When one drives through Missouri today it is hard to realize that only Virginia and Tennessee had more Civil War battles and skirmishes than Missouri. Missouri hosted the first large battle west of the Mississippi River with the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Originally settled as a southern, slave-holding state, Missouri had a fairly homogeneous southern population until an influx of settlers, many of German or Irish descent, brought with them more liberal, non-slavery views. The struggle to bring Missouri into the Confederacy continued throughout the entire conflict.
My husband’s great grandfather and his family were a part of this wave of new settlers and moved to northern Missouri from Indiana in the mid 1850s, right into a hotbed of clashing ideologies.
His younger brother, Charles, had joined the army early in the conflict. W. D., recently married to a young woman with long-time Missouri roots, was reluctant to leave her, his baby daughter and his elderly father unprotected.
We’re not sure what event sent W. D. to meet with the Union recruiter, but by 1862, he was beginning to put his affairs in order and prepare to go to war.
GOING TO SEE THE ELEPHANT, A CIVIL WAR MEMOIR, follows his journey.