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Confederate States Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch, having won a victory Aug. 10, 1861,
at Wilson’s Creek, Mo., issued a proclamation
to the people of Missouri Aug. 12. He asked them to pick a side. “Missouri must
now take her position, be it North or South,” he wrote.
Missouri, a border state, supplied troops (nearly 110,000 to the North and 40,000
to the South) and equipment to both sides. Separate state governments represented
each side during the war, and both the Union and Confederacy considered Missouri theirs.
Initially, Missouri tried to stay neutral by remaining in the Union but not contributing
men or supplies. After Wilson’s Creek, Union Gen. John C. Fremont imposed martial
law, but the remnants of the elected government voted to secede.
The state suffered from its own internal war, in addition to the larger one. “Conflict
in Missouri was characterized by savage guerilla warfare that led to the destruction
of entire towns,” writes Michael O. Varhola in Life
in Civil War America.
Learn more about Missouri in the Civil War in Varhola’s book and at
the state’s sesquicentennial website.
Also, the free Missouri Digital Heritage (one of our 101
Best Websites for genealogy) has a Civil
War section with several collections of digitized records, newspapers and research
guides that’ll help you trace ancestors of the era and walk in their shoes.
Get research guidance for Civil War service members from Missouri and elsewhere in
our Family Tree University course Civil
War Research: Find Your Ancestors in the War Between the States, with instructor
Diana Crisman Smith. The next session starts Aug. 29. (You can use code FTU0811 to
get 20 percent off tuition.)