General William Tecumseh Sherman is one of the best known Union generals of the Civil War. His famous “March to the Sea” was the death knell for the Confederate States. His services prior to the war were as the superintendent of the Alexandria Military Academy in Louisiana. With the pending secession of Louisiana, Sherman submitted his request to be relieved of command of the academy on the grounds that if “Louisiana withdraw from the Federal Union, I prefer to maintain my allegiance to the Constitution as long as a fragment of it survives; and my longer stay here would be wrong in every sense of the word.”

He then moved his family to Lancaster Ohio and had an occasion to the meet President Abraham Lincoln with his politician brother John Sherman. He came away adamant on staying out of the hostilities that were coming, instead preferring to dedicate himself strictly to his family. He relates in his memoirs that,

I was sadly disappointed, and remember that I broke out on John, damning the politicians generally, saying, “You have got things in a hell of a fig, and you may get them out as you best can,” adding that the country was sleeping on a volcano that might burst forth at any minute, but that I was going to St. Louis to take care of my family, and would have no more to do with it. John begged me to be more patient, but I said I would not; that I had no time to wait, that I was off for St. Louis; and off I went.

Sherman resided in St. Louis on Locust Street between Tenth and Eleventh streets at the time South Carolina seceded in 1861 and was employed by the St Louis Railroad Company. After the bombardment of Ft Sumter, he was offered the position of chief clerkship of the War Department, which he declined, stating that,

Hon. M. Blair, Washington, D. C. I received, about nine o’clock Saturday night, your telegraph dispatch, which I have this moment answered, “I cannot accept.”

I have quite a large family, and when I resigned my place in Louisiana, on account of secession, I had no time to lose; and, therefore, after my hasty visit to Washington, where I saw no chance of employment, I came to St. Louis, have accepted a place in this company, have rented a house, and incurred other obligations, so that I am not at liberty to change.

I thank you for the compliment contained in your offer, and assure you that I wish the Administration all success in its almost impossible task of governing this distracted and anarchical people.

Yours truly, W.T. SHERMAN

The letter, Sherman tells, was told that it gave offense and that the President’s cabinet felt Sherman would “prove false to the country.” Even his friends were a bit skeptical of Sherman’s political position, so Sherman addressed a letter to the War Department, showing his allegiance to the Union, but only to a certain extent:

Office of the St. Louis Railroad Company, May 8,1861.

Hon. S. Cameron, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir: I hold myself now, as always, prepared to serve my country in the capacity for which I was trained. I did not and will not volunteer for three months, because I cannot throw my family on the cold charity of the world. But for the three-years call, made by the President, an officer can prepare his command and do good service.

I will not volunteer as a soldier, because rightfully or wrongfully I feel unwilling to take a mere private’s place, and, having for many years lived in California and Louisiana, the men are not well enough acquainted with me to elect me to my appropriate place.

Should my services be needed, the records of the War Department will enable you to designate the station in which I can render most service.

Yours truly, W. T. SHERMAN.

However, he was present and witnessed the events at Camp Jackson and the discontent the people held for the Union, hurrahing Jeff Davis, and eventually shots being fired. He realized that he could no longer hold back his desire to avoid getting involved. He received a dispatch from Washington telling him he had been appointed Colonel of the Thirteenth Regular Infantry. He had originally believed he would come back to St. Louis to raise his own regiment at Jefferson Barracks, however, he notes in his memoirs that “the Government was trying to rise to a level with the occasion. Mr. Lincoln had, without the sanction of law, authorized the raising of ten new regiments of regulars, each infantry regiment to be composed of three battalions of eight companies each; and had called for seventy-five thousand State volunteers.”

His stay in St. Louis of two months ended. He stated that

…satisfied that I would not be permitted to return to St. Louis, I instructed Mrs. Sherman to pack up, return to Lancaster, and trust to the fate of war. I also resigned my place as president of the Fifth Street Railroad, to take effect at the end of May, so that in fact I received pay from that road for only two months’ service, and then began my new army career.

When the war ended Sherman remained in the military, rising to General in Chief of the Army from 1869 to 1883. During that time, he moved his headquarters back to St. Louis. When he retired from the Army he moved to New York City and died on February 14, 1891 at the age of 71. At his request, Sherman was transported back to St Louis and buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Brigadier General Egbert Benson Brown, military leader in Missouri during the Civil war, was born in Brownville, New York, October 24, 1816. He later moved with his family to Tecumseh, Michigan. In his youth Brown went to Toledo, Ohio, where he was elected mayor when he was 33 years old. Later he went to the West coast, entered service on a whaling ship, and spent 4 years on the Pacific Ocean.

By the beginning of the Civil war, Brown had become superintendent of a railroad and was living in St. Louis. A Unionist, he raised a regiment of infantry in St. Louis. November 29, 1862, Brown was made a brigadier general of the Missouri volunteers, having earlier received command of the southwest division with headquarters at Springfield. Brown had the responsibility of defending Springfield and the southwestern border of the State. Two of the most threatening raids that he repulsed were those of General John S. Marmaduke, General Joseph O. Shelby and others against Springfield, January 8, 1863, and of Shelby at Marshall and Sedalia during October 10-26, 1863.

The combined Union forces in Springfield numbered between 800 and 2000 in January, the latter number including reinforcements that came during the battle. The Confederates had about 5000 men. In spite of his smaller force Brown successfully defended Springfield, losing only one of the 4 forts built in a square for the town’s defense. By night Marmaduke had had enough.

When Brown began his campaign against Shelby later that year, his forces were scattered over a territory 120 miles square. In 7 days he concentrated a force of around 1820 men, marched more than 300 miles, killed and wounded about 400 of the enemy, captured nearly 100 prisoners and a wagon train of small arms and ammunition. He carried on an almost continuous fight through 100 miles of thickly wooded country.

At the October 23, 1864 Battle of Westport, Missouri, while commanding a brigade of cavalry, he ran afoul with division commander Major General Alfred Pleasonton, who had him arrested and relieved of his duties for allegedly failing to obey General Pleasonton’s attack order. he sat without a command until January 1865, when he was appointed commander of the District of Rolla. He served through the end of the war, and left the Army with one shoulder totally disabled and a bullet in his hip in November 1865.

Brown’s life after the war

After the close of the war Brown was appointed pension agent in St. Louis, and in 1869 he retired and moved to a farm near Hastings, Illinois. From 1881 to 1884 he served on the Illinois State board of equalization.

Brown outlived his wife and children and died February 11, 1902 at the age of 87 at his granddaughters home in West Plains, Missouri and is buried next to his wife Mary in Kinder Cemetery in Cuba, Missouri.

Sunshine pierced low, billowing clouds as people jammed the rain-washed 12th Street Bridge and Union Depot platforms. A special train eased onto Track 1 at 8:48 a.m. with an officer’s sabre slung from the locomotive headlamp.

A volley by the St. Louis Light Artillery shattered the respectful silence.

Thus began the funeral procession of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, Civil War hero and occasional St. Louisan. For four hours on Feb. 21, 1891, a procession of 12,000 soldiers, veterans and notables marched past mourners on a winding, seven-mile path from downtown to Calvary Cemetery.

Young Capt. Sherman and his bride, Ellen, first moved here in 1850, living near Chouteau Avenue and 12th Street (now Tucker Boulevard). They returned briefly in 1861 when he took a job with a streetcar company. Two weeks later, Fort Sumter was bombarded.

Back in blue Union uniform, he soon became Gen. U.S. Grant’s most trusted fellow warrior. Sherman’s capture of Atlanta in 1864 was tonic to the weary North and helped save Abraham Lincoln’s re-election. His march through Georgia proved there was no safe place in Dixie.

William and Ellen Sherman returned to St. Louis at war’s end. Grateful businessmen raised $30,000 to buy and furnish a spacious two-story home for them at 912 North Garrison Avenue, west of downtown. They lived there on and off for 11 of their remaining years.

From the Garrison address flowed a famous telegram. In 1884, Republicans pressed the former general to be their presidential nominee. He wired back: “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

The Sherman’s later moved to New York but kept their home on Garrison. Ellen Sherman, a devout Catholic, died in 1888 and was returned for burial in Calvary Cemetery.

He died three years later at 71 in New York on Feb. 14, 1891. The Pennsylvania Railroad provided its executive train to return the general to his wife’s side.

At Union Depot, just east of today’s Amtrak station, the casket was placed on an artillery caisson pulled by four black horses. Cavalry escorted it north on 12th, followed by once-wiry veterans of Sherman’s own Army of the Tennessee. Other units, including Confederate veterans, joined the solemn clattering over cobblestones.

At Calvary, one of the his children, the Jesuit Rev. Thomas Sherman, recited graveside prayers in Latin and English. An honor guard fired three crisp volleys, followed by a last rumble of artillery from a distant hill.

The Rev. Sherman died in 1933. The Sherman family home eventually became an apartment building and was demolished with barely a whimper of protest in 1974. The Sherman graves are a short drive from the front gate at Calvary.

John Armstrong was the closest free-stater living north of Albert Stokes on the northwest quarter of Section 28, also located on Washington Creek. John was born at Oxford, Canada West, on June 8, 1824, the son of Thomas and Sarah Dodge Armstrong. He was an avid abolitionist and always acted with the Abolition party before he came to Kansas. He voted for Martin Van Buren when the latter was the anti-slavery candidate for President. He well remembered the excitement in New York State and New England when the Kansas-Nebraska Bill passed, and he resolved that he would come to Kansas and help make it a free state. Leaving western New York on November 1, 1854, he arrived at Kansas City on approximately the 17th or 18th of November.

We found at Kansas City on the levee, one Hotel, one barn and six warerooms, and where now the market square is located was a horse mill. We went to Westport where there was quite a village and from there traveled west into Kansas.

At Kansas City, John met the notorious Sam Wood, and after ascertaining the latter’s anti-slavery sentiments made arrangements with him to carry his baggage and trunks. There were five in this party which arrived in Lawrence on the night of November 20. Armstrong established his claim on Washington Creek and immediately became involved in the Underground Railroad.

A proslavery family named Bowen lived on an adjoining claim, which was traversed by a trail from McGee’s Crossing (the main trail crossing the Wakarusa). This family had brought with them from Kentucky a family of slaves, including a father, mother and eight children, the eldest a boy about twenty. According to John’s reminiscences, his sister, Sarah, taught these children their letters. They came to the Armstrong house on Sunday for this purpose, unbeknownst to their master. There were other slaves in the neighborhood (a few grown ones), but this was the largest slave family.

There were a few slaves who lived up on the head of Washington creek, in the proslavery settlement, where about sixty proslavery men lived. The Negroes told us that Bowen was afraid of our Sharps rifles. He though they would shoot a mile.

Bowen’s colored people built his log house and did general farm work. He brought them there in the spring of 1855, as early as April. He brought his own family at that time too. There might have been 3 or 4 in his family. His son-in-law was a part of the family. The negroes built a little cabin out about ten rods from the house. All of the buildings were of logs. The house was what is called a double-log house, two rooms and an open space between.

John states that the proslavery people would get drunk and come and threaten him. He told the Lawrence boys about it, and one night Capt. Randlet and a party of free-state men in Lawrence came out to his place on Washington Creek. From there they went over to Bowen’s, cleaned out his whiskey and gave him three days to leave.

The Armstrong and Bowen cabins were only a quarter of a mile apart. The eldest colored boy came to John’s house that night with the rest of the children and cried, “Master Armstrong! Some men have

come to Master Bowen’s, and I am afraid they are going to kill us.” John let them all in – the whole colored family – and asked them who was in the crowd, but the children did not know if the men they were free-state or proslavery men; they just wanted John to run them off. Armstrong had previously talked to them about leaving their master. But a Lawrence Journal World article states that ” . . . the slave family wanted Miss Armstrong’s brother (John) to start them on the way to Canada, but the risk was too great and he did not do so.” They (the Bowens) took the slaves with them to Westport, Mo.

John Armstrong credited himself with persuading Jim Lane to come to Kansas. He had met Lane in the spring of 1855 on a boat on the Missouri River the morning after leaving St. Louis. John had been in Kansas since 1854 and had explored with Governor Robinson as far up as the Blue River. He recounted his meeting with Lane at an Old Settlers’ Meeting in 1879

Lane was on his way to Kansas, and when he found out that I had been in the Territory, he wanted to learn all about the country . . . I gave them a general description of the country from the mouth of the Kaw River up to where Manhattan now stands, and of all the country. The location of Lawrence and the Kansas bottom pleased my eyes better than any where else, and I gave them a glowing description of it, and told them that I believed that Lawrence was the place where we should eventually build up a great city. I know I did prevail upon Lane to come to Lawrence, for three days after I got here he came up here with his family. *emphasis author’s”

Later, in an 1896 interview when he was seventy-two, Armstrong further elaborated on his this meeting:

If Jim Lane was the greatest man Kansas ever produced – and a good many people think he was – then John Armstrong deserves the credit of discovering the greatest man and starting him in the proper channel. Mr. Armstrong says he came to Kansas to make it a free state, and he didn’t content himself with settling down in the Topeka town site, but he joined Stubbs’ company at Lawrence, received his Sharps’ rifle and marched and practiced with the boys. His meeting with Jim Lane is thus recounted by him: ” I had shipped a large nursery stock to Kansas which I started in 1851 and I expected it to arrive in Kansas City as soon as I returned from up the country, but it only reached St. Louis that fall. I had to go to St. Louis to look after it and in the early spring of 1855 I shipped it to Kansas. The morning I left St. Louis the clerk of the boat came to me and said, ‘Colonel Lane from Indiana and Thomas Shoemaker want to see you and have a talk about Kansas.’ I went down to the ladies’ cabin and was introduced to Colonel Lane and to Mr. Shoemaker, who had been appointed land receiver of the Kickapoo district. I had a pleasant talk with them, and from that time until we arrived in Kansas City we had frequent talks about Kansas. I became satisfied in my own mind that Lane’s object was to organize a Democratic party in Kansas and be its leader. He wanted to settle in the biggest place in the territory and asked me particularly about what I thought would be the best place to go. I gave him the best information I could, and a couple of days after I arrived in Lawrence, Colonel Lane came there with his family. “I introduced him to the boys and we vied with one another in doing what we could for him in running out lines and building a cabin. The willingness of the free-state people to help him, and the willingness of the proslavery party to carry out the Douglas squatter sovereignty bill to the territory, the driving away of true settlers from the polls and the frequent raids of the border ruffians, was what, I think, made such men as James H. Lane and hundreds of others as radical as any of us.”

Lane soon began to come over to the free-state side and became one of the great leaders for the cause; John became one of his lieutenants.

I also started an Underground Railroad in 1857 from Topeka to Civil Bend, Iowa. I hired a closed carriage and span of mules. I lived in Topeka then. I took up a subscription to start the thing, and amongst the number that gave me money was Dr. Charles Robinson, who was at Topeka at the time. He gave me ten dollars. I think Sam Wood gave five dollars and Maj. J. B. Abbott five. They were attending the Legislature. I don’t remember all that helped start the first train on the Underground Railroad and I helped establish the depots from Topeka to Civil Bend, Iowa.

In Reminiscences of Slave Days in Kansas, John tells how he encountered his first “passenger” on the “Topeka line” of the Underground Railroad.

The first slave I took out of Kansas was a woman. She got away from her masters, and came up to Howard’s, who lived about 2 miles s.e. of Topeka, staied [sic] there about five or six weeks, when some proslavery men from Deer Creek found that she was there and took her back to Lecompton for the reward. One or two of Edward’s boys was with the party that returned her. They lived on the Shunganunga near Frank Dawson’s … Howard had no chance to get the woman onto the Underground Railway. Her name was Ann Clarke. [. . . ] When they got her back to Lecompton it was about evening. They sent out in the country for Clarke to come in and pay the reward. Ann went out in the kitchen to clean herself up. By this time it was pretty dark, and she was studying how to get away. They had given her some cakes to eat, and she put some of these in her budget (a small bag or pouch). The men were in a frolic, had been drinking some. The women only were watching her, but she kept on the watch herself for a chance to escape and finally seizing an opportunity when they were off guard, ran out of the kitchen and up a ravine which was situated near where the foundations of the Territorial Capital State House is in Lecompton.

It was a very brushy ravine. She hid in a thick place in the brush, and hid there until most morning. They came out and hunted for her, coming very near her. When it became light enough she followed the ravine up s.e. and came up out onto the top of the hill on the edge of the prairie. Being now daybreak, she could see all about and took her bearings. She finally saw a man coming along the road s.w. of Lecompton and running east towards Lawrence. He had a book under his arm. She thot [sic] a man with a book must be free-state, and went out to talk to him. It was Dr. Barker, the father of Senator Barker of Douglas County. She asked him who lived in the different houses. Finally she found that he was Dr. Barker, a neighbor of G. W. Clarke who owned her (jointly with Col. Titus). He lived east of Lecompton and was credited with the murder of Thomas Barber in 1855. He was a former Indian agent and a prominent border ruffian. He had been out to see a sick woman, and was returning home. She [the slave woman, Ann] asked him to take her to his house and help her get free. He told her to go farther south, to walk down the ravine and come up back of his house. He kept her at his house a day or two, hitched up his team, put in several comforts, covered her over and took her down towards Lawrence, to the house of the father-in-law of George Earle, who brot [sic] her up to me at Topeka, to the residence of Mrs. Scales . . . Mrs. Scales kept her hid for a week before Mr. Scales found it out. Capt. Henry came in on her one morning when she was helping Mrs. Scales wash dishes. He was a strong proslavery man, and was boarding at the house. Mrs. Scales said, “You can keep a secret?” He did and never gave us away . . . We kept her there for about six weeks at our house, while I made arrangements to take her to Iowa.

Much has been written about this house – the residence of Mrs. Scales – at 429 Quincy Street in Topeka. There is some discrepancy as to who actually built it. Armstrong, in his Reminiscences, states that

Mrs. Scales, when he built the house placed a sugar hogshead, (a cask capable of containing large amounts of liquid), which he had shipped things from the east in, down in the cellar. When Ann came, we put some straw, clothes, and blankets into the hogshead, and had her stay in it. Mrs. Scales kept boarders, and during the day, while they were out, Ann used to come up in the kitchen and do a great deal of housework.

A newspaper article from 1913 also states that “*t+he stone house at 429 Quincy Street was erected by a Mrs. Scales, who emigrated from New York.” But the Topeka Mail & Kansas Breeze article from 1896 states that at the time of that interview, John Armstrong was still living in “the little stone house at 429 Quincy in Topeka, where he had lived ever since coming there in the early 1850’s,” and a 1910 newspaper article states that the house was built by John Armstrong himself. A 1929 newspaper article corroborates this, stating that “. . . it was constructed in 1856 by John Armstrong, a pioneer in Topeka, when the town had scarcely two dozen houses to break the nakedness of the plains.”

Whether built by him or not, the house eventually came into John Armstrong’s stewardship – if not ownership – when, after the sudden death of their younger daughter, “the Scales family moved from the house and returned east, leaving Armstrong in possession of the place.” And there can be no doubt as to its usage in Armstrong’s hands. “From this time on the place was the center of a very flood of anti-slavery sentiment. And at this time came the hogshead from New Orleans, and the disappearances of many slaves from the homes of their masters.”

“I suppose I have kept three hundred slaves in the house at 429 Quincy St., all told,” Armstrong is quoted as saying in the 1910 newspaper article, “and every one of them was taken north and eventually reached Canada.”

Many newspaper articles over the years have recounted the legend of the little stone house in Topeka. From the Topeka Daily Capital of April 21, 1929:

[I]n the basement was placed an immense hogshead, big enough to hold a score of persons comfortably. The hogshead originally had contained sugar, and was shipped up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, up the Missouri to Westport Landing, thence up the Kaw to Topeka. Emptied, it was put in the basement before the joists for the building were laid. At the time Armstrong obtained it, he thought that it would make an admirable hiding place for fleeing slaves . . . Armstrong was the first Topekan to have a station on the Underground Railroad. He received the blacks at night, placed them in the cellar and held them until it was safe for them to continue their journey.

Southern soldiers, in pursuit of the escaping Negroes, often halted in Topeka. Pitched battles, in which deaths sometimes occurred, took place in this vicinity. The Old Topeka House, situated where the post office now stands, was thought to be the hiding place of the slaves. This frequently was searched, but the fugitives never were found.

No suspicion was attached to the little stone building, just back of the Topeka House. It was so small and innocent appearing, and there seemed no places in it where anyone could be concealed. But had the pursuing soldiers only known it, on many occasions there were a dozen or more slaves concealed in the hogshead at the time they were futilely searching the Topeka House.

From the Topeka Daily Capital of Tuesday, July 5, 1938:

“Old ‘ Undergound Railway’ Cabin in Topeka on Block”

Slaves were hidden in the basement, which was entered by a long passage that originally reached to the Shunganunga Creek draw near what is now Fifteenth Street. The entrance to this passage still remains in the basement of the house.

The house contains three rooms, one large room on the main floor and two smaller rooms in the basement.

Cottonwood was used in the frame of the structure, but it is the walnut siding that gives the house its principal claim to architectural distinction.

The little stone house and the activities that took place there are perhaps best described in an earlier Topeka Daily Capital article, which states:

Slaves were hidden in the cellar . . . there were oftimes as many as a dozen runaway slaves taken care of by Mr. Armstrong and other anti-slavery people . . . The old stone house, which was the refuge of so many runaway slaves, has never been remodeled except for a new roof some years ago and is now the home of a colored family who probably do not know the same roof which shelters them, sheltered people of their own race over fifty years ago who were trying to escape the bonds of slavery.

For the runaway slaves, the stay at the Scales/Armstrong house at 429 Quincy St. in Topeka was only the beginning of what could turn into a harrowing Slaves were hidden in the cellar . . . there were oftimes as many as a dozen runaway slaves taken care of by Mr. Armstrong and other anti-slavery people . . . The old stone house, which was the refuge of so many runaway slaves, has never journey to freedom. In the 1910 Topeka Daily Capital article, Armstrong related that

. . . [w]e used to ford the Kaw River about where the bridge now stands always traveling by night and lying under cover during the day. Holton was the first station north and from there we went to Nebraska City and crossed the Missouri River at that point. After reaching Silver Bend, Iowa, we turned the slaves over to the Quakers and from that point it was an easy matter to place them on Canadian soil . . . I sometimes rode a pony on my trips, but unless I had some women in the party I usually walked and slept on the ground.

I took up one other woman. I don’t remember how she came to me. A Mr. Mills, a Topeka man, went with me all the way thru and returned with me . . . The road was about this way: We went first to Rochester, to Bowker’s in the night. The next stopping place would be Holton, at Smith’s or at Reynold’s, who lived a mile west of Holton, on the Creek. Another place was five miles north of Holton, where Brown was caught at the Battle of the Spurs. In crossing that creek, I got stuck, and had to get the woman out of the buggy. This was on the Jim Lane road. On my way up that first time I followed the track of Kagi [John Brown’s right-hand man who later died in the raid on Harper’s Ferry], who had started out three weeks before me to visit his father . . . We afterwards sent several women up. Some came from Missouri, some from Kansas.

Armstrong and Mills took the slaves from Topeka north over the Lane Trail. They were covered in a wagon, which was closed. The wagon had a false bottom to be used in cases of emergency; over this false bottom were spread hay and straw. The first stopping place north of Topeka was the farm of William Bowker. William Owens lived next door to Bowker, and sometimes his house also was used as a station on the Underground Railroad.

On his first trip with the slave Ann Clarke, Armstrong recounts, “We started in the very last days of February 1857, and I was gone three weeks. We went to Civil Bend, Iowa, to Dr. Blanchard. From there we sent her on the Chicago. The trip was without incident as far as Nebraska City. Approaching there, Armstrong concealed the Negroes beneath the false bottom in the wagon bed. Border ruffians halted him and looked in his wagon for slaves, but did not find them. That night Armstrong drove to Civil Bend, several miles up the Missouri. Kagi had been sent ahead of this first consignment over the underground, and was waiting for Armstrong at Nebraska City. He conducted the cargo of slaves to the ferry at Civil Bend, where he aided Armstrong to cross the Missouri River. The crossing was a dangerous matter, as ice was running in large pieces. The ferryman had to be persuaded with a Colt’s navy (revolver) before he would undertake the passage. The boat was carried down the river half a mile by the ice but finally made the east shore safely. The slaves were delivered to Dr. Ira D. Blanchard, who lived near Civil Bend on the Lane Trail, and a few miles from Tabor, Iowa. Kagi’s father lived at the time in Nebraska City and he also aided Armstrong to escape from the town with the slaves. The Underground Railroad over the Lane Trail was in operation as long as it was necessary for slaves to leave Kansas for Canada.

John Brown himself left Kansas forever over the Lane Trail in late January 1859. On his last exit from Kansas, while delivering slaves, he ran into trouble north of Holton, Kansas. He sent a farmer named Wasson, whose anti-slavery sentiments were well-known, back to Topeka to tell Colonel John Richie that John Brown was surrounded in a cabin (Fuller’s) on Straight Creek. It was Sunday morning when Wasson reached Topeka, and Richie and his family were part of a congregation gathered at a schoolhouse which stood at Fifth and Harrison and served as the meeting place for Congregationalists. A commotion was heard at the rear of the building causing people to turn toward the door. John Armstrong walked immediately to Richie’s seat and whispered in his ear. They both left the church and after hastily collecting a few men, hurried to the aid of the “Old Puritan”. They helped disperse the enemy at the crossing on Straight Creek near the Fuller cabin, in the Battle of the Spurs.

This battle, which occurred on January 31, 1859, received its name from Richard J. Hinton, an eastern correspondent who had come to Kansas. “As spurs were the most effective weapon used, the title is not altogether inappropriate. Not a shot was fired on either side.

A different explanation for the battle’s odd name was written by G. M. Seaman:

Some (of the men) had gotten their horses and some were afoot, but as they got out of the woods those that were afoot grabbed hold of the tails of the horses of those who were mounted and away they went sailing over the prairie, hence it was dubbed the “Battle of the Spurs.”

John Armstrong went on to live a long life. As stated above, he was still living in the stone house in 1896. The 1910 Topeka Capital article states that Armstrong, then 86, was living at Keith’s Hospital. He died less than a year later, on Dec. 19, 1911. His obituary appeared in the Topeka State Journal for December 20, 1911:

Anti Slavery Fighter Dies

John Armstrong, 87 years old, and the last survivor of the handful of pioneers which selected the location for a city where a town site company a fortnight later founded Topeka in December 1854, died last evening at St. Patrick’s Hospital and will be buried in Rochester Cemetery, where he already has had his monument erected and inscribed with the exception of the date of his death* . . . He was active in making Kansas a free state and established an underground railroad north from Topeka. He was with both Lane and Brown in their border warfare. He never married, remaining true to Eunice Scales, a young woman he met shortly after coming to Topeka, but who died of smallpox before their wedding could be arranged.

The above sad account may hold a key to the fervor with which John Armstrong approached his Underground Railroad activities.

The peculiar recklessness and energy for excitement that possessed John Armstrong might be hinged on a pathetic romance that filled his life during the first two years in Kansas. Mrs. Scales brought with her two daughters when she came to Kansas and old-timers who know the facts state beyond a doubt that the Scales home was a popular place in the eyes of the young men of Topeka. But above all suitors for the younger of the two daughters stood John Armstrong. He had followed the family from New York to Kansas and in this Far Western State stopped with them and continued the avowal of his loyalty.

All went well with the pioneer lovers and the affair was settled in the minds of Topekans. Then Miss Scales died with a contagious disease after a sickness of but a few days. After the funeral John Armstrong walked the streets for many days, seemingly without energy.

Was it John Armstrong’s abolitionist fervor that brought him to Kansas, or did he follow his heart here and turn to anti-slavery zeal only after his heart was broken? One thing is for certain; it has been 145 years since John Armstrong set foot on Kansas soil, but his footprints left an indelible imprint on the struggle to make Kansas free.

 

When you think of names of Civil War generals who had a profound influence before, during and after the Civil War, the name Major General Thomas Ewing Jr. usually does not pop-up. However, his role during the war had a huge impact on how some of the events unfolded. His life after the war was noteworthy.

Born 7 August 1829 in Lancaster, Ohio, Thomas Ewing Jr. was the third son of influential Ohio Senator Thomas Ewing Sr. and brother-in-law to General William Tecumseh Sherman. He studied law in Cincinnati and moved to Leavenworth, Kansas to practice law and became highly involved in the free-soil movement. When Kansas was admitted to the Union, Ewing became the state’s first chief justice.

When the Civil War began, Ewing raised the 11th Kansas Regiment to fight for the Union and was elected Colonel of the regiment and served with the regiment at the battles of Cain Hill and Prairie grove. His real distinction begins when, as a Brigadier General, he is placed in command of the highly volatile Border District.

Since the days of Bleeding Kansas in the 1850s, tensions between pro-slavery Missouri and the now free-state of Kansas ran high. Missouri bushwhackers and Kansas Jayhawkers and Red Legs were constantly at each other’s throats, and when William Quantrill and his band of guerrillas arrived in Lawrence, Kansas at five o’clock in the morning on 21 August 1863 and completely ravaged the town, killing 150 men and boys, and robbing, looting and burning the town, Thomas Ewing had to do something about the guerrilla hostilities.

His answer (with some prodding from fire-brand Senator and Jayhawker James H. Lane) was to draw up the infamous “Order No. 11.” With its harsh treatment of the civilian population, it was what Ewing believed the only solution to curtail guerrilla activity in the region. However, the methods used to enact the order (mainly, his use of Kansas troops that were mostly made up of Red Legs) and the resulted slaughter and desolation of four Missouri counties left a permanent stain on Ewing’s resume.

General Ewing and Order No. 11

Order No. 11 had indeed put a quiet over Kansas and in March, 1864, Ewing was ordered to St. Louis as a member of the staff of Union Major General William Rosecrans. It was during this period that Ewing would pull off one of the most incredible stands of the Civil War that has sometimes even been called the “Thermopylae of the West.”

Confederate Major General Sterling Price had begun his march into Missouri to attempt to seize St. Louis and its supplies, rally the citizens to the Confederacy, and put in place Thomas Reynolds as governor. On September 26th, 1864, Ewing was dispatched with the veteran 14th Iowa Infantry to ascertain the forces operating in southeast Missouri, and to hold Fort Davidson in Pilot Knob against what was considered a detachment of Price’s army. Prices army numbered well over 12,000 soldiers against a little over 1,000 men. However, lack of reliable information and the strong spirit of the Union defenders, would see Price’s army cut down as they attempted to take the tiny Fort. Ewing, aware of his reputation in regards to Order No. 11 was demanded to surrender, in which he replied, “They shall play no Fort Pillow game on me” and resolved to hold the fort. The ensuing and repeated attacks on the fort by the superior numbered Confederates and the tenacity and will of the Union defenders to not give it up is its reference to the famed battle at Thermopylae. The Union defenders lost about 29 men with 44 wounded, the Confederates however, saw over 1,500 of their troops killed or wounded by this small detachment of soldiers.

As night fell however, it was apparent that come morning, Price would once again press a full frontal assault on the fort, complete with artillery, and there would be no saving themselves or the fort. Ewing chose to evacuate the fort under cover of darkness, blow up the powder magazine and attempt to retreat to the safety of Rolla, Missouri. The Union soldiers made it to Leasburg, just outside of Rolla, and held defense there against the pursuit of Confederate Generals John S. Marmaduke and J.O. Shelby, who by the morning of October 1st, had rode off to join Price in Jefferson City, believing the attack on this new position would be too costly.

The time wasted on this futile pursuit, the huge loss of life at Pilot Knob now altered the original plans of Price’s raid, and the conflict and stand by Ewing and his troops at Pilot Knob, in effect, ended the raid as it begun. Price would attempt to cross Missouri and by the end of October, his army was defeated and shut down at Westport and then at Mine Creek in KS. Price’s infamous raid of 1864 was over and it had been by the brave and wise action of General Ewing.

In February 1865, Ewing resigned his commission in the Army to his good friend the President, Abraham Lincoln, and went back to public life. A month later, Lincoln was dead. Ironically, Ewing agreed to represent three of the conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination, Dr. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold and Edmund Spangler. His efforts, in effect, kept those three men from meeting the same fate as the other conspirators and they were sentenced to prison at Fort Jefferson in Florida. Ewing also successfully obtained a pardon for Dr. Mudd at the end of President Johnson’s term of office.

Last years of life

Ewing practiced law in Washington D.C. from 1865 until 1870 when he moved back to his home in Lancaster, Ohio to practice law and became a Congressman for his state. In 1880 he ran for Governor of Ohio and narrowly lost the election. IN 1881 he moved to New York to again practice law and ended his career in public office. Thomas Ewing Jr. died after he was struck by a New York City omnibus in 1896 and is buried in Yonkers, NY.

To persons living east of the Mississippi River during the Civil War, Kansas was “that new state out west,” where land cost little and men’s lives even less. For one intrepid young settler from Illinois, his new home became the source of inspiration for a revealing collection of diaries and artwork that comprise a treasure trove for Civil War historians.

Samuel J. Reader, of Indianola, Kan., was born in Illinois in 1836. He trekked to the new territory with his aunt and her husband in 1855, and kept a running chronicle of the events in “Bleeding Kansas” in a series of annual diaries. Along with written comments about that turbulent time, Reader also included some paintings. In one of his diaries, he painted himself staking his own Kansas claim. During the Civil War, Reader carried his diary while serving as a member of the local militia. His words and art, discovered after his death in 1914, became a unique record of the war.

Shortly after his arrival at Indianola, Reader wrote that the town would never amount to much. In 1862, he complained to his family back in Illinois that “instead of laying it out on the prairie the Mo. [Missouri] proprietors laid it out mostly in timber and bushes.”

The Kansas town–named after Indianola, Texas, by its Southern-sympathizing founders–was the subject of many Reader paintings. He depicted all the usual frontier establishments–a sawmill, a blacksmith, two or three stores, two hotels and a couple of billiard saloons or “whiskey dens.” At the height of the town’s prosperity, lots sold for $250 or $300, with one going as high as $500. Reader commented that “intemperance is the special vice of this neighborhood” and dubbed Indianola “Whiskeytown.” He also associated the town’s saloons with the secessionist movement, all of them being owned by pro-slavery sympathizers.

Young Sam’s opinion of supporters of slavery developed after he settled in Kansas Territory. He wrote: “Rich cheap farm land was the principal incentive that lured me on from my Illinois home. I had heard and read much concerning the political troubles in the territory; but the question of a free or a slave state was a secondary consideration with me at the time. In fact, I had given little thought to the subject; viewing the ‘Peculiar Institution’ as a great wrong, but leaving its adjustment to older and wiser heads.”

The largely Southern population of Indianola inevitably brought the town into conflict with its Free State neighbors. Recalling a raid by Topeka pioneers, Reader wrote: “Our neighborhood was badly stirred up. … A party of Free-State men … took from the most rabid pro-slavery citizens, their arms and military stores; together with Sundry articles, claimed to be contraband of war. The whiskey was emptied in the street. I had no hand in it; and whether the act was justifiable or not, is not for me to say. It was called a reprisal; but two wrongs do not always make one right! … But it was reported that our ruthless enemies [Missouri border ruffians] did far worse. Besides plundering, they added, ‘fire and sword’ and numberless outrages, on Free-State men!”  

Reader, Free-Staters and the Grim Chieftan

When Reader learned that Southern-sympathizing border ruffians were about to attack the town of Grasshopper Falls–present-day Valley Falls–in the next county to the east, he joined other Free Staters under Colonel James H. Lane as they rushed to confront the raiders at a place called Hickory Point. Lane’s ragtag militia crossed the Kansas River by ferry on Friday morning, September 12, 1856. The date was recorded forever in a watercolor depiction of the momentous crossing in Reader’s diary.

After an early morning skirmish that Sunday, Reader dashed off some lines in his diary, noting that the Free Staters had arrived at Hickory Point, a short distance east of Grasshopper Falls, at about 11 in the morning. “Fired some,” and then “retreated to O[zawkie],” he noted in his diary. Reader also claimed that his side had only lost three horses and one man wounded, compared to “Several B.Rs. [border ruffians] killed.” Actually, only one Southern sympathizer died in the skirmish. With that brief triumph behind them, young Reader and his companions in the Free State company ate some watermelons and in the evening started home, “sleepy and tired but full of glory.”

But there was little glory to be found in Kansas in 1856. This was the period of “Bleeding Kansas,” which featured the fanaticism of John Brown and the death and destruction sowed by contending bands of pro-slave and Free State partisans. During that one year in Reader’s Kansas county, three houses were ruined, 46 horses were stolen, and 67 head of cattle were rustled. But the federal government, from whom the people sought relief, never compensated the victims of either side, Reader recorded, and the claims passed into history and myth.

A number of Lane’s Free State militiamen involved in the raids were arrested that fall and imprisoned in the territorial capital, Lecompton, and the small neighboring town of Tecumseh–both Southern strongholds. Most were acquitted. At one time the jail in Tecumseh housed some 47 prisoners. About 10 o’clock on the night of November 21, 1856, about 30 of them escaped “by pegging a hole in the wall and crawling out like rats,” recounted the proSouth publication Lecompton Union on December 11. Officers caught one fellow halfway out and towed him back in. His excuse, “I am following the rest.”

Shortly after Kansas Territory became a state, its citizens experienced the myriad trials of civil war. The war, which broke out at Fort Sumter, S.C., three months after Kansas entered the Union, took a heavy toll on Union-loving volunteers. Reader wrote that “a great many farms are not cultivated in this section for want of working men.” Such a severe shortage of manpower existed in the entire state by the middle of the war that Governor Thomas Carney felt it necessary to caution recruiting officers to go more slowly in their efforts.  

Reader himself did not immediately enlist in one of the Kansas volunteer regiments. Instead, he served in the Union militia, which had formed during the territorial period, and subsequently took part in the bloodless “Battle of Indianola” and another confrontation at Hickory Point.

On the home front, Reader became an astute social observer in his letters and diaries. For example, in a letter dated January 19, 1862, he wrote to his brother that he had recently been in Topeka, where he “saw quite a number of negroes employed by its citizens. They looked intelligent and happy. I believe they have 15 or 20 there but none have come over on this side of the [Kansas] river, yet, that is.”

His social observations were sometimes tinged with martial language: One day, when a prostitute quarreled with the more respectable ladies of Indianola, the outraged reaction provided Reader with the opportunity to exercise his wit in his diary. The “fancy lady, to use no harsher term … established her headquarters in Billy P[russeit]’s shoemaker shop,” he observed. Five of the town’s womenfolk, “after holding a council of war determined on a vigorous policy, and forth-with set out for little Bill’s house. … The attacking force filed through the gate and by a skillful maneuver gained possession of the backdoor without the loss of a man (or woman rather).”

Immediately following the sack of Lawrence by William Clarke Quantrill, the citizens of many Kansas towns understandably feared a similar fate, and they organized Union militia companies to protect themselves. Elizabeth Reader, a resident of Indianola and relative of Samuel, wrote that the militia members continued to meet and drill until the fall of 1864. In that “Secesh” town, even some of the former pro-slavery men joined with the Unionist militiamen to make up Company D of the Shawnee County regiment.

The Shawnee County unit was designated the 2nd Regiment, Kansas State Militia, with Colonel George W. Veale commanding. The 2nd Kansas was brigaded later with the Lawrence unit, men who had suffered at the hands of Rebel guerrillas. A log stockade was erected in the center of Topeka as a refuge to which Shawnee County residents might flee if guerrillas appeared. And since Topeka had become the state capital, the city’s residents were sure it was a prime bushwhacker target.

Sterling Price’s Great Raid of 1864

Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price invaded Missouri in September 1864. As he led three divisions of cavalry across the state where he had once been governor, Kansans watched anxiously to see if he would turn east toward St. Louis and the Mississippi River or west to capture Fort Leavenworth and plunder Kansas.  

Reader continued making entries into his diary that month as Governor Carney called out the militia. A lieutenant and quartermaster of the regiment, Reader reported on equipping the 2nd Kansas. Reader’s unit was ordered to assemble at Olathe on the Kansas-Missouri border, along with 10 other militia regiments. Each outfit had to provide its own transportation and rations. Members of each regiment were supplied with “two blankets, a tin cup, knife and fork, and a haversack,” Reader noted. In addition, Reader participated in the distribution of new Enfield rifles in place of the old and nearly worthless carbines that had been issued directly following the Lawrence raid.

Two days after the militia was called out, martial law was declared and every man between the ages of 18 and 60 was ordered to arms. On the morning of October 12, the 2nd Kansas moved out for Missouri. Reader took his diary along on the march, illustrating much of the campaign with charcoal and pencils–sketches he would later flesh out with watercolors. One such painting was called 2nd K.S.M. Invading Missouri. Many of the untrained, inexperienced militiamen refused to cross the state border to meet the Confederate invasion. The Shawnee County regiment was one of the exceptions, and the men from Topeka and vicinity proved their worth during the ensuing Battle of Westport.

Another painting, Night Before Battle, depicts the campsite of Kansans on October 21, 1864, the evening before the second day of fighting at Westport. The next day, the 2nd Kansas saw combat. The regiment waited at a shallow crossing of the Big Blue River through most of the day. Late in the afternoon, Brig. Gen. Jo Shelby’s “Iron Brigade” of Missouri cavalry broke through Union lines while attempting a flanking movement. Shelby’s Missourians ran headlong into the 2nd Kansas. The regiment held its ground without aid against vastly superior numbers for nearly an hour in what became known as the Battle of the Blue.

Reader fought among the embattled Kansans and later would commemorate in words and pictures the brave stand that repulsed the Confederate advance into Kansas. The 2nd Kansas counted 24 killed, 20 wounded and 88 taken prisoner.

Further confrontations along the border sent Price scurrying back toward the safety of Arkansas with a cache of captured arms and prisoners. Reader was one of the captured Federals. After a three-day forced march through southern Missouri, which he illustrated with a drawing he called Double-Quick, You Yankee, the 28-year-old Reader managed to escape and found shelter with a Kansas farmer. He eventually turned himself over to a company of Federal cavalry, using his diary to prove his identity. He was one of the fortunate ones–many of his fellow prisoners died of exposure and pneumonia. Years later, Reader spent time honing his artistic talent. Although he is best known as a diarist, he was also a natural artist whose work illustrated his words. In addition to the diaries he kept faithfully from age 13 until his death, he also wrote and illustrated his autobiography. The watercolors in the latter work are now considered a valuable record of the Civil War in Kansas and Missouri.

Reader used pigment ground in gum and applied with brush and water to produce some of the best Kansas art depicting the war. Most of his work was primitive, but his action scenes of the Battle of the Blue at Westport, now held by the Kansas State Historical Society, are the equal of any combat painting of the Civil War.

Reader’s reminiscences, eternized with both pen and brush, have only been partially tapped. His story of the border warfare in the state, in both pictures and words, is an invaluable glimpse into Kansas’ Civil War heritage.

During the mid-nineteenth century the world was in an uproar. Many countries in Europe were struggling with revolutions. In Prussia, the idea of combining the German states into a unified, single Germany, was part of the revolutionist’s plans. But because of the failed reforms, many of these revolutionaries – most of who were highly educated, politically astute and militarily trained – fled to the United States in a search for a new life. Called “Fourty-Eighters” because of their involvements in the revolutions of 1848, many of these Europeans arrived in America and became not only prominent citizens, but also contributed to and invested in their new homeland.

German immigrants also enlisted, some voluntarily and other not so voluntarily, in the United States Army. With the threat of secession of the southern states and what looked like a civil war brewing, many of these Germans sided with their new found country in the effort to maintain the Union, and some, to fight against the southern support of slavery. With a rise in German immigrants, there were German officers appointed to spur these immigrants towards enlistment. This is a brief look at one such German that, by circumstances or fate, fell into obscurity behind his famous General brother and has been lost to the passage of time.

Colonel Albert SigelColonel Albert Sigel was born in Sinsheim, Rhein-Neckar-Kreis, Baden-Württemberg, Germany on November 13, 1827. He was the third child Franz Moritz Sigel (1788 – 1864) and Anna Marie Pauline Lichtenauer, both of Germany, along with his brother, the famed Civil War General Franz Peter Sigel (1824 – 1902), and his other siblings Laura, Theresa, Emil and Karl Sigel. Colonel Sigel immigrated to the United States in 1851 along with many other Europeans, including his brother Franz, who were called “Forty-Eighters” in reference to their participations in the failed European revolutions of 1848. He was naturalized in New York, NY on October 24, 1860.

Colonel Sigel married Rosa Fischer (1844 – 1939) of St Louis, Missouri on March 26, 1863 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Sigel’s had six children, Amalia (1864 – 1953), Moritz (1866 – 1933), Anna (1867 – 1951), Lena (1870 – 1967), Emma (1872 – 1966), and Albert (1878 – 1880).[1] Of the six Sigel children, only Amalia ever married (to Robert G. Bremerman) and they had no sons. The other Sigel children had no children of their own and lived with their mother until her death. Earel Albert Sigel died of meningitis at the age of 1 year, 10months and 6 days, thus ending any direct male lineage from Albert Sigel. Col. Sigel’s wife Rosa, along with Amailia, Moritz, Anna, and Lena were all cremated at the Missouri Crematorium in St. Louis.[2]

Sigel enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 28, 1861 in New Jersey and commissioned a captain of Company D, New Jersey 2nd Infantry Regiment. He mustered out of this regiment on December 14, 1861. Sigel was given the rank of Colonel on May 19, 1862 and commanded the Booneville State Militia Cavalry Battalion (“Epsteins”) which was organized at Booneville, MO. March 24, 1862. This militia unit saw a few skirmishes in central Missouri until it was re-organized as the 13th Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry.

On October 18, 1861, while commanding the 13th MSM Cavalry, Col. Sigel was involved in an investigation of the killing of rebel prisoners in Waynesville.

The 13th MSM Cavalry was involved in an engagement at the California House in which Col. Sigel gave the following report;

OCTOBER 18, 1862. – Skirmish at California House, Mo. Report of Colonel Albert Sigel, Thirteenth Missouri Cavalry (Militia). HDQRS. 13TH Regiment CAV., MO. S. M., Waynesville, Mo., Oct. 18, 1862.

COLONEL: In compliance with your dispatch, received last evening that 200 rebels had crossed the Missouri at Portland the night before and tried to make their way south, I thought it best to let them come near our post, so as to be able to intercept them whenever they tried to cross our line. I therefore ordered Captain Murphy, after midnight, with portions of four companies, numbering 75 men, toward the Gasconade, while I had another force of about 100 men ready to throw on them whenever I could get information where they intended to cross.

At about 10 o’clock this morning I received a report that Captain Murphy had not only found their trace, but was in hot pursuit of them. It was also reported that they had turned southwest, and it was now certain to me that they would cross our line 7 miles west from here, near the California House. I immediately started there with the force already mentioned, and we were scarcely ten minutes near the California House when they drove in our advance guard, under Lieutenant Muller, of Company A, who fell back and brought them into the line of Lieutenant Brown, of Company F, whose men were dismounted. We now pitched into them from all sides, and in a few minutes they ran for their lives. Captain Murphy was also nearly up at that time, and drove a portion of them before hi, scattering them in all directions.

The estimate of the rebels killed is 20, among them Lieutenant Tipton, and as many are wounded. We captured a secesh [sic] flag, 2 roll-books, some horses, and some shot-guns and Austrian rifles; made 3 prisoners, and liberated 2 Union men, who they had prisoners. We had only 1 man slightly wounded. I ordered the secesh [sic] population of the neighborhood to bury the dead and to care for the wounded rebels.

The rebels were well armed and equipped and 250 to 300 strong. They were commanded by Captain Ely, Captain Brooks, and two captains both with the name of Creggs, and were a part of Colonel Porter’s command, who did not cross the Missouri with them, but promised to follow them with a large force.

All our officers and men behaved well. Captain Smith (Company H) has not yet, at 8.30 p. m., come back from pursuit the rebels.

I remain, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ALBERT SIGEL, Colonel, Commanding Thirteenth Regiment Cavalry, Mo. S. M. [3]

He again assumed command as Colonel of the 5th Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry when it was reorganized from the 13th Missouri State Militia Cavalry on February 8, 1863.[4] The 5th MSM Cavalry was attached to the District of Rolla, Department of Missouri up until June 1863 where it was then assigned to the District of the Border, Department of Missouri up until October 1863 then reassigned back to the District of Rolla until the regiment mustered out on July 8, 1865.

The 5th MSM Cavalry saw most of its action in and around the area of Waynesville, MO. where the headquarters was located atop a bluff overlooking the town as well as the Wire Road, a main supply route from St. Louis to Springfield, MO. Most of this action involved skirmishes and scouting missions against Missouri bushwhackers who were southern sympathizing, irregular forces.

On March 25, 1864, Brigadier General Odon Guitar, commander of the District of Rolla and Col. Sigel’s commanding officer, was relieved of command and Col. Sigel, in accordance with General Order #25, was directed to assume command of the District of Rolla, in which Col. Sigel responded that he would indeed fulfill this role. In November 1864 he continued this role as commander of the Rolla District and after the evacuation of Fort Davidson in Pilot Knob, MO, awaited the arrival of Brigadier General Thomas Ewing.[5] In a report given by Brigadier General John McNeil, Col. Sigel received praise for setting up a secure defense in anticipation for the continuing threat of Confederate General John S. Marmaduke and General J.O. Shelby General McNeil stated that, “By the 3rd of October, so assiduously and faithfully had the working parties performed the tasks allotted, for which too much praise cannot be given to Colonel Albert Sigel, Fifth Missouri State Militia Infantry, commanding the post.”[6]

After the Civil War, Col. Sigel served as Adjutant-General of Missouri and as a notary public.

Colonel Sigel died on March 16, 1884 at the age of 56. The St. Louis Republican newspaper printed the following obituary of his passing:

BURIAL OF COL. ALBERT SIGEL. From the St. Louis Republican, March 18.

Col. Albert Sigel, Adjutant-General of Missouri under Gov. Brown, was buried yesterday. There were few persons in attendance and no services at the house or grave. Col. Sigel was the brother of Gen. Franz Sigel, and was a native of the Grand Duchy of Baden, having been born at Sinshein, Baden, Nov. 13, 1827. He had a military education and saw some service before coming to this country. Col. Sigel during the war was in command of the Fifth Regiment Cavalry, Missouri State Militia (formerly the Thirteenth.) He was appointed Colonel of the regiment May, 19, 1862, and was mustered out with the regiment at the expiration of its term, Jan. 7, 1865. The regiment aggregated 1,100 men, was well mounted, and the condition of the horses was as good as that of the horses of any mounted regiment in the Missouri Department.[7]

Map of South St. Louis in 1885 with overlay of modern featuresAt the time of his death, Col. Sigel lived at 1853 or 1929 Linn Avenue in South St. Louis, which today would be located at the I-44/I-55 interchange, southeast of Lafayette Park. Many of the streets no longer exist (including this section of Linn Ave.) and quite a few others now have different names.

The St. Louis Death Registry shows that Col. Sigel is buried at “New Picker’s Cemetery” which was seized by the City of St. Louis and renamed Gatewood Gardens Cemetery. Unfortunately, the records from 1861 to 1891 are missing and all that is left is a handwritten transcription of the log, with Col. Sigel not found. So he is most likely buried in an unmarked grave at the cemetery, lost to time.

Colonel Sigel has been mostly forgotten in the shadow of his brother Franz, by children that left him no heirs, and the march of time. However, history shows him as a dedicated soldier and commander for the United States, a public servant to the state of Missouri

 

Works Cited

National Park Service. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailor’s Database: Battle Units. n.d. http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UMO0005RCY2 (accessed January 6, 2015).

New York Times. “Burial of Col. Albert Sigel.” New York Times Obituary, March 21, 1884.

The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-65 Records of the Regiments in the Union Army-Cyclopedia of Battles-Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers. Vols. V Cyclopedia of Battles A – Helena. Madison, WI: Federal Publishing Company, 1908.

United States War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901.

Wood, William D. Report of the Adjutant General. St. Louis: Headquarters State of Missouri Adjutant Generals Office, 1863.

 

[1] Year: 1880; Census Place: St. Louis, St. Louis (Independent City), Missouri; Roll: 721; Family History Film: 1254721; Page: 637C; Enumeration District: 100

[2] Missouri Secretary of State, “Missouri Digital Heritage” Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1963. http://www.sos.mo.gov/records/archives/archivesdb/deathcertificates/Default.aspx

[3] United States War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901. Serial 019, Page 0321, Chapter XXV.

[4] Wood, William D. Report of the Adjutant General. St. Louis: Headquarters State of Missouri Adjutant Generals Office, 1863, p. 483.

[5] Ibid., Serial 086, Page 0707, Chapter LIII.

[6] Ibid., Serial 083, Page 0375, Chapter LIII.

[7] New York Times. “Burial of Col. Albert Sigel.” New York Times Obituary, March 21, 1884.

Mathew Brady’s Photographs of Union Generals online exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute presents the photographic works of probably the most well known of American Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady. This exhibit begins by explaining that while Brady was mostly known for his Civil War photographs, he also had a New York studio where he had portraits done in photography of a variety of clients, including many of the Union Civil War generals. The exhibit explains that the portrait prints included in the exhibit were created from negatives in the museum’s Frederick Hill Meserve Collection[1] including William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, Ambrose Burnside, George B. McClellan and others.

General George B. McClellan by Matthew BradyUlysses S. Grant

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exhibit is in slideshow format and opens with an introduction that explains how Brady and his team of photographers not only captured amazing images of the war but of many prominent Union generals. By the outbreak of the Civil War, Brady was already quite well known as a portrait photographer. What is interesting to know is that while large-format portraits were made, the majority were calling-card size photographs known as cartes de visite.[2] These prints were popular with not just the generals themselves, but with the public who eagerly purchased these photographic images of the men they believed would lead the Union to victory and put them into parlor albums. The exhibit then continues on with the images of twenty-one Union generals and a brief biography of each including their contributions to the war, quotes, and also included their full name, birth and death year and birthplace.

The main points that the exhibit appears to attempt to present is the importance of these men to the Union war cause and in showing Brady’s work as ahead of it’s time in the mid-nineteenth century. Unfortunately, the only sources given are that of Brady’s studio and that the photos came from wet-collodion negatives. The accompanying text is not cited and is fairly general in nature, providing the very basic of overviews of each general.

The exhibit is unfortunately not extremely effective at providing anything but the basic information about each general. There is no real information about the photos themselves or more detail on the process Brady used to create these photographs. The photographs are fascinating, but the lack of any detail in the photos themselves does not present any historical information to the public short of the already mentioned basic profile of the generals.

The exhibit could have been highly effective. With a more detailed slideshow not only exhibiting the photographs, Brady’s work could have been discussed more in detail; the importance of the photographs to the general public during the war would also have been relevant; comparison and contrast of other photos of Brad’s work could have presented an interesting history of photography in the Civil War.

Sources:

[1] Smithsonian Institute. “Mathew Brady’s Photographs of Union Generals,” accessed October 5, 2014, http://www.si.edu/Exhibitions/Details/Mathew-Brady’s-Photographs-of-Union-Generals–4701.

[2] Smithsonian Institute. “Mathew Brady’s Photographs of Union Generals,” accessed October 5, 2014, http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/uniongenerals/index.html.