While some parts of the nation were eager to fight at the beginning of the Civil War, Missouri was still trying to remain neutral. This effort was headed for failure. Missourians tried for peace in word and deed, but when the step was taken across the line, war came quickly. This isn’t to say people hadn’t chosen sides. The governor wanted secession. Those sides clashed across a conference table in St. Louis and Missouri went to war.
As she cared for soldiers wounded in the Civil War, Phoebe Couzins became convinced that women could do as much to avert war as they did to heal the wounds it caused. But, she felt, women had to have political power; they had to be legal equals of men. In her long struggle to give women equal rights, Phoebe Couzins achieved a number of notable firsts, although her career took a strange turn later in her life.
Franz Sigel was a German who chose the wrong side in the German Revolution. He was driven from his home country twice to Switzerland and finally even Switzerland attempted to ship him to America. Knowing the trouble Sigel had going where he was supposed to go, and holding his position once he arrived, his story as a Civil War general might be better understood.
Missouri’s legislature by now was certainly on the run. At least one of the legislatures was. Although its members didn’t realize it, this day was the last day the Confederate legislature of Missouri met. Missouri on this day seceded from the Union.
Several months earlier, Governor Jackson had fled from Jefferson City as General Lyon’s troops moved upstream on the Missouri River. Now it was fall. A federally supported interim government had taken over in Jefferson City with Hamilton Gamble as governor, but those who had been part of the Jackson government were still playing their roles. What was left of the legislature was about to meet in Neosho on the special call of the man they still regarded as their governor. About a week after the battle of Lexington, Governor Jackson ordered the legislature into special session. He took the action although he was no longer governor – the state convention of 99 having declared his seat vacant. Furthermore, the legislature he called couldn’t act because it was no longer the lawmaking body of the state.
They had fought skirmishes with the Confederate troops as the southerners approached the city. Now it was night and the Union soldiers were fortifying themselves for the attack they were sure would come the next morning. The Confederates, making a bold move into Missouri – a last-gasp thrust according to some – had been frustrated by mistakes and near misses for weeks and had just fought a bloody battle to the south. Now the state capital was within their grasp. The city, never before attacked by the Confederacy, was facing its greatest danger since the opening days of the war, when Union forces had taken over peacefully without a shot being fired or a casualty being reported.
Only two men in Missouri history served in two national Senates. One of the men was George Graham Vest. The other,Waldo Porter Johnson, is not as well known. Both served in the United States Senate and in the days of the Civil War both were in the Confederate Senate at Richmond.
The man from Washington was visiting with the president-elect on a secret mission. The country was falling apart. War was imminent. The president was powerless to keep it from happening in the final days of his administration. Would the president-elect approve a desperate maneuver that might forestall a civil war? That was the question put to Abraham Lincoln by a Missourian named Duff Green.
This battle rates only a few words in the history books of Missouri and hardly any at all in overall Civil War histories. It was the northernmost skirmish west of the Mississippi during that war. However, some of the men who fought in the battle of Athens are remembered more for another battle they fought later, several hundred miles south.
The smoke-belching sidewheeler which had been working its way upstream for the last two days nosed into the landing on the riverfront. It was Saturday and although the community appeared quiet on the surface, it was in confusion and turmoil. About three days earlier the city had been thrown into chaos when the governor and a general rushed back from St. Louis, then fled.
Uncertainty prevailed.It was mid-afternoon. Men began to file off the boat. They were wearing uniforms of federal soldiers. The capital city of Missouri was about to become an occupied town. Union forces seized the city without a shot being fired. They occupied the city for four years, all the while knowing the governor, the lieutenant governor, and hundreds of Confederate soldiers wanted to regain it. But the city, lost in the first few hours of the Civil War in Missouri ,was never regained.