Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior Life by Sara Robinson



July 7th. -- We experienced a heavy rain yesterday. It poured through the tents, wetting everything. This tent-life in the burning sun and pouring rains will be a good recipe for ague or cholera. So, besides the discomfort of the present, we have these in anticipation. Capt. W. left on Saturday, and Capt. Sackett, a noble-looking man, has the prisoners now in charge.

To-day a gentleman has been in camp from Illinois. He with a party of seventeen were robbed at Leavenworth of their arms and farming utensils. Several of them were hunted for their lives. (Aid was afterwards asked of Gen. Smith in recovering these goods, a letter being sent to him from Woodson counselling such interference; but he declined giving it.) Also, eight families from Illinois, when near Platte city, were turned back by one hundred and fifty men, armed with United States muskets and bayonets. The stereotyped questions of "Where are you from?" and "Where going?" were put to the emigrants. The leader of the ruffians said, "I suppose you've hearn that we don't allow any movers to go through into the territory." When the ruffians proclaimed their intention of searching the wagons, an Iowa man objected, but a revolver was quickly drawn upon him. After searching their wagons twice, and taking all the arms, they took them back under guard to Liberty, Missouri, telling them "they could go where they pleased, so they did not go into the territory."

What new scheme of villany, for the subjugation of Kansas, shall we hear? Step by step the work has gone on. Missourians have invaded the territory, and, by force, taken possession of the polls. They have trampled upon the right of the people to make their own laws. They have framed a code of laws which would have disgraced the dark ages. They have denied the citizens of the territory the right of free speech. They have, for weeks, besieged a town under the leadership of the governor. They have burned and sacked towns under the United States Marshal, the aforesaid governor offering no word of disapproval; they have murdered, with all the cruelties of the Fejee islands, peaceable settlers. Without restraint they have robbed and pillaged. They have blockaded the Missouri river. No more bloody or meaner pirates, sailing under black flags, ever infested the high seas, years ago. Now the debauched and desperate robbers search and send back peaceable emigrants, their wagons laden with the emblems of their occupation, ploughs, and farming implements.

We have moved camp again to-day, two miles further from Lecompton. It was my first experience in the inside of these huge covered wagons. I protested that I would rather walk than attempt to mount into such a vehicle; but they all said ride. By extra effort E. and I got in, attempting to find a place to sit among the mattresses. At first move, one of the males, by rapidly throwing up his feet, was soon out of harness. The jolting of the wagon was intolerable when the mules travelled faster than a walk.

29th. -- July days are passing with little variety. We have a great deal of company; many days four or five carriage loads. They are people from Lawrence, and other settlements, while many strangers travelling in the territory call to look in upon the "traitors." A number of ladies living on claims some miles from Lawrence, whom we had never met, have visited us in camp. They are very intelligent and refined.

Gen. Smith has arrived in Leavenworth. As he was passing Delaware, a little settlement among the hills, the boat was hailed, and obliged to stop. A band of ruffians, gathered from the "four corners of Satan's dominions," demanded, "Are there any abolitionists on board?" Gov. Shannon and his wife also came up the river in the same boat. They came through in the stage from Kansas city to Lecompton. When passing places of more than usual loveliness, she would say, "she should like a plantation there, with about two dozen negroes." To the question how she liked "border ruffians," she said, "she liked them infinitely better than Massachusetts paupers." Every time any attempt was made by others in the stage to vindicate the free-state cause, she remarked, "she did not wish to hear anything about it." She remained scarcely a week in Kansas, and, in reply to the question, "Will you return to Kansas?" she said, "I should like to live in Kansas if it is a slave state, I suffer so much where I am in associating with abolitionists." It would be kind in the governor to have regard for her sufferings, and go into some obscurity where she could be relieved from the enlightened intelligence of Ohio.

Col. Titus, a few days ago, told a man who came to him for money to buy a claim, with oaths, "Wait, and we will get it any how. Now is the time to drive out the d--d Yankees."

Acting upon this impression, probably, two days since, he attacked a young man, living on a claim two miles from Lecompton. After beating him severely, and jumping upon him, he ordered an accomplice, standing by, to fire his house. A free-state man immediately talked plainly to Gov. S. in relation to it, and concluded by telling him, "if he did not prevent such outrages, the people would."

Gov. S. immediately sent for troops to protect Titus. Free-state men are driven from their claims, beaten and killed. Then the governor employs the troops to protect the assassins. -- Such is dragoon government in Kansas. It leaves the free-state people exposed to all outrages; and, when they would assert their rights, and take care of themselves by driving out the ruffians, the dragoons protect them by orders of the governor. Gov. Shannon has said, repeatedly, that the state "prisoners, if charged, would be tried; if tried, convicted; and, if convicted, hung." Judge Lecompte has made similar statements. Woodson has said, "they did not expect there would be a trial, but they meant to keep them imprisoned."

W. P. Fain, who acted as deputy marshal in arresting Judge Smith and G. W. Dietzler, was in camp the other day. While talking of the Toombs bill, the prisoners stated "that they had no confidence in the President appointing men who would take the census fairly." He replied, "I would do it."

When they asked him, "if he was to be one of the commissioners," he replied in the affirmative, thus showing the whole matter to have been arranged before Stringfellow went to Washington. There was a heavy shower a few nights since. Our tent being the poorest shelter from rain of all, Capt. Sackett urged us to sleep in one of his; but we preferred staying in our own. When the storm came, the wind was terrible. The rain came through in streams, and little lakes were standing in every hollow on the bed. At this unpleasant juncture, the captain sent down an India-rubber blanket, and, by removing the wet ones, no one suffered very severely. Towards morning, a heavy wind tore up a part of the stakes, and a drenching rain came full upon us. There was not a dry spot in the bed, and no more sleep for us. We had, however, a hearty laugh with Capt. Sackett, for the tent he had kindly assigned us was prostrate; the only one which had been so essentially affected by the storm.

31st. -- A man, by the name of Le Hays, active in the plundering of Lawrence, has boasted much of the spoils which fell to his share -- silver ware, ladies' apparel, besides guns. On the night of the 18th his house was entered by a party of men, and the guns were taken. Gov. Shannon is much excited about it. He says they were men from Lawrence and vicinity, and reports the house generally plundered. A strong guard was forthwith set around Lecompton. On the 20th, Cramer, the deputy marshal, came to camp, and ordered Capt. Sackett not to allow any person to converse with the prisoners privately. "His responsibility, since the sacking of Lawrence, in regard to the prisoners, had weighed upon him much." But Capt. Sackett at once informed him, "he need give himself no further trouble on the subject, as the responsibility of their safe-keeping rested upon him." The little fellow appeared pleased; but his wrath was only pent up. He met a man, soon after leaving camp, and poured it forth in execrations upon the captain, declaring that "Robinson was more the governor of the territory than Shannon;" that "the prisoners should be taken from Capt. Sackett's charge, and that their lives would not be safe an hour." On the 21st the little deputy came again, with a letter from Gov. Shannon, in which he advised that "persons and letters be not allowed to go into camp; that the territory had never been in so bad a condition; that he believed the prisoners were implicated in these disturbances, and in great measure the occasion of them." Cramer, at the captain's tent, also said, "The governor don't know what to do." He talked so loudly, it was quite impossible not to hear what was said. It will be remembered that only two days had passed since the governor had been informed, that, if such outrages as that of Titus continued, the people would try to suppress them. Word was returned to the governor from Capt. Sackett that "he had his orders from Col. Sumner to give up the prisoners to the civil authorities, if unnecessary restrictions were placed upon them." Gov. Shannon immediately sent to Capt. Sackett, that "he did not know he had orders from Col. Sumner, but, if he had, of course he must obey them." He swore, however, "he would see if he could not make Capt. Sackett obey orders," and sent an express to Gen. Smith at the fort. Gen. Smith proposed not to interfere in matters in the territory, and, no change being made in the treatment of the prisoners, the governor was disappointed, and unable to carry out his threats. On the 19th he was heard to say, as at many other times, that "Gov. Robinson would be hung."

A wagon of provisions for Palmyra was robbed at Westport a few days since, and, on the 22d, Mr. P., a daguerrian of Lawrence, was nearly killed about a mile from town, by three men from Franklin. He was fired upon, and so badly wounded by their jumping upon his body, that he was very ill, and it is feared will never recover. Several bowie-knives were found in the grass next day. Major Sedgwick protected Titus only one night, and removed his camp about a fourth of a mile from Capt. Sackett's camp. Then Titus gathered about him a gang of desperadoes like himself. Major Richardson is reported to have gone up north to intercept emigrants coming into the territory. Three men from Lecompton have been to see Capt. Walker, of the free-state forces. They desire all matters amiably adjusted. There is talk of vigilance committees of equal numbers, free-state men and pro-slavery, to try offenders. Gov. Shannon has expressed himself in favor of letting the territorial laws go, as the House has admitted free Kansas. Woodson is very strongly opposed.

A few days since, a free-state man, in Lecompton, was ordered out of town by Wm. Donaldson. The people there, effectually frightened at the turn affairs are taking, returned the compliment, ordering Donaldson to leave town. They immediately had a circular printed, inviting people into their town, and promising them safety.

Mr. Wilson and daughter, from South Carolina, were in camp a little time on the 21st. They were strangers in the territory. When Mr. Wilson returned to Lawrence, he refused to pay the four dollars for the team, which he promised on taking it. Chapman, one of the Shawnee council, declared he would have the one dollar still retained by Mr. Wilson, and the next morning, as Mr. W. was going to Westport in the stage, Chapman asked him again for the money. Upon his refusing, Chapman struck him on the head with a heavy stick. After the wound was dressed, against the advice of others, he continued his journey to Westport, and died soon after reaching there. Chapman was examined before a justice at Lecompton, and released on bail, $3,500. Sam Salters and Haney were his bondsmen, both notorious for their villany, and pecuniarily irresponsible. The bail asked in the case of Evans, free-state, by an impartial injustice, at Lecompton, was $5,000, and in case of young Doy, also free-state, taken on charge of horse-stealing, no bail could be admitted. Chapman has also been notorious for his threats against the lives of several of the citizens of Lawrence.

All kinds of vegetables have been bountifully supplied to the prisoners for many weeks by their friends. In some cases they have brought of the first fruits of their fields. Wild grapes and apples are growing plenty now. To-day some gentlemen, concert-singers, brought their melodeon and sang to us. It made quite a variety in camp life.

August.-- The first Sunday in August we had preaching in camp. Mr. N., and a large number of people, came from Lawrence. As many as possible sat under the pavilion, while others occupied the carriages. The officers and soldiers attended, and all together we made a goodly number. A melodeon was also brought up from town. Major Hoyt brought a large number of beautiful pond lilies, which, at his suggestion, were placed on the table, before the preacher.

On the first day of August, Fain was in Lawrence attempting to assess taxes. He was waited upon by a committee, and recommended to leave. A very intelligent lady, recently from Delaware, visited us in camp. The camp of the invading horde in May was close by her house, and from their brutal conduct she suffered much. One of the captains of the gang has since apologized to her, saying, "that if his mother in Virginia knew in what company he had been, or what he had been doing, she would grieve herself to death." She has recently buried a little daughter, who, in the first of her illness, was constantly saying, "Mama, don't let the Kickapoos shoot me." She thinks fear was the occasion of the child's death. These men were cursing and swearing about their house nights, and firing their guns in the day-time, so that the balls whizzed past her. When asked by her "if they had commands to disturb peaceable houses on the Sabbath day," they replied, "they had orders to go where they chose, and when they chose; they were here by President Pierce's authority, and acting under the directions of Gov. Shannon." It is said in Lecompton to be the plan of the ruffians to kill the prisoners on the day of the trials. Pro-slavery men from the same place stated, that, on the fifth, Jones, Clark and Titus, were urging the governor to call out the "militia," for further outrages. Word had been received from Col. Boone, of Westport, that "now was the time to drive out the free-state men." Shannon had sworn he would not call out the "militia" again, and the above named "law-and-order" men threatened to put him in the river, and were holding a secret session as to the course to be pursued. On the sixth news came of Gov. Shannon's removal.

Robberies on the Westport road are becoming more frequent. Preparatory to the expected passage of the Toombs bill, many Missourians and Southerners have been coming into the territory. They have not taken claims and built houses upon them, but have built forts and stocked them with provisions and munitions of war. It all looked like a war of extermination, and preparations for a general siege, although many Missourians had said they were coming in to vote. The principal head-quarters for the invaders were the fort near Osawattomie, one on Washington Creek, at Franklin, and the house of Col. Titus. From the latter, morning and evening, we heard the report of fire-arms, as his gang were firing at a mark. Depredations being committed by the men at all these places, it was decided to drive them out. About the eighth, a party of free-state men reached the fort on Sugar Creek, but Dame Rumor had flown in advance of it, and the fort was vacated. The invaders had gone back to their homes in Missouri, leaving a load of flour, sugar, hams, etc. The flour and sugar were taken, while the bacon was burned with the fort.

Several of the free-state scouts to the upper country have returned. They report the emigrants making roads, and bridging streams. Some of the scouts went through to Iowa. The reports of the emigrants being intercepted by Missourians were false. There are over four hundred emigrants on the way. The train is more than a mile and a quarter long. Such a body of men looked formidable to the spies of the enemy, and they returned to report larger numbers.

The people at Lecompton are exceedingly alarmed for the safety of their town. For a week or two they have been so worn out, keeping a nightly guard, that they have hired a guard, paying each man two dollars a night. At several different times they have been awakened in the night by a courier going in with the false report of the free-state men close at hand. Early on the morning of the 12th, Titus sent in word that he had seen one hundred and seventy-five free-state horsemen approaching the town, which at once created a panic. On the night of the 13th, we heard firing in the direction of Lawrence, and before sunrise the next morning, an express was sent to Maj. Sedgwick. As he rode in by our tents, the sentinel hailed him with, "What news?" His reply was, "War! war!"

The free-state men made an attack upon a building in Franklin. It was the same building that was stormed in the little battle of the 4th of June, but, as a block-house, had been considerably strengthened since then. It was the first station of the Georgians beyond Westport, and contained, besides a quantity of small arms, a six-pounder brass cannon, which had been brought into the territory in May. They called upon those in the block-house to surrender, before firing at all. After three hours' brisk firing, the free-state men, having one man killed and several wounded, drew a wagon load of burning hay against the building, when the cry for "quarter" was heard. The hay was soon drawn away, and the occupants of the fort threw down their arms and fled. The guns and cannon were taken by the free-state men.

The immediate occasion of the attack at Franklin at that time, was the sad news of the murder of Maj. D. S. Hoyt, which had been received that day.

For some time the settlers along the Wakarusa, and near Washington Creek, had been much harassed by Georgians at that fort. Their threats of extermination of the free-state settlers were repeatedly heard, and robberies by them were of frequent occurrence. The settlers had sent messengers to Lawrence, and other points, at different times, asking help. Several appeals had been made to the troops, but Maj. Sedgwick declined doing anything, as he had no authority to act.

On the eleventh and twelfth, messengers were again sent to him, asking him to do something quickly for the protection of the settlers in that region. He had been informed by Capt. Anderson, of the troops, whose company during the summer had recruited some of Buford's men, that the camp was a peaceable one, and he so stated to the gentlemen from Lawrence. At the request of the people of Lawrence, Major Hoyt went out to the camp. He was most brutally murdered by the Georgians, his body being riddled with bullets. Major Hoyt was an efficient aid to the free-state cause, and was universally esteemed.

This outrage aroused the free-state men yet more to the necessity of breaking up the stronghold of these barbarians; and on the afternoon of the 15th, the fort on Washington Creek was burned. The fort was strongly garrisoned and provisioned, and contained many articles taken at the siege of Lawrence. Without striking a blow the Georgians fled. In the night, Titus' band was out, as usual, stealing horses. They had taken three, when they came upon the advance guard of the free-state men. Titus, seeing the numbers upon which he had fallen, fled, they following but a little way, and taking one or two prisoners.

About sunrise the next morning, the 16th, firing was heard near our tents, and one of the cannon balls whizzed past us. Two or three horsemen were standing upon a high hill, a half a mile distant, apparently watching the troops in camp. A heavy shower came up; the rain poured in torrents. Our breakfast had been set upon the table, but the frail cloth overhead was like a sieve, and each of us caught some of the dishes, and ran into the nearest tent. A messenger from Gov. Shannon had come to Major S.'s camp. The bugle-call had sounded, and the troops were soon on their way to Lecompton. At the moment the troops started, the horsemen on the hill disappeared. As we sat in a little tent, a la Turque, eating our breakfast, with our plates in our laps, one of the persons looking out, said, "Titus' house is on fire. The black smoke is rising over the hill."

A little time passed, and a wagon, with a lady and several children, of various shades of color, came to Capt. Sackett for protection. It was Mrs. Woodson and her household, who, fearful, had fled from their house, one half mile distant from Titus'. When Lieut. Carr reached Lecompton, in accordance with Major Sedgwick's orders, Gov. Shannon was nowhere to be found. It was only after repeated inquiries, he received the reply, "You may find him by the river." Going there, he found the executive getting into the scow to go across the river. How one's imagination brings up the picture of Caesar crossing the Rubicon! As he returned with Lieut. C., and met Major S. at the point designated, he was asked "what were his orders."

He replied, "I don't think I will have anything done with them; but we will go and see if they have disturbed Major Clarke" (the murderer). The four hundred free-state men, going over the prairie on their way back to Lawrence, looked too formidable to the pusillanimous governor. Major C.'s residence was found deserted, the doors wide open, furniture left as just used, and everything betraying that some great fear had driven them from their homes. The fright and confusion at Lecompton were terrible. Any way to get over the river seemed to be the desideratum; many even, in their haste, jumped in to swim over. Col. Titus and eighteen men were taken prisoners. Among them was Wm. Donaldson, who had been my husband's guard on his way from Lexington. Titus had several prisoners in his house, -- men just arrived in the territory. The order of the previous evening had been to shoot one of them that morning.

Some of the type of the Herald of Freedom office had been taken from the Kaw, and melted into slugs. These were used to load the cannon in the attack upon Titus' stronghold. At the first fire, the cannoneer cried, "This is the second edition of the Herald of Freedom."

The prisoners were taken to Lawrence. The next day, Sunday the 17th, Maj. Sedgwick, Gov. Shannon and Dr. Rodrigue, of Lecompton, went to Lawrence to make a treaty. The two latter were ready to make terms anyhow. They trembled like aspen leaves for fear. Gov. Shannon's second treaty with the people of Lawrence was concluded. The five free-state men arrested after the attack at Franklin, under the bogus laws, and the howitzer taken from Lawrence in May, were to be exchanged for Titus and his band. There were also to be no more arrests under the territorial laws.

Gov. Shannon made a speech, in which he stated "he wished to set himself right, before the people of Lawrence; that he desired peace and harmony for the few days of his continuance in office;" and concluded by saying, "and the few days that I remain in office shall be devoted, so help me Heaven, in carrying out faithfully my part of the agreement, and in preserving order."

Capt. Shombre, of the free-state party, was mortally wounded, but his expressed sentiment was, "Willingly I yield my life for freedom." When they told him of the treaty, like Wolfe, he said, "I die happy." He died, much regretted by our people, on the evening of the 17th. The treaty was carried into effect the next day. Titus and Donaldson begged most piteously for their lives. It was humiliating to see men, who had no mercy for any who fell into their power, yet beg so humbly for their own lives. They said "they would go to their old homes, and would never strike another blow for slavery in Kansas."

But Titus, safely in Lecompton again, has sworn vengeance. He was badly wounded in the shoulder and hand, and one of his men was killed. Dr. Rodrigue and family passed down to Westport on the 18th, on their way to Virginia. Judge Elmore, with his family and slaves, left the territory the same day. Gov. Shannon asked for a military escort out of the territory, but was told the people would call him a coward in truth. The difference in men fighting for their homes and lives, and their oppressors, has been clearly marked in this contest. Fear has been the daily and nightly portion of the people of Lecompton since their attack upon Lawrence. Now, when their gangs of desperadoes have been routed in three or four positions, the panic has become general, and the leading men of the pro-slavery party remove their families from the territory. Women leave their homes to ask protection of military commanders, and pro-slavery towns beg a dragoon guard.

Gov. Shannon, immediately after the treaty at Lawrence, sent for all the troops in the fort. When asked by one of the military officers what was the message he sent, he said "he did not know, as he had sent his papers, among which was the copy of his letter to Gen. Smith, by his son, to Westport." Wholly different from this was the course of the men and women of Lawrence. Calmly they looked upon the devastation, and awaited the hour when God would avenge them. People upon claims, close by the ruffians' camp, remained at their homes. Faith in the final upholding of justice was their shield.

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