A government-issued veteran headstone was recently placed at Colonel Peter Edward Bland’s unmarked grave through the efforts of Shrouded Veterans Graves.
Bland lost both his father and mother at a young age. His guardian, Dr. Richard Bland, sent him to the Methodist college in St. Charles, Missouri, and he graduated from there in 1846. Afterward, he taught school and ran a successful law practice in St. Louis.
He was very involved in the spiritualism movement during the 1850s in St. Louis. Bland started a newspaper called Light from the Spirit World, headed a committee, and lectured and wrote on the topic. His wife, Virginia, was also a practicing medium.
Bland was appointed colonel of the 6th Missouri Infantry on June 29, 1861. He commanded the U.S. military post at Pilot Knob, Missouri, from July to September 1861. This was followed by the post of Jefferson City, Missouri, from April to May 1862.
He resigned on August 31, 1862, writing, “For some time my health has been precarious and of late it has so declined as to render me useless to the service, being unable from physical debility to perform the duties of my office.” However, Bland was recommissioned a colonel on September 29, 1862, and mustered in on October 22. His return to command of the 6th Missouri was short-lived.
Some of the regiment’s officers accused Bland of “physical disability, incompetency, and incapacity to command” and he was discharged on December 22. He appealed it and President Abraham Lincoln ordered the case reviewed. Bland’s discharge was revoked on April 20, 1864, and he was honorably discharged on account of physical disability.
Bland practiced law in Memphis, Tennessee, but returned to St. Louis after a few years. His name was connected with some of the most important cases in Missouri and Illinois. One biographical sketch declared:
“As an orator he has but few superiors in the West. His oratory is of the fervent, classic style, evidently resulting from a profound study of the Grecian and Roman models. Clear and distinct, always logical, with full command of language, earnest and of strong convictions, he never fails to impress his audience with the justice of the cause he pleads. Mild in his manners, cool in his temperament, he never loses his self-possession no matter what the provocation, while attending to the interests of his clients. Sociable and agreeable, Mr. Bland has legions of friends whose respect and esteem he possesses in a remarkable degree.”
On April 8, 1885, Bland died in St. Louis and was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery.