Last updated: April 10, 2015
A Most Unsettled State; First Person Accounts of St. Louis During the Civil War, by NiNi Harris. St. Louis: Reedy Press, 2013.
Many people don’t automatically think of St. Louis when the Civil War is mentioned, but the city has many interesting
stories associated with the war. St. Louis was under martial law and divided to its core during the Civil War years
and A Most Unsettled State conveys this dynamic through the pens of those who experienced it. Author NiNi Harris
collects memoirs, letters, sermons, and accounts that reveal a critical time in
a volatile place.
The book contains eyewitness accounts of significant events that occurred in the streets and throughout the area during
the prolonged conflict. The first-person accounts provide insights and observations into the human condition as the war
We learn firsthand how Julia Dent Grant responded to the news about the Siege of Vicksburg and about her neighbors’
resentment of her because of her sympathies to the northern campaign. Readers
also experience Camp Jackson through the eyes of then-civilian William Tecumseh
Sherman, who, with his seven-year-old son Willie at his side, heard the sounds
of war all around them and witnessed chaos in the streets of St. Louis.
The book also offers accounts about the women who nursed wounded soldiers, the ministers who were appalled by slavery, and
Southern sympathizers whose resentment grew as the Union gained control of St.
Much of this material has been available to researchers for years, but this book is unique because it provides the only
single volume collection of first-person accounts on the Civil War in St.
Louis. Ms. Harris has provided a great service to history buffs and researchers alike in collecting and editing these
accounts. A Most Unsettled State will provide assistance to many over the
coming years as people discover this topic and want to understand more fully
the role St. Louis played in this historic event.