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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