The Civil War, Saint Louis

Next year, 2011, will be the sesquicentennial anniversary of the American Civil War.  Preparations are already underway to commemorate this anniversary.  Saint Louis was never a major battlefield, but this city did play an important role throughout the war.  This post is a brief recapsulization of the part Saint Louis played in the war from the perspective of Forest Park.

In the Park there are three statues that commemorate different aspects or maybe more correctly different points of view about the Civil War.  The first statue is that of Frank Blair.  He was an American politician and Union Army general during the American Civil War.  He represented Missouri in both the U.S. House and Senate.  His statue stands at the northeast corner of the Park, near the intersection of Kingshighway and Lindell.

The other two statues are located within a block of each other, near the intersection of Jefferson Drive and Union Boulevard.  Above is the statue of General Franz Sigel, another union general.  Below is a bronze relief.  It is part of the Daughters of the Confederacy memorial.

In 1861 after Abraham Lincoln became president the southern states began to secede.  In between the states that seceded and those that remained union were a few so-called Border States.  Missouri was one of those. 

In 1861 Saint Louis and Kansas City were Republican bookends to what was a Democratic state.  I find this somewhat humorous, because now Saint Louis and Kansas City are Democratic bookends to what is now a Republican state.  Both then and now Missouri was a state divided.  Then it was a Border State, now it is a swing state.

In 1861 secessionists conspired to capture the U.S. armory at Jefferson Barracks, on the south side of Saint Louis.  Blair led the unionists that resisted that capture attempt.  Instrumental to his resistance was the active participation of the German immigrant population that in 1861 comprised a majority.  Franz Sigel, a German immigrant, a so-so general, but an excellent recruiter among his ethnic people also helped to save Saint Louis for the union. 

Not until World War I was a confederate statue added to the Park’s pantheon.  The destruction of that war influenced the Daughters of the Confederacy memorial.  No firearms are shown on it, instead angels urge a youth forward to volunteer for some amorphic war.  As a Civil War veteran, by 1915, with or without these angel’s urgings,  he would have likely been dead anyway.

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