JEFFERSON BARRACKS HISTORIC TIMELINE
The Nation's Oldest Active Military Installation West of the Mississippi River
1673 – French Catholic missionaries and explorers Louis Joliet and Peres Jacques Marquettes discover the Mississippi River and name it in honor of “La Riviere de l’Immaculee Conception.” During their explorations, they discover a Mississippian Indian village along the western bank of the Mississippi River, which would later become the site for the City of St. Louis. Prehistoric burial mounds of the Mississippian culture (which included many tribes) once dotted the landscape all around the St. Louis area, hence one of the nicknames for St. Louis, as “The Mound City.” Remnants of these prehistoric burial mounds still exist around St. Louis, and the majority of them have been preserved across the Mississippi River in Cahokia, Illinois, at the historic site now known as “Cahokia Mounds.”
1703 - Another group of French Catholic priests establish a mission where the River Des Peres flows into the Mississippi river, between St. Louis and Jefferson Barracks. “Rivieres des Peres,” French for “River of the [Catholic] Fathers.”
1763 – Frenchman Pierre Laclede de Liguest and his 13 year-old step-son Auguste Chouteau, coming up the Mississippi river from New Orleans, come across this same Mississippian Indian village.
1764 – Laclede and young Chouteau, along with a group of other Frenchmen, establish a trading post at this Mississippian village. Instead of naming it “Laclede’s Village” at the suggestion of young Chouteau, Laclede prefers to name the village “Saint Louis” in honor of the Patron Saint of France, King Louis IX. Louis was the King of France until his death in 1270 and the only French King to be canonized as a saint. Significant to the relationship between St. Louis and Jefferson Barracks is the fact that Saint Louis was a “Soldier-King.” The beautiful, large statue of Saint Louis in his kingly soldier regalia, majestically riding on horseback in front of the St. Louis Art Museum, signifies this fact.
1768 – The Spanish establish Fort Don Carlos at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, about 15 miles north of St. Louis. Fort Don Carlos was abandoned 12 years later in 1780, when Fort San Carlos was built in St. Louis.
1780 – Fort San Carlos is built, near today’s downtown intersection of Broadway and Walnut in St. Louis. Fort San Carlos is the location of the only Revolutionary War battle west of the Mississippi River, that same year in May, 1780.
1804 – President Thomas Jefferson purchases the “Louisiana Territory” (which includes the St. Louis area) from France, and this area (Territory of Missouri) becomes part of the United States, while retaining its French and Spanish heritage and influence.
1805 – Fort Bellefontaine is established by the US Military, near the old Fort Don Carlos, at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. It was originally known in French as Cantonnement Belle Fontaine (meaning “camp near the beautiful spring or fountain”).
1809 – St. Louis is incorporated as a town.
1821 – Missouri becomes the 24th State of the United States of America.
1826 – The military decides, for various reasons, to abandon Fort Bellefontaine and the commander of the fort, Colonel Henry Atkinson, is among a group of men who scout out and discover the area of Jefferson Barracks. He leaves a detachment back at Fort Bellefontaine under the command of John Whistler, the grandfather of famous painter James McNeill Whistler, whose painting, “Whistler’s Mother,” is well-known. Jefferson Barracks, comprising over 1,700 acres, is acquired from the village of Carondelet, and the post is named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, who had died that year on July 4th. It becomes the fourth military post established in the area since 1768. Jefferson Barracks becomes the army’s first “Infantry School of Practice” or “basic training center” or “boot camp”. By December, contingents of the 1st 3rd and 6th infantry are at the new Jefferson Barracks, totaling 679 men, under the command of the now Brevet Major-General Henry Atkinson.
1827 – The 6th Infantry comes to Jefferson Barracks. Colonel Leavenworth leaves for the Kansas territory, where Cantonment (later Fort) Leavenworth is established in his name. The first military ball is held at Jefferson Barracks. Congress brings the news of Indian hostilities to the commanders of Jefferson Barracks. Troops from Jefferson Barracks are sent out to engage the Winnebago Indians, suppress their hostilities and capture the main offenders. Contractors Yarnell and Mitchell build subsistence stores at Jefferson Barracks at a cost of $33,459.00. Congress authorizes the purchase of land in St. Louis for the building of an arsenal, to be protected by troops from Jefferson Barracks.
1828 - Troops from Jefferson Barracks are increasingly ordered out to areas that are menaced by Indians. It becomes more and more necessary to provide escort for immigrants and settlers heading west. George Hancock Kennerly served as a lieutenant in the War of 1812, and came to St. Louis in 1813. In 1828, he became postmaster at Jefferson Barracks, and during the Mexican War he served as assistant quartermaster. He was married to Alziere Menard, daughter of Frenchman Pierre Menard, the first lieutenant governor of Illinois. George Kennerly died at Jefferson Barracks on January 28, 1867. Kennerly Road in South St. Louis County is named for his family.
1829 – It becomes necessary for troops from Jefferson Barracks to provide protection along the Santa Fe Trail from St. Louis to California.
1831 – Major General Gaines at Jefferson Barracks, collaborating with General Leavenworth, forwarded a recommendation to the War Department in Washington, for the building of the Pacific Railroad to the Pacific Ocean.
1832 – Troops from Jefferson Barracks are ordered to the Fox and Sac Indian War in northern Illinois and Wisconsin (then part of the Northwest Territory).
- Zachary Taylor (future president) leads troops from Jefferson Barracks to fight in the Black Hawk War, which culminates in the defeat of Black Hawk at Bad Axe River.
- 2nd Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, stationed at Fort Crawford, is ordered to Galena, IL during the Black Hawk War. He escorted the captured Indian Chief Black Hawk and several other warriors, who were in leg irons, to Jefferson Barracks where Chief Black Hawk and the warriors were imprisoned. While in prison, the writer Washington Irving comes to interview Chief Black Hawk, and the painter George Caitlin comes to paint his portrait. Jefferson Davis stays at Jefferson Barracks.
1833 - The 1st Regiment of Dragoons (later the 1st US Cavalry) was organized at Jefferson Barracks by Col. Henry Dodge. There were soon five companies of dragoons at Jefferson Barracks. Col. Thronton Grimsley, saddle manufacturer in St. Louis, invented and patented the 'Dragoon Saddle' favored by the army for many years.
- Jefferson Davis is promoted to 1st lieutenant of the 1st Dragoons and later becomes regimental adjutant. He is sent to Fort Gibson in 1834 and retires his commission from the army in 1835 and becomes a congressman from Mississippi in 1843. Starting in the 1830’s efforts were made to create a trans-continental railroad from Jefferson Barracks to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson Davis was one of the main opponents to these efforts, preferring a trans-continental railroad to run through the south. Davis later becomes president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
1835 - Dr. William Beaumont, proclaimed one of the six great heroes of “American Medical Scientists,” began a five year tour as surgeon general for the post.
1836 - Missouri volunteers and US troops depart for service in Florida against the Seminole Indians.
1837 - Dr. John Emerson reports for duty with his slave named Dred Scott. (Scott's famous court trials led to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.)
-1st Lt Robert E. Lee resided at Jefferson Barracks while he was in charge of engineering work to control the channel of the Mississippi River at St. Louis.
1841 - The sundial, one of the oldest landmarks on the post, is installed. For years it was the official post chronometer.
1843 - 2nd Lt. Ulysses S. Grant comes to Jefferson Barracks for his first assignment after West Point.
- Lt. Col. Ethan Alien Hitchcock brings the 3rd Infantry to Jefferson Barracks. With this addition Jefferson Barracks becomes for a time the largest military establishment, including all or part of every army regiment.
1844 - 4th US Infantry and Missouri volunteers under General Zachary Taylor depart in a build up caused by the tensions with Mexico over their claim to the Republic of Texas (Texas had applied for admission to the Union). Jefferson Barracks serves as a staging post for the campaigns of the Mexican War.
- 2nd Lt. Winfield Scott Hancock was assigned to the 6th Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, thus beginning his brilliant career.
1846 - On 13 May Congress declared war on Mexico after General Taylor's troops clashed with Mexican forces at Palo Alto resulting in American casualties.
- In a couple of weeks time, 11 companies were formed from both volunteers and three companies of the 64th Missouri Militia. They were shipped to New Orleans and organized into a regiment designated as the "St. Louis Legion."
- Congress substituted the name "Cavalry" for "Dragoons." The two existing regiments were numbered in order of their formation. Eighty percent of the new 3rd Cavalry was organized at Jefferson Barracks.
- Lt. Braxton Bragg arrived with Batteries B and C of the 3rd Artillery. He left shortly after to join Gen. Zachary Taylor and became on outstanding hero in the Mexican war.
- General Stephen Watts Kearney, was joined by the famous Colonel Doniphan at Jefferson Barracks, and with nearly 1,600 men (which included Lt. Sterling Price, later to become commanding general of Missouri’s Confederate forces) made an overland march of over 1,000 miles along the Santa Fe Trail to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 50 hard, grueling days. As a result of this expedition, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California were annexed by the US.
1847 - On 14 September Mexico City fell and the war ended. The prestige of the US grew and 30 million square miles of land was added to its territory. Jefferson Barracks could stand proudly as the place where the outstanding leaders and troops of this victory received their training and seasoning.
1848 - Many of the troops who fought in the Mexican War returned to Jefferson Barracks and were mustered out.
U.S. Grant married Julia Dent, daughter of Col. Frederick Dent. Capt. James Longstreet was his best man.
Brevet Captain Nathaniel Lyon comes to Jefferson Barracks from the Mexican War, and later receives orders to go to California. After being in California for a long time, he is transferred to the border wars in Nebraska and Kansas along the Missouri border in the 1850’s.
1849-50 – A cholera epidemic swept through various parts of the country, including St. Louis and at Jefferson Barracks, where many soldiers died, including Col. W. J. Worth and Brevet Brig Gen Richard B. Mason. Worth Road on which the Missouri Civil War Museum is located, is named in honor of Colonel Worth.
- A riot broke at the end of July during the early morning hours, when a group of Irishmen attacked a group of firemen trying to put out fires that had erupted and spread on the steamers Algonia, Mary, Phoenix, San Francisco and Dubuque at the St. Louis riverfront. The mayor had to call out the militia (the St. Louis Greys) and federal troops from Jefferson Barracks, to come and help quell the escalated rioting.
1850 – According to the Missouri Republican, an “aerolite” (meteor) weighing half a ton, struck the earth near Jefferson Barracks on January 25, 1850.
- Dred and Harriet Scott are living at Jefferson Barracks, where daughter Lizzie is born. Dates for Lizzie’s birth are questionable, as 1841 and 1842 also appear in the records. But the records do confirm that she was indeed born at Jefferson Barracks.
1851 - A limestone ordnance room, laborer's house and barn were erected in the northeast section of Jefferson Barracks. The barn was later used during World War I as a tank maintenance and repair building.
- Francis Quinette was the contractor who built the limestone powder magazine at Jefferson Barracks. The limestone was quarried out of Jefferson Barracks own limestone quarry, which still exists to this day. The Quinette family owned land in Kirkwood, which was later donated as a cemetery for slaves, and is now known as Quinette Cemetery.
- Private James Gunn, a farrier from Jefferson Barracks, visited a “bawdy house” run by Miss Elizabeth Hollis, where he died suddenly. His comrades back at Jefferson Barracks suspected foul play and attacked the house, smashing the inside to pieces and setting it on fire. The police came and shots were exchanged between police and soldiers. Eleven soldiers were arrested and turned over to civil authorities by Major Sanderson, Commandant of Jefferson Barracks.
- General Winfield Scott Hancock came to Jefferson Barracks as a young lieutenant. He fell in love with Missouri and intended to retire here. He was married to Elmira Russell, of an affluent St. Louis grocer family, who owned a farm very near to Jefferson Barracks. The Hancock’s were at Jefferson Barracks until 1856, when he was transferred. He gained fame during the Civil War. He was the democratic nominee for president in 1880, when Missourians claimed him as their own. Hancock Road in Jefferson Barracks is named in his honor.
1852 - The St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad petitioned Congress for a right-of-way through Jefferson Barracks. The army opposed this. The proposed path was too close to the ordnance magazines in the northeast part of the post. The army wished the steam engines to be shut down because of the sparks and the trains pulled through by mules. The right-of -way was granted in 1853 without that restriction.
- The postmaster general directed that daily mail service be established between St. Louis, Carondelet, and Jefferson Barracks.
1854 - The Missouri Compromise is repealed. With ensuing controversy over the admittance of Kansas and Nebraska to the Union, the importance of Jefferson Barracks steadily increases.
1855 - The 6th Infantry leaves to join an expedition against the Sioux Indians. The expedition saw hard service in the west and northwest for the next few years. It escorted emigrants on the "Oregon Trail," experienced difficulties with the Mormons in Utah, and was always involved with Indian uprisings.
- An act [of Congress] making appropriations for the support of the army for the year ending the 30th of June 1855.
”Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following sums be, and the same are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury, not otherwise appropriated, for the support of the Army for the year ending the thirtieth of June, one thousand eight hundred fifty five.”
“For the completion of magazine at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, twenty-five thousand dollars.”
1857 - A second stone powder magazine is constructed.
1858 – For several decades past, certain families and the city of Carondelet had questioned the legal title/ownership of the lands encompassing Jefferson Barracks. An attorney was hired and sent to Washington to resolve the matter. On June 27, 1854, Mayor John Festor of Carondelet executed a deed (discussed and approved by the Board of the City of Carondelet) to the United States of America, by which the city of Carondelet granted, remised, released and forever quit claimed a certain tract of land within the commons of said city of Carondelet, setting forth the boundaries with great minuteness, and containing 1,702 acres, absolutely and unqualifiedly conveying the whole title to the land in fee without any reservation whatever! The matter was thus taken care of and duly recorded in the Congressional records and in local records. The attorney representing Carondelet died before being paid by Carondelet ($2000) and as of the year 1858, the family had never been paid by the city of Carondelet. A stipulation in the initial deed, read that if the government ever ceases to use the land for military purposes, the land will revert back to Carondelet. But with this 1854 deed, went all of the title of Carondelet to any portion of the Jefferson Barracks tract.
1860 – Brig. Gen. William S. Harney returned to Missouri and assumed command of Jefferson Barracks.
There is much unrest in Missouri and St. Louis. Sympathies between the north and south were very closely divided. The governor and his faction had definite leanings toward the south. On the other hand there were the federal institutions such as Jefferson Barracks and the arsenal dedicated to the maintenance of the Union.
- Soldiers Merritt Griswold, Jeremiah “Jerry” Fruin, and A.J. Hollenbeck receive orders to travel from their posts in the east to Jefferson Barracks. Griswold was a baseball player from New York. There was purportedly no baseball here in St. Louis at that time. Griswold was one of the organizers of a team here in St. Louis known as “The Cyclones.” Another team called “The Morning Stars” was organized, and Griswold was instrumental in organizing the first baseball game here in St. Louis in 1860 between these two teams. Soldiers soon after began organizing ball teams at Jefferson Barracks, where the sport has been played ever since. Of particular note was the “Jefferson Barracks Soldiers Nine” baseball team, which had even scouted and drafted professional ball players for the team. Although it is not know if Jeremiah Fruin was at Jefferson Barracks, these three soldiers are considered by many to be the founding fathers of baseball in St. Louis. They went on to serve honorable careers during the Civil War. Fruin started his own company, which still exists to this day, and is known internationally as the Fru-Con Corporation.
1861 - State Guard forces of Governor Jackson of Missouri planned the erection of batteries on the hills around the St. Louis Arsenal and facing it from a river island. The state militia also assembled at Camp Jackson in St. Louis. On May 8th, Capt. Nathaniel Lyon and his friend William Tecumseh Sherman (then out of the army) discovered a clandestine shipment of arms to Camp Jackson. On May 10th, Capt. Lyon led Union troops to surround the camp, which was forced to surrender. The first troops to march for Camp Jackson, were the 1st Infantry Regiment Volunteers at Jefferson Barracks under the command of Colonel Frank Blair. This same day Sherman applied for a commission in the army.
- Ulysses S. Grant was at Jefferson Barracks at various times during the summer in consultation with the commanding officers there. He was then a colonel commanding the 21st Illinois Regiment. Sherman was commissioned a colonel in the 13th Infantry, which was to be organized at Jefferson Barracks.
- Lyon is promoted to general and given command of the Department of the West.
Brig. Gen. Lyon ordered the state militia to be disbanded. Governor Jackson responded with a call for 50,000 state guards. Lyon determined to break this organization and left Jefferson Barracks for the state capital in Jefferson City with a detachment of federal troops from the 2nd Infantry. The Governor and his staff fled the capital. A May 22, 1861 issue of the Dallas Daily Herald, states that a plot was discovered to destroy Jefferson Barracks. Attempts will be made to keep its great stores of munitions of war out of the hands of the Confederates. On June 17th, a unit of the governor's guard en route to join the Confederates was overtaken and defeated near Booneville. The war had come to Missouri.
- July 25, 1861. An act of Congress, orders the US Arsenal in St. Louis to be moved to Jefferson Barracks.
- In a six-hour battle fought near Springfield on 10 August, Brig. Gen. Lyon lost his life leading a final charge.
- Colonel Frank Blair is arrested twice by General Fremont and imprisoned each time at Jefferson Barracks.
- Philip Henry Sheridan (later General) is promoted to captain, and ordered to join the 13th Infantry at Jefferson Barracks. Later, in September, he is appointed president of the board, which was organized to audit claims against the administration of General Fremont.
- In a November 15, 1861 newspaper article in the Macon (Georgia) Daily Telegraph, Professor R.B. Todd of Missouri stated that General Sterling Price regretted not being able to take the prized Jefferson Barracks, especially because it contained “over 35,000 stands of arms and several fine artillery batteries.” The “Battle of Jefferson Barracks” might have been monumental and pivotal in the annals of American history.
1862 – Jefferson Barracks becomes one of the major medical centers in the nation, where wounded and dying soldiers from all parts of the country are sent. Army surgeon, Dr. John Field Randolph was sent to Jefferson Barracks from the west, and was promoted to major surgeon in charge of the General Hospital at Jefferson Barracks, and medical director of the whole Department of Missouri. Jefferson Barracks became one of the largest and most important military hospitals in the country. Dr. Randolph graduated from medical school in 1860 and served at Jefferson Barracks until the end of the war. Randolph Road in Jefferson Barracks is named in his honor.
- Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) had joined the Confederates that Grant had chased out of the region of Hannibal, Missouri. He served only two weeks "being incapacitated through continual retreating." He did have a thrill when on a steamboat attempting to run the blockade past Jefferson Barracks. A battery had been mounted near the spot where the old Spanish cannon now stands at the rear of the headquarters building. It opened fire and two holes were blown through the smokestacks of the vessel.
- The wife of Commandant McRae at Jefferson Barracks, was bitten by a dog and died two months later from hydrophobia.
1863 - The post cemetery is expanded and an executive order initiates the process of making it a National Cemetery. It now ranks as the second most active of our country’s National Cemeteries.
1864 - In September Confederate General Sterling Price (commanded Missouri Militia in 1861) again invaded Missouri. Major Gen. Andrew J. Smith, who was moving down the river with three brigades of the Iowa volunteers, landed at Jefferson Barracks. Jefferson Barracks was an assembly point for the defense of St. Louis. Smith led some of his troops out when word was received of Confederates reaching DeSoto, Missouri. A final engagement near Kansas City ended any large-scale Confederate threat in Missouri. General Smith’s forces retreat back to Jefferson Barracks after the Battle of Pilot Knob. One brigade is left to guard the bridge over the Merrimac (Meramec) river.
- By March, 1864, “The Convalescent” has been established as a weekly newspaper at Jefferson Barracks, and run by the inmates of the General Hospital. Address, “The Convalescent, General Hospital, Jefferson Barracks, Mo.”
1865 – According to July, 1865 newspaper articles around the country, the new Western Navy Yard has been determined upon, to be located at Jefferson Barracks. Captain Charles A. Babcock, US Navy, has command and will immediately commence surveying the land and erecting suitable buildings. Large amounts of naval ordnance stores from Mound City have already arrived at Jefferson Barracks.
1866 - Ms. Cathay WILLIAMS made history in 1866 at Jefferson Barracks by becoming the first African-American woman to serve in the US Army as a Buffalo Soldier. She was born a slave in Independence, Missouri sometime between 1842 and 1844, and was living in Jefferson City, Missouri when the Civil War broke out. She was pressed into service for the Federal Army by Colonel Benton of the 13th Army Corps, and worked for the army as a cook and laundress. She traveled with the army throughout the South to Pea Ridge, Shreveport, New Orleans, Savannah, Macon, and then to Washington City, where she was sent to the staff of General Sheridan. She then went to Virginia, on to Iowa, and then by a strange twist of events, back to her home State of Missouri and ended up at Jefferson Barracks, where she remained for a while as a cook and laundress. Tired of the struggles of life and wanting to be free and independent, she disguised herself and posed as a man when the army began recruiting African-Americans at Jefferson Barracks for the 38th US Infantry under the command of Capt. Charles E. Clarke (Caucasian officer) in November, 1866. She gave her name to the recruiter as “William Cathay”, but since she was illiterate, he wrote her name as “William Cathey”, member of Company A. It is estimated that approximately 400 white woman posed as soldiers during the Civil War, but Cathay Williams was the only known African-American woman to serve in the Army before 1948, when women were officially allowed to join the military.
1867 – Jefferson Barracks is designated as US Army Engineer Depot.
1868 – The largest gathering ever of Freemasons from all over the United States, visit Jefferson Barracks. Gun salutes, salvos of artillery and cheers were given by the soldiers in parade dress for the “Sir Knights.”
January. Congress passed a bill to sell the arsenal in St. Louis, and to establish a new arsenal at Jefferson Barracks, to include the storage and repair of arms, the cost not to exceed $200,000.00.
Solicitations for bids were placed in the nation’s newspapers, for the transportation of 314 Navy bronze howitzers from Jefferson Barracks, to the New York Navy Yard.
1869 – The Carondelet Bridge Corporation is formed, for the purpose of building a bridge across the Mississippi river at Jefferson Barracks. It wasn’t until 1940 though, that plans were finally approved by the US War Department, for the building of the bridge, with ground-breaking ceremonies in 1942 under the auspices of the Lindbergh Bridge Association, which later became the Jefferson Barracks Bridge Association. The Jefferson Barracks Bridge was finally dedicated on December 9, 1944, for highway traffic only. This bridge was replaced in ………
1870 – Quartermaster-General Meigs, under authority of the secretary of war, published three more volumes of the book, the “Roll of Honor” (24 volumes, thus far), which contained the names of nearly 20,000 Union soldiers interred in the National Cemeteries at Jefferson Barracks, as well as at Corinth, Mississippi, and Pittsburgh Landing, (Shiloh) Tennessee.
1871 - The St. Louis Arsenal is closed and all the ordnance there is moved to Jefferson Barracks.
President Grant, along with a large party of leading citizens and politicians made a quiet, unpublicized visit to Jefferson Barracks. Thomas Allen, president of the Iron Mountain Railroad, furnished a special train for the purpose. Among the entourage was Frank Blair, and the party later had dinner at the mansion of Henry Blow. It must be remembered that Grant loved horses and loved the cavalry, and had planned to retire to his estate at White Haven after the war, where he planned to breed and raise horses. The barn he built for that purpose still stands to this day at White Haven.
Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, established by General Washington during the Revolution, was closed, and all troops and equipment were moved to Jefferson Barracks.
1872 – Dr. John R. McClerg gives testimony in the national murder trial of General Ketchum, who had been poisoned by a Mrs. Wharton. Dr. McClerg’s first assignment at the beginning of the Civil War, was at Jefferson Barracks.
1874 – On Decoration Day, the graves of over 10,000 Union and Confederate American soldiers in the National Cemetery were beautifully decorated, strewn profusely with beautiful flowers, and a large solemn celebration was held, with music by the noted Jefferson Barracks Band. This seems to have been listed in the newspapers as an annual event at Jefferson Barracks, from the time of the Civil War up until around World War I. For the Union side, orations were given in English by Colonel P.E. Bland and in German by Emil Praetorius, and for the Confederate side, by ex-Governor, Thomas Reynolds. Thousands of people attended.
1876 – General Order No. 224, places the National Cemetery at Jefferson Barracks under the charge of the depot quartermaster at St. Louis.
1878 – Jefferson Barracks once again becomes the National Cavalry Depot of the Army, and Colonel John I. Gregg is appointed as Post Commandant. The secretary of war also appointed Colonel Gregg to assemble a medical board at Jefferson Barracks to prepare and recommend a standard supply table of veterinary medicines and instruments for army use. Maybe the president had an interest in all of this. Gregg Road at Jefferson Barracks is named in the Colonel’s honor.
This year witnessed the largest turnout ever, for the decoration of Union and Confederate graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on Decoration Day. In attendance were nearly 1,500 soldiers, state militia and police reserves, and fully 1,200 citizens. The services were performed by the clergy of the various Jewish and Christian denominations, and were in both English and German.
Colonel Cuvier Grover of the 1st Cavalry replaced Colonel John Gregg of the 8th Cavalry as superintendent of the Mounted Recruiting Service at Jefferson Barracks. Major James F. Wade of the 9th Cavalry reported to Colonel Grover as an executive officer for the Mounted Recruiting Service.
General Gordon at Jefferson Barracks ordered a section of Napoleon guns and 16 men for the processions and celebration of Christopher Columbus Day in St. Louis.
1879 – The National Militia Convention, chaired by General Beauregard, met in St. Louis for the purpose of officially establishing the National Guard. The committee of the convention, visited Jefferson Barracks, where they were escorted and entertained by the officers of the post.
- When General (President) Grant came to St. Louis, the honor of the Jefferson Barracks Band (one of the best in the country at that time) was requested to march in the procession and play. The band had also been requested to join the presidential entourage, when the president visited Chicago, where a large gala affair was held in his honor. Grant Road in Jefferson Barracks is named in his honor.
1880 – Colonel John Greene of the 1st US Cavalry, stationed at Fort Boise, Idaho, took the Overland Stage to Jefferson Barracks to become the new commandant there. Jefferson Barracks was a recruiting station at this time (1880) and is where Colonel Greene initially joined the army 38 years ago.
1889 - General John J. Pershing visited the post looking for cavalry recruits for his regiment in the Apache country.
1892 - A new building program gets underway. The stone buildings are razed and replaced with red brick barracks and officer quarters along the north and south side of a much enlarged parade ground. Many of these structures remain to this day. Most construction was completed in 1900. As a result, Jefferson Barracks assumed the position of one of the best equipped military posts as well as one of the most important.
1896 – General Wesley Merritt orders a Board of Officers to meet at Jefferson Barracks, to inquire, among other things, into the sanitary conditions of the post. It seems a certain faction wanted the post abandoned and closed.
1898 – The Spanish-American War began in February with the sinking of the American battleship Maine in the bay of Havanna, Cuba. Nineteen-year old Cullem E. Whettlesey joined Light Battery A, a St. Louis National Guard unit, which was mustered in at Jefferson Barracks. Young Cullem was the first American casualty of the war. His body was recovered from Cuba, brought back and buried with full military honors in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
In April, the 11th Infantry and 3rd Cavalry were ordered to move out for the war. The St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern railroad was awarded the contract for moving the troops with their baggage and horses. Jefferson Barracks was almost completely deserted as a result. With Jefferson Barracks nearly empty, plans were hatched to turn the post into a mule deport.
The army later decides to indeed turn Jefferson Barracks into a Mule Depot.
Engineer L. C. Rice, in charge of the limestone pumphouse at Jefferson Barracks (which is still there, near the entrance at Broadway), was attacked by several soldiers outside of a saloon on S. Broadway. He was able to break away and made it back to the pumphouse, where he acquired his pistol and was able to fire shots at his assailents, who turned and ran.
- Many of the troops recruited at Jefferson Barracks distinguished themselves in the war. The 3rd Calvary did great service at the Battle of Santiago, and the 11th Infantry won an important battle at San German in Puerto Rico.
1899 -Troops were mobilized and sent out from the Barracks for the hostilities in the Philippines. A new rifle range for Jefferson Barracks was established near Arcadia, Mo. Troops E and G of the 3rd Calvary were the first to use the Arcadia setup as preparation for departure for Manila.
Jefferson Barracks officially becomes the National Mule Headquarters for the army, including the National Training Center for Army Muleteers, and the training center for white bell horses, which were vital in leading the mule pack teams. Since the beginning of the war with Spain, more than 2,500 mules had been trained at Jefferson Barracks for army service, mostly Missouri mules and some Texas Mules. The head trainer, a Missourian named W. W. Witt, with nearly 10 years experience in training army mules, said the Texas mules were notorious for jumping the six-foot high fences at Jefferson Barracks and getting loose into the surrounding environs. Mr. Witt became nationally known when he took one of the mule trains for the rescue efforts of the Klondike miners in Alaska. Since Jefferson Barracks was already the nation’s Cavalry Headquarters, it was the perfect place to establish the Army’s National Mule Headquarters, since most horses were deployed to the war, causing most of the cavalry stables to be vacant. The stables still stand at Jefferson Barracks to this day.
The 3rd Volunteer Engineers Regiment, which had organized at Jefferson Barracks, received orders to leave Jefferson Barracks for Camp Hamilton, Lexington, Kentucky in preparation to deploy to Cuba for the war effort. The 3rd Regiment was organized and commanded by West Pointer, Colonel Colon Gaillard, and was taken into service by a special act of Congress, and it had been touted in the papers as one of the most remarkable regiments ever organized at Jefferson Barracks. Men in this specialized regiment, received more pay than volunteers in any other branch of the service by 33 1/3%. Great loss and great regret was felt for the loss of this regiment from Jefferson Barracks.
1900 - The Commandant’s building, Headquarters, Building 1, was built. The back of the building faces east, with a commanding view of the Mississippi river. The front of the building faces west, with a commanding view of the historic parade grounds and the barracks buildings.
- Because Jefferson Barracks offered so many troops, mules and so much support for the Spanish-American War efforts, United States Congressman from Missouri, Charles Edward Pearce, visited the Washington Navy Yard in February, in order to obtain a war souvenir, to be permanently placed as a memorial to Spanish-American veterans from Jefferson Barracks. Affectionately called “Colonel Pearce,” he served as a major in a heavy artillery regiment during the Civil War and later organized and commanded the First Regiment of the Missouri National Guard in 1877. He was delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1888 and was appointed chairman of the commission to deal with the Sioux Indians of the northwest in 1891. He was elected as a Republican Congressman from Missouri to the Fifty-fifth and Fifty-sixth Congress and served from March 4, 1897 to March 3,1901. At the Washington Navy Yard, Congressman Pearce picked one of the eight seven-inch cannons that had been aboard Commodore Cervera’s Spanish War Ships, the Oquendo, the Maria Teresa, and the Celon which had been sunk in Santiago Bay on July 3, 1898. He picked the one gun that had been most heavily scarred by conical shot. He next picked from the gun shields, one which had been struck near the upper corner by a large projectile, creating a hole as large as a hat. He was unable to obtain a breech block though, all of which had been detached by the Spanish gunners and thrown overboard, before the ships sunk. The breech blocks contained the stamp of the Bilboa Ordnance Works, 1894. Lastly, he picked a massive gun carriage, and had all three pieces loaded onto a flat car and shipped to Jefferson Barracks, where a large granite base was to be built for the gun pieces to be assembled upon. This was one of Pearce’s last acts as a Congressman, as he declined his candidacy for re-nomination to Congress in 1900. He died two years later in 1902. This blue Spanish cannon still resides in the same spot behind the Command Headquarters building, overlooking the Mississippi river. It has been a famous Jefferson Barracks landmark to several generations of St. Louisans. Many an old man has stopped by the Missouri Civil War Museum and told of how he played on the cannon as a boy. Incidentally, the limestone wall below the cannon was repaired by German Nazi POW’s, while imprisoned at Jefferson Barracks during World War II. To this day, there can be seen the graffiti of a Nazi swastika and name “Belke” etched into the limestone wall below the old Spanish cannon.
1903 - Soldiers from Jefferson Barracks took an active part in the dedication ceremonies of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World's Fair) on 30 April. Famous army personalities gathered from all parts of the country and saw a military parade reportedly never before equaled in grandeur and impressiveness.
1906 – Federal murder trial history is made. A Negro trooper Emmett McCoy, duels on horseback with fellow trooper Alexander Baskerville, who was killed in the duel on December 7, 1905. The duel resulted over an overcoat sent to be sampled by the military. Several officers apparently attended the duel and were summoned as witnesses in the case, the first of its kind.
1907 – President Teddy Roosevelt visited Jefferson Barracks, prior to the 2nd International Hot Air Balloon race, held for the first time in St. Louis. The first race was won the previous year in Paris by Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm of the US Cavalry, after he had traveled more than 400 miles in his balloon. He was awarded the James Gordon Bennett Cup, the prized trophy of the annual event, which was created by the International Aero Club. Spectators, who came to St. Louis from around the world, also witnessed an exhibition of “flying machines” (heavier than air “aeroplanes,” propelled by motors). President Roosevelt ordered Colonel R. K. Evans, commandant at Jefferson Barracks, to detail all the soldiers necessary to guard and police the grounds of the balloon race from October 21st through the 24th, and to assist the “aeronauts” and the St. Louis Aero Club. The colonel, per the president, ordered two battalions of nearly 300 men to be encamped at the grounds of the balloon race. This brought a stern reaction from General George B. Davis, Judge Advocate General of the US Army, who criticized the president for the use of Jefferson Barracks troops, and who claimed the act was not warranted by law. This caused a national debate in the country’s newspapers.
1911 - Lt. David Dwight Eisenhower began his military career at Jefferson Barracks. Being an officer, there’s no doubt that he used the facilities at the Officer’s Post Exchange and Gymnasium building, now home to the Missouri Civil War Museum.
1912 – Army Captain Albert Berry made military history at Jefferson Barracks, by being the first military personnel ever to jump out of an “aeroplane” using a parachute, and landing safely. He landed on the parade grounds near hundreds of cheering soldiers and spectators on March 2nd. The pilot was Tony Jannus, and they had taken off from Kinloch Air Field (which is now Lambert International Airport). There was concern as to what might happen to the aeroplane, after losing so much weight when Berry jumped out, but pilot Jannus was able to easily maintain control. This experiment also proved that bombs could be dropped out of aeroplanes.
1917 - Jefferson Barracks becomes the largest induction and demobilization center for troops during World War I. On December 1st it was announced that a new nationwide draft would take effect on December 16th, barring men thereafter from joining the regular army. Colonel C.H. Murray, commandant of Jefferson Barracks, said the post made history, when in excess of 3,000 recruits arrived in one day, including more than 500 recruits from St. Louis alone. By December 14th, recruits had to be turned away. By December 16th, Jefferson Barracks held over 12,000 recruits, the largest number ever assembled up to that time.
1918 – Jefferson Barracks is one of the main five posts, where most of the recruits for the Army’s new “Aviation Service” come from. Nearly 1,000 men per day arrived at Camp Kelly Air Field, Texas, (many from Jefferson Barracks) where they were trained and immediately sent to the front.
The “Jefferson Barracks Soldiers Nine” base ball team, “composed of several major league players,” had a “very successful season.” In September, they played a series of games against other posts, including the soldiers from Camp Funston. Several thousand spectators attended. The proceeds were used to expand the athletic facilities for the soldiers at Jefferson Barracks.
Prostitution becomes rampant at Jefferson Barracks. A committee of local businessmen and clerics is appointed to investigate.
1919 – In December, General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, on his return from World War I, along with his 10-year old son Warren, reviewed troops at Jefferson Barracks, and visited with wounded and returned heroes. General Pershing was born in Laclede, Linn County, Missouri in 1860, one year before the Civil War started. There’s no doubt, that he reviewed the troops at Jefferson Barracks from the famous reviewing stand next to the Post Exchange building (now the Missouri Civil War Museum), and there’s no doubt that he was in the Post Exchange building.
1920 - General Leonard Wood paid a brief visit to Jefferson Barracks during his unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for president.
1921 – In November, General Pershing brought Marshal Foch of France to St. Louis, along with Hanford Macnider of Mason City, Iowa, the new national commander of the American Legion, where they reviewed troops of the 6th Infantry, after the 6th Infantry’s 900 mile hike from Camp Jackson, South Carolina back home to Jefferson Barracks. General Pershing (a native Missourian), speaking about the Civil War in Missouri, said in part, “This state was cut in two by the Mason-Dixon line, and after the war was over, the reunion of the people brought about a loyalty and patriotism tested by the fire of war. In Missouri you will find a cross [combination] between the North and the South, and all the good qualities from the North and from the South. Here, we have all the attributes of the Southern woman, combined with those of the Northern woman, and where you find such women as we have, you will find men [who] measure up to that standard.” Asking Marshal Foch if that was right, a laughter came from the crowd, and Marshal Foch said partly in French, “Je suis sure”, and imitating the statue of St. Louis in Forest Park, he saluted with his sword in the air.
1922 –President Harding signed an executive order, setting aside 250 acres of land at Jefferson Barracks for the erection of a permanent hospital for veterans of the World War. 170 acres are initially transferred to the Veteran's Bureau for the construction of the hospital. It is the 3rd military hospital complex to be built at Jefferson Barracks since 1826, the previous two having been closed down. It is still in existence to this day, under the auspices of the Veteran's Administration. Jefferson Barracks became one of the largest military hospital complexes in the nation during the American Civil War.
-The State of Minnesota, under Governor Preus, erects a monument in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, in honor of her nearly 200 soldiers buried there, who died during the Civil War in Missouri. 92-year old Christopher Columbus Andrews, who commanded Minnesota troops in Missouri during the war, was in attendance at the unveiling of the monument.
1933 - The Civilian Conservation Corps is established at Jefferson Barracks. Some 20,000 enrollees were handled during the summer and fall of '33.
1939 - Post Commander, Col. Joseph Atkins, was ordered to take command of National Guard instruction in the 8th Corps area.
- Congressional Military Committee headed by Senator Thomas visits the Jefferson Barracks. Consideration is given to using the post to support the Army Air Corps. At this time Jefferson Barracks had barracks capable of housing 1,550 soldiers, a training camp for another 1,500, and comparable support facilities (including a hospital with 151 beds).
1940 – Maj. Gen. Hap Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps, requested space to house approximately 6,000 recruits to be enlisted in the Air Corps. The 11th school squadron arrives from Scott Field and Jefferson Barracks is converted to an Air Corps Replacement and Training Base; the first in the country selected for that purpose.
1941-45 - During World War II Jefferson Barracks serves as an induction and separation center, basic training camp, and the largest technical training school for the Army Air Corps. There is a population that is a tenfold increase over the capacity in 1939. A detention camp is formed to house Axis prisoners of war.
- During the war, Walt Disney draws a “Jay-Bee” logo in representation of Jefferson Barracks and signs and copyrights the logo.
1942 - On January 13th Johnny Sturm, first baseman for the New York Yankees, enlists with the army at Jefferson Barracks.
On February 28th, Philadelphia Phillies infielder Emmett “Heinie” Mueller volunteers for the army at Jefferson Barracks, after being sold by Philadelphia to Montreal.
On April 3rd, the Jefferson Barracks Reception Center team beats the University of Illinois, 9 to 5, in its inaugural game. Joe Rayne, who was formerly a first baseman with St Joseph of the Michigan State League, hits two home runs.
1946 - Jefferson Barracks is declared “surplus property” by the War Department. 135 acres is retained by the military and becomes a Missouri Air National Guard station of the 131st Squadron.
- The Tactical Control Squadron later moves in.
1950 - Air Guard units are activated for the Korean War.
- 500 acres are taken over by St. Louis County Parks, most going to Jefferson Barracks Historic Park. There are 250 acres are added to the National Cemetery.
1970 – All of the Missouri National Guard units in St. Louis are moved to Jefferson Barracks.
1990 - Naval Reserve units move on base.
1991 – The 1137th Military Police Company, Missouri Army National Guard, is activated for Desert Shield/Storm.
- Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit (112), Naval Reserves, is activated for Desert Shield/Storm.
1994 - US Army Reserve units move onto Jefferson Barracks.
1995-98 - Personnel from HHC 10th PsyOps, 307th and 318th PsyOps Companies (Army Reserves) are activated for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th rotations of Joint Endeavor/Guard in Bosnia. By the fifth rotation all troops deployed by PsyOps from around the country were mobilized at Jefferson Barracks.
2001-Present – Members of the Air National Guard (218 EIS & 157 AOG), members of the Army Guard (Engineers, Military Police, Artillery and Maintenance) and members of the Army Reserve (PsyOps) have been mobilized and deployed in Support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. These deployments are still continuing today.
2007 – Jefferson Barracks is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places with a rating of “National Significance.” It is currently on the list for possible nomination as a “National Landmark.”
Gateway to the West, The History of Jefferson Barracks from 1826 – 1894, Volume I
By Marc E. Kollbaum, Curator, Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis County Parks
Missouri Civil War Museum Library Archives
Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation, Art Schuerman
U.S. Department of the Interior & the National Park Service