Holcombe's 1883 History of Greene County, Missouri, in discussing the months leading up to the Civil War, observes that people were very fickle in their political sentiments--that Unionists one week became secessionists the next and vice versa. This observation applies not just to the people of Greene County but to people throughout Missouri and probably northern Arkansas as well. The number of ardent Unionists or ardent secessionists was relatively small. Most people were somewhere in the middle, and they were guided not so much by political beliefs as they were by impulses of self-preservation. A vast number of people (and I don't mean this as a criticism) were willing to shift with whichever way the wind was blowing. When Union troops were in their area in force, they were Union sympathizers; when Confederate forces were in control, they became Confederate sympathizers. This state of things was truer at the very beginning of the war and during the months leading up to its outbreak than it was later in the war. A lot of people who would have preferred to stay neutral were forced to choose sides at some point. However, even later in the war, the overriding principle for many people was simple--how they could best survive the war. This partially explains why the people of Missouri, who were predominantly conservative Unionists at the start of the war, became even more Unionist in sympathy as the war wore on and it became increasingly clear that a Southern victory was a longshot.