Volume 5, Number 12, Summer 1976
J. Harvey Garrison, a noted churchman, author and publisher, was born in Ozark, Missouri, in 1842. In his autobiography, Memories and Experiences, published in 1926, he tells of one pre-Civil war incident not recorded else where.
The contracting firm which had built the courthouse at Ozark in 1860-61, announced that on a certain Saturday before the building was to be turned over to the county, the Confederate flag would be raised. According to the author:
This created great excitement in all the region where the hilimen were loyal to the old flag, as a rule, while the town people were generally Southern sympathizers. The day arrived and the town was full of people, nearly all of whom were armed with rifles, shotguns, or pistols.
According to the author, the contractor appeared on the roof of the new courthouse with a Gonferderate flag in his hand. A Union man on the ground below raised his rifle to shoot him, when young Garrison pulled his gun down and urged the crowd to raise the Union flag and then defend it if attacked. The American flag was raised and young Garrison was called upon to address the muttering crowd. He told them
frankly that he was an ardent Unionist, but reminded them that they were all neighbors, citizeus under one flag; that Missouri was not in the war and might never be; that if war should come, then would be the time to choose sides as soldiers and fight accordingly; that killing as private citizens would be murder, not legitimate war. Pointing to the flag under which he stood, he said:
My friends, that old flag with its stars and stripes is the same banner which Washington and his ragged soldiers followed with bleeding feet at Valley Forge, and carried to victory. If it comes to war, that is the flag I shall follow in order to preserve the Union. Some of you will choose the other side, no doubt, but today let us separate quietly as friends and think it over till that time comes.
The crowd dispersed without a shot being fired. The young speaker lived nearly three-quarters of a century longer, attaining high honors as a soldier and later as a churchman, writer, and publisher, but he wrote in his late life that he counted the victory of preserving peace, even momentarily that day in Ozark, one of the greatest victories of his life.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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