A Missouri Union Soldier’s Definition of a “Patriot”

Two Union soldiers – and patriots, as described by Scott – with the American flag between them. Courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Just as Price’s Army of Missouri was advancing through central Missouri in October 1864, a soldier in Company F of the 47th Missouri Infantry penned a poem. The patriotic, thoughtful piece was written by Private James Scott, who ultimately submitted his work – titled “The Patriot” – to The North Missourian newspaper out of Daviess County.

Fellow citizens, good soldiers and all, I wish a while your attention to call, My subject is one which is very clear. The patriot whom I would always cheer. If you’ll give a few moments attention, I’ll try to express and to make mention, Of a few principles, which I can say Makes a patriot, that does suit my way. Give me a man who wanted always to see That noble emblem of our liberty, The star and stripes which I hope e’er shall wave O’er the land of the Free – home of the Brave. Give me a man, who is always at hand, When an armed foe is thronging our land; Give me a man, who is true to the cause, Upholding the constitution and laws. Give me a man who’ll rebellion oppose Beginning and ending and to the close, Who cares more for country than for party, Upholding its laws, cheerful and hearty. Give me a man who is – always has been In for the Union, has nothing else been Who has proved it by all of his actions, In all emergencies and transactions. Give me a man whose first and chief great aim Is the honor of the flag to maintain, Who’s always been right from the very start Knowing we ought not from this Union part. Give me a man who is true to his post, No matter how strength opposite host; Firm and determined come weal or come woe, No matter which way the current may flow. Give me a man who’s always confiding, On the right side – strictly law abiding, Who’s ready to help, all wrongs to redress But he’ll never, never the law transgress. Give me a man who is always ready, Firm and determing and always stand Ready and willing at all times go, And if necessary lay traitors low. Give me a man when he’s called on to go, To help rid the country of the armed foe, He will not commence his excuses to frame But if he does so be it to his shame. Give me a man with all these united And I’ll saw he ought not to be slighted, A man who has all these principles got, I’ll forever call a true patriot.

For Scott, the meaning of a patriot was important and timely. His unit was just organized two months prior and was already preparing to react to Price’s Raid. Exactly when he wrote the poem is unknown (the newspaper just stated “October 1864”), but either he was just about to fight in his first battle or had already done so at Booneville and Glasgow. Nonetheless, Scott saw his fellow soldiers as patriots, willing to rid Missouri of the “traitors,” as he called the Rebels under Price. By war’s end, the 47th Missouri Infantry would lose 11 of their men in combat during Price’s Raid and against guerrillas in central Missouri.

 

Sources:

James Scott, “The Patriot,” The North Missourian, November 10, 1864.


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