Missouri voted decisively to remain within the Union 150 years ago, but the state would be one of the most divided throughout the Civil War. Governor Claiborne Jackson was pro-secession, and he mustered a pro-Confederacy militia near Olive Street and Compton Avenue, now part of Saint Louis University's campus. Captain Nathaniel Lyon of the Union army took the camp by means of a fairly peaceful show of force but then paraded his captives through the streets, setting off a riot between his forces and civilians who sympathized with the Southern cause. The street fighting left 28 civilians dead, and the "Camp Jackson Affair" set the tone for Missouri's divided loyalties during the remainder of the war — and some might say after the war, as well. Jefferson Barracks (533 Grant Road; www.freedomsgateway.com
) hosts Camp Jackson: The Tipping Point
, a three-day commemoration of Missouri's first bloody step into the war on Saturday and Sunday (April 30 and May 1). Visitors will see encampment reenactments depicting the daily routine of both the Missouri Volunteer Militia and the pro-Union Home Guardsmen as well as demonstrations of artillery and musket firing, period music and military drill instruction from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Sunday's showpiece is a full-scale reenactment of Brigadier General M. "Jeff" Thompson's Missouri State Guard combat with the "School Teacher Regiment" (33 Illinois) at Big River Bridge, which commences at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free both days.
Sat., April 30; Sun., May 1, 2011