100.--how the arms were taken from the St. Louis Arsenal.
Captain James H. Stokes
, of Chicago
, late of the regular army, volunteered to undertake the perilous mission, and Governor Yates
placed in his hands the requisition of the Secretary of war
for 10,000 muskets.
went to St. Louis
, and made his way as rapidly as
possible to the arsenal.
He found it surrounded by an immense mob, and the postern gates all closed.
His utmost efforts to penetrate the crowd were for a long time unavailing.
The requisition was shown.
doubted the possibility of executing it. He said the arsenal was surrounded by a thousand spies, and every movement was watched and reported to the headquarters of the Secessionists, who could throw an overpowering force upon them at any moment.
represented that every hour's delay was rendering the capture of the arsenal more certain, and the arms must be moved to Illinois
now or never.
agreed with him, and told him to take them at his own time and in his own way. This was Wednesday night, 24th April.
had a spy in the camp, whom he met at intervals in a certain place in the city.
On Thursday he received information that Gov. Jackson
had ordered two thousand armed men down from Jefferson city
, whose movements could only contemplate a seizure of the arsenal, by occupying the heights around it, and planting batteries thereon.
The job would have been an easy one.
They had already planted one battery on the St. Louis
levee, and another at Powder Point
, a short distance below the arsenal.
immediately telegraphed to Alton
to have the steamer City of Alton
drop down to the arsenal landing about midnight.
He then returned to the arsenal, and commenced moving the boxes of guns, weighing some three hundred pounds each, down to the lower floor.
About 700 men were employed in the work.
He then took 500 Kentucky
flint-lock muskets, which had been sent there to be altered, and sent them to be placed on a steamer as a blind to cover his real movements.
The Secessionists nabbed them at once, and raised a perfect Bedlam over the capture.
A large portion of the outside crowd left the arsenal when this movement was executed; and Capt. Lyon
took the remainder, who were lying around as spies, and locked them up in the guard-house.
About 11 o'clock the steamer City of Alton
came alongside, planks were shoved out from the windows to the main deck, and the boxes slid down.
When the 10,000 were safely on board, Capt. Stokes
went to Capt. Lyon
and Major Callender
, and urged them, by the most pressing appeals, to let him empty the arsenal.
They told him to go ahead and take whatever he wanted.
Accordingly, he took 10,000 more muskets, 500 new rifle carbines, 500 revolvers, 110,000 musket cartridges, to say nothing of the cannon and a large quantity of miscellaneous accoutrements, leaving only T,000 muskets in the arsenal to arm the St. Louis
When the whole were on board, about 2 o'clock on Friday morning the order was given by the captain of the steamer to cast off. Judge
of the consternation of all hands when it was found that she would not move.
The arms had been piled in great quantities around the engines to protect them against the battery on the levee, and the great weight had fastened the bows of the boat firmly on a rock, which was tearing a hole through the bottom at every turn of the wheels.
A man of less nerve than Capt. Stokes
would have gone crazy on the spot.
He called the arsenal men on board, and commenced moving the boxes to the stern.
Fortunately, when about two hundred boxes had been shifted, the boat fell away from the shore, and floated in deep water.
said Captain Mitchell
, of the steamer.
“Straight to Alton
, in the regular channel,” replied Captain Stokes
. “What if we are attacked?”
said Captain Mitchell
. “Then we will fight,” said Captain Stokes
. “What if we are overpowered?”
said Captain Mitchell
. “Run her to the deepest part of the river, and sink her,” replied Captain Stokes
. “I'll do it,” was the heroic answer of Capt. Mitchell
; and away they went past the secession battery, past the entire St. Louis
levee, and on to Alton
, in the regular channel, where they arrived at five o'clock in the morning.
When the boat touched the landing, Capt. Stokes
, fearing pursuit by some two or three of the Secession military companies by which the city of St. Louis
is disgraced, ran to the market-house and rang the fire-bell.
The citizens came flocking pell-mell to the river, in all sorts of habiliments.
informed them of the situation of things, and pointed out the freight cars.
Instantly, men, women, and children boarded the steamer, seized the freight, and clambered up the levees to the cars.
Rich and poor tugged together with might and main for two hours, when the cargo was all deposited in the cars, and the train moved off, amid their enthusiastic cheers, for Springfield
, April 29.