KPLR

This Civil War sword tells a story of defeat

This Civil War sword tells a story of defeat

The Civil War was fought largely with guns and cannons. But a damaged sword carried in a famous St. Louis battle tells the story of a defeat felt deeply by the man who carried it."Well you have probably seen John Knapp's sword. It is not in one piece anymore and neither were many of the swords of his comrades dating to that day of may 10th in 1861" said Dr. Robert Archibald.It was known as the battle of Camp Jackson though it was more of a riot than a battle. Newspaper publisher John Knapp was there. Not as a journalist. But as a member of the Confederate-leaning state militia. Which had set up camp in what is now midtown St. Louis.When Union troops began to worry the Confederate leaning militia might try to take over the St. Louis armory. The government troops surrounded them and moved in to arrest them."No one knows who fired the first shot. Most of the people who were killed were actually civilians who had come to watch the capture of these state militia troops but when it was all said and done three dozen or so people were dead. Mr. Knapp was absolutely dismayed he was one of the Confederate sympathizers who was a part of the state militia. He was dismayed when the shooting broke out and was revolted by it. He saw it as close to murder. He took his sword and smashed it and broke it in two and a number of his fellow officers did the same." Said Dr. Robert Archibald of the Missouri History Museum.The battle of Camp Jackson is considered the first Civil War battle in Missouri. But because we were a border state the battle lines were muddled With Missourians fighting for both armies. That included John Knapp. Who despite his anger with the federal troops on that day. Ended up serving with the Union army.

Duration: 2 min

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