The name “Red Legs” is often confused with the name “Jayhawkers” that describes the Kansas men who supported the Free-State cause in the border wars along the Missouri-Kansas border prior to the American Civil War.

Red Legs were a paramilitary group that was supported by Union generals such as Thomas Ewing Jr., James Blunt, and Senator James H. Lane. It was financed officially by the Kansas governor, Thomas Carney, and saw its first muster under the command of Charles R. “Doc” Jennison and Captain George H. Hoyt, a Massachusetts lawyer who defended John Brown at his trial after the Harpers Ferry Raid. These men were ardent abolitionists, but were equally as vicious as the bushwhackers in Missouri. Buffalo Bill Cody was a Red Leg and admitted that “We were the biggest thieves on record.”

Historian Albert Castel points out that,

Kansas jayhawkers and Red Legs made devastating raids into Missouri during which they plundered and murdered, burned farmhouses and crops, and liberated hundreds of slaves. These forays in turn caused pro-Southern guerrilla bands to retaliate against Kansas. Led by Quantrill, the Missouri bushwhackers sacked Kansas border settlements and shot down unarmed civilians “like so many hogs.” At the same time they waged a deadly partisan warfare against Federal troops and Union adherents in Missouri itself.

This consistent fighting along the border, and the incursions by the pro-southern Missourians into Kansas seeking retribution, led to General Thomas Ewing to issue the infamous General Order No. 11 on August 25, 1863. This depopulation of the Missouri counties of Jackson, Bates, Cass and parts of Vernon, left Missourians with an even stronger hate for their Kansas neighbors, which led to more incursions by bushwhackers and more violence.

In a compilation of letters from the era of the war put together in 1920, there is this account by Sam P. Gott;

About the first of January, 1864, a band of Kansas Red Leg soldiers same into the northwestern part of Johnson county, Missouri, and robbed, burned and murdered in that part of the country for two or three days. An old man named Shafer was killed and the house and barn were burned. An eyewitness told the writer that he saw the smoke going up from twenty-seven houses and barns at one time.

These murderers, claiming to be Jennison’s soldiers, under the command of Jim Lane, returned to Kansas City with their booty and remained there until the first of April, 1864. They then came back into southwestern Lafayette County, apparently to complete the work of devastation in that part of the country. It was on Sunday afternoon that they came into the neighborhood of Chapel Hill (I think it was at this time they burned Chapel Hill College). They hung an old man nearly eighty years old in a barn belonging to a man named William Harris. Old Uncle Joe Johnson was the man who was hung. That night they camped on the farm of Mr. Alph Cobb, about three miles east of Chapel Hill. Early the next morning they went to Washington Martin’s and took away about fifteen head of good mules and horses, besides whatever other valuables they could load into wagons and haul away.

Near Lone Jack in southeast Jackson County, an expedition led by Colonel Charles S. Clark of the Ninth Kansas Cavalry provides an example of how events involving any Red Leg imbedded with the Union troops often turned out.

Martin Rice was a loyal Unionist, but was forced from his home and land. He had obtained the required papers showing his loyalty to the Union but on his five mile journey to his new home in Johnson County, along with a number of his neighbors he was met by the Ninth Kansas Cavalry and arrested. After being questioned by the arresting officer, Captain Charles F. Coleman, Rice was instructed to ‘”Travel!”’ and set back out on his journey. He then heard shots fired and turned around to find that his neighbors and travelling companions all had been accused of assisting a group of guerillas the night before and therefore all had been shot and killed.

Historian Bruce Nichols points out that this event “was purely and act of cruelty or the result of wrong assumptions, it certainly was a case of “shoot first and ask questions later” which typified many of the actions of Union troops in this region during this period…”

Another example of how these Union soldiers went against what Order No. 11 stated was in how they destroyed property and land. Daniel B. Holmes wrote that he and his fellow members of the Seventh Kansas Cavalry lived quite well

Not from what we draw from the commissary but what we jayhawked. When we are traveling through secesh country we come to the home of some leading secesh, or of some man in the secesh army, then we take his horses and property, burn his house, or as we say, clean them out, well, in the operation we generally get a young hog … some turkeys, chickens, once in a while a crock of honey, then don’t we live.

By the end of the war the Red Leg’s faded from the scene afterwards as guerilla war diminished along the border, and “Doc” Jennison was court martialed and dismissed from service in June 1865. Even after 150 years, though, the deeds of the Red Legs are not forgotten on either side of the state line.

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.

In the April of 1862, a battalion of the 2nd Ohio (Buckeyes) Cavalry Regiment conducted an expedition into the enemy state of Missouri from Fort Scott. If there is an after -action report of this expedition, it has not been discovered yet. However, the following account of this mission was published in the April 26,1862 edition of the “Western Volunteer” newspaper in Fort Scott.

A trip to Carthage”

The 1st Battalion of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry under the command of Mjr. George Minor, left this place for Carthage on Thursday, the 10th inst. The command consisted of companies C, I, F 7 L A (supply) train of nine wagons, loaded with company and commissary stores, ammunition, etc. accompanied us. Nothing of note happened on our first day’s march and we camped on the bank of Drywood (Creek) having made about 12 miles.

Early on Friday morning we resumed our march, intending to reach Lamar that night, but owing to the heavy rain which set in in the forenoon and to some little accidents which delayed our train, we were obliged to encamp on the bank of Cox’s Creek, having marched but 10 miles. The men were drenched with rain and after spending a cold, uncomfortable night, we resumed our march. The day was cold and a drizzling rain set in which continued until night. The road was not bad, however, and everything went on smoothly until within a few miles of Lamar, when we were met by a couple of men, who came to inform us that owing to the rise in the river, we would be unable to cross the at the ford and must go some distance to the bridge. Leaving the main road we struck off into a by road which led to the bridge. Hardly had we gone a hundred yards before we found that our new road was anything but a pleasant one. Wagon after wagon stuck fast in the thick prairie mud, which for three or four miles was nearly up to the (wagon) axles and the strength of six mules was totally inadequate to the task of pulling them out. There was no other way, it must be done by hand. Picket ropes were tied to the tongues and the men, arranging themselves on each side, guiding their horses with one hand and bracing well in the stirrups, would pull with the other hand, adding the labor of 50 or more men to that of six mules and thus the wagons were drawn out of and through the thick mud the entire distance. For a while, the companies relieved each other at this labor, but soon all got to work together and then the fun commenced in earnest, different companies vying with each other to see which should get their wagon out first. The men and officers shouting at the top of their voices, teamsters (wagon drivers) screaming and plying the whip to stubborn mules and shouts of exultation as one company would pass another, made up a scene at once animated and ludicrous. We finally got through the mud, crossed the bridge and encamped within two miles of Lamar.

After refreshing our horses with “secesh” (Confederate) hay and grain, some of the boys thinking they had worked a little too hard to make a supper of hard bread and bacon, started in pursuit of fresh provisions. Woe, then to the unlucky hog, sheep or yearling (calf) found in the woods. The fact of his being there was taken as positive evidence of bushwhacking propensities and our boys have only lead and cold steel for Buschwhackers when the officers are not in sight. After leaving this camp, nothing of interest occurred and we entered Carthage the next day about 10 a.m. We encamped just on the town and prepared for operations.

The next day Co. C, Lt. Strong commanding, was sent out for forage. They came back with nine wagons well loaded with corn, oats, hay, bacon, etc. besides five prisoners and a number of young mules, colts and cattle. On Wednesday, 40 men from Company I, under Lt. Welch were sent out with six wagons to try their luck. They were even more successful than Co. C had been. They brought back grain, apples, potatoes and bacon, all the mules could draw. They also succeeded in finding a squad of rebels, of whom they captured eight, taking at the same time, nine fine horses, three double-barreled shotguns and one revolver. Some of the prisoners were identified as old offenders and it is to be hoped that they may be set at pulling hemp (hanged) as they deserved.

All hands now began to feel as if, after lying idle for months, we were at last to be allowed to work. Certainly this part of the country presents a fine field for operations. But alas, in came a dispatch ordering us back to Fort Scott and we must leave at once. So the next morning, we set out for this place, a place we hoped we had turned our backs upon forever. The very heavens, as if to manifest the displeasure of an angry God, sent the rain in torrents, flooding the roads and raising the streams so that it was only by swimming our horses that we reached camp that night. We pushed on the next day intending to reach Fort Scott, but by the time we reached Drywood, darkness had overtaken us and we were obliged to remain on the other side of Drywood Creek. Our wagons had been left behind at Lamar on account of the roads and having neither tents nor picket ropes, we fed our horses corn and building a few fires, stood wet and shivering through the long, dark night, many of us holding our horses by the bridle until daylight. That night will long be remembered by the boys of the First Battalion, as will also the encouraging looks and words of Mjr. Minor and Lts. Welch and Leslie, the only officers who endured the night with us.

There is nothing like the presence of officers enduring the hardships with them to inspire confidence and cheer in the minds of soldiers at a time like that. Next morning, we crossed the river (Drywood Creek) and came to Fort Scott, where we remain, eagerly awaiting the order that will send us back to Carthage or some point where there is work to do.”

“Vic”

It is not known who “Vic,” the author of this article, was, but it is believed that he was a soldier in the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Shortly after completing this expedition into Missouri, the 2nd Ohio Calvary Regiment returned to its home state, was reorganized and participated in various campaigns east of the Mississippi river, and of course, the war went on!

In the American Civil War, most notably in Missouri, the use of standard military tactics as a method of fighting was a far second place to that of guerrilla fighting. Why was this method of fighting preferred and what was the real reason behind it? Guerrilla warfare was actually the method used by the American patriots in the Revolutionary War. Few battles were fought in standard military fashion, and this was a major reason for the American victory – the British troops simply were not prepared to handle this type of warfare and believed the Americans to be fighting in and “ungentlemanly’ manner.

Author Bruce Nichols believes, in the case of the Civil War, that there were five primary motives – bitterness, anger, hope, desperation and excitement.

The first reason, bitterness, was probably the one that was primarily the main motivator, but is overlooked as a military reason and viewed more as the actions of criminals, which in many cases was true. Union Major General John M. Schofield stated that “…the bitter feelings between the border people, which feeling is the result of old feuds, and involves very little, if at all, the question of Union or disunion…” and there were plenty of examples of wrongdoings, or the notions of wrong doing, to push many men to care less about the state of the Union, but rather, how to enact retribution on this perceived wrong doing.

The perfect example is the collapse of the makeshift prison in Kansas City that housed female family members of Missouri bushwhackers. The prison collapsed under questionable circumstances, killing and maiming some of the women housed there. William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson lost one sister and had another one maimed and it is said this single event pushed him over the edge. He wrote in 1864, “I have chosen guerrilla warfare to revenge myself for wrongs I could not honorably avenge otherwise.” There was also instances of Union troops, some made up of Kansan “Red-Legs” who were enacting their own vengeance on the Missourians, burning, killing, and destroying farms and families that drove some Confederate soldiers to desert in order to return for vengeance as a guerrilla.

The second reason, anger, Nichols points out as being from some “tyranny real or imagined” and points to things such as the suspension of civil rights, occupation of the state, extremism of abolitionists, the emotional issue of slavery, raids on Missourians by Kansas Jayhawkers, the use of German immigrants, the Federal government calling for a draft, and finally, sensational southern press and it’s censoring by the Union authorities.

In Part II, we’ll continue with the other three motivating reasons: hope, desperation and excitement.