Joseph Dean Papers

Joseph Dean sitting in uniform

Joseph Dean
Image courtesy of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 30827

Joseph Dean, a St. Louis merchant, traveled through the newly created Kansas Territory in late 1857 and early 1858. The region had been the scene of bitter political strife since the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. Dean recorded his impressions of the troubled territory in a letter to his sister on February 24. The violence had taken a tremendous toll on the population and its stark results were readily apparent to Dean.

Had the weather been cold while in Kansas I certainly would have had a severe time as the part over which I travelled is uninhabited and one can ride for forty or fifty miles and not see anyone. I passed hundreds of deserted houses having been owned perhaps by pro-Slavery men and during the disturbance, were compelled by the free Soilers to abandon them, and flee for safety.
Joseph Dean letter to his Sister – Feb. 24, 1858

Passing through Lawrence, Dean watched as notable territorial figures Governor Charles Robinson and James H. Lane spoke out against the Lecompton Constitution.1

Joseph Dean enlisted in Company C, 1st Missouri Infantry (C.S.) at Memphis, Tennessee in July 1861. A first lieutenant, Dean was appointed an acting aide-de-camp to General John S. Bowen in the Army of the Mississippi. Dean was mortally wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, in April 1862.2

Contributed by the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

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  1. Joseph Dean, Letter to His Sister, February 24, 1858, WICR30890, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Republic, Missouri.
  2. Dean, Joseph,” Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Republic, Missouri, Trans-Mississippi Theater Photo Archive,