From the 3 June 1894 issue of The New York Times.



History of One of the Oldest Military Posts in the United States—Famous Officers Who have Been Stationed There—Once the Quarters of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee—While at This Station Gen. Grant Met His Future Wife.

JEFFERSON BARRACKS, Mo., June 2.—Passengers on railroad trains rushing along the west bank of the Mississippi River, south-bound from St. Louis, have their attention attracted, nine miles after leaving the metropolis of Mmissouri, by a United States flag floating in thebreeze on a high bluff overlooking the river. It is the forerunner of the brakeman’s announcement of “Jefferson barracks!” as the train slows up at the small railroad station. The name recalls to military men almost forgotten memories of many bygone military episodes and incidents connected with on of the historic spots of the West. For, quite within the recollection of men still living, the Mississippi River represented to the imagination of the young West Point graduate a frontier more remote than is marked to-day by the Pacific coast, and Jefferson Barracks meant a station in the far West before the civil war.

Jefferson Barracks.

The old post is every day awakened to life and action by the loud report of the réveille gun, followed by the march of the trumpeters, just as it has been for the last sixty-seven years. The same unvarying military routine has been maintained with little change, year in and year out, its subjects only changing. The original structures at the post, most of which remain intact, were erected by soldier labor early in the twenties. The material used was the limestone taken from neighboring quarries, and the excellence with which the work was done is attested by the condition of many of the buildings at this time. Each one of these old buildings is replete with interesting associations. The first commanding officer of the post was Brevet Brig. Gen. Henry Atkinson, Colonel of the Sixth Infantry, and the post, where also was stationed part of the Third Infantry, was regarded as the infantry practice school of that period, (1827). The present commanding officer is Lieut. Col. Samuel S. Summer, Sixth Cavalry, a son of the late Brevet Major Gen. E. V. Summer, and an officer of long and distinguished service.

Lieut. Col. Samuel S. Sumner.

Jefferson Barracks is three miles from North St. Louis, or Carondelet. The Government, in 1824, when James Monroe was President of the United States and Major Gen. Brown commanded the army, leased from the citizens of Carondelet, or, as it was then called, Vide Poche, the 1,700 acres of land which now constitute this military reservation. Much litigation subsequently arose over this lease, for, when it was desired to incorporate Carondelet, no title to the lands used as a reservation would be granted by the United States, and on the remaining land a patent was only granted by compelling the citizens of Carondelet to relinquish this claim to the 1,700 acres. This was done under protest during President Franklin Pierce’s Administration.

Not until 1892, however, was the matter finally settled by the Missouri Legislature, when exclusive jurisdiction to the land was ceded to the United States, the State reserving the right to tax and regulate railroads running through the reservation and to serve civil and criminal processes thereon. If the land ceases at any time to be used as a military post it is to revert to the State. The oldest buildings at the post were erected in 1826. A grand ball was given by the officers on Jan. 1, 1827, to the Governor of Missour and citizens of St. Louis. In 1830 Asiatic cholera made its first appearance in the West at this post, a soldier being the first victim.

Guardhouse, Water Tower, and Office.

In 1832 the Black Hawk war broke out, and Gen. Atkinson, the first commandant of Jefferson Barracks, left the post for the scene with six companies of the Sixth Infantry on board of two steamers. Subsequently Black Hawk and many other chiefs were brought as prisoners to the barracks. In 1833 the First Regiment of Cavalry was organized here. Jefferson Davis was a First Lieutenant in this organization. In 1836 part of the Second Cavalry was organized here. In 1846 the Third Regiment of Cavalry was given its initial training here under Col. E. V. Sumner. In 1843 Gen. Grant was stationed here for seven months. He was then Second Lieutenant of the Fourth Infantry. It was at this time that he met Miss Julia Dent of Carondelet, whom he subsequently married. The command was then composed of half the Fourth and half of the Third regiments of Infantry.

From 1853 to 1856, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was the commandant of the post. In 1855 Jefferson Davis organized the Second Regiment of Cavalry here, or that part of it not already mustered in. Albert Sidney Johnson was its Colonel, and Robert E. Lee its Lieutenant Colonel. Gens. Hardee, Thomas, Van Dorn, Kirby Smith, and Stoneman were all either subalterns, Captains, or field officers in the same regiment.

During the civil war the barracks became a general military hospital. After the war it became, in succession, the property of the Engineer Corps and of the Ordnance Corps.

In July, 1878, Gen. Gregg, Colonel Eighth Cavalry, took command, and the place became a cavalry depot for the assembling and instruction of recruits for the cavalry, which it has remained ever since. The instruction of recruits is now conducted in a more thorough manner than ever before. The men who are sent here are young, averaging not over twenty-one years of age, and are selected for their special aptitude for the mounted service. By a judicious combination of indoor gymnastics and outdoor mounted instruction they soon become expert horseman. Besides the staff officers on duty at the barracks, it is intended to keep one officer from each mounted regiment here for a period of two years, to act as instructor to the recruits, in addition to attending to the usual routine duties of the garrison. The commanding officer is also assigned to duty here for a period of two years, and he is usually one of the Lieutenant Colonels of cavalry.

For the purpose of instruction, the recruits are assigned to four companies, whose non-commissioned officers are old soldiers and men of proved good characer and intelligence. The mounted instruction is now conducted by a separate detachment, consisting of two Lieutenants and ten Sergeants. This instruction is as thorough as it is possible to make it in the limited time—about three months—that recruits remain here. The instruction in dismounted drill is also very thorough, and its importance is great when it is considered that, after leaving here for the frontier, a dismounted drill is the exception, and, when there is any field service being done, it is practically impossible. There are at present about fourteen officers and 500 enlisted men at Jefferson Barracks. Recruits are sent from here to the frontier posts and Western garrisons in batches of from ten to twenty men, under charge of a non-commissioned officer.