1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 29 Part 1

CHAPTER XXIX

THE FIRST SACKING OF LAWRENCE

PRELIMINARY

The manner in which the Wakarusa war had ended was wholly unsatisfactory to the Border-Ruffians. They left their camps on the Wakarusa and about Lecompton threatening to return. Atchison had assured his followers, that, while they could not fight then, that they would return to fight another day.

The winter of 1855-56 was extremely cold. The weather had been mild until Saturday, December 8th. On that day there came down from the North, what was later termed a blizzard. The weather grew extremely cold. The discomfort caused by the storm was one of the contributing causes to the acceptance by the Border-Ruffians of the terms of the Treaty of Peace negotiated by Shannon with the Free-State men. The wind came across the naked prairies like a gale at sea. It chilled and pierced to the very marrow. The frail shelters of the Border-Ruffians afforded little protection against this extreme weather.

The correspondent of the Missouri Republican had this to say of the storm.

LECOMPTON CAMP, SUNDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 9TH, 1855.

Last night was one of the most terrible that has been known in a long experience. The storm-king visited us in the fury of his might. With rain, and hail, and snow, and wind, and tornado, he attacked us on the northwest of our encampment, prostrating our tents, extinguishing our fires, enveloping us in black darkness, and wetting and freezing us until the morning. The large frame work of the new capitol hotel was dashed to the earth, and its broken timbers scattered over the hills. Many of our militia who had responded so suddenly to the call of the Governor as to be unable to provide themselves with tents, etc., had fastened sheets and blankets upon bent saplings to keep off the rain, but they afforded no protection when the high winds came. They were torn up and cracked in the breeze, and sent streaming into shreds among the shrieking limbs of struggling trees.

It is said that, on account of the cold, many of the Missourians started home before the announcement of the conclusion of peace. Severe as this cold spell was, it was only the forerunner of more extreme weather. On the 22nd of December there was a heavy fall of snow. The storm continued until the 24th, when the thermometer registered seventeen degrees below zero. On the 25th it fell as low as thirty degrees below zero. It continued cold until the 22nd of February, when the winter broke up and there was an early spring. To this extreme cold, the Free-State men attributed their immunity from another invasion of the Border-Ruffians.

The election for the adoption of the Topeka constitution was held, as we have seen, on the 15th of December. General L. J. Eastin notified his militia command to muster at Leavenworth on that day to be paid for their services in the Wakarusa war and discharged. The majority of this Kansas militia resided in Platte County, Missouri. They began crossing the river early in the day. At noon there were several hundred of them in Leavenworth. Their Colonel was one Payne, a member of the bogus Legislature, and who had been appointed by that body as Judge of Leavenworth County. One Dunn, a keeper of a whisky shop in Leavenworth, was also an officer of this Kansas Militia. After noon this mob assaulted the judges of the election. Two of the election officials escaped without injury. A third, named Weatherill, threw the ballot box under the counter of the store in which the election was being conducted, and ran out of the building. When he reached the street, he was knocked down, trampled in the mud and beaten. Two Free-State men, together with a Pro-Slavery man, rescued him. The mob had gone into the store and secured the ballot boxes, which they carried at the head of their column as they paraded the streets uttering fierce whoops and yells. The Territorial Register, conducted by M. W. Delahay was threatened with destruction. In the afternoon the Ruffians were formed in military ranks, where they were addressed by Judge Eastin, who commended their zeal in the interest of Law and Order. The Territorial Register, having fallen under the displeasure of the Ruffians, was not long permitted to remain unmolested. On the Saturday night after the election, the Platte County Regulators came to Leavenworth in force. They crossed the river at Kickapoo and descended upon Leavenworth under the command of Captain Dunn, Dr. Royal, James Tyler and G. W. Purkins. Mr. Delahay was not in Leavenworth at the time. He had recently refused to go to the aid of Lawrence, knowing the danger in which he stood, but he had been a delegate to the Big Springs Convention, and was a staunch Free-State man. The Regulators destroyed the office of his paper, throwing the press and the type into the Missouri River.

The election for officers, under the Topeka constitution, was held on the 15th of January, 1856. At Easton, in Leavenworth County, the activity of the Kickapoo Rangers, a Border-Ruffian organization, caused the postponement of the election for two days. The election was held on the 17th at the house of a Mr. Minard, about half a mile from Kickapoo. Eight persons went there from Leavenworth in a wagon to vote. Captain E. P. Brown was one of these men. To protect themselves, they were armed. The number of votes cast at that precinct was seventy-two and there was no disturbance. After the polls were closed and darkness was coming on, thirty mounted Ruffians went to Minard's house. The Free-State men came out and confronted them. They retreated but later demanded the ballot boxes. At two o'clock the next morning, the Free-State men heard that Stephen Sparks, one of their number, had been made prisoner at Easton. Captain Brown with fifteen men started to rescue him. They came upon a mob holding Sparks and his son at bay in a fence corner. Upon the appearance of the Free-State men, the Missourians dispersed. Later the two parties began firing on each other. One Pro-Slavery man was killed and two Free-State men wounded. When this skirmish was over, the Free-State men returned to Minard's house.

The Leavenworth parties set out for home about nine o'clock. Six miles away they met two wagons filled with Border-Ruffians. In a few minutes a body of mounted Ruffians appeared. They were armed with hatchets, bowie knives, guns and revolvers. They made prisoners of the Leavenworth party. The Free-State men were taken to Easton where the news of the killing of the Pro-Slavery man had just been spread abroad. The prisoners were placed in a small store and closely guarded. In about an hour, Captain Brown was taken out for trial. The other Free-State men were permitted to escape. It was finally determined to take Brown to Leavenworth and confine him there to await trial. On the announcement of this conclusion, the mob demanded that he be punished at once. The Ruffians broke down the door and attacked Brown with hatchets and knives. He was dragged out, stabbed and chopped until near death. He was then carried in a wagon into the Salt Creek Valley. It was seen that he could not recover and he was thrown into a wagon and taken home. He expired there in a few minutes; the only words spoken by him being, "I have been murdered by a gang of cowards in cold blood without any cause." Brown was a member of the Free-State Legislature, which passed resolutions of condolence with his family, and condemnation of the acts of the Ruffians.

The Law and Order men were not entirely satisfied even with the death of Brown. They determined to drive the Free-State men from that part of the Territory, warning them all to leave by written notices signed by some twenty of their number. The Free-State men gathered in a body to defend themselves and called for help from Topeka and Lawrence. A company was sent to their assistance and the Ruffians dispersed. A Pro-Slavery paper had this to say about the murder of Brown.

Rally! Rally! . . . Forbearance has now ceased to be a virtue. Therefore we call upon every pro-slavery man in this land to rally to the rescue. Kansas must be immediately rescued from the tyrannical dogs. The Kickapoo Rangers are at this moment beating to arms. A large number of the pro-slavery men will leave this place for Eastin in twenty minutes. The war has again commenced, and the abolitionists have again commenced it. Pro-slavery men, law and order men, strike for your altars! strike for your firesides! strike for your rights! Avenge the blood of your brethren who have been cowardly assailed, but who have bravely fallen in the defense of southern institutions. Sound the bugle of war over the length and breadth of the land, and leave not an abolitionist in the Territory to relate their treacherous and contaminating deeds. Strike your piercing rifle balls and your glittering steel to their black and poisonous hearts! Let the war cry never cease in Kansas again until our Territory is wrested from the last vestige of abolitionism.

It will be remembered that General Atchison had comforted the Platte County Rifles with the assurance, that, while they could not exterminate Lawrence because of the position the Free-State men had assumed, they might rest assured that they would be led back to fight on a future day. On the 4th of February at Platte City, he made a speech, from which this extract is made.

I was a prominent agent in repealing the Missouri Compromise, and opening the Territory for settlement. The abolition orators drummed up their forces and whistled them on to the cars and whistled them off again at Kansas City some of them had"Kansas and Liberty" on their hats. I saw this with my own eyes. These men came with the avowed purpose of driving or expelling you from the Territory. What did I advise you to do? Why to meet them at their own game. When the first election came off I told you to go over and vote. You did so, and beat them. Well, what next? Why an election of members of the Legislature to organize the Territory must be held. What did I advise you to do then? Why, meet them on their own ground, and at their own game again; and cold and inclement as the weather was, I went over with a company of men. The abolitionists of the North said and published it abroad that Atchison was there with bowie knives, and by G__d it was true. I never did go into that Territory - I never intended to go into that Territory without being prepared for all such kinds of cattle.

They have held an election on the 15th of last month, and they intend to put the machinery of a State in motion on the 4th of March. Now, you are entitled to my advice and you shall have it. I say prepare yourselves. Go over there. Send your young men, and if they attempt to drive you out, then, damn them, drive them out. Fifty of you, with your shot guns, are worth two hundred and fifty of them with their Sharp's rifles. Get ready - arm yourselves for if they abolitionize Kansas you lose $100,000 000 of your property. I am satisfied I can justify every act of yours before God and a jury.

Sheriff Jones had sullenly retired from Lawrence upon the negotiation of the Treaty of Peace by Governor Shannon. He had not relinquished the intention to wipe out Lawrence. He constantly sought an opportunity to renew hostilities. On the 15th of January he addressed a communication to Robinson and Lane here given:

Generals Robinson and Lane:

Gentlemen: Did you or did you not pledge yourselves at a council held in Franklin on the ___ day of December, to assist me, as Sheriff, in the arrest of any person in Lawrence against whom I might have a writ, and to furnish me with a posse to enable me to do so?

SAMUEL. J. JONES,
Sheriff Douglas County, K. T.

Those gentlemen made this reply:

Samuel J. Jones, Esq.

Sir: In reference to your note of yesterday, we state that at the time and place mentioned we may have said that we would assist any proper officer, in the service of any legal process in this city, and also no further resistance to the arrest by you of one of the rescuers of Branson would be made, as we desired to test the validity of the enactments of the body that met at the Mission, calling themselves the Kansas Legislature, by an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Yours respectfully,
C. ROBINSON.
J. H. LANE.

During the winter armed bodies of the Law and Order party scoured the Territory, harrying the Free-State settlers. This continued into the spring. Horses were stolen, fields wasted, houses burred, and other outrages perpetrated. Dr. Stringfellow, in his Squatter Sovereign, said this: "We say if the Abolitionists are able to whip us and overturn the government that has been set up here, the sooner it is known the better; and we want to see it settled. We want to see it determined whether honest men or rogues are to rule here."

PROMOTED EMIGRATION FROM THE SOUTH

It is to be regretted that no more particulars of the organization of promoted emigration from the South has been preserved. In the winter of 1855-56, there was an extensive movement in aid of this emigration There is little doubt that the public prints of that day would reveal a good many of the particulars of this movement. In January, the State of Alabama appropriated $25,000 to aid in the work. Colonel Jefferson Buford of the same State, contributed a like amount. Judge Quitman of Mississippi contributed $2,500. Many Southern planters gave liberally to this fund. On the 19th of January, 1856, Colonel Buford published an address in the Alabama Spirit of the South, in which he outlined his plan.

To Kansas Emigrants and to all Friends of the South:

I had proposed to start with my company of Kansas emigrants on the 11th of February next, but many of them being unable to get ready by that time, and others being unwilling to go before spring, and especially as I am advised by my correspondents that the Missouri and Kansas rivers are already impeded by ice, I have determined to postpone starting till the winter breaks.

The emigrants may rendezvous at Eufaula, on the 31st March next, at Columbus, Ga., on the 3d of April, and at Montgomery, Ala., on the 5th of April next - so that I can start from Eufaula, via Columbus and Montgomery, collecting on the way those I find at the different places of rendezvous. The company will travel from Montgomery by steamers, via Mobile and New Orleans or else by railroad via Atlanta to Nashville, and thence by steamer to Kansas. I engage to transport no baggage except six blankets, one gun, one knapsack, and one frying-pan to each emigrant. For baggage over and above this, the emigrant himself must engage transportation; many will have no more, and I must treat all alike. While I thought my company would be small, I expected to be able to take women, children and slaves: but I find I must leave them to give place to men, who are now greatly needed in Kansas to preserve the public peace and enforce the laws. I now expect over four hundred men, and I will take no females, nor slaves, nor minors under eighteen years of age. Women and children should not be exposed there in tents in the spring, but the husbands should go first and prepare houses.

The regiment will be divided into companies of forty or fifty men, under the usual military officers, elected by the men. Officers have no emoluments, and the organization is on the principle of volunteer militia to sustain the laws; a majority of each company may expel any member. Rations, transportation, and fare, that of soldiers in service. By way of remunerating me for the privilege of joining my party, for subsistence and transportation to Kansas, and for furnishing means to enter his pre-emption, each emigrant agrees to acquire a pre-emption, and to pay me, when his titles are perfected, a sum equal to the value of one-half of his pre-emption, which obligation he may discharge in money or property at a fair valuation, at his own option. I had heretofore, from misinformation, supposed pre-emptions assignable before patent, but on examining the act I find they are not. Neither does the donation act apply to Kansas, but each male of full age, widow or head of family who has not had a pre-emption under the act of 1841 and does not own 320 acres of land, and who has improved and settled on it - not to sell on speculation, but for his own use and cultivation - is entitled to enter 160 acres, at $1.25 per acre, payable any time before the land sales.

I have simplified my proposals to a single proposition, as above, in order to be more easily understood and to obviate the many questions that overwhelm me.

Besides taking only free males over eighteen, the great number of applications compels this further modification, i. e. - I will receive only those emigrants who rendezvous at the places above designated - at either of which places, i. e., Eufaula, Columbus, or Montgomery, I will receive all males over eighteen from any Southern State, who join me at the time above designated; their rations to begin from the time above named for rendezvous. Emigrants must pay their own expenses to the place and day of rendezvous. Those gentlemen in California and other States, forming companies to join me, can very easily obtain free transportation for their companies by proper application to the directors of the railroads over which they must pass.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have before told you what Judge Cato (Judge of the Territory) says of that fertile region. In his letter of November last, he writes: -

"Corn is plenty at twenty-five cents per bushel. This is as fine a country as any on earth; the profits on its productions far exceed that in the cotton regions. All grain, grass, clover, and hemp give large returns - at least from thirty to forty dollars per acre annually. I have seen no poor lands; it all seems richer than the best Chattahoochee bottom, and the most of it is just like adjoining Missouri lands that now sell at twenty to fifty dollars per acre. The estimated average of the corn is one hundred bushels per acre, and six tons hemp per hand, worth $140 per ton. I can give no idea of the beauty and fertility of the soil of the country."

Dr. Walker, a long resident of its borders, and of high character and intelligence, says:

"As far as health, climate, and profits of labor are concerned, Kansas is better than any part of the Union. There is no country where a man can be more independent, and make his bread and meat with less capital, than here; ten or twelve furrows will make ten barrels of corn to the acre. One thousand pounds hemp per acre is a common crop. There are swarms of cattle and good markets for everything."

Another distinguished resident of Western Missouri, in his letter of the 30th December to me, says:

"Planters are making twice the money per hand that they are in any part of the Union. One hand will raise five tons of hemp, and this don't interfere with the corn, wheat, and oat crop; planters have no supplies to purchase, but everything to sell. A near neighbor last years, with fourteen hands, men, women, and boys, averaged eight hundred and thirty-six dollars per hand - negro fellows, field hands, hire for $300 per annum - mechanics, $600; white men, $25 per month; any number of young men in the spring can find ready employment at that price, and then they have other advantages."

Kansas is the starting point for California, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico thousands of wagons leave every spring; they carry three millions of goods per annum to New Mexico, besides immense government supplies to pay Indians and sustain our military posts, etc.

Let every one wishing to go urge his neighbors to hold meetings who will appoint agents to solicit every man's contribution, either in money or note, payable after the emigrants are taken out. Contributions must not be to individual members, but for the common benefit. I could by the last of March raise five thousand men, if the contributions reached, say $10 per head - for that would enable me to furnish all with their military and agricultural outfit.

I am asked, "What military and other service do I require?" None, except that when he gets to Kansas, the emigrant shall begin some honest employment for a living - if it be working on his claim - that will give him credit to buy bread on. On his way there he is expected to be orderly and temperate, to attend the reading of the Scripture and prayer, night and morning, learn to fear God, to be charitable to our enemies, gentle with females and those in our power, merciful to slaves and beasts, and just to all men.

All who intend to go will please write me immediately.

W. P. Belcher, Esq., Abbeville C. H., S. C., and Capt. E. B. Bell, Graniteville, Edgefield, S. C., I understand, are raising companies to join me. They, doubtless, can get free transportation for them to Columbus, Ga., and Carolina emigrants might do well to come with one of them.

All editors friendly to the enterprise, it is hoped, will copy this address in full.

EUFAULA, ALA., JAN 19, 1856. J. BUFORD.

Colonel, E. B. Bell, of South Carolina, about the same time published in the Edgefield Advertiser, a notice that he intended to raise a company to go to Kansas.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.

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