Archive for the ‘Battle of Springfield’ Category

Union Records of Scouts and Spies

Friday, January 14th, 2011

By the outbreak of the war, neither the Union nor the Confederacy had established a full-scale espionage system or a military intelligence network. The South, however, was already operating a spy ring out of Washington, D.C., set up late in 1860 or early in 1861 by Thomas Jordan.1 A former U.S. Army officer, now a Confederate colonel, Jordan foresaw the benefits of placing intelligence agents in the North’s military and political nerve center. The Union waited till combat started to take steps toward creating an espionage establishment. Its first secret-service bureau was set up in mid-1861 by Allan Pinkerton, founder of the famous Chicago detective agency.

Spies and Scouts were used to gather valuable information from the opposing military side, the location and movement of enemy regiments and their strength in numbers. Through his numerous and faithful scouts and spies, General Nathaniel Lyon learned of the concentration of Southern troops at Cassville and their intention to march on Springfield. Major R.K. Hart reported to the Republican in July 1913 that he had been a spy for General Lyon in Raines’ camp near Dug Springs, prior to the Battle of Wilson Creek.2 It was his duty to find out the number of men at the Confederate camp and the course of their direction. A Union spy known only as “Three”, later identified as Charles A. McNair did reconnaissance work on General Sterling Price’s army in Southwest Missouri and reported his finding to John D. Perry, stating that, “Sir I have just returned from a thorough trip through South West Missouri – was in the camps of the rebels his men are tolerably well clad, McCulloch was in Springfield on Friday last, with not exceeding 7000 men, perhaps not more than 3 or 4000. Price’s Men have no confidence in him & don’t think he wants to fight – they curse him all the time & say he has done nothing since the 10th August but eat up the substance of the state. The South West is nearly depopulated”.3

Some of the most prominent and finest spies for both sides were women, like Mary Ann Pittman, who dressed like a Confederate Lieutenant named Rawley, joined General Nathan Forrest, accompanying him through Tennessee and Mississippi.4 Disguises, alias, diversions, and secrecy were all weapons spies and scouts used to conduct their business during the war. Eventually, she revealed her female identity to Forrest in which he laughed and said she made quite a good looking woman. Forrest cautioned her to let this secret go no further, and believed “success would be more certain if she appeared as a woman dressed herself in a suit of female apparel.…” and then sent her off on a mission..5 Under the name “Mollie Hayes,” Pittman spied and smuggled goods for the Confederacy. As “Mollie Hayes,” Pittman visited St. Louis and gained information on Union troops and fortifications.

Pittman eventually concluded that the Confederacy would loose the war and allowed herself to be captured by General Lionel Booth’s troops. While at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, she informed Booth of Forrest’s pending attack with 4,000 men. Realizing her value, Acting Provost Marshall Genreral Joseph Darr Jr. petitioned to use Pittman as a spy for the Union. He stated, “she can be trusted and would be a proper person to send to [Sterling] Price’s Camp.”.6 In January 1865, Major General Grenville Dodge provided Pittman a pass through Federal lines, allowing her to begin her mission for the United States government. That April, Pittman served as a Union spy reporting information on Sterling Price, as well as bushwhackers, Samuel Hildebrand and Alfred Bolin.

Two other valuable allies for the U.S. government were Native Americans and freed African-Americans. Many pro-union refugees from Indian Territory entered southern Kansas to escape conscription and aggression of Confederate Native Americans on the tribal lands. Their presence in Kansas and proximity to Indian Territory encouraged Kansas regiments to employee Native American scouts and spies. Fall Leaf, a Native American scout, and ten of his men were employed to gather intelligence from Rebel soldiers in Kansas and Indian Territory.7 The Union also used freed African Americans for reconnaissance work. In one extreme case, two black men returned to Dixie acting as slaves to gather information about African American kidnapping rings in Tennessee.

These men and women risked their lives in gathering intelligence for the United States. If caught spies were automatically accused of treason and sentenced to death. Some informants such as J. H. Oreton, of Webster County, and Katie Smith, were identified by and attacked in their homes. This collection is contributed by the National Archive and Records Center, and focuses on Union intelligence efforts. The Confederacy intelligence network is documented in other individual collections. Researchers are encouraged to consult other collections within Community & Conflict for additional information on scouts and spies from the region.

Contributed by the National Archives and Records Administration
Photocopies Contribiuted by Mine Creek Battlefield, Kansas State Historic Site.

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  1. “Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War” Edited by Patricia L. Faust, Article by Edward G. Longacre. updated 15 December 2002, accessed 22 November 2010,
  2. “Scout Tells of Incidents of Terrific Battle in Ozarks”, Republican, Vol. XXII, No. 179, July 1913, pg 1.
  3. Charles A. McNair Letter to John D. Perry.  Nov. 28, 1861, Entry 36, Correspondence, Reports, Appointments, and Other Records Relating to Individual Scouts, Guides, Spies, and Detectives; Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), RG 110; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC. pg 2 & 3
  4. Joseph Darr,Jr. Letter to Frank Bond. Oct. 21, 1864, Entry 36, Correspondence, Reports, Appointments, and Other Records Relating to Individual Scouts, Guides, Spies, and Detectives; Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), RG 110; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC. pg 4
  5. Joseph Darr,Jr. Letter to Frank Bond. Oct. 21, 1864, Entry 36, Correspondence, Reports, Appointments, and Other Records Relating to Individual Scouts, Guides, Spies, and Detectives; Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), RG 110; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC. pg 3
  6. Joseph Darr,Jr. Letter to Frank Bond. Oct. 21, 1864, Entry 36, Correspondence, Reports, Appointments, and Other Records Relating to Individual Scouts, Guides, Spies, and Detectives; Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), RG 110; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC. pg 1
  7. Robert J. Roe Letter to John E. Tappan. May 27, 1865. Entry 31, Correspondence, Reports, Accounts, and Related Records of Two or More Scouts, Spies, and Detectives; Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), RG 110; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC.

The Enrolled Missouri Militia, 4th Military District, Order Book

Thursday, June 11th, 2009


The Enrolled Missouri Militia, 4th Military District

On August 17, 1861 Missouri Governor Hamilton R. Gamble ordered a proclamation establishing the Missouri State Militia for defense of the State against guerrilla activity. Gamble soon realized the need for additional troops, and on July 22, 1862 he issued General Order Number 29 organizing the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). General Colley B. Holland assumed command of the 4th Military district, consisting of the counties in southwest Missouri, on October 30, 1862. Based in Springfield, Missouri, roughly 2,500 men reported for duty, operating under the jurisdiction of the State of Missouri. Holland’s documented all activities related to his command in the enrolled Missouri Militia order book for the 4th Military District in Southwest Missouri, from November 1862 through May 1863. His reports covered the Battles of Springfield and Hartville and also include details about depredation in Southwest Missouri and the extensive guerrilla activity that took place in the region.

Colley B. Holland was made captain of Company D, in the famous Phelps Regiment, organized in the summer of 1861. He took part in the Battle at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, the heaviest battle west of the Mississippi. Holland was promoted to the position of lieutenant colonel of the reorganized Phelps Regiment, and in the fall of 1862 he aided in recruiting the Seventy-second Regiment, of Missouri State Militia, and was commissioned colonel of that organization, his commission bearing date of September 9, 1862.

Holland’s control over southwest Missouri was tested early as Gen. John. S. Marmaduke led confederate troops from Arkansas and assaulted Springfield on January 8, 1863. Marmaduke had hoped to surprise Springfield’s garrison, but Union Captain Milton Burch’s Company H, 14th Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment, while scouting near Dubuque, Arkansas, on January 6, 1863, detected Marmaduke’s movements. Burch then retreated with his company to Lawrence’s Mill in Douglas County, Missouri, before daylight of January 7. Captain Burch then sent a warning message: A Confederate force, estimated between 4000 and 6000 strong, was moving toward Springfield. This was alarming news for Union Brigadier General E. B. Brown’s Springfield & Ozark garrisons, whose commands included only 1,343 veteran soldiers. With suggestions from militia officers Holland, Henry Sheppard, and Doctor Samuel Melcher, General E. B. Brown called upon all available Enrolled Missouri Militia commanders to concentrate their regiments immediately at Springfield.

After fighting Union soldiers for several hours, Marmaduke realized that his force was too small to capture the Union garrison. He disengaged his Confederate forces about 11 p.m, and retreated from the battlefield on the morning of January 9. The Union won a major tactical victory since they successfully held onto the town and saved the Union Army of the Frontier’s winter supplies.

After the defeat at Springfield, General Marmaduke turned his sights towards Hartville. Marmaduke’s men were able to bypass the Union forces on the road and enter Hartville. Union troops raced to Hartville and formed a battle line on the high ground west of the courthouse. The Union forces had almost no time to prepare their position before Colonel Joseph Shelby and Colonel Joseph Porter’s commands engaged them in battle.

As the Confederates discovered the precise location of the Union battle line, they began concentrating their fire from the buildings in town. A portion of the Union line began to break and elements retreated, including the Union’s artillery. Confederate commanders noted the Union withdrawal, and presumed victory. The Union position west of the courthouse, however, was covered by ample brush and trees. While some Union forces indeed retreated from the battlefield, the 21st Iowa Infantry did not receive the order to retreat, so they held their ground in the bush. As Colonel Porter and his column reached the courthouse they realized their mistake as the enemy, only 50 yards away from his men, opened fire. Porter was wounded in the leg and hand.

Lieutenant Colonel Cornelius Dunlap, of the 21st Iowa Infantry, extended his line of defense and increased his regiment’s rate of fire to mask his weakness from the Rebel forces. The Confederates made three additional advances before sundown, all of which were repelled. Dunlap later reported, “My men all acted finely, and were cool and active when they learned that they were left alone in front of a rebel horde of 5,000 men.”1 After darkness, Dunlap retreated with the other Union forces toward Lebanon.

Along with calling upon men to fight in combat, General Holland’s responsibilities also included protecting the citizens of Southwest Missouri from guerrilla fighters as Col Henry Sheppards replied to General Holland the need for mounted men was great, “ It is mounted men that are wanted, to distribute them in the Counties of Newton, Jasper, Lawrence, Dade, Cedar, and Barton in the West, and in Christian Stone and Taney in the South, for in many localities in the counties named are bands of Guerrillas. Unless the loyal citizens in those Counties have some protection, they will be overrun and driven from their homes; and have their property destroyed.”2

Management of rebel civilians became a difficult issue for the Enrolled Missouri Militia and Holland. Holland issued General Orders No. 4, which required all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 55 years, residing in the Springfield area, to report for work on fortification and other necessary duties for the EMM. “All able-bodied men” did not discriminate among political affiliations and oaths of loyalty. Captured rebel prisoners began work on fortifications, a pragmatic use of idle manpower. Claims of maltreatment from rebel civilians by the Enrolled Missouri Militia reached Holland and General Egbert B. Brown, in which Holland responded:

Many complaints are made to me by persons who admit they have been active rebels, or that they sympathize with those in rebellion. They complain of depredations on their property by the Enrolled Militia. In many cases I find the complaints groundless… I am ready to sustain all measures which you may consider necessary for the public good; and to have maintained in the Enrolled Militia the strictest discipline. To disarm and disband any portion, because of alleged misdemeanors or crimes, is in my judgment not only irregular, but will tend to destroy all military discipline.
Colley B. Holland to Egbert B. Brown, December 15, 1862

By the end of the war, over 52,000 men were mustered into 70 regiments of the EMM. While plagued with a stereotype created by its notorious elements, many Enrolled Missouri Militia regiments “became professional in their demeanor and execution, defended their home areas with distinction, even won acclaim for occasional combat, and often performed these feats with their own private weapons, clothing, and horses.”3

This collection represents the bureaucratic task of organizing, supplying, training, disciplining, and maintaining a military presence in the Ozarks.


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  1. U. S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume XXII, Part 1 (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), 193.
  2. Order Book Enrolled Missouri Militia, 4th Military District, pg 5.
  3. Bruce Nichols, Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, 1862 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2004), 103.

Peter Wellington Alexander Papers

Friday, April 6th, 2012


Peter Wellington Alexander
Thomas C. Hindman

The Peter Wellington Alexander papers contain an array of documents related to the Civil War. Alexander was a correspondent for the Savannah Republican and other Southern publications during the war. His papers consists of letters, telegrams, business records, and newspapers related to Alexander’s career as a lawyer and journalist. After the Civil War Alexander began collecting official Confederate documents, at took a particular interest in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. Alexander acquired a significant collection of Major General Thomas C. Hindman’s papers. Hindman assumed command of the Trans-Mississippi District on May 31, 1862. His collection of papers includes order books, telegrams, correspondence, military reports, and other documents surrounding Hindman’s military service from 1862-1863.

Only a portion of Hindman’s papers have been digitized and made available through Community & Conflict. Researchers are encouraged to Contact the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University to view the rest of the collection.

Collection Contributed by Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Columbia University in the City of New York

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