Joseph O. “Jo” Shelby was a famous Confederate
Confederacy is a term used to identify the states that seceded from the United States and formed their own separate government during the Civil War. "Confederacy" is also used interchangeably with the terms "the South" and "the Confederate States of America."
Confederate is the term used to identify an individual who was loyal to the Confederacy.
cavalry general. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 12, 1830, to Orville and Anna Boswell Shelby. His father was a wealthy planter and hemp rope producer.
When Joseph was five, his father died, and his mother remarried to Benjamin Gratz, a wealthy merchant and land owner. Joseph attended Transylvania University and was groomed to become a successful businessman.
After receiving a large inheritance at the age of twenty-one, Shelby moved to Waverly in Lafayette County, Missouri. Together with his step-brother, he founded the Waverly Steam Rope Company. The company produced hemp rope using slave labor.
Shelby also owned a seven-hundred-acre plantation worked by slaves. On July 22, 1858, he married his distant cousin, Elizabeth N. Shelby. Together the couple had seven children.
By 1860, Shelby’s finances were in decline largely due to his own poor management. He was forced to sell the rope company, plantation, and his slaves.
Like many pro-Southern Missourians, Shelby was angered by the Camp Jackson Affair
The Camp Jackson Affair was an incident early in the American Civil War that occurred on May 10, 1861, when Union military forces captured a pro-secession state militia camped outside of St. Louis. The camp was named after Claiborne Fox Jackson, Missouri's governor, who wanted the state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. The men in the camp were preparing to capture a federal arsenal and give its weapons and other military supplies to the South, but the Union forces prevented them from attacking the arsenal. A riot broke out when the captured men were marched into the city, and twenty-eight people were killed when the soldiers fired into the crowd.
in St. Louis. During the incident, Union
Union is the term used to identify the United States and its government during the Civil War.
General Nathaniel Lyon’s
militia fired upon a civilian mob and killed twenty-eight people. In response, Shelby recruited a large number of men from Lafayette County, Missouri, to support the Confederacy by serving in the Missouri State Guard. Shelby and his troops fought at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and later at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas.
Recognized for his leadership skills and talent, Shelby was quickly promoted, and given command of the “Iron Brigade,” so named for their toughness. In 1863, he was promoted to brigadier general in the Confederate States Army, and continued to lead his men against Union forces until the end of the war.
As the Confederacy crumbled, Shelby led six hundred of his men south to Mexico. The Emperor Maximilian granted Shelby and his men permission to found a colony called “Carlota” outside of Vera Cruz, Mexico. After the Emperor Maximilian was overthrown, Shelby returned to the United States.
He began farming in Lafayette County, Missouri, and later moved to Bates County, Missouri. In 1893, President Grover Cleveland appointed Shelby U.S. Marshal of the Western District of Missouri.
Joseph Shelby in Mexico
Joseph Shelby appearing before Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota of Mexico.
By this time Shelby had put the war behind him. He selected an African-American to serve as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. When critics complained, Shelby declared, “I am right in what I have done, and by the right I propose to stand.”
He also voiced regret for his actions in the Border Wars, telling historian William Elsey Connelley, “I was in Kansas at the head of an armed force. I was there to kill Free-state men. I did kill them. I am now ashamed of myself for having done so. I had no business there. No Missourian had any business there with arms in his hands.”
Shelby died of pneumonia
Pneumonia is an illness that affects an individual's lungs. It is caused by bacterial or viral infections that inflame the air sacs in the lungs and make it difficult to breathe. An individual suffering from pneumonia may have a cough, fever, breathing difficulties, and chest pain. Pneumonia can affect people of all ages and can lead to death if it is left untreated.
on his farm near Adrian, Missouri, on February 13, 1897, and was buried in Kansas City, Missouri.