The Union moves in a border state

Today in St Louis, Missouri, the Union army took steps to keep Missouri in the Union. It started when the pro-secession commander of the US Arsenal was removed in some political hocus-pocus, to ensure that a pro-secession governor could not seize the “sixty thousand muskets. . .forty-five tons of gunpowder, over one million cartridges, forty cannons, and all the necessary machinery to repair and manufacture more arms” (Source is this PDF document) that was housed there.

Governor Jackson formed up a secessionist militia anyway, and on 6 May ordered them to start training, while General Lyons of the US Army sat with his troops protecting what equipment he had not sent over the river into Illinois. The secessionist troops were at, natch, Camp Jackson.

On 10 May, Lyons grew weary of waiting and marched his 7,000 troops out and completely surrounded Camp Jackson and demanded that General Frost, the militia commander of the fort, surrender his forces. Frost eventually agreed, and the surrender was negotiated without a bit of bloodshed.

Except. Except. Lyons got too close to the rear end of an orderly’s horse, and got kicked in the stomach and knocked unconscious while the secessionist troops were marching out of the fort and forming up to be taken as POWs to the Arsenal and then sent on to…wherever the Union intended to send them. He lay senseless for nearly an hour, during which time a mob of restless pro-secession citizens formed. One of the civilians threw a clod of dirt, nailing a Union officer in the leg, and either he ordered his troops to fire at that point, or they mistook his startled exclamation for an order to fire, and they opened up into the prisoners and the civilian crowd.

When it was over, nearly 30 people lay dead and many more were wounded, including the Union officer whose startled oath or possibly order to fire had started the whole thing. St Louis and Camp Jackson were firmly in Union hands, but public sentiment in Missouri swung southward to the Confederacy among many people who had been on the fence.

Published in: on 10 May, 2011 at 04:02  Leave a Comment  
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