The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board

Leeper and the 3rd MSM Cavalry

I would like to add to what has been said regarding Leeper. Without a doubt Leeper did not do honor to the 3rd MSM Cavalry. On the other hand, neither Leeper did operate within the chain of command of the 3rd MSM Cavalry. As I have noted previously, Leeper was a member of the Missouri State Convention that was running the state. Another member of the Convention was James O. Broadhead, who was a lieutenant colonel in the 3rd MSM Cavalry. However, as members of the Convention, both Captain Leeper and Lt. Col. Broadhead were equals politically.

The senior commanding officer of the regiment at the time, Col. Richard G. Woodson, was a Conservative Unionist, as was Broadhead. Leeper was a Radical, so he wielded considerable personal power not only through his status as a member of the Convention, but also through the Radical power base that was in sometimes violent opposition to the Conservative power base.

Look at the O.R.--you will be hard-pressed to find any other man of Leeperís rank who operated so totally off the grid in regard to his chain of command. The O.R. has very little on Leeper reporting to field officers in the 3rd MSM Cavalry. What the O.R. does show is that he was receiving his marching orders directly from Radical generals at the top of the Missouri food chain--Fisk, Dodge, and Thomas Ewing (of Order 11 infamy).

Regarding how Leeper and his company were received within the rest of the 3rd MSM Cavalry, I have one account wherein Capt. Robert McElroy of Company D almost had his men open fire on Leeperís men for unspecified misdeeds during the 3rd MSMís pre-election offensive into southeast Missouri in the fall of 1863. Not too long afterwards Leeper was bounced out of the regiment. And by the time of the Battle of Pilot Knob, Major James Wilson of the 3rd MSM had essentially traded out Leeperís company--Company L--for Company L of the 2nd MSM Cavalry.

Speaking of Wilson, one modern-day writer on the Civil War in southeast Missouri has projected Leeperís personal characteristics onto the 3rd MSMís Major James Wilson, who was a protege of Conservative Unionist Richard G. Woodson. As Woodson was leaving the 3rd MSM Cavalry as a result of his strenuous objections to having Radicals from the 9th MSM dumped into his command, Woodson recommended Wilson to be his replacement.

Finally, to highlight just how much personal power Leeper wielded, look at how he was operating after he was booted out of the 3rd MSM Cavalry. As a private in the 68th EMM, Leeper was communicating directly and regularly with Ewing and Dodge. Dodge was a two-star general.