In Chicago, business was prostrated on account of the outbreak of hostilities. Most of the banks in Illinois had been holding State bonds as securities for the redemption of their circulation. As these bonds were nearly all of Southern origin, the beginning of the war had materially affected their value. The banks found their securities rapidly becoming insecure, and hence there was a depreciation in the currency. This was not uniform, but varied from five to sixty per cent., according to the value of the bonds the respective banks were holding. Each morning and evening bulletins were issued stating the value of the notes of the various banking-houses. Such a currency was very inconvenient to handle, as the payment of any considerable sum required a calculation to establish the worth of each note.
Many rumors were in circulation concerning the insecurity of a Northern visitor in St. Louis, but none of the stories were very alarming. Of one thing all were certain—the star of the Union was in the ascendant. On arriving in St. Louis I found the city far from quiet, though there was nothing to lead a stranger to consider his personal safety in danger. I had ample material for entering at once upon my professional duties, in chronicling the disordered and threatening state of affairs.
On the day of my arrival, I met a gentleman I had known in the Rocky Mountains, six months before. I knew his courage was beyond question, having seen him in several disturbances incident to the Gold Regions; but I was not aware which side of the great cause he had espoused. After our first greetings, I ventured to ask how he stood.
“I am a Union man,” was his emphatic response.
“What kind of a Union man are you?”
“I am this kind of a Union man,” and he threw open his coat, and showed me a huge revolver, strapped to his waist.
There were many loyal men in St. Louis, whose sympathies were evinced in a similar manner. Revolvers were at a premium.
Some of the Secessionists ordered a quantity of revolvers from New York, to be forwarded by express. To prevent interference by the Union authorities, they caused the case to be directed to “Colonel Francis P. Blair, Jr., care of ——.” They thought Colonel Blair’s name would secure the property from seizure. The person in whose care the revolvers were sent was a noted Secessionist, who dealt extensively in fire-arms.
Colonel Blair learned of the shipment, and met the box at the station. Fifty revolvers of the finest quality, bought and paid for by the Secessionists, were distributed among the friends of Colonel Blair, and were highly prized by the recipients.
MISSOURI IN THE EARLY DAYS.