Print this page

The St. Louis Riot Following Camp Jackson

Tour Stop

Sketch of civilian mob attacking Federal Volunteers at Fifth and Walnut Streets in St. Louis appeared in Harpers Weekly on June 1, 1861

Directions: On May 11, 1861, the day after the Camp Jackson Affair, the Fifth Regiment, US Reserve Corps was attacked by a civilian mob near the corner of Fifth (modern day Broadway) and Walnut Streets. [ Waypoint = N38 37.477 W90 11.427 ].

  • It's only about two and a half blocks to the next tour stop.
  • Walk down the courthouse steps and head south down Fourth Street.
  • Stay on Fourth Street as you cross over Market Street.
  • Continue walking south on Fourth Street for one block until you reach Walnut Street.
  • Turn right (west) and walk along Walnut Street for one block until you reach Broadway.
Charles G. Stifel, Colonel, Federal Volunteers

Description: Although there is not much to see, you are standing near the spot where a civilian mob attacked a regiment of Federal volunteers that were marching up Broadway from the St. Louis Arsenal to their headquarters.

Saint Louis was in an uproar over what had occurred at Camp Jackson. The Fifth Regiment of the U. S. Reserve Corps, Colonel Charles G. Stifel, commanding, had just been mustered into service by Nathaniel Lyon. On Saturday afternoon, May 11th, the Fifth Regiment collected their arms at the St. Louis Arsenal and set off marching up Fifth street to return to their headquarters at Stifel's Brewery. As they marched past the intersection of Fifth and Walnut Streets, they were fired upon by a mob. The Federal volunteers returned fire. Two of the Federal volunteers were killed along with six of the civilians. [64]

Nathaniel Lyon, Brigadier General, Federal Volunteers

In his official report Nathaniel Lyon reported about the attack on Federal volunteers and used the opportunity to admonish his superiors for reinstating Harney to command: [65]

On yesterday I left to Captain Callender and Lieutenant Saxton the duty of receiving and arming about 4200 men from the northern portion of the city, who on returning to their station were fired upon by a mob, which fire was returned by the troops, from which, all told on both sides, about twelve persons were killed, two of whom, so far as I am informed, were of the United States troops; further particulars of which may be hereafter transmitted.

It is with great delicacy and hesitancy I take the liberty to observe that the energetic and necessary measures of day before yesterday, and reported in my communication of yesterday, require persevering and consistent exertion to effect the object in view of anticipating combinations and measures of hostility against the General Government, and that the authority of General Harney under these circumstances embarrasses, in the most painful manner, the execution of the plans I had contemplated, and upon which the safety and welfare of the Government, as I conceive, so much depend, and which must be decided in a very short period.

William Harney, Brigadier General, US Army

In an attempt to stem the violence in Saint Louis, just returned Brigadier-General William Harney issued the following proclamation on May 12th: [66]

I have just returned to this post and have assumed the military command of this department. No one can more deeply regret the deplorable state of things existing here than myself. The past cannot be recalled; I can only deal with the present and the future. I most anxiously desire to discharge the delicate and onerous duties devolved upon me so as to preserve the public peace. I shall carefully abstain from the exercise of any unnecessary powers and from all interference with the proper functions of the public officers of the State and city. I therefore call upon the public authorities and the people to aid me in preserving the public peace.

The military force stationed in this department by authority of the Government and now under my command will only be used in the last resort to preserve the peace. I trust I may be spared the necessity of resorting to martial law, but the public peace must be preserved and the lives and property of the people protected. Upon a careful review of my instructions I find I have no authority to change the location of the home guards. To avoid all cause of irritation and excitement if called upon to aid the local authorities in preserving the public peace I shall in preference make use of the Regular Army.

I ask the people to pursue their peaceable avocations, and to observe the laws and orders of their local authorities, and to abstain from the excitements of public meetings and heated discussions. My appeal I trust may not be in vain, and I pledge the faith of a soldier to the earnest discharge of my duty.

The Muse South African