Memoir Chapter 1

MEMOIRS OF THE CIVIL WAR W. L. TRUMAN


 

CHAPTER 1 – BEGINNINGS

In 1856 my father moved, to Knox County Mo. in the North East part of the state. Our post office address was Newark; Edina is the county seat. We were farming and stock raising, as North East Mo. is mostly a prairie country. Land is very rich, and grazing the best I ever saw. The people were happy and well to do.

It seemed to me that nine tenths of the families were Southern in sentiment, when the test came in 1861. If the people could have acted as they wished, I candidly believe, nine-tenths of the men of the whole state would have joined the Southern army, but the invading host over run the state early in 1861, took possession of the Missouri river, with their gun-boats and cut the state into two parts, so that thousands of Southern men north of the river, could not cross to join Gen. Price’s army, and those that could not get out of the country, were later forced to join the Northern army, or leave the state.

Immediately after Lincoln issued his Proclamation in April 1861, for 75,000 men to coerce the South, and force her back into the Union, the men of North-east Missouri began to form secret military organizations. In some places these bodies met and drilled. A Brigade of Missouri Militia was organized and drilling was commenced at St. Louis, under the Laws of the State, at a place called Camp Jackson, on the out-skirts of the city. On May the 10th 1861, Gen. Lyons landed in St. Louis and with a body of Federal troops, surrounded Camp Jackson and forced an un conditional surrender. This aroused the people of Missouri. Some fighting took place in St. Louis, and many citizens were killed before order was restored, by the soldiers. And prominent men and women who were Southern, were arrested and imprisoned. A Reign of terror was established and harsh and cruel measures were resorted to, to keep the enraged and excited people in subjection.

Gov. Jackson had issued his Proclamation for 50,000 men to defend the state from invasion, and he had to flee from the Capital to Boonville, south of the river, with the state records to avoid capture, by Gen. Lyons with his Federal troops. On June 20th, Lyons landed about five miles below Boonville, which is about 80 miles above the Capital, with several thousand disciplined Federal troops and several pieces of Artillery. Gen. Marmaduke was in command of a few hundred militia and a small fight took place with the loss of three or four Missourians killed, and twenty-five or thirty wounded. Boonville was evacuated, the Governor and Staff and a few hundred militia retreated south to Warsaw and Montivallo and on the 5th of July, the battle of Carthage was fought. The Missouri Militia were victorious, driving the enemy in a running fight, some twelve miles and losing forty or fifty killed and three or four times as many wounded. The Federal loss is supposed to be greater. This victory electrified the Missouri people all over the state and men were anxious to join Gen. Price’s army.

This was a busy time of the year, with the farmers but notwithstanding this fact, every one had to hear the news when the mail arrived, and crowds met every day at the Post Office and discussed the situation and formed their plans. This was especially so from April to September, in North-East Missouri. In 1861 much farm work was abandoned or neglected by the young men organizing into companies and drilling, to respond to the Proclamation of Gov. Jackson to aid in expelling the invaders from the state, but as the Governor with the Militia had fled to the southern part of the state, and the great Missouri river controlled by the enemy, there was no way by which the men on the north of the river could cross, to make their way to Gen. Price’s army in a body, except in a few instances they would capture a transport, cross over, burn the boat, and continue their march south.

Gen. Thomas A. Harris and Martin E. Green organized quite a body of men near Paris, MO., and got them across the river, some time in August and succeeded in joining Gen. Price. There was a Col. Moore in command of a small body of men, (Southern), that moved around in Lewis, Knox, and Marion Counties quite a while, and moved at one time on the town, Keokuk, Iowa, and had a skirmish, which created much excitement at the time in Lewis Co., as many Lewis county boys were with him. I do not remember of hearing anything more of Col. Moore after that, perhaps he got with Gen. Harris and crossed the river, with him. See note 1

Gen. Price remained with his Missouri troops, known as the Missouri State Guards, at Cowskin two or three weeks, organizing and drilling his men. He with Gen. McCullough, moved to attack the Federal forces under Gen. Lyons at Springfield, Mo., on Aug. 10th, 1861, that battle was known as “Oak Hill” was fought and a great victory for the South was the result. There was about 10,000 men on either side; the Southern forces at this time, with Gen. Price’s consent were commanded by Gen. McCullough, but the two Generals could not agree after the battle and separated their forces, McCullough, with his Confederate soldiers from Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, marched south, and Gen. Price, with his Missouri troops, known as the Missouri State Guards sworn into the military service of the state for six months, took up his line of march north towards the Missouri river. He was joined by new recruits daily, mostly without guns and no guns to give them, until they were captured.

On Sep. 11th. Gen. Price with some 10,000 men arrived at Lexington on the Missouri river. The city was occupied by a Federal force of 3,500, under the command of Col. Mulligan. Price laid siege to the place and on Sep. 20th 1861, Col Mulligan surrendered. The fruits of this victory, as reported by Gen. Price’s were 3,500 prisoners, 5 pieces of artillery, two motor guns, over 3,000 muskets, many sabers, 750 horses, wagons, teams, and about $100,000 worth of commissary stores. It was here at Lexington Mo. in September 1861, that the Missourians north of the river rushed to join Gen. Price’s army, so fast that he could not take care of them. It was the general opinion, that if Gen. Price could have remained at Lexington Mo. ninety days, he would have organized an army of 75,000 to 100,000 Missourians. When his retreat commenced for the Southern part of the state, on Sep. 27th, hundreds of recruits were pouring in every day from the north side of the river. We had but one boat, and that could not bring the men and horses across the river as fast as they would arrive. When the last trip was made and unloaded, and the boat was set on fire and destroyed, the opposite shore was lined with men eager to cross and join Gen. Price’s army. This was sad, for most of them had left their homes because they could not live in peace, and to return, their condition would be worse.

Even as early as September 1861 the lines between the Southern and Northern element in Missouri were strongly and closely drawn. The Northern tax-payers, were very few, but quite a number of the Northern laborers not of a very high type, became troublesome and dangerous, on account of their treachery, and when they became fully protected by the Federal power, and were given all the liberty they needed, they made the lives of the Southern people their neighbors, a burden. They organized and called themselves “Home Guards,” but they were nothing more nor less than an organized body of robbers, house-burners and murderers. And when the state of Missouri had to be given over to the tender mercies of the Northern government, and this band of Devils; thousands of old and young men were arrested, imprisoned or banished, because they were Southern and would not take the oath of allegiance to the North, and there property carried away and not a few women were required to take the oath, and when t hey refused they too were banished and their houses, in most cases burned. Such cruel and unmerciful and barbarous deeds, were never before known, to be committed upon a highly civilized and Christian people, by a nation, or people claiming to be civilized, much less Christianized. The half will never be told, of these awful deeds committed all over the state of Missouri and in many other parts of the South, in the name of liberty.

The North by offering large bounties, had enlisted into their armies the floating element of all nations, an element that knew nothing of liberty and Christianity, except by word, nor of the noble history of the people they were hired to destroy. Many of the officers in the Northern army were of foreign birth, and seemed to delight in acts of cruelty and murder.

It is a mis-nomer to call the Northern army, the Union army, as there was no Union or General Government, after the South withdrew from the compact, in order to try to preserve to the states the rights and liberty guaranteed to them, by the Constitution of the United States.

All Southern men that failed to join the Southern forces before they left the state of Missouri, lost their opportunity and there were thousands of them. They could have no peace at home and very many thousands, had to get out of the state the best way they could. They could not go south, so they moved for the Territories North and West, to escape the sword of their neighbor, the “Home Guards.” Thousands were killed in their efforts to escape.

 


Notes1. This Col. Moore is likely to be the Federal officer Col. (later B.Gen) Davey Moore and the skirmish referred to is likely to be the Battle of Athens, where pro-southern forces were led by Col. Martin Green

 

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