Civil War Times

‘I THOUGHT I HAD RECEIVED MY DEATH STROKE’

Few states experienced the conflict of the Civil War as uniquely as Missouri, a pro-slave state with disputed status. Claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy, the state sent over 100,000 men to fight for the Union and at least 30,000 of its sons to fight for the Confederacy, including Absalom “Robey” Dyson, a young teacher, farmer, and postmaster. ¶ Dyson was educated and popular among his peers, including being nominated by his schoolmates at Steelville Academy to deliver the farewell address in 1851. “Like passengers on a great steamer,” the then 19-year old Dyson said, “our minds and hearts are so closely united that they never will be separated from that love within until our bodies are laid in the silent tomb.” ¶ By 1853, Dyson had secured a teaching contract certifying him to be of good moral character and able to teach common school, including orthography, reading, writing, and arithmetic. He must also have felt a special kinship toward his students, for he saved many of their papers. On October 25, 1859, Dyson was married to Louisa Johnson. Their daughter, Cornelia, was born in November 1860. ¶ After the outbreak of the Civil War, 28-year old Dyson joined the Missouri State Guard, which had been created by the pro-South governor Claiborne Jackson in May 1861 to drive Union troops from the state. General Sterling Price led members of the State Guard at the Battles of Wilson’s Creek, August 10, 1861, and Lexington in September 1861. After the Confederate Congress officially admitted Missouri as the 12th Confederate state on November 28, 1861, Price and Jackson began a campaign to enroll the guards into the regular Confederate service. Dyson, a private, and several of his brothers, enlisted in Company E of the 5th Missouri Infantry Regiment. Ordered east of the Mississippi River, the unit, under the command of Colonel

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