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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri Pt 4

As promised in the last entry...
An unauthorized campaign / raid

The Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) was never designed to be the point of the spear.  It was a part-time force that was mainly used for guarding key points or responding to local emergencies, sort of a Home Guard like what Britain had in WWII.  They were also used for local guides for other military columns.  This was the case with the 68th EMM under Col. James Lindsay out of the 'Boothill' region of Missouri.  Col. Lindsay had recently been used to repair some local roads & bridges as well as providing guides to Brig. Gen. John W. Davidson's "Army of Southeast Missouri."  This duty was not very interesting to Col. James Lindsay, so he decided to be more pro-active with his command.  So on January 27, 1863, he lead his command of 140 men and two home-made cannons manufactured from a local forge, against Bloomfield, MO, which is the county seat of Stoddard County.  This action was not consulted with the regional Union authorities.  In Bloomfield was a rebel force of six companies of Col. William L. Jeffers' newly raised regiment under Captains James A Cooper, Jesse Ellison, and other unnamed officers.  Never expecting a raid by the EMM, the rebel officers broke and fled.  Col. Lindsay's men captured 52 rebels and there were no deaths on either side.  

The mutiny 
Post-Civil War group photograph, circa 1890, of either a Grand Army of the Republic encampment or a reunion of the 6th Missouri Cavalry (US)
Bloomfield, MO, was garrisoned by several different Union formations throughout the war.  In the fall of 1863, the garrison in Bloomfield was the 2nd Battalion of the 6th MO Cavalry (Co's A, D, E, & L) and the Battery E, 2nd MO Artillery.  In command of this garrison was Major Samuel Montgomery of the 6th MO Cav.  

Lt. Herman J Huiskamp, 6th MO Cav, Co. D, early 1863

By late October, there was much ill feeling about Maj. Montgomery by his men.  Several of the officers were starting to believe that Maj. Montgomery was going to betray the garrison to rebels.  There was several legitimate reasons for them to be concern that the Maj. Montgomery's loyalties might be questionable.  1) He was allowing returning Confederate soldiers to return to their homes without swearing an oath or posting a bond to not take up arms against the Union; 2) He was associating with locals of south sympathies, including being romantically involved with one; 3) He spoke harshly when referring to President Lincoln, Missouri Governor Gamble, or other noted northern leaders; 4) He also allowed the sales of contraband items to "notorious secessionists".  

On the night of October 21, 1863, several of the officers finally decided to take action against Maj. Montgomery.  So on the morning of the 22nd, they arrested Maj. Montgomery while having the whole artillery battery drawn up and aimed the post headquarters and placed armed guards with the telegraph operator to prevent a message for help to be sent.  Later that morning the mutiny finally cooled off and everyone stood down.  

Two captains and two lieutenants of the 6th MO Cav. and 2nd Lt. V.B.S. Reber of the 2nd MO Art. were arrested for the mutiny, tried, and then discharged with dishonorable discharges.  However with the invention of radical northern leaders, including President Lincoln, Gov. Gamble reinstated the officers from the 6th MO Cav., but not Lt. Reber as he was determined to be the ringleader of the mutiny.  Maj. Montgomery was not questioned by authorities regarding to the mutineers' charges of dis-loyalties.  Within weeks of the mutiny, Maj. Montgomery did married the local pro-southern lady. But things had become so critical with the morale of the garrison of Bloomfield, that the 6th MO Cav. was relocated to Pilot Knob, MO, and another unit was relocated to Bloomfield.  

But the story does not end there.  In November, the Union command had become aware of a large Confederate force from Arkansas might move on Bloomfield and a warning went out to the new garrison in Bloomfield of 250 men and two small mountain howitzers under Captain Valentine Preuitt of the 1st MO Cav.  On November 29, Confederate Col. Lee Crandall of Arkansas, with a newly formed unit of 350 men, surrounded the town of Bloomfield.  Capt. Preuitt fell back from their fortifications outside of town to quick barricades around the courthouse in the town square.  The Union fired a few rounds from their howitzers at the rebel positions in the surrounding hills and forced them to seek cover.  About an hour later, Col. Crandall sent a request for the Union forces to surrender or be fired upon.  Capt. Preuitt replied that they can open fire whenever they pleased and the Union troops would be ready to receive it, then he open fired with his artillery again.  The rebels decided not to attack but to lay around the town and wait for reinforcements.  On the morning of Nov. 30, the Union received reinforcements from two forces, Major Josephus Robbins and two companies of the 2nd MSM Cav. from Cape Girardeau, MO, and the other force from Pilot Knob of the 2nd Battalion of the 6th MO Cav. under...Major Samuel Montgomery.  As Col. Crandall realized that now the Union had the upper hand, he retreated to the St. Francis River on the Arkansas border.  

The senior ranking Union officer now in Bloomfield was Maj. Montgomery.  Allegedly, he suffered a case timidity fearing that the rebels would be laying a trap for the pursuing Union forces.  So he only allowed Capt. Preuitt's force of 250 men to purse the retreating rebels, while he held the remaining 400 men & two howitzers in Bloomfield.  After several hours of arguing with Maj. Robbins, he finally decided to use the rest of the command to pursue the retreating rebels.  However it was too late and the rebels slipped through the Union lines back into Arkansas. 

The steamer named HOPE
CITY OF ALTON in St. Louis in the 1860's.  The HOPE was about 50' shorter.
The HOPE was a side-wheeler steamer of 238' in length and weighing in at 595-ton.  It was used during the Civil War to run supplies up and down the Mississippi River out of St. Louis, MO.  Sometime during her port in St. Louis, a rebel saboteur placed combustibles in one of her staterooms.  Then on Sept. 12, 1863, there was a fire almost got out of control, but the steamer was saved.  Shortly afterwards, the HOPE sailed down to Cairo, IL, carrying government supplies destined to go further south, probably to Memphis, TN.  While in Cairo, the rebel saboteur Robert Louden, who successfully destroyed the RUTH on Aug 4th, 1863, also placed an incendiary bomb on the HOPE.  About 5 p.m., on Sept. 16th, near Lucas Bend just a few miles south of New Madrid, MO, the incendiary device caught the HOPE on fire.  The crew was able to get the HOPE to shore and get the cargo of government horses and some of the ship's furniture off the ship with no lost of life, but lost the 1500 sacks of oats and 84 bales of hay on board.  By scuttling the HOPE, the water successfully put out the fire in the hull of the ship.  The crew worked until midnight pumped out the water and sail the HOPE back up to St. Louis.  
Lucas Bend should be somewhere between the star fort west of New Madrid and before the next fort on the map downstream.
But the story of the HOPE does not end there.  The HOPE was built on the hull of a previous steamer, the T.L. McGILL.  The T.L. McGILL was partially destroyed by a fire in St. Louis on Oct. 27, 1862.  The owners just replaced the upper structure on the hull.  Due to legal issues, the owners of the HOPE were forced to rename the HOPE back to the T.L. McGILL in 1864.  The T.L. McGILL survived the war only to be lost in 1871 in Memphis...due to a fire.

And as Paul Harvey would say, "and now, you know... the rest of the story"



cedric said...

I like these historical information, even if I don't play ACW.

Sapper Joe said...


I am glad that you are enjoy them.