12th Confederate State

Following the Confederate victory at Wilson’s Creek General’s Sterling Price and Benjamin McCulloch disagreed on their next course of action. McCulloch wanted to hold Springfield, Missouri, while Price wanted to advance further north into Missouri. Their fragile coalition army broke apart. McCulloch elected to return to Arkansas, and Price marched north towards the Missouri River. As he went north, Price’s army swelled to 10,000 men. The Missouri State Guard surrounded Lexington, Missouri, and laid siege to the Federal forces under Colonel James A. Mulligan positioned in the Masonic College in town. During the battle Confederate forces captured Oliver Anderson’s house, which at the time was being utilized as a Union hospital. This enraged Mulligan, and he quickly ordered a counterassault to reclaim the building. The order resulted in heavy casualties, and the Federals only held the Anderson home for a short period before the Confederates overpowered them again.

On September 19, the Guardsmen encircled the college. The Union men, surrounded by enemy troops, were forced to endure the battle and heat without water. On September 20, the Southerners discovered a large quantity of hemp bales stored in a nearby warehouse. The Guardsmen soaked the bales in the river and rolled them onto the battlefield, slowly charging the Union trenches. The bales provided ample protection for the men; even the Union cannons could not penetrate the dense hemp. Finally, the Guardsmen advanced close enough to charge the Union line. Hand-to-hand combat erupted, and soon Mulligan realized surrender was his only option. Price captured several pieces of artillery, 3,000 rifles and 750 horses. Shortly after the battle, Price and the Missouri State Guard retreated south as a column of Federal troops approached their position.

Military victories at Wilson’s Creek and Lexington provided Missouri’s pro-secession Governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson, a great shift in political power. Jackson called the General Assembly back into session, asking them to meet at the Newton County Courthouse in Neosho on October 21, and charged the legislators with the duty of formally seceding from the Union.

The legality of the assembly, and thus, its resolutions, hinges on the presence of a quorum. Only the Senate Journal survives, which does not include a roll of members present. The senators moved to suspend the roll call, no doubt trying to assemble enough members to make their proceedings legal. Technically the legislature had been disbanded and replaced by the Provisional Union Government, established at the end of July 1861, thus any resolutions passed would not be legally recognized by the United States government. Regardless of its legality, legislators met and passed an Ordinance of Secession cutting all ties to the United States government. The assembly also elected representatives to the Confederate Congress, and the paperwork was quickly sent to Richmond. On November 28, 1861, Missouri formally became the twelfth state to enter the Confederacy. Jackson’s efforts had paid off and upon he hearing the news he declared, “God be praised. This is the happiest moment of my life.”

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