MARAIS DES CYGNES MASSACRE


Historical marker at the State Historical Site near Trading Post

Murder on the MARAIS DES CYGNES

The bloodiest single incident in the Kansas-Missouri border struggles, 1854-1861, occurred May 19, 1858, when about 30 Proslavery Missourians seized 11 Kansas Free-State men near Trading Post and marched them to a ravine 225 yards northwest of this marker. Lining up their prisoners, they callously shot them down, killing five and wounding five others. One escaped injury by feigning death. Northerners were horrified, and John Greenleaf Whittier immortalized the fallen in a poem, "Le Marais du Cygne."

A few weeks after the massacre John Brown arrived here and built a two-story log "fort", about 14 x 18 feet, which he occupied with a few men through the summer. In December he made a raid into Missouri in which 11 slaves were liberated and one man was killed. Brown's famous "Parallels," dated January 3, 1859 at Trading Post pointed out that "hell is stirred from beneath" because of his raid while no comparable action had been taken to find and punish the Marais des Cygnes murderers.

A Brown follower , Charles C. Hadsall, bought this property in 1858. Later, adjacent to the site of the fort, he built the stone house which stands here today. The building and grounds were presented to the State of Kansas in 1941 by Pleasanton Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars.


Another historical marker at the State Historical Site near Trading Post

SITE OF THE MASSACRE

On May 19, 1858, in the little ravine below this marker, 11 Free-State settlers of Kansas were lined up to face the fury of a firing squad. Their captors and executioners were some 30 Proslavery men from Missouri led by Charles Hamelton.

John F. Campbell, William Colpetzer, Michael Robinson, Patrick Ross and William Stillwell were killed. William Hairgrove and his brother Asa, Amos Hall, the Rev. Benjamin Reed and Charles Snyder were wounded. Austin Hall, unhurt, dropped with the others as the bullets whipped by and was left for dead.

The action, known as the Marais des Cygnes Massacre, did more than anything else to focus the world's attention on "Bleeding" Kansas.

This area was also part of the Underground Railway

More Historical Markers


July 1, 1997 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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