If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Please enter your email and we will send your username and password to you.
By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Ste. Genevieve’s Civil War history came to life Aug. 26.
The state was sharply divided during the conflict. As local historian Bob Mueller noted during the re-enactment, the local French population had been around slavery for generations and tended to sympathize with the Confederacy. Most of the Germans who had immigrated to the county were opposed to slavery and supported the Union.
General John C. Fremont declared the state of Missouri under martial law on August 30, 1861. To implement martial law, provost marshals were assigned in each county. They had the power to conduct random arrests, provide passes for travel, issue assessment and taxes, banish people from the area, and require loyalty oaths from those suspected of aiding and abetting the southern forces.
Local resident Gustavus St. Gem was named as Provost Marshal of Ste. Genevieve County on Sept. 3, 1862. His brother, J. Felix St. James, one of the first area volunteers to the Union cause, had died earlier that year at the battle of Shiloh.
Felix is the namesake of the J. Felix St. James Camp # 326, Sons of Union Veterans (SUV) that put on the re-enactment.
It combined various events that took place during the war, including the imposing of martial law, Federal troops taking over the courthouse (Oct. 1, 1864), General Order 13 barring the selling of liquor to the local militia (May 19, 1865) and the naming of prominent citizens as possible southern sympathizers (April 14, 1864).
Some of the characters in the reenactment portrayed actual Civil War characters. Others unnamed soldiers and citizens.
Mueller portrayed Gustavus St. Gem, while Marty Aubuchon played Capt. J. B. Good and Bill Naeger portrayed the editor of the Plaindealer newspaper. Mike Schaaf played a drunken soldier, while Gary Scheel portrayed a Union Sergeant (also setting up the camp scene) and Ed Millinger and Tom Greminger represented the 78th E. M. M. soldiers. Doug Nickleson, Clarence Warfield, Mary Scheel, and John Karel also played roles.
The re-enactment continued despite a moderately heavy rain starting about halfway through the event.