The next bloodshed in St. Louis occurred on Seventh Street near Olive, about May 10th, when the raw recruits shot some of their own men. At this time, my father was trying to influence your Uncle Orville, who was then a midshipman at Annapolis, to resign from the Navy. I went to see him to try to counteract father’s influence. My brother was loyal to the Government, saying he owed all he had to it, and intended to stand by the colors.
That day, Mr. Seward, who had just been named by Mr. Lincoln as Secretary of State, was to make his first speech after his nomination. The Senate Chamber was jammed, and you Uncle being obliged to leave before the speech was finished, we were passed over the heads of the people, out of the door. I will never forget the excitement after the speech and the various interpretation of it.
At one time, in 1864, one dollar in gold cost $2.84 in currency. The premium fell very rapidly on the capture of Richmond, so that in 1870 specie payment was resumed. It might have been done a long time before, if we had only “resumed” but we were afraid to try it.
Before the fall of Richmond, many, particularly those of Confederate or Secession leanings, bought gold heavily, and others sold it “short.” On the fall of the Confederacy, thousands were broken up, as gold declined enormously, bringing about the celebrated Black Friday panic.
My father had $10,000 gold sometime before the collapse of the “gold ring.” Aided by my brother Will, he buried it in the cellar of our store, at the northwest corner of Second and Locust streets, carefully making a diagram thereof. When we sold to Meyer Bros., we tried to dig it up but could not find it. At last, father offered Mr. Fisher, a partner of Meyer Bros., $3000 if he could recover the specie. Within an hour he delivered $7000. The memorandum showed that the gold was buried a foot under the board floor. Fisher dug two feet and found it. Its weight no doubt caused it to sink. I suppose millions have been thus secreted and never found; or found accidentally.
During the Civil War, about 1863, General Fremont was placed in command of this military department. He had some social notoriety because he ran away with and married Jesse Benton, a daughter of our Senator, but he was a veritable dandy, and thought more of his military boots and gauntlets up to his elbows, than of military tactics. One day Governor Hamilton R. Gamble, who had been elected Governor, by the State Constitutionals Convention and by virtue of his office was in command of the State Militia, had occasion to go to Jefferson City. When he reached the depot, unescorted, he went on board a car, with his valise in hand and seating himself, was politely told by an orderly “This is General Fremont’s private car.” The Governor apologized and went back to the next car. Shortly afterward there was a commotion and a company of troops presented arms as General Fremont rode between them in military style, dismounted and went to his car! On being told that Governor Gamble was in the rear car he sent him an invitation to ride in his car, but the invitation was politely declined. Arriving at Jefferson City, another company of troops met General Fremont with all the pomp and nonsense of war, going through the same performance as at St. Louis. Governor Gamble quietly walked up the hill to the hotel, carrying his own valise! Draw your own conclusions.