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carrying 25 guns and 280 men, were available, the others having been dispersed to distant seas.
While the subject of procuring arms was under advisement, the messenger who had been dispatched to Washington returned with an order on the arsenal at St. Louis for 10,000 muskets.
This repository of military stores was now closely watched by traitors, and a mob of them were ready to seize the arms which it contained the moment an attempt should be made to remore them. While those in charge of the requisition were looking about for compe. tent men, and considering an available plan for getting possession of them, Captain Stokes, of Chicago, volunteered to undertake the hazardous enterprise. Gov. Yates at once put into his hands the
. order issued by the secretary of war, and hastening to St. Louis, he found the arsenal surrounded by a disorderly, treasonable rabble. After a number of unavailing attempts to pass through the crowd, he at length reached the building, and communicated to the officer in charge the object of his visit. The commander in. formed him that the arsenal was surrounded by hundreds of spies in communication with the secessionists of the city, and that the most trivial movement might excits suspicion, and bring an overpowering force upon the garrison at any moment. Although he doubted the possibility of complying with the requisition, it was evident that delay would render it more difficult, and permission was given to Captain Stokes to make the attempt. hensions were well founded, for the next day information was received that Gov. Jackson had ordered 2,000 armed men down from Jefferson City, and was evidently contemplating by this movement the capture of the arsenal. Two batteries had already been planted by his friends, one near the arsenal, and one on the St. Louis levee, and were either designed for this purpose, or some other treasonable object. Captain Stokes immediately telegraphed to Alton to have a steamer descend the river and about midnight land opposite the arsenal, and proceeding to the same place with 700 men of the 7th Illinois, soon commenced lowering the heavy boxes containing the guns from the upper to the lower portion of the building. At the same time, to divert attention from his real design, he caused 500 unserviceable muskets to be openly placed on a different boat. As intended, this movement was soon de. tected, and the shouts and excitement upon their seizure, drew most of the crowd from the arsenal. Captain Stokes ordered the remainder, who were acting as a posse, to be shut up in the guard house, and as soon as the boat came along side commenced freighting her with guns. When the 10,000 muskets were aboard
. he asked permission to empty the entire arsenal, and was told to go ahead and take what he wanted. He, therefore, instead of confining himself to the requisition, besides cannon and a large number of other valuable accoutrements, took 500 carbines, 500 pistols, and 20,000 muskets, leaving only 7,000 to arm the St. Louis volunteers. When all was on board and the order was given to start, it was found that the immense weight of the cargo bad bound the bow of the boat to a rock, which at every turn of the wheel was crushing through the bottom. The arms had been piled in large quantities about the engines to protect thm from the battery on the levee, and assistance was immediately summoned from the arsenal to remove them to the stern. Fortunately, when this was partially effected the boat fell away from the shore and floated into deep water.
“Which way q” said Captain Mitchell, of the steamer. "Straight in the regular channel to Alton," replied Captain Stokes. "What if we are attacked ?” said Captain Mitchell. “Then we will fight,” was the reply of Captain Stokes. “What if we are overpowered ?" said Mitchell. “Run the boat to the deepest part of the river and sink her,” replied Stokes. “I'll do it," was the heroic answer of Mitchell, and away they went past the secession battery, past the St. Louis levee, and in the regular channel on to Alton, where they arrived at 5 o'clock in the morning. When they touched the land. ing, Captain Stokes, fearing pursuit by some of the secession military companies by which the city of St. Louis was disgraced, ran to the market bouse and rang the fire bell. The citizens came flocking pell-mell to the river in all sorts of habiliments. Captain Stokes informed them as to the state of affairs, and pointed to the freight cars. Instantly men, women and children boarded the steamer, seized the freight, and clambered up the levee to the cars. Rich and poor tugged together with might and main for two hours, when the cargo was all deposited on the cars, and the train moved off to Springfield amid the most enthusiastic cheers."* These arms thus rescued from the very grasp of traitors, served to equip the first regiments of the State, and on many a bloody field became the terrible avengers of those who sought to use them against their country.
• Patriotism of Illinois.
1861–1862. ILLINOIS IN MISSOURI.
Battles of Lexington, Monroe, Charleston, Fredericktown, Belmont and
Having given a brief sketch of the operation of Illinois at home let us look abroad at the exploits of her soldiers in the field.
In the valley of the Mississippi, east of the Alleghanies, and on the Southern seaboard, every commercial highway was blockaded by the terrible enginery of war, and every mountain pass and salient out-post echoed with the tramp of hostile squadrons. In the disposition of the Union armies, Illinois troops were mostly con. fined to operations on the Mississippi, the Tennessee, the Cumberland, the White, the Red, the Savannah, and in the battles of Belmont, Pea Ridge, Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville, Vicks. burg, Jackson, Stone river, Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Peach Tree Creek, Jonesboro, Atlanta, Savannah, Franklin and Nashville, and they won fame for themselves and a proud record for the State.
Military operations in the West commenced with the occupation of Cairo. Missouri lying westward, with a treasonable executive and a population partly disloyal, soon became involved in civil strife. Gov. Jackson appointed Sterling Price brigadier general of the State troops, which were to be organized and equipped for action. He managed to get the police of St. Louis under bis coutrol, and endeavored to persuade the people of the city and State to cast their destiny with their brethren of the Southern Confed. eracy. Acting upon his advice a body of armed men, notoriously hostile to the government, and in communication with traitors in the seceded States, met near the city, styling their place of rendezvous Camp Jackson, in honor of the governor. Captain Lyon, then in command of the arsenal, had in the meantime been em. powered by the president to enroll 10,000 loyal men to maintain the authority of the government within the limits of the State. With the promptitude which the emergency demanded, he appeared on the morning of May 10th with a force of 6,000 men before the hostile camp, and demanded its surrender. Taken wholly by surprise, and threatened by a superior force, there was no alternative but to submit, and accordingly 20 cannons, 1200 rifles, and a large amount of ammunition fell into the hands of the Unionists. The force, after dispersing the rebels retired to the city, and being assaulted with showers of stones and pistol shots from disunion. ists, they fired into their ranks and killed some of their leaders. Great excitement ensued, and but for the vigorous interposition of Lyon the commercial metropolis of Missouri would have become the scene of strife between warring factions. His course being highly approved at Washington, he was raised to the rank of bri. gadier general, and placed in command of the government forces then operating in the State.
Perceiving that the militia force under Price, although organized with the professed intention of preserving peace, was also treasonable in its sympathies and ulterior designs, he ordered them to surrender their arms. When this demand was made Jackson issued a proclamation calling 50,000 State militia to repel federal invasion, thus further disclosing the real animus of the organization under his control. With a view of arresting further proceedings of this kind, Lyon started in steamers for Jefferson City with a force of 2,000 men, and arriving thither be found that Jackson had evacuated the city and retreated to Booneville, higher up the river. Following him to the latter place, he, on the 17th of June, met and completely routed the rebel force, and most of their military stores fell into his hands. With the Union force in rapid pursuit Jackson and his followers fled to the south western part of the State, where he expected assistance from Price. He was, however, met in Jasper county by 15,000 men under Col. Franz Sigel, a spirited officer, who was pushing forward to prevent his junction with reinforcements. On the 4th of July Sigel bad an engagement with his force near Carthage, and although outnumbered two to one, inflicted upon him a severe blow, the rebel loss being 50 killed and 150 wounded, while his own was only 13 killed and 31 wounded. Sigel's ammunition being exhausted, he was compelled to fall back, first to Mt. Vernon, and then to Springfield, where he met Gen. Lyon. The retreat was fortunate, for the next day Price, reinforced by several thousand men froin Texas and Arkansas, under command of McCulloch, advanced to the support of Jackson. This force continued its march in the direction taken by Sigel, and took a position on Wilson's creek, with the intention of moving against Springfield, only ten miles distant. Lyon's force at the latter place was only 5,000 men, and many of these were inexperienced recruits, who had just taken the place of 3-months troops, while he was confronted with 20,000 enemies. A council of war was held, and in view of the demoralizing effect a retreat would have upon the Union cause, it was decided to risk a battle with even this superior force.
Accordingly on the 8th of August Lyon led his forces against the enemy. A bloody fight ensued, in which Lyon, at the head of one of his regiments, in a heavy charge against the foe, was pierced through the heart by two bullets, and fell lifeless from his steed.
The command now devolved on Major Sturgis, and after three hours' hard fighting the enemy was driven from the field. The Union troops, being now without ammunition, retired to Springfield, where Sigel took command, and conducted them to Rolla. The loss of the enemy was reported at 1,347, ours at 1,235, besides the death of Lyon, who was himself a host. His glorious past, the purity of his life, and almost reckless daring, had made him the idol of the people, and when stricken down the nation was filled with mourning. Rebel authorities endeavored to magnify this battle into a victory, notwithstanding the fact that 20,000 of
their men bad been met by 5,000 federals and so badly disabled that they could not pursue the latter when they retreated. AS Price was unable to resume operations for more than a month, it was evidently a Union triumph, although dearly purchased at the cost of Lyon's life.
Early in July, 1861, Fremont was entrusted with the chief command of the western department, embracing the State of Illinois, and the States and territories between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. He found the situation of affairs in his new field of labor very unpromising. Pope was in northern Missouri with a small force, Prentiss at Cairo with a few regiments. Confronting these and ready to pounce upon them with irresistible might whenever the varying fortunes of war furnished an opportunity, were 20,000 men under Pillow at New Madrid, and 30,000 under Price in the southwest part of the State. One of Fremont's first acts was to reinforce Cairo and Bird's Point, on the opposite side of the Mississippi, both imperiled by the overwhelming forces on the river below. On the 30th of August he issued a proclamation placing the whole State of Missouri under martial law, and declaring the property of rebels confiscated, and their slaves free men. Public opinion, however, was not yet prepared for emancipation, and President Lincoln annulled that portion relating to slavery.
Battle of Lexington. After recovering from the battle of Wilson's creek, Price started north ward to the Missouri river, it was supposed to get possession of Jefferson City, and reinstate the au. thority of Gov. Jackson. Despite small detachments sent out to intercept his movements, he turned his course to the north west, and on the 11th of September sat down before Lexington, on the Missouri, 300 miles above St. Louis. Col. Mulligan, in command of the 23d Illinois infantry, 1st Illinois cavalry, and about 1,200 Missouri troops, had previously taken position between Old and New Lexington, distant about half a mile, and commenced fortify. ing it. His entire force was less than 3,000, while the assailants were estimated at nearly 20,000, and consisted, according to rebel statements, of the elite of the Confederate army. As early as the 12th an assault was made on his works, but the fierce and derter. mined manner in which it was met soon convinced Price that even with his overwhelming numbers, it would not be prudent to attempt to carry the place by storm. Accordingly, as a means of gradual approach, bales of hemp, saturated with water, to prevent ignition from the hot shots of Mulligan's guns, were rolled in front of his batteries. Mulligan, in the meantime, had burut a portion of the old town to prevent the enemy taking shelter in it, and sent messengers by different routes for more troops.
Price, who had been waiting for ammunition, received a supply and on the 18th 13 guns, posted in commanding positions, opened their fiery throats upon the federal intenchments. The Union commander had five small brass pieces which were brought into position and worked with great gallantry, being charged with rough shot manufactured for the occasiou in a neighboring
foundry, Price having previously seized the boats in the river, and fortified the adjacent bluffs, the besieged troops were cut off from water, and suffered the most intense agonies of thirst. This hardship was further aggravated by the stench arising from the putrid car