Camden County, Missouri
- Formed: January 1841
- County Population 1860: 5,000
- Slave Population 1860: 136
- Civil War Engagements
-Battle at Wet Auglaize Creek, October 13, 1861
Image courtesy of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
Camden County, Missouri is located along many fresh water sources, including the Osage River, Linn Creek, and Pearson’s Creek. There is much natural timber, including oak, elm, ash, walnut, and cherry; along with natural lead, iron, coal, and zinc deposits. The soil is not ideal for agriculture, but can be used for grazing livestock.
Before white settlement, Camden County was the territory of the Osage and Delaware Native American tribes. The area was host to many French and Spanish explorers and traders. After the Louisiana Purchase, the first permanent white settlers were Reuben Berry and William Pogue, who came from Kentucky in 1827. Aaron Cain came from Virginia in 1833, George Carroll from Kentucky, and Green C. Thornton from Tennessee. The county was officially organized in January, 1841, and was originally named Kinderhook after President Van Buren’s home. Prominent resident Thomas M. Pollard offered his home for the first county courthouse, and townships were established at Osage, Adair, Russell, Jackson, Lick, and Glaize. Sidney R. Roberts and James N.B. Dodson—owners of the first general store—named the county seat Oregon. In December 1841, the county name was changed to Camden and the county seat changed from Oregon to Erie. The population continued to grow, and by 1850 the population was over 2,300 people; by 1860 it was almost 5,000 people, including 136 slaves.
During the Civil War, the majority of Camden County residents were loyal to the Union, though they bordered counties with majority Confederate sympathizers. Approximately 100 men from Camden County joined the Confederacy during the war. Supporters of the Union fought for several different military regiments. These included: The Osage Regiment, Camden County Home Guard, formed in May, 1861, Company K, 6th Volunteer Missouri Cavalry formed in February, 1862, under Captain J.C. DeGress, Companies G and I, 8th Regiment Cavalry, Missouri State Militia formed in April 1862 under Captain Milton Burch, the 47th Enrolled Missouri Militia formed in the Summer of 1862, and Company I, Missouri State Guards under Colonel Robert McCullough. These regiments conducted raids back and forth to Northern Arkansas for most of the war. There were no major battles that took place within Camden County boundaries, but a minor and brief battle took place at Wet Auglaize Creek on October 13, 1861 between the 6th Missouri Cavalry under Captain T.A. Swtizler and a Confederate regiment under Major M. Johnson. This battle lasted for only a short time, and resulted in a Union victory.
Overall, Camden County came out of the war better off than its neighboring counties. Though several homes were burned and several people had been killed, the area avoided widespread destruction and loss and was able to quickly rebuild itself. The railroad began construction in Camden County in the 1870s, and many towns sprung up around it.
- History of Laclede, Camden, Dallas, Webster, Wright, Texas, Pulaski, Phelps, and Dent Counties (Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1971).
- Camden County,1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.