From Confederate Missouri


"What was the South fighting for anyway ?"

We must remember the majority of Southerners did not own slaves and most certainly did not fight so others could own them.  "The real answer is quite simple. The South was fighting because it was invaded." --Francis W. Springer

"What was the reason for the South to Secede ?"

 In general, the people in the South were mostly democrats that distrusted Lincoln who was the first Republican elected for the Presidency.  The general population believed that if Lincoln was elected he would wage a war upon the South. In 1858, democratic candidate, Stephan A. Douglas, proclaimed, "Mr. Lincoln advocated boldly and clearly a war of sections, a war of the North against the Slave States--a war of extermination to be continued relentlessly until the one or the other shall be subdued, and all the States shall either become free or become slave. "  While Lincoln denied that he would treat the South any different than Washington or Jefferson would have,  the people of the South had no trust in his words (many of the newpaper's of the South never printed Lincoln's rebuttal). Lincoln's inability for peaceful diplomatic resolution of the secession crisis, call for the invasion of the South, and support for Gen. Lyon's behavior in Missouri, only cemented the widely held belief that Douglas statement was correct (aka "tyrannical despot").  It is reasonable to assume that the bulk of  people wanted secession  simply out of fear of being "exterminated" by northern fanactics. For example one Iowa preacher during the late 1850's wrote in regard to the South: " I am for war, open war--a war of conquest and extermination, to be prosecuted in the spirit of Him who 'goes forth conquering and to conquer', and with weapons 'mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." After the John Brown episode, these kind of threats of mass murder were taken on a much more serious note, none more so than the Presidency of the United States.  States rights and tarriffs were also important reasons for the South to separate from the North.

The majority of Missouri slave holders were of unconditional Unionist sentiments. (source: James Neal Primm, "Lion of the Valley: St. Louis, Missouri") It is reported that Sen. Frank Blair convinced slave holders if Missouri joined the Confederacy, it would have been impossible for them to retrieve their runaway slaves (going to Illinois and Iowa) without remaining in Union and having the protection of the U.S. Constitution. Slave holders with slaves leaving the Confederacy and entering the United States would not be protected by the Constitution and would not be returned. The St. Louis Republican (25 May 1861) reported, "So long as we remain loyal, the General Government is bound... not only to respect, to maintain and defend our slave property."

The Missouri Battle flag bearing the latin cross were sewn by the ladies of New Orleans. 

Missouri Confederate Senator George Graham Vest  first served as Judge-Advocate on the staff of Gen. Sterling Price. Late in the war, Jan 12, 1865, he represented Missouri in the Confederate Congress. However, he is best known for his later service in the U.S. Senate, where he was largely responsible for his work in the preservation of Yellowstone National Park (1882). He was also a "champion" in the fight for rights for Native Americans. He advocated that they be entitled to US. citizenship and worked to improve their education. His last act as Senator in February of 1903, was a plea for Native American Civil Rights.

Maj. Wm. Clark Kennerly (nephew of Gen. Wm. Clark of "Lewis and Clark" fame) saved his "old friend" from  St. Louis, John Dent, when he faced execution after being taken for a spy in Alabama. He was really on a cotton buying trip, but being the brother of Julia Dent Grant (wife of Gen. U.S. Grant), raised their suspicions. Maj. Kennerly pleaded for his life and spared him from the gallows.

Missouri was a thorn in the side for Lincoln throughout the war. For the first year of the war, Sterling Price's army (in addition to other Confederate units)  held at bay over 50,000 Federal troops and prevented then from marching South to unite with Benj. Butler forces in New Orleans. "By the end of 1861, almost double that number of Federal troops was tied down in Missouri by Price's rebels."

A Confederate flag was flown at the secessionist headquarters at the Berthold mansion located at 5th and Pine in St. Louis. Basil Duke (later became General in Morgan's Cavalry) and Colton Greene were St. Louis men that spearheaded this. Duke was a former Union man, voting for Douglas in the 1860 presidential election but changed to pro secession after becoming convinced Lincoln intended to wage a war on the South.

According to St. Louis historian, James Neal Primm, ("Lion in the Valley") regardless of all the government  contracting, such as with Ead's ironworks shipyard, the war was a complete disaster for the city's economy. In addition, there was a deliberate discrimination in the city against southerners regardless of their personal sympathies. "St. Louis merchants of New England origins, because of their superior credibility with the Provost Marshal, suffered less than their rivals." Most the city's trade had been along the Mississippi river with the South and with the war much of this was terminated.

1860 Presidential election, Missourians voted for the two strongest Pro Union candidates: Douglas and Bell (Douglas winning by 429 votes). A vote for either Lincoln or Breckenridge was considered by many as disloyal to the Union and contrary to the maintenance of peace. The pro war Republicans of St. Louis dominated the city's election with Lincoln winning 9,483 to Douglas's 8,538, to Bell's 4,533, and Breckinridge's 544. Lincoln was widely believed, by democrats, to be in favor of a "war of annihilation" on the South which would ultimately cause the southern States to secede in reaction to his election.  Breckinridge voters were mainly those in favor of secession. Lincoln's sole victory in St. Louis was a reflection of the city's unique  population of recent German immigrants of Republican sentiments (known as "48er's", who arrived after the failed 1848 "Peasant  Revolution").

The Unionist Opposition and the Slavery Issue

Much of the popularity of the anti-slavery cause in the pro Republican/Free Soil ranks, was based upon anti-negro bigotry that sought to rid both slaves and black freemen from the State's soil. Strong racial prejudice was typical of most Americans from the nineteenth century and Lincoln's Republicans were no different. The Free Soil party was essentially a "free white labor party" with Sen. Frank Blair  receiving the Senate seat as the only Free Soil candidate to win from a slave State.  Blair, not surprisingly, believed blacks were, "found to be fatal to the interest of our race". 

Blair who campaigned for Lincoln, was asked by Lincoln's strategist to draft up a resolution that included, "The territories should be reserved for free white men or surrendered to the slaves and their masters." During his time in Congress, Blair  argued, "Freed blacks hold a place in this country which cannot be maintained ...Those who have fled to the North are most unwelcome visitors. The strong repugnance of the free white laborer to be yoked with the negro refugee, breeds an enmity between races, which must end in the expulsion of the latter." Presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln, fully agreed with Blair on his doctrine of colonization of blacks and even sent him to Illinois to make appearances on his behalf. 

Where would Blair send them ? Central America. Blair stated, "The Republicans propose to open new avenues of commerce, especially advantageous of the Southern States...by making colonies of the class obnoxious to them, as well as to the Northern States, by their presence, but, by their removal to the tropics, converting them to usefulness to their native States and the nation."  The Republican plan, endorsed by Lincoln,  would have been implemented had it not been for the opposition in the South against Federal coercion in it's institutions and State's rights. When it came to using force on the South, Lincoln received a bigger fight than he bargained for and ironically had to enlist blacks in the Union Army to help him win the fight.  The Emancipation proclamation, which freed no slaves in northern control, probably would never have been issued had it not been for the war, except as a Republican measure to remove the "obnoxious" slaves from their midst. In the "Old Northwest"  the Free Soil strategy worked well, evidenced by the low populations of African Americans that occupy the former territories of Kansas, Nebraska, and Dakotas.

Because "Yankees" are considered the "good guys" in schools across the State, such tarnished motives for ending slavery are never taught in the public schools. It is only justice to Southerners and African Americans that the true history of the ' War Between the States' ("Civil War") be told. The war significantly altered the future of slavery, each side eventually taking necessary progressive measures that were outside of their original expectations. Whoever would have won the war, slavery would have ended,  as the Confederate Congress committed itself to the creation of the Confederate States Colored Troops, modeled after the northern counterpart. (see Black Confederate fact sheet). When and if those 300,000 battle hardened black Confederate troops ever came home, they would not be mere slaves anymore, but fellow Confederate veterans. [source for information on Blair and Republican strategies, "Frank Blair: Lincoln's Conservative", by William E. Parrish; University of Missouri Press, 1998]

[Note: Following the war, Blair who served as a general in the Union Army, abandoned the Republican party, did an about face in regards to dealings with the South becoming a democrat who actively engaged in politics to restore the civil rights of former Confederate veterans. For this he won the friendship of many ex-Confederates, and became an ardent foe of his former  Republicans colleagues.]

At the Battle of Hartsville, during Gen. Marmaduke's 1863 Missouri raid, Col. John Wimer (former St. Louis Mayor) was killed on January 11th. During this same battle, his St. Louis friend, Col. Emmett McDonald was also killed. Both bodies were returned to St. Louis were they could be given Christian burial by their families. During the wake, the Yankee Provost Marshal (Franklin Dick) burst in among the grieving families, siezed the bodies and had them buried in a unmarked  grave in a potter's field. It was not until after the war, when the families discovered their whereabouts and had them reburied at Bellefontaine cemetery. It should be noted that Col. Emmett McDonald was one of the Confederate soldiers that protected the body of Union Gen. Nathaniel Lyon after the Battle of Wilson's Creek. Drawing his revolver, he threatened to shoot the first man that touched Lyon's corpse. It is regretful that the Yankees did not return the favor for such  gallant men as Colonels  McDonald and Wimer.

St. Louis Confederate General Meriwether Lewis Clark (1809-1881) was the son of Gen. William Clark (the famous "Lewis and Clark" explorer) and Julia Hancock. Meriwether, a graduate of West Point, also served in the US  Army during the Black Hawk War. Educated as a Civil Engineer and Architect, he was later appointed U.S. Surveyor General for Missouri. The St. Louis Theatre, which opened in 1837, was designed by Meriwether Lewis Clark and is considered the first genuine theater West of the Mississippi. Meriwether later served as Commandant of the Kentucky Military Institute. He is buried in Bellefontaine cemetery, St. Louis adjacent to his father, Gen. Wm. Clark's grave.

President Harry S. Truman on Oaths

"The Red Legs [Federals troops with red leggings] made people...sign loyalty oaths, too, and that was just a bunch of damn nonsense as it always has been and always will be. You can't force people to be loyal by making them sign a piece of paper, and it was the experience of my family that made me be against loyalty oaths. And I have always been, was when I was Presdent and before and am now."
Two U.S. Senators from Missouri also represented Missouri in the Confederate Congress. Their names were Waldo Porter Johnson and George Graham Vest.  Sen. Vest, the better known of the two, is most noted for his work in the preservation of Yellowstone National Park, his support for the rights of the American Indian and his defense of "man's best friend", the dog.

"Aura Lea"

(1861) Words by W. W. Fosdick, Esq.
Music by George R. Poulton

When the Blackbird in the Spring,
On the willow tree
Sat and rock'd, I heard his sing,
Singing Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid of golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.

CHORUS 2 times -- 'f' and 'p'
Aura Lea (Aura Lea)
Maid of golden hair; (of golden hair;)
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.

In thy blush the rose was born,
  Music, when you spake,
Through thine azure eye of morn,
  Sparkling, seemed to break.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
  Birds of crimson wing
Never song have sung to me
  As in that sweet spring.

(CHORUS 2 times)

Aura Lea! the bird may flee,
  The willow's golden hair
Swing through winter fitfully,
  On the stormy air.
Yet if thy blue eyes I see,
  Gloom will soon depart;
For to see, sweet Aura Lea
  Is sunshine through the heart.

(CHORUS 2 times)

When the mistletoe was green,
  Midst the winter's snows,
Sunshine in thy face was seen,
  Kissing lips of rose.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
  Take my golden ring;
Love and light return to thee,
  And swallows with the spring.

(CHORUS 2 times)

Background MIDI file, "Auralee" was produced by Barry Taylor.
Copyright 1998, Sterling Price Camp No. 145, Sons of Confederate Veterans