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[ Transcript for: The Civil War’s First Blood: Missouri 1854-1861 ]

The Civil War’s First Blood: Missouri 1854-1861 Video Transcript



MR. JAMES DENNY: Thank you all so much for coming out here tonight. This is an incredible thrill. Could you—are you back there?

Could you show the next slide, please?

Now, this is the next cover of Missouri Life. They don’t know it yet, because we made it about three hours ago. But we have the folks at Missouri Life to thank for making all this possible. They actually called us in and invited us to do this, and you can just see, if you’ve looked at the book, at just a wonderful job that they’ve done.

I think it’s kind of a unique thing. I’ve never seen anything quite like it for Missouri history. It belongs on every coffee table in every household in Missouri and beyond.

And, unfortunately, we owe Donita and Greg Wood three more volumes of this thing and for all — you know, its second blood, third blood, fourth blood, you know.

Before I start, there are a couple of people that we need to thank. First of all, is our old friend Jim McGee. Don’t hide. We know where you are. When we first started this project, Jim told me—he’s been teaching a class on the Civil War, and he told me that after one of his classes, one of his students came up and complained, I can’t tell which side you’re on. And actually we felt that was extremely wise guidance for undertaking this project. And if we’ve succeeded in what we’ve done, you won’t be able to tell which side that we’re on.

We’ve tried to ream each side equally. That has been our goal in this book. And we’re just particularly excited. Anybody that knows anything at all about this history, it’s just almost unbelievable. It is such an incredible period in our—in our whole experience as a state.

I want to kind of go on to the next slide here. I’m just going to give you just kind of a brief—sort of an idea of what we tried to accomplish in this book.

Would you show the next slide?

Popular Sovereignty

We kind of started out—we don’t do an exhaustive history of all it was but it’s kind of hard to do some of this without at least mentioning that. You know, one of the worst ideas that anybody ever came up with in American history was the idea of popular sovereignty, and it certainly turned out to be an unbelievable disaster on the border.

The next slide, please. Yeah, just keep hitting them until something shows up there. And keep going.

But what popular sovereignty did, of course, was to invalidate the Missouri Compromise, which somehow managed to keep the nation stitched together for nearly three decades. And after that, it was a free-for-all and a desperate struggle that both the south and the north had to win. And so, on one side, of course, reputed the Free Soilers and then on the other side were—was a southern pro-slavery side with Missouri being sort of the spear carrier. It was sort of—the people coming to make Kansas part of the land of the free. And then, of course, the Missourians and the southerners sort of pursued the no slave left behind program.

And at first, you know, it was supposed to be settled through the electoral process.

Could you show the next slide?

Territorial Government

And, you know—but that didn’t work very well, because, you know, the very first election to set up a territorial government, you know, over 6,000 people voted in a territory that had 2,000 people in it. And so Missouri’s idea is that, you know, they felt since they were aware of the American western movement—always you just move straight west and you had almost a God given right to control that territory. And that was sort of their attitude, and they’re going to do it one way or the other. But election stealing actually backfired on them. It is not because of Abolitionists, because, you know, only four percent of the population in Kansas were abolitionists. Almost the majority of the population were from the states like Ohio, Indiana—the southern parts of those states. And they could have gone either way.

But once they realized that their government is being hijacked from them, they decided to be abolitionists, and that sort of got this whole thing going. And, of course, things then immediately turned violent in 1860—‘56, Missourians sacked Lawrence [Lawrence, Kansas] for the first time and burned down the Free State Hotel. And then the very next day, John Brown started riding along Pottawatomie Creek and massacred five citizens, and that started the whole Bleeding Kansas phase of the Border Wars.

Marais Das Cygnes Massacre

Could you show the next? Keep going. And then—from then on, there was just a continual period of violence in guerilla warfare that extended up through at least 1858. And probably one of the culminating moments, other than John Brown’s shenanigans, was what was called the Marais Das Cygnes Massacre, where some Missourians rode over and lined up eleven Free-Staters and in front of a firing squad, which actually almost managed to miss almost everybody but five folks that they killed. But, you know, one of the big problems for Missouri was—the southern side—they didn’t have a good propagandist. I mean, how can you beat John Greenleaf Whittier? I mean, you know, “The foul, human vultures have feasted and fled. The wolves of the border have crept from the dead.” I mean, you know there just was nobody on the Missouri side writing that kind of stuff. It’s very powerful. Nobody wrote anything like that, you know, when John Brown and his sons were out there hacking people to death with rusty swords.

Next slide, please. So, anyway, you know the outcome was virtually inevitable that Kansas would enter the state—the union as a free state in this. And James Buchanan, one of the last things he did was finally approve the entrance of Kansas into the union.

1860 Presidential Campaign

Next slide, please. And then, of course, we had this torturous presidential campaign in 1860, where literally every political party divided into northern and southern wings. The Democratic Party divided into the Breckinridge and Douglas wings. All the old leftover Cotton Whigs and all the Know-Nothings all coalesced into the Constitutional Union Party. And then the Republican Party, which was literally born in the Kansas struggle, fielded a little known politician from Illinois by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

Next slide, please. Next slide. And because of that split vote, Abraham Lincoln then probably became the president.

Secession Movement

Next slide, please. And then—and immediately after that—within two months, the secession movement started. And the first six states seceded from the union. And a fierce struggle over which way the border states would go. It was really one of the ruling questions of the day.

Next slide, please. And, of course, it was an incredibly high-stakes struggle, and Missouri was just really a desirable (unintelligible) in the struggle.

Next slide. Next slide. Next slide. Next slide. Next slide. Stop! Go back!

Okay, good. Good, good. A huge population, over a million people, you know, at the top of the nation in almost every grain and livestock production category. It had more railroads than any other state across the Mississippi River, more railroad mileage. Of course, the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are incredibly essential strategically and the greatest city, you know, in the west, St. Louis, Missouri, was industrial established, including the boat yard of James Eads, which would be certainly cranking out ironclads not for the south, but for the north.

So next slide, please. And—keep going. Keep going. Okay, go easy now. I think it’s just one more. Let’s see. One more. One more. Hey, we did it.

Missouri the Slave State

You know—now I wonder—and, you know, a lot of reasons—you know, Missouri was mainly a southern state. Most of its population had come from Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia. It was a slave state. It had over 100,000 slaves. But, you know, it was not like the deep south. Only one in eight people actually owned slaves and only an average of about 4.6 slaves. Of course, I want to know what .6 of a human being actually is. But—and also slaves—slaves were actually declining as a part of the overall population. And in addition to that, there was an enormous influx of foreign born folks coming in to Missouri, particularly Germans. Missouri probably had the largest German population of any state in the nation. And almost every one of these folks, to a person, was anti-slavery and pro-union.

And then a huge Midwestern influx of folks came in. So all of this sort of moderated the southern—plus the fact that these railroads-those 800 miles in Missouri railroads connected directly across to 7,000 miles of railroads mainly in the north, so all tying Missouri to the industrial north. So all of that, you know, were very good reasons to stay with the north.

Claiborne Fox Jackson & Thomas Reynolds

Next slide, please. All right. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. And while Abraham Lincoln was being elected at the national level, at the state level, Claiborne Fox Jackson and Thomas Reynolds were elected Governors. It was kind of a wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing kind of situation, though, because they were both valid southerners, valid secessionists, yet they ran as Douglas Democrats rather than as pro-southern Breckinridge Democrats. It was kind of an odd sort of thing and the legislature itself had a strong Breckinridge southern minority but still the majority of the legislature was either lukewarm or against secession.

Next slide, please. Keep going. And then opposing them—but of course Claiborne Jackson was a seasoned politician. He was part of the establishment. He was part of the central clique that had run Missouri politics practically forever, the guy that threw out Thomas Hart Benton and got him defeated.

Frank Blair & Nathaniel Lyon

And against them was Frank Blair, who really, you know—even though he was a member of the distinguished Blair Family of Silver Springs, Maryland, who had been advisors to presidents since Andrew Jackson’s days. Nonetheless, he was an outie. You know, he may be the only Republic—elected Republican in the state. He was a member of Congress. And Thomas Snead, a southerner and advisor to Blair—to Sterling Price, you know, gave him very high praise for just how efficient he was. It was who worked the smartest that was going to win this struggle for which way Missouri went.

The next slide, please. And then, you know, kind of a young captain from Kansas, you know, named Nathaniel Lyon came to help him out. And William Sherman, who was in St. Louis at the time, had this priceless description of this vehement, passionate, you know, man. And Blair and Lyon was one of the most extraordinary teams in Missouri history.
They affected the destiny of this state within a period of about three months, more than any other people in our entire history could possibly have done. It was just a remarkable group of folks.

And because they were outsiders—because they didn’t have to go through committees, votes, and all of that—they could act radically. They could act boldly. And they could act directly. And they did.

Next slide. And so Jackson couldn’t get anything from the state legislature. They weren’t going to give him an ordinance of secession. They wouldn’t even give him a military bill to create a military that he could control and use that to go toe to toe with the federals, so—

Submission Convention

Okay. We’ll have a convention. And they—but, you know, they just didn’t have their finger on the pulse of popular opinion, because the election for that convention was overwhelmingly pro-union. And so they contentiously called it the submission convention. And then they wanted the St. Louis arsenal: 35,000 rifles, munitions-making machinery, big guns, everything, all the gun powder they could dream of. If they could control it, they would control Missouri. And they could have it for the taking in January, but Jackson decided, No, we better wait and get some kind of approval through the committees and legislation and all of this. And so they lost their chance. Meanwhile, of course, Blair and Lyon knew exactly what they were up to, and they were moving to counter that.

Camp Jackson

And then this—and then they call for—Abraham Lincoln calls for—after Fort Sumner—for volunteers. And Jackson says, you know—he says that, you know, No way, Jose. Well, another, perhaps, unsmart move, because Frank Blair says, Well, hey, we’ll raise 10,000 troops for you. And they do. And they arm them with all the weapons in the arsenal. And all of a sudden, they have the biggest army in the state. So then Jackson, still wanting to take the arsenal—causes a militia encampment in St. Louis at Lindell Grove, called Camp Jackson. They don’t know that Blair and Lyon have already moved all the weapons from the arsenal across the river to Illinois, and they didn’t even know it. They actually had weapons shipped in from the south. But, you know, Jeff [Jefferson] Davis sends them some big guns to reduce the arsenal, and that’s all there.

Next slide, please. Keep going. Keep going. That’s good, right there. So in a nutshell, Blair and Lyon just decide to capture this whole arsenal area, and, you know, there are close to 900 men there. And if they go and capture them and imprison them, they will have virtually the best organized army in Missouri already out of commission, you know. And so that’s what they do at this so-called Camp Jackson Affair.

Next slide. But, you know, Claiborne Jackson needed a catalytic event. Something—you know, Fort Sumner didn’t do it. Fort Sumner caused many more states to secede, but it didn’t affect Missouri. This could have, though. This—because twenty-eight citizens were murdered in this sort of clash between local citizens and Lyon’s troops but it certainly did get Jackson finally his military bill and finally got people galvanized. But it didn’t—it didn’t do more than that. They actually, in a kind of a way, lied and pulled that one off, too.

Sterling Price

Next slide. And then in the period after that, they—Jackson and he brings in Sterling Price to be this General of the Missouri State Guard that’s been created, and decided to negotiate a treaty of kind of neutrality with General Harney, who, you know, was actually the nominal commander of Missouri but, you know, when Lyon and Blair couldn’t get him out of town. And so they do the Price-Harney Agreement that ends Harney’s career.

And next slide, please. And then, you know, here they are asking Jeff Davis, Send us big guns. Send us troops and all of that. Then Jeff Davis hears that they’ve just signed an agreement with the federal authorities in which they agreed to oppose any invading forces that come into the state, you know. Now, of course, they are just being cagey and buying time and all that, but—but Davis doesn’t like that kind of stuff. He’s a strict—he believes strictly in honor and all that. He doesn’t like that kind of—and so he is immediately down on Price and Claiborne Jackson. At the time they needed him the most.

Planter’s House

Go on. And then it all comes to a head at the Planter’s House where, again, they try to kind of blow some smoke in the face of Lyon and Blair. But the meeting goes on for four hours and then finally Lyon just says, Enough of this. And just literally gives them an hour to get out of town and says, you know, This means war.
Next slide. And then, you know—did everybody read that?

Could you go back?

Battle of Boonville

It’s kind of a weird thing, you know, in Missouri where the little tiny battles have huge consequences, while big battles sometimes don’t, you know, in the Battle of Boonville, which is about the littlest dinky battle that you’re going to have, had enormous consequences.

Go on, please. Keep going. I think there’s more. I think there’s more. That’s fine. So, you know, within days after the Planter’s House meeting, you know, on June the fifteenth, Lyon and his troops steam up the river, pull in at Jefferson City, militarily occupied the Capitol, leave off a man named Henry Borenstein to sort of be in charge of all of that. And he does a weird thing. He just walks into vacant buildings. All the debts paper strewn all over the place in the State Capitol almost like hot meals in the Governor’s mansion and stuff sort of deserted, you know. And, meanwhile, Lyon and the rest of the troops head on up to Boonville.

Next slide, please. And they fight the Battle of Boonville, which wasn’t much of a fight at all. Kind of keep going here. Because the State Guard was—hadn’t even had time to drill, hadn’t even had time to recruit members. You know, in fact, Jackson’s nephew, Marmaduke [John Sappington Marmaduke], said, Don’t fight these guys. You know, let’s retreat like the Warsaw and get across the river. Build some—you know, build some entrenchments, train our men. Maybe we can make a stand there. But Jackson insists on fighting. And it was hardly a fight, you know, because Jackson—because Lyon had cannons, he had trained troops, they all had weapons. And so literally, you know, a few shots were fired, which, you know Hugh Sprague actually has an ancestor—one of the three people who were actually killed in that battle, you know. So, the heart of the war, I guess, struck your family first.

Next slide, please. And I love this. It’s amazing how people in drag are such an incredible Civil War theme. You know Lyon—Lincoln supposedly stole into Washington dressed in women’s garb. Jefferson Davis supposedly fled after Appomattox dressed in women’s garb. So you know being in drag is a major kind of, you know—

Go on. Next slide please. And at this point—this guy has been standing here for far too long. I’m going to turn it over to my friend, John Bradbury.

Battle of Carthage

MR. JOHN BRADBURY: This is one of the—is the small battles ahead of big consequences. The Battle of Carthage actually is one of the most notable battles in Missouri to get nationwide attention. It was before Bull Run, and this was the biggest fight. As small as it was, that caught the headlines and the attention of both the people of the north and south.

Go ahead to the next, please. It begins in really—as Lyon’s operation is stalled out. Once he got to Boonville, it was like “Mother Nature” conspired against him and the rains came. His army was immobilized. He’s got Price on the run and he’s got no way to chase him. The roads have dissolved. He’s got not near enough transportation to get his army down to chase Jackson and his crowd. His only choice or his only chance at this point is that this man, Franz Sigel, the German 48er so popular with the St. Louis Germans who was involved in raising those troops of Frank Blair’s. He was colonel of one of the first Missouri regiments. He’s the man who leads into the field of what’s called the Southwest Expedition. It’s actually commanded by Captain Sweeney, Tom Sweeney. But he’s back in St. Louis arranging supplies.
And so they send Sigel out essentially following what’s now the line of Interstate 44. And what his job to do is just to head to Springfield and try to get in front of Jackson and his crowd who were coming down from Boonville and to try and block them there so that Lyon could come up there with the hammer and anvil, a classic military developing operation. Sigel doesn’t have any luck, though.

He does come to—he gets to—he puts his troops on trains and they get to Rolla. They go ahead and secure the wire road. They get down to Springfield. He probes it almost as far as Arkansas, looking for the secessionists and can’t find them anywhere. And he hears when he’s down in Neosho that Jackson’s back up to the north. So he turns around, commendably bold. He’s only got about 1,000 men here. He’s got a few cannons, but he’s got absolutely no cavalry. He’s in country that he doesn’t understand. He marches off towards Carthage and passes through and he’s headed for—he doesn’t know exactly what, because he can’t scout them. He doesn’t know where they are, how many there are, and doesn’t have any reasonable intelligence from St. Louis. He doesn’t know what’s going on with Lyon. He’s pursuing towards Carthage. He gets about nine miles past Carthage trailing his wagons behind him, and tops the—or crosses Dry Fork Creek and tops the next hill, and there’s the secession army waiting in full (unintelligible) for him. Commendably, he decides that this is not such a good idea, we’ll turn around. There’s a brief, you know, exchange of artillery. But most of Jackson’s people were on horses. And they just begin to overtake— (voices in background)

But, at any rate, he goes on through and he gets past Dry Fork and realizes that this is not such a good idea. Jackson’s mounted troops threaten to envelope him, so he turns around and heads back.

What becomes the Battle of Carthage is actually a running fight that lasts nine miles with a series of stands every time they cross a stream crossing. At one point (unintelligible) branch Sigel actually has to turn and become the attacker himself. Those mounted troops get behind him. They surround. They get between his men and his baggage train. So Sigel has to attack to save his baggage train. That’s part of that running fight. The fighting goes on all afternoon. Swirls into the streets of Carthage about dark where finally Sigel is able to disengage. But that fairly small battle is important because it gets lots of publicity and lots of notoriety in the national press. It’s important because Sigel fails. And Jackson does go down into the extreme southwest corner of Missouri. He goes into camp. His army is once and for all joined. And the secessionists, after the Boonville races, begin to get their nerve back. Things are not looking quite so grim as they were.

Let’s go to the next one. I’m not sure what the next one is here. I guess we’re coming up with Wilson’s Creek. That’d be logical.

Battle of Wilson’s Creek

By middle of July ’61—and bear in mind this is just a few weeks after that Planter’s House conference. Things were moving very quickly here now. Once Lyon has got the bit in his teeth, this campaign is set into motion. He finally joins Sigel and his men in Springfield in the middle of July. He’s got about 5,000 troops down there. The only thing he’s got coming in is negative information from St. Louis. By then, he’s got a new department commander, John C. Fremont, has taken command of Missouri. He’s decided that he’s got other things in mind. He’s looking down the Mississippi River Valley and that Lyon is out on his own.

He’s done pretty well up to now but he’s not going to get any support from St. Louis. Fremont tells him, If I were you, I would probably retreat. But Lyon is not that kind of guy.

Let’s go on to the next slide here. While Lyon is stewing in Springfield looking for a way he can strike a blow. That’s his nature. His counterparts in the extreme southwest corner of Missouri at Cowskin Prairie, Sterling Price is trying to convince his Confederate counterpart—the only true Confederate we’ve seen so far here. He’s the actual Confederate, General Ben McCulloch, who is charge of northwest Arkansas. He has Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas troops with him. That’s what Price needs to turn around and to go back and distract Lyon and open, you know, his way to re-claim Missouri, which was always Price’s strategic vision. No other. It didn’t make any difference where he was fighting, whether he was fighting Corinth, Mississippi, or if he was in Cowskin Prairie, Missouri. His only strategy was to re-take Missouri.

So right away they decide or they find that their interests are different. And Price has already ruined his chances with Jeff Davis. At this period, he ruins his chances with Ben McCullough. And Ben McCulloch is not exactly blameless in this either.

They can’t get along. They can’t agree on a strategy. Finally, they arrive at—well, Price just gives up his prerogatives. He says, You can leave my army and let’s just go do something, let’s get a blow in. They can’t even agree on what the army’s name is. It is something like the Army of the West. But that’s what sets up these two camps down there. And what Lyon is doing in Springfield, both of them eager to strike the other. It is just the question of who’s going to strike first.

Price heads towards Springfield, Lyon heads towards Price, they have a brief pleading engagement at Dug Spring and the big rain scare where they chased the Missouri Cavalry back onto their camps. Once again, it confirmed McCulloch’s opinion that these Missourians were no soldiers whatsoever. So he begins to—he should’ve known better, but he begins to ignore the fighting qualities of his soldiers.

Back in Springfield, this is the setup with General Lyon. Although he’s got a smaller army, only 5,000 troops to, say, perhaps, 15,000 of the combined southern armies of McCulloch and Price, Lyon’s got an advantage of sorts because he’s got good military officers with him. These are all West Point trained men with the exception of Franz Sigel. That’s Tom Sweeny there below him, and let’s see, that would be James S. Totten the artillery man on the far right, that’s the cadre of officers that go with Lyon to Springfield. Up until that point, if the campaign had ended then, everybody would have said it’s a wonderful campaign. It’s better than any general has done up to now, North or South. If he had quit there, he would have been a hero, a live hero. Instead, as I say, it wasn’t his nature not to strike a blow. He had to retreat. It was the only thing that he could do. He was out of supplies. He’s getting no reinforcements from Fremont. The only thing that he can do is retreat, but he’s going to get in a lick first.

And that’s what they decide to do. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s how—you know, bold generals were successful generals. What he did-his big mistake in Springfield was he listened to Franz Sigel. If he had kept his army compressed and intact as a sharp fighting force, he might have pulled it off. He might have been able to get in there, throw a good shot, and then leave. What Franz talks him in to doing is a split movement. And that’s the downfall of Lyon ultimately that leads to his death.

Sigel liked to be independent. And he had some qualities, but independent thinking or independent leadership, I should say, was not one of them. The battle starts out quite well.

Sigel makes a big loop with his battalion about 1,200 men to the south and then comes in behind the Confederates, the southern army who were encamped down at Wilson’s Creek Valley. As Lyon comes from the north with his main force of about 4,000 men, the battle opens when they begin to shell the southern camps down in the valley. And it went well at first.

The-first thing in the morning, it threw the Confederate, southern camps into disarray. They were gathered eating their breakfast when all of sudden they’re under artillery fire. What happens next then is that the fighting begins to establish itself on the northern boundary along what became known as Bloody Hill and Sigel gets taken out of the contest right away.

In those days before standardization, Sigel’s men are still wearing grey uniforms and, of course, the blue uniform becomes the Union standard. And in the brush and smoke down there from his position south of the valley, Wilson’s Creek, he allows an unidentified body of troops wearing cadet grey to come within volley shot of him. And by the time they realize that it’s actually troops sent by McColloch wearing Confederate grey, they’ve already broken up Sigel. Sigel loses all his artillery. Quite a few of his men are wounded or killed. And the rest of them are taken capture.

Sigel, himself-it’s the end of his brigade for the rest of the day. He’s just not a factor in the fight any longer. And all of the southern force, part of it which was directed towards Sigel, all turns then on Lyon and his lines on Bloody Hill. And that’s what finally turns the day after they had eliminated Sigel as a factor in the battle. They all concentrate on Lyon. There is a series of slashing attacks through the morning. One southern soldier said that any time an officer could get a group of men to hold together long enough, they would launch a charge. He said another soldier said that in general the fighting quality among the enlisted troops, the common soldiers was quite good but that the officers were no good and that they deserved better.

Wilson’s Creek, you know, is one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War. By the time it was over, of course, Lyon is killed on the battlefield leading a charge. He’s wounded twice earlier in the morning, and at about one o’clock in the afternoon, as he’s rallying Kansas troops to defend against another Confederate charge, he’s shot from his horse and killed for the-to end his career.

In the process, he becomes the first war hero of the north. At this little funeral imagery there of the funeral card is the kind of thing that his death produced in the paper out of the north. There were stationary envelopes, songs, this kind of thing to celebrate Lyon.

Of course, on the other side of the coin the southerners thought that, you know, it was long overdue for him to get what he deserved.

So that’s Wilson’s Creek. The southern forces there were literally decimated. One in ten were either killed or wounded. Much worse on the Union side, almost twenty-two percent overall killed and wounded on Lyon’s army. Two of his units, the First Kansas and the First Iowa, took almost twenty-five percent casualties. That’s tremendous even by Civil War standards. And those two units are listed in the top-the top ten or twenty Union regiments to take the worst individual losses of the entire war. This happens in Missouri long before anything happens of any note in Virginia.

So this is the first of the three, you know, classic battles in that portion of the country down there in the Ozarks: Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove. This one is the classic Missouri battle with Sterling Price, who’s come, by now even, to personify the southern struggle in Missouri. And it’s a tremendous victory for the south. The Union army winds up about mid-afternoon after Lyon is killed. They abandon their positions. They retreat first to Springfield and ultimately all the way back to Rolla. Sigel is in charge for part of the way, although there is a mutiny in effect of regular army officers who are not keen on the way Sigel acted during battle. And they are not keen on the way he is conducting the retreat. There is a mutiny in effect and they take over Sigel. It doesn’t finish his career quite yet, though. And we’ll see him again later.

Jim, you want to get the next round here? I think you’ve got-

MR. JAMES DENNY: Let’s see what’s next here.

Battle of Lexington

It’s the Battle of Lexington. Go ahead and go on to the next. Yes, stop right there.

Well, you know, the Battle of Oak Hills or Wilson’s Creek, of course, was just a tremendous shot in the arm for the southern colonies in Missouri. And one of the obvious things- but unfortunately it was only obvious to Sterling Price-was that, Hey, the whole western end of Missouri is undefended. You know, so, of course, he goes to Ben McColloch and says, Ben, let’s go invade the heart of-into the heartland of Missouri. Let’s do it together. We can win a great victory. We can reclaim the state. And, you know, Ben McColloch, Oh, yeah. I don’t think so. You know, I think your troops are terrible and I’m not going to do it. So, you know, and this is a light motif of southern strategy in Missouri unfortunately. But, you know, whatever you can say about Price, I mean he was delusional. I mean, he was always saying, When I get up somewhere 50,000 people will flock to my standards. He was saying that in 1861. He was saying it in 1864, you know. And, of course, it just never happened.

You know, he was always calling on Jeff Davis, Give me help, give me help. And Jeff Davis was always saying to him, Give you help? You haven’t given me troop one, yet, you know. And so-but anyway one-and then Price, you know, had a hard time getting along with anybody. He-you know, he could see his own strategic visions but he couldn’t see anybody else’s. And he couldn’t get with larger programs.

But one thing that you have to say about Sterling Price is, he was a fighter. You know, he wanted to go where the fight was. And so on his own, you know, he takes 6,000 men and starts marching north up towards Lexington. And by the time he gets to Lexington, everybody is coming out of the woodwork. It is almost like a Roman holiday. And eventually, you know, something like 18,000 or more people show up bringing their squirrel guns with them, you know, their lunch buckets, you know, to take pot shots at Lincoln.

And the next slide. And the objective is Lexington, Missouri, where there is a garrison of about 3,000 people, commanded by an Illinois Colonel named James Mulligan, who was also a brave guy.

Next slide.And they were holed up around the Lexington Masonic Female Seminary and they had built this huge ring of entrenchments. It was huge because they were naturally expecting Fremont to send thousands of reinforcements, you know, to help them prepare for Sterling Price. Well, you know- Next slide. And meanwhile-just keep going. Keep going. But meanwhile, you know, Price is making this leisurely trip up the western edge of Missouri. Fremont does tell his troops, Go help Mulligan, you know, but there is the man in command in Jefferson City named, of all things, Jefferson Davis. We call him the other Jeff Davis, you know, and he’s saying, Well, I need more wagons. You know, he’s got a railroad sitting right there next to him. Oh, I’ve got to have more wagons. So he doesn’t go. So they asked Polk from north Missouri. Well, okay. And he sort of sidles that way a little bit. He doesn’t show up. And then no one comes to help Mulligan. And so naturally Price gets there and just totally encircles Mulligan and then, you know, it’s not really going to be any particular-you know, it’s something like 18 to 20,000 people against Mulligan’s 3,000. The outcome is inevitable and is a siege.

But, you know, we all-you know, if we know any battle at all and the details of it, it’s Lexington, you know. We particularly know about the fact that, you know, that the southerners occupied the Anderson House which, of course, is part of the state park these days, which is being used as a hospital. And Mulligan just gets incensed about that. And this is something I never understood about the guy. He says, We got to re-take that hospital. Here he is surrounded by 20,000 people, you know, Do I have any volunteers, you know? Nope. I ain’t going to go there. But he finally does get this courageous group to actually make this suicidal charge and they do, but it is one of the famous things. They charge, they storm the Anderson House, they re-take it, hold it for a little while, you know, and then, of course, are forced back, you know. And that’s one of the famous incidents of the battle, you know.

But, meanwhile, they’re running out of-that painting there in the upper corner there I love because it was actually one of the rare instances in which an artist actually sets his easel up while battle is going on and paints a painting. It’s a weird Hungarian artist named Domenico who did that. But it’s just an extraordinary thing.

Next slide, please. And then, of course, we all know what the second and most important thing was. Back in those days, you know, em because they did put up an incredibly brave defense. hemp was used for a different purpose than it is used for today, I think. But, of course, the devising of the smoothing, breast work of soaked-water soaked hemp bales, you know, was what eventually forced the surrender of Mulligan’s garrison. And then, you know, they are paraded out in front of Claiborne Jackson and he gives them a good dressing down, although Sterling Price actually compliments them because they did put up an incredibly brave defense.

And thus-you know, here again, you know, another great victory for the south, you know. Far more people involved. Far more casualties on a vastly larger scale like Wilson’s Creek. And Wilson’s Creek was the bloodiest battle in American History at the time that it was fought.

But, you know, the only trouble at both battles is they produced no meaningful, long-term results, because eventually John C. Fremont does get his act together and launches this gigantic army of 38,000 people. And, of course, Price actually has to skedaddle back south where he came from. And he can’t even really take all these 20,000 people with him because he can’t feed them.

So, you know, he really pretty much goes back south with pretty much what he had. It all happened so slowly that Price was actually able to linger for two weeks after the battle, you know, before he has to retreat.

The next slide, please. Just-did you all read that? Did you have time? Can we just go back?

A Family Affair

I’m not going to go into this very much. It’s just, you know, if anything makes Missouri’s Civil War different from the rest of the nation, it was just because it was such a family affair. Literally, I mean, there was no front in this war. Every neighborhood was divided against folks who favored the south and folks who favored the north. And once it came to war and once it came to violence, you know, those differences became deadly differences. I mean, they could not only divide neighborhoods, they could divide families. It could literally run right down the middle of the dinner table, you know, and that happened, so-

And this is the war that tears Missouri apart over four years. And it sort of gets going and we write about it in our book. You know, one of the first good examples is when John Polk goes up to protect the Hannibal of St. Joseph Railroad in northeast Missouri. And he’s an Illinois guy. He encounters this population and he can’t tell the difference between who’s loyal and who isn’t. And so he makes a mistake of just treating everybody as if they’re not loyal. And he then starts-then he starts levying fines on the population every time, you know, a bridge is burned. He starts-they occupied people’s houses and stores. And what he really does is just start losing hearts and minds massively.

Battle of Athens

And then the Battle of Athens is literally a battle that controls northeast Missouri. Athens is a tiny little town right on the Arkansas or the Missouri/Arkansas-Missouri/Iowa border on the Des Moines River. And these two kind of local leaders, Davey Moore and Martin Green, who’s the son of Senator James Green, literally square off against each other, you know. And, I mean, they hardly have anything, you know. But Davey Moore does manage actually to intercept a shipment of rifles heading for Iowa, he confiscates them all and arms his men, so he is better armed. Martin Green’s people, you know, he’s got a lot of them but they don’t have any weapons to speak of. They’ve actually made a cannon out of a log. You know, which actually manages, the first time it’s fired, to injure them, you know.

So anyway they-and interestingly enough, you know, Davey’s family, all of his sons-his wife is southern and all of his sons go, you know, to the southern because they all go off and join Martin Green. And this battle starts and it gets furious and finally more (unintelligible) charge and supposedly one of the sons says, Oh, my god. The old man’s mad now. I’m going home. But anyway, you know, it’s part of this whole thing that’s just got to come-this neighbors war that’s just going to become so profound in the years to come.

And the next slide, please. And that’s the Hannibal St. Joseph Railroad. The very first railroad built in Missouri connects across from Quincy to all the northern-very important, absolutely essential to defend.

Next slide, please. And that, of course, is John Polk in his bearded phase of his career.

Next slide, please. And that’s Martin Green and Davey Moore.

Next slide, please. And, by golly, I don’t even recognize this, which must mean it’s John’s turn again.

Price vs. McCulloch

MR. JOHN BRADBURY: Well, we talked a little bit about Price versus McColloch and how from the very start they get off on the wrong foot. They can never deal with one another again in an even-handed fashion. And their disability to get along is probably one of the worst things that could happen to the southern cause early on in this stage of the game because they sure needed one another’s help.

McColloch didn’t need it quite so much as Price, of course. But it’s a theme that runs throughout these first six months to a year of war, is that the state people and Missouri is still a sovereign state at this point. Its army is its own army. It’s not a Confederate army, yet. The Confederate army in the south and Arkansas and Tennessee, which will come into play here, have their own interests, which don’t necessarily coincide with Missouri’s interest.

Like we said, Price’s only strategic impulse was to re-take Missouri. Re-take the heartland and then turn on St. Louis. That’s not what McColloch is thinking. He’s bound by law, of course, he’s dealing with someone who’s not even a Confederate ally. He’s out of his territory if he goes in to Missouri. That’s a sovereign state. He would be invading that state. He’s in a-he has all kinds of problems with dealing with Price.

Jeff Thompson

The same thing goes on with-in the southeast with Jeff Thompson, who’s down there. And Jeff is a really interesting character, one of the most interesting guys in the southern side during the war. He starts off-you know, he was the mayor of-pre-war mayor of St. Joseph. He starts off by—right at the beginning of the war by telling Governor Jackson, who stopped by to converse with, that he was a coward and a fool.

Well, the next thing you know, he’s on his way to Memphis. He’s burned up his welcome in Missouri, and he’s on his way to Memphis and ultimately to Richmond where he’s going to try to get a Confederate commission. He washes up in Memphis broke and he turns back, and by a very odd chain of affairs, he winds up in Doniphan, Missouri, and gets elected Lieutenant Colonel of the first division of the Missouri State Guard. And the Governor, who he’s claimed is a fool and a coward, has to commission him. Not only that, but then he becomes the commanding officer of the first division of the Missouri State Guard and the Governor has to commission him.

At any rate, Thompson-he’s the only man down in southeast Missouri who’s willing to do anything. Well, he’s got the same sort of general vision as Price does. He’s looking at St. Louis and thinking, Well, if all of these Yankees are out there in the western part of the state, there mustn’t be very many people left in St. Louis, so if we can all cooperate here-and in that part of Arkansas, he’s dealing with General William Hardee, who was an old regular army officer. He wrote the book on tactics, so you know he’s a stickler for details.

Bishop Leonidas Polk and Gideon Pillow

His counterpart there in Tennessee is that-one is the Bishop Leonidas Polk, who’s an Episcopal Bishop before he donned his military garb. And the other is Gideon Pillow, who is a Tennessee politician, and he’s the man that-you know, Grant said that, I saw him operate in the Mexican War and I was quite certain that I could march up to any position, and Pillow had not been in any danger whatsoever. But that’s what-those are the Confederate counterparts that Jeff Thompson is trying to get to go do something.

He’s saying, Look, Hardee, if you’ll move up out of Arkansas and, Pillow, if you’ll move up here from New Madrid and, Polk, if you’ll take your Tennessee troops and if you’ll come up that river corridor, by golly, we can just do something about St. Louis.

And if you’ll look here, it makes sense. Price is down in the southwest trying to get McColloch to come and join him to make that dash to the heartland. Thompson is saying, Look, we’ve got the perfect opportunity. We can go up and get St. Louis. It’s wide open. Now, Thompson had been fairly active through the summer but he had just been doing little pinprick kind of things, you know, he’d raided at Commerce, he raided at Charleston. They were irritants, but it wasn’t a major deal for Thompson. But if he could hook up with this serious Confederate support, he might have a chance. It might be a serious operation there. He has no better luck than Price. Everyone has a reason why they can’t do anything, except Thompson, who’s riding fearlessly to New Madrid to talk to Pillow, to Columbus to talk to Polk, and back into, you know his-toward Ironton, where his own troops are to try to get somebody to do something and nothing happens.

Thompson was a blowhard. But at this stage of the game, he’s the only man that’s burning up saddle leather and horse flesh trying to arrange something that will work. He doesn’t have much luck. These-you know, they say the worst thing that you can have is allies and the next worst thing you can have is no allies. Well, they were in this situation in Missouri here. They had to have southern support. This was really the only realistic chance they had and it had to be done quickly. That’s what Price was-he understood that. That’s what Thompson understood.

Already by this stage of the game, Confederate authorities had written off Missouri. It may come around later, but right now we’ve written off Missouri. We’re happy for you, Jeff Thompson, to do all our scouting for us. You just ride up back and forth there and you tell us what’s going on. But we’re not going to venture much past the Arkansas border. And that’s what happens there.

War Between the Generals

And really the only opportunity probably that the south had in this stage of the game is squandering. And that cooperation between the generals which never happened is probably what signs the death warrant really for the southern cause in Missouri this early.

This is before Pea Ridge. This is before all of the climactic battles as you get later in ’62. It’s this war between the generals that finishes the cause.

What’s next? Here’s these critters-I’ve already talked over this slide, here. That’s Jeff Thompson, of course, up in the top. That’s General Polk to his right, Gideon Pillow, below, and that’s William Hardee, the careful tactician, who did finally march up to Greenville, Missouri, but then got nervous. He said, As long as the Mississippi River is not left under—is not our control, I’m too afraid to go any further. And he didn’t. He turned around and marched his men back into Arkansas.

Go ahead to the next one, please. And this is the general-the area of operations that Thompson and Polk and Pillow were working with. Polk made an incredible blunder early on while both sides were paying attention to Kentucky’s neutrality. What Polk finally decided to do was to violate that neutrality so he could take the position of Columbus on the iron bluffs, which was the best point to blockade the Mississippi River at that point, the first point that you could block the Mississippi below Missouri. Once he did that, he told Grant, Well, if you’re going to violate Kentucky neutrality, so will I. So what he did is grab Paducah, and what he got was the mouth of the Tennessee River, which Polk should have thought about and trumped-tried to trump Grant’s next move, but he did not.

So things were shaping up in Columbus, and right across from it is the Missouri town of Belmont. Columbus-Belmont is the blockade across the river at this point and everything is beginning to look in this direction now, because that’s the critical gain. As long as we’ve got Price where he’s not really too much danger, we can begin to look at the Mississippi Valley, which is the critical military objective. And this is what the Union generals are beginning to look at towards the end of 1861.

Let’s go to the next one here. What have we got here? Well, we’re back in southeast Missouri again, and we’re still dealing with Jeff Thompson. I mentioned that he had raided briefly in the summer of ’61 along the Mississippi River. He even shelled a couple of gun boats there with some of his artillery. They were irritating but not particularly dangerous. When he did finally get the Union’s attention is when he slipped up with his Cavalry and he burnt the Big River bridge on the Iron Mountain Railroad south of St. Louis. Only forty miles south of St. Louis; a little too close for comfort. They decided they were going to deal with this upstart down in southeast Missouri once and for all.

Battle of Fredericktown

They dispatched troops in two columns, actually. I love those enveloping movements, one from Cape Girardeau and one from Ironton, to go down and catch Jeff Thompson who had gone to Fredericktown in Madison County where he was gathering lead from the local lead mines down there. They figured we can catch him there and put paid to his game. That sets up the battle of Fredericktown, Missouri, whereas Jeff knows, as he said in his memoirs, that he was in a damn tight spot. He turns around and starts to head out of Fredericktown to try and get ahead of this-the two columns that were approaching. He says he yielded to his troops who were spoiling for a fight and they turn around and go back to face what is a superior number. I mean, two columns with artillery-they set-up an ambush just outside of Fredericktown and waited for the enemy to march down the road where they ambushed them. It was all going according to plan. They knew they were going to have to retreat, but in the-and the plan was to get off the first shot and then retreat sensibly but Aden Lowe, the colonel of Thompson Infantry, lingered a little bit too long and was shot dead there as the Union forces approached him. The most significant casualty of the battle, and after the battle-it depends on who you believe. Either that the Union forces pursued these broken Confederate-or southern forces for miles, or they retreated in good order and lived to fight another day, depending on who you believe.

Ulysses S. Grant

Let’s go to the next one, please. It’s not until this man up here in the upper right-that’s Ulysses S. Grant, of course, an early war photograph. It’s not until he takes over—he’s running the-he’s got the district that includes from Cairo, Illinois, over on the east side of the river all the way over to Ironton, Missouri, commanding southeastern Missouri. He doesn’t have any more desire to chase Jeff Thompson than anybody else does, so what he’s got his eye on is that Mississippi River corridor and that Confederate Fortress at Belmont, the Gibraltar of the Mississippi at Belmont.
He takes 3,000 of his troops and loads them onto steamboats and he claims that he didn’t really set out with anything particular in mind. Most historians believe that once he got his troops on the boat, he was going to hit somebody. It was just a question of whom. Well, as Belmont was too-or Columbus was too strong, that left Belmont on the other side of the ferry on the other side of the river. As a plum that he might pick off if he gets down there quickly. What he does is he drops down the Mississippi River, gets behind the point there at Belmont. They can’t quite see him from Columbus. He marches into that small camp of Tennessee Confederates there, Camp Johnston, named after Albert Sidney Johnston, the new Confederate theater commander in the west, attacks that, does quite well. In fact, he didn’t have to do well, ‘cause, once again, he had Gideon Pillow opposing him. And Gideon Pillow—all he had to do was linger in the woods. And Pillow gets his men together and they have a bayonet charge over open ground. Well, Grant’s men are still in the forest. You can imagine what that scenario amounted to. They just blew them away. So immediately they capture Camp Johnston and are doing quite well.

Unfortunately, then it’s still early in Grant’s career. He doesn’t know quite how to handle a big army either. His army gets to celebrating and they get to ransacking the tents at Camp Johnston. All of the company grade and staff grade field officers were riding back and forth delivering election speeches for the next election. They were looking for that rather than consolidating this victory.

Meanwhile, from Columbus, they can see this now that Grant is down in the camp. They can see what’s happened. Two things have happened—it’s opened up. They don’t have to worry about shooting their own men anymore because he’s dispersed them. So they begin to lob cannon shells from Columbus down into the Belmont camp and that broken up bunch that they chased out of the camp hits the river and begins to work its way back up the river toward Grant’s boats. And Grant looked around about the same time over towards Columbus and he said, I can see four steamers over there they had tied up on the bank. He said, They were coming this way. And he said, They were just black-well, they were grey actually with troops coming over to the Belmont side. Suddenly it’s time for Grant to hightail it. So he said, Jim, you’ve asked me about this one time before. Is there a call for a fighting retreat, a bugle call? I don’t know if there is or not, but that’s what he did. He fought a fighting retreat back to his boats and just about made it.

And once again it’s early in Grant’s career. He’s not as good at arranging details as he gets later. He gets up there and he’s getting ready to set the rearguard. He gets up to the boats and the rearguard is gone.

So it’s a tight spot for Grant after they have a victory in hand here at Belmont, and he just barely gets back on to the boat himself. In fact, he’s the last one on. He goes up to survey the field for one last minute and he said, Thank goodness the horse seemed to know what to do, and they came back down the bank. The horse walked across the gang plank and then the navy sprayed the southerners coming on with a grave shot.

Grant took a lot of criticism for this battle, because it wasn’t a very well won battle. It was a messy little affair, quite a few casualties. He left his dead and wounded on the field. But it rebounded, oddly enough, to his favor because it was the first time President Lincoln had seen a fighting Union general in Missouri since Lyon was killed.

And he says, This is our boy. And he never forgot him. So an otherwise unimpressive battle leads to big success, because Grant surfaces out of the crowd and, of course, we know we’ll see Grant later in the Civil War.

Go ahead, next. I think, Jim, you’re going to take John Charles.

MR. JAMES DENNY: Yes. One of the most interesting things that happens in Missouri is—but, you know, the conservatives in Missouri start kind of chaffing against Blair and Lyon and all of their sort of Teutonic minions there, these St. Louis Germans. They want to kind of get things back to an even keel. They think that Blair and Lyon are these hotheads and so they start lobbying Lincoln. And they’ve got their man, Edward Bates of St. Louis, in there as Lincoln’s Attorney General. And Edward Bates happens to be the brother-in-law of the person who’s been elected Provisional Governor of Missouri, Hamilton Gamble. So they start lobbying. We need to get to somebody in here, you know, of more—you know, somebody more controllable than these maniacs Blair and Lyon.

The Fremont Fiasco

And so, you know, they—and actually, you know, they choke-they choose a protege of the Blair family, the perfect choice. Perfect. John Charles Fremont, you know, the son-in-law of Senator Thomas Hart Benton, you know, and they get him in there and they-he’s immediately made a major general even though he’s never commanded, you know, hardly any troops in his life. You know, all of a sudden he’s a fourth ranked general in the entire army, and they send him out to Missouri to take charge of affairs. And in a period of one hundred days, he manages to create one of the most extraordinary chains of disasters in the entire Civil War.

Next slide. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. I think that’s-one more. That’s perfect. Okay. You know, and, first of all, the first thing he does is he rents this palatial mansion in St. Louis and then he hires all these Hungarian born—these foreign-born people to form this bodyguard around him who can’t even speak the English language but won’t let anybody in to see Blair-or to see Fremont.

In very short order, he has alienated Governor Gamble and even Frank Blair. You know, they actually have common cause that they are both really getting disenchantment with Fremont.

And then, you know, he kind of does the right things, but he does them at the wrong time, you know. It’s reasonable to think that the Mississippi River is more important to protect than southwest Missouri. But unfortunately, you know, he leaves General Lyon turning in the wind down there and General Lyon gets killed.

And that just infuriates Blair and he is using-pulling every political string he has to vituperate Fremont over that fact, you know, that Missouri’s best general gets killed because Fremont is looking at a different direction.

And then he leaves Mulligan turning in the wind, and does nothing there. And so by then, you know, everybody is starting to get—wonder about John Charles Fremont, you know, what this guy is about. Along the way he decides to declare Martial Law in Missouri. And one of the things he does is issue an emancipation proclamation. Everyone, you know, who is disloyal, their slaves are forfeited, you know, and all that, you know. And it makes him the darling of the erratical German crowd in St. Louis and throughout the United States. He becomes a hero to them.

Abraham Lincoln, meanwhile, is beating his head against the wall. Kentucky is hanging by a thread, you know, Missouri is tenuous, you know. And abolishing slavery will drive these states to the south, you know. And so, he says-he asks Fremont nicely to rescind the order, and Fremont refuses.

And what’s worse, he sends his wife, Jessie, out to speak with Abraham Lincoln, and she gets Lincoln so mad with her attitude that, you know, it leads not only to a total break with him, but even with the Blair family. Well, they’re done with the Fremonts at this point, you know. So-and Lincoln has to personally rescind the order, you know. Of course, you know, it’s a year later when the timing is right, you know, and, of course, he dreams up the emancipation proclamation himself. But timing is everything, and Fremont just didn’t have it, you know.

And then—well, he finally—well, I’m going to get going after Price and he puts together the largest army ever fielded in Missouri, over 38,000 people, extraordinary, huge, gigantic army. But, you know, they have to get all their supplies together and all of that and, you know—he actually has men slogging along what is today Highway 50, even though there is a railroad right next to them, you know. And Price has no problem at all staying one hundred miles away from Fremont. He’s moving so slowly and so ponderously. And Lincoln sends out Simon Cameron and Montgomery Megs, you know, to investigate, and there is also-there’s corruption going on in Fremont’s department. He has this sort of sticky-fingered character named Justus McKinstry, who’s putting the touch on everybody he can and raking in money. And they are spending millions of dollars, you know, that are unaccounted for.

Charles Zagonyi

And so he makes this long, ponderous progress. It is a slow movement and finally he gets down to Springfield, but by that time, you know, Lincoln has had enough. He’s seen that this guy is never going to fight anybody. His army is never going to fight anybody, so he finally gets down there. But right before Fremont gets the boot, he has this Hungarian guy in charge of his bodyguards, Charles Zagonyi and there is kind of an encampment of Confederates there in Springfield and so Zagonyi-you know, it’s the actual anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade, you know. Wow. You know, I’m going to do the same thing and he actually does. He actually moves his troop across this open field where they just get mowed down by the Confederates. They have to break down the split-rail fence in order for them to charge, you know. And he says, you know- for the Union and Fremont, you know. You know, it may be great for the bodyguard but for the regular Missouri troops with them, I’m supposed to die for Fremont? What is wrong with this picture? But, anyway, they launched this heroic charge that almost generates as many casualties as the Charge of the Light Brigade did, you know. But they did sort of scatter the Confederates and this actually—that charge-actually, there are at least four images of it in national newspapers, so it garnered an awful lot of national attention.

But it doesn’t really matter much, because two or three days later, this huge army rolls into Springfield and it was really just another one of these fruitless kind of things. And since the bodyguards hadn’t even been mustered in properly, they’re not even paid for what they are doing. They are not even issued rations when they get back to St. Louis. They’re not even considered part of the army. You know, kind of an odd thing.

But-so, you know-and, meanwhile Price is often-he’s down in Neosho, Missouri, at this time, you know, a good fifty miles away, and then they send General Hunter to replace Fremont temporarily. And, you know, what do they do? They march right back out of Springfield again, back north, without ever fighting a battle. All the Union-loving citizens in the area pour back into Springfield. All of a sudden now they are just all left to the mercy of the Confederates who just pour back in on them, you know. It’s just one of the-a disgraceful episode.

Ordinance of Secession

Next slide, please. But, meantime, you know, Price is saying and Jackson are saying, Send us troops, you know. And Jefferson Davis is saying, When are you guys ever going to get around to joining a Confederacy? Well, finally, you know, in late October, early November, they do. They meet down first at Neosho and then Cassville, Missouri, and they fight-they call whatever members of the house and state legislature they could get together. There’s no roll call. It’s pretty obvious that there wasn’t a quorum, but, I mean, you know, that’s irrelevant because you solely exist by whether or not the Government you’re appealing to recognizes you. And, of course, the Confederacy did.

And so, you know, they pass an ordinance of secession, and they even print their own money. And that bill there was worth as much as a three dollar bill, you know. So, anyway, they finally seceded from the Union.

The Managerial War

Next slide, please. Could you go back? What did that say? Let’s go back one. The Managerial War, yes. Well, you know, enough of the inefficiency of Fremont. Now you can go forward again.

So, anyway, before-the first part of this is that when Fremont’s army pulls back toward-and starts to retreat, then of course, Sterling Price starts his usual plea. Hey, look, you know, it’s like you said. St. Louis is totally undefended, you know, so he’s writing Albert Sidney Johnston, who’s taken over by then saying, Hey, look, you guys go up the east side, we’ll go up the west side, we’ll meet together and we’ll take over the state again, you know. Sidney Johnston says, That’s very interesting, you know. I’ll get back to you on that.

In other words, nada, you know. He appeals to McCulloch, Let’s do it. Let’s go back up north. Well, guys it’s getting cold. I don’t know. And so nothing happens there. And he even tries to go over the heads of all of these people to Jefferson Davis. And Jefferson Davis, Well, you know, here you are-you’ve been asking for all this help from us. How many troops have you sent to the Confederate army? You know, zippo, you know. And, of course, he’s promising 50,000 people, you know. So, of course, what does Pat do-well, you know that’s no problem.

Next slide. He again just moves north on his own with whatever troops he has, you know, and he gets up to Osceola-up to the Sac River, the junction of the Sac and the Osage River near Osceola, which by then had been burned to the ground by Jim Lange. That’s another interesting story in the book.

Meanwhile, the Union army had withdrawn to their railheads at Rolla and Sedalia. And so Price sets up a recruiting camp. And, actually, this is where the first recruitments of Confederate troops take place, you know. Unfortunately, it’s not 50,000 people. It’s really just not even 1,000 people. At this point, a step forward.

And, meanwhile-and go to the next slide. And, meanwhile, a new man has come on, a man so brilliant they called him “Ole Brains,” Henry W. Halleck. And he was a brilliant manager-a brilliant micro-manager, but, of course, as is subsequently proved, he’s not a fighter either. But he does have some fighters under him, like, John Pope. I mean, we all think of John Pope as a guy that really got himself creamed there at Second Manassas by Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. But this is the salad days for Pope. This is Pope at his best. He is out there-they are determined, you know, we’re not going to let Price humiliate us again. And they don’t. They are constantly going after Price at a place called Milford in Johnson County. They capture 1,000 recruits including the brother of the Kentucky Governor.

And they harass-and they-General Prentiss(??) is north of the river-they are clearing Missouri out of-rebels out and being very effective. And the other Jeff Davis finally starts kind of getting on the stick and is the guy that wins the battle of Milford for them, and so this combination forces Sterling Price to retreat back south again to Springfield.

Next slide, please. And this is kind of where they spend the winter. And it’s actually about the nicest time that Missouri state guardsmen about to become Confederates are going to know probably for the rest of the war. You know, they go on to become the first and second Confederate Brigades and get almost entirely wiped out. They have to-they go through Vicksburg, they go through Atlanta. They’re in the blood bath at Franklin. And by the time it’s all done, there is almost none of them left, you know, but these are the salad days for them, these last days down in Springfield.

But it’s quite another story, though, for the civilians in Missouri, and I’ll let John take us out on that note.

The End of 1861

MR. JOHN BRADBURY: So at the end of 1861, it’s been a whirlwind six months. I mean, the troops didn’t even take the field until the middle of June. By the end of August, they fought at Wilson’s Creek, and then on the heels of that, they were at Lexington. They’re pushed out of that finally by Fremont’s grand army. At the end of the year, both sides really have got reasons to be optimistic. Even though they’ve lost General Lyon, the first Union hero, his gains have been consolidated by Fremont. Fremont did have sense enough to do that. He reinforced all the railroads. He reinforced all the river points. The basic infrastructure of the state that Lyon grabbed in the first few weeks of the conflict, the Union forces would hold for the rest of the war.

So they had reason to be optimistic. They held essentially three-quarters of the state while Price’s men were holed up down in Springfield in the very southwestern corner of the state. They had reason to be optimistic too, though, they fought well. They certainly acquitted themselves well at Wilson’s Creek and at Lexington as a Missouri army essentially fighting on their own hook without much help from their erstwhile Confederate allies.

But even the most optimistic southern soldiers sitting in Springfield must have known that, Well, things didn’t work out very well with our Confederate allies. You know, Price and McCulloch can’t get along. Price and Davis have already poisoned the well. We’re a long way from home sitting here in Springfield in front of our fires and away from our families and friends. But we haven’t been beat, yet. We’ve done real well and there is always a chance yet, we’ll get to do what Price wants to do, get up into the homeland and retake that and finally take St. Louis. That’s yet to be played out essentially. It will play out in 1862.

The Ultimate Losers

The ebb and flow has gone back and forth in Missouri along that western corridor. So it remains to be seen who’s going to win out on that. But it has already been determined who is going to lose. And it’s these people of Missouri who are the ultimate losers in all of this.

Already no matter which army is in the territory holding the territory, they’ve already violated state sovereignty. They’ve paid no attention to the Missouri state boundary with Arkansas. They’ve violated that with impunity. They’ve begun to arrest people for their opinions and run them out of town because they couldn’t live in peace with whatever the ruling class was.

This is what’s coming up after Springfield was abandoned the first time by General Lyon, thousands of refugees made the trip from Springfield and southwest Missouri back to Rolla to St. Louis to the refugee camps. They are not really refugee camps, but we think of them with these folks who are refugees. And by the end of 1861, there are thousands of them already. The northerners are going, as I say, to Rolla, to Sedalia, wherever they can find a safe Union post. Some of them wind up being taken care of by the Sanitary Commission folks in St. Louis.

On the other side of the coin, southerners are headed south. They are going to Arkansas or going to Texas. First-their slaves went first. They got the valuable property out of harms way and then they’re going to follow them later. So already by the end of 1861, these folks are just along for the ride.

Remember these-a lot of these folks are the folks that want neutrality in 1861. Well, neutrality is out the window. It’s just a question now of who’s going to abuse you first bad enough to make you take the other side. That’s been determined and that’s what sets up 1862, the guerilla war that crops out in 1862 and becomes then the theme for the rest of the war that makes everything so miserable.

So by the end of 1861, we don’t know whether the north or the south is going to win, but we know who has lost and it’s the Missouri citizen.


MR. JAMES DENNY: Well, folks, that’s really about all our talk here. We’ll hang around. If anybody’s got questions or if you want to buy a book or something, we’re here.

Thanks so much for turning out and hearing us tonight. It has been a great evening for us.