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The St. Louis Legacy of the Jesse Scouts

St. Louis, Missouri is not usually regarded as a major player in the Civil War.  But that reputation deserves reconsideration.  In addition to Eads’ City Class Gunboats, and the stubbborn determination to preserve Missouri’s position in the Union, there are other legacies St. Louis has to savor.  One is the Jesse Scouts.

The Jesse Scouts were an irregular Union unit formed in St. Louis by Gen. John C. Fremont and named after his wife, Jesse ann Benton Fremont.  The first commander was Captain Charles C. Carpenter and the unit numbered about 60 men throughout the war.  They wore Confederate Gray uniforms and operated behind enemy lines.   They frequently wore a white cloth around their shoulder so as to be identified by Union units.  Major Henry Harrison Young was the Jessie’s commander in the East under Gen. Sheridan after the unit had been brought East by Fremont in 1862. Some famous scouts were Ike Harris,;Arch Rowand (MOH), who led the raid that captured West Virginia train raider Harry Gilmore; Joseph McCabe; Tom Cassidy; George Valentine (who assassinated the partisan leader Hanse McNeil who had made a reputation raiding the b&O Railroad); Jim White, who diverted Lee’s supply trains at Appomattox, and Jim Campbell.  The jesse Scouts had set a high mark for counterterrorism operations by eliminating many of the Confederacy’s toughest irregulars. 


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