The Buckeye from Missouri
Capt. Frances Marion Posegate

by Stephen E. Williams


F. M. Posegate. ca. 1885, St. Joseph, Mo. from a family album. Contributed by Deborah Williams Rice, St. Louis Mo.
Not all Ohio Volunteers were sons of Ohio. Francis Marion Posegate was born in Indiana and raised on the Missouri and Iowa frontier in an environment Mark Twain might confuse with that of his own upbringing. Driven to Ohio, where his in-laws lived at the outbreak of the war, this fervent supporter of Union joined and helped recruit for the 48th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Posegate was a Whig who supported the Constitutional Unionists at the start of the war. He was a supporter of Lincoln in his second election. St. Joseph gunsmith Isaac Posegate, his Father, was born in Virginia and raised in a Quaker family in Fairfield Township, Highland Co. Ohio. He named two of his sons after the heroic generals Francis Marion and Winfield Scott so clearly he had abandoned his Quaker pacifism by the time they were born. I assume he was an extremely patriotic man, as was his son. Francis or Frank Posegate, as he was called by his friends and in some military records, was born in Indiana but raised in "Little Dixie" along the Missouri River in the Missouri towns Liberty and Boonville. As a pre-teen he moved to the frontier town of Ft. Des Moines, Iowa where for a short time he worked for Lamson Sherman, General Sherman's brother, as a carrier and a printers "devil" with the "Iowa Star". In 1850 at the age of 13 he moved to St. Joseph Missouri with his gunsmith father who likely sold guns to those headed to California's gold rush and to cowboys who had driven their cattle to St. Joseph's port on the Missouri River. He was in many ways a southerner. His boyhood as a printer's devil and printer's apprentice on the Missouri is very similar to that of Mark Twain's on the Mississippi. He was also an extreme nationalist in the Henry Clay mode and very outspoken in his views in his newspaper "The West" in a Missouri town on the border with Bleeding Kansas where this was not a safe thing to do. He had started "The West" at the age of 22. During this same year he married his first wife Miss Sarah (Sallie) Johnson of New Lexington, Highland County, Ohio. How a young printer running his own newspaper courted and married the daughter of a well to do Ohio farmer and merchant in 1858 is unclear but he did and it was she who connected him to Ohio.

"The West" was expanded to a daily in 1859. In it Posegate and his partners carried on a war of words with an abolitionist paper the "Free Democrat"; opposing the outside efforts of abolitionists to prevent the institution of slavery in Kansas and eliminate it in Missouri. When secessionism became an issue however, he took a firm and uncompromising stand in support of the Union. In February 1860 he "bought out his partners and became sole editor and proprietor of the paper, warmly and ably supporting Bell and Evert (Constitutional Unionists) for the presidency. In August, 1860, he sold "The West" to James Tracey & Co. The paper under this management, advocated the claims of John C. Breckenridge to the presidency, and boldly avowed its secession sentiments." It is possible that his sale of the paper was coerced by secessionists who were abundant in Buchanan County at that time. What is certain is that he moved to Memphis and worked as a printer with the Eagle and Enquirer "and a few days before the presidential election, he was compelled for his own safety, to leave between two days, owing to his strong Union sympathies." He went to Highland County Ohio, the home of his in-laws, where he enlisted in the 48th Ohio, Company A.

His military record in the National Archives states that he was enlisted as a private in Co. A by Job R. Parker Sept 9, 1861 in New Lexington (now called Highland), Ohio and that he was promoted to second lieutenant, Co. A, September 18, 1861. He claimed the men elected him an officer but his commission states that he was made an officer for recruiting 27 men. He was promoted to first lieutenant, Co. A, January 23, 1862 to fill the vacancy left by the promotion of R. F. Robbins. He was at this rank during the battle of Shiloh during which he was serving as the acting adjutant. A report by Job R. Parker states that he was "Wounded severely in the shoulder" April 6-7,1862. He was promoted to captain of Co. D, September 6, 1862 to fill a vacancy left by the discharge of Cyrus Elwood. He used the title "Captain" all the rest of his life.

It is unclear whether it was his eye condition of his charming way with words (he would have been a natural at recruiting) that resulted in his selection as the officer to return to Ohio with three sergeants to recruit volunteers by General Grant's order number 153. He spent from August 18, 1862 to January, 26, 1863 recruiting before returning to the 48th and assuming command as captain of Co. D.

After participating in the Siege of Vicksburg, he resigned his commission June 25, 1863 "owing to failing eyesight." His resignation letter in the National Archives states that "my reason is physical disability-(totally unfitting me to perform the duties of the office I now hold) as set forth in the accompanying surgeon's certificate." The accompanying certificate signed by the surgeons of the 77th Illinois, 19th Kentucky and 48th Ohio states that "We have carefully examined said officer and we find him suffering from 'Pterygium' of both eyes. It has gradually increased for several months and now seriously effects his vision." The surgeons recommend the acceptance of his resignation.

His eyes apparently recovered in Ohio because in Sept. 16, 1864 he then "assisted in the organization of the 175th Ohio". He was "mustered in as a conditional second lieutenant on September 17, 1864 credited to Green of Clinton Co. 6th Dist. Ohio." He was then "Mustered out to enable him to be mustered in as Capt. he having been duly commissioned Capt. by Gov. of Ohio". He served as captain of company E until Oct. 10, 1864 he was made regimental quartermaster of the 175th. The Quartermaster post may have allowed him to function with reduced eyesight and it was a position well suited for a highly literate man who had kept the books of his own newspaper business and had been raised in a gunsmith's shop. He was with the 175th as it was involved in the Battles of Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville. He wrote an account of his regiments involvement in Spring Hill, and Franklin in the National Tribune 2/28/89. He mustered out with the 175th June 27, 1865.

Frank Posegate is of interest because he was an excellent writer and owned his own printing press during the majority of his life. When I have time, I plan to see if I can find some of his work that escaped the bottom of the canary cage. I suspect there may be a lot of war stories he printed. "The West" even has a first hand account of the start of the Pony Express. For now I have his extremely well written personal account of the first day's battle at Shiloh which ends with his dramatic description of Buell's Colors arriving at the end of the day from the Texas Deck of the old St. Louis & Missouri River steamer "Hannibal" where he lay wounded. It is followed by an emotional statement of what the "Stars and Stripes" meant to him.

Capt. Posegate's description of Shiloh is detailed and his writing is excellent. It is clear from the manuscript that contrary to what Generals Sherman and Grant said, the Union troops were not expecting an attack but also, contrary to what the newspapers said, they where dressed, armed and moving toward the confederates when they met them.

From: The Daily News' History of Buchanan County and
St. Joseph, Mo. 1898. p. 374. Press of Lon. Hardman.
He describes events as he saw them but as acting adjutant, -- a temporary minor regimental officer -- he also has a view of the interaction of the regimental officers. He says "The Colonel of the 48th Ohio [Peter J. Sullivan] was an Irishman, and as full of fight as an egg is of meat." and portrays him as brave but foolish in his first battle. Lieut.-Col. Job R. Parker was "at outs" with Col.Sullivan "and had not spoken with each other in several days." According to his story Acting Adjutant Posegate, a lowly lieutenant repositioned the regiment from the center of the road among their tents near Shiloh Chapel to a more defendable ridge in explicit disobedience to the Col. Sullivan's orders. The Colonel did not know who called the order. Posegate was lucky to he be shot by the enemy and not the Colonel that day.

Descriptions of many events, including an interaction of Col. Worthington of the 46th Ohio, (Sherman's Nemesis) with Confederates looting the Union Tents are described sometimes in a very humorous way.

Capt. F. M. Posegate's Complete Account of the First Day at Shiloh

Posegate's later life is interesting too. He was Republican mayor in the Democratic city of St. Joseph the same year Jesse James was shot in that town. His opposition to abolition in "The West" came back to haunt him and he had some explaining to do to the then solidly Republican African American Voters but he succeeded. He ran the largest and most modern printing house between St. Louis and California (The St. Joseph Steam Printing Company) during the 1870's and 80's. Five years after his first wife died he married a real Yankee from New Hampshire, Emma Cushman, my great grandmother. When he went broke in the depression of the1890s they went to Kirkwood California, then returned to Missouri where he was an editor for the St. Louis Star. He was buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis in 1917.


The St. Joseph Steam Printing Company, NW Corner of Market Square.
From an advertisement in the St. Joseph St. Joseph Daily Gazette for Jan. 1, 1879
The photograph, from a microfilm, has been enhanced by Deborah Rice of St. Louis, MO.


F. M. Posegate, circa 1866-1870


F. M. Posegate, circa 1895


Dorothea (Dorothy) Posegate & Emma Cushman Posegate.
    FMP's daughter and second wife
c. 1895

F. M. Posegate's grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. He achieved the rank of captain of Company D in the 48th OVI and was the captain that organized Company E of the 175th OVI. The rank of Lieutenant was his last commission as 1st lieutenant and the quarter master of the 175th.

A panorama of the location of Posegate's grave.

A view from the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in the old section of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. F. M. Posegate who died in 1917 joined at least seven of his comrades in arms from the 48th OVI who died in the hospital located at Jefferson Barracks during the Civil War.


Letter to Capt. Posegate's widow from GAR Custer Post No. 7, Dept. of Missouri



Poster announcing an F. M. Posegate speech to be given Oct. 19, 1882. It lauds him as having sarcasm and wit equal to Dean Swift or the late Sunset Cox. That Capt. Posegate is flattered and startled by the comparison is indicated by the note to his wife, Emma, scrawled on the back of the poster that states:


Preserve this bill. I am afraid the audience will expect too much. It is folly for the committee to advertise me as the equal to Dean Swift, as to Sunset Cox, I think I can equal him. But I will do the best I can and that is all anyone can do.





Description of F. M. Posegate in Military Records

48th Ohio
Francis M. Posegate
2nd Lieut. Co. A, 48th Reg't Ohio Infantry

Age 24 years; height 5 feet 6 3/4 inches.
Eyes hazel; Hair Auburn
Complexion Florid
Where born Lafayette, Indiana
Occupation Printer

Enlistment Sept 9, 1861.
Where New Lexington, O. [Presently called "Highland, OH" in Highland Co.]
By Whom J. R. Parker; Term 3 years
Remarks: Appointed Second Lieut. Sept. 18, 1861. Promoted to 1st Lieut. Jan 23, 62. Promoted to Captain & transferred to Co. D, 48th OVI Sept. 6, 62.

Wounded severely in the in the shoulder at Shiloh, Tennessee April 6-7, 1862. signed by J. R. Parker, Lt. Col. Commanding

Returned to Ohio with three sergeants to recruit by General Grant's order number 153 from August 18, 1862 to January, 26, 1863.

Resignation of commission due to Pterygium of both eyes which impaired his vision. Letter of resignation with surgeon's certificate, June 22, 1863

Surgeons certificate signed by:
C. Wimic, Surgeon 77th Ill Infantry
W. K. Gadler, Surgeon, 19th Ky Vol.
P. A. Willis, Surgeon 48th Ohio-Vol.

Resignation approved by:
J. W. Lindsy, Capt. Commanding the 48th O.V.I.
W. J. Landram, Commanding Brigade, June 23rd, 63
A. J. Smith, Brig. Gen., June 23rd, 1863


175th Ohio
F. M. Posegate
Capt, Capt. Posegates Co., 175th Reg't Ohio Infantry
[subsequently became Company E]

Company Muster and Descriptive Roll
of the organization named above, Roll dated
HdQrs Camp Dennison O., Sept 16 1864.
Where born Lafayette, Ind.
Age 26 y'rs; Occupation Printer
When enlisted Sept. 16, 1864.
Where enlisted Columbus
For what period enlisted [not given but it was one year]
Eyes Hazel; Hair Sandy
Complexion Florid; height 5 feet 6 inches
When mustered in Sept 17, 1864.
Muster-in to date Sept. 16, 1864.
Where mustered in Camp Denison O.

Appointed 1st lieut. and Regimental Quartermaster of 175th Oct. 10 1864
Mustered out at Nashville, Tenn, June 27, 1865.




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