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Journal, July, 1861,
It will be remembered that the Missouri State Convention in the month of July appointed and inaugurated a provisional State government. This action was merely designed to supply a temporary executive authority until the people could elect new loyal State officers, which election was ordered to be held on the first Monday in November. The Convention also, when it finished the work of its summer session, adjourned to meet on the third Monday in December, 1861, but political and military affairs remained in so unsettled a condition during the whole autumn that anything like effective popular action was impracticable. The Convention was therefore called together in a third session at an earlier date (October 11, 1861), when it wisely adopted an ordinance postponing the State election for the period of one year, and for continuing the officers of the provisional government until their successors should be duly appointed. With his tenure of power thus prolonged, Governor Gamble, also by direction of the Convention, proposed to the President to raise a special force of Missouri State militia for service within the State during the war there, but to act with the United States troops in military operations within the State or when necessary to its defense.
President Lincoln accepted the plan upon the condition that whatever United States officer might be in command of the Department of the West should also be commissioned by the Governor to command
the Missouri State militia ; and that if the Presi1861. Y.'s. dent changed the former, the Governor should Vol. Y., make the corresponding change, in order that
conflict of authority or of military plans might be
Lincoln, Endorse ment,
W. R. Vol. XIII.,
avoided. This agreement was entered into between President Lincoln and Governor Gamble on November 6, and on November 27 Brigadier-General J. M. Schofield received orders from Halleck Schofield,
Report, to raise, organize, and command this special militia corps. The plan was attended with reasonable success, and by the 15th of April, 1862, reported General Schofield, “an active, efficient force of 13,800 men was placed in the field,” nearly all Ibid., p. 8. of cavalry. The raising and organizing of this force during the winter and spring of 1861–62 produced a certain degree of local military activity just at the season when the partisan and guerrilla operations of rebel sympathizers were necessarily impeded or wholly suspended by severe weather; and this, joined with the vigorous administration of General Halleck, and the fact that Curtis was chasing the army of Price out of Southwest Missouri, gave a somewhat delusive appearance of quiet and order throughout the State. We shall see how this security was rudely disturbed during the summer of 1862 by local efforts and uprisings, though the rebels were not able to bring about any formidable campaign of invasion, and Missouri as a whole remained immovable in her military and political adherence to the Union.
With a view still further to facilitate the restoration of public peace, the State Convention at the same October session extended an amnesty to repentant rebels, in an ordinance which provided that any person who would make and file a written oath to support the Federal and State Governments, declaring that he would not take up arms against the United States or the provisional gov
VOL. V, -7
CHAP. V. ernment of Missouri, nor give aid and comfort to
their enemies during the present civil war, should be exempt from arrest and punishment for previous rebellion. Many persons took this oath, and doubtless kept it with sincere faith. But it seems no less certain that many others who took it so persistently violated both its spirit and letter as to render it practically of no service as an external test of allegiance to the Union. In the years of local hatred and strife which ensued, oaths were so recklessly taken and so willfully violated that a ceremony of adjuration became, in the public estimation, rather a sign of suspicion than an assurance of good faith. It grew into one of the standing jests of the camps that when a Union soldier found a rattlesnake, his comrades would instantly propose, with mock gravity, “Administer the oath to him, boys, and let him go."