Where the Civil
War Vacations ~ Missouri Civil War
Make plans now to attend the Reenactment
of the Battle of Pilot Knob
Davidson-Pilot Knob State Historic Site
2017 Battle of Pilot Knob Reenactment
The Reenactment will be held September 23 & 24, 2017
Plan to attend the next Reenactment!
Information to help you plan your Missouri Civil War History Vacation
Where did the civil war begin?
Did you know?
~ More Civil War battles or engagements were fought in
Missouri than in any other state besides Virginia and Tennessee?
~ In 1861, the year the war started, 45 percent of all
battles and all casualties were in Missouri?
~ More Civil War generals are buried at St. Louis than
at Arlington or West Point?
story of how Missouri became embroiled in the Civil War conflict and
Missouri Civil War History in the Arcadia Valley Region
& Black River Recreation Area
1857, the nation had been deeply divided by the Dred Scott decision,
the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Lecompton Constitution, and John
Brown's 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry. When it came time for the
1860 presidential election, the pro-slavery Southern states
knew the Republican Party was against the expansion of slavery
into US territories, and Southern Democrats believed Lincoln’s
stand against slavery would ruin the South. So, although it
was regarded as rebellion, seven Southern states—South
Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana
and Texas---declared their secession from the Union, as soon
as Lincoln's victory was announced. These seven states
formed the Confederate States of America and elected Jefferson
Davis President. Davis took his oath of office in Alabama just
before Lincoln’s inauguration.
Both sides began to build their armies. The first battle of
the war was in April 1861 when the CSA gained control of Fort
Sumpter, causing four more states to secede from the Union—Virginia,
Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. The five slave-holding
border states—Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia
and Delaware—belonged to the Union, but their citizens
were divided in allegiance. Missouri
was a friend to both sides, sending men and supplies to both
the Confederate and Union forces, it had a star on both flags
and state governments on each side as well.
When the Union Army under Nathaniel Lyon seized the arsenal
at St. Louis and moved its supplies to Illinois, pro-Southern
Claiborne F. Jackson called out the Missouri State Militia,
under Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Frost. Lyon perceived their maneuvers
as an attempt to seize the arsenal and attacked the Militia,
parading them as captives through the streets of St. Louis.
The next day, on May 11, 1861, the Missouri General Assembly
authorized the formation of a Missouri State Guard commanded
by Sterling Price. Exactly two months later, Lyon met with
Jackson and demanded that Missouri honor Lincoln’s call
for troops. Jackson refused and was escorted (and eventually
evicted) from office. The State Guard endured attacks
by federal forces and ultimately, Claiborne Jackson and his
State Guard troops were chased to southwest Missouri. The
Battle of Wilson’s Creek, near Springfield, was the
first battle in which Missourians sought formal help from
the CSA. With more than 2,300 Union casualties, one of whom
was Lyon, the Confederate Army won the battle. But they were
too disorganized and ill-equipped to pursue the retreating
Union regiments, and Price soon began a withdrawal of State
Guard units from Missouri.
Missouri endured a trying period of bushwhacking guerrilla
warfare from 1862 to 1864, which often pitted neighbor-against-neighbor.
During this time, small regiments of troops from both sides
were stationed throughout the state, including Fort
Davidson at Pilot Knob, a Union fort, and nearby
which is believed to have been built and occupied in 1863.
It is believed that the Union 13th Cavalry was camped at the
village of Barnesville. This was known as a picket, meaning
their main camp was elsewhere other than the fort. A small
group of soldiers would have been placed at the fort for guard
duty while the others were busy carrying out raids to keep
control of this area and the extremely crucial military trail
to Pilot Knob. The Confederates desperately wanted to regain
control of this area and the trail to Pilot Knob. There
is not much recorded history on the fort at Barnesville (near
present-day Ellington). It was discovered in 1997, and
although there is no evidence of a battle there, through the
diligence of a local historian, Gerald Angel, Fort
Barnesville was added to the National Register of Historic
Places in 1998 and is
on the civil war tour of our region. For more on Fort
Barnesville, **see below.
Although, or perhaps because, the Confederacy was clearly
losing the war, in 1864 Price renewed his attempt to put Missouri
under Confederate control by reassembling the Missouri Guard.
Unfortunately for the Confederacy, and for Price, he was unable
to repeat the victorious streak he had in 1861. Price’s
Raid began in the southeastern portion of the state where
he advanced northward to the end of the St. Louis and Iron
Mountain Railroad at Pilot Knob, in the Arcadia Valley.
There he attempted to defeat the army at Fort
Davidson in the Battle of Pilot Knob, He lost
nearly 1200 men who were killed, wounded or missing, and ultimately,
the battle. From there he struck northward where he found
St. Louis to be too heavily fortified with Union troops and
set out westward, parallel with the Missouri River. The Federal
soldiers attempted to stop his advance—resulting in
some minor and major skirmishes—The advance culminated
in the Battle of Westport (in present-day Kansas City) and
the defeat of the Southern army.
Since Missouri never actually seceded from the Union, it wasn’t
forced to suffer the worst aspects of Reconstruction, and
Democrats, who had been pro-slavery prior to the war, returned
to being the dominant power in the state by 1873.
**The Discovery of Fort Barnesville
There have been generations of people that walked over and
around this Redan type earthen fort at Deer Run State Forest
in Ellington. Many had to speculate a little about what this
horse shoe shaped mound had been. It wasn’t until 1995
when it was brought to the attention of our local civil war
historian Gerald Angel, who identified it as a fort from his
investigative experiences with nearby Fort Patterson. Research
began, and through Gerald Angel and his assistants’
vigilant research, Fort Barnesville was entered on the National
Register of Historic Places on July 1, 1998. This Fort is
believed to have been built in early 1863 by the 13th Illinois
Cavalry and the 25th Missouri Infantry, possibly aided by
the 3rd Missouri Militia. Evidence has not yet been found
of any major skirmish or battle. For
more information stop by the Reynolds County Museum in Ellington,
then go to Deer
Run State Conservation Area where the fort is located,
or even better, schedule a guided tour of this recently discovered
fort by calling Gerald Angel at 1-573-663-2789.