At that time the public was slow to understand the power and extent of military law and military rule. When martial law was declared in St. Louis, in August, 1861, a citizen waited upon the provost-marshal, in order to ascertain the precise state of affairs.
After some desultory conversation, he threw out the question:—
“What does martial law do?”
“Well,” said Major McKinstry, the provost-marshal, “I can explain the whole thing in a second. Martial law does pretty much as it d—n pleases.”
Before the year was ended the inhabitants of St. Louis learned that the major’s assertion was not far from the truth.
TO SPRINGFIELD AND BEYOND.
Conduct of the St. Louis Secessionists.—Collisions between Soldiers and Citizens.—Indignation of the Guests of a Hotel.—From St. Louis to Rolla.—Opinions of a “Regular.”—Railway-life in Missouri.—Unprofitable Freight.—A Story of Orthography.—Mountains and Mountain Streams.—Fastidiousness Checked.—Frontier Courtesy.—Concentration of Troops at Springfield.—A Perplexing Situation.—The March to Dug Spring.—Sufferings from Heat and Thirst.
The success of the Union arms at Booneville did not silence the Secessionists in St. Louis. They continued to hold meetings, and arrange plans for assisting their friends in the field. At many places, one could hear expressions of indignation at the restrictions which the proper authorities sought to put upon the secession movement. Union flags were torn from the front of private buildings—generally in the night or early morning. Twice, when Union troops were marching along the streets, they were fired upon by citizens. A collision of this kind had occurred at the corner of Fifth and Walnut streets, on the day after the capture of Camp Jackson. The soldiers returned the fire, and killed several persons; but this did not deter the Secessionists from repeating the experiment. In the affairs that took place after the battle of Booneville, the result was the same. Unfortunately, in each collision, a portion of those killed were innocent on-lookers. After a few occurrences of this kind, soldiers were allowed to march through the streets without molestation.
About the first of July, there were rumors that an insurrection would be attempted on the National holiday. Ample provision was made to give the insurgents a warm reception. Consequently, they made no trouble. The printer of the bills of fare at a prominent hotel noticed the Fourth of July by ornamenting his work with a National flag, in colors. This roused the indignation of a half-dozen guests, whose sympathies lay with the Rebellion. They threatened to leave, but were so far in arrears that they could not settle their accounts. The hotel-keeper endeavored to soothe them by promising to give his printing, for the future, to another house. Several loyal guests were roused at this offer, and threatened to secede at once if it were carried out. The affair resulted in nothing but words.