The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History

By Louis S. Gerteis | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

Frank Blair, arguably the most aggressive Unionist in Missouri during the secession crisis, returned to the state in June 1865 after three years of military service in the field. Blair had led the fight against Governor Claiborne Jackson’s policy of armed neutrality in the spring of 1861, and he had briefly seen military action in Missouri at the battle of Boonville. Elected to Congress in 1860, Blair left Missouri after the Federal victory at Boonville and hastened to Washington, DC, to attend the special session of Congress called by President Lincoln. Initially delighted by Lincoln’s appointment of John C. Fremont as Federal commander in Missouri, Blair soon became a fierce foe of the imperious general and successfully maneuvered to secure Fremont’s removal from Missouri in October 1861. When Congress went into recess in July 1862, Blair accepted a military command and served in the field for the next three years, rising to the rank of major general. He led his Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio troops at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and in the march across Georgia. He was a prominent commander in a Federal army that marched across the South from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic coast. The war ended for Blair in North Carolina, and he bid farewell to his troops at Louisville on July 11, 1865, as they mustered out of Federal military service.1

Blair returned to Missouri eager to regain his antebellum prominence in public life. His lengthy absence from the state required a new burst of political energy, the more so because he returned a determined foe of the Radical Republicans. Radicals in Missouri had drafted a new state constitution, which imposed an ironclad loyalty oath on voters and on all professional men practicing with a license from the state. The intent was clear: to establish and maintain the ascendance of Unionists in public life. In Blair’s view the vanquished rebels in Missouri were unjustly disenfranchised. And under Radical control, the Republican Party had become a cabal, plundering public coffers and intent upon suppressing the democratic will of the people. Blair quickly returned to his conservative Democratic Party roots and became a leading figure in Missouri and across the nation, advancing the postwar Democratic opposition to Republican political hegemony. Blair returned to Missouri on June 20. Two days later, three hundred guests gathered at the Lindell Hotel in St. Louis to attend a banquet in his honor and to hear him speak in support of President Andrew Johnson’s lenient Reconstruction

-205-

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The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - "Your First Allegiance" 8
  • Chapter Two - "Formidable Preparations … by the Enemy" 32
  • Chapter Three - "In the Valley of Wilson’s Creek" 54
  • Chapter Four - "Tell My Wife That I Died like a Brave Man for Missouri" 99
  • Chapter Five - "There Is No Rebel Flag Now Flying in Missouri" 132
  • Chapter Six - "He Saw the Rebellion Vanishing before Him" 179
  • Conclusion 205
  • Notes 209
  • Index 233
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