History of Northeast Missouri
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

In the Time of Civil War
By Floyd C, Shoemaker, Columbia,
Assistant Librarian of the State Historical Society of Missouri

 

It is the purpose of this chapter to give a brief account of the Civil war in Northeast Missouri. The term Northeast Missouri will be taken to include all that part of this state which lies north of the Missouri River and east of the western boundary of Linn County. The shortness of this chapter will forbid a treatment of this subject by individual counties and will not permit of any detailed account of either campaigns or battles. Many engagements and executions which took place during the war and which are matters of common knowledge to the inhabitants of this section will be but slightly touched upon owing to the necessity of economizing space. It is to be regretted that so little accurate information relating to the Civil war in Northeast Missouri can be obtained today by the historian. For example, it would seem to be a small affair to ascertain the exact number of soldiers contributed by this section to the northern and southern armies, but as far as can be learned no accurate figures have yet been produced to settle this point.

The Civil war has opened up a mine of material for the historian, biographer and novelist. To read the bare facts of that struggle will cause the last three score years to roll away and place one in the midst of civil strife. The states that furnish the longest, fiercest and most embittered account are the "border states." Several things made the conflict more oppressive in these states than in the other commonwealths:

First, their position, lying between the north and south, secured for them the battlefield;

Second, their population, more or less divided in sentiment during the war, made possible the most cruel and most prolonged kind of warfare;

Third, and closely related to the first fact, these states because of their importance became the "bone of contention" for both north and south.

 All of these facts are peculiarly applicable to Missouri and the events of the four years, 1861-1865, in this state bear witness to the above statements. That portion of this state which is designated in this chapter as Northeast Missouri, is a perfect picture of conditions as they existed in many parts of this commonwealth during the Civil war. In some respects person and property were better off here than in other parts of Missouri, while in many ways both fared worse in this section than elsewhere. Northeast Missouri gave thousands of men to both sides, and most of her sons achieved honor, while some became leaders of the highest note on the field of war. If it were possible here, nothing would be more delightful and entertaining than compiling biographical sketches of men like Sterling Price, Odon Guitar, Generals Harris and Green, Colonel Porter and a score of others from this section. Northeast Missouri can well be proud of both the quantity and quality of the soldiers she sent to the front.

Missouri a Border State

Before considering the war proper in Northeast Missouri, it might be well to state by way of introduction a few general facts setting forth:

First, the importance of Missouri as a "border state," her position, population, and character of her people as regards color and nativity;

Second, the distribution of free and slave in Northeast Missouri;

Third, the general character of the war in this section; and fourth, the political conditions leading up to the war.

The importance of Missouri as a "border state" was of the greatest significance. Her peculiar position alone would have made her a typical ''bone of contention" for both the north and south. Nearly surrounded as she was on three sides by the free territory of Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, Missouri was eagerly sought for by the north and as anxiously desired by the south. As regards area, Missouri ranked ahead of all the states east of or bordering on the Mississippi except Minnesota; while among the slave states she was excelled by Texas alone in this respect. Still more important was Missouri from the standpoint of population in 1860.

Growth in Population, 1810-1860

Missouri's almost phenomenal growth in population from 1810 to 1860 can be partly appreciated from the following facts based on the appended table taken from the United States census report of 1860. According to this report of 1860, Missouri's population in 1810 was, whites, 17,227, free colored, 607, slaves, 3,011, total, 20,845; in 1820, about the time of Missouri's admission into the Union, Missouri ranked 23rd among the other states; in 1830, 21st; in 1840, 16th; in 1850, 13th; and in 1860, 8th in total population but 7th in white population. The following table will perhaps give some idea of the rapid growth of population in this state during a half century of growth.

The rate of increase, by decades, previous to the Civil war, was as follows: Total rate of increase from 1810 to 1860: whites, 6073.38%; free-colored, 488.47%; slaves, 3717.03%; total, 5570.48%.

Among the fifteen slave states, including Delaware, Missouri ranked first in total white population and in total population was surpassed only by Virginia. But what is equally important to the war historian is the strength of a nation's war-population, i. e., the males between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years. In this respect Missouri easily led all her sister southern states, having 232,781 white males between those ages, or more than Virginia, her nearest competitor and Florida and Delaware combined.

While Missouri ranked first in white population among slave states, she held only eleventh place as regards the number of slaves, the latter being 114,931 out of a total population of 1,182,012 or in other words only 9% per cent of Missouri's total population in 1860 consisted of slaves.

As to the character of Missouri's white population a very interesting fact or two is brought to light especially as regards nativity. In 1860 only 160,541 persons or 13½ per cent of Missouri's population were of foreign birth slightly over one-half of these being Germans, who had settled in St. Louis and the surrounding counties to the west and north, about one-fourth of the foreign born were Irish, and the remaining one-fourth of various nationalities. Of the 906,540 white persons of native birth, i. e., born in the United States, over one-half were native Missourians and over three-fourths were of southern birth, i. e., born in a slave state principally in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. At this point it should be noted how this free and slave population of Missouri was distributed in the section under consideration.

The total population of Northeast Missouri in 1860 was 309,232 as compared with 181,894 in 1850. This was a gain of 70 per cent as compared with the gain of 73.3 per cent all over the state during that decade. During the same period the white population of Northeast Missouri increased from 145,674 to 254,190 or 74½ per cent as compared with the gain of 79.6 per cent over the state as a whole. The slave population of Northeast Missouri in 1850 was 35,843 and in 1860 had risen to 46,021 or a gain of only 28 2/5 per cent as compared with the gain of 31½ per cent over the state. From these figures obtained from the United States census reports of 1850 and 1860, it is clearly seen that although slavery was increasing absolutely in actual number of slaves, it was going backward relatively, i. e., as compared with increase of either the total or free population of Missouri. Nor is this all, for when one compares the ratio of the slave population to the total population in 1850 and then in 1860, the decline of slavery as an institution is quite apparent. In 1850 the slaves constituted 12% per cent of Missouri's population, while in 1860 they constituted only 9% per cent; in Northeast Missouri the percentage in 1850 was 19%, while in 1860 it was only 14%. Notwithstanding the fact that this northeast section of Missouri had seen a decrease in the ratio of her slave population to her total population between 1850 and 1860, she still contained about 41 per cent of the slaves in Missouri a position she also occupied in 1860. Out of the sixteen counties in Missouri which in 1860 had each a slave population of over twenty-five hundred, nine of these were of this section and these nine held 33,824 slaves or nearly 30 per cent of the total slave population of the state and 73½ per cent of the slave population of all Northeast Missouri. The nine counties that held such unique position were Boone, Callaway, Howard, Monroe, Pike, Chariton, Lincoln, Marion and Randolph. At this point it might be interesting as well as instructive to note the relative position of the several counties in this section on this question of population.

Nature of the War in Northeast Missouri

The general character of the war in Northeast Missouri was determined by the nature of the country, transportation facilities, character of the population as regards both nativity and density, the number of Union troops, largely imported from Iowa and Illinois, and finally the needs of the Confederacy. As a result of these factors the Union and her forces strove to accomplish the following in the order enumerated: First, guard the Missouri river and prevent the southern men from the northern part of this state from crossing on their way to join the southern army; to guard and keep intact the two railroads of northern Missouri, i. e., the Hannibal and St. Joseph and the North Missouri (now the Wabash) as a means of transporting troops and provisions of war across and into the state; second, to prevent the enlisting and organizing of southern troops in this section; third, to occupy and thereby intimidate by means of Union troops the strong slave counties. The South and her leaders in this state held the following objects in view and strove to bring about their realization: First, the enlistment of troops for Price and the Confederacy; second, the harassing of the Union troops in this section by striking sudden blows where least expected and capturing towns; third, and closely related to (2) the destruction of railroads, bridges and trains. The above statements hold true during 1861-1862, after that the warfare in this section degenerated into petty bushwhacking with such guerrilla fiends as Bill Anderson and Quantrell as leaders, who respected neither southerners nor northerners. While the withdrawal of many of the Union troops made this kind of warfare possible, the forces of the North that remained did little besides trying to put down this robbing and murdering. Sometimes these bands by uniting made up a considerable force and engaged in open fight with the Federal troops as was the case at Fayette and near Centralia in 1864, but usually the bands were too small for attacking a large force and preyed upon isolated communities and individuals.

Political Conditions in 1860

The year 1860 saw one of the most divided political contests in Missouri history. In the August election for governor there were four men in the field representing four different factions: First, the Douglas-Democratic candidate for governor was Claiborne F. Jackson the author of the famous "Jackson Resolutions" of the later '40s; second, the Bell-Everett or Union candidate was Sample Orr; third, the Breckenridge-Democratic candidate was Hancock Jackson; and fourth, the Republican candidate was James B. Gardenhire. The vote resulted in the election of Claiborne P. Jackson. This contest if it showed anything regarding the position Missouri took on the national questions of slavery in the territories and secession indicated clearly that she favored neither northern nor southern radicalism but was overwhelmingly conservative and would choose the middle ground. And in this respect the vote of Northeast Missouri was even more pronounced than the rest of the state, for while this section east between one-third and one-fourth of the state vote for Claiborne P. Jackson and Orr, she gave Hancock Jackson only one-fifth of his total vote and Gardenhire a little over one-seventh of his. (Over one-half of Gardenhire's vote in Northeast Missouri was east in the strong German county of St. Charles.)


Edward Bates

When the November presidential election took place, Missouri still adhered to her attitude taken in August, for she alone of all the states cast her electoral vote for Douglas, the conservative Democratic candidate. At the same time she cast nearly an equal individual vote for Bell, the Union candidate, and for Breckenridge and Lincoln but a little over one-fourth the total vote of the state. In this election Northeast Missouri gave Bell 1,604 more votes than she cast for Douglas, while on the other hand she gave Breckenridge over one-fourth of his total state vote and Lincoln not quite one-seventh of his total state vote.

The only county in Northeast Missouri in which Breckenridge received more votes than any other candidate was the county of Sullivan, which in 1860 had only 102 slaves or about one-ninetieth of its population. Of the six great slave counties, each with a slave population of over 3,000, three cast typical "landslide" votes for Bell and three for Bell and Douglas. Even Marion county, known as the "South Carolina of Missouri," cast three times as many votes for Bell and also for Douglas as for Breckenridge - being excelled in the latter by both Sullivan and Clark, (the latter having only 455 slaves).

Northeast Missouri like the remainder of the state was simply not radical but was essentially conservative, and on the whole vastly preferred the Union in spite of the binding ties of blood and interest.

On December 31, 1860, the 21st General Assembly convened in Jefferson City just ten days before South Carolina seceded by ordinance from the Union. As had been expected this legislature was composed of four political parties, three of which were nearly equal in strength and none in control. The senate, with a membership of thirty-three, held fifteen Breckenridge-Democrats; ten Douglas-Democrats; seven Bell-Everett Unionists; and one Republican; the house, with a membership of 132, held forty-seven Breckenridge-Democrats; thirty-seven Bell-Everett Unionists; thirty-six Douglas-Democrats; and twelve Republicans.

John McAfee, an extreme proslavery Democrat of Shelby county, was elected speaker of the house. On January 4, 1861, Governor Claiborne F. Jackson of Howard County, although elected as a Douglas-Democrat, in his inaugural address said that Missouri's destiny was with the slave-holding states and that she should stand for the South. On January 6, the Committee on Federal Relations was instructed to report a bill to "call a convention'' and on January 18th the bill calling a state convention passed. The tenth section of this bill was introduced by Charles H. Hardin, who was state senator from Boone and Callaway, and provided whereby the convention was not to sever relations with the Union except on a vote of the people of. Missouri. This convention was to determine the relations to be taken between Missouri and the Union.

The convention met February 28, 1861, and was composed of ninety-nine delegates. Ex-Governor Sterling Price of Chariton County was elected president almost unanimously. It soon became apparent that the delegates were decidedly Union in sentiment and Sterling Price later resigned the office of president. Events in other parts of the country soon brought matters to a crisis. On April 15, 1861, President Lincoln issued a proclamation for seventy-five thousand troops and a request was sent to Governor Jackson for Missouri's pro rata of four regiments. Governor Jackson not only ignored this request but sent a very independently worded refusal. The course of Governor Jackson, Sterling Price, and others high in authority in this state greatly unsettled the people in their political faith. All hoped for a compromise. It was on May 10, 1861, that war first broke out in Missouri. On that day the attack was made on Camp Jackson and this state was at once plunged into all the horrors of a civil war.

The War in Northeast Missouri (1861)

Even before the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina and Camp Jackson in St. Louis, there had been many open exhibitions of northern and southern sentiment in Northeast Missouri. Naturally the first occasion that called forth these expressions of partisanship was the state convention that was to meet in February to consider Missouri's relation to the North and South. During the spring of 1861 all over this section not only were these meetings continued but troops were being raised and organized by both sides. The first southern flag to be raised in Northeast Missouri was at Emerson in northwest Marion County on March 16, 1861, and just two weeks later the second southern flag was unfurled at Palmyra in the same county.


Sterling Price

The four counties of Lewis, Marion, Monroe and Ralls did much to keep alive the war in Northeast Missouri. They were the center of southern sentiment and owing largely to the topography of the country and the character of the inhabitants they were the recruiting grounds for the South in that section. The South was more active and really accomplished more here than elsewhere in that section and this in spite of the overwhelming Union force arrayed against them. To the forest recesses of the southern recruiting camps of these counties flocked the southern men of the surrounding counties and on collecting in a body would strike for the Missouri to join Price and the Confederacy. By the end of June, 1861, both northern and southern troops were being raised. In some of the large slave counties the enlistment of southern men proceeded at a more rapid pace, although the Union sentiment even there placed thousands of recruits in the northern ranks. Wherever the German element was strong as in St. Charles, Warren and Montgomery, one naturally finds many recruits for the North. It seems very shortly to have been the plan of the northern generals in Missouri to send large detachments of troops into those counties where the southern sentiment was or might become strong. This scheme prevented many southern sympathizers from ever obtaining an opportunity to enlist in the cause of the South. Some very noticeable examples of this policy are found in St. Charles, Fulton, Columbia, Fayette, Edina, Mexico, Hudson, (later known as Macon City), Hannibal, Keytesville, and elsewhere in Northeast Missouri. This plan of the Union generals in Missouri went hand in hand with the one of patrolling the Missouri in order to prevent any enlistments in Northeast Missouri for the South from reaching Price.

Of equal importance in the eyes of the North was the protection of the two important railroads in this section the Hannibal and St. Joseph and the North Missouri as these enabled the Northern troops to keep in touch with each other and enabled reinforcements and supplies to be distributed quickly. These three plans were strictly adhered to and within less than two years had practically crushed the southern cause throughout the state. By cutting Missouri into two parts and by garrisoning all important portions of the northern half including the rich slave district of Northeast Missouri, the organization of southern troops was made not only hazardous but many times impossible, in spite of the great ability of such men as Porter. Another point that helped spell success for the North in Northeast Missouri was the Union partisanship of the owners and controllers of the two railroads mentioned above. And it should be mentioned here that the personal interest at stake by these roads, especially the Hannibal and St. Joseph, did much to inform the Union generals of their (the Union) mistakes and again ameliorated conditions for the people along that line who were subject to over-zealous Federal commanders.

On June 12, 1861, Governor Jackson issued his call to the people of Missouri to defend their state. This call for state guards under Major-General Sterling Price was eagerly responded to by many of the southern sympathizers in Northeast Missouri.

As early as July, 1861, hostilities began in this section around Monroe City (July 14) and Palmyra, the Federal forces occupying both places. During this month Brigadier-General John Pope was assigned to the command of the Union forces in the north Missouri district. He at once issued orders whose purpose was to check secession, by requesting each section of that district to see that it protected all Union property therein. On July 29, 1861, Brigadier-General S. A. Hurlbut of the United States Army took up his headquarters at Macon City and proceeded to distribute the Union forces with the view of protecting the property of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad from Quincy and Hannibal to St. Joseph. Colonel U. S. Grant, later president of the United States, was stationed at Mexico; and Colonel L. F. Ross at Warrenton. If all the Union commanders who later came into Northeast Missouri had acted with the same business-like courtesy and consideration towards the inhabitants that Grant did on his short stay here, there would have been far less to write of the history of the Civil war in that section.

The engagement at Monroe City deserves a passing comment. It was the only cannon battle that was fought in Monroe County. T. A. Harris, state representative from Monroe County, was given the rank of Brigadier-General July 5, 1861, with five hundred recruited southern troops under him. By the 14th Harris had over one thousand men at Monroe City where an engagement took place with the Federal troops. After the battle Harris advised retreat and set out with his command, which had been augmented to between one thousand two hundred and one thousand five hundred. The first actual service of U. S. Grant in the Civil War was against Harris on the latter's retreat from Hunnewell to Florida (Monroe County). Near Fulton, Harris was again engaged with some Union troops under Colonel McNeil in an affair known as the ''Fulton Races'' and the former's force was defeated and scattered.

All during July the southern troops had been enlisting in and around Marion County. The Union official and soldiers acted so as to greatly incense the people in the places where they were stationed. Colonel Martin E. Green, brother of James S. Green of Lewis County, was the leader and organizer of the southern cause in Northeast Missouri during the summer of 1860. John McAfee and Marmaduke, of Shelby, T. A. Harris of Monroe, Colonel Martin E. Green and Colonel Porter, of Lewis, and Mr. Anderson, representative of Marion County, did more for the South in 1861. and in fact throughout 1861-1862, than any others in that section this, of course, does not include General Sterling Price, who was south of the river during the war. The recruiting quarters of Colonel Green were near Monticello in Lewis County. From here about the first of August, he moved north into Clark County and on August 5th, was defeated in battle near the town of Athens (Clark County). This affair took place about twenty miles northwest of Keokuk. Colonel Green's force is estimated at between eight hundred and eighteen hundred, consisting mostly of cavalry and besides this having two cannons. The Union troops consisted of four hundred Home Guards of Clark County and two companies of United States Volunteers from Keokuk under Colonel David Moore of Clark County. Colonel Moore had no cannon. The tight lasted an hour and the southern forces were decidedly defeated.


James S. Green

After this engagement Colonel Green retreated with his force to Lewis. Knox and Marion counties to reorganize. Here also gathered Captain Kneisley of Marion County with his battery made famous at the battle of Lexington. September 10-20, 1861; and Gen. Tom Harris, commander of the State Guards of that section.

Before beginning the relation of the maneuvering by Colonel Green and his forces vs. the Union troops, it might be well to relate several happenings that took place at and around Palmyra immediately after the battle of Athens. On August 8, 1861, some Confederate recruits marched into Palmyra and raided that town. Brigadier-General Stephen A. Hurlbut, who was then at Hannibal, on learning of this raid issued a "Requisition" on August 11 on Marion County whereby that county was made to support his army. It was directed against Palmyra and was very obnoxious to both southern and northern residents of the town especially since they had had nothing to do with the raiding of their city. There were other annoying things just then that caused the Union generals much worry. Southern bushwhackers had made it a custom to fire on passing trains thereby endangering the lives of not only soldiers but passengers as well. The actions taken by the Union commanders were, however, severely criticized by even such ardent northern men as J. T. K. Haywood, superintendent of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, who in his letters to John Wood Brooks of Boston, Massachusetts, an official of the same line, relates (August, 1861) many things that are valuable in throwing light on conditions in northeast Missouri at that time. He said that a large majority of Monroe and Ralls and a majority of Marion and Shelby were for the South and secession; that the southerners had from one to two thousand men in camp; and that they could bring two thousand troops in the field easily and were in fine communication with each other. Another act of General Hurlbut's that exasperated the people was his requesting them to find and deliver over to him all bushwhackers in their section.

After the battle of Wilson's Creek in south Missouri, General Price determined to march north, striking the Missouri near Lexington. His object was largely to get recruits so he accordingly ordered General Harris and his State Guards to join him. All the State Guards in Northeast Missouri set out for points along the Missouri River as Glasgow, Brunswick, and Arrow Rock. Colonel Green was at Marshall's Mill, six to eight miles from Palmyra, with one thousand two hundred men. General Hurlbut knew of Green's force and at once set out to capture it. Colonel Green moved south, being pursued by an equal force of Federals four hundred of the latter mounted. From Marshall's Mill, Green struck Philadelphia, New Market, and on September 2, crossed the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad near Monroe City, destroying the track. From Monroe City he passed near Paris and Florida, received reinforcements from both Ralls and Monroe, and then stopped to rest.

Col. David Moore with a Northeast Missouri regiment and Col. Smith with the Sixteenth Illinois, just from Kirksville, left Palmyra on September 5 for Hunnewell in pursuit of Green. General Pope and Colonel John M. Glover also took the field reinforced with four hundred Illinois troops. Colonel U. G. Williams of the Third Iowa Infantry and some Linn county Home Guards arrived at Hannibal on August 31, and on being joined by three hundred Kansas troops set out for Shelbina, having a force of 620. From there Williams set out for Paris in pursuit of Green, but on learning of the latter's force retreated in haste back to Shelbina pursued by Green. The southern leader surrounded that place and on September 4th a battle took place. Williams owing to the defection of his Kansas troops was forced to take the train for Macon City. All of Williams' troops escaped, but Green captured all the camp supplies and then set out for Florida, prepared to march to the Missouri.

On September 6, Generals Pope and Hurlbut were at Hunnewell. Pope telegraphed General Fremont at St. Louis of the necessity of immediate action or Green would escape. Fremont after it was too late sent a large force to help Pope and sent orders for him to ''line the railroad from Hannibal to Hudson (Macon City)." Fremont planned the annihilation of Green and sent Major-General Sturgis and others to help surround that commander.

During all this time Green had already crossed the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad (see above), had received reinforcements from several counties, rested, won one battle, captured a town, and was preparing to set out on his march to join Price. On September 7, Green set out for Lexington, Fremont's plans totally miscarrying. Brigadier-General Sturgis left for Hudson over the North Missouri Railroad and arrived in Mexico in time to have stopped Green and Harris on their march to Glasgow, but having no cavalry the Union general was helpless. Green and Harris marched southwest, crossed the North Missouri Railroad, at Renick (seven miles south of Moberly) on the 9th, continued on through Randolph and Howard, reached Glasgow and captured the steamboat ''Sunshine,'' crossed the Missouri River on the 12th and reached Lexington in safety.

On September 8, Pope reached Green's former camp and then returned to Hunnewell. On the 10th he telegraphed Fremont that Green had gone into Chariton County. Thus ended the march of Green and Harris and the pursuit of them by Pope and Hurlbut. It was really the first campaign of the war in Northeast Missouri and it had proven an undoubted Confederate success. With the exception of the engagements at Athens and Fulton the Confederates had accomplished what they had intended, i. e., organizing recruits and getting them safely across the Missouri to Price. It was a preliminary of the more brilliant and spectacular campaign of Porter in 1862, though it is doubtful if in results this was not the more successful of the two.

Close of 1861

On November 2, 1861, General David Hunter superseded Fremont in 'command of the Western Department and a few days later Major General Henry Wager Halleck superseded Hunter. Towards the end of November, General Price issued his proclamation ''To the People of Central and Northern Missouri'' appealing for fifty thousand men. This proclamation was earnest in tone and big inducements were offered. Many southern sympathizers responded to this call. Price ordered the Confederates to burn the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad bridges and to attack the Federals so that these new recruits could get through. General John Pope was ordered to the west of Jefferson City to prevent the Confederates from crossing the Missouri on their way to join Price. General B. M. Prentiss was appointed to the command of Northeast Missouri with headquarters at Palmyra. Many Union troops were stationed at Hannibal, Hudson and Palmyra, Glover's cavalry being at the latter place. Price said he expected at least six hundred men from each of the counties of St. Charles, Lincoln and Pike and five hundred apiece from Boone and Howard. According to Price's orders many bridges were burned in this section and for this the people of Confederate sympathies in Marion County alone were forced to pay $14,045 by order of the Federal commanders. On the burning of these bridges the Federal troops began pouring into this section in great numbers. Some of these bridge-burners were caught and eight found guilty at a court-martial trial held in Palmyra December 27, 1861, the sentence of death was commuted to imprisonment at Alton.

The last engagement of the year was the fight at Mt. Zion church on December 28, 1861, in northern Boone County, where Colonel John M. Glover under General Prentiss, with nine hundred Union men defeated Col. Caleb Dorsey with three hundred and fifty Confederates.

From Camp Jackson in "May, to the fight at Mt. Zion church in December, sixty skirmishes and battles were fought in Missouri. More than half of these were south of the Missouri and all the big affairs had taken place south of the river. The Confederates were unwilling to risk troops north of that stream so that all they did was to harass the Union troops in that section and push forward the enlisting of men for Price's army. The Confederates had accomplished these two things but the Federal commanders were literally garrisoning practically all Northeast Missouri and tightening the lines so as to make harder and harder the realization of southern enlisting. The Federals bad maintained the two railroads in a fair condition and were patrolling the Missouri with greater and greater diligence.

The War in 1862

During the winter of 1862 many Federal troops left Northeast Missouri. In March, 1862, northern Missouri was divided into three military districts. Early in the spring bushwhackers became very active in this section and there was also witnessed quite a. Confederate uprising. The Union cavalry known as "Merrill's Horse" was stationed at Columbia from January to July, This cavalry fought in every part of this state from Scotland to Stoddard County. Also stationed at this place was Colonel Odon Guitar's force. Colonel John M. Glover who was appointed in March to take command of Northeast Missouri was superseded in June by Colonel John McNeil at Palmyra. Colonel Glover's force scouted through Adair. Scotland, Clark, Lewis, Knox and Shelby counties during the spring and summer of 1862.

During this year took place the last great campaign of the Confederacy in Northeast Missouri, the campaign of Col. Jo Porter. In fact after the fall of 1862, the war in this section ended except for the depredations of such guerrillas as were a source of trouble to both northern and southern sympathizers.

In the spring and summer of this year many Missouri Confederate officers in Arkansas and Mississippi obtained leave to enlist recruits in Missouri under the inducement that they were to have the command of all that they enlisted. Captain Jo O. Shelby thus became a colonel and raised a regiment in Saline and Lafayette. Others were Hays, Coffee, Thompson, Hughes, Cockrell, Boyd, Poindexter and Porter. After the battle of Pea Ridge. Colonel Porter, who had been selected by Price to find recruits in this section, reached home in April and bean open work June 17.

Colonel Joseph Chrisman Porter and Judge Martin E. Green were both from Lewis County. Porter was a farmer living a little east of Newark in Knox County. In 1861 he was lieutenant colonel under Green and had seen service at Athens, Shelbina, Lexington and Pea Ridge. Through his efforts it has been estimated that over five thousand Confederate soldiers were drawn from Northeast Missouri in a little over a half year. His force was never large and in numbers, arms and discipline was far surpassed by the Union troops arrayed against him. All Northeast Missouri was covered by his agents who were stationed from one to five miles apart in all sections except in part of St. Charles and all of Lincoln and Warren counties. He rarely had over one thousand men with him and frequently his force was very small. His plan was to recruit men and get them across the Missouri as quickly as possible. He rarely drilled his men as there was little chance for it. His lines of communication or relays knew every inch of northern Missouri and he always had a guide. These things account for his wonderful success in spite of such overwhelming odds.

It cannot be definitely stated when Porter began his recruiting. The first important intelligence of his whereabouts was June 17, on which date he was near New Market in north Marion County, where he captured forty-three men. The news is said to have been spread among the people that ''Porter's coming" and this was sufficient to secure many enlistments. From New Market Porter moved north through western Marion, eastern Knox, and western Lewis counties. He recruited about two hundred and rested at Sulphur Springs in Knox County. From here he moved north, threatening Memphis, and gathered recruits in Scotland and Schuyler counties. About four hundred and fifty Federal troops (state militia) under Colonel H. S. Lipscomb, followed and at Cherry Grove (northeast Schuyler) towards the end of June Porter was defeated. His loss was slight but he at once retreated to a place about ten miles west of Newark, being pursued by Lipscomb. Here Porter scattered his force, keeping only about seventy-five men, and with these as a nucleus went on recruiting.

In July, Porter's brother captured Newark and then Monticello fell. The Confederates had become masters of all the western part of Lewis County and were rapidly gaining recruits. The Federals at Canton, LaGrange, Palmyra and even at Hannibal trembled. Porter left Newark, went north into Scotland, and on July 12, captured Memphis which had been occupied with Federal troops. Before this the forces of Colonel McNeil had started in pursuit of Porter, and on July 9, were at Newark. At Pierce's Mill on the south side of the Middle Fabius, Scotland county, Porter was discovered in ambush on July 18, by Major John Y. Clopper with a part of ''Merrill's Horse." After three unsuccessful attempts made to dislodge him Clopper was reinforced by Major Rogers and their united force finally accomplished this after a desperate resistance by Porter. Porter was really victorious here but retreated south. The Federal loss was heavy, while the Confederates' loss was light. Porter in less than twenty-four hours after this affair was at Novelty, Knox County. This was quite a record march for within that time he had fought a battle and retreated sixty-five miles through a section that had been drenched with rain a week before. McNeil followed Porter to Newark and then returned to Palmyra acknowledging being baffled by the southern commander. It was at this time that McNeil is reported to have said of Porter: He runs like a deer, and doubles like a fox.''

On July 20, Porter was at Whaley's Mill, six miles east of Newark, and from there he marched south past Warren (sixteen miles west of Palmyra) with two hundred men, crossed the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad near Monroe Station and rested in Monroe county. On July 22, Porter surprised and defeated a small force of Federal troops near Florida which were under Major H. C. Caldwell of the Third Iowa. From here Porter marched south and on the 23rd crossed the North Missouri Railroad and entered Callaway County where his force was increased. He dashed to the heavy timber near Brown's Spring, ten miles north of Fulton.

Colonel Odon Guitar left Jefferson City on July 27, with two hundred men and two pieces of artillery to attack Porter who was known to be heading for the river with his new recruits. On July 26, Lieutenant Colonel W. F. Shaffer of ''Merrill's Horse" left Columbia with one hundred men and taking Sturgeon joined Major Clopper with one hundred. Major Caldwell, with part of the Third Iowa and part of Colonel J. M. Glover's regiment, left Mexico and these two columns marched to Mt. Zion church. Not finding Porter they entered Callaway on the 28th, and at 2 P. M. heard Guitar's cannon four or five miles away at Moore's Mill. Guitar had found Porter first and these two able commanders were engaging in a doubtful battle when the Union reinforcements from Mt. Zion church gave the victory to Guitar. Porter lost many in both killed and wounded here and was very fortunate in not having his entire force captured.

General Scofield, Brigadier-General of the Missouri Militia at St. Louis, at this time issued his order for all the militia of the state to fight Porter as though he were a guerrilla. Porter on hearing of this is reported to have said: ''I can raise one thousand men in Monroe and Marion counties in twenty-four hours on this issue alone." (The same words are also attributed to this general on hearing of the ''Palmyra Massacre.")

The defeat suffered by Porter at Moore's Mill, the desperate condition of his force as regards lack of ammunition and also its general character of being composed of raw recruits, combined with the superior Federal force under Guitar at that able general's command made it imperative for the Confederate commander to disband his recruits. Porter retreated with his scattered forces to Florida, crossed the North Missouri Railroad near Mexico and on July 30, arrived near Paris with only four hundred men. It should be noticed that many of his former recruits found their way in scattered bands south of the river. On July 31, Porter's force had risen to one thousand. His objective point was doubtless somewhere near Kirksville where he hoped to join forces with Captain J. A. Poindexter. Porter crossed the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad near Monroe Station and camped at New Market. From there he struck north by way of Philadelphia, gathering recruits along the way until he soon had one thousand five hundred men. Continuing in a general northward direction, he captured a small Federal force at Newark and on August 2nd, was at Canton. During this time McNeil had attempted to locate Porter and crush him, but again the Federal commander had been outwitted. Porter had now two thousand two hundred men under him and marching on north threatened Memphis and then turned west towards Kirksville.

General McNeil was now close on the heels of Porter and the latter realized he must fight. Porter chose the town of Kirksville for the battlefield. On August 6, Porter entered Kirksville and had barely placed his force when McNeil with the Ninth Missouri State Militia under Captain Leonard and part of ''Merrill's Horse" under Lieutenant-Colonel Shaffer began the attack. Although Porter had chosen his own field of defense and outnumbered McNeil two to one, he was badly defeated. This was largely due to the two facts that only eight hundred of Porter's two thousand two hundred to two thousand five hundred men were in action and again to McNeil's artillery virtually forcing Porter out of all his positions. Only six hundred of McNeil's men out of his force of one thousand came into action. The battle lasted only three hours and ended in a veritable rout of Porter's force.

Porter lost 250 prisoners and over 125 in killed and wounded in this battle; the Federal loss was slight. This battle was more than a defeat even though in that respect it was far more fatal to the Confederacy in north Missouri than the battle of Moore's Mill, it was a deathblow from which not even Porter, with his great prestige in Northeast Missouri, ever recovered. Recruiting for the South in that section after August 6 was both a hazardous undertaking due to the presence of Federal troops but was even a greater task from a psychological point of view. It was simply harder to persuade men to risk their fortunes with the South after the Kirksville rout. The execution by order of a Federal court-martial of seventeen of Porter's men captured in this battle for violating their parole has been variously condemned and condoned.

After the battle Porter crossed the Chariton River at Clem's Mill, five miles west of Kirksville, and struck south towards Chariton county, planning to join Poindexter, who had between one thousand two hundred and one thousand five hundred men under him. Porter was closely pursued by McNeil and in western Macon county met the Federal force on August 8 and turned northeast. On the 9th the Federals fairly drove Porter into Adair county and east across the Chariton, where he ambushed a small force of Federals at See's Ford. The lines were tightening around Porter and it seemed a matter of only a few hours until all would be over. He was driven into southeast Adair and his men had deserted so rapidly that barely five hundred remained with him. He sent part of this force under Alvin Cobb to Monroe county and with the remainder went southeast through southern Knox near Novelty, from which place he curved to Whaley's Mill. On August 11, Porter virtually disbanded his force in all directions.

It will be necessary at this point to say a word about the other Confederate general in Northeast Missouri at this time, Col. J. A. Poindexter. This officer returned from Arkansas during the summer of 1862, and recruited between one thousand and one thousand five hundred men in Chariton, Randolph and Monroe. On August 8, General Guitar, who had been sick after the battle of Moore's Mill, landed at Glasgow with a considerable force determined to put an end to Poindexter's raid in Randolph County. He overtook Poindexter at Compton's Ferry on the Grand River in Carroll County on Monday night of August 11, and defeated the Confederate general with great slaughter. Poindexter fled north to Utica on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad where he was driven back by General B. F. Loan. In retreating south he met Guitar on August 13, at Yellow Creek in Chariton County and his band broke up. Thus at two critical moments for the Confederacy in Northeast Missouri, General Guitar defeated and dispersed the forces of both Porter and Poindexter when these two generals were on the verge of complete success in their recruiting campaigns. These two Federal victories with the great one at Kirksville sealed the fate of the Confederacy in this section. Colonel Guitar was in Columbia in August and issued an order of enlistment to which two thousand one hundred responded. He was later appointed commander of the Ninth Missouri military district comprising the counties of Boone, Randolph, Monroe, Audrain, Callaway, Ralls, Pike, Montgomery, Warren and St. Charles. The district north was at this time under the command of General Lewis Merrill at Macon City, General McNeil being stationed at Palmyra.

McNeil during this time had marched through Bloomington, the old county seat of Macon County, Shelbyville, and from there to Hunnewell trying to find Porter. That Confederate general after disbanding his force except a very few who remained with him went to Florida to join Cobb, From Monroe County Porter went into Marion and by August 15 was three miles northeast of Emerson with 150 men. From here he marched south again into Monroe and then into Shelby. On August 26, McNeil was at Paris with eight hundred men. The work of Porter at this time was in a way known by the Federals and Palmyra was alarmed as Lewis and Marion still held many Confederates.

On September 12, Porter with four hundred men marched into Palmyra, released about fifty Confederate prisoners and captured some arms all within two hours. From here he marched north to his camp on the South Fabius and on the 13th was reinforced with 150 men from Lewis. Porter left his camp and marched in a northwesterly direction towards Newark, touching northeast Shelby. McNeil with his force was at Newark on September 14, and came upon Porter at Whaley's Mill where the Confederate general made his last stand in north Missouri. Porter was forced to retreat along the South Fabius and the chase becoming too hot Porter disbanded on reaching Shelby County. Porter himself went on into Shelby and McNeil to Palmyra. During the next six weeks according to Porter's biographer, Captain Joseph Mudd, that general got twelve hundred men through to the Confederate lines, which was the "last installment of the five thousand sent during the campaign." Porter crossed the Missouri in a skiff at Providence, Boone County, and with about one hundred men joined General Marmaduke in Arkansas. He organized a Missouri Confederate cavalry and was mortally wounded at Hartville, Missouri, on January 11, 1863. He died at Batesville, Arkansas, on February 18, 1863.


Where the Battle was Fought

This really marked the end of open warfare in Northeast Missouri as far as the South was concerned. There was fighting here after that time and considering the number engaged one of the bloodiest battles or "massacres" in the whole history of the war took place after this, but there was no definite, planned campaign of offensive or defensive warfare on the part of the Confederacy. It is true there were several bands of Confederate recruits found their way south but they were small and scattered. The pseudo-Confederate bands that roved over north Missouri, especially the river counties, after this were, as has been said, as destructive of life and property of southerners as of northerners. They were guerrillas and bushwhackers in the lowest and worst sense of the words and more appropriately should be termed bands of murderers and robbers who respected no law and did homage to no cause save that of greed, lust, revenge and murder.

The story of the war in Northeast Missouri during the fall of 1862 will necessarily include the second and third great executions in that section, the "Macon Execution'' and what has become known as the "Palmyra Massacre.'' The first execution of a body of men by order of a court-martial was that at Kirksville on August 7, 1862. The second at Macon City on Friday, September 25, 1862, was quite similar except that the charge was the triple one of "treason, perjury and murder." Ten Confederate prisoners among 144 held by General Merrill at Macon City were tried, condemned and executed. There has been some argument advanced to explain this execution as in the case of the one at Kirksville, it being held that the charge was true and the trial fair. On the other hand there have been reasons put forward trying to show that the condemned were not guilty and the sentence should have been commuted.

The Palmyra execution or "Massacre" took place at Palmyra on October 18, 1862, on Saturday. The same number were executed as during the month previous at Macon. The general in command was General John H. McNeil and although he was responsible for the deed, the stigma of censure rests today on the head of McNeil's Provost-Marshal General, Colonel Strachan. Although many writers generally censure and condemn the bloodthirsty barbarism of McNeil, they all refrain from trying to offer any excuse whatever for the acts of Strachan, however the act of McNeil is explained from the standpoint of war. The bare outline of this execution seems to be as follows:

During Porter's raid of Palmyra in September, 1862, the Confederates carried away as prisoner a Union citizen of Marion County by the name of Andrew Allsman. This man had aided the Federal commanders in pointing out those residents of southern sympathies and had thereby incurred the hatred of many southerners. Nothing being heard of him after his capture by Porter, McNeil issued an order on October 8, threatening to execute ten of Porter's men in ten days if Allsman was not returned in safety within that time. The ten men were selected and as Allsman never appeared they were executed on October 18. (One of the ten first chosen having been excused or pardoned and another Confederate being chosen.) The ten men were all from Northeast Missouri, some were old and others young. This was horrible enough but was followed by a licentious act on the part of Colonel Strachan that aroused the hatred of not only all southerners, but many people of northern sympathies. It is not the purpose here to go into the later exoneration of McNeil nor of Strachan's subsequent record. Allsman seems to have been murdered, not by order of Porter, but, despite all the precautions that Porter could take under the circumstances, by certain ones who were determined to get Allsman out of the way. The whole affair from beginning to end was a horrible, deplorable occurrence of the war in this section.

The year 1862 closed with the destruction of one hundred miles of the North Missouri Railroad. This is said to have been done by some of Price's soldiers who were returning about this time. This year marked the greatest and longest fought campaign in Northeast Missouri, which was ably led by both northern and southern generals. It saw the Confederacy in this section at her height and fall. From now on the Federals simply stationed garrisons in this section. The war of campaigns and big battles and skillful generals had passed to give place to robbery, murdering and guerrilla bushwhacking.

The War in 1863

The year 1863 marked the beginning of the slave exodus in Missouri. Many ran away, some were emancipated, and others enlisted in the Federal army. The slaves in this state thought that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation applied to Missouri and left in large numbers.

In November, 1862, the regular fall election took place but as all voters had to take the "Gamble Oath" and the "Iron-clad Oath" none but Union men could exercise the suffrage.

During the fall of 1862 and winter of 1863, all able-bodied men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five were forced to enroll in the "Enrolled Missouri Militia" by order of Governor Gamble. This plan was pursued throughout the rest of the war and was not entirely satisfactory in some sections.

In February, 1863, the "Provisional Militia of Missouri" was organized. This organization demanded continual service and was a strong adjunct of the regular Union force in Northeast Missouri. The "E. M. M." was only an emergency militia and in some places it is reported that it could not be depended upon for service.

In May, 1863, Merrill's Horse left this section and General Guitar was stationed at Palmyra. Some newspapers were suppressed by Union orders during the year, but in general everything was quiet except for spasmodic raids made by small bands of guerrillas. There were no battles or campaigns or even engagements of any importance in Northeast Missouri during 1863, which closed as quietly as it had begun.

1864 (Close of the War)

As 1862 marked the close of virtual Confederate hostilities in Northeast Missouri, so 1864 saw the end of all warfare in this section that can bear that name. There are three subjects that demand consideration during this last period and as they are comparatively unrelated, each will be considered separately.

First among these was the guerrilla warfare waged by such men as Bill Anderson and Quantrell. Although these guerrillas professed to be in the service of the Confederacy, and it seemed as though Anderson actually was to a certain extent, they respected neither side but fought purely for the love of fighting, the hope of gain and revenge, and other similar motives. They were savage and merciless in their methods and were largely thieves and murderers. As has already been mentioned they were usually in small bands, but the union of several chiefs sometimes raised their force to four or five hundred as was the case at the "Centralia Massacre." Although relatively few in numbers they were daring. They were skilled horsemen and rode the best of mounts; their weapons were of the latest patterns-each man carrying from one to six revolvers alone; and largely through friends or intimidated informers knew the country and the position of the Union troops practically all the time.

The most important of all the activities of the guerrilla warfare during this year was "Bill Anderson's Raid." Although known by this name it was largely the work of many other guerrilla chieftains among whom Anderson stood high. Besides the battles fought and towns captured that are related below, it may give some idea of the destructiveness of this raid to know that the town of Danville was burned and the depots at New Florence, High Hill and Renick destroyed.


The New Soldiers - Cadets at University of Missouri

Bill Anderson with other guerrillas crossed the Missouri in July, 1864. He marched through Carroll, Chariton and Randolph plundering and murdering along the way. On July 27, his band captured Shelbina, sacking the stores and robbing the citizens. In September, Anderson sacked Huntsville and later went to Howard County where on the 20th, in conjunction with Quantrell and others, having a force of 277, an attack was made on the Federal garrison at Fayette. The complete Federal guard here numbered about three hundred, but only fifty were inside the town when the attack was made. The guerrillas gained entrance into the town but were unable to capture the small Union guard who repulsed them with great loss. Anderson left Fayette in a few hours and on the 23rd captured fourteen wagons loaded with Union supplies and some private property seven miles northeast of Rocheport in Boone County. Here he killed eleven Federal soldiers and three Negroes. At this time Anderson had several hundred fine revolver shots under him as George Todd, David Pool, Holtclaw and John Thrailkill. On September 26, between three hundred and five hundred guerrillas under Anderson camped three miles from Centralia. Early on this day bands of these men came to Centralia and after looting the town, held up the stage coach from Columbia, stopped and partially destroyed a St. Louis passenger train and after robbing the passengers killed nearly all of the twenty-three Federal soldiers on board, and set fire to the depot and train. The bands then returned to their camp. In the afternoon Major Johnson arrived at Centralia with a force of between one hundred and fifty and one hundred and seventy-five men of the Thirty-ninth Regiment, Missouri Volunteers. Despite the advice of many, Johnson gave battle two miles out from the town and 139 of his men were killed and some four or five wounded. Anderson in this affair lost but two killed and three wounded. The muzzle-loading rifles of the Union soldiers who were on foot were no match against the three to six revolvers carried by each of Anderson's men. It is stated that at the first shot by Anderson's men sixty-eight of Johnson's men were killed.

The Federals in that section kept up a close pursuit of Anderson after the affair at Centralia and on October 27 that leader was killed in Ray County.

The question of Federal drafts came up during 1864 and 1865, and deserves some consideration. The Federal draft of 1864 was met in many counties of Northeast Missouri by the offering of bounties by the county courts. For example, Boone County offered $50 a head to recruits of that county in February, 1865; Schuyler County at a special term of court held August 30, 1864, offered $100 to married men of that county or to those having dependents and $50 to others. The latter county is reported to have appropriated $8,000, and to have actually paid out $6,120 for these bounties. The second Federal draft of April 5, 1865, was nullified by the peace of April 9, 1865, which terminated the war here, although bushwhacking still continued until June of that year in some parts.

The last subject for consideration in the war in Northeast Missouri is the battle of Glasgow. On Price's Raid of 1864 into Missouri, that general, while marching westward from Jefferson City, sent Generals Jo Shelby and John B. Clark on October 8, to capture Glasgow. Colonel Chester Harding in command of the Federal forces at Glasgow was finally forced to surrender on October 15 to the Confederates who had brought a force of one thousand seven hundred men against him. The bombardment by Shelby and Clark was severe and fire broke out in the town. After capturing the place the Confederates almost immediately evacuated it.

Contributions to Both Sides

This marks the close of the war in Northeast Missouri. Instead of remaining neutral as the majority of Missourians favored, they had contributed 109,111 soldiers to the Federal cause and between forty and fifty thousand to the southern armies, and found their state a battlefield for both sides part of the time and a camp for the North during the latter years of the war. All this was especially true in Northeast Missouri. She always had soldiers stationed among her counties, during 1861 and 1862 there were armies of both the North and the South within this section, and from 1863 on to the close of the war she held the Union camps of troops and tried to protect herself against the inroads of the bushwhackers.

Northeast Missouri furnished thousands of men to both sides and for the South during 1861-1862 she was a veritable recruiting ground. It is strange, but nevertheless true, that many of her counties that contained comparatively few slaves were largely southern in sympathies; and counties with a large slave population were sometimes strong Union recruiting fields. The Union sentiment in Northeast Missouri did not depend on the small number of slave owners and slaves, nor did southern sympathizers increase as the slave population became larger as a rule.

The Missourian of 1861 was still the independent pioneer of earlier days and formed his opinions and fought for his convictions regardless of neighbors, his own self-interest, and even blood-ties. One of the staunchest Union supporters in this state and a congressman during part of the war was James S. Rollins of Boone County. And the tax-lists of 1860 which are today in the courthouse of that county show that "The Father of the University of Missouri" had more money in slaves than any other slave-holder at that time in the county. On the other hand there were hundreds of men in Northeast Missouri and thousands in the state who fought in the southern armies through choice but who never owned a slave and died on the field of battle for their convictions.

Northeast Missouri can be proud of her war record as regards the number of men she contributed and also from the generals she gave to both sides, one of her sons, General Sterling Price, being commander of the Confederate forces in this state, and another, General Odon Guitar, casting glory on the Union arms both north and south of the river. It is to be regretted that so much has been written about such petty leaders as Bill Anderson and others of his caliber while so little has been printed about men of the high rank of Colonel Green and Colonel Porter. It is the hope of the historian that the day will soon come when the mere exciting and murderous tales will cease to find their way into books of so-called "History" and that more time will be given to what may be a less spectacular but more enduring study of real men of war and campaigns. Missouri has already been more than burdened with the former; she waits the future in expectation of the latter.

  Northeast Missouri| AHGP Missouri | Books on AHGP

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913

 

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