MORE FEAR OF LANE'S ARMY.
During the last week of September, rumors again became rife of the movement of
a large army through Nebraska toward Kansas, and it came to be currently
believed by the Pro-slavery settlers that Lane was returning, at the head of
an army estimated to number not less than a thousand men, well armed and
equipped, and having with them several pieces of artillery. So specific were
the reports as to numbers and equipments that Gov. Geary, determined to
prevent the entrance of any armed force into the Territory, dispatched Deputy
Marshal Preston, accompanied by a detachment of United States troops, to the
Northern frontier, with orders to arrest any illegally armed body found within
the boundaries of Kansas. They had scarcely reached the border when they met a
party of 130 men, well armed and equipped, and to outward appearance more
prepared for war than to engage in peaceful avocations. They were under the
leadership of James Redpath. The whole party was arrested, and conducted to
the vicinity of Lecompton, north of Kansas River, where the Governor met them
and held an interview with Redpath as to their objects in entering the
Territory thus armed and in violation of his proclamation. Redpath pleaded
ignorance of the improved change of affairs in the Territory, and gave his
solemn pledge that his party was a peaceable party of emigrants, having no
hostile intentions, and only seeking homes in the Territory. On these
assurances, the party was released from arrest and permitted to go their way.
Scarcely had the release been effected when more alarming reports came.
Redpath's party was but the advance of Lane's main army, which, only a few
days behind, was now rapidly nearing the Territory. Desirous of taking all
necessary precautions, Gov. Geary at once ordered Marshal Preston to return to
the frontier. He was accompanied by 300 dragoons under the command of Cols.
Cooke and Johnson, who were ordered to intercept the march of any hostile
force they might meet.
On October 1, Maj. Morrow, Col. Winchell, William Hutchinson and Col. J.
Jenkins, called upon the Governor. They came as a deputation from a large
train of emigrants now about to enter the Territory from Nebraska, under the
leadership of Col. Eldridge, Gen. Pomeroy, Col. Perry and others. They
represented them as a party of emigrants seeking homes and a peaceful
settlement in the Territory, and that they were coming for no other purpose :
that the party had arms to protect themselves and for hunting game on the
route ; that they had no desire to enter the Territory under suspicious
circumstances ; and that they had been sent forward to acquaint the Governor
as to the designs of the party before their arrival. On their positive denial
of any connection with Law or his army, the Governor informed them of his
intention to prevent by all means at his command, the entrance of any armed
force into the Territory, but at the same time welcomed the party as peaceful
citizens. "He then gave the deputation a letter directing all military
commanders to give Col. Eldridge's party a safe escort should it prove as
represented, a party of emigrants coming into the Territory to prosecute
peaceful and lawful occupations." With this letter the deputation departed.
What subsequently occurred is given as stated in a letter of Gov. Geary to
Secretary Marcy, under date of October 15, as follows:
Col. William J. Preston, a Deputy United States Marshal, who had accompanied
Col. P. St. George Cooke and his command to the Northern frontier, to look
after a large party of proposed immigrants, who were reported to be about
invading the Territory in that quarter, in warlike array and for hostile
purposes, returned to Lecompton on the 12th instant. He informed me that he
had caused to be arrested an organized band, consisting of about two hundred
and forty persons, among whom were a few women and children, comprising some
This party was regularly formed in military order, and was under the command
of Gen. Pomeroy, Cols. Eldridge, Perry, and others. They had with them twenty
wagons, in which were a supply of new arms - mostly muskets, with bayonets and
sabers - and a lot of saddles, etc. sufficient to equip a battalion,
consisting of one- fourth cavalry and the remainder infantry. Besides these
arms, which were evidently intended for military purposes and none other,
which were in the wagons, a search of which was strongly objected to, the
immigrants were provided with shotguns, rifles, pistols, knives, etc.,
sufficient for the ordinary uses of persons traveling in Kansas, as in any
other of the Western Territories. From the reports of the officers, I learn
that they had with them neither oxen, household furniture, mechanics' tools,
agricultural implements, nor any of the necessary appurtenances of peaceful
These persons entered the Territory on the morning of the 10th instant, and
met Col. Cooke's command a few miles south of the Territorial line. Here the
Deputy Marshal questioned them as to their intentions, the contents of their
wagons, and such other matters as he considered necessary in the exercise of
his official duties. Not satisfied with their answers, and being refused the
privilege of searching their effects, he felt justified in considering them a
party organized and armed in opposition to my proclamation of the 11th of
September. After consultation with Col. Cooke and other officers of the army,
who agreed with him in regard to the character of the emigrants, he directed
the search to be made, which resulted in the discovery of the arms already
An escort was then offered them to Lecompton, in order that I might examine
them in person and decide as to their intentions, which they refused to
accept. Their superfluous arms were then taken in charge of by the troops,
and the entire party put under arrest, the families, and all others
individually, being permitted to retire from the organization, if so disposed.
Few, however, availed themselves of this privilege. But little delay, and less
annoyance, were occasioned them by these proceedings. Everything that
circumstances required or permitted was done for the comfort and convenience
of the prisoners. Their journey was facilitated, rather than retarded. They
were accompanied by a squadron of United States dragoons, in command of Maj.
H. H. Sibley. One day's rations were dealt out to them, and they were allowed
to pursue the route they themselves had chosen.
Being apprised of the time at which they would probably arrive at Topeka, I
forwarded orders for their detention on the northern side of the river, near
that place, where, as I promised, I met them upon the morning of the 14th
instant. I found them precisely as they had been represented to me in official
reports; and while I felt disposed and anxious to extend to them all the
leniency I could, consistent with propriety, duty and justice. I determined at
the same time to enforce in their case, as well as that of every similar
organization, the spirit and intent of my proclamation of the 11th ultimo -
which commands "all bodies of men, combined armed and equipped with munitions
of war, without the authority of the Government, instantly to disband or quit
the Territory, as they will answer the contrary at their peril." This I had
done but a short time previous with a smaller body, who entered Kansas as this
had done, from an entirely different quarter, and who, upon learning my
purpose, not only submitted willingly to be searched, but by my order, without
a murmur and even with cheerfulness, disbanded and dispersed.
I addressed these people, in their encampment, in regard to the present
condition of the Territory, the suspicious position they occupied, and the
reprehensible attitude they had assumed. I reminded them that there was no
possible necessity or excuse for the existence of large armed organizations at
present in the Territory. Everything was quiet and peaceful, and the very
appearance of such an unauthorized and injudicious array as they presented,
while it could do no possible good, was calculated, if not intended, to spread
a new distrust and consternation throughout the Territory, and rekindle the
fires of discord and strife that had swept over the land, ravaging and
desolating everything that lay in their destructive path. Their apology for
this evident and undeniable disregard of my proclamation, though somewhat
plausible, was far from being satisfactory. They had made their arrangements,
they said, to emigrate to Kansas at a time when the Territory was not only
disturbed by antagonistic political parties, armed for each other's
destruction, but when numerous bands of marauders - whose business was plunder
and assassination - infested all the highways, rendering travel extremely
hazardous, even though every possible means of self-protection were employed.
This excuse loses all its pertinency when it is understood that, before the
party crossed the Territorial line they were apprised, through a deputation
that had visited me, that the condition of things above described had ceased
to exist, and that such was the true state of affairs that any person could
travel the route they proposed taking without molestation or the slightest
cause for apprehension. I informed them, through their messengers, that I
heartily welcomed all immigrants, from every section of the Union, who came
with peaceful attitude and apparently good intentions; and that to all such I
would afford ample protection. While, on the other hand, I assured them that I
would, positively enforce my proclamation, and suffer no party of men, no
matter whence they came or what their political bias, to enter and travel
through the Territory with hostile and warlike appearance, to the terror of
peaceable citizens, and the dangers of renewing the disgraceful and alarming
scenes through which we had so recently passed. It was quite evident that this
party did thus enter the Territory in defiance, not only of my proclamation,
but my own verbal cautions; and I, therefore, fully approve of the action
taken by Col. Cooke, Maj. Sibley and Deputy Marshal Preston, as well as all
the officers of the army who assisted in their detention, search and guard.
After showing the necessity of so doing, I insisted upon the immediate
disbandment of this combination, which was agreed to with great alacrity. The
majority of the men were evidently gratified to learn that they had been
deceived in relation to Kansas affairs, and that peace and quiet, instead of
strife and contention, were reigning here. My remarks were received with
frequent demonstrations of approbation, and at their close the organization
was broken up, its members dispersing in various directions. After they had
been dismissed from custody, and the fact was announced to them by Maj. Sibley,
their thankfulness for his kind treatment toward them, during the time he held
them under arrest, was expressed by three hearty and enthusiastic cheers.
In concluding this hastily written letter, I must express my sincere regrets
that societies exist. In some of the States, whose object is to fit out such
parties as the one herein described, and send them to this Territory, to their
own injury and the destruction of the general welfare of the country. Very
many persons are induced to come out here under flattering promises, which are
never fulfilled; and having neither money to purchase food and clothing, nor
trades or occupations at which to earn an honest livelihood; are driven to the
necessity of becoming either paupers or thieves. And such are the unfortunate
men who have aided materially in filling up the measure of crimes that have so
seriously affected the prosperity of Kansas. It is high time that this fact
should be clearly and generally understood. This Territory, at the present
season of the year, and especially under existing circumstances, offers no
inducement for the immigration of the poor tradesman or laborer. The country
is overrun with hundreds who are unable to obtain employment, who live upon
charity, and who are exposed to all the evils of privation, destitution and
want. * * *
(Signed.) JOHN W. GEARY, Governor of Kansas Territory.
W. L. MARCY, Secretary of State.
The following protest from leading members of the party received by Gov.
Geary after the dispatch of the letter from which the foregoing quotations are
made, seems more supplementary than contradictory of the preceding account.
TOPEKA, KANSAS TERRITORY, October 14, 1856.
HIS EXCELLENCY, JOHN W. GEARY, GOVERNOR OF KANSAS TERRITORY:
Dear Sir - We, the undersigned, conductors of an emigrant train, who
entered the Territory on the 10th instant, beg leave to make the following
statement of facts, which, if required, we will attest upon our oaths.
1. Our party numbered from two hundred to three hundred persons; the rear
company, which has not yet arrived, being principally composed of families
with children, who left Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, three days after this train which
has arrived to-day.
2. We are all actual bona fide settlers, intending, so far as we know,
to become permanent inhabitants.
3. The blockading of the Missouri River to Free-State emigrants, and the
reports which reached us in the early part of September, to the effect that
armed men were infesting and marauding the northern portions of Kansas, were
the sole reasons why we came in a company and were armed..
4. We were stopped near the northern line of the Territory by the United
States troops, acting, as we understood, under the orders of one Preston,
Deputy United States Marshal, and after stating to the officers who we were
and what we had, they commenced searching our wagons (in some instances
breaking open trunks, and throwing bedding and wearing apparel upon the ground
n the rain), taking arms from the wagons, wrestling some private arms from the
hands of men, carrying away a lot of sabers belonging to a gentleman in the
Territory, as also one and a half kegs of powder, percussion caps, and some
cartridges; in consequence of which we were detained about two-thirds of a
day, taken prisoners, and are now presented to you.
All we have to say is that our mission to this Territory is entirely peaceful.
We have no organization, save a police organization for our own regulation and
defense on the way. And coming in that spirit to this Territory we claim the
rights of American citizens to bear arms, and to be exempt from unlawful
search and seizure.
Trusting to your integrity and impartiality, we have confidence to believe
that our property will be restored to us, and that all that has been wrong
will be righted.
We here subscribe ourselves, cordially and truly, your friends and
S. W. ELDRIDGE, Conductor.
SAMUEL C. POMEROY.
JOHN A. PERRY.
This was the last interference by civil authority or otherwise, with free
entrance into the Territory, and hindrances to free immigration, by any chosen
route, thereafter ceased.
The Territorial election for choosing a Delegate to Congress and members of
the Legislature, and also to vote on the question of calling a convention to
form a State Constitution, was held October 6. As is known, the Free-State
party had already formed a State Constitution which had been presented in
Congress, and the adoption of which was now pending. Furthermore, it was the
established policy of that party to recognize in no manner, where consistent
with their allegiance to the General Government, the validity or binding force
of any of the laws or proceedings of the first Legislature. As this election
was held in accordance with the election would be a quasi recognition of its
authority, the Free-State men took no part in the election. It was an
entirely one-sided affair. Although the illegal voting by Missourians at
accessible points was as scandalously and openly carried on as at previous
elections, there was little disorder, there being no attempted opposition on
the part of the Free-State men to the proceedings. The result is shown below:
NAME OF For Congress Convention
COUNTY J.H.Whitfield A.H. Reeder For Against
Atchison 520 545
Arapahoe 7 7
Brown 16 15
Doniphan 323 367
Douglas 461 380
Calhoun 52 19
Jefferson 222 21 7
Johnson 132 131
Leavenworth 1480 1243 47
Lykins 133 99 2
Madison 13 40
Marshal 183 180
Totals 4,024 40 2,624 443
A full Pro-slavery delegation to the Territorial Legislature was chosen
by a vote aggregating in the counties nearly the same as for the
Congressional Delegate. No protest was offered to the returns of the votes
polled for Whitfield. Gov. Geary granted him a certificate of election. On his
arrival in Washington in February, A. H. Reeder again unsuccessfully
contested his seat.
THE FREE-STATE PRISONERS.
The Free-State prisoners taken near Hickory Point and at Topeka, who had
endured severe hardships and uncalled-for cruelty from their keeper, Col. H.
T. Titus and their guards, were tried at the October term of court. The
majority were acquitted or their trial postponed. Several were convicted of
manslaughter, and sentenced to terms of confinement, and chain. Among the
convicts were Frank Swift, from Maine, afterward a Captain in First Kansas
Calvary; Alfred Payne, from Ohio; Samuel Stewart, from Michigan; L. Soley,
from Massachusetts; --- Crawford and Jeremiah Jordan, from Pennsylvania; and
John Laurie, from Indiana.
Sheriff Jones made prompt application to the Governor for balls and chains,
volunteering the information that they could be obtained from Fort
Leavenworth. To the application Gov. Geary returned the following answer:
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, LECOMPTON, Kan. Ter., Nov. 21, 1856
SAMUEL J. JONES, ESQ., SHERIFF OF DOUGLAS COUNTY:
Sir - In reply to yours of the 17th instant, received by me while at
Fort Leavenworth, I have to remark that the master of convicts - a just and
humane man - with the aid of such guard as he may require, will dispose
of the prisoners, who are, or may be, placed under his charge, in such
manner as may be deemed most advisable for the public interest.
Gen. Smith has no balls and chains for the purpose indicated in your request,
nor is it deemed advisable to procure any while the trial of the remainder of
the Hickory Point prisoners remains unfinished.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN W. GEARY, Governor of Kansas.
On the following day, he took the prisoners out of the charge of Sheriff Jones,
and thereby proved himself, as well as the "keeper of convicts," a just and
humane man. The following letter shows how Jones lost his hold on the prisoners:
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, LECOMPTON, Kan. Ter., Nov. 22, 1856.
L. J. HAMPTON, ESQ., MASTER OF CONVICTS;
Sir - I have been requested by Sheriff Jones to procure balls and
chains, in accordance with 2d Section, 22d Chapter, Kansas Statutes, for the
safety of the prisoners recently convicted of manslaughter for participating
in the Hickory Point fight.
Reposing especial trust in your integrity, humanity and discretion, I have, in
pursuance of the statutes, appointed you Master of Convicts, and placed them
under your supervision.
By the organic act, I am authorized to grant pardons and reprieves for "all
offenses against the laws of the Territory;" and esteeming the punishment, as
described in the said section, as cruel and unusual, and especially
inappropriate to the prisoners alluded to, I hereby remit that portion of
their sentence requiring the use of "balls and chains," and desire you to
treat the prisoners with every humanity consistent with their safe keeping.
Your obedient servant,
JOHN W. GEARY, Governor of Kansas Territory.
The prisoners, while under the charge of Keeper Hampton, were treated as
humanely as the necessary restraint would admit. He soon allowed them to go
about within prescribed limits, on their parole, and during the last months of
their confinement they were quite frequent attendants on the sessions of the
Territorial Legislature, as one of them facetiously remarked, "to protect Gov.
Geary against violence from the members." Under this mild surveillance, they
remained until March 2, 1857, at which time those who had not already escaped,
seventeen in number, were pardoned by Geary, in compliance with numerous
petitions received from citizens.* The lenity (sic) shown by the keeper
and Governor, was deemed by
* In Wilder's Annals, p. 118, it is stated that Geary, on leaving the
Territory March 10, forgot to pardon the prisoners. Gihon, in "Geary and
Kansas," p. 147, states positively that they were pardoned March 2.
Lecompte, Cato, the members of the Legislature and all their Pro-slavery
followers, proof positive that Geary had treacherously gone over to the
enemy, and served not a little to embitter them toward him and his policy
and to irreparably widen the breach between them.