The defense was gallant, but as no garrisons can exist without water, Colonel Mulligan was forced to capitulate. It afterward became known that Price’s army had almost exhausted its stock of percussion-caps—it having less than two thousand when the surrender was made. General Fremont was highly censured by the Press and people for not re-enforcing the garrison, when it was known that Price was moving upon Lexington. One journal in St. Louis, that took occasion to comment adversely upon his conduct, was suddenly suppressed. After a stoppage of a few days, it was allowed to resume publication.
During the siege a small column of infantry approached the north bank of the river, opposite Lexington, with the design of joining Colonel Mulligan. The attempt was considered too hazardous, and no junction was effected. Mr. Wilkie, of the New York Times, accompanied this column, and was much disappointed when the project of reaching Lexington was given up.
Determined to see the battle, he crossed the river and surrendered himself to General Price, with a request to be put on parole until the battle was ended. The Rebel commander gave him quarters in the guardhouse till the surrender took place. Mr. Wilkie was then liberated, and reached St. Louis with an exclusive account of the affair.
While General Price was holding Lexington, General Fremont commenced assembling an army at Jefferson City, with the avowed intention of cutting off the retreat of the Rebels through Southwest Missouri. From Jefferson City our forces moved to Tipton and Syracuse, and there left the line of railway for a march to Springfield. Our movements were not conducted with celerity, and before we left Jefferson City the Rebels had evacuated Lexington and moved toward Springfield.
The delay in our advance was chiefly owing to a lack of transportation and a deficiency of arms for the men. General Fremont’s friends charged that he was not properly sustained by the Administration, in his efforts to outfit and organize his army. There was, doubtless, some ground for this charge, as the authorities, at that particular time, were unable to see any danger, except at Washington. They often diverted to that point materiel that had been originally designed for St. Louis.
As the army lay at Jefferson City, preparing for the field, some twelve or fifteen journalists, representing the prominent papers of the country, assembled there to chronicle its achievements. They waited nearly two weeks for the movement to begin. Some became sick, others left in disgust, but the most of them remained firm. The devices of the journalists to kill time were of an amusing nature. The town had no attractions whatever, and the gentlemen of the press devoted themselves to fast riding on the best horses they could obtain. Their horseback excursions usually terminated in lively races, in which both riders and steeds were sufferers. The representatives of two widely-circulated dailies narrowly escaped being sent home with broken necks.