Spurs, Battle of the.On Dec. 20, 1858, ten negroes were taken from the Hicklin, Cruise and LaRue farms in Missouri, as spoils of a raid by some free-state men from Kansas, headed by John Brown. The negroes were brought into Kansas by Brown, who with George B. Gill as the only escort, started on one of the routes of the underground railroad for Canada. The party passed through Lawrence, where clothing was secured for the negroes, then on through Topeka to Holton. When that point was reached they no longer feared to travel by daylight, and Brown pushed on to the log cabin of Albert Fuller on Straight creek, one of the stations of the underground railroad, where it had been decided to spend the night. Here he was detained several days on account of high water. One evening Dwight Stevens, one of the men who had joined Brown near Topeka, after the negroes were safely in the cabin, went down the stream to water his horse, when he was accosted by two deputy U. S. marshals on horseback. They asked him if he had seen any slaves in the vicinity, to which Stevens replied that there were some in the Fuller cabin at the time, and volunteered to accompany them to the house. This apparent frankness on the part of Stevens threw the men off their guard and only one accompanied him. Stevens spent some time in attending to his horse, in order to give the men in the cabin time to see who was with him and to prepare for them, then moved to the cabin, threw open the door and said, "There they are, go take them." The marshal moved forward, but found himself covered by revolvers, and was taken prisoner. This man was a members[sic] of a posse under command of John P. Wood, a deputy U. S. marshal from Lecompton, who was on the lookout for Brown in hope of securing the reward of $3,000 offered for his apprehension by the governor of Missouri.
The terror with which Brown had inspired his enemies was never better illustrated than at this time. The Wood posse numbered some 30 men, all well armed and acting under authority of the law, while opposed to them were Brown, his three associates and the unarmed negroes, but the posse was afraid to attack. Wood drew up his forces in shelter of the timber on the creek and sent for reinforcements. In the meantime one of the men crept out of the cabin under cover of the darkness, went to the home of a farmer well known for his anti-slavery sentiments near by, and asked him to go to Topeka and inform Col. John Ritchie that Brown was surrounded at the Fuller cabin on Straight creek. The messenger reached Topeka on Sunday morning, found Ritchie in church and informed him of the condition of affairs. The minister dismissed his congregation and preparations were at once made to go to the rescue. Much secrecy was maintained, however, because the free-state men did not want the Federal authorities to know that a party was being organized, or that John Brown was in the country. About a dozen men left Topeka, some on foot. They traveled all night and the next afternoon, Jan. 31, 1859, reached Holton, where they were joined by a few others and then pushed on toward Straight creek.
When they arrived at the cabin, Brown's three companions were hitching the horses to the wagon, while across the creek, half a mile away, lay Wood's posse intrenched in rude rifle pits they had thrown up to command the ford and the road leading to it. Upon learning that Brown proposed to cross the ford in the face of the enemy they attempted to dissuade him, saying that the stream was high, the crossing dangerous, and that there was a much better ford 5 miles up the creek. Brown said that he intended to travel straight through, that those who were afraid might turn back but he intended to use the Fuller crossing, saying, "The Lord has marked out a path for me and I intend to follow it. We are ready to move."
Some of the men were uneasy, knowing that 45 intrenched men were waiting across the creek, but with Brown in the lead, the 21 men moved into the road and started straight for the crossing. Brown appeared utterly unaware of Wood and his posse, and led the way to the ford. Not a shot was fired and as the first of the free-state party reached the creek there was noticed some commotion in the rifle pits. Part of Wood's men ran hack toward the horses, and within a short time nearly the entire posse was retreating in wild panic. The Topeka party charged across the creek to give chase but found only 4 men left in the rifle pits. They threw their arms on the ground and informed Ritchie that they had remained merely to show that there were some of the Wood party who were not afraid. These men were made prisoners and Brown proceeed[sic] on his way toward Iowa, being accompanied by the Topeka party as far as Seneca.
Richard Hinton gave this affair the name "Battle of the Spurs," as he believed spurs were the most effective weapons used, not a shot being fired by either side, and what promised to be a serious affair terminated as a farce. This bloodless battle was important, however, for had Brown been captured there probably would never have been the affair at Harper's Ferry to fan the slumbering blaze into open flame, and the name of the great emancipator would have remained practically unknown outside of Kansas.Pages 730-732 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
J | K | L | Mc | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project