Thursday, February 12, 2015

Civil War in Missouri, the Oliver Anderson house, battlefield hospital

 A Footnote from History by Stephanie Grace Whitson

"Maggie didn’t know how long it had been since John had screamed at her to go back to safety in the rear. He’d been astride Blue and he’d kept going, tearing across the battlefield ... She’d watched with a horrible kind of fascination as Blue galloped away, willing both horse and rider to somehow fill only the spaces between the bullets. And then, when Colt dropped out of sight, she’d looked down at the boy she was tending and was jerked back to another terrible reality ... The boy was staring up at her with panic in his eyes, and with everything that was in her, Maggie mustered kindness and an expression that she desperately willed to feign hope ... “Look at me, Private. You aren’t alone. The Good Lord is here and so is Maggie Malone. Neither of us is leaving you.” (Excerpted from Daughter of the Regiment)

In 1853, Kentuckian Oliver Anderson had this beautiful house built overlooking the Missouri River near Lexington, Missouri,in the heart of a rich agricultural center where planters raised hemp, tobacco, and fine cattle. With its 15-foot ceilings and 15-foot-wide central hallway, the house is an example of the kinds of mansions prosperous, slave-holding Southerners were building in Missouri in the 1840s and 1850s. None of the outbuildings survive, but there would have been a carriage house, a horse barn, a summer kitchen, and slave quarters.  

In the fall of 1859, financial woes forced Anderson to auction off all his real estate, his personal property, and his slaves. His sons purchased the house, enabling their parents to live there until the eve of the Civil War.

When the Civil War broke out, Unionists in Missouri quickly gained the upper hand. With the Missouri River strategically vital for the movement of troops and supplies, Federal troops occupied Lexington in July of 1861 and confiscated the Anderson House for use as a hospital. Local tradition says that Anderson refused to take the Union-imposed oath of loyalty. He subsequently left Lexington (Anderson died in Kentucky in 1873). 

In August of 1861, when the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield set the stage for a rebel offensive into the heart of the Missouri River valley, the Anderson house was at the heart of the action. 

The battle map at left shows the house in green and various military positions in red. The Battle of Lexington was waged over three days in September. Battle damage to the house is still visible today, both on the exterior brick walls and on interior walls. 

The house changed hands three times on September 18, 1861, the first day of the Battle of Lexington.  That day, three Southern soldiers died at the base of the grand staircase in the main hall.

Visitors who venture away from the house to walk the battlefield encounter this small burial plot designated for five unknown Union soldiers whose remains were found during excavations in 1932 near the site of the building that was used as Union headquarters during the siege of Lexington. The men were likely part of Colonel Thomas A. Marshall's cavalry. 

The southern victory at the Battle of Lexington made Major General Sterling Price a hero throughout the South. The Union responded en masse and eventually forced Price to retreat back to the southwestern corner of the state, returning Lexington and the Missouri River Valley to Union control.

In 1958, the Anderson house and portions of the battlefield were donated to the Missouri state park system. See interior photos and learn more here:

Have you visited any state historic sites in recent weeks? Did you enjoy your time there? Learn anything new? Share!


The Oliver Anderson house and the Battle of Lexington played an important role in inspiring Daughter of the Regiment, Stephanie Grace Whitson's March, 2015 release. Stephanie has been a full time novelist since 1994. Her studio is located in the lower level of her 1890s home--"the hired man's house"--in Lincoln, Nebraska. She enjoys learning about the real women who inspire her historical fiction, studying antique quilt history, riding her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty, and spending time with her extended family, grandchildren, and grand-dogs. 

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Pre-order Daughter of the Regiment here:


  1. Such fascinating history! I enjoyed the excerpt from DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT and love its beautiful cover! Congratulations on the upcoming release!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  2. thanks very much, Britney ... I was thrilled to see the cover design. Glad you like it!

  3. I have not visited any recently as housebound at this time with my dying husband. The Old Town site in San Diego is very interesting and set up as the original town. Sm. Wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  4. Dear Sharon, I'm so sorry for what you are going through. I have been in that place, as my first husband died at home in 2001. I was reading about heaven to him as he took his last breath, surrounded by his kids ... and me. Even though I knew where he was going, it was a very difficult time in our lives for those of us left here. May God grant you the grace to take each step along the way, and may you know that He is with you in this valley. Again, I am so sorry.