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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 1. History

by Major A. J. Roof. 1913

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THE QUESTION OF EMANCIPATION

Page 82

President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation brought forth a bitter quarrel between the radicals and conservatives in the spring of 1863. The war democrats and conservatives did not favor immediate abolition of slavery in Missouri, but rather endorsed the ordinance adopted July 1st, in state convention, giving the blacks over forty years of age and minors under a certain age their freedom after July 4., 1870. This ordinance, however, met with disfavor with confederate sympathizers and radicals. These differences engendered a most bitter quarrel, not only in Livingston county, but throughout the state. The radical leaders were active and the Constitution newspaper, the faction's organ, was severe in its denunciation of "copperheads," and its editor, Howard S. Harbaugh, was a strong abolitionist. Rev. T. B. Bratton, of the Methodist Episcopal church, was another strong radical. In public speeches and meetings these two had used strong language in denouncing the authorities for their policy of conservatism, and about the 10th of July, Gen. Odon Guitar, in command of this district, ordered their arrest on a charge of "seditious and revolutionary conduct," and they were taken into custody at Chillicothe, where Captain T. B. Reed, of Guitar's old regiment, the Ninth Missouri State Militia, was provost marshal. A writ of habeas corpus was sued out for their deliverance before Judge McFerran, but the military refused to respect it and the prisoners were kept in confinement and ordered to be sent to St. Louis for trial.

The radicals of the county were greatly excited over the arrest of Bratton and Harbaugh, and denounced it as a flagrant outrage etc. Bratton was at the time presiding elder of his church in this district. A large number of the Union ladies of the county were members of a semi-political organization called the Union Ladies' Encampment. A committee of ladies from the Harper Union Ladies' Encampment of Utica, carrying the national flag and wearing red-white-and-blue sashes, came over to Chillicothe, ostensibly to inquire what the charges were against Rev. Bratton and Mr. Harbaugh, but perhaps to make a demonstration that would result in their release. In a communication to the St. Louis Democrat the ladies gave the following account of their visit:

"We waited on Judge McFerran at the Harry House. The judge was introduced by Rev. Mr. Ellington, accompanied by Colonel Hale. We informed him who we were; that we had waited on him to ascertain the charges against Mr. Bratton, who was our minister and 'grand worthy chief' of our encampment. The judge said we had a right to call for the charges; that he knew nothing of the cause of the arrest; that Captain Reed, of Guitar's regiment, had made the arrests without his knowledge, which was assented to by Colonel Hale; that he would bring Captain Reed, who could give us the desired information.

"The captain seemed much excited and angry; taking a piece of paper from his pocket he demanded the names of our officers, which we commenced giving. We told him we would give the names of all our members if desired - which numbered about two hundred and fifty; that our officers had been publicly installed on the Fourth of July at Utica. Hastily putting up his paper he arose and said we had no right to come and demand any such information. He ordered us to roll up our flag, take off the red-white-and- blue sashes, and go home; said he would not give us any information about the arrests; that they were optional with him; then said they were in accordance with orders received from General Guitar; talked about our being revolutionary bodies; supposed we protected all manner of crime; asked if we did not know there was a law in Indiana breaking up all such organizations, etc.

"After making a great many similar remarks, which w suppose he would not have done if he had not been excited, he told us he would have given the desired information if we had come without flag and colors. We then informed him we did not intend to roll up the flag or take off the colors - that he would have to do that himself if it was done, which he did not undertake. We then requested the privilege of seeing Elder Bratton, who was sent for, but he objected to sending for Mr. Harbaugh. Mr. Bratton advised us never to roll up our national flag. After all united in singing, 'Rally 'Round the Flag, we withdrew."

After this demonstration the men were released without trial. What a revolution in the opinion of the people had taken place in two years. In 1861 only a score or more favored the dissolution of slavery, while before the close of 1863 only a mere handful stood against the Union and emancipation of the slaves. However, Colonel Hale and especially Judge James McFarren was held in ill favor by the radical faction. The judge was a conservative, but the bitter hatred against him was so violent that he at one time feared for his personal safety. Coming to Chillicothe at one time to hold court, he found the feeling against him so strong that he adjourned the term of the circuit court to a later date, and it was about this time the citizens burned him in effigy.

According to "Williams' History" there were many disorderly scenes. At a public meeting of the Union men held in what is now Elm Park in Chillicothe, both conservatives and radicals attended. Doctor Dewey, of Springhill, presided. Radical speeches were made by Rev. Bratton, Mr. Harrington, of St. Joseph, and Daniel Proctor, of Caldwell. Strong radical resolutions were adopted. Then the conservatives called for Colonel Hale, who responded in a speech defending Governor Gamble's administration, the State Convention Emancipation Ordinance, and the "law and order" policy of the conservatives generally. Mr. Roderick Matson, of Utica, then presented a set of conservative resolutions and moved their adoption. The conservatives cried out: "Good! Good! Let us vote them."

The radicals called for "Harrington," and some cheered for Jim Lane. There was a great tumult, in the midst of which a squad of Colonel Hale's militia, armed and equipped, appeared, and Colonel Hale called out to the radicals: "If you don't keep quiet, I'll use force." The radicals subsided, and then Mr. Matson's resolutions were adopted. Each side accused the other of disturbing the meeting and trying to break it up.

Some factional strife also existed in the ranks of the soldiery, including the Enrolled Militia and the Fourth Provisional Regiment, of which John B. Hale was in command, with R, F. Dunn and A. J. Swain as lieutenant colonels. Later John DeSha was appointed lieutenant commanding Company K. Colonel Hale made his headquarters in Chillicothe. There were three companies of the Fourth Regiment in the county, stationed and officered as follows: Company G, Captain John Field, at Utica; Company B, Captain Fortune, at Chillicothe; and Company K was sent to Springhill. The late William McIllwrath, a lieutenant of Company D, Ninth Missouri State Militia, Guitar's regiment, was detailed for provost marshal with headquarters in Chillicothe. Fortunately the location of the soldiers in different sections of the county, resulted in restoring quiet and order in the two factions.

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