Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Civil War Missouri enters a new phase

In 1861, things looked good for the Confederate cause in Missouri. The victories at Wilson's Creek and Lexington were heralded as a sign of things to come. The optimism didn't last. Soon the Confederate forces were pushed into the southwestern part of the state, where they stayed for the rest of the year. At the battle of Pea Ridge in March, 1862, the rebels were solidly defeated in northwest Arkansas and hopes of conquering Missouri for the South began to fade.

With attention shifted to New Orleans, which had just fallen to the Union, and the slow Union creep up the Mississippi River, those rebels still in Missouri must have felt somewhat forgotten. That didn't stop them from fighting, however. Guerrillas and small units of regular troops skirmished with Union troops regularly.

In the first three weeks of May, there were skirmishes at Bloomfield (twice), French Point (several times), Center Creek (several times), Big Creek, Carthage, Hog Island, Richfield, and Santa Fe Road. And these are only the skirmishes that made it into the Official Records! Several smaller ones were probably not reported, plus the numerous cases of individual violence would not have been reported except in local newspapers.

The war was far from over.

The above drawing is by Alfred Waud and is captioned "On skirmish line Officer turning to look at a dying soldier". This hasty sketch immediately gripped me when I was looking through the Library of Congress collection. It looks like it was drawn from life and is more expressive than many more polished works of art.


  1. I wonder how long the skirmishes continued after the war ended?

    1. Several months after the main Confederate armies surrendered. There were flareups of sectarian violence for another 30 years.

  2. I love seeing these sketches from long ago. They're like time machines transporting us to another place and time:)

  3. The sketch reminds me of a line from the Elton john song "Grey Seal" (lyrics by Bernie Taupin):
    “I read books and draw life from the eye
    All my life is drawings from the eye”


Got something to say? Feel free! No anonymous comments allowed, though. Too many spammers and haters on the Internet.