Chapter 1:

  • The election of 1860 and its effects
  • -- arsenal at Little Rock taken into State possession -- action of legislature and convention -- Preparations for war -- fighting in Missouri.

The exciting political campaign of 1860 was over. Henry Massie Rector had been elected governor of the State by a combination of Democrats and old-line Whigs; the legislature was Democratic by a large majority. The total vote cast in the election of August was 61,198, of which Rector received 31,948 and R. H. Johnson, 29,250. The Thirteenth general assembly of the State met at Little Rock, November 5th, and continued in session until January 21, 1861, when it adjourned to meet November 4th, and, after a short session, adjourned again to reassemble March 8, 1862. January 15, 1861, it passed an act looking to the warlike defense of the State, calling for a State convention which should determine the attitude of Arkansas in the crisis which was impending, and for organizing the militia and providing arms to keep down disturbances and repel invasion. Two commissioners were authorized to buy arms, for which $100,000 was appropriated, and Thomas J. Churchill and C. C. Danley appointed such commissioners. They expended but $36,000 for that purpose, when it was realized that no arms would be allowed to be shipped to the State from Cincinnati, to which point they had been ordered from the Northern armories. The convention, if it should be ordered by the popular vote, was to assemble at Little Rock, in obedience to the proclamation of the governor, on the first Monday after March [4]

About the time of the meeting of the general assembly, in November, 1860, the Second United States artillery had been transferred from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to the arsenal at Little Rock, where it remained stationed during the sitting of the first session of the legislature. The removal may have occurred in the ordinary routine of the regular service, but there had not been soldiers in the old barracks for many years. It had been used exclusively as a depot for arms and munitions, occupied by a military storekeeper and a few non-commissioned officers and mechanics. The Second artillery was composed of about seventy-five men, under command of Capt. James Totten, of the regular army, whose father, Dr. William E. Totten, occupied some position on the grounds by appointment of the war department. Captain Totten was a genial and accomplished gentleman, whose half-brother had intermarried with one of the most respected and influential families in the city and State, owning slaves, and being Democrats, but sympathizing with the cause of the Union. The denizens of the towns in Arkansas, whose inhabitants were engaged in merchandise or mechanical pursuits, were generally of Northern birth or extraction, and were strongly in favor of the Union, upon any conditions. The oldest and most distinguished citizens of Little Rock were from New York and Philadelphia, and the States of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and were an element of wealth, refinement and intelligence. The dwellers of the ‘hill country’ were from the mountain regions of Tennessee, and of the Appalachian chain throughout its whole length, a very different type from those above named, and were also advocates of the Union. The planters of the lowlands, generally from Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, were outspoken advocates of separation from the contaminating and menacing influences of the people of the ‘Free States,’ believing they would never be satisfied until, through business devices or legislation, they could control the great [5] planting interest for their own profit, or destroy it through the liberation of the slaves. The planters had been worked up to a white heat by the utterances of Mr. Lincoln in his debate with Douglas, and the unprovoked descent of Osawatamie Brown, backed, as they believed, clandestinely by a very powerful element of ethicopolit-ical leaders at the seats of influence in the North. The legislative representatives of the cotton counties looked with suspicion upon the unusual removal of a battery of artillery to the State capital while they were engaged in deliberations which they wished to be far removed from every semblance of coercion.

Governor Rector was inaugurated on November 15, 1860. In his inaugural address he counseled moderation in the action of the State government. He hoped for the display of a more conciliatory disposition on the part of the successful candidates in the late Federal election than could be discerned in the unauthorized publication of the press, and in sectional agitation going on in all parts of the common country. But, should the new officers yield to such influences and manifest the same spirit which had caused many powerful States to deliberately violate the compact of the Union, and should the general government take any step to encroach upon the constitutional rights of the Southern States, then the State of Arkansas should place herself in the column with her sister States of the South, and share their destiny.

Governor Rector was a native of St. Louis, Mo., where his father, Col. Elias Rector, had been formerly surveyor-general of the Territory of Missouri, which then included Arkansas. He removed to Arkansas before he arrived at maturity, for the care of landed interests which he had inherited from his father. He was descended, in part, from the Seviers, of Tennessee, and was a relative of Senator, and one time United States Minister, A. H. Sevier, of Arkansas. He resided at Little Rock, after holding several positions, as member of the general [6] assembly from Saline county, United States marshal of the western district of Arkansas, surveyor-general, and associate justice of the Supreme court.

At that time Little Rock was a small city of about 3,000 inhabitants. Its chief importance was derived from its official character, as the dwelling place of government officers, State and Federal, the seat of the superior courts, and the place of residence of the leading lawyers of the State. As a commercial center it possessed but little importance. But there were few communities that could boast a more elevated and refined society. Composed of the higher classes, educated by the advantages of travel and favorable contact with the learned and gifted of the older States at the Federal capital, they were trained through an intercourse which made courtesy, forbearance and superior attainments the indispensable elements of success and happiness. No spot of earth ever surpassed it in the generous and unrestricted hospitality of its citizens, which may be compared to that extended by ‘renowned Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son,’ in the Homeric romance. It is needless to say that the results of the war and the commercial growth of the place have obliterated many of these ancient customs and greatly transformed all this.

In the latter part of January, or first of February, after the legislature had taken a recess until March, Maj. H. A. Montgomery, of Memphis, completed his line of magnetic telegraph from that city to Little Rock. A line had already given communication from Memphis to Helena, Ark., on the Mississippi river, in the midst of one of the most productive cotton regions in the State. Montgomery had, the year before, obtained a charter for a company to operate this line, of which Charles P. Bertrand, a wealthy citizen and lawyer, formerly of New York, was president, and James Henry, a merchant, formerly of Massachusetts, was secretary. Major Montgomery was a practical operator, with L. C. Baker for his [7] assistant and, eventually, chief operator. On the evening of the completion of his line to Memphis, Montgomery called on the writer of this history with the announcement that he was about to send his first dispatch, which it was his desire to have the writer formulate. He was in earnest, and the initial message was framed and handed him, containing, among other things, a repetition of the rumor, then in circulation at Little Rock, that Major Emory had been ordered from Fort Gibson, on the frontier, to reinforce Captain Totten at the arsenal at Little Rock. This rumor, whether true or false, had been mentioned with gratification by divers friends of the Union cause in the city, and as Fort Gibson was only 80 miles west of Fort Smith, and the river navigable, it was a piece of news worthy of a telegraphic message. It was sent as an item of news solely, and without a thought that it would give rise to any practical results in the then uncertain and helpless condition of affairs.

The next morning found Montgomery considerably worked up by news he had received of the effect of his dispatch at Helena, to which place it had been forwarded from Memphis. His information was to the effect that it caused great excitement at Helena. The citizens had met in mass meeting, and tendered the governor 500 volunteers to take the arsenal and expel the Union troops! The adjutant-general made his appearance with the dispatch, from the hands of the governor. It was signed by well-known, honored citizens. The adjutant-general complained of the impropriety of a direct offer of volunteers to the governor of a State which had not seceded, and might not secede. Only a few weeks before, South Carolina, and in this same month, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and Georgia, had passed ordinances of secession; and Texas, February 11th, submitted it to a vote of the people, to be taken on the 23d of that month. But Arkansas had not yet voted to hold a convention. The adjutant-general concluded that such a tender of troops [8] to the governor was impracticable under the circumstances. He would telegraph the citizens of Helena to that effect, since the governor had given him the dispatch to answer.

Adjutant-General Burgevine was brother-in-law of Governor Rector, and brother of the Burgevine of whom Gen. Edward Forrester wrote in his reminiscences of the great Tai-Ping rebellion in China, describing the battle of Fung-Wah: ‘This was the last battle fought by the “ever victorious army” under my command. My broken health compelled me to retire, and General Burgevine was appointed my successor.’

‘But, General,’ it was suggested, ‘suppose you frame a dispatch as follows: “The governor has no authority to summon you to take possession of a Federal post, whether threatened to be reinforced or not. Should the people assemble in their defense, the governor will interpose his official position in their behalf.” ’ The adjutant-general resolved to send a dispatch in something like these words, and did so, with the immediate effect of arousing, not only the citizens of Helena and vicinity, but all the planting region which received the news, and the movement to take the arsenal was immediately set on foot.

The Yell Rifles, of which that most distinguished officer, Patrick R. Cleburne, was a member, and a company of cavalry under Captain Gist, brother of Governor Gist of South Carolina, came overland, mounted and armed; the Phillips Guards, an infantry company commanded by Captain Otey, came by steamer up the Arkansas river. Several impromptu organizations came by steamer from Pine Bluff, and others by land on horseback. Soon there were several thousand men in Little Rock, assembled for the purpose of demanding the surrender of the arsenal and taking possession of the arms and munitions there stored. The inhabitants of the little city were in a state of most intense excitement.

The arsenal was situated in a grove of twenty acres, and [9] consisted of a large two-story brick building, with octagonal tower, in which were stores of arms and munitions of war; a handsome brick residence; and in the background a row of barracks, two stories high, with double verandas; besides several office buildings and guardhouses, situated about the lawn. Captain Totten's was no enviable position. He had 75 men, a strong position in the storehouse, several pieces of light artillery, plenty of cartridges and caps for a month's siege. He had disposed his men and artillery in convenient positions, in case of the attack of a mob upon him; but the arsenal, partly within the city, was so near the principal residences that he could not fire without endangering non-combatants and the helpless, who were his friends and relatives. It was never in his thought, perhaps, to fire upon the city, except in an emergency he could not foresee. The armed citizens with whom he had to deal knew and respected the proprieties. They asked for a consultation with Captain Totten, through the governor, as mediator. Captain Totten replied courteously, saying that he did not have any knowledge as to whether the arsenal would be reinforced, or what might be the action of the government; but he would do all he could in his position to prevent bloodshed and promote peace.

On the 6th of February, Governor Rector suggested to the Federal commander that he had now had sufficient time to communicate with the government; that the situation was fraught with peril to the people of the city, and if Captain Totten would evacuate, the State would agree to hold the arsenal and the arms and munitions until the 4th of March, pending the meeting of the convention, should one be called. Additions to the camps of the volunteers grew daily, and the impossibility of avoiding a bloody conflict was manifest to all. Captain Totten may have received advice, as the communications by mail and telegraph had not been interfered with. At any rate, he announced that upon condition that he and his officers and [10] men should be allowed peaceably to move out of the arsenal with the property of every character belonging to them, and leave the city when proper transportation could be secured for them, he would evacuate. He was induced to this course, he said, by unwillingness to bring bloodshed and destruction upon friends and neighbors, and did not surrender a trust confided to him, but evacuated for want of instructions from his superior officers. He withdrew to a camp on the river, below the city, accompanied by quite a procession of citizens who admired his manly deportment, and who presented him with a beautiful sword as a token of their appreciation and friendship. If there was any deeper feeling than these becoming courtesies, it was only temporary, as those who so greatly honored the discomfited but considerate officer soon confronted him in battle with the most illustrious gallantry.

The governor took possession of the arsenal, with the arms and munitions and stores it contained, except the property of the Second artillery, February 8, 1861, and placed the Phillips Guards, of Helena, in charge, under Captain Otey, who was a son of the Episcopal bishop of Tennessee. The residence and grounds were put under control of Maj. T. C. Peek (who had married a niece of the governor), as military storekeeper. The spacious grounds became a convenient rendezvous and camping-place for volunteers. Those grounds were brightened by the animated scenes of social diversions, engaged in by the young officers and society belles of the city, thenceforward. It was not then known that the incomprehensible man who had been elected President of the United States, as they were then misnamed, did not intend to abate one jot of the authority which he should assert as such President, when called to take his seat in the chair at Washington. He, no doubt, honestly believed that he was a representative of the people, chosen by them according to the forms of law—law, however to be disregarded in the [11] theories, to be vigorously enforced in compelling obedience to official power. He may have believed that he was commissioned to preserve ‘a government of the people, for the people and by the people,’ while he would ignore, in thus sustaining his power over the entire people, that vital element of republics which proclaims that government derives its just powers from ‘the consent of the governed,’ and that nearly half of the people were prepared to resist rather than ‘consent’ to his authority, assumed, as they believed, upon principles at variance with the law as enacted and expounded by the courts of last resort. Mr. Lincoln had already, before the taking of the Little Rock arsenal, written to his friend Washburne, of Illinois, as follows:

Springfield, December 21, 1860.
Present my compliments to Lieutenant-General Scott, and tell him confidentially, I shall be obliged to him to be as well prepared as he can to either hold or retake the forts, as the case may require, at and after the inauguration.

The taking of the Little Rock arsenal produced a revulsion of feeling, which caused those who hoped to keep Arkansas in the Union to abandon that hope. The conviction that resistance by the Southern States to the authority of the general government was inevitable, seemed to possess all minds, however doubtful many may have been of its final success. These doubts were quickly discarded, and all concurred in the general desire for independence. It is a pleasure to remember that while there were those in Little Rock who indulged in unguarded expressions, there were no bitter conflicts, and the boldest expressions of opinion, Union or Confederate, were taken good-humoredly. Freedom of speech provoked no indication of angry repression.

When information was brought that there were threats of coercion in Missouri and Kentucky, and of reinforcement of the small garrison of Federals at Fort Smith, [12] there was a general demand that it be occupied by and held for the State also, as was the Little Rock arsenal. The governor consented, and ordered a force of volunteers under Maj. Solon Borland to proceed to Fort Smith, and take possession of the military property at that place, which was done, the only difficulty being in providing transportation for all who volunteered. Col. N. B. Burrow was placed in charge there, with a detachment of sufficient numbers, to hold the place for the State.

Soon afterward, the arrival of Mr. Lincoln at the national capital, under sensational circumstances, and his inauguration were announced. Those who may have been ignorant of the essential elements of the character of Mr. Lincoln, and his views of the question of slavery, who had forgotten his most earnest expression that ‘the Union could not exist one-half slave and one-half free; either it must be all free or all slave,’ may have been misled by the cautious and conciliatory tone of his inaugural message. He did not then choose to proclaim the doctrine of coercion in direct terms, while denying the right of a State to secede, or to plainly avow his intention unqualifiedly to hold, occupy and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and collect the duties and imports. While regarding these as duties devolving on his office, he said, that ‘beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.’ And to this he added the assurance, ‘Where hostility to the United States shall be so great as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right of the government may exist to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be irritating and so nearly impracticable, withal, that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.’ To those who read them thoughtfully, these words were only temporizing, [13] and indicated the ultimate design—as if ‘office’ was a matter of any moment at such a crisis!

The question of holding a State convention was decided by the vote of the people, who gave a majority of 11,586 ‘for convention’ out of a total of 62,000. By proclamation of the governor, that body assembled on the 4th of March, the day of the Presidential inauguration. A majority of the delegates elected were disposed to temporize, and voted for ‘cooperation’ against ‘secession,’ and elected five peace commissioners to attend the Border State convention at Frankfort, Ky., on May 27, 1861. This effort was laudable, but the march of events was too rapid for the peace commissioners, and left them so far in the rear that they did not deem it necessary to perform their function. The threats of the Northern press that ‘a fire in the rear should be opened upon such troops as should be raised in the North to march against the people of the South’; the indignant protests of ex-Chancellor Walworth at a public meeting, ‘that it would be as brutal to send men to butcher our own brothers of the Southern States, as it would be to massacre them in the Northern States’; and the promise of Eli Thayer, the old-line Whig, ‘we will reverse the order of the French revolution, and save the blood of the people by making those who would inaugurate a reign of terror the first victims of a national guillotine,’ became as exhalations of the empty air.

The Arkansas State convention adjourned without further action to the 19th day of August, 1861. Very blind, indeed, were the halting advocates of peace, when it was plain to all that there could be no peace. The powers behind Mr. Lincoln were his political supporters at the North, who proposed to unite purse and sword, and would never give up the South and its rich repository of profit and wealth, so essential to their business. They pushed him, as did their auxiliaries, the fanatical antislavery forces, to an instantaneous advance. The new President sent a fleet of war vessels to support a vessel [14] ostensibly dispatched to provision the garrison of United States troops besieged in Charleston harbor. The besiegers were vigilant to prevent the occupation of the fort by reinforcements. Upon the entrance of a fleet sent by Lincoln under its protection, April 12th, the Confederates opened fire upon the fort, compelling the surrender of the garrison. To permit it to be revictualed would have been to yield its possessions to the naval forces of the United States, and with it, the Carolina coast. Horace Greeley was ready to admit, with all his opposition to the Southern movement, ‘Whether the bombardment and resistance of Fort Sumter shall or shall not be justified by posterity, it is clear that the Confederacy had no alternative but its own dissolution.’ (American Conflict, Vol. I, p. 449.)

Further finesse and movements for position were deemed no longer necessary after the bombardment of Fort Sumter. The President laid aside disguise, and dispensed with further suppression of his scarcely-concealed designs. In violation of the Constitution which vested the power to declare war and raise and support armies in Congress alone, unless to protect a State against invasion, upon application of the legislature, or the governor thereof when the legislature cannot be convened, President Lincoln issued his proclamation, April 15th, calling out the military force of the country to suppress ‘combinations,’ as he termed States which had seceded, naming the States in which such combinations existed, not yet including Arkansas. The secretary of war accordingly sent a requisition on the several States for their quotas of 75,000 troops called for, and including Arkansas. Governor Rector, of Arkansas, promptly replied to this demand as follows: ‘In answer to your requisition for troops from Arkansas, to subjugate the Southern States, I have to say that none will be furnished. The demand is only adding [15] insult to injury.’ The governors of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and North Carolina made similar defiant answers.

The president of the adjourned convention, Judge David Walker, by authority given him by the convention at its former sitting, called the body by proclamation, April 20th, to convene on May 6, 1861. It met, and on that day an ordinance of secession offered by Porter Grace, of Jefferson county, was adopted by a vote of 65 to 5, of which latter 5 votes, 4 were changed to the affirmative, so that the vote, as footed up, finally stood 69 to 1. That one vote in the negative was persisted in by the delegate from Madison county, Isaac Murphy, who explained that he had pledged his constituents to oppose secession, which he did not believe was the remedy, as he preferred to fight under the old flag as a ‘rebel.’ He was a ‘rebel,’ he said, and would be found fighting to the last in resisting the usurpation of the government. Mr. Murphy, not long before, had come to Arkansas from Indiana, and found an abiding place in the mountainous county of Madison, on the Missouri border. He immediately introduced a resolution authorizing the State to seize the money of the United States in the hands of receivers, and use it for the purchase of arms to put the State on a war footing. But he subsequently went over to the Federals, and was appointed, in 1864, the first governor, practically, under the Lincoln administration, for the reconstruction of the State. John S. Phelps was first appointed provisional governor, but did not qualify or serve.

This action of the convention was an occasion of intense feeling. Citizens seemed to understand the momentous nature of the proceedings. A mighty power had thrown down the gauntlet of war to a State, young in the years of its admission into the Union, only twenty-five, and feeble in population and resources. It owned but few slaves, and did not feel the jealousy of unlawful encroachments [16] as keenly as its more wealthy neighbors. But it contained a people who were bred to hatred of oppression and injustice. They were familiar with the conditions of their friends, and regarded the slavery agitation as unreasonable and uncalled for—the demands of a haughty power which spurned the obligations of the law for the sake of an infatuation which was too unnatural and degrading to be sincere. The State then hurled back the defiance of her freemen, represented in the convention, and through weal or woe, resolved to stand by those akin to them, rather than raise a fratricidal hand against them. Thus, Arkansas defied the hordes of all lands gathered under the name of ‘the government’ for the invasion of the South, and took her place in the ranks with her sister Southern States. She did it with a full sense of all the responsibilities. She would form the outer guard, and stand face to face with the foe. Missouri, on the north, had listened to the pretense of conciliation until she was undeceived by the rude blow of the mailed hand. Arkansas, now awakened, must answer on the instant—no more hesitation or division. Her people were one in interest and sentiment. The convention represented their principles.

The convention, at this juncture of events, devoted its attention to making preparation for the coming struggle. Mr. Murphy's resolution to seize the money of the United States in the hands of receivers of the land districts was carried into effect. The $36,000 paid for arms by the legislative commissioners, Churchill and Danley, had to be charged to ‘profit and loss,’ as the orders, if filled, were never delivered. A new State constitution was adopted. The new constitution differed but little from the former, except that in all the sections of its declaration of rights the word ‘white’ was prefixed to the word ‘men.’ The State of Arkansas had become adjusted in its relations to the Confederate States. It provided for the election of members of the Provisional Congress of [17] the Confederate States. An ordinance for the organization and equipment of troops for immediate service was adopted; money in the treasury was appropriated, and bonds of the State, known as ‘war bonds,’ were authorized.

Gen. James Yell, delegate from Jefferson county, was elected major-general of State forces, and N. Bart Pearce and N. B. Burrow were chosen as the two brigadiergen-erals. Albert Pike was commissioned to visit and obtain the cooperation of the civilized tribes of Indians in the Indian Territory, who were themselves owners of negro slaves. A military board was created, to assist and relieve the governor and commander-in-chief in the organization of the army. Governor Rector, Benjamin C. Totten and C. C. Danley constituted the board. Captain Danley, on a journey to the Mississippi river, on the way to Richmond in discharge of his duty, received injuries from which he never recovered, and Samuel W. Williams was appointed in his stead. When the latter accepted command of a regiment, Dr. L. D. Hill became his successor on the board. The board, of which the governor was chairman, issued a proclamation calling for the enlistment of volunteers in the State service, for a period of one year, and engaged energetically in providing rations and equipments. The response was prompt. Regiments, battalions and companies were rapidly organized and placed in camp with such arms as could be obtained, and often without arms. From the Confederate secretary of war authority was received for the raising of regiments for the Confederate service. Hundreds of applications to him for this service were declined for want of arms. Many leaders went to Montgomery and Richmond for authority to organize military commands, and returned without it. Some even marched their commands to the field inefficiently armed, and these importuned the war department for commissions. Hindman, Cleburne and Van Manning used extraordinary means to obtain arms [18] for their men. The volunteers, recruited in all parts of the State, began to arrive at the capital. The arsenal grounds were one large encampment. Many companies assembled for organization with their fowling pieces, deer guns and squirrel rifles. The one great drawback to the equipment of an army was the want of efficient arms, and yet, of the 60,000 electors in the State, 25,000 were enrolled the first year and transported to the fields of battle.

The provisional government, which had been organized at Montgomery, adjourned to assemble at Richmond, Va., July 20, 1861. President Davis proceeded to the Virginia capital at once, and placed himself at the head of the executive department. Virginia ratified the ordinance of secession in April, and Gen. R. E. Lee was placed in command of the Virginia forces. His available strength was divided into three armies, to oppose the movements which threatened Virginia from beyond the Potomac. At Sewell's Point, in May, Federal steamers kept up an unsuccessful attack upon the Confederate battery for two days. In June, near Bethel church, a detached work, defended by North Carolina and Virginia troops, was attacked by Federals, who were repulsed. Ellsworth, the Zouave colonel, was killed at Alexandria, Va., by Jackson. General McClellan was already making his movement into the upper portion of Virginia.

These events were of absorbing interest, as marking the commencement of hostilities in the East. But others happened nearer home, demanding the immediate attention of the military in Arkansas. Gen. Sterling Price, who had been the president of the Missouri convention, which did not contain one secessionist, had entered into an agreement with General Harney, of the United States army, commanding the department of the West, by which Missouri was to be included in a certain geographical division of his military department which General Harney engaged should be exempt from invasion. General Price had been successively representative of Missouri in [19] Congress, colonel in the Mexican war, and governor of Missouri, and was a firm supporter of the cause of the Union. His earnest wishes and efforts were to have his State kept in a condition of neutrality, which should spare it from the devastations of war. But in the absence of General Harney from the department, a camp of State militia, under Gen. G. M. D. Frost, unarmed, and near the city of St. Louis, May 10th, was enjoying a holiday with a great many visitors from St. Louis looking on, when it was suddenly surrounded by a force of United States regulars and some German city companies under command of Capt. Nathaniel Lyon, commandant of the United States post at St. Louis. The non-resisting militia were taken prisoners. Captain Lyon, a New Englander and a fanatical abolitionist, was wrought up to believe that these militia exercises meant ‘treason’ to the government. Disregarding General Harney's compact, or believing it violated, he had determined to break up the militia camp. By some misunderstanding, while a large number of citizens were witnessing the marching off of their fellow citizens as prisoners of war, under Lyon's guard, one of the German military companies fired into these citizens, killing about 20, among whom were women and children. Lyon's action met the approbation of Lincoln. He was promoted and placed in command of the department of the West, vice General Harney, transferred to another field. General Lyon was an aggressive, enthusiastic supporter of the administration, and an unrelenting foe to its opponents. He scouted the idea of neutrality for Missouri, and scorned the proposition of Governor Jackson to disarm the militia and bind himself, as governor of the State, to call on the President in case of disturbance, because Governor Jackson had indignantly refused ‘to furnish troops for the subjection of the South.’ Jackson and Price were in earnest; but ‘neutrality’ was impracticable, and the proposition to maintain it subjected Missouri to four years of bloodshed [20] and devastation, and caused a divided people, from whose necks the yoke of military tyranny was not lifted for years after the war. It was the first slave State in which the slaves were formally emancipated, an act performed by Fremont, in advance of Lincoln.

General Lyon announced that he should take military occupation of the State and ‘place it in the exact condition of Maryland.’ Recognizing the impossibility of preserving ‘neutrality,’ Governor Jackson issued his proclamation, June 12th, calling for troops to resist invasion and defend the sovereignty of his State. A small body of recruits collected under his call near Booneville, under command of Col. John S. Marmaduke. On June 16, 1861, General Lyon ascended the Missouri river to attack this force of about 800 men, having with him troops commanded by Colonels Schaeffer and Blair, Captain Steele and Major Osterhaus, detachments of other regiments, and Totten's artillery, a force greatly superior to Governor Jackson's little army. Colonel Marmaduke deemed this force of Lyon too strong to be resisted. General Price was dangerously ill and had been taken away on a steamboat. The Missourians, however, refused to leave the ground without a brush with the enemy. Under command of Colonel Brand, they engaged their foes, killing over 100, with a loss to themselves of 3 killed and 30 wounded. Lyon was astonished, and, it seems, admonished, by the stubborn resistance shown him in the face of such odds by this citizen soldiery, who finally retreated in safety, and were joined by other recruits.

A part of this gathering of citizens of Missouri went with Governor Jackson, accompanied by the heads of the State department, and by Gens. J. B. Clark and Monroe M. Parsons. When they arrived at a place called Cole Camp, they found there a body of home guards, whom Lyon and Blair had ordered to intercept the march of Jackson. They were mostly Germans. Colonel O'Kane, [21] of a gallant Confederate command, surprised them at midnight and nearly annihilated them. Their colonel, Cook, brother of the Cook who was hung at Harper's Ferry for participation in the John Brown raid, made his escape. Colonel Totten, with a large force of infantry and artillery, went in pursuit of Jackson, but on receipt of exaggerated reports of the latter's strength, abandoned the movement. Jackson rested at Warsaw a few days, and proceeded to Montevallo, where he expected to meet General Price from Lexington. Price, still suffering from the effects of his sickness, formed a junction with Jackson, July 3d, in Cedar county, where his men were organized under Brigadier-Generals Rains, Slack and Clark, making up a total force of 3,600, of whom 600 were wholly unarmed.

Here General Price learned that Lyon, with an equal number of well-armed troops, had started in pursuit of his army, and that 3,000 more under Sigel had been sent by rail to Rolla to intercept him. On the 5th of July, the Missourians found themselves confronted by Sigel, six miles from Carthage, and a battle ensued in which Sigel was defeated and compelled to retreat to Sarcoxie. Gen. Ben McCulloch, arriving at this juncture from his camp at Elm Springs, Ark., with 3,000 Confederate enlisted men, and Gen. N. Bart Pearce from Osage Mills with a brigade of State troops, they united with Price at Carthage. On the 7th, the combined forces took up the line of march to Cowskin prairie. Colonel Sigel had not been prepared for the strength of resistance there was in the Missouri men who fought him at Carthage. ‘Mein Gott!’ he said, ‘was ever such thing seen! Green men, never in battle before, standing their ground, hurling defiance, and cheering their own guns at every discharge.’ His report to his commander, General Sweeny, thus describes the termination of the battle: ‘In the critical moment, Captain Wilkins, commander of one of the two batteries, declared he was unable to advance for want of ammunition! [22] No time could be lost; our troops on the extreme right and left were already engaged. To advance with the rest, without the assistance of artillery, seemed to me a movement which could easily turn out into [sic] deroute! The moral effect of the enemy's mounted regiments behind our lines could not be denied. It was, therefore, with great mortification that I ordered one part of our troops behind Dry fork, sent one to protect baggage train, ordered retreat,’ etc. He left Captain Conrad and Company B at Neosho for ‘protection of the Union-loving people’ with a train of supplies, which McIntosh and Churchill, of McCulloch's brigade, soon captured.

Lyon marched into Springfield, August 1st. He was joined the next day by Major Sturgis, who had a skirmish at Dug Springs with Arkansas and Missouri mounted men. The Arkansas troops were commanded by Capt. Americus V. Reiff. It required sharp skirmishing of several hours, by several companies under Capt. Frederick Steele, the Fourth artillery under Lieutenant Lathrop, and a company of cavalry under Captain Stanley, and finally Totten's battery, with also two pieces from Sigel's brigade, to drive the Confederates back. Col. Jordan E. Cravens, of Governor Rector's staff, fought with Capt. Reiff's company at Dug Springs. Lyon, believing it was the intention of the Confederates to draw him away from his supplies, retired to Springfield, while 2,000 regulars, under Major Sturgis and Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews, remained about four miles from the town. Meanwhile, the Confederates from Missouri and Arkansas moved down to Cassville, which is about fifteen miles north of the northern boundary of Arkansas, in Barry county, Mo. Maj. J. M. Schofield, of the First Missouri regiment, in his report as acting adjutant-general of the Federal army, said that General Lyon determined to make a night march on the 7th, with his entire force, toward Cassville, direct upon the front of the Confederate position, a day [23] sooner, but was dissuaded from it on account of the exhausted condition of a large number of his troops. That day, and until the evening of the next, he spent in recruiting the strength of the men, supplying them with shoes and preparing for battle. Lyon's army was a formidable antagonist for the raw and poorly-armed force of Confederates it was preparing to meet, and its numbers were greatly exaggerated to General McCulloch, commanding the men from Arkansas. McCulloch had fought Indians in Texas and the Mexican mestizos in Mexico, and he knew the difference between inexperienced citizen soldiery and well-armed, disciplined troops, many of them veterans and commanded by veterans. He was in favor at first of falling back into Arkansas, but General Price maintained that the strength of the enemy was overestimated. He was eager to attack, and urged an immediate advance. At this juncture McCulloch received dispatches from General Polk that a large force of Confederates from Pitman's Ferry and New Madrid would march toward Rolla to intercept Lyon. McCulloch agreed to march against Lyon at Springfield, or wherever they might find him, General Price magnanimously waiving his superior rank and consenting that McCulloch should take command of the army. Price was a brave and chivalrous officer, and inherently too great to contend about rank where the liberties of his country were at issue. He was willing to ‘surrender not only rank, but life, if required, as his sacrifice to her cause.’

Expecting to encounter Lyon's army somewhere south of Springfield, the Confederates had left their baggage train and beef-cattle at Cowskin prairie. But the men were in fine spirits and only disappointed when they did not find the enemy nearer at hand. The August weather was hot. The first day's march was made by night, expecting to attack the enemy at dawn, but he had retraced his march toward Springfield and pursuit was decided upon, the army marching twenty-two miles in the heat [24] and suffocating dust; twelve miles of the distance being without water and the men deprived of canteens and even of cups. On the night of the 8th they arrived at Big Spring, near Wilson's creek, ten or eleven miles south of Springfield. They had only half rations; but ‘roasting ears’ were ripe, and that they might eke out subsistence, the army was marched forward to the creek, where there were several large fields of corn. Their appearance, covered with dust, was squalid in the extreme, but this fact seemed in nowise to dampen their ardor or good spirits, for, having finished their suppers, they enjoyed themselves dancing by their camp-fires. McCulloch's armed men, carrying flintlock muskets, shotguns and rifles, numbered, as he stated, 5,300 infantry, 15 pieces of artillery, and 6,000 horsemen, inadequately armed. On the evening of August 9th they received orders to march on Springfield, starting at 9 o'clock, in order to make the attack at daylight. They prepared their guns and ammunition, but the order to march was postponed to morning, and the men resumed their dancing, which they kept up until a late hour. General McCulloch explained the change of orders that night, as follows, in his letter to Secretary Benjamin:

At the hour named for the march there fell a little rain, with strong indications of more, which caused the order to march to be countermanded, after a conference with General Price. This was thought to be prudent, as we had an average of only twenty-five rounds of ammunition to the man, and no more to be had short of Fort Smith or Baton Rouge. Not more than one man in four was furnished with anything better than cotton bags in which to carry cartridges. The slightest rain or wet would have almost disarmed us, as many of the men had nothing but shotguns or common rifles of the country, without bayonets. However, the enemy unwisely decided to attack us in our position, which was well selected for the kind of arms we had to use against their long-range rifled muskets.


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