Cameron quite distinctly intimated to me that the affairs of Missouri were under the control and direction of the two brothers Blair, and stated, indeed, that he could not give me orders to return to St. Louis without first knowing how Mr. Montgomery Blair might feel disposed in regard to his doing so. As I had never had any other than friendly relations with both of the Blairs, I did not hesitate to speak with Mr. Montgomery Blair on the subject, and I understood from him distinctly that he had no objection to my returning to the military command of the Western Department. This was certainly the impression left upon my mind by what I understood him to say, though I cannot now undertake to repeat precisely his language. I had no suspicion, at that time, of his being illdisposed toward me; and for this reason I may not have noticed his language — whatever it was — so particularly as I might have done had I suspected that he was hostile to me. The impression he left upon me was, as just stated, that he had no objection to my returning to St. Louis. I accordingly stated this to the Secretary of War, who immediately thereupon gave me orders to return to St. Louis and assume command. Upon this I took the evening train of that day, and reached St. Louis on the evening of the Camp Jackson affair, and assumed the command of the Western Department. It was greatly to my astonishment that I heard, some weeks afterward, that so soon as Mr. Blair heard of the order for my return to St. Louis, he went in great haste to the Secretary of War, and denounced it — using, as I heard, very emphatic language — saying that “it is not what we wish — we (speaking in the plural) cannot permit it. The order must be countermanded.” The Secretary explained that he had given the order, and, as he supposed, with the approbation of Mr. Blair; and as he had given the order he did not wish to countermand it. After some further conversation on the subject, it was determined that an order to displace me from the command, should be confidentially placed in the hand of Mr. Blair, to be sent by him to his brother Frank, then acting as a colonel of volunteers, who was to be empowered and instructed to hold it secretly in reserve until such time as in his own discretion and judgment he might think proper to lay the order upon me, and thus annihilate my power as a military man in my own department, the command of which was then to devolve upon my subordinate. How Mr. Cameron, the Secretary of War, or those associated with him, could reconcile it to themselves to be guilty of this act of duplicity, is a matter which must be left for themselves to determine. I have only this to add in relation to it: that during several weeks of very delicate and important duty in St. Louis, I was almost daily in intercourse with Colonel Frank Blair, confidentially conferring with him and trusting him as I would have done a friend, fully relied upon as such; his whole intercourse with me and his official position requiring this course. And during this period he carried in his pocket — unknown to me — an order which was calculated, if not designed, very materially to affect my reputation as a military man, and to bring even my patriotism into question. During this time I continued to receive official communications from the War Department as if the order to supersede me in the command was not in existence — a fact which might perhaps have justified me in resisting the order itself, had I been disposed to stand upon a technical point — the orders received from the War Department of subsequent date to the order relieving me, virtually countermanding that order. But at a time when public events of vast importance throughout the whole country were manifesting themselves, I supposed it to be my proper course to yield to what I believed to be the design of the authorities in Washington, without attempting to enforce what, nevertheless, I considered my technical right; and I yielded obedience to the order without hesitation when it was presented to me;which event, however, did not take place until some weeks had passed after my return to St. Louis, within which time I had completely succeeded in allaying the agitations and excitements which threatened the peace of the city and of the State, at the moment of my resuming the command. The Governor of the State of Missouri, with the Legislature then in session, which had been elected without any view to the question of secession, had begun to show a decisive tendency toward a separation from the Union, when a large portion of the people of the State were decidedly opposed to it. Among the acts of the Legislature having the approval of the Governor, was one for the reorganization of the militia of the State, containing one clause requiring every man enrolled in the militia to take an oath of fealty to the State, in the full spirit of what is known as the State rights doctrine. It was impossible not to see the purpose of this, Governor Jackson being of known secession tendencies, and the whole militia of the State being subject to his orders. It was equivalent to a public declaration by the Governor and the Legislature, that the people of the State of Missouri owed allegiance first to the State of Missouri, and only to the United States Government in subordination to that first duty. In connection with the statement I am now making, it is a point of very great importance that, whilst the militia bill required the oath just stated, there was a separate and detached bill authorizing the Governor to appoint a major-general for the command of the militia of the State, which bill contained no reference to the oath above referred to. When the bill for a major-general was passed and approved by the Governor, he gave the appointment to Sterling Price, then the most influential man in the State--a man of the highest respectability, who had been a brigadier-general in the war with Mexico; had been the Governor of the State of Missouri, and had occupied other public offices, acquiring a high reputation in all of them for ability, high
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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