War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0393 Chapter X. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

first proclamation, five regiments of these citizens, numbering about 4,700 men, were enrolled on May 7, 8, and 11, under the name of the U. S. Reserve Corps, by authority of the President. The condition of their enlistment was that they should not be called upon for service outside of Saint Louis County without their consent.

This corps has accomplished and is accomplishing much good. Half of it is now in the field at Booneville, Jefferson City, Lexington, and in the southwest. The other half is in Saint Louis, anxious for active duty, but retained as a matter of precaution. The time is drawing near when their term of enlistment will expire. It will be necessary that a force be kept in Saint Louis, and at the same time there are defects in the present organization which should be avoided in establishing a more permanent corps. The men have false notions about discipline and subordination, thinking that, as they are privileged soldiers, as well as substantial men of families, they have are privileged soldiers, as well as substantial men of families, they have the right to determine by vote what they will do. In one instance two companies volunteered to go to Jefferson City at a time when that exact amount of force was required; came to the arsenal, were equipped, provisioned, and quartered for the night. Transportation was provided, and in the morning at reveille the men were ordered to fall in. Seventy of them refused to go, pleading their privilege of not being sent out of the county as their excuse. I disarmed them, took away their equipments, and sent them out of the garrison, but have since restored their arms, in consequence of explanations that their officers had not informed them of the service which they had been called upon to perform. I mention this as one instance, showing that in certain cases these troops cannot be depended upon.

As I was connected with the Reserve Corps organization up to May 11, at which time I came here, I will respectfully offer some suggestions as to a reorganization of that body: I would recommend that Colonel John McNeil, senior colonel of the corps, and Lieutenant Colonel Robert White, of the Fifth Regiment, now at Booneville, be authorized to raise two regiments for the war by enlistment from the Reserve Corps. It is important that Americans should command. These regiments should have no condition attached to their enrollment, except, perhaps, that they will not be ordered out of the State. Even this will not be necessary, if they understand that their chief duty will be to garrison this place, and defend the city. Two regiments will be enough. The remainder of the corps can be disbanded, and their arms returned. These arms are rifled, and of newer pattern than any which the Illinois troops and a portion of ours have.

I would further recommend that these two regiments be kept on duty at all times. At present the men, when not on guard or other duty, attend to their ordinary avocations. I would suggest also that there be a brigade organization of the two regiments, with or without a brigadier, but that the commanding officer have the necessary staff officers to assist him. Colonel Blair and F. A. Dick, esq., may be able to give valuable information.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHESTER HARDING, Jr.,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Missouri Volunteers.

SAINT LOUIS ARSENAL, MO., July 13, 1861.

Honorable SIMON CAMERON,

Secretary of War:

With cavalry on our prairies we could crush secession in our State within two months. The want of it has not only embarrassed us, but