|1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS||Chapter 37||Part 3|
OLD GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL, FORT SCOTT, ERECTED 1845
Stanton ordered companies E and F, First United States Cavalry, to Fort Scott. They arrived there the 21st of December. Their presence quieted the country for a few days. Believing the troubles over they were removed to Fort Leavenworth on the 10th of January, when the troubles immediately broke out anew. On the 10th of February, 1858, it was reported in Fort Scott that the Osages were descending upon the city. This intelligence proved correct. A Mr. Johnson, who had suffered at the hands of the Pro-Slavery men, had appealed to Montgomery for assistance. Montgomery assembled about forty of his followers and marched upon Fort Scott. A deputation of citizens met him at the border of the town, and of these Montgomery demanded the surrender of those for whom he had warrants, which had been procured against the men who had committed the outrages against. Mr. Johnson. The Committee of citizens said the men would be surrendered if they could be tried in Fort Scott, otherwise they would not be surrendered without a fight. Montgomery announced that a fight was what he desired, and started to move into the town. The deputation, including Judge Williams, George A. Crawford, and all the leading Pro-Slavery men, fled to Missouri. Montgomery with his Osages found the town deserted of an those he wished to arrest, and returned to Linn County.
United States troops were again sent to, Fort Scott, two companies of the First Cavalry arriving on the 26th of February, under command of Captain George T. Anderson and Lieutenant Ned Ingraham. Montgomery then confined his activities to the Pro-Slavery men in the country, driving them into the city of Fort Scott, hoping to starve out the town. About three hundred families were thus compelled to take refuge there. These operations continued well into the spring. On the 21st of April, Montgomery was operating on the Marmaton. Intelligence of his presence there was conveyed to Captain Anderson, who immediately started in pursuit. He passed Jones' saw mill, where he found a meeting of Free-State men in deliberation under a chairman by the name of John Hamilton. Anderson requested Hamilton to go with him, but this invitation Hamilton declined. Anderson continued his pursuit of Montgomery who retreated up Paint Creek. At a narrow defile, Montgomery dismounted his men and prepared to defend himself. Upon the approach of Anderson's troops they were fired on and one of the number fatally wounded. Anderson's horse was killed and it, was found that Montgomery could not be dislodged. A truce was called to enable Captain Anderson to be removed from under his horse. While this was being done, Montgomery escaped.
On the following day the Free-State men assembled and passed the these resolutions:
WHEREAS, A body of Government soldiers and border ruffians did, on the 21st
inst. fire upon some Free-State citizens, who were peacefully and inoffensively
traveling on the common highway, and being incited to commit said outrageous and
unlawful act by other ruffians living in Fort Scott;
2. That Dr. Blake Little, J.C. Sims and W.T. Campbell, the traitors who were elected by fraud and corruption to the bogus Legislature, be, required to leave within six days - an infraction of this order at their peril.
3. That H.T. Wilson, G.P. Hamilton and D.F. Greenwood, the infamous swindlers of the Lecompton Convention, who forged an infamous constitution, be hung to death if they are caught in this Territory ten days from date.
4. That E. Ransom and G.W. Clarke, the holders of the two "wings" of the pretended National Democracy and the corrupt fuglemen of a corrupt President, have six days to leave this Territory, under penalty of death.
5. That J.H. Little, James Jones, Brockett, B. McDonald, A. Campbell, Harlan and the ruffians who accompanied the soldiers to assist and witness the massacre of Free-State citizens, be sentenced to death.
It is not known that these resolutions were sent to Fort Scott immediately, and the Free-State men made no effort to enforce them.
[Copy by Willard of Portrait in Library of Kansas State Historical Society]
On the 6th of May additional troops arrived at Fort, Scott, under command of Major Sedgwick. This force consisted of one company of dragoons and one of heavy artillery, together with a section of T.W. Sherman's battery. They remained in the vicinity of Fort Scott until the 17th, returning on that day to Fort Leavenworth. The Marais des Cygnes massacre on the 19th caused intense excitement throughout the country, and many rumors alarmed the people. Governor Denver dispatched Deputy United States Marshal Samuel Walker, of Douglas county, with a force to arrest Montgomery and his men. Walker reached Raysville on the 29th. He found assembled there about two hundred Free-State men, who were being addressed by Montgomery in favor of setting out immediately to burn Fort Scott. Mr. Oakley, a Free-State man, was acquainted with Walker and asked him what he was doing there, Walker replied that he had come to arrest Montgomery. He was advised that Montgomery could not be arrested. It was finally decided to march on Fort Scott, when Walker requested permission to address the meeting. He said if the Free-State men would secure warrants for the arrest of Clarke and other Pro-Slavery men, and furnish him with a posse, he would go to Fort Scott and arrest them. Upon being informed that the judges would not issue warrants for these parties, Walker advised that warrants be secured from a justice of the peace. A number of warrants were secured in this way.
Taking a posse of seventy-five men, with Montgomery in command, the Marshal entered Fort Scott on the 30th of May. George W. Clarke was the first man to discover this force entering the town. He took his rifle and ran to the hotel, where he gave the alarm, and then departed for his own house. Walker arrested some of those for whom he had warrants, when he went to Clarke's house. Clarke refused, to surrender, when Montgomery formed his men in front of the house. Three hundred Pro-Slavery friends of Clarke immediately assembled and confronted Montgomery's men not ten feet distant. Walker took up the tongue of a government wagon, and was about to break down the door of Clarke's house when he appeared at a window and said that he would surrender if he could be convinced that Marshal Walker was in command. Upon being assured of that fact, he came down and asked to see the writ, which the Marshal refused to show. But Walker drew his revolver and requested Major Williams to hold his watch and count off two minutes, telling Clarke that if during two minutes he did not surrender, he would shoot him. Clarke then surrendered. Captain Campbell, a deputy United States Marshal of Fort Scott, produced a warrant for the arrest of Montgomery, and requested Walker to make the arrest. Walker replied, "Arrest him yourself; if I had a warrant for him I would arrest him. " At this point Montgomery ordered his men to mount their horses, which they did, starting immediately to ride out of town, leaving Walker alone. Walker then requested Campbell to furnish him a horse, saying that he would pursue and arrest Montgomery, which he did, returning to the town with his prisoner. He turned Clarke over to Captain Lyon to be taken to Lecompton for trial. Walker immediately set out for Lecompton with Montgomery. At Raysville he was overtaken by a messenger who informed him that Clarke had been released by a writ of habeas corpus. Upon hearing this, Walker released Montgomery and told him to stay and fight it out, and after he was through to report at Lecompton, which Montgomery agreed to. On the 7th of June, Montgomery's men returned to Fort Scott and attempted to burn the Western Hotel, his men firing on the town at the same time. No one was injured by the shots, and the fire was extinguished. Captain Nathaniel Lyon was stationed in the city on the 10th, to maintain order. On the 13th of June, Governor Denver arrived in Fort Scott. A public meeting was called on the 14th for the purpose of finding some means of settling the difficulties. An adjourned meeting was held at Raysville, when the following agreement was reached:
GOVERNMENT OLD GUARD HOUSE, FORT SCOTT
This truce was broken the following fall by the indictment of Benjamin Rice. Rice was held a prisoner in what was known as the Free-State Hotel. On the 15th of December, 1858, Montgomery entered Fort Scott with a force to rescue Rice. He was found chained to the floor in the third story and was soon released.
Little was killed by one of Montgomery's men in a store across the alley from the hotel where Rice was rescued. Montgomery's men then robbed the store of about $7,000 worth of goods, which were issued to Free-State men to reimburse them for losses sustained by the depredation of the Border-Ruffians. Application was later made to Governor Medary for protection from Montgomery's men. The Governor advised the organization of the home militia as a posse to arrest the offenders and enforce the law. This was done, and about a dozen of Montgomery's men were arrested. They were sent under guard to Lawrence. In the meantime an Amnesty Act had been passed by the Legislature by which old scores were wiped out and the country gradually quieted down:
The Leavenworth Constitution was the counter movement of the Free-State people against the Lecompton Constitution. It was devised, framed and sent to Congress while the Lecompton Constitution was being pressed by the Pro-Slavery interests at Washington and in Kansas. The Topeka Constitution had held the Free-State forces together until the emigration of 1857 had enabled them to participate in the Territorial election, where they won the Territorial Legislature. That the Lecompton Constitution might be submitted to a vote of the people, Acting-Governor Stanton convened the Legislature in special session December 7, 1857. The session was very brief, but the regular session began at Lecompton January 4, 1858. The loss of the Territorial Legislature by the Pro-Slavery forces had put them at a disadvantage, and the only means now left them for making Kansas a slave state was the Lecompton Constitution. They knew it could be forced on the people only by fraud and violence, to both of which they were ready to resort. Some of the leaders of the Free-State party, anxious to begin the realization of the benefits to come with the material development of the Territory, which they believed would immediately follow its admission, were not strong in their opposition to the Lecompton movement. They insisted that the evils of this slave constitution, now that the Free-State party had control of the legislative power and an increasing majority at the polls, could be overcome by the State Government which they believed themselves strong enough to organize. This, of course, was a sordid view of the matter and an utter repudiation of what the Free-State men had contended for with arms in hand. To oppose more effectively the Lecompton Constitution and counteract whatever disaffection might exist in their ranks, the Free-State men who were moved alone by patriotism forced a direct opposition issue in the movement for the Leavenworth Constitution. And as Congress had not provided an enabling act for the Lecompton Constitution, of which it was taking favorable notice, the Free-State men believed they might lawfully proceed without special Congressional direction.
For authorizing the special session of the Legislature, Acting Governor Stanton had been removed, and James W. Denver, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who chanced to be then in the Territory, was appointed to his place. The active opposition of Denver to the movement for the Leavenworth Constitution succeeded in casting doubt on the legality of the Legislative act authorizing the convention.2 But not withstanding the antagonism of the Acting-Governor, the movement was carried forward. The delegates were elected March 9, 1858, about nine thousand votes having been cast. On the 23d of March they met at Minneola, a town in Franklin County, which the Legislature had made the Territorial capital over the veto of the Governor. It developed that many members of the Legislature were stockholders in the town company, and the matter came soon to be known as the "Minneola swindle." The Territorial officials refused to take their offices to the new capital, and by the time fixed for the meeting of the convention the scandal had become notorious. Many of the delegates wished to adjourn to some other place, but others, who had large interests in the new town, threatened to desert the Free-State party and break it up if such adjournment was taken. The matter was debated all night. Lane, who had been elected president, took the floor in favor of adjournment and delivered one of the most dramatic and powerful speeches of his life.3 The convention adjourned to Leavenworth, where it met on the 25th of March. Eighty-four members were in attendance. At Leavenworth Lane resigned as president, and M.F. Conway was elected to that place. Samuel F. Tappan, a member of the company of "Grizzlies" and one of Plumb's companions through Iowa and Nebraska, was secretary.
The convention was perhaps the most brilliant body which ever assembled in Kansas. Many of these delegates afterward attained distinguished honors. There was Lane, the sword and shield of the Free-State movement, later United States Senator, a Major-General, and one of the chief advisers of President Lincoln. Thomas Ewing, Jr., was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Colonel of the Eleventh Kansas, a Brigadier-General, and Commander of the District of the Border; he was elected to Congress from Ohio, and was a lawyer in New York City. Robert B. Mitchell was a fine soldier, a Major-General, and Governor of New Mexico. J.M. Walden became a Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church. H.P. Johnson, a Colonel in the Union army, fell at the head of his troops at Morristown, Mo. Martin F. Conway was the first member of Congress from Kansas. Edward Lynde was Colonel of the Ninth Kansas. There were James M. Winchell, S.N. Wood, T. Dwight Thacher, William W. Ross, James S. Emery, and many others who had fought, in the Free-State ranks, and who were long foremost in the public affairs of Kansas.
Preston B. Plumb was a delegate from his county. This was his first experience in a deliberative body. He was just past twenty, but had the appearance and manner of one of mature life and intellect. He took a prominent part in the proceedings of the convention, his intense earnestness, his common-sense views, his devotion to the Free-State cause, all serving to secure him recognition and attention. He acquitted himself well. The favorable impression he made was of much assistance to him later in life, and the friendships formed there continued long into the future. The attachment between him and Ewing resulted in mutual confidence and reciprocal favors for many years. His observation of the political methods of his associates gave him an insight into the manner of solving great political problems.4 His service in this convention was one of the events of his life of which he always spoke with pride and satisfaction.
The disorders in Southeastern Kansas continued to some extent until the beginning of the Civil War. In the fall of 1860 a slave ran away from his master, who lived near Pleasant Gap, Missouri. This slave stopped at the house of John O. Turner, who lived near the present town of Pleasanton. The slave remained a few days at Turner's house, Mr. Turner trying all the time to get him to return to his master. It seems that the master and Mr. Turner were personal friends. Turner's efforts were finally successful, and the slave concluded to go back. One Russell Hinds, a Missourian, and Mr. Turner went with the slave to the master's house. The usual reward for returning a slave was $25.00. This reward was tendered, but neither Hinds nor Turner would accept it, but Hinds did take $5.00 as a reimbursement for expenses.
At this time C.R. Jennison, later Colonel of the Fifteenth Kansas, was in command of some of the Free-State men in the troubles then existing along the border. Samuel Scott, a leading Pro-Slavery man was hanged by Jennison, and John W. Garrett would have been hanged if he could have been captured. On the 12th of November, 1860, Jennison's command, consisting of nine men, captured Russell Hinds about two miles east of Pleasanton. As the party was taking Hinds to a place of execution, Turner with his team and wagon, was met in the road three-quarters of a mile west of his house. Jennison did not know Turner. Some of his men had met Turner in the Masonic Lodge, and by signs cautioned him not to reveal his identity. Hinds, although knowing that he would soon be hanged, remained quiet also. If Jennison had known who Turner was, he would have met the fate soon to be meted out to Hinds, who was hanged on Mine Creek, in the timber, near the Missouri line.
Montgomery did not know that Hinds was to be hanged, but the act met with his approval. He wrote the following explanation of the occurrence, which he handed to Judge James Hanway:
Russ Hinds, hung the 12th day of November, 1860, for manstealing. He was a drunken border ruffian, worth a great deal to hang, but good for nothing else. He had caught a fugitive slave, and carried him back to Missouri for the sake of a reward. He was condemned by a jury of twelve men, the law being found in the 16th verse of Exodus xxi.
The Scripture referred to reads as follows: "And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand he shall surely be put to death.
Governor Denver resigned his office October 10th, 1858. He was the first governor not removed or compelled to resign. And his administration was much more satisfactory to the President than to the people of Kansas. In after years he said that in his residence in Missouri he had "chummed" with Senator Atchison and other Pro-Slavery leaders there, and could not bring himself to incur their displeasure in the administration of Kansas affairs.5
2 See address delivered by Denver at the Old Settlers' Meeting, Bismarck Grove, Lawrence, September 3, 1984 reprinted in Vol. 3, Kansas Historical Collections, p. 359 et seq. Some of his statements are much exaggerated.
3 T. Dwight Thacher, a delegate, thus described this speech:
"The night was far spent. The candles had burned down in their sockets. The debate had been long and at times angry. Some of the members were deeply interested in Minneola, and in their excitement they threatened that if the convention should adjourn from Minneola they would abandon the Free-State party and break it up. This threat aroused the sleeping lion in Lane. He came down from the chair, where he had presided with great fairness during the debate, and took the floor. All eyes were upon him. The drowsy members sat upright. As he proceeded with his speech the interest intensified, and members began to gather round him, sitting upon the desks and standing in the aisles. I shall never forget the scene - the dimly-lighted room; the darkness without; the excited men within; little Warren, the Sergeant-at-Arms, standing unconscious upon the floor, with partly outstretched arms, and wholly carried away by the speech; and Lane himself aroused to a pitch of excitement which I never saw him manifest on any other occasion during his whole career." - See Kansas Historical Collections, Vol. 3, p. 13.
4 The Leavenworth Constitution was the most able and perhaps the best constitution of the four formed for Kansas. The old Free-State or Topeka Constitution was the model after which it was written, but it was greatly superior in every way. All class distinctions were obliterated and the free negro was a competent elector. In fact, it was held by some that the right of unrestricted suffrage was conferred on women, the term "universal suffrage" being construed as giving the right, which, in all probability, it did. The western boundary of the state was fixed at the crest of the Rocky Mountains. The constitution was viciously assailed by the Pro-Slavery party. The struggle to avoid admission under the Lecompton Constitution engrossed the attention of the people, and while the Leavenworth Constitution was adopted, the vote was small, and it was buried in the archives of the United States Senate when presented to that body with a prayer that Kansas be admitted with it as the fundamental law.
5 Governor Denver returned to Washington, and was reappointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Becoming dissatisfied with this position, in the spring of 1859 he resigned, and returned to California. In the canvass of 1860 he favored Senator Douglas and opposed secession. The Legislature, in 1861, appointed him one of the commissioners to adjust Indian-raid claims. He left California in June, 1861, and on August 14th President Lincoln appointed him brigadier-general of volunteers; he was assigned to duty in Kansas in the following November. He was sent to West Virginia in January, 1862, but returned to Kansas in March. In May he was ordered to report to General Halleck, at Pittsburg Landing, and assigned to duty under General Sherman, having command of the brigade composed of the Forty-eighth, Fifty-third, Seventieth and Seventy-second Ohio regiments, in the advance on Corinth, Mississippi. From Corinth he was sent to Memphis; and from that point marched to Holly Springs, which town he captured. He returned to Memphis, and was put in command of Fort Pickering, where he remained until November, 1862. He was ordered to take part in the movement against Vicksburg, but only arrived at Oxford, Miss., beyond which it was impossible to transport his supplies because of the destruction of the railroads. The winter of 1862-3 he spent in LaGrange, Tennessee. In the spring of 1863 he resigned his position in the army to attend to, private business, and did not again take part in the war. At the close of the war he resumed the practice of law in Washington, in partnership with Hon. James Hughes of Indiana and A. J. Isacks of Kansas.
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