James O. Broadhead to Montgomery Blair, September 30, 1861
September 30, 1861

In this letter to Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, James O. Broadhead described conditions in wartime Missouri, emphasizing that "every thing is at stake...not only the triumph of the Union cause in Missouri--but the lives & property of its loyal citizens."

St Louis Sep 30th 1861 —

Dr. Sir

I have not troubled you with a letter in regard to the matter which brought you out to St. Louis — because you had been here and seen & heard for yourself what was going on and had probably formed your opinion — but as we consider here that every thing is at stake — that not only the triumph of the Union cause in Missouri — but the lives & property of its loyal citizens are dependent upon the retaining of Gen. Fremont in command here — I cannot refrain from making a last appeal to you on the subject— I suppose from the fact that nothing has been done, that the Administration has determined to give the Genl. an opportunity to retrieve his fortunes — in other words that the triumph of our arms, the peace of the state — the safety of its citizens and their property are to be left in the hands of a man who has proved himself incompetent to the position he occupies— Is this not so? What excuse is their for the fall of Lexington? What excuse for failing to see Capt. Willard of the [illegible] who brought despatches to him direct from Lexington eight days before the surrender?— We are told by the news papers that he sent reinforcements to Lexington from four points — this is not true— we are told that Sturgis was sent with from 4 to 6 thousand— this is not true— Sturgis had only 1300 men at any time— Lexington could have been reinforced in three days as every body knows — and the men were here to reinforce it— This failure has capped the climax of incompetency — you know what preceded it — you know of the fall of Lyon — of the devastation of the State — of the fact that Price was permitted to march 180 miles from Springfield to Lexington without an effort being made to arrest his progress — when two or three Regiments hanging on his right flank would have arrested his progress— you know of Martin Green1 being permitted to unite with Price carrying with him a force of 3500 men — of Harris' following after with 1000 men crossing the river at the same point— Ramsay for making a sensible and truthful comment upon the Lexington disaster — is arrested and insulted most grossly by being told in a towering passion by the Commanding general that he had lied — that he had the power to punish and would send him to Cairo— Col. Blair is arrested because he had tried to serve his country in representing the lamentable condition of affairs to the authorities at Washington — and then an attempt is made through the hireling presses & Reporters who have been bought up for the purpose, to make the whole matter a personal quarrel between them — which is not true— If it is a personal matter then Col. Blair is to blame — the Country will say — for he commenced it — and this is the advantage that Fremont seeks by making a personal matter of it— But I will not enumerate offences — you know them nearly all — and I suppose the President knows them — and if he does he knows they are sufficient not only to cause the removal but the disgrace of any man — and if Fremont should fail now in the present Expedition the censure will not fall down upon him— you may rest assured that no administration can stand up under such a blow— and if he succeeds I verily believe that he will pay no more respect to the orders of the President than he would to mine— he will set him at defiance whenever an opportunity offers— For this I am now satisfied is his ultimate purpose— His course towards Ramsay shows him to be a petty soulless tyrant — and his inordinate ambition and folly would justify one in supposing that he would attempt anything— The press here is made subservient to him by bribery & intimidation— the telegraph is controlled so that we cant get a despatch from here to Washington— in one Regiment a mass meeting has been held and Resolutions passed laudatory of Gen. Fremont — and declaring in substance that he shall be supported at all hazards— which to say the least of it is decidedly unmilitary— and just before leaving for Jefferson City Gen. Fremont has published an electioneering letter which you may have seen — as you may not — I enclose it— I tell you I never yet have seen so much gloom and despondency amongst the Union men as there is now— If Fremont fails — all is lost unless we can throw ourselves behind the fortifications which have been erected— if he succeeds the Union men who have questioned his capacity will be the first victims of his tyranny— But I will not trouble you farther— No battle will probably be fought for some time— Price I learn will make a stand at Lexington — where he is reorganizing his forces — and where he will probably choose his own [ground?]— they say he will have 45000 men—

Respectfully yours

Jas. O. Broadhead


James O. Broadhead to Montgomery Blair, September 30, 1861, Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress. Transcription provided by Library of Congress.