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[36]

General Lyon was a man of ability and scholarly attainments, an earnest patriot, keenly alive to the nature and magnitude of the struggle in which the country was about to engage, and eager to take the initiative as soon as he had at his command sufficient force to give promise of success. To his keen foresight the State militia at Camp Jackson, near St. Louis, though a lawful State organization engaged in its usual annual field exercises, was an incipient rebel army which ought to be crushed in the bud. This feeling was shared by the more earnest Union men of St. Louis, who had the confidence of the President and were in daily consultation with Lyon; while the more prudent or conservative, hoping to avoid actual conflict in the State, or at least in the city, advised forbearance. Subsequent events showed how illusive was the hope of averting hostilities in any of the border States, and how fortunate it was that active measures were adopted at once.

On May 10 General Lyon marched out with the force then organized, surrounded Camp Jackson, and demanded its surrender. The militia commander, Brigadier-General Daniel M. Frost, after protesting in vain against the ‘wrong and insult’ to the State, seeing resistance hopeless, surrendered his command, about 1500 men, with their arms and munitions of war. After the surrender, and while preparations were making to conduct the prisoners to the arsenal, some shots were fired upon our troops from a crowd that had assembled round the campground. The fire was returned by some of the troops, in spite of all efforts of the officers to prevent it, and a number of persons, mostly inoffensive, were killed and wounded. In this affair I was designated by General Lyon to receive the surrender of the commander of Camp Jackson and his troops, and to take charge of the prisoners, conduct them to the arsenal, and the next day to parole them. I extended to the commander and other

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Nathaniel Lyon (4)
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