Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Union Defender December 2009


    Members heard a report from Herb Jackson on the possible move of the "Zagonyi's Charge" monument from its current location (Mount Vernon Street and Kansas Expressway in Springfield) to a more suitable location in Zagonyi Park in time for the 150th anniversary of the charge in 2011. Herb reported that the University Club is in favor of such a move. He will now contact the landowner and the City of Springfield to get their approval.

    Members were encouraged to contribute material to the new Phelps Camp blog (

    The camp agreed to hold elections at the January meeting.

    Camp members discussed various activities for 2010, including at least two "Parade of the Soldier" events and a possible tour of the Springfield National Cemetery.


The next meeting of Phelps Camp will be on Tuesday, January 5 at 7 p.m. at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.


Yes, it's that time again. 2010 dues for Phelps Camp and the SUVCW remain at $25! Please send a check or money order to:

John Rutherford

1329 S. Meadowview Ave.

Springfield, MO 65804


The members of Phelps Camp are pleased to welcome a new member to their ranks. Bob Drake's paperwork will soon be on its way to the department and national headquarters. Bob's Union ancestor was a member of the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery. Welcome to the camp, Bob!





Wednesday, December 23, 2009

G.A.R. Posts in Greene County, Missouri

POST #69 Capt. John Matthews Post, Springfield was mustered May 3, 1883, by comrade Charles Emery. The first commander was Judge W. F. Geiger. There were twenty-nine charter members.

POST #210 McCrosky Post, was mustered September 26, 1884, in North Springfield, with twenty-three charter members. William Mathie was the first post commander.

POST #292 Thomas A. Reed Post, of Ebenezer, was mustered November 6, 1886, by William Mathie, with twenty-two charter members. Robert A. Vaughan was first commander.

POST #234 Ash Grove Post, was mustered by William Mathie with seventeen charter members. H. H. McCall was first commander.

POST #315 William Bhame Post, of Strafford, was mustered February 19, 1887, by Comrade H. A. Doan, with 21 charter members. John McCabe first commander.

POST #319 Captain Mack Post, Green Ridge, was mustered May 23, 1887. by James R. Milner, with 15 charter members. Henry T. Howard was the first commander.

POST #397 Brookline Post of Place, was mustered August 16, 1888. by 0. S. Grove, with 12 charter members. J.R. Gammon first commander.

POST #409 John Shelton Post, was mustered January 19, 1889, by J, W. Lisenby, with 15 charter members. W.H. Kershner was the first commander.

POST #449 Fair Grove Post, was mustered October 3, 1189 by James R. Milner with 15 charter members. J.W.Cecil, first commander.

POST #476 Col. William Parkinson Post, of Springfield, was mustered June 30, 1890, by James R. Milner, with 15 charter members. Shady Wilson was the first commander.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vicksburg Daily Citizen

From the Pierce City (Missouri) Leader-Journal, September 30, 2009:

80 Years Ago, September 26, 1929

M.T. Kelley of northeast of Pierce City brought to the Leader-Journal office a copy of the Vicksburg, Miss. Daily Citizen, dated July 2, 1863. It was the last copy issued and is printed on wallpaper. We find the following notice by the editor-July 4, 1863. Two days bring about great changes. The banner of the Union floats over Vicksburg. General Grant has “caught the rabbit”; he has dined in Vicksburg, and he did bring his dinner with him. The “Citizen” lives to see it. For the lat time it appears on “wall paper.” No more will it eulogize the luxury of mule meat and fricasseed kitten—urge Southern warriors to such diet never more. This is the last wallpaper edition and is, excepting this note, from the types as we found them. It will be valuable hereafter as a curiosity.

H.C. Shoemaker, one of our old citizens, was in Vicksburg when the town surrendered to the Union Army.

(Thanks to Richard Cochran for sharing this article).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Prairie Grove: A Prisoner’s Reminiscence

"Prairie Grove: A Prisoner’s Reminiscence," National Tribune, October 30, 1884

To the Editor: I think Comrade S.S. Cain, 7th Mo. Cav., is mistaken as to Marmaduke commanding the rebel army there. My impression is that Hindman was at the head, with headquarters at Van Buren, on the Arkansas River, where he was afterwards assassinated. My regiment (7th Mo. Cav.) received orders on the evening of the 5th to be prepared to move at a minute’s warning. “Boots and saddles” was sounded at daybreak on the 6th; we were then at Keithsville, Mo. We moved off at a trot, keeping that gait the greater portion of the day, passing infantry, artillery and cavalry on the way, going through Cross Hollows, Pea Ridge, Mud Town and Fayetteville, Ark., about dusk, stopping some six miles below the town, where we dismounted to rest. We remained there some three hours, and were again ordered to move. About daylight on the 7th we stopped between two large corn-fields to feed the horses and rest ourselves; and I remember, distinctly, after being in the saddle that length of time, it was equally as comfortable standing as it was sitting. I am satisfied that at this time the commanding officers perfectly unconscious of the proximity of any force of rebels, as we could not have been placed in a more unfavorable position to repel an attack; it was Lone Jack over again. Just after daylight, three men of Co. C went to the end of the lane, in them timber, to get one or more of several pigs that had been seen there, when they were fired upon and two of them killed; the third, Balaam Fox, ran back to the command, shot through the hand. It was but a few minutes before the bullets were coming from the corn on either side of us and the end of the lane south. Several attempts were made to form us for a charge, but as the lane was filled with horses and men there was much confusion, and finding it impossible to do so, a retreat was ordered. No sooner had this commenced than the lane in our rear was filled with rebel cavalry, who used their revolvers to good advantage at short range and we were compelled to surrender. The killed in this part of the fight were nearly all stripped naked and tramped under foot by the horses. After being captured I, with a number of other prisoners, was marched back some half-mile, meeting some 20 brass field pieces hurrying to the front. Two of these were the ones taken from the 3 Ind. Battery by the rebels at Lone Jack, Mo., Aug. 16, 1862. We were told here that rebel force present was between 25,000 and 30,000. The prisoners were kept from a half mile to a mile in the rear of line of battle all day, moving about occasionally to escape the shells from our batteries that would sometimes cut the limbs from the trees over our heads, and sometimes lying flat on our faces. About noon we were marched to a frame house, where our names, rank and regiment were taken by a rebel officer. There were present at this time, as prisoners, 29 of the 6th Mo. Cav., 123 of the 7th Mo. Cav., 14 of the 8th Mo. Cav., and 73 of the 1st Ark. Cav.

In the door of the house stood an old gray-haired lady clapping her hands and crying: “Thank God! Thank God! that I have lived to see this day.” But her joy was short-lived, as the house was burned within a few days, and the rebels in full retreat.

Comrade Beatty says that the last cannon of the rebels was disabled before 4 o’clock p.m. In this he is mistaken, as a battery passed us leaving the field about 6 p.m., which was the first move I saw indicating a retreat. We could hear Blunt plainly when he opened fire about 4 o’clock p.m. It turned quite cold during the night and the prisoners suffered considerably, as their overcoats and blankets had been taken from them and they were not permitted to build fires, although the guards outside had fires. We were started south about 1 o’clock a.m. of the 8th. We received nothing to eat until about 1 o’clock a.m. of the 9th, when we received about a pint of meal each. From the time we were captured, at daylight on the 7th, to this time we lived upon the grains of corn picked from the dirt where the rebel cavalry-men fed their horses and slippery elm bark gathered from the trees near by the roadside, which was pretty thin food for a long tramp. I believe some of the prisoners were successful in begging a piece of corn “pone” from the guards occasionally. We were taken across the Boston Mountains to Van Buren, thence to Fort Smith, where we were kept in an old tobacco warehouse. Our rations here was about one quart per Yankee of cornmeal (more like hominy than meal) with considerable cob in it. Sometimes with our corn we would get about two tablespoonfuls of brown sugar each; at others, a small piece of fresh beef and a tablespoonful of salt. My mess had an iron kettle holding, perhaps, two gallons. When we drew sugar we would first make a mush and then stir in the sweetening. When done, each with a little wooden paddle, would “gather by the kettle” and eat as fast as could be expected under the circumstances. When we received meat it would first be boiled and removed from the kettle and the meal stirred in. One thing that could be said of our rations is that we had a variety, and not meal “ad nauseum,” like the boys at Andersonville.

A.H. Worthen, Jr., 1st Serg’t, Co. E., 7th Mo. Cav., Warsaw, Ill.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Reason Why a Company of Militia Failed to Eat Their Dinner

“The Reason Why a Company of Militia Failed to Eat Their Dinner,” National Tribune, March 10, 1892

Editor National Tribune:

When I left my home in Brunswick , Mo. , in 1861, to join the 18th Mo. , there were only 12 families of pronounced Union sentiments living in that community, and excepting the German farmers who resided in Chariton County , loyalty was prominent by its absence. Upon my return from rebel prison in 1863, I found a whole regiment of Chariton County citizens stationed at Brunswick who were wearing the blue.

I learned that every able-bodied man except aliens, who resided in the County, had been compelled to enroll himself either as loyal or disloyal. If he enrolled as loyal, he was subject to be ordered into active military service, and if enrolled as disloyal, he was liable to special assessment. Under these circumstances it made but little difference to a majority of our citizens which horn of the dilemma they chose, as it was a losing game in either case whether they served in the militia or paid assessments.

However, there was some calculating minds who conceived the idea of enrolling as loyal, and when ordered out for duty to furnish a substitute, and in consequence of this expediency, militia substitutes soon became in great demand, so that their price ranged from $200 to $400 each. It seems that the Adjutant of a militia regiment was charged with the duty to pass upon the qualifications of these substitutes, hence, those who were ready to become substitutes reported themselves to him, and by the liberal application of division and silence, many physical defects were covered up and the fellow accepted as sound and qualified. When the supply of substitutes ran short, he managed to have some one to be discharged or relieved from duty and then re-enter him as substitute for another man. The oftener this process was gone through with, the more money was realized by these individuals.

Among those who were accepted as substitutes was an old wagon-maker by the name of Frank Henneberg. Physical defects (hernia) entitled him to exemption papers, but he answered as a substitute because he made a liberal division with the officer, who kept the lion’s share of the bonus. In fact, Frank had, in a very short time, been entered for three different persons, and found the life of a militia man to be both pleasant and profitable.

However, Frank was somewhat of a philosopher, and had ample time to reason to his own satisfaction that his services were worth as much as that of the Adjutant’s, who got the largest part, hence, when he was again in demand as a substitute(having been relieved from duty for that purpose), he put the $300 which he got for his last entry into his pocket, and refused to give more than $50 to the officer who had managed the business thus far. The result of Frank’s actions proved disastrous to him, as instead of being permitted to remain in camp, doing little or nothing, he was required to stand guard night after night, something that Frank did not relish at all, and which gave him much concern.

Frank sought a remedy, and he found it. One night while on guard in front of the camp he noticed his tormentor, the Adjutant, in company with his Colonel, approaching the entrance. He immediately challenged them, and they replied: “Why, Frank, this is me,” and proceeded toward the entrance. But Frank said: “I don’t know ‘me,’” and commanded them to halt. The officers took it for a joke, and proceeded, when bang! went Frank’s old musket, and a bullet whistled over the heads of the badly-scared officers.

The alarm brought out the Sergeant of the Guard, and the trembling militia heroes were admitted. A consultation between them resulted in reaching a conclusion that Frank was a dangerous guard, as they frequently were out late at night, hence they directed that he should no longer be placed on guard duty, but should be detailed as cook. Frank did not like the idea of taking the place of some colored man, and declared that he knew less about cooking than about standing guard, but his protest was in vain, he was doomed to don the apron and to be ready to cook the next dinner.

When the Commissary Sergeant brought a supply to him he sent word to the Adjutant requesting instructions what to do with it, whose reply was, “---it; tell him to cook it in the big kettle.” Frank said, “All right, I’ll obey orders,” and, filling the kettle with water, he emptied the entire commissary stores, including unground coffee, candles, and soap, with the bacon and potatoes, into the kettle and kept up a good fire till dinner-time.
At the usual signal the men marched into the dining-room and the contraband waiters began to serve boiled bacon and soup, but no sooner had the men tasted the broth than they began to look for Frank, but Frank was gone, no explanation could be obtained from him, hence the kettle was explored, and candle-wick and other ingredients which were found soon disclosed the incipiency of Frank’s culinary attainments.

After some days search for the “cook” he was found, but claimed that he suddenly had taken sick; but, sick or not sick, Frank was placed in the guard-house, a court-martial was summoned, and his trial resulted in convicting him of conduct unbecoming a militiaman, etc., and his punishment was fixed, first, that his head be shaved, and, second, that he be marched by the music of the Rogue’s March through the principal streets out of town.

This sentence was carried out to the letter, and to the great amusement of the boys who furnished the escort or were spectators of the procession, with Frank as the principal attraction. Frank not only reached the suburbs of the town but continued his march till he found a more hospitable shelter with a friendly farmer some miles away from town.

After the war was over Frank delighted to tell of his exploits, and, after detailing the particulars as to the amount of money he made, would say, “By golly, I did not care to be a substitute any longer and got a free shave, but kept my money.” --L. Benecke, Co. H, 18th Mo. , and Co. I, 49th Mo. , Brunswick , Mo.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Grand Army of the Republic

The Grand Army of The Republic was the largest organization of Union Veterans in America. It was founded by Benjamin F. Stephenson in Decatur, Illinois, on April 6, 1866. The GAR was a fraternal group for men who were honorably discharged from the Union Army and Navy. Local Posts were established throughout the country and named in honor of a deceased Union hero. Membership grew through the years and the GAR became an increasingly powerful political lobby that worked tirelessly for pensions and other veterans’ issues. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is the official successor to the GAR.

Memorial Day is the most visible reminder of the GAR today. Originally known as Decoration Day, it began in 1868 when GAR Commander-In-Chief John A. Logan issued General Orders No. 11, urging all posts to spend May 30 honoring their fallen comrades.

The official GAR newspaper was the National Tribune. Published weekly, each issue featured reminiscences from veterans. These articles are an invaluable source for historians about many important battles and campaigns. The recollections also illustrate the routine, and even humorous episodes associated with army life. Articles from the National Tribune, along with articles about the GAR from local newspapers, will be reprinted on this blog in memory of the brave men who preserved the Union from 1861-1865.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Union Defender November 2009



Springfield, Missouri, November 2009

Members discussed future camp projects, and agreed that funding another battle monument (this time in southwest Missouri) is a worthwhile project that can be completed by the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The location of this monument will be announced after approval is obtained from the landowner and a contract is finalized with the monument company.

Members discussed negotiating with the University Club and the City of Springfield authorities to move the “Zagonyi’s Charge” monument from its current location (Mount Vernon Street and Kansas Expressway) to a more suitable location in Zagonyi Park. Camp member Herb Jackson has volunteered to lead this effort.

Members were encouraged to have a look at the new Phelps Camp blog (, and contribute Civil War news, historical information, etc., to editor Michael Price.
Members were informed that an article and photographs highlighting the Lexington and Cave Springs monument dedications have been submitted to The Banner.


The next meeting of Phelps Camp will be on Tuesday, December 1 at 7 p.m. at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. We will discuss camp plans for 2010 and watch a recent documentary on the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cave Spring Monument

With members of Phelps Camp in attendance, a monument was erected at the Cave Spring school and cemetery, northeast of Sarcoxie, Missouri on October 3, 2009. The monument recognizes the wartime sacrifices of this Unionist community in southwest Missouri. Cave Spring was an early settlement in Jasper County. A school was established there in the early 1840s. By the Civil War, it was still a small, rural community. Though few in number, these citizens remained loyal to the Union. One regiment, the 76th Enrolled Missouri Militia, was recruited in the Cave Spring and Bowers’ Mill area. The monument lists the 37 soldiers and 10 civilians from the Cave Spring neighborhood who died during the war, either from wounds or disease.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lexington Monument Dedication

On September 26, 2009, members of Phelps Camp proudly dedicated a monument to the Union defenders of Lexington, Missouri. Missouri and Illinois volunteers commanded by Colonel James A. Mulligan stubbornly defended the Lexington garrison from September 12-20, 1861. Representatives from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and Congressman Ike Skelton spoke at the dedication. Several members of Holmes Brigade, a prominent reenacting unit, served in the color guard. The monument was erected near the Union entrenchments at the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site.

Attendees were privileged to meet Mr. David Luff, a descendant of George Palmer. Palmer, a musician in the 1st Illinois Cavalry, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on September 20. He led a charge which drove Confederate sharpshooters away from the Anderson House, a Union hospital. Mr. Luff generously displayed Palmer’s Medal of Honor and a Union flag he rescued.

With this long term project complete, Phelps Camp eagerly looks forward to new activities which will honor the services of Union soldiers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Union Defender October 2009



Springfield, Missouri, October 2009


Members discussed future camp projects, including another battle monument (perhaps one in southwest Missouri), restoration of an original Greene County, Missouri G.A.R. flag, and a memorial to St. Joseph resident and Battle of Shiloh hero Colonel Everett Peabody. A final decision on the next Phelps Camp fundraising project will be made soon.

Members discussed the new camp blog site (see address above), where members can go for the latest information about the camp, plus photographs of recent camp activities and some great historical information relating to the Phelps family, the G.A.R. and other Civil War topics.


Phelps Camp was represented at the Civil War Round Table of the Ozarks Conference at the Clarion Hotel in Springfield on Saturday, October 10. Camp members manned a table, handing
out free literature and selling copies of the Chronicles and GAR book.


Several members of Phelps Camp attended a wonderful monument dedication ceremony at Cave Springs, near Sarcoxie, Missouri, on Saturday, October 3. A large, impressive monument to the members of the 76th Enrolled Missouri Militia and the Union civilians who gave their lives during the Civil War was unveiled before a large crowd. Members of the camp presented a musket firing demonstration and participated in the memorial service at the adjacent cemetery. Camp Commander Wait spoke on behalf of Phelps Camp.
It is a little-known fact that many members of the 76th , along with pro-Union civilians in the area, perished while trying to protect their homes and families against guerrilla bands.
Photos of the monument and the event will be posted soon on our blog site.


The next meeting of Phelps Camp will be on Tuesday, November 3 at 7 p.m. at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Phelps Camp Charter Ceremony

The charter ceremony for Phelps Camp was held in October 1994 in the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center. The event also marked the anniversary of Zagonyi's Charge on October 25, 1861. Led by Major Charles Zagonyi, this daring cavalry charge allowed Union forces to briefly recapture Springfield, Missouri.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to join Phelps Camp

Phelps camp is always anxious to welcome new members. Persons interested in joining the camp are encouraged to attend a monthly meeting. They are held on the first Tuesday of each month in the Visitor Center at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. Meetings begin at 7 P.M. and here visitors can meet with camp members and learn more about our activities.

Annual dues are $25. New members pay an extra $5 when they join. An associate membership is available for those without an ancestor who served in the Union army or Navy. An application is available on the national web site at

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What is the SUVCW?

If you have an interest in the Civil War, and especially if you have an ancestor who served honorably in the Union Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, you may wish to join the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. This brief introduction to the SUVCW will answer some questions about the organization and how you may join us in honoring your Union ancestor.

The SUVCW is a group directly linked to Civil War Union veterans. It is the only male organization recognized by and representing the Grand Army of the Republic, a powerful veterans group made up of Union Army, Navy, and Marine Corps enlisted men and officers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Formed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1881, the SUVCW was formed to perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and the men who fought to preserve the unity and indivisibility of our nation. We also honor the memory of the wartime president, Abraham Lincoln. The SUVCW was officially incorporated by an Act of Congress in 1954.

The SUVCW has a national organization known as the Commandery-in-Chief and several national officers. Departments exist in many states, with several individual "camps" in most departments. Phelps Camp was recently added to the newly formed Department of Missouri. Other camps exist in Cape Girardeau and St. Louis. Although most potential members join a camp near their home, there is a "Member-at-Large" category for men who reside in states where no camps exist. An annual "National Encampment" is held in various cities around the nation.

To honor the men who preserved the Union during the Civil War, the SUVCW sponsors or participates in a number of activities including:

Ceremonies and programs to commemorate events and honor leaders important to the Civil War and the G.A.R.

Erecting, maintaining, and preserving monuments and plaques marking events and people of the Civil War

Supporting the preservation of battlefield sites

Collecting and preserving artifacts, records, and memorabilia of the G.A.R. and the Union forces

Locating, recording, and marking the graves of Union veterans. Decorating graves on Memorial Day and other occasions

Presenting scholarship awards for Civil War studies

Encouraging research and writing on the period and engaging in other similar activities.

Next time, information on joining Phelps Camp and the SUVCW!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Phelps Camp was formed in 1994, and is actually named for three members of a prominent local family who each made important contributions to the preservation of the Union during the Civil War.

John Smith Phelps was a prominent U.S. congressman before and during the war, who also served as colonel of the "Phelps Regiment, Missouri Infantry," and led that regiment into action at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, March 7-8, 1862. He later served as military governor of Arkansas, and after the war was elected governor of Missouri.

Mary Whitney Phelps, his wife, safeguarded the body of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon after his death at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861, and helped care for the wounded of her husband's regiment after the Battle of Pea Ridge. Following the war, she established an orphanage in Springfield for the children of Union soldiers.

John Elisha Phelps, their son, fought in the Battles of Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge, and was appointed colonel of the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry (US). He led that unit into action on several battlefields, including Westport and Mine Creek. He was made a brevet brigadier general at the end of the war for his services.