Birthplace of the Free Population of Saint Louis City and County for 1860
(Total Population 186,178)
United States: 90,092
Foreign Countries 96,086
Germany 50,510The exhibit made the point that Missouri was a divided state, but it seemed to me that most of the state was Confederate and it was the city of Saint Louis that was the most divided (at least until the Camp Jackson affair and the riot.) Much of this division was contributed by the heavy population of immigrants, primarily from Germany. They were mostly Catholic and some of them were refugees from the failed Revolution of 1848 in the German states. This revolution had a somewhat liberal bent and was strongly nationalistic, which may explain why German-Americans were the largest ethnic contingent to serve in the Union Army. And the only other state that contributed the most German-Americans to the Union Army over Missouri was New York.
Missouri’s governor, Claiborne Jackson was a strong advocate for secession, but the Missouri General Assembly voted it down and decided to remain neutral. Meanwhile, Lincoln requested that Missouri provide 3,123 troops to attack the Confederacy and Gov. Jackson gave him this bold reply:
There was a Federal Arsenal in Saint Louis where all of the armaments were held and Governor Jackson made secret plans to place the arsenal's 39,000 small arms into the hands of the Missouri Volunteer Militia. Governor Jackson called up the militia for maneuvers just outside Saint Louis, at Camp Jackson. These maneuvers was perfectly legitimate, but the commander of the arsenal, Union Captain Nathaniel Lyon, surrounded the camp with 6,000 Union troops and placed the 669 militia men under arrest when they would not take the oath of allegiance to the Federal government.
One of the German militia “clubs” of Saint Louis
This was the Missouri state flag from Camp JacksonThey were marched back into Saint Louis as prisoners under guard of the Union German volunteers. The sight of this march enraged many in the city and a riot broke out wherein 28 people died and up to 100 were wounded. The “Camp Jackson Affair” polarized much of Missouri and Saint Louis and the riot in which some women and children were killed, influenced many to embrace secessionist views.
Well, to make this a short story…after an unsuccessful meeting with the Union Captain, Nathaniel Lyon, Governor Jackson was chased across Missouri to Jefferson City where he escaped with some of the Missouri General Assembly to Southern Missouri near the Arkansas border. It was here in Neosho that the remnants of the General Assembly and the Governor voted to secede from the Union and to join the Confederacy, even though they didn’t control the state or its capitol. However, this is how Missouri got its own star on the Confederate flag, because it attempted an unsuccessful secession.
Governor GambleMeanwhile, Union troops had captured Jefferson City and a provisional state legislature was formed. Former Missouri Supreme Court Justice and Unionist, Hamilton Rowan Gamble, was placed as Governor of Missouri and he complied with Lincoln’s call for troops.
The city of Saint Louis was placed under martial law during the war and was a major Union resupply point for the armies in the Western theater and helped ensure that the Union army would control the Mississippi river during the war. However, even though they were under Union control many of the people who lived in the city were southern sympathizers and helped smuggle supplies and prisoners out of Saint Louis.
Map of Saint Louis showing the major buildings and military installations including the Federal Arsenal. Many of the older roads that exist today are also on this map.
That was a very watered-down, short story version of one of the most pivotal points in Missouri’s (and specifically Saint Louis’) history. The exhibit had a lot of information from the important events leading up to the war (such as the border ruffians, Bleeding Kansas and the Dred Scott decision) to the battles and skirmishes in Missouri throughout the war.