One of the most vehement attacks on Order No. 11 was delivered by General Frank P. Blair in St. Louis. Blair was astonished that a commander could lay waste a large section of Missouri by means of devastation, rapine and murder simply because Ewing lacked the courage to follow Quantrill. “It is the subterfuge of an imbecile,” remarked Blair. Blair continued by pointing out that 20,000 citizens were being punished because Ewing lacked the power or ability to seek out the 400 or 500 outlaws and murderers. Ewing had instead found it necessary to punish helpless people and destroy one of the finest sections of Missouri.19
It is significant that the first Governor of Kansas, Charles Robinson, concurred that Order No. 11 cast much cruelty upon the people of Missouri. Robinson, a Kansan, was a strong defender of the conduct of Kansas troops but vigorously attacked the role played by the “Red-legs” in Missouri. Robinson’s criticism of fellow Kansans should not be taken lightly.20
One of Quantrill’s officers, William Gregg, said that Order No. 11, “issued by the monster of monsters, General Ewing,” caused the people of Jackson County to suffer great hardships, by being forced to leave their homes with no money or food.”21 It is reasonable to assume that when 20,000 people are forced to leave their homes with so little, considerable suffering will occur. The cruelty of the Jayhawkers did not go unnoticed by the Missouri government. Governor Hamilton Gamble, as reported in the Missouri Democrat of 30 September, authorized the arming of men in some of the western counties to protect them- selves from raiding parties. The real leader of opposition against Ewing was Missouri State Treasurer George Caleb Bingham. Governor Gamble or Jered Bingham to Kansas City to see what could be done following the Lawrence massacre. Bingham went to Ewing’s headquarters in Kansas City and demanded that Order No. 11 be rescinded. Upon Ewing’s refusal to retract the Order, Bingham is reported to have said, “If you persist in executing that order, I will make you infamous with pen and brush as far as I am able.”22
George Bingham made good his promise. His large painting entitled “Order Number Eleven” which shows Ewing astride his horse supervising his troops as they brutally expel Missourians from their homes presents an interpretation of Ewing’s actions which is today generally accepted. The painting depicts a “Kansas Jayhawker” who has just shot a young man and is about to shoot an older man disregarding the pleas of a young girl begging for the life of the elderly gentlemen. Colonel Jennison is pictured with a number of blankets on his horse; he plans apparently to re- turn to Kansas with this booty. In the background is a funeral-like procession of people leaving their homes; columns of smoke from their burning homes and fields rise around them. This painting, as Albert Castel has pointed out, “did more than anything else to create the popular conception of Order No. 11.”23
Richard C. Vaughan, in a letter to Edward Bates, Attorney General of the United States, 28 August 1863, wrote that hundreds of loyal Union men in Jackson and Cass counties were being insulted, robbed, and even murdered. The implementation policy, he said, has caused many good men to leave their homes and seek protection in the brush. Many, he added, joined the guerrillas to insure their own safety.
Even staunch supporters of Order No. 11 saw the severity of its enforcement. Lawrence newspaper editor John Speer wrote, “Neither Sherman in his march to the sea, nor Butler at New Orleans, exceeded it in severity, but it was a just severity, conscientiously administrated by a just man. It was the extreme of humanity com- pared with the fiendish slaughters concocted and carried out by the community which it punished.24
The reaction of the South to Order No. 11 was as could be expected. Order No. 11 was not only denounced but it led to demands that guerrilla activities be increased as reported in the Daily Dispatch of Richmond, Virginia on 1 September, 1863:
The savage and inhuman measures adopted by the Yankees to put down guerrilla warfare proves that this mode of defending a country other- wise unprotected is more annoying and more dreaded by them than any other. . . . Let the guerrilla system . . . be thoroughly carried out, and if the barbarous retaliate . . . let the guerrillas, without waiting for orders exact an eye for an eye and a life for a life.
The Lexington Union on 5 September, 1863, centered its attack both on the cruelty of the order and on the possibility that the number of counties to be depopulated would be increased. It was feared that Order No. 11 might be expanded to the next tier of counties and then the next. The Union, as did many Missourians, feared an in- crease in the control the military had over local and state governments.
Ewing cannot be excused for not knowing what was going on. The enforcement was taking place only a few miles from his headquarters in Kansas City. Ewing had ridden through the district with General Schofield on his way to speak at Independence, Missouri. Many of the dislocated people of the district were flocking to Kansas City to depart for new homes. The press, alone, with its criticism of the enforcement procedure should have made Ewing aware of what was taking place. Ewing, himself, had ordered his men to track and find the bush- whackers and to take no prisoners. Another example of the extreme measures Ewing took is evidenced by his request to General Schofield made 18 September, 1863. The steamer Marcella had been stopped by guerrillas, and three Union soldiers had been shot. Ewing reported, “I have guerrillas here, convicted and unconvicted. Shall I retaliate?” Schofield’s answer was that, in his opinion, it would be just, but unwise, as it was too easy for the guerrillas to find victims for revenge.
The Official Records indicated that Ewing did little to stop the plundering until General Orders, No. 16, issued 2 October, 1863. Four days later, Ewing wrote Colonel William Weer: “There is a good deal of feeling against me already amongst Missourians. Don’t let the troops take stock except from guerrillas.” He also told Weer to leave General E. B. Brown’s people alone and reminded Weer that the second tier of counties was now in his district.25
Perhaps Ewing should not take the blame alone. The dilemma in which he found himself placed was not of his making. The cruelty of any war and especially of a civil war is great. The duration of violence was longer on the Kansas-Missouri border than in any other section during the Civil War. The “total war” of the border had begun early and ended late, as many guerrillas continued their professions as bank and train robbers. The “no holds barred” attitude of the combatants, the lack of civil authority, the political struggles among leaders, both military and civil, all added to Ewing’s woes.

To judge the effectiveness of Order No. 11 a look at guerrilla activity after the order was issued is necessary. We find that it did curtail guerrilla activity in Ewing’s district, but it did not stop it. The guerrillas simply moved into central Missouri in 1864 following their return from wintering in the South. The order may have stopped any future raids into Kansas, but the borders were also better guarded and the people of Kansas better prepared after the raid on Lawrence in 1863, and this might have been the discouraging factor. The order did cause the guerrillas to move south a little earlier than usual. As to its effectiveness then we can only conclude that Order No. 11 cur- tailed guerrilla activity in western Missouri by moving it to central Missouri.
To justify Order No. l1 as necessary is a different matter. First, the people involved were citizens of the State of Missouri and the United States, not the Confederacy. Although regulations regarding martial law are not covered in our Constitution, there is no doubt that the citizens of Missouri lost a great many of their personal liberties. General Ewing undoubtedly believed the order was justified; even so, he could have enforced Order No. 11 with disciplined Iowa, Illinois, or Colorado troops rather than with the revenge-seeking Kansans. As indicated by this paper, the Order made many loyal Missourians turn to the guerrillas for protection and caused many others to leave the state. The drastic acts of cruelty could only have been committed by angry, revenge-seeking men on both sides.
The timing of the order was unfortunate and created much hardship. Most of these people were small farmers with crops in their fields, little money, no place to go, no means of transportation, and many of the men were away fighting for the Confederacy or for the Union. With winter approaching and the bushwhackers “Jayhawkers” and “Red-legs,” General Orders, No. 11 – is that it contributed little to the outcome of the war. Preparing to go south, Ewing could have waited for spring to demand depopulation. It is perhaps most obvious here that Ewing was influenced by the cries of the press. The press crying for action, the Kansans for revenge, and Lane for “blood and fire” apparently influenced him to take immediate action. The order cannot be justified when, with a little more time and a little less emotionalism, a more sympathetic and effective means might have been devised to separate and remove the disloyal people from these Missouri communities.

There were large numbers of Kansas troops in Ewing’s district in 1863. In fact, all the Kansas troops in Ewing’s district with the exception of one company were stationed in the four counties affected by Order No. 11; the great majority of Missouri troops in Ewing’s district were found in the counties not affected by Order No. 11. The order explicitly stated that the depopulation would be vigorously executed by officers commanding in the parts of the district affected by the orders. Thus, the argument that the enforcement was undertaken by Kansas troops is justified. In addition, the Kansas City Daily Journal of Commerce on 5 and 17 September reported other Kansas troops were sent into the district. The 19 Missouri companies in Ewing’s district could have been called upon to enforce the order, or Ewing could have asked for troops from Illinois, Colorado, or Iowa. But Ewing turned instead to Kansas troops to enforce his order. An answer to the question of why Ewing used Kansas troops might possibly solve the mystery of Lane’s satisfaction with Order No. 11. General Ewing set the stage for the brutal reprisals in his efforts to punish the guerrillas. In a report to Schofield, his commanding general, Ewing wrote, “No prisoners have been taken and none will be. All the houses in which Lawrence goods have been found have been destroyed, as well as all the houses of known guerrillas, wherever our troops have gone.” Thus Ewing, by ordering no prisoners taken and allowing the troops, most of whom were Kansans, to decide who was a guerrilla and what goods came from Lawrence, was giving a sense of legality to the revenge-seeking troopers.

Order No. 11 and its enforcement brought most of the press down on Ewing. According to the St. Louis Missouri Republican: “We do not know what reasons operated upon General Ewing to issue Order No. 11 … It is inhuman, unmanly, barbarous . . . It is a prelude as we take it, to a raid by Lane and Jennison, from Kansas, when everything that remains in those rich and populous counties is to be swept away and carried into Kansas.”9 The Lexington Union on 5 September wrote that a lieutenant returning from a scouting patrol in Jackson County said: “It would make a man’s heart melt though it were of stone to witness what I have seen.” He felt sorry for the “helpless women and children driven out by the cruel or- der.” The Union continued:

. . .we have seen these refugees passing through our streets, ill clad, often times barefooted, leaving their only shelter, and their only means of substance during the approaching winter-the crops now maturing-in numerous cases without money to buy food or pay rent going they know not whether. We have found ourselves asking: can it be possible, that this is the work of an officer wearing the uniform of our country?

On 22 September the New York Times in summing up the situation in Missouri reported:

. . .Missouri is today more dangerously disturbed if not more dangerously disloyal than Mississippi. More contempt for the army and the Government is daily poured forth there-more turbulence in talk and in action is indulged in-and human life is less safe than anywhere else within all the military lives of the United States.

Newspaper criticism of Ewing and Order No. 11 was not unanimous. The Journal of Commerce continuously backed both. It had supported Order No. 10 before the Lawrence raid and on 25 August, 1863, the day Order No. 11 was issued, it asked its readers to read the order as it was “unavoidable necessary.” On the following day, 26 August, 1863, the Journal of Commerce reported: “Our advice to every man who wishes to see peace ever restored to the border is to stand by General Ewing, and especially in the execution of Order, No. 11 . . .” On 4 September 1863, the Journal of Commerce attacked both the Lexington Union and the Missouri Republican which had found great fault in Order No. 11. Their criticism, the Commerce said, was due “to their ignorance of affairs on the Border,” and the Commerce writers pointed out that the St. Louis editors were complaining more than the Union people on the Border. Ewing and his order also gained support from the Union League of Kansas City and the Jackson County Union Association.10 Ewing was, therefore, criticized by many and praised by some. But his image would always be somewhat hazy-black to some, white to others. He would be judged then and later in regard to two questions: Did Order No. 11 stop guerrilla activity, and could the Order be justified as necessary in any sense of the word even if its purpose was accomplished?

Assuming Ewing’s objective was to stop the guerrillas by removing their families and friends, how well did the order accomplish its purpose?

Militarily, Ewing was backed by his commanding general. General Schofield drafted a similar order, also on 25 August, 1863, and wrote Ewing: “. . . I am pretty much convinced that the mode of carrying on the war on the border during the past two years has produced such a state of feeling that nothing short of total devastation of the districts which are made the haunts of guerrillas will be sufficient to put a stop to the evil . . .” Schofield understood that some loyal people would suffer. He sympathized, “The commanding general is aware that some innocent persons must suffer from these extreme measures, but such suffering is unavoidable, and will be made as light as possible.” On paper Schofield’s order was harsher than Ewing’s. Schofield’s order provided for the destruction of houses, barns, and personal property; Ewing’s included only hay and grain among those items to be destroyed. When Ewing’s order was enforced by Kansas troops, however, it evidenced all the harshness of Schofield’s and more. The important issue is that Schofield agreed that some type of order requiring the depopulation of the District of the Border was necessary.

The order was supported by Colonel Bazel F. Lazear, a member of Ewing’s force, in a letter to his wife, on 17 September. Although Ewing’s order was thought unjust and cruel by some, he thought it “one of the best orders that has been issued, and I think will have good effect.” He commented that the order would prove troublesome for only a few union people as most of them had already left the area.”11

The Journal of Commerce fully supported Order No. 11 when on 29 August, 1863, it editorialized that due to General Order No. 11 the families of the bushwhackers were leaving and that the bushwhackers themselves would soon follow. And on 1 September, 1863, the journal complimented the vigorous campaign carried on by Ewing’s troops and asked for the same energy to be applied in the future. Ewing’s order accomplished the military objectives, according to the Journal. Two months later on 7 November this same source observed that great changes had taken place on the border and that the farmers of southern Kansas now felt safe for the first time since the war began.

Major Wyllis C. Ransom, speaking at a farewell supper for the 10th Kansas stated that, “Upon our immediate Border, by the grace of God, with the assistance of General Ewing and General Orders No. 11 we have peace-peace which I trust may be permanent and lasting.”’12 Ransom believed, like many, that peace had come to the Border because of Order No. 11. Peace had come, in part, because of increased difficulty facing guerrilla operations. We must also take into consideration the fact that the guerrillas always went south in the winter, thus with or without the order they would have been relatively inactive at this time.

The effectiveness of the Order No. 11 can be seen in guerrilla leader William Gregg’s statement, “The country having been depopulated under General Ewing’s Order Number Eleven, the men were sorely tried for food, apples being the only edible thing found in Missouri after leaving Lafayette County, and the boys nearly starved. . .”13 Ewing’s hope that the guerrillas would not be able to live off the land is apparently confirmed by Gregg’s statement. Guerrilla scout John McCorkle reported that on re- turning to Missouri after the winter of 1864, the irregulars could not find food for man or horse in Cass County.14

There is little doubt that Order No. 11 was a severe blow to the guerrillas. It served, however, only to hinder their operations in the District of the Border. When they returned after the winter, they began their activities again in central rather than western Missouri. If Ewing’s intention was to stop the guerrillas from raiding Kansas and operating within his district, his order was effective.

President Abraham Lincoln could see the potential evils of such an order. He informed General Schofield:

. . with the matters of removing the inhabitants of certain counties en masse; and of removing certain individuals from time to time, who are supposed to be mischievous, I am not now interfering, but am leaving to your own discretion. . . But, in like manner, you will repress assumptions of unauthorized individuals to perform the same service; because under pretense of doing this, they become marauders and murderers themselves.15

President Lincoln perceived that the men performing such a service could be as destructive as the guerrillas; he believed the orders could be carried out by a military force. But the troops called upon to perform the service were the Kansans, who carried out their orders with hatred and a burning desire for revenge. Albert Castel wrote in 1963: “In fact, with the exception of the hysteria-motivated herding of Japanese-Americans into concentration camps during World War II, it stands as the harshest treatment ever imposed on United States citizens under the plea of military necessity in our nation’s history.16 Col. B. F. Lazear who supported Ewing’s action observed in a letter to his wife, 10 September, 1863, that: “It is heart sickening to see what I have seen since I have been back here. A desolated country of women and children, some of them almost naked. Some on foot and some in old wagons. Oh, God.”17 Many Missourians were not happy with the hardships placed on some of their population by Order No. 11. John McCorkle observed that the people were banished and robbed by the same order and that so much was stolen that they had little to move.

Continued in Part III

Were such an edict issued by the Czar of Russia, towards any part of Poland, it would stamp him with infamy before the civilized world. Such, we believe, will be the verdict of history in regard to this order. Lexington Weekly Union (Mo.), 5 September 1863.

AT approximately five o’clock the morning of 21 August 1863, guerrilla leader William Clarke Quantrill and 450 men attacked the sleeping town of Lawrence, Kansas. After gaining control of the town, the guerrillas began their grisly task of looting, murder, and arson. Quantrill had ordered his men to kill every man big enough to carry a gun, and his orders were obeyed. Within four hours the guerrillas had killed approximately 150 unarmed men and had left 80 widows and 250 orphans. Most of the stores and banks of Lawrence had been robbed; 185 buildings, including one-fourth of the town’s private residences, had been destroyed. This was guerrilla warfare at its ugliest.

Following the raid on Lawrence, Quantrill and his guerrillas fled to the supposed safety of the Missouri border counties. Here the guerrillas di vided into smaller groups and headed for hiding places hoping to make their detection unlikely. The raid on Lawrence placed great pressure on the commanding general of the district, General Thomas Ewing, Jr. Ewing found himself faced both with the problem of tracking down the bush whackers and protecting Kansas from future raids and with the far more serious and immediate problem of keeping vengeful Kansans out of Missouri.

Quantrill’s forces had crossed into Missouri near Morristown, Missouri; it was here that United States Senator (Kansas) James Lane and Thomas Ewing met the night of August 22, 1863 and drew up Order No. 11.

General Orders, No. 11 of 25 August 1863, has been considered one of the cruelest and most unusual orders issued by a general during the Civil War. This order banished from four Missouri counties most inhabitants regardless of their sympathies. The only exceptions were that people living within one mile of a military post could remain, and those persons who could establish their loyalty could move to any military post or into Kansas except for the counties on the eastern border of that state.1 The four counties – Jackson, Bates, Cass, and the upper section of Vernon – were located in western Missouri, a state that remained in the Union. In Bates County, which did not have a military post, the entire population had to leave. The homes of 20,000 people were looted and burned, and their crops were confiscated or destroyed. In the 15 days allowed before they would be forcibly removed, they had too little time, too little money, and too little transportation to save many of their belongings.

Many saw the order as an act of vengeance, to punish the guerrillas for the “Sack of Lawrence,” The Lexington Union of September 5, 1863 asked, “Is this order designed to avenge this atrocity? Does a just government take vengeance for crime upon the innocent and helpless?” On September 1, 1863 the Daily Dispatch of Richmond, Virginia stated, “Quantrill’s raid upon Lawrence, Kansas, seems to have provoked a war of extermination against the people of Northern Missouri.”

In reality Order No. 11 was not issued as a punitive measure for the sack of Lawrence. As the Kansas City, Missouri Journal of Commerce of September 3, 1863 stated: “The Lawrence massacre was its occasion, not its cause.” The evacuation policy was apparently already in Ewing’s mind. The Official Records provide evidence that Order No. 10, issued 18 August 1863, three days before the raid, was similar in policy to Order No. 11; according to Order No. 10 families of known Southern Sympathizers were to be removed. Ewing wrote Colonel C. W. Marsh on 3 August 1863 that he believed the only possible way to curtail guerrilla activity was to remove the guerrillas and their families. Ewing’s action was an expansion of Order No. 10 but much harsher.

This study seeks to answer two questions: Was Order No. 11 effective and was it necessary?

One explanation offered for the order suggests its purpose was to assure the people of Kansas that they would be protected against future raids. Another reason for the Order was to curtail any attempt by Kansas to launch a raid of vengeance on Missouri. There seemed to be no doubt in the minds of most Missourians that such a raid would be forthcoming. Missourians who read Jim Lane’s speech which appeared in Missouri newspapers had a right to be frightened. Lane threatened as reported in the Daily Missouri Democrat (St. Louis) of 1 September 1863:

I will tell you what I want to see. I want to see every foot of ground in Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties burned over everything laid waste. Then we shall have no further trouble. The bushwhackers cannot remain in the country, for they will have nobody to feed them nobody to harbor them nobody to provide them with transportation no place to sleep in, and will have thirty-five miles further to march before they reach Kansas.

Lane then offered the following resolution to the people of Leavenworth which was unanimously adopted: “Resolved. That so many of the loyal men of the border as can be spared from home protection, be requested to assemble at Paola on the 8th day of September, with such arms and ammunition as they can procure Lane also told General John M. Schofield that he was going to “lay waste to the border counties of Missouri and exterminate the disloyal people.”2

On 3 September the White Cloud Kansas Chief (Troy), as well as other Kansas papers, asked that all citizens of Kansas who wished to assist in clearing out the Missouri bush whackers meet at Paola on 8 September.

General Schofield informed General Henry W. Halleck that Lane would not be permitted to enter Missouri. The Daily Missouri Republican on 6 September declared: “If Jim Lane attempts it, as he has threatened to do, Federal bayonets will protect the integrity of our soil.” But Missourians were frightened. The Neve Anzeiger des Westens (St. Louis), as reported in the Lexington Daily Union (Missouri) on 5 September described the people of Missouri as filled with terror and predicted that if Kansans, led by Lane, invaded Missouri, the Missourians could expect murder, plunder, robbery, slaughter, and “burning butchery.” To add to the Missourians’ fears the notorious Col. Charles Jennison, the most vicious and feared of the Kansas Jayhawkers, was given authority to recruit men into Union service.

Many border cities, hoping to escape retaliation from the Kansans, collected money for Lawrence 3. The Daily Missouri Democrat on 27 August reported that in Platte County 50 men gave from one to 10 dollars each in hopes of escaping the anticipated raid. Weston, Missouri gave 200 dollars to Lawrence. The Kansas City Journal of Commerce, which strongly supported the order, told its readers on 26 August that the order might satisfy the people of Kansas and save Missouri from a raid by Kansans. Ewing believed, or perhaps simply hoped, that this order, if enforced, might satisfy the Kansans. He was not going to allow a mass march on Missouri by Kansans as indicated by his correspondence with Schofield, 26 August, and 27 August, 1863.

Historian Albert Castel has pointed to a fourth Ewing motive which was both personal and political. The massacre took place in Ewing’s home state and among his friends. Thus a great deal of the blame for the raid was placed on his shoulders by his political enemies.4 The White Cloud Chief on 27 August announced: “If for every curse that has been be- stowed upon Ewing in Kansas, since Friday last, were [sic] a dollar there would be sufficient to rebuild Lawrence more substantially than ever, and to make every man in the state rich.” Kansas Governor Thomas Carney informed Schofield that many influential citizens of Kansas were against Ewing.5 General Frank Preston Blair, a Missourian, in a fiery speech in St. Louis called the desolation of Western Missouri a game between Ewing and Lane for the Senate seat of Kansas.6

Still another factor in the issuance of the order, it appears, was the pressure which Lane had brought to bear on Ewing. Ewing as a politician realized that Lane was the political leader in Kansas and that his own future could be brightened by acceding to Lane’s wishes. When the two men met at Morristown on 22 August 1863, William Mowdry, a Union officer who was present, reported that Lane told Ewing he would have him removed as soon as he could get to Washington. Ewing then begged Lane’s forgiveness, and Lane agreed to save Ewing if he would issue the order. After writing the order, Mowdry allegedly heard Lane say to Ewing, “You are a dead dog if you fail to issue that order as agreed between us.”7

Accepting the fact that the two men, met, an unanswered question remains. Why would Jim Lane, whose home and possessions were destroyed in the “Sack of Lawrence,” a man who screamed for blood and fire, be satisfied by a purely military order of orderly depopulation of a section of Missouri. Historian Richard Brownlee wrote, “Is it possible then, that Jim Lane would ever have accepted the order as a remedy unless there was an additional unwritten provision to it which he demanded and to which Ewing agreed?” Brownlee thought there was a bargain that the order would be “enforced by federalized Kansas troops. …”8 It should be pointed out that it was after the Lane- Ewing meeting that Lane stated that he wished to see the district burned and destroyed and the disloyal people exterminated.

Continued in Part II

After the victory at Wilson’s Creek in August of 1861, southern forces in Missouri under the command of Missouri Militia General Sterling Price and Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch found a new sense of purpose in Missouri. Southern sympathizing Missourians found a renewed spirit and hope for their cause in Missouri. This lead to the Militia making it’s way northward through Missouri and ended in the town of Lexington along the Missouri River. “The Battle of the Hemp Bales” as it was also called was a temporary victory for Price and his Militia, however General McCulloch opted to not follow his southern sympathizing bretheren and held to the soutwestern portion of Missouri. By November, McCulloch had secured that portion of the state. In a dispatch to Confederate General Samuel Cooper, the rift between McCulloch and Price was ever apparent:

HEADQUARTERS DIVISION, Springfield, Mo.,
November 19, 1861.

General S. COOPER,
Adjt. and Isp. General, C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on the night of the 15th instant I received information at my headquarters, 72 miles from here, that the Federal troops had started back toward Saint Louis from this place. On the 16th I started with all my available mounted troops, without wagons, and after a rapid march arrived near here last night. I was in hopes before arriving that I might be able to overtake some of the trains of the enemy, but on my arrival I found that they were too far to attempt even a pursuit, they being at least 100 miles ahead.

From all the information I can obtain the enemy’s strength was at least 30,000, with an abundance of artillery. There was evidently considerable disaffection in their ranks, and on leaving here Lane, with his Kansas troops, carried off 500 or 600 negroes, belonging to Union men as well as secessionists. From what I can learn they intend to fortify Rolla, Sedalia, and Jefferson City, and to garrison each of those places.

The Union men have nearly all fled with the Federal troops, leaving this place almost deserted. From all the information I can get of General Price’s movements he seems to be making his way in the direction of the Missouri River. An attempt of the kind, in my opinion, can only terminate as did his previous expedition to that country. Considering it inexpedient to attempt a winter campaign in this country, I shall return to the borders of Arkansas, and put my command in winter quarters by the 15th of December. As there will be much to do to make the many arrangements necessary for an early spring campaign, I respectfully request the authority of the Department for me to visit Richmond for that purpose. As soon as the troops are in winter quarters my presence here could be dispensed with for a few weeks.

Hoping my views may meet the approval of the Department, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BEN. McCULLOCH, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

McCulloch also wrote to CSA Secretery of War J. P. Benjamin on the same day with the following account:

HEADQUARTERS, Springfield, Mo.,
November 19, 1861.

Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:

SIR: I shall return to Arkansas, put my troops in winter quarters soon, and ask permission to come immediately to Richmond, so as to give the administration correct information regarding affairs in this region before it acts on matters here.

The Federals left eighth days since with 30,000 men, quarreled among themselves, and greatly injured their cause by taking negroes belonging to Union men. General Lane went to Kansas, General Hunter to Sedalia, and General Sigel to Rolla.

I have the honor to be, with respect, your obedient servant,

BEN. McCULLOCH,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

It’s obvious that McCulloch did not agree with Price’s actions and began preparations to move his command out of Missouri to be used elsewhere for the Confederacy. With the rift turning into rivalry, the overall command of the Trans-Mississippi district was turned over to Major General Earl Van Dorn. Price was commissioned a Major General in the Confederate Army and combined Price’s militia and McCulloch’s soldiers tow for the Army of the West and would engage Union General Samuel Curtis at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas.

With regular and most of the pro-southern militia pulled out of Missouri, the pro-southern cause was left in the hands of guerillas like William Clarke Quantrill, William “Bloody Bill” Anderson, George Todd, Dave Poole, Cole Younger, William Gregg and John McCorkle to defend the southern and Missouri cause

During the American Civil War, the paths of a northern-born, pro-Southern Confederate officer and a German born Union officer had briefly met in the south-central Missouri area of Waynesville in Pulaski County. Both of these men would never become famous names in the war, but both men survived the war and were each fascinating in their own way.

Missouri German Joseph A. Eppstein

Colonel Joseph A. Eppstein made a record as a citizen and soldier, which any American can read with pride and satisfaction. He was born in Germany, Jan. 1, 1824, and was 14 years of age when the family came to America. In 1843, he went to St. Louis and was employed in a store in that city until 1847. In February of that year, he enlisted in Company C, 3rd Missouri Mounted Rifles, in which he was made sergeant, and served for nearly two years, until October 1848.

After the expiration of his war service that led him to Mexico City with General Winfield Scott’s conquering forces, he returned to St. Louis and in August 1849, was given charge of a store, which he conducted until 1850, and then returned to Boonville. He engaged in the mercantile business with his brother Viet Eppstein until 1860, when he purchased his brother’s interest.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he at once organized a company of 135, every one of whom with a single exception was of German birth or ancestry. This company was known as the “Boonville Corps”. He then organized a battalion and a company of cavalry, but these were only for local service. He later organized the 6th Battalion Missouri State Guards, and after that a number of companies, both cavalry and infantry.

From March 24, 1862 to January 1863, by a special law of Congress, passed because of a general dissatisfaction among the home guards all over the state, Lieutenant-Colonel Eppstein’s battalion was reorganized, and became part of the Missouri State Militia forming the 13th Regiment MSM Cavalry under the command of Colonel Albert Sigel, brother of Union General Franz Sigel. Further consolidation of troops into four companies’ occurred which designated the 13th Regiment into the 5th Regiment MSM Cavalry, which was then ordered to Waynesville, MO. in the Rolla District.

William Osborne Coleman, Northern Southerner

William Osborne Coleman was born on January 12, 1837 around Elmira, New York. He ran away from home at age 10 and stole aboard a ship bound for Vera Cruz and the Mexican War where was wounded at Churubusco. In 1855, he moved to Kansas and participated in the border wars along the Missouri-Kansas border, siding with the pro-slavery factions.

Coleman eventually moved to Rolla Missouri where he married and with the outbreak of the Civil War, commanded a company of Missouri State Guard, which was scattered when Union Colonel Franz Sigel occupied Rolla. He joined with the Seventh Division Missouri State Guard and elected First Lieutenant. Coleman fought at many of the early battles in Missouri such as Wilson’s Creek (August 10, 1861) and the First Battle of Lexington (September 20, 1861). CSA General Sterling Price gave a commission to Coleman and he was tasked with raising a cavalry regiment in central Missouri.

Coleman was appointed Colonel by CSA Brigadier General Thomas C. Hindman on June 18, 1862 Coleman’s command was assigned to James H. McBride’s District of North Arkansas, which he did not want. A Rift occurred over the summer between McBride and Coleman. General Hindman ordered Coleman to report to McBride and dismount his regiment. Coleman refused and he was arrested on July 31, 1862 and deprived of command.

Coleman returned to Missouri and organized guerrilla bands against Federal forces until January 1, 1864 when General E. Kirby Smith released him from arrest and Coleman organized the Forty-sixth Arkansas Mounted Infantry Regiment, but quickly relinquished command and returned to Missouri where his regiment joined Sterling Price’s 1864 Missouri Raid.

The following report was given by Colonel Eppstein in 1862 while Coleman was operating with the Fourth Cavalry Regiment conducting partisan actions against Union forces in Missouri around Waynesville.

JULY 6-8, 1862.-Scout from Waynesville to the Big Piney, Mo.
Report of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph A. Eppstein, Thirteenth Missouri Cavalry (Militia).
HDQRS. THIRTEENTH CAVALRY MO. STATE MILITIA, Waynesville, Mo., July 9, 1862.

COLONEL: In pursuance of Special Orders, Numbers 12, from these headquarters, dated Waynesville, July 6, 1862, I started with 30 men of Companies B and F, under Lieutenants Ellington and Brown, to Wayman’s Mill, on Spring Creek, 12 miles from here, where I was informed that a company of Coleman’s men were encamped, about 20 miles from that place on the Big Piney. I immediately left in that direction, and on my way learned that Coleman had taken possession of Houston the day before and was running north toward the Springfield road, a statement which I disbelieved. Reports of the whereabouts and strength (from 100 to 400) of the company above mentioned was so contradictory, that I did not know how to operate until I came to Johnston’s Mill, about 30 miles from this place, on the Big Piney, where I succeeded in arresting one of Coleman’s men, who told me that he had left camp an hour previous and was on his way home. His father, who is also a rebel and belongs to the same gang, lives about 10 miles farther on. I compelled him by threats to go with me as guide to the camp, which I certainly could not have found without his assistance.

I started from Johnston’s Mill at sundown on the 7th instant, and at 8.30 p. m. arrived at another mill, where I ordered my men to dismount, leaving the horses in charge of 10 men as guards. From that place, I marched with the balance of my force (20 men, with officers) about a quarter of a mile up the road, thence through a dry creek, following the same for about 300 yards. Half an hour was lost in trying to ascertain the exact whereabouts of the camp, until I suddenly was hailed to halt. I made no reply to their sentinel, but pushed slowly forward until I found myself obstructed by a deep, stagnant creek, which could not be forded. I ordered my men to follow me around until I came to a shallower place; we crossed. On climbing up the rock on the other side, we found the enemy alarmed and formed in line 12 yards in front of us. I ordered them to surrender, but was greeted by several volleys of musketry. It was only then that my men commenced firing, having previously been instructed by me to save their ammunition, and after a few rounds I ordered them to “Charge bayonets,” which was immediately and gallantly executed. The enemy could not stand the charge, and broke in every direction in their shirttails, leaving behind them coats, pants, boots, and hats.

Owing to the darkness of the night and the thickness of the brush, I could not pursue them, and hearing of the proximity of another force of Coleman’s men, was apprehensive of the safety of my little force, and returned after having reconnoitered the ground. I found 4 dead bodies, 1 wounded man, several horses killed, and a lot of clothing and camp equipage strewn in every direction. Considering the proximity of our firing, I judge that many more rebels were wounded, but succeeded in escaping. Bradford, the prisoner and guide, tried to escape during our charge, but was run through with a bayonet. He was left wounded on the field, but I ordered a neighbor to his assistance. But one of our men was slightly wounded by a buck-shot, as the volleys of the enemy went over our heads.

I captured 3 prisoners, 10 horses, 8 saddles, and 5 guns. The camp equipage was destroyed, as we had no means to take it along. The names of the prisoners are William Hamilton, George Logan, and James Ormsby, all of Company A, Coleman’s battalion.

One of the prisoners stated that Coleman had left Arkansas with about 600 men, but that he had recruited his force since that time to about 800 to 900 men in the adjoining counties; a statement which I fully believe.

Very respectfully, yours,

JOSEPH A. EPPSTEIN,

Lieutenant Colonel, Thirteenth Cavalry, Missouri State Militia.

Both men survived the war and went on to lead normal, everyday lives, but early on in the war, fate brought these two soldiers together in a way they would have never imagined.

Joseph Eppstein eventually became the commander of the Missouri State Militia and served until the close of the war. He followed merchandising after the war until 1878, when he was appointed postmaster of Boonville and served until his death in 1885. He died on March 4, 1886 in Cooper County MO. and is buried in St Peter and Paul Cemetery in Boonville, MO.

When the war ended in 1865, William Coleman was paroled in Jacksonport AR. He moved to Texas but eventually settled in Detroit, Dade County Florida where he died on June 30, 1921 and is buried in City Cemetery, Miami FL.

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 Civil War in Missouri and eastern Kansas, in addition to killing prisoners, both the Jayhawkers of Kansas and the Bushwhackers of Missouri murdered and robbed civilians as well as soldiers which was and is commonplace in any guerrilla war. The following correspondence describes a “Guerrilla” attack on Lamar, Mo., and the “Union” response from Fort Scott. Both documents are located on Pages 348 and 352-354 in Series I, Vol. 13 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

“Lamar, Mo., November 6, 1862.

Sir: I have the honor to report that I was attacked last night by a band of rebels, numbering 200 or 300. I fought them some two and a half hours from houses and every way. The rebels rushed in and burned about one third of the town. They killed three of my men and wounded three mortally, I think. We held the town and still hold it. We killed five or six of the rebels. I shall stay here until I hear from you. We would like to have some men in this part of the country. Three squads have passed through this country within the past week, numbering in all about 1,000. They are going south. If I had 150 more men here, I think I could capture the squads that are passing through this country. I am not strong enough to organize the militia in Jasper County.

Yours with respect,

M. BREEDEN,Captain.”


“Headquarters, Fort Scott, Kan., Nov. 11, 1862.

General: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the instant I received a dispatch from Capt. Breeden, dated Lamar, at 9 p.m. the night before stating that he had been attacked by about an hour before by 400 men under Quantrill that they were still fighting and asking for assistance. I immediately sent Capt. Conkey with 80 men and Capt. Coleman with 30 men; they leaving here at 4 o’clock a.m. Thursday morning.

At 9 o’clock I learned that Captain Morton’s (wagon) train was at Carthage the same night and being fearful that he would run right into the enemy I dispatched a messenger to Capt. Conkey, stating these facts and directing him to follow on and if necessary to fight his way through to the train.

Capt. Conkey did follow on and got after the enemy and killed one of them and learned that the train had passed west in safety. On the night following, the train arrived here, having made a forced march.

The next morning about 3 a.m., a messenger reached me stating that (Confederate guerrilla) Livingston with 100 men was on the Dry Wood about two miles above Redfield murdering and robbing and that he was working up stream. I immediately ordered Capt. Mefford to take about 75 men and make a crossing at Morris Mill, but owing to his men being very tired and his scouts worn down, he did not get started until about 6 o’clock and in the mean time messengers continued to arrive with information of Livingston’s movements, passing up stream above Morris Mill and the military crossing at Endicott’s, so that by the time Mefford was ready he made direct for Cato and there struck his trail about one hour behind him and pursued him about 25 miles to Cow Creek and overtook him, making a running fight and wounding one of Livingston’s men and recovering some prisoners. As his stock (horses) was badly used up and the enemy well mounted and scattered Captain Mefford returned to this post and I am glad to say he did as well as he could considering the condition of his horses.

In the meantime, I had dispatched a messenger to Capts. Conkey and Coleman, who had encamped at Morris’ Mill, on the direct road to Carthage to make for Sherwood (Mo.) and to intercept them there. The messenger reached them in good time and they started for Sherwood, but as it grew dark before they reached that place and having no one with them familiar with the country, they were obliged to encamp until next morning.

The command then separated, Capt. Coleman on the south side of Spring River and Capt. Conkey on the north side and worked down toward Sherwood and Capt. Coleman being in the advance came upon the enemy and charged them, killing four or five and taking four prisoners, including the notorious Capt. Baker, who was taken by Capt. Coleman himself.

Take it all in all, I think the pursuit a decided success and that the enemy will be more cautious hereafter. If I had a respectable number of well-mounted men I would punish their impudence. On the night of the 10th instant I sent Lieutenant Cavert of the third Wisconsin with 16 men to Lamar, with dispatches for Capt. Breeden and they reached there at a.m. yesterday the 11th instant and found that Quantrill had left just after burning most of the town that had been spared by him before. I am satisfied that Quantrill is waiting for a train and I shall be compelled to send all of my cavalry with it which will weaken the post so much that he may feel like making an attack upon us. There is, as I learn from proper officers about $2,000,000 worth of government property at this post and vicinity and it does seem to me as if our force is hardly sufficient. I learn also that the trains passing from Springfield have a very strong guard most of the time a full regiment and it certainly is not as dangerous as our route.

If you are inclined to send a large cavalry force it would please me to have Capts. Earle and Coleman of the Ninth Kansas with their companies if it would suit your pleasure.

The whole transportation belonging to this post is engaged in carrying commissary stores to the command, but we are expecting 100 more teams from Fort Leavenworth the coming week. After this train shall start, the enemy can approach very near and laugh at us, as I shall have no cavalry to send after them at any time since I have been here and the only way that I have been able to keep them from doing more mischief is by having small scouting parties on the move in their country all the while and that has told on our horses.

In these expeditions, my men have been very successful losing none and having only a few wounded and have killed quite a number of the enemy and frightened them awfully. I have just learned that the citizens on Dry Wood are leaving with their families after asking for a force which I could not give them and Squire Redfield has also asked for a force in his vicinity as the inhabitants are very much frightened.

I am General, very respectfully, you obedient servant,

B.S. HENNING,
Major, Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Commanding Post.”

It appears by this letter that Maj. Henning was very concerned, as he should have been, about the minimal numbers of troops stationed at Fort Scott to protect the post and provide protection for the transient wagon trains and the citizens of the area. This was a problem that plagued all of the Union commanders at Fort Scott throughout the war, but it did not stop them from sending relief columns to the towns in the surrounding area, including towns in Missouri such as Lamar when they were threatened or attacked, and of course, the war went on!

Of those who suffered the most during the Civil War, the family is clearly at the top of the list. Not only were there sectional divides between North and South, but citizens of towns against each other, friendships lost over the divide, and families torn apart.

The Civil War has often been described as pitting brothers against brothers. In fact at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861, both Joseph Shelby, member of the Missouri State Guard, and his stepbrother Cary Gratz, soldier in the 1st Missouri Infantry, U.S., fought on Bloody Hill. The War, however, was not limited to the battlefield as political differences created painful divisions among family members. The State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-Rolla, contains a valuable anthology entitled, The Hunter-Hagler collection, which reveals how women endured through the Civil War and the struggles one matriarch, Elizabeth Hunter, faced in trying to keep her family together through the perils of wartime. The Hunter family lived in Jasper County, Missouri. The collection provides letters written by Elizabeth Hunter and her daughters, Priscilla A. Hunter and Charlotte Elizabeth (Hunter) Hagler. The correspondents contained in this collection are to Elizabeth’s daughter Margaret Hunter-Newberry, who married and left the family farm. The letters are very candid and expose graphic details about daily life in Southwest Missouri.

We hear of horse steeling every week or too Motly’s horses was stoled a few nights ago all they had at home they went to the Sarcoxie mill last week and told the miller if the ground another grain he would kill him so the mill is standing the water is so low wee can hardly git grinding done atal we hear the drouth is awful in the north part of the state and the rebbels killing burning and destroying worse than they are here Jenison [Charles Jennison] is let loose among them I hope he will give them justice the rebels are under no law and the malitia is bound down not to pester anything that belongs to a sworn secish they can ride fine horses but if we go we have to walk we can’t keep a horse here the union party is on the decline we cant keep nothing for the bushwhacks but the secish is let alone Mag I cant be a secesh there is no use trying I am furder from it all the time to see how they are killing our men distroying our cuntry who can claim themfor there party. They have killed Mr Clark Peter Baker Mr Seymore Brice Henry John Blake Pearson Lorence and Alfred Lawrence around here this summer.

– Elizabeth Hunter and to Margaret (Mag) Hunter Newberry-Aug. 11, 1864

Guerrilla warfare spread throughout the Midwest region like a brush fire, hitting hard especially the southwest corner of Missouri along the Kansas border. Marauding bands of men would terrorize civilians, ransacking their homes, pillaging whatever goods they had available, and then burning their homes so nothing remained. Those who were witness to these atrocities were women and children. With the landscape of southwest Missouri devoid of men, women were called upon to offer up their reproductive duties, i.e. their children and their domestic powers to support the men fighting. The Civil War offered women a rare opportunity to step into traditionally masculine roles, without the fear of ridicule or of being ostracized. Many women arose to the challenge and adapted into the roles previously held by their husbands, fathers, and brothers. Women were now working as the head of all aspects of their household, business, or farm. Facing violence, managing a home without a secure network of support, raising a family in the midst of disease and deprivation, tending to crops with a diminished workforce…all combined though to make hardship an everyday reality for these intrepid women.

That reality though proved to be too much for Elizabeth Hunter and her family to handle so they relocated to Illinois in 1864 and remained there until the war was over. The Hunter family was just one of the hundreds of families that were forced to abandon their homes and move to a safer location due to the hostile environment created by the war. Increase in guerrilla warfare along the Missouri-Kansas border forced General Thomas Ewing to issued Order No. 1 1 on August 25, 1863, in an effort to depopulate the area of guerrilla supporters. The order mandated all citizens living in Bates, Cass, Jackson, and the northern half of Vernon County to evacuate their homes immediately and seek refuge in another area.To make matters more complicated for Elizabeth, she also had to deal with an on-going conflict with her daughter Margaret. Margaret was allegedly a secessionist and through the context of the letters it is clear that Margaret felt very disconnected from her family because of their opposing beliefs. Elizabeth adamantly professed her love for her daughter and all her children, but she refused to change her stance on supporting the Union, and tried to persuade her daughter to reconsider her secessionist position.

I am always glad to hear from you, dont let such thauts enter your mind that I ever get tired of yet I would like to be with you all the time. I love you with that love that none but a mother knows it distresses me to think that my child has any fears that I have forsaken [MS torn]ntend long as I have a heart to love any thing I will love my children and be there true friend as I have always been, dont think because we differ in opinion in war matters that I aint your friend I can tell you that I think the rebbels and copperheads are all wrong they will see it when I fear it will be too late.

-Elizabeth Hunter letter Jan. 10, 1865

Whether Elizabeth and her daughter Margaret ever reconciled after the war ended is unknown. However, one may speculate that Margaret did find some peace with her mother, since she kept all the letters she wrote to her. The Hunter-Hagler letters are a powerful collection depicting the hardships many families faced in a politically torn region as neighbors and even families turned on one another. The Hunter-Hagler collection is housed at the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-Rolla. The collection was digitized for inclusion in the Community & Conflict project, which serves to explore the war’s impact on the Ozarks.

Digital scans and transcripts of the Hunter-Flagler letters can be viewed at: http://www.ozarkscivilwar.org/archives/1044.

Original article by Rachel Regan

In Part I we looked at the motives for fighting as a guerrilla instead of a regular soldier during the Civil War. Author Bruce Nichols explained that there were five motivations for adopting the role of a guerrilla – bitterness, anger, hope, desperation and excitement. We covered bitterness and anger and we now move on to hope, desperation and excitement.

Nichols points out that many Missourians were hopeful that Federal carelessness would result in a victory for the southern sympathizers. This was actual a real and relevant hope, as there were plenty of mistakes made by the Union commanders in the West. As the war began to have an eastern focus, many of the talented leadership headed that direction, leaving behind less than stellar leadership. For those not in Missouri, the idea of needing top-notch leadership there seemed a waste. Why waste good officers and men in an area that they had considered “won” and where the guerrillas presented nothing more than occasional inconveniences that would aid in relieving boredom of the soldiers assigned there. Nothing was further from the truth.

Hope was also a motivator for southern sympathizers to free Missouri from it’s Union strangle. This is a major reason why men fought as guerrillas. Confederate Major General Theophilus Holmes wrote that

…we cannot be expected to allow our enemies to decide for us whether we shall fight them in masses of individually, in uniform, without uniform, openly or from ambush. Our forefathers and yours conceded no such right to the British in the first Revolution…

Guerrillas were  a part of the grand scheme for the Confederates and more than the outlaws the North branded them as.

Another motive was desperation, and this is one that most fail to consider or do not understand. Missourians were forced from all viewpoints to participate in the fight. There was no such thing as neutrality. Guerrillas would sometimes force men to join their bands, with the threat of death if they refused.  Some tried to move away, but realized that in doing so it meant forever, as coming back left them marked as a traitor. The Union drafting men and forcing them to either side with the Union or with the Confederates. As Nichols points out it separated the “sheep from the goats.” There were plenty examples of who bushwhackers, donning Union uniforms, would be able to ascertain the loyalties of a man, leaving the man however in a position never knowing how to answer – if he chooses Union because of the uniform, he is shot. If he chooses rebel and they are Union soldiers, he is arrested and then shot. Desperation led many people in Missouri to do things they never would have contemplated outside of war. And it left it’s scar on everything and turned simple men, women and children into a hardened, desolate people.

The last motive is excitement, and while you would think this to be a minute portion of the motives, it clearly was as equal a factor as the rest.  Young men, pumped by patriotism, family and the sheer thrill of that lifestyle, sought out to join guerrilla bands. Harrison Trow, a member of William Quantrill’s band, wrote after the war that

As strange as it may seem, the perilous fascination of fight under a black flag – where the wounded could have neither surgeon or hospital, and were all that remained to the prisoners was the absolute certainty of speedy death – attracted a number of young men to the various guerrilla bands…

The bravado of these men was clear; men such as William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, Jesse and Frank James, Coleman Younger, Archie Clements, Dave Poole, and William Gregg, lived hard, fast lives. Their exploits of daring, and even recklessness, exemplified the nature of the Missouri guerrilla.

 

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.