Archives :: Research :: MSA-St. Louis :: Military Records :: Civil War Refugees in the Ozarks

Research Room

Civil War Refugees in the Ozarks:
Some Basic Sources for Genealogists and Historians

John Bradbury
Senior Manuscript Specialist
Western Historical Manuscript Collection
University of Missouri - Rolla

Published Materials

Mary Elizabeth Massey.
Refugee Life in the Confederacy. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1964.

John F. Bradbury, Jr.
"Buckwheat Cake Philanthropy: Refugees and the Union Army in the Ozarks,:   Arkansas Historical Quarterly57 (Autumn 1998): 233-254.

James J. Johnston.
"Will the Real Daniel Martin Please Stand Up?," Mid-America Folklore 21 (Spring 1993): 28-41. (This concerns three versions of a folk ballad in which the protagonist, an Arkansas refugee, enlists in the Union army at Rolla.)

Neal, Diane and Thomas W. Kremm.
"An Experiment in Collective Security: The Union Army's Use of Armed Colonies in Arkansas," Military History of the Southwest 20 No.2 (1990): 169-181.

Hughes, Michael.
"Wartime Grist Mill Destruction in Northwest Arkansas and Military-Farm Colonies," Arkansas Historical Quarterly 56 (Summer 1987): 167-186.

These are among the very few scholarly works that touch on the question of refugees in the Ozarks.  All have useful bibliographies.  Other publications can provide context for the Civil War in the Ozarks, with an occasional reference to refugees.   These include the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, the Missouri Historical Review, the White River Valley historical Quarterly and publications of local historical and genealogical societies in Arkansas and Missouri.  For example:

"Civil War Adventures of Capt. John McCoy," White River Valley Historical Quarterly 1, No. 3 (Spring 1962): 7.

"Refugees at Rolla, 1862-1865,: Phelps County Genealogical Society Quarterly 9(April 1993): 19-37.

"Refugees in Barry County," White River Valley Historical Quarterly (Summer 1993): 23.

Archival Materials 

National Archives microfilm publication M345:  Union Provost Marshal Files Pertaining to Individual Citizens.  This 300-roll series is arranged alphabetically by surname for all of the states occupied by the Union army.   The series contains documents detailing civilian contacts with the Union provost marshals, such as testimony in military commissions, correspondence regarding prisoners, applications for permits to carry weapons or deal in contraband article, oaths of allegiance, bonds, etc.  The original documents are part of Record Group 109 (War Department Collection of Confederate Records) at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.   The microfilm rolls are available for sale individually.  The Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City has purchased this entire set of microfilms for public use.

National Archives microfilm publication M416: Union Provost Marshal Files Pertaining to Two or More Citizens.  This series is similar to M345, except that the documents lists include the names of multiple civilians taking the oath of allegiance or posting bonds, rolls of prisoners, lists of petitioners for various matters, a list of damage claims resulting from Price's 1864 Expedition, etc.  There is a partial index available for the series.  The original documents are available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  The Missouri State Archives at Jefferson City has bought some of the rolls of this series for public use, including the partial index.

Record Group 393, Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands at the National Archives contains the official records for various Union military posts in Arkansas and Missouri.  The records of superintendents of refugees are generally found in the miscellaneous section of records for each post such as Rolla, Springfield, Fayetteville, Batesville, Little Rock, Fort Smith, Clarksville, etc.  Post records may include special orders regarding the issues of rations to refugees, transportation vouchers for travel to friends and family in other loyal sates, and orders to provide coffins and graves for deceased refugees.  Records for all Union posts in the Ozarks are included initially in the records of the Department of Missouri.  After the capture of Little Rock in September 1863, documents created at Union posts in Arkansas are found in the records for the Department of Arkansas.  These records are available only at the National Archives in Washington.  There are hundreds of volumes in RG 393; some of the volumes include partial indexes.

Record Group 92, Records of the Quartermaster General, contains "Reports of Persons and Articles Hired," which were filled out quarterly by each subordinate quartermaster.  Filed by names of quartermasters, the documents contain the names and employment histories of thousands of civilians employed by the U.S. Army.   Teamsters predominate, but the army also paid clerks, scouts, wagonmasters, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, ships carpenters, ferrymen, road repairers, night watchmen, etc.  The names are not indexed.  "Reports of Persons and Articles Hired" are available only at the National Archives in Washington, but microfilm copies of some of the reports for posts in Missouri, have been purchased for public use by the Missouri State Archives at Jefferson City.

Record Group 109, War Department Collection of Confederate Records, includes Confederate documents for Arkansas and Missouri surrendered by Confederate forces in 1865.  The records are far less in volume than comparable Union records.   Some of the records in RG 108 are cited in William Frank Zornow, "State Aid for Indigent Soldiers and Their Families in Arkansas, 1861-1865," Arkansas Historical Quarterly 14 (Spring 1955): 97-102.  Se also Mary Elizabeth Massey's Refugee Life in the Confederacy, noted above. There are many collections of private correspondence and other documents in archives, libraries, and manuscript repositories.  At the very least, researchers will want to consult the holdings of the Arkansas Historical Commission in Little Rock, Special Collections at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City, the State Historical Society of Missouri at Columbia, the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, and the Columbia and Rolla branches of the University of Missouri Western Historical Manuscript Collection.