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.