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.

By the spring of 1861 the people of Missouri were already familiar with the strife and sectionalism that plagued the country when the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Ft Sumter on April 12, 1861. Since the mid-1850’s1850s and the events now known as “Bleeding Kansas“, Missourians, far from the east, had fought and suffered over the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott case and yes, slavery. Guerrilla warfare ravaged the state and it’s people all during the war and even afterwards.

There many things about Missouri during the Civil War that made it significant. Some were vital events, some, well, bragging rights. But it is beyond a doubt that this border state played a huge role in the conflict that would define our nation.

Missouri sent more men to war, in proportion to population, than any other state. Missouri had 199,111 volunteers. Approximately 27,000 Missouri civilians and soldiers were killed during the Civil War.

Missouri also saw many firsts: the first land battle of the Civil War which took place in Boonville Missouri on June 17, 1861. Ulysses S. Grant found his first battle of the war in Belmont, MO on November 7, 1861. The first Union general of the war, Nathaniel Lyon, was killed at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. In Greene County Missouri, Private Joseph W. Cole of Co. O 1st Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment would become the first Civil War soldier to be executed on July 14, 1861.

Other interesting facts about Missouri: Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to Brigadier General while serving in Ironton, MO. and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) served a whole two weeks with Hannibal Missouri Confederates before tiring of the whole things and “retiring”. Missouri was the only state to have representatives in both the United States Congress and the Confederate Congress.

Not counting undocumented skirmishes, Missouri saw what is considered to be 27 battles within her borders. Missouri ranks third in the number of battles within her borders only behind Virginia and Tennessee. Some of the battles were little more than 20 minute skirmishes. Some, like Wilson’s Creek, Westport and Fort Davidson, were bloody and horrific and saw a huge loss of life.

The following battles all took place in Missouri:

1. Booneville
2. Carthage
3. Liberty
4. Cole Camp
5. Wilson’s Creek
6. Dry Wood Creek
7. Lexington (#7 and #24)
8. Fredericktown
9. Springfield (#9 and #19)
10. Belmont
11. Mt. Zion Church
12. Roans Tan Yard
13. New Madrid/Island 10
14. Kirksville
15. Independence (#15 and #26)
16. Lone Jack
17. Newtonia
18. Clark’s Mill
20. Hartville
21. Cape Girardeau
22. Fort Davidson (Pilot Knob)
23. Glasgow
25. Little Blue River
27. Byram’s Ford
28. Westport
29. Marmiton River

It was always clear that Confederate Missouri Militia General Sterling Price and Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch rarely, if ever, saw eye to eye on matters. Strategic differences and the simple fact that McCulloch was, more or less, forced to cooperate with Price by President Jefferson Davis.

The Confederate victory at Wilson’s Creek in August of 1861, southern forces in Missouri under the command of both Price and  McCulloch, was a moral booster for Southern sympathizing Missourians, who 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, bur General McCulloch decided to not follow his southern sympathizing brethren and held to the southwestern portion of Missouri. By November, McCulloch had secured that portion of the state. He makes it clear in his dispatch to Confederate General Samuel Cooper, that the rift between himself and Price was ever far from being resolved when he wrote,

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 together to form the Army of the West and would engage Union General Samuel Curtis at the Battle of Pea Ridge (or Elkhorn Tavern) in Arkansas in March 1862.

Price and McCulloch never mended their fences and at Pea Ridge, General McCulloch was killed in combat, shot out of his saddle and killed instantly by a Union sharpshooter.

With the regular and most of the pro-southern militia pulled out of Missouri, the pro-southern cause was left instead 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, which was fought with an entirely different style than that of the regular army.

After the beginning of the Civil War, the arsenal in Liberty, MO had been attacked by pro-Confederates and a large number of rifles and muskets were taken. The arsenal in St. Louis was by far much larger than the one in Liberty, with as much as 40,000 rifles and muskets. Fears that the pro-Confederates would attempt to seize the St Louis arsenal, a militia was raised under the command of Captain Nathaniel Lyon to protect the arsenal. Lyons militia was largely composed of German immigrants and members of the Wide Awakes organization.

Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson ordered the Missouri Militia for maneuvers just outside of the arsenal in what was known as Camp Jackson. The governor at this point was considered neutral, but had strong leanings towards the South.

On May 10, 1861, Lyons would force the surrender of the militia, but the men refused to take the oath of allegiance and Lyons marched the men to the arsenal through the streets of St Louis, guarding them with members of the German Home Guard. This sparked outrage with the citizens and they began to hurl rocks and pavement at the Union soldiers, particularly aiming at the Germans. A shot was fired and then Germans opened fire into the crowd, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding at least 50 more.

Rioting ensued and many more citizens and soldiers were beaten and mistreated. Eventually, Federal regular Army troops arrived and martial law was enacted. The relief of the Germans however, abated the situation and the rioting ended.

The Camp Jackson Affair would be an event that further provided proof of division in the country, and in the state of Missouri. It would also be one of the deciding factors in forcing most Missourian’s to pick a side as issues of the day such as nativism, slavery, and state’s rights were now thrust upon them. It would also be the catalyst in Lyons promotion to Brigadier General and replacing General William S. Harney as commander of Union forces in Missouri and for solidifying Governor Claiborne Jackson’s and former governor Sterling Price’s pro-Confederate position.

Price, Jackson, Lyons and Frank P. Blair Jr. would meet at the Planter House Hotel in St Louis to try and come to terms with the situations in Missouri, but Lyons would basically declare war and would then begin his pursuit of the pro-Confederates across the state, sparking many of the battles that would dot the countryside.

Missouri saw many battles during the Civil War being only third behind Virginia and Tennessee. The Battle of Pilot Knob (Fort Davidson) was the beginning of Confederate General Sterling Price’s final raid to secure Missouri for the Confederacy in 1864. It also marked the beginning of the end of his raid and would be a harbinger of what was to come for the rest of his campaign.

Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Army hastily put together a final raid into Missouri to be commanded by former Missouri Governor and Confederate Major General Sterling Price. Price’s objective was to seize St. Louis, capture the armory, enlist southern sympathizers and then to march on to Jefferson City, seize the capital and install Thomas Reynolds as governor and thereby claim the state for the Confederacy.

However, Price had a ragamuffin band of men to support Him. Of his 12,000 strong army, 3,000 were deserters captured at gunpoint along the way, and most of his men had no supplies or even shoes. When he arrived in Missouri many of his troops didn’t even have weapons.

Union General Rosecrans fortified St Louis and sent General Thomas Ewing Jr, infamous for his General Order No. 11 in the west, who was in command of the district of St Louis down with a detachment of the 14th Iowa to Ft Davidson in Pilot Knob to ascertain the overall composition of Price’s army. One of Price’s division commanders, Joseph O. Shelby felt any action against the tiny fort was pointless and that they should move directly on St. Louis. However, the other two division commanders, James Fagan and John S. Marmaduke, felt leaving an armed garrison in the rear was a mistake. Price agreed with Fagan and Marmaduke and they made plans to seize the tiny fort.

On the afternoon of September 26, 1864, a Union scouting party ran into an advance group of Fagans Confederates near Shut-Ins gap. The Rebels pushed the Union soldiers back to Ironton and heavy fighting broke out. The Union soldiers pushed on their own and forced the Rebels back to the gap. Nightfall and a heavy rain ended the fighting for the day.

At dawn fighting again broke out and the Union soldiers were pushed back to Ironton and then further repelled back to the fort in Pilot Knob. Confederate soldiers swarmed into the open valley while Union forces tried to hold them back from the spurs of the two mountains and with artillery fire from the fort.

The fort lay in between two mountains, Pilot Knob to the east and Shepherd Mountain to the west leaving a wide open valley in between which they would have to cross. Price, under the recommendation of one of his colonels decided on a frontal assault rather than securing the two mountains with large artillery. This would be a deadly mistake.

As the rebels closed in on the fort, Union Major James Wilson and his troops were cut-off on the spur of Pilot Knob and captured. Wilson and five of his men would be marched to Union and eventually executed by the Confederates. The rest of the Union soldiers now had no choice but to retreat to the confines of the fort. Price sent a messenger to Gen Ewing demanding his surrender which Ewing curtly refused.

Around 2:00PM The rebels then advanced across the field and suffered heavy losses under a barrage of Union artillery and musket fire and then fell back. The smoke became so thick that Union soldiers could only see the legs and feet of the oncoming Rebels. The Rebels then made a second charge coming within 30 feet of the fort only to again be repelled by heavy fire from the fort. The Confederate’s then made a third and final advance on the fort, this time making it into the moat surrounding the fort and began to scale the walls. However, Union soldiers fused artillery shells as grenades and began tossing them over the side, blowing up bodies as high as the fort walls. The rebels retreated and the battle ended around 5:00PM. However, the loss of life for the Confederates was major, well over 1,000 rebels lost their lives.

Ewing convened a council of war in his tent that evening and realized that in the morning Price would place his large artillery on both peaks and the fort would be overrun. He planned a daring midnight escape through the rebel lines and made his way west towards Rolla, leaving a small detachment to blow up the powder magazine in the fort. In the morning when the rebels awoke they found the fort empty. Price was livid and sent Shelby and Marmaduke after Ewing. Skirmishes were fought along the way, but Ewing finally made it to Rolla.

The victory for the Confederates came with a very high price in lives. Price knew advancing to St Louis now was futile, and he had wasted manpower and resources chasing Ewing. Price would make his way across the state, ultimately ending in final defeat at Westport. However, the battle at Ft Davidson by a small number of Union soldiers against a much larger Confederate force, earned it the title of the “Thermopylae of the West”.

On September 24, 1864, Confederate General Sterling Price and his troops arrived in the small railhead town of Pilot Knob Missouri on a trek to regain Missouri for the Confederacy and divert troops from the struggling Eastern Theater of battle. His infamous raid took him from southeast Missouri through the center of the state and then briefly into Kansas whereupon what was left of his army began retreating into Arkansas, sealing that fate of the country west of the Mississippi to the Union.

That was 150 years ago this year. As the sesquicentennial has arrived it is interesting to see what events are being planned across this infamous path that Price travelled. Some portions appear to have embraced their significance and will be planning events, while smaller locations, no less significant however, seem to be passing this anniversary by.

Last year on my Facebook group Civil War in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas, I made the statement that I had a bold plan of travelling Price’s route on the anniversary of this event. Unfortunately, I am not seeing a whole lot of activity at locations where there should be.

The Reenactment of the Battle of Pilot Knob, however is indeed hosting a major event at the Fort Davidson Historic Site. The event will take place on Friday, September 26th and last to Sunday, September 28th. I have been invited by a Civil War reenactor friend of mine to “put on the wool” and join him in his artillery unit. I’m still working on that but hoping to be able to get my uniform and gear in order before it becomes too late. But regardless, my travel will start at Pilot Knob.

From there the path lead to a small town in south-central Missouri called Leasburg, where the retreating Union army took a stand against the pursuing Confederates. From what I have been told, nothing is being planned at the location, which is a shame.

From there the next major stop would be at Boonville, MO. along the Missouri River. Unfortunately, it does not appear that anything will be happening here as well.

The next stop would be Lexington. So far, no information on an event held here as well.

From there the retreating Confederates would duke it out in Westport, MO, knows as the “Gettysburg of the West”. There will sesquicentennial events there on Saturday October 25th. http://www.battleofwestport150.org/

From this point on the Confederates were on the run and on October 25th would face their final demise at Mine Creek and Marmiton River. There will be a significant 150th event held at the Mine Creek Battlefield SHS near Pleasanton KS Saturday, October 18, 2014. More information will be forthcoming at the Kansas Historical Society webpage.

In full retreat, the Confederates had one final engagement on October 28th at the second battle of Newtonia, MO. CSA General J.O. Shelby held off the Federals and allowed Price and the rest of the Confederates to safely retreat into the Indian Territory and finally to Laynesport AR ending what turned out to be a disastrous endeavor from the outset.

There are other stops along the way that were much smaller engagements, such as Glasgow, or not directly linked with Prices Raid such as Centralia and Richmond that are also having events in 2014. It saddens me that some of the sites of more importance are letting this anniversary pass. The next anniversary, the Bicentennial, I will probably not be around to see (I would be 97). I remember the Bicentennial of the American Revolution in 1976, and I hope that on the Bicentennial of Prices Raid there is more effort put into the significance of the event.

It’s been a while since I put anything on this site, so I figured I would write about my research regarding the Civil War and my ancestors.

On the maternal side I have the most who served during the war. My 2nd great grandfather was 2nd Lieutenant George W. Brown, CO. K 12th Wisconsin Infantry. He enlisted 31 August 1861 as a corporal, was promoted to 1st Sergeant and on 11 February 1865 promoted to 2LT. He mustered out on 16 July 1865. The 12th Wisconsin Infantry was organized between October 18 and December 13, 1861, at Camp Randall in Madison. The regiment left Wisconsin for Fort Leavenworth,Kansas, on January 11, 1862, arriving on February 16. During its service, the regiment moved through Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Washington D.C. It participated in the sieges of Jackson, Atlanta and Savannah, and fought in the battles of Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta and Jonesboro and also participated in Sherman’s March to the Sea. The regiment mustered out on July 20, 1865, at Louisville, Kentucky. It lost 323 men during service. Three officers and 93 enlisted men were killed. Three officers and 224 enlisted men died from disease.

My 4th great grandfather, Hiram Tye Shirrell served in CO. G, 31st Indiana Infantry from 5 September 1861 until 8 December 1865. His son, my 3rd great grandfather, William Henry Shirrell, served in CO. G, 18th Indiana Infantry from 16 August 1861 and was discharged for disability, no date given.

My 4th great grandfather Richard Wade Bond, had two brothers and three sons serve in the Civil War. His brothers, Samuel R. Bond served as a 1LT with CO. A 87th Illinois Infantry and his brother Moses Bond a private with CO. F 1st Regiment Missouri Light Artillery Volunteers respectively.

Richard Bond’s three oldest sons, Jesse Franklin (my 3rd great grandfather), Wiley W. and Reuben Shirly all served in the war. Reuben was a private with CO. G 154th Illinois Infantry. Wiley was also a private with CO. G 154th Illinois Infantry and died in a battle in Murfreesboro TN. on 15 March 1865.

My 3rd great grandfather Jesse, mustered in a private on 13 August 1862 with the 87th Illinois Infantry and was discharged for disability on 6 June 1863. However, he was able to re-enlist as a sergeant with CO. G 154th Illinois Infantry on 16 February 1865 and mustered out with the unit on 18 September 1865 in Nashville, TN.

On the paternal side, my 2nd great grandfather, Joseph D. Burchett was a private in Cochrans Bollinger County Volunteer Missouri Militia under Capt. J. R. Cochran in Bollinger County Missouri from 17 March 1865 until 8 July 1865.

So far, all of my ancestors fought for the Union and represented four states, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

Missouri’s Civil War Heritage Foundation and it’s local affiliate, Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage, have announced they will conduct an archeological survey on the core area of the Battle of Moore’s Mill.

The county’s largest and most famous skirmish during the bloody national conflict, the Battle of Moore’s Mill took place July 28, 1862 near where is now known as Calwood. A survey is scheduled to occur there March 21-24.

When Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage co-chair Bryant Liddle became aware of the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service, an organization which issues grants for surveying and protecting U.S. battle sites, the ball to get the survey underway began rolling.

“It was my recommendation to our local Civil War Heritage that we have somebody apply for this grant, and it went to the Missouri Civil War Heritage,” said Liddle. “They ended up applying for the grant, (and) received it … That will pay some of the expenses of the people doing the research, some of the transportation and the lodging.”

The survey will be under the supervision of Doug Scott of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Steve Dasovich of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, both of whom have worked on excavations of Civil War and other prominent American battle sites, including the infamous Battle of Little Bighorn.