Posted January 8, 2003


General Nathaniel Lyon and Missouri in 1861

by James Peckham, 1866


Part I - Part II - Part III

Camp Jackson

Part I - Part II - Part III

The Harney Regime

Part I - Part II - Part III

Wilson's Creek

Part I - Part II - Part III


Part I - Part II - Part III

Return to Civil War St. Louis






 Camp Jackson. (Part II)

Illustrations on this page not from original text



During these days the Captain was overwhelmed with work. He made every effort to secure the necessary means for the comfort of the new recruits. The large buildings in the arsenal were turned into barracks for the enlisted men, and lumber was obtained with which quarters were built upon unoccupied ground in the enclosure. Lyon gave up his own quarters to officers of the new regiments, and himself and Adjutant-General Chester Harding, Jr., occupied the little attic room in the cottage, to the north of the main arsenal building. Considerable engineering had been done inside the walls, and the arsenal was already in splendid condition for stubborn defense. In his provisions for the new army he was forming he shrank from no responsibility, leaving it for the Safety Committee to make the necessary explanations, and remove complaints, if any came from Washington. It had been his object to save the arsenal; he now contemplated the project of saving Missouri.


Camp Jackson

On Friday, May 3, 1861, the several militia organizations of St. Louis, which had been in existence for some time, as well as the recent companies sworn into the State service, repaired to "Lindell Grove," at the western end of Olive street, in obedience to the order of Brigadier-General of State Militia D. M. Frost, and there established a camp, which was named by the commandant " Camp Jackson," in honor of the patriotic (ironically speaking) Governor of Missouri, who had evinced his judgment by telegraphing to President Lincoln that Missouri would not furnish a single man, &c. The camp was laid out according to military rules, and the several avenues were named after prominent secessionists of the States already in rebellion. Thither repaired large numbers of young men who had been educated to believe that the South was right, and the North all wrong, and the success of the Republican party a cause for righteous war. The old companies reported at the camp almost disintegrated, but these new recruits filled the ranks up to respectable numbers.

Although, of the old companies, many of the Union men had left—had joined the regiments at the arsenal, or had declined longer obedience to Claib Jackson—there were quite a number who did obey the order of General Frost, and performed duty at the camp. But their stay there was rendered exceedingly unpleasant, because of the treasonable talk of a very large majority of both officers and men, and their formal recognition and adoption of the rebellion by naming the streets of the camp in honor of rebels who had battered Fort Sumter.

As I have detailed the organization of the Union forces under Lyon, I will here detail the organization (understood to be rebel) under Frost. There was not unconditional Unionism enough there to leaven the smallest portion of the lump, although some of them afterward did noble work in the Union armies.


MAY 3, 1861.

Brigadier-General D. M. Frost . . Commanding.

Lieutenant-Colonel R. S. Voorhies . . Adjutant-General.

Major N. Wall . . . . . Commissary.

Major Henry W. Williams . . . Quartermaster.

Joseph Scott, M.D. . . . . Surgeon.

Major William D. Wood . . . Aid-de-Camp.


Lieutenant-Colonel John Knapp, Commanding.

Captain N. Hatch . . . . A. Q. M. and A. C. S.

Captain John B. Drew . . . . Paymaster.

Lieutenant W. C. Buchanan . . . Adjutant.

A. J. P. Garesche . . . . . Judge-Advocate.

Louis T. Pimm, M.D. . . . Surgeon.

Company A. St. Louis Grays. Martin Burke, Captain; Stephen O. Colman, First Lieutenant; H. B. Belt, Second Lieutenant; R. N. Leonori, Third Lieutenant. Fifty-one rank and file.

Company B. Sarsfield Guards. Charles W. Rogers, Captain; Thomas Curley, First Lieutenant (absent on Southwestern expedition); Hugh McDermott, Second Lieutenant. Forty-six rank and file.

Company C. Washington Guards. Robert Tucker, First Lieutenant (commanding); Thomas

Moylan, Second Lieutenant; Cornelius Heffernan, Third Lieutenant. Forty-eight rank and file.

Company D. Emmet Guards. Philip W. Coyne, Captain.

Company E. Washington Blues. Joseph Kelly, Captain.; T. M. Furbar, Second Lieutenant. Forty-five rank and file.

Company F. Laclede Guards. Fraser, Captain.

Company G. Missouri Guards. George W. West, Captain.

Company H. Jackson Guards. George W. Fletcher, Captain; J. M. Henning, First Lieutenant; William Morony, Second Lieutenant; John Bullock, Third Lieutenant. Forty-six rank and file.

Company I. Grimsley Guards (organized Thursday night, May 2, 1861). R. N. Hart, Captain; Thomas Keith, First Lieutenant; R. C. Finney, Second Lieutenant; John Gross, Third Lieutenant. Forty-eight rank and file.

Company K. Davis Guard. James Longuemare, Captain; L. Kretschmar, First Lieutenant; A. Hopton, Second Lieutenant; Julius Ladue, Third Lieutenant. Sixty-five rank and file.

Squadron of Dragoons. Emmett McDonald, Captain.


John S. Bowen. . . . . Colonel.

A. E. Steen. . . . . . Lieutenant-Colonel.

J. R. Shaler. . . . . . Major.

Engineer Corps of National Guards (former two companies of National Guards merged in one). William H. Finney, First Lieutenant; Charles Perrine, Second Lieutenant; John M. Gilkerson, Third Lieutenant. On the ground May 6. Forty rank and file.

Company A. Independent Guards. Charles Fredericks, Captain; Oliver Collins, Second

Lieutenant. Charles McDonald, Third Lieutenant.

Company B. Missouri Videttes. O. W. Barrett, Captain. Forty-five rank and file.

Company C. (Minute-men.) Basil W. Duke, Captain (the Morgan raider).

Company D. McLaren Guards (Minute-men). Sandford, Captain. Sixty-one rank and file.

Company E. (Minute-men). Colton Greene, Captain.

Company F. Jackson Grays (Minute-men). Garland, Captain. Sixty-five rank and file.

Company G. Dixie Guards (Minute-men). Campbell, Captain. Forty-eight rank and file.

Company H. Southern Guards (Minute-men). J. H. Shackelford, Captain. Forty-five rank and file.

Company I. Carondelet Rangers. James M. Loughborough, Captain. Fifty rank and file.

The State law, under the old militia bill, authorized the annual existence of such a camp as this, in each military district, for six days. Since Jackson had issued his order for this gathering of the militia, the Legislature had organized, and every indication pointed to a speedy adoption of the new military bill. It was expected to continue the camp under the provisions of the latter. The design of the conspirators was to fill Camp Jackson with secessionists from the interior of the State, and such were constantly arriving after the formation of the camp. By Thursday and Friday, so numerous were the arrivals that it was contemplated forming a third regiment.

General Frost, undoubtedly, as it was thought, with the intention of attempting the capture of the arsenal, contemplated moving his camp to the elevated ground, about a quarter of a mile a little south of west of that place. His engineer inspected the ground, and reported favorably. It was given out that the purpose of the contemplated change was to instruct the command in the lessons of civil engineering and fortifications. Frost thought proper, however, to inform Lyon of the intended change; but Lyon declared, in decided and unmistakable terms, that if any one, not authorized by him, stuck a peg or a spade in the selected ground, or on any other spot within shelling distance of the arsenal, he would turn his guns there, and salute the party with the music of shot and shell. Frost did not make the change.

On the third day of the encampment the reporter of the Missouri Democrat, while quietly visiting the camp, was brutally maltreated by some ruffians, who struck him from behind.


On Wednesday night, May 8, the steamer J. C. Swon, just from New Orleans, loaded with arms, cannon, and ammunition, from the arsenal at Baton Rouge, La. (which the traitors had surprised and captured from the United States Government), discharged her freight at the levee at St. Louis. The material above described, which had been obtained through the agency of Colton Greene, acting as an agent of Claib Jackson, from the rebel authorities of the seceded States, was that same night removed to Camp Jackson. It is stated that from fifty to one hundred dray-loads were included in this murderous freight. Greene saw the goods safely lodged inside the camp, and on the morning of the 10th of May, accompanied by a company from the camp, he proceeded on the cars to Jefferson City with some of the stolen munitions of war.

Lyon was cognizant of the whole proceeding, and had a strong notion to seize the boat at the levee before she could unload; but after conversing with Mr. Blair, he agreed with the latter, and concluded to allow the material to be received in the camp, thus furnishing additional evidence of the treasonable nature of the camp. The Safety Committee met at the same time, and were strongly urged to seize the property before it could be taken to Lindell Grove, but they also agreed with the plan adopted by Lyon. The latter had already designed capturing the whole camp, but the opposition of a majority of the Safety Committee, upon a merely legal point, caused him to delay the movement. He now felt it his duty to act.

It will be well enough to state that the Safety Committee had for a long time back known of the mission of Colton Greene, and also of his expected return. Mr. Broadhead had employed a detective at his own expense, and had dispatched him to Cairo with letters to General Prentiss; but Greene evaded the vigilance of the detective, and passed up undiscovered.


During the afternoon of Tuesday, May 7, Lyon requested Colonel Blair, Lieutenant-Colonel Chester Harding, and Franklin A. Dick to walk with him from his quarters, where they and others were at the time, to a room in the ordnance building, where they could be alone and undisturbed. After reaching the selected place and closing the door, Lyon began pacing the floor as if in deep thought, but abruptly halting, he said: "Mr. Dick, we must take Camp Jackson, and we must take it at once." He then proceeded to explain that, from information he considered reliable, and from all the public movements and expressions of State and city authorities, he was bound to regard the camp as a fearful menace, which by prompt action would amount to no more than bravado, but if suffered to continue and grow would become very shortly a source of serious trouble, and might result in terrible conflicts in the very streets of the city. He believed the Government should at once force Jackson to recognize its authority, and cease doing those things which were seemingly forcing Missouri into a position of antagonism toward it. He knew that he had to tread upon delicate ground, and that there were many who would remain quiet if allowed to, who would bolster up the rebels if they felt themselves secure, but who would become active Union men under the benignant influence of Union bayonets, as readily as they would become active rebels under opposite pressure. It grieved him to know, that, beyond the walls of the arsenal and the headquarters of Union troops, Union men were publicly annoyed and persecuted, and this annoyance and persecution was increasing with the hours that increased over the existence of Camp Jackson. The Governor of Missouri was undoubtedly placing himself in such position that he could reasonably hope to successfully defy the Government of the Union, and he (Lyon) believed it to be the best policy to proceed against him before he had time to arm his minions and fill his depots with ammunition. So confident was he that Jackson was a traitor that he was anxious to assume the responsibility of proceeding against him as such.

While yet they were talking, Captain Cavender knocked at the door and informed Colonel Blair the cars were waiting to take him to Jefferson Barracks, where his regiment was quartered. This broke up the conference, but the parties all expressed their concurrence with Lyon's views, and agreed to work together for the unanimous consent of the Safety Committee to the plan.

In special orders the President had recognized the Safety Committee as the power Captain Lyon must consult and secure, for authority, in any step like that he now so much desired to take. That committee, while entering into his feelings and purposes generally, in this one instance doubted the policy and hesitated to advise him to take the step; but when he did act it was with their unanimous consent.

The following is the order of the President alluded to above:


WASHINGTON CITY, D. C., April 30, 1861.

SIR: The President of the United States directs that you enroll in the military service of the United States the loyal citizens of St. Louis and vicinity not exceeding, with those heretofore enlisted, ten thousand in number, for the purpose of maintaining the authority of the United States, and for the protection of the peaceable inhabitants of Missouri. And you will, if deemed necessary for that purpose by yourself and by Messrs. Oliver D. Filley, John How, James O. Broadhead, Samuel T. Glover, J. J. Witzig, and Francis P. Blair, Jr., proclaim martial law in St. Louis. The additional force hereby authorized shall be discharged in part or in whole, if enlisted, as soon as it appears to you and the gentlemen above named that there is no danger of an attempt on the part of the enemies of the Government to take military possession of the city of St. Louis, or put the city in the control of a combination against the Government of the United States; and whilst such additional force remains in the service, the same shall be governed by the Rules and Articles of War, and such special regulations as you may prescribe, and shall, like the force heretofore directed to be enrolled, be under your command.

I am, sir,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant, L. THOMAS, Adjutant- General.


Second Infantry, Commandinq, St. Louis.


LyonOn Wednesday evening, Captain Lyon requested Mr. J. J. Witzig, one of the Safety Committee, to meet him the next day with a horse and buggy, at about two o'clock in the afternoon. On Thursday, May 9, at the appointed hour, and at headquarters, Witzig inquired for the "General." He was directed to Lyon's private apartments. As he entered the room, Witzig saw a lady seated near the door, veiled, and evidently waiting for some one. He inquired of her if she wished to see the "General," and received in answer that she was waiting for him to come in. Witzig, remarking that he supposed the General would be in within a few minutes at furthest, seated himself by the window to await the coming of Lyon. After a few moments' interval, the lady arose, and removing her veil, discovered the features of Nathaniel Lyon. It can be imagined Witzig was amazed, for the deception was complete. In this attire (the dress of Mrs. Alexander), Captain Lyon, taking with him two Colt's revolvers, entered a barouche, belonging to Franklin A. Dick, Esq., and, with Mr. Dick's colored servant, drove out to Camp Jackson, and into the camp itself, followed by Witzig in his own buggy.

Lyon took a good look through the camp, noticed its exact location, read the names of some of its streets, as, for instance, "Beauregard avenue," "Davis avenue," and the like, and then withdrew. After he had proceeded some distance toward the arsenal, he stopped and directed Witzig to leave him, and summon the members of the Safety Committee to meet him immediately at the arsenal. Witzig hastened to obey.


Returning to his quarters, Lyon divested himself of his apparel, and then sought the headquarters office. It was not long before commanders of regiments received notice of a meeting for consultation, and Lyon proceeded to confer with his confidant and friend, Colonel Blair. To him he announced his determination to take the camp; he felt it to be his duty, fearing that longer delay might enable it to assume proportions so formidable as to endanger the safety of the State; but he wanted the acquiescence of the Safety Committee. While yet talking the members of the Safety Committee were assembling, and, in the conference, Lyon stated the necessity for seizing the camp, and every man within it, and holding them as prisoners of war. He was warmly sustained by Blair and Witzig, and, seeing his determination, O. D. Filley and Broadhead also acquiesced. Glover was decidedly opposed to the manner and the time of taking it, and was supported by How. These were all of the Safety Committee, and none others were present.

Mr. Glover, while he desired the capture of the place, looked at the question in a purely legal light. The camp had legal existence for six days, which time would not expire until the following Sunday. The authorities controlling it recognized the Government of the United States, and had in no instance disturbed the peace; the national flag was flying there, notwithstanding the rebel talk and rebel names of streets. True, there was property there believed to belong to the Government of the United States, but the way to reach that was by a writ of replevin, served by the United States Marshal. If General Frost refused to respect the writ, the Marshal could then call upon General Lyon for assistance, and thus the object be gained.

Lyon argued the impropriety of Frost being allowed time to prepare for resistance, when the whole enterprise could be managed successfully without the firing of a gun. He knew the camp to be a nest of traitors; the Legislature was in secret session, and even then a new military law might be in operation; certainly if not then, it would be in a day or so. Advices from all parts of the State were discouraging to Union men, and the rebels were gathering in strength. On Sunday General Harney would arrive, and no one could tell what he would do. Camp Jackson must be taken.

At the mention of the fact of General Harney's returning, Mr. Glover agreed with the necessity of breaking up the camp at once; but he thought it would be best to have the United States Marshal at the head of the column, and that official first to make the demand for the property brought up by the Swon; and when the conference dissolved, it seemed to be understood that such should be the mode of procedure. But when alone with Mr. Blair he declared his determination to issue orders immediately for every regiment to be in readiness to march at a moment's notice, and of his determination to capture the entire force at the camp, without any ceremony, other than a demand for its absolute surrender. If he made the demand for property, it must be in vague terms, and Frost might put him off with some old material, claiming it as all he had received. Even if Frost made a bona fide surrender of the Swon freight, it would not serve his purpose. He wanted the whole force, with all their camp and garrison equipage, and to follow up such a seizure by striking a deadly blow at secession in the State. He did not desire to look at the question as a lawyer; he proposed acting as a soldier. He looked upon the formula of using the United States Marshal as an agent, as a mere subterfuge, it being his intention not to be satisfied with a simple compliance with the requirements of the mere letter of the law. He wanted the camp, the men in it, officers and enlisted men, all its warlike material. He knew it to be a nest of traitors, organized with designs of hostility toward the United States, and only awaiting a favorable moment to strike. Its commander had received rebel agents, and United States property, stolen by rebels in the South; that commander recognized also the authority of the Governor of Missouri as above the authority of the United States Government. For these reasons, and many more of minor importance also, Lyon had resolved to act, and he resolved to act as a soldier, and not as a lawyer. He should demand a surrender with his men in line of battle, and his cannon in choice positions; and if the demand was not complied with at once, he would fight for it. Colonel Blair agreed with him and sustained him; and Lyon did not seek rest that night until every order had been prepared, every Colonel instructed, and every detail arranged.


On the 9th of May, some time previous to his visit to Camp Jackson, Capt. Lyon dispatched Lieut. Thurneck with a note to Giles F. Filley, requesting that gentleman to procure and send to him at the arsenal, by 4 o'clock, P.M., thirty-six horses. Mr. Filley called at once upon Mr. James Harkness (Glasgow & Harkness) for assistance in purchasing the horses. Twenty-two were purchased at the stables of Messrs. Glasgow & Harkness and forwarded by Lieut. Thurneck to the arsenal, while Messrs. Filley and Harkness visited other places, in order to secure the balance of the desired number. Enough were brought to make up, with some few which were loaned by Union citizens, to fill the order; and Giles F. Filley and O. D. Filley, signed their names as securities to Mr. Harkness for their payment. Lyon in this matter disregarded army regulations, because of his personal distrust of Major McKinstry, the Department Chief Quartermaster. In fact, Major McKinstry was ignorant of the design upon Camp Jackson, until within an hour or so of its capture. He afterward interposed delay in the payment for these horses, but Mr. Harkness visited Boonville in June, and procured a peremptory order from Lyon.


"Rumor, 'the ten thousand tongued,' yesterday ran wild with fantasies, monstrous and awful. She averred that the steamer J. C. Swon had arrived Monday night, loaded down with muskets and cannon, mortars and columbiads, all of which had been taken to Camp Jackson. The arms were from England—seventy thousand stand—to enable the State to subjugate the city! or there were but fifty thousand, enough to capture rank Blair. They came in big boxes, labeled 'marble;' or they came in sugar hogsheads from Louisiana. Again, there probably were fifteen thousand sent up from the Southern Confederacy. Thus the multitude of arms diminished to five thousand, and finally to twelve hundred. As an item-writer we were disgusted with the smallness of the latter number, and determined to have not a gun less than five thousand, believing this a most reasonable quantity for the times. Later still, wild rumor ran stark mad; with white lips she declared that Frank Blair was marching to take Camp Jackson, Governor Jackson, and the secesh Legislature, with the intention to hang them all."—[Mo. Democrat, May 10, 1861.]


Friday, May 10, 1861—day ever memorable in the history not only of Missouri, but of the nation; memorable as being the day on which the first blow was struck by loyalty against the gigantic front of unjustifiable rebellion; memorable as the day on which Freedom, wielding the sword of truth and justice, stood forth in the splendid majesty of resistless power. The struggle that statesmen failed to appreciate, the necessities that statesmen failed to realize, were grasped at once by the ready mind of a patriotic captain of infantry, who had been nurtured in camps, and in the fierce conflicts of the field of battle. It was the comprehension of untrammeled patriotism that solved the problem; and obedience to the plainest requirements of duty that prompted not only preparation, but action. Noble champion of the right! hero of bewildered humanity! ye shall this day send vigorous currents of electricity through the life-courses of the almost paralyzed administration. Ye stand forth in the conduct of this day the fullest expression of that patriotism which in every city of the free North, on every way-side from the Atlantic to Idaho, is demonstrated by myriad, flags from myriad house-tops, and in the rush to arms of countless thousands.


On the morning of the 10th General Frost, placing some confidence in the numerous reports, upon being informed of the unusual activity at the Union Barracks, sent the following letter to Captain Lyon. He little thought Lyon would be the bearer of his own reply.


Missouri MILITIA, May 10, 1861.

Captain N. LION, Commanding United States troops in and about St. Louis Arsenal:

SIR—I am constantly in receipt of information that you contemplate an attack upon my camp; whilst I understand you are impressed with the idea that an attack upon the arsenal and United States troops is intended on the part of the militia of Missouri. I am greatly at a loss to know what could justify you in attacking citizens of the United States, who are in the lawful performance of duties devolving upon them, under the Constitution, in organizing and instructing the militia of the State in obedience to her laws, and therefore have been disposed to doubt the correctness of the information I have received.

I would be glad to know from you personally whether there is any truth in the statements that are constantly poured into my cars. So far as regards any hostility being intended toward the United States, or its property or representatives, by any portion of my command, or as far as I can learn (and I think I am fully informed) of any other part of the State forces, I can say positively that the idea has never been entertained. On the contrary, prior to your taking command of the arsenal, I proffered to Major Bell, then in command of the very few troops constituting its guard, the services of myself and all my command, and, if necessary, the whole power of the State, to protect the United States in the full possession of all her property. Upon General Harney's taking command of this department, I made the same proffer of services to him, and authorized his Adjutant-General, Captain Williams, to communicate the fact that such had been done to the War Department. I have had no occasion since to change any of the views I entertained at that time, neither of my own volition nor through orders of my constitutional commander.

I trust that after this explicit statement we may be able, by fully understanding each other, to keep far from our borders the misfortunes which so unhappily afflict our common country.

This communication will be handed to you by Col. Bowen, my Chief of Staff, who may be able to explain anything not fully set forth in the foregoing.

I am, sir,

Very respectfully, Your ob't servant,

D. M. FROST, Brigadier- General, Commanding Camp Jackson, M. V. M.

Colonel Bowen proceeded with this letter to the arsenal, but was not received. Lyon was preparing to call on Frost. It may be well enough, right here, to introduce the letter which General Frost wrote under date of April 15; which, taken in connection with the letter previously written, under date of January 24, 1861, shows the exact amount of confidence to be placed in the foregoing epistle. The following letter was captured in June, 1861, with other less important correspondence of Claib Jackson, at Boonville and Jefferson City; all of which, however, went to prove. his determination to side with the rebellion.

The letter referred to is as follows:

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, April 15, 1861.

His Excellency C. F. JACKSON, Governor of Missouri

SIR—You have doubtless observed by this morning's dispatches that the President, by calling seventy-five thousand of the militia of the different States into the service of his Government, proposes to inaugurate civil war on a comprehensive plan.

Under the circumstances, I have thought it not inappropriate that I should offer some suggestions to your Excellency, in my capacity of commanding officer of the First Military District.

Presuming that Mr. Lincoln will be advised by good military talent, he will doubtless regard this place as next in importance, in a strategic point of view, to Charleston and Pensacola. He will therefore retain at the arsenal all of the troops now there, and augment it as soon as possible. The commanding officer at that place, as you are perhaps aware, has strengthened his position by the erection of numerous batteries and earthworks. You are not, however, aware that he has recently put in position guns of large calibre, to command the approaches to the city by the river, as well as heavy ten-inch mortars, with which he could at any moment bombard our town.

If, therefore, he is permitted to go on strengthening his position, whilst the Government increases his force, it will be but a short time before he will have this town and the commerce of the Mississippi at his mercy. You will readily see how this complete possession and control of our commercial metropolis might, and in all probability would, affect any future action that the State might otherwise feel disposed to take.

I fully appreciate the very delicate position occupied by your Excellency, and do not expect you to take any action, or do anything not legal and proper to be done under the circumstances; but, nevertheless, would respectfully suggest the following, as both legal and proper, viz.

First—To call the Legislature together at once, for the purpose of placing the State in a condition to enable you to suppress insurrection or repel invasion.

Second—To send an agent to the Governor of Louisiana (or further, if necessary), to ascertain if mortars and siege guns could be obtained from Baton Rouge, or other points.

Third—To send an agent to Liberty, to see what is there, and to put the people of that vicinity on their guard, to prevent its being garrisoned—as several companies of United States troops will be at Fort Leavenworth, from Fort Kearney, in ten or fifteen days from this time.

Fourth— Publish a proclamation to the people of the State, warning them that the President has acted illegally in calling out troops, thus arrogating to himself the war-making power; that he has illegally ordered the secret issue of the public arms (to the number of five thousand) to societies in the State, who have declared their intention to resist the constituted authorities whenever those authorities may adopt a course distasteful to them; and that they are, therefore, by no means bound to give him aid or comfort in his attempts to subjugate, by force of arms, a people who are still free; but, on the contrary, that they should prepare themselves to maintain all their rights as citizens of Missouri.

Fifth—Authorize or command the commanding officer of the present military district to form a military camp of instruction at or near the city of St. Louis; to muster military companies into the service of the State; to erect batteries, and do all things necessary and proper to be done to maintain the peace, dignity, and sovereignty of the State.

Sixth—Order Colonel Bowen's whole command to proceed at once to the said camp, and report to the commanding officer for duty.

Doubtless many things which ought to be done will occur to your Excellency which have not to me, and your Excellency may deem what I have suggested as improper or unnecessary. If so, I can only s ay that I have been actuated solely by a sense of official duty in saying what I have, and will most cheerfully acquiesce in whatever course your Excellency may lay down for my government.

I would not presume to have advised your Excellency, but for the fact you were kind enough to express a desire to consult with me upon these subjects on your recent visit to this city.

I am, sir, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,

D. M. FROST, _Brigadier- General, Commanding First Mil. Dis. of Mo


P. S.—I highly approve of the suggestions of General Frost, and await your commands.



The regiments selected by Lyon to assist in the capture of Camp Jackson were the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Mo. Vols., and the Third and Fourth "Home Guards" (Reserve Corps). The First and Second Home Guards were also on duty, protecting the arsenal and the city. Most of the "regulars" were also employed at the camp. Colonel Blair, preceded by a battalion of regulars, under Sweeney, marched to and through Laclede avenue, from Jefferson Barracks, and got into line west of the camp. Colonels Boernstein moved up Pine street, Schuttner up Market street, Sigel up Olive, Brown up Morgan, and McNeil up Clark avenue, and when all were in position, the camp was completely surrounded; Six pieces of light artillery were also quickly posted on elevated sites, in the vicinity of, and thoroughly commanding, the camp. Captain Lyon rode at the head of the battalion of regulars.

So nice were Lyon's calculations, and so prompt was the obedience of his subordinates, that the heads of the several columns were seen drawing near the camp at the same time. As the soldiers marched through the streets, the curiosity of the citizens was aroused to the utmost extent, and the belief gained ground that it was designed to capture Camp Jackson. Consequently, large crowds followed the Union troops to watch the progress of events, never doubting for a moment but that if a fight should occur they could stand by unharmed and witness it all. For many squares off the roofs of houses, from which the camp or the soldiers could be viewed, were crowded by anxious spectators of every political proclivity. One might have been justified in imagining it a grand gala day, instead of an episode in frightful war and a prelude to violent death.

Upon reaching the vicinity of the camp, to prepare for action was but the work of a moment; and Lyon, satisfied with the position of his own forces, rode up to Sweeney and said: "Sweeney, if their batteries open on you, deploy your leading company as skirmishers, charge on the nearest battery, and take it." Lyon then sent Major B. G. Farrar with the following letter to Frost:

Headquarters UNITED STATES Troops,

St. Louis, Mo., May 10, 1861.

General D. M. Frost, Commanding Camp Jackson

SIR—Your command is regarded as evidently hostile to the Government of the United States.

It is for the most part made up of those secessionists who have openly avowed their hostility to the General Government, and have been plotting at the seizure of its property and the overthrow of its authority. You are openly in communication with the so-called Southern Confederacy, which is now at war with the United States; and you are receiving at your camp, from said Confederacy and under its flag, large supplies of the material of war, most of which is known to be the property of the United States. These extraordinary preparations plainly indicate none other than the well-known purpose of the Governor of this State, under whose orders you are acting, and whose purpose, recently communicated to the Legislature, has just been responded to in the most unparalleled legislation, having in direct view hostilities to the General Government and cooperation with its enemies.

In view of these considerations, and of your failure to disperse in obedience to the proclamation of the President and of the eminent necessities of State policy and welfare, and the obligations imposed upon me by instructions from Washington, it is my duty to demand, and I do hereby demand of you, an immediate surrender of your command, with no other conditions than that all persons surrendering under this demand shall be humanely and kindly treated. Believing myself prepared to enforce this demand, one-half hour's time before doing so will be allowed for your compliance therewith.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

N. LYON, Captain Second United States Infantry, Commanding Troops.

After a short time had elapsed, sufficient for the letter from Lyon to have been received and read by Frost, three loud cheers were heard from the men in the camp. They were just such cheers as soldiers give when they are satisfied with results, and Sweeney, thinking the cheers meant fight, ordered his two companies of regulars to move their cartridge-boxes to the front, which to an old soldier means "prepare for action."

It was but a few minutes after this that a horseman rode out from the camp, and approaching Lyon, handed him a note. Having concluded the reading, Lyon remarked: "Sweeney, they surrender." Sweeney turned to his men, and ordered them to replace their cartridge boxes, which they did with an air of disappointment. The rebels had been so boastful of their whipping great odds, that those loyalists felt like having a bout at it. Lyon dismounted, and was immediately kicked in the stomach by the horse of one of his aids, which placed him senseless. While he was in this condition William D. Wood, Frost's Adjutant-General, rode up and inquired for General Lyon. Sweeney, desiring to conceal Lyon's condition from the enemy, replied that he would receive any message intended for General Lyon.

Wood then replied: "General Frost sends his compliments to General Lyon, and wishes to know if the officers will be allowed to retain their side-arms, what disposition shall be made of Government property, and if a guard will be sent to relieve his men now on post, and take possession of everything, when the camp shall be evacuated?"

Sweeney replied that officers would be allowed to retain their side-arms; the public property confiscated to the United States; private property collected, and guards be detailed to protect both. Wood then rode off, and Sweeney returned to Lyon, to find him slowly recovering. When informed, Lyon expressed satisfaction at Sweeney's conduct, and ordered the latter to inform Colonel Blair of his wish he should move the First Missouri Infantry into Camp Jackson and take possession; but as Sweeney rode off he recalled him and changed the order, substituting Sweeney and the two companies of regulars for Blair and the First Missouri, remarking that he must have Blair with him at the arsenal. Sweeney obeyed, and remained at the camp until the following day about one, P.M., at which time everything had been removed to the arsenal. Upon the entrance of Sweeney into Camp Jackson, Frost's men stacked arms and marched out between the ranks of the Union soldiers (First Missouri Volunteers), who were faced inward.


I should be indeed happy if I could conclude this account of the capture of Camp Jackson without being obliged to record that it was accompanied by some scenes of shameful ruffianism.

Camp JacksonCaptain C. Blandowski, of Company F. (Third Missouri Volunteers), had been ordered with his company to guard the western gateway leading into the camp. The surrendered troops had passed out, and were standing passively between the inclosing lines on the road, when a crowd of disunionists began hostile demonstrations against Company F. At first these demonstrations consisted only of vulgar epithets and the most abusive language; but the crowd, encouraged by the forbearance and the silence of the Federal soldiers, began hurling rocks, brickbats, and other missiles at the faithful company. Notwithstanding several of the company were seriously hurt by these missiles, each man remained in line, which so emboldened the crowd that they discharged pistols at the soldiers, at the same time yelling and daring the latter to fight. Not until one of his men was shot dead, several severely wounded, and himself shot in the leg, did the Captain feel it his duty to retaliate; and as he fell, he commanded his men to fire. The order was obeyed, and the multitude fell back, leaving upon the grass-covered ground some twenty of their number, dead or dying. Some fifteen were instantly killed, and several others died within an hour. Several of Sigel's men were wounded, and two killed.

The following is taken from the morning papers of the 13th of May, and was written by Captain Lyon himself. It is a full account of the disturbances at the west side of the camp, and at the artillery station.


The first firing was some half-dozen shots near the head of the column, composed of the First Regiment, which was guarding the prisoners. It occurred in this wise: The artillery were stationed upon the bluff northeast of Camp Jackson, with their pieces bearing on the camp. The men of this command were most insultingly treated by the mob with the foulest epithets; were pushed, struck, and pelted with stones and dirt. All this was patiently borne, until one of the mob discharged a revolver at the men. At this they fired, but not more than six shots, which were sufficient to disperse that portion of the mob. How many were killed by this fire is not known. None of the First Regiment (Colonel Blair's) fired, although continually and shamefully abused by both prisoners and the mob. The second and most destructive firing was from the rear of the column guarding the prisoners. The mob at the point intervening between Camp Jackson and the rear of the column, and in fact on all sides, were very abusive; and one of them, on being expostulated with, became very belligerent, drew his revolver, and fired at Lieutenant Saxton, of the regular army, three times, during which a crowd around him cheered him on, many of them drawing their revolvers, and firing at the United States troops. The man who commenced the firing, preparatory to a fourth shot, laid his pistol across his arm, and was taking deliberate aim at Lieutenant Saxton, when he was thrust through with a bayonet, and fired upon at the same time, being killed instantly.

Here, the column of troops having received the order to march, Lieutenant Saxton's command passed on, and a company in his rear became the object of a furious attack from the mob. After several of them were shot they came to a halt and fired with fatal effect. The mob, in retreating from both sides of the line, returned the fire, and the troops replied again. The command was then given by General Lyon to cease firing, and the order was promptly obeyed as rapidly as it could be passed along the line.

The sad results are much to be lamented. The killing of innocent men, women, and children is deplorable. There was no intention to fire upon peaceable citizens. The regular troops were over in the camp, beyond the mob, and in range of the firing. The troops manifested every forbearance, and at last discharged their guns, simply obeying the impulse, natural to us all, of self-defense.

If innocent men, women, and children, whose curiosity placed them in a dangerous position, suffered with the guilty, it is no fault of the troops.

Authorized by



Several of the dead were carried off, and did not come under the notice of the coroner; several of the wounded were also carried off, and only a few of those that subsequently died were officially reported. The following are the names of those who died from wounds received in this affray, whose bodies were attended to by the coroner; fifteen of them were immediately killed:

Philip Leister, Armand Latour,

John Sweikhardt, John Waters,

Caspar H. Glencoe, Thomas A. Hahren,

*William Eisenhardt, J. J. Jones,

P. Doane, Erie Wright,

Henry Jungle, James McDonald,

Walter McDowell, Francis Wheelan,

*Nicholas Knoblock, Charles Bodsen,

Jacob Carter, Mrs. Elisa McAuliff,

Emma Somers, Christopher Dean,

John Roepe, or Koeper, John Underwood,

William Juenhower, John English,

William Sheffield, Jaques Gerde,

William Patton Somers, Benjamin Dunn.

Among the wounded were:

Dr. Ropke, C. Wilson,

Thomas Meek, John James Scherer,

Jerome Downey, Fred. D. Allen,

W. L. Carroll, —— Bradford,

John Rice, John Matthews.

* Belonged to Frost's command; the balance were citizens.

Of the Federal troops, one private was killed, and Captain Blandowski died the next day of his wounds. Several were wounded.

At about six o'clock, P. M., victors and prisoners took up their line of march for the arsenal. For some distance the Union soldiers were subjected to the most insulting abuse by the crowd; but Lyon was unceasingly vigilant, and prevented the indignant men from visiting summary punishment upon their enemies.


©2002 G. E. Rule

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