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Book IV:—the first autumn.

Chapter 1:


WE have already seen the strenuous efforts made by the North to create armies as soon as the defeat of Bull Run had enlightened her people regarding the difficulties of the struggle she had undertaken. The South derived great moral and material strength from her victory; she gained eight months time to organize in Virginia; the prestige of success gave to her government unlimited power, and to its agents the necessary credit to borrow and to encourage the traffic in arms; her soldiers considered themselves for some time invincible. But this triumph brought many illusions in its train; it was generally believed that the Yankees were unable to make another effort; the Southern people became convinced that their despised adversaries were about to give up the game, that the recognition of the new Confederacy, both by Europe and the Northern States, was at hand, and that it was useless, therefore, to make any further sacrifices in view of a struggle which could not be prolonged. The number of enlistments diminished at once in a striking manner at the very moment when it was most important to place the armies in a condition to assume the offensive. The activity of the administration was relaxed likewise, and the equipment of troops was altogether neglected. A few creatures of Mr. Davis, occupying important positions, embarrassed the commissary department by their incapacity. The army of Virginia was in want of horses and means of transportation; these indispensable resources for a campaign were only furnished in a dilatory and incomplete manner. The operations which it might have attempted either on the line of the Potomac or in West Virginia, while the Federal army was yet unable to move quickly, were thus paralyzed, and Mr. Pollard, the historian of the Confederates, a writer equally earnest and [318] sincere in behalf of the South, has not hesitated to say that the victory of Bull Run was a great misfortune for her cause.

Along the immense line which separated the hostile parties, from the Atlantic to the prairies of the far West, however, the effect produced by the conflict of July 21st was less felt in proportion to the distance from the spot which had witnessed it. The State of Missouri especially, situated beyond the Mississippi, was a kind of enclosed battle-field, where the struggle, embittered by old animosities, was carried on with scarcely any knowledge of the vicissitudes of the fighting in the neighboring States.

In this portion of the narrative, where we propose to relate the military events which occurred during the period intervening between the first defeat of the army of the Potomac and its new entrance in the field in the spring of 1862, we shall begin by speaking of the war of which the distant plains of Missouri were the theatre during the latter half of the year 1861. The inveterate animosity of the Abolitionists and the pro-slavery men was to impart to that war an altogether peculiar character. The settlers from the North and from the South were scattered over the whole surface of the State. The former were in the majority in the northern part and along the borders of the Mississippi, which separates Missouri from Illinois, and which the inhabitants of the latter free State cross yearly, in large numbers, on their way to the West to seek their fortunes. The latter predominated along the fertile borders of the Missouri River, which flows from west to east through the country to which it gives its name; but they were so completely commingled everywhere that not a town, village, or hamlet could be found which was not divided into two hostile camps. To the westward, along the boundary of the great desert, was the new State of Kansas, where, after many bloody strifes and cruel persecutions, the Abolitionists had finally come off triumphant. To the southward extended the long frontier of Arkansas, which was exclusively occupied by pro-slavery men devotedly attached to the Confederate cause. The pioneers, adventurers, and outlaws who had gone to seek their fortune by means more or less legitimate in those two States, yet scarcely under cultivation, did not fail to challenge each other, weapon in hand, in [319] Missouri; some to promulgate their political convictions, others to gratify their passions for strife or plunder.

Hostilities, therefore, broke out everywhere at once. At nearly every point of the territory isolated individuals, small groups, or numerous bands began to make war on their own account, seeking only to satisfy personal hatred. There was no longer safety to be found anywhere. Blood flowed in every spot, and it became impossible to discriminate between an act of war and assassination. Missouri, however, notwithstanding her isolation, was not neglected by the belligerents. They had little cause to trouble themselves about what was taking place in the western part of that State, but all that portion of it adjacent to the Mississippi was to play a great part in the military operations of which the line of that river was about to be the theatre. The Federals could undertake no expedition, either into Kentucky, by ascending the Tennessee, or against Memphis and the heart of the Confederacy, unless they were masters of the confluence of the Missouri and the Ohio with the Mississippi—that is to say, of St. Louis, of Cairo, and of that portion of the river which separates those two points. The left bank was secured to them, for it belonged to Illinois; to control the right bank, generally flat and marshy, it was necessary, in the first place, to occupy strongly the large city of St. Louis, the base of operation of all water expeditions into the centre of the continent; then to prevent the enemy from taking possession of the cliffs of Cape Girardeau, whence he could have intercepted the navigation of the river, and from occupying the positions of Bird's Point which command the tongue of land upon which Cairo stands. General Lyon, as we have seen, had preserved the city of St. Louis to the Union, and Cairo had been garrisoned by Federal troops before the Confederates had made any attempt to seize it. But the secessionists, on seeing the best portion of the State slipping away from them, no longer contented themselves with waging a partisan war. At the call of Sterling Price all those who had made the long Mexican campaigns with him or with Doniphan, or who had many times listened to the exaggerated descriptions given of them, hastened to form themselves into an army, intended to recapture the State from the Federal troops, under the name of ‘Missouri Guards.’ [320] We have seen how Lyon, on the 18th of June, dispersed those first assemblages which had gathered at Booneville, on the upper Missouri, where the pro-slavery element predominated. That success was by no means decisive. Price had an immense country before him, into which he could fall back in perfect safety in order to rally his followers, and whence he could emerge suddenly to attack the point at which he was least expected. The task of Lyon was not only to protect the great strategic points situated upon the Mississippi, but also to keep, as far as possible, the State of Missouri under Federal sway, so as to prevent the Confederates from drawing any resources from it, either of men, cattle, grain, materials of any kind, or even of money, which that State could furnish. With the small number of men at his disposal, this was a singularly difficult task.

The northern part of the State, lying along the left bank of the Missouri, is less extensive, and could give him no serious uneasiness. Although the secessionists were there in large numbers and the partisan war was raging with all its horrors, it was too remote from the Confederate States to receive any efficient support, and the Federals felt sure of being able to sustain themselves there so long as they retained possession of St. Louis. The principal artery of that region is the railway which connects Hannibal, on the Mississippi, with St. Joseph, on the Missouri, where it then terminated in the vicinity of the yet uncultivated lands where the emigrant settled until the progress of civilization compelled him to proceed one stage farther towards the interior. The southern part of the State is bounded on the south and west by the frontiers of Arkansas and Kansas, on the east by the Mississippi, on the north by the Missouri. Near the last mentioned river the country is flat, fertile, well cultivated, and has considerable population; the remainder is traversed by the only river of any importance, the Osage, which comes from the southwest to empty into the Missouri a little below Jefferson City; there are numerous tributaries with wooded banks which give a great extension to the Osage valley. The Missouri basin is bounded at the south by a succession of plateaux, very undulating and intersected with ravines, which connect towards the south-west with the large Arkansas hills known by the name of Ozark Moun- [321] tains. These undulations, covered here and there with brushwood, intersected by ravines where the water does not abound in summer, but the soil of which readily responds to the cultivation of cereals, extend in a north-easterly direction, traversing nearly the whole State, and culminating in the heights of Pilot Knob, in the midst of the lower plains which border the Mississippi. Beyond this point the waters run southwardly into the White River. This vast region only possessed three trunk lines of railway, all starting from St. Louis. The first followed a westerly direction along the line of the Missouri, passing through Jefferson City, and stopped at the village of Sedalia before reaching Kansas. The second followed the great post-road south-westwardly which passes by Rolla, Springfield, and Cassville, and terminates at Fort Smith, in Arkansas; before the war it carried the Texas mail. This line did not extend beyond Rolla, about two hundred and forty kilometres from St. Louis. The third, of about equal length, ran southwardly as far as the mines in the vicinity of Pilot Knob.

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, Mo. (Missouri, United States) (8)
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