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Saturday, November 5, 2011

An interesting Civil War letter about treatment of civilians

Here's an interesting letter from the Official Records that shows how quickly the war was degenerating in Missouri. Union officers were threatening to burn towns, rebel bushwhackers derailed civilian trains, and now this. The Confederate Captain Freeman mentioned in the letter was the object of a large Union manhunt. He got away.

HEADQUARTERS POST, Rolla, Mo., November 4, 1861.

Colonel GREUSEL,
Commanding Southern Expedition:

COLONEL: If the men who are away from home are in the rebel army, or if their families cannot give a good account of themselves or their whereabouts, take all they have got. They have aided and abetted Freeman in all ways, and most of them are now in the rebel army. You had not been gone long before the enemy were signaled from this vicinity by firing and beacon lights. They could only guess your destination, as no one knew it except you and myself.

Keep account of everything you take and who it is taken from. I think your idea is a good one about dividing your forces. Let the infantry, on returning, visit the Pineys and look out for affairs there. Be careful in taking contraband negroes that their owners are aiding the enemy.

Your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding Post at Rolla, Mo.


  1. It's funny how we learned in school that Kansas was the victim of so much partisan violence during the Civil War when in fact the citizens of Missouri suffered far more. It is (was) true that the victors write the history books - we're fortunate the truth is still available in blogs like this.

  2. Well, Kansas didn't get off easy! Quantrill saw to that. Missouri did have it worse than Kansas or indeed most states.


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