It is Sunday once more and of course I must write if it is only to pass time but what to write is the question. I am so dreadfully dispirited and Home-sick that I fear I shall become sick in reality. The weather has its depressing influence. It is balmy and springlike at times, but April Showers are almost continuous and heavy. The grass begins to come out green under the influence of Sun & Showers, and the Willows across the “James” to sprout. Read more »
Archaeologists working a construction site near the Poplar Street Bridge in downtown St. Louis have made quite a timely find. Buried beneath hundreds of years of city development were the first pieces of evidence from the French founding of the city in 1764. Historical records have long shown who was living in the settlement during the French colonial period of the city, but up until this point no artifacts from these early people had been found. Read more »
James continued to hear rumors of an exchange arranged by Union general Benjamin F. Butler, commander at Fortress Monroe and special agent for the exchange of prisoners. These rumors proved false, but in March 1864, Confederate general John H. Winder, provost marshal for the city of Richmond, Virginia, ordered the evacuation of most prisoners in the city to prisons in Georgia. Winder gave this order after attempted escapes, and a failed rescue by Union brigadier general H. Judson Kilpatrick.Read more »
The city of St. Louis is in the midst of celebrating its 250th birthday, and the Missouri History Museum is at the forefront of the festivities. In just six short weeks since opening its 250 in 250 exhibit, the Museum has seen nearly 60,000 visitors. That's approximately 1,000 visitors each day coming to enjoy the exhibit and the Museum's programming! Read more »
We are nearing the end of Women’s History Month, and a number of famous women—ranging from Susan B. Anthony to Sojourner Truth—have been celebrated. St. Louis has also been home to amazing women who have fought for their rights and have made a mark in local and national history. Many of their stories can be found in 250 in 250, our exhibit commemorating the 250th anniversary of the city through the stories of 50 people, 50 places, 50 images, 50 moments, and 50 objects. Read more »
In this letter, James refers to an expected exchange, and hopes that he will be in St. Louis before Molly received the letter. Unfortunately, there was not an exchange at that time. James also mentions Molly’s “Fair” work. In spring 1864, women in St. Louis, including Molly and her sister, Sallie, started preparations for a fair to benefit the Western Sanitary Commission, which provided hospital supplies for sick and wounded soldiers. The Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair was held in St. Louis in May 1864.
By the time James wrote this letter, he had been a prisoner for six months, and, based on the tone of the letter, the time started to take a toll. General exchanges of prisoners had stopped the previous summer, largely due to disagreements over the exchange of black Union soldiers that were held by the Confederates. James’s only hope was to obtain a special exchange.
Last month, the city rolled out the red carpet to celebrate 250 years since its founding. And here at the Missouri History Museum, we opened a yearlong exhibit called 250 in 250, which features the stories of 50 People, 50 Places, 50 Images, 50 Moments, and 50 Objects. Read more »
Nothing is stranger than seeing a person reading about herself in a history museum exhibition. I wrote the panel about Frankie Freeman for the 50 People section of 250 in 250, and seeing the real Freeman standing right in front of it felt nearly surreal. Freeman continued through the rest of the 50 People in the exhibit. Read more »
While James remained in Libby Prison still hoping for an exchange, his regiment, the 8th Kansas Infantry, returned to St. Louis on furlough. Since the Battle of Chickamauga, where James was wounded, the regiment had participated in the siege and battle of Chattanooga, and several other battles in the area. On February 20, 1864, they arrived in St. Louis, where they reunited with their former commander, General William S. Rosecrans, and had a dinner prepared by the citizens of the city. After a few days in St. Louis, the regiment left to return home to Kansas.Read more »
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