July 16, 1861: Treason in St. Louis

M. Jeff Thompson
Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson, CSA

It seems the Union may have had some grounds to shut down the St. Louis State Journal. A Confederate general was writing to the paper trying to establish communications with self-exiled governor Claiborne Fox Jackson. From the OR, Series 1, Vol. 3, part 1, p. 609:


HEADQUARTERS RIPLEY COUNTY BATTALION,

Camp Burrows, July 16, 1861.

JOSEPH TUCKER, Esq.,

Editor of the State Journal, Saint Louis:

DEAR SIR: If there is any way to communicate with the governor through any person in Saint Louis, please let me know it. I am advancing, and General Yell will follow me in a few days with 5,000 men. He will take position between Rolla and Ironton, and act as circumstances dictate. General Watkins will move up, sustained by General Pillow, and if proper energy is exercised, we can drive the enemy north of the Missouri and into Saint Louis in 30 days. You will please let me hear from you, verbally or not, through the person through whom this passes; and please send the Daily Journal for a short time to Doniphan, as it will be sent to me by my couriers.

Yours, respectfully,
M. JEFF THOMPSON,
Commanding Ripley County Battalion.

M. Jeff Thompson was to become quite famous in the guerrilla warfare in Missouri:


M. Jeff Thompson was the “Missouri Swamp Fox”:

“The great Missouri swamp fox, the Marion of this revolution – you must know I mean General M. Jeff Thompson – was in town yesterday.  I cannot say he is in town; like the Hibernian’s flea, he seems to be here, there, and everywhere all at once.  As he stepped leisurely over some barrels on the landing, I would not have know him but for the inevitable white handled Bowie knife, which he carries as no other man carries a knife, stuck perpendicularly in his belt on the middle of his back; for he now wears a genteel regulation uniform, befitting a general.  His old slouch white hat and feather, bobtailed coat, short pants and rough boots, which made look more like a cattle drover than a gentleman, and in which he did his earliest deeds of daring, have been laid aside, and now he has really a military look.  Let me picture this man to you.
 
Imagine a tall, lean, lank, wiry looking customer at least six feet high, and as slender as a pair of tongs; a thin, long head, with a very long nose; what you would call a hatchet face; thick yellow hair, combed behind his ears and bobbed off short, displaying a very long and thin neck; face healthy and ruddy, without a vestige of beard or mustache; some thirty or thirty-five ;years of age; light pale blue eyes with friendly and benevolent expression; a placid well-shaped mouth, with a half-smile always playing about the corners; a little stoop shouldered; slightly bandy-legged from much riding on horse back; easy and graceful in his movements, as well on foot as in the saddle; mild voiced and unassuming in a crowd; full of rough soldier language in his talk; his manner and tone of voice the same to all, from major-general down to a negro; imagine such a person as this, I say, and you will have a pretty correct idea of the famous Jeff Thompson.  He is about the last person you would take for Jeff Thompson, after forming your idea from what you had heard of him.
 
He is perpetually full of fun and never gets to talking without setting all around him to laughing; it is believed, indeed, that he fights chiefly for the fun of it.  The camp is full of Jeff Thompson’s jokes or rather the odd dialogues he has had with friends and enemies”
 
by Captain Israel Gibbons, late of the editorial corps of the New Orleans Crescent, in a letter from Columbus, Kentucky  as published in the “History of the First and Second Missouri Cofederate Brigades 1861-1865 by R. S. Bevier; published by Bryan, Brand and Company 1879

(Ripley County Civil War)

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