DOUGLAS COUNTY, KANSAS
A HISTORY OF LAWRENCE, KANSAS
FROM THE FIRST SETTLEMENT TO THE CLOSE OF THE REBELLION
BY RICHARD CORDLEY, D.D.
Who came to Kansas in 1857; Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church at Lawrence from 1857 to 1875 and 1884 to Present Time an Eye Witness of the Quantrill Raid
Published by: E. F. CALDWELL
Retaliation - Matrial Law - Militia called Out - Missouri Responds - Twenty-eight Hundred March on Lawrence - Governor John W. Geary Arrives - Appears in Lawrence with Troops - The Militia Sent Home - The Benign Influences of Peace
But high as was the authority making the treaty, the free-state men soon found it was not high enough. They had treated with the governor of Kansas who represented the government of the United States, but this did not bind the powers that were making war. There was a power behind the throne, which was determined to use the throne for its own purpose or else topple the throne over. Territorial governors and judges and officials were counted as instruments to accomplish a purpose, and that purpose was to enslave Kansas. The pro-slavery party was above the territorial authorities. If they could not control them they could change them. Every governor came expecting to sustain the pro-slavery policy. Nearly every governor had his eyes opened after a short experience, and endeavored to do what was fair and just. And every governor when he came to this position was removed. It had been so with Reeder; it was now so with Shannon. Reeder had fled from the territory in peril of his life. Shannon was more conservative and more slow in coming to his conclusions, but now his life was threatened and he remained only a few days after the treaty of August 17th. It is interesting to note that ex-Governor Shannon afterwards returned to Kansas and chose Lawrence as his home, and he remained there the rest of his life, held in the highest esteem by everybody.
As was intimated above, the treaty of peace did not bring peace. The parties making war were not bound by it. The free-state successes in capturing the strongholds about Lawrence stirred up the pro-slavery elements in Kansas and Missouri to the wildest frenzy. Exaggerated accounts [of these various affairs were published in pro-slavery papers on the borders, and frantic appeals made for vengeance. It was represented that pro-slavery men were everywhere being driven from their homes, and were in danger of their lives. The fight at Fort Titus was magnified into an all-day contest in which the inmates manifested the greatest heroism, and only surrendered to the force of overwhelming numbers. Titus was a martyr to the truth in the hands of men who would tear him in pieces. They pictured the country in a state of terror, men running for their lives, women and children fleeing from their burning homes! They thus sought to "fire the southern heart," and gather a force by which they could not only be avenged, but recover the ground lost. The press of the border was lurid with descriptions and frantic with appeals. Flaring headlines announced the news: "Important from Kansas;" "Civil war and rebellion;" "Women and children fleeing from their houses for their lives." It called upon the friends of slavery "to rise as one man and put an effectual quietus on the hired tools of abolition now rampant over the plains of Kansas with firebrand and sabre. To strangle the demon of disunion."The whole border was aflame and sectional passion at a white heat. Everything was a stir in Kansas, too. Bands of armed men, of both parties, were moving here and there, endeavoring to outwit each other, and sometimes coming in conflict with each other, but more commonly expending their valor on defenseless people.
At this point an event occurred which gave the
pro-slavery party an advantage, which they were not slow to improve. Governor Shannon left the territory August
21st. Then Daniel Woodson, the secretary of the territory, became again acting governor. He was in full accord
with the pro-slavery managers. He would go with them to the full length. He had no qualms of conscience, and no
spasms of indecision. He believed in the pro-slavery policy, and he had the courage of his convictions. He believed
the territorial laws were valid, and he was prepared to push that theory to its logical conclusion. He stopped
at no half-way measures, and shrank from no appalling results. He had been secretary from the first, and had acted
as governor at each interregnum. Every time he came to power the pro-slavery people had an open field, and carried
things with a high hand. They could not devise any plan for humiliating the free-state people which Woodson was
not ready to sanction. Had he been in power for any length of time it would have changed the whole aspect of affairs.
It would have shortened the Kansas struggle. It might have reversed its result. More likely it would have driven
all the free-state men to adopt the policy of John Brown, take their rifles and fight it out to "the bitter
end." His term of office was each time short, and always closed just as his plans were on the border of full
execution. In most cases his term of power closed just at the crisis of the emergency he had invoked.
"Now therefore, I, Daniel Woodson, acting governor of the territory of Kansas, do hereby issue my proclamation, declaring the said territory of Kansas to be in an open state of insurrection and rebellion; and I do hereby call upon all law abjding citizens of the territory to rally to the support of the territory and its laws, and require and command all officers, civil and military, and call all other citizens of the territory, to aid and assist, by all means in their power, in putting down the insurrectionists, and bringing to condign punishment all persons engaged with them, to the end of insuring immunity from violence, and full protection to the persons, property and civil rights of all peaceable and law-abiding inhabitants of the territory."
This proclamation, like most of its predecessors, was not intended for home consumption. It was intended for use across the border, and to furnish a cover under which Missourians could march in again and help to settle the affairs of their neighbors. There was a great eagerness in Missouri to respond to this appeal from the governor, and a great rush to be enrolled in the militia of Kansas territory. As Charles Robinson says in his ''Conflict":
"Guerrilla bands of pro-slavery men infested the territory as if by magic. Intercourse with Leavenworth was cut off, and the beleaguered town of Lawrence was nearly destitute of provisions as well as ammunition. Men unarmed and defenseless were shot down like dogs, and in one instance at least scalped. All appeals to Woodson were in vain."
An army was gathering on the eastern border. All the "tried and true" pro-slavery leaders were in it. There was Atchison and Reed, and other large fish and small fry, all helping to increase the tumult. The army marched on Osawatomie, which, next to Lawrence, was the most hated place in the territory. They easily captured this place, and, after pillaging it, burnt the town. Six free-state men lost their lives, and nobody has ever been able to ascertain how many were killed on the other side.
But in these affairs they only "tried their 'prentice hand." Their masterpiece was to be the destruction of Lawrence. Without that their victory would be incomplete. As their force increased they prepared for the supreme effort. Lawrence, meanwhile, was poorly prepared to resist. The fortifications which had been thrown up the year before had been largely broken down. The town had been demoralized by the sacking of the place in May. The men, too, were scattered. Even the "Stubbs," the favorite rifle company of Lawrence, was-just then absent on some mission at Hickory Point. The free-state men to the north and west of Leaven-worth had been driven from their claims by bands of pro-slavery marauders who were roving about the country. These refugees, under the lead of such men as Hon. F. G. Adams, now of the State Historical Society, were anxious to recover their claims and return to their homes. They called upon Topeka and Lawrence for help, and were planning to march to Leavenworth to recover their claims, and if possible deliver that town from border ruffian rule. On account of this disturbed condition towards the north, the "Stubbs" had marched over towards Hickory Point, and a series of skirmishes took place. For this reason the best organized and best equipped company of Lawrence was away just at the crisis of affairs. There were only about three hundred men available about Lawrence, and not more than fifty of these were armed with Sharp's rifles.
An encouraging event, however, occurred about this time; that was the release of the free-state prisoners at Lecompton. It will be remembered that these prisoners were the leaders of the free-state cause, and many of them belonged in Lawrence, such as Dr. Robinson, G. W. Deitzler, G. W. Brown, Gaius Jenkins, and others. Amos A. Lawrence, of Boston, after whom the town was named, was an old time friend of Dr. Robinson. He was also a personal friend of President Pierce. He exerted all the influence he could bring to bear to induce the president to order the release of the prisoners on bail. After a long delay the president consented and ordered their release. They were "turned loose, "as one of them expressed it, September 10th, and went to Lawrence where they were received with great rejoicing. Having been in prison four months, however, they could not do much towards the defense of the town in the short time remaining. Another event favorable to the free-state cause, and really the turning point of the occasion, was the appointment of John W. Geary as governor. The pro-slavery people were clamoring for a pro-slavery governor. They would have been contented with the promotion of Woodson, as he would have served their purpose. But they wanted a man who knew the situation, and one whom they could trust. They did not want another Reeder who would go over to the enemy as soon as he found the kind of work they were doing. They did not want another Shannon who should fail them just in the nick of time. They wanted a man who not only sympathized with their general purpose, but who would carry out their policy to .the final issue; a man whose nerve would not give out when he came to the hard places. With such a man they felt they could drive the free-state men from the territory. The border press gave the administration any amount of good advice on this point. Their ablest editorials were constructed with a view of convincing the president and his advisers of their duty in the matter. But it fortunately happened that the administration had reasons for really desiring to quiet affairs in Kansas. In fact it was a political necessity that this should be done, and done at once. A presidential election was coming off in November. The Kansas troubles were working havoc in the democratic party. They were indeed becoming more disastrous to that party than to the free-state party in the territory. In fact they were bringing about that great political revolution which four years later swept the country from ocean to ocean. Even southern leaders, such as Jefferson Davis who was secretary of war, saw that it would be better to quiet Kansas for a time at least than to be hurled from power altogether and lose everything they were contending for. The choice fell on John W. Geary, of Pennsylvania. He was strictly charged that he must restore peace in Kansas at all hazards. The administration promised to support him to the full extent of its power. Governor Geary had been in the California troubles with Dr. Robinson, and knew something of what the task meant. He was a man of ability, with great executive force, and infinite conceit of himself. He was a man of good judgment and right instincts. He arrived at Leavenworth September 9th. He issued at once a proclamation. In this he stated, "that the employment of militia was not authorized by his instructions except upon the requisition of the commander of the military department.
"That an authorized regular force had been placed at his disposal to insure the execution of the laws:
"Therefore he declared that the services of such volunteer militia were no longer required, and they were ordered to be immediately discharged.
"He further commanded that all bodies of men, combined, armed and equipped with munitions of war, instantly disband or quit the territory, or they will answer the contrary at their peril."
Governor Geary reached Lecompton September 10th, and this proclamation was issued the next day. There could not be much doubt about the meaning of it. It was certainly couched in very plain English. The free-state men would have obeyed at once, if they could have been assured that it was meant for both parties. But they had been accustomed to proclamations that were intended for free-state men. Pro-slavery offenses were winked at while free-state offenders were pursued to the death. They feared to lay down their arms until they knew that the governor would require the same of the other side.
The pro-slavery army took no notice of it. They
too had been accustomed to proclamations that were expected to apply only to free-state men. They moved right on,
therefore, just as if no new governor had come, and no new proclamation had been issued. The army had swelled by
this time to some twenty-eight hundred men. It was the largest, best organized and best equipped army that had
ever come up from Missouri. Had they moved forward promptly they could have destroyed Lawrence before relief could
reach the place. Procrastination proved the thief he always is, and stole their opportune time from them.
"I went for the Stubbs but found they had disobeyed orders and left town with Colonel Harvey. I regretted this very much. I then hunted the Wabaunsee rifles. As I was returning I heard some cry out, "there they come." I stopped, turned my eyes in the direction of Franklin, and I saw a large body of horse-men going towards Mr. Haskell's. I immediately started on th§ run for the Wabaunsee boys and told them to follow me; and then started on a dog trot towards the cabin of John Speer, and halted a short distance from it on top of a ridge. At the time I halted, the enemy had panged into the timber beyond Haskell's. Supposing it their intention to pass into the bottom and approach the town from that direction, I concluded to wait where I was till they showed themselves, feeling sure that with them in the bottom, I would have the advantage of position, and could attack them with a plunging fire. I was disappointed, however. In a few minutes they made their appearance, coming out of the timber and heading towards us. As soon as they got in range I ordered the boys to open fire. They had not fired more than a dozen shots, when looking towards the town I saw quite a number of men on the run to our assistance. In the meantime the enemy had disappeared in a hollow or ravine. As fast as my friends arrived I placed them in line until my force amounted to fifty-eight. I sent Ed. Bond to see what the enemy was doing. We watched him until he arrived at the entrance of the ravine where the enemy were concealed, when he stopped, leveled his rifle and fired. He then put spurs to his horse and galloped back. He reported them in the ravine at a halt, some of them dismounted. I then ordered a forward movement, with my line extended as skirmishers. We had a space of half or three-quarters of a mile to cross before we would reach the ridge that separated us from the enemy. On reaching it we discovered them just going out of the upper end of the ravine in the direction of Hanscom's farm. I ordered the boys to open fire and load and fire at will. Our whole line immediately commenced blazing away. Th6y fired several shots in return but they fell short. One of their men was seen to fall near Mr. Hanscom's fence. They put spurs to their horses and galloped towards Franklin."
This ended the contest for the day. But this was only the advance sent ahead to feel the way. The army was behind and was coming. The spirited manner in which the advance was met probably kept them from attacking in force that day. If they had done so they could easily have captured the town. But by waiting a day they lost their opportunity.
During the day dispatches had been sent to Governor Geary at Lecompton apprising him of the seriousness of the situation. He immediately sent Colonel Johnson with a force of artillery and cavalry to Lawrence. They arrived during the night, and posted their cannon on Mount Oread, while the dragoons took their place south of town. In the morning as the citizens arose, they beheld the stars and stripes floating on Mount Oread, and cannon bristling from its summit, while the dragoons lay between them and the enemy. The sensation of relief and thankfulness which came over them was something never to be forgotten. A gentleman who was there said to the writer of this that "words could not express our feelings towards those soldiers coming thus in the nick of time to our relief. United States soldiers had never helped us before. They had always been with our enemies." They were not willingly with the enemy, but they were under orders. The orders were given by the territorial authorities, and the territorial authorities carried out the policy of the pro-slavery party. If there was an annoying, exasperating process to be served a few United States soldiers were sent with the officers. Then the free-state people could do no other than submit, no matter how unjust or how malicious the process might be. Under no circumstances would free-state men resist United States soldiers. When bands of pro-slavery men were roaming about the country, plundering and murdering, and keeping the whole community in terror, the officials never knew of it till it was too late to interfere. But if free-state men undertook any counter movement, the officials learned of it with surprising promptness, and United States troops were sent "to disperse the outlaws." Many of their plans of annoyance would have failed but for the use they could make of these United States troops. Yet the troops themselves had no sympathy with the policy they were compelled to support, and often despised the work they were compelled to do. But they were true soldiers, and obeyed orders, and often did good by their impartiality, and prevented unauthorized outrages such as were often committed by volunteer posses, under the charge of territorial officers. The soldiers bore themselves admirably, and won the highest regard of all the free-state men, notwithstanding the part they were compelled to play. After all this experience it was a new sensation which the people of Lawrence felt that morning, when they saw that these brave soldiers had actually come to their assistance in the hour of great peril.
Early in the morning of September 15th, Governor Geary followed the troops and came to Lawrence. He found the men all under arms expecting the army from below. He promised them full protection, and advised them to go to their homes and resume their ordinary business. Trusting his word, they were thankful and rejoiced in the sense of security.
The governor pushed on at once for Franklin, where the invading army was encamped. Before he reached Franklin he met the advance guard already on their way. He asked them who they were, and" what they proposed to do. They replied that they were "the territorial militia called into service by the governor of Kansas, and they were marching to wipe out Lawrence, and every abolitionist in the country." He informed them that "he was now governor of Kansas, and commander-in-chief of the militia," and he ordered the officer to turn his troops about, and march back to camp. There was a good deal of grumbling, and some hesitation, but they soon ordered a right about face, and conducted the governor to the main body. Dr. J. H. Gihon, Governor Geary's private secretary, gives a full description of the scene:
"There in battle array were ranged at least three thousand armed and desperate men. They were not dressed in the usual habiliments of soldiers, but in every imaginable costume that could be obtained in that region. Scarcely two presented the same appearance, while all exhibited a ruffianly aspect. Most of them were mounted, and manifested an unmistakable disposition to be at their bloody work. In passing along the lines, rumors of discontent and savage threats of assassination fell on the governor's ears, but heedless of these he proceeded to the headquarters of the leaders."
The governor summoned the officers together and addressed them in a very adroit way, and explained the situation and his own policy, and then ordered them to disperse. There were some mutterings, and even a suggestion that they should pitch into the United States troops, and go on and finish their job. But this was only the bluster of disappointment, and the wiser ones saw the folly of attempting to go forward. In a little while the whole army was on its way home to Missouri.
They went away in a sullen mood, and in anything but a peaceable spirit. They stole horses and cattle on the way, and made free with whatever they found. This could have been endured, for it was soon to end. But some of them did not confine their depredations to cattle and horses. A company of Kickapoo Rangers went home by way of Lecompton, crossing the Kansas river at that place, and going north. They were not in a hurry either. September 17th, two days after the army disbanded, they were going towards Lecompton some seven miles from Lawrence. Here they came upon David C. Buffam, working with his team. Buffam had come to Kansas with the second party in 1854. While guarding one of the forts in Lawrence he was accidently wounded in the thigh, and was crippled for life. He afterwards went on a farm where this gang of desperadoes found him. They wanted his horse. He protested against it, and told them " he was a cripple, a poor lame man; that he had an aged father, a deaf and dumb brother, and two sisters dependent on him, and he was dependent on his horses to make a living." His pleading enraged them, and one of them seized him by the shoulder with one hand and shot him with the other. They then took his horse and left him to die. A few minutes after Governor Geary and Judge Cato came along where he was lying. They dismounted and came up and heard the dying man's story. The governor was so much moved that he asked Judge Cato to take the poor man's dying deposition.
On his return to Lecompton the governor had a warrant sworn out for the arrest of the murderer, and placed it in the hands of the marshal. The marshal had been remarkably vigorous in the arrest of free-state men on all sorts of charges, but he was not able to find the murderer of Buffam, and so reported. The governor by this time began to grow angry, and offered a reward of five hundred dollars for the arrest of the murderer. Some weeks after he learned that the man, whose name was Hays, was living in Atchison county, and he at once ordered his arrest, and he was indicted on the charge of murder in the first degree. But a week later Judge Lecompte released him on bail. The governor was thoroughly enraged at the unwarranted interference, and had Hays arrested again. But Judge Lecompte again released him on a writ of habeas corpus. This was the end of the case, as the governor saw he was dealing with men who would go to any extreme to carry their point.
Another incident which illustrated the same thing was the misfortune which befell the "Stubbs," the favorite military company of Lawrence. As was said they were not present when the Missourians came up. They had been ordered by Colonel Lane to go to Hickory Point, where a number of pro-slavery men had fortified themselves in a log house. Under the command of Colonel J. A. Harvey they and others made an attack September 14th and kept up the firing for several hours. Then the pro-slavery party surrendered. There had been one pro-slavery man killed, and several on both sides wounded. The prisoners were at once released, and the free-state men started home. On their way home they were met by a body of United States troops and made prisoners. They considered their capture as a trivial affair, and went on cheerfully with their captors. They expected nothing more serious than a little delay. But when they reached Lecompton they were put under arrest and kept as prisoners waiting an examination. They were given poor shelter and poor rations, and their examination was provokingly delayed. When an examination was at last accorded them, they were indicted for murder, and Judge Cato refused to admit them to bail. They received their trial in October. Some were acquitted, and some convicted of varying degrees of crime. Those convicted were kept in prison, and Sheriff Jones wished to subject them to still greater indignity by putting balls and chains upon them. Governor Geary, however, refused to furnish these articles of footgear, and they were spared this outrage. The officer put in charge of them, however, was kind to them, and let them go about as they pleased on their word of honor that they would return. A southern gentleman visiting Lecompton wished to see these prisoners of whom he had heard such dreadful stories. The governor pointed out to him where they were, and he walked over. Not seeing any frowning prison he inquired of two men, who were pitching quoits, where the prison was. They pointed to an old tumbled down house without windows or doors, and informed him that that was the prison. He was astonished at the prison, and said he wanted to see the prisoners.
"Well, I am one of them, and that is another," pointing to his companion.
"But do they allow convicted murderers to go about in this way, without a guard to watch them?"
"Oh, yes. They used to send a guard when we went over to the legislature, to protect us from the members; but it was too much trouble and expense, and they told us we must protect ourselves."
"But why don't you run away?"
"We have often been urged to do that, but these rascally legislators have been threatening to kill the governor, so we propose to stay here and watch them and protect him."
On the second day of March, 1857, the governor
pardoned the whole lot, in compliance with numerous petitions to that effect. He pardoned them on the ground that
"the offense for which they were convicted was committed in a political contention in which most of the people
were engaged; that while others more guilty were still at large, they had been punished sufficiently already, and
that their further punishment would neither sub serve the ends of justice nor the interests of the territory."
So after nearly six months the "Stubbs " were all at home again. They had conducted themselves manfully
during the whole trying experience, and had won the entire confidence of their keepers, Captain Hampton and his