Benjamin Fullager served in the Union Army in the 3rd Regiment, Wisconsin Cavalry, in Company A, who served mostly in Arkansas and the Kansas Territory. His correspondents with his brother and other friends offer a candid and raw perspective to the life of a Union soldier. Fullager did not conceal his opinion of the men involved in the conflict and the War in general. Within Fullager’s letters, he described several battles, his personal experience with guerrilla warfare, the condition of the men in his regiment, and the general political opinion of the men in service.
Collections in the Washington Category
“Old Age,” written by Clinton Owen Bates in 1949, reflects on the life of a young boy growing up in Arkansas during the Civil War, and his career as a teacher. Bates was born in 1857, and grew up on a farm in Fayetteville. The Bates family had split loyalty among the North and South, and even as a young child, Bates remembered the tension that the War brought into their home. Bates recalled the bloody conflict along the border of Missouri and Kansas, encounters with runaway slaves, and various Trans-Mississippi Theater battles. After the War, Bates began his career as a teacher. He taught at the Cherokee Headquarters on the Tahlequah Indian Reservation and later held a position in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The Dachenbach Family was originally from Pennsylvania and had immigrated to Iowa by the mid-1800s. Isaac and Mary Dachenbach’s eldest son, Jacob enlisted in the 1st Iowa Cavalry in 1862 and soon left to fight for the Union in Missouri and Arkansas. Jacob wrote extensively to his family describing military life and his experiences in combat. His regiment would be sent to serve in Mississippi and unfortunately Jacob would not return from that campaign. The Dachenbach letter collection is housed at the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Museum in Republic, Missouri.
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 cover 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.
Franklin S. Denny was born 7 October 1825 in Bond County, Illinois. Before the Civil War, he was a blacksmith in Platteville, Wisconsin, and married Mary Ann Pennington, who died in 1859. Denny enlisted in Company C, 1st Missouri Cavalry on August 1, 1861. He was elected third sergeant, and in February 1862 he was promoted to first sergeant. In his diary, Denny recorded the actions of the 1st Missouri Cavalry as they travelled across Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas from 1862 through 1864. He noted engagements with bushwhackers and rebel soldiers, personal thoughts on Kansas Jayhawkers, the impact of the War on civilians, and the routine of military life. Denny was discharged from the service on September 17, 1864. In 1868, Denny mar¬ried Susan Dule¬bon at Freeport, Illinois. By 1874, Franklin and Susan Denny lived in Springfield, Missouri, where Franklin operated a carriage shop. They died in 1902 and 1917, re-spectively.
This extraordinary diary contains entries written by both Union and Confederate soldiers. It originally belonged to George Falconer, enrolled in Col J. J. Clarkson’s Confederate Cavalry. During the Battle of Locust Grove, 3 July 1862, Falconer was taken prisoner, and Maj. Albert Ellithorpe, Indian Home Guards, 1st Kansas Infantry, captured the diary. Most of the entries are written by Ellithorpe, who described engagements with Confederate soldiers, Kansas politicians and bushwhackers. Ellithorpe participated in several battles including Locust Grove, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove and a smaller engagement with Thomas Livingston’s bushwhackers.
George Fine was born in Mississippi in 1835, and resided of Washington, County Arkansas before the Civil War. Fine was part of the 19th (Dawson’s) Arkansas Infantry Regiment, which was stationed at Fort McCulloch in present day Oklahoma. The fort was created by General Albert Pike, but was quickly becoming dilapidated and the soldiers there would soon be relocated to Fort Gibson. In Fine’s letter to his father he was optimistic about the Confederacy’s position in the East and believed that the soldiers in the west would soon be sent East to help support General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson. Although George closes his letters using the last name Fine, he is listed in the 1860 U.S. Census as having the last name Carroll. Further investigation into this subject matter is needed
Henry E. Skaggs lived in Cooke, Texas with his wife Narcissa and their three children in 1860. Skaggs was a “Union Man” and feared that he would be hung for his political beliefs if he remained in Texas, so he and five other men fled to Missouri and joined the 1st Missouri Regiment Cavalry. Henry E. Skaggs joined the United States Military in September of 1862 at the age of thirty-three. Skaggs chronicled his perspective of the Civil War from the latter half of 1862 to mid 1864 as he traveled throughout Missouri and Arkansas.
The Isely Family Papers contain correspondence and other documents dating from the late 1850s through the 1930s. A significant portion of the collection consists of letters written during the Civil War between Christian H. Isely and his wife, Marie Elizabeth “Eliza” Dubach. Christian served in the 2nd Kansas Cavalry and they traveled throughout Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma; which was then Indian Territory. During the war, Eliza went to live with Christian’s parents in Ohio, rather than stay with her father in Willow Dale, Kansas, due to the unstable conditions in the Kansas-Missouri border region. The Isely’s were a profoundly religious family and their correspondences depict the deeply rooted connection between religion and political convictions and how their beliefs often divided their family.
In 1807, James Henry Gower was born in Maine, but he lived most of his life in Iowa City, Iowa. Gower was a prominent businessman in Iowa City. With the outbreak of the war his son, James Otis, enlisted in Company F, of the Iowa 1st Cavalry Regiment. This collection contains letters from James Otis Gower in which he describes the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, and enclosed a copy of Confederate general, Thomas C. Hindman’s address to his soldiers prior to the battle. James Otis survived the war and was mustered out of service in August 1863, but he died just two years later on September 12, 1865, and was buried in Iowa City. After the war, the rest of his family moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in pursuit of James Henry Gower’s new business venture.
Jane Page’s postwar letter notes family affairs and struggles during the Civil War. Jane lived with her husband, David Page, in Kingsriver, Arkansas until he was killed in March 1865 while Federal troops raided their home. She discussed the major battles and engagements in the Ozarks, and mentioned her difficulties during the postwar period.
Peter Marselis Van Winkle developed several lumber mills across Northwest Arkansas. He built a vast road network to expedite the shipment of lumber and urbanization. During the war the Van Winkle family fled their home for refuge in Texas. In 1866, they returned to Arkansas to rebuild their lives and the surrounding community. Peter supplied much of the goods to reconstruct homes and businesses. And perhaps Peter Van Winkle may have single handedly shaped the development of the Ozarks, and rejuvenated the region as the country attempted to restore civilization after the Civil War.
The Peter Wellington Alexander papers contain a significant collection of documents from Thomas C. Hindman’s military service from 1862-1863. Hindman assumed command of the Trans-Mississippi District on May 31, 1862, and his papers cover actions in southern Missouri, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory; including battles at Newtonia, Missouri and Cane Hill and Prairie Grove, Arkansas. The collection consists of military orders, telegrams, correspondence, military reports and other documents.
The Stirman Davidson Collection is a spirited group of letters written to Rebecca Stirman Davidson, of Fayetteville, Arkansas. The bulk of the letters are from her brother Erasmus “Ras” Stirman, while serving in the Civil War. The letters tell the story of Erasmus service in the Confederate Army, his fears and doubts about winning the War, and leading his company of sharpshooters into certain death. Erasmus loved meeting new women, and his letters to Rebecca are full of candor and humor, often telling a larger tale of the social and cultural customs of the era to which he opportunistically flaunted. Erasmus’ successes in the military, coupled with his family’s access to political and societal privilege, combine to tell a wonderful story of upper class life in the Civil War of the Ozarks.
Mr. William H. Rhea was prominent leader and businessman in Washington County, Arkansas. Mr. Rhea was known for having the first and largest mill in the area, which made him a prime target for Federal troops stationed in Northwest Arkansas. Since resources were very limited soldiers either had to make their own food or take/buy it from citizens in the area. Mills were valuable resources for both armies and were often captured or destroyed by bushwhackers or soldiers passing through the region. Numerous battles throughout the Ozarks were fought either at or around mills.
The Sarah Jane Smith collection consists of documents related to her imprisonment for guerrilla activity in Southwest Missouri. Sarah destroyed the telegraph line between Rolla and Springfield twice in 1864. Sarah and her noted guerrilla cousins destroyed three to four miles of telegraph wire and cut down several telegraph poles outside of Springfield in May 1864. In August 1864, she was paroled in Rolla. She destroyed another section of telegraph wire outside of Rolla in September of 1864. After the second incident, Sarah was sentenced to imprisonment for the duration of the War, and sent to Alton Military Prison in Illinois.
The Tallman and Brown families lived in Miller County, Missouri, and kept correspondence with family members during the war. The principal correspondents were John, Martha, and Matthew Tallman who wrote to their brother, Jeremiah, while he served in the 1st Missouri Light Artillery, and John D. Brown, of the same regiment, who wrote to his sister, Hannah M. Brown. This collection of letters is the result of the marriage of Jeremiah W. Tallman and Hannah M. Brown. The collection spans from 1860-1865 and covers a variety of topics from family relations, conditions in the military camps, wartime communication, the economy, and life after the war.
The Murray Collection contains 16 letters detailing the activities of the 20th Iowa Infantry as they marched through the Ozarks. The letters are addressed to Thomas Murray from his brother William Murray and his cousin, Thomas Murray, serving in the 20th Iowa. William wrote the bulk of the wartime letters, offering his perspective of the Ozarks and the events that unfolded in the region. The 20th Iowa marched through St. Louis, Rolla, and Springfield. They camped at Newtonia in early October 1862. William reported to his brother about the 1862 Battle of Newtonia that took place there only a few days before his arrival. In December of 1862, the 20th Iowa then participated in the Battle of Prairie Grove in Arkansas. William was severely wounded in the Battle, and died shortly after. The collection contains three post-war letters, in which Thomas inquires about his brother’s grave in Arkansas. Thomas Murray continued to write his cousin, as the 20th Iowa traveled to Mississippi and participated in the Siege of the Vicksburg.
The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was one of the earliest African-American regiments organized during the Civil War. This regimental order book documents correspondences, general orders and special orders between 1863 and 1864. During this period the 1st Kansas Colored was stationed in southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri, western Arkansas, and Indian Territory, Oklahoma.
In October 1862, Soldiers from the regiment engaged Rebel troops at the Battle of Island Mound in Bates County, MO. This skirmish earned them the distinction of the first African-American troops from a northern state to see action as soldiers. The 1st Kansas Colored became seasoned veterans by the end of the war, participating in several battles and engagements. On December 13, 1864, the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was re-designated as the 79th U.S. Colored Troops.