The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board - Archive

Confederate Veteran article:Wolf, Wilson, & Reeves
In Response To: Pure Luck ()

Enoch Wolf lived into his eighties, and did indeed discuss his near execution with at least one of his children, E. Knox Wolf, as illustrated by an August 1910 Confederate Veteran article (pp. 380-81) penned by him. Note that Confederate Veteran delved into Tim Reeves's motivation for executing James Wilson (no mention of a Wilson Massacre) and voiced a very harsh opinion of Tim Reeves.

Here is the article--


Come, all you old soldiers, sons, and daughters of the Confederacy, and listen to the experience of a Confederate major and six privates who were sentenced to be shot in retaliation for the killing of a Federal major and six privates in St. Louis the last year of the war. On Price's raid through Missouri before getting to Ironton Major Wilson with companies of cavalry acted as advance guard. After a desperate fight, and when the smoke had blown away, Major Wilson and six privates were prisoners. The dead and wounded of both sides were proof of a desperate struggle. As soon as Col. Tim Reeves, a Confederate colonel, learned that Major Wilson was a prisoner he took a file of men and went to the guard tent and demanded Major Wilson and the six privates. As soon as Major Wilson saw Colonel Reeves he exclaimed: "I am a dead man, Colonel Reeves will kill me." And in his day book he wrote a few lines to his wife, and give it, money, and a pocket knife to a Federal prisoner. Colonel Reeves took Major Wilson and the six privates out a short distance and executed them

As soon as Major General Rosecrans learned the facts in the case he ordered a Confederate major and six Confederate privates executed in retaliation for the killing of Major Wilson and the six privates. As the Federals had no major on hand, they took out six privates and executed them on six hours' notice. Four of them were Blackburn, Bunch, Ladd, and Minigan. They lived in Batesville, Ark. The names of the other two are not recalled

In the battle of Mine Creek, some twenty five miles from Fort Scott, where General Cabell and General Marmaduke were captured, the Federals captured seven majors, two of them were field officers and the five others were staff officers. Major Carlton, of Pine Bluff, Ark., and Maj. E. 0. Wolf, of Franklin, Ark., were the two field officers. The guards told Major Wolf that they drew straws to see which one should pay the debt, and the guard said that Major Wolf was the unlucky one, but neither Major Carlton nor Major Wolf had any hand in the drawing of straws

The next morning after Major Wolf got to St. Louis before breakfast the guard went to his room, took him out, and put a thirty two pound ball with chain to his leg. The chain was one of the short link leg chains used about sawmills as binding chains. The cuff that went around his leg had hinges on one side bent to fit the leg close, with three rivets on the other side well hammered, down on an anvil with a rivet hammer. Then they took him to a large room set apart and read this sentence to him: "By orders of Major General Roseerans. Major Wolf, you are to be shot to death with musketry in retaliation for the murder of Major Wilson and the six privates that Colonel Reeves executed." It was very early in the morning, and several Federal officers were present. On first reading Major Wolf did not fully understand, and called for a second reading, and when the adjutant had finished the second reading. Major Wolf explained that he knew nothing about the killing of Major Wilson, but as they were looking for an ardent Southern man to execute in retaliation, he supposed that they had made a fair selection. Major Wolf was born in Ohio, but reared in the Lone Star State

After the reading of the sentence they escorted Major Wolf to a cell, where he was closely guarded to await execution. They gave him four days. Captain Allen commanded the prison, and rendered Major Wolf much kindness.

General Cabell, of Dallas, Tex., and Major Cariton, of Pine Bluff, Ark., wrote several letters to the officers in authority at St. Louis in the interest of Major Wolf while he was under sentence of death. Major Wolf belonged to General Cabell's command. Colonel Reeves's excuse for executing Major Wilson was cruelty to prisoners. Colonel Reeves was proved to be severely cruel. Captain Allen went to Major Wolf's cell soon after he was locked in and made a sign which Major Wolf caught at once, but soon Captain Allen told Major Wolf that he could stop, as he had only taken the fellow craft degree. Captain Allen furnished Major Wolf with pen, ink, and paper, and he wrote a letter to his wife telling her the sad news and that it had fallen to his lot to be executed for the wrongs of other men. He told her how to rear his dear children and to take care of what he had left her. He hoped she would have no trouble rearing his children with the assistance of his Masonic friends. When Major Wolf had finished his letter, Captain Allen asked him if he wanted a preacher, and Major Wolf told him he reckoned he had better have one. Captain Allen told him the government had two employed Catholic and Episcopalian and he could have either. Major Wolf told him he did not want either, if he had a preacher, he wanted a Missionary Baptist

Captain Allen sent out and got Rev. A. C. Osborn, who told Major Wolf the order was positive and when the time came they would execute him, they had already executed the privates, and if he had any relics he wanted his wife to have, he would take charge of them and see that she got them.

The minister told Major Wolf if there was anything in the letter that was contraband he wouldn't be allowed to take it. He read down to where the Major told his wife to take care of what he had left her and with the assistance of his Masonic friends, etc. The preacher turned his face toward the Major and briefly asked: "Major, are you a Mason?" The Major replied: 'I am," He then dropped the letter and hurried out and called the lodge together and telegraphed Abraham Lincoln, who telegraphed back: ''Shoot no more men." The dispatch was read just in time to save Major Wolf. The guns were loaded and the guards were detailed to do the shooting. The men afterwards guarding Major Wolf told him how bad they hated the job, but could not refuse

Major Wolf is still living on the same farm where he lived in time of the war near Franklin, Ark. Major Wolf is preparing a book for publication and seeks aid in it.

Messages In This Thread

Pure Luck
Re: Pure Luck
Re: Pure Luck
Re: Pure Luck
Confederate Veteran article:Wolf, Wilson, & Reeves
Re: Pure Luck
The irrepressible Kate Beattie, Confederate agent