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FREMONT'S CAREER IN MISSOURI
arms on the southern frontier. Gen. evidencing that Fremont was prepared Pope was in North Missouri; Gen. to cut the Gordian knot instead of wastPrentiss was at Cairo with a few regi- ing time in trying to untie it: “Real and ments; the troops which Gen. Lyon had personal property of those who shall take commanded were in the condition above up arms against the United States, or narrated; and altogether a very unprom- who shall be directly proven to have ising scene lay before Fremont. But he taken an active part with their enemies lost no time in attempting to do what he in the field, is declared confiscated to could. He immediately reinforced Cairo public use, and their slaves, if any they and Bird's Point,* carrying with him have, are hereby declared free men.” for this purpose eight steamers and This was going quite too fast and too 3,800 men. Happily, Fremont was in far; Union men in the border states time, for the rebel General Pillow had, protested against it; the government at New Madrid, a few miles below, a had, as yet, no fixed or enlarged policy, force estimated at nearly 20,000, and especially of such a kind as was after- . might readily have seized upon this im- wards adopted; and the president re. portant strategic point. Fremont next quired, in a letter to Gen. Fremont, undertook to secure the defence of the Sept. 11th, that his proclamation or state cn a comprehensive plan, by for- order be annulled in its most striking tifying Girardeau, Ironton, Rolla and features.* Jefferson City, with St. Louis as a base, The town of Lexington, on the Misholding these places with sufficient gar-souri, 300 miles above St. Louis, was a risons, and leaving the army free for point of great importance to be held operations in the field.
against the rebels. On the 9th of SepIt soon became clear that Fremont tember, Colonel Mulligan arrived at did not mean to allow ordinary difficul. Lexington and took command, having ties to obstruct his path. This was less than 3,000 men under him. After shown by his compelling the United three days, Mulligan was besieged by
States treasurer at St. Louis to a very large body, under Price, some
fiirnish funds to pay the troops; 20,000 or more, and on the 17th, tho his proclaiming martial law, Aug. 14th, besieged were cut off from a supply of and suppressing two newspapers in St. water, and were compelled to surrender Louis; and on the 30th, his issuing a on the 20th of September. proclamation of great stringency, de- The large numbers under Sterling claring the whole state under martial Price, Ben McCulloch, and others in the law. One passage in this we quote, western and southern parts of the state,
rendered it a matter of necessity, in * Cairo, situate in Illinois, at a point of land formed by the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, Fremont's opinion, to pursue Price and 175 miles below St. Louis, was early seen by the Union men to be of great importance to keep possession of;
* The rebel Gen. Jeff. Thompson was very violent at Bird's Point, in Missouri, commands Cairo and could Fremont's proclamation, and issued a counter one from easily shell the place. Illinois troops were in Cairo as the south-western part of the state, threatening dira early as April 25th, and Gen. Grant bestowed much at vengeance, and a determination, as he phrased it, to tontion in strengthening and holding it.
“ retaliate ten-fold, so help me God I”
bis marauding forces, until he caught Fremont and directing him to turn over and routed them. Hence, while the his command to Gen. Hunter. This, , gun boats were being got ready for the although a mortification to Fremont, descent of the Mississippi, Fremont was not altogether unexpected ; for his turned his whole attention to the work relations with the department were not before him. His army, of which he satisfactory, and both Secretary Cametook the head, was composed of five ron and Gen. Thomas, who had made divisions, respectively commanded by a visit to the West, in October, to in Gens. Hunter, Pope, Sigel, Asboth and quire into matters, gave an impression McKinstry, the entire force numbering decidedly unfavorable to Fremont and about 39,000. They were a hardy, his doings. Others also, like Col. F serviceable race of men, but there was P. Blair, had made various charges great lack of arms and equipments, as against him; and his extravagance, well as of means of transportation. incompetency, and the like, were freely The movement was made southerly, to- spoken of; and so, whether wisely or wards Springfield. By the middle of not just at this juncture, his command October, Fremont, and his staff, with was taken from him. three companies of his famous " body Gen. Hunter, who arrived on the night guard,” and the divisions of Sigel and of the 3d of November, put off any atAsboth, were at Warsaw on the Osage tempt at engaging Price's army; he also, River, which, running parallel with the on the 7th, repudiated an agreement just Missouri, divides the central from the formed between, Fremont and Price in southern portion of the state on its regard to protecting peaceable citizens western side. While delayed here a of Missouri. After a few days, Hunter few days, a substantial bridge was began a retreat in the direction of St. built for the passage of the army. Louis, and as he retired Price followed.*
Springfield was reached by the ad. On the 18th of November, Gen. lIal. vanced divisions on the 28th of October. leck reached St. Louis, and took comA few days previously, the brave Hun- mand of the western department. On garian, Major Zagonyi, and his squadron the 21st, he ordered that no fugitive of cavalry, pushed forward, and with a slaves should be permitted to enter the force of a little over 300, attacked the lines of any camp, or of any forces on rebels numbering nearly 2,000, and the march, on the ground that importdrove them out of Springfield. Fre- ant information had been conveyed to mont, directly after his arrival, having the enemy through their means. On three of his divisions with him, made the 23d of December, he issued an preparations for a battle with the order, fixing the penalty of death on all rebels. Just at this crisis, when the army severely criticises the abandonment of Springfield, the
* Greeley, in his “ American Conflict,” vol. i, p.594, was eager for the contest and every giving up Southern Missouri without a blow, and the thing seemed to promise success, an
sneaking back to our fastnesses along the lines of
completed railroads, and within striking distance of St order arrived, Nov. 2d, superseding | Lonis.”
GENERAL GRANT AND BELMONT. persons engaged in destroying railroads ance of Missouri at this date to the and telegraphs; and on the 25th, he insurgents as well as the Union cause, declared martial law. The rebel Gen. we may mention, that not less than Price's plan was to approach from the sixty battles and skirmishes were fought borders of Kansas and destroy the on its soil during 1861. track of the northern railroad, so as to In this connection may be noted cut off communication with St. Louis. Gen. Grant's attempt to break up the Halleck's activity, however, together rebel encampment at Belmont, on the with excellent strategy displayed, pre Missouri side of the Mississippi, and vented Price carrying his plan into exe- opposite Columbus, Kentucky. This cution. Gen. Pope, who was, on the latter was the head quarters of secession, 7th of December, placed in command General (Bishop) Polk being in comof all the forces in Northern Missouri, mand. Gen. Grant was at Cairo, Illiprojected an expedition against Price, nois, and, aided by Gen. Smith, with which was rapidly and successfully Union forces at Paducah, Kentucky, carried out. On the 15th, Pope en-making a feint of attacking Columbus, camped near Sedalia; on the 16th, he he set out for Belmont. With about pushed forward and occupied a position 4,000 men, mostly Illinois troops, he between Warrensburg and Clinton; embarked, November 6th, in four and from thence operated against the steamboats convoyed by two gun boats, enemy, who were entirely defeated by to Island No. 1, within eleven miles
, Col. J. C. Davis at the mouth of Clear of Columbus. The next morning he Creek. Following upon this was an proceeded to Hunter's Point, a few excursion of Union troops to Lexing. miles above Belmont.
The troops ton, where a large foundry and several were landed on the Missouri shore, rebel craft on the river were destroyed. reached the camp at eleven o'clock, and The substantial result was, that almost after a sharp contest drove the rebels the entire region between the Missouri out, burned the tents, etc. After some and Osage Rivers was cleared by the hours fighting, with victory just at 25th of December, and Price was glad hand, the rebels received reinforcements to retreat to the borders of Arkansas in large numbers, and Grant and his to find subsistence and safety for himself men were compelled to cut their way and his men.
through to their boats. This they acDuring the last two weeks of Decem complished about five P.m., and escaped ber, the Union army captured, in vari- with a loss of about 600. The rebel ous skirmishes, 2,500 prisoners, in- loss was computed at 800. Although cluding ten commissioned officers, 1,200 forced to retreat, Grant accomplished horses and mules, 1,100 stand of arms, the main result of his expedition : the two tons of powder, 100 wagons, and camp at Belmont was broken ,
and an immense amount of stores and camp various rebel plans for operating west equipage. As evidencing the import- of the Mississippi were defeated.
VOL. IV.-NO. 12.