History and flags

History of the Missouri Brigade

The Missouri Brigade, whose heritage we preserve and under whose colors we march, was mustered into Confederate service from units of the Missouri State Guard, near Springfield, Mo. in January 1862. The Missouri State Guard had served with distinction at the battles of Boonville, Lexington, Wilson's Creek and other.

As the Missouri Brigade in Confederate service, the unit fought at the battle of Pea Ridge and was instrumental in saving the Confederate Army from total destruction by Federal forces. In 1862, the Missouri Brigade was transferred east of the Mississippi along with other Missouri unites to fight (for the next three years) separated from their homes and their state.

While serving east of the Mississippi, the Missouri unites formed the Confederate Missouri Brigade. The Missouri Brigade participated in the battles of Iuka, Corinth, Champion's Hill and the siege of Vicksburg during 1862 and 1863.

1864 was a difficult year for the Army of Tennessee and the Missouri Brigade. The hard fought battles of the Atlanta Campaign, Alltoona and finally the disastrous Battle of Franklin Tennessee in November 1864, nearly destroyed the Missouri Brigade. At Franklin, Tennessee alone the Brigade suffered over 60% casualties in a little over one hour of combat.

1865 proved to be no better for the Missouri Brigade. Sent to the defense of Mobile, Alabama, the Missouri Brigade manned the defense of Ft. Blakeley. As they awaited the largest Federal assault of the war, the Missouri Brigade mustered only 400 survivors of the 4000 men who had crossed the Mississippi River three years earlier. Powerless to stop the Federal onslaught on April 9, 1865, the once proud Missouri Brigade, was overrun. Those who managed to escape soldiered on for another month, finally surrendering in late May of 1865.

During the war, approximately two out of every three members of the original Missouri Brigade died in battle, as a result of wounds or from disease. Yet, despite untold hardships created by war and separation from family and their home state, the soldiers of the Missouri Brigade continued to fulfill their duties and to uphold the honor of their regiment, and their state until the army and the country they served no longer existed.

Our unit, as well as other living history organizations, work today to preserve the memories of our ancestors and their deeds, both Union and Confederate, for this and future generations.

Flags of the Missouri Brigade

The Missouri State Guard Flag was never formally adopted as the official state flag in Missouri legislation.  The flag was adopted in Missouri by direction of General Sterling Price of the Missouri State Guard.  When orders were issued in the Spring of 1861 for district commanders of the State Guard to prepare their troops for active duty, they were instructed that each regiment: "was to carry a Missouri flag, made of blue merino, with the state arms in gold on both sides"

4th Missouri Infantry Regiment Flag is a Van Dorn pattern battle flag. It had a red field adorned with thirteen white stars arranged in five rows, with a white crescent in the upper corner. It also has a yellow border. A number of Trans-Mississippi commands used this flag. When General Van Dorn brought his regiments to the east of the side of the river in 1862 to join Beauregard's army at Corinth, Mississippi, they brought these flags with them and fought under them at the battle of Corinth in October of that year.  The 4th Infantry Regiment completed its organization in April, 1862 with men from Springfield and the surrounding area. Most all of its members served in the Missouri State Guard.

The Missouri Battle Flag was distinctly associated with the Trans-Mississippi Department. It was carried almost exclusively by Missouri regiments, becoming identified as the "Missouri Battle Flag". It is a blue flag bordered with red, and a white Roman cross in the field near the hoist of the flag.

The First National Flag also know as the "Stars and Bars" was adopted March 4, 1861, by the Confederate Congress.  Like some of the early state flags, the 1st. National looked similar to the "Stars and Stripes". It was designed by Nicola Marschall of Alabama. The flag had three equal horizontal bars: red, white, and red.  When it was first adopted, the blue canton consisted of seven starts in a circle, symbolizing the first seven states of the Confederacy: South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, and Texas.

The Confederate Battle Flag was adopted in 1861 to avoid confusion on the battlefield with the 1st National because they looked so much alike. General P.G.T Beauregard proposed that the design of William Porcher Miles as the Confederate battle flag.  Miles designed a rectangular red field crossed with a blue saltier, also known as the Saint Andrew's Cross, holding 7 white stars, symbolizing the 7 states of the Confederacy at the time.  

The Second National Flag was adopted in May of 1863, because the 1st National looked too similar to the Stars and Stripes and was hard to distinguish between the two amidst the smoke and confusion on the battlefield.  This flag was nicknamed "The Jackson Flag" because it was first officially used to cover the casket of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson at his funeral.  It is commonly know as the "Stainless Banner" because of the plain white field.  The flag's red canton was crossed by a white-edged, blue saltier, also know as the Saint Andrew's Cross, holding 13 white stars for the 13 states of the Confederacy. 

The Third National Flag was adopted in March of 1865 was adopted in March of 1865.  The Confederate Congress changed the flag's proportions and added a red vertical bar to the fly end.  Only a few of the 3rd. Nationals were made before the surrender at Appomattox.  The red bar now symbolizes the blood shed by the Confederate veterans. 

Missouri Brigade Timeline

  • September 1861 - The 1st Missouri Infantry Regiment is organized by Colonel John S. Bowen in Memphis, Tenn. The regiment mainly consists of St. Louisans who had joined the Missouri Volunteer Militia and had been captured at the Camp Jackson affair. Since St. Louis was under Federal control they crossed the Mississippi after their parole and enlisted in the Confederate Army at Memphis.

  • December 1861 - While Sterling Price's Missouri State Guard is encamped on the Sac River, near Osceola, Mo., he establishes a second encampment for those who want to volunteer for Confederate service. From December to January the 1st Missouri Cavalry, 2nd Missouri Infantry, and 3rd Missouri Infantry were organized, along with Wade's and Clark's Batteries. These units were brigaded under the command of Col. Henry Little as the first brigade in Price's Division - consisting of two brigades of Confederate volunteers - hence, the 1st Missouri Brigade.

  • January-February 1862 - 1st Missouri Brigade is thoroughly drilled by Henry Little. Despite being a strict disciplinarian he gets along well with the troops. Price retreats into Arkansas in February.

  • Battle of Pea Ridge, March 6-7, 1862 - The 1st Missouri Brigade is heavily engaged at Elkhorn Tavern. They successfully drive Eugene Carr's Federal division from Elkhorn on the first day. In the Federal counter-attack on the second day they are not routed, making a fighting retreat, and are one of the last Confederate units to leave the battlefield with the rest of Van Dorn's army.

  • Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862 - Bowen's 1st Missouri Infantry Regiment see's its first action at Shiloh. They fight in the Peach Orchard on the first day, helping drive back Hurlbut's division. On the second day they recapture the guns of the 5th Company, Washington Artillery. They suffer a loss of 48 killed, 130 wounded and 29 missing out of 850 engaged.

  • April-May 1862 - The 1st Missouri Brigade crosses the Mississippi River with Van Dorn's Army of the West. After arriving at Corinth, Miss., in April the 4th and 5th Missouri Infantry and 3rd Missouri Cavalry Battalion are organized. Henry Little is promoted to brigadier general on April 12.

  • May 1862 - At the Siege of Corinth until army is evacuated on May 29.

  • June-August 1862 - Encamped in and around Tupelo, Miss., Price's Division is reviewed by Generals Bragg and Hardee, "who pronounced it to be the finest, most efficient, best drilled and most thoroughly disciplined body of troops in the Army of the Mississippi." Lt. Col. Francis M. Cockrell is elected colonel of the 2nd Missouri Infantry after the former commander, Col. Burbridge, resigns. On August 26 the 6th Missouri Infantry is organized and mustered into service.

  • September 1862 - Col. Elijah Gates assumes command of the 1st Missouri Brigade with Henry Little in command of Price's Division and Price commanding the Army of the West. Price marches from Tupelo to Iuka, Miss.

  • Battle of Iuka, September 19, 1862 - The 1st Missouri Brigade is lightly engaged, although Henry Little is struck in the head by a stray bullet and killed.

  • Battle of Corinth, October 3-4, 1862 - On the first day the 1st Missouri Brigade under Col. Gates along with the 2nd Missouri Brigade under Brig. Gen. Martin E. Green assault and overrun the outer Federal line of works north of the town. Green's Brigade suffers heavy losses attacking a Federal line at the White House fields, the 6th Missouri losing 71.3%. On the second day the 1st Missouri Brigade charges Battery Powell just outside Corinth, overrunning the position and capturing numerous prisoners and artillery pieces. However, a Federal counter-attack forces them back out and retakes Battery Powell. The 1st Missouri Brigades suffers heavy losses and retreats with the rest of the army that afternoon.

  • October 23, 1862 - Price's troops are reviewed by Gen. Earl Van Dorn, who concluded that he had "never seen a finer looking body of men, nor of more soldierly appearance and efficiency, nor have I ever witnessed better drill or discipline in any army since I have belonged to the military service."

  • November-December 1862 - Winter quartered near Grenada, Miss., Bowen's 1st Missouri Infantry Regiment is united with the 1st Missouri Brigade and is consolidated with the 4th Missouri Infantry.

  • February 1863 - To the dismay of his troops, Sterling Price leaves for the Trans-Mississippi; John S. Bowen later takes command of his old division. The 1st-4th, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th Missouri Infantry are now all in the 1st Missouri Brigade, with the exception of the 1st and 3rd Missouri Cavalry in Green's Brigade.

  • March-April 1863 - Col. Francis M. Cockrell assumes command of the 1st Missouri Brigade. Arrive at Grand Gulf, Miss., on March 12. In April the brigade crosses the Mississippi to make a short reconnaissance in Louisiana, skirmishing with Maj. Gen. John McClernand's Corps. On April 29 they repel a Federal naval attack by seven ironclads.

  • Battle of Port Gibson, May 1, 1863 - Facing McClernand's whole corps, Cockrell makes a flanking manuever with the 3rd and 5th Missouri that stalls the Federal advance for a short while. Bowen's Division withdraws from Grand Gulf, crossing the Big Black River.

  • Battle of Champion Hill, May 16, 1863 - After the troops of Carter L. Stevenson's Division are pushed off Champion Hill by Grant's attack on Pemberton's left flank, threatening the destruction of Pemberton's army, Bowen's Division with the 1st Missouri Brigade and Green's Brigade make their distinguished counter-attack. They drive the Federals back up and over the crest of Champion Hill in some of the most vicious fighting they had ever seen. Repulsing several Federal brigades, they almost cut their way through to Grant's supply trains in his rear; however, Bowen's troops run low on ammunition and are ultimately forced to make a fighting retreat in the face of Union reinforcements. The 1st Missouri Brigade suffers a total loss of 600 men, killed, wounded and missing at Champion Hill/Baker's Creek out of a strength of roughly 2,650 men.

  • Battle of Big Black River Bridge, May 17, 1863 - Pemberton retreats back to Big Black River. Pemberton places Bowen's Division to entrench on the east bank of the river to hold off the Federal advance. McClernand's Corps attacks their line. A Federal brigade charges down a ravine and hits a portion of the line held by John C. Vaughn's Brigade of East Tennesseans which breaks to the rear, sending the Confederate line in disarray. Bowen's Division is forced to withdraw back across the bridge; many Missourians are captured while crossing the river.

  • Siege of Vicksburg, May 18-July 4, 1863 - Pemberton's army arrives in Vicksburg on May 18. Bowen's Division is held in reserve, ordered to support any section of the Confederate line that Bowen deems the most pressed. The Missouri Brigade supports the Stockade Redan during Grant's initial assaults on May 19 and 22, repulsing every advance. When a truce is called thereafter to gather the Federal dead and wounded it is realized that among the troops they had fought were fellow Missourians from the 6th and 8th Missouri (US). Friends and relatives recognize each other and chat like old times while the truce lasts, only to continue shooting at each other the next day. On May 25 Grant settles into a siege, and for the next 40 days the Missourians would be under fire, day and night, fighting where it is the hottest.

  • Battle for the Crater, June 25, 1863 - The Missouri Brigade had supported the Third Louisiana Redan throughout much of the siege. By June 25 the Federals had dug sap trenches up to the face of the redan and begun tunneling underneath it, packing it with 2,200 pounds of gunpowder. At 2:30 p.m. the front of the redan is hurled in the air with a massive explosion, sending men, guns and other debris flying. Federal troops ready for the assault rush into the crater. Cockrell is tossed in the air but arises in no time to order his men forward into the breach. Col. Eugene Erwin, commanding the 6th Missouri, charges to the lip of the crater, waving his boys forward, only to be shot and killed. Fortunately for the Missourians and Louisianians, they had constructed a second line behind the tip of the redan before the mine was blown; from there they would hold their position, but just barely. The Federals maintained their hold in the crater and both sides continued shooting at each other and throwing grenades and lighted shells just feet apart. A second mine was set off on July 1, however no assault fallowed and the line was desperately repaired.

  • July 4, 1863 - Vicksburg finally surrenders. Bowen's Division had suffered a total loss of 758, or 31% during the siege, the highest rate of any Confederate division at Vicksburg. The Vicksburg prisoners are declared paroled and the Missourians are ordered to go to Demopolis, Ala., for eventual exchange. On the day of the surrender Gen. Bowen had suddenly fallen terribly ill with dysentery and dies on July 13, just outside of Raymond, Miss. The Missourians are sorely effected by his loss, he having raised the 1st Missouri Regiment and gained the brigade's confidence as an inspirational division commander throughout the Vicksburg Campaign.

  • July-September 1863 - While the Vicksburg parolees are supposed to head for the parole camps, most Trans-Mississippians just leave and walked on home. The Missouri Brigade does experience some desertions during this time, though the majority decide to stay and continue to serve east of the Mississippi. They are finally declared exchanged that September. Cockrell is promoted to brigadier general July 18 and the brigade is reorganized. The 1st and 3rd Missouri Cavalry, previously in Green's Brigade, are then transferred to the 1st Missouri Brigade and the regiments are consolidated as fallows: 1st-4th Missouri Inf., 2nd-6th Missouri Inf., 3rd-5th Missouri Inf., 1st-3rd Missouri Cav. (dismounted). They are assigned to Maj. Gen. Samuel G. French's Division, with Ector's Texans and Sears' Mississippians.

  • October-December 1863 - The Missouri Brigade settles into winter quarters at Meridian, Miss. To keep the men in shape they are thoroughly drilled by Gen. Cockrell, which is relatively easy compared to what they have passed through, and they respect Cockrell as a commander and drillmaster. The 1st Missouri Brigade is praised by all, from generals to civilians, as the best-drilled force they have ever seen. In one review back at Demopolis they were even called out by President Davis for their exceptional drill, fine appearance, and unique yell. The brigade numbers 112 officers and 1,329 men by November 20 and nearly 2,000 by the end of the year as men returned from wounds, capture or furlough.

  • January-April 1864 - The brigade is moved to Mobile, Ala., on January 8. In February they leave Mobile and take part in the Meridian Campaign, only seeing light skirmishing. In April they are moved to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to flush out deserters from surrounding counties.

  • May 1864 - In eleven days the brigade moves 275 miles (75 by rail) from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to Cassville, Ga., to join the Army of Tennessee on May 18.

  • The Atlanta Campaign, May-September, 1864 - Over the next several months the Missouri Brigade and French's Division see some of the harshest campaigning they would experience throughout the war. They aren't engaged in every major battle but they are under fire, marching or digging earthworks almost every day of the campaign. From the New Hope Church line, the Lattimer House, Kennesaw Mountain, Chattahoochee River line, Peachtree Creek, and in the Atlanta defenses, the Missourians see constant skirmishing and artillery fire. Like their experience at Vicksburg, the lines are often just yards apart and sharpshooting goes on day and night. One of the major battles they play a notable part in is Kennesaw Mountain, defending Pigeon Hill against Federal attacks on June 27. The Missouri Brigade numbered 1,630 men on May 6 and about 1,100 by September; they had lost 531 men throughout the campaign.

  • September-October 1864 - Atlanta is evacuated and burns on September 1. The Missouri Brigade takes up position south of Atlanta until Hood moves north on October 1 to strike at Sherman's supply lines. French's Division is detached to attack Allatoona Pass on October 4.

  • Battle of Allatoona Pass, October 5, 1864 - The Missouri Brigade with French's Division assaults the Federal fortifications at Allatoona Pass, through which the Western & Atlantic R.R. runs. French's 3,276 men versus the 2,137-man Federal garrison would be a relatively 'small' but extraordinarily fierce battle - one of the fiercest fights the Missouri Brigade would ever find itself in. Cockrell's Missourians and Ector's Texans assault Rowett's Redoubt, defended by elements from several Federal regiments, the 7th Illinois armed with Henry repeaters. Despite that, they make the desperate charge up a slope, across the abatis, over an open, stumped field and up to the works. There the fight is hand-to-hand - bayonets and musket butts, bare fists, rocks and clods of dirt thrown - until the Federals withdraw back to the Star Fort in the rear, alongside the railroad cut. Even though the French's men surround the fort and, enough time provided, could capture it, the news of Federal reinforcements forces French to withdraw at the last minute. Once again, the Missourians' losses had been in vain; they suffer a total loss of 271 at Allatoona out of 950 men.

  • October 13, 1864 - The Missouri Brigade attacks a railroad blockhouse at Tilton, Ga., defended by the 17th Iowa Infantry. They refuse to surrender initially, until a section of artillery is brought upon the blockhouse. After a few shells they lay down their arms and 300 prisoners are taken. The Missourians help themselves to the ration stores there.

  • Hood's Tennessee Campaign, November-December 1864 - Rejoining the Army of Tennessee at New Hope Church, they march to Alabama, cross the Tennessee River and head for Tennessee. The brigade numbers only 697 men by November 20. They skirmish with the enemy at the Duck River and march into Columbia, Tenn., on November 29.

  • Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864 - After Schofield's army slips away on the night of November 29 at Spring Hill, the Missouri Brigade find themselves marching to the outskirts of Franklin the fallowing day. Watching the Federals dig into two lines in front of the town, the Missourians receive the news that an attack is to be made that afternoon. French's Division (only Cockrell's and Sears' Brigades) is deployed east of the Columbia Pike, between those of Cleburne and Walthall. While deploying one Missourian quoted Lord Nelson's famous order, "England expects every man to do his duty." Irishman, Sgt. Denny Callahan, then replied, "Its ****ed little duty England would get out of this crowd!" Capt. Joseph Boyce later recalled, "The laugh Denny raised on this was long and hearty. They were noble fellows indeed, laughing in the face of death. Four years of war hardens men." The brigade is aligned L-R as fallows: 2nd-6th MO, 1-4th MO, 3rd-5th MO, 1st-3rd MO Cav. Sears' Brigade was initially in front but after the advance began Cockrell's is shifted ahead of it. As the men step off the Missouri Brigade's brass band serenades the lines with "Dixie" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag." Wagner's advanced line of Federal troops is quickly overrun and fled to the rear, the Rebels fallowing closely after them and up to the main Federal line. As the space between the Columbia Pike and Harpeth River shortens the lines overlap, and therefore Cockrell's Brigade is likely either one of the first or one of the last Confederate brigades to strike the main Federal line by the Columbia Pike and Cotton Gin. When they do make it in range the works explode with fire, including six artillery pieces positioned around of Cotton Gin, belching forth canister. Within minutes the Missouri Brigade's ranks are cut to shreds. Cockrell is wounded four times. Col. Elijah Gates of the 1st-3rd Missouri Cav. is shot through both arms, still riding forward on horseback until carried off to the rear. Irish Capt. Patrick Caniff of St. Louis, acting major of the 3rd-5th Missouri, is shot off his horse, only to be shot through the head while laying on the ground. In the 1st-4th Missouri, Col. Hugh Garland is killed and second in command, Capt. Boyce, is wounded. Several color bearers of the 1st-4th are shot down; Sgt. Denny Callahan grabs it up and carries it to the works where he is wounded and captured along with the flag. A few men make it to the ditch afront the works, but hundreds are shot down short of it; those that made it are forced to lay under the Federal guns until the fallowing morning.

  • December 1, 1864 - The scene that morning is indescribable. The Missouri Brigade is decimated, with 98 killed, 229 wounded and 92 missing, for a total loss of 419 out of 696 engaged, or 60.2%. Of 82 officers in the brigade, 19 had been killed, 31 wounded and 13 captured. Col. Peter Flournoy of the 2-6th Missouri, the highest ranking officer to make it through unscathed, is left to command the remnants of the brigade. Miraculously, Gen. Cockrell and Col. Gates survive their wounds, Gates having one of his arms amputated. Both later return to the brigade.

  • December 2-25, 1864 - After burying their dead on the field the remaining men march to join Hood at Nashville. They are not with the army during the battle for they are sent off to establish a fort at Johnsonville at the mouth of the Duck River. After the defeat at Nashville the brigade is ordered to rejoin the army on December 20. Marching 75 miles to Pulaski and then another 20 to Bainbridge, Ala., in the freezing weather, they recross the Tennessee river on December 27.

  • January-March 1865 - Encamped around Tupelo, Miss. Detached from the Army of Tennessee, the brigade is ordered to Mobile on February 1. After recovering from their wounds, Cockrell and Gates return around this time. Cockrell assumes command of French's old division after French was forced to take sick leave due to a severe eye infection. On March 24 they are sent to Fort Blakely, across Mobile Bay on the eastern shore.

  • Siege of Fort Blakely, April 2-9, 1865 - With a major Union advance on Mobile - Gen. Edward Canby with two corps, 45,000 men - the two forts, Blakely and Spanish Fort, would come under siege. Spanish Fort falls on April 9. Blakely had been under siege since April 2, its garrison of 3,500 outnumbered over five to one. With Federal reinforcements sent from Spanish Fort, a major assault is launched on Blakely's defenses on April 9, the same day Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox.

  • The Missouri Brigade's last stand, April 9, 1865 - Positioned in Redoubt's No. 3 and 4, the remnants of the Missouri Brigade, only about 400 men, brace themselves for the coming attack. Reminiscent of their experience at Vicksburg, the Missourians were confident they would repulse the attack. Unfortunately, a large section of the works at Blakely are manned by raw, inexperienced Alabama reserves - old men and boys who will run or surrender too soon. Assaults on Redoubt's No. 3 and 4 are initially repulsed by Cockrell's veterans, but the Federals come at them again until they reach the works. The Alabama reserves break and Federal troops pour in from the rear. A few diehard Missourians die fighting in the last ditch, many are reluctantly forced to surrender and others run for the wharf. Cockrell, Gates and nearly all of the officers are captured at the works. Some of the Federal troops, 83rd Ohio among them, recognize their captives from the surrender at Vicksburg. Only a handful of men manage to escape by jumping into Mobile Bay; some are picked up by the steamer Nashville, commanded by Lt. John W. Bennett.

  • Most of the officers are sent to Duaphine Island and the enlisted men to Ship Island ten miles off the Mobile coast. The latter is merely a sand bar and for thirteen days the men are left outside with no shelter and guarded by USCT troops. They are put on board a steamer on April 28 and transported to Vicksburg for parole. Before parole each prisoner signs the oath of allegiance. The men say their final farewells before parting, some returning home to Missouri any way they can while others decide to settle with friends or relatives down South.

"We once numbered eight thousand; to-day would could not muster five hundred for duty. Where are those missing sons of Missouri? Go ask the bloody battle-fields of Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee; their bodies lie buried in the soldier's grave."
- Pvt. James Bradley, Co. K, 3rd-5th Missouri Infantry.

Gottschalk, Phil. In Deadly Earnest: The Missouri Confederate Brigade. Columbia: Missouri River Press, 1991.

Bevier, R. S. History of the First and Second Missouri Confederate Brigades, 1861-1865. St. Louis: Bryan, Brand & Co., 1879.

Anderson, Ephraim McD. Memoirs: Historical and Personal; Including the Campaigns of the First Missouri Confederate Brigade. St. Louis: Times Printing Co., 1868.

Boyce, Joseph. Captain Joseph Boyce and the 1st Missouri Infantry, C.S.A., ed. William C. Winter. St. Louis: Missouri History Museum Press, 2011

Bradley, James. The Confederate Mail Carrier. Mexico, Mo.: n.p., 1894.

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