The Civil War: Missouri

Among the earliest military movements in the Civil War of the United States, were those which took place in Missouri. A convention in that State decided against secession, and in favor of compromise. The governor, however, at once proceeded to act as if the State had seceded, refused to furnish troops to the government, raised a militia, and attempted to seize the national arsenal at St. Louis. This was held by Captain Lyon, with five hundred regulars. Several conflicts succeeded, and, as the governor still sought to force the State into the Confederacy, a condition of actual war arose.

General (late Captain) Lyon defeated the State troops at Booneville, while, in retaliation, the governor took it on himself to declare the State seceded and to offer its aid to the Confederacy. General Fremont was now made commander of the troops in Missouri. A battle took place on August 10, at Wilson's Creek, in which Lyon was killed, while General Sigel, who had been sent to gain the enemy's rear, met with a disastrous repulse. Each side lost heavily, and the Confederates were unable to pursue the retreating Unionists. The armies on both sides gradually increased, until there were twenty-eight thousand Confederates and thirty thousand Unionists in the field. At this juncture Fremont was removed, as a punishment for issuing on his own authority a proclamation emancipating the slaves in his department. General Halleck, who eventually succeeded to the command of the Union forces, compelled the Confederate General Price to retreat to Arkansas. In February, 1862, General Curtis, at the head of a Union army, pursued Price into Arkansas. On March 7 a severe battle took place at Pea Ridge, in which Sigel completely routed the Confederate right, while on the next morning their whole army was forced to retreat. This ended all operations of any importance in Missouri and Arkansas. The bulk of both armies was transferred to the east of the Mississippi, and a few unimportant contests in Arkansas completed the war in that quarter.

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