The Civil War in Missouri

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“Protest to Maj. Gen. Halleck, Against the Assessment on Certain Citizens of St. Louis…”

1862
MHM Archives

In late December 1861, Union General Henry Halleck, commanding the Department of Missouri, issued an order authorizing a Board of Assessment to fine those in St. Louis deemed disloyal to the Union. The money was to aid those who had been displaced by Confederate guerrillas in the state. Among those assessed was William McPheeters, a doctor who had been fined $800 in January 1862. When he refused to pay, Federal authorities seized property valued at $2,000. McPheeters and others sent this protest to Halleck describing what they believed was an abuse of military power. The policy extended statewide that summer, but it was met with controversy even by some Union officials who believed it created more animosity toward the government. Lincoln halted all assessments the following year.After refusing to sign an oath of loyalty to the United States, McPheeters left St. Louis and joined the Confederate army as a surgeon. His wife and children were eventually arrested because of their Confederate association and were banished from the city with another person who had signed the protest, Mrs. Trusten Polk.