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The majority of the inhabitants of Benton County were of Southern origin and sentiment; however, the German immigrants and their descendants were predominantly pro-Union and anti-slavery. Cook began to form the regiment in early June and called for the volunteers to assemble northeast of Cole Camp on June 11.
These formed the core of the Benton County Home Guard. A secessionist force was gathering nearby at Warsaw. O'Kane organized the Warsaw "Grays" and Captain Thomas W.
Murray organized the "Blues." The combined force numbered about 350, with 100 of them mounted.
The secessionists were aided by Benton County's Sheriff, Bartholomew W. Keown attempted to arrest captains Cook and Mitchell at the Union Home Guard camp, but they refused to comply.
The "arrest" apparently was a pretense for gathering intelligence. While up to 900 men had initially gathered, as many as half were furloughed for lack of weapons or for other reasons.