Missouri

Introduction:

Missouri serves as a fascinating case study with regards to Confederate monumentation, as it was one of the few slave states that did not secede. Although Missouri abounded with strong southern sentiment, an influx of immigrants from northern states, Germany, and Ireland created a strange political dynamic; the state was literally split between pro-slavery and anti-slavery sentiments, with north-central and southeastern Missouri becoming the most pro-slavery strongholds. Portions of the eastern and western perimeters of the state also boasted higher slave populations.  The Missouri River, which cuts through the north-central portion of the state, and the Mississippi River, which forms the state’s eastern boundary, played a significant role in the growth of slavery along these areas, as the land there was more fertile and access to the river meant easy access to distant markets in which to sell crops. That the western part of the state rested against Kansas, a state with a similarly contested relationship with slavery, also resulted in some slaveholding communities along the western edge of the state. The railroad system also played a large role in the split as, due to both its rivers and rail lines, Missouri served as a hub of transportation with lines connecting the state to Chicago, New York, and Boston, whose diverse passengers speckled the state with a wide array of individuals from varying political, ethnic, and social backgrounds. (“American Civil War in Missouri Research Guide”). Many large decisions leading up to the Civil War were also decided either in or about Missouri, such as the Missouri Compromise which admitted the Missouri to the Union in 1820 as a slave state, and the Dred Scott Case which determined that African Americans did not have citizenship in America. These controversial decisions helped to set the stage for the state’s complicated position during the Civil War. In addition, Missouri was extremely important to the nation because of its agricultural production, location, and industrial might. This meant that whichever side was able to persuade Missouri to join its cause would have an abundance of resources. Despite its split disposition toward slavery (and toward the war itself,) after the war’s conclusion the Lost Cause narrative began to catch on and pro-Confederate ideals became widespread across the state. Missouri’s position as a border state makes the Confederate monuments in the state that much more intriguing.

Several key battles were fought in Missouri as well, such as Wilson’s Creek which was an early key victory for the Confederates. Although this battle was extremely costly for the rebels, it increased southern sympathy in the state. Over 109,000 men enlisted in the Union army while about 30,000 enlisted in the Confederate army, illustrating how divided the state was (SHSMO). Guerrilla warfare was a popular form of attack in Missouri as well. Bands of Confederate men would hunt Union soldiers and sympathizers and kill them. Jesse James, George Maddox, and William Quantrill are famous examples of these fighters, and their legacies have faced countless controversies. Some scholars have attempted to build a myth around the guerrilla fighters, but more recently scholars have called them “Depraved demons, driven exclusively by selfish and evil desires” (Beilein Jr.). The mixed legacy of the guerrilla warriors is reflective of Missouri’s role in the war because while they did not secede from the Union, there was strong Confederate sympathy in the state and prevalence of the Lost Cause narrative. 

Missouri abolished slavery in 1865 before the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment–a radical choice. Missouri also rewrote its state constitution to prohibit former Confederates from voting. In 1870, African Americans were granted the right to vote with the passing of the Fifteenth Amendment, although many Radical Republicans had been pushing for suffrage much earlier. However, the once united Republican party did experience some fissures over racial issues as many German-Americans were afraid that Black suffrage and Black socio-economic empowerment might force unskilled white laborers out of their jobs and positions of authority. This split in the party allowed for the Democratic Party to take control in the mid-1870s. The rise of Democratic-backed Jim Crow laws resulted in a regression of from the advancements Missouri Blacks had made, socially, politically, and economically, and white vigilante groups intent on keeping Missouri under white rule committed numerous lynchings of African Americans and burned black churches and schools in a campaign of terror and intimidation. As a result of this vigilante action, and in hopes of finding more secure, safer, and more stable employment and living conditions, large migrations occurred across the state as African Americans moved from small, rural areas to big cities and former Unionist strongholds, such as Saint Louis. However, to their horror, Saint Louis was not ultimately spared the racial strife that infested other parts of the state; lynchings, race riots, and battles over segregated schools and other amenities continued there, and in other portions of Missouri, well into the twentieth century, with Blacks and their allies staging boycotts, protests, and rallies in return while petitioning the government for protection and equal rights.  They also formed local organizations to help improve the working, living, and educational facilities of the Black community. Eventually, the tide began to turn significantly in the 1960s with Civil Rights legislation more forcefully applied and with the election of the state’s first black senator.  Most recently, the Black Lives Matter movement emerged out of Ferguson, Missouri (just north of St. Louis) in 2014 as a nationally recognized effort that identifies the roots of ongoing racism and injustice as sprouting directly from slavery as well as postwar Jim Crow laws and white supremacist vigilantism across the South.  

The purpose of this report is to investigate when and why monuments to Confederates were erected in Missouri. The data is supplied through the mapping program QGIS and other supplemental historical sources. It solely focuses on monuments, memorials, and statuary built after the war and does not map buildings, roads, or natural features named after Confederate soldiers and statesmen to address the controversy more directly. 

Results:

In total, Missouri has seventeen monuments dedicated to Confederates. Most Confederate monuments in Missouri were erected from 1921-1940 and 1991-2010 and do not have a specific honoree; only 6 (35%) are dedicated to someone specific. None of the monuments dedicated to specific honorees is in urban areas and all of them are small, rural communities.  Only five of the seventeen monuments are outside of courthouse grounds, none of which are to specific honorees.  Most of the monuments are also concentrated in the center of the state, an area known as “Little Dixie.” This area is where many early residents settled and established plantations, creating a strong sense of southern pride and culture in the area. However, there are several monuments on the perimeter of the state near many former Confederate states. 

Map 1: Specific Honoree vs. Non-Specific Honoree

The first monument erected in Missouri was in 1907 in Palmyra, located in northeastern Missouri, on courthouse grounds. It is dedicated to the men who died at the Palmyra Massacre, an event during which ten Confederate soldiers were executed by Union firing squads after the abduction of a Union sympathizer. The second monument was erected in Keytesville, which is in the top middle of the state where many of the monuments are clustered today. This monument is dedicated to General Sterling Price, one of the few specific honorees Missouri monuments honor. 

1900-1920:

Map 2: Confederate Monuments Erected From 1900-1920

Four monuments were erected from 1921-1940. The first one was erected in 1931 in Cape Girardeau, on courthouse grounds. It is in remembrance of the Confederacy as a whole and the common soldiers who fought for the Confederate cause. This monument is one of the several placed along the perimeter of the state. The next one was erected in 1933 in Jefferson City (in central “Little Dixie”) and it commemorates General Sterling Price’s decision to not attack Federal troops in Jefferson City. Another monument went up in 1934 in Kansas City (on the western perimeter of the state) to honor the sacrifices and contributions of Confederate women to the war effort. The final monument erected during this period was in Columbia (also in “Little Dixie”) in 1935, on courthouse grounds. The monument honors the Confederate soldiers from Boone County, in which Columbia is located. Interestingly, the monuments in Jefferson City, Kansas City, and Columbia have all recently been removed. 

1921-1940:

Map 3: Confederate Monuments Erected From 1921-1940

There was a pause in monumentation from the 1940s to the 1980s, although one monument went up in 1976 in Huntsville (north-central “Little Dixie.”) 

1970-1990:

Map 4: Confederate Monuments Erected From 1970-1990

The next wave of monumentation occurred from the 1990s to the 2000s. The most recent monument was erected in Waverly (north-central “Little Dixie”) in 2009, in memoriam to Joseph Shelby, a senior officer in the Confederate Army. 

1991-2010:

Map 5: Confederate Monuments Erected From 1991-2010

Most of the monuments are either of generic soldiers or plaques that commemorate the soldiers’ service. Of the seventeen monuments, five have been removed in the last ten years.

Analysis:

Compared to other states with Confederate sympathies, Missouri’s monumentation began relatively late. As was true of other southern states, the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Missouri chapter was not founded until the 1890s, after which the organization gained followers and funds in order to build monuments. However, that the state did not put up any monuments prior to this time is surprising. A possible reason for the delay could be the staunch split that existed between Republicans and Democrats who dominated the state. Although the Democratic party won control of the state in the 1870s, a strong Republican presence still existed within the state which would not support, and may well have actively tried to stymie any efforts at Confederate monumentation. Additionally, the irregular warfare conducted in the state by Confederate guerrillas such as Quantrill in James may well have further alienated much of the local populace from embracing postwar Confederate pride, and bands of guerrillas rarely would have had the financial means or organization to erect monuments to their efforts or the Confederate cause as a whole.  Alternately, it is possible that the state and its leaders simply did not have the funds to dedicate toward monumentation in the immediate aftermath of the war, thus delaying the installation of the first monument by several decades.

It is also important to consider the impact that the 50th and 100th anniversaries of the Civil War may have had upon the rise of new monuments as Missourians likely took a renewed interest in their state’s unique history around these times. The emergence of World World may have been a significant reason for the influx of monuments created from 1914-1920 as the country attempted to increase a sense of nationalism rooted in martial duty. Monumentation was often used as a way to unite sections of the country by championing the sacrifices of all men who fought in the war, and by promoting and celebrating the “reconciliationist” narrative about the war’s outcome. Such efforts increased support for the war at home by honoring the patriotic service of past soldiers and their heroic causes, and by attempting to unite Americans behind the cause of American triumphalism. Additionally, as Civil War veterans began dying off in larger numbers in the early twentieth century, many southern communities felt the need to commemorate, in stone, their ancestors’ service for future generations.  

 However, these monuments could also have been put up as symbols of white supremacy, especially as the Lost Cause narrative became well established in Missouri’s culture by the early twentieth century. States began enacting Jim Crow laws around the beginning of the twentieth century and pushing back against the Civil Rights movement during the middle part of the century (Parks). The spread of these racist ideals, especially in “Little Dixie,” the middle part of Missouri where Confederate heritage ran deep and southern pride was high, and along the border close to other Confederate or slave-holding states, could have had an impact on the construction of these monuments. Such correlations between racial ideologies and monuments might also have played into the reasons for the erection of the latest monument dedicated in Missouri. Erected in 2009, the monument may have been a backlash to the election of the first black president, Barack Obama, the year prior.  Although funding, design, and installation always take time, the motivation behind the monument’s creation may have been stirring for many years with the rise of Obama as a major presidential contender. 

Although many of Missouri’s monuments were erected during times of racial tension, it is important to note that correlation does not always equal causation. Many of the monuments were erected by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy to keep the memory of their ancestors alive and honor the local fallen. However, admittedly more sinisterly, the Daughters of the Confederacy often hoped to use the monuments to indoctrinate future generations about the Lost Cause–the idea that the South fought a just, heroic war (divorced entirely from the issue of slavery) in which it was the victim of unfounded Northern aggressors who triumphed only due to superior numbers and equipment, then subjugated the Southern people under oppressive federal rule and the acts of pernicious Black freedmen. 

Missouri’s six monuments to specific honorees reveal striking attempts to venerate the UDC’s strong Lost Cause narrative. Two monuments are dedicated to Joseph Shelby. Before the war, Shelby led a group of proslavery activists into Kansas to cement Kansas’s status as a slave state. Shelby was a captain in the Missouri State Guard and a Major General in the Confederate Army. He fought in a cavalry unit that he organized called the “Iron Brigade” and saw action in Saint Charles and DeVall’s Bluff and several other places in Arkansas and Missouri. He was so dedicated to the cause that after the war’s end he took about 1,000 men in Mexico and established a colony of ex-Confederates called Carlota. He eventually returned to his home in Waverly, Missouri (the site of one of the monuments dedicated to him), and rebuilt his life there. To Confederate sympathizers, he is an excellent example of the Lost Cause spirit. There are two monuments dedicated to him, one in Waverly, Missouri and the other in Keytesville. 

Huntsville features a monument dedicated to Captain Delaney S. Washburg, who served as a recruiting officer. Two monuments are dedicated to Sterling Price, who was a senior officer in the Confederate army as well as the governor of Missouri. One is in Keytesville and the other is in Jefferson City. The monument to Sterling Price in Jefferson City was removed in 2020 in wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Many people viewed the monument as a symbol of white supremacy due to the UDC’s ties to the KKK. The final specific honoree is Francis Marion Cockrell, who served in the Confederacy as well as a Missouri state senator. His monument is in his hometown of Warrensburg, Missouri. 

As noted earlier, Palmyra was the site of the state’s first Confederate monument. The Palmyra massacre took place in October 1862 in Palmyra. Ten Confederate prisoners were executed because Confederate forces had captured Andrew Allsman, a pro-Union civilian who disappeared, never to be heard from again. According to the Missouri Digital Heritage site, “The local Union commanders gave warning that if Allsman wasn’t returned within 10 days, 10 local Confederate prisoners would be shot. Allsman didn’t reappear, and the order was carried out despite protests from local townspeople” (Ashcroft). This massacre was a huge affront to Confederate forces, which is why the victims were memorialized through the monument dedicated in 1907. That this particular Confederate monument, which spotlights perceived “unjust and aggressive atrocities” by the Union army against Confederates reveals the import that the “massacre’s” symbolism had in shaping Missouri’s post-war Confederate identity. 

Several monuments were erected on courthouse grounds. According to some scholars, the reason for such placement, “especially in the 1950s and ’60s, was meant to remind Black Americans of the struggle and subjugation they would face in their fight for civil rights and equal protection under the law” (Best). Whenever an African American would attend a court hearing, they would be forced to literally walk in the shadow of stone sentinels who, to many, represented slavery and white supremacy—a humbling, if not chilling reminder to abide by white rule of law.  As mentioned before, many monuments were placed in rural areas where many former plantations were located and where such racial intimidation was deemed necessary in order to “control” and patrol society in the wake of emancipation. (It should also be noted that other, non-racial causes can be attributed to the erection of Confederate monuments on courthouse grounds, such as these locations being a prominent and popular gathering spot for communities of individuals who would have had had the ability to visit the graves and battlefields where their loved ones had fallen, thus making courthouse greens an easily accessible place to come together to grieve, remember, and honor the sacrifices of family and community members.)

It is important to note that, because Missouri was a border state, several monuments to Union soldiers exist as well. There are four statues in Saint Louis dedicated to Union soldiers: Attorney General Edward Bates’s statue was dedicated 1876, General Francis Preston Blair, Jr.’s statue was dedicated in 1885, General Ulysses S. Grant’s monument was dedicated in 1888, and General Franz Sigel’s statue was dedicated in 1906. That these statues are all located in the large, Unionist stronghold of Saint Louis, where a large number of African Americans relocated in the 1880s, speaks to the unique nature of the state’s geopolitical split and how demographic shifts strongly influence who gets their place in stone, and why.  It is also interesting that all four of these Union monuments went up before any Confederate monument did, underscoring, perhaps, the difference in postwar finances, politics, and community organizational strength between the more urban and Unionist portions of the state and the more rural, former Confederate parts of the state.

Conclusion:

Missouri’s role as a border state during the Civil War makes the state’s monuments all the more interesting. Overall, the monuments tend to focus more on the contributions of the common man than on specific honorees and focus on the sacrifice of those men rather than the Lost Cause as a whole. However, as is the case with the monuments to specific honorees, a strong Lost Cause narrative certainly pervades several of the monuments. It is important to note that it is impossible to determine the exact cause of each monument’s erection without determining the full historical context of its dedication—i.e., who the speakers were, the nature of the dedication speeches, etc. Although some monuments were erected to further the Lost Cause narrative and promote white supremacy, many were put up to memorialize Missourians’ military bravery and sacrifices. The geo-political division of the state during and after the Civil War is highlighted in the placement of the monuments, and the somewhat late start of Confederate monumentation, and its uneven spurts seems to speak to its split political identity as a border state and its somewhat conflicted relationship with its Confederate past. The subject of Confederate monumentation is extremely nuanced and is the source of much controversy, with border states such as Missouri adding still further layers of complexity and nuance. However, hopefully, this map report will provide some baseline information and context for the state’s monuments, illuminate new perspectives on the issue, and provoke further research into the subject.

Table

NameCreatorDate Valid ForDescriptionHyperlink
Missouri CountiesT.I.G.E.R.2019Shapefile representing Missouri’s countiesLink
Whose Heritage Master SheetSouthern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)2019Google Sheets dataset containing name, location, date of dedication, and other available information of all Confederate monuments across the United States. Link

Works Cited:

“American Civil War in Missouri Research Guide.” American Civil War in Missouri Research Guide. The State Historical Society of Missouri. https://shsmo.org/research/guides/civil-war#:~:text=Missouri%2520contributed%2520a%2520huge%2520number,men%2520fought%2520for%2520the%2520Confederacy.

Beilein, Joseph M. Bushwhackers: Guerrilla Warfare, Manhood, and the Household in Civil War Missouri. Kent, Ohio: KENT State UNIV Press, 2016.

Best, Ryan. “Confederate Statues Were Never Really about Preserving History.” FiveThirtyEight. ABC News Internet Ventures, July 8, 2020. https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/confederate-statues/.

Missouri Secretary of State – IT. “Missouri State Archivesprogress amidst Prejudice: Portraits of African Americans in Missouri, 1880-1920.” Progress Among Prejudice Introduction. Missouri Office of the Secretary of State. https://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/education/aapc/intro.

Missouri Secretary of State – IT. “Palmyra Massacre Collection.” MDH Splash. Missouri Office of the Secretary of State. https://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default?coll=palmyramassacre.

Parks, Miles. “Confederate Statues Were Built to Further a ‘White Supremacist Future’.” NPR. NPR, August 20, 2017. https://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/544266880/confederate-statues-were-built-to-further-a-white-supremacist-future.

Phillips, Christopher. “Shelby, Joseph Orville.” Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, 1854-1865. The Kansas City Public Library. Accessed January 21, 2022. https://civilwaronthewesternborder.org/encyclopedia/shelby-joseph-orville.

Saeger, Andrew M. “The Kingdom of Callaway: Callaway County, Missouri During the Civil War.” Thesis, Northwest Missouri State University, 2013.

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