Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks 'story telling' history professor Jim Pasley continues with the third installment of his series of essays commemorating the Civil War

Marvin Schulteis (left), political science and law instructor, with Jim Pasley (right), the 'story telling' history professor
This article appeared in the Sept. 23rd edition of the Lake Sun newspaper.

Lesson 3: Bloody battle leads into secession and creation of an exiled state government

To help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, we asked Columbia College history professor Jim Pasley, also known as the ‘story telling’ teacher to give us a little more insight into the history of the war.

Read Lesson 1

Read Lesson 2
Read Lesson 4

Read Lesson 5

Lake Sun
Sept. 23, 2011
By Jim Pasley, Columbia College – Lake of the Ozarks
In my last article we discussed the defeat of the Missouri State Guard by Union forces at the battle of Boonville, Missouri. As you may recall, the Missouri State Guard was under the leadership of Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson and former Governor, now Commander of the State Militia, Sterling Price. The Union forces were under the command of General Nathaniel Lyon. Having achieved victory over the State Guard in Booneville, General Lyon now stopped all river traffic and Union forces now took control of all major crossings. By doing this, General Lyon divided the state in half leaving many pro southern sympathizers stranded north of the river. He then took control of the railroads and called in Union troops from Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas.
The influx of these troops, along with control of the river and railroads, forced Governor Jackson and the State Militia to flee into southwest, Missouri with General Lyon in hot pursuit. What General Lyon did not know was that as Governor Jackson fled south, he was extremely successful in recruiting Missouri boys to join up with the militia. By the time he reached Springfield, Missouri, the Missouri State Guard had swelled to a force of 5200 men. In Springfield, the Missouri State Guard was joined by 2700 Confederate troops under Brigadier General Benjamin McCullough and 2200 men from the Arkansas State Brigade under General Peace. 
So, Union General Lyon is pursuing what he thinks is a force of only 1500 to 2000 men. On August 10, 1861, in the early morning hours, General Lyon moved his forces to attack those of the Missouri State Guard just outside town. He had been provided intelligence that the State guard was camped along Wilson’s creek. They headed out at 4 am and even covered their wagon wheels with blankets to prevent any noise that might foil their surprise attack.
At about 5:00 a.m., the Union force attacked. The Missouri State Guard and Confederate troops were caught by surprise. Lyon's force overran the enemy camps and took the high ground at the crest of a ridge which would become known as "Bloody Hill." Early Union hopes for a quick victory were foiled, however, when the artillery of the Arkansas State Brigade opened fire and stopped the advance, which gave General Price's Missouri State Guard time to organize lines on the south slope of the hill. Union General Lyon quickly organized a line on the crest of Bloody Hill, from which he tried to launch counterattacks but was unsuccessful. Price was in command to this sector of the Confederate army and launched a series of frontal and flank attacks but was also unsuccessful. The two forces then slugged it out until late that morning.
Eventually, things started to shift in the South's favor. Lyon became the first Union general to be killed in the war; he was shot in the heart on Bloody Hill, at about 9:30 a.m., Although the Union forces held the high ground atop the hill, Union supplies were low and the rank and file were ready to give up and fall back to Springfield. The Union forces had already fought off three separate Confederate charges. Ammunition and men were nearly exhausted, so the decision was made to retreat.
The casualties were about equal on both sides—1,317 Union and 1,230 Missouri State Guard, Confederate, and Arkansas Brigade. Even though the south won the battle, they were to worn out and too bloodied to pursue the Union forces who retreated all the way back to Rolla, Missouri. General Price wanted to pursue the Union force immediately but McCulloch refused. McCullough said “I would have just as much luck taking my force to Boston as Jefferson City.” The problem being that the Confederacy was well aware that Missouri had voted to stay in the Union when they voted for Governor Jackson who said he would not secede.  
So now our little Missouri fighting force was in a real pickle. We have fought and killed Union forces and the Confederacy has stated they won’t support us! This being the case, on October 30, 1861, the Missourians under Price and Jackson formally joined the Confederate cause by holding a meeting of the state legislature in Neosho, Missouri. There, they passed a resolution voting in favor of secession and named Jackson, Governor of the Confederate State of Missouri. There is still question today as to whether this was legal since all members of the legislature were not present for the vote. General Price now headed back north with only the Missouri State Guard to continue the fight. Governor Jackson headed south with the politicians and established a Missouri state government in exile in Marshall, Texas.
In my next article we will follow the Missouri State Guard into the Battle of Lexington and introduce some folks that all Missourians are familiar with. William Clarke Quantrill, Jesse James, and Cole Younger to name a few.


Les Toalson said...

Links to 'Lessons' 1 and 2 would be great in order to follow the story line.

Thank-you for doing the research and writing this piece.