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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pressed Into Service

During the Civil War, especially during the early stages of the war, most military service was voluntary. However, both sides instituted drafts later in the war, the Confederacy in 1862 and the Union in 1863. In Missouri, Union service became mandatory with the formation of the Enrolled Missouri Militia in 1862. This, of course, resulted in a number of reluctant warriors (sometimes called Pawpaw Militia) who might have nursed Southern leanings but who joined the EMM in order to comply with the law. Occasionally, too, men of fighting age were simply compelled to serve, under a threat of violence, without being formally conscripted. This was the case with Martin V. Hammonds, or so he claimed.
Hammonds took his team and wagon and traveled from his home in Barton County, Missouri, to Elm Springs, Arkansas, in the summer of 1862 to move his brother and his brother’s family north. His brother, Hammonds said, was a Union man and wanted to get away from Confederate Arkansas. While at Elm Springs, Hammonds was arrested by some Rebels and told that he must enter Rebel service or they would kill him.
Hammonds joined the Rebels but, according to his story, deserted at his first opportunity, which occurred after about two months of service. On or about October 1, he was arrested by Union authorities on suspicion of being in arms against the United States and taken to Springfield, Missouri, where he gave a statement on October 22. He said he was a Union man and always had been, that he had not taken an oath, but that he was willing to do so at any time and was also willing to enlist in the Union army and “fight for the Government of the United States.”
Hammonds’s story is partially confirmed by Confederate records, which show that he joined Colonel Lewis’s 16th Missouri Infantry Volunteers, CSA on August 10, 1862. However, his date of desertion is given as October 21st, not October 1. We also learn from his Confederate service record that his place of desertion was Benton County, Missouri.
Hammonds’s case was turned over to the Springfield provost marshal at the time he gave his statement, but apparently no formal charges were ever filed against him.

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