William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]


The following extract from a letter written by a Pro-slavery man November 10, 1858, shows the general estimate in which George W. Clarke was held:

I suppose the Governor (Denver) forgot to name George W. Clarke, a pet in the land office at Fort Scott, who was the real cause of all the troubles in that region and that a company of Dragoons had to be stationed there to protect him from the merited vengeance of an outraged people. He forgot to say that the Government "pet" had, in the summer of 1856, plundered, robbed and burned out of house and home nearly every Free-state family in Linn County, while his hands were steeped in innocent blood, and the light of burning buildings marked his course. This being the case, was it any wonder that the country arose in a flame of indignation, and clamored for revenge against the soulless wretch placed in their midst, and rewarded for his brutality?

I am no friend to Montgomery, nor to those who sustain him, for he caused many civil and unoffending families to abandon their homes. Had he, after having raised his forces, marched to Fort Scott, demanded the surrender of the murderer Clarke,* and then strung him up to the nearest tree, and gone home to his business, he would have deserved the gratitude of his country. But he showed himself a desperado and a plunderer, and his gang played a stronger game for their pockets than they did for the safety and security of the people.

*It is now conceded that Clarke was innocent of the murder of Barber--time has shown that he, in common with many others, was accused falsely in those troublous times. -------------------------------------------------------------

It is not easy to state with certainty which party first broke the truce, but on the 16th of November, Ben Rice was arrested on a number of indictments by Charles Bull, Sheriff of Bourbon County; and on the same day, or about the same time, the houses of Poyner and Lemons, a short distance north of Fort Scott, were robbed by some of Montgomery's men. One of the indictments against Rice was for the murder of Travis, who had been shot February 28. Montgomery regarded this as a violation of the treaty of June 15, looking upon the act as a political offense, or "by-gone," while the other side regarded it as a crime against the law. Then followed a couple of weeks of horse-stealing, robbing and threats of personal violence, which led to a second meeting at Raysville, held December 1, with the view of again restoring peace. Of this meeting, W. R. Griffith was President, J. C. Burnett and Rev. M. Brockman, Vice Presidents, and J. E. Jones, Secretary. The compromise of June 15, was discussed, and a new set of resolutions reported and adopted. A resolution that all offenses committed prior to June 15 last, be referred to the Grand Juries of the proper counties, was lost by a vote of 64 to 109. A motion was then made by Rev. M. Brockman, but subsequently withdrawn, "that we now go to Fort Scott and release Benjamin Rice." At this meeting, Montgomery made the statement that by finding indictments against Rice and others, the compromise had been broken. This brought out a letter from Judge Wright denying the truth of the statement, but saying that if all the Pro-slavery men were of the stamp of Dr. Little and son, neither Montgomery nor Brown would then be in the field "driven almost, if not entirely, to be maniacs." Ex-Gov. Denver also wrote a letter dated December 19, denying that Montgomery's was the true interpretation of the treaty of June 15. He wrote: "In that agreement it was never intended to compromise the laws of the Territory, by debarring the Grand Juries from the proper discharge of their duty. The agreement was substantially this: That for past offenses no arrests should be made, except upon indictment found by the Grand Juries."

But on this question it was impossible for the two parties to agree, and the release of Rice was fully determined upon by Montgomery. Accordingly, on the 15th of December, he organized a rescuing party of nearly 100 men, Old John Brown being one of the party. John Brown, however, did not enter Fort Scott with Montgomery, for the reason that the two differed as to what should be done with the city, upon entering it. Brown was in favor of its complete destruction, or, as Montgomery afterward said to parties still living: "If Brown had been in command of the party instead of myself, not one stone of Fort Scott would have been left upon another." Montgomery's main object was to release Rice. He therefore proceeded with his men without Brown, leaving him at what was called the "Wimset farm," about three miles from Fort Scott up the Marmaton and entering the city about daylight. Upon approaching the house in which Rice was held prisoner, one of the large double houses built by the Government, then called the "Free-State Hotel," and kept by Col. William T. Campbell, now occupied as a residence by Judge Margrave, Montgomery divided his command into three divisions of twenty each. One of these divisions passed quietly around to the right of the hotel, another as quietly to the left, while the third division entered the house by the front door, which had been left unlocked for the convenience of George A. Crawford, who, upon Little's invitation, slept with him that night in the store. Thus the hotel fell an easy prey to the mob. This third division went up stairs into the third story, or attic, where they found Rice chained to the floor. A chopping axe was soon brought up, and with it the chain which was around Rice's leg was severed, and thus the prisoner released.

While this was going on a tragedy was being enacted just across the alley from the hotel. Here was the building or store in which Little and George A. Crawford had passed the night. The front end of this store faces southwest, and the side is next the alley toward the southeast. At both front and side is a door over which there is a transom. In this store Little and George A. Crawford were sleeping. The noise made by the rescuing party awoke them, and Little opening the front door fired upon the party with his shot gun, which he had used the day before in hunting ducks. The duck-shot with which the gun was loaded lodged in the heavy overcoat worn by J. H. Kagi, doing but little injury to Mr. Kagi. Immediately after firing his gun, Little closed the front door and locked it, went to the side door, placed a dry goods box against it, and mounted the box to look out through the transom to see what was going on. The transom window being covered with dust, he proceeded to clean it with a handkerchief so that he might see out. The movement of the handkerchief was noticed by Montgomery's men in the alley, one of whom raised his Sharpe's rifle and fired at the handkerchief, not being able to see Little, but hitting him almost precisely in the center of the forehead, from which shot he of course instantly fell to the floor, and expired in about an hour. The cannon was immediately brought to bear upon the store, and a demand made for its surrender. This demand was not complied with. But an entrance to the store was effected through the back door, which was opened by Dr. Blake Little to admit Miss Louisa Conway. Montgomery's men then robbed the store of about $7,000 worth of goods, consisting mostly of dry goods, but quite a number of ladies' saddles were taken.

Alexander McDonald, then living in the house now owned by Gen. C. W. Blair, opened his door, and stepped out upon the porch. Upon refusing to surrender, he was promptly fired upon by C. R. Jennison, the bullet passing through the door. Mr. McDonald immediately retreated into the house unharmed. From twelve to fifteen of the citizens of Fort Scott were made prisoners, among them Col. and Mrs. H. T. Wilson. It was the design of Montgomery's men to burn Col. Wilson's store, but Montgomery, discovering, as he thought in Mrs. Wilson a resemblance to Dr. Hogan, who had at a certain time befriended him, and upon learning from her that she and the doctor were brother and sister, gave the order that the store should not be burned, upon the condition, however, that the Colonel should furnish breakfast for fifty of his men. The Colonel ordered the breakfast at the "Western," or Pro-slavery" hotel; but not a mouthful of it was tasted for fear of poison.

Little was buried next day in the west part of town, and subsequently removed to Evergreen Cemetery. The following resolution, passed with others on the day of his burial, shows the estimation in which he was held by his brother Masons: "That our brother living, was an ornament to society, a worthy representative of the genial spirit and kindly virtues of our order, and in every sense a noble, generous, brave and upright man."

After the occurrence of this affair, the citizens of Fort Scott made application to Gov. Medary for protection. The Governor having no troops to send, advised the organization of home militia to act as a Marshal's posse in arresting criminals and enforcing law. The first company was organized December 24, with John Hamilton, Captain; C. F. Drake, First Lieutenant, and E. W. Finch, Second Lieutenant. Two other companies were organized. Of one of these, Alexander McDonald was Captain, A. R. Allison First Lieutenant, and W. C. Dennison, Second Lieutenant. Of the other, J. G. Parks was Captain, and Hugh Glen and E. W. Black, Lieutenants. Daily drilling continued for some time, the ranks of the companies being readily filled by a promise of pay at the rate of $3 a day. The promise was never redeemed. Gov. Medary having made a requisition on the Government for a quantity of smooth bore muskets, said muskets were forwarded to Sedalia, Mo., the end of the Pacific Railroad, in January, 1858, whence they were taken to Paris, Linn County. On January 30, a party of fifty Bourbon County Militia started on a four days' trip to procure the new arms. Upon their return, preparations were at once made to make a raid in pursuit of "Jayhawkers," and after a three days' scout all along the Little Osage, about a dozen prisoners were brought to Fort Scott. After a needed rest of a few days, a guard started for Lawrence with the prisoners for trial, camping near Black Jack on the night of the 14th. Next morning at the Wakarusa, they were met by the news of the passage of the "Amnesty act," which rendered all their labor vain. The captives were set at liberty, and about twenty of the captors continued on to visit Lawrence, where on account of their leader being named "Hamilton," he was supposed by the citizens of that city to be Capt. Charles A. Hamilton of Marais des Cygnes Massacre fame, and a reception very much more earnest than kind was accorded them. (See history of Lawrence.)

After the passage of the "Amnesty act," there was but little more trouble in Bourbon County on account of border feuds. Peace had apparently come to stay, and when the Fourth of July approached the people decided to hold on that day a grand celebration, as an evidence, not only of their patriotism, but of their desire for peace as well. The people of Fort Scott prepared and gave the dinner, and a most memorable dinner it was. There were wagon loads of beef, mutton and pork, and immense quantities of bread, cake and pie. A four-horse wagon load of ice was brought from the Marais des Cygnes, for the purpose of making lemonade. Everybody participated in the ceremonies. Gov. Ransom was President of the day; Judge Joseph Williams, Col. Judson, Judge Farwell, M. E. Hudson, Thomas Helm, S. W. Campbell and Col. Moran, Vice Presidents; Rev. Mr. Thompson, Chaplain; Mason Williams read the Declaration of Independence, and L. A. McCord was Orator of the Day. In the evening there was a grand ball at the Free-State Hotel.

During the remainder of the year, immigration poured into the county, and material progress was visible on all sides. The principal occupation of the District Court was the punishment of horse-thieves. In May, 1860, the arch horse-thief of the border was brought to trial in Fort Scott. This was "Pickles," whom everybody knew. The indictment upon which he was to be tried was for robbing Indian Seth the fall before. Some members of "Pickles'" gang came to the Little Osage, and endeavored to raise a rescuing party; and in order to forestall any such attempt, members of the Vigilance Committee armed themselves and poured into town, to the number of nearly two hundred. Having assembled their object changed from that of preventing a rescue by Pickles' friends, to making a rescue themselves, and executing summary vengeance upon one who had committed more crimes than any other two of the border thieves. The officers of the law who had Pickles in charge were too wary and adroit to permit this programme of the Vigilance Committee being carried out, and Pickles was too sharp to voluntarily place himself in their hands by pleading "not guilty," which would have been the result of so pleading, because he could not have been convicted on the evidence. He, therefore, in order to save his life, plead guilty, was immediately sentenced to one year in the penitentiary, and to pay a fine of $500, and escorted to Washington. Pickles fared much better than did Hugh Carlin, who, having given the settlers on Little Osage a great deal of trouble, was taken from the house of F. A. Monroe, and hanged by a party of mounted men belonging to the Vigilance Committee, about the 10th of July. This was followed about November 16, 1860, by the killing of L. D. Moore by C. R. Jennison, in retaliation for the killing of Carlin. Jennison's party consisted of about twenty-five picked men. Upon reaching Moore's house, Jennison rapped on the door and demanded admittance. This was refused. Jennison immediately kicked the door down, and shot Moore while he was sitting on the side of his bed. Jennison then passed into the house, and took Moore by the wrist, holding it until the pulse ceased to beat, when he exclaimed: "Boys, he's dead." Jennison and his party then went to the house of M. E. Hudson, whose wife was a relative of L. D. Moore. Mr. Hudson was away from home. Jennison informed Mrs. Hudson of what he had done, and, while she was weeping, ordered her to provide breakfast for his party, which order she obeyed.

L. D. Moore settled in Kansas in 1857, on a claim near Mapleton. He was a Pro-slavery man, was a member of the "anti-horse thief" or "dark lantern association," and had taken an active part in the lynching of Guthrie and Carlin, his office having been that of hangman.

About the 1st of December, Gen. Harney, in command of about 200 United States soldiers, arrived in Fort Scott for the purpose of attending the land sales, which came off on the 3d of that month. The attendance was very large; everything passed off quietly, but only fourteen eighty-acre tracts were sold--the prices ranging from $1.25 to $5.50 per acre.

On the 8th of the month, Gen. D. M. Frost's brigade of Missouri militia reached and camped at the State Line; and Gen. Frost and staff rode into Fort Scott to confer with Gov. Medary and Gen. Harney with reference to raids into Missouri from Kansas.


The first meeting in Bourbon County which had for its object the discussion of questions likely to grow out of the gigantic war which was then impending was held March 13, 1861. Upon the invitation of many leading citizens of Fort Scott, Gen. J. H. Lane was present and delivered an address. He advocated the cultivation of friendly relations between Missouri and Kansas. A large number of citizens of the former State were present.

The next meeting of the kind was held at Barnesville March 20. A series of resolutions was reported to the meeting, which were conservative and in favor of States Rights. Gen. Lane addressed this meeting, expressing similar sentiments to those delivered by him the week previous at Fort Scott.

These meetings occurred before the firing on Fort Sumter, and were comparatively but moderate affairs. After war had once begun by the bombardment of a United States fortress, the thrill of fiery indignation was felt as keenly in Kansas as anywhere in the Union. On Thursday night, April 24, a Union demonstration occurred in Fort Scott, which was the largest that up to that time the city had ever seen and which was unsurpassable in enthusiasm and unanimity. Past party difficulties were forgotten, patriotic songs were sung, patriotic addresses delivered, and the wildest and heartiest applause greeted every expression and person that was in favor of the Union. It was a demonstration in which Fort Scott and Bourbon County, and every true and loyal Kansan and American may always feel the deepest pride. In the latter part of April, two companies of volunteers were formed on Drywood, under Capts. Boring and Brown, and on the 1st of May, two companies were formed in Fort Scott. The officers of one company were: Captain, C. W. Blair; Lieutenants, A. R. Allison, R. L. Phillips and Charles Bull. Of the other company--Captain, A. McDonald; Lieutenants, Charles Dimon, William Gallaher and A. F. Bicking. These two companies were a few weeks afterward consolidated under C. W. Blair, Captain, and W. C. Ranson, C. O. Judson and A. R. Allison, Lieutenants. The total number of members in this company, after consolidation, was sixty-three. It left for Lawrence soon afterward, where it was to be armed, uniformed and mustered into the service of the Government. But after marching to Lawrence--where Capt. Blair was promoted to the Lieutenant Colonelcy of the Second Kansas Regiment, and Lieut. Ransom elected Captain--and then to Wyandotte, preparatory to crossing to Kansas City to be mustered in, the patriotic fervor of three-fourths of the members of the company had so far subsided, that this number backed squarely out and counter-marched for home May 19, 1861, so that the company as such was never mustered in.

Early in this month, a company was organized on Lightning Creek, with John T. McWhirt, Captain, and Roswell Seeley, John Tully and John F. Gates, Lieutenants. The company was named originally the "Lightning Guards." Some members of the company preferred the name "Lightning Blues," but the majority fearing this name might be mistaken for "Blue Lightning," chose the former name.

Capt. Blair's company, whose first term of service was so brief, was named "Frontier Guard No. 1." Frontier Guard No. 2 was organized with A. McDonald, Captain. Upon his resignation, W. T. Campbell was elected Captain, the Lieutenants being S. B. Gordon, C. O. Judson and John F. White. These two companies had a parade on July 4, inviting all the other companies to participate that had been organized in the county. The Drywood Company under Capt. Boring, and the Mill Creek Company under Capt. Hall, responded.

On the 5th a battle was fought at Carthage, Mo., which had the effect to greatly alarm and disturb the citizens in the southeastern part of the county. Many families left their homes, apprehensive of an attack from the rebel forces. Shortly after this alarm, Gen. Lyon authorized Capts. W. C. Ransom and W. T. Campbell, each to raise a company of one hundred men, to act as Home Guards. Afterward another company was authorized, and thus there were three companies of Bourbon County Home Guards, all of which went into camp at Fort Scott. These three companies were infantry; afterward a cavalry company was raised, and the four companies were the origin of the Sixth Kansas, with the following officers: Major, W. R. Judson; Captains, W. C. Ransom, W. T. Campbell, Z. Gower and L. R. Jewell, of Companies A, B, C and D, respectively. The activity and proximity of the war in Missouri led Gen. Lane to order a considerable number of troops to Fort Scott toward and latter part of August. Five companies of the Third Regiment under Col. Montgomery, arrived on the 20th from Mound City, and other troops arrived until the aggregate number was about 2,000. A large number of Osage Indians also arrived about this time and offered their services to the Government. This was now headquarters for Gen. Lane's Division, which rapidly increased in size, and as rapidly improved in discipline and appointments. Two companies of Col. Johnson's Fifth Kansas were also stationed at Barnesville. The Rebel Gen. Rains, with 14,000 men, was operating in Missouri, and contemplated an attack on Southern Kansas. September 1, he approached within ten miles of Fort Scott, drove in Lane's pickets, and stole a number of mules. Until this was done, his presence was not suspected. Col. Johnson made immediate pursuit, but inflicted upon them only the small loss of two or three killed. All the troops in the vicinity were then concentrated at Fort Scott preparatory to its defense against an expected attack, and a force of 500 cavalry with one mounted howitzer sent out to reconnoiter. This force met the enemy's pickets five miles west of Drywood, and drove them back across Drywood Creek to camp. Quite a severe battle was fought, until the Union troops exhausted their ammunition, and retreated in good order toward Fort Scott. The infantry was stationed on the heights east of the city, to receive the rebels in case the anticipated attacks were made, maintaining their position until the darkness of the night and the raging of a heavy thunder storm rendered it highly improbable that an attack would be made. Gen. Rains' force was much superior to that of Gen. Lane, which made Gen. Lane apprehensive of the results of a general engagement. He therefore led the infantry back to Fort Lincoln, on the Little Osage, thirty miles to the northward, leaving the cavalry in Fort Scott with orders to defend the city to the last, and then burn it rather than let it fall into the enemy's hands. Fort Scott was thus left practically without defense. It was almost entirely deserted by the citizens. Only four women had the courage to remain. These ladies were Mrs. H. T. Wilson, Mrs. William Smith, Mrs. J. S. and Miss Sallie Miller. They determined to remain until their feet should be guided in their flight by the light from their burning homes.

A few days thereafter, the rebel forces beat a precipitate retreat toward Independence, pursued from Fort Lincoln to Pappinsville, by Cols. Johnson and Jennison, who returned with two hundred cattle and a number of "contrabands."

The removal of the greater part of the troops from Fort Scott, at a time when that city was menaced by a rebel force considerably larger than Gen. Lane's whole command, was a most remarkable piece of strategy on the part of that most remarkable of men, and is explained by his enemies on the ground that he had more solicitude for his own safety than for the safety of the town.

Notwithstanding numerous efforts were made to have the base of supplies removed from Fort Scott to Fort Lincoln, Mound City and Humboldt, none of them were successful, and when the troops were paid off, business was lively in the former place; and when about, March 1, 1862, on account of the advance of the rebel armies into Northwest Arkansas, a considerable military force, under Col. Deitzler, consisting of the First, Fifth and Sixth Kansas, the Ninth, Twelfth and Thirteenth Wisconsin, the Second Ohio Cavalry, and the Second Indiana Battery, was stationed there, money was still more plenty (sic) and times still more improved. During March, Lieut. Strong, of the Second Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, built a strong and handsome bridge across the Marmaton, for the convenience of Government trains. This bridge was swept away about April 20, by a tremendous flood, the waters rising fifteen feet above the bridge.

Lieut. Col. Jewell, Sixth Kansas, was appointed Post Commander at Fort Scott, June 1, 1862. Lieut. Col. Blair, of the Second Kansas, raised in Bourbon County a battery of artillery in August. This was the Second Kansas Battery, and when completed was officered as follows: C. W. Blair, Commanding Officer; First Lieutenants, E. A. Smith and D. C. Knowles; Second Lieutenants, A. G. Clark and A. Wilson. Soon afterward, Lieut. Col. Blair was commissioned Brigadier General, and in 1863 succeeded to the command of the post and remained in command until the close of the war.

A number of forts were erected in the city of Fort Scott during the war; Fort Henning, on Birch street, between Jones and Judson; Fort Blair, on Locust street, between Main street and Scott avenue, and Fort Insley, north of the Plaza.

The most exciting incident of the war in Bourbon County after the battle of Drywood and the retreat of Gen. Lane to Fort Lincoln, was the passage of Price's army through the eastern part of it, in October, 1864. Before the result of the battle of Mine Creek was known, the people of Fort Scott were hourly expecting Price's forces to march into their city and raze it to the ground. Any speculative individual with a few dollars in his pocket could just then have bought and paid for the whole town. It was the darkest hour its people had ever seen. But just at evening of that day, Col. Moonlight, who had kept on Price's right flank from Mound City, arrived with the most welcome news that Price had been defeated, and that Gen. Blair, with his command would enter the city within an hour. Everybody was overjoyed and a feast was soon begun for the tired and hungry soldiers. The next day saw the entrance into the city of a part of Price's army, as prisoners--Maj. Gen. Marmaduke, Brig. Gen. Cabell, Col. Slemmens and about one thousand private soldiers. Had Price entered the city he could easily have destroyed it. This was the last actual danger Fort Scott was ever in from rebel soldiers.

As Price's army crossed the valley of the Little Osage it committed numerous murders and robberies. At Fort Lincoln they killed Andrew Stevens, and further down the river Mr. Goodall and Mr. Miller. They burned the houses of Richard Spafford and Mr. Hopkins; robbed many families of all their money, provisions, clothing and bed-clothing, and stole what horses they could find.

Bourbon County made an honorable record in the war. It furnished its full proportion of soldiers and was fifth in rank in regard to the number of her citizens that entered the militia, the number enrolled being 676, while the number organized was 550. The county furnished one Brigadier General--C. W. Blair; one Colonel--W. R. Judson; one Lieutenant Colonel--Lewis R. Jewell, in the volunteer service, and in the militia, two Colonels--J. Stadden and George P. Eaves.

Since the war steady progress has been made, as will be seen by an examination of the various paragraphs on railroads, public schools, etc., and on the city of Fort Scott.

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]