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J. Richardson, 21-July-2000
Originally published in the Humboldt Union, Humboldt, Allen County, Kansas
Early History - Part 4
In the Settlement of Humboldt and Allen County
By Watson Stewart
(continued from last week.)
But little was done to rebuild Humboldt during the war. The Government established a military post here and kept more or less force until the end of the war.
In 1864 the first brick house was built in Humboldt. It is the "Red Store" on the corner of Bridge and 8th streets. The lower story was built by Col. W. Doudna and the second story was put on by the Masonic fraternity.
The Price Raid.
In the summer of 1864, the militia of the county were formed into a battalion of six companies, called the Allen County Battalion. Three companies were in the north part of the county, two at Humboldt, and one in the south part of the county. C.P. Twiss was the colonel and the writer was major. The three companies in this part of the county were commanded respectively by Captains J.M. Moore, G. DeWitt and D.C. Newman.
In the latter part of September Gen. Price, having made his celebrated raid through Missouri, on his was south was threatening an invasion of Kansas. General Curtis, being in command of the Department, issued an order for all male persons over the age of 16 and under 60, in Kansas, to be mustered into the service for the protection of the state from invasion.
A small force was left here of the 11th Kansas.
All the militia of the Neosho valley were under command of Maj. Gen. J.B. Scott of LeRoy. The Allen county battalion was ordered to Fort Scott, but in view of the defenseless condition of Humboldt, the companies of Captains Moore, DeWitt and Newman were left here under the command of the writer. All able to bear arms were ordered into camp and where persons failed to come in promptly they were sent for and brought into camp.
It was sometimes amusing to see some become suddenly sick and unable, in their minds, to perform military service, but no excuse was taken; all were brought in, and if claiming to be sice, were turned over to Dr. Scott, who was post surgeon, for examination; when in most cases the doctore decided that the exercises and diet incident to the service would prove beneficial to their health.
The Government had erected a block house, but which was never completed, in the southwest part of the town and near G.Y. Smith's present residence, and there was our headquarters.
The company of Captain Newman was placed down on Big Creek to act as scouts in that direction. Major Haas, in command of the post, was ordered to issue rations to us. This he did for a while, but finally refused to issue to Captain Newman's company unless it was brought to Humboldt. In fact he wished to take command of the militia, while the militia claimed to be under command of its own officer.
The commissary stores were kept in the German church on Bridge street, east of the public square, with a sergeant in charge. The major of militia, feeling that he was in the right and knowing that he possessed the might, determined to help himself. He therefore made a requisition for five days rations for Captain Newman's company; on the major's refusal to honor it, Captain Newman was directed to help himself, which he did, taking only the amount needed, and receipting for it to the sergeant. The major ordered both Captain Newman and myself under but fortunately he had no power to enforce his order; and so it was decided that a militia major outranked a major of volunteers.
After the militia were disbanded, the major sent a force of men down to Captain Newman's home and brought him to Humboldt under arrest. They kept him over night and let him go. After remaining here in camp some three weeks we were ordered to Fort Scott with two companies. Captain Newman's company was left here with a few colored men under Captain E. Gilbert. We left Humboldt about sundown and reached the Marmaton creek about midnight; there we received orders to go to Fort Lincoln. That night the rebels burned Marmaton, a few miles down the creek.
In the morning we moved in the direction of Fort Lincoln, but on reaching Raysville we were ordered to Fort Scott; arived there about 11 o'clock at night. Colonel Thurston was on General Scott's staff. He met us and led us out northeast to a position occupied by Colonel Twiss. Soon it began to rain and we were in a sorry plight to meet the enemy, which were expected at any moment.
An incident occurred that night showing how abject fear will control a good man. One of our men contended from the start that it would be of no use to take him along, as he knew he could not fight, etc., but we took him along; he had no horse, and was taken with others in a wagon. As we were moving out to take our position a signal gun was fired at the fort, when he jumped from the wagon into the brush and was seen no more that night. The next evening he returned to Humboldt, having walked all the way.
The next day Price's army, hard pressed, passed south along the Missouri line east of Fort Scott. We did not see them but could hear the guns as the battle waged.
The only feat our men performed worthy of note during that day was what we called then a grand flank movement of 5 or 6 miles up the Marmaton. The men were not to blame, and I do not know if officers were to blame. It was reported that the forces in Fort Scott had concluded to abandon the place and fall back to Marmaton, some 9 miles. A body of men were seen moving south in the direction of Fort Scott and were supposed to be Price's men. We were ordered to retreat in the direction of Marmaton, which we did on the double quick, major general leading.
The forces seen were friends under Colonel Moonlight. We learned our mistake, however, before reaching Marmaton, and took the back track for Scott, which we reached in the night, and found it full of soldiers. General Pleasanton was there, the rebel general, Marmaduke, and Cabel with six hundred men were prisoners.
We returned home, were soon mustered out and this was substantially the end of the war with us.
In 1866 Humboldt began to revive, and some good buildings were put up, among which were the school house, Catholic church, the brick block on west side of the square, now used as a hotel -- Monre House -- built by Wakefield, Neal, Long and others.
In the three following years substantial improvements were made, but the years of 1870 and 1871 may be called the period of greatest improvement for Humboldt. During those years were built the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, the stone block on the east side of the square, Long's Hall, Curdy's and Wakefield's block on Bridge street, also the Landreth House and the stone mill on Coal creek, known as "Union Mills," built by Torbert, Dickinson & Co. The iron bridge across the Neosho was built in 1870 by the Humboldt Bridge Co.
And during this year two railroads were completed to Humboldt.
The Star Grocery on the corner of Bridge and 7th, and Mrs. Fussman's fine building on the corner of Bridge and 8th streets were built in 1872.
O'brien rebuilt his mill as a saw and grist mill, on the old site in 1866; in 1875 a dam was constructed across the Neosho; and the mill converted into a water mill, owned and run by O'brien and Lindsay.
(continued next week.)
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