Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thirsty Teamsters at Cuba

On Friday, July 10, 1863, a Union wagon train, escorted by a detachment of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, was traveling along the Springfield Road between St. Louis and Rolla. It stopped at David Curtis's store in Cuba, Missouri, and the teamsters asked for whiskey. The clerk, Joseph Martin, told the men that he couldn't sell them any because the proprietor was not there. (Curtis had a special permit to sell liquor, but apparently only he could sell it.) The teamsters grew angry and told Martin they would have the whiskey one way or another.
After dark on the same day, someone cut a window sash out of the store, broke in, and took one or more kegs of whiskey, some tobacco, and a few other items. The entire haul was valued at about $30. The same evening some men also called at the home of a local man named Cundiff and took a gray mare.
On July 13, James R. Coleman of Cuba wrote to the Union's district headquarters at Rolla outlining what had happened and saying that he was sure the teamsters were the ones who had broken into the store and stole the horse. Several other men attested to the facts as outlined in Coleman's letter and seconded his opinion that the teamsters were the guilty parties.
Brigadier General Thomas A. Davies, commanding the Rolla district, forwarded the complaint to the Department of the Missouri's headquarters at St. Louis. He included a statement vouching for David Curtis as an upright citizen and loyal Union man and suggesting that the matter warranted investigation.
Upon receipt of Davies's communication, Major General John M. Schofield, commanding the Department of the Missouri, ordered an investigation in late July. About a month later, Union authorities at Rolla reported back to Schofield that, after an inquiry into the matter, "nothing could be discovered" to substantiate the charges against the teamsters. The chief wagon master at Rolla had testified that none of his teamsters were engaged in the robbery of Mr. Curtis's store and that Mr. Cundiff's horse had been taken by the 2nd Wisconsin escort, not by the teamsters. He added, too, that the horse was found to have a "U.S." brand on it, suggesting that it was government property to begin with that had been unlawfully acquired by Cundiff. The chief quartermaster said the horse had later been "disposed of" by the escort "on the road." Thus the investigation into the theft of whiskey at Cuba was discontinued.

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