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Grand Reception of Fremont.


November/December 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 9, 1861.


20,000 People Assembled to do Him Honor.

Unbounded Enthusiasm.

Magnificent Torchlight Procession.



The reception of Gen. Fremont last evening was one of the most imposing and enthusiastic demonstrations that has ever taken place in the city of St. Louis. All classes and conditions of people participated in it—the ladies turning out by thousands. The circumstances preceding and accompanying the event may be briefly stated as follows:

The persecution and misrepresentation of Fremont by persons high in the confidence of the country and interested in his downfall, led at last to his removal from the Western Department, just as he was face to face with the rebel foe, and able almost beyond a doubt to achieve a glorious victory over them. This, when the circumstances of his appointment, and the manner in which the army has been raised and equipped, and the general untoward surroundings of the department were considered, seemed a great injustice to him. Besides, he had endeared himself to the loyal citizens of his department by his vigor and the directness with which he dealt with traitors. His proclamation went home to the hearts of the people. As he was to arrive last evening, on his way to Washington City, it was resolved to give him such a reception as was worthy the man and the occasion. Accordingly, Thursday evening, meetings were held at several of the public halls to appoint a reception committee, and to arrange all necessary preliminaries. These meetings also adopted an address and resolutions to be presented to the General. The different delegations, or organizations, were to meet at Soulard Market, Washington Hall, Sturgeon Market and Guerdemann’s, and proceed from there at seven o’clock in torch light procession to General Fremont’s Headquarters, where the committee were to present the address and resolutions.

The special train having the General and escort aboard was expected to arrive between five and six o’clock. Before that time a large crowd had collected about the Pacific Railroad depot. After waiting about an hour, it was ascertained that the party would disembark at the Fourteenth street depot, and the crowd hurried up to that place.

A body of cavalry were drawn up in the street to the south of the depot, and an open barouche, drawn by two black horses, stood in readiness to convey the General to headquarters. The crowd had increased much in size, and the depot and adjacent streets were crammed and crowded with men, women and children. Another delay of an hour occurred, in which each one enjoyed himself pretty much as he pleased. There was merriment and good humor on all hands. At last the train made its appearance, and from that time till the General took his seat in the barouche, there was a continued cheering and waving of hats and handkerchiefs and other manifestations of enthusiasm and welcome. The crowd was so dense, and the pressure so great to get nearer, that it was some time before a movement could be made. At last the cavalry pressed the crowd apart, and the carriage moved off amid a great outburst of cheers. It passed up Fourteenth street and down Chouteau avenue to headquarters, followed by the crowd, which came blundering along as fast as the dense dust and pale moonlight would admit of.

General Fremont left Springfield Monday morning, escorted by fifty-two Delaware Indians, Holman’s battalion of Sharp-shooters, and the remnant of the body guard. He came through to Sedalia, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles, by Thursday noon. The march was characterized by nothing unusual, except it be war-dance by the Delawares, at camp Fall-leaf, so named in honor of the chief of the band. These Delawares refused to serve any longer, as Fremont was going away. They left the escort at Sedalia, and went out to Kansas City. At Sedalia there was a delay, and the train did not start till 3 A. M., yesterday. All the way down to the city, at every station, the train was saluted with cannon or flying banners. Much more enthusiasm was manifested than when the General went West. The body guard consists of 180 men, some twenty of whom having lost their horses in the battle, are now dismounted. Holman’s sharp-shooters, 160 men; the remainder of Capt. Naughton’s company, 27 men, and about 340 horses, came down in the train; also Major White and all the General’s staff, except Cols. Hudson, Shanks and Lovejoy.

At Headquarters a dense crowd awaited him, and the cheers and shouts of welcome which greeted him showed plainly that there was both soul and sentiment in the occasion. The General made his way through the crowd into his residence, where he was warmly received by his family and a circle of devoted friends. For about an hour he remained inside his dwelling, meanwhile the crowd gathering in such numbers as to entirely block up the avenue for squares each way, and filling the cross streets near Headquarters. It is impossible to give a correct estimate of the crowd present. Several persons put it as high as forty thousand, but we are satisfied it would reach twenty thousand. The enthusiasm was unbounded. The bands of music played stirring national airs, rockets went up, and the shouts of the multitude for “General Fremont” rent the air in unbroken volumes of cheering. About eight o’clock the torch light procession, moving down Sixth street, made its grand entrance into Chouteau avenue, and such was the density of the crowd that it was at last a full hour in passing headquarters. General Fremont’s appearance upon the steps of his residence at this point of the proceedings was the signal for tumultuous applause, which was kept up for nearly half an hour, the crowd surging to and fro like the waves of the ocean. Here the citizens’ committee of reception was announced, and with great difficulty made its way into the building. The General received the committee in the magnificent reception room of Headquarters, and forming around him ins a sort of semi-circle, the chairman welcomed him again to St. Louis in the following neat and pertinent address, and read to him the annexed resolutions which were passed by the citizens’ mass meeting. The General received the address and resolutions in his usually modest manner, and from his reply which followed it was evident he felt seriously the peculiar embarrassment and significance of the occasion. It is quite impossible to do justice to this most brilliant and popular ovation, in a hurried report. Suffice it to say that it was generally interpreted to be a withering rebuke to the course which has been pursued towards one of our favorite Generals. But though the enthusiasm was unbounded, and the sympathy of the multitude was with him whose premature return from the pursuit of the enemy of our country had called them out in this magnificent demonstration, still, they did not forget our country, but sent up prayers and shouts to heaven for its unity and happy deliverance from its present troubles.

GENERAL: We are instructed by the citizens of St. Louis to welcome you to our city, and perform the duty imposed upon us with feelings of sorrow and pleasure. While we deeply regret the occasion of your presence among us, we rejoice in the unmistakable manifestation of the unflagging sympathy of the people.

They have witnessed with astonishment and indignation the event, unprecedented in history, of your removal from the command, while in active pursuit of the enemy, and on the very eve of reaping the fruits of your incessant and successful labors. The true causes which led to your recall are well understood and appreciated—you have risen too fast in popular favor. The policy announced in your proclamation, although hailed by the people as a political and military necessity, furnished your ambitious rivals and enemies with a welcome weapon for your intended destruction.

The harbingers of truth will ever by 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. As loyal citizens, we follow your example in yielding due obedience to the edicts of the powers that be. With you, we join in the hope that the enthusiasm with which you have imbued the army created by and devoted to you, may lead them to victory, even in the absence of their legitimate leader.

Should we meet with reverses, no fault will be charged upon you; should victory perch on our banners, the wreath of triumph will be placed on your brow by the verdict of the country.

Permit us to assure you that when the smoke of battle shall have passed away, and peace shall be restored to us, an appeal to the people, from the action of its servants, will triumphantly sustain you.

In pursuance of our instructions, we take pleasure in presenting you a copy of resolutions unanimously adopted by the citizens of St. Louis, in mass meeting assembled:

1. That we recognize in John C. Fremont the embodiment of our patriotic feeling and political faith.

2. That, notwithstanding many paralyzing circumstances, he has performed his arduous and responsible task with all possible energy and honesty.

3. That we admire his impartiality and sagacity in selecting his military counselors, without national prejudices, from among such men as he considered true and worthy of his confidence.

4. That we will stand by him as long as he shall prove true to himself.

5. That while we submit to the action of the Government, as behooves loyal citizens, we regret to be deprived in the present moment of his services in conquering the rebel enemy, and believe to recognize in this event a wise Providence which may have reserved him for a still wider sphere of action in future times.

At the conclusion of the reading, General Fremont responded. He spoke in a clear, low tone, but not without feeling, as follows:

“Gentlemen, I wish to say to you that your kind and affectionate-I may even say affectionate-reception of me has moved my heart. It cheers me and strengthened my confidence-my confidence, already somewhat wavering-in our republican institutions. I felt all day, as we passed through the country—I feel emphatically to-night—that the faithful servant of the people, honestly laboring in the public cause, will not be allowed to suffer undeserved, and I feel stronger.

“And for all this, gentlemen, to you and to them I renew my thanks with all my heart, which to-night is roused to full sensibility by the hearty and unqualified expression of your confidence and approbation, so valuable and grateful to me in my actual position. I shall soon have occasion—for I shall make occasion-to answer all these charges more definitely. Until then, I will rely upon this evening for my defense.”