Friday, January 13, 2017

Generals in Blue Missouri - John Charles Fremont

John C. Fremont is the most famous man to become a general in Missouri. Famous western explorer, first Republican presidential candidate and controversial adventurer, he was appointed commander of the Department of the West, headquartered in St. Louis, on July 1, 1861.

While Lyon operated in the field, Fremont organized the far-flung federal forces in Missouri and Illinois. Many men were enlisted, but they were short of arms, food and other supplies. Fremont’s manned his staff with friends and family and his requisitioning and purchasing practices came under scrutiny and he was accused of graft and corruption.

With Lyon moving through Missouri, Fremont appointed Ulysses S. Grant to command the post in Cairo, Illinois, train the troops there and prepare for operations in southeast Missouri.

After Lyon’s death in the defeat at Wilson Creek, Fremont collected 40,000 green troops, moved toward Springfield, declared martial law in the state and issued an edict freeing the slaves of disloyal Missourians. He retook Springfield, but President Lincoln, opposed to such a bold move early in the war, reversed the emancipation declaration and removed Fremont from command.

Fremont transferred east, served desultorily and was removed from active service in mid-1862.

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