Tag Archives: James H. Lane

The Missouri Relocation

August 25, 1863 – Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, commanding the Federal District of the Border between Missouri and Kansas, issued repressive orders that threatened to escalate the bitter partisan war in the region even further.

Brig Gen Thomas Ewing | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Following the sack of Lawrence, William C. Quantrill’s Confederate partisans rode back to sanctuary in Missouri. Brigadier General James H. Lane’s Kansas Jayhawkers briefly pursued them but could not track them down. Lane retaliated by murdering over 100 people in western Missouri suspected of helping Quantrill and destroying the property of any alleged Quantrill sympathizers.

Lane also demanded that Ewing, headquartered at Kansas City, exact harsh revenge on anyone not clearly professing Unionist sympathies. Lane drew up a vindictive military order and, as a U.S. senator with strong political connections, threatened to end Ewing’s career if he did not issue and enforce it.

Under General Orders No. 11, Federal troops were to depopulate the four Missouri counties on the Kansas border south of the Missouri River: Jackson, Cass, and Bates, plus part of Vernon County. All people, regardless of age, race, gender, or loyalty, were required to leave their homes within 15 days. Those who proved themselves loyal to the Union could reside in military camps under protection. Those who could not had to leave without protection. Anyone resisting the order would be executed.

Ewing directed the 15th Kansas Cavalry, led by hated Jayhawker Colonel Charles R. Dennison, to enforce the order. Jennison displaced an estimated 20,000 people, many of whom were harassed and robbed by Jayhawkers as they clogged roads hauling wagons filled with all their worldly possessions. Once the counties were emptied, Federals looted and burned all remaining homes, barns, and crops.

Ewing’s order, at Lane’s insistence, was one of the most brutal ever enforced in U.S. history. Predictably, it did little to stop Confederate partisan activity in the area; if anything, it made the raiders even more determined to resist Federal authority. The order also ruined western Missouri’s economy and caused deep resentment for generations. For years, the desolate region was known as the “Burnt District.”

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 319; Faust, Patricia L., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 302-03; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), p. 705; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 343; Hattaway, Herman, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 427; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 401; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 786; Schultz, Fred L., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 249-50; Time-Life Editors, Spies, Scouts and Raiders: Irregular Operations (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 153-54; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q363

The Sack of Lawrence

August 21, 1863 – Colonel William C. Quantrill’s Confederate raiders rampaged through Lawrence, the focal point of “Bleeding Kansas” since before the war.

W.C. Quantrill | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Quantrill’s partisans operated against Federal forces around the Missouri-Kansas border. Quantrill had targeted Lawrence for attack in retaliation for Federal depredations in Missouri, including an 1861 raid on Osceola. A recent building collapse that killed several women suspected of aiding the partisans, as well as punitive measures imposed by Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, commanding the Federal District of the Border, also played a role. Moreover, Lawrence was the hated center of the Free State Movement, and it promised to be rich with loot.

Quantrill ordered his 450 men to “kill every man big enough to carry a gun.” The lone exception was Brigadier General James H. Lane, the U.S. senator who led Kansas Jayhawkers in terrorizing Confederate sympathizers throughout western Missouri. Lane was to be captured and brought back to Missouri for hanging. Lane’s men had given the partisans no quarter in the past, and now Quantrill would give none in return.

The partisans rode into town at 5 a.m. Quantrill, waving one of his Colt revolvers, hollered, “Kill! Kill and you will make no mistake! Lawrence must be cleansed, and the only way to cleanse it is to kill! Kill!” An abolitionist minister was the first victim, shot in the head while milking his cow. The raiders kidnapped a woman and forced her to lead them to the homes of men whose names they had written on a “death list.”

Quantrill’s men split up and moved through town in various directions, with one group riding upon the camp of 22 troops from the 14th Kansas. Shouting “Osceola!”, they shot or trampled 17 men to death, while the other five escaped. The partisans rampaged through the streets burning houses and buildings; the thick smoke suffocated the town mayor as he hid in a well.

Quantrill ate breakfast in a hotel as his men robbed the saloons and banks. They killed 183 men and teenage boys, most of whom were unarmed. Some men, such as Lane, escaped the carnage. Lane removed the nameplate from the front of his house and fled into a nearby cornfield in his nightshirt. Quantrill found Lane’s house anyway and had it burned while Lane’s wife watched.

The partisans did not harm any woman physically, but they forced many to watch their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons be killed. One woman watched the raiders kill her husband and then refuse to let her pull his body out of their burning house. The partisans also stole many of the women’s valuables, including their wedding rings. Quantrill later stated that “the ladies of Lawrence were brave and plucky.” A resident recalled:

“The ladies were wonderfully brave and efficient that morning. Some of them, by their shrewdness and suavity, turned raiders from their purpose when they came to their houses. Sometimes they outwitted them, and at other times they boldly confronted and resisted them. In scores of cases they put the fires out as soon as those who kindled them left the house. In some cases they defiantly followed the raiders around, and extinguished the flames as they were kindled.”

The murder and pillage ended around 9 a.m., when word arrived that Federal troops were approaching. The raiders fled back to Missouri. Some 80 widows and 250 fatherless children remained after Quantrill’s men left. About 185 buildings were burned, with property damage assessed at $1.5 million. One partisan was too drunk to leave with the rest; the vengeful survivors shot him, rode his body through town, and then ripped his corpse to pieces.

An observer later said, “The town is a complete ruin. The whole of the business part, and all good private residences are burned down. Everything of value was taken along by the fiends… I cannot describe the horrors.” Another wrote, “The whole business part of the town, except two stores, was in ashes. The bodies of dead men… were laying in all directions.” Kansas Governor Thomas Carney wrote, “No fiend in human shape could have acted with more savage brutality.”

Both Federals and Confederates considered the sack of Lawrence a senseless atrocity that did nothing to advance any cause in the war. Lane opted not to pursue Quantrill. Instead, he led his Jayhawkers into Missouri and went on a murder spree of his own. At the same time, Lane demanded that Ewing impose more punitive consequences on those suspected of aiding Quantrill and other guerrillas.

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References

Castel, Albert, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 407; Catton, Bruce, The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1960), p. 532; CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 318; Faust, Patricia L., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 302-03; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), p. 703-05; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 342; Hattaway, Herman, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 427; Jones, Virgil Carrington (Pat), Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 606; Linedecker, Clifford L. (ed.), The Civil War A to Z (Ballantine Books, 2002), p. 160; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 399-400; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 785-86; Time-Life Editors, Spies, Scouts and Raiders: Irregular Operations (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 153; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 245-46; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q363

The Border District: Ewing Incites Guerrillas

August 14, 1863 – Brigadier General Thomas Ewing incurred the wrath of Confederate raiders operating along the Missouri-Kansas border by targeting their relatives, including women and children.

Brig Gen Thomas Ewing | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

The border conflict between Missouri and Kansas, which had begun before the war, continued raging as the war progressed. Ewing (brother-in-law of William T. Sherman), commanding the Federal District of the Border, had just 2,500 men spread out across Missouri, Kansas, and the Colorado Territory. There were no concentrated enemy forces, but the Federals had to deal with pro-Confederate partisans operating mainly in western Missouri and eastern Kansas.

These partisans, mostly based in Missouri, crossed the border, launched quick attacks, and then disappeared among the population. Since the Federals could not track them down, Ewing authorized the arrest of anyone suspected of aiding or abetting them, including their mothers, wives, and daughters. This infuriated the raiders, who had made it a point not to make war on women.

Ewing’s Federals began rounding up these women and sending them to designated prison camps, including abandoned warehouses and other buildings. One such structure was an old three-story brick building in Kansas City, in which the women were held on the second floor. On the 14th, this building collapsed, killing five and injuring many others.

The partisans believed that Ewing had deliberately sabotaged the building. It was in a dilapidated condition, and Ewing had been warned that it might collapse. Among the women killed was the sister of William Anderson, who became known as “Bloody Bill” following his retaliatory rampage. Other women were related to notorious partisan leader Colonel William C. Quantrill.

Col W.C. Quantrill | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Quantrill had gained notoriety during the fight over “Bleeding Kansas” before the war, making money by charging exorbitant fees to return fugitive slaves to their masters, as well as stealing horses and cattle. When the war began, he raised a group of pro-Confederate raiders that included “Bloody Bill,” Cole Younger, and Frank and Jesse James. Quantrill became a captain under the Confederate Partisan Ranger Act, but when the Confederate government denied him a colonelship, he bestowed the title upon himself anyway.

Four days after the Kansas City building collapse, Ewing exacerbated the partisans’ rage further by issuing General Order No. 10. This declared that the arrests would continue, and furthermore, “the wives and children of known guerrillas, and also women who are heads of families and are willfully engaged in aiding guerrillas, will be notified… to remove out of this district and out of the State of Missouri forthwith.”

Quantrill and his raiders received word of the tragedy at Kansas City and Ewing’s punitive response while camped in western Missouri. Quantrill had been planning to raid Lawrence, the abolitionist headquarters of Kansas that had been sacked by pro-slavery forces in 1856. Ever since James H. Lane, a U.S. senator who led Unionist Kansas forces, sacked Osceola, Missouri, in 1861, Quantrill had sought revenge.

The raiders, who had spies in Lawrence, prepared a “death list” of prominent Unionist residents, including Lane. Scouts informed Quantrill that an attack might fail because large bodies of Federal troops often passed through on their way to other posts. But Quantrill argued, “Lawrence is the great hotbed of abolitionism in Kansas, and we can get more revenge and more money there than anywhere else in the state.” And now, after learning of Ewing’s depredations, Quantrill resolved to attack no matter what.

On the 19th, Quantrill and about 300 Missouri partisans began heading toward Kansas. As they reached the border, Quantrill announced, “This is a hazardous ride, and there is a chance we will all be annihilated. Any man who feels he is not equal to the task can quit, and no one will call him a coward.” Some left, but most remained. In fact, they gained new recruits along the way, boosting their total to around 450.

The partisans rode through the night, stopping at farms to get directions to Lawrence in the dark. The raiders killed any civilian who recognized Quantrill, spoke German (German immigrants were largely pro-Republican), or was a known abolitionist. In all, 10 farmers were forced to serve as guides and then murdered by the time Quantrill and his men approached Lawrence before dawn on the 21st.

Quantrill had planned to attack at night, but now dawn was approaching, so the attack would have to take place in broad daylight. Lawrence was a large town of about 2,000 people, and some partisans began having second thoughts about attacking. Quantrill told them, “You can do as you please. I am going to Lawrence.”

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Faust, Patricia L., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 302-03; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), p. 703-04; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 340-41; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 399; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 785; Time-Life Editors, Spies, Scouts and Raiders: Irregular Operations (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 152; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q363

The Fall of Lexington

September 20, 1861 – The pro-secessionist Missouri State Guards captured a Federal force and a strategically important town in northwestern Missouri.

Confederate General Sterling Price | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Confederate General Sterling Price | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

After the secessionists won the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in August, General Ben McCulloch led his contingent back to Arkansas. This left the Missouri State Guards under General (and former Missouri governor) Sterling “Pap” Price, which camped near Springfield in southwestern Missouri. On September 10, Price decided to move north and attack Federals seeking to enforce Major General John C. Fremont’s slave emancipation decree in Johnson County.

The Missourians arrived at Warrensburg the next day, but the Federals had already left town. On the 12th, Price advanced on Lexington, Missouri’s largest commercial town between St. Louis and Kansas City, on the Missouri River. About 3,600 Federals under Colonel James A. Mulligan were stationed around the Masonic College, north of town. The troops kept the Missouri state seal and nearly $1 million from town banks buried under Mulligan’s tent.

Price’s numerically superior Missourians drove back the Federal pickets and pursued them to within two and a half miles of Lexington before Price ordered a halt for the night. The next day, Price’s men pushed the Federals back to the college, where Mulligan ordered his troops to hold “at all hazards.” The Federals withdrew to their garrison, a 12-foot-by-12-foot earthwork defended by seven cannon.

Although outnumbered about two-to-one, Mulligan counted on Fremont, commanding all Federals in Missouri, to send reinforcements from one of three forces stationed nearby. Although he received no indication that Fremont would help him, Mulligan held out hope that his commander would come through.

Meanwhile, as Price paused to wait for his artillery train to arrive from Springfield, the rest of his Guards as well as local volunteers joined him, raising his total force to about 10,000 men. The Missourians fired their cannons at the Federal works while preparing to launch a full-scale attack once the main artillery train arrived.

Fremont quickly learned of Mulligan’s predicament from both his subordinates and Hamilton Gamble, Missouri’s provisional Unionist governor. Gamble wrote Fremont that losing Lexington “would be a great disaster, giving control to the enemy of the upper country.” He proposed transporting nearby Federals under Brigadier-Generals John Pope and Samuel D. Sturgis by train to Hamilton, and then march them the remaining 40 miles to Lexington. Gamble wrote, “It may be too late now, but it is worth the effort.”

Missourians rushing to reinforce Price, led by General D.R. Atchison (former president of the U.S. Senate) clashed with James H. Lane’s Jayhawkers on the northern bank of the Missouri at Blue Mills, about 35 miles above Lexington, on the 17th. The Kansans ultimately withdrew, losing 150 killed and 200 wounded; the Missourians lost five killed and 20 wounded. This ensured that Mulligan would receive no help from the Kansas Federals.

Price’s ammunition arrived on the 18th, and the Missourians attacked Mulligan’s defensive perimeter that morning. They destroyed homes and buildings in the line of fire and relocated several residents, including Mulligan’s wife. They also took up positions along the Missouri River west of town and captured the only steamboat that the Federals could use to escape.

An artillery exchange opened the engagement, followed by the Missourians charging and seizing the Anderson house, a two-story brick building about 125 yards from the Federals ramparts. The house had strategic significance because it sat atop a hill and served as a hospital. Federals has planted land mines to protect the building, but the Missourians seized it nonetheless.

The Federals took back Anderson house in a counterattack, bayoneting captured Missourians for violating the rules of war by attacking a hospital (though the bayoneting violated the rules as well). When thirsty Federals in the building began fighting over water, the Missourians surged forward again and regained Anderson house for good. Fugitive slaves found hiding in the basement were returned to their masters.

The fight ended at nightfall, with the Federals retaining their defense works but the Missourians holding Anderson house, which gave them high ground from which to fire into the Federal camps. The Missourians also controlled the water supply, as the two wells still within the Federal lines had gone dry. Mulligan would have to surrender if he did not receive reinforcements to break out of town immediately. Price awaited more ordnance while preparing for a final, decisive assault.

The Missourians resumed their artillery bombardment on the 19th, having evacuated the 1,000 or so residents from Lexington. The cannonade combined with the hot weather and lack of water to take its toll on the besieged Federals. Sturgis arrived across the Missouri River with 1,000 Federals to reinforce Mulligan, but the Missourians had seized all ferryboats, making it impossible for Sturgis to cross.

Price sent a detachment of 3,000 men to drive Sturgis’s Federals off. After a brief skirmish from across the river, Sturgis withdrew toward Kansas City. Neither Lane nor Pope received Fremont’s orders to help Mulligan. Unaware that Sturgis had been turned back, Mulligan held out until the next day.

By that time, Price had nearly 18,000 men surrounding the Federal garrison. They advanced around 8 a.m., pushing dampened hemp bales in front of them to protect against enemy fire. The Federals, demoralized by thirst and overwhelming numbers, only offered a token resistance.

Firing stopped when one of Mulligan’s officers raised a white flag. Price sent a party to ask why the firing had stopped. Mulligan, who had not been consulted before his subordinate offered to surrender, replied, “General, I hardly know, unless you have surrendered.” Price ordered the attack to resume, and as the Missourians and their hemp bales drew closer, Federal troops began waving white flags of their own.

Mulligan called a meeting of his officers. The Federals were not only out of water, but their food and ammunition supply was running dangerously low. Convinced that Fremont would not help them, the subordinates voted to surrender. Mulligan finally agreed.

The Federal commander dispatched a messenger at 2 p.m. asking Price for capitulation terms. Price answered that surrender would be unconditional; the men would be paroled and sent home, and the officers would be held as prisoners of war. He gave Mulligan 10 minutes to respond, during which time the Federals marched out of their defenses and laid down their arms.

Mulligan and his officers offered their swords to Price, who said, “You gentlemen have fought so bravely that it would be wrong to deprive you of your swords. Keep them.” A band played “Dixie” as the Federal troops marched past the Missourians.

Exiled pro-secession Missouri Governor Claiborne F. Jackson, who was with Price’s State Guards, delivered a speech to the prisoners admonishing them for invading Missouri and, noting that many of them were from Illinois, he said that “when Missouri needed troops from Illinois, she would ask for them.” Jackson then announced that they were free to go home. Only Mulligan and his wife stayed with Price as prisoners, where they were treated as respected guests.

The Missourians captured 3,441 Federals, 750 horses, 100 wagons, 3,000 muskets, and all seven artillery pieces. They seized $100,000 worth of commissary stores, and other property desperately needed by the growing number of Missourians volunteering to expel the Federals from their state. They also recovered the state seal and about $900,000 of the stolen money from the town banks. Federals sustained 159 casualties while the Confederates lost 97 (25 killed, 72 wounded). Price reported:

“This victory has demonstrated the fitness of our citizen soldiery for the tedious operations of a siege, as well as for a dashing charge. They lay for 52 hours in the open air, without tents or covering, regardless of the sun and rain, and in the very presence of a watchful and desperate foe, manfully repelling every assault and patiently awaiting my orders to storm the fortifications. No general ever commanded a braver or better army. It is composed of the best blood and bravest men of Missouri.”

The capture of Lexington worsened the plummeting morale of Unionist Missourians. It also added to the growing Fremont controversy, as many questioned his competence for failing to rescue the garrison with his 38,000 troops stationed throughout Missouri before Mulligan was compelled to surrender. However, Price’s victory did not help the secessionist cause in Missouri in the long-term, as many of the disorganized State Guards believed that their duty had been done and returned to their homes. Meanwhile, the Federal presence in the state steadily increased.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (Kindle Edition 2008, 1889), Loc 7552; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 76-78; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 64-67; Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), p. 389; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 117-20; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 351; Nevin, David, The Road to Shiloh: Early Battles in the West (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 33; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 150, 153-55; Schultz, Fred L, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 435-36