They are Hostile in Spirit: The Arrest of Miss Emma Kline


After the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the victorious Union army had to settle into the difficult role of occupier to a city filled with pro-Confederate sympathizers. Over time most of Vicksburg’s residents settled into an uneasy peace with the Federal garrison guarding the city. There were a few civilians, however, that loudly proclaimed their loyalty to the Confederacy, and took every opportunity to aid the Southern cause. Writing of this troublesome portion of the population, Vicksburg’s post commander, General James B. McPherson complained that they “require watching, although seemingly disposed to remain quietly at home and pursue their peaceful avocations, they are hostile in spirit…”

“Hostile in spirit” was a very good description for Miss Emma Kline, a feisty Rebel who made it quite clear where her loyalties lay. The daughter of Warren County planter Nineon E. Kline and his wife Patience, in the 1860 Warren County Census 17 year old Emma was still living in her father’s home along with five younger siblings.

The entire Kline family was well known to Union authorities, so much so that General James B. McPherson issued the following order in regard to them:

HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Vicksburg, Miss., January 26, 1864.

Commanding Cavalry, Red Bone Church:

MAJOR: It is reported to me on good authority that a party of Whitaker’s band, say 15 or 20, contemplate crossing the Big Black to-night in the vicinity of Hall’s or Regan’s Ferries, and will probably come over to Mrs. Stowe’s place, or possibly to Nelian Kline’s. I desire you to entrap and catch these outlaws, if you can.

I am also well satisfied that the Kline family, and especially Miss Kline, are guilty of acting in bad faith toward our Government and imparting information to the enemy.

You will, therefore, take immediate steps to put the whole family across the Big Black, not to return to this side without written permission from the proper military authorities, under penalty of being dealt with as spies.

They will be permitted to take their household furniture and private clothing, and a complete inventory will be taken of what remains and a guard placed over it until it can be turned over to the U. S. Treasury agent.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 2, 227

Emma Kline would be little remembered today if not for one photograph of her that was taken in 1864. It shows a defiant young lady standing between two guards from the 5th Iowa Infantry after her arrest for smuggling.

Emma Kline under arrest at Vicksburg in 1864. Vicksburg and the War, page 106.

While the photograph of Emma is very well known in Civil War circles, not much was known about the circumstances of her arrest, other than it was for smuggling. After the Union authorities detained Emma, they had her picture taken with her guards, supposedly as a warning to others in Vicksburg that might be inclined to aid the Confederacy.

As fate would have it, while doing some research, I found the following newspaper article in The Vicksburg Herald, April 16, 1908. It was written by Alonzo L. Brown, the Union officer who arrested Emma Kline:


A.L. Brown, captain Company E, Fiftieth U.S.C.T., Brounton, Minn., in regard to the arrest of Miss

Postwar picture of Alonzo L. Brown, the Union officer who arrested Emma Kline –

Emma Kline at Vicksburg, Miss., for attempting to smuggle contraband goods through our lines to the Confederates, says that in May, 1864, he had command of that part of the picket line at Vicksburg which extended from the railway south and west beyond the Hall’s Ferry wagon road. At this point there was a tent.

About 3 o’clock in the afternoon one day a young man rode up on horseback from Vicksburg and told him a Miss Emma Kline had been stopping in the city at the house of Dr. Anderson, and that she would try to pass out of the lines in a carriage that afternoon with another young lady (a granddaughter of Dr. Anderson) on a family pass. The ladies would have a large quantity of contraband goods concealed on their person. The man added: ‘When they come up here I want you to arrest her and send them back to the city under guard. Do not allow them to pass out. I would rather not be seen, and when they appear I will step inside your tent.’

In a short while the carriage approached, and its occupants had a pass signed by Gen. McPherson for Mr. Thompson and family through the lines at Vicksburg. One of the ladies had bright red hair, a pale complexion and rather sharp features. The writer asked her if she was a member of Mr. Thompson’s family, and she said she was not. She gave her name as Miss Emma Kline. The writer could hardly repress a smile as he noticed their distended skirts. He informed Miss Kline that he had received instructions not to allow her to go through the lines, but to send them back to the city under guard.

At this juncture, the young fellow, who was a detective, drew near and told Miss Kline he had orders to arrest them and took them in charge. Miss Kline lived with her parents about ten miles southeast of Vicksburg, toward Hall’s Ferry.

IN the spring of 1864 two ladies, Mrs. Reynolds and Miss Maggie Oliver, of New Orleans, were arrested at Vicksburg and imprisoned in the third story of the Old Main Street school building. The ladies were smuggling quinine through the lines into the Confederacy. They were moved from Vicksburg to Alton, Ill., and put in prison, where Mrs. Reynolds died. Miss Oliver after being released from Alton prison returned to New Orleans.

Alonzo L. Brown served in Company B, 4th Minnesota Infantry during the siege of Vicksburg. Shortly thereafter he was commissioned as 1st Lieutenant of Company E, 50th United States Colored Infantry, and eventually rose to the rank of captain. After the war Brown went home to Minnesota, where he founded the town of Brownton, and served as its first mayor. A devoted amateur historian, Brown wrote a regimental history of the 4th Minnesota Infantry that was published in 1892. –


Fourth Minnesota Regiment Entering Vicksburg, July 4, 1863. Painting by artist Francis Davis Millet.

Emma Kline survived her imprisonment and the war, marrying William Lum Lane in the 1870s. Emma died in 1878, shortly after the birth of her daughter and namesake, Emma Lane. Emma Kline Lane may have died in childbirth, or she may have been a victim of the Yellow Fever epidemic that scourged Vicksburg in 1878. She is buried in Asbury Cemetery located just south of Vicksburg. –