The War in Missouri
Continental Monthly Volume 1, Issue 4
The War in Missouri, common to men, but with an honest purpose, so far as the writer is able, to subordinate men to principles, that this review of the origin and chief incidents of the rebellion in Missouri is begun. The close connection of the State of Missouri with the slavery agitation that has now ripened into a rebellion against the government of the United States, is a singular historical fact. The admission of the State into the Union was the occasion of vitalizing the question of slavery extension and fixing it as a permanent element in the politics of the country. It has continued to be the theatre on which the most important conflicts growing out of slavery extension have been decided. It will be the first, in the hope and belief of millions, to throw off the fetters of an obsolete institution, so long cramping its social and political advancement, and to set an example to its sister slaveholding States of the superior strength, beauty, and glory of Freedom. The pro-slavery doctrines of John C. Calhoun, after having pervaded the democracy of all the other slaveholding States, and obtained complete possession of the national executive, legislative and judicial departments, finally, in 1844, appeared also in the State of Missouri. But it was in so minute and subtle a form as not to seem a sensible heresy. Thomas H. Benton, the illustrious senator of the Jackson era, was then, as he had been for twenty four years, the political autocrat of Missouri. He had long been convinced of the latent treason of the Calhoun school of politicians. He was able to combat the schemes of the Southern oligarchy composing and controlling the Cabinet of President Polk; unsuccessfully, it is true, yet with but slight diminution of his popularity at home. Nevertheless, the seeds of disunion had been borne to his State; they had taken root; and, like all evil in life, they proved self perpetuating and ineradicable. In 1849 the Mexican war, begun in the interest of the dis-unionists, had been closed. A vast accession of territory had accrued to the Union. It was the plan and purpose of the disunion party to appropriate and occupy this territory; to organize it in their interests; and, finally, to admit it into the Union as States, to add to their political power, and prepare for that struggle between the principle of freedom and the principle of slavery in the government, which Mr. Calhoun had taught was inevitable. But the hostility of Benton in the Senate was dreaded by the Southern leaders thus early conspiring against the integrity of the Union. The Missouri senator seemed, of all contemporaneous statesmen, to be the only one that fully comprehended the incipient treason. This earnest opposition assumed at times the phases of monomania. He sought to crush it in the egg. He lifted his warning voice on all occasions.. He weighed bitterly against the ‘Nullifiers,’ as he invariably characterized the Calhoun politicians, declaring that their purpose was to destroy the Union. It became necessary, therefore, before at tempting to dispose of the territories acquired from Mexico, to silence Ben ton, or remove him from the Senate. Accordingly, when the legislature of Missouri met in 1849, a series of resolutions was introduced, declaring that all territory derived by the United States, in the treaty with Mexico, should be open to settlement by the citizens of all the States in common; that the question of allowing or prohibiting slavery in any territory could only be decided by the people resident in the territory, and then only when they came to organize themselves into a State government; and, lastly, that if the general government should attempt to establish a rule other than this for the settlement of the territories, the State of Missouri would stand pledged to her sister Southern States to cooperate in whatever measures of resistance or redress they might deem necessary. The resolutions distinctly abdicated all right of judgment on the part of Missouri, and committed the State to a blind support of Southern ‘Nullification’ in a possible contingency. They were in flagrant opposition to the lifelong principles and daily vehement utterances of Benton — as they were intended to be. Nevertheless, they were adopted; and the senators of Missouri were instructed to conform their public action to them. These resolutions were introduced by one Claiborne F. Jackson, a member of the House of Representatives from the County of Howard, one of the most democratic and largest slave holding counties in the State. The resolutions took the name of their mover, and are known in the political history of Missouri as the ‘Jackson resolutions.’ And Claiborne F. Jackson, who thus took the initiative in foisting treason upon the statute books of Missouri, is, today, by curious coincidence, the official head of that State nominally in open revolt. But Jackson, it was early ascertained, was not entitled to the doubtful honor of the paternity of these resolutions. They had been matured in a private chamber of the Capitol at Jefferson City, by two or three conspirators, who received, it was asserted by Benton, and finally came to be believed, the first draft of the resolutions from Washing ton, where the disunion cabal, armed with federal power, had its headquarters. Thus the bolt was launched at the Missouri senator, who, from his prestige of Jacksonism, his robust patriotism, his indomitable will, and his great abilities, was regarded as the most formidable if not the only enemy standing in the way of meditated treason. It was not doubted that the blow would be fatal. Benton was in one sense the father of the doctrine of legislative instructions. In his persistent and famous efforts to ‘expunge’ the resolutions of censure on Gen. Jackson that had been placed in the Senate journal, Benton had found it necessary to revolutionize the sentiments or change the composition of the Senate. Whigs were representing democratic States, and Democrats refused to vote for a resolution expunging any part of the record of the Senate’s proceedings. To meet and overcome this resistance, Benton introduced the dogma that a senator was bound to obey the instructions of the legislature of his State. He succeeded, by his great influence in his party, and by the aid of the democratic administration, in having the dogma adopted, and it became an accepted rule in the democratic party. Resolutions were now invoked and obtained from State legislatures instructing their senators to vote for the ‘Expunging Resolutions,’ or resign. Some obeyed; some resigned. Benton carried his point; but it was at the sacrifice of •the spirit of that part of the Constitution which gave to United States senators a term of six years, for the pur pose of protecting the Senate from frequent fluctuations of popular feeling, and securing steadiness in legislation. Benton was the apostle of this unwise and destructive innovation upon the constitutional tenure of senators. He was doomed to be a conspicuous victim of his own error. When the ‘Jackson resolutions’ were passed by the legislature of Missouri, instructing Benton to endorse measures that led to nullification and disunion, he saw the dilemma in which he was placed, and did the best he could to extricate himself. He presented the resolutions from his seat in the Senate; denounced their treasonable character, and declared his purpose to appeal from the legislature to the people of Missouri. On the adjournment of Congress, Benton returned to Missouri and commenced a canvass in vindication of his own cause, and in opposition to the democratic majority of the legislature that passed the Jackson resolutions, which has had few if any parallels in the history of the government for heat and bitterness. The senator did not return to argue and convert, but to fulminate and destroy. He appointed times and places for public speaking in the most populous counties of the State, and where the op position to him had grown boldest. He allowed no ‘division of time’ to opponents wishing to controvert the positions assumed in his speeches. On the contrary, he treated every interruption, whether for inquiry or retort, on the part of any one opposed to him, as an insult, and proceeded to pour upon the head of the offender a torrent of denunciation and abuse, unmeasured and appalling. The extraordinary course adopted by Benton in urging his ‘appeal,’ excited astonishment and indignation among the democratic partisans that had, in many cases, thoughtlessly become arrayed against him.’ They might have yielded to expostulation; they were stung to resentment by unsparing vilification. The rumor of Ben ton’s manner preceded him through the State, after the first signal manifestations of his ruthless spirit; and he was warned not to appear at some of the appointments he had made, else his life would pay the forfeit of his personal assaults. These threats only made the Missouri lion more fierce and untamable. He filled all his appointments, bearing everywhere the same front, of ten surrounded by enraged enemies armed and thirsting for his blood, but ever denunciatory and defiant, and returned to St. Louis, still boiling with inexhaustible choler, to await the judgment. An incident that occurred at Palmyra, in Marion County, of which the writer was a witness, may be given as a fair illustration of Benton’s insulting and insufferable manner in this celebrated canvass. During the delivery of his speech, in the densely crowded courthouse, a prominent county politician, who was op posed to Benton, arose and put a question to him. ‘Come here,’ said Benton, in his abrupt and authoritative tone. The man with difficulty made his way through the mass, and advanced till he stood immediately in front of Benton. ‘Who are you, sir?’ inquired the swelling and indignant senator. The citizen gave his well known name. ‘Who?’ demanded Benton. The name was distinctly repeated. And then, without replying to the question that had been proposed, but with an air of disdain and annihilation, contempt that no man in America but Benton could assume, he proceeded with his speech, leaving his interrogator to retire from his humiliating embarrassment as best he could. At the close of the address, some of his friends expressed surprise to Benton that he had not known the man that interrupted him. ‘Know him!’ said he; ‘I knew him well enough. I only meant to make him stand with his hat in his hand, and tell me his name, like a nigger.’ meat of the State upon his appeal. He failed. The pro-slavery sentiment of the people had been too thoroughly evoked in the controversy, and too many valuable party leaders had been needlessly driven from his support by unsparing invective. An artful and apparently honest appeal to the right of legislative instructions, — an enlargement of popular rights which Benton himself had conferred upon them, —and—the unfailing weapon of Southern demagogues against their opponents —the charge that Ben ton had joined the ‘Abolitionists,’ and was seeking to betray ‘the rights of the South,’ worked the overthrow of the hitherto invincible senator. The Whigs of Missouri, though agreeing mainly with Benton in the principles involved in this contest, had received nothing at his hands, throughout his long career, but defeat and total exclusion from all offices and honors, State and National. This class of politicians were too glad of the prospective division of his party and the downfall of his power, to be willing to reassert their principles through a sup port of Benton. The loyal Union sentiments of the State in this way failed to be united, and a majority was elected to the legislature opposed to Benton. lie was defeated of a reelection to the Senate by Henry S. Geyer, a pro-slavery Whig, and supporter of the Jackson resolutions, after having filled a seat in that august body for a longer time consecutively than any other senator ever did. Thus was removed from the halls of Congress the most sagacious and formidable enemy that the disunion propagandists ever encountered. Their career in Congress and in the control of the federal government was thenceforth unchecked. The cords of loyalty in Missouri were snapped in Benton’s fall, and that State swung off into the strongly sweeping current of secessionism. The city of St. Louis remained firm a while, and returned Beaten twice to the House; but his energies were exhausted now in defensive war; and the truculent and triumphant slave power dominating, the State at last succeeded, through the coercion of commercial interests, in defeating him even in the citadel of loyalty. He tried once more to breast the tide that had borne down his fortunes. He became a candidate for governor in 1856; but, though he disclaimed anti slavery sentiments, and supported James Buchanan for President against Fremont, his son-in-law, he was defeated by Polk, who soon passed from the gubernatorial chair to Benton’s seat in the United States Senate, from which he was, in course of time, to be expelled. Benton retired to private life, only to labor more assiduously in compiling historical evidences against the fast ripening treason of the times. The Missouri senator was no longer in the way of the Southern oligarchs. A shaft feathered by his own hands —the doctrine of instructions — had slain him. But yet another obstacle remained. The Missouri Compromise lifted a barrier to the expansion of the Calhoun idea of free government, having African slavery for its cornerstone. This obstacle was to be removed. Missouri furnished the prompter and agent of that wrong in David R. Atchison, for many years Benton’s colleague in the Senate. Atchison was a man of only moderate talents, of dogged purpose, willful, wholly unscrupulous in the employment of the influences of his position, and devoid of all the attributes and qualifications of statesmanship. He was a fit representative of the pro-slavery fanaticism of his State; had lived near the Kansas line; had looked upon and coveted the fair lands of that free territory, and resolved that they should be the home of slavery. It is now a part of admitted history that this dull but determined Missouri senator approached Judge Douglas, then chairman of the Committee on Territories, and, by some incomprehensible influence, induced that distinguished senator to commit the flagrant and terrible blunder of reporting the Kansas-Nebraska bill, with a clause repealing the Missouri Compromise, and thus throwing open Kansas to the occupation of slavery. That error was grievously atoned for in the subsequent hard fate of Judge Douglas, who was east off and destroyed by the cruel men he had served. Among the humiliations that preceded the close of this political tragedy, none could have been more pungent to Judge Douglas than the fact that Atchison, in a drunken harangue from the tail of a cart in Western Missouri, surrounded by a mob of ‘border ruffians’ rallying for fresh wrongs upon the free settlers of Kansas, recited, in coarse glee and brutal triumph, the incidents of his interview with the senator of Illinois, when, with mixed cajolery and threats, he partly tempted, partly drove him to his ruin. The Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed. What part Atchison took, what part Missouri took, under the direction of the pro-slavery leaders that filled every department of the State government, the ‘border ruffian’ forays, the pillage of the government arsenal at Liberty, the embargo of the Missouri river, and the robbing and mobbing of peaceful emigrants from the free States, the violence at the polls, and the fraudulent voting that corrupted all the franchises of that afflicted territory, do sufficiently attest. It is not needed to rehearse any of this painful and well-known history. The Territory of Kansas was saved to its prescriptive freedom. The slavery propagandists sullenly withdrew and gave up the contest. The last days of the dynasty that had meditated the con quest, of the continent to slaveholding government were evidently at hand. The result of the struggle in Kansas had reversed the relation of the contesting powers. The oligarchs, who had always before been aggressive, and intended to subordinate the Union to slavery, or destroy it, found themselves suddenly thrown on the defensive; and, with the quick intelligence of a property interest, and the keen jealousy of class and caste which their slaveholding had implanted, they saw that they were engaged in an unequal struggle, that their sceptre was broken, and that, if they continued to rule, it would have to be over the homogeneous half of a dismembered Union.
From this moment a severance of the Slave States from the Free was resolved on, and every agency that could operate on governments, State and National, was set to work. It was not by accident that Virginia had procured the nomination of the facile Buchanan for President in the Baltimore Convention of 1830; it was not by accident that Floyd was made Secretary of War, or that, many months before any outbreak of rebellion, this arch traitor had wellni0h stripped the Northern arsenals of arms, and placed them where they would be ‘handy’ for insurgents to seize. It was not by accident that John C. Breckenridge headed the factionists that willfully divided and defeated the National Democracy, that perchance could have elected Judge Douglas President; nor was it by accident that Beriah Magoffin, a vain, weak man, the creature, adjunct, and echo of Breckenridge, filled the office of governor of Kentucky, nominated there to by Breckenridge’s personal intercession. And lastly, to return to the special theatre of this sketch, it was not by accident that Claiborne F. Jackson, the original mover for Benton’s destruction, was at this remarkable juncture found occupying the governor’s chair, with Thomas C. Reynolds for his lieutenant governor, a native of South Carolina, an acknowledged missionary of the nullification faith to a State that required to be corrupted, and that he had, during his residence, zealously endeavored to corrupt. We have now reached the turning point in the history of Missouri. The State is about to be plunged into the whirlpool of civil war. Undisguised dis-unionists are in complete possession of the State government, and the population is supposed to be ripe for revolt. Only one spot in it, and that the city of St. Louis, is regarded as having the slightest sympathy with the political sentiments of the Free States of the Union. The State is surely counted for the ‘South’ in the division that impends, for where is the heart in St. Louis bold enough, or the hand strong enough, to resist the swelling tide of pro-slavery fanaticism that was about to engulf the State? Years ago, when it was but a ripple on the surface, it had overborne Benton, with all his fame of thirty years growth. What leader of slighter mold and lesser fame could now resist the coming shock? In tracing the origin and growth of rebellion in Missouri, it is interesting to gather up all the threads that link the present with the past. It will preserve the unity of the plot, and give effect to the last acts of the drama. The first visible seam or cleft in the National Democratic party occurred during the administration of President Polk, in the years 1844—48. Calhoun appeared as Polk’s Secretary of State. Thomas Ritchie was transferred from Richmond, Va., to Washington, to edit the government organ, in place of Francis P. Blair, Sr. The Jackson regime of unconditional and uncompromising devotion to the ‘Federal Union’ was displaced, and the dubious doctrine of ‘States’ Rights’ was formally inaugurated as the chart by which in future the national government was to be administered. But the Jackson element was not reconciled to this radical change in the structure and purpose of the National Democratic organization; and, al though party lines were so tensely drawn that to go against ‘the Administration’ was political treason, and secured irrevocable banishment from power, the close of Polk’s administration found many old Democrats of the Jackson era ready for the sacrifice. The firm resolve of these men was manifested when, after the nomination of Gen. Cass, in 1848, in the usual form, at Baltimore, by the Democratic National 9onvention, they assembled at Buffalo and presented a counter ticket, headed by the name of Martin Van Buren, who had been thrust aside four years previously by the Southern oligarchs to make way for James K. Polk. The entire artillery of the Democratic party opened on the Buffalo schismatics. They were stigmatized by such opprobrious nicknames and epithets as ‘Barnburners, ‘Free Soilers,’ ‘Abolitionists,’ and instantly and forever ex communicated from the Democratic party. In Missouri alone, of all the Slave States, was any stand made in behalf of the Buffalo ticket. Benton’s sympathies had been with Van Buren, his old friend of the Jackson times; and Francis P. Blair, Sr., of the Globe, had two sons, Montgomery Blair and Francis P. Blair, Jr., resident in St. Louis. These two, with about a hundred other young men of equal enthusiasm, organized them selves together, accepted the ‘Buffalo platform’ as their future rule of faith, issued an address to the people of Missouri, openly espousing and advocating free soil principles; and, by subscription among them selves, published a campaign paper, styled the Barnburner, during the canvass. The result at the polls was signal only for its insignificance; and the authors of the movement hardly had credit for a respectable escapade. But the event has proved that neither ridicule nor raillery, nor, in later years, persecutions and the intolerable pressure of federal power, could turn back the revolution thus feebly begun. In that campaign issue of the Barnburner were sown the seeds of what became, in later nomenclature, ‘the Free Democracy, and, later still, the ‘Republican’ party of Missouri. The German population of St. Louis sympathized from the start with the free principles enunciated. Frank Blair, Jr., became from that year their political leader; right honestly did he earn the position; and right well, even his political foes have always admitted, did he maintain it. Frank Blair was a disciple of Benton; yet, as is often the case, the pupil soon learned to go far ahead of his teacher. In 1852, there was a union of the Free Democrats and National Democrats of Missouri, in support of Franklin Pierce. But the entire abandonment of Pierce’s administration to the rule of the Southern oligarchs sundered the incongruous elements in Missouri forever. In 1856 Benton was found supporting James Buchanan for President; but Blair declined to follow his ancient leader in that direction. lie organized the free-soil element in St. Louis to oppose the Buchanan electoral ticket. An electoral ticket in the State at large, for John C. Fremont, was neither possible nor advisable. In some districts no man would dare be a candidate on that side; in others, the full free-soil vote, from the utter hopelessness of success, would not be polled; and thus the cause would be made to appear weaker than it deserved. To meet the emergency, and yet bear witness to principle, the freesoil vote was cast for the Fillmore electoral tick et, ‘under protest,’ as it was called, the name of’ John C. Fremont’ being printed in large letters at the head of every freesoil ballot cast. By this means the Buchanan electors were beaten fifteen hundred votes in St. Louis City and County, where, by a union as Benton proposed, they would have had three thousand majority. But the ‘freesoilers’ failed to defeat Buchanan in the State. Nothing discouraged by this result, Blair resumed the work of organizing for the future. The Fillmore party gave no thanks to the freesoilers for their aid in the presidential election, nor did the latter ask any. They had simply taken the choice of evils; and now, renouncing all alliances, Blair be came the champion and leader of a self existing, self-reliant State party, that should accomplish emancipation in Missouri. He established a newspaper to inculcate free principles in the State. By untiring effort, he revived and recruited his party. He gave it platforms, planned its campaigns, contested every election in St. Louis, whether for municipal officers, for State legislature, or for Congress; and always fought his battles on the most advanced ground assumed by the growing free soil party of the Union. The powerful and rapidly increasing German population of St. Louis responded nobly to his zeal and skillful leadership. Soon a victory was gained; and St. Louis declared for freedom, amid acclamations that reverberated throughout the States that extended from the Ohio to the lakes, and from the Mississippi to the Atlantic. But, having wrenched victory from a people so intolerant as the pro-slavery population of Missouri, it was not to be expected that he would retain it easily. He was set upon more fiercely than ever. The loss of the city of St. Louis was considered a disgrace to the State; and the most desperate personal malignity was added to the resentment of pro-slavery wrath in the future election contests in that city. The corrupting appliances of federal power were at last invoked, under Buchanan’s administration; and Blair was for the moment overwhelmed by fraud, and thrown out of Congress. But, with a resolution from which even his friends would have dissuaded him, and with a persistency and confidence that were a marvel to friend and foe, he contested his seat before Congress, and won it. And this verdict was soon ratified by his brave and faithful constituency at the polls. Such was the Republican party, such their leader in St. Louis, when the black day of disunion came. And in their hands lay the destiny of the State. As soon as the presidential election was decided, and the choice of Abraham Lincoln was known, the dis-unionists in Missouri commenced their work. Thom as C. Reynolds, the lieutenant governor, made a visit to Washington, and extend ed it to Virginia, counseling with the traitors, and agreeing upon the time and manner of joining Missouri in the revolt. The legislature of Missouri met in the latter part of December, about two weeks after the secession of South Carolina. A bill was at once introduced, calling a State convention, and passed. The message of Claiborne F. Jackson, the governor, had been strongly in favor of secession from the Union. The Missouri Republican, the leading newspaper of the State, whose advocacy had elected the traitor, declared, on the last day of the year, that unless guaranties in de fence of slavery were immediately given by the North, Missouri should secede from the Union. And so the secession feeling gathered boldness and volume. Candidates for the State convention came to be nominated in St. Louis, and two parties were at once arrayed — the unconditional Union party, and the qualified Unionists, who wished new compromises. Frank Blair was one of the leaders of the former, and he was joined by all the true men of the old par ties. But the secessionists — they might as well be so called, for all their actions tended to weaken and discredit the Union — nominated an able ticket. The latter party were soon conscious of defeat, and began to hint mysteriously at a power stronger than the ballot box, that would be invoked indefence of ‘Southern rights.’ To many, indeed to most persons, this seemed an idle threat. Not so to Frank Blair. He had imbibed from Benton the invincible faith of the latter in the settled purpose of the ‘nullifiers’ to subvert and destroy the government. And in a private caucus of the leaders of the Union party, on an ever memorable evening in the month of January, he startled the company by the proposition that the time had come when the friends of the government must arm in its defence. With a deference to his judgment and sagacity that had become habitual, the Unionists yielded their consent, and soon the enrollment of companies began; nightly drills with arms took place in nearly all the wards of the city; and by the time of election day some thousands of citizen soldiers, mostly Germans, could have been gathered, with arms in their hands, with the quickness of fire signals at night, at any point in the city. The secessionists had preceded this armed movement of the Union men by the organization of a body known as ‘minutemen.’ But the promptness and superior skill that characterized Frank Blair’s movement subverted the secession scheme; and it was first repudiated, and then its existence denied. The day of election came, and passed peacefully. The unconditional Union ticket was elected by a sweeping majority of five thousand votes. The result throughout the State was not less decisive and surprising. Of the entire number of dele gates composing the convention, not one was chosen who had dared to express se cession sentiments before the people; and the aggregate majority of the Union candidates in the State amounted to about eighty thousand. The shock of this defeat for the moment paralyzed the conspirators; but their evil inspirations soon put them to work again. Their organs in Missouri assumed an unfriendly tone towards the convention, which was to meet in Jefferson City. The legislature that had called the convention remained in session in the same place, but made no fit preparations for the assembling of the convention, or for the accommodation and pay of the members. The debate in the legislature on the bill for appropriations for these purposes was insulting to the convention, the more ill tempered and ill bred secession members intimating that such a body of ‘submissionists’ were unworthy to represent Missouri, and undeserving of any pay. The manifest ill feeling between the two bodies — the legislature elected eighteen months previously, and without popular reference to the question of secession, and the convention chosen fresh from the people, to decide on the course of the State — soon indicated the infelicity of the two remaining in session at the same time and in the same place. ‘Accordingly, within a few days after the organization of the convention, it adjourned its session to the city of St. Louis. It did not meet a cordial reception there. So insolent had the secession spirit al ready grown, that on the day of the assembling of the convention in that city, the members were insulted by taunts in the streets and by the ostentatious floating of the rebel flag from the Democratic headquarters, hard by the building in which they assembled. Being left in the undisputed occupancy of the seat of government, the govern or, lieutenant governor, and legislature gave themselves up to the enactment of flagrant and undisguised measures of hostility to the federal government. Commissioners from States that had renounced the Constitution, and with drawn, as they claimed, from the Union, arrived at Jefferson City as apostles of treason. They were received as distinguished and honorable ambassadors. A joint session of the legislature was called to hear their communications. The lieutenant governor, Reynolds, being the presiding officer of the joint session, required that the members should rise when these traitors entered, and receive them standing and uncovered. The commissioners were allowed to harangue the representatives of Missouri, by the hour, in unmeasured abuse of the federal government, in open rejoicing over its sup posed dissolution, and in urgent appeals to the people of Missouri to join the rebel States in their consummated treason. Noisy demonstrations of applause greeted these commissioners; and legislators, and the governor himself in a public speech in front of the executive mansion, pledged them that Missouri would shortly be found ranged on the side of seceded States. The treason of the governor and legislature did not stop with these manifestations. They proceeded to acts of legislation, preparatory to the employment of force, after the manner of their ‘ Southern bretheren.’ First, it was necessary to get control of the city of St. Louis. The Republican party held the government of the city, mayor, council, and police force — a formidable Union organization. The legislature passed a bill repealing that part of the city charter that gave to the mayor the appointment of the police, and constituting a board of police commissioners, to be appointed by the governor, who should exercise that power. lie named men that suited his purposes. The Union police were discharged, and their places filled by secessionists. Next, the State militia was to be organized in the interests of rebellion, and a law was passed to accomplish that end. The State was set off into divisions; military camps were to be established in each; all ablebodied men between the ages of eighteen and fifty were liable to be called into camp and drilled a given number of days in the year; and, when summoned to duty, instead of taking the usual oath to support the Constitution of the United States, they were required only to be sworn ‘to policy the orders of the governor of the State of Missouri.’ These camps were styled camps of instruction. One of them was established at St. Louis, within the corporate limits of the city, about two miles west of the courthouse, on a commanding eminence. Thus the lines began to be drawn closely around the Unionists of St. Louis. The State convention had adjourned, and its members had gone home, having done but little to reassure the loyalists. They had, indeed, passed an ordinance declaring that Missouri would adhere to the Union; but the majority of the members had betrayed such hesitancy and indecision, such a lack of stomach to grapple with the rude issues of the rebellion, that their action passed almost without moral effect. Their ordinance was treated with contempt by the secessionists, and nearly lost sight of by the people; so thoroughly were all classes lashed into excitement by the storm of revolution now blackening the whole Southern hemisphere. The friends of the Union could look to but one quarter for aid, that was Washington, where a new administration had so recently been installed, amid difficulties that seemed to have paralyzed its power. The government had been defied by the rebellion at every point; its ships driven by hostile guns from Southern ports; its treasures seized; its arsenals occupied, and its abundant arms and munitions appropriated. Nowhere had the federal arm resented insult and robbery with a blow. This had not been the fault of the government that was inaugurated on the fourth of March.. It was the fruit of the official treason of the preceding administration, that had completely disarmed the government, and filled the new executive councils with confusion, by the numberless knaves it had placed in all departments of the public service, whose daily desertions of duty rendered the prompt and honest execution of the laws impossible. But the fact was in disputable; and how could St. Louis hope for protection that had nowhere else been afforded? The national government had an arsenal within the city limits. It comprised a considerable area of ground, was surrounded by a high and heavy stone wall, and supplied with valuable arms. But so far from this establishment being a protection to the loyal population, it seemed more likely, judging by what had occurred in other States, that it would serve as a temptation to the secession mob that was evidently gathering head for mischief and that the desire to take it would precipitate the outbreak. The Unionists felt their danger; the rebels saw their opportunity. Already the latter were boasting that, they would in a short time occupy this post, and not a few of the prominent Union citizens of the town were warned by secession leaders that they would soon be set across the Mississippi river, exiles from their homes forever. As an in stance of the audacity of the rebel element at this time, and for weeks later, the fact is mentioned that the United States soldiers, who paced before the gates of the arsenal as sentinels on duty, had their beats defined for them by the new secession police, and were forbidden to invade the sacred precincts of the city’s highway. The arsenal was unquestionably devoted to capture, and it would have been a prize to the rebels second in value to the Gosport navy yard. It contained at this time sixty six thousand stand of small arms, sever al batteries of light artillery and heavy ordnance, and at least one million dollars’ worth of ammunition. It was be sides supplied with extensive and valuable machinery for repairing guns, rifling barrels, mounting artillery, and preparing shot and shell. The future, to the Union men of St. Louis, looked gloomy enough; persecution, and, if they resisted, death, seemed imminent; and no voice from abroad reached them, giving them good cheer. But deliverance was nigh at hand. About the middle of January, Capt. Nathaniel Lyon, of the Second Infantry, U. S. A., arrived in St. Louis with his company; and his rank gave him command of all the troops then at the arsenal and Jefferson Barracks, a post on the river, ten miles below, the department being under the command of Brigadier General Harney. Capt. Lyon had been garrisoning a fort in Kansas. He was known to some of the Union men of St. Louis; and his resolute spirit and devoted patriotism marked him as their leader in this crisis. Frank Blair at once put himself in communication with Capt. Lyon, and advised him fully and minutely as to the political situation. He exposed to him the existence of his volunteer military organization. At his request Capt. Lyon visited and reviewed the regiments; and it was arranged between them that if an outbreak should occur, or any attempt be made to seize the arsenal, Capt. Lyon should receive this volunteer force to his assistance, arm it from the arsenal, and take command for the emergency. It should be known, however, to the greater credit of the Union leaders of St. Louis, that they had already, from private funds, procured about one thousand stand of arms, with which their nightly drills, as heretofore stated, had been conducted. As soon as Capt. Lyon’s connection with this organization was suspected, an attempt was made to have him removed, by ordering him to Kansas on the pretext of a court of inquiry; but this attempt was defeated. Thus matters stood for a time, the Union men be ginning to be reassured, but still doubtful of the end. After a while, Fort Sumter was opened upon, and fell under its furious bombardment. The torch of war was lit. President Lincoln issued his proclamation for volunteers. Gov. Jackson telegraphed back an insolent and defiant refusal, in which he denounced the ‘war waged by the federal government’ as ‘inhuman and diabolical.’ Frank Blair instantly followed this traitorous governor’s di4atch by another, ad dressed to the Secretary of War, asking him to accept and muster into service the volunteer regiments he had been forming. This offer was accepted, and the men presented themselves. But Brig. Gen. Harney, fearing that the arming of these troops would exasperate the secession populace, and bring about a collision with the State militia, refused to permit the men to be mustered into service and armed. This extraordinary decision was immediately telegraphed to the government, and Gen. Harney was relieved, leaving Capt. Lyon in full command. This was the 23d of April. In a week four full regiments were mustered in, and occupied the arsenal. A memorial was prepared and sent to Washington by Frank Blair, now colonel of the first of these regiments, asking for the enrollment of five other regiments of Home Guards. Permission was given, and in another week these regiments also were organized and armed. The conflict was now at hand. Simultaneously with this arming on the part of the government for the protection of the arsenal, the order went forth for the assembling of the State troops in their camps of instruction. On Monday, the 6th of May, the First Brigade of Missouri militia, under Gen. ID. M. Frost, was ordered by Gov. Jackson in to camp at St. Louis, avowedly for pur poses of drill and exercise. At the same time encampments were formed, by order of the governor, in other parts of the State. The governor’s adherents in St. Louis intimated that the time for taking the arsenal had arrived, and the indiscreet young men who made up the First Brigade openly declared that they only awaited an order from Gov. Jack son— an order which they evidently had been led to expect — to attack the arsenal and possess it, in spite of the feeble opposition they calculated to meet from ‘the Dutch’ Home Guards enlisted to defend it. A few days previously, an agent of the governor had purchased at St. Louis several hundred kegs of gun powder, and succeeded, by an adroit stratagem, in shipping it to Jefferson City. The encampment at St. Louis, ‘Camp Jackson,’ so called from the governor, was laid off by streets, to which were assigned the names ‘Rue de Beauregard,’ and others similarly significant; and when among the visitors whom curiosity soon began to bring to the camp a ‘Black Republican’ was discovered by the soldiers, — and this epithet was applied to all unconditional Unionists, — he was treated with unmistakable cold ness, if not positive insult. If addition al proof of the hostile designs entertained against the federal authority by this camp were needed, it was furnished on Thursday, the 9th, by the reception within the camp of several pieces of cannon, and several hundred stand of small arms, taken from the federal arsenal at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which was then in the possession of the rebels. These arms were brought to St. Louis by the steamboat J. C. Swon, the military authorities at Cairo having been deceived by the packages, which were represented to contain marble slabs. On the arrival of the Swon at the St. Louis levee, the arms were taken from her, sent to Camp Jackson, and received there with demonstrations of triumph. When Capt. Lyon was entrusted with full command at St. Louis, President Lincoln had named, in his orders to him, a commission of six loyal and discreet citizens with whom he should consult in matters pertaining to the public safety, and with whose counsel he might declare martial law. These citizens were John How, Samuel T. Glover, O. D. Filley, Jean J. Witsig, James 0. Broad head, and Col. Frank P. Blair. The last mentioned — Colonel Blair — was Capt. Lyon’s confidential and constant companion. They were comrades in arms, and a unit in counsel. Their views reading. were in full accord as to the necessity of immediately reducing Camp Jackson. Defiance was daily passing between the marshalling hosts, not face to face, but through dubious partisans who passed from camp to camp, flitting like the bats of fable in the confines of conflict. Capt. Lyon’s decision, urged thereto by Col. Blair, was made without calling a council of the rest of his advisers. They heard of it, however, and, though brave and loyal men all, they gathered around him in his quarters at the arsenal, Thursday evening, and besought him earnestly to change his purpose. The conference was protracted the livelong night, and did not close till six o’clock, Friday morning, the 10th. They found Capt. Lyon inexorable, — the fate of Camp Jackson was decreed. Col. Blair’s regiment was at Jefferson Barracks, ten miles below the arsenal, at that hour. It was ordered up; and about noon on that memorable Friday, Capt. Lyon quietly left the arsenal gate at the head of six thousand troops, of whom four hundred and fifty were regulars, the remainder United States Reserve Corps or Home Guards, marched in two columns to Camp Jackson, and before the State troops could recover from the amazement into which the appearance of the advancing army threw them, surrounded the camp, planting his batteries upon the elevations around, at a distance of five hundred yards, and stationing his infantry in the roads leading from the grove wherein their tents were pitched. The State troops were taken completely by surprise; for, although there had been vague reports current in camp of an intended attack from the arsenal, the cry of the visitors at the grove, ‘They’re coming!’ ‘They’re coming!’ raised just as the first column appeared in sight, found them strolling leisurely under the trees, chatting with their friends from the city, or stretched upon the thick green grass, smoking and reading.
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