- 10 May 2019 13:02
May 10, Friday
St. Louis explodes into action. The pro-Union elements in the city, including the vocal German group, are organized under Captain Nathaniel Lyon, temporarily commanding the arsenal, and Francis Preston Blair, Jr., politician and member of the well-known Blair family. In addition to a few regulars, the unionists have organized some political marching clubs into Home Guards. The State Militia, on the other hand, is largely pro-secessionist or at least opposed to supporting the Union war effort. Governor Claiborne Jackson has made this abundantly clear. On May 6 the militia had gathered in Lindell’s Grove in the western part of the city under command of General D.M. Frost, former army officer turned politician. The camp has definite Southern overtones, with streets unofficially reported to be named “Davis Avenue” and for Beauregard and other Confederates. Surplus arms from the arsenal have been sent into Illinois, but the unionists fear that the militia at Camp Jackson, named for the governor, will attack the arsenal; therefore the camp must be taken. The story is that on May 8 Lyon, dressed as an elderly woman, drove through the camp as a spy, but this is highly dubious, for all the information needed is readily available. Late on May 8 a boat had brought boxes marked “marble” to the city. They turned out to be loaded with mortars and guns for the secessionists. Frost’s militia camp is set to disband May 11, and he denies any covert intentions. Lyon, urged on by Blair, decides to take the camp because of their “unscrupulous conduct, and their evident design....”
Violent, sometimes almost wild in his patriotism, Lyon leads possibly seven thousand men against the roughly seven hundred at Camp Jackson. Frost has neither attacked the arsenal nor retreated. Surrounded, he surrenders without a shot. During the march back to the arsenal the prisoners are guarded by the Germans and regulars. Excitement has been extreme in the city for days, with cries of “Hessians” against the Germans, and equally strong anti-Southern feelings expressed. A crowd of the curious and agitated views the march, including one William T. Sherman and his son, and of course it happens—someone pushes or shoves, a shot or two rings out, and then more and more with the unionists firing into the crowd. Accounts are many, facts few. When it is over, some twenty-eight or twenty-nine people are dead or mortally wounded, including, reportedly, a child in arms. Mobs storm through the streets of St. Louis when night falls; all saloons are closed.
Elsewhere, the Maryland legislature passes a resolution imploring President Lincoln to cease prosecuting the war against the South; authorities in Washington still almost hourly expect fighting in Maryland.
The President himself continues to be involved with the business of appointments, both civil and military.
Off Charleston USS Niagra begins a blockade patrol.
In Montgomery President Davis signs an act of Congress calling for purchase abroad of six warships, arms, and stores. Secretary of the Navy Mallory urges the building of ironclads because the obvious inequality of the Confederate Navy will have to be offset by quality, strength, and invulnerability.
The Confederate government in Montgomery places Virginia Major General Robert E. Lee in command of Confederate troops in Virginia.
The Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Alabama announces its withdrawal from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States.
A peculiar weapon known as the Winans steam gun is captured by Federals while being sent south from Baltimore.
The expert is more aristocratic than the aristocrat, because the aristocrat is only the man who lives well, while the expert is the man who knows better.
—G. K. Chesterton