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View Full Version : Calling for Civil War experts! Border states and interpersonal relationships



mongoose29
02-07-2016, 10:26 PM
Hi,

I'm working on the backstory for my character, and I need some Civil War insight in order to fully realize her history. She grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri (site of the eastern terminus of the Pony Express in '60 and '61) and her father fought for the Union. Her best friend's father fought for the Confederacy. They were approx 10 years old at the start of the war.

My questions are these:
How would their relationship have suffered due to the fact that their families fell on different sides of the conflict?
Might their families have forbidden them from being friends or speaking with one another?
Would schoolhouses have been divided, with children forming alliances according to their parents' politics?

More broadly:
What would the tension have been like in St. Joseph at this time, and what kind of violence would have broken out---shootings, arson, something else, nothing?
At the end of the war when soldiers came home, how would they have been treated by their own people, as well as by their neighbors who may have fought on the other side?

Thanks in advance for any insight you have to share. While the present of my novel is set during the late 1890s, the first-person narrator often reflects upon her past, so I'm really responsible for an entire half century of history.

King Neptune
02-08-2016, 12:54 AM
Hi,

I'm working on the backstory for my character, and I need some Civil War insight in order to fully realize her history. She grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri (site of the eastern terminus of the Pony Express in '60 and '61) and her father fought for the Union. Her best friend's father fought for the Confederacy. They were approx 10 years old at the start of the war.

My questions are these:
How would their relationship have suffered due to the fact that their families fell on different sides of the conflict?
Might their families have forbidden them from being friends or speaking with one another?
Would schoolhouses have been divided, with children forming alliances according to their parents' politics?

There is a very good chance that the parents would have ordered them to stay away from enemy children, and the children would have ignored that.

I've never seen anything about how schools handled it, but I would bet that they usually left the war outside.


More broadly:
What would the tension have been like in St. Joseph at this time, and what kind of violence would have broken out---shootings, arson, something else, nothing?
At the end of the war when soldiers came home, how would they have been treated by their own people, as well as by their neighbors who may have fought on the other side?

Thanks in advance for any insight you have to share. While the present of my novel is set during the late 1890s, the first-person narrator often reflects upon her past, so I'm really responsible for an entire half century of history.

Missouri suffered from irregulars, guerrillas, Quantrill and others, even though there was little regular fighting there. After the war the raiders were outlaws, because the general amnesty for war actions wasn't granted to the raiders. That was one of the reasons why Jesse James (and others in his gang) became a professional criminal; he was a member of Quantrill's Raiders, so he was already a wanted man, and he had gained skills during the war.

The people who served as regulars largely tried to put the war behind them, but some moved to different areas. There are books about it, but I don't remember any titles or authors. The hard feelings didn't die quickly. Remember that HST's mother refused to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom when she visited the White House. Truman was from Missouri.

Taylor Harbin
02-08-2016, 08:14 AM
Neptune's right. Plus, in 1863, there was General Order No. 11, which forcibly evicted the entire population of Bates, Cass, Jackson, and Vernon county to deprive Confederate raiders of supplies and sympathizers. It was one of the most controversial moves by the Union army in MO and would have been on everyone's mind, especially since St. Jo is just north of that area. I'm not so sure about schoolchildren loyalties, but here in Ste. Genevieve, we didn't have any kind of public school. One of the rich guys in town tried to start one in 1862, but it failed. No one could afford it.

One of my history teachers used to say that civilians nurture hatred more than the soldiers who actually fought. Generals on both sides became lifelong friends afterwards, like Sherman and Johnston. People who had tried to kill each other at Gettysburg in 1863 were shaking hands and swapping stories 75 years later, and it was all filmed! There were exceptions, but that seems to be a common story, no matter what part of the country you examine.

My advice is to contact the county historical society or the local library and read as much of their archives as possible. Newspapers of the day were often blunt in stating their allegiance and what they thought of the opposite side. Speaking of sides, sometimes it wasn't as cut and dry as North/South. There were abolitionists who wanted to exploit the war for their own crusade against slavery. There were Copperhead Democrats, who were anti-war, even if it meant letting the South go (but most of these were seen as double agents by the Union, since some of them did, in fact, play both sides).