Sunday, December 12, 2010

“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.

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