Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

75. Gen. Grenville M. Dodge to Lincoln on wartime strife in northern Missouri


75. Gen. Grenville M. Dodge to Lincoln on wartime strife in northern Missouri


Letter from General Grenville M. Dodge to Abraham Lincoln assessing current conditions in northern Missouri, where violent conflict between enemy guerilla forces and Unionist residents remained widespread. Dodge notes that conditions had improved but remained tenuous, proposes establishing a new militia force to improve Union control, and advises against implementing more conciliatory approach proposed by Lincoln. January 16, 1865. A failed Confederate raid by Gen. Sterling Price in October 1864 had scattered rebel guerillas and encouraged new efforts to resolve the state's internal conflicts. Copy.




Becki Plunkett and Stephen Vincent


Copyright State Historical Society of Iowa. Information at

Digital Reproduction Information

Original scanned at 600 dpi w/ sRGB color space.


State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines

Repository Collection

Special Collections: Grenville M. Dodge Papers

Digital item created



Head Quarters, Department of the Missouri[,] Saint Louis[,] Mo[.], January 16th 1865 Lincoln[,] Abraham, Hon.[,] President of the United States[,] Washington, D.C. Dear Sir; I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 15th inst. Since I assumed command here, the troubles in North Missouri have increased from the fact that the troops that were in those counties, infested by guerilla bands, were nearly all withdrawn by me to send to General [George Henry] Thomas; but there is no doubt that this country is now more quiet than it has been before for three (3) years. Where these troubles exist the people are to a great extent, disloyal, and it is the protection, aid, and sympathy that they give to the enemy and to outlaws that causes these troubles. One class (the disloyal) desires all troops withdrawn, while the other (the loyal men) petition to have more sent; The fact is that unless troops are kept in the Missouri River counties, no loyal people can live there. I have counselled with Governor [Thomas Clement] Fletcher in relation to this matter, and so far as possible; we have endeavored to quiet these troubles. Three thousand men left these counties and joined [Confederate General Sterling] Price last fall; many of them are now sneaking back and going into the bush to operate. The people who are leaving are mostly those whose friends are in the rebel army or whose sympathies are with the Rebels, and those who expect to be disfranchised and who have but very little if any, sympathy with our Government; [t]hey do not leave on account of depredations committed upon them by the troops, but through fear of the action of the State Convention. I believe most of the loyal men, and those who have determined to become loyal, are determined to stay. Those of them that do go, flee from guerrillas, which no order or Proclamation would reach. The Bushwhackers can only be put down and kept down, by holding the citizens who aid, feed, and harbor them responsible. Loyal local organizations, I consider the best troops to keep these outlaws under, and I had settled in my own mind upon the policy to pursue: Viz [That is]: As soon as the State Legislature passes the new Militia bill, to raise under it, one hundred men from each of these disloyal counties, place them under competent and reliable officers, citizens of the state, who have seen service; let the Government arm, equip, and feed them, and the counties pay them; place one of these companies, on duty in each of the disloyal counties, where these troubles exist, withdraw therefrom the U.S. Volunteers, and call upon the citizens to support and aid these organizations; to a great extent they will cheerfully do it, those who will not, and who persist in giving aid to the Bushwhackers, to be sent out of the Department. I have issued stringent orders to all the troops, in regard to committing depredations and acts through personal enmity, and good effect are thereby being produced; I hear of but very few depredations by troops, recently, but Bushwhackers are robbing and murdering in many places. During the winter it is to the interest of these outlaws and their friends to our troops away; as soon as spring comes, they expect to obtain re-inforcements from the south and even from the loyal states, where many have gone to winter, and who, when the leaves come will all return. What troops I have, are kept very active and they are doing good work in the way of breaking up Guerillas and marauding bands. The troops in North Missouri are nearly all M. S. M. [Missouri State Militia] whose term of service is fast expiring; their discipline has been very lax, and on account of the defective nature of that organization they have not been efficient; I have taken measures to hold the officers responsible for the discipline and acts of these troops. I do believe that the system of loyal organizations that I intend to inaugurate will prove effective, for the special reason that we will have the selections of the officers and most of them will be old, tried and experienced soldiers, fully imbued with the right sentiment, and feeling a personal interest in restoring law and order. Allow me to assure you that the course you propose would be protested against by the State authorities, the Legislature, the Convention, and by nearly every undoubtedly loyal man in North Missouri, while it would receive the sanction of nearly every disloyal, semi-loyal and non-committal person there, all such could, under that course, live, and would want to stay, in that country, while every loyal man would have to leave these counties, when the disloyal sentiment is in the ascendancy. I take it that the only sure road to peace in this State is through the aid and support of its undoubtedly loyal population and with the organizations I speak of, I am satisfied I can restore and maintain quiet in North Missouri. It is my wish and earnest endeavor to have every person in the State, and elsewhere, come up firmly to the support of the Government, no matter what their antecedents are, and I have in my orders and instructions to my troops commanded them to give all encouragement[,] aid and protection in their power to any and every person who shows an honest and earnest desire and intention to support the Government and assist in putting down Guerilla warfare. I herewith enclose my order No. 7, which embodies some of the views in your dispatch, and which will receive the cordial endorsement and cheerful support of every person in the State, who is not aiding and abetting Bushwhackers, or who are so disloyal that they would not agree to or approve of, anything issued by a Federal officer. I have the honor to be, Sir[,] Very Respectfully Your Ob[e]d[ian]t Serv[an]t[,] G[renville] M. Dodge[,] Major General