The mercantile aristocracy of St. Louis
was predominantly devoted to their supposed interests and docile to their commands.
But for St. Louis
on one side and Kansas
on the other, Missouri
could scarcely have been saved.
had a population whom the rough experiences of previous years had educated into deadly hostility to the Slave Power
; while St. Louis
possessed, in her liberty-loving Germans, in her intelligent and uncompromising citizens of eastern lineage, and in The St. Louis Democrat
--a journal of high character and extensive influence, which could neither be bought nor frightened into recreancy to the interests of Free Labor — the elements of powerful resistance to the meditated treason.
Although the Governor
had so promptly and abusively repelled President Lincoln
's requisition, a full regiment had been raised by Col. Frank P. Blair
, while four others were in process of formation in St. Louis
, within ten days from the issue of the President
The Federal Arsenal in Western Missouri
was located at Liberty, Clay County
, in the midst of a strongly pro-Slavery population.
As it had been often robbed with impunity to arm the ‘Border Ruffians’ for their repeated raids into Kansas
, it was naturally supposed that it might now be drawn upon for its entire contents in behalf of what was essentially the same cause.
Accordingly, on the 20th, it was seized by a strong force, and the guns and munitions therein deposited carried off to arm and equip the gathering hosts of treason.
But the Federal Arsenal
at St. Louis
had a garrison of several hundred regulars, under the command of Capt. Nathaniel Lyon
, who promptly made arrangements, not to destroy, but to protect and defend, its stores of arms and munitions.
During the night of the 25th of April, the great bulk of these were quietly but rapidly transferred to a steamboat, and removed to Alton, Ill.
, whence they were mainly conveyed to Springfield
, the capital of that State, foiling the Secessionists, who were organizing a “State Guard” in the vicinity with a view to their capture, and who had, for several days, been eagerly and hopefully awaiting the right moment to secure these arms.
Having thus sent away all that were not needed, Capt. Lyon
and Col. Blair
, on the morning of May 10th, suddenly surrounded the State Guard at Camp Jackson, at the head of 6,000 armed Unionists
and an effective battery, and demanded their surrender — allowing half an hour for compliance with this peremptory request.
Gen. D. M. Frost
, in command of the camp, being completely surprised, had no alternative but compliance.
Twenty cannon, twelve hundred new rifles, several chests of muskets, large quantities of ammunition, etc., most of which had recently been received from the Baton Rouge Arsenal, now in Confederate hands, were among the “spoils of victory.”
The news of this exploit preceded the return of the Unionists from the camp to the city; and the chagrin of the embryo Rebels impelled them to proceed from insults to violence.
At length, one of the Unionist regiments (German
) were impelled to fire upon its assailants, when twenty-two persons fell dead--one of them a woman.
A furious excitement was aroused by this tragedy, but inquiries