Mathew Arvin Register, my 2nd great-grandfather, was born in February of 1832 in Bladen County, North Carolina, the oldest child of Francis and Sarah (Johnson) Register. Sometime before 1850 the Register’s packed up their belongings, loaded them in covered wagons pulled by oxen, and headed for Missouri. It took several months of traveling, but they finally reached the St. Joseph area.
In 1850, at the age of 18, Mathew met and married Elisia Jane White, and over the next 11 years, they had 5 children. By 1855 they moved to Kansas along with Mathew’s 2 younger brothers. 6 years later the Civil War broke out. Mathew and his brothers, Owen and Simon joined the Union Army in July 1861. They mustered into the Army of the West (2nd Kansas Infantry) which was led by Gen. Nathaniel Lyon. Almost immediately they found themselves at Wilson’s Creek located south of Springfield, Missouri along with about 6,000 Union soldiers. The Missouri State Guard was located 75 miles southwest of Lyon and under the command of Maj. Gen. Sterling Price met with troops under Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch near the end of July. The combined Confederate forces numbered about 12,000, and they formed plans to attack Springfield and marched northeast on July 31.
The armies met at dawn a few miles southwest of Springfield on the morning of August 10 in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Lyon was wounded twice during the fighting. He was shot in the head and in the leg and then his horse was shot out from under him. He returned to the Union lines and commandeered a bay horse ridden by Maj. E.L. McElhaney of the Missouri Infantry. Lyon, badly outnumbered by Confederate forces, then dramatically led a counter charge of the 2nd Kansas Infantry on Bloody Hill, where he was shot in the heart at about 9:30 am. Although the Union Army was defeated at Wilson’s Creek, Lyon’s quick action neutralized the effectiveness of pro-Southern forces in Missouri, allowing Union forces to secure the state. Owen was captured by the Confederates during this battle. The rebels sometimes made their prisoners fight with them. Because of this Mathew and Simon were always afraid of accidentally shooting Owen during one of the skirmishes.
The brothers continued in this regiment until it mustered out of service and changed to the 2nd Kansas Cavalry on October 31, 1861, under Colonel Robert Byington Mitchell. In the new company, they continued to participate in many skirmishes all over Kansas and Missouri.
October 9, 1864, they enlisted in Company E, 19th Regiment Kansas Militia Infantry. It was commanded by Maj. Gen. James Blunt. In this troop, they participated in the Battles of Byram’s Ford and Westport. Mathew and Simon mustered out on October 28, 1864, when the unit disbanded, and they returned home. At the end of the war, Owen was released. Thankfully all three of the brothers had survived the war. While he was a prisoner of the Confederates, Owens’ fingers froze and all of his fingers and thumbs had to be amputated at the first joint.
Owen had married Minerva White, the sister of Mathews’ wife Elisia and they had 7 children. The family continued to live in Kansas and he died in 1892 at the age of 57.
Simon never married, and he died in 1901 in Leavenworth, Kansas at the age of 55.
Matthew moved his family which had grown to 12 children, to Dover, Lafayette County, Missouri. He died on 23 June 1913 at the age of 80.
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