Campaign for Wilson's Creek: The Fight for Missouri Begins

Campaign for Wilson's Creek: The Fight for Missouri Begins

by Jeffrey L. Patrick
     
 

In early 1861, most Missourians hoped they could remain neutral in the upcoming conflict between North and South. In fact, a popularly elected state convention voted in March of that year that "no adequate cause" existed to compel Missouri to leave the Union. Instead, Missourians saw themselves as ideologically centered between the radical notions of

Overview


In early 1861, most Missourians hoped they could remain neutral in the upcoming conflict between North and South. In fact, a popularly elected state convention voted in March of that year that "no adequate cause" existed to compel Missouri to leave the Union. Instead, Missourians saw themselves as ideologically centered between the radical notions of abolition and secession.

By that summer, however, the situation had deteriorated dramatically. Because of the actions of politicians and soldiers such as Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson and Union General Nathaniel Lyon, Missourians found themselves forced to take sides.

Campaign for Wilson's Creek is a fascinating story of high-stakes military gambles, aggressive leadership, and lost opportunities. It is also a tale of unique military units, untried but determined commanders, colorful volunteers, and professional soldiers. The first major campaign of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River guaranteed that Missourians would be engaged in a long, cruel civil war within the larger, national struggle.

Editorial Reviews

Eclectic Homeschool Online

"What is so inviting about the entire series is the depth and length to which Civil War Campaign and Commanders Series writers go to tell more than just battlefield statistics."
Empire Books

"An excellent series [that] should be in every Texas school!"
Civil War News

"The McWhiney Foundation Press provides an alternative to low- cost fluff with the Civil War Campaigns and Commanders Series."
On Point: The Journal of Army History

"The narrative is written in clear and concise style...a good introduction to the subject for the general reader...""

— Gustav Person, Installation Historian, Fort Belvoir, VA

From the Publisher

"Patrick provides an excellent overview of the campaign and battle of Wilson's Creek, the second major Confederate victory of the Civil War. Patrick's extensive research, use of lively quotations, and strong narrative combine for a compelling story." -Wilson Piston

"This manuscript's greatest strength, is the richness of its first-hand accounts and its multitude of quotes by participants themselves." -John C. Waugh

"This is an excellent manuscript to be included in the Campaign & Commanders series." -Steven E. Woodworth

The Campaign for Wilson's Creek is an interesting story of a battle that had a direct and lasting influence on a neighboring state. For Civil War buffs, it is a necessary addition to your library. −Jerry Turner, Mexia News

On Point: The Journal of Army History - Gustav Person

"The narrative is written in clear and concise style...a good introduction to the subject for the general reader...""

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781893114555
Publisher:
State House/McWhiney Foundation Press
Publication date:
08/31/2011
Series:
Civil War Campaigns and Commanders Series , #28
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

On the morning of June 11, 1861, Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon strode through the Planters’ House Hotel in Saint Louis, accompanied by Maj. Horace Conant, his aide, and US Representative Francis “Frank” P. Blair. The trio were on their way to meet Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson; Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, the commander of the Missouri State Guard; and Thomas L. Snead, one of Jackson’s aides. The Planters’ House Conference, as it came to be called, was a last desperate effort to prevent Missouri from sliding into full-scale civil war.

            Even though the Missouri legislature had authorized Governor Jackson to raise and organize a state militia, the governor agreed in the meeting to disband the pro-Southern Missouri State Guard units that had been formed since early the previous month; to guarantee the protection of pro-Union Missourians; and to prevent Confederate troops from entering the state. Lyon and Blair were asked in return to muster out the pro-Union Home Guard companies they had organized and to guarantee that Federal troops did not occupy any properties beyond those they now held. Price supported the agreement.
            Although initially quiet, the passionate Lyon soon entered the fray. He doubted Governor Jackson’s desire for peace and questioned whether Missouri’s Unionists could be protected with or without the State Guard. The idea that Jackson could prevent Confederate forces from entering Missouri proved to Lyon that the governor was openly negotiating with those in rebellion against the Union. The general could tolerate no one dictating terms to the national government, telling him what a soldier of the US Army could or could not do. Brigadier General Lyon was negotiating from a position of power, and he saw an opportunity to use that power to defeat the governor and his supporters.
            After four or five hours of discussion, Lyon had had enough. Although still seated, he spoke slowly, deliberately and, as Snead remembered, “with a peculiar emphasis” to the three Missourians. “‘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’ (rising as he said this, and pointing in turn to every one in the room) ‘see you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and every man, woman, and child in the State, dead and buried.’” He then turned to Governor Jackson and ended the meeting with these chilling words: “This means war. In an hour one of my officers will call for you and conduct you out of my lines.” Lyon then marched out of the room, followed by Major Conant, leaving Representative Blair to bid farewell to the others.

Meet the Author


JEFFREY L. PATRICK is the National Park Service librarian at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. He is the author of numerous articles on various aspects of American military history, and is the editor/coeditor of two Civil War diaries and a World War I period memoir. He lives in Republic, Missouri.

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