The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
Though not the only uniformed militia company in Missouri, the St. Louis Grays was the most famous in the pre-war period. Men paid monthly membership dues and could be fined for missing drills or meetings. They also had to purchase their own uniforms, which could cost as much as $31, an amount equivalent to $879 today. The company drilled regularly to be prepared for action at any time. As sectional tension and hostilities escalated on the western border in the years following the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, Missouri Governor Robert M. Stewart responded to citizens' pleas for protection by sending a state militia force, known as the Southwest Expedition, to repel any attack by marauding Kansans. No confrontation between the Southwest Expedition and Kansas raiders ever materialized, and the militia, including the St. Louis Grays, returned home. Six months later, the company was captured by Union forces at the predominantly pro-Southern encampment of state militia at Camp Jackson.