Claiborne Fox Jackson to the Soldiers and Fellow-Citizens of Missouri, December 13, 1861

Source citation
"Proclamation of Gov. Jackson," in Frank Moore, ed., The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc. (New York: G.P.Putnam, 1862), III: 471-473.
Type
Executive record
Date Certainty
Exact
Transcriber
Transcription adapted from The Rebellion Record (1862), edited by Frank Moore
Adapted by John Osborne, Dickinson College
Transcription date
The following transcript has been adapted from The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc. (1862).

PROCLAMATION OF GOV. JACKSON. December 13,1861.

Officers and Soldiers of the Missouri State Guard, and Fellow-Citizens:
 
In the month of June last, after having exhausted every honorable means of averting the calamities of civil war, I called upon the State for fifty thousand volunteers, to drive the ruthless bands of hired invaders from our soil. Before making that call, I had asked that you might have the privilege of determining, at the polls, in a peaceable manner, your future political relations with the United States — determined, on my part, to abide that decision, whatever it might be. That privilege —a right which belongs to every freeman— was denied you. Our enemies chose to submit your rights to the arbitrament of the sword, and we accept the issue so boastingly tendered us.

There was no alternative left. We had either to draw the sword and defend our rights, or, like slaves, submit to the worst despotism on earth. Between these I could not and did not hesitate. I chose the former, and hence, from that time to the present, grim-visaged War has stalked through our State, from the Nishnebotena to the St. Francois — from the Desmoines to the Neosho — and in his trail have followed charred walls, bloodstained fields and desolate homes.

When the circumstances by which we were surrounded are considered, it must be acknowledged that the State responded nobly to my call; and to you, who left all the comforts of home, and for six long months have been enduring all the hardships, dangers, and sufferings of a soldier's life, too much praise and credit cannot be given. Patiently have you borne the burning rays of the summer's sun, the beating storm, chilling blasts and sickening hunger pains; and nobly have you stood upon the battle-field, amid showering balls, bursting bombs, and charging horse. Yea, more than this, you have dared the burning fever, the feeble pulse, and risked the solitary grave, with all of a patriot's faith and hope.

These things have you done, my brave soldiers, but our work is not complete yet, for war, with its horrors and train of suffering, still hovers over our beloved State. We are fighting for liberty, equality, and independence, and can never leave the field while the foot of an enemy shall be left to pollute our soil. Every thing on earth that renders life valuable and dear to freemen is at stake, and none but the basest slave and craven coward can yield in such a contest. Not so with the enemy. We seek not his subjugation, his country, or his home. He can quit the field, retire to his home, and thereby give peace and happiness to a bleeding and suffering country. He can by these means at once close the unrelenting crusade which he is now waging against us.

Our enemies in the State, though impudently and arrogantly asserting that a majority of the people are on their side, have by their own conduct given most indubitable evidence that all their claims are false, or that they themselves are too cowardly to fight their own battles.

Are there any so blind among them as not to see that the predominant feeling in the State is with the South ? Do they not know that an overwhelming majority of the people will never submit to the rule of an abolition despotism? Are they not aware that the usurpations of their defunct convention are almost universally condemned by the people? If all these things are not well known to them, why did the convention, at its recent sitting, rescind their ordinance of a former session, submitting their highhanded usurpations to a vote of the people for ratification ? They know, and everybody knows, that the people would have put their seal of condemnation, in thunder tones, upon all their unholy deeds, had the opportunity been afforded them.

Why, if they have the majority, did they import regiment after regiment, brigade after brigade, general after general, from the ranks of Lincoln's hired hordes in the North to fight their battles in Missouri ? Our friends from the South were never invited into Missouri until the Lincoln Government had quartered their Hessian troops all over the State. These troops thus quartered in our midst have been met upon every field, with few exceptions, by Missouri's sons alone, and with almost unvaried success. Now, when we have the assistance of the rich and powerful Southern Confederacy, with all her vast resources, and her gallant sons to stand by our sides, what must be the result? If any among us have hitherto entertained the idea that Missouri can be conquered, let them at once and forever banish the delusion from their minds.

By your own strong arms, and willing hearts, and dauntless courage, you have passed successfully through the darkest hour and greatest peril which can possibly attend the unholy crusade now being waged against you. Our enemies must have been brought to know that a bloody revenge must and will follow a continuance of our persecution. It cannot be supposed that a large majority of our people are to be driven from their homes and firesides, and forced to surrender up the graves of their fathers and their children to Northern invaders. This can never be done as long as a man can be found or an arm shall be left to strike a blow. Overwhelming numbers may sometimes force us to retreat; circumstances may occasionally cause us to fall back; but, as certain as God reigns in heaven, we will return again and again, until the last man shall have perished, or we shall have reclaimed our homes.

I have said, and now repeat it, that our enemies can, at any moment, leave the field in safety, and retire to their homes, whereas we can never lay down our arms without dishonor while an enemy shall pollute our soil with his unhallowed tread. Honor and patriotism alike forbid it. The memories of the past and the hopes of the future equally forbid it. The question for Missouri to determine is now resolved into this single proposition: Shall she be the Empire State of the glorious Southern Confederacy, the bright star and peer of Virginia, in the Southern constellation, or shall she ignominiously submit to the abolition yoke of Northern fanaticism — conquered, humbled and disgraced — forced to remain under a Government made tyrannical by fanaticism, disgraced by its rulers, and contemptible in the eyes of the world ?

But it is useless now to argue the interest or policy of the State; our enemies have chosen to submit them both to the arbitrament of the sword, and by the sword they must be settled. There is no reason why we should shrink from the contest. The Missouri State Guard, almost single-handed, have fought the armies of all the Western States for more than six months with unparalleled success. Their victories at Cole Camp, at Carthage, at Oak Hills, Fort Scott, Lexington, Fredericktown, and Belmont, cannot fail to inspire the country with renewed zeal, energy, and courage. These noble and heroic deeds have passed into history, and will form the brightest page of the crisis through which our country is parsing.

My brave soldiers, now in the field, the six months for which you were called is now expiring, and many may desire to return to their homes. It is natural you should desire to do so; but let me beg you not now to turn back from the work you have so nobly begun; do not now fail when the eyes of the whole country are upon you; do not lose your glorious reputation for want of a little more patience; do not let the princely heritage of Missouri be lost to you and your children, when a few more weeks or days of perseverance may win it for you. Let me, therefore, entreat you to embrace the opportunity which is now offered you to volunteer in the service of that great young government, the Southern Confederacy — one of the brilliant stars of which is our own loved Missouri — and fight under that bright flag which has yet known no defeat.

That the bond of union between Missouri and her Southern sisters may be more perfect, and that encouragement be given our men, and that system and unity of purpose exist which insures success, it has been determined that the present members of the Missouri State Guard shall have the liberty to reorganize under the laws of the Southern Confederacy — that our Southern brothers may have the privilege of supplying our wants and paying our troops, while we fight our battles, which are also theirs. Do not let the frosts of winter deter you from embracing the opportunity. Do not fail to remember those patriotic sires who wintered at Valley Forge — let their bright example encourage you — the cause is the same —'tis liberty and equality for which we fight. You have no homes to which you can safely go — the Hessian and the Jayhawker go wherever the array is not, and you will but put on the shackles of serfdom whenever you lay down your arms, even though it be but temporarily. I know your patriotism — you have proved it. I know your bravery—the world has seen it. I know your endurance — the cheerfulness with which you have borne your hardships have demonstrated it — then I pray you, maintain your reputation but a little while longer, and Missouri will be regenerated and redeemed.

To my fellow-citizens who have not yet joined the army, I have now a word to say. Can you longer "delay? Can there be yet one lingering ray of hope in your hearts that the once glorious Union can ever be reconstructed or reunited? Can you expect to remain as quiet spectators, tilling your fields and attending to your private speculations, while fifty thousand of your brave brothers are on the " War Path "? Do you not know that absence from the field but prolongs the war, and that you are at all times liable to depredations from either party? Come out, then, like men. Remember that "he who is not for us is against us!" You know as well as I that the people of Missouri are Southern people — that their sympathies, their hopes, and their interests are with the South. Then I call upon you in the name of our noble State, now struggling for independence, to come out and help your brothers who are in the field. You cannot ask or expect them to do all the fighting, to endure all the hardships, and divide with you their glory and successes. You should not expect to enjoy the reward unless you participate in their struggles for victory and independence.

C. F. JACKSON.

NEW MADRID, MO., DEC. 13, 1861

How to Cite This Page: "Claiborne Fox Jackson to the Soldiers and Fellow-Citizens of Missouri, December 13, 1861," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/38510.