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Terrible State of Things in Jefferson City.


May 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, May 13, 1861.

Our Jefferson City Correspondence.

Terrible state of things in Jefferson City—Governor frightened to death by dispatches from St. Louis—Implores his friends to stand by him or he may be arrested for Treason in twenty-four hours, etc., etc.

JEFFERSON CITY, May 11, 1861.

Yesterday afternoon the city was thrown into a terrible state of excitement and the Governor into hysterics, and the Legislature into a perfect trembling in their boots, by sundry reported dispatched from St. Louis, delivered to the Governor. The first one was that Col. Blair was marching with 3,500 men on Camp Jackson. The next one was that one had been sent by the paid and fed pauper of the State, the editor of the State Journal, to his bosom friend the Governor, who recognizes him because he is a South Carolinian traitor, as his organ, that Col. Blair had taken Camp Jackson; that the brave Missourians under General Frost, were surrendered unconditionally without firing a gun, and marched prisoners to the U. S. arsenal and Jefferson Barracks, with all their munitions of war, secretly smuggled in by the steamer Swan [sic, J. C. Swon], from New Orleans; and that Col. Blair was marching on Jefferson City with four thousand men, to take the den of traitors as his prisoners, on charge of high treason; also, to capture the powder.

Another dispatch, received afterwards, said that Col. Blair had only demanded from General Frost the cannon of the Southwest Expedition, as the property of the United States, but four thousand men were sent by him to enforce it; and that Gen. Frost had delivered them up under the protest of an overwhelming force against him in time of peace.

On the receipt of the first message, while your correspondent was in the telegraph office to send his dispatch, Parsons, Hough and others came in and took possession of the wire in the name of the Governor of the State. Mr. Goodwin asked leave to notify the Superintendent in St. Louis. He was emphatically refused, and told that another message sent by him would be treason to the State.

Armed men—Rev. J. S. Sockett, a Baptist preacher, Chaplain of the Senate, in partnership with another violent secessionist, Rev. Proftsman, who prays by turns—was placed as the captain or officer of the guards. He is the man, or wolf in sheep’s clothing, who tried to get up a company of secessionists in the city, to guard the powder, but failing in that went out to Clarke township, and raised one there. Instead of preaching the doctrines of the meek and lowly Jesus, as bound by far more sacred obligations than any oath, he had been most conspicuous in endeavoring to excite civil war; to force citizens and relatives of his own church, county and city to meet in deadly combat, and in the spirit of Cain, or a far more devilish one, to mutually shed each other’s blood. No matter what blood may flow, no matter what kindred may be sundered forever, this clerical demon is urging his fellow-citizens on to blood and slaughter, and is busily engaged, in the true spirit of Robespierre and Marat, in pointing out to his followers the marks at which they must aim in fratricidal conflict. He was peculiarly active in loading his gun and getting up sensation reports while in the telegraphic office guarding. He knew the reports were true—such were his assertions, when he knew they were not.

A special train was ordered by this Governor as soon as the telegraphic wires were taken possession of. Crowds of armed men gathered quickly on the main streets of the city. Excited messengers came running down from the capitol confirming the news of the dispatches. At about half past ten o’clock, P. M., the train was got ready to start for Osage—after considerable difficulty in getting an engineer, many of them refusing to serve. Finally an old man was got who left, followed by a volley of curses from his Union comrades.

The locomotive was backed up some distance to a passenger and baggage car secretly prepared by the Governor, and hitched on. On running back to the depot, about forty armed men were placed on board, with orders from Gen. Hough to allow no cigars or matches on board—thus showing that powder or inflammable material was placed on the cars. The train started on its errand of cowardice and fell destruction. The news, which is undoubted this morning, is that the Osage bridge was burned last night. This is positively confirmed. Whether this will reach you to-day I cannot say.

To show the panic of the secessionists, Mr. Massey, Secretary of State, and other leading secessionists, moved their families across the river to Callaway county this morning at daylight; also all the young ladies of the female seminary were sent across. The panic is terrible. Every one believes that Blair is on the other side of the Osage with 3,000 men. The last reports are that he is crossing it on rafts, and will be here tonight. The penitentiary prisoners are all locked up to-day. If Blair comes they are to be turned out and furnished with arms to fight against him, on condition of freedom.

A point was made on the proverbial good faith of the Governor last evening. Some days ago he was charged with having sent a secret commissioner to Montgomery to the President of the so-called Confederacy. Anxious to conceal it, he wrote a denial under his own hand, to appear in the State paper here, which appeared this morning. But the State Printer found out before the whole edition was struck off, that the Governor’s denial was false—that he had sent one, and came in and ordered his card out, saying that he would not knowingly publish a lie for anybody. So part of the edition has the card in and part has not.

Under the panic and excitement created by the reported dispatches from St. Louis, the Military bill was, of course, without amendment, pushed through both Houses.

A late evening session was held—also, an early morning session at 7 o’clock.

The State capitol is guarded inside and out with armed men and glistening with bayonets. Some of the secessionist members carry them into the halls. A military despotism reigns. Dispatched and carriers were sent all over the country yesterday and to-day, and probably a thousand armed men will be here this afternoon. They are now flocking in fast from the country. The Union men are in the majority, but are not armed, and dare not get up an organization until assured by Union men from other places.


JEFFERSON CITY, May 12, 1861.

As might have been expected, the first news of the capture of Camp Jackson by the United States troops on Friday last, threw the whole city and Assembly into a tremendous excitement, and rumor, with its thousand tongues, was busy in exaggeration. The first dispatch was that Col. Blair was marching with 4,000 men on the camp; the next that he had taken it without a gun being fired, and that Frost and his command were cowards—this was sent by Tucker; the next that he had only demanded and received the artillery of the camp, lately brought from the southwest. The next report, and which created a more terrible stir in the Assembly, was that two regiments were on the march from St. Louis to capture Jefferson City and take the Assembly and Governor prisoners.

Men were rushing to and fro in frantic haste, gathering their arms and exciting the people. The Governor told the Legislature that they must now stand by him, or else they and he would all be prisoners in 24 hours.

He ordered a special train to be got ready at once, to go down the Pacific Road with troops, and burn the bridges. He also took possession of the telegraph office at this city, and placed a guard over it with strict orders to allow no messages to go through. Your reporter, as well as others, were of course prevented thereby from sending messages. Messages and couriers were sent to every point of the country, calling for troops and arms.

Late in the evening, after considerable delay, occasioned I learn by the refusal of some of the railroad men to serve in the destruction of its property, a train was finally started down with about fifty men, under command of General Hough. The order before starting was to allow no matches or cigars on board, thus showing that they had combustibles in for firing the bridge. The next morning the news was brought that the bridge a Osage was burned. It turns out that once span on this side was burned so that trains could not pass, but that the passengers and mails were brought over by the laying of planks from the remainder of the bridge to the banks, with but little delay.

The State House was put under guard, the State Treasury was removed from the city, and every citizen was instructed to arm himself, if possible, and turn out.

The name of Col. F. P. Blair seems to strike terror to all—the Governor, the officers, and the Assembly. Several families have been sent over the river for safety, and also the young ladies of the seminary.

The convicts were all locked up and the city was put under strict military and civil restraint, all drinking saloons were closed by order, and most of the business houses voluntarily closed. Guards are stationed at every corner almost, also at the railroad depot.

No one could persuade the States Rights party, but that Col. Blair was on the road to take them all as prisoners for treason.

Since yesterday morning men from the country have been pouring in thick, and still were coming.

The effect of the news was at once seen on the action of the Assembly. Late night sessions were held on Friday night, and the military bill without amendments, was passed by a large majority in both houses.

In the morning of the same day it had met with a bitter opposition, and its friends feared its defeat. But fear prevailed over the better judgment of many of its opponents.

A bill was passed in the House and sent into the Senate authorizing the Governor to buy foundries for casting cannon; also real estate, on which to erect armories and manufacture arms.

An early morning session was held on Saturday. In the Senate an open session was held for a short time.

The bill to amend the city charter of St. Louis, introduced last session, was passed.

A bill allowing the banks to issue small notes was passed—thirty days being given to issue in.

A bill exempting the Sheriff of St. Louis county from a law passed at the late session, regulating the sale of real estate under execution, was passed.

A bill appropriating $25,000 for the construction of a State road to the southern boundary of the State, was passed. This road is intended as a military road, over which to transfer troops if necessary; also to command that boundary.

The appropriation bill for arming the State has passed both Houses. The provisions of it are not positively known yet. It is reported to appropriate some two or three millions for arming the State, to be raised by the issue of new bonds in small amounts, to be sold to citizens and made receivable for taxes by the appropriation of the bank fund to pay the State interest; also the school fund; also the whole revenue of the State for the next two years, if necessary.

Full and despotic powers are given to the Governor to act as he sees proper or expedient in the expenditure of this fund, or to raise the money [illegible].

The Assembly will probably adjourn on Tuesday or Wednesday. Many of the members have gone home and it is doubtful whether there will be a quorum in the House in the morning.

The Union members—those who were not borne down by clamor and threats, deem it useless now on their part to resist passage of any measure desired by the Governor and his party.

One of them remarked that never, in the history of any State, had such tyrannical, despotic bills, taking away all rights of the people, passed as there had been in this assembly, since the reception of the news from St. Louis. They would disgrace even the South Carolina. The people of the State must expect the worst invasions of freedom and rights. After the arrival of the papers last evening from St. Louis, the excitement somewhat quieted down.

Troops are arriving every hour, in squads or mounted companies. The telegraph is still under surveillance, though not so strict as at first. I believe business messages, &c., are allowed to go through.

The Union feeling here is rather on the increase than otherwise. All excitement of debate is avoided by the Union men. Their policy is to maintain a masterly inactivity until a vitiated political atmosphere becomes purified, which will not take place, however, until after the Assembly adjourns.

To the credit of all good citizens of all shades of party or opinion in this city the effort and wish are to avoid between themselves any personal animosities or quarrels on political subjects. Demagogues may try it, but their wish is for peace as citizens.