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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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