Saturday, December 25, 2010

"The Hammer Falls" Part I

George H. Hoyt

Major General James G. Blunt

Major General Samuel R. Curtis

     Shortly after the Red Leg raids of late March 1863, the Commander of the Department of Missouri, Major General Samuel R. Curtis, directed Major General Blunt, to take action against the depredators. Blunt had already issued a stern warning in early March. The newspaper Freedom’s Champion, in Atchison, Kansas, printed this short broadside on 7 March, 1863, which proclaimed that, Gen. Blunt has issued an order against secret organizations in the State, which under the guise of patriotism are devoted to plunder.

     Blunt claimed after the war that while he had been away during the winter in Arkansas, matters left in charge of subordinates had been running rather loosely in the district. Among other things, an organization had sprung into existence known as “Red Legs,” and whatever had been the primary object and purpose of those identified with it, its operations had certainly become fraught with danger to the peace and security of society. The organization embraced many of the most desperate charters in the country, while the inducements of easy gain had allured into it many persons who, in ordinary times, would never have consented to be connected with such an enterprise. Officers, soldiers and citizens had become infected until the leaders became so bold as to defy interference with their operations. Letters intercepted, passing from one to another of principle actors in this organization, proved a most deplorable state of affairs, and showed that it extended into Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa. A reign of terror was inaugurated, and no man’s property was safe, nor was his life worth much if he opposed them in their schemes of plunder and robbery. In this condition of things I considered it my duty to interfere for the protection of honest, and peaceable citizens, and to a great extent was successful, notwithstanding I daily received anonymous letters threatening me with assassination if I did not desist arresting and punishing these offenders.

     On 3 April 1863, Curtis wired Blunt, ordering him to, Put only very reliable troops on border counties. Missourians fear the "Red Legs" will have too much license under your command. That band of rascals must be checked...

     On the same day, Curtis, informed Brigadier General Ben Loan, in Jefferson City, Missouri, that, Blunt avows his determination to put down the "Red Legs," and it seems to me necessary that each of the adjacent commanders should have a cordial understanding and cross lines whenever a real necessity exits. 

All operations against rebels, Blunt wrote to Colonel Lynde, commanding the 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry on 16 April, must be directed by the legal military authorities. This injunction is to apply especially to an organization known as the "Red Legs," which is an organized band of thieves and violators of law and good order. All such persons found prowling over the country, without a legitimate purpose, must be disarmed; and if they shall be caught in the act of thieving or other lawlessness, or in the possession of stolen property, for which they cannot give a good and sufficient reason, they shall be shot upon the spot. And as there is reason to believe that officers in the military service are implicated, directly or indirectly, in the offenses committed by "Red Legs" and other lawless bands, therefore, upon the evidence that any officer has failed or neglected to carry out the foregoing instructions in reference to such offenders, they will be dishonorably dismissed [from] the service of the United States...

On the same day Blunt wrote to Colonel Lynde, the Western Journal of Commerce reported this item from Leavenworth: JEFF. DAVIS ARRESTED - "Jeff. Davis" and Dick Foster, arrested Monday on order of Gen. Blunt, were yesterday taken to the Fort under strong guard. We do not learn positively the charges against them, nor the cause of their arrest. - Times

On 25 April 1863, the Western Journal of Commerce reported the following from the Lawrence Republican: "Red Legs" Disbanded. The "Red Legs" taking warning from Gen. Blunt's recent severe speeches and orders concerning them are said to have disbanded and mostly left the state. A few only, and those persons who have been with them but little, are left. Captain Hoyt, we understand has gone, or is about [to go] East. He is a young man of talent, very highly connected, and would undoubtedly, in the regular service, rise to distinction. Bloom Swaim [sic], alias "Jeff Davis," is confined in Fort Leavenworth, where he will remain until Gen. Blunt lets him out. The "boys" maintain that they have done nothing, and intend to do nothing but fight rebels. But if that is so, let them go into the regular service. There they can find full play for all their activity and ingenuity, and not be liable to be charged with so many misdeeds as are laid at their feet.

More in Part II

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Friday, December 24, 2010

"Hell and its Fury" Part II

George H. Hoyt, Chief of the Kansas Red Legs

Major General James G. Blunt, Commander of the District of Kansas

Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis, Commander of the Department of Missouri

On 18 April, the Weekly Champion and Press reprinted the following story from the Wyandotte Gazette:

About one hundred negroes, men, women and children, arrived in this city, on Tuesday morning, from down in the [neighborhood] of and below Lexington, Mo. They had two fights with bushwhackers on their way up, and cleaned them out both times.
Just before night, another invoice of about sixty, all of the male persuasion, came in with Capt. Hoyt. Recruiting for the colored regiments goes on briskly here just now.

The Daily Evening Bulletin in San Francisco ran a story from one of the St, Louis newspapers on 9 May 1863, under the headline, Raid upon Secessionist in Lafayette County. The article stated that the Red Legs, along with 200 of Burris' men attacked the Chapel Hills section of Lafayette County. They did so with such fury that they killed 50 men of the inhabitants and burned 30 houses...Governor Gamble has since [?] Gen. Hall to command in that district and he and Gen. Curtis have ordered an investigation of that affair. It was not undertaken upon any responsible military authority, and the consequence has been that Union men have been murdered.

In the next post, "The Hammer Falls"

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Hell and its Fury" Part I

From about the last week of March until approximately the third week of April 1863, the Kansas Red Legs, lead by Hoyt, launched a series of deadly raids deep into Missouri. They were, perhaps, the largest Red Leg incursions of the war and certainly the most violent. Below is a list of newspaper articles related to these raids:
28 March 1863
Weekly Champion and Press (Atchison, Kansas)
Late yesterday evening we received information to the following effect: Sixty of Maj Ransom's men and thirty Red Legs were on High Blue all day Sunday and killed the notorious [illegible] Perry and several other bushwhackers. They arrived at Raytown at nine o'clock yesterday morning and heard there of the disaster to Penick's men. Late dispatches from Capt. Harvey [could be "Jack" Harvey], says that he has reliable information that Quantrill returned on Saturday with very considerable force, making the enemy's force about two hundred. --Kansas City Jour. of Com.
It is very possible that some or all of this group of Red Legs were the ones mentioned by Lieutenant Hankins as "going home to Lawrence," in his report dated 30 March.
8 April 1863
Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, MA)
Successful Scouting Expedition
Kansas City, Mo., April 7 - Major Ransom of the 6th Kansas, has just returned from a highly successful scout. Thirty-one guerillas were killed, 15 camps broken up and nearly all the camp equipage, arms, horses, &c., captured, 27 houses and places of resort burned and two leaders hung. The latter were concerned in the robbery of the steamer Gaty. A large amount of powder and other munitions of war were destroyed. Only one of Ransom's men was wounded, and he will return to the field in a day or two.
11 April 1863
Freedom's Champion, (Atchison, Kansas)
Bushwhackers Cleaned Out - Capt. Hoyt and his squad of men who have been down below with Maj. Ransom, cleaning out bushwhackers, returned yesterday. Maj. Ransom had about 160 men, under Capts. Stout and Harvey. Capt. Hoyt had 30, making in all nearly 200. The expedition was all commanded by Maj. Ransom, and had for its object the killing and driving out of the bands of rebels which have so long infested that district. The raid has been very successful. About forty rebels have been killed, over twenty rebel houses burned, and Maj. Ransom has seized a large amount of rebel munitions, &c. Several of the negroes who escaped from the Gaty were rescued. Among the rebels killed were some of those engaged in the steamboat massacre. None of our men were hurt. Capt. Hoyt's men killed 32. [see comments by "Fifth Cavalry" ].
Capt. Todd, who commands the bushwhackers was badly wounded.-He was shot in three places, but escaped. This effective raid will doubtless terrify the rebels in that part of the country, so that the business of murdering, stealing and plundering, which they have carried on so long, will not be a very popular calling for some time to come - Leav. Conservative.
25 April 1863
Appleton Crescent (Wisconsin)
Creating a Union Sentiment in Missouri
A letter from Lexington, Lafayette county, [Missouri], dated the 6th inst., informs us that, within the five days previous, some thirty or forty Kansas Red Legs, and one hundred and fifty or two hundred of Burris' [Lieutenant Colonel John T. Burris 10th Kansas Volunteer Infantry], regular United States soldiers had entered the southwest part of that county, "and burnt at least thirty houses and killed at least fifty men, who were unarmed and heretofore lived in peace and quiet through all the troubles which have existed in that country." It was enough that a man has taken the alarm, and carried his negroes and stock away, to mark his property for confiscation by the Red Legs. Among those who have had their property burned, the writer names Dillard, Walker, Bledsoe, Woods, and others. Several Union men were killed, among them one James, near Chapel Hill. The southern men killed had taken the oath of allegiance and given bonds, and no one ever charged them with a violation of either. "Even while I write (says the correspondent), the streets are full of wagons and stock belonging to persons fleeing from that section of the country."

More in Part II

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"God Damn an eyewitness anyway! He always spoils a good story!" New True Grit Film

With the new True Grit  film opening today, I thought I would post the link to our article on the battle of Lone Jack. Kip Lindberg and I wrote this back in 2004 for North & South magazine. . As some of you know, the fictional "Rooster" Cogburn lost his eye at Lone Jack.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Going Home to Lawrence"

Lawrence, Kansas 1863 or 1864 (KSHS)

This is a remarkable correspondence from Lieutenant Nimrod Hankins, 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, which confirms that many Red Legs resided in Lawrence. It also illustrates how some Red Legs were protected by certain Kansas Army officers. The letter is located in the Missouri State Archives, Missouri’s Union Provost Marshal Papers: 1861-1866.

Shawneetown Kansas
March 30th 1863

Commanding Officer
9th Kas Vol Cav Olatha Kas

Some horses being stolen on last Friday night south of this place I thought prudent to take a small scout. I took four men and went to the bridge on the Kaw River and there thought I had found track of said Horses, followed up trail three miles west of the Six Mile House on my return I arrested two Red Legs Jeff Davis [Joseph B. Swain], and A. Sayvor [Al Saviers], brought them to camp intending to send them to Head Quarters, but on receiving a dispatch from Maj. Ransom [Major W.C. Ransom, 6th Kansas Cavalry], stating that to his [c]ertain knowledge they were both with him in Mo the night the  Horses were stolen and also that he had arrested them by your order and accepted their parole to report to Head quarters Fort Leavenworth immediately I released them. There was about fifty Red Legs passed here Saturday evening going home to Lawrence. All leading Horses. I was not here being on scout. They had passes from Maj Ransom. I am Col your most obt Servt Lieut N. [Nimrod] Hankins
Commanding at Shawneetown Kas

Where, exactly, were these fifty Red Legs returning from? In the next post I will examine what was perhaps the largest Red Leg raid of the war and how it prompted the downfall of Hoyt’s structured fraternity.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Early Report on Scouts in Red Leggins

The newspaper clipping below can be found in the Jennison Scrapbook at the Kansas Historical Society. There is no date or other identification with the clipping. The Jennison Scrapbook contains a host of interesting articles. It would appear that Charles Jennison's wife, Mrs. Mary Jennison, assembled the scrapbook. After interviewing Mrs. Mary Jennison in 1905, William E. Connelley reported that, "She had many scrap books containing clippings of accounts of Jennison, but she sold them in San Francisco. She said she would borrow them for me."


The "Republican" says that the "Red Legs" never fought Quantrile [Quantrill], thereby intimating a collusion between them. The writer lies, and knows it, in the statements thus made. Let us give a fact. In the winter of '61 and '62, Captain (now Col.) Oliver, Seventh Missouri Volunteers, was in command of a battalion at Independence. Oliver had been educated under Jennison, and knew how to deal with bushwhackers.
Quantrile was ranging in that section. Boorn Swaine [Joseph Bloomington Swain], (better known as Jeff Davis) John Bridges [Jack Bridges], (Beauregard) and eleven other Federal scouts were empowered by Oliver to hunt Quantrile down, receiving as compensation the horses and arms they might capture from the guerrillas, not belonging to Union men. One or two men in the party wore red leather leggins. This was adopted as an insignia by the scouts. Within two weeks they had nine fights with Quantrile, shooting three horses from under him, and reducing band to twelve or fifteen men.
A change occurred. It didn't suit officers of the Gamble-Republican stripe to destroy him entirely. He might have a vote when the rebellion was over. His friends would be offended. So [,] Lieut Col. Brown (now General) of the Seventh Missouri, an officer of conservative opinions, relieved Capt. Oliver, who was sent under arrest to Lexington on charges of Jayhawking. The "Red Leg" scouts were all arrested and kept in the Independence Guard House for forty days. The only charge was irregular warfare. The real offence was exterminating bushwhackers. The "Republican" and its set have not changed a bit. To-day they would rather that Quantrile and his friends should escape, than that the martyred dead of Lawrence should be avenged.

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Cleveland's Widow Exhumed his Body

Marshall Cleveland

An interesting little piece from The Daily Times in Leavenworth, dated 5 August 1862:

Cleveland's "widow" had the body of the great jayhawker exhumed, last week for the purpose of getting a lock of his hair. That tombstone at last is planted at the head of his grave.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Initial Beginnings of the Kansas Red Legs

William S. Tough

George H. Hoyt

Jack Bridges "Beauregard"

The Chicago Tribune published this interesting story on 18 November 1862:
The War on the Border
From Kansas another corespondent writes:

It is proposed to raise here, if Gen. Curtis will sanction the proceedings, a force of 400 or 500 mounted men to be enrolled, for three months, and to be employed especially in the task of hunting Quantrell and his followers. We have about that number of young men who have been with the army as scouts, etc; and who are, of all the men on this border, the ones to place in such service. It is daring and comparative freedom that would suit them, and there is a strong ambition among them to be so employed. The ordinary supplicants of warfare will never reach the guerilias [guerrillas] and we shall have to accept the services of men who know their every haunt, and if allowed to go at it in their own way, will clear the border in a short time. Under the leadership of Captains Hoyt, Boom, Swain [Joseph Bloomington Swain], Bridges [Jack Bridges “Beauregard”], Tufts [could be William S. Tough], and others they can exterminate Quantrell by New Years, if allowed to go ahead. The mustering into service for three months will be a sufficient restraint upon the men and the officers of such an organization and provide against the irregularities which attend the operations of irresponsible scouting parties.   

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Thursday, December 16, 2010


Cyrus Leland Jr. (Kansas Historical Society)

A certain amount of confusion has always surrounded the history of the Kansas Red Legs. George H. Hoyt’s crew of “Forty Thieves” almost certainly conducted operations as a fairly structured outfit from the fall of 1862 until the spring of 1863. Even after the disintegration of Hoyt’s organized band, the term Red Legs still remained. For example, Kansas Senator James H. Lane christened the 15th Kansas Cavalry “Jennison’s Red Leg Regiment.” Chief of Scouts William S. Tough and his men were a completely separate and distinct organization from Hoyt’s crew and yet, they were commonly identified as the “buckskin scouts” and occasionally as “Red Legged” scouts. Tough and two of his men, Jack Harvey and Wallace or Walter “Walt” Sinclair, appear on Connelley’s list of Red Legs. Kansas scout Josiah C. Ury recalled they “wore buckskin leggings and were known as the Buckskins, and sometimes as Red Legs.” It would appear that the appellation Red Legs was given to different and quite possibly overlapping elements, all of which adopted the red leggings for the shock value it came to possess.  A letter from Cyrus Leland Jr. to G.W. Martin, the Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, written in 1909, offered some clues, but also helped add to the confusion surrounding the Kansas Red Legs:

Topeka, Kansas, June 4th, 1909
Hon. G. W. Martin,
Secretary, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas
My Dear Friend,
     I have your letter of recent date. I talked with Wm. E. Connel[l]ey about the "Red Legs." He knows a good deal about them and I think he knows two or three that are living, and if so you could get a list of names. I knew quite a number of them but do not remember many names. I knew Capt. Hoyt, the Captain of the "Red Legs," Walter Sinclair [,] Jack Harvey and Red Clark. There was quite a number of them employed in 1863, by the commander of the District, General Ewing. I know they were there before, at the time of and after the Quantrell [Quantrill] raid, in 1863. We had them during that time and in the autumn of that year. There was all the way from a half dozen to fifteen of [to] twenty at times. They were in the employ of the Government not as "Red Legs" but as scouts. They went by that name on account of their leggings but were on the pay roll as scouts. We had some at Kansas City, but they were also all along the border down as far as the Indian Territory line. There were some at Fort Scott and also some at different stations. I am quite sure that Connelley has the names of several that are living.
Yours truly C. Leland Jr.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The “Association” Part I

In the spring of 1865, Detective Henry W. Huthsing began hunting Captain Joseph Bloomington Swain. Also known as, “Jeff Davis,” Swain appears on Connelley’s original list of Red Legs. In the fall of 1863, Swain was commissioned a captain in Jennison’s new 15th Kansas Cavalry. Swain had been sentenced to death [commuted to life at hard labor], by a court martial at Fort Leavenworth in March 1865, but somehow managed to escape before he could be removed to a penitentiary in Missouri. The crimes committed by Swain were horrific and at some point in the near future I will print the entire court martial record. Here is Part I of Huthsing’s report on his search for Swain:

St Louis May 1865

Capt Peter Tallon, Chief U.S. Police


I have the honor to report, that in accordance with the instructions of Special Order No. 83, I proceeded on the 4th day of April 1865 to Fort Leavenworth and reported on the 7th of April to Capt Jos. Williams A.A. General for further information and instructions – by his direction I proceeded to Leavenworth City and stayed there several days, during which time I was principally engaged in watching the movement of Mrs. Swain who resides there –

By instruction per Telegraph from Col. Davis Pro Mar Genl, (actig) I seized all letters in the Post Office directed to Mrs. Swain and from these, and other circumstances I became convinced that Swain had crossed the River at Weston on the 31st of March and was at his home on the 1st & 2nd days of April – and that on the 3rd of April he left for Paola and Mound City where his old Camp was stationed and where he intended to stay until he could hear from his wife in relation to a Petition for his pardon, to the President which had been gotten up and signed by a large number of citizens, who as a general thing were all in complicity with him, and willing to do anything to obtain his release – these men, together with a great portion of the Officers and Soldiers now stationed at Leavenworth and along the Border, formerly belonged to an Association called the Red Legs and of which, Capt Swain was an active and leading member. I presume you have long been familiar with the History of this Association and I will not therefore give any details of their purposes and doings – [when I first read this part I started banging my head into the wall].

My information is collaborated fully by the report of Capt Winsberg who was ordered by Capt Williams on a Scout to find out the whereabouts of Capt Swain, reporting to him (Capt Williams) – I reported daily to him also, in person and by his advice and consent I proceeded on the 13th of April with an Escort of 10 men under the com’d of Capt Winsberg to Mound City, distant from Fort Leavenworth 110 miles on the South Border of Kansas – I arrived in Olathe on the 14th of April – here I learned that Ch. Johnson who is a brotherin-law of Swains, had passed through the place a few days previous, with two of Swain’s horses, and had stated to some of his friends that he had left another horse, a Black Stallion with Swain – and that Swain was safe, with some of his old friends not far from Fort Scott.

More in Part II.

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"I Speak of the Well Known Spy - 'Beauregard'"

I found this fascinating letter at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center Congressional Archives. The correspondence reveals why detective papers were so important to the Red Legs. The letter was written by Ms. Fannie Wright for Jack L. Bridges, alias “Beauregard” and addressed to Kansas Congressman Sidney Clarke. Clarke was a former assistant provost marshal at Fort Leavenworth and had once served as Senator James H. Lane’s personal secretary. As Kip Lindberg and I wrote some time ago, it is perhaps the most flagrant surviving example of the Red Leg patronage system. It would appear that the note was written in February 1865.

Syracuse Kans Feb 7

Hon Sidney Clarke

For a friend in the following fix. He was mustered into the U states service by Col Robt White of St. Louis, just before the battle of Lexington, in the hurry of the moment he was given no papers certifying to his enlistment, was mustered as “scout & spy, consequently , his name does not appear on muster roll at Wash. I speak of the well known spy, - Beauregard. The sum of my request is this – that “detective papers” be given him under you, you undoubtedly are aware of the gain pecuniary to be realized from such papers exercising jurisdiction over country south of this, he expecting to share liberally with his friends. Write immediately saying what can be done about these papers.

Direct Troy Doniphan Co

Very Respectfully
Address Fannie L. Wright

Jack L. Bridges aka "Beauregard"

Kansas Congressman Sidney Clarke

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Monday, December 13, 2010

“I became convinced that Sodom was a pure city compared to the Kansas border:” Schofield's "Smelling Committee" Part II

Continuation of Colonel John V. DuBois report to Major General Schofield:

When I arrived in Leavenworth city Jennison [Charles R. Jennison], a livery stable man stated to Capt [illegible] & Governor Carney that unless he was appointed a Colonel he would “blow the whole [illegible] Lane, Blunt & Babcock.” Mr. Hoyt (a red leg & US detective) stated to me the same thing – Jennison is now a Colonel & Hoyt a Lieut Colonel & their mouths are closed.

Governor Carney told me that Champion Vaughn had said that he had the written contract between Lane [,] Blunt & Babcock to share the profits of the beef contract. That Babcock had said that Lane & Blunt were getting more than their share for the work they did. Lieut Colonel Hoyt told [illegible] that a man named Doubleday formerly a Colonel of an Ohio regiment now conductor of a sleeping car on the Lakeshore road stated publicly after a long service in Kansas that “unless Babcocks friends came down well he would expose them.” Babcock went to Chicago to meet Doubleday, gave him $100 to go home with & told him he had paid him all he intended to. Several gentlemen told me that when Genl Blunt commanded the Dept of Kansas he was ordered to dispossess certain squatters from R.R. lands – he only obeyed the order after getting the choice of 700 acres of land at the average price – which lands he now holds…

In Kansas city I found it a matter of notoriety that Kansas troops plundered every part of the border they visited. “There’s not a man in Kansas who is not moving a horse stolen in Missouri” was the remark of very many. A company of the 9th Kansas [illegible] stationed at Westport captured a large amount of property – This was publicly sold in Westport and the proceeds divided between the company and the Red Legs. The Proprietor of a Hotel in Kansas City informed me that very few Kansas officers paid their bill – He dared not insist upon payment for he knew they would burn his property…

Prostitution is universal. All the indian and negro women are diseased & no effort made to keep them from the men. An officer of respectably informed me that on one occasion Genl Blunt & two other officers visited the quarters of these women...

To be continued in Part III.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Former Senator Thomas Ewing to President Abraham Lincoln: The Lane-Blunt Red Leg Connection

Senator James H. Lane

Senator Thomas Ewing

On 27 June 1863, former United States Senator Thomas Ewing wrote the following letter to President Abraham Lincoln. Senator Ewing's son, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr. had just assumed command of the District of the Border.


Lancaster Ohio June 27/63

I think you have my son Thomas Ewing Jr. now in a position which he will discharge his duties to your satisfaction. I see by the Kansas City papers that he has begun well, in repelling & punishing a Guerrilla raid - a small matter to the Country at large, but important to the locality if followed up vigorously.

But the greatest difficulty is this - The Country is infested with robber bands - Jayhawkers & Red Legs - who rob & murder in behalf of the Union, as they profess, and they have had too much the countenance of the public authorities. Lane [Senator James H. Lane] first organized them and Blunt [Major General James G. Blunt] as I am well advised has since countenced and supported them. I saw Genl Denver the other day, just from Leavenworth. He says the opinion is rife that Blunt has mended his fortune by sharing their plunder. Of this he of course knew nothing & probably would not wish to be named as repeating it. My son, if allowed to do it, will deal with these fellows as he ought. I have advised him to take into the Service as many of them as choose to enlist & hold them to strict discipline and to treat as robbers or rebels all others that he shall find under arms, engaged in acts of violence. Lane is now friendly, but if Tom does his duty there will I think, almost certainly be a breach between them. I write to caution you of this and to suggest that Lane, whom nature made for a bandit, is not to be relied on as a safe & prudent counsellor...

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“I became convinced that Sodom was a pure city compared to the Kansas border:” Schofield's "Smelling Committee"

Major General John Schofield

Senator James H. Lane

Major General James G. Blunt

     In the summer of 1863, Colonel John V. DuBois, the Assistant Inspector General for Major General John Schofield’s Department of Missouri, was ordered to conduct an inspection of Major General James G. Blunt’s District of the Frontier and Brigadier General Thomas Ewing’s District of the Border. The final report produced by DuBois is highly suspect for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was Schofield’s pathological hatred of Blunt. DuBois’ findings however, should not be totally dismissed. Interestingly, Blunt mentions the report in his short memoir written shortly after the war. “And here I leave General Schofield,” wrote Blunt, “and will let others take him up and finish his record, except to add what I have omitted to state, that anxious to leave nothing undone that could injure me, he (Schofield) sent a smelling committee, dubbed with the respectable cognomen of “board of inspection,” through my district while I was making the campaign in the Indian country, in the summer of 1863. They merely “walked the track,” and then signed a report previously agreed upon at Schofield’s headquarters in St. Louis, which was not only false in every particular, but infamous in its character. This board refused to comply with my request to come to Fort Smith, where I was lying, confined to my bed by sickness, and where the headquarters of my command was, notwithstanding they were thirty miles of that place, neither did they make any inspection of my staff departments or of the troops, but their talent for drinking whiskey was remarkable. The report was intended to be used against me at Washington, and it was only by accident and good luck that I obtained a copy.” Blunt’s assertion that the report was “infamous in character” is a substantial understatement. Several years ago I found the DuBois report in the National Archives. Here are some of the significant findings:

St. Louis Mo
Oct 20th 1863

Major Genl Schofield
Comd Dept of the Mo


“In compliance with that portion of Special Order No 211 Headquarters Dept of the Mo, directing me to ‘expose & bring to light every official dereliction on the part of officers, soldiers, agents or other persons in the employment of government, in connection with the army,’ I have the honor to report, that not having the [illegible] to examine under oath, I failed to [illegible] or [illegible] the existence of the fraud & speculations alleged to exist in Kansas. This was not because these crimes are unknown, but because so many persons, officers [,] soldiers & civilians are engaged in; and derive benefit from these frauds & speculations; that the combination to resist inquiry is so strong, that no [illegible] less than a court of inquiry can obtain facts. I figure - It might be well to leave this matter for future investigation instead of attempting to make a report upon the insufficient data which I have obtained., but believing that you will better understand the condition of affairs on the Border if I repeat to you some of the thousand reports & rumors which were told to me as truths, I will endeavor to explain them – without any positive testimony [.] I became convinced that Sodom was a pure city compared to the Kansas border.”  
I will have the rest of DuBois report in Part II.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How Blunt’s Scouts Nearly Killed Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr.

Cyrus Leland Jr. (Kansas Historical Society)

Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr.

I came across this letter sometime ago. The letter is from Lieutenant Cyrus Leland Jr. to his mother. At the time, Leland was a member of Ewing’s staff:


Kansas City, Mo Nov. 14th , 1863

Dear Mother,

     I received your letter of the 8th inst. Was rather glad to hear of Crabb's election. So Howard has sold his Pone. I have me a fine mare. I got her three or four weeks ago. She is worth one Hundred & Twenty five dollars. By getting her, it made me a little short of money. I can send it to you. I must tell you of a little circumstance in which I was a____somewhat intended at this time. While we were down in Mo. at Neosho, the people gave us a dance. There was some of Blunt's [Major General James G. Blunt], scouts there & they got on a bust during the evening. One of them was a little more nosiy than the rest, so I put him out of the house & used him rather roughly in putting him out. After I shut the door he fired through it at me the ball passing over me and very close to Gen'l Ewing. I then got a revolver and stepped out [the] door. As he saw me step out he run (the scout). I then commenced firing. At the second shot he fell. The ball had just coursed itself on the top of his head, just enough to stun him. The folks brought him in searched his head & he came to his senses. The next morning Gen'l discharged him and all of the Fort Scott Scouts and they went back to Fort Scott. When we returned to Fort Scott, I saw this chap with his head tied up. He told the people at Fort Scott that he had been bushwhacked in coming up...

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Operational Once Again!

I apologize for the long absence, but the blog is back in operation.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dawson A. Hook

Interesting article found by Bill Hoyt on Detective Dawson A. Hook. Hook's name can be found under my previous posting:
Hook, Dawson A., Detective, 16 June-31 Aug.

"An article in the White Cloud Kansas Chief talks about one of Ewing's Detectives named Dawson A. Hook, who got drunk and threatened the editor with pistols for mentioning his name in an article. I don't remember seeing his name listed before, but it looks to me like the detectives were getting a really, really bad name by the Time of the Lawrence Massacre (see Columns 2&3)."

 D. A. Hook, Detective.

Having had business at St. Joseph, we started, for that place, on Saturday morning last. While in the Treasurer's office, atTroy, attending to a little business which we had there, an individual who has been circulating somewhat extensively through this upper country, as a sort of detective, by name Dawson A Hook, came swaggering' (or staggering) In, and immediately commenced, taking us to task for something we had published about Ewing. It appears that the offensive article was a statement which we had made, upon. facts gathered from a police report in the Leavenworth Bulletin, that a couple of Ewing's detectives had been detected endeavoring to kidnap a negro, and that Mayor Anthony had prevented it. Hook's main grievance
seemed To be, that we bad not given the names of those detectives ; and as be; D. A. Hook, was universally Ewing's secret detective, everybody wonld think that he was the one alluded to not that he had any great scrnples against catching a nigger, but he didn't want the impression to prevail that his master's great adversary, Mayor Anthony, had "brought him to taw." We quickly saw that the fellow was so drunk that all explanation wonld be wasted upon him, and therefore endeavored to have as little as possible to do, with him ; but he nevertheless went on with his bullying and threats, occasionally throwing back his coat to exhibit a brace of revolvers buckled at his sides, which frightened us so terribly that we soon after went to the hotel and devoured, a hearty dinner. He swore that no editor should "buck sgainst Ewing over the backs, of his detectives;" that we shouldn't publish anything about the detectives, without also giving their names; and boasted that he was the only man who had ever caught a nigger in Kansas, and returned him to Missouri After reaching Elwood, and going on board the ferry boat, Hook again made his appearance, and his battery, in the same, strain as before. This time he hauled out his revolvers,, flourishing them somewhat, but through mistake held them both in one hand, which, to a person not used to being shot, did not look very terrifying. We promised him then and there, that he should have no occasion to complain that we did not mention names in onr next article. Now, we care nothing for D. A Hook's abuse and threats. He was sober enough to know that his business was not to go abont shooting people, and he had no such intention. He merely want'ed to blow and bully. Had he attempted anything else, cither at Troy or on the ferry boat, there wonld not have been enough left of him to have made a respectable stink. Neither do we' believe that Gen. Ewing would approve of his conduct in the least. But we wish to know whether the whole State of Kansas
is under martial law, that detectives can roam in every direction, insulting and abusing peaceable citizens at pleasure under cover of their commissions? Is this the sort of men Ewing employs to perform particular and secret service? We always had an idea that a detective should be a man who conld go his ronnds without creating suspicion, instead of one who constantly kept beastly drnnk, boasted of his business to every one, and insulted and abused persons indiscriminately.
Lord forgive us for swearing!