The references that have been made to General Frank P. Blair of Missouri have not been complimentary to that individual. They would indicate on the part of the writer no very exalted admiration for or estimate of the man. In that particular they are not altogether just. The stormy period of the Rebellion brought out few more picturesque figures than his, or in some respects more admirable characters. There is no question that, but for the efforts of Blair, the Rebels would have effected the capture of St. Louis at the beginning of the war, to be followed by the at least temporary control of the entire State of Missouri, and possibly of Kansas as well. To that end preparations had been carefully and skillfully made. The leader in the movement was none other than Missouri’s Governor, Claiborne F. Jackson, who was justly looked upon as one of the most consummate and accomplished schemers of the time. He was a Rebel from head to foot. He had taken office with the deliberate purpose of swinging his State into the Confederate column, and without regard to the wishes of the majority of the people whom he officially represented. He was supported by a sympathetic corps of official assistants, including a majority of the Legislature of his State, who gave him whatever legislation he wanted. Every advantage seemed to be on his side. He would undoubtedly have succeeded but for the opposition of Blair. In him he encountered an equal in cunning, and more than a match in courage and energy.
When the Governor and his helpers were busy raising an army pursuant to the conditions of a law that had been enacted for the purpose, and which hampered their operations, Blair went ahead in raising and equipping an army on the other side without the slightest regard to law. The presence or absence of a statute did not trouble him in the least. He called on the Unionists to organize and arm, and when a sufficient force, composed in greater part of loyal Germans, had responded he struck the first blow. In a legal aspect the whole proceeding was irregular, but it was none the less effective.
When the Governor’s army was quietly encamped on the outskirts of St. Louis, for the capture and occupancy of which it was getting ready, it found itself unexpectedly surrounded by a superior force, and its surrender was demanded in a way that admitted of no denial. The writer was present on the occasion. From a convenient eminence he witnessed the whole proceeding. When Jackson’s men—the rendezvous had in honor of his Excellency the Governor been named Camp Jackson—were enjoying themselves on a pleasant summer’s day, sleeping on the grass, playing cards, or escorting their lady friends and other visitors about the grounds, suddenly they realized that their position was commanded by hostile guns. Pointing downward from higher ground not far off were nearly a score of frowning cannons, behind which stood men with burning fuses. I had watched the Union