Quincy Bell, Civil War Hero or Political Thug?, Part 1

We can all be different people at different times.  No one is static.  So can someone be both a hero and a thug in different circumstances?  I’m going to explore that question today in the life of my paternal 3rd great-grandfather, Quincy Adam BELL.  He was married to Elizabeth Emoline STEPHENSON (possibly spelled STEVESON, STEPHESON or STEVENSON).  The line of descent is from Quincy through his daughter Eliza, and Eliza’s son Ralph LARKIN who was my great-grandfather.  Quincy was born on this date (13 March) in 1825.  I have not written about Quincy before.  Normally I would take the time to introduce him to you but today I have a story to tell you that my sister-in-law has been asking me to tell for over a year.  (By the way, you should visit her blog over at Down in the Root Cellar.)  I will give you an abbreviated introduction but mostly I want to get right into his story.

Quincy was born in Tennessee but he lived the majority of his life in Missouri.  He came to Missouri with his parents and siblings sometime around 1836.  I want to skip ahead though, to Quincy at age 36.  The year was 1861 and America was barreling toward a civil war.  Quincy volunteered to serve for the Union.  On 28 August 1861, Quincy enrolled as a Private in Captain Coleman’s Company, Missouri Infantry for a period of 6 months.  One of his fellow Privates was John Smith PHELPS who had served both in the Missouri House of Representatives and in Congress (including serving on the House Ways and Means Committee) since 1840.  (I think it was this connection with PHELPS that caused Quincy to end up in a situation that got him in trouble later in his life.)  They fought in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek after which the company retreated to Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri (which was named after John Smith Phelps when it was created).  It was during this time that, in a special arrangement with President Abraham LINCOLN, John Smith PHELPS organized an infantry regiment – Phelps’ Infantry Regiment.  By November of 1861, Quincy had enrolled as a Private in Company A, Phelps’ Infantry Regiment in Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri.  They spent most of the winter of 1861-1862 at Fort Wyman in Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri.  In March of 1862, the Company fought a fierce battle at Pea Ridge, Benton County, Arkansas.  The battle lasted two days.


Pea Ridge Battlefield maps found on Wikipedia.


Sketch of the Last Hour of the Battle of Pea Ridge found on Wikipedia.

Quincy’s muster-out date from Company A, Phelps’ Infantry was 11 April 1862.  He mustered out in Springfield, Greene County, Missouri and was given $26.62 for “clothing in kind or money advanced”.  He was marked as Present.  I don’t know the succession of events but I have found an index card showing that Quincy mustered in to Company M of the 16th Missouri Cavalry as a Private and before he mustered out he had been promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant.  A Quartermaster Sergeant is in charge of supplies, as I understand it.  I know that he was in this company in 1863 but that’s as close as I’ve gotten so far.

You can read a short couple of paragraphs about the 16th Missouri at NPS.gov.  One thing I know this company was doing in 1863 other than fighting in skirmishes was fighting Confederate Guerillas in the Springfield, Greene County, Missouri area.  You can read a short snippet about Phelps’ Regiment also at NPS.gov.

Other researchers have listed him as being in Berry’s Battalion Cavalry,  Cass County Home Guards Cavalry, Stewart’s Battalion Cavalry, and Van Horn’s Battalion Cavalry during 1863.  I have not found documentation to support these claims yet.

Now, I want to skip ahead a little.  The year is 1870 and very politically charged- much like the current political climate.  It’s 11 August in Missouri- hot, humid, nearly unbearable.  Quincy is 45 years old.  I’m going to leave you right here for the night and finish the story tomorrow.  Be sure you come back because this is where he runs into trouble!

Until tomorrow,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Sources: NPS.gov; Wikipedia; Fold3; Ancestry; https://www.civilwar.org/learn/civil-war/battles/pea-ridge (I like CivilWar.org’s battlefield photos better).  I encourage you to explore CivilWarTalk.com’s website as well.

Leave a Reply