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


[TOC] [part 44] [part 42] [Cutler's History]


Gen. Lane, on the arrival of Gov. Geary, decided to at once leave the Territory. He left Lawrence before the arrival of Geary at Lecompton, or the appearance of his address and accompanying proclamations. On the 11th, he was at Osawkie, in company with some thirty companions who accompanied him in his flight. There he was informed that a gang of Pro-slavery men had burned the village of Grasshopper Falls, and were committing continued outrages upon the defenseless Free-State settlers in the vicinity. He was urgently pressed by the settlers to assist them in driving out the marauders. He sent a messenger to Topeka for help, and in response to his call a company of about fifty men under the command of Capt. Whipple,* joined him on the morning of the 13th, and during the forenoon of that day marched to Hickory Point, where they found the enemy so strongly fortified in the log houses of the town that Lane deemed it impracticable to dislodge them without the aid of artillery. He accordingly sent a runner to Lawrence, asking for further re-enforcements to come up immediately with "Bickerton's cannon." The messenger arrived in Lawrence only a few hours after the arrival of Harvey and his men from their successful raid on Slough Creek. Col. Harvey, with such of his men as were not exhausted, several new recruits, and the cannon, immediately started across the country by the most direct route to Hickory Point, where he arrived in the forenoon of the next day (Sunday, September 14).

Meantime Gen. Lane had heard of or read Gov. Geary's proclamation, raised the siege, saw Whipple and his men a short way on their journey, and then with his own party renewed his journey towards Nebraska.+ Col.

* Alias Aaron D. Stevens -- hung with John Brown at Harper's Ferry.

+ The course of Col. Lane in this affair, which resulted in leaving Harvey thus unsupported, has been the subject of severe criticism on the part of his opponents, who attributed to him cowardice, selfishness, and the baser motive of treachery in thus, without notice, abandoning his friend. Col. Lane's friends show ample vindication for his apparent dereliction, and explain it substantially as follows: The dispatch sent by Lane to Lawrence also directed them to come by way of the Topeka road. When he (Lane) learned of the proclamation and determined to cease hostilities, the withdrawal was made by way of the route by which it was expected the Lawrence men would come, and it was expected that Whipple would meet them on the way and turn them back. By matching by the direct route they missed both Whipple and Lane and appeared on the ground alone, a few hours after they had left.

Harvey, although finding himself unsupported, and not having the fear either of the enemy or the Governor's proclamations before his eyes, planted his cannon within easy range of the enemy's retreat and immediately opened fire upon it.@

The battle lasted several hours and resulted in the surrender of the whole Pro-slavery force. The casualties were: Pro-slavery -- one killed, four wounded; Free-State-five wounded. The prisoners were released on parole, and the victors started on their return to Lawrence. The further consequences of this last Free-State raid will be detailed further on.


Gov. Geary had on his voyage up the Missouri seen the Missouri troops moving toward Kansas, and became cognizant of the warlike preparations at Leavenworth, and all along the Missouri border.+ Desirous at the earliest moment to be rid of these unwelcome and unmanageable Governmental auxiliaries who had been called into action by Secretary Woodson, he took early measures to disband them.

On September 12, he issued the following orders:


Dear Sir - You will proceed without a moment's delay to disarm and disband the present organized militia of the Territory, in accordance with the proclamation of the President and the proclamation I have issued, copies of which you will find enclosed. You will also take care to have the arms belonging to the Territory deposited in a place of safety, and under proper accountability.

Yours, etc.,
JNO. W. GEARY, Governor of Kansas Territory.

Gihon States that notwithstanding the positive character of these orders, the officials to whom they were addressed took no immediate measures for their execution, but remained at Lecompton with an air of complacency and indifference which could but be deemed insulting to the dignity and defiant of the authority of the Governor. Geary severely rebuked them, and suspecting treachery, dispatched confidential messengers out upon the road toward Westport to ascertain what was going on. He learned before their return, from unquestionable authority, what he had not known before: that military preparations had gone on with energy unremitted after his arrival, on the call of Secretary Woodson, it being assumed that a specific order to disband had not been given. Early on the morning of the 13th, a messenger arrived at the Governor's headquarters, and delivered to him the following:


Sir - In obedience to the call of acting Governor Woodson, I have organized a militia force of about eight hundred men, who are now in the field, ready for duty, and impatient to act. Hearing of your arrival I beg leave to report them to you for orders. Any communication forwarded to us will find us encamped at or near this point. WM. A. HEISKELL,Brigadier General.
Commanding First Brigade, Southern Division Kansas Militia.

By order L. A. MCLEAN, Adjutant.

Half an hour later another letter from Gen. Heiskell was received, dated September 12, informing the Governor that his force had been augmented to 1,000 men, subject to his orders. To these he dictated the following reply:

September # 13, 1856, 1 1/2 o'clock A. M.

Sir - Your first and second dispatches have been received. I will communicate with you through the person of either the Secretary of the Territory or the Adjutant General, as soon as he can reach your camp, he starting from this place at an early hour this morning. Very respectfully yours,

Governor of Kansas Territory.

Thus far neither the Adjutant General nor Secretary Woodson had taken any measures to communicate to the troops the order to disband which had been given them the day before. While the above was being written, a dispatch was received by the Governor for Theodore Adams, one of his special agents sent to Lawrence, in which he says:$+

I arrived here a few moments ago, and distributed the address and proclamations, and found the people prepared to repel a contemplated attack from the forces coming from Missouri. Reports are well authenticated, in the opinion of the best men here, that there are within six miles of the place a large number of men -- three hundred have been seen. At this moment one of the scouts came in, and reported the forces marching against them at Franklin, three miles off, and all have flown to their arms to meet them.

The governor immediately sent this dispatch to Col. Cooke, then encamped near Lecompton, with a letter from himself, suggesting that he immediately send to Lawrence a force sufficient to prevent bloodshed, as it was his orders from the President "to use every possible means to prevent collisions between belligerent troops. In response to this letter, Col. Cooke, with three hundred mounted soldiers, and four pieces of artillery, set out for Lawrence at 2 1/2 o'clock A. M., accompanied by the Governor himself. They reached Lawrence at daybreak. They found the town well fortified, and about three hundred citizens under arms for its defense.

@ For detailed account of the battle of Hickory Point, see history of Jefferson County.

+ Dr. Gihon, in his "Geary and Kansas" -- see pages 134 and 136 -- gives the impression that Gov. Geary was deceived as to Woodson's designs, was ignorant of the strength, movements and designs of the Missouri army, and positively asserts that he (Geary) had not, at this time, seen Woodson's proclamation, which, the reader will remember, had been issued nearly three weeks before. It seems more probable that he was at this time quite well informed as to the designs of Woodson, Atchison and their friends, and took measures to thwart them. If deceived or surprised at all, it was by their bold attempt, by overwhelming force and celerity of action, to carry out their programme before the interposition of his authority should prevent it. He was also, quite likely, ignorant that they were at that time invading the Territory in force.

# The letter as given by Gihon bears date September 12, but was evidently written on the morning of the 13th.

$ See Gihon's "Geary and Kansas," page 137.

The Governor was received cordially, and addressed the citizens. He cautioned them against the commission of any unlawful acts, assured them that he had, and should keep at his command, an ample force to repel any attack upon them, and pledged them his protection, in case they were assailed by the threatened force which he had already taken measures to disband and send out of the Territory. His speech was received with general satisfaction, and at its close was applauded. Confidence was in a measure restored, and it became the general belief that, with the efforts of the Governor to prevent it, the danger was over. Accordingly, in the afternoon the Governor returned to Lecompton with Cooke and his command.


On returning to Lecompton, the town was found in commotion. Several pro-slavery settlers had come in, panic stricken, from the neighborhoods of Hickory Point, Osawkie and vicinity. They gave reports somewhat exaggerated by their fears, of the robbery of stores at Slough Creek and other places, and the danger that threatened Hickory Point from Lane's men, then prowling about in the neighborhood from which they had fled. The appeals of the fugitives to the governor for protection were formulated and brought formally to his notice on Sunday morning (September 14), by an affidavit from one of the fugitives, W. F. Dwyer, sworn to before R. R. Nelson, Justice of the Peace, which read as follows:

Personally appeared before a Justice in Douglas County, K. T., William F. Dyer, and being duly sworn, says, that Col. Whipple, at the head of a hundred men or more, among whom were J. Ritchie, Ephraim Bainter, J. O. B. Dunning, Capt. Jamison and others not known to him, did, on Monday, September 8, 1856, rob him of six head of mules and horses, and various articles of merchandise, amounting in value to more than a thousand dollars; and on Tuesday following, it being the 9th of September, 1856, the same men robbed him of various articles of merchandise, amounting in value to over three thousand dollars; and that this day, it being September 13, 1856, the same men were assembled at Osawkee, at about 8 o'clock A. M., as he believed for the purpose of robbing and roundabout, and attacking the town of Hardtville (Hickory Point) this evening.

Upon the receipt of this affidavit, the statements contained therein being corroborated by other witnesses deemed reliable, the Governor made a requisition upon Col. Cooke, as follows:


Dear Sir - You will perceive by the accompanying affidavit, and from verbal statements that will be made to you by Dr. Tebbs, that a desperate state of affairs is existing at Osawkee and in its vicinity, which seems to require some action at our hands. I strongly recommend that you send a force, such as you can conveniently spare, to visit that neighborhood at the earliest moment. If such a force cannot succeed in arresting the perpetrators of the outrages already committed, and of which complaint has been made in due form, it may at least tend to disperse or drive off the band or ands of marauders who are threatening the lives and property of peaceable citizens. The Deputy Marshal will accompany such troops as you may judge expedient to detail on this service.

Very respectfully and truly yours, JOHN W. GEARY,
Governor of Kansas Territory.

In answer to the above, a squadron of eighty-one men under Capt. Wood, were detailed, and with a Deputy Marshal, late in the afternoon, crossed the river and took up their line of march to the scene of disturbance. They did not meet or capture Whipple or any of his men - they had returned to Topeka; nor did they meet Col. Lane and his immediate followers - they were pursuing their way north to Nebraska. About 11 o'clock in the evening, they fell in with an advance party of Harvey's men who had been engaged in the morning in the Hickory Point affair, and who had been engaged in the morning in the Hickory Point affair, and were on their return to Lawrence, whom they made prisoners without resistance. Continuing their march, they came upon the main body encamped some four miles from Hickory Point. They were also surprised and taken prisoners. At the time of their capture, Capt. Bickerton was in command. Harvey, having left the party, escaped. The squadron immediately took up the return march for Lecompton, where they arrived on the forenoon of the 15th. The prisoners captured numbered 101; their outfit, arms and munitions, also taken, consisted of "one brass field-piece, seven wagons, thirty-eight United States muskets, forty- seven Sharpe's rifles, six hunting rifles, two shot-guns, twenty revolvers, fourteen bowie-knives, four swords, and a large supply of ammunition for artillery and small arms." The prisoners were carried to the United States Encampment, where they were detained, without proper shelter or adequate rations, awaiting their preliminary examination. After unreasonable delay, it took place before Judge Cato; Joseph C. Anderson, a most bitter Pro-slavery partisan and author of the Black Code of the Territorial Legislature, acting as Prosecuting Attorney. The examination resulted in the first degree. Neither Judge Cato nor Chief Justice Lecompte would consider any extenuating circumstances, or allow any one of them to be discharged from custody on bail offered, however large in amount or undoubted in character.

[TOC] [part 44] [part 42] [Cutler's History]