|Major Emory S. Foster, Warrensburg, MO|
BY GEO. S. GROVER.
Emory Stallsworth Foster was born in Greene County, Missouri, near Springfield, on November 5, 1839. His father, Robert Alexander Foster, was a native of Georgia, of pure English lineage, and was a Methodist minister of the gospel. His mother, Jane Louise Foster, nee Headlee, was of Scotch Irish lineage. Emory Foster, their second son, was educated in the common schools of that time, but early in life learned the printers' trade.
In 1860, his father removed with his family to Warrensburg, in Johnson County, Missouri. There Emory Foster and his older brother, Marshall M. Foster, established and conducted a weekly newspaper, called the Warrensburg Missourian. It was a Democratic paper, but also fearlessly independent in all its views. In 1861 the Foster brothers were unconditional Union men and supported the United States Government against secession in their paper with great zeal and ability, and thus rendered effective and powerful service to the Union cause in Missouri.
In February 1861, a State Convention was called in Missouri to meet, in that month, to determine whether or not Missouri would secede. The Union delegates were elected in Missouri, in that month, by a majority of 80,000. That Convention not only kept Missouri in the Union but also abolished slavery in the State forever. Johnson County, Missouri, elected a Union delegate to that Convention by a decisive majority. While voting at the polls in February 1861, for the Union candidate, Marshall M. Foster was shot in the back and killed by two of his political opponents in Warrensburg (in the old courthouse). In his death, the Union cause lost a great leader. Foster's assassins escaped, but never thereafter served the secession cause with any credit, and never returned to Warrensburg.
In March 1861, Emory Foster recruited a company of volunteers in Warrensburg, and joined with them as their captain. The 29th Missouri Infantry (mounted) was then being organized by Col. Benjamin W. Grover for the Union army. There were no uniforms to be had at that time, so the boys wore red shirts and black trousers, and were known as the "Red Shirt Company." At that time Francis M. Cockrell, afterward a Confederate general and United States senator from Missouri, was recruiting a company for the 5th Regiment, Confederate Army, in Warrensburg. Cockrell was captain of that company. Afterward, in March 1861, at Captain Cockrell's request, Foster's and Cockrell's companies drilled together on alternate days in Warrensburg in perfect harmony. This is the only instance of that kind known to the writer in the Civil War. Foster's company, the "Red Shirts," became Company C, 27th Missouri Infantry (mounted) Union, in March 1861, and then entered the Military service of the United States. Their captain, Emory S. Foster, was elected major of that regiment at that time. Emory S. Foster soon became a gallant and heroic soldier in that regiment and led many a daring scout with it in western Missouri between the Osage and Missouri rivers in this state.
In August 1861, the regiment was ordered to Jefferson City, Missouri. Major Foster marched one squadron overland from Warrensburg, and in a sharp fight near Centertown, in Cole County, Missouri, attacked and routed a large band of guerrillas, killing ten of them. Upon the arrival of the regiment at Jefferson City, Col. U. S. Grant, 21st Illinois Infantry, afterward the immortal commander of the Union armies, who was then in command of that military post, detailed Major Foster to take command of a picked squadron of the 29th regiment, known as the Fremont Scouts. With this detachment, Major Foster rendered distinguished service in the remaining months of 1861. On one occasion with ten men of his command, he captured a Confederate colonel, Lewis, with his bodyguard, at Holden, Johnson County, Missouri. On another occasion, his command with one company of the 1st Missouri Cavalry, Union, under Major W. J. Striclin, attacked and routed a large band of guerrillas ten miles south of Warrensburg, Missouri, and rescued a government supply train drawn by 1200 oxen. Majors Foster and Striclin escorted this long train to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, a distance of more than 100 miles, and there delivered to the United States Quartermaster 144 work oxen, in fine condition, and the entire train.
In January 1862, out of 1000 men who joined the 29th regiment, 2nd Infantry (mounted), in March 1861, only 469 men were left with the colors. The rest had been killed and wounded in their arduous service. Therefore, it was decided to muster that regiment out of the military service. This was done at St. Louis, Missouri, on January 27th, 1862. Col. William T. Sherman, who afterward "marched through Georgia," was the officer who mustered out that regiment. Major Foster immediately after his muster out of the 27th regiment commenced making arrangements to re-enter the military service of the United States. In March 1862, Major Foster recruited a squadron, three full companies, from the survivors of the 27th regiment for the 7th Cavalry, Missouri State Militia, a regiment of which Jno. F. Phillips was the gallant colonel, and T. T. Crittenden, afterward Governor of this State, was the brave lieutenant colonel. While recruiting this squadron for the 7th Cavalry at Warrensburg, Missouri, in March 1862, Major Foster was attacked near that place by a large band of guerrillas. In the sharp fight that ensued, the guerrillas were defeated and driven off. Major Foster was wounded in the arm in this fight, but remained in it, cheering his men with the cool determination he always exhibited on such occasions. From March to August 1862, Major Foster was constantly in the field with his squadron of the 7th Cavalry; engaged in almost daily fighting, sometimes at heavy odds with various bands of guerrillas in Western Missouri. On August 16, 1862, at Lone Jack in Jackson county, Missouri, Major Foster, with 740 men, fought a Confederate force-of 3000 one entire day. It was one of the most desperate fights at close range of the Civil War. In the afternoon Major Foster was shot through the body, and his heroic brother, Morris Foster, carried the Major out of the firing line, receiving a bullet through his right lung, a wound from which he never recovered. After the Major fell, his successor in command retreated to Lexington, while the Confederates retreated to Arkansas. Major Foster lost 240 men, killed and wounded in this fight. The Confederate commanders conceded that, but for his disabling wound, Major Foster would have won the
Major Foster never recovered from the wound he received at Lone Jack. He suffered from it continuously until he died. After the battle the surgeon of the 7th Cavalry, Dr. T. J. Montgomery of Sedalia, advised Major Foster to prepare for death. The Major refused to do so and announced that he intended to recover and rejoin his regiment in the ensuing spring. This he did in March 1863, to the astonishment of the doctors, while the regiment was stationed at Marshfield in Wright county, Missouri. There the officers of the 7th regiment presented Major Foster with the saber, revolvers, and spurs, now in possession of the State Historical Society at Columbia, Missouri. The eloquent presentation speech was made by Col. Jno. F. Philips.
The year 1863, until October, was spent by Major Foster in the field in active service with the 7th Regiment in Southwest Missouri. In October 1863, that brave Confederate General, Joe Shelby, invaded Missouri from Arkansas in that famous expedition of his, which is known in history as the "Shelby Raid." When Shelby reached the Osage River, at Warsaw, in his northward march, Major Foster was with the 7th Regiment at Osceola, Missouri. He was started in pursuit of Shelby by Gen. Brown, the Union commander then in the field, to prevent the capture of Sedalia by Shelby. Major Foster rode all night at the head of his squadron, attacked Shelby's squadron south of Sedalia, and thereby drove the gallant Confederate away from Sedalia, as he supposed Foster's force was the advance guard of Gen. Brown's entire brigade. For this important service, the people of Sedalia gave Major Foster a saddle, bridle and all equipment for his warhorse, as a slight token of their gratitude. Shelby was then pursued by General Brown with the 7th Regiment, led by their brave Colonel Philips and other commands until Shelby was overtaken at Marshall, Missouri, on October 12, 1863, where he was defeated, his force cut in two and chased out of the State. The plan of the battle of Marshall, and Shelby's subsequent pursuit, was devised and carried out by Major Foster, who was Chief of Staff for Gen. Brown in this campaign. Major Foster then remained with the 7th Regiment on active duty until June 1864, when his wound received at Lone Jack broke out afresh and he was, thereby forced to resign. Major Foster then returned to Warrensburg, Missouri where he remained until September 1864.
Then came the invasion of Missouri from Arkansas by the Confederate General, Sterling Price, with a large force. Gen. Brown was then at Warrensburg and was ordered to march with his brigade to Jefferson City to aid in the defense of that place. Warrensburg. was then the western terminus of the Missouri Pacific Railroad in this State and was an important military point. Gen. Brown had collected there a large amount of military stores, which he could not take with him. So, he sent for Major Foster and asked him to re-enlist and hold the place and save the stores. The General then marched with his command to Jefferson City. There was at that time at Warrensburg a number of Union soldiers whose terms of service had expired. In four days, Major Foster recruited and mounted four companies of cavalry. Gen. Brown caused them to be mustered into the military service and appointed Major Foster to command them with the rank of major of volunteers, cavalry. With this force, Major Foster held the town and increased by foraging the stores on hand.
On October 16, Major Foster was ordered to proceed west until he met Gen. Blunt, who was moving east with a division of Kansas volunteers. Major Foster moved promptly met Gen. Blunt at Pleasant Hill and returned with him to Holden. There, Major Foster's wound again disabled him so that he was compelled to divide his battalion and return with part of it to Warrensburg. The remainder of the battalion he left at Holden under the command of Gen. Blunt. That part of Major's Foster's battalion, under its senior Captain, served in the field with Gen. Blunt for 40 days and nights and was with him in the subsequent battles in which Gen. Price was defeated and driven from the State. For this service, Major Foster and his battalion received honorable mention in the military records of that time.
In 1865, Major Foster was elected public printer for the State for a term of four years. He removed to Jefferson City and served with distinction in that office for four years. After his term of office expired, he then removed to a fruit farm in Jefferson County, Missouri, and remained there two years. He was then appointed managing editor of the St. Louis Journal, an evening paper, and removed to St. Louis. Shortly thereafter the good people of Rockford, Illinois, concluded to hold a County Fair, and they invited Jefferson Davis, ex-president of the Southern Confederacy, to attend it, as an advertising scheme. The editorial comment in the St. Louis Journal of Major Foster's, on this act, was so severe and was followed in such hearty spirit by the Chicago papers that the invitation was withdrawn, although Mr. Davis declined it after considering it. The ex-Confederates in St. Louis, who resented Mr. Davis' treatment of General Joe Johnston, an able Confederate general, in removing him from command at Atlanta, Georgia in 1864, rather enjoyed this incident. Not so, as to many southern sympathizers then in St. Louis, who had not served in the army in the Civil War. A Roman historian writing of the Civil Wars of Rome long ago, fully described these St. Louisians in his maxim, "After the Civil War it was impossible to restrain the fury of the non-combatants."
At that time the St. Louis Times, then a morning paper, ably edited by Major John N. Edwards, a gallant Confederate soldier, who had served as Chief of Staff for Gen. Joe Shelby. He (Major Edwards) was so besieged by the "non-combatants," that he demanded a retraction from Major Foster. Major Foster promptly refused it. Major Edwards then challenged Major Foster. Major Foster accepted, and named Rockford, Illinois, as the place of meeting. The two majors met there and exchanged shots, fortunately missing each other. They were always personal friends after that duel. While editing the St. Louis Journal, Major Foster attacked the "Whiskey Ring," then a powerful organization in St. Louis, with such success as to cause its prosecution and conviction.
About 1881, Major Foster was appointed secretary of the Board of Public Improvements in St. Louis. He held that office for twenty consecutive years, until 1901 when his health failed, and he was compelled to resign. He always performed the duties of that important place with strict and impartial fidelity to the public interest.
With the hope of regaining his health, which was then much impaired, Major Foster went to California in 1902. He died in Oakland, California, in December of that year. He is buried in the lot owned by the Grand Army of the Republic in Oakland, California, a spot of surpassing beauty, and there his body awaits with confidence its final resurrection. In the meantime, his steadfast and earnest soul is reunited in Heaven with his kinsmen and comrades, who have "gone before."
On January 18, 1864, Major Foster was married in Sharon, Beaver county, Pennsylvania, to Miss Jessie Elizabeth Beall. This accomplished lady and devoted wife and mother lives in California. One child, a daughter, Jessie, was born to this couple in Warrensburg, Missouri, on January 13, 1865. This daughter, a girl of rare beauty and intellectual gifts, grew to womanhood, the delight of all her people. She died in California after her father's decease. She is buried hear him and is now with him in Heaven.
As a soldier, Major Foster was the peer of anyone who ever served in any war. Of rare judgment, dauntless courage and skill in the military science he had few equals, and no superiors. As a citizen, his public spirit and impartiality in the public service, rare zeal, and uniting ability and perseverance for the public good, rendered him always a natural leader among men. As a husband and father, he was, beyond comparison, one of the best of men and to those whose privilege it was to know him in life, and who now survives him, us final salutation to his choice spirit, as we never cease to mourn
his loss can only be, Hail and Farewell.