A Look Back; in 1863, Prominent Pro-Southerners Are Banished from St. Louis

By Tim O'Neil | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 19, 2013 | Go to article overview

A Look Back; in 1863, Prominent Pro-Southerners Are Banished from St. Louis


Tim O'Neil, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


ST. LOUIS * A wagon escorted by Union soldiers pulled up to a fashionable home on Chestnut at Seventh streets. Ten women climbed on board for a clattering ride to the steamboat landing.

Among them were the wife of a Confederate general and the lady of the house, which had been converted into a prison for women accused of being disloyal. By Union decree, they were being banished to the Confederacy.

At the landing, soldiers marched them and 13 like-minded men onto the packet Belle Memphis on May 13, 1863, for a trip down the river. One month before, President Abraham Lincoln approved instructions for banishing civilians whose public sympathies were too comforting to the rebel cause.

Since before the Civil War, St. Louis, a city in a slave state, had been a stew of opposing political passions and armed marching societies. Union forces prevailed, but only after bloody street clashes and the jailing of some pro-Southern citizens. Many prominent St. Louisans traced their heritage to Southern culture and bitterly resented the Union officers and German immigrants whose muskets had preserved the city for Lincoln.

Rebel sympathizers sometimes ended up in a medical college renamed the Gratiot Street Prison or in Bernard Lynch's former slave pen. The house on Chestnut was a recent addition to the political penal system.

It was the city home of Margaret McLure, whose politics became fearless after her son was killed in Confederate service in 1862. Union leaders suspected that Pine Lawn, her country estate on Natural Bridge Road (and inspiration for the suburb by that name), was a communication post for rebels. …

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