« AnteriorContinuar »
cal and cannot be complied with, Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on such an unholy crusade." Harris Hung into the face of the chief magistrate this defiant answer, "Tenessee will not furnish a single man for coercion, but fifty thousand, if necessary, for the defence of our rights, and those of our brethren.>* The answer of Beriah McGoffin, who has the questionable fame of having invented a novel style of neutrality, bristling northward with bayonets and looking southward with men and means, said: "In answer, I say, emphatically, that Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing Southern States!" The conscientious care of Beriah, lest the President "should put forth his hand into iniquity," would savor much of hopeful sanctity, did it not so strongly suggest the ancient, but unseemly role of Satan as a reprover! The precious trio of Border State statesmen, had their emissaries watching this important river and railway center, with eagle and evil eyes, and were almost ready to seize it, but the commander of the Union forces, was swift to forestall them, and Cairo became, and has remained, a military post of the United States.
In his message to the Legislature in extraordinary session, Gov. Yates states the reasons for the immediate occupancy of this point:
"The transfer of part of the volunteer forces of this State was made in compliance with an order of the War Department, directing a force to be stationed at Cairo. Simultaneously with the receipt of the order, reliable information reached me of the existence of a conspiracy by disaffected persons in other States to seize upon Cairo and the southern portion of the Illinois Central Railroad and cut off communication with the interior of the State. It was my desire that the honor of this service should have been given to the patriotic citizens of the counties in the immediate vicinity. But as these were not at that time organized and armed for patriotic duty, and the necessity for speedy action was imperative, the requisition was filled from companies previously tendered from other portions of the State."
The arrival of the troops had its grim poetry and romance. The loyalty of all the residents of the city was not above suspicion, but they met a sudden change of expression, if not of heart. The rationale of their conversion was well stated by a plain farmer of the vicinity: "I tell you what it is, them brass missionaries has converted a heap of folks that was on the anxious seat!" Even so, and the government was to learn that "brass pieces," ball and bayonet, were the true evangels of peace and the avant couriers of a restored Union!
FIRST BRIGADE. 101
An aggrieved Kentucky Congressman wrote Mr. Lincoln a note complaining that Cairo was occupied by armed troops, and tnat Kentucky regarded the act as a usurpation and offensive. The President replied by assuring the honorable member that when he ordered the troops to Cairo, Illinois, he did not suspect that it was included in a Kentucky Congressional District or he surely would not have done so! But he did not soothe the ruffled representative by an order to remove the forces.
On the 24th the seven companies arrived from Springfield, commanded by Colonel, afterward Major-General B. M. Prentiss, who relieved General Swift, and assumed command. The companies of of Harding, Hayden and Clyborne proceeded to Springfield to join a regiment then organizing, but were too late and were mustered out of service, receiving one month's pay, allowed them by act of the Legislature then in extraordinary session.
Under the provisions of the Legislature, six regiments were organized, and called the "First Brigade of Illinois Volunteers." These regiments were numbered, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve, in respect to the regiments of Illinois volunteers, that had served in the Mexican war. As soon as these forces were mustered, they were ordered to duty. The Seventh, commanded by Colonel Cook> was mustered into service at Springfield, April 25th and ordered to Alton, 111., on the 27th inst.
The Eighth, commanded by Colonel Oglesby, was mustered into service, the same day, and ordered to Cairo on the 27th inst.
The Ninth, commanded by Colonel Paine, was mustered into service, at Springfield, April 26th, and was ordered to Cairo, May 1st.
The Tenth, commanded by Colonel Prentiss, with part of his command, was ordered to Cairo, April 22d, and on the 29th was mustered into service at Cairo.
The Eleventh, commanded by Colonel Wallace, was mustered into service at Springfield, April 30th, and ordered to Villa Ridge, May 5th.
The Twelfth, commanded by Colonel McArthur, was mustered at Springfield, May 2d, and ordered to Cairo, May 10th.
In relation to the formation of this brigade, Adjutant-General Fuller, makes the following interesting remarks: "On the completion of the organization of these regiments several hundred volunteers were left unprovided for. Most of the companies arrived in camp with over one hundred men. Seven hundred and eighty, rank and file, was the maximum allowed by the War Department, and among the most touching and painful incidents, indicating the patriotic fervor of our people, at that time, noticed in the preparation of these troops for the field, was the rejection of these surplus volunteers. Strong men, who had left their homes at an hour's notice to enter the service of their country, wept at the disappointment of being refused admission to companies on muster day. Provision was made for them of one month's pay, and they filed their rolls and were mustered out of the service of the State!"
The service rendered by these forces to the Government, while posted at Cairo, can not be too highly prized.
One of the early doings of the Cairo garrison was the stoppage of the river trade in Galena lead and Cincinnati and Louisville dry goods. Boats were passing daily with such stores, designed for "Southern trade." In advance of orders from Washington, Governor Yates sent the following order:
"Springfield, April 24, 1861. "Col. B. M. Prentiss, Cairo:
"The steamers C E Hillman and John D. Perry are about to leave St. Louis with arms and munitions. Stop said boats and seize all the arms and munitions.
"richard Yates, "Commander-in-Chief."
On the evening of the 24th and morning of the 25th the steamers came on, not suspecting stoppage. Col. Prentiss had given orders to Capt. Smith, of Chicago Light Artillery, and Capt. Scott, of the Chicago Zouaves to board and seize them, and those gallant young officers performed the work with a relish, and the arms and munitions, of which there were large quantities, were seized, and their confiscation was subsequently approved at Washington, and on the 7th of May Secretary Chase, of the Treasury, issued a circular forbidding shipments to ports under insurrectionary control, and directing; that all such shipments should be stopped at Cairo.
The Legislature passed liberal appropriation bills, that the State might be placed on a war footing, and authorized the creation of ten regiments of infantry, one regiment of cavalry and one battalion of light artillery, for State service. One of these might be organized from volunteer companies then at Springfield, and one from each
SEIZtTRE OF ARMS. 103
of the then existing nine Congressional districts. Volunteers accepted in these regiments were required to give pledge to tender their services to the War Department, if called for. As soon as arms could be furnished, each regiment was to be placed in encampments at Regimental Headquarters, in the Congressional district where it was raised, and remain in camp thirty days for drill and instruction, unless sooner demanded by the General Government. This act took effect May 2d, but the next day a new phase was given.
The President, without awaiting the assembling of Congress, made another call, this time for three years unless sooner discharged, but only for 42,032 men, of whom Illinois was to furnish six regiments. For some time the history is that of a persistent effort by the people to place enough men at once in the field, to march over all opposition to Richmond, Montgomery, and Charleston, and on the part of the War Department to carry on the "suppression of disturbances" with as little military array as possible, with the fewest number of men, and least possible war materiel. That there was loyal determination, we do not doubt, but the General-in-Chief was aged, and Mr. Stanton was not yet Secretary of War.
At this point the reader will excuse the insertion of an interesting episode which merits a place in history, both in view of the daring and tact of its performance and the advantages resulting.
We have heretofore spoken of the difficulty of arming the Cairo expedition, and the same difficulty was anticipated in reference to the ten regiments called, at first, into the State service. A messen ger was sent to Washington City to procure arms, who returned, in the latter part of April, with an order from the Secretary of War for 10,000 of the muskets in the arsenal at St. Louis. At that time the arsenal at St. Louis was closely watched by secession spies, and a mob of secessionists were ready to seize the arms the moment an attempt should be made to remove them. The question was, who will undertake the hazardous enterprise, and how can it be made successful? Captain James H. Stokes, of Chicago, volunteered to undertake the perilous mission. Gov. Yates placed in his hands the requisite< of the Secretary of War for 10,000 muskets. Captain Stokes T *■ ceeded to St. Louis, and made his way as rapidly as possible to t-7 arsenal. He found it surrounded by an immense mob, and the postern gates closed. His utmost efforts to penetrate the crowd were for a long time unavailing. The requisition waSv shown to the commander of the arsenal. Captain Lyon doubted the possi bility 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. Captain Stokes stated that every hour's delay was rendering the capture of the arsenal more certain, and that the arms must be moved to Illinois now or never. Major Callender agreed with him, and told him to take them at his own time and in his own way. This was Wednesday night, 24th of April.
Captain Stokes had a spy in the camp whom he met at intervals 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 undertaking would have been an easy one. His friends had already planted one battery on the St. Louis levee, and another at Powder Point, a short distance below the arsenal. Captain Stokes immediately telegraphed to Alton to have the steamer City of Alton drop down the river to the arsenal, and to land there 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, brought there to be altered, and sent them to be placed on a steamer as a blind to cover his real movements. The Secessionists seized the muskets at once, and raised a perfect shout of joy over the capture. A large portion of the outside crowd left the arsenal when this movement was executed; and Captain 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 along side, planks were run from the windows to the main deck, and the boxes were shoved down into the boat. When 10,000 were safely on board, Captain Stokes went to Captain Lyon and Major Callender, and urged them, by the most pressing appeals, to let him empty the arsenal. They told him to go