Sunday, July 24, 2016

Soldier Ages - the full text

Here is the transcribed text from the booklet, with words replacing the actual ditto, double-quote, marks :

Grand Army of the Republic

The veterans’ organization was founded by Dr. Stephenson, in Decatur, Illinois, in 1866.  The final encampment was in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1949.

Number of men, by age who served in the Union (from the Adjutant General’s report)
Age 10 and under: 25
Age 11 and under: 38
Age 12 and under: 225
Age 13 and under: 300
Age 14 and under: 1,525
Age 15 and under: 104,987
Age 16 and under: 231,051
Age 17 and under: 844,891
Age 18 and under: 1,151,438
Age 21 and under: 2,159,798
Age 22 and over: 618,511
Age 25 and over: 46,626
Age 44 and over: 16,071

TOTAL . . . . . . 2,778,304 [actually 2,778,309 ]

Friday, July 22, 2016

Soldier Ages - rebuttal

Before continuing an analysis of the 'soldiers ages', let's acknowledge some issues with them.

1) the 'Adjutant General's Report' is an elusive one. I've not seen an original form.  The same text I posted can be found in only 3 or 4 places on the web, but strictly as cut'n'paste. Is it in the official records? Is it the GAR AG or the War Department AG, or someone else?

2) The figures *are* somewhat mind-bending. Most sources use 2.1 million as the number of Union servicemen. The 2.7 million may be double-counting multiple enlistees? Many men would have enlisted for 3 months and then for 3 years.

3) Some numbers are problematic. Only 46,626 servicemen were 25 or over. This number seems way low.

4) many reputable historians use 26 as the average soldiers age. That number is impossible given this data. From where did these writers obtain *their* figure?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Soldier Ages

Earlier this year I commented on another blog that 40% of Civil War soldiers were 18 or younger and 75% were 21 and under. These are numbers that stuck with me from a lecture sometime last century. Politely challenged, I was unable to find *any* backup for my figures.

This surprised me given the massive Official Records and census data readily available and the web on all topics Civil War.

Browsing randomly (as I tend to) through the booklet "Civil War Union Monuments" published in 1978 by the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, I found this page:

Some quick math reveals that 41% of Union soldiers were 18 or under and 78% were 21 and younger. Only 2 in 9 were 22 and older..

Naturally, one source does not a solid conclusion make.

However, my primary thesis is that movies, battle reenactments and living history has instilled in us the idea that Civil War soldiers were old, well-fed and graying.

These numbers tell us that 3 in 4 weren't even eligible to vote.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunset for the confederate flag?

Southern life has too long been shackled (literally and figuratively) to fealty to the CSA and the flag.

Art, culture, politics, literature, heritage, history, education, architecture - anything brushing up with the Confederacy's 4-year life has to pass a test of 'Confederate-correctness'.

 It's been a case of WWJDD, 'what would Jefferson Davis do?'. Virtually everything 'southern' has been viewed through the lens of confederate memory. Anything in conflict with that memory is discarded and the purveyor derided. Now, in a new era, ideas can stand or fall on their own merits.

 The flag should have been lowered when the last CSA veteran was buried

Friday, October 26, 2012

Where is it #2

That first one was pretty easy, as Jeff says it's Fort Davidson .

This one may be more difficult, depends on what you're smokin':

Only comments get credit - email has no standing...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where is it?

With regards to Brooks Simpson, here's a Missouri Civil War site. Who knows where?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the battle of Athens

Prior to the battle of Wilson’s Creek, Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon pursues the secessionist Missouri State Guard to the state’s southwest corner, but his movement’s also leaves many stranded secessionists behind Union lines as an unintended consequence.

The small battle here in extreme northeast Missouri, on Aug. 5, 1861, reveals a typical Missouri scenario early in the war. Believed to be a pro-Southern hotbed, Athens is seized in July 1861 by pro-Union Home Guard Col. David Moore and 500 men. Moore captures many horses and his men bivouac in the town buildings.

In hopes of “liberating” the Des Moines River town, a pro-southern Missouri State Guard force of more than 2,000 men and a motley 3 gun collection, including a reinforced hollow log, under Col. Martin Green approach.

Although outnumbered, Moore’s men are better armed and fight off the attack, capture 450 horses with full tack, hundreds of arms, and a wagon load of long knives. The defeat demoralizes the State Guard's efforts in Northeast Missouri. They lose the initiative and are obliged to avoid capture by their pursuers rather than move on their own.

Although the Battle of Athens secures northeast Missouri for the Union, it gives a taste of things to come: as Lyon’s quick move southwest leaves many yet-unorganized but armed secessionists behind over much of the state.

Long known as the “farthest north” battle of the Civil War, Athens is the closest actual combat comes to the state of Iowa. It also reveals the confusion of studying the war in Missouri as the battle pits the 'Home Guard' (pro-northern Unionists) against the 'State Guard' (pro-south secessionists)

The historic site encompasses most of Athens including several historic buildings including the “Cannonball House,” with battle scars.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Fremont's Emancipation Proclamation

Union Department commander General John C. Fremont issues an ‘emancipation proclamation on August 30, 1861 declaring rebel enslaved Missourians ‘forever free’. Bypassing Lincoln’s authority, Fremont obviously exceeds his - Lincoln demands Fremont rewrite the proclamation to conform to the 1st Confiscation Act of 1861 which removes slaves from Confederate hands and transfers ownership to the federal government. Fremont declines to admit an error and declines to rescind the order.

The general, ahead of his time by about a year, notes that "The time has come for decisive action; this is a war measure, and as such I make it. I have been given full power to crush the rebellion in this Department, and I will bring the penalties of rebellion home to every man found striving against the Union."

However, at this stage of the war, Lincoln cannot risk alienating border-state, slave-holding Unionists. Knowing he can better contend with the Fremont act’s abolitionist supporters, Lincoln removes him from command in Missouri and revokes the proclamation.

The war’s first act declaring total freedom for the slaves of Confederate masters, allows Lincoln to gauge the political landscape and prepare his arguments for 2nd Confiscation Act of 1862, the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th amendment to the Constitution.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Missouri's journey from slavery to freedom

In 1821, Missouri is admitted to the Union and gives its name to the Missouri Compromise. To maintain the balance among the 10 slave and 10 free states, Missouri and Maine (1820) are admitted as a package. More importantly, Missouri’s southern boundary is set as slavery’s northernmost border. As history shows, Missouri becomes a region surrounded by free territory and hence a continual fount of controversy and turmoil.

Unlike cotton-based slavery in much of the south, Missouri’s 'peculiar institution’ concentrates in the market crops of livestock, grains, hemp and tobacco. Many slaves work as teamsters and boat hands. Their numbers are concentrated in the counties along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

In 1825, the legislature declares blacks ‘invalid’ witnesses in any case involving whites. In 1847, the education of blacks is banned as well.

Elijah P. Lovejoy is a prominent abolitionist newspaper editor and publisher in St Louis where he prints editorials critical of slavery. Run out of town in 1836 he moves to Alton, Illinois in 1837, where his printing presses are destroyed 3 times by pro-slavery mobs from Missouri. In November 1837, he is gunned down by a mob seeking to destroy his fourth press.

The Missouri compromise is repealed, in effect, by the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. Almost as an afterthought, the concept of ‘popular sovereignty’ is written into the law, allowing settlers to determine if slavery is allowed in new territories. Pro-slavery settlers, mostly from Missouri, go to Kansas and local elections are influenced by the votes of Missouri ‘border ruffians’. Abolitionist settlers from the north come to Kansas and the clashes now named ‘bleeding Kansas’ are inevitable.

After ten years of appeals and reversals, the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott v. Sandford decision in 1857 rules that Congress’ forbidding of slavery in the territories is unconstitutional. It also further states that blacks are not citizens and have no rights that whites must recognize. Many persons believe the decision will lead to the legalization of slavery in all the states. Lincoln says,

"what Dred Scott's master might lawfully do with Dred Scott, in the free state of Illinois, every other master may lawfully do with any other one, or one thousand slaves, in Illinois, or in any other free state."

In 1860, there are 3,572 free blacks in the state of Missouri and 114,931 slaves.

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 has no effect in Missouri, which has not seceded from the Union. Governor Thomas C. Fletcher proclaims emancipation on January 11, 1865 by executive fiat. Just under a year later, the Thirteenth Amendment forever bans slavery in the United States.

In 1866, the Legislature passes laws stating that separate schools should be provided for black children where they number more than 20 in a district.

Friday, April 11, 2008


In the fall of 1864, Sterling Price’s Army of Missouri raids through Missouri. Price, in communication with the many local partisan guerrilla groups, asks them to raise havoc and confusion by attacking Union posts and railroads. One such group, lead by William T. Anderson, operates in north central Missouri along both banks of the Missouri River. The fighting in this area is especially vicious. Anderson’s sister, Josephine, had died in Union custody when her jail building collapsed. Both sides often mutilated the dead after skirmishes and prisoners were often taken only for hostage purposes. Famous-to-be outlaws, the James and Younger brothers among then, ride with Anderson.

On the morning of September 27th Anderson’s band of 80 men, many dressed in captured blue uniforms, ride into Centralia to scout the area for the location of Union troops. The quickly locate and impress into service supplies of boots and whiskey. At 11:00 am the stage from Columbia arrives with the local Congressman and sheriff aboard. They manage to hide their identities as the guerrillas systematically rob them. During the robbery, a train whistle sounds from the east, inbound from St. Louis with 125 passengers including 23 unarmed Union soldiers on leave from Sherman’s army in Georgia.

Anderson’s blue-clad men block the rails, stop the train and herd everyone off into two groups: soldiers and civilians. The civilians are robbed and several killed as they fail to comply with guerilla orders. The soldiers are ordered to take off their uniforms. While they comply the rangers surround the half-clothed men. On Anderson’s order, his men to open fire and the Union soldiers pitch to the ground. Several run off, are chased and killed. The rangers walk among the bodies, finishing off the still-living. One sergeant, Thomas Goodman, is spared to be used as a hostage. The train is fired and sent westward on the tracks, the depot is burned and Anderson and his men return to their camp just outside of town.

That same afternoon, after seeing the smoke of the burning train and depot, a Union detachment rides into Centralia. Major A. V. Johnston commands 150 men of the 39th Missouri (mounted) Infantry, mostly inexperienced recruits carrying single-shot muzzle loading rifles. They find the smoking depot and the half-naked bodies of the murdered soldiers. Johnston interviews residents and learns that the guerrillas are still nearby. Shortly, thereafter, his scouts spy a small group of rangers who quickly ride away to the south. Not realizing the trick, Johnston orders his men to pursue across the prairie. Advancing to a ridgeline, Johnston spots a number of rangers in the tree line along a creek. His men dismount, form a battle line and move forward. Still a long way from the partisans, Johnston orders a volley, killing three men. At the sound of the volley, 2 bands of rangers emerge from the woods and attack either flank. The group in front moves up as to attack from three sides.

The Union soldiers have no time to reload. The Confederates ride upon them, killing the horse holders, scattering the horses and then turning on the main line. Each guerilla carries multiple revolvers. Some can fire 60 rounds without reloading. the ‘battle’ is over in minutes. One (again) Union soldier, Private Enoch Hunt, escapes the battlefield; the rest are killed. Johnston is reportedly shot down by Jesse James. After the battle it is noted that every Union soldier has a bullet in the head.

The rangers again walk among corpses, beheading some and scalping others. Anderson’s men then depart, leaving the bodies as a warning to others who may wish to oppose them. Only one month later, Anderson dies in an ambush similar to the one he had just perpetrated. The dead Union soldiers are buried in Centralia and moved to the national cemetery in the capital of Jefferson City after the war.

Here is a good battle description and maps and aerial photographs.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

CWPT annual meeting in Springfield

The Civil War Preservation Trust’s annual meeting is in Springfield Missouri, April 17-20. The conference focus is “War in the Ozarks: Trans-Mississippi and Missouri”.

Invited speakers and scholars include:
• Troy Banzhaf
• Edwin C. Bearss
• Vernon Burton
• Dave Hinze
• Ralph Jones
• Connie Langum
• Jeff Patrick
• William Garrett Piston
• John Rutherford
• Richard J. Sommers

See for more detail...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

General Order Number 11

Quantrill's raid and the sack of Lawrence provide the impetus for a measure previously under consideration by the Union authorities in western Missouri. On August 25, General Thomas L. Ewing issues General Order No. 11: everyone living in the Missouri counties of Jackson, Cass, Bates and Vernon, on the Kansas border, are ordered to leave within 2 weeks. Anyone living within one mile of Kansas City or 4 other towns may remain by taking an oath and posting a bond; everyone else has to pack up and go. This rule had been considered before; the Lawrence massacre renders it a practical necessity.

The area depopulated by the Order is known as the burnt district. Federal troops and Missouri State Militia patrol the area, burning abandoned crops, houses, barns and buildings and killing stock and abandoned animals. In Cass County, population 10,000 in 1860, only 600 people remained. The exodus is practically total, only 10% of the population remaining in what amounts to a chain of reservations.

The refugees are aided by Union soldiers but only with feelings of pity, not guilt: Quantrill's men had subsisted resided in these counties for months. Through August, September and into October, suspected Lawrence raiders were captured, interrogated and usually shot.

Here is the text of the order:
First, All persons living in Jackson, Cass and Bates Counties, Missouri, and in that part of Vernon included in this district, except those living within one mile of the limits of Harrisonville, Hickman Mills, Independence and Pleasant Hill and Harrisonville, and except those in the part of Kaw Township, Jackson County, north of Brush Creek and west of the Big Blue, embracing Kansas City and Westport, are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days from the date hereof. Those who, within that time, establish their loyalty to the satisfaction of the commanding officer of the military station nearest their present places of residence will receive from him certificates stating the fact of their loyalty, and the names of the witnesses by whom it can be shown. All who receive such certificates will be permitted to remove to any military station in the district, or to any part of the State of Kansas except the counties on the eastern border of the State. All others shall remove out of the district. Officers commanding companies and detachments serving in the counties named will see that this paragraph is promptly obeyed.

Second, All hay and grain in the field, or under shelter in the district, from which the inhabitants are required to remove, within the reach of the military stations, after the 9th of September, next, will be taken to such stations and turned over to the proper officers there; and reports of the amounts so turned over made to district headquarters, specifying the name of all loyal owners and the amount of such produce taken from them. All grain and hay found in such district after the 9th of September, next, not convenient to such stations, will be destroyed.

The artist George Caleb Bingham created an excellent painting of the order being implemented.