THE Union men of Washington County having been threatened with extermination, and some of them having been driven from Potoso, the county seat, complaint was made to Gen. Lyon, of the St. Louis Arsenal, and that brave and gallant officer determined to give the Union men in that section of the country protection. Accordingly an expedition was planned, and put under the command of Capt. Coles, of company A, Fifth regiment of United States volunteers. At ten o’clock P. M., Tuesday, May 14, 1861, Capt. Cole’s command, consisting of some one hundred and fifty men, left the arsenal on a special train for their destination. They arrived at Potosi at three o’clock, A. M., on Wednesday, and immediately threw a chain of sentinals around the entire town. Guards were then stationed around the dwellings of the most prominent secessionists, and shortly after daylight, some one hundred and fifty men found themselves prisoners, and were marched off to the Court House. Here the prisoners were formed in line, and by the assistance of a gentleman who had been driven out of Potosi, who knew all the inhabitants of the place, the Union men were recognized, and released, amounting to over half of those taken prisoners. Some fifty of the secessionists were also released, on parole of honor, after subscribing to the usual oath not to take up arms against the United States, and nine of the leaders were marched off to the cars. The guard then made a descent on a secession lead manufactory, and captured near four hundred pigs of that very useful article in time of war, which belonged to a man who had been furnishing lead to the Southern rebels. The man’s name is John Dean, and he is now a prisoner at the arsenal. It appears he was not satisfied to simply sell the lead to the enemy, in defiance of the authority of the Government, but was engaged with his own team in hauling it to near the Arkansas line, where the traitors could get possession of it without danger. The guard captured several pistols, rifles, shot guns, and a quantity of secession uniforms, most of them unfinished, and some uniform cloth.
After being furnished with breakfast and dinner, and very handsomely treated by the Union men of Potosi, and invited to stay a month in that place, at their expense, the command started for home. On their way back, the train made a halt at De Soto, in Jefferson County, where there was to be a grand secession “love-feast” and flag-raising. Here they found a company of secession cavalry drilling for the occasion, which took to their heels as soon as they got a sight of the United States troops. In their flight, the cavalry left some thirty of their horses, which were captured by the troops, and placed under guard. The pole–one hundred feet high–on which the rebels were going to fly the secession flag was soon graced with the Stars and Stripes, amid the wildest enthusiasm of the Union men and Government troops. The next move was to capture the rebel flag, which was known to be in town; and for this agreeable duty, Captain Cole detailed a guard of six men, under command of Serg. Walker, accompanied by Dr. Franklin, Surgeon of the Fifth Regiment. The guard surrounded the house supposed to contain the flag, and Dr. Franklin and Serg. Walker entered. After searching in vain for some time, the Doctor thought he observed the lady of the house sitting in rather an uneasy position, and he very politely asked her to rise. At first the lady hesitated, but finding the Doctor’s persuasive sauvity irresistible, she rose slowly, and lo! the blood-red stripe of the rebel ensign appeared below the lady’s hoops. The Doctor, bowing a graceful “beg pardon, madam,” stooped, and quietly catching hold of the gaudy color, carefully delivered the lady of a secession flag, thirty feet long, and nine feet wide. The Doctor bore off his prize in triumph to the camp, where the troops greeted him with wild shouts, and characterized his feat as the crowning glory of the occasion. Here the troops captured another rebel leader, and after placing thirty men, under Lieut. Murphy, to guard the Union flag and the thirty horses, Capt. Cole’s command started on their way. At Victoria, the train stopped a moment, when another secessionist came up hurrahing for Jeff Davis; and quick as thought the ardent rebel was surrounded by a half dozen bayonets, and marched into the cars a prisoner of war, and the train moved. on. They arrived at the arsenal about six and a half o’clock P. M., where a crowd of soldiers and visitors awaited them. The spoils were unloaded, and the prisoners marched to safe and comfortable quarters. Gen. Lyon received them in the spirit of a true soldier, and the troops gave three cheers for Gen. Lyon, three for Col. Blair, and three for the Stars and Stripes, and then caught the secessions flag, and tore it into shreds in a twinkling.
Originally posted 2009-05-13 20:07:14.