Vol. IV, No. 4, Spring 1991 / Vol. V, No. 1, Summer 1991


Glossary compiled by Leo Huff

Battle of Prairie Grove, Ar. December 7, 1862. A Confederate army under Gen. Thomas Hindman and two Federal columns commanded by Generals James Blunt and Francis Herron, fought for control of northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. After an all-day battle, 10 miles southwest of Fayetteville, the Confederates withdrew toward Van Buren under cover of darkness. Blunt thus secured northwest Arkansas and western Missouri for the Union.

Battle of Wilson's Creek, Mo. August 10, 1861. In a two-pronged surprise attack on a Confederate camp 10 miles southwest of Springfield, a Union army under Gen. Nathaniel Lyon faced a Southern army more than twice as large under Generals Ben McCulloch and Sterling Price. Gen. Lyon was killed while leading a counterattack, the first Union general to be killed in action. Shortly thereafter, the Union army withdrew to Springfield leaving the field to the victorious Southerners, who were too badly battered and disorganized to pursue.

Battle of Pilot Knob, Mo.(Fort Davidson) September 27, 1864. Gen. Sterling Price, with a 12,0.00 man cavalry force, attempted to recover Missouri for the Confederacy in a bloody six-hour attack on Fort Davidson. He was repulsed by 1,100 Federals under Thomas Ewing. Ewing secretely evacuated the post during the night, and blew it up.

Battle of Springfield, Mo. January 8, 1863. Gen. John Sappington Marmaduke, in the first of two 1863 Missouri raids, advanced in two columns commanded by himself and Gen. Jo Shelby, to attack the important but lightly garrisoned supply base of Springfield, commanded by Union Gen. E.B. Brown. The Confederate attack was repulsed. The Marma-duke-Shelby columns then swung eastward and destroyed a small supply base at Hartville before retreating back into Arkansas.

Battle of Carthage, Mo. July 5, 1861. Union Col. Franz Sigel's outnumbered brigade was defeated by Gov. C.F. Jackson and Confederate Missouri State Guard troops. Sigel was attempting to block the governor's escape to join General Sterling Price and other State Guard units forming in the southwest part of the state.

Battle of Pea Ridge,Ar. (EIkhorn Tavern) March 7-8, 1862. A Union army under Gen. Samuel Curtis was attacked by a numerically superior Confederate army under Gen. EarlVan Dom. Gen. Ben McCulloch, commanding the Confederate right wing, was killed while leading a charge. His cavalry commander, Gen. James Mclntosh was killed a few minutes later. About noon on the second day the Confederates, almost out of ammunition, abandoned the field and retreated southward.

Brown, Gen. Egbert B. Commander of the Federal force that repulsed Gen. Marmaduke's attack on Springfield, January 8, 1863.

Bushwhacker A bushfighter. The term was an ex-pres sion of contempt for the guerrilla or assassin who killed from ambush.

Curtis, Gen. Samuel Commander of the Federal army that defeated Van Dora's Confederate army at Pea Ridge, March 7-8, 1862.

Enrolled Missouri Militia (E.M.M.) Created in August, 1862 by Union Gov. Hamilton Gamble to provide manpower for the protection of the state. All able-bodied males were, with certain exceptions, encouraged to enlist. The E.M.M. was controlled and paid by the state; the federal government provided the arms and equipment.

Ewing, Gen.Thomas Commander of the Union garrison at Fort Davidson that repulsed Price's Confederates in the battle of Pilot Knob on September 27, 1864, early in Price's Missouri raid.

Gamble, Hamilton After Gen. Lyon forced Governor C.F. Jackson and the pro-Southern portion of the Missouri legislature to flee to the southwest comer of the state in the summer of 1861, Missouri Unionists set up a new state government that would cooperate with Washington. On July 31, 1861 pro-Union Hamilton Gamble was elected governor by a state convention.

Guerrillas Bands of freebooters who confined their depredations mainly to civilian sympathizers and uniformed personnel of the opposite side. The federals called them "guerrillas," although the Confederates preferred the term "partisan rangers" for such irregulars.

Jackson, Claiborne Fox Elected governor of Missouri in November 1860, Jackson tried to carry the state into the Confederacy, but was forced to flee to Arkansas where he died of cancer in exile in Little Rock in December 1862.


Jayhawkers Name given to roving bands of anti-slave Kansans in the bloody pre-Civil War days. Early in the War the term was applied to Gen. James Lane and the men of his Kansas brigade who gained notoriety for their indiscriminate plundering and burning in Missouri. The Confederates later applied the term to Union guerrillas, to outlaws, to Federal soldiers engaged in looting, and even to some of the Union generals.

Jefferson Barracks, Mo. Just south of St. Louis, Jefferson Barracks was established by the federal government in 1827 as an Infantry School. In 1833, when the first regular cavalry regiment, the 1st Dragoons, was formed, Jefferson Barracks was the post where horse soldiers and units were organized, trained and equipped for the wars on the western plains. At the time of the Civil War Jefferson Barracks was a major federal arsenal.

Lyon, Gen. Nathaniel A Regular Army captain who was promoted to Brig. Gen. in May 1861. He was killed leading an attack against the Confederate army at the Battle of Wilson's Creek on August 10, 1861. Lyon has been credited with saving Missouri for the Union in 1861.

Marmaduke, John Sappington Confederate Gen. Marmaduke was a native of Saline Co., Missouri. In 1863 he conducted two raids into Missouri from Arkansas: the first was an attack on Springfield in January; the second, in April, aimed at Cape Girardeau. Both were repulsed. He was in command of Price's cavalry when Little Rock fell to the Federals in September, 1863. He accompanied Price on the 1864 raid and, while in command of the rear guard during the retreat, was captured at Mine Creek, Kansas on Oct. 25, 1864. In 1884 Marmaduke was elected governor of Missouri but died before his term ended.

McCulioch, Gen. Ben Commanded the Southerm army that was the victor over Lyon's Federals at Wilson's Creek. At the battle of Pea Ridge he was killed while directing the right wing of the Confederate army.

Military Units

Company A unit of up to 100 soldiers commanded by a captain. Generally, 10 companies made up a regiment.
Regiment The infantry regiment at full strength was 10 companies of 100 men each, commanded by a Colonel, assisted by a Lt. Col. and a Major.
The Civil War soldier reserved his greatest attachment and pride for his regiment, usually composed of men from the same area.
Brigade The common tactical unit, the brigade consisted of 4-6 regiments, although it could have as few as two. Brigade commander was a brigadier general.
Division A Union division was usually composed of 3 brigades commanded by a brigadier or major general. Confederate divisions were larger.
Corps This largest tactical unit in a field army consisted of two or more divisions and, except for cavalry corps, included all arms of service. Command was by a major general in the Union army and by a lieutenant general in the Confedrate army.
Battalion Two or more companies, organized for a temporary or specific purpose.
Missouri State Militia (M.S.M.) Formed in the fall of 1861 under federal control and subsistence, its enrollment was limited to 10,000 men.
Missouri State Guard (M.S.G.) Created in the spring of 1861 through the efforts of secessionist governor C.F. Jackson, it was commanded by General Sterling Price. Most of the members of this pro-Southern guard joined the Confederate Army after the Battle of Wilson's Creek in August, 1961.
Parole Lacking a means for dealing with large numbers of captured troops, the US and CS governments relied on the European system of parole and exchange of prisoners. Prisoners gave their word (French "parole") not to take up arms against their captors until they were formally exchanged for an ememy captive of equal rank.
Price, Gen. Sterling "Old Pap," a former governor of Missouri and native of Chariton Co., commanded the Missouri State Guard in 1861. At the battle of Wilson's Creek he combined his force with that of Gen. McCulloch to defeat Federal Gen. Lyon. Later he captured the town of Lexington, Mo., taking 3,000 prisoners, but was forced to retreat into Arkansas. He commanded the left wing of the Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge.
Scouts A Civil War scout operated on the fringes of an army with the purpose of obtaining information about enemy locations, movements, and strength. Individual soldiers or small groups acted as scouts, often operating behind enemy lines. For example, "Wild Bill" Hickok was a scout, spy and courier for Gen. Curtis and his army in the Ozarks.


Shelby, Gen. Joseph O. Jo Shelby was active in almost every campaign of the war west of the Mississippi River and was usually attached to the forces of Gen. Sterling Price. Shelby, a native of Lafayette Co, Mo., had a reputation as the most renowned cavalry commander west of the Mississippi River. He saved the remnant of Price's army by a masterful rearguard action during the October 1864 retreat out of Missouri.

Sigel, Gen. Franz Sigel, a German immigrant from St. Louis, commanded many Union troops of German descent. At Wilson's Creek his brigade was routed and fled from the field. Earlier he performed well at the engagement at Carthage. Later at Pea Ridge he contributed greatly to the Union victory. His later Civil War career was not successful. He commanded a corps and a department in the Eastern theatre, but was removed from field duty after a series of defeats.

The Ray House The only surviving structure on the Wilson' s Creek Battlefield associated with the battle. The house was built by John Ray in 1851-52 and served as a post office and a flagstop on the Butterfield Overland Stage route. Situated on the Old Wire Road, it was used as a Confederate field hospital during and after the battle. The body of Gen. Lyon was brought here at the end of the battle.

Thompson, M. Jeff An avowed secessionist, Thompson organized a battalion of volunteers and rode into southeast Missouri, where his "Swamp Rats" began raiding Union posts and towns. For four years Thompson, a natural leader, was feared as the "Swamp Fox of the Confederacy." He operated both as a part of Confederate armies and independently. Although he never held a Confederate commission, Thompson called himself a general and led a cavalry brigade in Price's Missouri raid.


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