Thanks go out to our friend and regular guest blogger, Fred Eggers, for doing the great amount of research and authoring today’s post. Unfortunately, we were not able to post it on the intended date of July 4th because of e-mail difficulties. We think you are really going to enjoy reading this story. I know that I learned much by reading it myself. It is indeed a fascinating tale. If you see Fred, make sure you encourage him to continue contributing to this blog.
Many consider July 4, 1863 to be the turning point of the American Civil War. Two important, famous, well-documented battles resulted in Confederate defeats: the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 1-3, and the Fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4. July 4, 1863 would also be a momentous day for Joseph David Luckey, a native of the Brazeau area, who was a member of the Army of the Confederate States of America.
Joseph Luckey was a son of David and Eleanor Cochran Luckey who had moved to the Brazeau area of Perry County around 1825 joining a large number of Scotch-Irish from the Carolina Piedmont who began settling in the area around 1818. Most of them came from the counties of Cabarrus, Catawba, Davie, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, and Rowan which are in the box on the map of the area.
David and Eleanor Luckey had three sons and several daughters. David died in 1845 and the 1850 United States Census lists the three sons and four of the daughters living with their mother.
The 1860 census shows two of the sons Robert Armstrong and Samuel Anderson and their families living adjacent to each other in the Brazeau area. Joseph David had married Margaret Dickson, who was from the Longtown area, in February of 1860. I was not able to find that couple listed in the census for that year.
Like many of the other Scotch-Irish settlers that came to Perry County from southern roots, the Luckey family owned slaves at one time or another. Robert Luckey is among those listed in the slave schedules of the census.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861 the slave holding families of Perry County were likely torn between supporting the Union or the Confederacy. They were a small minority compared to the remaining population of Perry County which included many of their German neighbors who strongly opposed slavery. They could remain neutral through the first year of the war; however, a major change came in July of 1862.
Because most of the Federal Troops recruited or stationed in Missouri were moved to other areas of the war, guerrilla warfare was expanding throughout the state and the Missouri State Militia was too small to deal with the growing problem. From the document Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross, one of the highest regarded Civil War historians in the state, we have this explanation of what was done to face the problem:
“In late July 1862 the plan was unveiled. The solution was not to be had by funding a full-time force that would constantly be in service—instead, the solution was to create a force of part-time citizen soldiers that would only be called up in times of emergency, and only have to be paid during those specific times of call-up. The solution was the Enrolled Missouri Militia. Acting with haste, that same day General Schofield issued his own order directing every able bodied man in the state to report immediately to the nearest military outpost to enroll and be sworn into the new militia organization. The net effect was that tens of thousands of fence-sitting men of military age were brought into the military fold. At the same time, thousands of other fence-sitters that were quietly supporting the South were forced to make a decision whether to serve in a Federal unit, or to flee the state and enlist in the Confederate Army. While many men did pursue the latter course of action, over 52,000 others remained behind to form the militia force that eventually reached 85 regiments, 16 battalions, and 33 independent companies. On average, most men in the EMM served only a few weeks of active duty over the course of the next two and a half years.”
Robert and Samuel Luckey chose to join most of their friends and neighbors in joining this new organization. They enrolled at Perryville on August 11, 1862 and were mustered into service on August 19. Unfortunately the only records for their company that served under Captain George Shaner are the “muster-in roll”. Given that Perry County remained relatively peaceful throughout the war, it is very likely that they saw very little duty and no combat. We have copies of their service records from the Soldiers Records on the Missouri Digital Heritage website.
Joseph Luckey made the choice to go south and enlist in the Confederate Army. Legend tells us that he and his brother Samuel met at the Presbyterian Church in Brazeau and shook hands before heading their separate ways. I was skeptical of this story until I started my research for this blog; however, I am now convinced that it may have actually happened. I suspect that Joseph was living in the same Longtown area with his in-laws which is where he is found in the census of 1870 and 1880. He would have had to travel to Brazeau where the remainder of this siblings lived to say his goodbyes before traveling more than 150 miles to Oregon County. There he enlisted in Company D of Steen’s Regiment which later became a part of the 10th Missouri Infantry of the Confederate Army.
The 10th Missouri Infantry was formally organized at Fort Smith and served in Arkansas during that part of the war and fought in a major battle at Prairie Grove near Fayetteville at the western border in December of 1862. The unit’s next major action is where we get back to July 4, 1863 and Joseph Luckey’s involvement in the war.
The Confederate forces in Arkansas decided to attack the Mississippi River port of Helena because the Union force stationed there had been reduced from 20,000 to 4,000 as the troops were sent to join the siege of Vicksburg, which was 230 miles to the south. Helena was located on a bluff overlooking the river and its defenses included several artillery batteries and the USS Tyler gunboat stationed on the riverfront.
The Confederates attacked early in the morning with around 7,700 troops but things did not go well because of misunderstandings of when the attack was to begin and heavy fire from the artillery and the gunship. By 10:30 in the morning the Confederates retreated from the battlefield. The Union reported losses of 57 dead, 146 wounded and 36 captured or missing, for a total of 239. Confederate losses were much higher, at 173 dead, 687 wounded and 776 missing or captured, for a total of 1,636. Joseph Price was wounded in the battle and captured.
He then was transported by steamboat up the Mississippi River to the Military Prison in Alton, Illinois. One can only imagine how homesick he felt as the steamboat passed Wittenberg and the remainder of Perry County. Over a three year period 11,764 Confederate prisoners would pass through the gates of the prison, which was a former Illinois penitentiary that had been closed because it was unfit.
Luckey remained at the Alton Prison from July 9, 1863 until August 24, 1864 when he was transferred to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois. About 26,060 Confederate soldiers had passed through the prison camp, which was known as the North’s Andersonville, by the end of the war.
On February 13, 1865 he was forwarded to Point Lookout Prison Camp in Maryland. It was located where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. It was the Union’s largest prison camp and the complex included a 1,400 bed hospital. It is estimated that a total of 52,264 prisoners, both military and civilian, were held prisoner there.
I found no record of when Luckey left Point Lookout, but he next appears as a patient at Ross Hospital in Mobile, Alabama on April 8, 1865 as the war is drawing to a close.
Just before the surrender of the Confederacy on May 13, 1865, Luckey was listed as being among a group of soldiers surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama. They were paroled at the Port of Grenada, Mississippi on May 18, 1865.
The final military record that we have records Luckey taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States at Memphis, Tennessee on June 6, 1865. He was less than 200 miles from his home that he had left nearly three years before.
Joseph Luckey was indeed lucky to have survived the Civil War considering that he had spent almost two years as a Prisoner of War. The Record and Pension Office in 1901 counted 211,000 Northerners who were captured. In 1861-63 most were immediately paroled; after the parole exchange system broke down in 1863, about 195,000 went to prison camps. Some tried to escape but few succeeded. By contrast 464,000 Confederates were captured (many in the final days) and 215,000 imprisoned. Over 30,000 Union and nearly 26,000 Confederate prisoners died in captivity. Just over 12% of the captives in Northern prisons died, compared to 15.5% for Southern prisons.
Joseph Luckey returned to Perry County to raise a large family. He died at the age of 58 on October 3, 1893 at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis. He is buried with his parents and his two brothers and other family members in the Brazeau Presbyterian Church Cemetery. His wife and several of their children are buried in the York Chapel Methodist Church Cemetery near Longtown.
I was “lucky” to find most of the military records for Joseph Luckey on the Fold3.com website, which is an expensive pay site that I subscribed to for a short period of time. I was only able to find significant Civil War records for a few Perry County soldiers. For most soldiers there was nothing more than what appears on the Missouri Digital Image site or on Ancestry.com.