Archive for the ‘Wright’ Category

1856 Slave Bill of Sale – Purchased by Kindred Rose

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

On May 7, 1856, John and Joseph McMahan, administers of James McMahan’s estate in Wright County, sold an African American slave named Henry to Kindred Rose, a resident of Greene County. Rose purchased the nineteen year old slave for $2,025. The McMahan’s claimed Henry to be “sound, sensible, healthy and a slave for life.”

Comparison between slave records may provide an interesting study on the value of human property and the fluctuation of slave trade as the Civil War progressed. Researchers are encouraged to consult other slave records located in the Community & Conflict collection.

Contributed by the The History Museum on the Square

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Charles C. Rainwater Papers

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Charles C. Rainwater and his wife Sarah Hannah Fowler lived in Cole Camp, Missouri in 1860.1 Rainwater worked as a general merchant until the outbreak of the War. He enlisted in the Missouri State Guard, serving until March 25, 1862. He subsequently joined the Confederate 5th Missouri Infantry, which organized in Fort Smith, Arkansas and consisted mostly of Missouri State Guardsmen.

Rainwater joined John S. Marmaduke’s expedition into Missouri in January 1863. Marmaduke hoped an assault into Missouri would alleviate pressure on Northwest Arkansas, by diverging the attention of Union troops under Brigadier General James Blunt in the region. His goal was to quickly strike Union positions, causing the Federal forces to withdraw back into Missouri to protect their rear and flank. Marmaduke’s expedition resulted in several engagements including the Battle of Springfield on January 8, 1863 and Battle of Hartville on January 11, 1863. Rainwater was wounded at the Battle of Hartville. He asked Dr. T. R. Ferguson, a surgeon, to write one of Sarah’s relatives, informing them that he survived the battle and hoped to be home soon. Ferguson tried to reassure Sarah in the letter, “not to be troubled about him. Just keep yourself as one of your sex should. trust in the Lord and do good and he shall bring it to pass, for the Righteous shall have the desire of there harts.”2

Rainwater was appointed ordnance officer on Marmaduke’s staff in 1863. In late April, Rainwater wrote Sarah while in Bloomfield, Missouri. He reported numerous engagements and skirmishes involving the 5th Missouri Infantry, including the Battle of Cape Girardeau on April 16, 1863. The 5th Missouri Infantry took an active part in the defense of Vicksburg, and was captured when the city fell on July 4, 1863.3 After being exchange, the Regiment was assigned to General Cockrell’s Brigade and consolidated with the 3rd Regiment.

Throughout the war Rainwater was wounded several times. He was described as a cheerful, brave and unselfish comrade, but injury prone. His extensive injuries caused him permanent physical damage. On February 17, 1864, Rainwater applied for permanent disability from the Army of the Confederate States due to epilepsy and paralysis from gunshot wounds.

We do hereby certify that we have carefully examined this officer and find him permanently disabled and cannot perform duty in any branch of the Military Service because of Gun shot Wound to the head producing symptoms of epilepsy also Gun shot Wound of the left hip – the ball yet remaining – producing parolysis and incapacitating him from riding on horseback

Medical Certificate of Disability, February 17, 1864

Rainwater was injured again on June 6, 1864 at Ditch Bayou, Arkansas. Marmaduke cited Rainwater for his gallant conduct in his report of the Battle of Lake Chicot. His injuries, however, disabled him from further combat service. Rainwater served for the remainder of the war on General Joseph Shelby’s staff. After the War, Charles and Sarah moved to St. Louis, where they lived a comfortable and prosperous life until Charles died in 1902.


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  1. 1860 United States Federal Census; Census Place: Township 43 Range 21, Benton, Missouri; Roll: M653_607; Page: 418; Image: 422; Family History Library Film: 803607
  2. T. R. Ferguson Letter to Daniel Fowler. Jan. 20, 1863. Rainwater and Fowler Family Papers, 1863-1869, R227, The STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY of MISSOURI RESEARCH CENTER – ROLLA.
  3. “5th Regiment, Missouri Infantry”, CONFEDERATE MISSOURI TROOPS, National Parks Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System,

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.

Isely Family Papers

Monday, April 11th, 2011


Christian Isely
Marie Elizabeth “Eliza” Dubach Isely

Christian and Marie Isely Family
Image courtesy of John Mattox

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. 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.

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. Eliza’s in-laws did not share the same religious or political views as she and Christian, so they often belittled and berated her in German. She expressed to Christian in her letters the difficulties she faced living alone in such a hostile environment and her desire to return to the life they had prior to the war.

The collection also consists of Christian’s correspondence with other prominent individuals, such as, Edmund R. Colhoun, U.S.N., and William H. Smallwood, who became Kansas’ Secretary of State from 1871 – 1875.

Only a portion of the correspondents have been digitized, and researchers are encouraged to contact Wichita State University to view the entire collection.

Contributed by the Wichita State University Special Collections and University Archives.

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The Lyman Gibson Bennett Collection

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Lyman Gibson Bennett enlisted in the 36th Illinois Infantry in 1861. Prior to the War he trained as a surveyor and civil engineer, working for the railroad. The military utilized Bennett’s skills as a cartographer, and assigned him to survey battlefields, road systems, and fortifications. Bennett’s diaries document his daily duties as both a soldier and an engineer for the military. His regiment participated in the Battle of Pea Ridge, which he describes in vivid detail. Bennett was discharged from the military in August 1864.

In 1865, Bennett joined the engineering department of General Samuel R. Curtis as a civilian. He mapped the 1864 battlefields of Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition. Bennett was then assigned to survey fortifications in Nebraska and Colorado, and eventually served as an engineering officer on the Powder River Expedition of 1865. Bennett’s diaries provide colorful insight to his perception of the Ozarks and its inhabitants.

This collection consists of three diaries:

August 19 – December 20, 1861
December 21, 1861 – April 4, 1862
January 1 – October 4, 1865


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William H. Kesler Papers

Monday, January 24th, 2011

William H. Kesler was a resident of Champaign, Illinois, when the war began.1 Kesler enlisted in late fall 1861 in the 3rd Missouri Cavalry, a unit raised by Col. John M. Glover at Palmyra, Missouri. He joined Company D, which was composed of equal numbers of Missouri and Illinois men and captained by John H. Reed of Champaign.2 The 3rd Missouri Cavalry was mustered in at Palmyra, where it was headquartered until spring 1862. Kesler and his unit first saw action in December 1861 against Col. Joseph Porter’s rebel forces at Halltown and Mount Zion Church in northern Missouri.

On January 13, 1862, Kesler wrote his sister, Rose Ann Kesler, from camp in Palmyra. He described the Battle of Mount Zion Church in Boone County, Missouri, stating two companies of 450 men fought in a subsequent battle at Sturgeon, Missouri.3 Wounded and dead from both sides were left on the battlefield when the Confederates retreated. From March 1862 through August 1863, the 3rd Missouri Cavalry was assigned to the headquarters at Rolla and Pilot Knob, Missouri, and was part of the Army of Southeast Missouri.

The 3rd Missouri Cavalry fought Gen. John S. Marmaduke’s raiding Confederate cavalrymen at Hartville and Bloomfield, Missouri, in January 1863, and was in the Union squadron which raided Batesville, Arkansas, later that month. Kesler described the Battle of Hartville, and noted the number of casualties and prisoners captured during the battle. Kesler was so proud of the Battle that he told his sister, “our orderly Sargent is a going to write a peace to the Champaign paper and if you get a hold of one send me one of them.”4

As part of a Union cavalry brigade, the 3rd Missouri Cavalry marched into Arkansas in August 1863, and was part of the force which captured the state capital at Little Rock on September 10.5 The unit was the assigned to the Army of Arkansas in 1864. Kesler and the Missouri cavalrymen participated in Gen. Frederick Steele’s ill fated Camden Expedition, after which they returned to Little Rock.

In April 1865, Kesler wrote to his sister about a supper with the Independent Order of Good Templars, a temperance organization with 60,000 members in 1865 who worked to elect honest men to government positions. Kesler also wrote of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination,

The joy of the troops here was turned in to sorrow on receiving the news of the assassination of the President. I felt that day a though I could shoot any body that was a rebel…the soldiers of the North will avenge his death with a thousand lives.
William H. Kesler letter to Sister – Apr. 20, 1865

Kesler spent most of the remainder of the war in the vicinity of Little Rock, where the regiment mustered out in June 1865. After the war, William Kesler returned to Illinois he married Sarah Francis Peters on June 13, 1867 in Champaign Co., Illinois. The couple had eight children. After his marriage to Fannie in 1867, Kesler worked as a farmer and carpenter. While working as a carpenter, he contracted cancer of the under lip and jaw. Kesler applied for and received an invalid pension in 1890. He died on October 24, 1890 and is buried in Champaign, Illinois.

The William H. Kesler papers consist of twenty seven letters, the majority of which were written to his sister Rose Ann Kesler, during his service from January 1862 to June 1865.

Contributed by the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center – Rolla

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  1. 1860 United States Federal Census; Census Place: Township 19 N Range 8 E, Champaign, Illinois; Roll: M653_160; Page: 373; Image: 374; Family History Library Film: 803160.
  2. Information Sheet, Kesler-Lytle families, papers, 1861 1869. William H. Kesler Letters, 1862-1865, R448, The State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center – Rolla.
  3. William H. Kesler Letter to Rose Ann Kesler. Jan. 1, 1862.William H. Kesler Letters, 1862-1865, R448, The SState Historical Society of Missouri Research Center – Rolla.
  4. William H. Kesler Letter to Rose Ann Kesler. Jan. 18, 1863.William H. Kesler Letters, 1862-1865, R448, State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center – Rolla.
  5. Information Sheet, Kesler-Lytle families, papers, 1861 1869.William H. Kesler Letters, 1862-1865, R448, The State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center – Rolla.