I’m reading online today about Missouri’s history of the Civil War. I was born and raised in Missouri, moving from St. Louis to Central Missouri, and finally living in Southwestern Missouri for a number of years. When I think back to the people and places where I lived I can’t help but feel the effects in my mind’s eye of the ghosts of the atrocities committed across the state. There is no other name for the Missouri bushwhackers but terrorists. And yet, I see that their actions were in retaliation in-kind, tit for tat, for what they’d suffered. When I look at the Middle East today, Gaza and Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, I see a land ravaged by terror. Missouri can teach us about military occupation, neutrality, and how violence never completely spirals down until all are dead. There are humans everywhere. . . and always memories. William T. Anderson and William Quantrill were a few of Missouri’s most notable guerrillas. The families of the innocents who died in their raids are still very alive. The sense of injustice and bitterness, the culture of mistrust and fear are still very much alive generations later. Wikipedia has this on Missouri’s plan before the war to keep peace.
By 1860, Missouri’s initial southern settlers had been supplanted with a more diversified non-slave holding population, including many German and Irish immigrants. With war seeming inevitable, Missouri thought it could stay out of the conflict by remaining in the Union, but staying neutral—not giving men or supplies to either side and pledging to fight troops from either side who entered the state. The policy was first put forth in 1860 by outgoing Governor Robert Marcellus Stewart, who had Northern leanings. It was reaffirmed by incoming Governor Claiborne Jackson, who had Southern leanings. A Constitutional Convention to discuss secession was convened with Sterling Price presiding. The delegates voted to stay in the Union and supported the neutrality position.
The rest of the page tells you how well that turned out. A state with bitter allegiances to both sides doesn’t sit out the fight just because the authorities call in the National Army and gives them the guns. Does this sound familiar? It should? Mission Accomplished? Ask Missourians.