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On the 14th of October, after a personal inspection of affairs in that department by the Secretary of War, an order was issued from the War Department, in effect censuring General Fremont for having expended very large sums of the public money, through agents of his own appointment, and not responsible to the government;-requiring all contracts and disbursements to be made by the proper officers of the army ;-directing the discontinuance of the extensive fieldworks, which the General was erecting around St. Louis and Jefferson City; and also the barracks in construction around his head-quarters, and also notifying him that the officers, to whom he had issued commissions, would not be paid until those commissions should have been approved by the President. On the 1st of November, General Fremont entered into an agreement with General Sterling Price, commanding the rebel forces in Missouri, by which each party stipulated that no further arrests of citizens should be made on either side for the expression of political opinions, and releasing all who were then in custody on such charges.
On the 2d of November, General Fremont was relieved from his command in the Western Department, in consequence of his action in the matters above referred to, his command devolving on General Hunter, to whom, as soon as a change in the command of the Department had been decided on, the President had addressed the following letter :
WASHINGTON, October 24, 1861. SIR:—The command of the Department of the West having devolved upon you, I propose to offer you a few suggestions, knowing how hazardous it is to bind down a distant commander in the field to specific lines of operation, as so much always depends on the knowledge of localities and passing events. It is intended, therefore, to leave considerable margin for the exercise of your judgment and discretion.
The main rebel army (Price's) west of the Mississippi is believed to have passed Dade county in full retreat upon Northwestern Arkansas, leaving Missouri almost free from the enemy, excepting in the southeast
part of the State. Assuming this basis of fact, it seems desirable--as you are not likely to overtake Price, and are in danger of making too long a line from your own base of supplies and re-enforcements-that you should give up the pursuit, halt your main army, divide it into two corps of observation, one occupying Sedalia and the other Rolla, the present termini of railroads, then recruit the condition of both corps by re-establishing and improving their discipline and instruction, perfecting their clothing and equipments, and providing less uncomfortable quarters. Of course, both railroads must be guarded and kept open, judiciously employing just so much force as is necessary for this. From these two points, Sedalia and Rolla, and especially in judicious cooperation with Lane on the Kansas border, it would be very easy to concentrate, and repel any army of the enemy returning on Missouri on the Southwest. As it is not probable any such attempt to return will be made before or during the approaching cold weather, before spring the people of Missouri will be in no favorable mood for renewing for next year the troubles which have so much afflicted and impoverished them during this.
If you take this line of policy, and if, as I anticipate, you will see no enemy in great force approaching, you will have a surplus force which you can withdraw from those points, and direct to others, as may be needed—the railroads furnishing ready means of re-enforcing those main points, if occasion requires.
Doubtless local uprisings for a time will continue to occur, but those can be met by detachments of local forces of our own, and will ere long tire out of themselves.
While, as stated at the beginning of this letter, a large discretion must be and is left with yourself, I feel sure that an indefinite pursuit of Price, or an attempt by this long and circuitous route to reach Memphis, will be exhaustive beyond endurance, and will end in the loss of the whole force engaged in it. Your obedient servant,
A. LINCOLN. The Commander of the Department of the West.
General Hunter's first act was to repudiate the agreement of Gen. Fremont with General Price, and, on the 18th of November, General Halleck arrived as his successor. · The action of General Fremont had given rise to very serious complaints on the part of the people of Missouri ; and these in turn had led to strong demonstrations on his behalf.
His removal was made the occasion for public manifestations of sympathy for him, and of censure for the government. An address was presented to him, signed by large numbers of the citizens of St. Louis, those of German birth largely predominating, in which his removal was ascribed to jealousy of his popularity, and to the fact that his policy in regard to emancipation was in advance of the government at Washington. “ You have risen,” said this address, “ too fast in popular favor. The policy announced in your proclamation, although hailed as a political and military necessity, furnished your ambitious rivals and enemies with a cruel
for your intended destruction. The harbingers of truth will ever be crucified by the Pharisees. We cannot be deceived by shallow and flimsy pretexts, by unfounded and slanderous reports. We entertain no doubt of your ability to speedily confound and silence your traducers. The day of reckoning is not far distant, and the people will take care that the schemes of your opponents shall, in the end be signally defeated.” The General accepted these tributes to his merits, and these denunciations of the government, with grateful acknowledgments, saying that the kind and affectionate demonstrations which greeted bim, cheered and strengthened his confidence—“ my confidence,” he said, " already somewhat wavering, in our republican institutions."
The sharp personal discussions to which this incident gave rise, were made still more bitter, by denunciations of General Halleck's course in excluding, for military reasons, which have been already noticed,* fugitive slaves from our lines, and by the contest that soon came up in the State Convention, on the general subject of emancipation. On the 7th of June, 1862, a bill was introduced into the Convention by Judge Breckinridge, of St. Louis, for gradual emancipation, framed in accordance with the recommendation of the President's Mes
* See page 292.
sage. By the combined votes of those who were opposed to emancipation in any form, and those who were opposed to the President's plan of gradual emancipation, this bill was summarily laid on the table. But on the 13th, the subject was again brought up by a Message from Governor Gamble, calling attention to the fact, that Congress had passed a resolution, in accordance with the President's recommendation, declaring that “the United States ought to co-operate with any State which might adopt a gradual emancipation of slavery, giving to such State, at its discretion, compensation for the inconvenience, public and private, caused by such a change of system.”
This message was referred to a special committee, which reported resolutions, recognizing the generous spirit of this proposal, but declining to take any action upon it. These resolutions were adopted, and on the 16th a Mass Convention of Emancipationists, consisting of 195 delegates from 25 counties, met at Jefferson City, and passed resolutions, declaring it to be the duty of the next General Assembly to pass laws, giving effect to a gradual system of emancipation on the basis proposed.
At the State election, in the following November, the question of emancipation was the leading theme of controversy. Throughout the State the canvass turned upon this issue, and resulted in the choice of a decided majority of the Assembly favorable to emancipation. But the division in the ranks of this- party still continued, and gave rise to very heated and bitter contests, especially in St. Louis. During the summer, the main rebel army having been driven from the State, and. the Union army being of necessity in the main withdrawn to other fields, the State was overrun by reckless bands of rebel guerrillas, who robbed and plundered Union citizens, and created very great alarm among the people. In consequence of these outrages, Governor Gamble ordered the organization of the entire militia of the State, and authorized General
Schofield to call into active service such portions of it as might be needed to put down marauders, and defend peaceable and loyal citizens. The organization was effected with great promptness, and the State militia became a powerful auxiliary of the national forces, and cleared all sections of the State of the lawless bands which had inflicted so much injury and committed so many outrages.
On the 19th of September, the States of Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas, were formed into a military district, of which the command was assigned to General Curtis, who was thoroughly in sympathy with the friends of immediate emancipation and the supporters of General Fremont in bis differences with the government. He had control of the national forces in his district, but Governor Gamble did not give him command of the State militia.
The differences of political sentiment between the two sections of the Union men of the State came thus to be represented, to some extent, by two organized military forces; and the contest between their respective partisans continued to be waged with increasing bitterness, greatly to the embarrassment of the government at Washington, and to the weakening of the Union cause.
This continued until the spring of 1863, wben the President removed General Curtis from his command, and appointed General Schofield in his place. This gave rise to very vehement remonstrances and protests, to one of which, sent by telegraph, the President made the following reply;
Your dispatch of to-day is just received. It is very painful to me that you, in Missouri, cannot, or will not, settle your factional quarrel among yourselves. I have been tormented with it beyond endurance, for months, by both sides. Neither side pays the least respect to my appeals to your reason. I am now compelled to take hold of the case.
To General Schofield himself, the President soon after addressed the following letter :