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NEWS OF 150 YEARS AGO

October of 1861

 

Control of the Mississippi River was a strategic war aim of the Union from the beginning of the war. To accomplish this, the government contracted for a number of ironclad river gunboats, with eight of them ordered from St. Louisan James B. Eads. The DEMOCRAT closely followed the progress of the first batch of Eads gunboats at the shipyards in Carondelet.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, October 1, 1861.

Military Matters.

THE SCREW PROPELLERS--EIGHT OF THEM BUILDING.-A gratifying degree of dispatch is being used in the construction of the screw propellers being built on the wharf, about the foot of Carr street. Within the last day or two it has been noticed that additional hulls are being put up. The number now constructing is eight, and all are of the same dimensions, and will be furnished with the same pattern of machinery, size of boilers, &c. They are 72 feet long, by 14 feet beam, and 6 feet holds. They will draw four feet with everything aboard. Four of them are in such a forward state, that they will be ready to launch in two days, but they will not be launched before Monday. The launching will be an easy matter, and will be done without any attendant ceremony.

 

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, October 14, 1861.

LAUNCHING OF ONE OF THE GUN BOATS.

On last Saturday evening at four o’clock, we attended the launching of one of the government gun boats now building at Carondelet. Not having witnessed a like operation before, by the improved plan, we were agreeably surprised at the ease with which it is done. The boat was gradually lowered into the “father of waters” upon the ways on which it was built and such was the noiseless, and almost imperceptible manner of the operation, that we found the boat floating gracefully upon the water, and nobody hurt, and not even a lady frightened . The boat launched is in a state that will take but a few days to complete it, and another one will be launched to-morrow, in about the same condition. The other two boats will be ready to launch in about a week, and the four will probably be ready for the service, with a full armament, by the first of November. The work, as was remarked by the numerous visitors present, was done in a very substantial, and smooth manner, and Capt. Eads is entitled to great credit for the faithful manner in which he has performed his contract.

 

After being converted from an infantry regiment to an artillery regiment, the First Missouri embarked on a recruiting mission to grow to its new authorized strength and make up for the losses the regiment suffered at Wilson’s Creek. Its training was also closely observed.

October 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, October 1, 1861.

CAVENDER’S BATTERY.

Colonel Totten and Major Du Bois left the city Sunday evening for Jefferson, to take command of their regiment of artillery.

The promotion of Major Du Bois, has left his battery in the charge of Capt. Cavender, who brings to its assistance his fine company of men of the First Missouri Regiment. Capt. Cavender has quite recovered from the ugly wound he received at the battle of Springfield, and the country will be glad to know that he is now in a position where his bravery and efficiency will shine still more conspicuously than it did on the memorable 10th of August. Look out for a good report from Cavender’s battery.

 

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, October 8, 1861.

WELKER’S BATTERY--Capt. Welker is engaged in recruiting for his new company, the eighth of the First Regiment of Artillery, and at present has his quarters at the Powder Magazine. Captain Welker was well known as an efficient and gentlemanly officer in the First Regiment Missouri infantry, and many will be much gratified to learn of his present responsible enterprise. The artillery service has peculiar attractions both of honor and profit, and to any one desirous of enlisting for it we can warmly recommend Capt. Welker, as a faithful and courteous commander.

 

Inducements to join the artillery in 1861 sound a lot like those offered to prospective artillery reenactors.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, October 14, 1861.

FIRST MISSOURI ARTILLERY--This regiment has now got five complete batteries in the field, and others are rapidly forming. When the regiment is complete it will consist of about eighteen hundred men. Recruiting officers have been sent to different parts of the country, to enlist men for the regiment. The artillery service is perhaps less laborious than either infantry or cavalry, from the fact that the artillerymen are exempt from picket and guard duty, except only around their guns and equipage. He has no long marches to perform on foot, for he has the privilege of riding on the caissons and wagons. His work is only hard when in action, where brave men love to work and do deeds of daring. This is a picked regiment of men-none are taken but those who are sober and steady. Capt. Welker has opened an office at the corner of Fifth and Morgan streets, to enlist men for the regiment, who, as soon as they enlist, are sworn in and sent to the headquarters of the regiment at Jefferson Barracks, where they are drilled by accomplished officers. Capt. Welker hopes to complete his company in two weeks.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, October 30, 1861.

TARGET PRACTICE BY THE FIRST MISSOURI LIGHT ARTILLERY.--A visit, the other day, to the camp of the two companies of the First Missouri Light Artillery, under command of Major Lathrop, at Jefferson Barracks, afforded us an opportunity of witnessing some very fine target practice with howitzer twelve-pound shell, under the direction of Major Lathrop, Capt. Maurice, Lieut. Green, and other officers.

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Despite the war, commercial life in the West continued, and technological progress meant the decline of old business models and the expansion of new ones.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, October 22, 1861.

Pony Express to be Discontinued.

ATCHISON, Oct. 21.--Orders have to-day been issued by the President of the C. O. C. & P. P. Express Company at this place, to stop the running of the Pony Express as soon as the California line is completed, which will probably be early next week. It is therefore probably that not more than one Pony more will run.

 

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, October 26, 1861.

TELEGRAPHIC CONNECTION OF THE ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC.

The completion of telegraphic communication between St. Louis and San Francisco, was yesterday appropriately signalized by the transmission, from the Mayor of the Pacific city to the Mayor of St. Louis, of the following:

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 25, 1861.

San Francisco to St. Louis sends greetings, and congratulates her on the completion of the enterprize which connects the Pacific with the Atlantic. May the prosperity of both cities be increased thereby, and the projectors of this important work meet with honor and reward.

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Not all technological innovations proved successful, as noted in these two consecutively printed announcements in the DEMOCRAT.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, October 12, 1861.

MR. COX practiced yesterday near the Arsenal with a gun which he has invented. We are informed that it is a great success, and while pouring out the balls at the rate of seventeen in fifteen seconds, hit a mark at a long distance. Two men is all the force that is necessary to attend to it, one of them supplying a hopper with cartridges.

ACCIDENT.--MR. COX, of New York, inventor of a revolving gun or rifle, was severely hurt on the hand yesterday while practicing below the Arsenal sally port. There was a slight derangement in the working of the gun, and while adjusting it, one of the balls entered the lower part of his left hand, took a course along a bone, and came out about the fourth joint of the middle finger, tearing the hand badly.

 

Developments in military technology overseas were also frequent subjects of articles.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, October 18, 1861.

THE ART OF WAR IN EUROPE.

Sir William Armstrong on Implements of Destruction.

Sir William Armstrong addressed an annual meeting of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, held at Sheffield, England, on Wednesday, July 31. Sir William said:

It is said, and I believe with truth, that in America the manufacture of cast iron ordnance had been so far improved by applying water to cool the casting from the interior, as to enable serviceable guns of this material to be produced of much larger bore than have been made in England. But it appears that these guns have not been rifled, and are only intended to be used with hollow projectiles. This success, therefore, affords no reason for coming to a different conclusion as to the unfitness of cast iron for construction of rifled guns, designed to project solid shot, especially when the dimensions are large.

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October 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, October 18, 1861.

The Enfield Rifle.

On the banks of the river Lea, about ten miles from London, is situated the little town of Enfield, now rendered famous as the site of the government factory for the manufacture of the Enfield rifle. In 1854, when experience gained in the Russian war had taught the English government that the time had gone by for a continued use of the old "Brown Bess," the manufacture of smore bore small arms was abandoned and the factory at Enfield was enlarged and adapted to the production of rifled arms, the pattern known as that of 1853 being adopted as the best, became subsequently world renowned as the “Enfield rifle.”

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Speculation continued regarding the removal of Gen. John C. Fremont from command in Missouri. A good portion of the official dissatisfaction with Fremont's administration concerned mismanagement in his procurement department. This editorial defends Fremont’s purchase of Hall rifles, produced at the Harper’s Ferry Arsenal in the 1820’s and 1830’s, from speculators who had purchased them as surplus from the government.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, October 2, 1861.

GENERAL FREMONT AND HALL’S RIFLES.

Recent telegrams from Washington discovert the fact that a cry of anguish has gone up against Gen. Fremont for purchasing Hall’s rifles at some advance upon previous rates. Now, there is a war in Missouri, and troops and the people are clamorous form arms wherewith to defend their homes and maintain the integrity of the Union. With an energy and directness of purpose scarcely excelled, Gen. Fremont has bent himself to the task of meeting every want and supplying every necessity. These wants and these necessities are neither few nor trifling; and if, among the rest, arms have not been furnished in season from the proper sources, then let them be had, and for one, we say no matter from whom, or at what just outlay.

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Late in October, the DEMOCRAT reported extensively on the engagement at Fredericktown, Missouri, lauding it as a significant victory for the Union.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, October 21, 1861.

FROM IRONTON.

THE POST SAFE-NO REBELS WITHIN 20 MILES.

THE FREDERICKTOWN FIGHT.

[Special Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat.]

...

THE FIGHT AT FREDERICKTOWN.

A RELIABLE STATEMENT.

PILOT KNOB, October 18.

Yesterday about ten o’clock A. M. the news came into Pilot Knob of a severe but short engagement having taken place near Fredericktown, between our forces and those commanded by Jeff. Thompson and Col. Low. It seems that Capt. Hawkins, commanding the Independent Missouri Cavalry, was ordered on Tuesday to proceed with a detachment of forty men to reconnoiter in the vicinity of Fredericktown.

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From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, October 22, 1861.

From Pilot Knob.

[Special Dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]

PILOT KNOB, October 21.--We have news from Fredericktown up to noon to-day. The rebels left yesterday at two o'clock, going in the direction of Greenville. Their numbers are variously estimated at from two to eight thousand. They had four brass field pieces. Jeff. Thompson is in command.

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From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, October 23, 1861.

LATEST NEWS.

BY TELEGRAPH.

Victory at Fredericktown.

JEFF. THOMPSON ROUTED!

HIS ARTILLERY CAPTURED.

DEATH OF MAJOR GAVITT AND CAPT. HYMAN.

Death of the Rebel Leader Lowe.

COMPLETE VICTORY.

[From Last Evening's Edition.]

The following dispatch was received at headquarters, in this city, this morning:

FIELD OF BATTLE,
FREDERICKTOWN, Oct. 22.

In conjunction with Col. Plummer’s command, we have routed the rebels of Thompson and Lowe, estimated at five thousand.

Their loss was heavy. Ours small, and confined principally to the First Indiana Cavalry. We captured four heavy guns.

Lowe, the rebel leader, was killed. Major Gavitt and Captain Hyman, Indiana Cavalry, were killed in a charge on a battery.

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From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, October 24, 1861.

THE DETAILS OF THE FREDERICKTOWN BATTLE.

LIST OF THE KILLED AND WOUNDED.

Interesting Account of the Burning of the Town.

THE FLIGHT AND PURSUIT OF THE ENEMY.

[Special Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat.]

FREDERICKTOWN, Oct. 23.

The fight at Fredericktown was the fairest that has yet taken place between the Union and Secession forces. The belligerents were just about equal in numbers and position, and whatever was gained by the one over the other must be attributed to courage and skill rather than to any other cause. It was a fair stand up and fight.

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From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, October 29, 1861.

The First Missouri Light Artillery.

A card in yesterday’s Evening News, complaining that the reporter of the DEMOCRAT has been “singularly oblivious” of the presence of a battery of the First Missouri Light Artillery in his reports of the Fredericktown fight, gives us an opportunity of saying that our reporter gave the best accounts he could gather from a personal inspection of the battlefield, and from frequent conversations with the officers who participated in the fight. No longer ago than yesterday morning our reporter had a conversation with Major Schofield in reference to the reports of the fight, and learned from him that he had no objections to make to the reports in the DEMOCRAT. The battery, or a portion of the battery, of the First Missouri Light Artillery was in the fight. The whole artillery engaged was under command of Major Schofield, who opened the fight, and right nobly and effectively did he and his men do their duty; but the infantry, particularly Col. Ross’s Illinois regiment, stood the brunt of the fight, as the list of killed and wounded shows. This we think our reporter endeavored fully and impartially to state.

 

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