Finding Confederates in Missouri

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The Problems

My family history includes many war veterans who served in the colonial and Indian Wars, in the Revolution, and in the War of 1812. But I had no Civil War ancestors in the bloodline of descent. As a Civil War buff this was troubling and I couldn't explain it until the last few years. My ancestral families were mostly in Missouri starting about 1820 and lived in the central and western parts during the Civil War. They also came from long lines of Southerners. 

It now appears that most of them participated in that war in combat, in support of guerrillas, or at least in emotional support of the Southern cause. For the most part, their actions in the Civil War are not directly documented. Some men did join the Confederate Army and served in its more conventional forces in theater far from Missouri. Quite a few joined with the guerrilla bands of Quantrill, Bill Anderson, John McCorkle and others. The women and most of the men simply voiced their hatred of Union troops and their support for the South which grew as the war progressed. 

The family historian can find records of these Missouri Confederates with some extra work, but only if one understands the history of the local. There are several books, both historical and genealogical, but few will be found at your local library or bookstore. The following paragraphs provide a very brief history of the conflict, some reference books, and some thoughts on how to proceed.

 

Western MO counties

GENERAL ORDER NO. 11, Aug 1863 

"All persons living in Cass, Jackson and Bates counties, ..........are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days... 

All grain and hay in the field, ........ will be taken.... All grain and hay found after the 9th day of September... will be destroyed."

 

 

Some History

Missouri and eastern Kansas suffered terribly before, during, and after the Civil War. The root cause was the issue of slavery's future in the territories of a growing country. Control of Congress was the essential element since Congress effected legislation on tariffs that could be detrimental to either the North or the South and, eventually, the Congress could take a position for or against slavery for all the states of the Union.

While Abraham Lincoln looked on with interest, Senator Stephan A. Douglas introduced a bill in 1854 that he thought would resolve the growing tension between slave and free states. The Kansas-Nebraska Bill allowed the settlers of any new territory, when requesting statehood to vote whether the state should be admitted as slave or free. In Douglas' mind this was the only fair approach, however his ulterior motive was to pull the Democratic Party back together with him in the lead. He was totally unprepared for the struggles of North and South as they promoted squatters to pack these new lands with votes for their own side.

Kansas became the center of this struggle as northern states, primarily in New England, enlisted free-state, mostly abolitionist settlers to go to Kansas and bring northern ethics with them. Not only were these people supported with money, many also received rifles in boxes labeled "Bibles." Pro-slavery Missouri men did not wait for the Kansas-Nebraska bill to be passed; they sent their own contingents of "voters."

Governments in Kansas were formed and disbanded. At one point there were two Kansas governments with each not recognizing the other. Voting results were thrown out. All this naturally led to increased violence. Retaliation followed retaliation as bands of Missouri bushwackers raided into nearby Kansas settlements and abolitionists raided into Missouri border counties. In effect, the Civil War was already underway in Missouri and Kansas long before shots were fired on Fort Sumter.

On the eve of the Civil War, and during it, most Missourians were soft conservatives. They believed in the preservation of the Union, but had no anger toward the South. Since that's where their heritage lay. The only major contingent of Missouri citizens that were strongly abolitionist were the Germans in the east who, as recent refugees from wars in Europe, strongly believed in freedom for everyone.

Once the South declared its intentions with the attack on Fort Sumter and the secession of several states, control of Missouri became important to both sides. Missouri was a northern state with a large part of citizens pro-South. On the last day of 1860, Governor Claibourne Jackson gave an inaugural address. He did not promote secession, but he did say of the South that Missouri should "stand by them." Abraham Lincoln assumed the Presidency 63 days later. What followed in Missouri was a series of events involving militias and control of arsenals and public buildings.

The 1860 Missouri constitutional convention showed that most Missourians were Douglas Democrats believing that Missouri should stay in the Union with or without slavery. Over seventy percent of the delegates were for the Union ticket. Sterling Price was elected its presiding officer. Later, Price would be appointed as Major General of Militia and directed to defend the Missouri Government. A politician in St. Louis, Frank Blair, had inflamed the German citizens there and, with the help of a Union officer (Lyon), had taken the arsenal at Camp Jackson and, while this was the spark to organize a militia, Governor Jackson was also responding to a growing lawlessness throughout the state.

Sterling Price continued to view his job as protection of Missouri and opposed any secession ideas. Indeed, when informed of a possible Confederate invasion from Arkansas he made plans to oppose it. Those interested in keeping the war out of Missouri urged Jackson, Price and Blair to meet and resolve the issues. They met in St. Louis and, after being told that the militia must be disbanded, Jackson and Price returned to Jefferson City and started preparing for defense from the Union forces. Price eventually joined the Confederate forces and served with Earl Van Dorn and Kirby Smith in other theaters.

Set piece battles were fought in Missouri early in the war. Union forces consisted mostly of Indiana and Illinois troops and German Missourians. Official and quasi-official Kansas troops were sometimes involved. Confederate forces were a mixtures of conventional forces from mostly Arkansas and several guerrilla bands including those of William Quantrill.Bill Anderson image

Genealogists know that Confederate records are not nearly as complete as the Union records. Missouri genealogists must also deal with the fact that most of the Confederate forces in Missouri were never fully recognized and have even fewer records. Those who deal with the guerrillas or Missouri Bushwackers have little documentation other than highly partisan accounts by the guerrillas themselves or the biased Union records. We must look elsewhere to find our Confederate folks in Missouri. "Bloody" Bill Anderson

History Books

I have found three books to be very helpful and interesting:

Jay Monaghan, Civil War on the Western Border, 1854-1865 (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1955. This highly readable book provides a clear and entertaining account of the Kansas-Missouri strife, before and during the war. Politics, social life, as well as battle actions are thoroughly covered. This may be your best introduction to big picture of the war in Missouri.

Albert Castel, General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968). An interesting account of Price who is the most important military in Missouri Civil War.

Michael Fellman, Inside War, The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). This book must be read by anyone searching for Missouri Confederates, but it is sometimes a difficult book. The author (a professor in Canada) has obviously completed a thorough research into this most difficult area. I, however, found that he also brings an attitude to the book. For Fellman, brutalities committed by Union forces are understandable; equal brutalize committed by pro-Southern bushwackers are always to be condemned. The continual repetition of these points become quite tiresome. However, the reader is given a very vivid description the almost unbelievable horror that innocent folks (as well as the combatants) had to endure during and after the war.

I found all the above books in National Military Park bookstores.

Carolyn M. Bartels, The Civil War in Missouri, Day by Day, 1861-1865 (Shawnee Mission, KS: Two Trails Publishing, 1992. This book has apparently become quite popular in genealogy circles. It consists of a chronologically ordered sequence of events in Missouri. The source are many but not documented, however it does have a useful index. I use this reference with history tags to associate important or interesting events with events in the lives of my ancestors. (See notes in next section for obtaining this book.)

Books to Get Your Search Started

Carolyn M. Bartels, comp., The Forgotten Men, Missouri State Guard (Shawnee Mission, KS: Two Trails Publishing, 1995). These are the soldiers and officers of the Missouri State Guard (or Home Guards) organized by Sterling Price. Her sources are National Archive records and sources are referenced. The body of the text is organized as an alphabetical list of soldiers' surnames and a separate index lists other names found in the text. There is also a casualty list index by name and place. With over 7000 individuals, there is a very good chance that anyone will find at least one Confederate ancestor.

Carolyn M. Bartels, Missouri Amnesty (self published but available from Two Trails Publishing, undated). Upon the close of the Civil War, suspected pro-Southerners were required to sign an oath of allegiance to obtain a Presidential pardon. Some signed the oath, and some, including one of my ancestors and his son-in-law, refused to sign the oath and were denied the right to vote. Many were forced from their land; my ancestors living in a pro-Southern community did not suffer this disgrace. Bartels again uses National Archive records and she includes many copies of original documents, which I personally appreciate. In addition to the possibility of finding an ancestor, the reader will also taste some of the despair in those lives.

Joanne C. Eakin and Donald R. Hale, Branded as Rebels (self published but available from Two Trails Publishing, 1993). The subtitle is "A list of Bushwackers, Guerrillas, Partisan Rangers, Confederates and Southern Sympathizers from Missouri during the War Years." That just about describes and I highly recommend it as a source of your more mysterious Confederate ancestors. Most entries are references to sources which range from National Archives records to contemporary newspaper articles. Several of my family ancestors are found in this book. The book also makes an interesting coffee table addition since it is interspersed with photographs and inserts on historical events.

There are several more books about the Civil War in Missouri available from Two Trails Publishing, 1108 Appleton Ave., Independence, MO 64053. A catalog is available by phone (816) 252-0591, E-Mail CWBkLady@AOL.com or fax (816) 252-0591. Orders may be on a credit card and orders are shipped two-day priority mail; however, if you have my experience, it will take them about 6 weeks to ship by two-day priority.

One Family's Experiences and the Aftermath

Marley Brant, The Outlaw Youngers (Lanham, MD: Madison Books, 1992)

Probably no family involved in the Civil War in Missouri has been more written about than the YOUNGERS. Marley Brant has written the definitive (an genealogical) account of that family. Ms Brant has been researching that family for many years and I have followed her work for at least six of those years. Although Brant doesn't always follow the "preponderance of evidence" principal in reporting events, her book is still well researched and fairly written. She does not glamorize the YOUNGER Brothers or their family, nor does she pass judgment. Brant has finally removed that outlaw family from realm of dime novels and Hollywood. The book thoroughly covers a pro-Union family with a father murdered by, probably, Kansas militia, a mother and children driven from their home and lands, and their sons becoming guerrillas and, later, notorious outlaws.

The YOUNGER Brothers were my first cousins, several times removed.

I have not researched the DALTON family, but those interested might want the following book:
Nancy B. Samuelson, The Dalton Gang Story (Shooting Star Press, Eastford, CT, 1992)

Another Family's Experiences

My great-great-grandfather, Ebenezer TITUS refused to sign the Oath of Allegiance and was refused the right to vote. His son-in-law, John MCCORKLE was also refused (apparently not the guerrilla leader but remotely possible).

 

Liberty Tribune 1870 

"... My forefathers were a stiff necked, and rebellious people when their rights and liberties were invaded. They fought against Great Britain 7 years...... If the illustrious dead participate with the concerns of this world, I invoke the shade of my venerable departed father and uncle to look down with scrutiny on the conduct of their disfranchised son and nephew......I was an old line Whig, but shall henceforth vote with the Democrats if permitted." - Eb TITUS

Another great-great-grandfather of mine, James LEE, was beaten and hung in 1864. He died a few days after the incident and I have copies of the physician's bills. Family legend says that he was hung by Union men looking for Quantrill. It is more likely that they were looking for LEE relatives who were also involved in guerrilla activities.

 

Physician's Bill, James Lee Estate Papers

Some of the younger men did not participate in the Civil War, but felt its corrosive effects in the aftermath. Two sons of Joseph TITUS, Joseph and Abraham, were killed by a constable in Missouri City in 1866. Either the constable was guilty of murder, or more likely, he knew his life was in danger in this hot-bed of Southerners. He left for Platte County. He was pursued by three brothers, John, Thomas and Noah, and a brother-in-law and was killed in that county. The next year, John and Thomas were arrested (apparently in Nebraska) and taken to Richmond and then to the Liberty jail, where they eventually escaped and fled to Texas. I have seen the Liberty Jail (now owned by the Church of Latter Day Saints because the jail once held Joseph Smith) and any escape would have been impossible without friendly help. Click on Joseph TITUS and then click on his sons.

 

Liberty Tribune, 3 Jun 1870 

"Last Evening, Mr. E.A. Cunningham, Marshall of Falls City, Nebr, ....having in custody 2 men named John & Thomas Titus, charged with murder, arrived in this city....... 

"Our reporter interviewed the prisoners (who by the way are respectable looking young men)......

Postscript: This page and the one about the outlaw Youngers has generated more interest than I expected. I have done look-ups for several folks (and will continue to do so) and was fortunate to locate "missing" guerilla or outlaw ancestors for several of them. However, it is also common to receive message from folks who have a family legend of an ancestor who "rode with the Youngers," or with Jesse James or Quantrill. I believe that, in most cases, family legends such as these have a measure of truth in them, but the ancestor quite often "rode with someone else." The Younger Brothers, both alone and with Jesse James, are fairly well documented in their outlaw years and I suggest the book mentioned above, "The Outlaw Youngers." Documentation for their war years is less impressive and we usually have only the participants' stories which often have little fact in them (Cole Younger was one who was quite impressed with himself and his rightousness). As in my own Lee family's experience as noted above, James LEE was lynched by vigilantes looking for "Quantrill," and I doubt Quantrill was anywhere near the Lees in Henry County at the time. More likely, the vigilantes were looking for the Lee or Titus boys or other neighbors who were sometimes guerillas. And, there were many other guerilla leaders nearly as famous as Quantrill at the time - Bloody Bill Anderson, Todd, John McCorkle and others. To make it even more confusing, each of these guerilla leaders rode with and cooperated with Quantrill at times. So, if you have a possible querilla or outlaw ancestor, you may very well find it is true, but often with other details than you might expect.

I also receive message queries for the Jesse James family. The James and Youngers  were very distantly related (via marriage of distant relatives) and the relationship is not enough to cause me to follow the James family. I do however have a James pedigree chart that I bought at the James farm in Missouri and will do lookups from that chart.

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