Pvt. John Wesley Brock

By Jerry J. Minnis

JOHN WESLEY BROCK, Pvt. MO State Guard,
later 10th MO Infantry, CSA — 2 Time POW

John Wesley (JW) was first attached to the Missouri State Guard (MSG), which was a part of the official military of Missouri, and was duly established by the then elected State Legislature. The Governor (elected) and the Legislature (elected) at that time were mostly Southern sympathizers, and the MSG was placed under the command of former Missouri Governor, Major General Sterling Price. The elected Governor and Legislature, were forced out by Union Forces, which required them to go into seclusion in Southwest Missouri, at their temporary State Capitol.

JW was captured the first time on 19 Dec 1861, when his Regimental Commander, Colonel Robertson, surrendered the ENTIRE regiment without them even firing a shot before they were surrendered, and records then indicate JW was released on his Oath on 21January 1862. According to research at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (Springfield, MO), the colonel apparently believed that his men were not yet trained enough, or fully ready for combat, so he surrendered them all to his much larger Federal Army opponent at the Blackwater River. John was imprisoned at the Milton Street Prison (formerly the Lynch Slave Pens), which was a small adjunct of the St. Louis Gratiot Branch of the Union, Alton IL, prison system. It is believed that after his release, he may have re-joined the MSG, until the records show he enlisted in the 10th MO Infantry, CSA on 6 Aug 1862 (there seems to be a “gap” in his whereabouts or service, such as he may have returned home to help with farm work, etc.). However, it is also possible that he continued on with another unit of the State Guard, as we learned that he had served in “Col. Coleman’s Cavalry” MSG, which would be the only way to account for his first muster card for the 10th MO Infantry CSA to account for the 1 month 13 days of cavalry and 1 month 12 days of infantry of service, recorded after his enlistment in the 10th MO Infantry in Oregon County MO. (It has since been learned that when Col. Coleman refused to be reassigned with his Regiment to the CSA Arkansas Theater of Operations, his men were given the choice of remaining in another unit of the MSG or go into regular CSA service, and Coleman’s was then disbanded. It has been reported that many of Coleman’s men decided to go into the regular CSA Service, and they comprised most of the original members of the 10th MO CSA Infantry. (Note: It is possible that JW again wanted to serve in the Cavalry again, but the CSA Trans-Mississippi Department at that time was overloaded with Cavalry, so the 10th MO was strictly Infantry). Plus, perhaps also with a “cousin”, George Brock, who also shows as enlisting in the 10th MO Infantry on the same day, 6 Aug 1862, as JW. The record for the 10th MO shows an enlistment period of 3 years or War’s end. He was a Private in Company I, Steen’s Regiment, 10th Missouri Infantry.

JW was captured again for the 2nd time, on 4 July, 1863 (the day after the famous battle at Gettysburg). John Wesley’s CSA regiment was involved in the Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi and the surrounding campaign, at Helena, Arkansas, and his unit suffered 600+ casualties “captured, and missing”. The records show that the 10th MO CSA was part of Steen’s (later Gen. Parson’s Regiment), and was the only actively engaged Regiment in the attempt to capture 4 Artillery battery positions surrounding Fort Curtis at Helena, that actually accomplished their mission which they took Battery C. However, they then came under very heavy bombardment from the other 3 batteries, plus a Federal gunboat from the river, so they finally had to surrender, receiving no assistance from the other regiments. He was imprisoned at the Union Prison at Alton, IL on 9 July, 1863 after being transported there by Union boat, and subsequently released on 27July 1863 on his Oath, most probably due to extreme over-crowding and disease there in a prison originally built for only 1,750 prisoners, which had been previously abandoned by the State of Illinois before 1861 (over 11,000 prisoners were imprisoned from 1862 until the end of the War). After the fall of Vicksburg, there were probably thousands more there, which overcrowded it significantly, thus early releases). A photocopy of the Release Ledger is in the files of 2nd great grandson, Jerry Minnis, SCV. Descent from John Wesley will qualify one for membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans or the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

After Being Released from Prison the 2nd time, JW and his wife Elizabeth (Beaty) decided to take their 3 boys and 3 girls to Nebraska to avoid the ravages of the war in Missouri, and away from their divided families (Elizabeth’s sister Ann was married to a Union Lt., John Pinckney Minnis, so their Beaty/Brock families were definitely divided as to their loyalties for the War. Elizabeth and Ann’s brother was also a Major in the Union forces! JW went into the freight hauling business with his father, Samuel. They traveled by covered wagon and settled near Nebraska City in Otoe County, Nebraska. A common disease of that Era, “The Fever” (Typhoid), struck the family, and JW, 2 sons and a daughter all died of the disease during the Fall of 1864 and were buried in the Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City. Elizabeth (about 42 years old) took the surviving children, Liza (14), James Lee (11 or 12), and 5 year old Frances Louella, and returned to Missouri by spring wagon. These were obviously still troubled times, because the Civil War was not over, and Carroll County was still much at opposition with each other. Family stories of the James Lee Brock branch tell about Elizabeth and her surviving children, returning to Carroll County after the deaths of their family in Nebraska, and were at the home of acquaintances, when the only man there, an elderly one, was out in the fields working when Jayhawker raiders came, stripped the farm of livestock and food, and killed the old man. After a time, the women and children went to find the man, and saw that his body was thrown over a fence. (NOTE: There is some confusion within the family branches that remained in Carroll County, as 2 books found there in the Carrollton Library authored by the other branch of the family suggests that JW and his father, Samuel, were both killed by Indians in Nebraska. However, we know that they could not have both been killed at the same time, as the Will of Samuel Brock, written 14 May 1872 and probated in Carroll County, MO, referred to the children of his deceased son, John Wesley. Therefore, the two did not die at the same time, and, JW was not killed by Indians, but “The Fever”. The history within the family of James Lee Brock, son of JW, who was about 11 or 12 at the time of his father’s death, record that JW and 3 of the children died from “The “Fever” i.e. Typhoid Fever (and we can verify that all 4 were buried in the Wyuka Cemetery at Nebraska City, NE, and their records did not indicate that Indians were the cause of JW’s death, as Samuel’s Will of 1872 specifically cited “the children of his deceased son, John Wesley”). To date, we have not been able to reconcile the two different versions within the divided family, unless they have sprung from those same divisions caused by the Civil War amongst families in the Border States of MO, KY, MD, and others who were represented on both sides of the conflict.

John Wesley Brock definitely was one of our Confederate Heroes!