The Civil War in Missouri

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Colonel Robert White

Cased Ambrotype, 1861
MHM Photographs and Prints

One of the men who responded to Lincoln’s call for troops and became a recruiter himself, Robert White, helped to organize companies in the 5th USRC and the 14th Missouri Home Guard. White, seen here as a pre-war civilian and as an officer in the Union army, had been a partner in a plumbing, tinning, and stove dealing business before the war. Like many others, White enlisted out of a deep sense of commitment to his country, believing it to be his “highest and most holy duty” to serve. White’s involvement was brief, and ended in violent fashion just as it had started. On his first day as a soldier, he was caught up in the 5th Street riot in St. Louis, which left several soldiers and civilians dead. Just four months later, White was severely wounded at the Battle of Lexington, thus ending his service. Reflecting on the supposed necessity of war, White later wrote, “There is no right divine or temporal which will justify people in murdering and butchering each other.”