“The War in Missouri in '61”
The title tells the subject. "Claybourn Jacks" tries to pull Missouri out of the Union, and Harney does little to stop him. Price and Blair and the Lion (Lyon) stop him. But the Lion is killed by McCulloch. The author asks forgiveness for his rough verse
To explain everything about this song (if it is a song and not just a poem) would take a small book; in any case, the narrative itself and Belden's notes cover most of the ground. (Some additional background is found in the songs in the cross-references). I'll just give sketch information about the characters named.
"Claybourn Jacks": Claiborne Fox Jackson (1806-1862), Governor of Missouri from 1860; tried and failed to pull the state out of the Union.
"Tom Price": Thomas Lawson Price (1809-1870), railroad builder and war democrat, who opposed secession
"Harney": William A. Harney (1800-1889), commander of the Deparment of the West (centered at St. Louis) when the war began. A friend of slaveholders, he did little to control Missouri secessionists, was suspected of sympathy with the rebellion, and was superseded May 29, 1861.
"Frost": Daniel M. Frost (c. 1823-1900), West Point graduate and Missouri businessman. Appointed by the Confederates to take the St. Louis arsenal, he was captured by Lyon instead, later being exchanged and becoming a Confederate general.
"Lyon" or "the Lion": Nathaniel Lyon (1818-1861), initially a regular army captain serving in St. Louis. Alarmed by Jackson's actions and Harney's inaction, he and Frank Blair conspired to keep Missouri in the Union. On May 10. he captured Frost and his hundreds of supporters at Camp Jackson (the only Union casualties were Lyon and Franz Sigel, and they were lighly wounded by their own horses). He died at Wilson's Creek.
"Frank Blair": Francis Preston Blair, Jr. (1821-1875), Missouri congressman and later union general. While Nathaniel Lyon ran the military operations in Missouri, Blair handled the politics, pulling the strings to get rid of Harney and put Lyon in charge
"Sigel": Franz Sigel (1824-1902), Union officer (later general). He would prove dreadfully incompetent, but at the time, he was one of the few trained officers available. (Though the training had come in Germany). Union commander at Carthage (July 5), he was forced to retreat. At Wilson's Creek, his failed flanking movement cost the Union forces any chance of victory.
Parson: Belden conjectures this is Lewis Baldwin Parsons (1818-1907), who was from Missouri but who became a Union officer.
"Price": Sterling Price (1809-1867), Confederate commander of Missouri troops. Leader of half the troops at Wilson's Creek.
"McCullough" or "Old Ben": Ben McCulloch (1811-1862), commander of Arkansas troops at Wilson's Creek and theoretical commander (though in effect he and Price led two independent armies). He would be killed in 1862 at Pea Ridge. - RBW
- Aug 10, 1861 - Battle of Wilson's Creek
- cf. "The Jolly Union Boys" and references there (concerning Battle of Wilson's Creek)
- Belden, pp. 366-367, "The War in Missouri in '61" (1 text)
- Roud #3698
- BI, Beld366