Sherman’s Visit to the Wilson’s Creek Battlefield in 1885

This article was originally posted on the Emerging Civil War blog on September 5, 2018, written by Kristen M. Pawlak. 

Ever since the guns were silenced in the spring of 1865, veterans and civilians alike trek the battlefields of the Civil War to inspire them and understand the carnage and sacrifice that occurred on those hallowed fields. Learning about what happened at these locations and why it matters is one of the most meaningful ways to honor soldiers of the Civil War – even the veterans themselves said that.

One of those veterans was William T. Sherman, the great, but controversial, commander of the Federal military division that captured Atlanta, marched through Georgia and the Carolinas, and forced the surrender of Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Bennett Place. After the war, he continued to serve in the United States Army as its Commanding General until 1883.

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General William Tecumseh Sherman just three years following his visit to the Wilson’s Creek battlefield. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Having lived in Missouri – specifically in St. Louis – in the years before the Civil War, Sherman had a close relationship with Missouri veterans, particularly fellow West Pointers and career soldiers he served with in the Army before, during, and after the Civil War. In 1885, Sherman “desired to visit the battlefield of Wilson’s Creek and the spot where Gen. Lyon fell.” To Sherman, who knew him personally before the war, Lyon “was somewhat careless in dress and manner, but intensely earnest in his ways, thoughts, and expressions … personally brave to a fault, not very social or friendly, yet honest and fearless.” Though Sherman served at another early-war battle, Manassas, he still wished to walk in the footsteps of a fellow Union war hero. Continue reading “Sherman’s Visit to the Wilson’s Creek Battlefield in 1885”

A Missouri Militiaman’s War

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Pvt. Samuel H. Flint in Federal cavalry uniform. Courtesy of FindaGrave.

Throughout the war in Missouri, both Federal and State cavalry units were vital to protecting and securing lines of communication and supply routes. Unlike in many other theaters of the war, Missouri cavalrymen had to defend these lifelines and maintain law and order. For Pvt. Samuel Hamilton Flint, a member of both the 7th Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia and the 15th Missouri Cavalry, was representative of many other Missouri men who enlisted in Union units; they were literally defending their own homes and families from the enemy.

Born and raised in the Ozark Highlands of Johnson Township, Polk County, Missouri in 1841, Flint was the oldest of four children of two Lexington, Virginia natives. Sometime before 1840, Ezekial and Mary Jane settled in southwest Missouri, similar to many other settlers from the upper South. Missouri’s vast rivers, fertile land, rich mineral deposits, ability to trade, no restrictions on slavery according the Missouri Compromise, and the capacity to invest in new land encouraged thousands to settle in the former Louisiana Territory. Additionally, the Old Wire Road led people from St. Louis to Springfield and beyond to Fort Smith, Arkansas. Like other settlers, the Flint family invested in their family farm. Continue reading “A Missouri Militiaman’s War”

Missouri Civil War Veterans Attend the 75th Gettysburg Reunion in 1938

In the summer of 1938, seventy-five years after fighting the bloodiest battle in American history, nearly two thousand Civil War veterans gathered on the fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Averaging 94 years-of-age, these veterans of the Blue and Gray came from every corner of the United States – from Maine to California.

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Union veteran Andrew J. Davis of Bethany, Missouri tells Civil War stories to Boy Scouts at the 1938 Gettysburg Reunion. Davis served in the 11th Missouri State Militia Cavalry. He passed away that next year from a cerebral hemorrhage. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Library.

Nearly 80 of these veterans came from Missouri, from major cities like St. Louis and Kansas City to small farming towns, such as Bogard and Higbee. Many more, like N.B. Harless of Texas, lived elsewhere, but fought in Missouri Units. Harless was a veteran of the 9th Missouri Cavalry (CS) and fought through Price’s 1864 Missouri Campaign. Knowing they would pass away in the next few years, many of these veterans believed the 1938 Gettysburg Reunion was their final chance to meet fellow veterans, possibly see their comrades, and share their own forgotten stories from the war – the war in the Trans-Mississippi west. Continue reading “Missouri Civil War Veterans Attend the 75th Gettysburg Reunion in 1938”