Invasion of the 2,700.Early in the forenoon of Sept. 14, 1856, a messenger rode into Lawrence and announced that a large body of Missourians, which had been in camp on the Wakarusa, were advancing on the town. They were the territorial militia called into service by the order of acting Gov. Woodson, and the plan was to destroy Lawrence before any contrary instructions could be received from the newly appointed governor, Geary. Brinton W. Woodward, in his address before the Kansas Historical Society in 1898, said: "The actual number of the enemy was unknown to us, but we had reason to believe that it was overwhelming in comparison with our depleted remnant. There has always been some latitude in its estimatewhether 2,500 or 2,800; but supplied as they were with the best of arms, 4 pieces of cannon, officered by the men of most military experience among our bitter foes, and led by John W. Reid, ex-colonel of the Mexican war, there were surely enough of them to wipe us out utterly."
Including all the defenders, old and young, there were probably not more than 200 men in Lawrence. The three forts located near Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island streets, bearing east and west from each other in a line coinciding to that of Henry street, were first manned. These earthworks were rudely constructed and about 4 feet high. A second detachment, about 40 in number, was stationed in the fort on Mount Oread, south of where North College now stands. It occupied a commanding position but without cannon was in no condition to put up a strong defense, yet some historians believe that this fort had much to do with saving Lawrence. John Brown was among the defenders, and while he had no command gave the defenders council and advice. Anxiety increased as the day wore on and no news or relief came from Gov. Geary. At lengthbetween 4 and 5 o'clock p. m.the enemy was seen advancing toward Franklin, about 3 miles southeast of Lawrence, having fired Stroup's mill on the way. The defenders realized that the enemy must be repulsed or they would all perish in the city. Col. O. E. Learnard, who had been commanding a little force of horsemen, left the town with what few men he could gather, and started down the road toward Blanton's bridge. Two other parties were also sent out, one under Capt. Cracklin, but the leader of the second party, sent out by John Brown, is not known. The party in command of Col. Learnard went about 2 miles from town, and finding no enemy in that direction, turned eastward and joined the other parties upon an elevated ridge of land which commanded the road from Franklin, where they intercepted the advance of the Missourians about 300 strong. The free-state men, seeing that the southerners were attempting to cut them off, began to retreat up the road toward town, keeping up a running fire for some distance. When the Missourians had advanced some distance they left the road, approached much nearer the town and circled around northward on the prairie. It is thought the pro-slavery men believed that there was a cannon in the fort on Mount Oread, and that this idea prevented them from making a dash into the town, as the men in the fort deployed in a manner to present quite a formidable array. The Missouri force evidently concluded that they had not sufficient strength to take the town and retired to their main body. That evening Gov. Geary arrived with the United States troops, the crisis was passed and Lawrence was saved from the sack, burning and plunder which was some few years later to be her fate. (See Geary's Administration.)Pages 938-939 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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