Monday, April 21, 2014

February 20, 1864 (Sunday): Disloyal Paw Paws

Messrs. W. T. REYNOLDS and others,
Liberty, Mo.:
    GENTLEMAN: Your letter of February 20, 1864, inclosing copy of one dated December 26th, ultimo, addressed to the department commander, are received and the matters therein set forth have been carefully considered. While I appreciate the feelings and sentiments of loyalty which animate you, and assure you they shall receive all the attention and respect to which they are entitled, I must urge upon you and all unconditional men such wise and considerate policy toward all who are willing to obey the laws that none can fail of protection who act properly. The enemies of our country and local peace and quiet endeavor to damage the national cause and to keep the country in continual hot water by stirring up ill-blood between you and those who with a little care, watching, and kind, but firm, treatment will do well and return to industry and practical citizenship.
     I also request you to furnish names and facts going to prove the "Paw Paws" disloyal and only willing to protect their own homes against robbers, while they would do nothing against the common enemies of our nation and State. If these suggestions are carried out in a spirit of magnanimity and justice, it will greatly aid me in my endeavors to attain the object of your wishes. I want also assurance from you that the aspirates and hatreds engendered against rebels and rebel sympathizers shall not be carried to disturb the peace, as the "Paw Paw" advocates say they will be if they are left to the mercies of our embittered Union men.
     While we must hold all former rebels and their sympathizers bound to respect the laws and feelings of loyal men, we ought to leave those who behave rightfully in peace, notwithstanding their former conduct may have been hostile to the Government. All we ought to ask of them is sincere repentance and modest reserve.
     I am, gentlemen, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 34, Part 2, Page 428.

The "Paw Paws" were local militia, largely composed of civilians who were pro-Confederate early in the war.  Unionists in Missouri referred to them as paw paws because the paw paw grew  in the bushes and they regarded these men as bushwackers.  Rosecrans was a gentleman and disinclined to suspect the worst, but in this case he would have been justified.

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