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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tough times for the Confederacy in Missouri

General McCulloch
As winter set in for the first year of the Civil War, Brig.-Gen. Ben McCulloch, commanding the Arkansas forces in Missouri, wrote to J. P. Benjamin, the Confederate Acting Secretary of War:

"My forces are at present near the main road from Springfield to Fort Smith, the infantry and artillery in Arkansas, and three regiments of mounted men in this State. General Price has fallen back to Pineville, some 25 miles west of this. . .

"The Missouri force is getting weaker daily by men leaving for their homes. The time for which many of them enlisted will expire in a few days. Nothing but a battle within the next ten days will keep together over 4,000 or 5,000 out of the 13,000 they now have. This battle cannot be fought without the enemy should advance. For us to attack them in their present position would be to lose a battle. Our troops, being mostly mounted men, are unfit to attack a strong position or to be of great use in a general engagement with heavy forces.

The Missouri Army is composed of some 5,000 infantry and artillery, 8,000 horsemen, with all sorts of arms, and without discipline. This force, if possible, should be taken into the Confederate service and reorganized this winter. It is now under the control of politicians, who know not the value of discipline, and consequently can never make an army that would be but little better than a city mob. There is excellent material out of which to make an army in Missouri. They only want a military man for a general. . .

"As for myself, it would never to do place me in command of them. I have made myself very unpopular by speaking to them frequently about the necessity of order and discipline in their organizations. There is unfortunately but little cordiality of feeling between the two armies; hence it would not answer a good purpose to place any man now in either army in command of both."

Although McCulloch and Price had defeated the Union army at Wilson's Creek that summer, they did not like one another and their rivalry seriously hampered their cooperation. McCulloch's full letter can be read in the Official Records.

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