St. Louis in the Civil War

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St. Louis was a strategic location during the Civil War, an important city to both Union and Confederate armies.

Located along the Mississippi River, St. Louis became a major transport city and as a result expierenced an enormous growth in industry. The population had exploded between 1840 and 1860 with the arrival of many new immigrants. German and Irish were the dominant ethnic groups settling in St. Louis, especially because of the German Revolution and the Irish Potato Famine.

The St. Louis Massacre (sometimes referred to as the "Camp Jackson Affair") occurred early in the war on May 10, 1861, when Union military forces (consisting primarily of German immigrants) clashed with civilians on the streets of St. Louis, resulting in the deaths of at least 28 people and injuries to another 100. The affair polarized the poupulation of Missouri, leading many once-neutral citizens to advocate secession and setting the stage for sustained violence between the opposing factions.

During the Civil War, St. Louis stayed under Union control partly because of the loyal German influence, most of whom strongly supported the policies of President Lincoln. The largest percentage of volunteers served in the Union army, while many others headed south to fight for the Confederacy. Many people who stayed in the city during the war and supported the South smuggled supplies, medicine, and otherwise assisted Confederate soldiers. No major battle was fought in or near the city, but the Mississippi River became a vital highway to secure during the war. Loyalties to the Union and Confederacy caused families in St. Louis to split apart, making the Civil War an influential battle for every community.


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