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time：2023-12-03 09:27:33 Source: Originally writtenedit：internet
Just a week later Missouri was saved for the Union by the daring skill of two determined leaders, Francis P. Blair, a Member of Congress who became a good major-general, and Captain Nathaniel Lyon, an excellent soldier, who commanded the little garrison of regulars at St. Louis. When Lincoln called upon Governor Claiborne Jackson to supply Missouri's quota of three-month volunteers the Governor denounced the proposed coercion as "illegal, unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, and diabolical"; and thereafter did his best to make Missouri join the South. But Blair and Lyon were too quick for him. Blair organized the Home Guards, whom Lyon armed from the arsenal. Lyon then sent all the surplus arms and stores across the river into Illinois, while he occupied the most commanding position near the arsenal with his own troops, thus forestalling the Confederates, under Brigadier-General D. M. Frost, who was now forced to establish Camp Jackson in a far less favorable place. So vigorously had Blair and Lyon worked that they had armed thousands while Frost had only armed hundreds. But when Frost received siege guns and mortars from farther south Lyon felt the time had come for action.
Lyon was a born leader, though Grant and Sherman (then in St. Louis as junior ex-officers, quite unknown to fame) were almost the only men, apart from Blair, to see any signs of preeminence in this fiery little redheaded, weather-beaten captain, who kept dashing about the arsenal, with his pockets full of papers, making sure of every detail connected with the handful of regulars and the thousands of Home Guards.
On the ninth of May Lyon borrowed an old dress from Blair's mother-in-law, completing the disguise with a thickly veiled sunbonnet, and drove through Camp Jackson. That night he and Blair attended a council of war, at which, overcoming all opposition, answering all objections, and making all arrangements, they laid their plans for the morrow. When Lyon's seven thousand surrounded Frost's seven hundred the Confederates surrendered at discretion and were marched as prisoners through St. Louis. There were many Southern sympathizers among the crowds in the streets; one of them fired a pistol; and the Home Guards fired back, killing several women and children by mistake. This unfortunate incident hardened many neutrals and even Unionists against the Union forces; so much so that Sterling Price, a Unionist and former governor, became a Confederate general, whose field for recruiting round Jefferson City on the Missouri promised a good crop of enemies to the Union cause.
Lyon and Blair wished to march against Price immediately and smash every hostile force while still in the act of forming. But General Harney, who commanded the Department of the West, returned to St. Louis the day after the shooting and made peace instead of war with Price. By the end of the month, however, Lincoln removed Harney and promoted Lyon in his place; whereupon Price and Governor Jackson at once prepared to fight. Then sundry neutrals, of the gabbling kind who think talk enough will settle anything, induced the implacables to meet in St. Louis. The conference was ended by Lyon's declaration that he would see every Missourian under the sod before he would take any orders from the State about any Federal matter, however small. "This," he said in conclusion, "means war." And it did.
Again a single week sufficed for the striking of the blow. The conference was held on the eleventh of June. On the fourteenth Lyon reached Jefferson City only to find that the Governor had decamped for Boonville, still higher up the Missouri. Here, on the seventeenth, Lyon attacked him with greatly superior numbers and skill, defeated him utterly, and sent him flying south with only a few hundred followers left. Boonville was, in itself, a very small affair indeed. But it had immense results. Lyon had seized the best strategic point of rail and river junction on the Mississippi by holding St. Louis. He had also secured supremacy in arms, munitions, and morale. By turning the Governor out of Jefferson City, the State capital, he had deprived the Confederates of the prestige and convenience of an acknowledged headquarters. Now, by defeating him at Boonville and driving his forces south in headlong flight he had practically made the whole Missouri River a Federal line of communication as well as a barrier between would-be Confederates to the north and south of it. More than this, the possession of Boonville struck a fatal blow at Confederate recruiting and organization throughout the whole of that strategic area; for Boonville was the center to which pro-Southern Missourians were flocking. The tide of battle was to go against the Federals at Wilson's Creek in the southwest of the State, and even at Lexington on the Missouri, as we shall presently see; but this was only the breaking of the last Confederate waves. As a State, Missouri was lost to the South already.
In Kentucky, the next border State, opinions were likewise divided; and Kentuckians fought each other with help from both sides. Anderson, of Fort Sumter fame, was appointed to the Kentucky command in May. But here the crisis did not occur for months, while a border campaign was already being fought in West Virginia.
West Virginia, which became a separate State during the war, was strongly Federal, like eastern Tennessee. These Federal parts of two Confederate States formed a wedge dangerous to the whole South, especially to Virginia and the Carolinas. Each side therefore tried to control this area itself. The Federals, under McClellan, of whom we shall soon hear more, had two lines of invasion into West Virginia, both based on the Ohio. The northern converged by rail, from Wheeling and Parkersburg, on Grafton, the only junction in West Virginia. The southern ran up the Great Kanawha, with good navigation to Charleston and water enough for small craft on to Gauley Bridge, which was the strategic point.
In May the Confederates cut the line near Grafton. As this broke direct communication between the West and Washington, McClellan sent forces from which two flying columns, three thousand strong, converged on Philippi, fifteen miles south of Grafton, and surprised a thousand Confederates. These thereupon retired, with little loss, to Beverly, thirty miles farther south still. Here there was a combat at Rich Mountain on the eleventh of July. The Confederates again retreated, losing General Garnett in a skirmish the following day. This ended McClellan's own campaign in West Virginia. But the Kanawha campaign, which lasted till November, had only just begun, with Rosecrans as successor to McClellan (who had been recalled to Washington for very high command) and with General Jacob D. Cox leading the force against Gauley. The Confederates did all they could to keep their precarious foothold. They sent political chiefs, like Henry A. Wise, ex-Governor of Virginia, and John B. Floyd, the late Federal Secretary of War, both of whom were now Confederate brigadiers. They even sent Lee himself in general commend. But, confronted by superior forces in a difficult and thoroughly hostile country, they at last retired east of the Alleghanies, which thenceforth became the frontier of two warring States.
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