When the St. Louis Arsenal began to store the
ammunition and supplies, Fort Belle
Fontaine was abandoned. The new St. Louis Arsenal grew to house a
large three story brick building, an armory, an ammunition plant, and several
wagon repair shops. By 1840, 22 separate buildings had been erected, and a
garrison of 30 ordnance soldiers manned the site, along with 30 civilian
employees, who assembled finished weapons and artillery.
When the Mexican-American War erupted in 1846, the arsenal was
very busy producing small arms, ammunition,
and artillery and increased its civilian workers to some 500 men. During the
war, the arsenal 19,500 artillery rounds, 8.4 million small arms cartridges,
13.7 million musket balls, 4.7 million rifle balls, 17 field cannon with full
attachments, 15,700 stand of small arms, 4,600 edged weapons, and much more.
When the war was over, the civilian staff was reduced to about 30 and the
arsenal was relatively quiet for about a decade until the Utah War began in
1857. Civilian staff was once again increased, this time to about 100 civilians.
Prior to the
Civil War, a number of congressmen,
anticipating secession, began to demand that their quota of arms and ammunitions
to be shipped from the St. Louis Arsenal to state armories and arsenals. In
December, 1860, President James Buchanan's Secretary of War, John B. Floyd, a
Virginian, was accused of aiding in the transfer of arms to southern states. He
quickly resigned his post and returned to Virginia. Afterwards, an investigation
was conducted into his involvement, where it was found that he had bolstered the Federal arsenals in some Southern states by
over 115,000 muskets and rifles in late 1859. He had also ordered heavy ordnance
to be shipped to the Federal forts in Galveston Harbor, Texas and to Fort
Massachusetts in Mississippi. Though he was officially cleared of any wrong
doing, many continued to suspect that his
involvement had helped arm the Confederate States of America in preparation of
By early 1861, the
and the states were choosing sides.
Missouri was caught in the middle
as most of its residents supported slavery. Despite this, the Missouri
Constitutional Convention of March, 1861 voted to stay with the Union,
but refused to supply men or weapons to either side if war broke out.
This resulted in a state of war within its own borders between the
U.S. Army and
Missouri> citizens and the St. Louis Arsenal would become a
In March 1861,
General Nathaniel Lyon arrived in
St. Louis to command of Company D of the 2nd U.S. Infantry. At the
that time, Missouri Governor Claiborne F. Jackson was a strong
Southern sympathizer, as were many of the state legislators. Lyon was
accurately concerned that Jackson might try to seize the federal
arsenal in St. Louis if the state seceded and that the Union had
insufficient defensive forces to prevent the seizure.