James H Baker – Provost Marshal

James H. Baker – Union Provost Marshal

James H. Baker was Union Provost Marshal of St. Louis in 1863, later of the Department of Missouri. In his role as Provost Marshal he pursued, among others, Robert Louden, subject of the article in “North and South” magazine.

Baker was from Minnesota, having served as Secretary of State. He became a Colonel in the 10th Minnesota, later brevet brigadier-general.

Baker in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

Following are memorial tributes by fellow Minnesotans:


I met General Baker first in the political campaign of 1860. I heard him then make one of the very ablest and most eloquent speeches I had ever listened to, though I had heard speeches by Daniel Webster, Daniel S. Dickinson, William H. Seward, Joshua R. Giddings, Benjamin F. Wade, Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and many other noted orators. I say now, after hearing many speeches delivered by General Baker, that in true eloquence he was the peer of all of them, and in power the superior of all of them, Abraham Lincoln excepted. Once I heard Henry Clay, when I was in my “teens” and Clay was an old man, somewhat enfeebled doubtless by age and disappointment; but the old fire flashed as he “picked his flint and tried it again,”–at any rate, he electro-fired me. When I heard General Baker the first time (and many times after), the image of Henry Clay came before me like a flash.


James Heaton Baker, son of Rev. Henry Baker, a Methodist preacher, and Hannah (Heaton) Baker, was born in Monroe, Ohio, May 6, 1829. He graduated at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1852. In 1853 he purchased the Sciota Gazette, at Chillicothe, Ohio. In 1855 he was elected secretary of state on the ticket headed by Salmon P. Chase as governor. In 1857 he removed to Minnesota, where, for two successive terms he was elected to the same office. At the outbreak of the Civil War he resigned, and accepted a colonel’s commission in the Tenth Minnesota Volunteers. In 1863 his command was ordered to the South, and he was detached and made provost marshal of St. Louis, and subsequently of the department of Missouri, in which position he served until the close of the war, he being meanwhile promoted to a brevet brigadier generalship.

At the close of the war he was appointed register of the land office at Booneville, Missouri, but in two years resigned and returned to his farm in Blue Earth county, Minnesota.

In 1871 President Grant appointed him commissioner of pensions, a position for which he was singularly well fitted. He resigned in 1875, and was appointed by President Grant surveyor general of Minnesota. Gen. Baker has been prominent in Masonic circles, and has contributed much to the newspaper and periodical press. He was married Sept. 25, 1852, to Rose, daughter of Reuben H. Thurston, then of Delaware, Ohio, now of Mankato, Minnesota. This estimable lady died at Washington City, March 21, 1873, leaving two sons, Arthur and Harry E. Gen. Baker, since his appointment as surveyor general, has resided at Mankato. He served in 1885 and 1886 as railroad commissioner for the State.


General James H. Baker, a life member of the Minnesota Historical Society, died at his home in the City of Mankato in this state on May 25, 1913.

General Baker was born in Monroe, Butler county, Ohio, on the 6th day of May, 1829. He was the son of Henry Baker, M. D., and Hannah Heaton Baker. In his youth he attended the Firnian Academy at Middletown, Ohio, and later the Ohio Wesleyan University. For a period of time he edited the Sciota Gazette at Chillicothe, Ohio, it then being the oldest newspaper in the state. He served as Secretary of State of Ohio from 1854 to 1856, when Salmon P. Chase was Governor of that State. In 1857 he came to Minnesota, and shortly thereafter located with his family in Blue Earth County.

He was elected Secretary of State in 1859 and again in 1861. In 1862 he was commissioned, by Governor Alexander Ramsey, to be Colonel of the Tenth Minnesota Volunteers, then being recruited for service in the War of the Rebellion. He served with his regiment the first year in the campaign against the Sioux Indians, and in the fall of 1863 with his regiment went South. At the close of the war General Baker was appointed Commissioner of Pensions, and afterward Surveyor General for Minnesota. In 1881 he was elected State Railway Commissioner, in which office he served two terms.

For a time General Baker was the editor and proprietor of the Mankato Free Press. A goodly portion of his life in Blue Earth county was spent on a beautiful farm owned by him near Rapidan, where he personally engaged in agriculture, in which he was always much interested and very progressive.

General Baker was always much interested in the early history of Minnesota, and was never more at home than at the meetings of the old settlers of his county and state. He was pre-eminently a social man, an easy, fluent, and very interesting conversationalist, and hospitable to a fault. He was never more happy than when surrounded by his friends whom he always delighted to entertain.

He was a consistent attendant and supporter of the Methodist Church, and also belonged to the Masonic Order, as well as the Elks, the Grand Army of the Republic, and the Loyal Legion.

He was a power to be reckoned with in politics, and his influence was always felt in the civic and social life of the community in which he lived, and always for the betterment of conditions and of humanity in particular. The life of General Baker stands out as one of pronounced individuality, and of great strength of purpose.

On September 25, 1851, he was married to Rose Lucia Thurston at Delaware, Ohio, who died March 20, 1873. On December 23, 1879, he was married to Miss Zula Bartlett, who survives him and now resides in the homestead in Mankato.
General Baker was away in beautiful Glenwood Cemetery in Mankato. His funeral was held on Wednesday, May 28, 1913, being largely attended.


The late General James H. Baker was a man of many splendid talents. Eminent as he was as an orator, warrior, and statesman, he also possessed rare talents as an author. His numerous and valuable historical and biographical contributions found in the publications of this Society attest this fact. Among these papers are “History of Lake Superior,” “The Sources of the Mississippi River,” “Transportation in Minnesota,” and “The Lives of the Governors of Minnesota.” All these writings show great research and a masterly selection and presentation of the mass of material their author was always able to discover.

The general had a very acute mind and retentive memory, and his long life spanned one of the most eventful periods of the world’s history; and so far as this related to the “Middle West” of our own country, he had a personal acquaintance with most of the great men and a personal touch with most of the big events which went to make up that history. Hence the ease with which General Baker could always command the right material and infuse into it the very life and atmosphere it had when it was the actual reality.

Besides the very unique relation he bore to the people and the times concerning which he wrote, the general had a remarkable command of the English language and a fervid literary spirit, which gave force, fitness, and finish to every sentence he penned. His style is never dull nor florid, but always elegant, incisive, and vigorous.

His monograph on “The Sources of the Mississippi” is a valuable contribution to geographic knowledge, and it dealt a mortal blow to certain theories as to the head of the great river once in vogue. His “History of Lake Superior” did much to call attention to the world’s greatest waterway and the world’s greatest iron mines. “The Lives of the Governors of Minnesota,” forming Volume XIII of this Society’s Historical Collections, written at the eventide of our author’s life, is a fitting climax to his literary activity, being truly a great work, which will grow in worth and importance as the years go by.

Mighty was he with tongue, sword, and pen, and his passing removes from our midst one of our greatest and best citizens.

Lady With Spurs

The Lady with Spurs

by

John Fiske

Excerpted and introduced by G. E. Rule, from “The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War”, by John Fiske, 1900


Further Reading: Damned Yankee: The Life of General Nathaniel Lyon
by Christopher Phillips

Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative by William Earl Parrish

John Fiske was a well-known chronicler of the history of the United States with many books to his credit. His “The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War” starts in St. Louis, but quickly moves elsewhere. This book originated from a series of lectures Fiske gave in St. Louis in 1886 in support of a fund dedicated to erecting a monument to U.S. Grant. These lectures were hosted by William Tecumseh Sherman. Fiske clearly believes that the Civil War was won in the West, and that the Union victories in Missouri in 1861-1862 were indispensable preconditions to that victory.

“The Lady With Spurs” tells the famous story of Nathaniel Lyon’s masquerading as an old woman to scout the Missouri State Guard encampment at Camp Jackson on May 9th, 1861. This unorthodox scouting mission lead directly to the Union Safety Committee’s decision to demand the surrender of Camp Jackson on pain of immediate assault. While many believe the story, and many do not (how does a man with a beard –even if veiled—manage to successfully pose as a woman?), this is one of the few accounts that actually supplies first-hand witnesses to bolster its credibility. The second section is Fiske’s footnote giving his sources. These would seem to be nearly unassailable.



A fine cordial hospitality was dispensed at the camp in those balmy days of early May. The surgeon of [Francis P.] Blair’s regiment had dined there on the 8th, and he could have told anybody, says [Missouri State Guard] General [D.M] Frost, “that it was a very attractive place, because he saw it filled with the fairest of Missouri’s daughters, who from morn to dewy eve threaded its mazes in company with their sons, brothers, and lovers. He could also have described the beautiful United States flag which waved its folds in the breeze from the flagstaff over my tent.” from "Border City" by Galusha AndersonOne of the visitors next day came in a light open carriage then known as a “Jenny Lind,” and was leisurely driven by a coloured servant up and down the avenues “Jeff Davis”, “Beauregard”, and “Sumter”, and the rest. This visitor, dressed in a black bombazine gown and closely veiled, was a familiar sight on the streets of St. Louis, as she took the air daily in her light carriage. Everybody recognized her as Mrs. Alexander, the mother of Mrs. Blair, but nobody accosted her or expected recognition from her because she was known to be blind. What should have brought this elderly lady to Camp Jackson? Was it simply the Negro coachman gratifying some curiosity of his own?

A couple of hours later, as Blair was sitting in the porch of the southern house of the arsenal, chatting with Colonel Simmons and a few other friends, the Jenny Lind carriage drove up, and the familiar figure, in its black gown and veil, alighted and came up the steps. It was natural enough that Blair should greet his wife’s mother and escort her into the house. But as they stepped upon the threshold, a slight uplifting of the bombazine skirt disclosed a sturdy pair of cavalry boots to the eyes of Colonel Simmons and another gentleman, who glanced at each other significantly but said never a word.

LyonHad the close veil been lifted, it would have revealed the short red beard and piercing blue eyes of Nathaniel Lyon, the “little Connecticut abolitionist,” as some called him.

* * *

In my opening lecture at St. Louis, April 15, 1886, I mentioned the fact of Lyon’s visiting Camp Jackson disguised in woman’s clothes. For this statement I was taken to task in some of the newspapers, which derided it as an “old woman’s story”, too absurd for belief. I was thereupon assured by several members of the Blair family, friends of mine, that the story, although an old woman’s, was literally true. In proof thereof General Blair’s son, Francis Preston Blair III, took me to call upon his grandmother, Mrs. Alexander, a fine old lady of eighty-three. From her lips I heard the story, just as I have above given it, and she showed me the bombazine gown and close veil which she had lent to Lyon. As to the Simmons incident, it was told me by Colonel Simmons himself, who was soon afterward on Lyon’s staff, and at a later date on the staff of General Rosecrans at Stone River.


Manly Missouri Crossdressers of the Civil War

One of our visitors’ all-time favorite articles!

Manly Missouri Cross-Dressers of the Civil War

by

John N. Edwards,

John Fiske,

Cole Younger,

Absalom C. Grimes

Excerpted and introduced by G.E. Rule, from “Noted Guerrillas or the Warfare of the Border”, by John N. Edwards, 1877; “The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War”, by John Fiske, 1900;  “The Story of Cole Younger”, by Himself, 1903; “Confederate Mail Runner”, by Absalom C. Grimes, edited by M. M. Quaife, 1926

Introduction to John N. Edwards

Introduction to John Fiske

Introduction to Absalom C. Grimes

Introduction to Cole Younger


The Manly Missouri Cross-Dressers of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate, engaged in a time-honored tradition. In 62 B.C., the Roman politician Clodius put the empire on the road to civil war when he disguised himself as a woman and snuck into Caesar’s house.  Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Stuart heir to the British throne, dressed as a woman to escape the English in 1746 after his invasion to reclaim the throne of his father failed.  In modern times, early in his army career, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak cross-dressed (complete with explosives-packed purse) in order to carry off an attack on a terrorist group suspected of being responsible for the 1972 attack on Israel’s Olympians at Munich.

The curious thing is, every one of the accounts given below –told by four different authors– has the same thing in common.  Apparently, in Missouri, wearing your cavalry boots under your dress signified a fellow who was just engaging in a stratagem as opposed to one who was indicating an alternative lifestyle choice.  Or possibly they all just really liked the feel of leather against their skin beneath their frillies…. on second thought, let’s stick with the stratagem theory.


We start with the purtiest guerrilla of them all; Jesse James, courtesy of John N. Edwards:

Four miles from Independence, and back a little from the road leading to Kansas City, a house stood occupied by several women light of love. Thither regularly went Federal soldiers from the Independence garrison, and the drinking was deep and the orgies shameful. Gregg set a trap to catch a few of the comers and goers. Within the lines of the enemy, much circumspection was required to make an envelopment of the house successful. He chose Jesse James from among a number of volunteers and sent him forward to reconnoiter the premises. Jesse, arrayed in coquettish female apparel, with his smooth face, blue eyes, and blooming cheeks, looked the image of a bashful country girl, not yet acquainted with vice, though half eager and half reluctant to walk a step nearer to the edge of its perilous precipice. As he mounted, woman fashion, upon a fiery horse, the wind blew all about his peach colored face the pink ribbons of a garish bonnet, and lifted the tell-tale riding habit just enough to reveal instead of laced shoes or gaiters, the muddy boots of a born cavalryman. Gregg, taking ten men, followed in the rear of James to within half a mile of the nearest picket post, and hid himself in the woods until word could be brought from the bagnio ahead. If by a certain hour the disguised Guerrilla did not return to his comrades, the picket were to be driven in, the house surrounded, and the inmates forced to give such information as they possessed of his where­abouts. Successful, and Gregg neither by word nor deed, was to alarm the outpost or furnish indication in any manner that Guerrillas were in the neighborhood.

Jesse James, having pointed out to him with tolerable accuracy the direction of the house, left the road, skirted the timber rapidly, leaped several ugly ravines, floundered over a few marshy places, and finally reached his destination without meeting a citizen or encountering an enemy. He would not dismount, but sat upon his horse at the fence and asked that the mistress of the establishment might come out to him. Little by little, and with many a gawky protest and many a bashful simper, he told a plausible story of parental espionage and family discipline. He, ostensibly a she, could not have beaux, could not go with the soldiers, could not sit with them late, nor ride with them, nor romp with them; she was tired of it all and wanted a little fun. Would the mistress let her come occasionally to her and bring with her three or four neighbor girls, who were in the same predicament? The mistress laughed and was glad. New faces to her were like new coin, and she put forth a hand and patted the merchantable thing upon the knee, and ogled her smiling mouth and girlish features gleefully. As she-wolf and venturesome lamb separated, the assignation was assured. That night the amorous country girl, accompanied by three of her young female companions, was to return, and the mistress–confident in her ability to provide them lovers–was to make known among the soldiers the attractive acquisition.

It lacked an hour of sunset when Jesse James got back to Gregg; an hour after sunset the Guerrillas, following hard upon the track made by the boy spy, rode rapidly on to keep the tryst­ing. The house was gracious with lights, and jubilant with laughter. Drink abounded, and under cover of the clinking glasses, the men kissed the women. Anticipating an orgy of unusual attractions, twelve Federals bad been lured out from the garrison and made to believe that bare-footed maidens ran wild in the woods, and buxom lasses hid for the hunting. No guards were out; no sentinels were posted. Jesse James crept close to a window and peered in. The night was chill and a large wood fire blazed upon a large hearth. All the company was in one room, five women and a dozen men. Scattered about yet ready for the grasping, the cavalry carbines were in easy reach, and the revolvers handy about the person. Sampson trusting everything to Delilah might not have trusted so much if under the old dispensation there had been anything of bushwhacking.


Next up, that grand dame with a commanding presence; Nathaniel Lyon, as given by John Fiske:One of the visitors [to Camp Jackson, St. Louis] next day came in a light open carriage then known as a “Jenny Lind,” and was leisurely driven by a colored servant up and down the avenues “Jeff Davis”, “Beauregard”, and “Sumter”, and the rest. This visitor, dressed in a black bombazine gown and closely veiled, was a familiar sight on the streets of St. Louis, as she took the air daily in her light carriage. Everybody recognized her as Mrs. Alexander, the mother of Mrs. Blair, but nobody accosted her or expected recognition from her because she was known to be blind. What should have brought this elderly lady to Camp Jackson? Was it simply the Negro coachman gratifying some curiosity of his own?

A couple of hours later, as Blair was sitting in the porch of the southern house of the arsenal, chatting with Colonel Simmons and a few other friends, the Jenny Lind carriage drove up, and the familiar figure, in its black gown and veil, alighted and came up the steps. It was natural enough that Blair should greet his wife’s mother and escort her into the house. But as they stepped upon the threshold, a slight uplifting of the bombazine skirt disclosed a sturdy pair of cavalry boots to the eyes of Colonel Simmons and another gentleman, who glanced at each other significantly but said never a word.

Had the close veil been lifted, it would have revealed the short red beard and piercing blue eyes of Nathaniel Lyon, the “little Connecticut abolitionist,” as some called him.


Cole Younger, the crone, from his memoirs:

The Story of Cole Younger by Himself : Being an Autobiography of the Missouri Guerrilla Captain and Outlaw, His Capture and Prison Life by Cole Younger

Next morning there rode up to the picket line at Independence an old apple-woman, whose gray hair and much of her face was nearly hidden by an old-fashioned and faded sun-bonnet. Spectacles half hid her eyes and a basket on her arm was laden with beets, beans and apples.

The left rein was leather but a rope replaced the right.

“Good morning, grandmother,” bantered the first picket. “Does the rebel crop need any rain out in your country?”

The sergeant at the reserve post seized her bridle, and looking up said: “Were you younger and prettier, I might kiss you.”

“Were I younger and prettier, I might box your ears for your impudence.”

“Oh, ho! You old she-wolf, what claws you have for scratching!” he retorted and reached for her hand.

The quick move she made started the horse suddenly, or he might have been surprised to feel that hand.

But the horse was better than apple-women usually ride, and that aroused some suspicion at Col. Buell’s headquarters, so that the ride out was interrupted by a mounted picket who galloped alongside and again her bridle was seized.

The sergeant and eight men of the guard were perhaps thirty paces back.

“What will you have?” asked the apple-woman. “I am but a poor lone woman going peaceably to my home.”

“Didn’t you hear the sergeant call for you, d–n you?” answered the sentinel.

A spurred boot under the ragged skirt pierced the horse’s flank; the hand that came from the apple basket fired the cocked pistol almost before the sentry knew it, and the picket fell dead.

The reserve stood as if stupefied. That night I gave Quantrell, for Col. Hays, a plan showing the condition of affairs in Independence. The morning of the 11th the attack was made and Col. Buell, his force shot to pieces, surrendered.

The apple-woman’s expedition had been a success.


Edwards again, this time with a Union soldier who’s a real cutie-pie.  The Confederate guerrillas raided a bawdy house and used a trick to separate the 11 Federal soldiers inside from the 5 prostitutes.  However, this resulted in only 10 dead Federals. . .and now there were 6 women.    According to Edwards, Frank James spared the imposter’s life.

East of Wellington four miles there was a large house occupied by some lewd women notorious for their favors and their enticements. Poole knew the situation well, and suggested to Jarrett that a sufficient detour should be made to encompass the building. Arriving there about eleven o’clock at night, it appeared from the outside as if some kind of a frolic was going on. Lights shone from many of the windows. Music could be heard occasionally and the sound of dancing feet. Frank James crept to a back door, peered in for a few moments, and counted five women and eleven men. Some of the men were in the laps of the women, and some were so close to them that to risk a volley would be murderous. The Guerrillas waited an hour for a more favorable opportunity to fire, but waited in vain. At no time without hitting a woman could they make sure of shooting more than a single man, but Jarrett solved the problem speedily. He was dressed in Federal uniform, and after placing his men so as to cut off from the house its occupants if they once came outside, he rode boldly up to the fence in front of the premises and cried:

“Hello!” A soldier came to the door with a gun in his hand and answered him. Jarrett, authoritatively and positively, continued: “Who are you that come to this place in defiance of every order issued for a month? What business have you here tonight? Who gave you permission to come? Where are your passes? Come out to me that I may read them?”

Thinking Jarrett a provost captain scouting for runaways from the Lexing­ton garrison, ten of the eleven militiamen started confidently for the fence, receiving when half way the crushing fire of twenty concealed Guerrillas. In a space four blankets might have covered, the ten fell and died, only one of the lot discharging a weapon or making the least pretence at resistance. Frank James counted them, stooping to do so, and as he arose he remarked, sententiously: “There are but ten here; awhile ago there were eleven.” The building was entered, searched from bottom to top, minutely examined in every nook and corner­-no soldier. The women were questioned one at a time and separately. They knew only that when the man at the fence called the whole party went out together. Frank James, whose impassive face had from the first expressed neither curiosity nor doubt, spoke up again and briefly. “Awhile ago I counted but five women, now there are six.” Save four sentinels on duty at either end of the main road, the Guerrillas had gathered together in the lower large room of the dwelling house. The fire had burned low, and was fitful and flickering. Where there had been half a dozen candles there were now only two. “Bring more,” said Poole, “and we will separate this wolf from the ewes.” “Aye, if we have to strip the lot,” spoke up a coarse voice in the crowd.” “Silence!” cried Jarrett, laying a hand upon a pistol, and turning to his men in the shadow, “not a woman shall be touched. We are wild beasts, yes; but we war on wild beasts.

More lights were brought, and with a candle in each hand Poole went from woman to woman, scanning the face of each long and searchingly, and saying, when he had finished, “I give it up. If one of the six here is a man, let him keep his dress and his scalp.” Frank James, just behind Poole, had inspected each countenance also as the candles passed before it, and when Poole had done speaking, he laid a finger upon a woman’s shoulder and spoke as one having authority. “This is the man. If I miss my reckoning, shoot me dead.”  The marvelous nerve, which up to this time had stood with the militiaman as a shield and a defense, deserted him when the extremity came, and he turned ghastly white, trembled to his feet, and fell, sobbing and praying, upon his knees. Horrified by the slaughter of his comrades in the yard, and afraid to rush from the house lest he be shot down also, he hurriedly put on the garments of one of the women, composed his features as best he could, and awaited in agonized suspense the departure of the Guerrillas. Almost a boy, his smooth, innocent face was fresher and fairer than the face of any real woman there: His hair, worn naturally long and inclined to be brown, was thick and fine. The dress hid his feet, or the boots would have betrayed him at the start. Not knowing that an observation had been made before the firing, and the numbers accurately taken of both men and women, he hoped to brave it through and laugh afterwards and tell to his messmates how near death had passed to him and did not stop.


Lastly, Ab Grimes, on a Confederate attempting to escape from Myrtle Street Prison in St. Louis. This same story, without naming the prisoner, is also in Churchill’s THE CRISIS:Among other prisoners who received much attention was Captain Hampton Boone, a very handsome young man and a great favorite with the ladies. One day some of his lady friends brought in a suit of feminine attire, and dressed Boone in it, to attempt an escape. He refused to take off his cavalry boots and don the slippers they had provided for him. He thought the boots would be of value to him if he succeeded in escaping. At the outside door a guard stood on either side of the three steps leading to the street. As Boone passed out with a lady on either side of him the wind blew his dress to one side and exposed his boots to the gaze of the guard. After Boone had walked a few steps the guard started after him and Boone ran down Broadway. When he started running he began tearing the dress off with both hands. He tore off the outside skirt, but a big, old-fashioned hoop skirt, then the height of fashion, was like a birdcage and he could not tear it off. As he sprang from the street to the pavement one foot went through the hoop skirt and he turned a double somersault upon the pavement, one guard falling over him. This ended his exhibition of speed. It was in the afternoon and the streets were filled with people. Everyone laughed, including Boone. He came back swinging his poke bonnet by the strings, a guard on each side of him.

Absalom Grimes Letter to Lucy Glascock

Letter from

A. C. Grimes to Lucy Glascock,

December 1863

This letter was written to Grimes’ future wife, Lucy Glascock of Ralls County, Missouri, from an iron-lined dungeon beneath Myrtle Street Prison in St. Louis constructed especially to hold Grimes and prevent him from escaping again. Grimes had been arrested in Memphis a few weeks earlier, attempted to escape from Irving Block prison, was taken briefly to Alton Prison, then returned to St. Louis.

“Smith” is a Federal detective who was supposed to spy on Grimes and get information from Grimes on his activities. Instead “Smith” delivered a letter to Lucy, first letting the Union Provost Marshal copy it.

“Mrs. Vail” is Marion Wall Vail, Grimes’ aunt who had been exiled to the south for her role in Grimes’ mail smuggling organization. Bettie is Lucy Glascock’s sister.

The General in Memphis Grimes refers to is General Veatch, who reported on Grimes to General Stephen A. Hurlbut who, in his addition to Veatch’s report on Grimes, suggested he be kept in irons and close confinement for the remainder of the war. Neither had sympathy for the Rebel agent who was in Memphis to marry his sweetheart, Lucy, and then go south of the lines for the last time. The wedding would not take place for another year and a half.

I’ve broken the letter into paragraphs for easier reading, and did some minor spelling corrections. Blanks indicate words that could not be deciphered. Commentary notes inserted in [italics] .

Myrtle Street Prison

Dec 9th 1863

My Darling Lucy

Though misfortune for so many years has been my Lot Kind Providence in his mercy has suffered me already to be the recipient of many blessings & favors. One among the greatest is a prospect that I may let you hear from me & that I may once more hear from you. Through the kindness of a true friend Mr. Smith whom I hereby introduce to you, he has for several days been confined with me in this thing, which did I not so well know its purpose I would have under any other circumstances supposed it to have been made & intended for an Ice Box on some New Orleans Steamboat, not a particle of light but as for air there is plenty of it & very fresh I assure you as I freeze in here. I have a candle all the time when not asleep.

After you left Memphis or at least same day the 25 Ind reg’t left & with it our friend Henry [a Union guard who carried a message from Grimes to Lucy while in Irving Block prison in Memphis] therefore I did not receive the package you promised me please send it by my friend Mr. S. When I get out of this which will be some of there time but can’t say when, he will arrange so as I may get it.

I am not ironed, something very singular, but they upon my word did not iron me. So until all favors in this respect are denied me I upon honor am compelled to remain a prisoner without an attempt to help myself. [this promise arrangement only lasted about a week more]

My Darling Lucy sometimes I am almost persuaded to quit so that I might at last gain the pleasure of being with you through life. All our hopes so far have been vain. Why it is I cannot tell. One at a time when we thought they would soon be realized but alas. Abraham and his Confederates (or whatever they may be called) has interfered. We know but too well with the happiness we anticipated. But then Dear Lucy were I thus knock under & take the oath I fear you would not have the same love & respect for me for then I am no longer a man of truth and honor as I would be severing from my opinion of right. Your opinion must first be given & my Life, it will be respected ask as all your wishes & opinions for the last five years & all my promises I believe has been faithfully kept during that time to you. But as we so well know lack other more of this anon.

I attempted to escape from Memphis on 23rd of Nov. I believe was the cause of my being sent up the river. I was taken in Irons to Alton hand & foot. By Capt. Clark, Genl. Veatch’s Adjutant, three guards. My irons were taken off me there by order of Capt. C. who treated me well & in gratitude will I remember him. Two days I roomed in the best prison rooms but ah! a dispatch came from St. Louis & another piece of ordinance in shape of a 12 pounder was recommended. [ball & chain] A room to myself was also given for my use, ’twas not so large as to get lost in either, or so high up I could fall out of the ___ & break my neck. [the penitentiary cells at Alton were 4 feet by 7 feet by 7 feet high]

That did not seem to satisfy some of my St. Louis friends So on the third day a committee of one was sent to escort me to my native City & it happened to be Mr. Conners, the same man who arrested me in the fall of 1862. I was brought down handcuffed only & must acknowledge Mr. C. treated me well as did the balance of the Detectives although they are a set I must acknowledge I have not much love for & told them so but never the less as I am in their power I will in gratitude remember all the favor shown me by anyone. How long I must remain here I know not.

I must hear from you. I want to know particularly about some things which you must only by word of mouth communicate to Mr. S. when he see you do not write. I was hauled up before Genl V. in Memphis & I told him all the circumstances why I came up to Memphis & my name the first thing otherwise I believe I would have gotten a trial & let out in Memphis. I thought as Genl a gentleman & a soldier he might have compassion upon a poor fellow in my  [?]. But all But, this is the results of depending on leniency from my enemies. He addressed of being in on at least had me if I had not been in Louisville a short time back. I said I been in Memphis two nights which was all ___ on. I told him so but told him I had been a prisoner in St. Louis in Sept 1862 & escaped & also had come within 5 mile of Memphis in Oct with Mrs. Vail & Mrs Freleigh & had come in on the 7th of Nov 1863. That was all I believe Lucy.

I must now must now close but with reluctance for I look on this as the only chance I may have to write to you for a long time & I will keep in good spirits during my imprisonment & wish you to do the same & in knowing that if the time ever does come when I may be released that I go forth with a happy heart to meet you my darling once more & may God in his mercy grant that our persecutions last but a short time & in future favor us more than of late. My Dearest Love to your Ma & Pa & Bettie & all others. I now bid you farewell hoping the war may soon end & again in peace & happiness me & all other may meet. Until then I pray that God in his mercy may protect us both & good bye

Every your devoted

(signed) Abbie.

Lucy say nothing about Mr. S. coming to see you at all as he is only released on bonds & only sees you ___ & me  (signed) Abbie

(from NARA M322 roll 4, service records)

Absalom Grimes Obit

Grimes’ Obituary

A. C. Grimes, 1906 newspaper photo


Ralls County Record
New London, Missouri, Friday, March 31, 1911

Capt. Ab. C. Grimes Dead

Captain Ab. C. Grimes, a noted Confederate mail carrier, pioneer river pilot and manager of hunting preserves, died at his home, No. 437 Olive Street, St. Louis, last Monday night.

He was 76 years old and had been ill for a month.

His career was linked with the life of Mark Twain, the late humorist, as both were pilots and members of the same Confederate company.

For thirty years Captain Grimes guided river steamers through tortuous currents. On leaving the river the old soldier located in Lincoln county and managed game preserves, which were visited by thousands of St. Louisians.

Capt. Grimes moved to St. Louis four years ago.

He was twice married. His second wife was much younger than he. Shortly after his second marriage, in 1905, Captain Grimes shot a man whom he accused of insulting his bride.

The river pilot was born to the rank as his father was a pilot on the earliest boats on the Mississippi river. His mother’s brother was also a pilot and owner of steamers plying the Mississippi.

When the Civil War began Captain Grimes left the river and joined a company organized at New London, Ralls County, by Captain Theodore Brace. Mark Twain enlisted in the same company on the day that Grimes was accepted.

During the war General Sterling B. Price selected Captain Grimes and Robert Louden to act as mail carriers. These intrepid fighters smuggled mail between the soldiers in the Southern Army and the home folks in the North.

Six times the late Captain was captured by Union soldiers, but on five occasions he escaped. When taken the sixth time he was incarcerated in the Gratiot Street Prison, from where he attempted to escape and got shot.

Prior to his effort to escape he was sentenced to be hanged, but this was commuted through the influence of the late Archbishop Ryan of Philadelphia, who was then located in St. Louis. The Confederate soldier was sent to Jefferson City for confinement.

When stealing through the lines to get his mail in the hands of the soldiers on the battlefields, Captain Grimes was assisted by many women now living here who were Southern sympathizers.

After the war and his retirement from the river, Captain Grimes became manager of the King’s Lake Shooting Club in Lincoln county. He remained with the club thirteen years and then built a clubhouse a few miles down the shore of the lake. This clubhouse he named Grimes’ King Lake Club, where he lived for ten years.

Since coming to St. Louis he has conducted a moving-picture show, next a shooting gallery and lately has worked for the General Compressed-Air Vacuum Cleaning Company.

Lucy Glascock Grimes
His first wife he married in New London in 1865. She was Miss Lucy Glascock, who died in 1903. They had seven children, of whom two survive. They are Hudson Grimes, No. 3448 Pine Street, and Mrs. W.L. Mitchell, of Ferguson, St. Louis county.

The second Mrs. Grimes, Nell Tauke Grimes (1906 newspaper photo)

Mr. Grimes’ second marriage took place December 15, 1905, in Lincoln county to Miss Nell Tauke. She survives him.

The remains will be laid to rest in Barkley Cemetery this (Thursday) afternoon.

Barkley Cemetery, New London, Missouri

Absalom Grimes Bio

Grimes was a steamboat pilot on the upper Mississippi river at the outbreak of the war. Refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the United States suddenly required to renew pilot’s licenses, Grimes left the river and waited, expecting that in a few weeks the “secession disturbance would be settled.” Grimes’ own family was Union, his mother saying she had to leave her home in Ralls County because of the animosity of her pro-secession neighbors to her views. At least one of Grimes’ brothers enlisted in the Union army. Many others of his relatives, aunts and cousins, aided him in his mail smuggling at great personal risk and cost. The family of his fiancée, Lucy Glascock, was also pro-Confederate. Their wartime romance become famous.

Grimes first joined an irregular Missouri State Guard unit in Ralls County, Missouri. Sam Clemens, later famous as author Mark Twain, was a lieutenant in the “Ralls County Rangers.” Twain’s version of the adventures of this unit leans more to the serious side than the version Grimes told. (these hyperlinks take you to another site–use your back button to return here). A Twain biographer gives more credence for accuracy to Grimes’ version. Grimes later joined the 1st Missouri Cavalry CSA as a private and was captured near Springfield, Missouri. He escaped while being sent from Myrtle Street Prison in St. Louis to Alton Prison in Illinois.

Before returning south to join his unit, Grimes decided to gather up letters from Missouri families to carry with him, thus establishing himself in his wartime career, becoming “Official Confederate Mail Carrier”, with a commission as a major, for General Sterling Price’s army. Grimes was captured several times but acquired a reputation as an escape artist, once by escaping from the guardhouse at Cairo, Illinois, then from Gratiot Street Prison in St. Louis while chained in close confinement and under heavy guard.

Excerpts from Grimes’ memoirs telling of his escapes from Gratiot

(this hyperlink takes you to another site–use your back button to return here–the site has very loud music on it, you may wish to mute your audio before following the link)

The next time the Federals arrested him they were very serious about holding on to him and several escape attempts failed.

A letter from Grimes to Lucy Glascock written from prison, Dec. 1863

In the last attempt to escape from Gratiot in June of 1864, shortly before Grimes was scheduled to be hanged as a Rebel spy, two men were killed and Grimes was shot and seriously injured. This ended both his escape attempts and wartime career. Grimes was spared execution through the influence of Union friends, eventually being given a full pardon by President Lincoln.

Grimes married Lucy Glascock in March of 1865. They had seven children together but only two–Hudson D. Grimes and Lottie Grimes Mitchell–survived to adulthood. Grimes returned to river piloting, then into other careers, including the ownership of a hotel. He also owned a hunting resort in Lincoln County, Missouri. A few years after Lucy’s death in 1903, Grimes remarried to a younger woman named Nell Tauke. Grimes died in March of 1911.

A. C. Grimes obituary

Shortly before his death, at daughter Lottie’s insistence, Grimes wrote his memoirs. It’s likely he never intended the memoirs to see publication, and they weren’t published until 1926. The story he tells is true, though contains many errors in dating and sequence of events, but also contains considerable omissions. Grimes was far more deeply associated with the Confederate secret service agents operating under General Price than he says in his book. Still, the book is a fascinating story of the War in Missouri and along the Mississippi River.

Galusha Anderson – Bio

A bio of Galusha Anderson

Galusha Anderson



ANDERSON, Galusha, educator, was born at Bergen, Genesee county, N.Y., March 7, 1832. His father was of Scotch descent, and a strict Presbyterian. The boy, becoming converted to the Baptist faith, determined to become a minister. He was graduated with high honors from the Rochester university in 1854, and from the theological seminary, Rochester, in 1856. He was ordained pastor and took charge of the Baptist church at Janesville, Wisconsin, the same year. His next pulpit was in St. Louis, from 1858 to 1866. In 1866 he went to Newton, Mass., as professor of homiletics in the theological seminary, remaining there for seven years. In 1873 he took charge of the Strong place church in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he preached five years, going thence to the Second Baptist church, Chicago, in 1876. In 1878 he was made president of the Chicago university, and for eight years he endeavored, faithfully, to establish the institution on a firm footing. In 1886 he resigned, and for a short time preached in Salem, giving up his church there to accept the presidency of Denison university, which position he filled very successfully until 1890. He afterwards accepted the chair of homiletics in the Divinity school of Chicago university. Dr. Anderson was given the degrees of D.D., 1866, and LL.D., 1884, by the University of Rochester.

Johnson, Rossiter, ed.

Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans

Vol. I-X (10). Boston, MA

The Biographical Society, 1904

Thomas L Snead – Bio

A bio of Thomas L. Snead



SNEAD, THOMAS LOWNDES, soldier, lawyer, author, was born Jan. 10, 1828, in Henrico County, Va. He was a St. Louis lawyer who served in the Confederate army, and after 1865 resumed his profession in New York City. He was the author of  The Fight for Missouri in 1861. He died Oct. 17, 1890, in New York City.

Herringshaw, Thomas William

Herringshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Nineteenth Century

American Publishers Association, 1902

Snead, Thomas L., Prices Division

rank at induction: Major

rank at discharge: Actg. Asst General

“Maj. Thomas L. Snead, senior assistant adjutant general of my command, to whom I have been often indebted for vigorous support in hours of perilous trial (apart from the intelligent and faithful performance of the responsible and onerous duties of his office), surpassed himself this day in the intrepid manner with which he bore himself throughout the conflict, rallying the troops again and again, and urging them forward to the scene of action. In this work, under the hottest fire of the enemy, and until we had swept their intrenchments and carried the hill, he was faithfully, fearlessly, and gallantly assisted by Maj. L. A. Maclean, assistant adjutant-general.”

Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, July 4, 1863

Review of “Fight For Missouri” by Thomas L. Snead

Overland monthly and Out West magazine, volume 8, issue 4, July 1886

This is a book of rare merit. It covers a limited period of history, but deals with matters pregnant with the fate of the nation. In the desperate struggle for the preservation of the Union, the adhesion of Missouri to the national cause more than offset the disaster and disgrace of Bull Run. In the beginning of 1861, our author was the editor and proprietor of a secession newspaper in St. Louis, and took a permanent part in the effort to disrupt the Union. Now, after the lapse of twenty-five years, he tells the story of the struggle, from the election of Lincoln to the battle of Wilson’s Creek, on the part of himself, Governor Jackson, Lieutenant-Governor Reynolds, and other States-rights leaders, backed by a large part of the people of the State, to carry Missouri out of the Union. How and why they failed is made clearly to appear. It is the finest tribute to General Lyon and Frank P. Blair yet written, for it is the tribute of an honorable foe, who admits that every scheme and every plan formed by the Secessionists of Missouri were divined and frustrated by the penetration and resolute courage of these two men. No man can rise from its perusal without feeling profound respect and admiration for General Lyon. Our obligations to him are indeed great, and no men are more conscious of it than the foes whom he foiled. To him and to Blair belong the principal credit of saving Missouri to the Union. General Sterling Price was originally strongly opposed ot secession, but the claims of blood and association were too strong for him, when he saw that war was inevitable, and like Lee, he drew his sword but reluctantly, for the defense, as he thought, of kindred and country. His noble, generous character and magnificent courage receive fitting eulogy from our author. The battle of Wilson’s Creek, coming so shortly after Bull Run, showed the metal of which our northern soldiers were made, and is here graphically, and no doubt accurately, described. Impartiality, as near as is possible to attain, careful work, personal knowledge, and a pleasant style, commend the work of our author to his countrymen.

The Minute Men

The Minute Men

By Thomas L. Snead

A bio of Thomas L. Snead

Excerpted and Introduced by G.E. Rule

from “The Fight For Missouri”, Thomas L. Snead, 1886


Missouri Civil War Reader CD-ROM

Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I now available

The Fight for Missouri by Thomas L. Snead, 1886

The Struggle for Missouri by John McElroy, 1909

The Story of a Border City During the Civil War by Galusha Anderson, 1908

The Crisis by Winston Churchill, 1901

Basil Duke in Missouri by Gen. Basil Wilson Duke, 1911

The Brown-Reynolds Duel, 1911

Cost per CD ROM is $24.95 + $4.00 priority mail shipping

Thomas L. Snead was, successively, a pro-Breckinridge newspaperman, aide to Governor Claiborne Jackson, adjutant to General Sterling Price, and CSA Congressman from Missouri. His “The Fight for Missouri: From the Election of Lincoln to the Death of Lyon” is the best first hand account of events in Missouri from late 1860 until August of 1861. Predictably, many Pro-Union partisans regard Snead as hopelessly biased towards the secessionist’s point of view. More surprisingly, some Pro-Confederate partisans consider that by 1886 Snead was too much of a “reconstructed Rebel” and not strident enough in defending the secessionist point of view. Snead himself was not above playing hardball during the war, signing the order in 1863 on behalf of General Sterling Price directing Captain Thomas E. Courtenay to raise a corps of 20 men for secret service to engage in sabotage behind Union lines in the Trans-Mississippi.

The Minute Men were the pro-secessionist group organized in St. Louis in January of 1861. Their stated purpose was to gain control of St. Louis, and its well-stocked arsenal, for the secessionist cause. Many of them went on to impressive careers with Bowen, Shelby, Morgan, and others. In excerpting from Snead’s book those sections concerning the Minute Men, there is always the danger that the resulting piece may give an impression unintended by the author of the original work had he the opportunity to write on the Minute Men solely instead of as part of a larger work. Any perceived problems of that sort should be laid at the door of the editor, not the author.



The St. Louis secessionists were no less active than the Union men. There were few in number; but most of them were young, ardent, and full of zeal. They regretted the determination of the Cotton States to secede. They would rather have had them remain within the Union, and fight within it for their constitutional rights. But they believed nevertheless that these States had the right to secede and to establish a separate Government if they chose to do so. Whether this was a constitutional right, or a revolutionary right they did not care; nor ought they to have cared. For the God-given right of revolution is a higher and a more sacred right than any which is based upon the mere bargainings and concessions of men. The people who abandon it or fear to assert it always lose their freedom sooner or later and sink surely to the condition of serfs or slaves. To the exercise of this natural right in 1776 the Republic owes its existence. To the assertion of it by the South in 1861 the Republic owes its present grandeur, and its perfect unity.

When South Carolina seceded these young St. Louisians no longer doubted that all the Cotton States would secede and form a Southern Confederacy, that between this Confederacy and the Union war would ensue, and that in this war the whole country would take part. For themselves they were resolved to fight with and for the South, among whose people and upon whose soil most of them had been born.

Throwing aside all vain regrets and bravely accepting the inevitable, they began at once to fit themselves for war; began to learn the rudiments of the art in the school of the soldier. They were very few, however, till Sturgeon’s folly [U.S. Assistant Treasurer who had requested Federal troops to guard the treasury in St. Louis. These troops, forty in number, arrived in St. Louis on January 11th, 1861 –ed.] set fire to the passions of men and lit the flames of civil war on the soil of Missouri. Many then joined their ranks –many who had hitherto held aloof for love of the Union or for the sake of peace, but who now despaired of both.

Basil W. DukeAmong these was Basil Wilson Duke, a young lawyer from Kentucky. He was about twenty-five years of age, able, enterprising, and bold; giving promise, even then, of those soldierly qualities which eventually made him John Morgan’s most trusted lieutenant and the brilliant commander of a Confederate cavalry brigade. In the presidential election he had supported Douglas with great zeal and some eloquence, and since then had earnestly deprecated disunion and striven to stay the current that was setting toward secession in Missouri. Now he awoke suddenly to the conviction that the North was going to make war upon the South. That was enough for him. To go with his people when they were attacked; to stand by them when they were in danger, uncaring whether they were right or wrong; to share their perils, and to fight with them against their foes, was with him an instinct and a duty. He at once joined the small band of secessionists and became their most conspicuous leader. Among them he found men as brave and as earnest as he; some of them with ability equal to his own, and talents as useful, perhaps, though not so brilliant and attractive.

One of these, Colton Greene, was a prosperous young merchant, hardly as old as Duke. A South Carolinian by birth, he sympathized earnestly with the people of that State and justified their conduct in seceding. With a rather delicate physical organization, and of a retiring disposition, he possessed the sensibilities, a cultivated intellect which was both sharp and strong, courage, and determination. He was, withal, painstaking, laborious and earnest, upright and honorable.

These two, with Rock Champion a great-hearted young Irishman, and a few others as daring, were as quick to organize the Secessionists into Minute Men as Blair had been to organize his Wide-Awakes into Home Guards; and they did it boldly and openly, beginning it the very day that the Federal troops arrived at St. Louis.

Never was there a finer body of young fellows than these Minute Men. Some were Missourians; some from the North; some from the South; and others were Irishmen. Among them all there was hardly a man who was not intelligent, educated, and recklessly brave. Some who had the least education were as brave as the bravest, and as true as the truest. Most of them fought afterwards on many a bloody field. Many of them died in battle. Some of them rose to high commands. Not one of them proved false to the cause to which he then pledged his faith.

They established their headquarters at the old Berthold mansion, in the very heart of the city, at the corner of Fifth and Pine Streets, and also formed and drilled companies in other parts of the city, against the time that they could arm and equip themselves. They were hardly three hundred in all, but they were so bold and active, so daring and ubiquitous, that every one accounted them ten times as numerous.

Like Blair and the Home Guards, they had their eyes fixed upon the arsenal, and expected out of its abundant stores to arm and equip themselves for the coming fight. In that arsenal were sixty thousand good muskets, while in all the Confederate States there were not one hundred and fifty thousand more. They were barely three hundred men, and more than ten thousand stood ready to resist them; but for love of the South, and for love of the right, and for the honor of Missouri, they were willing to peril their lives any day to get those muskets. And they would have gotten them or perished in the attempt but for the advice of their leaders at Jefferson City.

These counseled delay. They believed that it was better to wait till the people should, in their election of delegates to the Convention, declare their purpose to side with the South. They never doubted that the people would do this; never doubted that they would elect a Convention which would pledge Missouri to resist the subjugation of the South, and would put her in position to do it. Sustained by the voice of the people, and instructed by their votes, the Governor would then order General Frost to seize the arsenal in the name of the State, and he, with his brigade and the Minute Men, and the thousands that would flock to their aid, could easily do it.

In anticipation of all this and of the passage of the military bill, one of whose provisions required, as has been told, the disbandment of all unauthorized military companies, the Minute Men were now organized, according to law, and five companies duly mustered into the State service by General Frost on the 13th of February.

These companies –Captains Barret, Duke, Shaler, Green and Hubbard—were then formed into a battalion, of which Captain James R. Shaler was elected major, and were assigned to Frost’s Brigade. They afterwards formed part of Bowen’s Regiment.

* * *

An event which happened on the day that Lincoln was inaugurated, and on which the State Convention began its sessions at St. Louis (March 4th), came very near precipitating the conflict in Missouri, and gave Blair and Lyon good cause to press their demands upon the Government.

St. Louis CourthouseDuring the preceding night some of the Minute Men (Duke, Green, Quinlan, Champion, and McCoy) raised the flag of Missouri over the dome of the Courthouse, and hoisted above their own headquarters a nondescript banner, which was intended to represent the flag of the Confederate States. The custodian of the Courthouse removed the state flag from that building early in the morning; but the secession flag still floated audaciously and defiantly above the Minute Men’s headquarters, in the very face of the Submissionists’ Convention, of the Republican Mayor, and his German police, of the department commander, and of Lyon and his Home Guards; and under its folds there was gathered as daring a set of young fellows as ever did a bold, or a reckless deed. They were about a score at first, but when an excited crowd began to threaten their quarters, and the rumor to fly that the Home Guards were coming to tear down their flag, the number of its defenders grew to about one hundred. They all had muskets of the latest and very best pattern. On the floors of the upper rooms were heaps of hand grenades. In the wide hall was a swivel, double-shotted, and so planted as to rake the main entrance if any one should be brave enough to try to force it. At every window there were determined men, with loaded muskets, and fixed bayonets; behind them were others, ready to take the place of any that might fall; and in all the building there was not a man who was not ready to fight to the death, rather than submit to the rule of Abraham Lincoln; nor one who would have quailed in the presence of a thousand foes, nor one of them that survives today, who would not fight just as willingly and just as bravely for the flag of the Union. Outside, too, throughout the ever-growing crowd, other Minute Men were stationed, to act as the emergency might require.

Before the hour of noon had come all the streets in the vicinity were thronged with excited men, some drawn thither by mere curiosity and by that strange magnetism which mobs always exert; some to take part with the Minute Men, if “the Dutch” should attack them; some to tear down “the rebel flag,” and to hang “the traitors,” who had dared to raise it on the day of Lincoln’s inauguration.

Everything betokened a terrible riot and a bloody fight. The civil authorities were powerless. It was to no purpose that they implored the crowd to disperse; in vain that they begged the Minute Men to haul down their flag. The police could do nothing. The Home Guards did not dare to attack, for their leaders knew that the first shot that was fired would bring Frost’s Brigade, which was largely composed of Minute Men, to the aid of their friends, and that they would also be reinforced by the Irish, between whom and the German Home Guards there was the antipathy of both race and religion. Only once did any one venture to approach the well-guarded portals of the stronghold. The rash fools that did it were hurled back into the street, amid the jeers and laughter of the crowd. Blair and the Republican leaders, unwilling to provoke a conflict, kept their followers quiet, and finally towards midnight the crowd dispersed. The next day’s sun shone upon the rebel flag still flying above the roof of the Minute Men’s quarters. But Duke and Greene were unhappy, for they had hoped to bring on a fight, in which they would have been reinforced by Frost’s Brigade, and the Irish and many Americans, and in the confusion to seize the arsenal, and hold it till the Secessionists of the State could come to their aid. They were, nevertheless, greatly elated because the people believed more than ever that there were thousands of Minute Men, instead of hundreds.

* * *

On the same day that the Governor refused to comply with the requisition for troops [On April 17th, 1861 Governor Jackson sent a strongly worded refusal of the Federal requisition of four regiments from Missouri to put down the Rebellion –ed.], he sent Captains Greene and Duke to Montgomery, with an autograph letter to the President of the Confederate States, requesting him to furnish those officers with the siege guns and mortars which General Frost wanted for the proposed attack upon the arsenal; and Judge William M. Cooke was sent to Virginia upon a similar errand.

* * *

On reaching the Confederate capital they laid their requests before the President and his Cabinet, and explained to them the purpose for which they wanted the guns and mortars. Mr. Davis, who had, at one time, been stationed at St. Louis, and was familiar with the ground, approved the plan, and ordered the commandant of the Baton Rouge Arsenal to supply the requisition. He also wrote to the Governor of Louisiana, and asked him to render such assistance as he could to the Missouri officers.

* * *

The arms and ammunition were procured at Baton Rouge and shipped to St. Louis as merchandise, and consigned to well-known Union men. At St. Louis they were turned over (May 8th) to Major Shaler, of Frost’s Brigade, and taken to Camp Jackson.

John Charles Fremont – Bio

A bio of John Charles Fremont

Fremont


Fremont, John C., major-general, was born in Savannah, Ga., Jan. 21, 1813 and was educated at Charleston college, from which he was expelled before graduation, although subsequently, in 1836, he was given his degree by the college authorities. He became teacher of mathematics on the sloop-of-war “Natchez” in 1833, on which he took a two-year cruise, and, on returning, passed the necessary examination and was appointed professor of mathematics in the U. S. navy.

He was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in the U. S. topographical engineers in 1838, while engaged in exploring the country between the Missouri and the northern frontier, and in 1842, having suggested a geographical survey of all the territories of the United States, he was sent at the head of a party of 28 men to explore the Rocky mountain region. In accomplishing this he ascended the highest peak of the Wind River mountains, which was afterwards known as Fremont’s peak. He next explored the territory between the Rocky mountains and the Pacific, then a region almost unknown, and early in 1843 started with a party of 39 men, and, after a journey of 1,700 miles, reached Great Salt lake. It was his report of this region which gave to the Mormons their first idea of settling in Utah. He proceeded thence to the tributaries of the Columbia river and in November started upon the return trip, but, finding himself confronted with imminent danger of death from cold and starvation, turned west, and, after great hardship, succeeded in crossing the Sierra Nevada range and in March reached Sutter’s fort in California. His return journey was conducted safely by the southern route, and he reached Kansas in July 1844.

He went on another exploring expedition in 1845, spending the summer along the continental divide and crossing the Sierras again in the winter. Upon refusal of the Mexican authorities to allow him to continue his explorations, he fortified himself with his little force of 64 men on a small mountain some 30 miles from Monterey, but when the Mexicans prepared to besiege the place he retreated to Oregon. He was overtaken near Klamath lake, May 9, 1846, by a courier with dispatches from Washington, directing him to watch over the interests of the United States in the territory, there being reason to fear interference from both Great Britain and Mexico. He promptly returned to California, where the settlers, learning that Gen. Castro was already marching against the settlements, flocked to his camp, and in less than a month Northern California was freed from Mexican authority. He received a lieutenant-colonel’s commission, May 27, and was elected governor of the territory by the settlers July 4. Learning on July 10 that Com. Sloat, commanding the American squadron on the Pacific coast, had seized Monterey, Fremont joined him and, when Com. Stockton arrived with authority to establish the power of the United States in California, Fremont was appointed by him military commandant and civil governor. Near the end of the year Gen. Kearny arrived with a force of dragoons and said that he had orders also to establish a government. Friction between the two rival officers immediately ensued, and Fremont prepared to obey Stockton and continued as governor in spite of Kearny’s orders. For this he was tried by court-martial in Washington, and, after a trial which lasted more than a year, was convicted, Jan. 31, 1847 of “mutiny,” “disobedience to the lawful command of a superior officer,” and “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline,” and was sentenced to dismissal from the service. President Polk approved of the conviction for disobedience and mutiny, but remitted the penalty and Fremont resigned.

In Oct., 1848, Fremont started on an independent exploring expedition with a party of 33 men, and reached Sacramento in the spring of 1849 after more severe sufferings than those experienced on any of his earlier expeditions. He represented California in the United States senate from Sept., 1850, to March, 1851, and in 1853 made his fifth and last exploring expedition, crossing the Rocky mountains by the route which he had attempted to follow in 1848.

FremontFremont’s known opposition to slavery won him the presidential nomination of the Republican party in 1856, but in the election he was defeated by Buchanan, who received 174 electoral votes to Fremont’s 114. Soon after the beginning of the Civil war Fremont was appointed major-general in the regular army and assigned to command the newly organized Western Department with headquarters at St. Louis. Soon after the battle of Wilson’s creek, Aug. 10, 1861 he proclaimed martial law, arrested active secessionists, suspended the publication of papers charged with disloyalty, and issued a proclamation assuming the government of the state and announcing that he would free the slaves of those in arms against the Union. This proclamation he refused to withdraw, and on Sept. 11, the president annulled it as unauthorized and premature.

Fremont was relieved of his command, Nov. 2, 1861, many complaints having been made of his administration, but in March, 1862, he was placed in command of the Mountain Department of Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Early in June he pursued the Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson for 8 days, finally engaging him at Cross Keys, June 8, but permitted him to escape with his army.

When the Army of Virginia was created June 26, to include Gen. Fremont’s corps, with Pope in command, Fremont declined to serve on the ground that he outranked Pope, and for sufficient personal reasons. He then went to New York where he remained throughout the war, expecting a command, but none was given him. He was nominated for the presidency, May 31, 1864, by a small faction of the Republican party, but, finding but slender support, he withdrew his name in September.

He subsequently became interested in the construction of railroads and in 1873, was prosecuted by the French government for alleged participation in the swindles connected with the proposed transcontinental railway from Norfolk to San Francisco, and was sentenced on default, to fine and imprisonment, no judgment being given on the merits of the case.

Gen. Fremont was governor of Arizona in 1878-81, and was appointed major-general on the retired list by act of Congress in 1890. He died in New York City, July 13, 1890.

The Union Army A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-65

Federal Publishing, 1908