Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Forgotten 39th Missouri Infantry

While putting together a blog posting a few weeks ago about the 26th Missouri Infantry (Union), I was startled to read “The 39th Missouri lost 2 officers and 120 men killed in a massacre at Centralia, Mo., September 27, 1864” in William F. Fox’s Regimental Losses in The American Civil War, 1861-1865 (p. 522). What? I flipped toward the front of Fox’s book until I found the table labeled “Maximum Of Regimental Loss In Killed And Died Of Wounds In Particular Engagements.” Obviously the key phrase is particular engagements because Fox did not include the 39th Missouri Infantry in his list. If he had, the 39th Missouri Infantry would have ranked as the Union infantry regiment that had lost the most number of men killed or mortally wounded in a single engagement, nudging aside the 5th New York Infantry that Fox listed as having 117 killed at the battle of Second Manassas. And, as an aside, I can’t help but notice that Fox failed to mention the 79th U. S. Colored Infantry’s loss of 111 killed at the battle of Poison Springs in this same list. Interestingly, he did select the 79th U. S. Colored Infantry [1st Kansas Colored] as one of his 300 fighting regiments so he did know about their casualties at Poison Springs. Unfortunately, I do not know why Fox omitted these two regiments and their losses from this table, and to guess at his thinking would only be speculation. Still, I think that the 39th Missouri Infantry is deserving of more attention. Next time: a look at what happened to the 39th Missouri Infantry at Centralia, Missouri, on September 27, 1864.

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