Friday, August 14, 2009

William E. Connelly’s List of the Original Thirteen Kansas Red Legs

In a letter dated April 19, 1903, William E. Connelley, who would go on to serve as the Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society from 1914-1930, announced that he had secured the names of the original 13 Kansas Red Legs:

"For fifteen years I have been trying to learn the names of the thirteen original Kansas Red Legs. I secured the thirteenth name on Tuesday, April 7, 1903. I had heard all the names used in connection with the operations of the Red Legs from my first investigation of the notorious band. But the task of determining the original thirteen was a long one. I often gave up the investigation, believing it not possible to identify these men. However, I found myself questioning old soldiers and citizens whom I thought might know. The following list is the original roster beyond doubt:"
Charles R. Jennison
George H. Hoyt
Theodore Bartles
Joseph Guilliford
Al Saviors
John Blachley
Jack Bridges
Harry Lee
Newton Morrison
"Jeff Davis" [Connelley did not know at the time that this was Joseph Bloomington Swain]
"Beauregard" [Connelley did not know at the time that this was in fact Jack Bridges]
"Pickles" [at the time Connelley did not know the real name of this individual. He would later conclude that it was Samuel Wright]

Since Connelley listed "Beauregard" twice, his list actually comprised the original 12 Kansas Red Legs. In the next posting I will compare Connelley's original list with the Kansas Red Legs listed in his book Quantrill and the Border Wars.


  1. I just found a letter from June, 1863 that Hoyt endorsed with the title "Red Leg Scouts," as if it were an official organization that would be recognized up the chain of command. Would Connelley have understood them to exist in that sense? Or did he understand them to be more or less a gang that might have members slipping in and out?

  2. Bill,

    I would like to see a copy of the letter. I know Hoyt and others tried to convince Major General Curtis to accept a group of independent scouts for temporty service. I do not believe Hoyt's Red Legs were ever accepted for official service. Hoyt and some of his "boys" did however, serve as scouts, spies and detectives in an official capacity. Now, it's a different story with Tough and his "Buckskin" or "Red Legged" scouts.


  3. I would like to see a copy of the letter.

    Check Basler's "Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln," in the 1832-1865 supplement (1974). Basler created a 9-volume set of Lincoln's letter, etc., and this is the volume 10 addition, p. 199. Lincoln to Stanton, Aug 19, 1863.

    Apparently Elizabeth W. Stiles, after her husband was killed by George Todd in the 1862 Quantrill Shawneetown Raid, became a "Spy & Secret Agent" under Hoyt. She went to Washington and met with Lincoln to recover her damages, and Hoyt endorsed her request (which Lincoln passed on to Stanton), signing it "Late Capt. Co. K. 7th Kansas Vols. (Cavalry) Red Leg Scouts & Detective U.S. Service Military Dist. of Border." She was originally from Ashtabula Co, OH, which you will note, I'll bet.

    Hoyt wrote that "the bearer, Mrs. E.W. Stiles, since the breaking out of this rebellion, when she commenced the service of the Government as a Spy & Secret Agent on this border ... has had her husband murdered, her home broken up, and her property destroyed by rebels ..."

    Lincoln passed her application for employment to Stanton, and I guess she was made "official" after that. I'm not sure whether she was a spy only after her husband was killed - the Shawnee article seems to presume that - but Hoyt's letter implies that she was already a spy when it happened.

    She is noted as a spy in the Apr 4, 1915, NYT article "Famous Secret Service Agents," and an Oct. 15th 2005 Shawnee Dispatch article ("1862 raid gave woman a passion for the Union") tells her story and also mentions the letter, which the family still has.

    There is a second letter mentioned, a sort of roving job recommendation in which Hoyt writes "I cheerfully recommend her to all commanding officers as one who needs to be tried only once to be permanently employed" which I would love to get my hands on as well.

  4. Bill,

    This is great material!!!I have never seen this before!!!

  5. Of Connelly's list above 4 of these men were involved with the the formation of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers. Jennison, Hoyt, Swain and Saviers. With Saviers taking a commission in the regiment.... a very fascinating group of individuals to say the least.