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HomeAmerican HistoryJames Bailey: A Confederate Guerrilla in Saratoga County

James Bailey: A Confederate Guerrilla in Saratoga County

Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas in March 1862 by Kurz and AllisonThe Civil War claimed extra Americans than another battle involving the United States. This is the story of how James Bailey, a staunch Confederate as soon as in armed revolt in opposition to the United States, discovered himself in Saratoga County.

At about 5 am on August 10, 1861, an assault ordered by United States General Nathaniel Lyon was launched in opposition to the Confederates at Wilson’s Creek, close to Springfield, Missouri. The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, in which about 5,400 United States troops confronted about 12,00 Confederates, was the primary main battle west of the Mississippi River.

Although the Confederates counterattacked 3 times failing to interrupt by way of, General Lyon was killed, the primary of 35 Union generals killed in the course of the struggle. By 11 am, the brand new commanding common, Samuel Sturgis, realized that his males have been exhausted and his ammunition low, ordered the United States troopers to retreat to Springfield. The Confederates didn’t pursue them.

Joseph M. Bailey was born in Eastern Tennessee in 1841. He moved to Arkansas close to the Missouri border. He needed to go to varsity, however as an alternative joined Boone County, Arkansas’ Joe Wright Guards and was a witness to the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. His unit by no means really acquired into the battle and he was envious of those that did. At the tip of that summer season the Joe Wright Guards disbanded and Bailey went on to enlist as a sergeant in the Sixteenth Arkansas Infantry. He served in that unit till the tip of the struggle, besides when he was indifferent as a Confederate guerrilla.

Confederate batteries fire on Union warships diring the Battle of Port Hudson (painting by JO Davidson)In the Sixteenth, Bailey rose to the rank of regimental coloration bearer after which to lieutenant, taking part in the battles of Pea Ridge (the place the dying of Confederate General McCulloch turned the battle), Corinth, and prolonged siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana (a part of the Vicksburg Campaign), in the summer season of 1863, the place the Sixteenth lastly surrendered. Most of the Sixteenth’s males have been paroled, however the officers, together with Bailey, have been organized to be despatched to a prisoner of struggle camp. In the method, Bailey escaped, and returned house to the Crooked Creek Valley in Arkansas.

After his return, Bailey was shot in the chest in a skirmish with Federal troops. Although it was thought he would die from his wound, he survived however when the paroled males of the Sixteenth have been secretly ordered to reassemble he was nonetheless too sick be part of them.  Once he was in a position, he was made Captain of an organization of fifty males on horseback – Confederate guerrillas.

Historian Gary Edwards, describes what occurred subsequent:

From September 1863 to October the following year, Bailey served with other men from his community in a running skirmish of continual guerrilla warfare. Bailey chronicled a violent year in which he typically hunted other men, repeatedly killed, continually hid, and narrowly escaped death himself. Occasionally, Bailey witnessed or dispensed acts of mercy, but admitted that such events remained exceptional. His company of 50 proved too large to provision itself so they split into smaller bands. In these reduced groups, Bailey described how military discipline gave way to utilitarianism. Men joined the company and summarily discharged themselves according to their own preference. The only orders consistently followed remained those of the elected officer leading the mission at the moment. However, even this broke down into a bizarre experiment in democracy as Bailey described guerrilla debates over whether or not to execute prisoners. Overwhelmingly, prisoners were executed. This was the hallmark of guerrilla war everywhere.”

Bailey in Saratoga County

Bailey recalled his days as a Confederate in a 1929 Schenectady Gazette article, the place it was revealed that he had written a memoir in 1920, Confederate Guerrilla. The memoir is a outstanding doc, for causes Gary Edwards describes:

“Civil War guerrillas existed in a world cloaked in secrecy as they participated in a blood feud of insurgency and counterinsurgency. After the war, most participants typically preserved their anonymity in order to maintain a postwar status quo. Thus, as regular Confederate veterans grew older, they published histories intended to justify their Civil War experience. However, irregular veterans remained more taciturn, in recognition of the danger that their actions could still provoke retribution many years later. For this reason, guerrilla activities often merged into local folklore, leaving scholars with little manuscript evidence from which to draw conclusions.”

1st National Flag of the Confederacy, originally presented to the Joe Wright Guards, later regimental colors of the 16th Arkansas Infantry RegimentIn his memoir, Bailey justified his experiences in the struggle, describing the change from the quiet of his nation house to the joy of being on the way in which to struggle. He spoke proudly of the flag he as soon as carried, the flag of their newly proclaimed nation, the Confederate States of America, which he and his fellow rebels pledged to defend. (This was not the well-known “confederate flag,” which solely got here to prominence in opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, however what is named the “1st national flag” of the Confederacy, chosen – no vote was held – in March 1861 by the Confederate authorities.)

He additionally described the battles. Shells flying on all sides; smoke completely obliterating any view of what was taking place; summer season warmth made extra intense due to heavy uniforms, thirst, and too few canteens to go round. He noticed the useless in all places; he noticed faces “from which the lifeblood had ebbed away, stained…. with blood and dust… evidence that they fell on the firing line.”

Bailey remembered one Union soldier whom he noticed dying on the sphere (a fellow Freemason), a person with what he referred to as the “death pallor on his face.”  He may see that the person wanted water and so, with nice compassion as the person was from the “other” facet, he held his personal canteen in order that the person may drink deeply, perhaps the final drink he would ever have.

Edwards describes the memoir in this fashion:

Bailey portrayed an intensely personal conflict in which death often proved an intimate and unpredictable affair. In an ironic twist of fate, Bailey received mercy on one occasion due to his membership as a Mason. He later spared the
life of a brother Mason despite the objection of his fellow guerrillas who protested that Masonic brotherhood would not save them if captured. Most of Bailey’s opponents were Arkansas Unionists, many of whom he knew either
personally or by reputation prior to the war. Because the Crooked Creek Valley was both battleground and home, Bailey’s family and friends also played a role in guerrilla strategy.

“On one occasion, four Federal raiders visited Bailey’s parents and a member of the party kicked his mother off the porch and injured her. Bailey testified that he participated in the pursuit of his mother’s attacker who was summarily killed with all but one of his companions. Likewise, a Federal soldier once bragged to Bailey’s girlfriend that they intended to kill her sweetheart. A few days later, Bailey had the unexpected opportunity to ambush the boastful Union officer. Chasing him down from behind, Bailey shot the man off his horse at three feet and secured his ostrich plume hat as a prize. Bailey even identified these men by name. Thus when he killed them and wore their clothing, he not only protected the Confederacy but he preserved his family’s honor in a meaningful and personal manner.

According to Bailey’s account, United States troopers pressured his band of bushwackers relentlessly, and by the summer season of 1864 he was pressured, together with what was left of his males, south of the Arkansas Valley the place they rejoined the Sixteenth Arkansas Infantry.  He mentioned he later returned house to recruit extra males, and spent the ultimate months of the in Arkansas and Texas.

James M. Bailey's Parole of Honor, June 7, 1865 (National Archives)On May 26, 1865, Bailey’s regiment then beneath Confederate Major General E. Kirby Smith (who has served in the United States navy earlier than the struggle) previously surrendered close to Marshall, Texas. The varied regiments have been ordered to proceed to Shreveport, Louisana, however none of them did. However, some particular person troopers, Bailey included, went on their very own to Shreveport to obtain a parole.

It the information of the National Archives is Bailey’s Parole of Honor.  By signing that doc, Bailey promised “that I will not hereafter serve in the Armies of the Confederate States, or in any military capacity whatever, against the United State of America, or render any aid to the enemies of the latter.”

So, how did he find yourself in Saratoga County? Bailey finally joined family in Ballston, the Claude Bailey household, who began Fo’Castle Farms in Burnt Hills in 1908.

Illustrations, from above: a chromolithograph of the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas in March 1862 by Kurz and Allison; Confederate batteries fireplace on Union warships in the course of the Battle of Port Hudson (portray by J.O. Davidson); the “1st National Flag” of the Confederacy which was initially offered to the Joe Wright Guards, later regimental colours of the 4th Regiment, Arkansas State Troops, and the regimental colours for the sixteenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment; .  

This essay was written by John Warren and Rick Reynolds. Reynolds has been the Ballston Town Historian since 2004. He is a retired social research trainer at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Middle college and is the writer of the e book From Wilderness to Community: The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District.

This essay is offered by the Saratoga County History Roundtable and the Saratoga County History Center. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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