We then headed across the lobby to the museum's exhibit on the Civil War in St. Louis.
Map of St. Louis City/Vicinity
The Federal Arsenal (near the two folds)
During the war, Missouri was a heavily divided state, but the city of St. Louis was under the control of federal troops for most of the war.
In the election of 1860, Missouri elected a governor who supported the south, Clariborne “Fox” Jackson.
This computer allowed museum visitors to cast their vote in the Presidential Election of 1860
Red = national popular vote, Blue = national electoral vote, Grey = Missouri in 1860, Gold = museum visitors
Abraham Lincoln had only received 10 percent of the presidential vote and 71 percent had gone to John Bell or Stephen A. Douglas who wanted to keep things at the status quo.
When President Lincoln requested 3,123 troops from Missouri after the fall of Fort Sumter, Gov. Jackson replied,
"Sir--Your requisition is illegal, unconstitutional and revolutionary; in its object inhuman & diabolical. Not one man will Missouri furnish to carry on any such unholy crusade against her Southern sisters."
St. Louis has received an enormous amount of immigrants fleeing from the political turmoil in Germany at the time. Many of the immigrants were liberals who had taken part in the failed revolution against the German Confederation in 1848. These refugees desired that the 39 independent states formerly in the Holy Roman Empire be united into one great German-speaking nation. They promoted liberal principles and nationalism.
Saint Louis Turnverein, 1860
A large number of German and Irish immigrants had been arriving in St. Louis since the 1840s and from 1840 to 1860, the population had octupled (8x!) After arriving in St. Louis, many of the German immigrants formed political and social clubs (such as the Turnverein) that later formed themselves into into a corps of Union militia under the Missouri Volunteers.
Governor Jackson secretly planned to seize the federal arsenal in St. Louis and diverted funds to the St. Louis militia. The state militia was then called up for maneuvers in St. Louis at Camp Jackson. The guns were evacuated from the arsenal by federal troops and sent to Illinois.
The militia’s flag flown over Camp Jackson
On May 10, 1861, federal troops and Missouri volunteers (primarily German) under Capt. Nathaniel Lyon attacked the militia at Camp Jackson and captured the militia. Lyon had 6,000 troops under him and the militia only consisted of 669.
The federal troops paraded their captives through the streets of St. Louis, and provoked a riot. A shot was fired that killed one of the captains, and the troops retaliated by firing into the crowd. 28 people died (some of whom were women and children) and 50 more were wounded. In the days that followed, Union soldiers would be harassed and attacked by the Southern sympathizers within the city.
Martial law was imposed within the city and Federal Regulars took over control from the German volunteers.
The Missouri General Assembly voted to form a Missouri State Guard and a truce was signed by the commander of the Missouri State Guard, Sterling Price and the Federal commander of the Department of the West to prevent further hostilities. However, Lincoln overturned the truce and replaced the federal commander with Nathaniel Lyon. Price negotiated with Lyon to let the Union troops control St. Louis City and leave the rest of the state to the Missouri State Guard.
Lyon would hear nothing of it and said,
“Rather than concede to the state of Missouri….I would see every man, woman, and child in the state dead and buried. This means war.”
Lyon then pursued Price, Gov. Jackson and the elected state government with his troops. The exiled governor and the remaining elected representatives fled to Southern Missouri and wrote an Ordinance of Secession and formed a new government. This government was recognized by the Confederacy and that’s why Missouri has a star on the Confederate flag.
The Union would occupy St. Louis during the rest of the war and try to suppress the southern sympathizers within the city. The power to declare martial law was given by President Lincoln to the Federal Commander. Pro-confederate newspapers were suppressed while several newspapers were physically destroyed by Union troops. Censuses were used to judge potential disloyalty in the state. Residents from foreign nations were forced to swear an oath of neutrality.
Well, now you’ve read your history lesson for the week . I didn’t mean to do that, but I found the history of St. Louis during the Civil War very interesting. Almost all of my Mom’s ancestors were living in the Midwest at the time, and most were living in the rural areas of Missouri. A few joined Confederate outfits and fought at Wilson’s. I’m sure a few of them participated in the bushwhacking that was happening all over the state.