The South, early began to show a determined aspect toward disrupting the Union, and in the event of war, we occupied a most unenviable position--with Missouri and Arkansas on our eastern border, and the Indian Territory on our south; our position in Southern Kansas, being peculiarly exposed to Indian raids, should they side with the south. It was not long before the firing on Ft. Sumter, and the call of the President for 75,000 men; and Kansas was responding promptly to the call.
It was proposed to raise one company in the south part of the county, and my brother and I conferred as to what we should do in the matter. We realized that we could not both enlist, leaving the family exposed as they would be to the raids from Missouri and the Indian Territory; we felt that it would be disastrous to our home interests, to remove the family and abandon our improvements, and it was determined that I should remain, and care, as well as possible, for the family and home, and he would enlist in the first company to organize in the county.
There was a company raised in and about Humboldt, with N. B. Blanton as Captain, and Samuel as First Lieutenant. This company was mustered into the Fourth Kansas, but later, it with the Third, was mustered in as the Tenth Kansas Infantry.
During the summer, we were not molested, yet many rumors were afloat, as to threatened invasions from Missouri and the Indian Territory. The Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws and Seminoles went off largely with the South, while the Osages remained loyal to the Government, and this fact, as to the Osages, was a great relief to our fears; as, if they were our friends, they would be a protection against raids from the unfriendly Indians. For our better protection, we organized ourselves into companies of Militia, and armed ourselves as well as we could. General Lane, was, during the latter part of the summer, busy organizing the Militia of the state, for its protection; the Militia of our county were under the command of Colonel Orlin Thurston, of Humboldt.
About the first of September, Ft. Scott was threatened with a raid, and Colonel Thurston was ordered there, with a portion of his command. Those in the south part of the county were left, as a protection to their homes. Before reaching Ft. Scott, the order was received to go to Barnesville, a point on the State Line, to act as picket guards, while the main force fortified a point about six miles back, which was called Ft. Lincoln, this point General Lane designated as the "Key to Kansas." There, most of the men of Humboldt were holding the "Key" while a band of Rebels came in by "another door" and sacked their town. This was on the afternoon of September 8. There was one company of Missourians, under Captain Livingston, and one of Cherokee and Osage Halfbreed Indians, under Captain Mathews. They passed about a mile east of us, on their way to Humboldt, and we did not know of their presence until after their departure. But few men were in Humboldt, and the town fell an easy prey to their hands; they did not kill anyone, but robbed the stores and private houses of such things as they could carry away. They hastened off, making a few calls on the way, as they returned south. On the following day as many of the settlers as were at home pushed after them with as much dispatch as was possible. On reaching Lightning Creek, we were joined by a force of regular volunteer soldiers from Ft. Scott, under command of Col. Jas. G. Blunt, afterwards a Major General. We placed our force under his command, and we were led along down the Neosho river, hoping to find some of the Rebels at or about the residence of Captain Mathews. He was living on a fine ranch, just where the town of Oswego has since been built; he had a half-breed Osage Indian wife, and had a lot of fine horses and other stock. However, we found that he was not here, but had gone on further south, and that his men had scattered. This move, we were making in the night time, and with great caution, having with us a guide who was well acquainted with every trail, much of the way being through dense woods; passing on down the river, we obtained information that a part of the raiders were at the house of a Cherokee Indian, about three miles below where the town of Chetopa now is, and just over the line into the Indian Territory; we reached the place just about daybreak, and surrounded the house. Having discovered us, two of the occupants broke out into the bush and escaped; one, we took prisoner; Captain Mathews himself, with a double-barreled shot gun in his hands, ran out of the house and was shot down.
The one we captured was very badly scared; but on being satisfied that he had not been in the raid, he was discharged.
Captain Mathews was a man of influence among the Indians, and we had heard, during the summer, of him as having raised a company of Indians for the purpose of making a raid upon Humboldt and settlements adjacent, and only awaiting a favorable opportunity to do so. This raid alarmed our people to such an extent, that many of our neighbors moved away; some going to the North part of the State, and some temporarily to Humboldt, or the north part of the county; those remaining for the most part, left their houses at night, hiding out in the brush; but as for ourselves, we remained at our home, and never slept out of the house but one night. That night, just at dark, we were informed by a neighbor that a large force was seen passing east of us, in a northerly direction and, not being able to learn the facts in the matter, we thought it safer to sleep out. In the morning, we found the rumor arose from some one seeing a herd of Indian ponies grazing on the prairie.
The people of Humboldt now took extra precautions to prevent another raid. They kept one company of Infantry in town, and they were building a fortification around OBriens mill; and one company of cavalry was kept out, for most of the time, as scouts, in the direction of the Indian Territory.
On the 14th, of October, this company of cavalry returned from a scout of several days to the south line of the state, reporting that no sign of rebels had been seen. This report quieted all fears, at the time, and the people were wholly off their guard when, later in the evening, a force of three or four hundred rebels, under Col. Talbot for Arkansas, of the Confederate Army, came dashing into the town and easily captured the place, taking most of the Militia force prisoners. One man, in attempting to get away on a mule, was shot and killed. Captain Livingston, who was with the former raid, was also in this party. After setting fire to nearly every house in town, and robbing them of such things as they could carry away, they liberated the prisoners and returned south with all possible dispatch, small detachments calling, as they went, on most of the settlers on their routes.
We learned of this raid upon Humboldt just about sundown, and we expected a visit from them on their return, probably some time during the night; and, from the fact that since the former raid, General Lanes forces had captured and burned Osceola Missouri, and on the south line of the State, in Cherokee County, a reputed Southern sympathizer running a small store, had been robbed and murdered by some irresponsible persons claiming to be Union men; and, from the further fact of my own part in the pursuit of the former raiders and the killing of Mathews; I did not feel like trusting myself in their hands. And we therefore concluded to carry such things of value as we could, to some safer place, and secrete them among the rocks and timber on the bluff, near the lake; and also, to hide ourselves likewise.
We therefore gathered up our best articles of clothes and bedding, tying them up in bundles for carrying away. I also took a team of horses from the stable and tied them down under the bluff, in the dark; and we had not, as yet, carried out any of the bundles, when, just as the sun was setting, I looked out to the North, in the direction of Humboldt and saw three armed men riding up the slope towards the house. My first thought was of neighbors gathering for the purpose of following the rebels; but as they came nearer I saw that they were strangers, and that they approached with arms at "present".
I saw, at once, that an attempt to escape was futile; and I determined to put on a bold front; and so, walked out to the gate in the rear of the house a distance of but a few steps from the door, where, at the time, my wife and two or three of the children were with me. My wife followed me out; I saw that they were half-breed Indians. I spoke to them as a settler to a stranger. One of them as spokesman, proceeded to question me as follows:
"What is your name," this, I gave him.
"Are you armed, or have you arms in the house?" I said that I had no arms; but, in the house, was an old shotgun out of repair, and, asked him very politely to alight and see for himself.
He asked if I had any horses. I told him that I had two ponies, but that they were running out.
He sent one of his men to the stable, and finding no horses there, seemed satisfied without a search in the brush.
He then asked me where I came from, and whether I was an abolitionist or a pro-Slavery man. I began to feel that such questions were vital, and calculated to draw me very close to the danger line; but whatever might be the result, I determined to make a true statement.
I said that I had come to Kansas from Indiana, and was naturally a free-state man; that I had come to make a home for my family, and that it was my desire to make Kansas a free state; but that I accorded the right of men from the South to settle here and make for themselves a home, and to establish slavery by fair means, if they could do so. We had considerable further conversation; and in answer to my questions as to why they were burning houses, and robbing people who were at their own homes and attending to their own business, disturbing no one, they gave no direct answer; but in excuse for raiding Humboldt, he said that they had learned that certain persons who had been engaged in the murder and robbing of the store recently, in Cherokee County, were being harbored in Humboldt, and that they were seeking them.
I expressed a hope that success might crown their efforts, as I did not approve of such unlawful acts; and, at the same time, I suggested that it seemed to me that they were engaged in the same kind of business. I learned that they were Cherokee Indians. I will do them the credit to say that they did not respond harshly or use any harsh or profane language, in all our intercourse; and finally, they rode off without having dismounted, which, if they had done, and gone into the house on my "cordial" invitation, they would most likely have carried away a part of our ready-packed things.
We felt greatly relieved at their departures and on the morrow we learned that none of our neighbors had fared so well; in fact every other family along their route had left their homes and hidden out; so that, as the several squads visited these houses and found them abandoned, they carried away such things as they could, and destroyed most everything else.
This second raid was very discouraging to the settlers, in general, and many who had remained up to this time, now abandoned their homes and removed to points North and East.
In view of the exposed situation of the settlers along the southern border of the state, the Government placed a force of Volunteer soldiers at Humboldt; sometimes having one or more regiments stationed there; the building of a block-house was commenced but never completed. This gave us a feeling of greater safety from the Rebel raids.
Nov. 6, another son was born, we named him Oliver.
The winter 1861-2 was passed with any events of unusual interest.
In the Spring of 1862 several thousand Indians of the tribes of Creeks and Seminoles, mostly, having sided with the Union cause, were driven out of the Territory by the more numerous Rebel Indians.
They went into camp, with their families, near Neosho Falls and Leroy; and during that summer three regiments were organized among them for Government service, officered by white men.
The year was, for the most part, uneventful for us; we were undisturbed by the Rebels, and our lives were as peaceful as could be, under the circumstances; we were having no immigration to our part of the state; our settlement, in the two years passed, has considerably decreased.
In 1863 our condition remained much the same.
A force was kept at Humboldt most of the time; and under its protection we felt comparatively safe; we were having fairly good crops; on account of the war, everything we had to purchase was very high. Samuel had been promoted to the Captaincy of his company, and from him we received substantial aid towards living expenses and the improvements on, and the stocking of the farm.
In August, with others of the neighborhood, I was at the Sac and Fox Agency, where it was expected the Commissioner of Indian Affairs would meet with the Osage Indians to agree upon a treaty for the disposal of a portion of their lands.
I was there in the interest of those settlers who had gone upon their lands prior to that time to secure for them the right to purchase 160 acres, to include their improvements; as it was understood that Eastern parties were seeking to secure the entire tract at a nominal price. The unsettled condition of affairs in the state, however, prevented the coming of the Commissioner.
While there, on the early morning of the 21st, the murderous raid of Quantrell was made on Lawrence; hearing of which, I, with Colonel Thurston of Humboldt, started in a buggy to drive to the place, a distance of some twenty or more miles. The day was very warm, and when about half way there, the Colonel became so very sick that it was thought well to turn back.
I thus failed see the result of one of the most barbarous butcheries that occurred during the entire Civil War.
The year of 1863 was rather uneventful in our lives, at our home. On the fifteenth of August, another daughter was born; we named her Alice.
Early in the year of 1864, we were called upon to meet our first great domestic sorrow, in the death of our first-born daughter, Cynthia. She was taken down with pneumonia. Our facilities for caring for her were not the best, house open, physician only such as the country at that time afforded, but we had seemingly gotten her beyond the crisis of the disease, with strong hopes of her recovery, when a very sudden change of the weather, with a strong cold wind, made it impossible to shield her from its effects; she was taken worse, and died on the twentieth of February, in her twelfth year.
She was a child of great promise; she had not enjoyed many advantages of education; but she had improved her opportunities to a wonderful degree for a child of her age; had developed a very bright and charming character, and her loss was deeply felt by her parents; and I can truly say that I think there has never since been a day that I have not felt her loss.
During this year, our Militia force was more thoroughly organized; six companies were formed in the county, and called the "Allen County Battalion", under command of Colonel Twiss, of Iola.
I was commissioned as its Major, by Governor Carney.
Three of these companies were raised in the north part of the county, and were under the immediate command of Colonel Twiss, while the other three were from the south part, and were under my command.
The Captains of the three companies in my end of the County were J. M. Moore, G. DeWitt, and D. C. Newman.
In the latter part of September, General Price having made his celebrated raid north through Missouri, on his way south was threatening invasion of Kansas. General Curtis, being in command of the Department, issued an order proclaiming the state under Marshall Law, and ordering all male persons over the age of 16 and under 60 to be mustered into the service for the protection of the state from the threatened invasion. All the military force stationed at Humboldt was sent to the Front, exception a small squad of the 11th, Kansas, under command of Major Haas. All the militia of the lower Neosho valley were under command of Major Gen. J. B. Scott, of Leroy. The Allen Co. Battalion was ordered to Ft. Scott, but, in view of the defenseless condition of Humboldt, the companies under Captains Moore, DeWitt and Newman, were left at Humboldt under my command.
We went into camp, and ordered all persons able to bear arms to come into camp, also, and details were sent out to bring in any who were not prompt in reporting for duty.
It was amusing to see some suddenly become sick, and, in their minds, unable to perform service; but no excuse was accepted, all were brought in; and, if claiming to be ill, were turned over to Dr. Scott, who was Post Surgeon, for examination; when, in most cases, the Doctor decided that the exercise and the diet incident to the service would be beneficial to their health.
We made our camp in, and around the incompleted block-house.
Captain Newmans company was placed down on Big Creek, to act as scouts in that direction. Major Haas, who was in command of the Volunteer force at the Post, was ordered to furnish rations for the Militia, which; for a time, he did; but finally refused to issue to Captain Newman's company, unless it was brought to Humboldt, in fact, he wanted to take command of the Militia, but this, the Militia resented as we were not ordered to report to him. We claimed to be under our own officers. The Commissary stores were kept in the Lutheran Church in the East part of town, in charge of a sergeant.
The Major of Militia believing that he was in the right, and knowing that he possessed the might, determined to help himself.
He therefore made a requisition for five days rations for Captain Newmans company, and on the refusal of Major Haas to honor it, Captain Newman was directed to help himself, which he did, taking only the amount called for in the requisition, and receipting for it to the Sergeant in charge. Major Haas, thereupon, ordered both Captain Newman and myself under arrest, but, fortunately for us, he had no power to enforce his order. And so it seemed that a Major of Militia outranked a Major of Volunteers.
After the Militia were disbanded and at their homes, the Major sent a detail to the home of Captain Newman and took him under arrest to Humboldt; he was detained over night, and discharged.
After remaining in camp at Humboldt some three weeks, we were ordered to Ft. Scott with two companies; Captain Newmans company remaining at Humboldt, also a squad of colored men under Captain Eli Gilbert. We left Humboldt about sundown, reaching Marmaton Creek about midnight, where we received orders to go the Ft. Lincoln; we halted here until daylight. While here, the village of Marmaton, a few miles down the creek from our camp, was raided by a rebel band, sacked, and burned, and six persons killed. In the morning we proceeded in the direction of Ft. Lincoln, but on reaching Raysville, we were ordered to Ft. Scott, arriving there a little before midnight.
We were marched out northeast, to a position occupied by Colonel Twiss. Soon, it began to rain, and we were in a sorry plight to have met the enemy who was expected at any moment, and whose guns could be heard in the distance all night.
We put out a strong picket guard and the balance of the men; sought such rest as could be found; some, in the wagons we had along, and others, in fence corners or such places as afforded some shelter from the drizzling rain.
About the time that all was quiet, a signal gun was fired at the fort, and one of our men lying in a wagon, thinking that the enemy was upon us, jumped from the wagon, and, managing to get through our lines, made a bee-line for Humboldt, where he arrived during the next day, a run of fifty miles. He was a very good man, but frankly acknowledged that he was a coward, and insisted before starting that there was no use in taking him, as he could not fight.
The next day, Price's army, hard pressed south along the Missouri line, east of Ft. Scott, passed us. We did not see them but could hear the guns as the battle raged.
The only feat our men performed that day, worthy of note, was what we then called "a grand flank movement" of five or six miles up the Marmaton. The men were not to blame--and I do not know if the officers were. We were drawn up, in battle array, on the high prairie, north of Ft. Scott, early in the morning; the entire Militia force under Maj. Gen. Scott--of Leroy. He was present with his staff; after quite a wait, word was given out that the force in Ft. Scott had concluded to abandon the place, and fell back upon the village of Marmaton--some nine miles west; and just then a body of men was seen approaching from the north, and they were supposed to be a portion of the rebel army; seemingly too great a force for us to withstand, and we were ordered to retreat in the direction of Marmaton--which we did, on the "double quick"--our Maj. Gen. and staff in the lead. We took a straight course, pulling down fences and crossing fields, when in our course. The story as to the abandonment of Ft. Scott, was incorrect; and it was soon learned that the approaching forces were friends, under Col. Moonlight, commencing a regiment Kansas Volunteers; on learning which we turned back to Ft. Scott, reaching there some time after nightfall, finding it full of Union Soldiers.
Gen. Pleasanton, with his command, was there, with about six hundred prisoners, among whom were the rebel Generals Cabel and Marmaduke.
The next day, we returned home, were soon thereafter, mustered out and this was substantially the end of the war, with us.
During these years we had made some improvements on our home; had increased our cultivated land; had added considerably to our stock both cattle and hogs. My brother had sent home something from his pay from time to time, and we were induced to make an investment in Texas cattle, with rather disastrous results.
With our neighbor, Wesley Garroutte, we bought two hundred two-year old heifers, for which we paid $1600.00--each of us paying $800.00. We got them in the Fall, in fair condition, and had plenty of feed to carry them through the winter; the winter was severe; they would not eat corn; they became thin, and before Spring nine-tenths of them died. And such was the general result with all who undertook to handle Texas cattle. They were not used to being fed, and could not endure the cold of our winters. It is a strange fact--but true--that you might throw them out a wagon load of corn with the husk on, and they would eat off the husks and never eat one ear of the corn. I knew some men who, one Fall, bought and brought into the neighborhood one thousand head of 4 and 5 year old Texas steers, in fine condition; and before Spring they had less than 100 living cattle.
During the summer, I had built a concrete house about 16 x 30 feet, one-and-one half stories high, with cellar. Soon after moving into this house, a heavy rain storm came; and, the water not being carried away properly, ran down the walls and washed out a portion of them, and a large part of one side fell down, not having been very substantially built. However, the roof had not fallen in, and in a short time the damage was repaired, and we had a very comfortable house.
That Fall I was elected a member of the legislature from the fifty-fourth representative district; it being the South half of Allen county--including both Iola and Humboldt; the North district sending J. A. Christy.
At this time, there was a great fight between Iola and Humboldt as to the County seat. The Democrats made no nomination.
J. McClure, of Iola--a Republican--made an "Independent" race against me; however I beat him, about three to one.
Dec. 27th, our little daughter Alice, about sixteen months old, died. She had been burned quite badly, but we had not looked for any serious results; but she took a severe cold, and that developed into pneumonia.
Samuel, on the 29th, at Monticello, Ill., married Miss Dolly Tinder; and bringing her home, they fitted up the small concrete house and lived in it.
In Jan. 1865 I met with the Legislature in Topeka. Jacob Stottler was elected speaker. The most important business was the election of a U. S. Senator. The selection of members in the Fall election hinged largely upon the question of "Lane" or "Anti-Lane."
And the Lane forces were largely in the ascendancy; consequently the election resulted in the re-election of J. H. Lane, for the term of six years to succeed himself. My seat was contested by Mr. McClure, on the ground that I was not a resident of Allen County, for the reason that my residence was on the Osage Indian reservation.
It was a fight of Iola against Humboldt; there were no real grounds for such a contention, but it served the purpose of embarrassing me for about half the session; I was given the seat, in the end.
Some of the members of this Legislature afterwards attained to some prominence. Jas. M. Harvey, who sat next to me, became Governor of the state, and, later U. S. Senator. He was a man of fair ability, and unflinching integrity. Geo. W. Glick became Governor--the only Democrat ever so honored. He was afterwards appointed by Pres. Cleveland, U. S. Pension Agent. Cyrus Leland became a Republican leader in the state, and was, by Pres. McKinley, appointed U. S. Pension Agent; and he is, at this time, (1903) the recognized boss of the Republican machine, in Kansas politics.
Soon after the adjournment of this legislature, I received the appointment from Pres. Lincoln, as Register of the U. S. Land office, at Humboldt. This appointment, being made after the adjournment of Congress, would hold only until the close of the next Congress. The appointment came to me entirely unsolicited in my part; the office was not paying very much, at that time; J. C. Burnett was then holding the place; and wishing to engage in other more profitable business, he favored my appointment, and being close to both Senators Pomery and Lane, who were also my personal friends--I was favored without opposition.
I think that I took charge of the office in July; Dr. Geo A. Miller had been acting as clerk for Mr. Burnett, and I retained him in that capacity for two or three months, attending in person two or three days each week. Afterwards, Jno. Francis acted as my clerk for several months. Late in the Fall, the business of the office becoming considerable, I bought the W. C. OBrien residence in the southwest part of town, and removed my family to Humboldt.
In leaving the farm, I took two or three cows with me, leaving with my brother whatever else of stock and farm implements we had in common. While he was in the army he sent home such of his pay as he could spare, which was used in improving our home and in the purchase of stock, and in the expenses of our living; we had been together nearly ten years; and all our belongings, we had held in common; no account was kept between us, and no settlement has ever been made, nor was there ever any question between us, as to our individual rights. We did our business under the name of "Stewart Brothers."