On May 10, 1861, Union military forces fired into a crowd of civilians who had gathered on ground Saint Louis University now calls home.
The "Camp Jackson Affair" — as the incident came to be known — was an early and bloody chapter in the Civil War.
Next Tuesday, SLU's History Department will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the incident with a somber ceremony to honor those who fell on that fateful day.
|An illustration of the 'Camp Jackson Affair.'|
The event begins at 5:45 p.m. in the FirstStar Plaza at the corner of Grand and Lindell Boulevards.
Following brief presentations, SLU students will read the names of the civilian victims before laying a wreath down in their honor.
The Sons of Union Veterans — clad in period dress — will perform a 21-gun salute to close the ceremony.
For more information, about the commemoration event, call the Saint Louis University Department of History at (314) 977-2910.
More about the "Camp Jackson Affair"
During the Civil War era, Missouri Volunteer State Militia — similar to today’s National Guard — conducted annual encampments around the state. The 1861 encampment in St. Louis was called "Camp Jackson" after then Missouri Gov. Claiborne F. Jackson.
The governor, who wanted the state to secede from the Union, had a secret plan to smuggle weapons to the camp for future use, including a possible attack against the federal arsenal in St. Louis. Union Captain Nathaniel Lyon got wind of the plan and decided to take preemptive action. On the final day of the encampment, Union soldiers marched to the camp and demanded its surrender. Outnumbered 10-1, the militia capitulated.
As news spread of the camp's surrender, crowds gathered near the site, and riots started to break out as Lyon prepared to march the prisoners downtown. No one knows for sure what caused the Union soldiers to fire on the crowd, but when the smoke cleared, 28 civilians and seven soldiers lay dead. The "Camp Jackson Affair" sharply divided the state, forcing Missourians to choose sides in the nation's rift.