In the United States, allowing citizens own guns changed the course of history in Missouri.
In 1861 the new Missouri Governor, Clairborne Jackson, had promised Missouri to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. While Jackson was plotting to split Missouri from the Union, Frank Blair, a United States Congressman, formed the local German population into the Home Guard by arming and drilling them. After a Confederate attack on FortSumpter on April 15, 1861, Jackson headed for St. Louis under the assumption that if he could take St. Louis, the rest of the state would go South.
Jackson’s plan was to capture the arsenal in St. Louis by surprise assault. General Frost, the leader of the Governors troops, would camp the Missouri soldiers outside the arsenal as part of an annual drill. When no one was expecting it, he would capture the arsenal. However, when Frost arrived he found the German Home Guard, commanded by Capt. Nathanial Lyon, occupying the hills. At this time, the St. Louis Police Department was controlled by the Governor. Frost enlisted the chief of police to have the federal troops removed as trespassers. Lyon, knowing exactly what the Governor and Frost were up to, threatened the police chief who then backed off.
Frustrated, Frost set up camp at Lindell Grove, near the intersection of the current Olive and Grand Boulevards. Known as CampJackson, they grew to 900 militia men. Governor Jackson still claimed this was part of their annual maneuvers. Lyon knew better. However, to confirm his beliefs, Lyon borrowed, from Frank Blair’s mother-in-law, a dress and her carriage. Wearing the dress, he toured the camp making note of heavy siege guns and other weapons indicating more was going on than maneuvers. Lyon returned with eight thousand federal troops, including the Missouri Home Guard.
General Frost promptly surrendered. Lyon placed the Missouri troops in formation along Olive Street, and there they stood for several hours. A drunk tried to force his way through the crowd, that had gathered by that time, and accidentally shot one of the German Volunteers. Not knowing the cause of the shooting, the Volunteers fired into the crowd killing 15 people. This incident turned the public’s view against the Germans and the Union for a brief time. Also, after that time, Germans in uniform were targets for snipers.
After this incident, Frost met with Lyon demanding that his Missouri Troops be left alone. Lyon did not agree. Frost left St. Louis as fast as he could on the Pacific Railroad, burning all bridges behind them. Lyon pursued Frost by steamboat. He caught the Missouri troops in Boonville