Shortly after three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, October 29, 1864, six Confederate prisoners of war were taken from their cell in the Gratiot Street Prison in St Louis and executed by a military firing squad. This was by order of Federal Major General William S. Rosecrans at the urging of the controversial Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr., who had issued Order No. 11 in western Missouri. The execution was in retaliation for the deaths of Major James Wilson and six of his enlisted men from the 3rd Missouri State Militia Cavalry (U.S.) who were executed by Confederate soldiers of the 15th Missouri Cavalry (C.S.A.) under command of Col. Timothy Reves (Reeves). The Confederates had likewise acted in retaliation for atrocities committed by the 3rd Missouri State Militia soldiers in Ripley County. Missouri. The six Rebel soldiers learned of their intended execution a few short hours before they faced a firing squad. Visited by Union chaplains, five of the men were baptized; however, one, Asa Ladd, was already a member of the Methodist Church. Private Asa V. Ladd joined the Confederate Service on May 5, 1862 in Bloomfield. He joined Captain Joseph J. Miller's Company "A" of Burbridge's 4th Missouri Cavalry Regiment (CSA) with many of his friends from the Bloomfield community.
In the short time remaining to
him, Pvt. Ladd wrote the following letter to his wife and family:
St. Louis, MO
Oct. 29, 1864
"Dear Wife and Children:
I take my pen with trembling hand to inform you that I have to be shot between 2 and 4 o'clock this evening. l have but few hours to remain in this unfriendly world. There is six of us sentenced to die in room of six Union soldiers that was shot by Reeve's men. My dear wife, don't grieve for me. I want you to meet me in heaven. l want you to teach the children piety, so that they may meet me at the right hand of God. I cant tell you my feelings, but you can form some idea of my feelings when you hear of my fate.
I don't want you to let this bear on your mind any more than you can help, for you are now left to take care of my dear children. Tell them to remember their dear father. l want you to go back to the old place and try to make a support for you and the children.
I want you to tell all my friends that l have gone home to rest. I want you to go to Mr. Conner and tell him to assist you in winding up your businesses. If he ls not there get Mr. Cleveland. If you don't get this letter before St. Francis River gets up you had better stay there until you can make a crop, and you can go in the dry season.
It is now half past 4 p.m. I must bring my letter to a close, leaving you in the hands of God. l send you my best love and respects in the hour of death. Kiss all the children for me. You need have no uneasiness about my future state, for my faith is well founded and I fear no evil. God is my refuge and hiding place. Good—by Amy. Acey Ladd"