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This web site is dedicated to the history of the First Missouri State Militia Cavalry which came into existence on February 3, 1862 and mustered out of the United States Army on July 12, 1865
James A. Sims and the First Missouri State Militia Cavalry
My Great Grandfather, James A. Sims enlisted in the First Missouri State Militia Cavalry as a Corporal in Company M. He enlisted on July 12, 1863 at Lexington, Missouri, and mustered in on August 22, 1863 again at Lexington, Missouri. He served two years and a day and honorably discharged July 12, 1865 at Benton Barracks, Missouri. All of the members of Company M, by the way, came from Worth and Gentry Counties.
The First Missouri State Militia Cavalry's principle actions involved the pursuit of guerrillas, but they did play a role in turning back Major General Sterling Price's army in September 1864 at the battles of Westport and Marmiton River.
In James' applications for a pension he states that he contracted a lung condition in January 1864 while on a scouting expedition out of Warrensburg. He is listed as absent without leave commencing April 21, 1865 (essentially after the war was over) but returned before discharge on July 12, 1865. The pension papers indicate that James claimed sick leave but the medical records of the unit were lost and no action was taken in regard to his absence.
James' enlistment probably relates to a family story about the burning of his in-laws' home in Worth County during the Civil War. James A. Sims' in-laws were, David and Tabitha Rose Spencer, who lived in Middlefork Township, Worth County, Missouri. The story told is this:
"Quantrill's raiders in the civil war set fire to the Spencer house. They sneaked up corn rows to the back of grandfathers' house and set it on fire.Grandmother Tabitha was keeping all the little ones and grandbabies (the rest were out picking gooseberries). The wee ones clung to her till she couldn't save anything out of the house. Father was 8 or thereabouts but he remembered how she grieved over the loss of her new cook stove and they never could afford another one. It was the one stove she ever had to cook on and she had to go back to the fireplace."
Quantrill actually did not come to Worth County, but it is evident that there were a fair number of sympathizers in the Worth/Gentry County area. Here are two communications in the Official Record of the Rebellion that indicate that there were plenty of people in the area to perpetrate the burning of the Spencer House.
Pleasant Plains, Iowa, July 28, 1861 "The principal design of the secessionists in the northern portion of the State is to keep up the excitement as much as possible, to divert attention from [Governor] Jackson's operations, while they will do all in their power to harass the union men in both States. They will not come to a regular engagement. In Gentry County alone they will number at least 1,000, who are continually on the tramp, day and night, skulking in the bush." John Edwards, Lieutenant-Colonel and aide-de-camp (WR X: 414)
Saint Joseph, Mo., September 3, 1864. "Cy. Gordon's band has passed up into Gentry County, but they can't stay in that latitude long." Clinton B. Fisk Brigadier-General (WR LIII: 49)
The burning of the Spencer House must have had some influence on James A Sims' decision to join the First Missouri State Militia Cavalry which spent most of its time operating against guerillas including Quantrill.
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