The Civil War in Missouri

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 Colonel James H. B. McFerran, 1st Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Union). 

Ink and watercolor painting, ca. 1870
MHM Collections

Born in Washington County, Maryland, James H. B. McFerran moved to Missouri in 1848, where he began a law practice in Gallatin. He served as a state legislator and circuit court judge. During the Civil War he organized the 1st Regiment of the Missouri State Militia Cavalry, which patrolled the state. McFerran’s loyalty to the Union was called into question when a letter he wrote to his commanding officer in January 1863 was made public. In it, McFerran criticized the policy of assessing rebels as “radical fanaticism” and professed that he did not expect to see a provost marshal emancipate any enslaved person “in violation of the statute laws of the State.” Despite this, McFerran remained in command of the 1st MSM until the end of the war.