Sunday, October 18, 2009

Missouri Battles During Civil War

My wife wanted to attend a two day conference for women in Springfield before continuing on to see our son in Tulsa . While she kept occupied with the women’s meeting, I called an old-time friend Rev. Dale Skiles and asked if he was like to escort me to Wilson’s Creek Civil War battlefield about 15 miles southwest of where we were staying. What a thrill it was for me to not only visit with him, but to get a great tour master at the same time.

The following is what I learned.The Battle of Wilson's Creek, fought ten miles southwest of Springfield , Missouri on August 10, 1861 . Named for the stream that crosses the area where the battle took place, was a bitter struggle between Union and Southern forces for control of Missouri in the first year of the Civil War.

According to a pamphlet at the visitor’s center, the Battle of Wilson's Creek was the beginning of the Civil War in Missouri .

I found it interesting when President Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion, Missouri was asked to supply four regiments. Governor Jackson refused the request. Captain Nathaniel Lyon learning of the governor's intentions, had most of the weapons moved secretly to Illinois .

In June, after a futile meeting with Governor Jackson to resolve their differences, Lyon (now a brigadier general) led an army up the Missouri River and captured the state capital at Jefferson City later arriving in Springfield . Despite inferior numbers, Lyon decided to attack the enemy encampment at Wilson ’s Creek. Leaving about 1,000 men behind to guard his supplies the Federal commander led 5,400 soldiers out of Springfield on the night of August 9. Lyon 's plan called for 1,200 men under Colonel Franz Sigel to swing wide to the south, flanking the Southern right, while the main body of troops struck from the north. Success hinged on the element of surprise.

Ironically, the Southern leaders also planned a surprise attack on the Federals, but rain on the night of the 9th caused McCulloch to cancel the operation. On the morning of the 10th, Lyon 's attack caught the Southerners off guard, driving them back. Forging rapidly ahead, the Federals occupied the crest of a ridge subsequently called "Bloody Hill." Nearby, the Pulaski Arkansas Battery opened fire, checking the advance.

For more than five hours the battle raged on Bloody Hill. Fighting was often at close quarters, and the tide turned with each charge and countercharge. At about 9:30 a.m. , General Lyon, who had been wounded twice already, was killed while positioning his troops.

For the next three and a half years Missouri witnessed so many battles and skirmishes that it ranks as the third most fought-over state in the nation.

The Confederates made only two large-scale attempts to break the Federal hold on Missouri , both of them directed by Missourian Sterling Price. He and his troops remained in the state until early 1862, when a Federal army drove them into Arkansas . The subsequent Union victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March kept large numbers of Confederate military forces out of Missouri for more than two years.

After Pea Ridge, Price accepted a command in the Confederate Army. He led unsuccessful campaigns at Iuka & Corinth , Mississippi and at Helena , Arkansas .

From another source, I learned that on September 1864 Price returned to Missouri with an army of some 12,000 men. By the time his campaign ended, he had marched nearly 1,500 miles, fought 43 battles or skirmishes, and destroyed an estimated $10 million worth of property.

Only 14 miles from Farmington where I live, on Sept 27, 1864 , the Confederates pushed back the Federal Troops at Ironton and Arcadia , Missouri , when Union Brigadier General Thomas Ewing decided to hold Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob, General Price decided to take the fort instead of bypassing it. This was apart of his bid to take St. Louis to win support for a Southern Missouri Government in the 1864 Elections.

However, his campaign ended in disaster. At Westport , near Kansas City , on October 23, Price was soundly defeated by General Curtis in the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi and forced to retreat south.

The state's strategic position on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and its abundant manpower and natural resources made it imperative that she remain loyal to the Union . Most Missourians desired neutrality, but many, including the governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson, held strong Southern sympathies and planned to cooperate with the Confederacy in its bid for independence.
Price went to Mexico after the war, but returned to Missouri in 1866. He died there the next year.

My mother had 4 great grand uncles who fought for the Union and one of these when he moved to Arkansas then fought for the CSA. All were wounded in battle. In my genealogy I found a father and a son who fought on different sides. I had kindred on all my ancestor sides that fought in the rebellion against the states. War is terrible no matter where or with whom.

Maybe one day we can sing the ole song, “Ain’t gonna war no-more.”

”Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” --James 4:2 (KJV)

James 4:1-3 translated by Daniel Mace brings added light as he states: “You breathe slaughter and revenge for what you cannot obtain. You quarrel and go to war, but without success, because you don't petition for it: and if you did, you would not obtain it, because you wickedly request to have your passions gratified."

Sunday, October 4, 2009


The Worst War on American Soil

Our first stop in Gettysburg was to visit the new Museum and Visitors center that contains a number of theaters, a large bookstore, and the museum of many of the war’s artifacts. Above is also a huge painting, one of only four in the United States that depicts the battle at Gettysburg.

I had a special interest in visiting the battlefield since I had gone to high school in Arkansas with Billy and JEB Stuart who were descendants of the famous confederate General James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart, who was known as the most famous cavalryman of the Civil War.

Being a student of JEB Stuart, please allow me to give a little history of the General and his life.

At the age of fourteen years James Stuart was placed at school in Wytheville , Virginia ; and in August, 1848, he entered Emory and Henry College (where I have conducted seminars in years past). During a revival of religion among the students he professed conversion, and joined the Methodist Church . Throughout his life he maintained a consistent Christian character. In April, 1850, James Stuart left Emory and Henry College , having obtained an appointment as cadet in the United States Military Academy at West Point where he gradated 13th in his class.

Ten years later, in 1859, he was confirmed in the Protestant Episcopal Church by Bishop Hawkes, in St. Louis . His mother was an Episcopalian, and had early instilled into him a love for her own church

A Virginia-born West Pointer (1854), Stuart was already a veteran of Indian fighting on the plains and of Bleeding Kansas when, as a first lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry, he carried orders for Robert E. Lee to proceed to Harpers Ferry to crush John Brown's raid.

His later appointments included: captain of Cavalry, CSA ( May 24, 186 1); colonel, 1st Virginia Cavalry (July 16, 1861); brigadier general, CSA (September 24, 1861); and major general, CSA July 25, 1862 ). His commands in the Army of Northern Virginia included: Cavalry Brigade (October 22, 1861 - July 28, 1862); Cavalry Division July 28, 1862 - September 9, 1863 ); temporarily Jackson's 2nd Corps (May 3-6, 1863); and Cavalry Corps (September 9, 1863 - May 11, 1864).

During Grant's drive on Richmond in the spring of 1864, Stuart halted Sheridan 's cavalry at Yellow Tavern on the outskirts of Richmond on May 11. In the fight he was mortally wounded. About noon , Thursday, President Davis visited his bedside, and spent some fifteen minutes in the dying chamber of his favorite chieftain. The President, taking his hand, said, "General, how do you feel?" He replied, "Easy, but willing to die, if God and my country think I have fulfilled my destiny and done my duty."

The General, with a mind perfectly clear, made dispositions to his staff of his personal effects. To Mrs. Robert E. Lee he directed that his golden spurs be given as a dying memento of his love and esteem of her husband. To his staff officers he gave his horses. To one of his staff, who was a heavy built man, he said, "You had better take the larger horse; he will carry you better." Other mementoes he disposed of in a similar manner. To his young son he left his glorious sword.

His worldly matters closed, the eternal interest of his soul engaged his mind. Turning to the Rev. Mr. Peterkin, of the Episcopal Church, and of which he was an exemplary member, he asked him to sing the hymn commencing --

"Rock of ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee,"

Joining in with all the voice his strength would permit. He then joined in prayer with the ministers. To the Doctor he again said, "I am going fast now; I am resigned; God's will done." Thus died General J.E.B. Stuart. General Stuart was thirty five years of age. He died in the rebel capital and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery there. Like his intimate friend, Stonewall Jackson, General Stuart soon became a legendary figure, ranking as one of the great cavalry commanders of America .

Among the pall bearers were Brigadier General John H. Winder, General George W. Randolph, General Joseph R. Anderson, Brigadier General Lawton and Commodore Forrest.

Among the congregation appeared President Davis, General Bragg, General Ransom, and other civic and military officials in Richmond .

Having studied much of the life of J.E.B. Stuart, I was deeply interested in viewing the entire battlefield so we boarded a double Decker bus and went to the front seat on the top level to be able to get good photographs. The guide was great and audio history was also played in various places that better covered the incidents and events of the area.

The 23 mile tour lasted better than two hours and was indeed enlightenment to me even though I had been a student of Civil War battles.

The losses at Gettysburg were the greatest of any battle in the Civil War. The Union lost 23,049 men, while the Confederacy lost 28,063. The Confederate population was unable to withstand such heavy casualties, and Lee's army was never able to launch another offensive invasion in Union territory. The defeat at Gettysburg , coupled with the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4th, ended Confederate hopes of European intervention in the war. Between 46,000 and 51,000 Americans were casualties in the three-day battle.

That November, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.

After, returning to the tour center, our friends and us, met at the old Gettysburg café for a remarkable meal.

”He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.” --Psalm 55:18