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

Save 70% - Now Enjoy Brilliant Courses in Your Car or Home


  1. Just so you know, Matt, the GHHoyt thesis I had been long plotting - a 5-year bio from Brown's Trial to Second Newtonia - has been nixed by the powers that be. Not a problem, really, as I agree with them that as I had envisioned it, it was just too big for the 'rules.' But I don't like the alternatives they suggested, either. So it's kind of back to Square One, as it were.

    But this group or articles suggests another option: Hoyt vs. Todd as a subtheme for the Border War. We have this encounter, the link that I gave you earlier with the spy lady (whose name escapes me presently), and the fact that Hoyt eventually killed Todd during Price's Raid (references on request if you don't have them ;).

    In your professional historian opinion, do you think such an approach might have legs? If I dig enough am I going to be able to fill this thing out?

    But most importantly, could it be a work worth doing?

  2. I don't know if there would be enough primary material on Todd and Hoyt. I could be wrong. I don't know why they won't let you do a short Hoyt bio? I would love to see the stuff on Hoyt killing Todd. How about the Baxter Springs massacre? Short, lots of material that I can send your way, and right down the road. Also, the battle Mine Creek could be nice and short and right up the road from you. Drop me a line at or feel free to call anytime 785-242-8423