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The "Other" Side: Reasons For The Way I Chose To Write My Latest Book

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I've gotten a lot of feedback since I released "Blood in the Ozarks: Union War Crimes Against Southern Sympathizers and Civilians in Occupied Missouri Second Edition", most of it has been positive but there is the occasional criticism, some of it from critics who haven't even read the book yet. A select few are triggered by the title alone. I often hear "What do you mean occupied? Missouri was a border state!"  The most popular criticisms by far are, "There were atrocities on BOTH sides!", and  "I wish there was a book that told the other side of the story." 

I will try and address these criticisims in order.

You have to admit that describing Missouri as "occupied" in the title is an attention getter. An author should come up with a title and book cover that grabs the attention of would-be-readers but more importantly, it is the truth, Missouri was occupied.

Critics do have a point when they describe Missouri as a "border state". Early settlers to the state were Southerners coming from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, despite this they wished to avoid war if possible, this however, would prove difficult. Part of the reason was a large influx of German immigrants to the state. 

According to an article entitled "Germans in St. Louis" ( found at: ) "Gottfried Duden came to Missouri in 1824 and stayed until 1827 when he returned to Germany and wrote a book on his experiences in Missouri. This book, along with many others of that period, as well as letters from the early German arrivals, promoted German emigration."

This German immigration increased after the German Revolution of 1848, those who were Marxist in their politics found themselves on the losing end and thus immigrated to Missouri, which by now had a growing German population.  Their politics were deeply at odds with their Scots-Irish predecessors and overwhelmingly sided with Abraham Lincoln who was all too happy to utilize them but first a few more acts had to play out.

A secession convention was held at the state capital but those opposing the act wanted it moved to St. Louis. According to "The Struggle for Missouri" by John McElroy:

"When the State Convention met at Jefferson City, it was found that of its 99 members 53 were natives of either Virginia of Kentucky, and all but 17 had been born in Slave States. Only 13 were natives of the North, three were Germans, and one an Irishman. A struggle at once ensued for the organization of the Convention, which resulted in a victory for the Union men, ex-Gov. Sterling Price being elected President by 75 votes, to 15 cast for Nathaniel W. Watkins, a half-brother of Henry Clay, and a strenuous advocate of Southern Rights. As soon as the Convention completed its organization it adjourned to St. Louis, to avoid the badgering of the pronounced Secessionists, who constituted the State Government, and the clamorous bullying of the crowd assembled in the State Capital to influence its action."

That's certainly one way to describe the reason for moving the convention to St. Louis. Another way to describe the reasoning for moving it would be to say that the Lincoln faction (led by Frank Blair) wanted to remove it from the sphere of influence of Missouri's elected officials in the state capital to the sphere of German loyalist influence in St. Louis.

The latter had the desired effect and the convention adopted a Conditional Union stance. This too would change after the capture of Camp Jackson in St. Louis. Again quoting McElroy:

"The bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter and the President's call for troops threw the country into a tumult of excitement, and changed the political relations everywhere. All over the South the Secessionists were jubilant, and those in Missouri particularly exultant. Very many of the waverers at once flocked over to the Secessionists, while others sided with the Union. To what extent this change took place was as yet unknown, nor which side had a majority. Public sympathy as voiced by the leading papers seemed to be that the Union had "been riven asunder by the mad policy of Mr. Lincoln, and that it was necessary for Missouri to take a stand with the other Border States to prevent his attempting to subjugate them."

Lincoln soon called for states which had not yet seceded to supply troops to put down the rebellion. General Frost sent a memo to Governor Jackson asking the governor to convene the General Assembly at once, ask the South for armaments , seize the arsenal at Liberty, and to warn the people of Missouri that the President (Lincoln) had acted illegally in calling for states to provide troops to put down the rebellion. Frost also suggested the Governor allow him to set up a camp of instruction for Missouri troops to protect the peace and sovereignty of the state. 

Meanwhile Governor Jackson replied to President Lincoln's request for Missouri to furnish troops to put down the rebellion. Governor Jackson replied to Lincoln stating:

"Your dispatch of the 13th instant, making a call upon Missouri for four regiments of men for immediate service, has been received. There can be, I apprehend, no doubt but these men are intended to form a part of the President's army to make war upon the people of the seceded States. Your requisition, in my judgment, is illegal, unconstitutional, and revolutionary in his objects, inhuman and diabolical, and cannot be complied with. Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on such an unholy crusade."

Captain (at the time) Nathaniel Lyon wrote the Governor of Illinois asking for troops and was granted three regiments to help secure the arsenal at St. Louis. This was the beginning of the occupation of Missouri.

The second part of the occupation of Missouri came in the form of Lyon arming "loyal citizens" the majority of which were technically not citizens at all, these were of course, the German 48'rs.  It was the 48'rs who helped push many Missourians "off the fence" to the side of the Confederacy.

Some claim that General Frost's "camp of instruction" was nothing more than a ruse to capture the federal arsenal at St. Louis but as McElroy writes:

"If he intended to assault and capture the Arsenal, the force that he gathered was absurdly inadequate, in view of what he must have known Lyon had to oppose him. Accounts differ as to the highest number he ever had assembled, but it must have been less than 2,000."

On May 10, 1861 Nathaniel Lyon with his combined force of Illinoisans , loyal Missourians and Germans (approximately 10,000 men) surrounded Camp Jackson and General Frost surrendered. The captured native Missourians were marched through the streets of St. Louis under guard of the Germans and this angered the citizens who had gathered to watch. 

In an article published by the National Park Service entitled "The Camp Jackson Incident" ( fifteen year old Philipp Stevenson described what happened next:

" A tedious and dangerous delay in the proceedings took place, why, I know not. Why they did not march their prisoners off at once I can not tell. The delay brought all the trouble. The masses of the people and the troops themselves grew more and more into ferment of ill suppressed excitement. Probably insults, jeers too were thrown by the people at the German soldiers all through this waiting time, but I did not hear any. The first thing of the kind I noticed was the thing that precipitated the massacre! That massacre was started by a boy of my own age. He was quite near me at the time and I saw his act. We were inside the square, standing in quite a crowd of people looking at and facing the soldiers, and not thirty paces off. This boy picked up a clod of dirt and pitched it at their mounted officer, a Captain Blandowski, who was riding up and down the line slowly, trying I suppose to keep order. In an instant the whole line, up with their guns, fired a volley into us! He had wheeled his horse with a smothered exclamation of some kind (the clod had hit his leg) and they, I supposed thought he said ‘fire!’ I do not believe he did. But the mischief was done; the raw undisciplined and excited recruits were beyond his control. Their volley was wild and overhead for the most part, but the results were bad enough. Blandowski himself shot, his leg shattered, and quite a number in the crowd killed and wounded. That however was but the beginning. We ran, of course, pell mell, but where could we run? Only towards the other side of the square. And as we did so, the other side opened on us. And thus like sheep in a slaughter pen, for some minutes, nay, after intervals of silence, men, women and children, were kept running from one side of the pen to the other, only to receive another volley poured into them, some falling killed or wounded all the time.”

On June 11th , 1861 a meeting was arranged at the Planter's House Hotel in St. Louis in St. Louis between Governor Jackson, General Sterling Price, Thomas Snead (aid to Governor Jackson) and General Nathaniel Lyon, Colonel Frank Blair and Major Horace Conant.  An agreement had been in place with Lyons predecessor General Harney and General Sterling Price. The terms of the 30 day agreement were that Price and his state troops would not venture into St. Louis, in turn, federal troops would not venture outside of the city.  Governor Jackson and General Price reminded Lyon and Blair that the agreement was still in place but after several hours the talks between the parties broke down at which time General Lyon rose to his feet and proclaimed:

"Rather than concede to the State of Missouri the right to demand that my government shall not enlist troops within her limits, or bring troops into the State whenever it pleases, or move troops at its own will into, out of, or through the State; rather than concede to the State of Missouri for one single instant the right to dictate to my government in any matter, however unimportant, I would see you, and you, and you, and you, [pointing to each man in the room] and every man, woman, and child in the State dead and buried. This means war. In an hour one of my officers will call for you and conduct you out of my lines."

Jackson, Price and Snead left the hotel, hopped a train to Jefferson City and ordered the railroad bridges burned. According to an article posted by The Civil War Muse:( )

"Along the way Jackson and Snead worked on a proclamation to be issued when they arrived in Jefferson City. Price also sent orders to burn the railroad bridges over the Gasconade and Osage Rivers behind them. Price also ensured the telegraph wires were cut. On June 12th, Snead issued the proclamation while Jackson directed the evacuation of the state government from Jefferson City. In conjunction with the Governor's proclamation, Major General Sterling Price issued orders to each military district commander of the Missouri State Guard to assemble their forces and have them ready for service. Price had convinced Jackson that Jefferson City was lost and their first line of defense should be in Boonville, Missouri, about 50 miles upriver. On June 12th, the day after meeting with Lyon and Blair at the Planter's House, Governor Jackson issued a proclamation to the people of the State of Missouri:

A series of unprovoked and unparalleled outrages have been inflicted upon the peace and dignity of this Commonwealth and upon the rights and liberties of its people by wicked and unprincipled men, professing to act under the authority of the United States Government . . . I, Claiborne F. Jackson, Governor of the State of Missouri, do . . . issue this my proclamation, calling the militia of the State to the number of fifty thousand into the active service of the State, for the purpose of repelling [the Federal] invasion, and for the protection of the lives, liberties, and property of the citizens of this State."

General Lyon (who had already declared war on the people of Missouri including women and children) and his troops were now making their way to Jefferson City. On June 14, 1861 Governor Jackson evacuated the Capital,  and on June 15, 1861 General Lyon entered the city. This was the third phase of occupation of the state by federal forces.

With the state capital firmly in their hands, the Unionists reconvened the Missouri State Convention on July 22, 1861, declared that the elected members of the Missouri government had abandoned their offices and installed Hamilton Gamble as the military governor of the state.

The elected state legislature (which was forced out of the capital) reconvened in Neosho, Missouri and on October 30, 1861 passed an ordinance of secession. It was signed by Governor Jackson on October 31, 1861 and the state was admitted into the Confederacy on November 28, 1861.

The vote to secede by Governor Jackson and the elected legislature was done out of necessity. They had been expelled from the capital by force and the State Constitutional convention who took their place did not have the legal power to expel the executive and legislative branch of the government elected by the people and appoint new officers, at a time when the elected legislature had not yet passed an ordinance of secession but being the occupiers who was to stop them?

Following the Battle of Lexington (September 18-20, 1861) General Price moved his army of State Guard troops to the confluence of the Sac and Osage rivers near Osceola and encouraged them to join the regular Confederate Army.  Most did, some opted to stay in the Missouri State Guard and some preferred to fight the war their own way, joining and recruiting irregular companies of men. Following the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge) Arkansas in March, 1862, the majority of Price's Confederates were transferred East of the Mississippi River.  That left an unknown amount of partisan or "guerrilla" fighters in Missouri to fight and harass the federal occupiers. The federals' definition of a guerrilla fighter was very flexible and often left to subordinate officers to decide. 

Information found at the Of Methods and Madness website states ( ):

"Civilians’ personal recollections and official reports detailing Union operatives shed light on the effects of temporary Union occupation. Numerous Missourians and Kentuckians claimed that Federal forces were “dreaded even by loyal men nearly as much as bushwhackers, as their officers seem[ed] to exercise but little control over them.” Historian Michael Fellman argued that the guerrillas' hit-and-run ambushes, their ability to conceal themselves within the civilian population, and their practice of mutilation frustrated Union troops into retaliating against civilians. Historian Christopher Phillips argued that "cavalry patrols [who] regularly roamed the countryside on self-styled 'scouts' looking for disloyalists, saboteurs, and guerrillas ... performed professionally under the best of circumstances, but overzealously or even murderously under the worst." Most damning, correspondence between Missouri’s top military officials—Major General William Rosecrans, General Clinton B. Fisk, and Colonel J. P. Sanderson—in the case of J. W. Terman confirms that the Union army covered up multiple occurrences of murder, robbery, larceny, and arson among its “detectives” who utilized guerrilla tactics against civilians."

This takes care of the "atrocities were committed by both sides" argument. While "both sides" might have committed atrocities in Missouri the Union high command not only knew about atrocities committed by federal troops, they helped cover them up and justified the action because the tactics used by the guerrilla fighters were "frustrating them". This also proves that in their call for me to write "the other side" of this story , Union apologists often regret asking the question.

My Second Edition of "Blood in the Ozarks: Union War Crimes Against Southern Sympathizers and Civilians in Occupied Missouri" is a book about two cover ups. The first was by federal authorities in Missouri who did not wish the nation to find out that Union soldiers massacred men, women and children who were in the camp of Confederate Captain Timothy Reeves on Christmas Day, 1863 in Ripley County, Missouri. The second attempted cover up occured in the early 2000's with the release of best selling author Paulette Jiles book "Enemy Women" , an historical fiction novel that used the massacre as part of her story setting. It was at this time that two men launched a very vigorous internet and mail-oriented campaign to convince the public it did not happen. Lastly, this is a book I wanted to way. The focus of the book is the 1863 Christmas Massacre. In it I use similar examples of how civilians were treated by occupying Union forces in the state, the worst of which were the Union State Militias.


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