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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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News of 150 Years Ago—November/December 1862


November/December 1862

The army command complained that officers and men were carrying too much baggage on campaign. Sort of like some reenactors.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 1, 1862.


ST. LOUIS, Oct. 30, 1862.

The following extract from the orders of the General-in-Chief is re-published for the guidance of troops in this District:

The attention of all officers, and especially of Commanders of Departments and Army Corps, is called to the absolute necessity of reducing the baggage trains of troops in the field. The mobility of our armies is destroyed by the vast trains which attend them, and which they are required to guard. This evil requires a prompt remedy….

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Amid all the war news, the DEMOCRAT still found space for the occasional humorous piece.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 5, 1862.

Humor of Soldier-Life.

A private soldier, by the name of Richard Lee, was taken before the magistrates of Glasgow for playing cards during divine service. The account of it is thus given in the English journal:

“Sergeant commanded the soldiers at the church, and when the parson had read the prayers he took the text. Those who had a bible took it out, but this soldier had neither bible nor common prayer book; but pulling out a pack of cards, he spread them out before him. He first looked at one card and then another. The sergeant of the company saw him and said:

“‘Richard, put up the cards; this is no place for them.’

“‘Never mind that,’ said Richard.

“‘When the service was over, the constable took Richard a prisoner, and brought him before the Mayor.

“‘Well,’ says the Mayor, ‘what have you brought the soldier here for?’

“‘For playing cards in church.’

“‘Well, soldier, what have you to say for yourself?’

“‘Much, sir, I hope.’…

Click here to read the complete article.


The DEMOCRAT had always favored Lincoln’s emancipation policy, even supporting in its columns a proposal to include Missouri under the Emancipation Proclamation. When the conservative faction of the Missouri Republican Party, led by Congressman and General Frank Blair, Jr., put forward an anti-emancipationist nominee for Congress in 1862, the DEMOCRAT supported an emancipationist ticket instead. The emancipationist ticket won, and the DEMOCRAT exulted.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 5, 1862.


We exult. We rejoice with exceeding joy. Much as we have reason to congratulate ourselves on personal grounds, we have far more to boast of in the triumph of our principles. Who now will pretend to deny that there is a radical sentiment in St. Louis? Who now will claim that the proclamation of the President has not been vindicated upon slave soil, in the magnificent indorsement it has received in the Queen City of the West? The spirit of a people aspiring to freedom has received a splendid exemplification in the unprecedented victory we have won….

Click here to read the complete article.


The DEMOCRAT routinely posted reports about activities of Union units in southeast Missouri. This report mentions an officer whose name will appear in more articles later in the war—future Missouri Governor Thomas Fletcher.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 5, 1862.


General Inspection and Review—The Arrest of Col. Fletcher—Col. Boyd—Prisoners, &c., &c.

PATTERSON, MO., Nov. 1, 1862.

Editors Missouri Democrat:
Yesterday was a “big day” with the troops here; there was a general inspection, review and muster for pay. Colonel Boyd, commanding Davidson’s Division in the field, was busy; all the officers were dressed up, and the soldiers were out in their best. The splendid 23d Iowa made an imposing show, but the Excelsior Regiment, 31st Missouri, being all present, and recently uniformed, presented the finest appearance of all the regiments reviewed….

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The DEMOCRAT regularly reprinted articles from other publications. This advice is probably still valuable today.

From The Missouri Democrat, Sunday, November 9, 1862.

How to Choose a Rifle.

[From the Atlantic Monthly, for November.]

The first piece of advice I would offer to a novice in search of a gun is, “Don’t be in a hurry.”

The demand is such that a buyer is constantly urged to close a bargain by the assurance that it may be his last chance to secure such a weapon as the one he is examining—and great numbers of mere toys have thus been forced upon purchasers, who, if they ever practice enough to acquire a taste for shooting, will send them to the auction-room, and make another effort to procure a gun suited to their wants….

Click here to read the complete article.


Rumors of Gen. George McClellan’s removal from command of the Army of the Potomac had been circulating for a few weeks when they were finally confirmed.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, November 10, 1862.






[Special Dispatch to the New York Sunday Mercury.]

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9.—A Cabinet crisis is impending. It is reported Seward, Smith, Bates and Blair will retire, and their places be filled by Fessenden, Colfax, Winter Davis, and some other Western Republican. It may not be announced before….

Click here to read the complete article.


From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, November 11, 1862.


His Captious Delays and Obstinate Disobedience of Orders.

Extracts from General Halleck’s Letter to Secretary Staunton [sic].

WASHINGTON, October 28, 1862.

To Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
SIR: In reply to the general interrogatories contained in your letter of yesterday, I have the honor to report:

First. That requisitions for supplies to the army under Major General McClellan are made by his staff officers on the chiefs of bureaus here; that is, the Quartermaster applies by his Chief Quartermaster on the Quartermaster-General; for commissary supplies, by his Chief Commissary on the Commissary-General, &c. No such requisitions have to my knowledge been made upon the Secretary of War and none upon the General-in-Chief….

Click here to read the complete article.


Following Lincoln’s dismissal of George McClellan from command of the Army of the Potomac, McClellan soon became the leading prospective candidate for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination in 1864. The DEMOCRAT was not impressed.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 12, 1862.


We observe that John Van Buren, the leader of the New York Democracy, and who talks so flippantly about letting the South go, has, at a recent meeting of his ilk in New York city, proposed Gen. McClellan as a candidate for the next Presidency. We, likewise, discover that the entire press of the country, of that sort, whose Unionism has never raised it to a cordial support of the Government in the work of suppressing the rebellion at all hazards, is loud in its complaints on account of McClellan’s removal. We need but instance the Republican of our own city. The fact that McClellan is the favorite of parties who, to say the least, have been extremely lukewarm in the work of helping the Government in the contest it is now prosecuting, goes far to prove that he was not the man to lead our armies at a time like this, when efficiency and celerity are so imperatively demanded. If McClellan was the man best fitted to the emergency by his energy and determination, it is not at all probable he would have been so popular with such individuals….

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The 1862 Congressional elections were generally a setback for the Lincoln Administration. Republicans lost 22 seats, while Democrats gained 28. However, results from the slave states still in the Union were encouraging to Administration supporters.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, November 11, 1862.


Emancipation in the Late Elections.

[From Forney’s Chronicle.]

The wisdom and expediency of President Lincoln’s proclamation of emancipation is fully vindicated by the results of the late elections. In Delaware and Missouri, where, as in every other State, this measure of the Administration was made the issue before the people, the Administration has been triumphantly supported. The people of these States know better than any one else what slavery means and what emancipation will probably effect….

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While many in Great Britain desired a Southern victory in the American Civil War, at least one London newspaper found that prospect less than attractive.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, November 11, 1862.


What Would Happen if the Rebels Become Independent.

The London Daily News draws this picture of the character of the South and the probable consequences which would follow its achievement of “independence:”

“As far as England is concerned, we may judge from the past. Many people say, in excuse for their state of mind about the war, that they detest the Americans. Very well; and what does this mean? It means an association of ideas made up of troubles about search of slavers at sea, and brag about the Monroe doctrine, and threats of Canada, and slanders about our cruisers in the Gulf, and outrage on San Juan, and the bullying of the General Harneys, and the sharp practice of cabinets at Washington, and aggressions upon our seamen in port, and universal rudeness to our representatives in the States, and to our government through American representatives in England….”

Click here to read the complete article.


While Union forces met with much success in the Western theater by the end of the 1862 campaign season, Eastern armies struggled to make any progress. The DEMOCRAT opined that the professional officer class limited the advancement of talented volunteer officers. This, of course, disregarded the fact that the successful Western armies, not to mention the successful Eastern Confederate armies, were also led by West Point-trained generals, and the DEMOCRAT‘s praise of Nathaniel Banks would prove to be entirely misplaced.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, November 11, 1862.


Since the day of Bull Run, the soldiers of the Union have won nothing but encomiums by their heroism. Occasionally an officer, and now and then a regiment, has been subject to unfavorable imputation, but as a general thing, the world has never produced armies which have done so well under all circumstances, as the volunteer soldiery of the United States. Nevertheless, in a war of twenty months duration, we find that our armies, representing a population of twenty millions, have not succeeded in the overthrow of armies representing a population of less than half that number.

Why is this? The voice of the nation, wearied and indignant, long ago answered, “Inferior generalship.”…

Click here to read the complete article.


The DEMOCRAT frequently printed reports of excursions on the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad to its southern terminus at Pilot Knob. The accounts are always positive about the natural beauty and bounteous resources of the area.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 15, 1862.


It was, on Thursday, our agreeable lot, with a pleasant company of excursionists, under the escort of the gentlemanly President of the Iron Mountain Railroad, Mr. Barlow, to visit that renowned spot. No more interesting place is to be found in the West, to the lover of bold, picturesque scenery, the student of material science, or the curious in the investigation of the wonders and eccentricities of nature, or which will better repay a visit from any one. The distinguishing features of the locality have so often been the subject of description from enthusiastic tourists, as to be entirely familiar to every one in this section of country, who has not been so fortunate as to witness them with his own eyes….

Click here to read the complete article.


The DEMOCRAT usually printed many short pieces about incidents of the war. This one tells a good story, but this one apparently was based only on rumor.

From The Missouri Democrat, November 17, 1862.

A BIT OF SECRET HISTORY.—It has transpired that the rebel Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston, killed at Shiloh, concerted a nice plan to possess the secessionists of California at the beginning of the rebellion. He was in command at San Francisco. At a given time the secessionists were to take the forts with his connivance, and seize 60,000 stand of arms shipped there by Floyd for the very purpose….

Click here to read the complete article.


After the bloody Battle of Antietam, Alexander Gardner, a photographer assistant to Matthew Brady, captured a large number of images of the carnage on the battlefield. Brady shortly after exhibited them to the public in his New York studio, under the title “The Dead of Antietam”. This was the first time the general public was exposed to the aftermath of the great battles they had been reading about in the newspapers, and the impact was overwhelming.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 22, 1862.

Pictures of the Dead at Antietam.

[From the New York Times.]

The living that throng Broadway care little perhaps for the dead at Antietam, but we fancy they would jostle less carelessly down the great thoroughfare, saunter less at their ease, were a few dripping bodies, fresh from the field, laid along the pavement. There would be a gathering up of skirts and a careful picking of the way; conversation would be less lively, and the general air of pedestrians more subdued. As it is, the dead of the battle-field come up to us very rarely, even in dreams. We see the list in the morning paper at breakfast, but dismiss its recollection with the coffee. There is a confused mass of names, but they are all strangers; we forget the horrible significance that dwells amid the jumble of type….

Click here to read the complete article.


The DEMOCRAT showed a continuing interest in the development of artillery, especially in Great Britain. Reprinted articles like this one tracked the progress of Armstrong and Whitworth guns.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 22, 1862.

Experiments with the Armstrong and Whitworth Field Guns.

[From the London News of Nov. 1.]

Some very interesting trials of 12-pounder field guns, rifled according to the different systems of Sir Wm. Armstrong and Mr. Whitworth, were made at Fort Twist, near Shorncliffe, last week, before Gen. Bloomfield, Inspector General of Artillery, and a large staff of officers. The Whitworth guns were four in number, and formed part of a battery of 12-pounder brass muzzle-loading guns, being the first guns rifled on this system which have been furnished for the service. The Armstrong guns were two of the ordinary 12-pounder field guns, such as were used in China, with certain improvements since adopted, and, of course, breech-loaders, mad of iron on the plan employed in the construction of all the Armstrong guns….

Click here to read the complete article.


Nothing sells papers like a good story about a tragic incident at a local “House of Ill Repute”.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 26, 1862.

Awful Tragedy at a House of Ill Repute—Revelry—Jealousy—A Woman Burned to Death—A Horrible Suspicion—Two Women Arrested.

A most horrible casualty occurred between two and three o’clock yesterday morning, at No. 28 South Tenth street, near Walnut. The place was a house of ill repute, kept by a woman known as Anne Martin, but whose real name was Anne B. Fisher. In a similar house in the vicinity was an unusual gathering of vicious men and women, among whom were two Cyprians named Ellen Montreville and Maggie Wilson. These became intoxicated and reckless. The latter heard that “her man” was at the house of Anne Fisher, and at two o’clock in the morning, accompanied by Ellen, went thither, avowedly to ascertain the fact….

Click here to read the complete article.


The German immigrants who came to Missouri in the decade before the Civil War largely opposed slavery, equating it to the feudal systems of Europe which they were fleeing. This sentiment often led to direct action against the “peculiar institution”.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 26, 1862.




Decided Expression of Sentiment on the “Nigger” Question.

[Special Dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]

HERMANN, MO., Nov. 25.—Our mostly quiet town was suddenly thrown into a curious excitement to-day upon learning of the capture of fifteen fugitive slaves, who had been taken by the aid of a German Justice of the Peace and a German Constable, and brought here and lodged in our jail for safe keeping….

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Once a supporter of Republican Frank P. Blair, Jr., the DEMOCRAT broke with him over his conservative position on emancipation. This editorial comments on Blair’s decision to retain his commission in the Union army and leave his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, December 1, 1862.


General Blair, the telegraph says, has resigned his seat in the present Congress. The statement is probably true. We should not question the patriotism of General Blair’s motive in taking the field against the enemies of the Government; yet we may be permitted to suggest that he could have served the country’s cause more efficiently this winter in Congress than at the head of his brigade….

Click here to read the complete article.


The repercussions of the so-called “Palmyra Massacre” in October 1862 continued in the months after the incident. The DEMOCRAT followed the story, responding to comments in other papers.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, December 3, 1862.


A St. Louis correspondent of the Columbus Crisis writes as follows:

“The man for whom General McNeil shot ten some time ago, and which was noticed in the Crisis, has returned home alive and well, and his wife, before the execution of those men, went to him (General McNeil) and plead with him to wait and see if he had been killed before he executed those men, and the brute spurned her. I can write no more.” ST. LOUIS.”

The story of the correspondent of the Crisis is a lie out of whole cloth….

Click here to read the complete article.


The DEMOCRAT followed events in nearby southwestern Illinois with great interest also. This article about an incident in Jerseryville, just north of St. Louis, is typical.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, December 10, 1862.

Military Arrest in Jerseyville, Ill.

[From the Alton Telegraph.]

We understand that there was quite a stir yesterday in Jerseyville, growing out of an attempt made by the commander of this post, to arrest the editor of the Jerseyville Democratic Union for disloyalty. This editor has for some months past been filling his paper with the vilest and most abusive epithets against the government, and denouncing the President as a worse traitor than Jeff. Davis….

Click here to read the complete article.


A “Mudsill” is a person of the lowest social level. The so-called “Mudsill theory” was presented in the U.S. Senate in 1858 by a South Carolina Senator as a defense of slavery, although the term was predates the speech. Union soldiers in the Western armies turned this derogatory term into one of self-pride, and the Mudsills name was adopted by a reenactor unit. The DEMOCRAT reprinted an old article from a southern newspaper to show the disdain of Southerners for those in the North.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, December 10, 1862.

Why Northern Men are Called Mudsills.

The following, taken from an old number of the Mobile Herald and Tribune for 1846, shows what the North has done for the South. These Southern nabobs so heartily despised labor that they could not help looking with contempt upon the people who did so much to make their lives endurable. This is what the mudsills did for the slave aristocrats, on the testimony of one of them:…

Click here to read the complete article.


As Union Gen. Samuel Curtis campaigned in Arkansas, the Union Army of the Frontier was ordered to clear rebel forces from the northwestern part of the state. Taking over for an ailing John Schofield, Gen. James Blunt found his forces split and ordered Gen. Francis Herron to march his part of the army from Springfield, Missouri, to join with Blunt’s in northwest Arkansas. Meanwhile, Confederate Gen. Thomas Hindman, attempting to take advantage of his divided opposition, moved on Blunt. After a series of movements by both sides, Hindman found himself facing Herron’s force, with Blunt still some distance away.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, December 10, 1862.



Gens. Blunt and Herron Achieve Great Victory over the Rebel General Hindman.

Gen. Herron with 7,000 Men Attacked by Gen. Hindman with 24,000.

The Rebels Finally Driven from the Field with Heavy Loss….

The following dispatch from Headquarters to Washington City, transmitted yesterday evening, announces a great victory at Fayetteville, Ark., to the Union arms:

December 9.

To Major General Halleck:

My forces, the Army of the Frontier, united near Fayetteville, Ark., in the midst of a great battle.

Gen. Blunt had sustained his position at Cane Hill till Saturday night, when the enemy, 23,000 strong, under Gen. Hindman, attempted a flank movement on his left to prevent the arrival of Gen. Herron’s forces, which had been approaching for four days, by forced marches.

Sunday, about 10 A. M., the enemy attacked General Herron, near Fayetteville, Arkansas, who, by gallant and desperate fighting, held him in check for three hours, until General Blunt’s division came up and attacked him in the rear.

The fight continued desperate till dark….

Click here to read the complete article.


From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, December 11, 1862.





Enemy Beyond the Boston Mountains….

Below we present an interesting budget relative to the grand victory at Prairie Grove. Major General Curtis congratulates the Army of the Frontier. Generals Blunt and Herron telegraph additional and important particulars of the engagement and the subsequent movement of the enemy. We are also furnished, at headquarters, with a list of the casualties of the 20th Iowa.


ARMY, PRAIRIE GROVE, Dec. 10, 1862.

Major General Curtis:

The enemy did not stop in their flight until they had crossed the Boston Mountains, and are probably, ere this, across the Arkansas river.

The enemy’s killed and wounded are between fifteen hundred and two thousand—a large proportion of them killed. One hundred of their wounded have died since the battle, and a large proportion of the others are wounded mortally; showing the terrible effects of my artillery. My casualties will be about two hundred killed and five hundred wounded. Most of the wounded will recover. The enemy has left all his wounded on my hands, and the most of his dead uncared for. They are being buried by my command…

Click here to read the complete article.


After succeeding Gen. McClellan in command of the Army of the Potomac, Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia, with plans to cross the Rappahannock there and advance on Richmond before Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia could intercept him. Delays in receiving the pontoon boats needed for the crossing allowed Lee to take up strong positions behind Fredericksburg before Burnside could cross the river. The failed Union frontal assaults on the Confederate lines at Marye’s Heights meant another disastrous defeat for the Union in the East.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, December 12, 1862.


Fredericksburg Ours!



Rebels Fire Upon the Engineers From the Houses.



Indications of a Great Battle To-Day.

[Special Dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]

WASHINGTON, December 11, 8:30 P. M.—-Fredericksburg is ours, and all is well.

The dispatches previously received give few particulars but we expect to get them yet to-night.

The 7th Michigan is identified as having a flag of the enemy.

Fredericksburg is almost in ruins….

Click here to read the complete article.


From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, December 13, 1862.

From Fredericksburg.



The Charge Through the Streets.

Rebel Works Back of the City to be Assailed.

The Army in Fine Spirits and Confident of Success.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY POTOMAC, Friday morning.—-After occupying the river front of the city last night, we lost about one hundred men in killed and wounded. While driving the rebels through the city, they fired on our men as they advanced through the streets, while secreted in and behind houses. Not much mercy was shown to those who were captured….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, December 14, 1862.

From Fredericksburg.



From Fredericksburg.




HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Dec. 15th—EVENING.—-At 10 o’clock this morning the fog began to clear away, but before 11 o’clock the air was again thick, which continued until 2 o’clock, when it entirely disappeared.

At a quarter past two the rebels opened with all their guns posted on the first ridge of hills. Their main fire was directed upon the city, which was filled with our troops…

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From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, December 16, 1862.



General Jackson of Penn., and General Bayard among the Killed.


400 to 500 Prisoners Captured.





HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, December 13.—SATURDAY, 11 P.M.—The fog began to disappear early in the morning, affording an unobstructed view of our own and the rebels position, it being evident the first ridge of hills in the rear of the city, on which the enemy had his guns posted behind works, which could not be carried except by a charge of infantry. Gen. Sumner assigned that duty to Gen. French’s division, which was supported by Gen. Howard’s. The troops advance to their works, at ten minutes of 11 o’clock, at a brisk run, the enemy’s guns opening upon them a very rapid fire, and when within musket range at the base of the ridge, our troops were met by a terrible fire from rebel infantry, which were posted behind a stone wall and some houses on the right of the line. This checked the advance of our men, and they fall back into a small ravine, but not out of musket range. At this time another body of men came to their assistance in splendid style, notwithstanding large gaps were made in their ranks by the rebel artillery.
When our troops first arrived at the line of the rebel defences, they double-quicked, and with fixed bayonets, endeavored to dislodge the rebels from their hiding places…

Click here to read the complete article.