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Colorful life of Civil War figure to be detailed

Former national archives director to speak in Jefferson City

While serving as provost marshal in Jefferson City during the middle of the Civil War, Major Frank White met his future wife.

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Submitted photo

Portrait of Civil War figure Frank White.

His colorful life will be explored through the presentation “Bold, Dashing and Daring: The Civil War Adventures of Major Frank J. White” at 2 p.m. Monday at the Cole County Historical Society by Kellee Green Blake, retired director of the National Archives-Mid Atlantic Region.

“His name is perpetually associated with the Prairie Scouts and Zagonyi’s Charge, but Frank White’s Civil War story is so much richer,” Blake said. “His abilities as a cavalry scout, skirmisher and military judge were renowned from Missouri to Texas to Virginia.

“His policies never failed to inspire powerful emotion.”

While in Jefferson City, Blake will research White’s role as provost marshal from 1862-63.

White was a New York attorney whose Civil War career included commands in Virginia and Texas.

“Although many young women presented themselves for romance with White, he set his heart on Cornelia Wells, the daughter of Jefferson City’s federal judge, and at war’s end, he returned from Virginia to make her his own,” Blake said.

Whether in his capacity as provost marshal in Jefferson City or as commander of federal forces on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, White dispensed military justice with the hard hand inspired by his mentors, John C. Fremont and Benjamin Butler, she said.

Although his military adventures catapulted him into the national spotlight and brought him romance, the scars of war for White would be many and costly, Blake said.

“I have ever found Major White sprightly, intelligent, and a capable officer, bold, dashing, and daring, pleasant and amicable in his deportment and in morals unquestionably good,” said General Benjamin Franklin Loan in 1863.

Blake is also an expert on the assassinations of President Abraham Lincoln and Robert Kennedy.

She has been a regular speaker at national genealogical and historical conferences and is the author of multiple articles on wartime disloyalty, the law practice of Abraham Lincoln and the Federal Census.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Mary Washington College, received her graduate degree from Villanova University and is currently writing a book on the federal occupation and divided loyalties on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, 1861-65.

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