Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox: Secessionist or Peacemaker?

Most mainstream history accounts of Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson describe him as having a secessionist agenda. Lately I’ve been digging through newspaper archives of the era and what I’ve found is that they paint a different picture of Governor Jackson than contemporary accounts describe.

First Governor Jackson was elected in 1860 as a Douglas Democrat. Using Wikipedia (for reasons of convenience) the Douglas wing of the Democratic Party:

“The Northern Democratic Party was a leg of the Democratic Party during the 1860 presidential election. It was when the party split in two due to problems with slavery. Stephen A. Douglas was the nominee and lost to Abraham Lincoln. They held two conventions before the election, in Charleston and Baltimore, where they established their platform…

  • They resolved that the party will obey the decisions of the supreme court on the questions of constitutional law.
  • That the United States has a duty to provide protection to all citizens, at home and abroad, whether they are native or foreign.
  • That the Democratic party will insure the construction of a railroad to the Pacific coast as soon as possible, to facilitate fast communication between Atlantic and Pacific states,
  • That they support the acquisition of Cuba, as long as the terms are agreeably to the United States and Spain.
  • That the attempts to defeat the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile, undermine the Constitution, and revolutionary in their effect.
  • That while Territorial Governments are in existence, the measure of restriction imposed by the Federal Constitution on the power of the Territorial Legislature over the subject of the domestic relations shall be respected and enforced by every branch of the General Government.”

In short the reasons Governor Jackson aligned himself with the Douglas Democrat’s is because it satisfied the Unionists the slave holders.

Missouri’s Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson had consistently stated that he would pursue peace if the Federal Government did not make war upon the South but as stated previously, Lincoln had held his cards close to his vest on the Fort Sumter matter, feigning peace, while secretly contacting the fort’s commander Major Anderson planning to resupply the fort by force and when a dispatch was intercepted by General P.G T. Beauregard’s men in Charleston, revealing the plan, the general was forced to act. 

Even as tensions were rising, Missouri’s government was dedicated to peace and the best way to ensure the peace was “Armed Neutrality”. 

Armed Neutrality was meant to keep Missouri from being taken over by the Federal Government and forcing the State to supply troops to wage war on its sister Southern states. In addition, “beefing up” Missouri’s defensive posture would also act as a deterrent to any plans the Federal Government might have to subjugate the state. 

On May 3, 1861 the Daily Milwaukee News published the following news from Missouri: 

“The Sentiment in Missouri: 

The announcement on the street and in business circles yesterday, that Governor Jackson had emphatically declared his opposition to the secession of Missouri, and avowed himself in favor of this state occupying a position of neutrality and created a general feeling of relief in all quarters except among those who think the course Missouri is the mad one of withdrawal of the Confederacy. 

Governor Jackson has been regarded as an open and avowed secessionist (though to do him justice, we have never seen a positive declaration of secessionist views of him.)” 

The May 6, 1861 edition of the Baltimore Sun carried the details of Governor Jackson’s address to the Missouri Legislature. Again, Jackson’s message was peace and self-defense to protect from invasion: 

“St. Louis, May 3- The Legislature of Missouri was organized today. Governor Jackson, in his message says: 

“The President in calling out troops to subdue the seceded states, has threatened civil war, and his act is unconstitutional, and illegal, and tending towards a consolidated despotism.” 

While the Governor justifies the action of the Confederate States in seceding, he does not recommend immediate secession, but uses the following language: 

“Our interests and sympathies are identical with the those of the other slaveholding States, and necessarily unite our destiny with theirs, the similarity of our social and political institutions, our industrial interests, our sympathies, habits and tastes, our common origin, and our territorial contiguity, all concur in pointing to our duty in regard to the separation now taking place between the states of the old federal Union.”, He adds: 

“Missouri has, at this time, no war to prosecute. It is not her policy to make aggressions on any state or people. But in the present state of the country, she would be faithless to her honor and recreant to her duty were she hesitate a moment in making the most ample preparations for the protection of her people against the aggressions of all assailants. I therefore recommend the appropriation of a sufficient sum of money to place the State at the earliest practicable moment, in a complete state of defense.” 

In conclusion he says: Permit me to appeal to you and through you to the whole people of the State, to whom we are responsible, to do nothing imprudently or precipitately. We have a most solemn duty to perform; let us calmly reason one with the other; avoid all passion, all tendency to tumult, and disorder, and obey implicitly the constituted authorities, and endeavor ultimately, to unite all of our citizens in a cordial cooperation for the preservation of our honor, the security of our property, and the performance of all those high duties imposed upon us by our obligation to our Family, our country, and our God.” 

Even Vermont’s St. Albans Daily Messenger, in its May 8, 1861 issue, praised Governor Jackson for his efforts to keep the peace writing: 

“The Governor is doing all in his power to stay the secession tide. He tells the people, and tells the truly, that it is for the interest and welfare of the people of Missouri to stand by the Stars and Stripes and that it would be the height of folly and madness for her to follow in the footsteps of the seceded states.” 

One could say that Governor Jackson was eventually forced into action and eventually secession.

The state militia had been ordered to encamp in St. Louis for drill. Some accusations from contemporary historians state the purpose was to take the arsenal at St. Louis, this however, is a flawed theory.

On April 29, 1861 The Daily Exchange [Baltimore, Md.] published:

“April 26- A Chicago dispatch, published in the Evening Post, says that last night a strong force of Illinois troops entered St. Louis and took from the arsenal 21,000 stand of arms, and a park of artillery, and an immense quantity of ammunition etc. There was no fighting.” 

There was no reason to take the arsenal because Illinois troops had invaded the state and took the weapons back to their state.

On May 10, 1861 Captain [later General] Nathaniel Lyon ordered the camp surrounded at which time the camp was surrendered. Lyon’s soldiers were made up of mostly Germans and when these men were seen marching the native Missourians through St. Louis at gunpoint, the citizens became enraged and the German’s fired upon them. The event lasted two days and resulted in the deaths of 28 civilians, including one infant.

St. Louis Unionist, Francis P. Blair’s brother Montgomery Blair was the United States Postmaster General and it was through this connection that Blair and Lyon conspired to have the level headed General William S. Harney removed from his position of heading up the U. S. Army’s Department of the West. Blair and Lyon then used this same connection to give Harney’s position to the erratic, hot- head, Nathaniel Lyon.

Following the removal of Harney, Lyon was made a general, which worried Governor Jackson and former Governor Sterling Price.

Information found at The Civil War Muse states:

“The removal of Harney was disturbing to Governor Claiborne Jackson and Major-General Sterling Price. The Missouri State Guard was still poorly organized and equipped. The Federals had over 10,000 armed troops. They realized they needed more time. Moderates in Jefferson City thought Lyon was radical and rash and they were still interesting in preserving the peace. They convinced the Governor that he needed to meet with Lyon and Blair. Similarly, moderates in St. Louis convinced Lyon and Blair that a meeting was necessary. Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon issued a safe conduct pass to Jackson and Price for their visit to St. Louis. 

On June 10th, Governor Jackson and Major-General Price boarded a private train and traveled to St. Louis, registering at the Planter’s House Hotel. On June 11th Brigadier-General Nathaniel Lyon, Colonel Frank Blair and an aide Major Horace Conant left the Saint Louis Arsenal and arrived at the Planter’s House around 11 a.m. They met with Jackson, Price and the Governor’s aide, Thomas L. Snead. 

When the meeting began, Lyon said he was going to let Colonel Blair conduct the meeting. During the ensuing discussion Price emphasized that the Price-Harney Agreement was still in effect and that Price planned to keep to his side of the agreement. Lyon was quiet for the first 30 minutes or so, but then proceeded to take over the meeting. It became clear that the degree of distrust on each side was too much to overcome. After four or five hours, Lyon said upon rising to leave: 

Rather than concede to the State of Missouri the right to demand that my government shall not enlist troops within her limits, or bring troops into the State whenever it pleases, or move troops at its own will into, out of, or through the State; rather than concede to the State of Missouri for one single instant the right to dictate to my government in any matter, however unimportant, I would see you, and you, and you, and you, [pointing to each man in the room] and every man, woman, and child in the State dead and buried. This means war. In an hour one of my officers will call for you and conduct you out of my lines.

Jackson, Price and Snead did not wait for Lyon’s officers, but hurried to the Pacific Railroad depot and commandeered a train to take them to Jefferson City. They arrived there around 2:00 A.M. on June 12th. Along the way Jackson and Snead worked on a proclamation to be issued when they arrived in Jefferson City. Price also sent orders to burn the railroad bridges over the Gasconade and Osage Rivers behind them. Price also ensured the telegraph wires were cut. On June 12th, Snead issued the proclamation while Jackson directed the evacuation of the state government from Jefferson City. In conjunction with the Governor’s proclamation, Major General Sterling Price issued orders to each military district commander of the Missouri State Guard to assemble their forces and have them ready for service. Price had convinced Jackson that Jefferson City was lost and their first line of defense should be in Boonville, Missouri, about 50 miles upriver. “

On June 11th Brigadier-General Nathaniel Lyon, Colonel Frank Blair and an aide Major Horace Conant left the Saint Louis Arsenal and arrived at the Planter’s House around 11 a.m. They met with Jackson, Price and the Governor’s aide, Thomas L. Snead.

On June 12, 1861 Governor Jackson issued the following proclamation:

A series of unprovoked and unparalleled outrages have been inflicted upon the peace and dignity of this Commonwealth and upon the rights and liberties of its people by wicked and unprincipled men, professing to act under the authority of the United States Government . . . I, Claiborne F. Jackson, Governor of the State of Missouri, do . . . issue this my proclamation, calling the militia of the State to the number of fifty thousand into the active service of the State, for the purpose of repelling [the Federal] invasion, and for the protection of the lives, liberties, and property of the citizens of this State.

With Federal forces closing in on Jefferson City, the capital was evacuated with the legislatures taking the State seal with them and the Unionists soon claimed the legislature was vacated, held a convention , enacted a provisional government and made Hamilton Gamble the “new” Governor.

Following the battles at Boonville, Oak Hill [Wilson’s Creek] and Lexington, Missouri, the elected State Government who were forced to abandon Jefferson City (at gunpoint), reconvened at Neosho, in Missouri’s southwest corner, and passed an ordinance of secession on August 31,’st, 1861. Missouri was then accepted into the Confederacy (by the Confederate Congress) on November 28, 1861.

Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson died in 1862 and was succeeded by Lt. Governor Thomas Reynolds. The Missouri government eventually set up shop in Marshall, Tx., which, for the rest of the war was the Capital of Missouri.

Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson became a secessionist, only when he had no other choice and should be remembered as a Governor who tried to keep Missouri out of the war.

The Bollinger County Light Horse Cavalry

Flag of the Bollinger County [Missouri] Light Horse Cavalry

Cletis Ellinghouse, wrote in his book “Old Wayne”:

“Southeast Missouri’s renowned and railroader, Louis Houck, in his memoirs noted Judge Jackson at the outbreak of the war raised the U.S. flag at the courthouse at Greenville, in defiance of popular sentiment, which strongly favored the Confederacy. It created what Houck called, “a local war.”

It may be significant to note that the Bollinger County Light Horse Cavalry was the first Confederate unit organized in this neighborhood, in mid-March of 1861, which was nearly a month before the South attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. It attracted a good number from Wayne [County] including Rufus and Christopher Holmes, respectively a sergeant and second lieutenant, sons of long-time Justice of the Peace John B. Holmes, as well as their cousins in Bollinger County, Joseph and Henry Bennett, privates, sons of Alexander Bennett and his first wife the former Debby Dennis , believed the eldest daughter of early settler John Dennis Sr.”

Glenn Dedmondt in his book “Flags of Civil War Missouri” writes:

“One unusual flag captured by the Freemont Rangers in the fall of 1861, the ensign of a company of the 1’st Cavalry Battalion of General M. Jeff Thompson’s 1’st Division, was made of black silk with a red cross on it.”

Impending War

Original Artwork by Curtis Copeland

Something a little different from me today. A fiction piece titled “Impending War” for an event that paired writers and artists for State of the Ozarks magazine in 2018. I was paired with artist Curtis Copeland, some of you may remember that Curtis and I worked together on a story about the existence of Black Panthers in Missouri.

Cotton was not king in the Ozarks but hard work was. The soil was not suited for farming. If it had been the planters would have bought it up and brought their slaves with them.

Planting was done in small clearings. It was no easy task and the crops grown in the rocky soil were done so for subsistence, not cash.

Some of the corn was used to feed the cattle and some was ground into meal for the family.

News was slow to travel to the Ozarks but when it did arrive it brought word of the impending war.

My father doubted the war would make it to our isolated homestead.

Leaning against a split rail fence he stated, “There is barely enough for us to survive on, much less enough to fight over.”

He was in deep thought. He shifted the rocky soil back and forth with his foot and it was not clear whether he was trying to convince me or himself. With pipe in hand , he pointed at the barn and said, “Harness the mule son. We’ve got a crop to put in”.

From time to time a neighbor would bring news on the current state of affairs. Jim Sutton stopped by one day and stated the Governor had met with Captain Lyon in St. Louis to negotiate a peace and that the meeting had ended with Captain Lyon declaring war on the Governor, the State and every man, woman and child who lived there.

News traveled “through the grapevine” in the mountains, from neighbor to neighbor. Newspapers were a rarity. Partly because of  isolation and partly because more than a few settlers could not read and had very little time for such luxuries even if they could. Despite the rumors of war, there was always work to be done. Wood needed to be chopped, livestock fed and fences repaired.

Most of our neighbors were of Scots-Irish who had immigrated from the neighboring states of Kentucky and Tennessee. They were Southerners of a different social class. A working class who placed more emphasis on necessary labor and taking care of their families and neighbors than the politics of the day.

August brought news of a great battle in the Western portion of the state and another visit from Jim Sutton.

I had just finished my chores for the day and had drew a bucket of water from the well. I dipped the ladle into the bucket and was taking a sip of the cool water when I saw Mr. Sutton ride up on his horse.

“Howdy Elijah”, he said with a smile, “Is John around?”

“Daddy’s in the barn Mr. Sutton” , I said. 

My father walked out of the barn and said, “Howdy Jim. What brings you around?”

Jim Sutton climbed off of his horse and shook Daddy’s hand. “Can I talk to ya?”

They went to the barn but I could still make out part of the conversation. Mr. Sutton was trying to convince Daddy to join the Confederate forces and Daddy countered with, “Who’s going to take care of this farm and this family? This is no war for us besides you said Lyon was dead. There might not even be a threat to us now.”

“I’m going John”, Mr. Sutton said. “Lyon being killed isn’t going to stop what’s comin’, if anything, those Yankees are going to want vengeance and don’t go thinkin’ we’re gonna be safe here. Mark my words. They’re going to swarm over the whole state like a plague of locusts.”

“I wish you luck Jim”, Daddy said.

“You too John”, replied Mr.Sutton as he mounted his horse and turned it toward the road. Before riding off he stopped and added, “John. There are a lot of families headed down to Green County, across the state line. If the war visits your place take what you can and get down there.”

To learn more about the Civil War in the Ozarks region purchase “Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition” $15 paperback / $2.99 Kindle

A Desperate Plea (And Warning) From A Friend

The St. Louis Massacre (also known as the Camp Jackson Affair ) which occurred on Friday May 10, 1861, in St. Louis, saw members of the Missouri State Guard taken prisoner by Union troops (the majority of which were German immigrants). As the troops were marching the Missourians through the streets, the crowd became enraged and the Union troops began to fire into it, killing 28 civilians, including an infant.

This was Missouri’s “Fort Sumter” and citizens who were once “on the fence” began to quickly choose sides. After the event Germans were looked upon with great suspicion.

The August 31, 1861 issue of Louisville, Kentucky’s “Courier Journal” carried a story on the conditions of Bollinger & Madison counties in Missouri. It also contains a letter from I.R. Hidod, of Company G, Missouri State Guard to his friend, Francis Williams. The letter was a plea from Hidod to Williams to reconsider his position as a Union man and enlist in the ranks of the South. The letter was also a warning as to what would happen if he didn’t.

Want to learn more about the Civil War in the Southeast Missouri Ozarks? Buy “Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition” $15 paperback / $2.99 Kindle.

In Defense of South Carolina

The Saturday October 13, 1860 issue of The Emporia News (Emporia, Ks) contained the contents of a speech of New York born William Seward. At the time Seward was a Republican candidate for President of the United States. The speech detailed his hatred for the State of Missouri and those who lived within its borders. The speech, in part stated: 

“There is population enough in Kansas now to make Missouri a great State. But Missouri does not want to be a great State. She prefers to wait and be a Slave State [Laughter]. She has no affection for the people of the North, but a great affection for the people of the South. She has no affection for free labor, but a great affection for slave labor. She has no free speech; she is satisfied to have what she may say, or may not, controlled by the Slave Power This is a sad case for Missouri, but not hopeless. She must look for deliverance to Kansas, which Missouri refused to let come into the Union, but which is drawing emigration through Missouri, and opening the way, and marking out the very course and inviting Missouri on, and calling upon Eastern capitalists to open a national highway to Pike’s Peak and California. Missouri is richer by millions by the settlement of Kansas by freemen. All her hopes of competition with the free Northern States are based upon what you are doing, and can do, and will do, to make a Pacific Railroad. Never was policy of any State more suicidal; for either she is to be forever a Slave State, as she desires to be, or she had better have been free from the beginning.”

In one sense we can dismiss Seward’s words as merely coming from a politician who was running for president and stoking the fires. In another one could come to the conclusion that his words were a threat of what would happen if Missouri did not bend to the will of the Kansans across its western border and the political power brokers from the northeastern states. It was a bold and dangerous speech to be making, especially considering the fact that the “Border War” fires between the two states were barely extinguished and still smoldering.

Seward was not interested in peace, he wanted power and he wanted the power to make the people he despised the most (Southerners) punished. We all know that Seward did not win the election of 1860, which was a brokered convention (See “Election Thieves” By Clint Lacy and Victor Thorn , Barnes Review Magazine, July / August 2016), but he did manage to land the position of Secretary of State in the Lincoln administration where he was able to use his talents of inflammatory language and deception to lure the Confederates to fire on Fort Sumter first.

A close examination of the facts will prove that South Carolina and the Confederate government desperately attempted to avoid war with the Federal government in Washington. My facts come from newspaper reports from the era.

As late as March 26, 1861 the Union garrison at Fort Sumter commanded by Major Robert Anderson was allowed to purchase supplies from nearby Charleston. It had been this way since the secession of the State on December 20, 1860 and the Lincoln administration was buying time with delaying tactics and news of false hope to the people there. The March 26, 1861 issue of the Montgomery [Alabama] Weekly Mail reported:

“ There is nothing publicly reliable in relation to the status of Fort Sumter. Vague reports of a contradictory nature are believed, and then discredited. We feel satisfied that Fox’s visit here and Lamon’s also, were for the purpose of making arrangements for the evacuation of the fort, but the time when Sumter is to be given up as far as the public are informed. Vague reports of a contradictory nature circulate, are believed then discredited. We feel satisfied that Fox’s visit here, and Lamon’s also, were for the purpose of making arrangements for the evacuation of the fort; but the time when Sumter is to be given up has not been determined, so far as the public are informed.”

By April 9th the papers still had an air of optimism in their coverage. Everything hinged on what action / inaction President Lincoln would take regarding the fort off of the Charleston, S.C. coast. However; the Memphis Daily Argus on April 9, 1861 published the following: 

“No Blockade Intended- Excitement at Washington-The Southern Commissioners- Another Messenger.- A special dispatch to the Charleston Courier, dated Washington, April 5th , says: “Information of a decided character are given out in official quarters that the administration does not intend to blockade the ports of the confederated States in order to collect the revenue, though the endeavors are made to keep every movement a secret. Much excitement exists here today in relation to matters of the South and thousands of flying rumors keep people on the qui vive. Many are of the opinion that the crisis has culminated, and dispatches from the South are looked for with great interest. The confederate commissioners are still of the opinion that Fort Sumter will be evacuated and say they have the best reason to believe that the administration yet means peace.” 

By April 10th the news was not so optimistic. The Fall River [Massachusetts] Daily Mail reported that President Abraham Lincoln had rejected a meeting with the Confederate Peace Commissioners stating: 

“Washington, April 9  

The Commissioners appointed by the Southern Confederacy to treat with the President for a peaceful settlement of existing troubles by acknowledgement of the new government were refused a formal interview by the Administration this morning.” 

The same issue of the paper, in another published article, also reported: 

“A special dispatch from Charleston to the Herald says that authorities of that city have received official notification [from the Lincoln administration] that supplies will be furnished to Major Anderson [Federal commander at Fort Sumter] at all hazard.” 

Even after allowing the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter to purchase supplies from Charleston and sending a Peace Commission to meet with President Lincoln Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ resolve war was immense as reported by the April 11, 1861 edition if the Cincinnati Daily Press:

“President Davis has telegraphed to Charleston not to fire on any vessels entering Charleston harbor to supply Fort Sumter with provisions.”

On April 12, 1861 Baltimore, Maryland’s “Daily Exchange” reported that Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard was to meet the Maj. Anderson in another attempt to negotiate a peaceful surrender of Fort Sumter.  

April 12, 1861 the Baltimore Sun reported: 

“Washington, April 11- The Southern Commissioners left for Montgomery today in their letter to the Hon. Wm. Seward, Secretary of State, they say their mission, having been unsuccessful, they return to an outraged people, and express their conviction that war is inevitable. They insist that on the heads of the administration must rest the responsibility.” 

The April 13, 1861 edition of The Times- Picayune [New Orleans] carried the following news of the events preceding the firing on Fort Sumter by Confederate forces at Charleston: 

From L. Pope Walker, Confederate Secretary of War to General P.G.T. Beauregard, April 10, 1861: 

“If you have no doubt of the authorized character of the agent who communicated to you the intention of the Government at Washington to supply Fort Sumter by force, you will at once demand its evacuation. 

If this is refused, proceed in such a manner as you determine, to reduce it.” 

From General P.G.T. Beauregard to Confederate Secretary of War L. Pope Walker April 11, 1861: 

“Major Anderson has replied as follows to my summons to evacuate Fort Sumter… 

Sir- I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication, demanding the evacuation of this fort, and to say in reply thereto, that it is a demand that I regret that my sense of honor and my obligation to my government prevent my compliance. 

Major Anderson adds verbally: 

I will await the first shot and if you do not batter us to pieces, we will be starved out in a few days.” 

From Confederate Secretary of War L. Pope Walker to General P.G.T. Beauregard, April 11, 1861: 

“Do not desire needlessly to bomb Fort Sumter. 

If Mayor Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, he will evacuate, and agree in the meantime that he will not use his guns against us, unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, you are authorized thus to avoid the effusion of blood. 

 If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort in the manner, in which you in your judgement, decide to be the most practicable.” 

From General P.G.T. Beauregard to Confederate Secretary of War L. Pope Walker, April 11, 1861: 

“Major Anderson will not consent to enter into the engagement you propose. I write to you today.” 

From Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard to Confederate Secretary of War L. Pope Walker, April 12, 1861:

“We opened fire on Fort Sumter at half-past four o’clock this morning. 

P.S. 

I have intercepted a dispatch, which will disclose the fact that Mr. Fox, who had been allowed to visit Major Anderson, on the pledge that his purpose was pacific, employed his opportunity to devise for supplying the fort by force. 

This plan was adopted by the Government at Washington, and was in progress of execution, when the demand was made on Major Anderson.”

The Lincoln administration deceived, delayed and deliberately misinformed the people of Charleston, South Carolina, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard and the Confederate government, despite the attempts by the Confederate government to avoid war, actively seek a peaceful solution and act in good faith. It was only after  General Beauregard intercepted the Union dispatch that revealed the true plans of Lincoln’s administration that they fired the first shot, and the one time presidential candidate William S. Seward, who fanned the flames on the Missouri / Kansas border and was now acting as Secretary of State was instrumental in making the war come to fruition, despite the desires of the Southern people to maintain peace.

Did the Missouri Convention REALLY Rule Out Secession

The Daily Exchange [Baltimore, Md] newspaper’s March 25, 1861 issue carried news of the Missouri State Convention held on February 28th with the curious language that Missouri denied, “The legal right of secession” but recognized, “the right of revolution.”

It doesn’t feel like it has been seven days since my last post but I’m working on a new project, and it’s kept me busy. I won’t, at this time, divulge the nature of the project but I will say that the above newspaper clipping also serves as a hint of what the project is to be about.

Meanwhile feel free to check out my other books by visiting Our Products page.

Defiant Ozark Women

Sarah “Pauline” (White) Dalton

The following information came from an administrator of the Historical Wayne County Missouri Facebook group.

Though the author did not provide their name this is an excellent article that not only highlights war crimes committed by Captain William T. Leeper of the local Union militia, it also gives the reader a glimpse of what it was like to be living under occupational rule…

I recently had my great great grandmothers photo restored. She had a remarkable life. Here is an article I wrote about her a few years ago.

“One of the most fascinating local stories surrounding the Civil War, is not of a soldier fighting for the blue or the grey. It is of a woman, Sarah “Pauline” (White) Dalton. This is her story of how she became one of the most respected and nostalgic residents in the bicentennial history of Wayne County.

She was born in Hardin County, Tennessee on July 8, 1844, the third of nine children born to Dr. Terrel C. & Sarah Elizabeth (McSwain) White. On January 3, 1856, Dr. T.C. White secured 160 acres of land at rural Greenville from the U.S. Land office at Jackson, Missouri. Dr. White was a nephew of Wayne County pioneer, Rev. Ezekiel C. Rubottom; thus the reasoning of the journey to Wayne County.

When the White family arrived at rural Greenville, Pauline was eleven. The family arrived from a county in the deep part of Tennessee, that bordered both Mississippi and Alabama. They brought with them southern customs, religious beliefs and politics. But unlike other southerners, they did not own slaves. The family settled on the banks of Lake Creek, near their Rubottom relatives. They established themselves in their new community as esteemed citizens. Dr. White erected a medical facility in Greenville, near what today is known as the Hickman Cemetery.

By the break out of the Civil War there was much local persecution toward those who was believed to hold ties to the Confederacy. The White family was no exception. On the occasion of Captain William T. Leeper’s raid on Greenville and its nearby farms, in February of 1862, Dr. White escaped capture and possible death by hiding in a chimney in a nearby abandoned home. This and several local killings of neighbors and destroying of homes, barns and churches, no doubt lit the fires of bigger support for the cause of the Confederacy.

In early October of 1863 a group of Union troops were making their way through Greenville. Crowds had gathered to watch the march through town. Pauline White and her sisters Evaline and Arabella were publicly mocking the Union soldiers. Even more livid for the Union Troops was the “hurrahing” for the Confederacy the three sisters were blaring. What seem to be a jovial thing to the young ladies, turned out to be much more serious. Family tradition gives credit for the incident to the eldest sister, Evaline, as being the instigator of the scene.On October 15, 1863 orders were given to Captain Pinckney L. Powers from General C.B. Fisk, the commander at Pilot Knob, to arrest the White sisters. The orders read; “You will immediately arrest and send to me in the daughters of Dr. T.C. White. Their names are Evaline, Pauline and Arabella. Tell them to prepare their clothing and baggage for a journey southward by way of the Mississippi River. Let them think they are being sent to the people and region they hurrah for. Let there be no delay. Let them be well treated.”

The false orders were obeyed and their father accompanied them. On October 19, 1863, Pauline White, her father and two sisters made an appearance at Pilot Knob at Fort Davidson (not southward as the orders conferred).

The father was charged with disloyalty to the Union and daughters charge with “cheering for the Confederacy in a public place”. They were asked to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, posted a $1000 bond, and where then released. Dr. White was asked to “split up” his trouble making daughters. Evaline was sent to live with relatives in Randolph County, Arkansas and Arabella sent to relatives at Chester, Illinois. Pauline returned home with her father to Greenville, to clerk in his medical practice.

In February of 1864 the White family had received word from Lt. Benjamin Hughes, (a friend and neighbor of Dr. White), that their oldest son and brother, 1st Sgt. Charles DeKalb White, had died a prisoner of war at the Benton Barracks Hospital in St. Louis. Pauline composed a letter addressed to Pvt. Drury Poston (of Brunot), a member of Col. Timothy Reeves’s CSA CO A 15th MO Calvary. The letter was to inform of the death of 1st Sgt. White to his comrades. She placed the letter in care of a post rider at Pleasant Valley and sent it to Doniphan where the wife of Col. Reeves resided. The letter got as far as Cherokee Bay, Arkansas were it was discovered by Union troops. Had the letter only contained the death notice of 1st Sgt. White, it may have been overlooked. The last paragraph could not be overlooked. It read:

“Lieutenant P.T. White and Dr. Putnam send there compliments to you and Captain Reeves and all the rest of the boys. Ben {Lt. Hughes} says may God bless you all is the prayer of one sinner. All the Privates were sent to Rock Island. We have heard from some of them also. Eva and Belle say for me to tell you they would like to see you very much. I will close with the expectation of hearing from you soon. Give our complements to all of our acquaintances. Long live the Rebels! Peace and comfort rest upon their heads. Forget me not, for, alas, we may never meet again. Your Friend Pauline White”

In the eyes of the Union Army the oath was broken. Pauline White was arrested on May 28, 1864 at Greenville, for breaking her oath of allegiance. It is clear that the Union army used Pauline White as an example. The Union forces issued a Confederate “watch list” of Wayne County families that were believed to be unloyalists and spies. Several women were listed and the documents are quoted as saying; “these women are doing more mischief then they could if they were men”. Pauline White was quickly tried, convicted of treason and sentenced to hard labor.

After the Civil War was over Pauline White was one of only fourteen Confederate prisoners in Missouri that were not released. These fourteen were “excepted” cases. Pauline was the only female. Instead of being issued a direct pardon she was being forced to “beg” for one; Which she eventually did. Her release date has been lost to time, but it was several months after the war had ended. She returned home to Greenville.

The oldest daughter of Dr. T.C. White, Evaline, married on November 20, 1866 to local Greenville merchant Oliver D. Dalton. Dr. White, in turn, sold his Wayne County property to the newlyweds and relocated to Randolph County, Arkansas. Evaline Dalton died from childbirth complications on March 26, 1873, leaving Oliver alone with their three year old daughter, Laura Bell. Needing help raising Laura, Oliver married the younger sister Pauline White on Christmas Day in 1873 in Randolph County, Arkansas. They returned to Greenville and the family farm. Dr. T.C. White accompanied them. Pauline Dalton would be the only mother that little Laura Bell would ever remember

Beginning in the 1870’s, Pauline Dalton established herself as one of the most esteemed women in her community. Her correspondences during the Civil War proved she was already very educated for a lady of the time period. Her passion for more education only grew in adulthood. In the 1880’s she attended and graduated from two years of subscription courses at Hale’s College on Otter Creek. She became fluent in Greek and Latin and excelled in theology. Her library was her prized possession. In addition she was an accomplished musician. She was preeminent in playing the piano, organ, violin, guitar, banjo and harmonica. Throughout the next many years the Dalton home became a local place where young ladies received organ and piano lessons.

In 1866 Pauline was one of the many converts that joined the Greenville Methodist Church under the pastorship of the Rev. S.A. Blakey. Upon her conversion she dedicated herself to the work of Christianity. When the local Methodist congregations were slowly leaving the Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and joining the conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC), Mrs. Dalton became vocally dissatisfied with her denomination. She believed the proper mode of baptism was by immersion, something the MEC did not hold as an ordinance. The last forty years of her life she attended the services of the local Little Lake Baptist Church and New Prospect Baptist Church. She went as far as telling her own grandchildren to join the Baptist Church as it more closely match New Testament doctrine than any other local congregation.

Mrs. Dalton herself, however, would not unite with the Baptist congregations in membership. She held that her original 1866 immersion baptism was genuine and would not agree to be baptized a second time to satisfy the doctrine of any other denomination. Her husband, O.D. Dalton, was an ordained Elder in the Christian Church. Mrs. Dalton apparently never expressed a desire to join with this faith at all. Her name is not found among the roll of members.

After the death of O.D. Dalton in 1898, Pauline turned her residence into a boarding house for young ladies attending subscription schools at Greenville. Two of the ladies, the late Mrs. Hattie (Twidwell) Cobb and Mrs. Stone (Twidwell) Blackwell, relayed that they would often try to “trap” Mrs. Dalton with a random word from the dictionary. Without fail, Mrs. Dalton could always relay a definition.

By the dawn of the early 1900’s the women’s suffrage movement was rising tremendously in Wayne County. With her mistreatment and imprisonment during the Civil War, Pauline Dalton should have been an extreme supporter of the movement. This was far from the case. She protested and wrote letters and pamphlets against such an amendment that would give women the right to vote. In quoting the Apostle Paul’s New Testament writings, she warned readers; ” the passage of such an amendment would be the beginning of the downfall of our Nation”. Her opposition was great. The strongest locally was from Mrs. Alice J. (Curtice) Moyer-Wing of Wills, in the Crossroads community, near Lowndes. Mrs. Wing was the lead local supporter of women’s suffrage. Today, Mrs. Wing seems to be the celebrated local victor, with plaques and memorials dedicated to her. Mrs. Dalton however did not play the role in hypocrisy. She had many opportunities to vote the last seventeen years of her life, and never once took the liberty

While her views on women’s suffrage may not have been well looked upon by many, Mrs. Dalton was far from prudish. She was well known for her fashion and her crafty abilities. She made and trimmed hats, not only for herself, but for many other ladies in the Greenville communities. She weaved baskets and sold them in local stores. Her basket entry in the ‪1904 World’s Fair in St.‬ Louis was a 1st prize winner in the division it was entered. Mrs. Dalton and her family attended the now historic festivities at St. Louis, by way of train.

In November of 1916 she moved into a modest home on Timmons Street at Greenville. The home was the same structure that lumber king and railroad man Hiram Holladay had been murdered in seventeen years prior. Her appearances at Greenville in her elderly years were joyous to the community. An excerpt from a 1916, “Greenville Sun” is quoted; “The town had the pleasure of visiting with Mrs. O.D. Dalton last week at the Smith-Rhodes mercantile. Her family was running errands in town and to our advantage this elder of our community decided to socialize near the warmth of the stove for more than two hours. Many greeted her and she recalled to many of old days around Greenville”.

The last ten years of her life, the biggest role she played was of a loving grandmother and great-grandmother. She made her home with her step-daughter (and blood niece) she raised, Laura Bell (Dalton) Bollinger, wife of Lafayette A. “Bud” Bollinger. Up near the advanced age of 90 years old, Mrs. Dalton taught one granddaughter to read by the age of four. She often would hide sugar cubes in her apron for her grandsons (who were not allowed to have them); And she would recall her Civil War imprisonment to younger generations who may have never heard it. The late Frank Street of Patterson, recalled as a young postal rider, delivering the mail by horseback, he would have to wait at Mrs. Dalton’s front gate until she had read and discussed the headlines in the weekly paper with him. The late Grace Westmoreland of Patterson, recalled to this writer in 2013, that in her youth on Sunday mornings, attending services at the Little Lake Baptist Church, Mrs. Dalton would be seen in the back of the family wagon with the little children, rather than upfront. Her large bonnet hanging down, almost covering her entire face. The late Gertrude Cato, a granddaughter of Mrs. Dalton, wrote notes to Professor Barrett Bryant of the University of Alabama in 1984 regarding her grandmother. Cato indicated that in church services Mrs. Dalton would become “happy” and wave her bonnet around, shouting “Glory hallelujah, I’m Saved!”

She died December 29, 1936 at the age of 92. Baptist minister Rev. Noel Twidwell,of Clubb, and Greenville Methodist Pastor, Rev. S.D. Bohnencamp, conducted the services at the Greenville Methodist Church on New Year’s Eve and she was buried in the Dalton-White cemetery on Lake Creek at rural Greenville. This was the same site of her arrest by Union forces some 72 years prior. Her late great grandson, Roy Bollinger of Piedmont, recalled the funeral possession crossing over, what he called, the “rickety and shaky” lower bridge at Old Greenville to Lake Creek. Mrs. Dalton was the last burial in the Dalton-White cemetery on Lake Creek. The local “Greenville Sun” paid tribute to Mrs. Dalton the week following her death.

Though many today would not agree with her politically, Sarah Pauline (White) Dalton was a pioneer of her time. She had her beliefs and stood firm on them. Her story has been published in 2006 in “Confederate Heroines: 120 Southern Women Convicted by Union Justice”, by Thomas P. Lowry; in 2010 in “Old Wayne: A Brit’s Memoir”, by Cletis Ellinghouse; and in a 2012 edition of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, magazine

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