| 8th MO Infantry
WHY DID SO MANY PEOPLE FROM OTHER STATES JOIN THE 8th MO?
At the outbreak of the Civil War, a large number of people volunteered to fight.
In states such as Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio (which were all staunchly loyal
to the Union), the state quotas were rapidly filled - and many people were
frustrated because they were turned away.
Missouri was different from the solidly pro-Union states. Missouri was a border state with split loyalties. The elected state government joined the Confederacy and the martial law government (imposed by Abraham Lincoln) stayed loyal to the Union.
Because the people of Missouri were divided in their loyalties, the Missouri units in the Union Army had a difficult time filling their quotas. Therefore, people from other states came to St. Louis to join the 8th Missouri Volunteer Infantry (US).
The following excerpt, from a history of Peoria, Illinois, describes why so many people from the Peoria area jointed the 8th Missouri.
MUSTERING OF TROOPS.
During the interval between the mustering of the first 75,000 men under the
call of the President and the meeting of Congress in July, matters remained
in a confused condition. President Lincoln had exhausted his power and yet
there was no prospect of the rebellion being subdued. On the contrary,
it was continually growing in strength.
The State of Illinois having made provision for the organization of ten regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, it was for a time doubted whether or not any of them could be mustered into the service of the United States during the period for which the first six regiments had been accepted. Then it was decided that six of them could be received to take the places of the first six when their term should expire, but later the War Department concluded to accept the whole of the ten regiments of infantry.
As already seen, in the make-up of the Seventeenth Illinois Regiment, only one company from Peoria had been accepted.
But such was the anxiety of the boys to get into the army that many of them were willing to enlist in regiments forming in other States. Finding an opening in the American Zouave Regiment forming at St. Louis, afterward known as the Eighth Missouri, two of our companies concluded to join it. Accordingly the Peoria Zouave Cadets, nearly a full company of quite young men, left for St. Louis on the 19th day of June, expecting to join that regiment as a company, with Frank Peats as Captain.
Peats was at the time with the Seventeenth Regiment as drill officer, but had been with the Zouaves at Peoria, and had signified his willingness to become their Captain. But upon looking into the situation he found it not so inviting as he had expected, and upon arrival of the company at St. Louis declined the honor.
This had the effect of disorganizing the Company for a time, but a large number of them concluded to remain, and, uniting with about forty men recruited by George W. Baker, at Pekin, they succeeded in organizing a new company under George Swarthout, as Captain, and as such joined the Eighth Missouri Regiment.
On the 25th of June, the Elmwood Illinois Guards, David P. Grier, Captain, with about one hundred men, left for St. Louis and joined the same regiment. Captain Grier's company were sworn in the next day after their arrival and became Company G, of the American Zouave or Eighth Missouri Regiment. The Zouaves were sworn in on the 28th of the same month.