Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, 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 sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

General Rosecrans's General Orders No. 107

On June 28, 1864, General William Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri, issued General Orders No. 107 in response to what he called the "plundering, robbery and arson" that prevailed throughout Missouri, despite the fact that no significant battle had occurred in the state in well over a year. The general's aim was to eradicate "those who, in violation to any law of war and humanity, under the title of Confederate soldiers, guerrillas and bushwhackers, invade, plunder and murder the peaceful inhabitants" of the state. The order called for all citizens throughout the state who desired peace, regardless of political sentiment, to unite for this purpose. The citizens were to call township and county meetings to elect committees of loyal men who would work directly with Union authorities in giving information and advice to help Union soldiers combat the guerrillas. The order also called for the creation of militia companies made up of men specially selected from the already existing Enrolled Missouri Militia. (This force was shortly afterwards given the name Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia.)
Citizens throughout Missouri promptly answered Rosecrans's call, as meetings were held in virtually every county, if not every county. Some of the meetings, however, were not without controversy. For instance, on July 16 a Radical Republican wrote to a St. Louis newspaper from Springfield complaining that the Radicals had been virtually excluded from the Greene County meeting held earlier that day. The letter writer, who signed himself "Pro Bono Publico," called the meeting a fraud that had been perpetuated upon the loyal people of the county by Copperheads, Peace Democrats (who favored McClellan in the upcoming election), and other conservative Union men such as John S. Phelps, who had called the meeting and acted as its chairman. The correspondent said that despite the fact that the meeting was supposedly a countywide meeting, only a few hours' notice of it had been given and that it had been packed by men who regarded Radicals "as worse than rebels." It was strictly a partisan meeting, the letter writer said, which was exactly what General Rosecrans had suggested it should not be.
The correspondent concluded, "The meeting was not, I think, participated in by more than thirty or forty persons. All we ask is to give us timely notice and fair play, and if our Pawpaw friends in this county can out vote us at a public meeting, then we will let them have the benefit of the victory, and not until then."
Radical Republicanism, of course, was on the upswing in Missouri (and elsewhere) by this stage of the Civil War and would soon come to dominate politics in the state. So, the angry letter writer probably had the last laugh after all.


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