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.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Trouble in the Cherokee Nation

I recently ran onto an interesting newspaper article in the August 8, 1861 issue of the St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican. Bearing the same title that I've given this post, it was the reprint of a brief article that had appeared shortly before in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and the Appeal, in turn, was citing an article that had appeared in the Fort Smith (Arkansas) Times. The Appeal reported that "Montgomery, the notorious brigand," had arrived on the western frontier and begun "fortifying himself in the Cherokee Nation" just west of the Missouri and Arkansas borders. Specifically, he had reportedly stolen cattle from the Cherokees and killed four of them. In response to the invasion, Stand Watie had sent to Tahlequah for ten kegs of gunpowder but had thus far received only two. The Appeal said there was much excitement in the Nation and that a large number of Pin Indians, previously allied with the North, had gone over to the South. (Some of the Pins later changed back to the North.) "It will be bad day's business for this skulking Guerilla if he should venture too near the 'bowie knife' boys under Benj. McCulloch in northwestern Arkansas."
What I mainly found interesting about this brief article is its pro-Southern slant, a perspective that researchers of the Civil War in Missouri like myself seldom see. Nearly all the surviving Missouri papers from the time had a pro-Union bias, because the Southern sympathizing press in the state was suppressed early in the war. In fact, had this incident occurred later in the war, it's doubtful any of the St. Louis newspapers would have reprinted (or been allowed to reprint) such a pro-Southern story as this without an accompanying statement of ridicule or satire. No such ridicule accompanied this article, but, of course, the position of the Appeal was certainly not endorsed either. No Northern newspaper, including the relatively conservative Missouri Republican, would ever have referred to James Montgomery, who was commissioned a colonel in Senator Jim Lane's Kansas Brigade about the time of his raid into the Cherokee Nation, as a "notorious brigand" or "skulking Guerilla," although that, of course, is how most Southern-sympathizing Missourians saw him.

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