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


[TOC] [part 41] [part 39] [Cutler's History]


The sudden and unexpected reverse of the Pro-slavery bands about Lawrence, the treaty made with them by Gov. Shannon, his absolute refusal to call the Missouri militia into the Territory, and his ordering out of the whole garrison from Ft. Leavenworth to restore order and prevent their taking revenge, exasperated the Pro-slavery men both in Western Missouri and Kansas, to the extreme of taking summary vengeance into their own hands wherever Free-State settlers could be found in isolated places, or in insufficient number to offer effectual or formidable defense. So, as on former occasions, the subsidence of disorder south of the Kansas was the beginning of a fresh chapter of horrors in Leavenworth, Atchison and at all other points near the border where the Free-State settlers were fewer in number, less efficiently organized, and at the mercy of their merciless foes. To the intensity of hate was added the wild delirium of fear, and under the combined influence of these two most potent incentives to violence, murder, arson, rapine and the whole hoard of minor terrors were let loose to run riot among the defenseless Free-State settlers wherever they were in a helpless minority. In the reign of terror and the rule of anarchy which ensued, culminated the woes and horrors of Kansas' early struggles.

On august 16, the rally of the Pro-slavery forces was begun along the border. On that day a call was issued at Westport, Mo., signed by D. R. Atchison, W. H. Russell, A. G. Boone and B. F. Stringfellow. It began thus:


It has been our duty to keep correctly and fully advised of the movements of the Abolitionists. We know that since Lane commenced his march, the Abolitionists in the Territory were engaged in stealing horses to mount his men, organizing and preparing immediately on their arrival to carry out their avowed purpose of expelling or exterminating every Pro-slavery settler. We have seen them daily becoming more daring as Lane's party advanced. We have endeavored to prepare our friends to end, which was foreseen, and which we now have to announce - LANE'S MEN HAVE ARRIVED! - CIVIL WAR IS BEGUN!

Then follows an account of the driving out, on the 7th inst., by "Brown, the notorious assassin and robber," with a party of three hundred Abolitionists, of Cook, and a party of Georgians, who had settled near Osawatomie. The account says: "This colony was unarmed, and numbered in all - men, women, children and slaves - about two hundred! Their houses were burned, all their property, (even to the clothes of the children) taken and destroyed." Following, was an account of the expulsion of Mr. White from Lykins County, 'although a Free-State man,' for his efforts to procure the arrest of the murderers of Wilkinson. The taking of Franklin, where is was stated that the assault of three hundred Abolitionists, many of them Lane's men, but headed by Brown, was withstood, until their house was fired by fourteen Pro-slavery men - the subsequent evacuation and pillage; the destruction of "Treadwell's Settlement" (Fort Saunders), by a force of four hundred men, all well mounted, under Brown and Walker, were all described. Friends were constantly coming in, robbed and plundered. Hourly expresses arrive, announcing the progress of the traitors. The closing appeal was as follows:

We believe that ere this Lecompton is taken. In ten days not one Pro-slavery settler will be left on the south side of Kansas River, unless instant aid be given them. Our Friends on the north side, scattered and unprepared, will then be exterminated and expelled.

We give you no mere rumors, but a simple statement of undoubted facts. We say to you that war, organized, matured, is now being waged by the Abolitionists. And we call on all who are not prepared to see their friends butchered, to be themselves driven from their homes, to rally instantly to the rescue.

Abolitionists proclaim that "no quarter will be given." "Every Pro-slavery man must be exterminated." What will be your reply?

The response to this appeal was immediate, and troops began to gather on the border awaiting the expected call of the Governor on the Territorial militia, as a pretext for advancing into the Territory in force. But Shannon was deaf to their frantic appeals to be called into action, and they remained upon the border, increasing, as the days went by, like the black and swelling clouds of the coming storm. Meantime the excitement and panic in the border counties of Kansas increased. Fresh news of more outrages came daily, and were give, with all the exaggeration of fear and hate, to the excited people. The following are given as samples of the style in which the news was served up to the citizens of Leavenworth, Atchison, and the border towns:

[From the Leavenworth Journal Extra.]
Col. Titus Murdered.

Mr. Rodrigue's Express has just arrived, bringing intelligence of the attack on Col. Titus' house, and the probable murder of the entire party. There were thirty men in the house, and it was surrounded by at least 400. There is no possibility of an escape for a single man.

Another portion of the Abolition forces attacked the house of George W. Clark, Indian Agent. About two hours after the destruction of Col. Titus' house, and while the express was leaving, the roar of cannon was distinctly heard. Lane is in the field! Andrew Preston, esq., wounded. Mr. Sisterre killed. Mr. Clowes killed. Editor of Southern Advocate killed. Lecompton is hourly expected to be attacked.

Up, citizens of Kansas, and come to the rescue. All the women and children of Lecompton are driven from the city, and are now coming to this city, Action! Action! Action!!!

Still later. To all true Pro-slavery men in Missouri, Gen. Clark, agent of the Pottawatomies, with his family, brings the news, as stated by himself, herewith inclosed.

"An army of Lane's men have demolished Franklin, six to eight hundred men strong, attacked Col. Titus near Lecompton, who had about thirty men, battered down his house with cannon, his family having just left, killed a number of his men and took him and the remainder of his men prisoners.

"They attacked the guard of the United States troops who had in charge Robinson and the other prisoners, who surrendered without firing a gun, and are now in the hands of Lane's men. It is impossible to state in a letter all the outrages committed by these marauders. We have had five expresses from different parts of the Territory since this morning from Iowa Point to Lecompton. They are driving all the Pro-slavery men out of Douglas County and destroying their property. The fugitives are arriving every hour.

"We call upon our friends in Missouri, in the name of humanity, to come to the rescue, with men and provisions to support them. We have determined to clean the Territory or fall in the attempt. We send expresses to-night to St. Joseph, Liberty, Platte City and to Westport. To arms! At once and come to the rescue. We are all under arms here to-night, and will be ready to-morrow.

E. C. McCARTY, President Law and Order party.

C. T. HARRISON, H. R. POLLARD, Secretaries. - G. W. CLARK.

The Kansas Herald Extra, giving the same or equally panic-stricken accounts of the devastation of Lane's army, opened with the following startling headlines: "War and Desolation!--Lecompton Taken by Lane's Men!--Col. Titus' Company Held as Prisoners!--Sheriff Jones' House Threatened by the Outlaws!-- Murder and Butchery!"

An account of the storming and taking of Titus' house, and the general devastation of Lane's men, closed s follows:

Is there a heart in the beast of any Law and Order man in Kansas that will not respond to the following earnest and touching appeal. Let the cry be - To arms! To arms!!

Near LECOMPTON, August 16, 1856.

Friends of Law and Order--The Abolitionists have come on us this morning about daylight, whipped and taken prisoners our men. Lecompton is taken, and deserted by the women and children. These are Lane's men, about eight hundred strong. The United States troops are also whipped and beaten. Will you come to our rescue before we are all murdered? We are out of powder and lead and every kind of ammunition. Our friends are now stationed in Sheriff Jones' house, as many as can and will fight to the last. Will you help us? If so, come at once. Unless we get help we will all be murdered.

Yours, L. J. HAMILTON.
P. S. Col. Titus and his men are all taken prisoners.

Under the excitement of such reports and appeals as these, the Law and Order men of Leavenworth and Atchison Counties at once began the counter work of exterminating what Abolitionists or Free-State men could be found in their midst. Murders became too common to cause more than passing notice, except accompanied with some peculiar atrocity. One Fuget, under the inspiration of whisky and the call of Atchison, Stringfellow & Co., before quoted, on the day following its issue, made a wager of a pair of boots that he would have the scalp of an Abolitionist within two hours. He won his bet - within the time he had secured the reeking scalp of Hoppe, a German, whom he had murdered. A German, who expressed horror of the deed, was shot dead. The murderer fled, wearing the boots he had so fairly won. No Free-State man's life was safe, except under the protection of Fort Leavenworth, to which many fled for safety. As the panic- stricken Pro-slavery settlers were flocking to the Missouri border, south of the river, through fear of "Lane's men," a like exodus of Free-State families was going on north of the Kansas, all along the Missouri River. The down boats were loaded with Free-State refugees, driven out by their relentless foes, or willing fugitives from the bloody horrors of the time. Gov. Shannon is reported to have stated that, at the time he left the Territory, the roads abut Leavenworth "were literally strewn with dead bodies." The concentration of horrors about Leavenworth was attributed to a band of desperadoes under one Emory, a United States mail agent, who, in response to the appeals put forth for help, had recruited them in Platte County, Mo. They styled themselves the "Regulators," and declared their intention to kill every Abolitionist who did not leave the Territory.*

* For detailed accounts of the various outrages, murders, battles and other exciting incidents of that period, the reader is referred to the histories of Atchison, Leavenworth, Jefferson and other counties within the limits of which the occurrences took place.


Secretary Woodson entered upon the duties of Acting Governor on the evening of August 21. On the preceding day, Maj. Gen. William P. Richardson wrote Gov. Shannon that, having received information of the approach of Lane, with his army, from the north he had deemed it his duty to call out the Territorial militia of his division to repel or intercept him. What reply Gov. Shannon might have given to this extra-official military precaution can never be known, as he had ceased to be Governor of the Territory before Richardson's letter reached him. Woodson, however, approved it and also immediately ordered Maj. Gen. Coffey, commanding the Southern Division of Kansas Militia, to call out his troops and take the field. This, with a proclamation issued by Woodson, on the 25th, declaring the Territory in a state of insurrection, and calling out the militia, opened wide the eastern gates of Pro-slavery invasion, through which the waiting Missourians poured into the Territory, to mingle in the general carnival of disorder, and, perhance, if victorious, to close the northern gates against the threatened Free-State invasion.

The Pro-slavery press, now assured, until the arrival of Gov. Geary, of the full, heart-felt and unscrupulous co-operation of the Acting Governor, put on anew its war paint, and urged a sharp, quick campaign of extermination. The Squatter Sovereign, under the head of "Third and Last Time," urged the Missourians to work of extermination thus:

Our Friends have been collecting on the Border during the past week, and in a few days will have a well-organized force in the field, equal to any emergency. We again reiterate: a crisis has arrived in the affairs of Kansas, and another week will tell a tale that will have an important bearing on the future fate of Kansas. It behooves every citizen to shoulder arms without any further delay. We have been slow to believe that anything like serious fighting would occur, but we are now fully convinced that a deadly struggle must ensue, and one or more hard battles transpire before the Abolitionists can be subdued. Already the smouldering ruins of numerous dwellings, and the reeking blood of many a victum,(sic) cries aloud for vengeance. The cry is heard and will be answered with tenfold retaliation. If there is one breast still unpenetrated by this call, we urge that it instantly become alive to the importance of the emergency. The want of a few men may turn the fortunes of war against us. Then let every man who can bear arms "be off to the war again." Let it be the third and last time. Let the watchword be, "extermination, total and complete."

The Pro-slavery men keenly appreciated the importance of quick, decisive work. The work to be effectual must be done, to avoid risks of governmental interference, while Woodson remained in power, and that so thoroughly that his successor could not undo it, if he would. With no Free-State men left in the Territory, Gov. Geary would find none to protect. With their extermination would vanish all their violated rights and importunate claims for redress and justice; "it was a consummation devoutly to be wished," and "if it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly." To quicken to renewed and prompt action the Pro-slavery men of the border, and another manifesto was issued on the 26th of August, signed by Atchison, Stringfellow and all the acknowledged Pro-slavery leaders of Leavenworth and Atchison. It received the indorsement of their Missouri allies as follows:

"We, the citizens of Missouri, urge our fellow citizens and the citizens of other States to respond to the above call of the citizens of Kansas. Signed by A. W. Doniphan, Oliver Anderson, B. J. Brown, Henry L. Rouett, A. G. Boone, Jesse Morin, John W. Reid, B. F. Stringfellow."

The manifesto recounted fully the past history of the struggle, as viewed from a purely Pro-slavery standpoint, and announced in terms of earnestness and sincerity the imminent danger of irretrievable failure unless immediate response, in overwhelming numbers, was made to their call. The spirit of the whole document is evinced in the excerpts which follow:

We have asked the appointment of successor who was acquainted with our condition; who, a citizen of our Territory, identified with its interests, familiar with its history, would not be prejudiced or misled by the falsehoods which have been so systematically fabricated against us - one who, heretofore a resident, as he is a native of a nor-slave-holding State, is yet not a slave-holder, but has the capacity to appreciate, and the boldness and integrity requisite faithfully discharge, his duty, regardless of the possible effect it might have upon the election of some petty politician in a distant State.

In his stead we have one appointed who is ignorant of our condition, a stranger to our people; who, we have too much cause to fear, will, if no worse, prove no more efficient to protect us then his predecessors.

With, then, a government which has proved imbecile - has failed to enforce the laws for our protection - with an army of lawless banditti (sic) overrunning our country - what shall we do?

Though we have full confidence in the integrity and fidelity of Mr. Woodson, now acting as Governor, we know not at what moment his authority will be superseded. We can not await the convenience, in coming, of our newly appointed Governor. We cannot hazard a second edition of imbecility or corruption. We must act at once and effectively. These traitors, assassins and robbers must be punished; must now be taught a lesson they will remember.

We wage no war upon these men for their opinions; have never attempted to exclude any person from settling among us; we have demanded only that all should alike submit to the law. To all such we will afford protection, whatever be their political opinions. But Lane's army and its allies must be expelled from the Territory. Thus alone can we make safe our person's and property - thus alone can we bring peace to our Territory.

To do this we will need assistance. Our citizens unorganized, many of them unarmed, for they came not as soldiers - though able heretofore to assemble a force sufficient to compel the obedience of the rebels, now that they have been strengthened by this invading army, thoroughly drilled, perfectly equipped, mounted, and ready to march at a moment's notice to attack our defenseless settlements - may be overpowered. Should we be able even to vanquish this additional force, we are threatened with a further invasion of like characters through Iowa and Nebraska.

This is no mere local quarrel; no mere riot; but it is war! A war waged by an army! A war professedly for our extermination. It is no mere resistance to the law; no simple rebellion of our citizens, but a war of invasion - the army a foreign army - properly named 'The army of the North.'

It is then not only the right but the duty of all good citizens of Missouri and every other State to come to our assistance, and enable us to expel the invaders.

Mr. Woodson, since the resignation of Gov. Shannon, in the absence of Gov. Geary, has fearlessly met the responsibilities of the trust forced upon him, has proclaimed the existence of the rebellion, and called on the militia of the Territory to assemble for its suppression.

We call on you to come: to furnish us assistance in men, provisions and munitions, that we may drive out the 'Army of the North' who would subvert our government and expel us from our homes.

Our people, though poor, many of them stripped of their all, others harassed by these fiends so that they have been unable to provide for their families, are yet true men; will stand with you shoulder to shoulder in defense of rights, of principles in which you have a common if not deeper interest than they.

By the issue of this struggle is to be decided whether law or lawlessness shall reign in our country. If we are vanquished, you, too, will be victims. Let our appeal be not in vain.

At the time of the issue of the above manifesto, Atchison and Stringfellow had already, at Little Santa Fe, a force variously estimated to number from five to eleven hundred men. They organized under the name of 'THE ARMY OF LAW AND ORDER IN KANSAS.' David R. Atchison was elected Commander-in-chief of the forces in the field. The army was organized into two regiments. The first foray into the Territory was made on the 25th, at which time the Quaker Mission was robbed of all its cattle, horses, and such provisions and valuables as could be carried off. The occupants who were traditionally hostile to slavery, were termed nigger- stealers, and as such, treated most barbarously. The Mission was for the time broken up.

The Free-State men were frankly informed of the proposed intentions of Acting Gov. Woodson. The mustering of armed bands all along the border, and the proclamation calling them into service meant to them another invasion, continued war, and perhaps the driving out of all Free-State men. Every avenue to sources of supplies had been cut off, and already the citizens of Lawrence were short of provisions; attempts to obtain them from Leavenworth or Kansas City, proved unavailing. Teamsters sent thither for supplies were taken prisoners, murdered on the road, or if suffered to obtain supplies, were waylaid on the return, robbed, and sent to Lawrence as empty as when they set out.

On August 24, the citizens determined to appeal to Woodson, the Acting Governor, for relief. A committee of five citizens, of whom C. W. Babcock was chairman, waited on Gov., Woodson, whom they found in the quarters of the officers in command of the United States troops, then stationed at Lecompton. The committed stated to Woodson that Lawrence was out of provisions; that their roads were blockaded by armed mobs; that two of their teamsters had been murdered, and that they desired to know whether he would grant them a guard to their teams to Westport and Leavenworth, or leave them to guard their own teams and open the roads. They wished further to be informed whether he intended to interpose troops to prevent this overwhelming mob from murdering, burning, and pillaging, or were the people of Lawrence to be left to take care of themselves? In reply, Gov. Woodson is reported to have said that if the people of Lawrence would obey the laws (the Territorial laws), and if he could have assurances to the effect, 'this thing' (meaning the invasion) could be settled in five hours - that, under those conditions he would bring the troops, of which he was Commander-in-chief, to bear upon these mobs and disperse them. In reply, Mr. Babcock said: "Governor, anre we to understand that your position is this: That if we obey the bogus laws you will protect us with the whole force under your command; and if not, you will allow us to be murdered? Is that your position?" Gov. Woodson protested that he had no desire to see them murdered, but the laws must be obeyed and the wrist must be executed. The committee returned to Lawrence without the protection, and fully convinced that the fight must be continued. The old redoubts of the town were again put in a state of defense, and the temporary lull which has followed Shannon's late treaty and exchange of prisoners, gave way to a fresh rally of Free-State troops who, concentrating rapidly in Lawrence, prepared for renewing the contest. Three days later, on the 27th, while preparations for defense were still going on in the city, another call was made on Woodson for protection and redress; this time by private citizens: G. W. Hutchinson, a Lawrence merchant, whose teams had been stolen on the way to Leavenworth, and his teamsters taken prisoners; and Mr. Sutherland, the mail-carrier between Lawrence and Leavenworth, whose hack and driver had met the same fate. They first appealed to Col. Phillip St. George Cooke, who was in command of the United States troops at Lecompton, having come in from Ft. Riley two days before. He referred them to Woodson. While in his presence telling their story, they were seized as prisoners by the Territorial militia. Col. Cooke was indignant at the outrage, and made repeated demands on the Governor for their release, to no purpose. Woodson's reply being that they were-seized as "spies in the enemy's camp, and were held as prisoners of war."

So well prepared were the Missourians for the fray, that the evening of the first day after the call of Gov. Woodson was made saw the Quaker Mission sacked, and a detachment of the Missouri army, numbering some 150 men, under Capt. John E. Brown, encamped on Middle or Mound Creek, some eight miles in the enemy's country, not far from the present site of New Lancaster, Miami County. The encampment was discovered by some companies of Free-State men, who, with equal alertness, had responded to Gov. Woodson's call, and were in watch for the advance of the invaders. These companies were in command of Capts. Cline, Anderson and Shore, the latter being one of the heroes of the battle of "Black Jack." The combined force numbered 118 men. On the following day, about noon, they attacked the camp. After a sharp firing of some ten minutes, the Missourians fled, leaving their baggage, horses, coats, and a well-prepared dinner in the hands of the assailants. They retreated to the border, and joined the main army. Eleven prisoners taken were paroled the next day, and permitted to follow their friends over the border. Lieut. Cline, the only one of the Free-State men wounded, subsequently died from the effects of his wounds.

On the 29th, the grand army moved into the Territory in full force, and encamped in the evening on the head-waters of Bull Creek, some fifteen miles north and four miles west of Osawatomie. From this point, a detachment, numbering three hundred or more men, under the command of Capt. John W. Reid, made a force march to the village of Osawatomie, which they reached early the following morning.

[TOC] [part 41] [part 39] [Cutler's History]