John C. Fremont
C. Fremont was born on January 21, 1813 in Savannah, GA. Before the Civil
War, Fremont established himself as a national hero. During the 1840’s,
he led trailblazing expeditions across the Rocky Mountains and played a
significant role in the campaign to win California from Mexico. It was during
this time that he became known as the “Pathfinder”. He was a strong supporter
of the Republican Party and won the affection of many Northerners during
the presidential campaign of 1856, the first for the Republicans. Fremont
was one of four major generals appointed by President Abraham Lincoln at
the outset of the Civil War, receiving his commission on May 14, 1861. Lincoln
assigned Fremont the command of the Western Department, headquartered in
St. Louis, MO in July 1861. Lincoln did so at the urging of Fremont’s many
friends and supporters and would soon regret his decision.
the Western Department commander, Fremont spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars fortifying the city of St. Louis, while his field commanders were
left ill equipped and inadequately supported. Union defeats at Springfield
and Lexington, MO turned many of Fremont’s supporters into adversaries.
The general’s impetuous order freeing all slaves owned by Missouri secessionists,
known as Fremont’s Emancipation Proclamation, cost him Lincoln’s confidence.
Fremont viewed his move as a brilliant war measure, whereas Lincoln viewed
it as a swipe at border state loyalists – an ill-conceived attempt to turn
the war to save the Union into a war to abolish slavery. In October 1861,
Fremont was relieved of all duties as a Union commander.
Fremont’s removal from the public eye was short-lived as in March
1862, he returned to service as commander of the newly created Mountain
Department. He again proved unequal to his task as he was defeated in a
confrontation with Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Shortly
thereafter, Major General John Pope was named as his superior, which prompted
Fremont to request relief from all of his duties. In the presidential election
of 1864, he made a weak attempt to head an independent third party.
1864, Fremont’s personal wealth began to decay with the loss of his California
properties. Between 1878 and 1883, he served as territorial governor of
Arizona. During his later years, he depended heavily upon his wife’s income
as a writer. Fremont died in New York, NY on July 13, 1890.
Proclamations made and letters written by John C. Fremont
Reference and Credits:
of Jessie and Lily Fremont: St. Louis The Fourth City 1764 - 1909. By: Walter
B. Stevens; The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1909.
Freemont Hussars March
(1862) Composed by Charles Fredel, dedicated to Brig. Gen. Alexander Aboth
(formerly Gen Fremont's Chief of Staff). New York: Beer & Schirmer, 701
Midi File courtesy of Benjamin Robert Tubb
Text by Don Palmer. HTML & Graphics editing by Scott Williams.
Copyright 1999. U.S. Grant Camp #68. SUVCW St. Louis, MO