“Missouri Must Now Take Her Position”

Three days following the Confederate victory at Wilson’s Creek, Brig. Gen. Ben McCulloch wrote to the people of Missouri, urging them to act. Because McCulloch and his Western Army of Arkansans and Texans returned to the Indian Territory following the battle, the Texas Confederate leader has not been held in high regard and is frequently blamed for not pursuing the Federals and advancing to Lexington with Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, even though he led the Western Army and Missouri State Guard to victory. In McCulloch’s eyes, he needed to return to the territory his army was ordered to protect in the first place. He also saw the Missouri State Guard has ragtag and unfit for proper military service, causing major rifts between him and Price. Instead of remaining with the State Guard and establishing Confederate control in the state, McCulloch urged the people of Missouri to take up arms and finish the job on their own.


CDV of Benjamin McCulloch. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Having been called by the governor of your State to assist in driving the Federal forces out of the State and in restoring the people to their just rights, I have come among you simply with the view of making war upon our Northern foes, to drive them back, and give the oppressed of your State an opportunity of again standing up as freemen and uttering their true sentiments. You have been overrun and trampled upon by the mercenary hordes of the North. Your beautiful State has been nearly subjugated, but those true sons of Missouri who have continued in arms, together with my force, came back upon the enemy, and we have gained over them a great and signal victory. Their general-in-chief is in full flight, and now, if the true men of Missouri will rise up and rally around their standard, the State will be redeemed. I do not come among you to make war upon any of your people, whether Union or otherwise. The Union people will be protected in their rights and property. It is earnestly recommended to them to return to their homes. Prisoners of the Union party who have been arrested by the army will be released and allowed to return to their friends, Missouri must be allowed to choose her own destiny; no oaths binding your consciences will be administered. I have driven the enemy from among you. The time has now arrived for the people of the State to act; you cannot longer procrastinate. Missouri must now take her position, be it North or South.

Ben McCulloch may have returned to Indian Territory immediately after Wilson’s Creek, he nonetheless played a major role in trying to assist in securing northern Arkansas and Missouri into 1862. His life though was cut short when he was killed-in-action at the battle of Pea Ridge on March 7, 1862.

Benjamin McCulloch, Proclamation to the People of Missouri, August 15, 1861, in The War of the Rebellion,  ser. 1, vol. 3 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1881), 109.

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