl J. "The 12th Missouri Infantry: A Socio-Military Profile of a Union Regiment," Missouri Historical Review (October 1981) 76#1 pp 53–77; Lause, Mark A. Price's Lost Campaign: The 1864 Invasion of Missouri (University of Missouri Press; 2011); McCandless, Perry (2000). A History of Missouri: 1820 to 1860. II. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press. ISBN 826202145; Parrish, William E. A History of Missouri, Volume III: 1860 to 1875 (1973, reprinted 2002) (ISBN 0-8262-0148-2); Parrish, William Earl; Charles T. Jones; Lawrence O. Christensen (2004). Missouri, the heart of the nation (3rd ed.). H. Davidson. ISBN 978-0-88295-887-3; Phillips, Christopher. Missouri's Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000. (ISBN 978-0-8262-1272-6); Primm, James Neal (1954). Economic Policy in the Development of a Western State: Missouri, 1820–1860. Harvard University Press;  Trexler, Harrison Anthony. Slavery in Missouri, 1804-1865 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1914). Speer, Lonnie R. Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War (Bison Books, 2005) (ISBN-10: 0803293429; Veterans Affairs; Bobrick, Benson. Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7432-9025-8; Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3; Einolf, Christopher J. George Thomas: Virginian for the Union. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8061-3867-1.


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