Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Griswold Back In New York

Glassmaker's Clay-Evens & Howard's
Cheltenham Fire Clay, of Missouri, used for
years in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, &c.  For Sale
Merritt W. Griswold
sole agent, 101 Maiden Lane, N.Y.
-Boston Daily Advertiser, August 8, 1863

We know that Griswold was still in St. Louis in August of 1861 when he mustered out of the Home Guards and we know that at some point he moved back east.  However, we don't know exactly when he returned to New York or under what circumstances.  Actually, there's quite a bit about Griswold that we don't know but that's neither here nor there.  The point of all of this is to show that Griswold was in New York by August of 1863 and, having already set up a business, had most likely been in the city for at least a few months.  Therefore, we can state that sometime between August of 1861 and the summer of 1863, Griswold left St. Louis and moved back to New York.  

I had always assumed that Griswold left St. Louis during the war years to escape the chaotic political and military situation and return to a more familiar and normal setting.  And it certainly looks like he did leave St. Louis during the war.  But the more I think about it, the less comfortable I am saying he left because of the war.  Certainly, St. Louis was not an enjoyable place to be during the Civil War.  The city was under martial law and the threat of attack by Confederate forces.  The population was divided and there was a large number of Confederate sympathisers in the city.  And Missouri itself was a battleground, just as divided as St. Louis.  Griswold's experience in St. Louis as a Yankee outsider in a militantly divided, slave-owning city may not have been particularly pleasant.  

But then it dawned on me that New York wasn't exactly a calm oasis during the war years and was probably just as divided as St. Louis.  You had the draft riots and talk of making New York some kind of neutral, free and open city.  New York certainly wasn't a Republican, pro-Union stronghold.  So if Griswold was trying to escape from the chaos of the war, he probably shouldn't have moved back to New York.  

In the end, the question of why Griswold left St. Louis remains unanswered.   

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