The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History

By Louis S. Gerteis | Go to book overview

Chapter Two
“FORMIDABLE PREPARATIONS … BY THE ENEMY”

As Claiborne Jackson and Sterling Price left St. Louis to make their way back to Jefferson City, they must have recognized that their ability to control Missouri’s great city had eluded them. St. Louis was now the hub of Federal authority in the Trans-Mississippi West and in the Mississippi valley. Crossing the Gasconade River, Jackson and Price returned to the rural central Missouri valley where they made their homes. The Kentucky-born governor owned a plantation near Fayette in Howard County. Price, a Virginia native, prospered as a tobacco planter in Keytesville, Chariton County. Both men were prosperous slaveholders and prominent leaders of the proslavery Democracy in Missouri. Price had won election as governor of the state in 1852, and Jackson had won election to that office in 1860. Their proslavery views were well-known, but as yet, neither man had openly avowed secession. Jackson ran for governor as a Unionist Democrat in 1860, and Price presided over the state convention in February and March 1861 and joined with delegates who called for compromises to maintain the Union and preserve the peace. But Jackson and Price both aggressively promoted military preparedness in the state, and this suggests that eventually they intended to harness the resources of Missouri to the Confederate cause. St. Louis, for the time being, was firmly under Federal control. But the rest of the state—particularly the central Missouri valley—had much to offer the South in manpower and materials.

Returning to Jefferson City, Jackson and Price knew that Lyon intended to attack the Missouri State Guard as quickly as he could. As they contemplated the harsh realities of war, Lyon was by no means their only concern. Free states bordered Missouri on the east and north and the soon-to-be free state of Kansas bordered Missouri on the west. Under the circumstances, it would be difficult to maintain a significant state military presence north of the Missouri River. But it would take time for Federal forces in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas to exert any influence in Missouri. Jackson and Price understood that they needed to act quickly, but they also knew that the central Missouri counties with the largest concentrations of slaves and slaveholders would be their principal source of support. With the collapse of the Price-Harney agreement, Jackson and Price needed to

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The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - "Your First Allegiance" 8
  • Chapter Two - "Formidable Preparations … by the Enemy" 32
  • Chapter Three - "In the Valley of Wilson’s Creek" 54
  • Chapter Four - "Tell My Wife That I Died like a Brave Man for Missouri" 99
  • Chapter Five - "There Is No Rebel Flag Now Flying in Missouri" 132
  • Chapter Six - "He Saw the Rebellion Vanishing before Him" 179
  • Conclusion 205
  • Notes 209
  • Index 233
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