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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L12 - War News Received as 1861 became 1862

Updated on December 13, 2014
DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Battle of Shiloh Memorial

Union Cemetery, Shiloh National Military Park
Union Cemetery, Shiloh National Military Park | Source

War news from the Oak Creek valley and beyond

About a month after returning to Jefferson City, Levi had occasion to talk to Robert and Susannah Baldridge who now lived in Jefferson City and had been growing their stock brokerage business based on the contacts they had before the war began. They took out contracts for beef on the hoof with the army to feed the troops and located farmers with cattle to sell to deliver directly to where the army needed the animals. They also related that they had finally heard from their son, David. He had escaped the valley under pressure from a raiding party that had burned the mill to ground. David had escaped with the shirt on his back and made it to Rolla, on foot. There, he had joined an army unit and was now serving in a war zone he could not tell them about.

More good news was received from the Truesdale family. Kate Patton and Victoria Truesdale had finally arrived in Jefferson City. They had kept horses saddled, with full saddle bags, ready to leave. They almost waited too long, when they heard the raiders coming north up Center Creek toward the town. They took off on horseback to the north. Looking back, they saw the store and other downtown building that were left, go up in flames. They each knew the road up through Salem and Rolla, so once they had left the valley, they were in good shape. They were both among the first pioneers into the valley, and were most likely the last ones to leave.

Late in the spring of 1862 the McDonald family received news that no family wants to receive. The army notified them that their son, Thomas, was among the thousands of men, on both sides of the conflict, that had given their lives at the Battle of Shiloh, in early April, in southwestern Tennessee. They knew he had died doing what he strongly believed in. Though sad of heart, the family was extremely proud of their son and sibling. They were also well aware that many, many families throughout the nation were receiving similar messages. It was the way of war. But, they believed, with President Lincoln, that the Union must be preserved.

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Battle of Shiloh Memorial

Confederate Memorial Shiloh National Military Park
Confederate Memorial Shiloh National Military Park | Source

The Weston and Oak Springs families in Jefferson City continued to change with time

In March of 1862, Alfred welcomed a brother, in March, and his mother named him Otis. In April, Hiram and his wife had their first child, a girl, that they named Ella. Each event was occasion for much joy in the family. The grandparents were especially happy to welcome the new additions, of course. Levi enjoyed being there with the family, and shared his "uncle pride" at every opportunity.

The Truesdale family and the McDonald family, interlocked as they were, along with Jake and Kate Patton, attempted to create a new normal life, but found it difficult to achieve. They occupied three different residences, from time to time, but it seemed there was constant movement among the three. Generally, Jane (Truesdale) McDonald stayed with her grandparents. Her grandmother passed away in January of 1862, following a winter-long illness. Eli insisted in staying in his home, however, so Jane stayed with him. When Jane's husband, Daniel, was able to get a leave from the cavalry, he stayed at Eli's home, but they spend some time with his brother, Harry McDonald, and that family. If Lewis was able to get the same days off, the often gathered at the Patton home, his grandparents.

The Patton ranch was the central gathering place when Jake (the Colonel), Lewis or Daniel were able to take a leave, because they had more room. From the earliest day on his Jefferson City place, a Mr. and Mrs. Jones were hired, lived in a cottage off the garden, and were caretakers of the home whether Jake or Kate or any of their family were in residence or not. They were quiet and unassuming folks, but very competent. She was cook and housekeeper, shared garden duties with her husband. He looked after the grounds, and general maintenance, cared for the animals, and shared garden duties, of course. The home was a welcoming respite for anyone in residence or attending events organized by Jake and Kate.

Caroline generally lived with her parents, Harry and Sarah McDonald, and her two younger sisters. When Lewis was able to get a few days leave, she generally spent some of their time at the Patton home. They were beginning to talk seriously of getting married, when the time was right. Kate was careful to encourage to have the wedding at the Patton place if it worked out for them. In what could only be called a "freak accident," although not that uncommon, Sarah's parents, Robert and Susannah Baldridge, both died when the carriage in which they were riding overturned. They were both thrown from the carriage and died as a result of their landing. Robert's head was crushed on a rock; the carriage landed on Susannah and crushed her. The funeral service was heavily attended by their many acquaintances.

The novella in "The Homeplace Saga" series of stories

Guerilla Warfare

Bloody Bill Anderson
Bloody Bill Anderson | Source

The war continued although primarily guerrilla warfare around the state

During 1862 and 1863 there were no major military activities in Missouri, but that does not mean it was devoid of violence related to the war. Numbers eventually showed that for each 11 men who joined Union forces 4 joined the Confederate Army. With major Union activities based in St. Louis, Jefferson City, Houston and Springfield, there were few skirmishes there. Elsewhere, however, southern partisan rangers and irregulars classed regularly in numerous sites from time to time. Quantrill's Raiders and Bloody Bill Anderson are best known for fighting the Jaywalkers, but it was much more complicated then that. Fights continued to break out in individual counties among neighbors, as well.

Allied Union forces, including Patton's regiment, regularly patrolled, particularly between St. Louis and Jefferson City so that the work of the state and military could continue unmolested. They also kept The Telegraph Road," also known as the "Wire Road," was kept open and patrolled. Stations were maintained at St. Louis, Rolla, Lebanon, Marshfield and Springfield.

This "quiet" period lasted until nearly the middle 1864 when the fortunes of the war seemed to move from favoring the South to favor the Union. The Presidential election of 1864 was approaching, and some desperate measure were about to be taken which would impact central Missouri.

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Historical note by the author

As noted in Episode L1 of this series of historical fiction family saga stories, all of the characters in this episode are fictional. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious. The Jacob and Levi Weston characters, as well as the McDonalds, were first created as a part of The Homeplace Saga stories collectively identified as The Founding in Missouri. This current Lx series fills in the early years of the lives of Levi, Jacob and their family.

Some of the stories of the forthcoming "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories are being published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog, found at the link, below, including those introducing Levi and Jacob Weston. In the links below, I've included one to the more detailed story of Oak Springs during the Civil War.

“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”


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    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Honestly, I wondered about that... so, a special thanks for the visit!! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I take weekends off from HP, Bill, so what do you do but go and tempt me with one of my favorite here I am, saying hooray from afar. :)