Arrival at Fort Leavenworth.--General P. F. Smith.--Free-state men driven from Leavenworth City.--Pressed horses.--John D. Henderson.--Violation of United States safeguard.--Arrest of Captain Emory.--Character of his company.--Governor Geary's letter to Col. Clarkson.--Rev. Mr. Nute.--District Attorney Isacks.
THE governor and his party landed at 8 o'clock on the morning of September 9th at Fort Leavenworth, where they were cordially received and hospitably entertained by Gen. Smith. The general was very feeble in health, and confined to his quarters. Many free-state people, who had been threatened with personal violence and driven from their homes in Leavenworth City, had taken refuge within the enclosures of the fort, and were seated on the grass plots or strolling about the grounds. A handbill was posted in sundry places ordering them to leave the premises on the following day.
Several of these persons directed the writer's attention to four horsemen who were passing in front of the general's quarters, and asserted that the horses were their own property and stolen by the riders. The leader of the mounted party was John D. Henderson, editor and proprietor of the Leavenworth Journal, and a rabid pro slavery man.
"Captain," said a gentleman who had heard the story of the refugees, and addressing Henderson, "that is a fine horse you are riding."
This man Henderson is by birth a Pennsylvanian; but having affiliated with the Kansas pro-slavery party, and connected himself with the Blue Lodges, was among those northern born men who were compelled to do extraordinary things, and even boast of those still more remarkable which they had not courage to perform, in order to give satisfactory assurance of their entire soundness on the "goose." Hence "Jack," as his associates call him, delights to tell of his valiant deeds in pressing horses, burning houses, and killing abolitionists; and his course been so thoroughly approved that he has been elevated to the dignified position of chairman of the central committee of the pro-slavery, misnamed the "National Democratic Party of Kansas."
A few hours after the arrival of Governor Geary at Fort Leavenworth, a sergeant belonging to the United States troops entered the general's quarters with a serious complaint against certain of the men who claimed to be the militia, or "law and order" party of the territory. He had been appointed a safeguard to escort Samuel Sutherland, E. B. Whitman, and Abraham Wilder along the public highway to Fort Leavenworth, and when within a few miles of that place a party of armed men belonging to Captain Frederick Emory's company stopped him on the road, and violated the safeguard, by forcibly taking from him the three men named, whom they carried as prisoners, with their horses, wagons, and other property, into Leavenworth City.
General Smith expressed himself with considerable warmth against this outrage, appeared anxious to bring the offenders to punishment, and readily granted a requisition from Governor Geary for a detachment of United States troops to proceed at once to Leavenworth City and arrest Emory and his company, and rescue the three men they had imprisoned.
This detachment was forthwith dispatched, and in a few hours returned to the fort with the free-state prisoners and Emory and his company, numbering twenty men. Upon appearing before General Smith, Emory produced James Withrow, George H. Perrin, L. S. Boling, T. J. Clyde, D. Scott Boyle, John J. Benz, and J. M. Branaman, as the persons who had commited the alleged outrage. He spoke in rather insolent terms; said he was not present himself, but that he approved the act and held himself responsible. The general very mildly reprimanded him, informed him that he was under arrest; then dismissed him and suffered him to return to Leavenworth City, to laugh over the silly farce in which he had been compelled to be an actor.
Emory's company were all mounted upon "pressed" horses, the owners of some of which were present to point out and claim them; but as there existed no courts or judges from whom the necessary legal process could be obtained, and as Gen. Smith would not listen to their complaints, they had no means by which to recover their property. Most of them preferred to submit quietly to the loss of their horses, rather than risk their lives by making any effort for their recovery.
Emory and his company held their headquarters at Leavenworth City, whence they sallied into the surrounding country to "press," not steal the horses, cattle, wagons, and other property of free-state men, to whom they had become a terror. It was during these excursions that Major Sackett, of the United States army, found in the road near Leavenworth City a number of bodies of men who had been seized, robbed, murdered, mutilated, and left unburied by the wayside. It was this same Emory and company that made the attack on Phillips's house, when Phillips was killed and his brother severely wounded. They were also present when the assassin of Hoppe brought in his reeking scalp, elevated upon a pole, and applauded the savage deed. They were exceedingly active in warning free-state men to leave the city, on pain of death, and in placing them upon steamboats without money or proper clothing, after breaking into their stores and houses and seizing on their effects, not even sparing the wearing apparel of women and children. Emory was a contractor for carrying the mails, and the fidelity with which he discharged this trust is evinced in the fact that on more than one occasion the mails submitted to his charge were broken open and robbed. All these things, however, seem to have met the approbation of the judicial and other constituted authorities, and for his extraordinary and valuable services Captain Emory has been appointed by President Buchanan as Register of the Land Office of the Western Land District of Kansas.
The next day after the events above narrated the governor addressed the following letter to Colonel Clarkson, who had command of the territorial militia stationed at Leavenworth City:--
"Dear Sir:--It seems necessary that I should address you, relative to an unpleasant occurrence that took place yesterday. Not doubting that you are actuated by a desire to maintain the public peace and promote the prosperity of this territory, I am sure you will at once perceive and properly appreciate the motives which prompt me to call your attention to the fact above hinted at, and the suggestions I am about to offer.
"Three men, having a passport from General Marshall, and under the safeguard of a sergeant of the United States army, were yesterday seized by a troop of your men, and carried as prisoners into Leavenworth City. The only excuse that can be offered for an outrage of this character, is the plea of ignorance as to the position of the party to whom reference is made. The men in your militia may not have been satisfied that the person from whom they took their prisoners, was, in truth a United States sergeant. But in that case, their plain duty would have been to accompany him to the fort to ascertain that fact.
"You will please guard against errors of this description as far as possible in future. I also request that you will at once take the necessary measures to have returned to the three persons who were seized by Captain Emory's men, their horses, wagons, and other property, precisely in the condition in which they were found. You will send these effects to General Smith, who will see them duly restored to their proper owners.
"Trusting that hereafter the safeguard of the United States army, and everything else in which the honor of the nation is concerned, will be held by you sacred and inviolable,
Soon after the troops left the fort to arrest Emory, a scene occurred there strongly illustrative of the times. Rev. E. Nute, a Unitarian clergyman, had several times been arrested and imprisoned on the grave charge of being an abolitionist. He had also been robbed, almost starved, and otherwise cruelly abused, and had just made his escape from his persecutors and fled for safety to the fort. Whilst relating his adventures to an admiring company of his associates and friends, who like himself were refugees from oppression, he espied a wagon passing along the road towards Leavenworth, drawn by two horses, and containing beside the driver, two women and a goodly supply of household furniture and other movables. The reverend gentleman immediately recognised the horses as a favorite pair that had been pressed from him when last taken prisoner. Without waiting for a legal process, he summoned to his assistance a half-dozen friends, and demanded the driver of the wagon to halt. He then deliberately unhitched the horses and drove them away in triumph, amid the congratulations and shouts of the bystanders, leaving the driver and his female companions in their wagon in the middle of the road in a mute state of consternation. Chief Justice Lecompte and associate justice Cato, would have pronounced this act unlawful and unwarrantable, and all the judges and lawyers in the land would have agreed in the decision. Mr. Nute should have appealed to a court, or some judicial functionary--made affidavit in regard to his stolen horses--obtained a warrant for the arrest of the thief and the restoration of his property--placed this in the hands of the marshal or sheriff, and waited patiently for its execution. Such would have been the process in ordinary communities, where the laws are made for the protection of the people--where courts are occasionally held--where judges deal out even-handed justice--and where officers of the law can be induced to execute writs against culprits of their own political faith. But such was not the condition of things in Kansas. There the balance of legal justice had but one scale, and Mr. Nute occupied the opposite side of the beam. Had he asked the courts or the judges, the marshals or the sheriffs, for the restoration of his horses, he might have been regarded as a madman, or at least been ridiculed for his presumption. And had he waited until they reached Leavenworth City to recover them, he could only have made the attempt at the hazard if not the sacrifice of his life.
At Fort Leavenworth, the governor endeavored to impress the United States District Attorney, A. J. Isacks, with the importance of resurrecting the courts, holding more frequent terms, and arresting, bringing to trial, and legally punishing the numerous criminals that were committing with impunity atrocious outrages and disturbing the peace of the country. Mr. Isacks could not agree with the governor in regard to the course of policy he advised. He was for war--war to the knife--war to the death. There was no law that could absolutely rid the country of abolitionists. They must be killed or driven out by force. Like other prominent pro-slavery men, he was fully imbued with the idea that no person had a right in Kansas who was not favorable to making it a slave state; and he is said to have been one of the leaders of the secret band of "Regulators," whose business was to call in disguise at the houses of free-state men and order them to quit the territory, and threaten them with assassination in case of their refusal. Although he received the pay of the government to prosecute offences against the laws of the territory, he seldom, if ever, was present to perform that duty on the few occasions that it suited the convenience of the supreme judges to hold, for a few days, a district court.