My Own Commander: The Civil War Journal of J. J. Sitton, 1863-1865 by John James Sitton
“My Own Commander”: The Civil War Journal of J. J. Sitton, 1863–1865 recounts the experiences of a young Confederate soldier from Washington County, Missouri, who fought in Mississippi before returning home to recruit men and ride with Sterling Price on a last-ditch effort to capture Missouri for the South.
Arriving at the Missouri-Arkansas border in January 1863, Sitton discovered he had no nearby commanding officer and was on his own. With neither side in firm control of the region, he hid in the woods to escape Union patrols and dealt with dangerous Southern guerrilla bands he viewed with disdain. He also courted women—the area was teeming with young widows—although a dalliance with a teenager almost led to a duel with the girl’s father. Despite his unshakable loyalty to the South, Sitton’s Ozark adventures led him only to misfortune with Price’s doomed Missouri expedition in the fall of 1864; his story is a mirror to the fate of those caught in the Confederacy’s downfall.
“I could now see the man at the back of the field motion with his hand to run to the nearest brush. I ran and crossed the fense and up to near where he was. I asked no questions and indeed had no need to ask any for as I turned my head to look back at the house I saw the federals charging with their pistols in their hands and everything about the house looked blue with federal uniforms . . . I was within 300 yards of 100 federals, they all well mounted and armed and I on foot and unarmed. I thought the federals had just captured my cavalry boots warm from my feet . . . When I left the house one of the girls noticing my boots took a pair of suspenders and ran them through my boot straps and had my boots around her underneath her top dress and hoops and thus saved my boots and suspenders. We lay at night in an old out house. This was a terrible scare for me and one I shall always remember.”
— J. J. Sitton’s journal entry, January 25, 1864
• Edited and with an Introduction by John F. Bradbury
• Transcribed by Lou Wehmer
• Published by The State Historical Society of Missouri 2023, Softcover, 354 pages