Albert Badger Papers

Albert Badger
Image courtesy of the Bushwhacker Museum and Jail

Dr. Albert Badger was among the early Caucasian settlers in Vernon County, Missouri. The first settlers came to the area in 1823, but by 1840 there were only 35 or 40 families living in the County.1 Badger was born in 1821 in Windham County, Connecticut. His father, Albert, died when he was only four and a half years old. Young Albert was raised by his uncle, until he turned 14. In 1835, Albert traveled with his grandfather to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend school. Five years later, he sailed down the Ohio River to Louisiana, where he eventually became interested in medicine and attended the New Orleans Medical College. After graduation, Badger began his voyage north. In 1844, he traveled up the Mississippi River and across to Osceola, Missouri. He purchased a land claim for $30 dollars in present day Vernon County and became the namesake of Badger Township. Badger built the first “modern” house in the area. It featured glass windows, a nailed-on roof, three large rooms, a hallway and a porch. Other settlers only had simple cabins with wooden widows on leather hinges.2

On a visit to Blue Mound Township, Albert met Col. Anselmn Halley, namesake of Halley’s Bluffs, and his daughter Sarah Halley. Albert and Sarah married in 1853, and through the course of their lives had eight children. Albert practiced medicine in Vernon County, but the area’s small population made it difficult for that to be his only source of income. Albert purchased 2,200 acres of land for cultivation, and had a large population of livestock and at least one slave.3 Before 1861, Albert’s mother, Asenath Badger, traveled from the east coast to live with Albert and Sarah in their Vernon County home. She assisted Sarah with raising and educating the children, as there were no schools available at the time. Albert’s brother, Oscar Badger, was a Captain in the US Navy, and stationed on the east coast. Oscar owned land next to Albert’s estate, and hired men to take care of the property. In late 1860, Oscar wrote Albert from Baltimore about the volatile political climate and the outbreak of war.

Dear Brother: I have had it in contemplation to write to you for some weeks past, but put it off in hopes I should be able to surprise you by a visit this Fall, but I have been ordered to duty at this station, which will keep me here for some time. I shall however see you all in the Spring. I hope. I consider my Commission in the Navy of no great value at present, as from the complexion of affairs in the political horizon, the Country will fall into anarcy and dissolution of its several members before many months roll around. I may threfore be forced to seek some other occupation, which will probably be farming alongside of you on my land.

Oscar Badger letter to Albert Badger – Oct. 13, 1860

Oscar’s letter suggests he was a Southern sympathizer. Presumably he meant to resign from the navy if hostilities broke out. Though we have no evidence for why, Oscar definitely changed his mind. He remained in the navy and participated in the 1863 Union Campaign to capture Charleston, South Carolina. During the assault on Fort Sumter, he was hit in the leg by shrapnel which left him with a noticeable limp. Oscar eventually rose through the ranks to Commodore.

Back in Vernon County, Albert chose the Southern cause. Carrying his double-barrel shotgun from home, Albert enlisted in the 7th Missouri Cavalry, 8th Division, Missouri State Guard on June 1, 1861. Albert was commissioned as a Lieutenant and served under Confederate General Sterling Price at the Battles of Carthage and Wilson’s Creek. At the Battle of Carthage, he was shot through the leg with a bullet, and like his brother, walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He went on to fight at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861. Albert left the Missouri State Guard on August 25, 1861. His shotgun, valued at $20, was sold to William Halley before he and the MSG marched north to Lexington, Missouri.4

The historical records documenting Albert’s actions between the fall of 1861 and beginning of 1864 are vague. Presumably, Albert returned home after he left the Missouri State Guard in late August 1861. Some accounts indicate Albert was harassed by Jayhawkers, and he fled his home in fear of his life. Other reports state he simply moved to St. Louis. The collection contains two letters written during that interim period, but neither provides Albert’s location at the time. In the summer of 1863 Albert’s father-in-law left his home in Vernon County and moved to Calhoun, Missouri. He wrote Albert shortly after General Thomas Ewing issued General Order No. 11, forcing civilians to evacuate their homes in Bates, Cass, Jackson and parts of Vernon County Missouri.

Dear Albert,

I received your letter the 6th. The times in Johnson County is bad. The soldiers have burned five houses in that County. Henry County is peace. In the last of August some eight or ten Bushwhackers paid me a visit. After searching the house some time, they asked my name and what I was. I told them “Union” they thought it strange. They behaved very well and said they would not take anything of mine. There are a great many people moving from the counties west. Some of them are in destitute condition. It is a bad order. I am told it does not enclude Vernon County, if it does, what will Sarah & the children do.

Anselm Hailey letter to Albert Badger – Sep. 14, 1863

While Order #11 included Vernon County, it was only the northern half, thus, Sarah, the children and Albert’s mother remained on their farm. Unfortunately, Asenath Badger passed away in 1864.

Meanwhile, Albert probably maintained correspondence with his brother Oscar, letters which unfortunately have not survived. Albert reappears in the historical records at Mound City, Illinois, working as a Chief Clerk in the Naval Ordnance Department. The decision was likely encouraged by Oscar, but Albert’s true motivation is unknown. Mound City is located approximately seven miles north of Cairo, IL along the Ohio River. Three of the Union’s “City Class” ironclad gunboats – U.S.S. Cairo, U.S.S. Cincinnati and U.S.S. Mound City – were built at Mound City. The small town eventually became the location of a Union General Hospital, and by April 1862 a spur of the Illinois Central Railroad ran into the city. Troops and supplies traveled by train to Mound City and then were transferred by ship along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. In November 1863, the Navy Department established Mound City as the primary ordnance depot for the Mississippi Squadron. Ordnance shipments distributed through Mound City, were at some point overseen by Albert.

Head Quarters, Department of the Missouri, Saint Louis,

The Conductor of the first train passing Pana, Ills. Central RailRoad for Mound City, after 5 O’Clock tomorrow morning, will attach three cars of Orinance Stores, under charge of Mr [Albert] Badger. It being absolutely necessary that the stores reach Cairo to-morrow

By order of Major Genl William S. Rosecrans – Mar. 29, 1864

The experiences of Oscar and Albert are fascinating but difficult to explain. Oscar seemed concerned by the impeding crisis, yet he remained in the Union navy. Albert actually fought alongside Confederate soldiers in the Missouri State Guard, but ended the war working on Union ships. Without other documents, students and historians are left to speculate on why these men acted as they did.

Like most families in the Ozarks, the war took a heavy toll on Sarah. With Albert away, nearly all of their livestock was stolen by bushwhackers who frequently raided their home for food and clothing. Sarah was left with a blind horse and an ox, which she used to drive a cart to Fort Scott, Kansas for supplies. Albert commended Sarah for her courage and dedication to the family, as she assumed control over their estate, farm and family affairs while Albert was gone.

You had better hire a boy or man, probably a man one or two days. Mr Eidson if possible to take some loose rails, & fix up your Field & Orchard & Garden fence, you might take some of the rails from the fence round the pasture if you could do no better. It can be fixed temporally enough to stop out hogs & cattle in a coupple of days. Call on Mr Eidson & he will do it, and credit his note. Also call on him at any time for money, giving him a few days notice & he will get it. Or for any thing else you may want. You have been a good, brave woman, to stay there as long as you have, & now nearly at the end of trouble, dont despare.

Albert Badger letter to Sarah Badger – Aug. 20, 1864

Albert was discharged at the close of the war. Family records indicate he worked 18 months in Mound City. The Badger family lost approximately $10,000 in property during the war, some of which was taken by Union soldiers. He wrote the Quartermaster General in 1874, “I also lost… Horses, Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Corn, Oats, Hay &c: taken by U. States Troops for the use of the U.S. and found myself when discharged from service at the close of the war, made poor, by the very Government, I had so faithfully Served.”5 Albert requested compensation for the lost property, and it is unknown if he received any type of payment. Albert died on February 19, 1885, after leading a successful life. He helped establish Vernon County, and served as the first County Administrator, its first Justice of the Peace and first Probate Judge. He served both the Confederacy and the Union, and was a loving family man.

This collection consists of fourteen documents spanning from 1852 through 1874, related to Albert Badger and his family. It comprises of material contributed from the Bushwhacker Museum and Jail and Missouri State University’s Special Collections. The MSU documents are part of the Freeman Barrows Collection. Freeman’s son, John N. Barrows, married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Badger, Albert’s daughter. Correspondence between John and Lizzie are available at MSU.

Contributed by the The Bushwhacker Museum and Jail and Missouri State University, Special Collections and Archives

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  1. “County named for Col. Vernon,” The Nevada (Mo.) Herald, 29 June 1980, pg. 4C.
  2. “Historic Houses of Vernon County” in Albert Badger’s Vertical File,, Bushwhacker Museum, Nevada, Missouri.
  3. In an 1874 letter to the US Quartermaster, Albert claimed he took a slave into the service with him. He lost the slave while in the service and asked the Quartermaster for compensation. Albert Badger. Letter to US Quartermaster. Jul. 12, 1874. Barrows Family Collection, M31, Special Collections, Missouri State University, Springfield
  4. Ordance Department, Missouri State Guard. Letter to Albert Badger. ca. Aug. 25, 1861. Barrows Family Collection, M31, Special Collections, Missouri State University, Springfield.
  5. Albert Badger. Letter to US Quartermaster. Jul. 12, 1874.