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Posted October 3, 2002
General Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861
by James Peckham, 1866
|The Harney Regime||
Part I - Part II - Part III
Part I - Part II - Part III
Part I - Part II - Part III
GEN. NATHANIEL LYON
MISSOURI IN 1861.
SUMTER. (Part III)
THE LEAVENWORTH ORDER REVOKED.
Through influences brought to bear upon him at Washington, General Scott revoked the order sending Lyon to Fort Leavenworth. When the secesh heard of the revocation, they were almost disheartened. By some means or other, it is supposed, they had heard of the order, and the more garrulous boasted of their influence in having Lyon removed. But such a calamity was fortunately averted, and Lyon remained, to give encouragement, advice, and aid to Union men, and a means of safety to the arsenal itself. A system of signals was established, by which the Union men of the city and the Captain at the arsenal could instantly acquaint each other with the movements of the enemy. The arsenal buildings were undermined; bags of sand procured; banquettes arranged; batteries put into position; holes made in the wall, through which to point cannon; guards established at the gates, and a strict surveillance instituted over all persons desiring admission.
THE ARSENAL TO BE SAVED, WITH OR WITHOUT GOVERNMENT ORDERS.
During the interval between Hagner's refusal to comply with the desires of Lyon, and the issuance of instructions by Harney for Lyon's requisitions to be filled, the Union leaders were quite uneasy as to the safety of the arsenal. Several gentlemen, among whom were Messrs. Broadhead, O. D. Filley, Witzig, Cavender, and Harding, visited Captain Lyon, and conversed with him concerning Major Hagner. Rumors were rife at the time of an intended attack upon the arsenal by the minute-men, backed by companies from North Missouri, and along the Iron Mountain Railroad. Lyon expressed his doubts as to Hagner's loyalty, and his own determination to disregard everything necessary to save the arsenal. Mr. Broadhead remarked that, as Hagner controlled the ordnance then in the arsenal, he held a very dangerous power, and might play into the hands of the secessionists. Lyon replied, that if he caught him endeavoring to aid Jackson in his treason, by surrendering the arsenal, under any pretense whatever, he would throw him into the river. Mr. Cavender remarked that what was necessary was the arming of the Union men, then thoroughly organized, in case of attack, but that could not be done while Hagner held control. To this Lyon replied: "Major Hagner has control of the stores in this arsenal, but he treats me and my men like dogs, hardly giving us what is indispensably necessary. However, those men yonder (pointing to his company then on parade) are under my command, and if the necessity arises, you shall have the guns." Thus assured, the Union men rejoicingly pursued the even tenor of their way.
SECESH SIGNALS UNDERSTOOD.
Lyon, through the Safety Committee, was thoroughly apprised of the current facts and rumors of the city. Whether it were correct or not, they received a report of the proceedings of every meeting held by the conspirators, unless they were meetings of some small clique held impromptu. The following is a specimen of the communications frequently received by their secret agents:
St. Louis, February 28, 1861.
MR. O. D. FILLEY—Form Of oath and secret signals of the secessionists agreed upon last night, in their secret session:
"You Solemnly swear that you will obey the rules of this organization, and that you will not divulge any of its secrets, so help you God."
Red pieces of paper of this form (diamond), scattered or posted up simultaneously over the city, means to convene (day-time) immediately.
Red pieces of this form, as above, to convene at 8 1/2 A. M.
Red pieces of this form, as above, to convene at 12, M.
White pieces of this form, as above, to convene at 10, P. M.
White pieces of this form, as above, to convene at 7 1/2, P. M.
A blue rocket, and one gun fired (at night), means to convene immediately.
Whether the above be the genuine signals agreed upon or not, it is quite certain that something of the kind was adopted by the conspirators. Reports also came in of arms and cannon being stored in various parts of the city. It was not yet time to institute a search after munitions of war and Lyon was not so rash as to undertake such a movement without authority from the General Government or his more immediate commander, General Harney, and from neither was it at all likely such orders would emanate.
TRICK OF THE SECESH TO SPY INTO AFFAIRS AT THE ARSENAL.
On the 10th of April, James L. Jones, United States Marshal for the Western District of Missouri, accompanied by W. F. McBride, M. H. McFarland, Boyd M. McCrary, J. W. Murray, James S. Rains, Jeremiah Philips, and D. F. Martin, presented themselves at the western gate of the arsenal, and demanded entrance of the guard, as Grand Jurors of the United States Circuit
Court. The sergeant of the guard told the gentlemen to wait until he could notify Captain Lyon. Before he returned the aforementioned grand jurors, feeling their dignity soiled by being obliged to wait the pleasure of a "Yankee Captain," retired in disgust, and Captain Lyon visited the gate to find no one in waiting. The "grand jurors" (aforementioned) found relief for the "pent-up Utica" of their injured feelings by publishing to the world that they had, in the effort to discharge their duties, called upon Captain Lyon to inspect the arsenal, but were kept waiting so long at the gate that they withdrew. They also intimated that the delay was occasioned by Captain Lyon remaining to get his men under arms. In response to their card, Captain Lyon thought proper to publish the following
[From the Missouri Democrat, April 13, 1861.]
St. Louis ARSENAL, April 12, 1861.
To the Editors of the Missouri Democrat:
Concerning the delay, at the gate, of the United States Marshal and several members of the Grand Jury, impaneled for the April term of the United States Circuit Court, on presenting themselves for admittance to the grounds of this post, as referred to in your paper of today and yesterday, I deem it proper to observe that, under the present extraordinary circumstances of the country, the usual free ingress permitted at military stations of the Government is stopped here, and will so remain until a change is thought proper. Persons wishing to see officers here, either socially or on business, and appearing in usual numbers for such purposes, are admitted. Other parties wanting admittance will be governed by special orders, to be given to the sergeant of the guard at the gate, upon his report concerning applications. Such was the case with the United States Marshal and his party, and which could not have been foreseen or provided for; and the sergeant in charge at the gate, on reporting, was directed to return to the gate and say to them that I would meet them at the gate immediately; but before the sergeant returned they had gone. On arriving at the gate soon after, the sergeant so reported to me, and gave me a card left by the party.
Soon after this two gentlemen, named Murray and Monroe, I think, called at my quarters, having obtained admittance without difficulty, and stated they were a part of the United States Grand Jury, and in coming a little behind the other party expected to meet them here; and I then told them what had occurred, as above stated, and that I regretted they had not come in. I then voluntarily and gratuitously stated that I understood the party was a City Marshal and Grand Jury, and though this did not delay the return of the sergeant, for which they did not wait, I thought proper, under existing circumstances, to direct, before I went to the gate, a lookout for any emergency this seemingly singular arrival might require. No order was issued to put the men under arms, nor was any delay to answer the application for admittance occasioned from fear of spies or secessionists.
Your obedient servant,
N. LYON, Captain Second Infantry, Commanding troops.
It was fortunate that the guard made the mistake of saying the City Marshal instead of the United States Marshal. If Lyon had known personally who the individuals were who thus sought to make an inspection of the arsenal grounds, he would not have allowed them in that place while he held the power to keep them out. No "Grand Jury" subterfuge would have availed them. The mistake caused Lyon to ascertain the political character of those "grand jurors," and he learned enough, particularly as to James S. Rains, to satisfy himself that, if Mr. Rains ever got inside the arsenal, it would be after a terrible struggle, or as a captive.
RUMORS OF AN ATTACK.
And now, having obtained, after much anxiety and patient, earnest effort, the necessary means and authority to defend himself, Lyon increased his vigilance, and completed his plans for better self-protection. The secessionists, finding that with the arrival of Lyon their darling scheme of taking the arsenal, through a sly trick upon the Government, by the agency of a traitorous ordnance officer, was no longer practicable, talked boldly of wresting it from the authorities by force of arms, and Lyon received information from several sources that the night was decided upon for an attack. This information came in such shape that it was fully believed, and Lyon had his men under arms the entire night. About three thousand of the Union Guards were also on hand, in quarters near the arsenal, ready, at a given signal, to obey well understood orders, previously arranged between Lyon and the Safety Committee. But there was no attack; no sign even of an intended attack; and the "Citizens' Guard " passed the night in their secret armories, drinking Staehlin's lager, and singing songs that they had learned in the "Vater-land." In the arsenal all was quiet, save when the stillness of the night was disturbed by the tramp of the relieving guards.
LYON AMONG UNION MEN.
After his arrival Captain Lyon attended the sessions of the Safety Committee, and many of the conferences of leading Union men, at their several places of meeting; he also visited the several military companies, and instructed them in drill or exhorted them to persevere in the line of duty. He was always ready with words of hope and encouragement. The members of the Safety Committee were continually visiting him at the arsenal; and any known prudent Unionist was always welcome. Thus there was established among the Union men the most perfect confidence and trust in Lyon; and the latter, by his patriotism and enthusiastic expression of attachment for Republican institutions, inspired all who approached him with a firmer determination to devote life and property, if need be, in the defense of the nation. Lyon himself eagerly sought the Safety Committee for advice and support, and took no step not sanctioned by its members. He entered heartily into the policy of the committee, and conducted himself to the entire satisfaction of every loyal man.
THE POLICY OF MR. BLAIR AND THE SAFETY COMMITTEE.
It must be remembered that James Buchanan was yet President; that the army was in the hands of disloyal men; that the position of General Scott was not fully understood; that Claib Jackson was Governor of Missouri; that nearly every office-holder of the State, and a large majority of the militia officers, were either disloyal or in strong sympathy with the disloyal. The popular belief in Missouri was that there would be no war unless the "abolitionists" took the initiative. Even while Southern traitors were robbing United States mints and United States arsenals; while State after State was seceding, and Beauregard was piling up his offensive works against Sumter; while secessionists were driving Union men from Arkansas and Missouri, and imprisoning Northern people in Southern jails; while rebel flags were being raised in all parts of the State, and vast quantities of powder were being secured by rebel leaders—the popular belief remained that there would be no war unless the abolitionists initiated it. It was for Sumter to startle them from this dream.
The Union men had all this to consider. Mr. Blair knew that the delay in attacking the arsenal was because of the confidence Jackson and Reynolds had in their ability to take it at any moment. He knew that the very moment the time should come secessionists would inaugurate riot, and Jackson, with the consent of traitor officers then in the arsenal, would occupy that place with State troops, under the plea of assisting in the preservation of Government property from "irresponsible mobs." Once there, the State troops would speedily make way with the Government arms. This course seemed the most feasible, and was perfectly safe from the charge of treason. Under the color of law, the State would be put in a position of hostility to the Union, and yet remain within the Union. This was the most effective way to aid secession. It was confidently believed by many that any altercation in the streets would enable General Harney to so act as to put the Union men as offenders against the law; and that it would be so represented at Washington that the Government would recognize the claims of the State authorities to "put down mobs."
Besides, there were a great many Union men, who, though never present at any Union council, though never known to say a word in favor of their country, were loud in crying for peace. Such men dreaded the noise of the streets as much as the clangor of arms. They were quiet, good, peaceable citizens, very obedient to law (whether Federal or Confederate), upright members of society, and very respectable, and frequently wealthy men. But their votes told at the polls; they gave a moral influence to any movement, even if they refused to strengthen its physical measures for defense. It was a great point to secure this class of men, and it took much time and considerable political adroitness. Mr. Blair, in view of all these things, counseled prudence, moderation, and quiet. Let insult and opprobrium be borne for a day or two; it would not do to give Frost a chance to originate riot. Personal injury could well be borne until the day should come when resentment would be prudence, and resistance success. When the time should come to remove the rebel flag, when the time should come to tear rebel devices from rebel breasts, the order would be given by the proper authority, and flag and device would disappear.
EXCITEMENT OVER THE REBEL FLAG.
But an opportunity came very near being offered General Frost to take military possession of the city and the arsenal, under "the forms of State law," and the plea of "protecting Government property" from "irresponsible mobs." The flag flying over the Berthold mansion gave great offense to the zealous Unionists, and the more imprudent contemplated its removal. A loyal lady, from her residence opposite the Berthold mansion, one day displayed the national flag; whereupon some two or three Union men, who were passing at the time, set up a lusty cheer. The minute-men on the opposite side hissed the emblem of the Republic, and cheered their own bunting. In this way a crowd was gathered and within an hour's time the streets, for a couple of squares adjoining the Berthold mansion were densely packed with human beings, loyal and disloyal. Partisans of each were loud in their threats and denunciations, the loyal men demanding that the rebel flag should be withdrawn, and the disloyal determined to defend it. Mayor Filley, the members generally of the Safety Committee, Colonel James S. Moody, Chester Harding, Jr., and other prominent citizens exerted their utmost powers of argument, persuasion, and locomotion in restraining the excited Unionists from the commission of an overt act. The least accident would have fanned the latent spark into a terrible conflagration. Lyon was but a subordinate at the arsenal. After many entreaties by the thoughtful and intelligent of the Unionists, the rank and file accorded obedience. The crowd finally dispersed, and the threatened danger was averted.
THE FEBRUARY CANVASS.
The Convention bill having become a law, parties at once set to work to control the elections.
On the 4th clay of February, in pursuance of a call signed by men of known secession proclivities, as well as men of known Union proclivities favorable to "giving the South all her constitutional rights," a "Union" convention was held at Washington Hall, and the following gentlemen, under their auspices, became candidates for the convention from St. Louis county:
John D. Coalter, Uriel Wright,
Henry Overstoltz, D. A. January,
Albert Todd, J. W. Willis,
Wm T. Wood, N, J. Eaton,
H. S. Turner, L. V. Bogy,
George Penn, L. M. Kennett,
H. R. Gamble, P. B. Garesche.
"Deacon" J. W. Tucker, Tom Snead, and others of the clique, at the office of the "Daily Bulletin," the secession organ, presented a ticket upon the out-and-out secession platform, but before the day of election it was quietly withdrawn.
The unconditional Union men acted with great caution. The Republicans, as a general thing, were decidedly in favor of putting up a straight-out Republican ticket, upon an unconditional Union platform; but Messrs. Filley, How, Broadhead, Glover, Blair, and others of the leaders, in view of the magnitude of the occasion, advised a different course. Mr. Blair explained his anxiety to secure the aid of the State generally in behalf of the Union; and it was to be feared that the prejudice against the Republicans was so powerful that the masses, as well as the leaders, who were favorable to the Union, would refuse to support a Republican ticket, no matter who were the candidates. It was upon this idea that Mr. Blair had advised the abandonment of the "Wide Awakes" In January, and that he now advised a further abandonment of the Republican organization in the pending contest. "I don't believe," said a Republican partisan, "in breaking up the Republican party, just to please these tender-footed Unionists. I believe in sticking to the party."
"Let us have a COUNTRY first," responded Blair, "and then we can talk about parties."
A meeting of unconditional Union men was held in Mercantile Library Hall, January 31, at which Sol. Smith, Esq., was made Chairman. Resolutions of the genuine Union stamp were passed, and a committee of twenty was appointed to present to an adjourned meeting the names of suitable candidates for the convention. This committee of twenty was made up of Bell-Everetts and Douglasites. Mr. Blair was in constant consultation with this committee, and gave the movement his indorsement. By the call of the Chairman of the former meeting, all unconditional Union men were invited to meet at Verandah Hall, on the 6th of February, for the purpose of receiving the report of the committee. The meeting was largely attended, and the committee of twenty reported the following names, as unconditional Union candidates for the convention: Ferd. Meyer, George R. Taylor, Dr. M. L. Linton, H. R. Gamble, Hudson E. Bridge, John F. Long, Sol. Smith, J. H. Shackelford, Uriel Wright, Turner Maddox, William S. Cuddy, James O. Broadhead, Isadore Busch, John How, and Henry Hitchcock.
An effort was made to consider the names separately, which might have resulted in discarding several names on the ticket, had it not been for the argument of Messrs. James S. Knight, A. Mitchell, and Mr. Blair. From Messrs. KNIGHT and MITCHELL the meeting learned that the first three named were "Douglasites," the following seven were "Bell-Everetts," and the last four "Black Republicans." At this last designation by Mr. Knight a storm arose, and cries of "take it back" resounded from all parts of the hall. Mr. Knight pleasantly apologized, and was in turn cheered. Mr. BLAIR, in a speech of great power, said he did not care what parties gentlemen had belonged to. He was for a new party—an unconditional Union party—for a party that would stand by the Union in any emergency, and he was satisfied with the ticket as it was presented. He was for remaining in the Union, and in St. Louis too, whether the State went out or not. If Missouri seceded, he was for St. Louis seceding from Missouri; and he wanted all the help he could get to keep her in the Union. In the crisis that was upon us, men must cease to belong to parties, and belong, for the time, to the country. It was not a season to talk about individual preferences. What was wanted he felt would be cordially granted, and that was a perfect forgetfulness of party organizations, in the determination to save the Union!
The motion to consider the names separately was then withdrawn, and the whole ticket was nominated amid great enthusiasm. Subsequently George R. Taylor, William S. Cuddy, and Turner Maddox declined being candidates, and T. T. Gantt, Samuel M. Breckenridge, and Robert Holmes were selected to fill the ticket. In their letters of declination both Taylor and Maddox declared their fidelity to the Union cause. This unconditional Union ticket was elected on the 18th of February, in St. Louis county, by nearly six thousand majority. Although on the conditional Union ticket, also, Messrs. Gamble and Wright committed themselves to the Union under all circumstances. Wright afterwards turned traitor, and went South.
Throughout the State the Union ticket, as opposed to the Democratic ticket, was generally successful—the aggregate majority amounting to over 80,000.
It had been anticipated in St. Louis that the minute-men and secessionists would attempt to overawe voters at the polls, and Major Filley had provided a special police force to preserve the peace. This special force consisted of whole companies of the UNION GUARD, which Captain Lyon agreed to arm if necessity should call for it. But the election passed off in perfect quiet.
APPOINTMENT OF "PEACE COMMISSIONERS."
On the 4th of February, the Legislature, by joint resolution, appointed Waldo P. Johnson, J. D. Coalter, Ferdinand Kennett, Hugh Buckner, A. W. Doniphan, and David R. Atchison, commissioners, on the part of Missouri, to attend the Peace Conference to be held in Washington City, for the purpose of arranging "terms of settlement." It was alleged that a majority of this delegation were avowed secessionists; but whether they were or not, it is certain the secessionists in Jefferson City reposed in them the utmost political confidence.
GOVERNOR JACKSON REFUSES TO COMMISSION A LOYAL OFFICER.
A new militia company of engineers having been formed, to be called the Second Company of National Guards, the members proceeded according to military law to elect a Captain; which they did in the person of George L. Andrews, a member for some past time of the First Company of National Guards. General Frost forwarded the result of the election to the Adjutant-General, but Claib Jackson refused to issue the commission. The following will explain the grounds of his refusal:
OFFICE ADJUTANT-GENERAL, MO.,
JEFFERSON CITY, February 4, 1861,
GENERAL D. M. FROST:
I am instructed by the Governor to say that he declines issuing a commission to George L. Andrews, Captain of Company B, Battalion of Engineers, believing the qualifications by him annexed to the oath prescribed by law, and his declaration of paramount allegiance to the Government of the United States in case of conflict between the State of Missouri and said Government, to amount to military insubordination in advance, and to be inconsistent with the requirements of the law.
WARWICK HOUGH, Adjutant-General of Mo. (A true copy.)
WM. D. WOOD, Major & A. A. G.
SCENES IN JEFFERSON CITY IN FEBRUARY.
The conspirators had a "hard road to hoe" in the Legislature. There were but fifteen members of that body who were, reliably, unconditionally Union. They were Stevenson, Hanna, Moore, Coste, Doyle, Cavender, Miller, Doehn, Friede, Partridge, and Peckham (Republicans), from St. Louis, Owens of Franklin, Lawson of Washington, and Lawson of Platte, in the House, and Dr. Morris in the Senate. There were fifty-three straight-out secessionists, and the balance were timid time-servers, influenced by surrounding circumstances. Whenever the conspirators desired to force through a favored measure, they adopted some plan of producing excitement, and brought all their "whippers-in" to bear at the given signal. I will relate an incident of this kind.
Until within a day or two of the February election (18th), the secessionists confidently believed they would carry St. Louis; but they became convinced their cause was desperate, and the leaders adopted the plan of overawing the people by means of executive interference. They, therefore, on the day before the election, telegraphed the Governor that, unless he interfered, the abolitionists would subvert and capture everything. Jackson, rushing with the dispatch to the Senate Chamber, submitted a special message, asking for authority to call out the militia, in view of the threatening condition of affairs, for the purpose of "keeping the peace" and subduing "irresponsible mobs." Churchill, in great haste, pushed a bill through the Senate, and had it immediately introduced into the "lower branch," where Vest undertook to act as engineer. An effort was made to suspend all business until this "measure of stupendous importance" could be disposed of. It was disposed of. Thomas L. Price (of Cole county), and John D. Stevenson (of St. Louis), so ridiculed the thing that, on the motion to "suspend the rules," the vote stood fifty-four ayes to thirty-four nays, and the motion was lost, the necessary two-thirds not having been recorded in its favor. When it could be regularly brought up, the election was over. In the Senate, the only opponents to the bill were Senators Morris, Wilson, and Newland; eighteen senators voted for it.
The secessionists in the Legislature, mortified at the results of the election and fearing the power of the convention, introduced resolutions defining the duties of the convention under the act calling them together, and restricting them from transacting any general business. Upon this measure the discussion was so prolonged that the matter was dropped. When the convention met in Jefferson City, on the 28th of February, it adjourned to meet in St. Louis, after three days' session.
During this time the emblem of the rebellion was suspended from the window of a building opposite the Post Office. Several members of the Legislature made it a point to always take off their hats and bow when they passed beneath this bunting. I remember Dougherty, of Cape Girardeau, as being the most formal, but there were others as enthusiastic as himself; none more so than Munroe Parsons and —— Freeman (of Polk county). These men are no longer living.
The Legislature in joint convention, after quite a number of ballotings, elected Waldo P. Johnson, a secessionist, in place of James S. Green, whom the timid would not vote for. An effort was made to secure Senator Thomas B. English to the secession side; but that gentleman addressed the joint session, declaring his fidelity to the Union and his opposition to secession. He was supported by the moderates.
On the 1st of March, Mr. Luther N. Glenn presented himself in Jefferson City, and at the Executive Mansion, as the "Commissioner from the State of Georgia," then in rebellion. He was received by Jackson and Reynolds with open arms, and promised distinguished consideration. That night be was honored with a serenade at the Virginia Hotel, and in response to the call of the assembled crowd, appeared upon the balcony, escorted by Governor Jackson. The Governor introduced this man as "the Hon. Mr. Glenn, from our Southern sister State of Georgia, with whose interests Missouri is eternally identified." Glenn then spoke at considerable length, declaring himself a rebel, and arguing that Missouri was in honor bound to sustain the seceded States. He was followed by the Governor, who also spoke at considerable length. The burden of the Governor's speech was to the effect that the day for compromises had passed; the Southern States were obliged, in self-defense, to sever their connection with the abolition North, and Missouri was certain to go with her Southern sisters. He could imagine no compromise he would accept; and the most favorable conditions which the North could possibly offer would only increase his hostility to the Union.
Both speeches were enthusiastically cheered by the crowd, which was largely attended by members both of the Legislature and the convention. The next day the Senate hurried through a joint resolution, which was at once whirled through the House, providing for a joint session of the Legislature, to receive in state the Honorable Commissioner from Georgia.
CAPTAIN LYON ON THE ALERT.
The proceedings at Jefferson City, and the conduct of secessionists everywhere in the State, were fully communicated to Captain Lyon, and awakened within him the most serious apprehensions. He conversed freely with his friends as to the best policy to pursue. Of one thing he expressed himself as fully determined—the arsenal property should never be surrendered or taken while he remained in a position to prevent it. The force at the arsenal had been further increased by the arrival of more recruits from Newport Barracks, and other troops, under Capt. Saxton and Lieut. Lothrop. Lyon, Sweeney, Saxton, and Lothrop were assiduous in their duties of drilling and disciplining their commands, and in their efforts to counteract threatened dangers. The arsenal was put in a state of complete defense. Around the inside of the wall banquettes were arranged, and at proper places field and siege pieces placed in position, and protected by earthworks and sand-bags. The building known as the main arsenal was undermined, and powder enough placed under it to effectually destroy building and contents when necessary to ignite it. Lyon determined the arsenal and himself should be a ruin before the secessionists should have it.
HE IS PRUDENT AND POLITIC.
It was extremely fortunate that the defenses of the arsenal at that time were in the hands of an officer who was conscious of the exact nature of the ground over which he was treading. Harney was his superior commander, and he felt Harney would not sustain him in any step to avert peril, by anticipating its dangers. He knew the conspirators to be plotting for the seizure of his command, and he knew them also to be in constant conference with his General. While he could scarcely doubt the loyalty of General Harney, he felt that he knew him to be in no fellowship or sympathy with the real lovers of the Union. Any action he might take to oust the secession element from St. Louis, or to prohibit their treasonable demonstrations, would (in his mind) be counteracted by the imperative orders of General Harney, if it did not culminate in his own arrest. He was not rash enough to suppose he could suppress secession in St. Louis, unless he had the countenance of the Government, and it was his study to avoid the responsibility of assuming the onus of initiating civil war.
THE POWDER PURCHASE BY JACKSON.
There was, in April, 1861, a large quantity of powder in the hands of certain parties in St. Louis, which Jackson desired to purchase, and which the Safety Committee desired he should not purchase. These parties, when spoken to concerning the proposed sale, were earnestly urged not to sell to the rebels; and when they pretended to fear that it would be seized if not sold, they were assured of the protection of the Government and of the troops at the arsenal. They declined, however, to do else than sell the powder to the Governor on account of the State, and Mr. Oliver D. Filley counseled Captain Lyon to seize it. Although the new administration was now in power, its very conduct induced Lyon to adhere to his policy of caution. He doubted the propriety of seizing the powder at the time, fearing that Harney would order its return, and the timid Government would remove him from a place where he was so useful to the cause, in obedience to the clamorings of disguised conspirators. It was after consulting at length with Mr. Filley that he decided not to interfere with the powder.
While Camp Jackson was in existence this powder was bought by the rebels from its owners and agents, and transferred on a steamer to Jefferson City, where it arrived on the Thursday preceding the capture of the camp. Captain Joseph Kelly, with his company (the Washington Blues), was detailed to accompany the steamer.
HAGNER SHALL NOT SURRENDER.
It will be understood that Captain Lyon was in command only of the defenses of the arsenal; Major Hagner controlled the vast stores in its buildings. Whatever be wanted had to be drawn by Lyon upon a requisition on Hagner, approved by Harney. Mr. James O. Broadhead called upon Lyon one day, and told him that he feared Major Hagner might be induced to play into the hands of the rebels, and under some pretext or other place arms in the hands of the Governor, under the same pretext that Major Bell had loaned artillery and muskets to Governor Stewart for the Southwest expedition. Lyon assured Mr. Broadhead that he would keep an eye on the movements of Major Hagner and stop all such proceedings.
"How will you proceed to stop it?" inquired Broadhead; "he has control of the guns and stores."
"If he attempts," responded Lyon, and his clear, blue eyes shone with unwonted lustre, "to throw these guns into Jackson's hands, I'll shoot him down like a dog."
THE MUNICIPAL ELECTION OF APRIL, 1861.
Next to the arsenal, the conspirators desired most the possession of the municipal government of the city of St. Louis. In order to accomplish this, they selected from the ranks of the old Bell-Everett party, a gentleman of great popularity, whose position, though not in known accord with the secessionists, was yet reliably hostile to the Republicans. The Republicans endeavored by placing upon their tickets representatives of all the parties who adhered unconditionally to the Union, to effect the same results as in the February election, but so confident were they of success that they were less active than the occasion required, and Mr. Daniel G. Taylor, the opposition candidate, was successful at the polls. The secessionists supported Mr. Taylor upon the supposition that he would be led into the rebellion through his hostility to the Republicans; but Mr. Taylor, while demanding for the South conditions and guarantees, refused to identify himself with the active partisans of the rebellion.
At their success in the canvass the Democracy were overjoyed, and a grand public demonstration followed, in the nature of a procession and magnificent serenade to Mr. Taylor, at his residence. It happened that at the time the steamer "H. R. W. Hill," engaged in the New Orleans trade, was lying at the levee. She had, on her voyage up, claimed to belong to the Southern Confederacy, and had had a Confederate flag flying in place of the stars and stripes. The officers and employees of the boat determined to take part in the procession, in compliment to Mr. Taylor, whom they all knew and admired; and consequently placed their yawl upon trucks, rigged it up in ship fashion, and placed upon its foremast the rebel flag. The appearance of this rebel emblem in the procession excited the indignation of the loyalists. Colonel J. N. Pritchard, who was standing with General Frost and Major McKinstry, on the corner of Second and Chestnut streets, became quite agitated, but was restrained by Frost from making any violent demonstrations. The telegraph wires interfered with the continual remaining of the boat in the procession, and its driver took a direct road for the meeting-place, at the Seventh Street Market. At this place Colonel Pritchard overtook the boat and demanded it should pull down the rebel flag. The man in charge, a pilot, refused, and the Colonel sought for and found N. Wall, Esq., the Marshal of the procession. Mr. Wall complied with the demand of Colonel Pritchard, and ordered the flag down, but the boatmen refused, and withdrew from the procession.
The candidate for the mayoralty, of the unconditional Union party, was the Honorable John How, an old and esteemed citizen, who had previously been honored by his fellow-citizens by election to that responsible office, and had attained popularity and an absolute degree of public confidence by his faithful performance of duty and unflinching personal integrity. The Unionists could have selected no man as their candidate who could have commanded, to a greater degree, the confidence of the public, aside from his position of unqualified loyalty, which even in that troubled time was tempered with moderation, forbearance, and thought. Mr. How was a member of the Safety Committee, and in continual conference and sympathy with Captain Lyon.
THE POLICE COMMISSION.
A few days after the election of Mayor Taylor, Claib Jackson, in accordance with the provisions of the new police law, appointed as Police Commissioners Charles McLaren, Basil W. Duke, James H. Carlysle, and John A. Brownlee. The Mayor, by virtue of his office, was President of the board. By these appointments the Governor secured a majority of the board in his own interest, and considered the city of St. Louis, even against a possibly obnoxious Mayor, as completely in his hands.
The Board of Police Commissioners was no sooner organized than a number of merchants, of secession proclivities, conceived the idea of an organization to aid the board in the performance of their required duties. Consequently a meeting was called, which convened in the office of the American Insurance Company, over the Boatmen's Savings Institution. The prime mover in this matter was Dr. S. R. Clark. The movement threatened to become a success by the infusion of a loyal element, and the prevalence of ideas favorable to the Union. In order to counteract this, a motion was made, in one of the early meetings, to prohibit the admission of any "Black Republican." This created intense feeling, and withdrew the mask which the conspirators had fixed upon the face of the society. Upon this rock they split, and the organization was a failure. The young men, however, who had been seduced into its ranks by representations of necessity to stand by the State, against Yankee abolitionists, who designed to tyrannize over freemen, were encouraged by their secession employers to join the ranks of the minute-men. Many of them did so.
ELECTION OF CHIEF — THE COMMISSION AND THE "NIGGER."
The Police Board elected as Chief of Police Mr. James McDonough, a prominent politician of the city, formerly State and County Collector for the county, and a straight-out Democrat. No matter what may have been Mr. McDonough's personal feelings in the "impending crisis," certainly did he perform the duties of his office in maintaining the peace with great success, regardless of consequences to personal friend or foe.
Almost the first act of the new commission was to legislate for the "nigger." It was resolved at once that the inoffensive "darkeys" should not be permitted to meet in a body in any place of public worship, nor elsewhere, without first notifying the Chief of Police, and having a policeman detailed to be constantly in attendance until the meeting should disperse. The conspirators must have feared what the Republicans had entirely overlooked. No one of the Unionists thought at that time of relying upon the three or four thousand negroes in the city for assistance in case of armed conflict. The idea of allowing Sambo to fight was a later development of the war. If this thought had been seized upon in 1861, what a wonderful difference there might have been in results; the most violent radicals of to-day, in Missouri, would then more probably have openly opposed the Government that adopted it; but Sambo would have protected the Federal rear, while the "Federals" were pushing the "Confederates" to the Gulf.
THE COMMISSION FIND OUT LYON.
Captain Lyon, in order for the better security of his little command, established sentinels at posts outside the arsenal, with orders to give an arranged signal at the approach of any body of men in unusual numbers. Mr. Brownlee, in behalf of the Board of Police, informed Captain Lyon that it was the desire of the board he should withdraw his sentinels to within the arsenal, as he was encroaching upon the domain of the city authorities. Captain Lyon indignantly returned answer that he should not withdraw his sentinels; on the contrary, that he should strengthen them; and if the police interfered with them, they would do so at their peril. The police did not interfere.
The conspirators being in readiness, rebel cannon began their murderous work upon the little garrison at Fort Sumter. The "North" was aroused to the highest pitch of martial enthusiasm. The traitors had been carrying on "war" for some time, as Mr. Blair said in his Verandah Hall speech on the 7th of February, "by stealing empty forts and full treasuries." In this FORT SUMTER there were men who did not see fit to yield without a struggle. As that parricidal blow fired the Northern heart, it also fired the Southern. In St. Louis the traitors received the news with every manifestation of delight. They were more than usually noisy, and pursued their way undisturbed. Republicans, frequently insulted, thought it best to avoid difficulties, knowing very well that, in any attempt to resent, others would become involved, and the cause suffer thereby. The city authorities were mistrusted; the State authorities were known to be traitors; there were officers at the arsenal whom even Lyon mistrusted, and the rebels went about in groups; so there was but little chance for self-defense, unless involving chances of riot. The great injunction was: "Avoid trouble. Suppose they do brag, and blow, and blaspheme, and hurrah for Jeff. Davis: let them go on until we know where we stand, and then we can have redress." This injunction was faithfully kept; known Republicans avoided public places; the expressions of belligerent youths were passed by unnoticed, and pretexts for calling out State troops to suppress "mobs" were thereby rendered impossible.
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