Friday, August 21, 2009

Lyttleton Morgan Tough's Letter to Charles E. Murphy

William S. Tough's brother, Lyttleton Morgan Tough, (shown standing to the left of William), was born February 4, 1846. In the spring of 1863, at the age of seventeen, he was hired as a special detective for the District of Kansas. In a letter from Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Moonlight, (Major General James G. Blunt's Chief of Staff), to Captain M.H. Insley, the Assistant Quarter Master at Fort Scott, Kansas, Moonlight wrote:
The General Commanding directs that you employ Littleton Tough as a Special Detective in this District at the rate of one hundred and twenty five dollars per month $125.00. Including all expenses to take effect April 1, 1863, at which time he commenced serving."

In the early 1900s, Lyttleton sent a letter to his friend, Charles E. Murphy, correcting errors in a book he had borrowed from Murphy. The book appears to have been William Lightfoot Visscher's A Thrilling and Truthful History of the Pony Express, published in 1908. Lyttleton's comments shine new light on William S. Tough's operations, the Baxter Springs Massacre and the famous Pony Express rider Johnny Fry. Although Lyttleton Tough's name appears on many list as a former Pony Express rider, this letter seems to suggest that he was never a part of this organization.

"Statement of L.M. Tough Correcting Errors in the 'Poney Express.'"

"In reading your copy of the book entitled "Poney Express" I came across the name of Fry and that of Tough, and as I felt sure that it would interest you in having some mistakes corrected I marked them.

As far as my recollections go of these early times, it is in the main correct except in a few details to which I will call your attention. On page thirty-six he says that poor Jonnie Fry was killed on the Canadian river by Indian bushw[h]ackers. This is a mistake, as he was killed at Baxter Springs sixty five miles south of [Fort] Scott and about a half a mile north of the present town of Baxter Springs. The Government had erected a small log fort at this point as a relay station for the charge of horses by the Poney Express [Tough's express riders], and had garrisoned it for our protection.

Jonnie Fry came to Leavenworth just after the first and original Poney Express had been taken off. He and I ran together until he joined a party of quarter horse men and went riding for them. By the by he was the best quarter horse rider I ever saw. My brother, Captain W. Tough, at the time was chief of scouts and was compelled to make his headquarters at Scott and of course his boys and I went with him and I was placed on the route to carry the mail once a week between Fort Scott and Fort Gibson one hundred and sixty five miles south of Scott. Shortly after the route was opened they found it necessary to make deliveries twice a week. Brother found Jonnie Fry brought him to Scott and started him carrying the mail and riding in the opposite direction to me. You will note that writer says John Sinclair, and it should be Walt Sinclair. [John Sinclair, the brother of Walt Sinclair, had been killed on a scouting mission in Arkansas]. He states that Jonnie was killed by Indian bushwackers. I was in the country for a number of years and this was the first time I have ever heard of there being any Indian bushwhackers in that section. Jonnie was on his way north to Scott and had stopped as usual at Baxter Springs to change horses. Quantrell on his way south [after] the massacre in Lawrence overtook General Blunt on his way south with a small escort at Baxter Springs, massacred pretty nearly all of his command and then attacked the few troops stationed at the fort. Jonnie was outside the fort cleaning up preparatory to his trip north and was shot by some of Quantrell's men as he was climbing up the bank from the springs to get to the post. After killing him, they took all his cloths and arms, leaving nothing but underclothes on the body. On the following morning I made a box and buried him within fifteen yards of the big ditch in which we put all the other men who had been killed during the engagement. I was very fond of Jonnie Fry and have tried to find out where his home was, as I wanted to go and see his people. I can readily believe the writer's statement in regard to Jonnie's nerve for I have seen him in tight places and never saw him flinch. Having heard a great deal from him in regard to the Poney Express, I read this book with deep interest.

Truly your friend"

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